House of Representatives
21 April 1966

25th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.

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– 1 direct a question to the Prime Minister. Does the view expressed this week, by the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research, that further Commonwealth aid for education would be unconstitutional, reflect Government policy? If so, is the Government, having committed itself to unlimited financial aid for education within Commonwealth Territories, now vacating the field of education and dumping this political hot potato in the laps of all State Governments, for those Governments to handle without any assurance of increased finance being found for education by the Commonwealth? Was the statement on education by Prime Minister Menzies on 10th November last merely a political gag designed to embarrass State Governments in respect of education generally? Does the view-


– Order! The honorable member is making his question too long. He must direct his question.


– Does the view expressed by the Minister that a change in the Constitution would be necessary, if the Commonwealth Government were to intervene in education, also reflect Government policy?

Prime Minister · HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP

– As a large part of the question involves policy 1 shall examine the question in detail to see how far it can be appropriately answered.

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– Is the Minister for Civil Aviation aware that when planes are held up through fog, as frequently happens at this time of the year, the lack of seating accommodation at the Canberra passenger terminal requires large numbers of intending passengers to stand around, sometimes for hours, in most uncomfortable and congested circumstances? If the Minister is so aware, can he tell the House whether plans are in hand to provide Canberra with a passenger terminal befitting the status of the national capital and meeting the needs of the rapidly expanding travelling public? If plans are in hand, when is it expected that they will be implemented?

Minister for Civil Aviation · DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · LP

– The present airport at Canberra is not particularly satisfactory from the point of view of operational conditions, due to fog problems and the difficult terrain. Another site has been inspected and selected for eventual development about eight miles north east of the present airport, but because of the high cost of developing a new airport in this area I am afraid I cannot promise any early action on a change to the new site. Further, I am afraid 1 cannot promise anything about the fog conditions at the new site, although we expect they will be a little better than conditions are at Fairbairn. Quite obviously the existing terminal facilities are- unsuitable and incapable of handling the present traffic, and because of the long term arrangement for the change of site additional terminal facilities will be provided at the existing airport in the not too distant future. The building will be designed so that it can be utilised for other purposes when the change to the new site takes place.

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– I ask the Prime Minister: Is it a fact that the associated banks six months ago put forward a proposal to the Government for the establishment of a developmental fund of $250 million? If so, did the Government refuse to reply due to some inability to reach an agreement with the banks, or was this because of some other reason? Whatever the reason, will the Government say why it has delayed replying for so long?


– I think that the discussions which the Reserve Bank organised at the request of the Commonwealth Government have been producing prospects of valuable results in this direction. The Government raised this matter some considerable time ago. It felt that efforts should be made to provide a larger volume of Australian finance in some of the vast projects which were developing Australia’s natural resources and in relation to national development generally. As to the most recent progress on this matter, I would refer the honorable gentleman to my colleague, the Treasurer, who has been much closer to the actual discussions and the reporting on them than I have myself. But, as recently as yesterday, I did receive from the Treasurer a very encouraging account as to how favorably these talks have been proceeding. The Treasurer has just informed me that these talks will be resumed on Friday of this week.

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– In view of the state of the phosphate deposits in Nauru, can the Minister for National Development say what alternative sources are being developed within Australia for the future production of superphosphate?

Minister for National Development · FARRER, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– The Government is assisting the investigation of phosphate resources in two ways. It was approached by the British Phosphate Commission in relation to Christmas Island. The Government arranged a geological survey there as a result of which drilling has been undertaken by the Commission. This has shown that there is a considerably larger quantity of phosphate on Christmas Island than we originally anticipated although some of it is of a lower quality and may cause some trouble in beneficiation. On the Australian mainland we are encouraging the search for phosphate in every possible way. We brought out two experts from the United States of America. They are Dr. Sheldon and Dr. Van Andel. I hope within a few days to release the reports of these two gentlemen. The report of Dr. Sheldon shows that the best prospects for phosphate in Australia probably lie in the eastern sedimentary basins and already some small quantities of phosphate have been discovered in many areas of Australia. In fact, if honorable members are interested, I have eight specimens of phosphate from different areas of Australia in my office at the present moment. I might even say that if we have any amateur prospectors here I will arrange for them to receive a supply of ammonium molybdate, a colourless liquid, which when squirted on rock containing phosphate turns yellow. Perhaps we might have here a few amateur prospectors who will help us to discover phosphate. Fourteen companies in Australia hold leases to prospect for phosphate. The Bureau of Mineral Resources has arranged to increase the number of its geologists so as to make more available for the search for phosphate in Australia.

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– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. Is it true, as has been reported, that during negotiations and discussions concerning the settlement of the recent postal workers’ dispute, responsible departmental representatives claimed that female labour was more suitable to be employed on the work in dispute because of superior manual dexterity? If superiority of females for this work is admitted, could not that be taken as having a persuasive power in the matter of granting this female labour not only equal pay but an even higher rate of pay than the male rate? In any case, does it not destroy the argument for a lesser rate?

Postmaster-General · PETRIE, QUEENSLAND · LP

– As this matter is currently before the Public Service Arbitrator, I consider it inadvisable for me to offer judgment on questions that he will be considering. Honorable members will appreciate that basically a scale of pay must be set by the Public Service Board and that any organisation associated with such a determination will have the right to appeal against it. I believe that it is the prerogative not of the Public Service Board but of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to determine equal pay for equal work. I do not think I should make any further comment in relation to the matters that the honorable member has raised.

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– I ask the Prime Minister a question. I draw his attention to the clear unanimity of opinion on the question of Vietnam among delegates from nonCommunist countries who attended last week’s meeting of the Council of the InterParliamentary Union. In view of this responsible attitude and the gravity of the situation in that country, will the Prime Minister appeal to the Leader of the Opposition to join with the Government in adopting a bipartisan approach to the Vietnam question and to every aspect of foreign affairs, as is the accepted practice in all the mature democracies of the world?


– The Government would most certainly welcome a change of view on the part of honorable gentlemen opposite to enable them to join with the Government in developing that degree of national unity which in times of crisis is so vital to the security of the nation. We on this side of the House have been doing our best by presenting facts and reporting information that reaches us from various parts of the world, including countries with which we are either allied or closely associated. We would have thought that those facts and that information would demonstrate the importance to Australian security of the resistance of aggression and threats to freedom in various parts of the world and of sustaining efforts to resist Communist agression in Vietnam. As an optimist by temperament, I persist in my hope that the day will come when honorable gentlemen opposite will see the wisdom of this course and will give us the amount of support which I believe Australia’s welfare demands of them.

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– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Yesterday he stated in answer to a question by the honorable member for Blaxland that the information in the document submitted by the Commonwealth to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission had been approved by him. I ask him whether he approved those portions of the document which, in yesterday’s hearing, the presiding presidential member of the Commission described as “ extremely offensive “. I also ask him whether, in accordance with the suggestion made by the presiding presidential member, he has reviewed the instructions to counsel for the Commonwealth and decided whether counsel should persist in the submissions that the presiding presidential member described in those terms.

Minister for Labour and National Service · WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has just recalled, I did approve the statement that was made. To put this matter in context, I would like to go back to the essential point that was made. Honorable members will realise that a great deal of controversy took place at the turn of the year about what should be the composition of the Full Bench of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission dealing with the case in question. This centred round the personalities of the various members of the Commission. One side or the other considered that if A, B and C comprised the bench that side would get better results than if D, E and F comprised it, and so forth. As this rather undignified sort of wrangle and pressure tactics went on in public, it was suggested that the decision arrived at by the Commission would depend on the particular members who comprised the bench.

We made the point, at least for the consideration of the Commission, that in cases like this, instead of individual judgments being delivered, as had happened recently, it was worth considering whether it would not be better for the bench to come to a kind of consensus of view, since this is very largely an economic matter. There are many examples of this kind of process. Various ones can be cited. For instance, we can take the general principle of the consensus arrived at in the Cabinet. On the bases of that consensus, some decision emerges. Vast differences of view go to make up that consensus. Another example of the way in which this process works is the functioning of juries. The members of a jury no doubt argue everything out. They have differences of view, but a consensus finally emerges. The fact that a consensus emerges-

Mr Webb:

– That does not always happen with juries.


– This does not always happen, it is true. But this is only a subordinate consideration. I shall be happy to arrange for my private secretary to show to any honorable member who is interested the relevant passage in the submission and the context in which the matter was put. It is important that the matter be looked at in perspective, and if someone wants to judge the Commonwealth’s brief and the way in which it was put, the best thing he can do is to read what was said on this subject and the reasons why it was said. I am prepared to make that information public.

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– My question, which is directed to the Treasurer, relates to the “ Directory of Overseas Investment in Australian Manufacturing Industry” that was issued by the Department of Trade and Industry. Is the Minister able to tell the House what was the total amount of income tax and dividend withholding tax payable in the last two financial years by the companies listed in that directory? If not, will he inquire into the possibility of supplying this information, distinguishing between tax payable by those companies that are 100 per cent, foreign owned and tax payable by those that are not?


– I do not think that we have details of either the income tax or the dividend withholding tax relating to companies of the type mentioned by the honorable gentleman. However, I think I shall be able to get the details for him. As to the split up between companies that are 100 per cent, foreign owned and Australian companies, and, for that matter, if I may go a stage further, companies largely owned and controlled by overseas investors, I shall try to get details of that also for the honorable gentleman. I assume that his purpose is to find a trend so as to see the way in which withholding tax and dividends are paid. I shall ask the Commissioner of Taxation and Treasury officials to look into the matter and I shall let the honorable member have the information as soon as I can.

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– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. I ask: Did the Government receive from grower organisations many weeks ago requests that an urgent advance payment of 20 cents a bushel on wheat in No. 28 pool be made in view of the serious drought situation in New South Wales and Queensland? Was this request refused? If so, was it refused because a member of the Australian Country Party in this House stressed that an advance payment, even though it might help drought stricken farmers in New South Wales and Queensland, would increase the severity of income tax for Western Australian wheat farmers, who had enjoyed a bumper season? When is the second advance from the pool now expected to be paid?

Minister for Primary Industry · FISHER, QUEENSLAND · CP

– I had a deputation from the United Farmers and Woolgrowers Association of New South Wales asking for a second advance of 20 cents to wheatgrowers to help them during the drought. The Government did not agree with this suggestion. It had not received any request from the Australian Wheat Board, which is the authority that makes recommendations to the Government for these payments. In addition, under the normal arrangements that are adopted, second advance payments are made when the realisations are sufficient to pay the overdraft that has been incurred to make the first advance payment. The overdraft at that stage had not been fully repaid.

The Government’s policy is to keep drought relief payments in a separate channel. It intends to make payments to assist all those who need assistance and not only a few wheat growers. If payments were made only to wheat growers, considerable payments would be made to people who have not suffered from the drought. We believe in keeping the payments for the wheat advance and drought relief separate. The wheat advance will be paid to wheat growers when the Australian Wheat Board makes a recommendation to the Government and payments for drought relief will be made through the State Governments in accordance with the generous treatment that the Commonwealth Government has already given to the two States concerned.

The honorable member has made a slighting reference to a member of the Australian Country Party. There is no truth in his suggestion. The Wheat Section of the Farmers’ Union of Western Australia Inc. met and considered this matter because it had been brought to its notice. The members of the Section unanimously carried a motion that there should be no departure from the regular practice of payments being made to wheat growers. The honorable member asked me when the next payment would be made by the Australian Wheat Board. The Board has made a recommendation to me that a payment of 9 cents should be made towards the end of May, when it expects to have sufficient funds in hand to make the payment.

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– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. What is the current position with the survey and marking of the New Guinea border with Indonesia? Is the report correct that an Indonesian team which was to visit Australia for talks on this matter has postponed its plans?


– Agreement was reached some time ago between Indonesia and Australia on the method of conducting a joint survey and subsequently marking the New Guinea border.

Mr Jones:

– Is the Prime Minister reading an anonymous letter?


– How irresponsible can the Opposition be? This is a matter of importance.

Mr Bryant:

Mr. Speaker, I take a point of order. Is it in order for the Prime Minister to make a prepared statement during question time without leave of the House?


– Order! The honorable member’s point of order has no substance.


– It was quite obvious that this matter was likely to be raised in the Parliament. It has been canvassed in the Press in recent times and it is important in Australia’s interest that it should be clarified. Indonesia has suggested that further technical talks be held in Australia immediately before the commencement of the survey and we have intimated our agreement. We hope that the Indonesian team will be able to come lo Australia soon. We are ready to participate in the talks and to begin the survey at short notice. No definite date for a visit has yet been arranged.

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– I ask the Prime Minister a question. I do so because of the continued absence from the House of both the Minister for the Army and the Minister for Defence. I preface my question by saying that the Minister for the Army has advised honorable members that the transcript of proceedings in the court martial of Gunner O’Neill will not be tabled in the Parliament but will be available in the Parliamentary Library for perusal by honorable members. I ask the Prime Minister whether the transcript of proceedings in the court martial of Major Tedder, who was acquitted on the ground that his superior officer had condoned his action, also will be available for perusal by honorable members. Finally, who is the officer referred to in the court martial of Major Tedder?


– In my absence from Australia I shall arrange for the Acting Prime Minister to raise this matter with the Minister for the Army and see whether it is practicable to meet the honorable gentleman’s request.

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– I ask the Treasurer a question. I refer to the honorable gentleman’s recent announcement that S50 million will be made available for new and extended farm loan facilities. Have details for the release of these loans on terms outlined by the Treasurer been finalised with the banks? If so, are long term loans now being made available by the trading banks to rural producers, particularly small producers, including credit worthy younger men with appropriate experience?


– The policy decisions in this matter have been the subject of consultation between the Reserve Bank and the trading banks. As yet I have not been advised that the trading banks have been able to make the detailed and complex administrative arrangements that are necessary to permit applications to be approved and advances made. Conferences are to take place early next week - on Tuesday T think -between representatives of the Reserve Bank and the trading banks. When these have been held I will be in a better position to advise the House when advances will be made.

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– I ask the Prime Minister whether an informal approach has been made to him to visit Indonesia and have talks with the new Indonesian Foreign Minister. In view of the importance of cultivating friendly relations with Australia’s nearest neighbour, will the right honorable gentleman take advantage of any opportunity to have discussions which may ease tensions between Australia and Indonesia? Will he also take advantage of opportunities to discuss Indonesia’s policy of confrontation of Malaysia?


– I had a visit yesterday from the Indonesian Ambassador to Australia. His Excellency made a very gracious reference to the recent action of the Australian Government, on behalf of the Australian people, in providing, as a gesture of help in the recent floods in Java, a gift to Indonesia. We had a cordial discussion about relations between our two countries. I expressed the hope, which His Excellency shared, that relations between Indonesia and Australia might improve as time goes on. I stressed the value that could accrue from cordial relations relative to the rest of the world and from the growth of trade between our two countries. His Excellency made it clear, without extending a specific invitation to visit Indonesia at this time, that his country would welcome a visit from me. I for my part said that when a suitable and appropriate opportunity appeared to be available I would gladly make such a visit.

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Mr Kevin Cairns:

– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. I refer to the decline in the number of people registered for employment in Queensland between February and March this year. Is it not correct that although this drop is quite large there are still 3,500 more people registered now than there were a year previously? To what extent does this higher figure reflect the impact of the drought on the Queensland economy? What action is the Government taking to meet the position?


– I am informed that as a consequence of the drought there has been a movement of farm labour from country areas into the country towns, particularly the coastal towns of Queensland, and that in some cases farmers who have suffered from the drought are also seeking employment in the country towns in order to increase their incomes. I have previously told the House that the Government has agreed to a large and varied number of measures in order to sustain the farmers on their properties and in many cases provide them with the money they need to carry out restocking as soon as the drought has eased. I also made it clear to the House that the Government expects that as between New South Wales and Queensland about $20 million will be allotted before the coming Budget for the purpose of drought relief.

As to the precise question, already the Queensland Government has made available more than $1,400,000 for unemployment relief purposes in the coastal towns of Queensland, and during the course of the last few days, at the request of the Queensland Government, I agreed with the proposal to make an extra $500,000 available for drought relief. I believe that these are the most generous methods ever introduced by an Australian Government to meet such circumstances. The Government is determined that unemployment in Queensland will be reduced to an absolute minimum. We expect that within the course of the next few months, with the beginning of the sugar and slaughtering seasons in Queensland, there will be a large demand for employment. The Government believes that the measures it has taken will help to reduce the numbers of unemployed there and it hopes for flush employment conditions to continue as far ahead as we can forecast.

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– The Minister for Civil Aviation will recall that I wrote to him requesting that he receive a deputation of citizens of the Pagewood area of my electorate who desire to protest against the noise nuisance and vibration effects caused by aircraft taking off and approaching the Sydney (KingsfordSmith) airport. The honorable gentleman said that he would be willing to receive a deputation at Canberra. I ask him whether he would meet these people in Sydney, because they cannot afford the expense which would be incurred in coming to Canberra.


– I addressed another letter to the honorable member yesterday directing attention to the proposal to meet this deputation and asking whether the members of the deputation wished to come down to Canberra to meet me here. I think that in the original letter to the honorable member I stated that I had taken over the Civil Aviation portfolio only a short time before the House met and that I had no opportunity to spend any time in Sydney on that occasion. I stated that if the matter were urgent the only opportunity I would have to meet the deputation would be if it were to come to Canberra. However, in the letter I wrote yesterday I mentioned that if for any particular reason the deputation could not come down here I would be very happy to meet it in Sydney, but that it would be difficult for me to do so until the end of the present sessional period. However, I hope that some suitable arrangements can be made, because I have a lot of material - diagrams, charts and so forth - in my office at the present time which I hope to discuss with the delegation.

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– Has the attention of the Postmaster-General been directed to an article in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ stating that a subscriber who endeavoured


– Order! The honorable member can direct attention to the report but he may not quote from it, and if necessary he will have to vouch for its accuracy.


– The subscriber spent 15 minutes trying to raise 2075. He then telephoned the complaints section and the telephonist told him to go around the corner as there was a post office there and he could send the telegram quite quickly. Will the service be improved by Hie appointment of more attendants and the installation of more lines? It is a very valuable service.


– I am sure that the advice given by the lass on the telephone exchange would be given with the usual Post Office courtesy and in the best interests of the person concerned. The Post Office endeavours in relation to telegrams to give a service by which at least 90 per cent, of the calls are answered within 15 seconds. It is not always possible, particularly in present circumstances of full employment, to enlist appropriate staff to carry out this responsibility. We do what we possibly can. There has been an improvement over the last few weeks compared with, perhaps, February, but we will do our best to maintain the service which the public wants and deserves.

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– Does the Prime Minis.ter consider the crisis in Vietnam to be a threat to Australia’s security? If he does, why has not a state of national emergency been declared?


– I am rather surprised to find that question coming from the honorable gentleman.

Mr Calwell:

– Why not?


– Because I respect his sincerity and judgment in this House.

Mr Cope:

– Answer the question.


– I shall proceed to give an answer to the question to the best of my ability. Of course Australia’s security is threatened if Communist expansion through Asia is allowed to proceed unchecked. This is occurring in South Vietnam at the present time. Aided from Hanoi and from China, North Vietnam is pursuing the dominant philosophy of imperialist Communist China at this time. The Chinese Government sees the eventual domination of the world by Communism as its ultimate goal. The Chinese people are traditional for the patience that they are prepared to bring to their long term objectives.

So far as Australia is concerned, what is happening in Vietnam is one of the steps in this process of expansion of Communist influence and infiltration throughout areas of South East Asia, penetrating further and further in the course of time until this continent is itself threatened by this malign philosophy. It is because we, the United States and other friendly forces in South Vietnam recognise this threat that Australia is there. We are there to a limited participation because we have commitments in other areas and we have obligations to our security inside Australia. Also, we have obligations in respect of the defence of Papua and New Guinea. Having regard to a limited participation for limited objectives in South Vietnam, we devote that degree of our national resources and of our national manpower needed to carry out our commitments and to meet our contribution to the objectives I have stated. I should have thought that this was patent enough and I am baffled to know why people elected from

Australian electorates could pursue the irresponsible course which honorable gentlemen opposite insist on pursuing.

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– I address to the Minister for Primary Industry a question supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Darling. Is it a fact that the annual conference of delegates of the wheat growers’ organisation in Western Australia, held in the middle of March, discussed the question of Government intervention in the traditional procedures of the Australian Wheat Board in respect of wheat payments and unanimously decided that such intervention should be discouraged?


– The answer to the honorable member’s question is: “ Yes “. I must repeat and emphasise that any advances approved by the Government through a responsible marketing organisation should be as a result of some recommendation from that marketing authority itself. On this occasion we have had no request whatsoever from the Australian Wheat Board.

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– 1 address a question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. As the right honorable gentleman has stated in this House that we might as well sell wheat to Communist China because wheat is readily available from other sources, are we to take this to mean that if a situation arises where wheat is not obtainable elsewhere Australia will refuse to supply this commodity to the Communists? Further, as arms and ammunition are readily available from other sources, does he also intend to supply these items to the same customers for the same reason?

Minister for Trade and Industry · MURRAY, VICTORIA · CP

– I have not used the precise words that the honorable member attributes to me. He has put a political twist upon what I have explained to the House quite frequently; that is, that wheat is sold by the Australian Wheat Board and that the Board has always reserved the quantities desired by our traditional customers. Wheat sold to Communist China was in excess of what was needed to meet the requirements of our traditional customers. I have no reason to believe that the policy of the Aus tralian Wheat Board in this regard will change.

Mr Calwell:

– lt is Government policy.


– It is not Government policy.

Mr Calwell:

– Of course; it must be Government policy.


– Order! Interjections are out of order.


– The Leader of the Opposition interjects that this is Government policy-

Mr Calwell:

– The Government has to give export licences. It can prohibit any exports or imports.


– That would appear to indicate that the Leader of the Opposition is against wheat exports to China. Yet he said by interjection across the table here a week ago that the Labor Party would sell wheat to anybody.

Mr Calwell:

– Of course it would.


– Then what is the argument about?


– Order! A question has been asked of the Minister. All honorable members know that interjections are out of order. They must therefore cease.


– Clearly, this question is not one seeking information; it is a question seeking merely to take a political point, and it falls flat because I have said in this House, and my colleagues have said many times, that in trading with Communist countries Australia takes the same line as is taken by all the Western powers with the exception only of the United States of America. The Western powers are in agreement on what items ought not to be sold in any given circumstances at any point of time to Communist countries. Australia does not sell anything to a Communist country that would not be sold to that country by other Western powers, and will refuse to sell to a Communist country what the other Western powers would refuse to sell. As to the question about arms and ammunition, that, of course, is utter nonsense, and the honorable member ought to know that it is utter nonsense because these are items debarred from sale to Communist countries.

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.- I move -

That, in the opinion of this House, the Government should provide immediate financial relief to the Queensland sugar industry to overcome the serious economic situation existing in major sections of the industry, primarily as a result of the disastrously free market prices for sugar, the serious drought, and the fact that the economic health of the industry as a result of the recent expansion of the Queensland sugar industry is now greatly dependent on the export markets.

It cannot be denied that major sections of the Queensland sugar industry are in serious financial difficulties. This applies to growers and millers alike, but, perhaps more importantly, the whole economic future of the sugar industry is at stake and unless we have some bright financial star on the horizon we can expect a grave crisis in the future - and, in certain sections of the industry, in the immediate future. This is not an exaggeration, and I am quite certain that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) are aware of its seriousness. What we want to know is what this Government intends to do about it.

The reasons why the industry is in trouble are several and they are important. First, we have a serious drought in some sugar industry areas. We know that not much can be done about droughts in some areas, but we know that elsewhere constructive programmes of water conservation will at least alleviate the problems, particularly in such areas as the Burnett, Pioneer and Burdekin areas. The most important reason for the industry’s difficulties is that for the first time in its history the sugar industry is confronted with a situation in which over half of the total production has to be disposed of at free world market prices - that is, under the present marketing arrangements. One ton of sugar out of every two tons produced has to be sold at world free market price. The free market price today is about £20 a ton. In real money this is a lower figure than was obtained in the depression days. In cold economics it means that the industry is producing half of its production for sale at a price substantially below the total cost of production. In some areas new growers and those who have had significant increases in assignments are actually producing sugar at a cost significantly higher than the present overall aver age price. In any language this means that there is a definite limit to the time for which producers can carry on under such drastically uneconomic conditions.

Coupled with this, the sugar industry is a high cost industry. This does not mean that it is inefficient, but because it has a high component of labour, fertiliser, fuel and oil costs and so forth it is, on a per acre basis, a high cost industry. Many of the costs are beyond the control of the producer. In the last two years costs in the industry have risen. We are faced with a deteriorating marketing situation in which the average return being received for raw sugar is being substantially reduced. Let us look more closely at some of the reasons for this situation. Let us refer to the period before the last rapid expansion in the industry. From 1953 to 1961 the industry was largely stable both as regards production and price. Mill peaks averaged around 1.2 million tons of raw sugar. Production was slightly in excess of that, but the price for excess sugar did not play an important part in the average price. The industry had the protection of the home market in terms of a guaranteed price. It had the benefit of the Sugar Agreement for a significant portion - in fact, the major portion - of its export surplus. The free market proportion was only about 20 per cent, of the total production. In other words, it could be said that the industry was then in a fairly healthy financial situation. It was protected to a degree by a home market formula which was related to cost of production movements and it had the benefit of tariffs and of satisfactory negotiated prices. Taken by and large, the industry had the benefit of inbuilt stabilising forces.

Under the Sugar Agreement between the Commonwealth and Queensland we had stable domestic prices. Imports of sugar were prohibited and the Commonwealth was obligated to support returns to growers within mill peaks. The New South Wales marketing situation was taken care of, too. The industry was in a fairly comfortable financial position. Let us examine why the expansion of the industry took place. The last major sugar conference in 1961 - that is, the major conference before last year’s conference - proved a failure because of the lack of agreement on the export quota provisions for Cuba. In the following yeal export restrictions under the International Sugar Agreement were lifted. At the same time Cuban production declined. This, coupled with increased demands from other countries, particularly Communist countries, resulted in an overall situation in which that price rose to a degree so that the free market price in 1963 actually reached a figure of over £100 a ton. When honorable members consider the level of this figure of £100 in comparison with the long term average free market price of approximately £30, 1 think the significance of this very high figure is readily understood.

At the same time, the Queensland Government undertook an investigation into the sugar industry when it set up the Committee of Inquiry into the Sugar Industry. This Committee carried out to the best of everybody’s belief a thorough investigation not only in Australia but also overseas. The result of that inquiry was that recommendations were put up to the Queensland Government backed by a case for the immediate expansion of the sugar industry to a very marked degree. So rapid has been the expansion of the sugar industry that in a matter of two years Australia has increased its sugar exports more than any other country and has jumped from fifth place to second place in the countries that export sugar. I can illustrate the increase represented by the expansion in the industry by pointing to the fact that from 1953 to 1961 the actual mill peak was established at approximately 1.2 million tons and production was approximately 1 .3 million tons. Yet, in 1962, when the first effects of this expansion programme were felt, production actually jumped from a mill peak of 1.2 million tons to 1.6 million tons. In 1964, the Queensland Central Sugar Cane Prices Board increased the mill peak to 1.7 million tons and production was 1.8 million tons. In 1965, the mill peak was set at 2.1 million tons but production, particularly because of the drought, was only 1.9 million tons.

The important point in relation to these mill peaks is that because of the recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry appointed by the Queensland Government - and 1 understand these recommendations are supported implicitly by the Commonwealth Government - this tremendous increase has resulted in the Australian sugar industry being forced to sell 50 per cent, of its production at these disastrous free market prices. At that point of time the free market price was averaging approximately £72 per ton, c.i.f., London. The present, state of the sugar industry in terms of marketing is that home consumption amounts to approximately 600,000 tons of raw sugar at a price of £60 a ton. Under the Sugar Agreement ratified between the Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government, approximately 350,000 tons are taken at £52 a ton and the United States of America imports from Australia approximately 160,000 tons at £52 a ton. This means that the Australian sugar industry has almost a guaranteed market for approximately 1. 1 million tons of the sugar it produces. The salient point is that the mill peak is set at 2.2 million tons. We have to sell the surplus of I.I million tons at the best price we can obtain. As I mentioned before, the amount of £20 a ton is only about one half of what it is costing to manufacture sugar today. This is the best estimate I can find. Tt is supplied to me by certain sections of the sugar industry.

It is no good crying over spilt milk. We could argue for days as to whether the expansion in the sugar industry should have taken place or whether it should not have taken place. We could argue whether the expansion should have gone ahead with the rapidity it did. I have sufficient faith in our sugar industry to predict that it will be a matter of years only before the problems of the sugar industry are straightened out. We might even be considering within a period of six or seven years expanding the sugar industry again. The important point at the present time is that because of the marketing situation the Australian sugar industry is in serious trouble. Major sections of the industry, including the mills, are in serious trouble. If this state of affairs continues, with this disastrous free market price, the whole sugar industry must suffer a grave crisis.

As I said before, our mill peaks at the moment are set at a production level of 2.2 million tons. But we have to face the fact that because of the advance in technology and the extreme efficiency of this important industry, greater increases in sugar production per acre can be expected. We can expect correspondingly significant increases in both the commercial content of sugar level and the yield per acre of cane which will result, of course, in an increase in the amount of sugar produced per acre. The sugar industry is a unique industry. Unlike most other industries it is fixed in the sense that there is no practical alternative to growing sugar. Large sectors of the wheat and dairying industries have ways and means of converting their land and resources to other forms of production. But the sugar industry is fixed in this regard. A producer either grows sugar or he gets out o_ the industry. This is because of the high cost of land, the high fixed capital and the high operating costs. In other words, the elasticity of supply is such that one cannot get out of the industry. We have to accept this fact. On the best figures I can obtain, up to the present time, approximately £120 million has been invested in the sugar industry in the last four years. This investment is concerned not only with growers but also millers and with the provision of bulk handling facilities and port facilities. The industry has gone ahead and expanded very rapidly not only in relation to growing cane but also in relation to the ancillary facilities needed to produce sugar efficiently.

I would stress this point also: The sugar industry is unique in that a very high proportion of Queensland people and industries are dependent upon it either directly or indirectly. The level of employment in the sugar towns is directly related to the prosperity of the sugar industry. The prosperity of the business nouses and the people in the sugar areas - whether they work on the wharves, the railways or in ships - is directly dependent upon the sugar industry, Accepting this fact, we have to find out how to help the industry.

Before dealing with the specific proposals I wish to put forward, there is one thing that puzzles me. Perhaps the Minister for Primary Industry can put me straight on this point. What is the part to be played by the Commonwealth Government in the expansion of the sugar industry? I have studied the Sugar Agreement between the Commonwealth and Queensland and I must say I am extremely puzzled as to what the obligations of the Commonwealth Government are in respect of the expansion of the sugar industry. It would seem to me that the Commonwealth under the 1962 Agreement is pledged to underwrite the returns to growers relating to specific mill peaks. These mill peaks as determined in 1962 are approximately 1.3 million tons. But now tha mill peaks have risen to 2.2 million tons. Does this mean that the Commonwealth in effect has to guarantee the sugar industry with respect to additional increases in the mill peaks? If it does not have to do so, what are the provisions of the Sugar Agreement Act which say that it does not have to do so?

It seems to me that considerable discussions should have taken place between the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments when the decision was made by the Queensland Government to go ahead with the expansion of the sugar industry. I have gone through “ Hansard “ and I have been unable to find statements by Ministers on this matter, which is one of the most important decisions that the Queensland Government, and particularly the Commonwealth Government, could have taken in this field or, in fact, in any field. I raise this point because I am unclear on just what is the Commonwealth’s responsibility with respect to the expansion of this industry. In fact, one would almost think that the Queensland Government had gone ahead and expanded the industry without consultation with the Commonwealth. Perhaps the Queensland Government has the right to do that; but I would like to hear, either in the House today or at some other time, some explanation of this matter.

I will deal now with what the Commonwealth should do about this matter. Has it any obligations? Obviously, it has obligations because the sugar industry is one of the most important industries in Australia. It certainly is the most important industry in Queensland. It produces between 25 and 28 per cent, of Queensland’s income. Can we sir down and hope for an increase in the free market price? If we do that, I believe that we will be just putting this crucial problem off to some other day. This industry has its problems. Can we, in fact, negotiate an international sugar agreement? Are there other answers such as price stabilisation? All of these things have to be considered.

The most important issue at the present time is that the industry is in trouble and needs finance. It is no good saying that the loans to which the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) and the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) have referred can be made available to the sugar industry, because the small grower with the small peak and the new grower cannot’ service such a loan. His cash cost of production is actually higher than the average price that he is receiving for his cane. I am speaking about a specific sector of the industry, namely the newer growers who are coming into it. 1 am not speaking necessarily about the old, established grower with the bigger peak. Although some of his costs are high in his books, for example, land valuations, in fact he is not actually paying them and, because of the size of his farm, his cash cost of production at the present time should enable him to overcome this immediate problem.

I again stress that in some areas water is more important than price. As 1 have stressed time and time again, I am quite certain that many of the growers in the Bundaberg area around Maroondan, Wallavill, Gin Gin, Fairymead and Bingera would admit that the most important need is to stabilise production because ;he effect of a rapid reduction in production is more significant than that of even a decrease in price. I have said in the House before that the direct and indirect losses of production alone in areas such as the Bundaberg area are greater than the cost of building water storages to stabilise production. With respect to an increase in the free market price, Australia is at a disadvantage in that some countries, particularly Cuba and the Philippines, have contracts with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America respectively under which their prices are guaranteed to a degree.

The Minister for Trade and Industry made great play on the Japanese Trade Agreement during the Dawson by-election campaign. That amazed me. lt only demonstrated how out of touch the Government is with some sectors of the cane growing industry. Every time he stood up and spoke about the Japanese Trade Agreement I won votes. The reason for that was that he never ever mentioned the price at’ which we are selling sugar to Japan, which is £20-odd a ton. I am not saying that the Japanese Trade Agreement is not good at a good price. But’, if we are selling sugar to Japan at £20-odd a ton, how can one say that this is a wonderful agreement?

In fact, the Minister is reported in “ Hansard “ as saying that the expansion of the sugar industry was made possible only by the Japanese Trade Agreement. 1 can assure him that he receives no thanks from certain large sectors of the sugar industry in respect of that Agreement. 1. mention that only because we have to recognise that either we have to get a new international sugar agreement or we have to have some sort of a system such as stabilisation to guarantee the incomes of the cane growers. 1 understand that the Japanese Trade Agreement will be re-negotiated in 1967. I hope that somehow we can obtain a better price than the free market price. I would like somebody to tell me whether it is a fact that Japan is helping to finance sugar mills in Indonesia. I have asked some Commonwealth departments about this. They say that they have not heard of it. But I have heard it all around the sugar industry. If Japan is financing sugar mills and the sugar industry in Indonesia, we should look at the position very carefully because indirectly it would represent a threat to our exports.

Can we sit and hope for a satisfactory international sugar agreement? The two agreements since the Second World War have not been entirely satisfactory. In fact, my investigations reveal that the minimum floor price of 3.25 cents per lb. has been exceeded for only one-half of the time. In other words, for only 50 per cent, of the long period from 1953 to 1961 have we been receiving more than the floor price. Now there are other important factors. The developing countries are coming into the matter. All I can say is this: Let us hope that we can negotiate a new and satisfactory international sugar agreement; but can we sit down and wait for such an agreement when the industry is in trouble?

I have mentioned price stabilisation. This is a longer term solution; but I am quite convinced that the industry should be considering it in consultation with the Government at the present time. In the event of the International Sugar Agreement failing - in other words, if a new agreement cannot be negotiated within a very short time - something like a stabilisation scheme will have to be given to the industry. Do not let anybody say that I am trying to ram stabilisation down the industry’s throat. I am suggesting that this is a method by which the industry might be able to get out of trouble if, in the long term, the International Sugar Agreement fails.

The present problem is the need to give the sugar industry immediate financial relief. How do we do that? I suggest that there are two methods by which we can do it. One is to give the Queensland Government or the Queensland Sugar Board immediately special loans to finance the growers who are in serious trouble and the mills that are in serious trouble also. Some of the mills have already been given loans from the State Government Insurance Office. But they have had to levy their growers an additional 2s. 6d. to 5s. a ton of cane. How can the growers pay that levy when the present cost of production of some of the new growers is higher than the price that they are receiving for their cane? The other way to give immediate financial relief, as I see the position, is for the Government immediately to compensate the Queensland Sugar Board with the objective of raising the average return to the growers to a fair figure. The second method would mean that all of the growers would share in the increased revenue. The first method would mean that only the growers and mills in serious trouble would be taken care of until some more permanent arrangements were made.

In order to give the House an indication of what the cost would be, I point out that if the Government decided that the average price of raw sugar, as paid by the Queensland Sugar Board to the growers through the mills should be about £42 a ton, the free market price would need to be £24 a ton. On the basis of a 50 per cent, exportable surplus, about £4 million would have to be given to the Queensland Sugar Board or the Queensland Government. If £45 a ton were to be the average price, the free market price would have to be £30 a ton and, on the same formula, about £9 million would have to be given to the Queensland land Sugar Board or the Queensland Government.

Something must be done, and done quickly. The planting season has arrived and some producers are now working part time on their farms and part time on the railways and in other employment trying to obtain sufficient income to enable them to pay for their fertiliser and meet their planting costs. When the crushing season arrives, how will they pay for cane cutters and for general harvesting costs? It seems that a satisfactory free market price for the industry would be about £35 a ton c.i.f. London. This would mean that the average price to the grower would be about £47 a ton raw sugar. This can be translated into any formula that one likes to choose to arrive at a figure to supplement the average returns to the growers. As I mentioned before, certain mills, like those at Cattle Creek and North Eton, are in trouble. They are co-operative mills and they cannot obtain from normal banking avenues the additional finance needed to enable them to go ahead with crushing operations this year. Therefore, they have had to levy the growers in return for a loan from the Queensland Government to carry them through. By and large, I would sum up simply by saying that I have great faith in the sugar industry-


– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.

Mr Pollard:

– I formally second the motion and reserve my right to speak later.

Minister for Primary Industry · Fisher · CP

Mr. Deputy Speaker, I have no quarrel with the approach of the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) to the sugar industry, which is a very important one. Obviously, there can be no argument about the fact that problems confront it at present. The honorable member has suggested, if I understood him aright, that there are two main reasons why these problems have arisen. In his view, they have been caused partly by the drought but in the main by the expansion of the sugar industry. As he stated, the Queensland Government in 1963 instituted an inquiry into the industry by the Committee of Inquiry into the Sugar Industry which was presided over by Mr. Justice Gibbs, and which made certain recommendations proposing expansion. The honorable member said that the Queensland Government supported the proposal

Mr Pollard:

– What about the Commonwealth Government’s attitude?


– The Commonwealth Government was not really asked what its attitude was. We were advised of the expansion that was being undertaken. It must be acknowledged that there is a partnership between the Commonwealth and the State Governments and the industry. We want it to remain so, and this has been the policy of the industry also down through the years. Regardless of the political colour of the Governments concerned, this has been the defined policy of the industry over the years. State legislation regulates most of the operations of the industry. The Central Sugar Cane Prices Board in Queensland was established by legislation and Queensland assignments are regulated by State statute. What must be recognised is that the Queensland Government is the more direct instrument of authority in the sugar industry. It fixes assignments for all Queensland growers and has arrangements with the relatively very small New South Wales part of the industry to regulate production there. The industry is confronted with big problems, mainly because the world price has collapsed. But I still have sufficient optimism and sufficient faith in the industry to believe that in the long run the expansion that has been undertaken will prove to have been not altogether a bad thing and that the industry will make good. I firmly believe that.

Mr Pollard:

– Was an opinion of that sort conveyed to the Queensland Government when it informed the Commonwealth Government that it proposed to expand the industry?


– At the time, everything looked rosy on the world’s markets.


– I do not know that we were particularly asked for our view. Let us look at the picture. The motion, in effect, implies that the industry is left to weather the vagaries of the market place. That is not the true picture. This is the only industry that has the advantage of a complete embargo on imports of the product that it markets. If it were not for this protection, any sugar producing country could export sugar to Australia, swamp our local market and undersell our producers. But there is a complete embargo on sugar imports in this country. This is particularly important when world prices are low.

I think the honorable member for Dawson said that approximately 50 per cent, of sales of Australian sugar are made at world prices. That is not exactly the situation. About 30 per cent, of production is sold at a fixed home consumption price agreed on by the Commonwealth and the State Governments. This price is approximately $180 a ton and returns to producers about $120 a ton - very much above the cost of production. About 18 per cent, is sold under the terms of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement with the United Kingdom at a reasonably remunerative price. The price for this can vary to a degree, since it is a negotiated price, though it does not vary greatly from year to year. This year, it is £43 10s. sterling f.o.b. That represents a pretty good contract price. My recollection is that under this agreement about 335,000 tons a year, or about 18 per cent, of the output, goes to the United Kingdom.

About 10 per cent, of the Australian output is sold in the United States of America at a price specially legislated for there and returning to Australian producers about the same as the United Kingdom price. Because of short deliveries by other countries, we have been able this year to increase our quota in the United States market by 7.000 or 8,000 tons. I think we can say that we shall sell approximately 177,000 tons there this year. So this also is a very valuable market. In addition, about 10 per cent, of our production is sold in preferential markets such as the

Canadian market, where preferences represent about $A14 a ton over and above the world price. Honorable members opposite recently voted against New Zealand preferences for a number of products, but New Zealand preferences give Australian sugar producers an additional benefit over and above the world price, representing about SA8.50. If honorable members tally up the figures that I have given, they will see that well over 50 per cent, of the Australian output of sugar is sold on the local market and overseas markets at very satisfactory prices.

Dr Patterson:

– The price of SI 80 a ton mentioned by the Minister was for refined sugar, not raw sugar.


– That is correct. The honorable member mentioned the Sugar Agreement Act 1962. The Commonwealth does not guarantee to make up the price to the producers. The negotiating government is the Queensland Government. The Act imposes obligations upon the Queensland Government and no doubt it has faithfully fulfilled them. Reference has been made to to the difficulty of providing additional finance in the present situation. This has been brought about mainly by the expansion of the industry. I think that ultimately the expansion will prove to have been for the good of the industry, but it has caused problems in obtaining additional capital. Money has been needed to extend the mills and to provide equipment to handle the extra production. Some of the co-operative mills have found themselves in trouble in making levy payments, but the Queensland Government has already acted to help them. At present a committee is investigating the position of the co-operative mills. A representative of the industry is going around with a representative of the AuditorGeneral and they have satisfactorily settled all the financial problems of the cooperative mills, with the exception of two, which have still to be considered. The industry is very happy about this action. The problems of making levy payments have been recognised and the Queensland Government has acted to protect the industry.

I remind honorable members that a State election will soon be held in Queensland, f would assume that each party will state its policy in relation to the sugar industry. The

State Government, which is probably more responsible than the Opposition anyhow, will definitely state its policy. I am sure it is facing up to the problems of the industry. The Government is already attending to the problems of capital costs and payments; this action has not yet been completed.

Mr Pollard:

– Has the Queensland Government made any request to the Commonwealth for assistance that it could pass on to the sugar growers?


– The Queensland Government has been in consultation with the Commonwealth Government. 1 would not like to call this an official request; the Queensland Government has kept us advised. However, whether an official request has been made or not, the Commonwealth must consider this matter when the State allocations of finance are being made. Assistance that should be given to an industry - the sugar industry or any other industry - will be included in the payments to the States. The assistance that is needed will be considered when State allocations are made at the Premiers’ Conference. It will come one way or the other and it will be the responsibility of the Commonwealth to consider the appropriate action to take.

The free price of sugar has become low. If we are fair, we will recognise that the world international agreement collapsed because Cuba broke away. At an early stage, Cuba sought an excessive quota of more than six million tons. The other exporters were not prepared to concede this. They offered Cuba a reasonable tonnage, but the negotiations collapsed at that stage. Over the last two years there have been continual discussions and there is continual consultation between the exporting countries and the consuming countries. The honorable member for Dawson was quite right when he said that agreement could not be reached last year. But T think that a sound foundation was laid and there is good reason to be more optimistic about’ the future. I. think that when representatives meet next - perhaps later this year - they will be successful in coming to some arrangement. Negotiations arc proceeding between the Commonwealth Government and Japan regarding price aspects.

I think the Commonwealth Government was instrumental in obtaining a satisfactory quota in the United States of America. We would like to have a much larger quota, but the quota we have is protected by the United States Congress. We believe that the Commonwealth Government, as one of the partners, has done a very satisfactory job.

The honorable member for Dawson referred briefly to drought. I referred to payments for drought relief when I answered a question this morning. I do not think that the Government should, as a policy, expect industries to contribute to drought relief. Although the Government did not cause the drought, it must accept the responsibility for trying to mitigate the effects of drought. So the Commonwealth Government has acted with the Queensland and New South Wales Governments to provide drought relief. It has also dealt directly with those affected by drought. I believe that that is the way in which drought relief should be handled. A producer or an industry should not be asked to accept the responsibility for payments to assist people who are suffering from the effects of drought; governments should accept this responsibility.

The honorable member referred to a stabilisation scheme for the industry. I repeat what I have said in the House before. The door is always open if any industry, particularly the sugar industry, wants to come to me while I am the responsible Minister to discuss any aspect of its organisation. If a stabilisation scheme is sought and the industry submits it to me, I will discuss it through and through with the representatives of the industry. A stabilisation scheme for the sugar industry obviously will involve the Queensland Government. If a stabilisation scheme is the answer to the industry’s troubles, it is, as the honorable member said, a long term answer. Such a scheme must bc a matter of industry policy, just as an industry policy has been used to control production, assignments, marketing systems and overseas exporting. The sugar industry must continue to be a responsible industry .and it must accept some responsibility for the present expansion.

I know that over the last two years the sugar industry, notably in the North Burnett area, the Childers district and the Bundaberg area, has been tragically affected by drought, lt has been more affected there than in the north of Queensland or even in the north of New South Wales. Parts of New South Wales have also been tragically affected by the drought, but the area around the Tweed has not been so badly affected. The onset of drought is not the fault of governments; it is the result of vagaries of the seasons. If we are to have a policy that will meet the vagaries of the seasons and all the other circumstances that arise, we must look at the system of marketing and other aspects for which the industry has a responsibility. My Department has been giving assistance to the industry to adopt mechanical methods in its operations. I have repeatedly given grants so that the construction of machinery with a possibility of success and that will help to reduce the cost of harvesting the crops can be completed. A committee was established to distribute these grants. The Commonwealth has given a bounty of £4 a ton on nitrogenous fertilisers, which the sugar industry uses extensively. The Department of Trade and Industry and my Department have always acted in conjunction with the Queensland Government to help the industry. The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) and the Premier of Queensland went overseas to negotiate possible contracts for the future. That approach of full co-operation and partnership will be continued. If the industry is confronted with any new problems the Commonwealth will certainly accept its share of responsibility. But where do we give a direct grant now? The assistance is being provided for capital purposes. Notwithstanding what the honorable member for Dawson said about growers getting about £35 a ton for their sugar, this year they got $85.25 a ton for No. 1 pool sugar and $83.25 a ton overall. Last year the amounts were $98.20 a ton for No. 1 pool and $95.53 a ton overall. This year’s figures have been brought about by the depressed state of prices on the world free markets because of oversupply.

I trust that the picture does not worsen this year. I hope that the season will help the growers. The promise of a better crop this year will give the growers confidence to keep going. The Government will keep in touch with the Queensland Government. I have kept in touch with the Queensland

Premier so far as matters affecting capital expenditure are concerned. 1 know what is being done. Only this morning the Premier of Queensland said that all but two cooperative mills have been satisfactorily financed. Discussions have still to be held relating to the two that have not yet been dealt with. The Gin Gin mill, whether you describe it as private or co-operative, has been satisfactorily financed. These are the approaches that we make in a responsible way towards the problems confronting this important industry.

Mr. FULTON (Leichhardt) 1.12.6].- 1 congratulate the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) on bringing this subject before the notice of the House. I wholeheartedly support his remarks. The sugar industry is in difficulties. It requires urgent and immediate attention. The honorable member placed all the facts before the House in a clear and concise manner, lt must be remembered that the sugar industry is Queensland’s major export industry. Also, it greatly affects the export earnings of Australia as a whole. The industry is worth fostering. Anything done to assist the industry to overcome its difficulties is worth while. The industry has functioned efficiently ever since the Queensland Labour Government enacted legislation to enable the industry to function independently. What caused the present situation in the industry? In my opinion the industry’s present difficulties are due to its expansion. There were other causes, but in my opinion expansion of the industry led to the present situation. A committee was set up by the present Queensland Government to inquire into the situation and its recommendations were adopted by the Queensland Government. I believe also that those recommendations were accepted by the Commonwealth Government. The Commonwealth knew what was going on and never made any protest, so I assume that it agreed with the Queensland Government about expansion of the sugar industry.

When the committee was formed the world price of sugar had reached its highest level of about £100 a ton. I do not think sufficient regard was paid to this fact. What brought about the present situation? Everybody knows that a contributing factor was the failure in Europe over two seasons of the beet crop. Another contributing factor was the situation in Cuba. Those factors should have been taken into account, because they would not occur regularly. The rise in price was caused by the two factors to which 1 have referred, but those factors may not exist within a season or two. Certainly the beet crop could not be expected to fail regularly. In fact the European producers who rely on beet have recovered. In my opinion the committee did not pay sufficient regard to these matters before making its recommendations to the Queensland Government. It is of no use Queensland Ministers condemning mill managements for inefficiency because prior to the expansion of the industry it was looked upon as very efficient, lt is wrong of any Minister to condemn the industry’s management for what happened. 1 am confident that the industry will recover, but this will take time. 1 would say that in perhaps three to five years time the industry will have recovered. This is not the first time there have been expansions in the industry. From 1950 to 1952 the industry expanded to meet the 1953 export requirements and at that time the industry was confronted with the same difficulties of interest rates and so forth. The difference between the expansion of 1950-52 and that of 1964 is that in 1964 the risks involved were greater due to the high cost of the additional machinery required. This is what got most of the co-operative mills into trouble. I know that other factors were involved but the one I have mentioned was the major factor. During the committee’s investigations many Federal and State members of Parliament gave evidence. Many of them advocated further expansion in the industry. Some tried to convince the committee that new areas of production should be opened up. If they had been successful in their advocacy the industry would have been in a worse plight than it is today. It was very difficult to refute many of the statements made by members of Parliament because they claimed that their suggestions, if adopted, would lead to decentralisation of industry and population and development of the north. Anybody who argued against them was branded a knocker. But I saw the danger of such expansion.

Although he referred to difficulties in the industry the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) did not tell us how the

Government proposed to help the new growers who have come into the industry since its expansion. These are the fellows who are in real trouble. They have invested their life savings. When they entered the industry the world price of sugar was at its highest level. As a result the price of land was forced up. Land which otherwise would have been available for £5 an acre cost £100 an acre. The high price that they paid for land has brought these growers to the position they are in today. Many of the new growers invested their life savings in buying land, preparing it, possibly building a humble dwelling on it and obtaining whatever machinery they could. This involved them, of course, in obtaining an overdraft from the bank. Eventually the stage was reached where the banks said, in effect, that the growers had overstepped the mark and they could be loaned no more money, that they had not the value in their properties to back up the loans. On a couple of occasions I tried to get the Development Bank to assist some of these people. After spending about £12,000 on their properties they wanted another £5,000 or £6,000 to assist them to produce their sugar cane. The loans were refused because the Bank considered that by advancing up to £12,000 it had reached its limit. The investigating officers who came out to interview the farmers admitted that they were excellent and efficient growers but said that if the growers were to walk off their properties the Bank would not be able to recoup, on the sale of the land, the money it had loaned. These farmers are now stuck with their properties and have no money to enable them to continue growing cane. As a result, as has been said before, the farmers have to take outside jobs to supplement their bank accounts in order to buy fertiliser to assist them to grow cane.

I point out the folly of pushing an industry such as this into an expansion programme, without proper care. If the people who tried to force the committee of inquiry into recommending an expansion into new areas had been successful we would be in a lot more trouble than we are in today. The growers in particular want financial assistance. The question with which we are confronted is not easily answered and the problem is not easily solved, but something must be done to assist the farmers. Whether it should be done through the banks, whether the industry warrants a grant of money, I am not prepared to say. Grants have been given to industries before by governments, so if a grant were given now it would not be the first time this was done. As a matter of fact, when the present Government was nearly defeated in 1961 it found £6 million for the beef industry, and nothing like that amount would be necessary to see the sugar industry over its problems. The grower is the main person needing help. I think the millers will get over the crisis. But the finance for the co-operative mills comes from the growers. If a grower does not get a return for his crop he cannot help to pay for the expansion of the mill, because he has not got the money. The world sugar price on the open market - at present £20 a ton - is far below production costs. Unless the price rises during the next season the situation will remain the same and more growers will be in difficulty.

I have no doubt that the old growers who have experienced such a position before will be able to overcome their difficulties. They have overcome droughts and floods before. The new grower is the one who is seriously involved, because his initial costs are greater than the costs incurred by the old growers. Some effort must be made by the Government to assist the new growers. I know perfectly well that the Queensland Government must make an approach to the Federal Government. I am not forgetting that aspect and I am glad that the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) asked the Minister a question about it. I was going to ask the Minister myself whether the Queensland Government had approached the Federal Government for assistance. From the Minister’s reply to the honorable member I thought he had the idea that the question related to assistance for the millers only. I should like to know whether the Queensland Government has asked for financial assistance not only for the millers but also for the growers, particularly the new growers who came into the industry because of the expansion programme. There are several ways in which assistance can be given, but I am not going to try to put ideas into the Government’s head, because it can employ various methods if it thinks necessary. That should be the main way, however.

I have already said that in my opinion the main factor that has created the present situation is the expansion of the industry. The Australian Sugar Producers Association in its journal has made five points. 1 do not consider the first three points to be as important as the last two, because they deal with a situation which has been in existence in the industry for some time. They refer to the present low market price of sugar and to seasonal conditions. The industry has experienced these before. The points refer also to the disappointing results from the crops. The last two points deal with the expansion. They refer to the heavy financial commitments of many of the new growers and the development costs incurred by old growers who received substantial increases in their assignments. They refer also to the heavy financial commitments undertaken by mills in the great enlargement of milling capacity required for the expanded intake of sugar. These are the two main points made by the sugar producers themselves. I believe that the expansion has pushed the growers into the position’ where they need financial assistance of some kind in order to get back on their feet. Let me repeat what I said earlier. I believe that this industry can regain its feet but that it will take time. The next three to five years will determine whether growers succeed or whether they walk off their properties. I am sure that it would be in the interest of the Government and in the interest of Australia to save these growers now. We would get our return in the years ahead.

Minister for Civil Aviation · Darling Downs · LP

– The wording of the proposal for discussion seeks to imply that the Commonwealth Government is actually neglectful of its responsibilities to the sugar industry. This, of course, is not the case and has never been the case in relation to either the sugar industry or any other primary industry. The Government’s record of encouragement to research stability and marketing stands unchallenged. This is one of the main reasons why today Australia is among the first 10 trading nations. However, it is interesting to see that the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) has really posed a small paradox in his proposal. On 15th March, only a few weeks ago, a debate was resumed in this House on the Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement which confers advantages on both signatories to the Agreement. During the debate the Opposition moved an amendment to the effect that the House was of the opinion that the agreement would be detrimental to the interests of Australian primary producers. The honorable member for Dawson voted for that amendment. It is interesting to note that he has introduced the subject now before us, using the wording that he has, when he voted against an Agreement which gives an assured market to Australian sugar of approximately $4 million a year. I think it takes some explaining away when on one hand he votes against an agreement which confers this very necessary market, with a reasonable price, on the sugar industry

Mr Pollard:

– The Government sold out the pig and dairy producers apparently to obtain an alleged advantage for Queensland sugar producers.


– It did nothing of the sort as far as pig and dairy producers are concerned. The agreement is operating most satisfactorily, as the honorable member knows. 1 should also like to question the honorable member for Dawson in relation to the Japanese-Australian Trade Agreement. He is supporting a party which, in both Chambers of this Parliament, voted against the introduction of the trade agreement with Japan. The Japanese market is now one of the largest markets for Australian sugar. 1 know that at present there is a problem regarding price and that the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) has been in consultation with the Japanese over this matter in an endeavour to resolve the price situation and do something to see that the price is increased in the future. But the point is that this market is now available. If that market had not been available we would have been in a far worse position than we are at the present time. So far as the price situation is concerned, this is a world price situation which is reflected in the Japanese market and, as the future will indicate, when the world price does stabilise at a higher figure the Japanese market will become far more valuable to us than it is even today. So again I question the attitude of the honorable member for Dawson in relation to this agreement which I am sure is of great value to the sugar industry today and will be of increasing value in the future.

The motion appears to imply - I think this was confirmed to some degree by my friend the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton) - that the whole of the present situation is the result of market difficulties related to the free market. Of course, as has already been pointed out today, this is not so because 30 per cent, of our production is sold on the home market at a fixed price, which at the present time is approximately §180 per ton, as was confirmed by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann). In addition, 1.0 per cent, is sold to Canada on a preferential basis as Canada is a preferential market. About 10 per cent is sold in the United State! at special legislated prices. At the present time the price in the United States is about the same as that in the United Kingdom. About 18 per cent is sold under the old agreement arrangement with the United Kingdom at £43 10s. sterling f.o.b. for the total sale of that proportion of our production. In other words, there is a substantial proportion of our total production already sold under conditions which do bring a reasonable return.

However, it is admitted, and the Minister for Primary Industry did indicate, that tha problem is the proportion of sugar which has been sold on the free market and which is relatively high. Unfortunately, the world situation is such that the free market prices are at a record low. This situation is to some degree related to the point that was brought out by the honorable member for Leichhardt about the present production situation. But we must remember that when this industry investigation took place it was expected that the world record prices in the free market would remain a little higher than they are at the present time and that our situation would be much better. That was the expectation and I am sure that the honorable member himself would not have expected this downturn which was due to a very substantial extent to the recovery of Cuban production and Cuba’s disagreement within the international agreement. But this expansion situation is not unusual because if we examine the production figures over the years we will see that the mill peaks which have been allocated over the years have progressively increased. In 1929 the figure was 611,000 tons; in 1952 it was approximately 963,000 tons; by 1960 it was 1,200,000 tons; and in 1965, as already mentioned by the honorable member for Dawson, it was more than 2,000,000 tons. The production in relation to mill peaks has varied to some degree because of seasonal conditions, but the present situation in which this expansion has taken place is not unique in the sugar industry; it is in conformity with the progressive increase and expansion of the industry over the years. The rate of increase now in the number of growers and the acreage of the assigns is not more or less than the steady progression throughout the history of the industry over the years. So we must accept this situation.

The situation in relation to the free price in the world is one over which we had no control and one which was not visualised by the producers who agreed to this increase, or by the mill owners or the Governments concerned at that time. However, to try to solve the international agreement situation we saw a deputation before the end of last year.


– Order! As it is now two hours after the time fixed for the meeting of the House, the debate is interrupted.

Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) agreed to -

That the time for discussion of notices be extended until 12.45 p.m.


– The deputation which went to Geneva last year for discussions on the international agreement was headed by the Deputy Prime Minister and the Premier of Queensland and included senior representatives of the Queensland Department and representatives of the industry. We had a representation in that delegation to a conference which probably was unique and it showed the emphasis that the Commonwealth and the Queensland Government place on the situation and the endeavours that are being made to try to resolve it.

Mr Pollard:

– The results were negative.


– The point is that results have not been satisfactory, but at least a foundation has been established and two additional conferences have now been arranged. One was held recently. This was attended by the Deputy Secretary of the

Department of Trade and Industry. Another one will be held early next month to try to iron out these difficulties about the low price. I have mentioned also that the Commonwealth has assisted the sugar industry in many other ways and is still assisting it in certain directions by basic degrees of assistance. The Commonwealth provides $8 per ton bounty for nitrogenous fertilisers which is of vital importance to the industry. It has ensured also that petrol prices will not rise more than 4d. a gallon above city prices. This, of course, is of great value to the sugar producers.

Primary industries, including the sugar industry, are assisted by taxation provisions. A generous depreciation allowance amounting to 40 per cent, in the first year assists the sugar industry. There are many other tax concessions which assist the economics of the industry throughout the whole phase of its activities. In addition, the Commonwealth has made contributions under the Federal Aid Roads programme. Last year SI 30 million was provided for this purpose. This assists the expansion and development of the industry in these regions. In other fields, such as beef roads and brigalow schemes, which are allied and in some cases directly connected with the industry, the Commonwealth has been giving assistance. I draw attention also to the drought relief which has been provided as direct assistance to this industry and to other industries, principally in Queensland but also to certain producers in New South Wales. A further token of the Commonwealth’s interest in this and other primary industries is seen in the recent arrangements announced by the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) and confirmed by the Prime M inster (Mr. Harold Holt) recently by which additional moneys will be made available through the banking system for rural credit.

Approximately $50 million has been set aside for special rural credit and additional facilities are being provided through the Commonwealth Development Bank, all of which are designed to assist the sugar industry as well as other rural industries in their problems at the present time. There has been other direct assistance outside the drought relief which has been financed by the Commonwealth and outside the rural credit system which is now being introduced. This will be of great assistance to the industry now and in the future. The question of direct assistance is, of course, a matter for the Queensland Government. As has been mentioned by the Minister for Primary Industry, matters which are brought forward in relation to special assistance by the Queensland Government and the Commonwealth are always sympathetically considered. No doubt the Queensland Government is well cognisant of the problems in relation to the individual producers who were referred to specifically by the honorable member for Leichhardt, those who have come into the industry in a recent period under this expansion programme. I did note that the honorable member for Leichhardt referred to statements by Queensland Ministers condemning the industry for inefficiency. I do not know where those statements were supposed to have been made or by whom they are alleged to have been made, but I have never seen any statements of that nature by any Queensland Ministers. I have in fact seen statements by Queensland Ministers in exactly the opposite tone, all paying tribute to the efficiency with which the sugar industry has been operated over the years. I support that tribute to an industry which is rather unique because of its structure and which has done so much for Queensland and is of such importance to the overall economy of Australia.

I think it is fitting that we should glance at the background of the sugar industry. As I have said, it is rather unique in its structure because almost the whole of Australia’s sugar production is in Queensland - a small proportion of cane is grown in the northern part of New South Wales. Both production and sales are controlled by Queensland legislation. By arrangement, the Queensland Sugar Board also looks after the sale of sugar grown in New South Wales and the return paid to producers in that area.

The home consumption price is determined by the Commonwealth Government under an agreement with the Queensland Government. This agreement has been in operation for some time now. The Central Sugar Cane Prices Board has been in operation since 1915. This Board comprises repre.senatives of growers and millers and also some Government appointees. The significant point here is that the Central Sugar Cane Prices Board is in a sense a judicial authority. It is also an appeal authority on many matters which concern the producers within the industry.

Cane Prices Boards are constituted in each mill area. These Boards arrange annual contracts between millers and growers. They have control over the supply of sugar and the payments to be made for it. Their decisions are subject to appeal to the Central Sugar Cane Prices Board. To give some idea of the size of the industry, I point out that there are 31 sugar mills operating in Queensland. Eight of these are registered cooperatives and five others distribute their profits to the growers. The remaining 18 mills are either public or proprietary companies. The control of the mill peaks to which reference has been made in this debate is vested in the Queensland Government. The assignment areas of land to each grower for cane production is also controlled by the Queensland Government. I mention this to give some indication of the extent of control exercised over the industry. The Commonwealth-State Sugar Agreement has been in operation since 1923. In 1962, its operation was extended to 1967.

It is interesting to note the assistance which the sugar industry gives to other industries in Australia, particularly the fruit growing industry. It gives a rebate of £5 a ton to the fruit growing industry under arrangement with the Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee. I am sure that the assistance is appreciated by all the industries concerned. I emphasise these points to show the development of the sugar industry and its importance to our economy. In the international field, the first agreement signed by the Commonwealth on behalf of the industry was the Commonwealth Countries Sugar Marketing Agreement of 1950. Under that agreement, the United Kingdom agreed to take surplus production from the Commonwealth countries. In 1953 certain quotas were imposed by the United Kingdom. Then, a new international agreement was signed in 1954. This agreement will operate until 1972 and virtually the whole of the old Commonwealth Countries Sugar Marketing Agreement was embodied in it.

Over half of Australia’s exports to the United Kingdom is sold at a negotiated price in the early stages and most of the balance was sold at world prices. As has been stated, one of the early problems is arising again. Because of the breakdown of international sugar agreement negotiations in 1961, and the subsequent dropping of the quota arrangement in 1962, sugar was exported for a short time to available markets without quantitative restrictions. However, some additional arrangements were negotiated later, particularly with the United Kingdom through the old arrangement with the United States, and by agreement with Japan, Canada and some other countries. Everything that the Commonwealth could possibly do in negotiable fields has been done in an effort to stabilise overseas markets for the sugar industry.

I conclude by saying that the sugar industry’s present problems are much like those which have arisen on occasions in the past. We recognise its present difficulties. The Commonwealth is assisting directly in many fields at the moment. No doubt the Queensland Government is well aware of the industry’s particular problems. Apart from the assistance which it is now giving, that Government may be considering other action to alleviate the position in the future. At the same time, we all have great faith in the future of this industry because of the close partnership that exists between the Commonwealth Government, the Queensland Government and the industry itself.


.- Not even I can say very much in three minutes. Nevertheless, I do wish to say one or two things. I refer first to the fact that two Ministers have said that the Queensland Government would make some approaches. For example, after a Cabinet meeting held in Ayr on 4th April, the Premier of Queensland, Mr. Nicklin, said that his Cabinet had considered proposals for general aid to growers who would be required to pay levies and that an early submission would be made to the Commonwealth Government. That was three weeks ago. I now ask whether any approach has yet been made. If not, then it is time an approach was made because, when a grower is short of money and is trying to raise enough to buy fertiliser, three weeks is a rather long time.

Secondly, irrespective of what the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz) have said, the fact is that with a total mill peak production of 2.2 million tons over 50 per cent, of Australia’s total production is being sold at free market prices. This is borne out by figures which have been supplied by the Queensland Cane Growers Council.

The honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) referred in his rather interesting address to the fact that the Japanese might be rehabilitating the sugar industry in Indonesia. All honorable members regularly receive certain papers from both the Indonesian Embassy and the Japanese Embassy. It was reported in the last paper which I received some weeks ago that the Japanese are rehabilitating something like 16 mills in Java. Honorable members will appreciate that 16 mills will produce a fairly large quantity of sugar. If the production from those mills is thrown onto the world market eventually, it will have the effect of depressing the price of sugar.

I feel that one of the reasons why the Japanese are rehabilitating these mills is to keep down the world price of sugar. The Japanese are particularly shrewd businessmen, as we all know, and it is in their own interests to keep the world price down because the price they pay for sugar is the world price as ruling at the timeof delivery. If rehabilitating mills in Java and the other islands of Indonesia will lead to a depression of world prices, this will be in the interests of the Japanese and to the detriment of the Queensland sugar industry, which we all hold very dear.

This is not a political matter. The sugar industry has never been governed by politics. Although sometimes certain people do act in what might be considered a political manner, generally speaking, the Queensland sugar industry as I have observed it over the years has been kept free from politics. It is a most efficient and important industry. It is important not only to the people of north Queensland but also to the people of the south as well because the industry is becoming more and more mechanised, as most primary industries are, and most of the tractors, harvesters and other equipment used by the cane growers are manufactured in the south. For that reason, I feel that we are doing the right thing in looking upon this as an Australian problem, not one which affects Queenslanders alone. This industry benefits everyone.


.- The proposition advanced by the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) raises some very interesting aspects. I rise to speak on it because I represent a very substantial cane growing area in New South Wales.


– Order! The time allotted for precedence of general business has expired. The honorable member for Cowper will have the right to continue his speech when the debate is resumed. Resumption of the debate will be an order of the day in general business for the next day of sitting.

Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.

page 1053


Bill presented by Mr. Fairbairn, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Mr. FAIRBAIRN (Farrer- Minister for

National Development) [2.15]. - I move -

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Honorable members will recall that in the course of the last Budget speech the then Treasurer indicated that, although the beef roads scheme to which the Commonwealth is currently contributing was coming to an end, the Government intended to continue to participate in this important developmental work. We had, at the time, received from the Northern Division of the Department of National Development a comprehensive report on a possible future programme of beef roads, and we still have that report under examination. When the examination is completed, we expect to hold discussions with the States concerned about various aspects of the future programme. It is important, however, that current beef road works should proceed without interruption, pending the outcome of the Government’s study and discussions with the States concerning a future programme.

In the case of Western Australia, the existing scheme of assistance, embodied in the Western Australia Grant (Beef Cattle Roads) Act 1962, is due to expire on 30th

June next. The Government therefore proposes, as an interim measure pending a decision concerning the future programme, that further financial assistance be granted to the State to enable it to continue with its beef cattle roads during the financial year 1966-67.

The purpose of. the Bill before the House is to provide this further financial assistance. The Bill will amend the Western Australia Grant (Beef Cattle Roads) Act 1962 to extend its operation tor one more year to 30th June 1967. The maximum Commonwealth grant payable to the State in respect of 1966-67 will be $1.5 million, which is the figure that has applied in each of the past three years. The road works for which the financial assistance will be available have been agreed in discussions between Western Australian and Commonwealth authorities. However, provision is made for variation of the proposed programme if this should prove to be desirable. The works on which expenditure in 1966-67 is proposed comprise sections of the Great Northern Highway between Broome and Wyndham, the Duncan Highway between Wyndham and Halls Creek via Nicholson, and the Derby to Mount House road.

Under the Bill, the provision of Commonwealth grants in 1966-67 for beef cattle roads in Western Australia will be subject to precisely the same conditions as those applying under the legislation which is about to expire. I take this opportunity to express the Government’s pleasure at the success that has attended our participation to date in financing works so important to the development of northern Australia and of an industry which is growing in importance as an earner of foreign exchange. We are hopeful that even greater benefits will be manifested in the future. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Luchetti) adjourned.

page 1054


Bill presented by Mr. Howson, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Mr. HOWSON (Fawkner- Minister for

That the Bill be now read a second time.

This Bill seeks parliamentary authority for the payment of an Australian subscription to the Asian Development Bank. The Agreement establishing the Bank was signed at Manila at a conference of plenipotentiaries held from 2nd to 4th December 1965. That Agreement was signed on behalf of Australia by my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), who announced that, subject to Parliamentary approval, Australia was prepared to consider joining the Bank on the basis of a subscription of$US85 million.

The Asian Development Bank will be located in Manila, it will have the financial backing of nearly all the countries in the region of Asia and the Far East and it will concentrate on the development problems of those countries. Its establishment is the result of an Asian initiative, and. in a sense, the whole proposal is a reflection of the desire of Asian countries to improve their economic position and to co-operate to that end. That is a trend of events which we can only welcome and support.

While the Bank is essentially Asian in its origins and objectives, it is nevertheless realistic in recognising that financial support from countries outside the region will be required. Accordingly the Articles of Agreement make provision for non-regional countries to be members of the Bank, to subscribe to the capital stock of the Bank and to participate in the management of the Bank. The United States will be subscribing $US200 million and Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany. Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom also will be contributing. But the bulk of the capital will be made available by countries in the region and control of the management will rest with those countries. It is fair to say that the Bank constitutes a new and imaginative approach to the problem of matching the hopes and aspirations of the developing countries in Asia and the Far East with the realities of international finance. The form and functions of the Bank are laid down in the Articles of Agreement which are attached to this Bill.

I turn first to the capital of the Bank. In brief, the Articles of Agreement provide for an authorised capital of $US 1,000 million of which$US650 million is available for subscription by regional members - including Australia and New Zealand - while the remaining SUS350 million is reserved for subscription by non-regional member countries. Half the authorised capital is paid in and half is callable only to meet obligations of the Bank. Payment of subscriptions is to be in five equal instalments of 20 per cent. each.

Australia’s total subscription to the Bank is SUS85 million. The paid in portion of this subscription is SUS42.5 million. Of this, SUS21.25 million will be payable in convertible currency in five equal annual instalments of SUS4.25 million. The remaining SUS21.25 million will be payable in Australian currency. This local currency subscription will be met initially by the issue of non-interest bearing securities and will not require any budgetary outlay until such time as demands are made on the securities.

I should mention at this point that a special provision has been made for Australia, and New Zealand, to tie the local currency portion of our subscription to purchases of Australian goods and services for use in Bank financed projects. This is a valuable concession which has been extended to Australia and New Zealand alone of the developed members of .the Bank. The major industrialised countries which are members of the Bank can expect that over a period of years most, if not all, of the foreign exchange component of their subscriptions will return to them through the normal process of competitive tendering for Bank financed projects. Australia is not in the same position. It is still mainly an exporter of primary products and does not have the same opportunities as the industrialised countries to obtain contracts for the large basic construction projects on which most loans by institutions of this nature are spent. This has certainly been our experience in the International Bank, and while we expect to improve our performance over the years ahead it will be some time before we can hope to compete on equal terms over the whole field of industrial manufactures with the larger developed countries. Under the special position negotiated for Australia and New Zealand, Australian manufacturers will have an opportunity to supply goods and services for Bank financed projects which might not otherwise have been available. This will provide a valuable opportunity to introduce more Australian manufactured goods into the region and, we hope, to increase knowledge and appreciation of them in other countries. The Bank’s subscribed funds may be supplemented by borrowings in member countries or elsewhere against the backing of its callable capital. But no borrowing may take place in the territory or in the currency of a member without the prior approval of that member.

I come now to the operations of the Bank. The funds available to the Bank will normally be lent out at commercial rates of interest for economic development projects in the developing countries of the region. The precise rates which the Bank will charge have not yet been decided but they will undoubtedly be related to some extent to the costs of raising money in the international capital markets. There is provision for a small fund, not exceeding 10 per cent, of the capital, which will be used for loans on softer terms. The general feeling at the meetings leading to the establishment of the Bank was that these soft loans should be kept to a minimum, at least in the early years of the Bank’s operations, because of the importance of the Bank being able to establish its reputation as a viable businesslike organisation. Although it is not intended that Australia should borrow from the Asian Bank, the Government is anxious that Papua and New Guinea should be eligible for loans. We understand that this objective can be achieved by amending the terms of Australia’s membership of the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East to include not only continental Australia but the Territory as well. We shall be looking into the possibility of doing this.

I turn now to management. The Bank will have a president, one or more vice presidents, a board of governors and a board of directors. Each member will be represented on the board of governors and of the 10 directors, three will bc from outside the region and seven from inside. Each member country will have an equal number of basic votes, and additional votes depending on the size of its subscription. The proportion of basic votes has been fixed at 20 per cent, of the total. Decisions on most matters will be taken on a simple majority of the voting power. This system of voting does mean that, as in the International Bank, the countries which provide the bulk of the capital will have a corresponding influence in the management of the Bank. The size of Australia’s subscription will entitle it to a seat on the board of directors in its own right. Except for certain provisions relating to taxation and communications concessions, acceptance of the Articles of Agreement ot the Bank would raise no difficulties for Australia.

The immunities from taxation provided for in the Articles are wider than those we concede to the specialised agencies of the United Nations. Accordingly I consider we should make clear, when ratifying the Articles, that we are prepared to extend tax immunities similar to those we grant to the specialised agencies, but no more than that. Al1 the same time, because we cannot guarantee telecommunications concessions as wide as those contained in the Asian Bank Charter and as we have already reserved our position on telecommunications privileges in respect of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the specialised agencies, it is considered necessary to do likewise in respect of the relevant articles in the Asian Bank Charter. These Australian reservations will have little practical importance for the Asian Bank itself.

Countries wishing to become charter members of the Bank must ratify the Articles of Agreement not later than 30th September 1966. lt is important to note, however, that the Agreement comes into force - that is, the Bank becomes established as soon as if has been ratified by 15 countries, including at least 10 regional countries, whose subscriptions amount to SUS650 million. At present it is anticipated that this will happen about 1st July .1966. As soon as the Bank is established the first meeting of the board of governors may be held. This first meeting may transact much important business, including the election of the president and the board of executive directors. If we are to join the Bank, it is clearly in our interest to do so by the time the Agreement comes into force. Especially as large subscribers such as the United States and Japan are already well advanced in the legislative steps necessary for ratification, It is desirable that we should enact the legislation required for Australian membership as soon as possible.

The Government welcomes the establishment of the Asian Development Bank as a practical and imaginative step forward in economic co-operation in Asia, lt is only when the basic problems of economic development have been overcome that there can be any significant improvement in living conditions and real prospects for lasting political stability in the area. The Asian Development Bank can make a notable contribution to this process. A heavy burden will rest on the management of the Bank to establish, in as short a period as possible, an efficient and businesslike organisation. Only in this way will it have the high standing in international financial circles which is so essential if the Bank is to have access to the capital market’s of the world. This Government will do all it can to assist in this task. We have participated in an active way in the steps leading to the establishment of this Bank and it is our intention to continue to lend it our full support. I commend this Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.

page 1056


In Committee.

Consideration resumed from 20th April (vide page 1021).

Clause 3 (Definitions).

Minister for Immigration · Corio · LP

– When the debate was adjourned last night, the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) had asked me a question concerning clause 3. He asked me to give some clarification of it. I can understand his request because this is an intricate clause. It concerns a new definition which results from legal advice from the Attorney-General’s Department which suggested that the present definition did not clearly include an office of the Department of Immigration which is not overseas. The need for the definition to clearly include the Australian office of the Department of Immigration stems from the fact that the register of births of children born abroad of Australian citizens is kept at Canberra. The definition in the Nationality and Citizenship Act did not clearly indicate that. If honorable members look at the Bill they will see that clause 3 (1.) (c) states - an office of the Department of Immigration, whether the office is situated in or outside Australia.

The register is obviously a most important factor in determining Australian citizenship for children who are bora while their parents are living abroad. Therefore it was felt that it was absolutely essential in order to protect the citizenship status of these people that no doubt at all be cast upon the authenticity of the register of those births which is kept in the central office of the Department of Immigration in Canberra. Therefore, although the new definition of the term “ Australian consulate “ is rather different in form from the old definition, the only reason for rae amendment is to place beyond any doubt the fact that the term includes an office of the Department of Immigration in Australia.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 4 (Citizenship by birth).


.- This clause is not an uncomplicated one. In connection with it I refer to the second reading speech of the Minister lor Immigration (Mr. Opperman), in which he said -

Clause 4 of the Bill seeks to amend section 10 of the Act in relation to children born in Australia of fathers who are here as members of other countries’ diplomatic and consular staffs in Australia. The Act at present recognises the generally accepted principle that such a child should not become an Austraiian citizen simply by birth here, unless the father is an Australian citizen. It is considered that a child should not be debarred from citizenship if the father is one of our migrants who has merely been locally engaged to work at an embassy or consulate.

That is reasonably clear, but from there on the matter becomes a little complicated. The Minister went on to say -

Clause 4 ensures this. The clause also takes account of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations which seek to end the present situation whereby all the staff of a diplomatic mission have the same immunity from suit as the head of the mission. This situation forms the basis of present wording of section 10 (2) (a) of the Nationality and Citizenship Act, and the new wording now proposed by clause 4 of this Bill will ensure that, if Australia becomes a party to the Vienna Convention, there will be no need for a further consequential amendment of section 10.

Section 10(2.) of the principal Act says -

A person shall not be an Australian citizen by virtue of this section if, at the time of his birth -

his father was not an Australian citizen and possessed the immunity from suit and legal process which is accorded to an envoy of a foreign country accredited to His Majesty; or

his father was an enemy alien and the birth occurred in a place then under occupation by the enemy.

Under this clause that sub-section is completely removed. I do not intend to read the clause, but honorable members will see that it inserts a completely different sub-section, except for a few words.

I direct these questions to the Minister: When will the Vienna Convention be ratified, if at all? Will he explain to us what the effect of such ratification will be? Specifically, under the Vienna Convention, who will be covered by proposed new section 10(2)? Will he also tell us what particular section of the Vienna Convention applies to this section? As I mentioned in my speech in the second reading debate, I have read the Convention. It is a legal document. It is not really easy to interpret. But, somewhere, it must refer to the people who will be covered by this proposed new section.

Let me take the matter a step further. The Minister said that if the Parliament ratifies the Vienna Convention there will be no need for a further consequential amendment of section 10. What will be the position if the Parliament does not ratify the Convention? What effect will that have on the Act as it is being amended at the present time? If the Convention is not ratified, will the original section have to be restored or will the proposed new section remain? This clause appears to me to require explanation. It is a complicated one, as are several other clauses of this Bill. It deals with immunity from suit and other matters relating to the Vienna Convention. It replaces a section of the Act in order to give effect to this Convention which has not been ratified. Looking at the clause quite fairly, I say it is certainly a rather complicated one. I ask the Minister to answer the questions that I have raised and to put on the “ Hansard “ record precisely what the clause means, who will be affected, what will be the position in the event of non-ratification of the Convention, and how the interpretation of the proposed new section will differ from that of the section that is being removed from the Act.

Minister for Immigration · Corio · LP

– I agree with the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) that this is quite a complicated piece of legislation. In order to clarify this clause, 1 point out that one effect of it is to ensure that a child born in Australia to a migrant is not prevented from becoming an Australian citizen by birth solely because its father obtained employment at a diplomatic or consular mission after he arrived in Australia. This is the case of a father who is actually a migrant and intends to remain in Australia permanently; yet, probably because of his background, he finds it possible to obtain employment at an embassy or a consulate. Already an Australian citizen can accept such employment, without endangering his children’s citizenship; whereas, under the present Act, a migrant endangers his children’s citizenship by accepting such employment.

Another objective is to ensure that Australia’s nationality law in this field is in line with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which the honorable member mentioned and to which Australia may become a party. Honorable members will notice that I have used the word “ may “. However, at the present time there is no doubt in the minds of members of the Government. Work is going on in that direction and attention is being given to the matter now. Our opinion is that there is nothing to stop us ratifying that Convention. The Parliament will have the opportunity to consider a bill that will be introduced by my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), at a later date. As honorable members know, the ratification of conventions takes some time; but the ratification of this Convention will be proceeded with in the appreciable future. In whatever form the Parliament may pass that bill, this clause will ensure that our nationality law is in harmony with it. The clause says that where a person, other than an Australian citizen or a person ordinarily resident here, is entitled to diplomatic immunity or is a foreign consular officer, his children who are born here shall not become Australian citizens at birth. That is the transformation in section 10 of the Act that is proposed in this clause.


.- I would like the Minister to give the Committee an indication of what the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations seeks to do. Does it enlarge or reduce the diplomatic immunity given to diplomats and members of consular staffs in various countries? Not having read the Convention, I am a little at a loss. However, I feel that the reason for this clause is that the Convention reduces the number of people who will be given diplomatic immunity. Perhaps that accounts for proposed new section 10(2.) (c) (ii) which specifies -

  1. . a consular officer of a foreign sovereign power.

Under the existing Act the only relevant words are -

  1. . his father was not an Australian citizen and possessed the immunity from suit and legal process which is accorded to an envoy of a foreign country accredited to His Majesty.

My knowledge seems to lead me to believe that at. present all senior stall members at embassies are given immunity. As these other words are being added, does it mean that if the Vienna Convention is ratified immunity will be given only to the ambassador? Will the staff members junior to the ambassador not be given immunity from suit and legal process? 1 ask the Minister whether the only children who will be covered by the new provision and who therefore will not automatically be granted Australian citizenship will be the children of persons who come within the conditions slated in paragraphs (a) and (b) as well as one or other of the conditions laid down in sub-paragraph (i) and (ii) of paragraph (c) of proposed new sub-section (2.) of section 10 of the principal Act. Further, I pose the question of whether parents in any diplomatic establishment in Australia would have the right at any time to seek Australian registration for the birth of a child, should they so wish, even though they might not automatically be entitled to have the child regarded as Australian born.

Minister for Immigration · Corio · LP

Mr. Temporary Chairman, this provision has really been included for the purposes of the Department of External Affairs in the process of tidying up in respect of the wider and more important aspects of the changes being made concerning the oath of allegiance. Under the terms of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, developments in relation to diplomatic immunity for various categories of diplomatic and consular staff do not represent an enlargement of immunity. Indeed, the result is rather a restriction. The effect of the new provision will be that the children of members of such staffs will not become citizens of Australia by being born here unless the father is either an Australian citizen or an immigrant to Australia.

Mr Stewart:

– Will this provision preclude any right to choose?


– There will be no such right under the terms of the proposed new sub-section.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 5 to 8 agreed to.

Clause 9 (Alien wives of British subjects without citizenship).


.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, 1 am sure the Minister will agree that this is a most complicated clause. 1 have a clear broad understanding of it, but I ask him to be good enough to place on record a precise statement of the cases to which the new provisions will apply, particularly as this clause has necessitated the inclusion in the Bill of the Third Schedule, which provides for an oath or affirmation of allegiance entirely different in form from that required of a person seeking Australian citizenship. What is the purpose of this clause? How many people would be affected by it? People of what nationalities, if any, would be involved? I believe that actually the clause relates mainly to the country of origin of stateless people. According to the Minister’s second reading speech, the Convention on the Nationality of Married Women is related to this clause. Perhaps he will be good enough to give us examples of cases that have given rise to a need for this clause and for the proposed Third Schedule. Perhaps we have a reasonable understanding of the clause in broad terms, but not of its detailed application. The Minister dealt with it as clearly as he could in his second reading speech in the limited time available, but his outline of the reasons for the insertion of the clause was nevertheless complicated. He dealt with it in these terms -

The second amendment which has become necessary because of Australia’s ratification of an international convention is dealt with in clause 9 of the Bill. Having acceded, in 1961, to the Convention on the Nationality of Married Women, Australia has an obligation to ensure that the alien wives of its nationals may acquire the nationality of their husbands through specially privileged naturalisation procedures. The Nationality and Citizenship Act takes care of this obligation in respect of the wives of Australian citizens and the wives of Australian protected persons, but it does not provide for persons who, under our citizenship law, are British subjects without citizenship and whose association is with Australia rather than Britain or any other British country. Clause 9 of the Bill will amend section 26 of the Act to allow such alien wives to acquire the same national status as their husbands by making application to the Minister for Immigration and by taking a simple oath of allegiance as prescribed by clause 12 of the Bill.

I have read those remarks in order to stress that the matter is rather involved and that it is being dealt with by the insertion of a special new section in the Act, thereby giving rise to an oath or affirmation of allegiance that differs from that applying to those who seek Australian citizenship. I know that the new provision relates to certain women who are left stateless. I ask the Minister to give the Committee a complete interpretation of the clause and particularly to state what classes of people will be affected, with particular reference to the country of origin. It would be beneficial to the Committee to have this information.

Minister for Immigration · Corio · LP

.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I am surprised that the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) has not a perfect grasp of this clause. It is quite clear. The honorable member has asked for examples of cases to which the proposed new section would apply. There are no known cases, but we wish to make provision for any case that may arise under the terms of the immigration laws. It is necessary to provide for any cases that may arise because of Australia’s accession to the Convention on the Nationality of Married Women, which, I may say, to save the honorable member asking, was signed in New York. The purpose of the clause is to provide special means for an alien woman to become a British subject when her husband is a

British subject but not an Australian citizen. Perhaps it would be as well to give an example of a specific nationality. Section 8 of the principal Act enables an Irish citizen to give notice of intention to remain a British subject. This does not make him an Austral fan citizen. If he marries an alien woman, she at present has no special means of becoming either an Australian citizen or a British subject. She could only apply for registration as an Australian citizen in the normal way. The Convention on the Nationality of Married Women requires that she be afforded special means of acquiring the same national status as her husband. This clause has been inserted for this purpose. It will enable the Minister of the day to accept a simple application for registration as a British subject without Australian c citizenship After the woman has sworn allegiance, he may register her as a British subject without citizenship. Clause 12 provides a special form of oath of allegiance in such circumstances. It omits the undertaking to observe the Australian laws.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 10 agreed to.

Clause 11 (Second Schedule).


.- The Opposition opposes the proposition put by the Government in this clause. In the Second Schedule at present in the Act, no reference is made to “ renouncing all other allegiance “. We view the move by the Government to write these four words into the oath and affirmation of allegiance as a backdoor attempt to obtain the renunciation of previous allegiance. It is clear that noone wants to retain the oath of renunciation in the ceremony of naturalisation. I have had the pleasure and privilege on a number of occasions of conducting naturalisation ceremonies and 1 know from that experience that some people do not want to renounce their previous allegiance. They have advised me personally that they have feelings about renouncing their previous allegiance. I have discussed the matter with them after naturalisation ceremonies and they have told me very clearly and very positively that, iti taking the oath of renunciation, they feel that they have, to some extent, renounced any association with or loyally for the country of their birth. 1 am an Australian. If for business reasons or for other reasons I decided to become a citizen of another country, I would have very strong feelings about renouncing my allegiance to Australia. I hope I will always be an Australian and will always be treated as one.

We encourage people to come to Australia, but we say to them: “ Before you can take part in our affairs and before you can become a member of the community and feel that you are one of us, you must renounce all your allegiance to your former sovereign or State “. I think that is most unfair and unreasonable. 1 propose lo give figures in a few moments to show the effect of this requirement. I believe that the Government is now amending the Act as a result of discussion on an item submitted to the delegates to the 1965 Australian Citizenship Convention, which was held in Canberra. The digest of proceedings prepared by the Department of Immigration shows that the overwhelming majority of delegates - people who have displayed a vital interest in immigration for some time - believed that thi oath of renunciation should be removed altogether from the ceremony of naturalisation. The Government invited Sir John Allison to be guest speaker at the Conference. He referred to the reasons why migrant’s were not coming forward to be naturalised and he said -

  1. should like to suggest that among the reasons is the present practice in the naturalisation ceremony for settlers to renounce allegiance to their old country before swearing allegiance to Australia and the Queen.

Amongst the prominent people who supported this view at the Conference were the Rev. Father M. J. Rafter of the Federal Catholic Immigration Committee, Mr. Albert Monk, the Rev. C. J. P. Mackaay of the Australian Council of Churches, Mr. K. L. Milne of the Municipal Association of South Australia and Mr. E. R. Hill of the Good Neighbour Council of Victoria. The move for the deletion of the oath of renunciation has very wide support throughout the community.

A delegate at the Conference. MajorGeneral R. J. H. Risson of the Good Neighbour Council of Victoria, said very clearly that the present oath of renunciation of the previous allegiance was objectionable to some migrants and the blow could be softened by adopting a course of action such as that now proposed by the Minister. He suggested that this more easy approach could possibly get’ around the objections. But he was the only delegate who advocated this course. I think the Minister may have taken heed of what he said. Not a great deal is involved in eliminating the oath of renunciation. On 26th May 1965, I asked the Acting Minister for Immigration the following question, on notice -

What countries do not recognise the declaration of renunciation of allegiance signed by a person applying for Australian citizenship?

The answer revealed that the countries that did not recognise renunciation included Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Roumania, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Yugoslavia, Greece and Denmark. The answer also contained this statement -

Nationals of these countries cannot relinquish their original nationality without first making a formal request and receiving express permission from the authorities of the countries concerned.

What is the result? From time to time the Department circulates to honorable members documents such as the one I have with me now, which is entitled “ Return for the Year 1964-65, Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948-1960”. With the concurrence of honorable members, I. incorporate in “ Hansard “ the following table -

Certificates of Naturalisation granted for the year ended 30.6.65, under Section 15 of the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948-1960 to Persons who still retain their original nationality after naturalisation in Australia.

The figures show that, of the 32,601 persons who were naturalised in the year ended 30lh June 1965, 12,440 came from countries that do not recognise the oath of renunciation. In other words, for 38 per cent, of the people who were naturalised in Australia, the oath of renunciation does not mean anything. If they return to the country of their binh, they will find that they still remain citizens of that country. I know that honorable members have been told of people who have returned to Greece, for instance, and have been immediately conscripted into the armed services to complete their national service training or to commence the national service training they avoided by coming to Australia. These are things which we know exist. The crux of the matter is that what the Government is doing does not amount to anything. The oath of renunciation was not included in the Act previously. It is a practice that has grown up and been accepted by the Government, lt has proved to be objectionable to a number of migrants. Now the Minister is writing into the Act words which we consider are objectionable. So we propose to vote against the amendment, which would require migrants making the oath or affirmation of allegiance to renounce their former allegiance. We consider this to be unnecessary and objectionable to those who are required to take the oath.


.- I support the submissions made by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) relating to the renunciation of allegiance. During the second reading stage honorable members on this side pointed out that in the opinion not only of Opposition members but also of a great many organisations in the country which have taken an active interest in immigration matters, the renunciation of allegiance should quite properly be omitted from naturalisation ceremonies. A great many of the delegates to the 1965 Australian Citizenship Convention indicated that in their opinion the renunciation of allegiance should be removed from naturalisation ceremonies. The Opposition’s reasons for supporting this view have been clearly stated. By this amendment the Government seeks to include the renunciation of allegiance in the oath or affirmation of allegiance. Formerly migrants seeking naturalisation were required to swear -

  1. . . . renounce all allegiance to any Sovereign or State of whom or of which I may bc a subject or a citizen.

That renunciation of allegiance was followed by the oath or affirmation of allegiance, in which the applicant for naturalisation swore -

  1. . . . swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear the true allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Australia and fulfil my duties as an Australian citizen.

In the amendment now before us portion of those words have been incorporated in the oath of allegiance, which now reads -

  1. . . . renouncing all other allegiance, swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to haw.

It is clear that the Government has included in the oath of allegiance portion of the renunciation of allegiance and omitted from the oath of allegiance a very important part, namely the words -

I will faithfully observe the laws of Australia and fulfil my duties as an Australian citizen.

Mr Cleaver:

– The honorable member is reading from the wrong schedule.


– No, this has been omitted.

Mr Cleaver:

– The honorable member is wrong.


– No. I have already read from the third schedule to the Bill. The reference to observing the laws of Australia has been deleted from the oath of allegiance.

Mr Cleaver:

– There are two schedules - the second and the third.


– Well, if I am wrong I thank the honorable member for Swan for correcting me. But this does not alter our altitude to the renunciation of allegiance. We do not think this is necessary. We do not think the Government should have moved on this occasion to incorporate the renunciation of allegiance in the oath of allegiance. Yesterday the honorable member for Swan referred in great detail to naturalisation procedures in the United States of America. He said that the American legislation did not compare favourably with the Australian. I think most honorable members on this side of the chamber will agree with that submission. In my opinion the American naturalisation figures indicate conclusively that something may be wrong with the American legislation because it is obvious that there is some objection in that country to the requirements surrounding the granting of citizenship. 1 note that as at 30th June 1960 there were 2.9 million aliens registered in the United States and that in the year ended 30th June 1960 119,442 persons were naturalised. At 30th June 1964 there were 3.3 million aliens registered and in the year ended 30th June 1964 only 112,234 persons were naturalised. The honorable member for Swan pointed out yesterday that persons seeking naturalisation in America are still required to renounce their former allegiance. This may be one reason - I do not advance it as the only reason - why such a small percentage of eligible persons seek naturalisation in that country. The percentage is certainly low.

I agree with the honorable member for Newcastle that one reason - again I do not advance this as the sole reason - why fewer eligible persons are seeking naturalisation in Australia is the fact that they are obliged to renounce their former allegiance. I think there is sufficient evidence to support my contention. Surely the Government has acted incorrectly in incorporating the renunciation of allegiance in the oath or affirmation of allegiance, as it has in this legislation. We believe that there is no necessity to retain the renunciation of allegiance. We congratulate the Government on moving to eliminate part of the renunciation of allegiance. It has eliminated portion of it, but the Opposition believes that it should have removed the renunciation of allegiance entirely from the Act. The Government has not done that. The amendment moved by the honorable member for Newcastle expresses the opinion of honorable members on this side of the chamber on this point, and we think that the Government ought to accept the amendment.


– The British and Australian law on this subject is perfectly clear. As it has been interpreted over a number of years it provides that when a person takes the oath of allegiance to the Queen that amounts to a renunciation of any other nationality and a renunciation of any allegiance to any foreign power. The Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948-1960 provides that before a person becomes naturalised he shall take the oath of allegiance prescribed in the Second Schedule. The effect of that is that at the same time he renounces any other allegiance. At naturalisation ceremonies the practice in the past has been for the intending applicants for naturalisation to stand up before the mayor, or other officer, and make a statement - not an oath - renouncing allegiance to any other sovereign or state. After that has been done these Bibles are handed round and the applicants then swear the oath of allegiance on the Bible. It has been felt, and was emphasised at the Australian Citizenship Convention, that this two part ceremony - and particularly the part in which a man or a woman had to stand up and renounce allegiance to perhaps a Queen for whom he or she has a great deal of respect and regard - was embarrassing and unnecessary. The Government agrees that it is unnecessary and therefore the effect of this amending measure is to cut out the two part ceremony but at the same time make abundantly clear to the migrant what is being done in the one part ceremony. From the time that this Bill becomes an Act a migrant applying for naturalisation will stand up before the mayor and take the following oath -

I………… renouncing all other allegiance, swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors according to law, and that 1 will faithfully observe the laws of Australia and fulfil my duties as an Australian citizen.

Does anyone object to an applicant for naturalisation making that oath of allegiance? I think, Sir, that this is a very happy solution to the problem. It will save a considerable amount of time at naturalisation ceremonies. All honorable members have attended ceremonies when perhaps 100 applicants have stood up in groups of eight or ten to make the renunciation. Time has had to elapse while a council clerk has collected bibles, handed them out and the applicants have taken the oath of allegiance. Then the mayor has proceeded to hand out the naturalisation certificates. If that is done perhaps ten times at the one ceremony, with ten groups of eight or ten, a considerable amount of time is taken up. Also, as I have said, this standing up separately to make a renunciation is stated to be - I have no personal evidence of it, but it was stated at the Australian Citizenship Convention to be - an embarrassment to certain migrants. I would think that the intention of every member of this House would be to prevent embarrassment where we can.

I think that the solution that has tv.en found to this problem is a very satisfactory one. Probably no harm would be done if the amendment moved by the Labour Party were carried, because the same result would be achieved, but I think that the suggestion of the Government is to be preferred, because the new procedure does make it abundantly clear that under British and Australian law the effect of what the migrant is doing is not only to swear allegiance to the Queen and become a British subject, but in addition is to renounce whatever allegiance he or she may have had to any other sovereign or state. This does not necessarily mean that the countries behind the Iron Curtain - Russia, Czechoslovakia or Hungary - are going to recognise thai act. There are a lot of things we do in Australia that those countries do not recognise, lt is perfectly clear that whatever kind of ceremony we may have in Australia in this respect will not be recognised by the Communist countries. Therefore, every migrant who becomes a British subject and an Australian citizen should be very careful before he returns to the country of his birth. If he has been unfortunate enough to have been born behind the Iron Curtain it is quite likely that when he returns to the country of his birth the officials there will say: “ We do not care what the Australian or the British law is, you were born in Russia “ - or in Czechoslovakia or in Hungary as the case may be - “ and now we are going to deal with you as a Russian “ - or a Czechoslovakian or a Hungarian - “ citizen “.

I intend to support the Government’s amendment contained in the Bill. 1 think that it will tidy up naturalisation ceremonies, save embarrassment, and considerably shorten the proceedings. The incorporation of the renunciation in the oath of allegiance impresses on the migrant the solemnity of the act that he is taking.


.- I support the amendment that has been moved by the Opposition which, of course, means I will oppose the clause by voting against it. In the second reading speech the main argument used by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) for the alteration to the oath of allegiance was expressed in these words -

The change will simplify and shorten the naturalisation ceremony and enhance its dignity. and will also, I believe, eliminate the emotional disturbance felt by candidates due to their natural and rightful love of their homeland.

The Opposition opposes the alteration made by the Bill, because whilst it takes out the declaration of renunciation it adds words to the oath or affirmation of allegiance. If the Opposition’s proposal is accepted the declaration of renunciation will be taken out and the ceremony will be shortened even further than the Minister believes it will be shortened by the Government’s proposal. The Minister says that the provision in the Bill will also eliminate the emotional disturbance felt by candidates. I can see nowhere in the Act any call for a declaration of renunciation of allegiance to be taken. At the moment all that intending citizens do is to make a simple declaration. It is not an oath, lt is no more binding on migrants than the election promises of the Liberal and Country Parties are binding on the Cabinet. The election promises are made and quickly forgotten because the Prime Minister makes a simple declaration that he will do something or other. The migrants make a simple declaration that they renounce their allegiance to their previous country, but that declaration is not binding on them in any way. Now the Government intends to make the renunciation part of the oath of allegiance by adding the words “ renouncing all other allegiance “ to the Second Schedule of the Act.

Instead of reducing the emotional disturbance which might be created in present circumstances, if anything we will increase it by now taking away a simple declaration of renunciation and making it an oath of renunciation included in the oath of allegiance. So far as I can see there is nothing in the Principal Act to show any need for a renunciation. Various arguments have been raised to show why the renunciation should form part of the ceremony. It has been said that a migrant comes to Australia from another land and, naturally, would have feeling for his previous country in that he should have to stand up and declare that he renounces all allegiance to any other sovereign or State. However, as was pointed out by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) in his second reading speech, if a person changes his will he does not specify that he renounces all previous wills. Let me state another example. When a couple marry they say before a minister of religion or a presiding officer, whoever it may be, that they declare that they will “ have and to hold, from this day forth, until death do us part”. If the marriage does not survive, the parties go along to a court, but they do not renounce the declaration that they have made; and they are given a divorce. If they remarry they go to the church again and take the same oath without any renunciation of the previous oath. Again they say: “ To have and to hold, from this day forth, until death do us part “.

A migrant born in another country does not declare his allegiance to that country at the time of his birth. When he leaves that country he begins the proceedings to divorce him from that country. When he applies .or naturalisation in Australia he has then virtually severed his connections with and allegiance to his previous country, and when he becomes naturalised he has certainly severed his allegiance to and connections with his previous country. But it does not necessarily follow that he has forgotten all about his former country, just as it does not necessarily follow that a divorced man or woman has forgotten about his or her former partner. Consequently, I cannot see any need to preserve in the Act anything about a renunciation of allegiance. The provision is not in the Act at the moment, but it is intended to write it in. By doing so we will oblige a migrant to make an oath of renunciation whereas previously he simply made a declaration of renunciation. Instead of lessening or eliminating the emotional disturbances associated with the renunciation, if anything the new provision will highlight it. I am certain that migrants generally, having taken an oath or affirmation of allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen and to Australia under the Second Schedule of the Act, in most cases abide by the oath. I do not see any need at all to add the new words of renunciation to the oath of allegiance for the reasons that I and other members of the Opposition have advanced.


.- Because in an endeavour to assist I interjected when the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) was speaking, I feel that I should make my position clear and see that the record is adjusted. My friend from Bass was confused with the two schedules, as I think he now appreciates. He would not be the only one to have been confused because I stumbled over them. For the purpose of the record I wish to point out that the oath of allegiance which is set out in the Third Schedule of the Bill is related to clause 9 which was dealt with in Committee at an earlier stage. The important thing to note is that in clause 1 1 the only amendment to the oath of allegiance which appears in the Second Schedule - not the Third Schedule - is the addition of the words with reference to which members of the Opposition have been speaking, both in the second reading debate and now in Committee. I can assure ail concerned that the oath of allegiance has not been reduced one whit. We, on this side of the chamber, support the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) in his proposal to add the words “ renouncing all other allegiance “.

In the second reading speech which I was privileged to make I laid a great deal of emphasis on our attitude in Australia to the non-recognition of dual nationality or citizenship. I feel that this is fundamental o the retention of the words “ renouncing all other allegiance “. 1 do not intend to go over the same ground but just to put on record this attitude in Australia of one nationality, to which I referred last night. 1 mentioned then that it relates closely to the League of Nations Committee of 1930 where it was brought out emphatically that it was desired that all countries throughout the world would seek to observe one nationality and one nationality only. So it is that we support the clause as it appears in the Bill. I point out that there is distinctly a helpful reduction in the procedure of the naturalisation ceremony because, as my friend from Sturt (Sir Keith Wilson) mentioned, the separate act of going through a complete statement of renunciation of previous allegiance is deleted and these all important words will now become official under the legislation in the form that they appear in the Bill. I am happy to leave it at that, indicating our complete support of what the Minister has presented.


.- I should like to say just a few words. I was not able to hear the previous speaker, but I did listen to the honorable member for Sturt (Sir Keith Wilson). J feel that I have not yet had an answer to explain to my satisfaction why the words of renunciation are to be retained and incorporated in the oath. The honorable member for Sturt said: “ Does anyone object? “ He said that he believed .that this provision provided a very satisfactory solution. That may be so, but it is a very radical change. The renunciation is to be written into the Act for the first time. Previously it was merely a question of procedure. It is not a matter of whether anyone objects to this procedure. We know that a number of people do object. Why else would prominent personalities, selected by the Government to present papers and to discuss this great matter of immigration at conventions such as mentioned by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones), raise this as one of the reasons why some sections of the unnaturalised community do not accept Australian citizenship. They have a firm belief in the grounds which I stated in my second reading speech and which were stated by other honorable members on this side of the chamber. I refer to the honorable members for Bass (Mr. Barnard), Lang (Mr. Stewart) and Newcastle. Undoubtedly people do have an objection to what is emotionally disturbing to them. If we take that as a basis for objection we can go a little further and ask what purpose the renunciation serves. No-one on the Government side has told us whether it serves any purpose.

Mr Cleaver:

– Fair go.


– No, no-one has told us or convinced us of any purpose that it serves. The honorable member for Newcastle said today that 38 per cent, of naturalised people in Australia have come from countries which take no notice whatever of the renunciation of allegiance to their country. In other words the countries of origin take no notice whatever of the renunciation of allegiance by four out of ten of the people who are being naturalised. How does renunciation of allegiance to another country make one a better citizen? Does it improve one’s status in the community? Does it make one more determined to adhere to the laws of this country? When an immigrant renounces his allegiance to a country that does not care whether he renounces it or not, how does that improve his standing as an Australian citizen?

Mr Cleaver:

– It is the individual that counts.


– If the honorable member, having made a will, subsequently makes another, he does not have to renounce his previous will. The binding will is the one last made and there is no need to renounce the previous document. Here we have, fundamentally, the same thing. When an immigrant accepts Australian citizenship he thereby accepts an obligation to meet all the demands of his new country. So far as I can see the renunciation of the allegiance does not mean a thing legally.

Speakers on this side of the chamber have named a dozen countries with many thousands of nationals in Australia that refuse to accept renunciation of allegiance. I submit that the Government has not answered the question that we have put to it. I suggest also that the writing of this requirement into the legislation is not unlike the actions of the Liberal Government of New South Wales in relation to the Sydney City Council. In effect, by doing this, the Government is going back to the dark ages. Why go backwards when so many prominent speakers at citizenship conventions have advocated the complete abolition of this requirement from the processes of naturalisation? The Government has not only completely ignored those representations; it is writing the requirement into legislation, thus making it the law of the country.

Do honorable members on the Government side believe that Great Britain is wrong in not requiring migrants to renounce their allegiance? Do they think that the people of New Zealand, who, it is often said, are more British than the British, are disloyal in not asking migrants who seek New Zealand citizenship to renounce their allegiance to their country or origin? What is the reason for requiring this renunciation? Why does this Government continue with the process? More importantly, why does the Government persist in making it binding for all time by writing this requirement into the legislation?

We on this side of the Parliament oppose these proposals. I do not intend to go over the discourse which I gave in my second reading speech. I gave very extensive reasons on that occasion for our opposition to this proposal. Suffice it to say that we do not stand alone on this issue. Prominent churchmen, industrialists and other people of high reputation in all walks of life, many of them no doubt bitterly opposed to the Labour Party politically, have all suggested that this requirement should go by the board.

Honorable members on the Government side claim that as nobody objects to this renunciation requirement, there is no reason to get rid of it. But they have not proved to honorable members on this side of the Parliament that it serves any good purpose. They have not proved that it has any legal standing at all in the vast majority of the countries from which the migrants come. In no way have they been able to prove that it adds one iota to betterment of the citizen to ask him to renounce his allegiance to the country of his origin. We suggest that, far from removing the emotional stress which the Minister mentioned in his second reading speech, this amendment will make the ceremony much worse for the citizen concerned for the simple reason that the first words that he will have to read in the new oath of allegiance will be -

I, renouncing all other allegiance . . .

He will have to read these words slowly and distinctly. Every word will register on his conscience. Consequently, the emotional stress will be greater than ever. The significance and importance of his oath will be indellibly recorded on his memory as a result of reading, at the slowest possible speed, the opening words -

I, renouncing all other allegiance . . .

I think the purpose of the naturalisation ceremony may well be destroyed by the effect that the inclusion of these words will have on the migrant.

I could understand the Government requiring this oath of renunciation if it really mattered, but it could not have mattered much because it is now 20 years since the Liberal Party opposed the introduction of this legislation. Until now, the Government has not seen fit to write this requirement into the law. Why, in this age of speed when men will soon travel to the moon, does the Government wish to take this backward step? Why does it wish to go back to pre- 1948. if I may use that term, and write into the legislation something which everyone who has any interest at all in naturalisation ceremonies has suggested should be eliminated entirely from the process? Rather than clutter up the naturalisation process with new words and legalities we should simplify it. There should be an easier way for people to accept citizenship.

Last night, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) referred to what is done in Canada. If what he said is correct - and I have no reason to doubt it - then it is a wonder that Canada attracts any migrants at all. I am not one of those who would subscribe to ali that the Canadians do or all that they require of people seeking citizenship. We want migrants and the fact that we do not require them to go through long and unpleasant processes of naturalisation does not make them any worse citizens. 1 do not wish to speak further on the subject. As I have said, I gave a fairly lengthy address on it during the second reading debate. I think I have established a good case for the abolition of this requirement, as have other honorable members on this side of the chamber, including the honorable member for Bass, the honorable member for Lang and the honorable member for Newcastle. Figures have been presented to support our case. I point out, too, that not one honorable member on the Government side has shown how this renunciation of allegiance can improve a citizen. Not one of them has shown what benefit it is. or that it is required elsewhere in the world. All these facts go to prove what a poor case the Government has.

The Minister is the only one on the Government benches who can save the side because not one of his supporters has yet given a reasonable explanation of why this requirement is necessary. Of course, like us, they lack the expert advice of the departmental officials who sit behind the Minister. However, we hope even at this late stage that the Government will agree not to make this change in the law. I hope that the Minister can produce some facts to support his claim that it is necessary to incorporate this requirement in the legislation.


.- Listening to the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) one gets the strange impression that he has not listened to or read the speeches that have been made during this debate. Otherwise, how could he possibly assert that these matters have not been put? The speeches from this side of the chamber must have gone in one ear and out the other. I shall not delay the Committee unduly but I should like to remind it of one or two small points.

The nationality that a migrant brings to the naturalisation ceremony is the legal link which he has with the Crown or with the Government of a particular country, and it involves three things. The first is the right of the protection of the country of which he is a national. He has this right of protection whether he is in that country, or overseas. The second thing that is involved is that he is liable to the application of the laws of the country of which he is a national. Normally, the laws of a country do not apply outside its territorial limits, but, in the case of a national, they do. The Australian national who is abroad is liable to the laws of Australia. In the same way, the migrant coming here from Greece would, before becoming naturalised, be liable to the laws of Greece because he would still be a Greek national.

The third thing that is involved in nationality is that a person is liable to national service to the country of which he is a national - he is liable to be called up. When we talk about a migrant going with his nationality to a naturalisation ceremony we are speaking of a situation in which he is about to acquire Australian citizenship; his nationality will be Australian. It is obviously in the interests of that citizen that he should not have a dual nationality; that he should not be liable to two sets of laws, and that he should not be liable to be called up in the military services of two countries. I notice that the honorable member for Grayndler is leaving the chamber again so that he will be able to come in once more and say that no Government member has spoken of any of these things. He prefers to disappear. If he comes back and listens, he will not be able to make that charge again. If a man has a dual nationality and performs an obligation towards one of the nations of which he is a national, he may be committing treason against the other state of which he is a national. This is a ridiculous position. It is of the utmost importance that there should be only a single nationality involved. One way of achieving this is to ensure that there is a renunciation of a person’s former nationality. Of course it is true, as the honorable member for Grayndler has said, that many countries do not permit their nationals to deprive themselves of their nationality merely by renunciation. Most of the Iron Curtain countries fall in this category. If a man comes from Yugoslavia or Czechoslovakia it does not matter whether he makes a renunciation and adopts Australian nationality, he still retains his obligations under the laws of his country of origin. This is a matter that depends on the laws of the country of origin, but what the honorable member for Grayndler overlooks is that there are countries that recognise that their nationals, by thei’r own act, can renounce the nationality of the mother country. 1 do not want to suggest that renunciation is always necessary in the case even of those countries. Some countries recognise the mere acquisition of an Australian nationality as determining nationality under their own laws without any formal words of renunciation. On the other hand there are other countries which look to the solemnity and the formality of the renunciation by their national before they accept the position that he has divested himself of his former nationality. What emerges from this? First, it is necessary in the interests of a section of the migrants that the action proposed be taken so that we make certain that they divest themselves of their former nationality and break the legal link of obligation. One way would be to give them an option to make the renunciation. But in that case there would be different sets of procedures for different migrants. There would have to be an administrative procedure for explaining to applicants why one migrant was making a renunciation and another migrant was not doing so. This would cause confusion. So what the Government has done is to remove much of the psychological difficulty of the renunciation and incorporate the renunciation in the oath of allegiance, where logically it belongs. The migrant will say, in effect: “ I renounce my former allegiance and adopt the new allegiance “, all as part of the one oath.

I have attended many naturalisation ceremonies and for the people involved the ceremony is an occasion they will remember. If the ceremonies are properly conducted, as in my experience they generally have been, it has been made clear to the participants that they are in no way renouncing their love for their country and in no way renouncing their connection with it, except in respect of the link of legal obligation. Once that is explained there is no difficulty so far as I have been able to ascertain. I suggest that the honorable member for Grayndler may feel that there is some reason for adopting the Government’s amendment to the Act. Of course, I oppose the amendment that the honorable member has foreshadowed.

Minister for Immigration · Corio · LP

– I thank the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Bowen) for his excellent exposition of the need to have the four words inserted in the oath of allegiance. His explanation should have a profound effect on the thinking of the Committee. Refence has been made to the attention the Citizenship Convention has given to this subject matter. I think it is imperative to clarify the position. All honorable members appreciate the sensitivity of migrants at naturalisation ceremonies. I have often felt the need for some alteration to the statement of renunciation of allegiance to their former countries. The Citizenship Convention has considered this matter and the opinion of delegates to the Convention merits consideration. I think it is worthwhile quoting what I said at the 1965 Citizenship Convention -

I wish to mention one subject which obviously has evoked very consistent and responsible interest throughout the Convention. Sir John (Allison) drew attention to the difficulties experienced by migrants in publicly renouncing their allegiance to the land of their birth and suggested that that was an unnecessary formality. I now find, to my great interest, that there is a strong expression of opinion supporting and confirming the view expressed by Sir John. You can be assured that I have noted the strong trend of your thinking on this vital matter concerning naturalisation ceremonies. I can assure you that I and the Department will give early consideration to your advice.

That was not a complete acceptance of what the Convention had to say. I said I would give early consideration to the advice of delegates, and that was my intention. I brought it back to the responsible members of the Government in Cabinet and referred it to the Government Members Committee on Immigration for analysis and discussion.

This subject affects the feelings, beliefs, outlook and reaction of .people from other countries. In many instances we do not understand their attitude because we have not been to their countries and seen or felt what they have undergone. After consideration had been given to the advice we received, at the opening of the 1966 Citizenship Convention I said that delegates would be interested in two naturalisation matters that would be dealt with in the forthcoming legislation, particularly as the 1965 Convention was specifically concerned with such questions. I said -

The first of these is the practice of requiring applicants for naturalisation to renounce allegiance to their former countries before swearing allegiance to our Queen. In its present form the renunciation is prominent in the naturalisation ceremony. The Government has in mind that the essential words of renunciation be incorporated, by the use of only four words, as part of the oath of allegiance to the Queen. The change will simplify and shorten the naturalisation ceremony and enhance its dignity, and I believe also that while retaining a minimum form of renunciation, the change will eliminate the emotional disturbance felt by candidates in view of their natural and rightful love of their homelands.

While the renunciation was completely distasteful in its existing form - and long before 1 occupied my present portfolio I was conscious of the feelings of migrants at naturalisation ceremonies and had great sympathy for them - at the same time I was concerned about its complete abolition. In my view there is no conflict between my two statements. The 1965 Citizenship Convention had as its theme “ Every Settler a Citizen “, and consequently the subject of naturalisation received much attention from delegates to the Convention.

Proceedings in the various discussion groups clearly indicated that many delegates felt that the need for new settlers to renounce allegiance to their country of birth before swearing allegiance to Australia and the Queen was one of the main reasons why so many aliens did not apply for naturalisation. Concern was felt by many delegates to the 1965 Citizenship Convention in relation to the oath of allegiance that the renunciation in its separate form made the naturalisation ceremony irritating, if not worse than irritating. But I feel quite certain as I stand here that had the Convention delegates at that time been aware of the present proposal the matter would not have been raised in this fashion as something that was distasteful to the migrant. This would have been accepted as the correct form. It would not have become a subject for discussion at the Citizenship Convention but for -the fact that it was so stark and outstanding in its separate form and it had an effect upon all of us who saw it as a separate ceremony. If the 1965 Convention had been aware of this proposal I feel certain the members would not have felt as strongly as they did and this matter would not have been brought under attention.

Under existing circumstances an applicant for naturalisation attending a naturalisation ceremony makes a separate renunciation of his former allegiance in words which to my mind make the ceremony brutal and blunt. The person concerned renounces his allegiance to any sovereign or state. When he uses the word “ state “ he is referring to his country. He is saying: “I am dismissing my country of which I am a subject or citizen “. Then the applicant goes on to swear an oath of allegiance to our Queen. Under the new formula, a Bible will be handed to the applicant for the administration of the oath. There will be a single ceremony. The person being naturalised takes the following oath of allegiance -

I………… renouncing all other allegiance, swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors according to law.

The applicant says that he will fulfil and observe the laws of Australia and carry out his duties as an Australian citizen. This is the present requirement. The separate renunciation will be eliminated entirely. The procedure will be simplified and will not cause lacerations in any shape or form to the feelings of these people who are swearing on the Bible when compared with the former statement which was not even an oath. These people will feel far more comfortable in their own minds.

The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) has referred to dual nationality which is recognised by various countries. Australia does not recognise dual nationality with respect to its own citizens. When an Australian goes abroad and swears allegiance to another country, he automatically loses his Australian citizenship. Therefore, we do not have this problem of dual nationality. But with respect to the countries the honorable member mentioned in which dual citizenship provisions exist, application can be made through the embassies or consulates of those countries in Australia to be recognised as citizens only of Australia. The applicants have to go through certain formalities and make this application. But, to my mind, if they make such an application their position is greatly strengthened. Obviously, the application would be studied word by word. If the applicant has not renounced allegiance to his own country, the consul could say: “ We have looked at this matter. You have certainly taken allegiance to Australia. You have sworn allegiance to the Queen and become a British subject, and an Australian citizen. But, at the same time, you could serve our country in certain circumstances where these circumstances do not clash with Australian interests. You could carry out that obligation. You have not denied allegiance to your own country “. If the oath includes those four words “ renouncing all other allegiance “ it certainly strengthens the case presented at the consulate or the embassy to refuse when they make applications for single citizenship.

I come now to another point which must be contemplated and studied thoroughly. As I have said before, we must remember we are dealing with human beings and human reaction. We are dealing with people. Those of us who are closely associated with migrants - and all honorable members are - are acutely sensitive to their moods and outlook, perhaps to a greater extent that would be the case with those we could term the members of the public - that is, the millions of other Australian citizens. We are familiar with naturalisation ceremonies. Wc get to know these people who apply for naturalisation. They come into our electorates with their troubles, problems, triumphs and successes. We are asked to help them to bring out relatives. We get to know them better, perhaps than any other members of the community do.

We know what happens at a naturalisation ceremony. There is nothing more inspiring than to be with these people at the time when they take Australian citizenship. We see how obviously happy they are at the thought that they have become Australian citizens and that the changeover from their old way of life to their new way of life in our country has been successful. Their hopes have been justified. We know all these things, because we meet these people. Various organisations such as the Rotary Clubs, the Lions Clubs, the Apex Clubs, the Chambers of Commerce and the Good Neighbour Councils come to know these people, also. It is so easy for those of us who work all the time with these migrants to think that the Australian public generally knows every phase of the migration programme intimately. But millions of Australians do not know or understand this situation to the same extent as we do.

I must confess that I was concerned that the Australian public might not fully understand the Government’s attitude in eliminating the separate renunciation requirement. The Australian public might think that migrants coming here are not sufficiently attracted to Australia to renounce their former allegiance. This is a generalisation. I know. We know in our own minds the difference. But we depend on the Australian people for the success of our migration programme. The Australian people must understand and be sympathetic to our programme. The success we have achieved to date has been due to the fact that the great bulk of Australians have recognised our new settlers and accepted them. Honorable members know the Australian public as well as 1 do. If this renunciation provision is not understood, it could be said that migrants who come here wish to enjoy the advantages of Australian living and get the best out of the country, but do not think enough of us to come entirely with us and renounce any other allegiance. It could be said that they wish to retain other allegiances they have and yet take the opportunities that come from naturalisation without giving something back in return. I believe that we have blunted the edge fo such ideas as much as we possibly can. The oath of allegiance as was pointed out by the honorable member for Parramatta is legally justified and essential. On the emotional side, we have taken as much as we possibly can out of that other provision and done all that we can to promote the acceptance by Australians of the feeling that this later provision is properly and correctly balanced. I think we have done the best we can in dealing with human problems, human emotions and human reactions.

Everybody’s opinion must be recognised. We all must have our thoughts set on the overall migration picture instead of on just one section of it. All of us in this chamber want to see each migrant happily settled and becoming an Australian. I do not think there will be anything other than appreciation from the migrant of the proposed form of oath. Instead of coming forward at a naturalisation ceremony, first renouncing the old allegiance and then lining up again, taking the Bible and swearing allegiance to our Queen, now he will simply say: “ I . . renouncing all other allegiance, swear by Almighty God …” and so on. That is fair enough.

Having looked at this matter, having my responsibility for the migrant who arrives here, lives here and becomes one of us, and knowing the goodwill of the Australian public towards our migration programme, I believe that this is the most equitable and balanced way of obtaining the best results for all parties. Although the Government has a full appreciation of the reasons and arguments that have been put forward by members of the Opposition in what they believe are the best interests of the migrants, after taking all considerations into account the Government cannot accept the amendment.


.- After listening to the Minister, I want a couple of matters cleared up. He has just said that he believes that, had the Australian Citizenship Convention in 1965 heard what he said later in relation to altering the naturalisation ceremony, it would have been completely satisfied, or practically satisfied anyway. I would like to know how he has arrived at that view when the digest of the proceedings of that Convention shows that it was attended by more than 300 delegates representing quite a wide range of the Australian community; that the delegates were broken up into five discussion groups and that four of the five groups supported the proposition that the renunciation be deleted from the ceremony.

The digest contains the following statement made in the general assembly of the Convention by Major-General R. J. H. Risson of the Good Neighbour Council -

I suggest that much of the objection to renunciation lies in the psychological jar that it inflicts when taken separately. This might be greatly overcome if the renunciation could be combined with the oath of allegiance in some manner such as this: “ !, XYZ, swear, &c, that, renouncing all allegiance that I have owed hitherto to any sovereign State, &c, henceforth will render true allegiance, &c.”

The following passage appears later in the digest -

Concluding the Convention, the Minister for Immigration, Mr. Opperman, said delegates could be assured that he had noted the strong trend of their thinking on renunciation of allegiance at naturalisation ceremonies.

I suggest that the Convention, after listening to what Major-General Risson had to say on this matter, did not adopt what he said or what the Government now proposes; as a matter of fact, the Convention continued to oppose it. So I am wondering how the Minister can now come into this chamber and say that what he is putting forward would have met with the approval of the Convention. As a matter of fact, I believe that the Government’s attitude to the Convention is that there is no reason in what the delegates put forward.

Yesterday the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) said that we had no justification for moving for the deletion of the renunciation. Surely the views of 300 delegates at a convention, representing such a wide range of the Australian people, give us some justification. Surely they also justify the Government giving consideration to what the delegates said, particularly when it cannot bring forward any real reason why the renunciation should remain. I certainly cannot see any reason why it should remain. I listened to the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Bowen). I cannot see how a person can say: “ I swear true allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second “ and continue to have any real allegiance to another country. If he can, does the oath mean anything to him? I do not think it does.

The Minister has said that the Government is disturbed about the emotional effects of the present form of ceremony and that this Bill will simplify it, shorten it and add to its dignity. All I can say about that is that this change will create some confusion because the candidate will have to take a definite oath of renunciation. I believe that the Government is skating around this issue a little. I ask it to give some consideration to section 12 of the Act, which says that the candidate shall have an adequate knowledge of the responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship. If there is a responsibility in relation to taking an oath of renunciation, the candidate should know his complete responsibility. The Government should not be skating around this issue by just putting four words into the oath of allegiance. I believe that it would be much better to leave things as they are.


.- 1 thank the Minister for his explanation of the Government’s attitude. Like the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), I regret that I am unable to accept either the Minister’s explanation or the case submitted by members of the Government parties. 1 ask the Minister this: What would have happened under the existing legislation if an applicant for naturalisation had refused to perform the act of renunciation? Would his application have been rejected, or would he have been able to persist with it? I believe that those are fair questions to ask. I have never seen that happen and I am confident that such a situation has never been brought to the attention of the Minister.

Mr Daly:

– There is no known case.


– That is so. But what would have been the decision? Would the ceremony have been adjourned sine die or would the applicant have been permitted to take the oath of allegiance? Assuming that he would not have been required to perform the act of renunciation, it is clear that in future the position will be reversed. lt will be essential for any applicant to take the oath of allegiance or make the affirmation of allegiance which include the four words to which we are objecting, namely “ renouncing all other allegiance “. 1 believe that this alteration of the naturalisation ceremony will place much more responsibility on the applicant than previously. I would like the Minister to clarify that matter for me.

The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Bowen) made a number of points. One of his main points was that the Government wished to eliminate dual nationality and that it must legally break the link between the applicant for naturalisation and his previous nationality. If the honorable member reads all acts as clearly as he has read this one, I would strongly advise any friend of mine not to go to him for legal advice. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Devine), who has just interjected, would, I am certain, give a much better interpretation than could be given by the learned Queen’s Counsel on the other side of the Chamber. I refer the honorable member for Parramatta to the answer given by the present Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Bury), who was at the time Acting Minister for Immigration, on 26th May 1965 to a question about naturalisation that I had asked on notice. The answer appears at page 2117 of “Hansard”. The Acting Minister stated -

The renunciation by migrants of their previous allegiance docs not in itself result in loss of original nationality-

I suggest that the honorable member give due heed to that - but acquisition of Australian citizenship docs in most cases have this result.

So it is obvious from those words of the Acting Minister that the act of renunciation of former allegiance is not necessary to break the legal link between an applicant for naturalisation and his previous nationality. The taking of the oath or the making of the affirmation of allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen is the act that does this. So I suggest once again, Mr. Chairman, that there is no real need to write into the Act the four words to which we object. The honorable member for Parramatta says that the purpose is to terminate the situation of dual nationality. 1 point out, for the honorable member’s information, that he cannot do anything about it. As I pointed out previously, of those who had applied for naturalisation as at 30th June 1965, notwithstanding the fact that they had renounced their previous allegiance, 38 per cent, still had dual nationality. The act of renunciation had not given them single nationality. On 11th October 1963, I asked another question about this subject. Between 1st January 1945 and 31st March 1963, I was informed, 386,243 migrants bad been naturalised in Australia. Of these, 145,730, or 37.7 per cent., had dual nationality. So how can dual nationality be terminated? lt is obvious to me that the honorable member for Parramatta has not fully understood the situation under the existing Act and the implications of this Bill.

The honorable member for Sturt (Sir Keith Wilson) said that the Australian and the British laws on this subject were quite clear and that previous allegiance must be renounced. My understanding of the requirements in the United Kingdom is that any applicant for naturalisation there is not required to renounce his former allegiance. The honorable member lacks real knowledge of the United Kingdom law.

Sir Keith Wilson:

– I did not say anything like what the honorable member has attributed to me.


– The honorable member said that the Australian and the British laws were quite clear.

Sir Keith Wilson:

– They are quite clear.


– But not to the honorable member. That is the unfortunate truth. He went on to say that at the Australian Citizenship Convention in 1965 there had been no strong demand for the elimination of the act of renunciation. He was Chairman of that Convention.

Sir Keith Wilson:

– I did not say anything of the sort.


– Let him look at the record of the proceedings of the Convention. Let him look also at “Hansard” to see what he said earlier in the debate on this Bill. I made notes of his remarks. The “ Digest of the Australian Citizenship Convention “ of 1965, which was prepared by the Department of Immigration, records that the Reverend Father M. J. Rafter, Chairman of Discussion Group 1, said -

The group felt strongly that the Oath of Renunciation should be done away with.

Mr. Albert Monk, who was Chairman of Group 2, declared -

A very strong case was put forward, particularly by some of the new Australian representatives, that renunciation of former allegiance should not be a condition to naturalisation.

The Reverend C. J. P. Mackaay, who was Chairman of Group 3, said -

The group suggests to the general assembly of the Convention that the Oath of Renunciation, as required at naturalisation ceremonies under the present rule, should be deleted.

Dr. Una B. Porter, who was Chairman of Group 5, stated -

Some are reluctant to renounce their former sovereign, and whilst respecting our Queen see no necessity for changing their allegiance.

Those were the views expressed by the Chairmen of various Groups. The opinion expressed by the Minister when closing the Convention is stated as follows -

Concluding the Convention, the Minister for Immigration, Mr. Opperman, said delegates could be assured that he had noted the strong trend of their thinking on renunciation of allegiance at naturalisation ceremonies.

In his second reading speech, referring to the change in respect of renunciation, he said -

The change will … I believe, eliminate the emotional disturbance felt by candidates due to their natural and rightful love of their homelands.

All we are asking is that due heed be given to all these views that have been expressed by delegates to the Citizenship Convention. Possibly, they are more closely in touch with migrants than we are. I have stated what they consider should be done. The Minister accepts that there is an emotional disturbance caused by the requirement that former allegiance be renounced. Therefore, we suggest to him that he have due regard for this emotional disturbance and refrain from incorporating in the Act the requirement that an applicant for naturalisation renounce his former allegiance though previously he was not required to do so.


.- Mr. Chairman, the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) said that the chairman of at least one of the discussion groups at the Australian Citizenship Convention in 1965 had said that the oath of renunciation as set out in the naturalisation ceremony should be eliminated. That is quite different from saying that renunciation itself should be eliminated altogether. I believe that the Minister, in his second reading speech, made the position very clear when he said -

In its present form the renunciation is a prominent and separate part of the naturalisation ceremony. . . .

I have attended many naturalisation ceremonies, and I have noticed that the oath of renunciation is a separate part of the ceremony. It is a rather lengthy oath stating that the applicant renounces his former allegiance. The procedure now proposed will do away with all that. The applicant, after stating his name, will say - renouncing all other allegiance swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her heirs and successors according to law. . . .

Surely there is no great difficulty about that and nothing that would cause anyone who desired Australian citizenship to pause. After all, we want people who come to this country to become citizens. But we do not want as citizens those who prefer allegiance to other countries. The honorable member for Newcastle and other honorable members opposite have suggested that the new procedure will not carry any weight in law. However, applicants for naturalisation will at least have uttered these words of renunciation and, quite apart from the legal aspect, they will be morally bound to stand by the words that they have uttered. If they are of high moral principle, having said that they renounce their former allegiance, they will stand by that declaration. I believe that, quite apart from whatever the law may say about it, this is desirable. We require in this country people who will give their allegiance to our Queen and not retain any past allegiance to another sovereign. Therefore, I oppose the amendment and support the clause as it is drafted.

Minister for Immigration · Corio · LP

– I would just like to remove some of the misapprehensions of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard). He stated that 1 had said that had the renunciation of former allegiance been in the form now proposed, it would have been acceptable to the delegates at the Australian Citizenship Convention in 1 965. That is not so. What I said was that had the renunciation, before the 1965 Convention, been in the form now proposed, it would have attracted no attention and would have been quite satisfactory to migrants. The fact that the renunciation of former allegiance came separately from and subsequent to the oath of allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen made it difficult for those who were associated with migrant organisations and for applicants for naturalisation to accept it. Therefore, the delegates came to the Convention in 1965 with their minds made up that they would modify this statement in tome way. I do not have Major-General

Risson’s statement with me, but the honorable member said that he wanted to include the words “ any sovereign state “. 1 agree that that would not have been satisfactory. The four words we have included in the oath do not mention the country from which the migrant came. I believe that if the Convention had had before it the oath that we now propose, the delegates would have accepted it and we would not have had this discussion today. I made a statement to the Convention in 1966. Judging by the atmosphere - no vote was taken - 1 felt that the delegates were quite happy about the alteration we suggested. The delegates are quite critical and straight speaking people, because they are interested in what they are doing, but I could not discern any resistance to the form of oath that we now propose.

The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) delicately hinted at a theoretical situation that could arise. He said that we might find that the applicant refused to make a renunciation. The applicant would have understood the formula before he reached this point. He would not be a particularly desirable citizen if, having understood the formula, he then refused to go through the procedure. The presiding officer at a naturalisation ceremony has to certify that the applicant has both renounced and sworn allegiance. That is required in the present formula. If an applicant refused to renounce, the presiding officer, though placed in an embarrassing position, would, if he had strength of purpose and was a true presiding officer, refuse to administer the oath of allegiance and the applicant would not become a citizen. If the Bill is passed in its present form, this requirement will become a thing of the past and the situation envisaged by the honorable member will not arise.


.- I have had considerable experience of naturalisation ceremonies. Not one of the thousands of people I have seen naturalised has come to me and complained about the oath of renunciation. Opposition members forget that perhaps the majority of new settlers do not owe allegiance to any country and do not want to have any allegiance to their former country. Would any of our new settlers from Russia want to swear allegiance to Russia? Would any of our new settlers from Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia want to swear allegiance to those countries? Would not new settlers from Poland, the Ukraine, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia want to renounce their allegiance to the people who now control their countries? Of course, they would be delighted to do so. They would be only too pleased to renounce their former allegiance in a very practical and commonsense way.

Migrants from countries that are being governed democratically may have some doubts about renouncing their former allegiance. However, the opposition to clause 1 1 by honorable members on the other side of the chamber is for political purposes and political purposes only. In the Blacktown area, we have naturalisation ceremonies that are attended by 200, 300 and 400 people at a time. Not on any one occasion has any new settler come to me and complained about the renunciation of allegiance. The provision in the Bill is most desirable and necessary and I commend the Minister for introducing it in this form.

Question put -

That the clause be agreed to.

The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)

AYES: 56

NOES: 45

Majority .. ..It



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Clause 12.

The Principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following Schedule -


Section 26a.

Oath of Allegiance

I, A.B., renouncing all other allegiance, swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors according to law.

Affirmation of Allegiance

I, A.B., renouncing all other allegiance, solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors according to law.


.- I move -

In the proposed Third Schedule, omit “ renouncing all other allegiance,” (twice occurring).

Almost everything that one could say about the Government’s proposal in clause 12 and about our amendment has already been said in relation to clause 11. In this clause the Minister is seeking to have migrants do something which the Governments of the United Kingdom and New Zealand do not require their migrants to do, namely renounce their former allegiance. I oppose the Government’s proposal and urge the Committee to accept my amendment.


.- I would like the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) to say why the Third Schedule has been added to the legislation and why the wording of the oath of allegiance differs from the wording of the affirmation of allegiance. The second schedule includes these words - 1 will faithfully observe the laws of Australia and fulfil my duties as an Australian citizen.

Those words are omitted from the oath or affirmation appearing in the third schedule. Apparently this omission has something to do with section 26a of the principal Act. 1 cannot understand why the wording of the two schedules should be so different. Nor do I see the connection between the third schedule and section 26a. The principal Act does not refer to the third schedule and the Bill contains nothing to indicate the connection between the third schedule and section 26a. I would like the Minister to provide some information on the matters I have raised.


– I find it very hard to understand why the Opposition seeks to have the act of renunciation removed from the naturalisation ceremony. It is true that the act of renunciation is not included in naturalisation ceremonies conducted in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, lt is true also that in other countries very close to ours in outlook and form, not only is the act of renunciation included in naturalisation ceremonies but also it is in a more stringent and searching form than in our ceremony. Why does the Opposition want the act of renunciation excluded from the naturalisation ceremony? There can be only one or two reasons for this. One is that the Opposition seeks to make the ceremony easier in the least desirable meaning of that word. Does the Opposition seek to make this a relatively unimportant ceremony - one that may be treated lightly? Does it wish to attach to naturalisation a very low scale of values? This attitude is diametrically opposed to the view taken by the Government. The naturalisation ceremony is a grave and solemn occasion in the life of a person who has decided to change his environment, loyalties and allegiances. He is giving up the things that he grew up with, including his former patriotism. He does all these things when he seeks to become an Australian citizen and a British subject. The decision to do these things is a decisively important one in his life. It is a time of searching for motives. He comes to the naturalisation ceremony with very mixed feelings.

I agree with the submissions made at the Australian Citizenship Convention and elsewhere that the act of renunciation in its present form - it is an act; not an oath - unnecessarily stresses some of the unhappy elements of the naturalisation ceremony and some of the searching things attached to it. I have attended naturalisation ceremonies at which migrants, having made the act of renunciation of former allegiance, listened to a musical item or some other entertainment before subscribing the oath of allegiance to the Queen. I believe that in this setting the act of renunciation is undesirable. I have even heard the Mayor or other officer administering the oaths lead the new settlers and himself renounce his allegiance.

There are very close parallels for the form in which the Government is now providing for the swearing of allegiance to the Queen. There is a parallel in the marriage service where a person renounces all other affections and takes a partner for life. I see no reason for making the naturalisation ceremony easier in the lighter sense of that word. We should realise that the ceremony will have deep overtones; that it will be a time of mixed sadness and gladness in the lives of the people taking part. We should not shrink from this, because it is a time which is a very important moment in their lives.

The other possibility is that in wanting to remove this moment from the ceremony the Opposition wishes to hide the fact that this is a legal action whereby allegiance is sworn to the Queen and there can be no other allegiance. There has been a great reduction in the severity of many of the tests that are applied to people coming to this country. A greater discretion is given to the Minister and a more generous approach is made generally to many of the applicants for migration to Australia. Because of this it is fitting and appropriate that we should direct their attention squarely and fairly to the fact that in taking this oath they are renouncing all former allegiance. There is no suggestion, I hope, from anywhere that they can have a dual allegiance, that there can be dual citizenship or that they can be loyal to two persons or two countries or serve two masters at the one time. This suggestion is not put forward, so for the life of me I fail to understand why, in the view of the Opposition, a person taking part in one of these ceremonies cannot simply say: “ Renouncing all previous loyalties I do swear allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen”, as they are required to do. I do not believe the Act would be improved by leaving those words out altogether. 1 believe the provision does direct attention deliberately, and with fairness and sympathy, in the form in which it is worded, and that it is highly desirable. I totally support the proposition put forward by the Government.


.- I was interested in the submissions made by the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) of which 1 shall say more in a moment. In supporting the amendment moved by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) I do not intend to go over the ground already covered during the debate on the previous amendment when the Opposition opposed the incorporation of the words “ renouncing all other allegiance “ in the naturalisation procedure. In line with the previous amendment the Opposition now, in relation to clause 12, seeks to take words out of the Third Schedule which are contained in the Oath of Allegiance and Affirmation of Allegiance. 1 point out that this is a rather unique schedule because earlier the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman), when asked during another stage of the Bill, to quote specific cases to which the Schedule applied, said that clause 9 was a very complicated clause and that there were no known cases that would be affected. In other words, the Opposition is asking the Committee to take out of the Third Schedule certain words which will not affect anybody in the country at this time. The fact is that it would not make any difference if they were taken out because they are not going to affect anybody for better or for worse, to use the words that my reverend friend used in relation to another sphere. This Schedule will not affect anybody at this particular moment because there are no known cases to which the provision would apply. This must be one of the first occasions on record when the Liberal Party has beaten the gun and brought in legislation before it was required.

Honorable members on this side have given many reasons why they think this renunciation provision should go by the board. We are supported by authorities which cannot be disregarded. The Minister himself was in favour of our suggestion until somebody got him in the Cabinet room and probably made him change his mind or outvoted him. I think that deep down he really believes that this renunciation provision ought to go. The point I make is that if we do not want it included in other sections of the Act there is no reason why it should be in this Schedule, which, as I say, does not apply to anybody in the country, according to the Minister’s words, and we do not know whether it will ever apply. The honorable member for Evans, who is a suspicious type of fellow, said: “ I cannot understand the motive behind the Opposition amendment “. That does not surprise us. He rarely understands anything the Labour Party puts forward. I will tell him why we oppose the provision in the Bill. We oppose it for the same reason that the Liberal and Country Parties, in Opposition in 1948, opposed the Nationality and Citizenship Bill in its entirety. We believe that the renunciation provision is something that is not in the best interests of immigration, the same as the parties to which honorable members opposite belong thought that the very Act which they are now endeavouring to amend, and about which they are speaking so highly, was no good at all in 1948.

The fact of the matter is that Opposition members have a strong opinion on this question. We are putting it forward with a desire to improve the immigration programme, the naturalisation process and also to remove these emotional disturbances which people en high positions who are interested in immigration say affect tl.e naturalisation processes in Australia. I do not intend to deal any further with the arguments so ably put forward previously by my colleagues on this side of the Chamber. I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Newcastle. I urge the Minister, even at this late stage, to relent on thi’s particular question and support the amendment the Opposition is putting forward, particularly as it will not affect anybody in the country at this time. To take the matter to its logical conclusion it could be said that if no one will be affected at this stage - and no one i’s likely to be affected - not only could the Third

Schedule be eliminated, but possibly clause 9 need never have been introduced, necessary as it would be if there were cases to be covered.

On the question of renunciation of allegiance, I mentioned earlier that you do not renounce a will when you make another legal will - the other will just goes by the board. When you get divorced,if you are fortunate or unfortunate enough to have that happen to you, you find you do not renounce your previous allegiance. It is just wiped off and you can go on to the next marriage. The same thing happens with the renunciation of allegiance. You do not find the fellow who has been divorced when he marries again saying: “ I renounce my previous wife and children and everybody else.” He does not make a public confession. It is not written into the marriage certificate. It is not even written into the divorce papers. It is taken for granted that he has renounced his allegiance simply because he is now marrying again, as he is free to marry.

Dr Mackay:

– Itis not taken for granted. You cannot marry again unless you have a certificate.


– If a person had gone before the reverend gentleman in his heyday that person would nothave stood up and said: “ I renounce my previous wife.” Those words are not contained in any Christian marriage ceremony where a divorced person is involved. The fact of the matter is that the Government is writing into the immigration law a proposal that a person should renounce his previous allegiance when such a provision is not to be found in any other section of legal activity in this country. I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Newcastle. I hope that it will be carried and that the Government will take out of this legislation certain words that do not apply to anybody in the country, and may never apply.

Minister for Immigration · Corio · LP

– This debate appears to be finishing with some sound and fury that was not evident in the earlier stages, but just to calm it down a little I will refer to the question the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) asked about the Third

Schedule. Honorable members will recollect that I mentioned earlier the case of an alien woman wishing to become a British subject when her husband was a British subject but not an Australian citizen. If she makes the simple application to which I referred earlier then after she has sworn the oath of allegiance her husband may register as a British subject without citizenship. So therefore she is not an Australian citizen and it is not necessary for her to swear to faithfully observe the laws of Australia and fulfil her duties as an Australian citizen because she is British. That is the reason for that.

I should like to correct the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) in case he is considering making a will. All the legal opinion that I have had this afternoon suggests that he will revoke all other wills and testaments when he is making a new will.

Question put -

That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Jones’s amendment) stand part of the clause.

The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)

AYES: 56

NOES: 45

Majority . . . . 11



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Clause agreed to.

Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.

Third Reading

Bill (on motion by Mr. Opperman) - by leave - read a third time.

page 1079


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 31st March (vide page 835), on motion by Mr. Opperman - That the Bill be now read a second time.


.- This Bill to amend the Migration Act 1958-1964 in relation to persons included in the complements or crews of vessels, and in relation to decimal currency, is as the title implies a very limited one. The purposes of the Bill, which I express briefly in the words of the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman), are - to effect two amendments to the Migration Act 1958-1964. The objects of the amendments may be stated briefly. First, to reduce, as far as possible, the documentation required in respect of persons included in the complements or crews of vessels; and, secondly, to revise certain provisions of the Act relating to penalties, consequent upon the introduction of decimal currency.

The second object is a machinery measure, but the first one is to speed up and remove red tape in connection with this part of the Migration Act. My understanding of the provisions of the Bill, which are extremely simple, is that an identification card signed by the master of any ship will, if the master will hand it over and conditional upon the Minister approving the card, be accepted, subject to provisions of the Act, for use as an identification card in cases of desertion or in matters of that nature. The provisions of the Act at present require that seamen carry special identification cards. I understand that the Bill will facilitate the implementation of this section of the Act and that it has been introduced at the request of, among others, British shipping companies and has the support of the British Board of Trade. My understanding is that some other companies have agreed to it but some have not. Generally speaking I believe that the Bill will effect a desirable improvement as it will remove red tape and will further streamline the Migration Act. The Opposition offers no objection to the measure.


.- This Bill is another example of the willingness of the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman), and his Department, to cooperate at all times with commerce and with persons associated with migration by cutting out unnecessary restrictions or red tape. Although it is purely a formal measure, it does assist commerce and shipping in that, in many cases, it will avoid the necessity for the master of a vessel to prepare an identification card. The effect of the Bill is simply that in addition to an identification card the production by the master of a seamen’s continuous discharge book or some similar document will be acceptable. The identification card will still be acceptable as evidence, if one is prepared and produced, but its production is not compulsory.

I, therefore, support the Bill and congratulate the Minister and his Department on the watchful way in which they endeavour at all times to remove unnecessary red tape and restrictions.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Mr. Opperman) read a third time.

page 1080


Ministerial Statement

Debate resumed from 19th April (vide page 951), on motion by Mr. McMahon -

That the House take note of the following paper -

State of the Economy - Ministerial Statement, 31st March 1966.


.- In speaking to the motion which requires that the paper tabled by the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) be noted, I should like to take the opportunity to congratulate the Treasurer upon his first major economic survey. It is a very comprehensive and very thoughtfully prepared paper which I feel will be of significant interest to all who are concerned with our national economy.

Since my time is limited, I must restrict the attention which I can give to the paper. I shall therefore confine my remarks to the facet dealing with our balance of payments position, and I draw particular attention to the paragraph reading -

With the balance of trade improving and capital inflow running high, our international reserves have recently been holding up well and we will end the financial year with a level of reserves high by world standards - and higher than we expected some months ago.

This is very heartening news and it must arouse confidence in the future of the national economy. The claim is made in some quarters - especially by some of our colleagues opposite - that if Australia had its own national overseas shipping line that line would improve our balance of payments position in that it would be an earner of foreign exchange. To some extent, there is significance in that argument. It is also argued that such a line would have some import replacement benefit and that it would earn foreign exchange by carrying our exports.

It is natural for a nation to desire its own shipping line, and that desire is very strong in the Australian people. I do not quarrel with that desire, especially in a country like this, which is an island continent and which is essentially a trading nation. We are lead to understand that it is the twelfth trading nation of the world. But the arguments which I have heard advanced in this chamber by the Opposition and by others outside, have an exaggerated emotional content which should not be accepted without great reserve. Some of these arguments are based more on emotion than on a due and proper regard for the economic criteria which must be kept in mind when considering the establishment of an overseas shipping line.

Rarely have I heard it suggested that an overseas shipping line could be promoted by private enterprise. Why is this so? Obviously there is a tacit acceptance of the fact that there would be no profit in the operation of an overseas shipping line and that, therefore, there would be no economic incentive. It is argued that, because of this, a very heavy subsidy would be necessary to establish and maintain such a line, lt must be admitted that if such a line cannot be organised economically and profitably by private enterprise then it would need to be established on either a national or semi-national basis.

My point is that if such a line were established it could be truly referred to as nationalisation at the expense of the taxpayers. I emphasize that - nationalisation at the expense of the taxpayers. Could this expense to the taxpayers be justified? I argue that it could not. All the claims for an overseas shipping line which have been advanced by members of the Opposition have been based on such grounds as national prestige, our defence requirements, social considerations, the saving of foreign exchange, the saving of freight costs and possible aid to our ship building industry. I readily concede that all these claims can be supported by strong arguments; but surely they will be evaluated on the basis of economics by people of responsibility.

I refer now to a statement made by a well known Professor of Economics, Professor R. C. Gates, when he was at the Sydney University, in an article published in “ Maritime Australia “, a supplement of the “Australian Financial Review” of 13th December 1965. In that article, he said -

Anybody who advocates an Australian shipping line should be given a pencil and a piece of paper to do some arithmetic. He should be required to place his own values on the costs and benefits and calculate the balance of advantages and the disadvantages to Australia.

I believe this would be a worthwhile exercise and indeed an essential one in economics. The question I raise is whether our balance of payments position would be improved if we had our own overseas shipping line. Let me analyse the position. Australia is an island nation and for this reason alone she is a major importer of shipping services just as we are a substantial importer of manufacturing materials. If we had an extensive, efficient, busy and well organised overseas shipping line unquestionably we would save to some extent on foreign exchange which is now paid to shipping companies of other countries that are known as maritime nations. As a matter of fact, we would earn foreign exchange from the carriage of our exports, but against this we would lose the foreign exchange element in the substantial spending by overseas shipping lines trading to Australia and which we see represented by ships under many flags in our harbours and ports. These ships contribute largely to our financial resources by expenditure on port dues, stevedoring costs, which are exceedingly heavy, pro.vidoring, agency fees and so forth. We must remember also that similar charges would be incurred by ships of an Australian overseas line in foreign ports.

I submit, with respect, that the claim that a national overseas shipping line would save us substantial foreign exchange may prove to be restrictive, unprogressive and even irrational unless it is shown that the resources involved - the resources to establish, build and maintain our own national shipping line - could not be used more effectively in promoting or developing exports, thus saving foreign exchange, or in import replacements, or in so improving the general economic environment that these other benefits would flow. If a substantial saving in foreign exchange does not result from the development of our own overseas line a heavy tax burden must fall on our taxpayers. I refer again to Professor Gates who, writing in the “ Australian Financial Review” of 17th September 1965, and using the Commonwealth Statistician’s freight figures for 1964-65 of £270 million- and I think the Opposition has from time to time used a figure of £300 million - said that if we had an overseas shipping line and, hypothetically, it carried half of our imports and half of our exports, leaving the other half of the carriage to our trading partners, we might expect to save £135 million in foreign exchange.

Mr Peters:

– Was he a stooge of the shipping lines?


– He is no stooge of the shipping lines; he is an acknowledged expert in this field of economics. As the professor acknowledged, this saving would not represent the true situation. The economics involved are most complex and anyone who understands the situation would agree that large losses have to be set off against whatever gains are involved - such losses as the gain from expenditure by foreign ships in Australian ports which, in 1964-65, amounted to £95 million, a considerable sum. If we talk hypothetically of carrying half the cargoes, the sum involved as expenditure by overseas shipping companies would be about £47 million in foreign exchange earnings. At the same time we would incur a similar level of expenditure for our own ships in foreign ports. In addition we would have to meet office and agency expenses and other shore costs in the foreign countries where we operated. These are just, some of the heavy losses that must be taken into account but which, of course, are not taken into account by those who speak merely from the emotional point of view. Tn the final analysis it could well be that our saving in foreign exchange would be only about £20 million to £25 million. A matter for concern is that to achieve even this amount of saving in foreign exchange would necessitate a heavy investment of at least £150 million in ships bought secondhand or £300 million if bought new from overseas to handle only half our cargoes. My point is that Australia would be involved in heavy expenditure for a relatively small gain in foreign exchange.

The Vernon Committee, as was to be expected, expressed concern about shipping as a factor in our overseas trade and in our balance of payments. On page 12.49 of its report the Committee said, inter alia - . . we do not hesitate to urge a close watch by the Government on policies and developments likely to affect Australia’s competitive position. Although the major conference arrangement, relating to United Kingdom-Continental trade, may seem on the whole to serve Australian interests at present, it is not sacrosanct.

The report also states -

The Committee cannot rejudge the situation which is complex and in which assessment of advantages and disadvantages of change will call for the most careful consideration by both exporters and government.

I believe that shipping interests generally would subscribe to this statement, especially the last sentence I have read. The points I have made must surely be given weight. In my contention, in seeking to justify the establishment of a national overseas shipping line, a rational and efficient analysis of the full economic implications must be considered by experts, especially if substantial public moneys are to be committed. In other words, the need must be judged against the economic and not the emotive criteria.

In conclusion, I make no suggestion after a careful economic analysis that Australia should not participate in overseas shipping. Perhaps it could be held with justification that Australia could participate in a minor way in overseas shipping to the economic advantage of this country. For instance, I mention the carriage of ore and other minerals to Japan which has been referred to quite frequently of recent date. But I add this warning: This should be on the proviso that the landed cost of the freight could be kept competitive and profitable without disproportionate subsidisation. I support the motion that the statement be noted.


.- Mr. Speaker, in the time allotted for this debate it is most difficult to concentrate on more than one or two major issues. I intend to concentrate on the balance of payments situation. Contrary to what many of the speakers on the Government side have said, I believe that the balance of payments situation is nothing for the Government to be happy about. I make that statement after a careful examination of the indicators. The statements made on this subject by the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) have been most guarded. He said that, generally, the prospects for continuing improvement are now reasonably good. The Treasurer went on to say that we could finish up at the end of the financial year with a level of reserves high by world standards. This may be so. The salient point is that on the analysis which I have carried out - and I have based my analysis on the best estimates I can find, from publications and information available from other sources - we are heading for a serious deterioration in our balance of payments situation. I do not make that statement without grounds to back it up.

My first reason for making that statement is to be found by looking at the high capital inflow figures. We find that, at the present time, capital inflow is approximately 25 per cent, of our total export income. This figure has jumped tremendously in the last 12 months, due principally to the mineral situation and the inflow of capital associated with mineral development. In fact, the rate of increase in the level of capital inflow has risen from £250 million in 1964 to an estimated £350 million at the end of this financial year. Even if that figure is reached, the rate of increase cannot be sustained. It would seem however that it could rise somewhat slightly but certainly not as high as in the last 12 months.

I turn, now, to the invisibles. I refer particularly to overseas shipping costs. We have seen freight rates increase by up to 15 per cent, in recent years. Now we are faced with the position that freight costs have reached the almost astronomical figure of about £185 million. No alleviation will occur in this rise because as we increase our exports and our imports the absolute cost of freights will go up. Is it any wonder that the Government has suddenly realised the importance of shipping and of exercising some control over these invisibles? In fact, the total freight costs in relation to balance of payments in Australia have increased by over 30 per cent, in the last three years.

The next factor to be taken into account is the decline in production. This is due principally to the drought. It is due also in value terms to a deterioration in the terms of trade. Domestically, we have to realise also that we are experiencing a rate of increase in inflation of approximately 3 per cent. All of these influences mean that we will be flat out to increase our export level. Certainly it will not increase at a rate relative to the increase in our imports. The best indicator of the level of imports is the ratio of imports to the gross national product. This is generally termed the “ propensity to import “. Whether this is marginal or average depends on the particular interpretation. The ratio has averaged around 13 Der cent. It is subject to fluctuations between 12 per cent, and 14 per cent. These fluctuations are usually associated with such factors as the level of investment in capital goods in relation to the terms of the total investment being expended in the nation, changes in stocks and, of course, defence buying which can increase the level of imports suddenly. This latter issue is a very lumpy sort of figure.

If we take, for example, the average propensity to import at approximately 14 per cent., which I believe is a fair figure, this means the total imports at the end of this financial year will be around the £1,480 million to £1,500 million mark. If we further project this propensity to import, in 1966-67 the figure will be significantly higher. To give honorable members the other side of the picture, I should mention that the gross national product is increasing at the rate of around 8 per cent, per annum. Again, this is a quite conservative figure. If we take our propensity to import as being approximately 13 per cent, or 14 per cent., we arrive at the figures 1 have mentioned which, I believe, are conservative.

I have spoken of freight costs in relation to invisibles. On top of freight costs we have other factors such as aid, overseas military commitments and, of course, the very important factor of repatriation of profits and moneys overseas. There is no question that these are going to rise. Every publication that I have seen dealing with this matter points to the fact that these will rise. In 1964-65 these invisibles stood at approximately £300 million. The best estimates that I can obtain for 1965-66 put the figure at £350 million. In 1966-67, it will probably stand at approximately £400 million.

I turn now to exports. This is the major factor on which we must concentrate to salvage our economy as far as the balance of payments situation is concerned. Everybody knows that estimates in relation to exports are most difficult to make because exports are so easily affected by the level of production and commodity prices. Certainly, on the surface, one cannot forecast a figure of more than £1.300 million for the level of exports in this financial year and the next financial year because we must not forget that we have lags associated with the drought and, of course, the deterioration in terms of trade, in summary, in 1964-65 we had a balance of trade deficit of approximately £80 million. On the figures that I have quoted for this financial year, we can assume a deficit of approximately £200 million in relation to our balance of trade. Taking into account the invisibles which are, of course, a minus quantity the best estimate for 1965-66 - bearing in mind that the figure for 1964-65 was approximately £300 million - is probably around the £350 million mark. That means that the balance on current account will be a deficit of about £550 million, compared with £380 million in 1964-65. When we bring in the capital inflow, which is the saviour in the short term and which has jumped from £250 million in 1964-65 to about £350 million in 1965-66, the overall deficit will be about £200 million in 1965-66, compared with £130 million last year.

This deficit must be made good by monetary outflow, which represents a reduction of our gold and foreign reserves. The serious aspect of this matter is that our first line reserves, which in 1964-65 were about £700 million, will be reduced because of this deficit to about £500 million. If the assumptions that I have made in respect of the propensity to import and other matters prove to be correct - they are based on the best estimates that I can find - we will see a further reduction in our first line reserves. At the end of 1966-67 they will be only £280 million. That is a very serious situation. Of course, we can draw on the International Monetary Fund. From memory, I believe that we have the right to draw from that Fund about £100 million almost immediately, or during this financial year, and possibly £180 million at the end of 1966-67. Such drawings would alleviate the position. But the cold facts are that the financial situation, as shown by the best figures that I can find, does not support the Government’s very guarded statements about the balance of payments.

What does the Government intend to do about the financial situation? What can the economy do about it? It is quite obvious to anybody who is concerned with balance of payments matters that the way to beat this situation is by increasing exports. I think that is accepted. I am quite certain that the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) believes that the most important issue on which we have to concentrate is increasing our exports rather than attempting to reduce our imports. Certainly one can argue just as strongly on both sides. Whether or not the economy needs a gentle brake, there are many ways in which a reduction in the level of imports can be achieved. But most of those ways are not very popular with the Australian public, and they certainly are not popular with Australian business houses.

So that leaves us to concentrate on increasing our exports. This is difficult. However, we know that certain industries have a very sound future. The minerals industry and the beef industry are outstanding examples. For 20 years I have preached that the beef industry is the industry with the brightest future in Australia from the point of view of rural production. I have never seen any conditions or heard any arguments to refute that. I believe that the reason is simply that Australia can produce beef more cheaply than can any other country. While we can produce a commodity more cheaply than can any other country, it is good economics to continue to increase the production of that commodity. We will have our ups and downs. We had them after the cessation of rationing in the United Kingdom in 1 954. Our ‘beef industry was in trouble in 1957 and 1958, but the American market came into existence and since then we have never looked back. By and large, I believe that the Government is doing the right action in channelling limited investment funds into the beef cattle industry. I have always said that.

Wheat has had a charmed life over the last fifteen years, as regards its production and disposal. We always seem to have a market for our wheat. While we can produce wheat cheaply, as in the case of beef, I believe that we should concentrate on increasing our production of it. The same applies to our coarse grains. However, commodities like beef cannot be produced overnight. It takes nine months to breed a calf and it is another couple of years before that calf can be turned off. These commodities are unlike a cash crop which can be planted and from which increased production can be obtained almost overnight. All of these issues add up to the fact that we have to increase our exports or we have to be able to reduce our imports.

There are other methods of dealing with our financial situation. Those methods relate to invisibles, capital inflow and the repatriation of dividends. However, looking at the position as it is, I believe that the only two variables on which we can really concentrate are exports and imports. We have already dealt with rural credit. For many years I have tried to emphasise that rural industry throughout Australia has been in desperate need of long term credit. We hope that the infusion into the economy of this additional $50 million for long term loans to help not only drought stricken areas but also new areas engaged in rural production will tend to increase the production of the commodities that we can sell.

I believe that there are other types of incentives to which the Government must give serious consideration in order to promote the development of rural industries. I wish to speak of two in particular, especially in respect of north Queensland and northern Australia. One line of action which would have a very significant effect in stimulating an increase in beef production, by increasing in the turn-off of cattle and reducing mortality among cattle, is the allowance of additional income tax concessions in respect of expenditure on fencing in the tick zones. The tick costs Australia about £15 million a year. The only known ways of controlling the incidence of tick are to increase fencing in order to control the cattle and to run exotic breeds of cattle that are alleged to be more tick resistant than the British breeds. We have a very high mortality rate in cattle. One way in which we could consistently increase our turn-off of cattle is by stimulating investment in fencing and also in water conservation.

Another important possibility for investment incentives in northern Australia lies in Townsville lucerne. The prospects of increasing beef production in the high rainfall areas of northern Australia are extremely good. One has only to see the trials of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and the producers who have laid down improved pastures in north Queensland to realise that in the future Townsville lucerne will play a similar part in the north to that which subterranean clover is playing in the south. Here is another golden opportunity for the Government to assist those producers who are prepared to clear land and improve their pastures by giving them export incentives in the form of taxation concessions or investment concessions.

Another very important incentive to which I wish to draw the attention of the Government is in respect of nitrogen. It is a fertiliser which, relatively speaking, has been neglected; but it has a tremendous future. In the last 15 years the United States has shown that, by reducing dependence on legumes and rotational grazing and by concentrating on nitrogen in big applications, production can be increased very substantially. That has been demonstrated very significantly in the midwest, in the corn belt. It seems to me that the Government should be giving more attention to the examination of ways in which it can help to stimulate the application of nitrogen, such as by investment concessions or concessional rebates of income tax.

I must not forget the manufacturers. Again in this field the present incentives - the payroll tax rebates - have certainly been proving beneficial to industry. But why cannot the Government go a little further? Why can it not implement a scheme in such a way that the income tax concessions are related to the actual performance of the manufacturer? The more exports of manufactured goods were increased the greater would be the income tax rebate earned. Then there is the tourist industry, which has tremendous potential for increasing overseas earnings. Taken by and large, Mr. Deputy Speaker, my study of the balance of payments situation shows that time is running out for this Government. It is staging a colossal gamble on seasons and commodity prices. All I can say is that if the seasons do not improve and if commodity prices do not rise, we are in for a pretty serious time in respect of our balance of payments situation.


.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I congratulate the Government on its prompt action in giving an impetus to the economy last month by requesting the savings banks to inject into the economy $24 million for housing. Prompt action at the right time is much more effective than allowing a substantial part of the economy to run down and then trying to lift economic activity later. This year, we have weathered much better than was expected the down turn in sales that usually takes place in the first two or three months of each year. In December, January and February, the unemployment situation is usually aggravated by the loss of employment by seasonal workers and by the flow of school leavers coming on to the labour market. On this occasion, the position was further worsened by the greater number of rural workers, many of them farm owners, seeking employment to supplement their incomes so that they could carry on. The figures released this week by the Department of Labour and National Service show that the employment position is much better than most of us expected, greatly to the consternation of the Opposition.

Unfortunately, the drought in New South Wales and Queensland is still with us and its effects on the afflicted areas and on industries associated with rural production will be difficult to assess for some time. However, the demand for labour is strong. It is pleasing to note that children leaving school are being absorbed in the work force. The calamity howlers of the Opposition and those who thrive on the misfortune of others have again wrongly assessed the situation and their sadistic appetite, which was whetted by the unfortunate happenings of 1960 and 1961, with which I shall deal later if time permits, has not been appeased. From 1962 to the present time, the employment situation has been stable. Not only the thousands of young people leaving school but also the big intake of migrant workers have been absorbed in our work force, which has increased at a greater rate in this period than ever before.

During these years, the Government’s position has been difficult. Its achievement in absorbing into the work force more than half a million workers was an attainment worthy of the greatest praise. Accomplishing this without causing inflation was a feat worthy of great admiration. It was necessary, also, to shift the emphasis of our activities in order to provide for our defence needs and to maintain our rate of development and the rate of increase in productivity. To some degree, progress in these fields is determined by the availability of labour. An added complication was the balance of payments position. This has been relieved by increased exports of minerals, but I believe that it would have been wise to limit our imports of luxury items during 1965. We have to take into account the cost of freight, insurance and exchange, which add greatly ito the sums that we have to pay overseas. Experience has effectively taught importers to hasten slowly and in the last four or five months imports have slackened off. A factor that added to our import difficulties was the need to import more military equipment and also plant and machinery to enable us to manufacture military equipment in our own factories.

Dwelling construction reached a peak last financial year. In 1964-65, the number of dwellings commenced totalled 116,700. I regret the increase in the number of huge blocks of flats and tenements, though I am aware that the construction of individual homes causes our suburban areas to sprawl widely. In my view, individual homes are more desirable for the building of character and personality than are huge blocks of tenements in which one’s place of residence is designated as, say, No. 333 in building No. 6. Those of us who have seen huge tenement buildings overseas and mixed with the residents know how much they detest such residential conditions and long for a cottage or other residence of their own. It is necessary, however, to watch the cost factor when thinking of individual homes. During 1965, there was a definite increase in building costs. Home seekers had to be protected from this and a temporary halt in the provision of funds for individual houses had the effect of stabilising home building costs. However, building is a specialised industry, with widespread ramifications. Since so many other industries are dependent on it, it has become accepted as an indicator of economic trends.

The current drought has brought great problems not only to farmers but also to commercial houses in country towns. Those who supply machinery, materials and equipment to farmers have suffered also. The private trading banks have again acted in accordance with the highest traditions. They have agreed to provide, I think, S70 million in farm development loan funds and term loan funds. I believe that in this field too many different sections, corporations, funds and the like have been imported into our financial structure. The greatest enemies of democracy are bureaucracy and controls. When the Reserve Bank was established, it was never envisaged that it should erect the huge buildings that it is now erecting or that it should employ the great army of people that it is now employing. There is a tendency to create funds and corporations with costly administrations and it is time that we returned to a rational, commonsense way of dealing with our financial structure.

Much has been said about the inflow of capital from overseas. Overseas capital should be welcomed. Sufficient capital is not available locally and it is only by using capital from overseas that our country can be developed to the full. Texas, about 120 or 130 years ago, was financed from the United Kingdom, mainly from England and Scotland. Now, many Texans want to come to Australia and to invest their funds here. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

page 1086



Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– by leave - Some time ago the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) asked me, in a question on notice, whether I would place on the table in the Library for the information of honorable members the report of the court martial of Gunner O’Neill. The honorable member sent me a telegram last week - T thank him for doing so - intimating that he would ask this question again. As honorable members will know, I was not here yesterday or earlier today, because of the departure of the 5th Battalion. I am happy and willing to place on the table of the Library for the information of honorable members the reports of the proceedings of both courts martial - that relating to Gunner O’Neil and that relating to Major Tedder. There has been a good deal of publicity about both these cases and I think it is a good idea for honorable members to have an opportunity to inform themselves fully about the proceedings.

When honorable members are reading the report of the proceedings relating to Gunner O’Neill, I ask that they have in mind the conditions under which the court martial was held. The rules relating to the reporting of court martial proceedings do not require a precise verbatim transcript. In the case of Gunner O’Neill, it will be seen that the report is in the vernacular. The authorities in Vietnam did not have the advantage of a reporting staff such as we have in this Parliament. When this became a matter of public moment, it was clear that some additional arrangements should be put in train and, for the court martial of Major Tedder, a national serviceman who had had experience in reporting was sent to Vietnam. It will be seen that the reporting of the court martial of Major Tedder is more precise; the questions are more precisely stated. I mention this so that honorable members will understand the reason for the difference between the two reports.

Mr Whitlam:

– I suppose the Minister will have two reporters for the court martial of Major Tedder’s superiors.

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– That is a typical remark from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

Mr Webb:

– Will the Minister move that the statement be noted so that we can have the debate adjourned?

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– I am merely placing the reports on the table of the Library.

Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.

page 1087


Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.

page 1087



Ministerial Statement

Minister for Territories · Mcpherson · CP

– by leave - On 31st March I informed the House that I had invited the Select Committee on Constitutional Development appointed by the House of Assembly for Papua and New Guinea to come to Canberra for discussions on questions of constitutional advance. The talks began on 18th April and have now been completed. My colleagues the Treasurer (Mr.

McMahon), the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) and the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) joined me from time to time in the discussions, which took place in an atmosphere of cordiality and frankness.

The talks, which were exploratory in character, covered the whole range of constitutional development of the Territory. A good deal of attention was given to the Committee’s wish to discuss the range of special relationships between Papua and New Guinea and Australia that might be acceptable to Australia at the time of selfdetermination. Members of the Select Committee said that they wished to clarify what the long term possibilities were prior to talking to the people of the Territory about their wishes. The Ministers informed the Select Committee of the Government’s views. They reaffirmed that the Government’s basic policy for Papua and New Guinea is self-determination. It is the prerogative of the Territory people to terminate the present Territory status and take independent status if they wish to do so in due time. Should the people wish to remain in association with Australia after self-determination, this would require the agreement of the Australian Government of the day.

As far as the long term possibilities are concerned, and to the extent that decisions by Australia will be required, the Government concluded that any decisions as to the nature of possible future forms of association that would be acceptable to Australia should not be made now. They should be made at the appropriate time by the government of the day in the light of the circumstances actually existing at that time. The Committee explained the concern of the Territory people about the implications of the separate status of Papua as an Australian Territory and of New Guinea as a Trust Territory. The people’s uncertainty about how the separate status of the two Territories affected their constitutional future was a hindrance to discussion in the Territory. The people wanted to know in which direction they were heading before they could feel confident about giving opinions on the next steps of constitutional progress.

Ministers expressed the view that the effect on the people arising from the difference in status between the two Territories was of little consequence now. The two Territories are administered as one. Territory people, whether Papuans or New Guineans, who travel abroad do so on Australian passports and are entitled equally to the protection of the Australian Government. Further, in the Government’s thinking, the difference in citizenship between Papuans and New Guineans would not lead to Papuans having a preferred position over New Guineans at the time of selfdetermination. Ministers and the Committee were of the opinion that it would be undesirable to seek any variation in the United Nations Trusteeship Agreement until such time as the Trust is discharged. Ministers gave an assurance that there is no intention to change the status of either Papua or New Guinea except in accordance with the wishes of the people of the respective Territory.

Until self-determination the administrative union and joint development of both Territories will continue. Until the Territory has moved further forward economically and the people are able, through the spread of education, to understand better the issues involved, the Government was willing to see the Territory continue in its present relationship with Australia as a Territory. This would not shut out progressive steps towards internal selfgovernment for the Territory, if .the people wish it. The Committee felt that it would be of value if the people of the Territory were asked to say whether they wanted constitutional development to take a course directed towards separation from Australia or whether they wished their constitutional development to take a course directed towards evolution of an association or relationship with Australia which will endure after self-determination, recognising that the form of any such association or relationship would, so far as it affected Australia, be a matter to be decided by the Australian Government of the day. Ministers agreed that it would be compatible with the Government’s position for the Committee to ask the Territory people their opinions on this question.

The difficulties to be overcome in attaining the goal of internal self-government were fully recognised. Ministers made it clear that the Commonwealth would stand willing and would desire to help the development of the Territory so as to reach this goal, as was evidenced by acceptance of the World Bank mission’s report as a basis for planning. It would assist towards financial independence by progressively giving the Territory more financial autonomy as its capacity to contribute to its own revenues increases. It would wish to put more and more of the administration of the Territory in Territory hands by the development of the Territory Public Service and by enlarging progressively the measure of self-government. The Committee emphasised that its wish to discuss future possibilities should not be taken as indicating that the Committee considered that the pace of development should be hastened or accelerated. Ministers stressed that the Australian Government had no desire to press constitutional changes upon the people of the Territory which they do not want or for which they do not think they are ready.

In connection with the next step which might be taken if there is a wish for such a move, in the Territory we discussed my statement in the House on 31st March which concerned possible changes in the form of executive government. Ministers affirmed that the Government stands ready to consider changes designed to make it possible for members of the House of Assembly to participate in the executive government of the Territory as a step towards self-government. Certain responsibilities of a ministerial character could be passed initially to a limited number of elected members. Changes could also be made in the constitution and functions of the Administrator’s Council directed to the same end. It was recognised in the discussions that in present circumstances the final policy responsibility must remain with the Commonwealth Government. The operation of the present system of under-secretaries was discussed. It is intended that all possible means of making this system more effective should be taken.

The possibility of changes in the composition of the House of Assembly in time for the next general election in 1968 was discussed and timetable requirements were studied. To make any such changes it will be necessary for the Select Committee to make its recommendations to the House of Assembly not later than mid-August this year so that a Bill can be introduced into this Parliament to amend the Papua and New Guinea Act during the Budget session in time for the necessary electoral changes to be made. The Select Committee stressed its view that the people or. the Territory were fully conscious of the need for stability and the need to retain the confidence of people inside and outside the Territory who were interested in investing their money and their skills in the development of Papua and New Guinea. The Committee emphasised its view that any constitutional proposals should be based upon the acceptance of the basic principles of the rule of law. It was also recognised that after full internal self-government has been achieved, a further period of time would probably be desirable to provide experience in the exercise of responsibility prior to self-determination.

There was a frank exchange of views on immigration. Members of the Select Committee commented that they knew of no opinion in the Territory favouring a mass movement of people from the Territory to Australia and that the wish of many Territory people for a close association with Australia did not mean that a large number of Papuans and New Guineans wanted to come to Australia for permanent residence. The Committee was, however, interested to gain a greater understanding of Australia’s immigration policy. Ministers explained that persons who do not have their home in the Australian mainland and Tasmania required a permit to enter Australia, just as Australians required a permit to enter Papua and New Guinea. While this might seem anomalous in the case of Papuans, who are Australian citizens, this was a situation not peculiar to Australia. Similar arrangements applied between other countries.

There are now 400 students from Papua and New Guinea studying in Australia. It was noted that as education became more general and as the development of the Territory progressed there would be increasing value in people of the Territory coming here to obtain skills to be used for the benefit of the Territory when they went back. Ministers foresaw no difficulty in this respect. Members of the Committee wished to know whether recent changes in Australian immigration policy applied to Papuans and New Guineans. Ministers confirmed that this was so, but at the same time pointed out that if Papuans and New Guineans had skills which were required by Australia, these skills would, in the foreseeable future, he even more strongly required by the Territory itself. The Select Committee and Ministers both agreed that everything possible should be done to encourage Papuans and New Guineans who are able to contribute to the progress and advancement of their own country to do so, rather than to seek to further their own interests elsewhere. However, should Papua and New Guinea at some time build up a surplus of skills which were short in Australia, then the entry of Papuans and New Guineans would be given special consideration within the recently advised policy.

Select Committee members said that they had appreciated the opportunity of discussing with Ministers the political development of the Territory. They said that they were now in a better position to obtain the views of the people of the Territory on matters on which action is required to be taken if changes are to be made in time for the next Territory elections. The Ministers, for their part, stressed that the Australian Government and people have, and will continue to have, a sympathetic, close, and practical interest in the progress and advancement of Papua and New Guinea.

I present the following paper -

Papua and New Guinea - Constitutional Development - Ministerial Statement, 21st April 1966. and move -

That the House take note of the paper.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.

page 1089


Ministerial Statement

Debate resumed (vide page 1086).


.- Prior to the suspension of the sitting for dinner I had commenced to speak on the inflow of foreign capital into Australia. Much hysteria and emotionalism are indulged in and quite a lot of hackneyed phrases, such as “ selling our birthright “ and so on are used when a matter such as this is discussed. The great cattle ranches of Texas were financed mainly by Scottish capital about 120 years ago. Now we find that the wealthy Texans want to come to Australia to open up our wide open spaces. They want to bring with them their own capital and knowhow. Many of these new settlers will assuredly remain here and become good Australians. It will be history repeating itself. That is one of the few definite truisms in the study of economics.

Just as people from England, Scotland and Ireland settled in Texas just over 100 years ago, financed by English and Scottish capital, so I confidently look forward to Texans coming to our north, pouring in millions of dollars into thousands of square miles of unoccupied country, building roads, clearing and developing the area, and bringing with them Santa Gertrudis and other strains of beef cattle. They will be accompanied by their families and will bring knowhow. As happened in Texas they will become good settlers who will populate our north.

The Opposition, living in the dim distant past, has openly and defiantly stated that it would prevent this sort of thing from happening and that in some magical way it would develop the north. With what and how? We are a young developing nation and we have not the capital available for such projects. Those who have such capital are not prepared to take the attendant risks in such ventures. The Government has created confidence in overseas investors. A multi-millionaire from South Africa stated last week that in Australia we have a good Government which is sound and stable. I welcome other types of overseas capital but I should like to see it come into Australia as loan money rather than as equity. The salient point I wish to make, however, is that whatever the source of the capital and whatever currency it is in, once it arrives in Australia it becomes Australian currency and Australian capital no matter where its owners may reside. I understand that when investments such as these are made in Australia no strings or conditions are attached to them, but the Government has made it abundantly clear that such investments are received subject to Australian terms and conditions and subject to whatever financial control and conditions may be found necessary to apply from time to time.

If we are to develop Australia quickly, efficiently and prudently, there is no other way in which we can do it than by a steady, constant flow of overseas capital. The coun tries whence this capital will come - the United Kingdom and the United States - speak our language, but the money they will supply speaks all languages. Through its proper use and direction we will emblazon the name of Australia on most of the world’s markets.

Mr James:

– What about re-investing some of their profits?


– They will do that of necessity. They will do that and we will be pleased to do business with them. One point is definite: Should the Opposition ever occupy the Treasury bench it will not have to worry about the inflow of capital. Capital will cease to flow into Australia once the Opposition arrives on the Treasury bench.


.- What a forlorn note the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Irwin) finished on. I am only sorry that his partisanship should be so much in evidence and that he should suggest that when we become a government foreign investment in Australia will cease. I just do not believe that, and neither does he. The debate on the economy in which we are at present engaged gives us the opportunity on this side of the House to analyse and diagnose critically the economic and financial status of the nation. We may be critical on this side of the chamber, but our primary purpose as an Opposition is to be the watchdog of the Government, applying the censures and the criticisms necessary to keep the Government on its toes and, of course, making constructive suggestions where we can do so. That we do make constructive suggestions is evidenced by the fact that the Government has taken so many of our ideas and used them.

Tonight I want to speak particularly on one subject, that it, water conservation, and its part in our survival as a nation. If finance is the blood flowing through the arteries of our economy, then water is the bone, the muscle, the sinews and the flesh of our economy for without water for production and industry there would not be an economy to worry about. Water is basic to life on this earth. There is nothing more important to the survival of our civilisation than adequate water supplies, and no wastage is more criminal or more expensive than the waste of pure clean water. A government which does not make the conservation of water a top priority acts treacherously towards the nation and its people. In 1966 the water wasted in Australia would cover 280 million acres of land to the depth of one foot.

We are reaping the legacy of the ruthless removal of trees from the countryside by our early settlers. It was ignorance on their part - stark, unbelievable ignorance - of the devastating effect that such a denudation of cover would have on soil and farms that caused this great tragedy to our land in those early days. The Mallee district of Victoria is a good example. The settlers in that region took all mallee trees they could find, rolled them down, gathered them altogether and burnt them. Night after night for years, thousands of tons of wood were burnt. Having removed the trees from the top soil, it was not many years before the dust storms began and the removal of the good earth was carried out by the vicious winds which buried farms, railway lines, roads and fences, and destroyed thousands of acres of mother earth. There was a ruthless removal of the trees which had protected the soil. The settlers did not even leave shelter belts, so ruthless was this denudation of the trees and vegetation. In the Gippsland district of Victoria they took all the trees between the south Gippsland area and the central Gippsland area. I have been over all that area and have seen it several times. I lived there for three years. Forty miles of hills between Foster and Warragul in south Gippsland now show only stark half-burnt trees which are 20, 30 or perhaps 50 feet high. There is no other vegetation right across the rolling hills of that area. So far as the eye can see there is hardly a living tree. There is nothing but dead stumps from fires which stripped the top soil of its mat of vegetation and leaves which had controlled the runoff of water. The amount of rainfall collected from that area fell from 45 to 35 inches a year because of the removal of the trees.

Man has gone on indiscriminately and ruthlessly taking trees away from mother earth, and what do we see in their place? We see erosion, stark destruction of earth and other sights that I shall mention in a moment. The legacy of this type of pioneering is frightening in its scope. We have erosion by wind and rain, dust storms and dead creeks, dust bowls and dry rivers, ruined pastures, reduced water from rainfall, heartbreak to many families, financial disaster, reduced production and the extension of desert in Australia. Indeed, these pioneer methods of total destruction of our trees and vegetation were rape of the earth. There is no other word that will describe it. Arthur Hatfield, in his book “ Australia Reclaimed “, tells us that two million acres of Australia is turning into desert every year. How much longer can we face such a turning of good earth into desert? He tells us that on sheep properties where there used to be 100,000 sheep, today there are only 40,000 sheep because of wind erosion and loss of pastures. The total loss to the nation annually as a result of this rape of the earth would be frightening if we could assess it.

We cannot continue to let rivers run to waste and we cannot continue to neglect water conservation and irrigation and still survive as a nation. These days we spend at the Federal level about $52 million each year on water conservation, dams and irrigation, including $40 million on the Snowy scheme. The expenditure should be $100 million each year at the Federal level for our survival demands it, our economy demands it, our food consumption demands it and our export income demands it. On the credit side in the long term, the dividends from such an investment would be colossal. We would have more irrigation, more hydroelectric power, increased acreage, increased production of timber, dairy products, cereal crops, cotton and fruit, increased exports, more food, more primary producers, richer towns and more of them, and increased stock. This would be the dividend from an investment of about $100 million each year in irrigation and water conservation in Australia. The Snowy Mountains scheme has taught us how to do it and what results can be expected from such expenditure. This scheme is the greatest thing that this nation has ever done. The tragedy of it is that it will apparently end in 1974 when the Snowy scheme is completed, lt would be a tragedy if the know-how and the machinery were lost and the men having suddenly finished their work were lost to private enterprise or scattered throughout the world. It would be a tragic loss to Australia.

Mr James:

– There will be a change of government by then, surely.


– I hope that a Labour government will have been in office for six or seven years by then. We intend to create new projects similar to the Snowy scheme in other parts of Australia to control rivers and turn them from running into the ocean, to create dams and irrigation projects throughout selected and needy areas of the north. We would like to see a national development authority within the Department of National Development with the power to build dams, turn rivers, move hills and tunnel through mountains in order to irrigate the good earth that we have destroyed by our greed and our rufhlessness through the years and to produce hydro power, build new towns and increase production. A bit of statesmanship by this Government would be a big help at this point because many of the top men are leaving the Snowy scheme. They know that it is going to end in 1974 and at this moment the Government will not say whether it intends to transfer that great potential to another part of Australia. These new schemes could be financed by the investment through this Parliament of$1 00 million a year. We have been spending between £18 million and £20 million a year direct from Consolidated Revenue on the Snowy Mountains scheme. When the Snowy Mountains scheme is completed, why cannot we continue expending a similar sum on what might be termed new Snowy Mountains schemes - not such grandiose schemes but small schemes in the north of Australia where we need irrigation so urgently? I suggest that this is one piece of statesmanship that either this Government, or our Party when it becomes a government, simply must put into effect.

The story of droughts, of erosion, of floods resulting from poor river control, of low production and of rivers running to waste is a tragic one. We have only tried to beat drought by hit and miss methods. What have we done in a practical way except to give money to the poor drought stricken farmers? That is not the answer to the problem. The answer is to try to prevent droughts. Man can do a great deal in these modern days to prevent droughts and I am now putting before the Parliament some of the ways in which, I suggest, we could pre vent droughts with all their tragedies and so avoid the necessity for expending money after drought has overtaken us, destroyed thousands of head of stock and ruined hundreds of farms. One thousand million dollars a year, out of a total Budget of $4,000 million would be little enough to spend on this great task of beating droughts and all their tragic effects.

We would like to see the Bradfield scheme analysed again. Dr. Bradfield’s plan envisaged the turning back of those Queensland rivers which now flow to waste in the Pacific Ocean. When he first advanced his scheme, it might have sounded ridiculous and fantastic, but this very type of thing is being achieved today by the Snowy Mountains scheme and by other schemes throughout the world. It has been done in my own State of Tasmania. There, we have tunnelled through the mountains and changed the course of rivers. We have stopped the flow of some rivers and increased the flow of others by diverting water into them. Similar work could be done here and I feel that the Bradfield scheme should be brought out of the archives, dusted off and then examined by the Northern Division of the Department of National Development. We of the Opposition have a national development committee headed by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) and if the Government will not do this, then we will examine the scheme and have a plan ready to put into operation when we become the Government. We shall embark upon small schemes in the northern parts of Australia which will be similar to the Snowy Mountains scheme. We shall carry out schemes in Queensland, western New South Wales and South Australia.

The Launceston “Examiner” of 22nd July last year published an article headed “ World’s Driest Continent: Water Crisis in Australia “ and written by Frank Mangan. In it, the author says that Professor McMillan, Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture at Sydney University, told a symposium in Tasmania that Australia’s water supply situation was critical. In the previous week, Professor C. Renwick, Research Director of the Hunter Valley Water Research Foundation–

Mr James:

– A good man, too.


-Does the honorable member know him?

Mr James:

– My word I do.


– Then he must be a good man; I accept your word. He said Australia should be spending as much on the search for water as it is now spending on the search for oil. That was a revolutionary statement but perhaps Professor Renwick was absolutely correct. A careful study of the present water situation in Australia would seem to suggest that he was. The article to which I have referred continues -

The report revealed that only meagre research had been done on Australia’s severe water problems.

At this point, 1 should like to pay tribute to the Water Research Foundation of Australia which has been operating for 10 years. It is a research body financed by 650 generous donors comprising individuals and private and government organisations, and it has been working in co-operation with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in carrying out valuable research into water resources throughout Australia. This organisation has achieved more than any other body, yet it receives not one penny from this Government. The Commonwealth Government should give the Foundation a grant each year to help it carry out the magnificent work it is doing because the work will be of great importance when some government eventually gets down to tackling this problem of our dry continent.

In its 10th annual report, the Water Research Foundation publishes some remarkable statistics. For example, it points out that in 10 years it has completed a total of 27 research projects, and that 44 new proposals for research funds were submitted this year but available funds will permit of only 14 projects already commenced to continue into 1965-66. As I have said, the Foundation has been operating for 10 years. It has spent $253,000 of its own money on this remarkable work of research into such things as water uses, water storages, farm dams and the reaction of soil to water. Not one penny of State or Commonwealth money has gone into this work. The Foundation is doing a really worthwhile job and I take the opportunity tonight of paying tribute to it. I feel that the Government should give it at least $20,000 or $25,000 a year to help it in carrying out this research work which is so vital in finding an answer to our problem.

Frank Mangan points out in his article that our cities are running out of traditional water supplies. He mentions Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne in particular. Incidentally, he predicted Sydney’s water troubles last summer. He also says -

Apart from the gargantuan thirst of our cities, there is the problem of supplying water to our arid inland areas, to allow our potential as a major world food storehouse to be realised.

Our national development, the experts agree, is seriously hampered by lack of water.

We can never realise our potential unless we can find the water to make our deserts bloom.

He then mentions the Queensland rivers that flow into the sea every year and points out that 67 million acre feet of water is lost in this way. What a waste of precious water! He goes on to point out in the article that we have the largest artesian basin in the world, yet its capacity is unknown and there are only 18,000 bores in all its 670,000 square miles. He refers also to what has been done by the C.S.I.R.O. in connection with the desalination of water, especially at Rottnest Island, 12 miles off Fremantle. He states that the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics have signed an agreement to share all information on desalination processes, including the use of atomic energy in this work.

Professor McMillan told Frank Mangan that the United States has plans for a nuclear desalination and electric power plant to produce 150 million gallons of water daily from the sea. He said -

The electricity is to be sold at the usual rates and the water will cost about ls. a thousand gallons. The water board charges about 2s. 9d. a thousand gallons now, so that surely the nuclear plant is an economic proposition. Adelaide needs such a plant right now.

We could also send water from such seaboard plants 100 miles inland through pipelines to provide irrigation water.

And this is only some of the work that could be done if the Government would get behind this type of programme in the interests of our future welfare. Sir Harold Raggatt, a former head of the Department of National Development has said that the farm output in the south east of Australia is limited by lack of water and that the development of northern water resources is an absolutely vital project for the survival of Australia as an agricultural nation.

I have put these things quickly to the Parliament in an endeavour to impress upon the Government that it is essential in the interests of our future survival that we start to spend at least $100 million a year on water conservation and irrigation.

Minister for Air · Fawkner · LP

– We are debating the statement of the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) on the state of the economy. The House might wonder, after listening to some honorable members Opposite, what exactly is the subject under discussion, but at least this demonstrates that the state of the economy must be extremely good because so few members opposite have attempted to criticise it in this debate which has proceeded now for a period of three weeks.

Mr Peters:

– No, it has not.


– The honorable member should not rush in. I was about to say that the only really constructive statements have come from the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) and the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters). Apart from those two honorable members from Victoria there has been little constructive criticism of the extremely able statements made by the Treasurer in this House on 31st March. I think it is wise, as the House has digressed to such an extent, that we remind ourselves of the aims that the Treasurer stated the Government has at present. He reminded us once again that we are as a nation setting out to achieve a solid rate of growth in the community without inflation; that we are attempting to bring our exports and imports into balance so that we do not have to run down to too great an extent our valuable overseas reserves; and, thirdly, as it was pointed out at the time of the Budget last year, we have to divert a number of our resources to defence and development works in the community at the same time as we try to maintain a balanced growth in the rest of the community.

It has been quite clear throughout this debate that the Opposition has not disputed our aims nor criticised us on the ground that we have not made in general a tremendous success of the economy during the pas: few months. Let us look at it first of all over a somewhat wider period because for the whole of a four year period the trend has been upward in growth in the community. We have sustained a period of economic activity and of gradually increasing employment that is without parallel in our history. It is interesting to note that in his State of the Union message the President of the United States of America said that the growth of the economy of the United States over the past four years could be regarded as an economic miracle. The American rate of growth has been no higher than that which we have experienced in Australia. The United States has been able to achieve its growth starting with an unemployment rate of between 7 per cent, and 8 per cent, and with a current unemployment rate of over 4 per cent. We have achieved our economic growth during this time with a state of full employment. We can, as a Government, take much credit for a successful economic policy that has been without parallel not only in Australia but in almost any country of the Western world. We have maintained growth this year in a period when so many economic prophets said that things were going to get worse. We admitted that three difficult factors would make the task harder than it had been in past years. The drought we have been experiencing has been the worst for 20 years. Imports were flowing into the country at such a rate that our economy and overseas reserves were starting to fall, and this was at a time when we had to divert more of our resources to the defence of the nation. In spite of all these factors the growth rate has still continued and broadly speaking we have been able to match the rate of growth with supplies that are available in reasonable quantities.

Mr L R Johnson:

– What is the growth rate at the moment?


– I will come to that in a moment, but I want to comment on some of the points made by the honorable member for Melbourne ports. If the honorable member who is interjecting will allow me to deal with two other matters I shall return to his question presently. How have we set about achieving this stable growth in the community? The Treasurer very wisely referred to this in some detail and I think it appropriate that we remind ourselves of what he has been doing. In the last few months we have achieved a flexible approach to economic matters. We have done this, first of all, by getting much more reliable and up to date statistics more quickly than we have done in the past. As a result we have been able to watch the indicators of the economic climate in the country and as soon as we have seen the trend altering in the wrong direction we have been able to take much more rapid remedial action than at any previous time in our history. The Treasurer illustrated this by two factors that have been uppermost in our minds in the last few weeks. Dealing with the relief of so many of the sectors in the community suffering from the drought he outlined three major factors that have been conducive to this relief. First, he mentioned the way in which the Commonwealth Government has undertaken to underwrite State government loans to farmers not only for the purpose of carrying on during the drought but also for restocking their farms when the drought comes to an end. Secondly, he has announced the broad details of the new Farm Development Loan Fund that will enable farmers to take remedial measures so that if in future a drought of the magnitude of the present drought is experienced the damage that will be caused will be not as great as it is at present. Thirdly, he stated that we have through the Reserve Bank improved the liquidity of the banking structure, particularly in the drought areas, so that banks will be able to carry out their main duty of helping the farmers get through this extremely difficult period.

The Treasurer indicated how, in the field of housing, as soon as factors showed that there was a slowing down in the rate of new building and dwelling commencements in the community, funds were made available immediately where new commencements could be most quickly started. The Treasurer showed how the housing industry could be brought back quickly to a better state than that of a few weeks ago. All of this indicates that the Government is keeping a delicate rein on the economy. It is supplying aid in those soft sectors to which the Treasurer referred where and when it is required rather than applying a general stimulus right throughout the com- munity which probably would result only in a great rate of inflation and eventually a calamitous stop to the whole economy.

The Treasurer mentioned the various indicators that he was watching and predicted that economic change would take place in various sectors within a few weeks’ time. He indicated not only the better statistical service we now have but also the closer contact we have with the business community which enables us to ascertain at short notice what is going on from day to day and from month to month. With that in mind it is interesting that we should look at some of the latest figures that have become available since the Treasurer made his speech a few weeks ago. Let me deal with them briefly. First, in the field of employment, in March the number of persons registered for employment with the Commonwealth Employment Service fell by 7,661. The most interesting feature was that the decline in juniors registered for employment was the largest we have had in March for the last 10 years. In March also employment in the larger private factories increased by a further .3 per cent, following an increase of 4 per cent, in February. There was an increase in the overtime worked during the month of February. More interesting are the figures which have been published tonight showing that civilian employment in February increased by no less than 32,000, almost as much as the large increase of 33,200 in February 1965. In the manufacturing industry, the increase alone was 12,000. All of these figures indicate that there is a steady growth in the production activities of the nation, and do not give any evidence of the argument tendered by the Opposition that there may be a slowing down in the Australian economy.

I come now to a survey of business capital expenditure. The results of a recent survey released today by the Commonwealth Statistician indicates that private businesses expected to spend about 19 per cent, more on new capital expenditure in the first half of 1966 than they spent in the first half of last year. In the case of manufacturing industry, the expected increase is nearly 22 per cent. In this sector, an increase of some 6 per cent, on the record rate of spending in the second half of 1965 is expected. Some reduction in spending is expected in the nonmanufacturing sector, principally in the wholesale and retail trade and the transport groups. But, overall, the rate of spending reached in the second half of 1965, which was already some 30 per cent, higher than a year earlier, is expected to be almost fully maintained? It is in this sector of capital expenditure by private enterprise that one can sense the feeling of economic climate in the community. Because the business community expects to spend large amounts of capital in the next six months one can readily know and realise that the economy is in a pretty healthy state.

The registration of motor vehicles in March totalled 33,102. This was at a time when no new models were released. Yet that figure is comparable with that of 38,208 for March of last year when many new models were available on the market. Employment by vehicle manufacturers during March has been increasing. The factors relating to overseas trade show that apart from the importation of H.M.A.S. “Perth”, which was included in the published figures, recorded imports and exports were virtually in balance in March, as they were in February. All of this seems to indicate that the economy is in a pretty healthy condition. It is too early, yet, of course, to see the results reflected in housing following the measures introduced by the Treasurer a few weeks ago because these will take some weeks to percolate through the community. Apart from that, all of the other factors the Treasurer illustrated three weeks ago have been borne out by the figures received in the intervening period.

Let me now deal with some of the points mentioned by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. The first thing he did was to ask whether the Treasurer’s statement was correct. The honorable member said that the slowing down in the rate of growth in the community was not due to the drought only. He said it was clue to many other factors also. Let me point out that in his statement the Treasurer said that the gross national product had risen by 4 per cent, during that period. If we excluded farm incomes, the rise would have been 7 per cent. What I think the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has to bear in mind is that in the fully employed state of the economy over the period in question registered unemployment represented on average only 1 per cent, of the estimated workforce. This means that there was very little scope indeed for the decline in farm output to be offset by increases in other sectors of the economy. The honorable member cannot say that because there is a decrease in the farm sector we can suddenly transfer a number of factors there and achieve an increase in all the rest. Surely we have to take the farm sector as a particular section of the economy and isolate it from the other factors under consideration. What has happened in relation to the other factors in the community is that there has still been a steady rate of 7 per cent, in the growth rate.

Mr Crean:

– Still, the reverse argument probably applied in connection with the point the Minister used as his comparison. He has not brought that out.


– Let me go on to the some other factors. I think what the honorable member must take into consideration in this general context is that demand by final buyers - the total of both current and fixed capital expenditures - was 8 per cent, higher in the December quarter of 1965 than a year earlier. All of this indicates, surely, that at least there was not a slowing down in these sectors to which the honorable member for Melbourne Ports referred. I want to say, in short, that there is very little in these figures to suggest, as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports did, that apart from the effects of the drought, the Australian economy was not as healthy in December 1965 as it was 12 months earlier.

The honorable member next drew our attention to the rise over the past three December quarters in the proportion of personal disposable income accounted for by personal consumption. He concluded from this increase that prices had risen far more rapidly than wages. I just wonder if the facts that have been published enable us to draw the same conclusions. The average weekly earnings per employed male unit increased by 5.8 per cent, between the December quarters of 1963 and 1964-

Mr Crean:

– There were more people working.


– Wait a minute. The average weekly earnings increased by a further 4.2 per cent, over the ensuing 12 months. Consumer prices increased by 4 per cent, over each of these periods.

Mr Crean:

– By the Minister’s own figures, 3 per cent, to 4 per cent, more people were working.


– Does the honorable member mean that per capita, the price rise was much more?

Mr Crean:

– Yes.


– Finally, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports referred to the question of stocks. The honorable member did not take into account the changing trend that has taken place in the rate of growth over this period. In the first three quarters of 1965, non-farm stocks which are the important ones in this context rose by $427 million compared with $202 million in the same three quarters period a year earlier. But in December the trend was reversed. The growth rate rose by only $51 million compared with $140 million in the previous quarter. So the growth rate is decelerating rather than accelerating and already we are over the hump.

Mr Crean:

– The figures I quoted came from a survey made by the Australian Industries Development Association. It took all these factors into consideration and still suggested the situation was similar to that of 1961.


– We still feel that the latest indication is that already the peak of the stock accumulation has been passed and the trend is now downward. Everything that has happened since that time shows that there has been a deceleration in the build up. It has been continued. Actually, there is now a period in which the stocks have been reduced and renewed ordering is now in progress.

Mr Crean:

– That was not the view in the survey published only six weeks ago.


– I still feet that all the other factors which have been raised by the Treasurer show that what he prophesied would take place has taken place. Every indicator I have mentioned shows this. Therefore, his prognostication in relation to stocks is very likely to be borne out in the next few weeks. We must still remember that the purpose of the Budget was to find funds for defence, and some resources had to be diverted from other sectors in the community. la general, this has taken place. Let me say above all that, to my mind, the general state of the economy is healthy. Responsible observers, three months ago, took a gloomy view. The Government saw the problems that were arising in our economy. It took appropriate action. Today’s assessment is that our summing up was accurate and realistic. These lessons demonstrate that the Government can be relied on to meet new situations effectively as they arise in the next few months.


.- The House is debating a statement that was made by the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) on 31st March on the state of the economy. The Minister for Air (Mr. Howson), who preceded me in this debate, has been discussing the state of the economy. I believe that he has said sufficient to indicate that it needs a very real stimulus. If he said anything else it would be at variance with the statements of the Commonwealth’s representative before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, who at the present time is making that contention. If he said anything else it would also be in contravention of the attitude of the Treasurer and the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), who takes the view that some stimulus is needed in the housing field.

Clearly, not all is well in the state of Denmark. Yet the Minister for Air, in his 20 minute oration, failed to pinpoint any of the soft spots which the Treasurer and the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) have conceded to be the reason or the justification for the Treasurer making his statement. I think the Minister for Air might have missed his vocation. He could have become a good, dubious journalist. He never lets the facts interfere with a good story. As the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) started to comment on a few matters here and there, the Minister found it pretty heavy going.

The Treasurer’s statement needs examination because, on the one hand, it revealed him as imaginative and flambuoyant but, on the other hand, it exposed his lightheartedness, his lack of realism and his super-optimism. When all is said and done, the optimistic comments of the Minister for Air and the Treasurer are not much different from the encouragement that we were given in the period preceding the 1961 credit squeeze. Not only are the comments similar, but some of the symptoms on which I intend to comment in a few minutes are also similar.

Mr Howson:

– Is the honorable member hoping that that sort of period will come back again.


– I hope that that sort of period will not come back again. My comments tonight, which are not destructive by any means but are constructive, are designed specifically to prevent the kind of crisis that emerges periodically as a consequence of this Government’s economic policy. Nobody can deny that in the last 10 years thousands of people have been done a great disservice by the uncertainty that prevails in the economic situation from time to time.

The Treasurer invoked several yardsticks to gauge and measure the prowess and eptitude of this Government in maintaining economic growth and stability. He talked, first of all, about employment. His first example related to the numbers of registered unemployed and job opportunities that exist in the community. To show that there are 100 people unemployed on the one hand and 100 job vacancies on the other is one thing; but properly to equate them is another thing. The significant factor is whether there are jobs for the unemployed people; whether the vacant jobs suit the people who are looking for employment.

The Treasurer drew consolation from the February employment figures. I want to comment, first of all, on the January figures. Let us start from January. It is the beginning of the year, when all is said and done. Did he look at the January figures? In January the number of registrants, or people registered as unemployed, rose by 4,300. Does that indicate a stable economy? The number rose to the highest level for two years and at the highest rate for two years. That is the first point. Now let us look at the number of job vacancies. In January the number declined by 2,400. lt declined at the fastest rate for two years and to the lowest level for two years. At the end of January the number of registered unemployed was 78,300; but 12 months earlier it was only 63,000. So between January 1965 and January 1966 there was an increase of 15,300. Yet the economy is supposed to be moving satisfactorily. Things are certainly not moving satisfactorily for any of those 15,300 people.

Not only has the number of registered unemployed increased, but between January 1965 and January 1966 the number of job vacancies decreased. In January 1965 there were 50,600 job vacancies. Twelve months later there were only 47,300 or 3,300 fewer. Clearly, those figures alone indicate a serious rate of deterioration. We reject, and reject out of hand, the verbose and inaccurate contention made by the Treasurer when he said -

It should be noted that over the past four years the general trend of activity and employment in Australia has been continously and very strongly upwards.

The trend is not sufficiently upwards for us when it is going downwards. The actual position is the very antithesis of what he is trying to convey to the Australian people. For a start, what he is trying to convey ;s not factual. The Minister for Air does himself little credit when he comes into the chamber and echoes these statistically incorrect comments. There is no cause for satisfaction. There is no cause for complacency.

I have dealt with the January figures. Now let us look at the February figures. Am I supposed to be elated that in February there were 24,242 registered unemployed in my home State of New South Wales, and 12.102 of them were in the Sydney metropolitan area? I know people in my own district who are in the building trade but are unemployed. A man who lives not very far from me is a competent carpenter, but he has not been able to obtain work. The state of the economy is such that this Government is now overtaking its misdemeanours as rapidly as it can. It is pumping $24 million into the housing industry through the banking system and another SI 5 million through the State housing authorities. It has had to do that because it made mistakes and because its lack of foresight and anticipation put people out of work to the extent that the figures which I have quoted and which come from the Commonwealth Statistician properly demonstrate.

I see some of my colleagues from Queensland, including the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson), in the chamber. We have heard him speak about the problems of his district. I know how he and other Queenslanders feel about the unemployed in that State. At the end of February 15,102 people were unemployed in Queensland. In Bundaberg - a lovely area with unbounded prospects - 1,122 people are registered for employment. In Cairns - a place of superb potential with lush country around it - 1,108 people are registered for employment. In Mackay - a city with a modern automatic sugar loader and with cattle country surrounding it - 1,170 people are registered for employment.

In Rockhampton - a city which is close to Mount Morgan, with its copper, zinc and other mineral resources lying in the ground as yet untapped; close to Gladstone, a great port which has to be developed; and also close to Moura open cut coal mine - 824 people are registered for employment. In Townsville - the sea port for Mount Isa and a city in a pastoral setting - 1,200 people are registered for employment. Can anyone be elated with the February unemployment figure, which stands at 75,744? The Treasurer said that for four years the Government had achieved and maintained full employment. That statement can be accepted for what it is worth in the face of the figures that I have quoted. His attitude reeks of indifference to the 76,000 people who are still out of work.

The Treasurer, in the roneoed notes distributed at the time when he made his statement, went on to deal with economic growth. The notes state -

In recent years, there have been two main sides to the general economic problem. One has been to sustain such a rate of growth in activity as would take up the increase in the work force and do this without causing inflation and balance of payments difficulties. The other has been to bring about a very considerable change in the overall pattern of activity - in other words to achieve a major shift of resources to defence preparations on the one hand and, on the other, to proceed with basic development and to enlarge productive capacity.

The honorable gentleman, in his notes, dealt with economic growth in this general way. When one examines these statements, one finds that they are nothing but a flurry of words. The whole situation is completely contrary to that which he described. The increase in the work force has not been taken up, as he says it has, in this way. As I pointed out earlier, sharp price increases have not been avoided. In the last two quar- ters, prices increased at a rate higher than that for any quarter in the preceding two years. At present, a degree of inflation prevails. Purchasing power has been lost and serious balance of payments difficulties have arisen. So what was the Treasurer getting at in the notes that he distributed? We have become accustomed to hearing a flurry of words like this, having little relation to the facts. The Government has not achieved any major shift of resources to either defence or basic development. In money terms, the rate of growth about which the Minister for Air spoke is declining. In the December quarter, it fell to 3.6 per cent, compared to 9 per cent, in the three previous quarters. In the interim, nothing of significance has happened to reverse this trend. This is the matter that causes me great concern.

It is true, of course, that the drought has a heavy bearing on these circumstances. A fall in farm incomes of SI 03 million in the December quarter is certainly significant, and no sensible person would try to understate its significance. However, many of the calamitous effects of the drought are attributable to governmental neglect. Unless something is done about the matter, we shall have the same kind of disaster again in the future. The Government has shown little enough anticipation of the occasional visitation of the droughts that periodically blight this continent. It has not encouraged farmers to preserve fodder or provide farm water storages. If any honorable member thinks otherwise, let him interject and tell us otherwise, Sir. The Government’s attitude has been: Eat, drink and be merry. But the chickens have come home to roost.

The Treasurer’s statement dealt with the scheme to provide loans for restocking. Up to Si 0,000 is to be provided for individual farmers at 3 per cent, interest, repayable over seven years. What a shame it is that such a scheme was not introduced five or ten years ago. Instead of dealing only with effects, why can we not for a change begin to deal with causes? Had funds of this magnitude been provided even five years ago, farmers could have conserved fodder and water by now and our exports and our balance of payments would not have been affected so seriously as they are today. We would not have witnessed the spectacle of men walking off their properties and seeing them swallowed up at depression prices by absentee landlords in Pitt Street and Collins Street. This Government, not just the elements, must take its share of the blame for this calamitous situation.

But it is not just a question of the drought. The Government is neglectful in the whole field of national development. Yesterday, I had the honour to introduce to the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) a deputation representing the Executive Council of the Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and Draughtsmen of Australia. The Association has been holding its annual conference in Canberra and the members of the deputation represented 12,000 professional specialists. It so happened that the visit of this deputation to Parliament House coincided with the firing of the last shot in the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme. I am sure that most honorable members have read that Lady Hudson, the wife of the Commissioner, Sir William Hudson, fired the last shot yesterday.

Mr Hansen:

– That was the last shot in the last tunnel.


– It was the last shot in the tunnel linking Jindabyne wilh Island Bend. This was the last tunnel and the last shot. Seventeen years have passed since this Government inherited the Labour Government’s water conservation and hydro-electric power scheme centered on the Snowy Mountains. On the historic day on which the last shot in that scheme was fired, a deputation representing a large body of architects, engineers, surveyors and draughtsmen, many of whom have worked on the Snowy Mountains project as well as on numerous other important projects throughout Australia, met the Minister for National Development to ask him whether, after 17 years, this Government has got around to working out another scheme. Has it yet decided what the future of the experts of the great Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority is to be? Labour created this Authority. Does the present Government intend to destroy it? More calamitous results of droughts will be experienced unless-

Mr Turnbull:

– This Government has carried on the Snowy Mountains scheme.


– If my recollection of the records serves me correctly, the honorable member was not present at the inauguration of the scheme. There are the facts, Sir. We hope that constructive action may yet be taken. However, the deputation that I presented to the Minister for National Development received no pacifying or placating assurances. We heard only ambiguous predictions. The Minister received us courteously enough, but he gave us no real indication of the prospects for the Snowy Mountains Authority and its staff or of the likelihood of any further conservation scheme.

Professor R. I. Downing, when reviewing the report of the Committee of Economic Inquiry, which is known shortly as the Vernon Committee, had something to say about productivity. He is Editor of “ Economic Record “, which is rated as a most reliable authority. He stated that between 1953-54 and 1962-63 the increase in productivity in Australia averaged 2.3 per cent, per annum. He pointed out that this was comparable with the rate of increase in sonic other countries but added that the rate of increase per annum over the same period was 3.2 per cent, in Norway, 3.7 per cent, in the Netherlands, 3.9 per cent, in France, 4.1 per cent, in Italy, 5.3 per cent, in West Germany and 6.7 per cent, in Japan. This aspect of the economy, in the cold, hard light of these international facts, looks different from the picture painted by the Minister for Air.

The fall in farm incomes is not the only significant factor. The level of personal incomes also has fallen. The level of wages and salaries is relevant to the growth rate. The December quarter reflected the smallest quarterly percentage increase for two years. We are able to see now the effects of the Commonwealth’s intervention in the last basic wage case. All the statistics and figures showed that the basic wage should have been increased by J 2s. a week. However, no increase of the basic wage was granted and an increase of only li per cent, in margins was conceded. The basis adopted was: To him that hath shall be given and from him that hath not shall be taken away. Despite increases in prices, workers not receiving margins above the basic wage received no pay increase. The decline in the purchasing power of wage earners and pensioners has helped to retard growth. It is important to emphasise that the economy needs a stimulus. But there are no signs that this Government intends to provide it. Even Sir Colin Syme, who is Chairman of the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd., has complained that that company is suffering from an excess of productive capacity. This is probably one way of saying that the community is suffering from lack of purchasing power.

I intended to discuss the need to regulate overseas investment in Australia, Mr. Deputy Speaker. This Government has flown in the face of all the recommendations of its own committee, the Vernon Committee. It will now try to stabilise the economy by selling our birthright, by encouraging a higher intake of overseas investment into Australia. 1 cannot understand a government that ignores the advice of advisers that it appoints itself.


– Order! The honorable members time has expired.


.- The honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson), who has just spoken, is one of the principal financial advisers of the Opposition. Having listened to his speech, 1 despair of there ever being a Labour government in Australia. He ranged from the Snowy River up to northern Queensland and back again. But he omitted to mention the large part played in the employment pattern in Queensland by seasonal production, such as meat and sugar. He ignored the calamitous effects of the drought. He failed to say how little had been done by the Labour Government in New South Wales before it left office last year to conserve water and to make such provision as would mitigate the effects of drought.

Mr Turnbull:

– Nothing was done.


– Virtually nothing had been done in New South Wales for the 24 years that Labour was in office. It went out of office last year and it is only now that some progress with water conservation is being made in New South Wales. Dams are being constructed and farm water surveys are being carried out by the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission in New South Wales. When Labour was in office in that State, farmers had to wait for two years to have a survey made, and they just could not afford to wait for that time. There was a backlog of 1,200 applications for farm water surveys. Those are the reasons why the drought is so severe in New South Wales. Because of the neglect of the Labour Government, we are feeling the effects of drought in the form of unemployment and loss of income.

The statement of the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) on the state of the economy covered a very wide field. I thought it was very frank and honest. It set out the weaknesses and the strengths of our economy. I do not propose to deal with it in detail. I will address myself only to one aspect of the statement. The Treasurer, in the circulated copy of bis statement, said -

Perhaps it is not fully realised how rapidly we have been adding to our productive capacity over the past year or so.

The Treasurer gave figures to support his statement and I believe that they are perfectly valid. However, they should be seen in the context of the complete picture. I am sure that most of the addition lo Australia’s productive capacity has been cancelled by our tremendous migration programme and the tremendous addition from our own people to our work force in recent years. To justify this assertion, 1 shall quote from the “ Australian National Accounts, National Income and Expenditure. 1948-49 to 1964-65 “. I have transformed the figures given in that document into percentages. If we look at the gross fixed capital expenditure in private enterprise by industry as expressed as a percentage of the total, we find that in 1948-49 private investment in primary production, which is the mainstay of our economy, represented 25.3 per cent. In 1962-63, the latest year for which figures are available, private investment in primary production had fallen from 25.3 per cent, to 14.8 per cent. The figure for manufacturing has remained at about 25 per cent, over that period. The big increase has taken place in our tertiary industries. The figure for commerce has risen from 9.4 per cent, in 1948-49 to 13 per cent, in 1962-63. The figure for finance and property has risen from .4 per cent, to 4 per cent, in the same time.

A similar pattern is revealed when we turn to another table which shows the gross fixed capital expenditure by all public authorities and enterprises. In 1948-49, our expenditure on development of resources, shown under the headings “ Forestry “, “ Irrigation “, “ Land Settlement “ and “ Other “, was 8.5 per cent, by public authorities, State and Commonwealth. In 1964- 65, the figure for development had fallen to 5.5 per cent. So there has been quite a significant fall in the proportion of the amount invested in basic productive resources, both private and public. Of course, it is impossible to arrive at a truly accurate analysis of these figures, because some degree of developmental work is carried out under headings other than “Development of Resources “. However, if we use the figures as a guide, we can see that there has been quite an alarming drop in the proportion of funds, both private and public, that has been allocated towards the essential basic development productive works. We should also take note of the time lag that necessarily exists between the investment of moneys in such works and their yielding of fruit in the form of revenue raising production. The time lag ranges from a few years to perhaps 10 or 20 years in the case of large irrigation works. When we take this into account, we must be even more alarmed at our rate of investment.

The honorable member for Hughes quoted from a paper given in the latest edition of the “ Economic Record “. I too would like to quote a relevant paragraph from a paper in that journal. An American economist, Mr. Arthur Smithies of Harvard University, discussing the report of the Vernon Committee said -

There are dangers in nailing the national flag to a statistical mast. Governments which do so may be tempted to adopt measures that are reflected in the statistics, to the detriment of others that may be more important for the national welfare. For example, manufacturing industries do well in the gross national product statistics, since their products can be included at their market value. Education and health, on the other hand, fare badly since it is impossible to measure their outputs and consequently they are measured on an input basis.

He pointed out that the same principle applies to long range investments where one has to wait many years for the investment to yield revenue.

It is fitting that we should discuss this matter at a time when we are in the midst of the most severe drought we have ever experienced. This is a time when we should reflect on the kind of investment that should be made to protect the economy from disastrous droughts of the kind we are now enduring. It is impossible to estimate how much the present drought has cost us in terms of capital and income. We know that our losses will continue for several years to come, because to recoup our losses involves a biological process. Stock losses may be replaced only by breeding, and breeding takes time. We do not know what price our wool will fetch in future years. We do know that in a previous dry spell when we lost a lot of stock we lost the potential to earn £600 million in export income. I refer honorable members to a paper produced by Dr. Franklin, Executive Officer of the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee, in which he stated -

Had it been possible to prevent those losses of 1944-6, the cumulative wool cheques over the succeeding ten years may have totalled an additional £600 m.

That is the kind of loss we will suffer because of the present drought, which has been more severe than any in our history. Yet to a great extent this heavy loss could have been prevented had we acted in time and looked ahead, realising that the State Governments lacked finance and were rarely able to embark on the kind of long range developmental work that is within the capability of the national government. It is up to this Government to look ahead and to recognise the necessity to act to underpin the Australian economy by providing the States with the finance and leadership to develop our water resources and to provide extension services so that those water resources mav be properly used by farmers. It is up to the Commonwealth to grant tax concessions to ensure that the farmers adopt adequate farming practices so that the waters that are stored and reticulated may be used to maximum effect. It is a matter of history that this has not always been done in the past, even when water has been available. A survey conducted in Victoria in 1957 by Laine and Vasey showed that a number of farmers in Victoria had not made adequate provision for water or fodder supplies to tide them over a dry period. In 1956-57. a year during which farm income was at the highest level since 1951, deductions claimed by primary producers under sections 75 and 76 of the Income Tax Assessment Act totalled about £10 million. Sections 75 and 76 of the legislation allow deductions for expenses incurred in clearing, pasture establishment, provision of water supplies and fencing. The sum of £10 million is a small proportion of the amount that was available to primary producers in that year for that kind of work.

Obviously the Government must give additional encouragement to primary producers to make the changes necessary in their farm practices to ensure that maximum use will be made of available water supplies, to engage in further clearing and pasture establishment in order to carry more stock, to provide more watering points and to do more fencing work. The matter of fencing applies particularly to those areas where the Commonwealth has already embarked on heavy expenditure in the construction of beef roads. In order to make full use of the Government’s expenditure on beef roads in Queensland and the Northern Territory primary producers must themselves carry out more fencing work. To persuade them to do this I propose that the Commonwealth should increase the present concessional deduction allowable for clearing, pasture establishment, provision of water supplies and fencing. It should allow a deduction of £2 for every £1 spent on this work. It should give encouragement to farmers to do this kind of work just as it has given encouragement to industries that are regarded as contributing to our increased export earnings. The precedent exists for this to be done. All we need is the application of this principle to the field of primary production. This long range investment will yield valuable returns to the economy, ft will stabilise the economy and increase the production of the kind of goods on which we will depend for our export income for as far ahead as we can see. We must conserve water on the farms by public expenditure and by encouraging the primary producers themselves to spend more in building dams. They must be encouraged also to increase pasture establishment and to carry out more fencing work.

We all are pleased and at times even astounded by the rate at which Australia has grown in the last few years, but let us not forget that our growth and progress - all those magnificent office buildings and expressways, some of which in Sydney I know cost more than $20 million a mile to build - stem basically from the foundation laid by investment in primary industry. Unless more money, both public and private, is invested in primary industry we will not be able to continue our present rate of expansion in secondary and tertiary industry and maintain our standard of living, our defence effort or our immigration programme. More attention must be paid to basic needs and basic development works, which are the foundation of prosperity, stability and strength for our nation.

Minister for Labour and National Service · Wentworth · LP

– My purpose is to refer to some of the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), a distinguished and leading member of the Opposition who seems to remain remarkably calm and serene in the midst of all the jostling for power and position that is going on around him. He keeps going forward, solid and reliable, with his thoughts firmly rooted in things which constitute the nation’s bread and butter. Because of this, much as I disagree with him in so many respects, I can have nothing but admiration for him. In the course of his remarks, when he led for the Opposition in this debate, he referred at some length to matters concerned both with the character and the level of employment. He posed the question: Why should there be any unemployment in Australia, a country that has so much to do, and which claims to be short of certain skills within the labour force? I think that he really knows perfectly well why a certain degree of unemployment is inevitable, but I must take him at his word and therefore I shall endeavour to enlighten him by exploring the question.

Unemployment would vanish only in a purely static society in which nothing ever happened. If everybody were to do tomorrow what they did today, if they never changed their jobs and nothing from outside ever disturbed the position, the employment situation would remain the same. But in the kind of dynamic society and dynamic economy that we have there is bound to be a certain proportion of people who are changing jobs. Then again there are certain industries which are highly seasonal in character, such as those in north Queensland which T heard the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) mention in the course of his remarks, although his comments were mainly directed to the historic situation of two months ago. Those kinds of industries are bound to be seasonal. They always will be and they engender certain habits in the labour engaged in them. This means that for at least part of the year there is bound to be a certain measure of unemployment. Furthermore the pattern of demand in the economy is constantly changing. There are perpetual fluctuations in most industries and even within individual firms inside industries. While the consumer remains sovereign in our democratic society, which long may he do, the economic resources over quite a large field will be allocated in accordance with the wishes of the majority as shown in the way in which they exercise their spending power.

Consumer habit changes from time to time, often at a rapid rate. Women like one type of bathing costume one minute and they halve it five minutes later, and put on a different coloured costume a little later still. Firms that specialise in particular kinds of costumes are bound to suffer fluctuations in their labour force. If in fact the whole situation were static and there were not these changes in fashion it would mean that the whole community would have to put up with the old’ fashions and not adopt new fashions until some beneficent State authority planned the whole thing. In the meantime there would be a very healthy consumer revolt.

Broadly speaking there is at this moment negligible unemployment in Australia. If we had 5 per cent, of unemployment, which only a few years ago was regarded as a reasonable figure, and there was a debate such as this going on, this House would be full instead of empty whoever the speaker was, and particularly if he were the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. What measure of employment, granted the fact that there must be some unemployment, is in fact full employment? Of course this must be for sensible men a matter of opinion, but it is worth noting the views of the Vernon Committee in this respect. It is not that the Vernon Committee was a group of people who expressed certain views, but they were a group that should command respect and attention. In this and other spheres the Committee focussed attention on a lot of issues and provided a very effective subject for debate. The Vernon

Committee defined full employment as a zone which is reached when between 1 per cent, and 1.5 per cent, of the work force is registered as seeking employment, the actual percentage at any time depending on seasonal factors. Significant unemployment in the Committee’s view may be said to exist if the proportion of registrants unemployed is higher than this. Finally, to answer the direct point made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, the Vernon Committee suggested that if in fact the proportion is lower the economy is likely to be under severe strain with shortages of labour of most kinds, production bottlenecks, pressure on imports and inflation.

On 1st April this year - the latest date for which the full figures are available - the number of registrants for employment in the whole of Australia, taking account of the seasonal conditions in Queensland, amounted to only 1.3 per cent, of the work force. In other words it was well inside the Vernon Committee’s definition. The figure was down in Victoria to .9 per cent, of the work force and was only 1 per cent, in Western Australia and Tasmania. In both Victoria and Western Australia total vacancies exceeded the number of registrations for employment, and in addition in Tasmania vacancies for males exceeded the number registered for employment.

The honorable member for Melbourne Ports referred to one or two specific problems. He mentioned particularly the number of males under 21 who were registered for employment and even suggested that there must be some possibility that apparently industry does not want them. In fact, the absorption of last year’s school leavers has been extremely rapid and the number seeking employment fell by more than 7,000 in the month of April alone. The problem of the Australian economy nowadays is not that of providing pretty nearly full employment, but a shortage of labour and in some cases the geographical distribution of labour and the training of labour to meet the requirements of the economy. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports touched on two very important questions which are related to this, namely the training of labour and the employment of women. 1 should like to make some comment on both those subjects.

Training to an ever increasing degree is essential over almost the whole field of the economy. There is a most chronic shortage of skilled labour in the metal and electrical trades. These are trades which are advancing fast and upon which the Australian economy is very dependent. At no time for years has there been enough skilled labour to meet the needs of these industries. I do not suggest that these industries arc by any means the only fields in which there is a problem. The community needs to look at the whole problem of training on a much broader basis than it has done in the past. We inherited from the past a good system of training when times were more static and things did not change quite so quickly. At that time youths left school at an early age. They naturally went into the trades of their fathers and those with whom they were in contact.

Now we have found that a number of things have happened. The environment has changed and boys stay at school much longer. There are many immediately highly paid blind alleys into which they are readily enticed. This means that a large number of hoys who at other times might have been attracted into the old type of apprenticeship now tend to go to other places. The world has changed also in the fact that these people, by being at school longer and with general advances as a modern society, are better educated and can be trained more quickly. But what we need increasingly is for the community - particularly those in industry - to analyse carefully what is required to produce skilled people and to provide the most effective form of training necessary to meet the requirements in the minimum time. Fortunately we have had moves in this direction. We have a very good foundation in the apprenticeship system. But the main thing is that the end product should be skilled people.

There are now other schemes of apprenticeship which suit people slightly older than under the earlier system. One can take that a further stage. Because there are so many avenues of employment now, many who leave school and who do not begin by entering a skilled trade, as one would hope increasing numbers would, go elsewhere. It is important for people who often do not realise until they are more advanced the advantages of acquiring skill that a way be found to bring them in to supplement the scheme and so make it much more flexible. Also in training we face the problem not only of training people in the first place but also a world of increasing technological change in which the pace of change keeps quickening. In this situation new skills will be required and new avenues not thought of before will require new people to be trained for them. It is probable also that over a time some will be displaced. We will gain advantages from this new situation only if those who are displaced have satisfactory arrangements made for them so that they can retrain and enter some other profitable occupation.

The honorable member for Melbourne Ports touched also on the problems, or some of them, presented by the fact that in rural areas large numbers of young women were leaving school and finding it extremely difficult to obtain employment. One must acknowledge that this is a big problem. At the end of March throughout the whole of Australia 48.5 per cent, of all females registered for employment were in rural areas. The climate of expectations changes so much, even in country districts, that it is extremely difficult to employ many of these young women in the kind of occupations which they would like, bearing in mind the kind of education that they have been given. It certainly inflates the total number of registrants who are not employed and it does present a complex problem. But also important in this is the fact that, as I mentioned just now, one of the basic problems is to find enough labour to satisfy the needs of the economy, rather than the reverse. In order to do this we have to tap every available source. Of course, women are a key source in this respect.

It is important not only from the human angle to give women natural opportunities to which everyone is entitled but also to encourage employers and those in government departments and various sectors of the economy to use women as far as possible so that their opportunities are increased and their skills and potentials may be used in the ways in which they should be used. Fortunately, this is increasingly recognised. Next month there will be a special conference in Melbourne running under the title “ Women at Work “ which will bring out, and one hopes publicise, the issues involved in this problem. But we have certainly as a major task now not so much to keep our eyes on unemployment, which hitherto has been an historical problem, as to provide and train the kind of work force which we need to promote our economic future. This course, which certainly should be followed, is one in which my Department is heavily engaged. In these circumstances it is essential that the attitudes of the community generally keep pace with what the economy requires. What we cannot afford is to have historical habits of mind getting in the way of progress of this kind.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 1106


The Parliament - National Development - Questions upon Notice - Trade with Communist China - Political Parties - Employment of Army Personnel - National Service Training.

Motion (by Mr. Bury) proposed -

That the House do now adjourn.


.- The matter that 1 desire to raise this evening is one which I have raised on two or three occasions during other sessions of the Parliament. I refer to the chaos which develops in this House towards the end of every parliamentary session in the debates that take place. Towards the end of the session the notice paper becomes cluttered more and more each day with urgent bills which are brought down at the very last minute of the session and, because of the number of bills and the quantity of impending legislation, the House is forced to sit on occasions on Fridays and on other occasions as late as 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. This causes a great deal of inconvenience to the older members of the Parliament who are kept out of their beds for much longer than is necessary. It creates quite a hazard to their health. But further, it shows a great lack of consideration for the members of the staff, particularly those who work within the vicinity of the chamber. The Clerk and his assistant have to stay back for an hour or one and a half hours after the House has adjourned at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. to get together the Votes and Proceedings for the day and to prepare the notice paper for the next sitting, which may be later the same morning.

Little consideration is given to the fact that they must be back on duty at 9 a.m. or thereabouts on the same morning, no matter how late the House may have sat.

Members of the staff are expected to retain their efficiency. They are expected to have the business of the day in order and to remain alert at their posts for the whole of the succeeding day. But more importantly, the attitude which has been adopted by the Government over a number of years shows a complete lack of appreciation of the consideration that should be given to members of the Opposition and to other members who should be able to consider the legislation that is brought down by the Government and to prepare their speeches and arguments so that legislation can be properly and fully discussed. Bills of urgent and vital public importance are brought down in the last seven to ten days of every sessional period. In the last two or three sessional periods we have had vital bills on defence, conscription and national service as well as a Bill to amend the Broadcasting and Television Act brought down in the last half dozen days. Sometimes debates have come on very late at night and the House has been required to sit into the early hours of the morning. On one occasion not so long ago we sat through until almost 8 a.m. and we were required to start a new sitting day at 10.30 a.m. Members of the Opposition and of the Government are reluctant to speak when matters are brought on at a late hour and so they are denied sufficient opportunity to advance their arguments.

The gag is used with impunity by the Government in order to curb discussion of legislation. I cannot help but think that on occasions the introduction of legislation is deliberately delayed by the Government in order to prevent proper consideration being given to it. I would not be surprised at all to learn that directions have been issued by Ministers to their departments to delay the preparation of legislation for as long as possible so that it may be brought down in the last days of a sessional period.

As I have said, too often legislation is passed without due consideration being given to it. What happens in the final days of a sessional period is in complete contrast to the procedure in the earlier weeks. We have been in session now since 8 th March and have been working along in a very leisure!)’ fashion, as we have done in the earlier days of other sittings, slowly, quietly and deliberately considering the propositions put before us. This device is adopted by the Government in order to keep the House operating during the early weeks of a sessional period, and the procedure is assisted by the Opposition because we are prepared to speak on all matters that are put before us. When we come to the last few days, however, we have a hurly-burly state of affairs, a chaotic situation, in which we are forced to approve legislation without giving due consideration to it.

During the early weeks of sessional periods, the Government gives every consideration to Opposition members, It allows us to have grievance days, to move motions of urgency and to debate for hour after hour statements that could be adequately debated by half a dozen speakers. Generally, no complaint is made about the attitude adopted by the Government in its control of the business of the House until the last few days of the sessional period. T take this opportunity of raising this matter in the early days of the present period in the hope that the new Leader of the House (Mr. Fairbairn) who. up to the time of his appointment to that office, showed consideration outside the Parliament to everybody, and who is generally accepted as being a gentleman and a scholar and very easy to get on with, will, in the goodness that J know he possesses, give some consideration to the members of this House and to the parliamentary staffs. I hope that instead of adopting the practice that has been followed by his predecessors, he will see to it that the business of the House is brought forward in time to enable due consideration to be given to it.

Unfortunately, so far it would seem that he is cast in the same mould as his predecessors because the same procedures seem to have been followed in this sessional period as have been followed in the past. As I have said, these sittings started on 8th March last. In the period of five weeks since then, the Parliament has met for a total of 15 days, or 143 hours. In that time, 13 Bills have passed through the House. Three Bills- the Aliens Bill, the Nationality and Citizenship Bill and the Migration Bill - were passed through the

House today. The debate on all three occupied a total of approximately 7i hours.

Generally speaking, the Bills that have been passed by the House in the 143 hours that we have been debating legislation have been of minor importance. Some may have been important to certain sections of the community, but we have not discussed one Bill of really vital importance to the whole of the community. Admittedly we have had a statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) on the policy of the new Government, a statement by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) on foreign affairs and a statement by the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) on the state of the economy. The debate on those three statements has occupied 41 out of the 143 hours for which we have been sitting so far. I submit that nobody in this House can disagree with me when I say that the debate on the statement by the Prime Minister developed into a debate mainly on foreign affairs. That debate lasted for 25) hours. It was followed by a debate on the statement on foreign affairs by the Minister for External Affairs who, incidentally, has been here to hear very few of the speeches that have been made on foreign affairs. Then we debated the state of the economy and again the speeches were virtually reiterations of those made during the debate on the Prime Minister’s statement. If we deduct the 11 hours devoted to question time we find that we spent very little time at all in discussing vital legislation. I warn the new Leader of the House at this stage that if he pursues the practice of the past and brings down vital legislation in the dying hours of the sessional period without giving us the opportunity to discuss it fully, the first order of the day will be turmoil.


– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.

Minister for National Development · Farrer · LP

, - I thank the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) for informing me that he intended to raise a matter tonight. I did not know exactly what the matter was, but I assure him that I will do my best to see that what he believes has happened in previous sessional periods does not happen on this occasion. I can assure him also that I was a backbencher for very much longer than I have been a

Minister and that 1 have sympathy because I understand both sides. I realise how difficult it is to bring forward legislation at the right time. I also realise the difficulties confronting private members if they are not given sufficient time to consider Bills because they are brought down in the dying hours of a sessional period. But the problem is not easy of solution.

The honorable member must realise that there are certain procedures which have to be undertaken before legislation can come to the House. The first step is for Cabinet to decide what is required. Then the matter has to be cleared’ through the relevant department and passed’ to the Parliamentary Draftsmen who prepare the Bills and who are sometimes very heavily committed. This is where our great problem arises. I think there is no more difficult person to find in the whole of Australia, even perhaps the whole of the world, than a person who can draft legislation really effectively. Certainly this task is by no means easy if important legislation has to be brought before Parliament in a hurry.

After a Bill is drafted, it must be cleared through our party meetings. It is then brought before the House. After that, it has been our practice, wherever possible, to enable the Opposition Party to discuss it. This means waiting until the following Wednesday before the debate can be continued. All these steps delay the bringing forward of legislation. I do feel - and I say this with great respect to the honorable member for whom I have a high regard - that it is a dreadful allegation to say that departments delay legislation as long as possible so that it will not come before Parliament until the end of the session and will go through quickly.

I have made a point of writing to every Minister saying that unless there is some urgent reason why legislation should not be introduced before 28th April, legislation not coming in by then will have to wait until next session. As a result we have a programme for the next three weeks that I think we can encompass quite easily. Six bills have been introduced and they will be debated as soon as the Labour Party has had time to consider them. A further 10 bills are to be introduced. This number does not include any urgent measures. Naturally the Parliament is such that it makes way for urgent legislation to be considered. Loan, appropriation and supply bills always come in fairly late in a session. I agree with the honorable member for Lang that we want to do all we can to ensure that we do not sit for absurd hours, but there are times when such sittings are unavoidable. I will certainly do my best to see that what he has put forward is borne in mind.

My reason for rising tonight is to reply to some of the remarks made by the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) last night. He was kind enough to warn me that he was going to speak, but unfortunately Cabinet was sitting and I was unable to attend when he made his speech. I want to remark on some of his comments. He referred to some remarks that were made by me at a Young Liberals meeting in Melbourne about four weeks ago - I think on 28th March. To the best of my knowledge the Press was not present at that meeting so any report that came from it was not highly accurate. A number of comments were taken out of context and did not convey the meaning I intended to convey. It is very easy to pick out a sentence at random and for the Press, as is its wont very often, to make some scathing attack on one remark that does not mean what it was intended to mean. On this particular occasion I spoke for 45 minutes to the Young Liberals and I detailed what the Government is doing in national development. I detailed the Government’s programme and stated what had been done by way of the Ord diversion dam, port and harbour facilities, beef roads, brigalow land clearance, the Mount Isa railway line improvement and northern defence projects. I told them that Commonwealth expenditure in the Northern Territory had increased from £6 million to £30 million during the time we had been in government. I told them of the plans we had for the future development of the north, including work in the brigalow country, the third stage of which has become a fact. I referred to the Ord scheme, beef roads, the possible use of the Snowy Mountains Authority and so forth. I put the utmost case for national development, but I have been taken to task because of something that was misquoted. A remark was quoted out of context, as I explained in this House. I will come back to this later because I have a copy of the speech. The honorable member for Dawson knows that I made a speech here but he chooses to ignore it and to speak again on what I was reputed to have said.

It seems to me that the honorable member made his attack on me on two bases. The first was that I was reputed to have said that northern development in itself does not assist defence. If he examines the speech in which I am alleged to have said that, he will see that I have been misrepresented. My view on this, as he will see, is that it is debatable whether northern development as such does increase our ability to resist an invader. After all, there was very good development in France and in Germany in the last war, but this did not assist them to resist an invader. What helps us to resist an invader are ships, tanks, aircraft, men, weapons and the ability or desire to resist an invader before he comes to Australia. Undoubtedly northern development is necessary because it increases our economic strength. I have always said that we must proceed to the utmost degree with northern development, but I was asked why we should develop the north and I said: “ Because we have assets and resources there “. I said also: “ I do not believe that we should do it for reasons other than this “. I do not believe we should do it just to get population into our north, nor do I believe that by doing it we would improve materially our ability to resist an invader.

Secondly, I am taken to task by the honorable member for Dawson for saying that most Europeans choose to settle in southern Australia. This is not a debatable point; it is a fact. If the honorable member cares to examine statistics he will see that in the last 20 years we have received 2,388,619 migrants and in that time the northern population has increased by 115,610, so this is fact and not a debating point. I finish by saying that I do not think that basically the honorable member for Dawson and I differ in our desire to develop the north except that I want it done by private enterprise assisted by the Government and the honorable member, or the party with which he sits at present, wants northern development done by socialisation or by government control.


.- I rise tonight to bring before the notice of the House the way in which a question 1 asked of the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) has been answered. The question relating to education was asked several months ago but it was not answered until Tuesday of this week. One would have expected that because of the lapse of time the Prime Minister would have made an extremely thorough and accurate survey of all available information to reply to the queries I raised. Broadly stated I asked for a comparison, under a number of heads, in the field of education of what has been done in England, Russia, the United States of America, Japan, Italy and Australia. What I am greatly upset about is the way in which my question has been answered.

The Prime Minister supplied a table relating to Australia, which is quite separate from other tables. It referred to the percentage of the gross national product expended on education commencing in the year 1958-59 and going through to 1963- 64. Next the Prime Minister supplied a fairly brief table containing this same percentage relationship for the United Kingdom in the year 1957, the Soviet Union in 1958, the United States in 1958 and Italy in 1957. This second table is far from complete and certainly does not exhaust available sources from which information can be derived. The information the Prime Minister supplied cannot be used for comparison purposes - certainly not for valuable comparisons. The Prime Minister supplied a third table concerning the same percentage relationship in Great Britain in 1959-60 and in 1962-63 and in the Soviet Union in 1959-60.

Anyone who has studied elementary economic statistics - statistics A or whatever one calls them - can point out that there is no need for the two latter tables to have been broken up as has been done. In fact, what has been done is bad practice for an economic statistician. Before I proceed further I want to raise some points about the way my question has been answered. It seems to me that the people responsible for compiling this data are lazy. I will not accept this. I do not believe that public servants are lazy. If they are not lazy, are they incompetent? I would certainly not accept that they are incompetent. If they were, they would not be in the Prime Minister’s Department. I am certain that he would exact or demand from his employees the very highest standard.

This leaves a third consideration. This is the only other consideration I can find. It is not a very nice one. It does not show the Prime Minister up in a very nice light. Indeed, it suggests that there has been an endeavour here to make any effort to compare Australia’s contributions in the field of education with the contributions of others as vague as possible and also a little difficult to understand. This would be particularly so for any untrained observer who studied the answer. Anyone who looked at the two tables relating to the expenditure in foreign countries would see, for instance, that in 1957 the United Kingdom’s total expenditure on education as a percentage of the gross national product was 3.67. Looking above that table, the same person would see that in 1963-64 the relevant figure for Australia was 3.76. This is a wrong comparison. A number of years difference exists between the two figures being compared.

What I am distressed about is that the people who compiled these tables should have had available to them full data resources on education. 1 would be upset to find that they did not have these. Education comes under the control of the Prime Minister’s Department. I had no trouble at all in going to the Parliamentary Library a little earlier this evening and obtaining a copy of the “ International Yearbook on Education “, Volume XXVI, 1964. As much as is possible. I will bring the figures supplied by the Prime Minister’s Department up to date. I am absolutely amazed that the Prime Minister’s Department after having this matter before it for several months has not been able to supply relatively up to date data. This is of tremendous importance to a Commonwealth department in charge of education. However, let me quote these figures.

The figure for the year 1962 for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics shows that the percentage of national income expended on education was 6.1. On the same basis the figure for the United States of America for 1961 was 6.8 per cent. For Japan the figure for 1962 was 7.2 per cent. Incidentally, the figure for Japan in the year 1963-64 was 12.2 per cent, of the national budget. In 1962 Italy expended 6.3 of its national income on education. According to the Robbins Report, in 1960-61 the United Kingdom expended 4.2 per cent, of its gross national product on education and in 1961-62 the figure rose to 4.4 per cent. Coming back to the figures contained in the “ International Yearbook on Education “ which is published by the United Nations, the U.S.S.R. in 1961 expended 5.8 per cent, of its national income on education. Comparing that with the figure for the year after - 6.1 per cent. - we see that there was a significant increase.

In 1959 the United States of America expended 6.2 of its national income on education. The figure for Japan in 1961 was 6.7 per cent, and in Italy in 1960 the expenditure was 4 per cent, of the national income. These are all significantly greater expenditures over comparable periods than the amounts which were expended in Australia. I am aware, as most honorable members are aware, that one uses these international comparisons with a great deal of reserve because they are quoted in terms of prices and conditions that exist in different countries in which there are great variations. Nevertheless, one can get a rule of thumb guide from these figures.

Looking at this “ International Yearbook on Education “, we see that there is a tremendous number of countries which are expending a much greater effort in the field of education than is Australia. Canada in 1962 spent 7.6 per cent, of its national income on education. Denmark in 1961 expended 4.4 per cent, of its national income on education. In 1962, Finland spent 8.1 per cent, of its national income on education while in France the expenditure was 4.2 per cent. The Federal Republic of Germany expended 3.7 per cent, of its national income on education in 1962 and East Germany, 6 per cent, in the same year. The figure for Hungary in 1962 was 4.7 per cent, while in the Netherlands in 1961 it was 6.3 per cent. Sweden expended 5.7 of its national income on education in 1961, while in the United Kingdom in 1962 this figure was 5.8 per cent, of the national income. Finally, Yugoslavia in 1962 expended 5.1 per cent, of its national income on education.

I wonder why the Prime Minister’s Department was not prepared to carry out the necessary work to compile an up to date answer? Surely it would not take the Department the number of months it did to supply the information it prepared. Perhaps this is consistent with the behaviour of the Government which we have seen for some time in relation to education. I instance the great enthusiasm of the Government as displayed in connection with the Martin report on tertiary education. We have heard nothing more about that report. On the subject of teacher training, for instance, the recommendation in the report was for training over a three year period with a freedom from bond. The report recommended also the establishment of teacher training independent of the States. It also recommended - this is one of my own concerns - the establishment of national standards of teacher training for which there is a great need. In addition, the report referred to degree standards for teacher training colleges. It also called: - an obvious call, one would think - for the appointment of staff for teacher training and also staff recruitment through open advertisement. One thing the report said was that there were 10,000 new places for primary teachers alone which would have to be made available in teachers colleges by 1967 in addition to the extra requirements in relation to teacher training for secondary and university education. It seems very little is being done, if, in fact, anything is being done, by the Federal Government. We need some sort of co-ordinating authority in this matter. We certainly need national standards.

In Ipswich, we have a very large bomber base at Amberley. People are coming and going regularly from the area. Speaking Co the school teachers, I found that the problems in the primary and secondary schools arise from a lack of uniformity in the Australian educational system. People coming from Darwin, Western Australia and other States of the Commonwealth have children who have been learning under different educational curricula. These children experience many problems in trying to adapt themselves to the education system. We have a slum standard of education through the system that operates in Queensland. At present only one in 10 of Queensland^ 1,500 science teachers has a science degree. Only one in every six Australian teachers of physics and chemistry has studied the subject at first year university standard. In addition, 40 per cent, of biology teachers have not even done first year biology at a university. The Depart ment of Education in Queensland is now facing problems with its new junior science course. The Brisbane “Courier-Mail” reported -

The Education Department now recognised that its new Junior science course was overcrowded and last week had sent to schools a long list of items in the syllabus which would not be examined at the end of the year.

Education in this country is in a mess. Children are being crammed into class rooms which are not sufficiently large. My eldest child has just started school and he is one of 50 students in a first year class in a State school in my area. This is disgusting and unfair to the education of our children.

Mr. SPEAKER__ Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.


.- Mr. Speaker, I wish to bring the attention of the House to the continuing proprietary attitude that the Government and its Ministers still bring to this Parliament. First, there is the question raised by the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart). The Parliament went into recess some time early in December. It was in recess for three months. It did not sit again until March. During the time we were in recess, the Government changed. The former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, retired from his post and announced his resignation from this Parliament. I felt that this was a rather cavalier way for the former Prime Minister to treat the Parliament which had served him for 35 years. It was not good enough for him to sit here as a backbencher until the next general election. This is the continuing theme in this Parliament.

At the present time we are discussing matters of great moment in relation to foreign policy. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) is roaming around the world. His place is here. There are many things, of course, which he can do around the world. The point is that this Parliament meets so infrequently. I am disturbed by the suggestion made by the Leader of the Government and the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) that this Parliament will meet for perhaps another three weeks only this session. For this half year, if we sit an extra 3 weeks, we will have sat for a total of some 7 weeks or approximately 20, 21 or 22 days. This is happening at a time when the country is increasing its commitments in this part of the world. Everything we do is of increasing concern to the nation because we are involved in placing greater and greater commitments upon the country. Of course 1 believe this is part of the authoritarian altitude of the Liberal Party to which the word “ democracy “ is completely foreign. The word does not exist in its language. No consideration whatever is given to the needs of a democratic community and representative parliamentary government.

I wish to bring three or four points to the notice of the House to confirm this view. First, there is the by-passing of the Parliament, as raised by the honorable member for Lang. This has been a continuing theme over the last two or three years. Secondly, there are the ministerial absences, as pointed out at question time today. At a time of great stress and tension in the community over matters of defence and foreign policy the Minister for the Army (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) was absent from his place both yesterday and today; the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) was absent from his place today and the Minister for External Affairs was not here either. That is part of the continuing theme of the attitude of honorable members opposite to the Parliament. These things express almost as loudly as words can the authoritarian and dictatorial approach of honorable members opposite to the Parliament. 1 refer now to the question which the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden) placed on the notice paper and which the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) treated in such a cavalier fashion. 1 wish to bring this matter to the notice of honorable members. The question concerned education. As the honorable member for Oxley has pointed out, it was answered in a dilatory and diffident way. I will bring to the notice of the House some of the information which was available to the Prime Minister and his Department and which was not used. In the first instance, the honorable member for Oxley asked for estimates of total expenditure on education in relation to gross national product in the United Kingdom, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United States and Italy. The years for which information was given were 1957 and 1958 - eight and nine years ago. I notice that the source used for the answer was information published in the United States in 1961. Without a great deal of research it s possible to improve on that.

The figures quoted in part of the answer come from the “ 1963 U.N.E.S.C.O. Statistical Yearbook “; but in our own Library we have the United Nations Statistical Year Book for 1964, from which one can obtain later figures. If honorable members look at the answer to the question, as set out on pages 952 to 954 of “ Hansard “, they will see these words -

Information is not available about wages for fully qualified teachers in their first leaching year in the countries listed, other than Australia.

I have not done much research on this matter. But when the honorable member for Oxley mentioned to me that he appeared to have been treated in a cavalier fashion I went to the Library. Of course, in the Library one can find the volume of statutory instruments, or the regulations made under the acts of the House of Commons. On page 2081 of the 1963 volume there is a section on the remuneration of teachers in primary and secondary schools in England and Wales, and over the page there is a full schedule of the salaries and wages paid under the relevant legislation in Great Britain. I presume that if some of this information was readily available in respect of Great Britain, information in respect of the other countries was not very deeply hidden. It was the duty of the Department to try to relate that information to the honorable member’s question and to bring it forward. One of the most critical matters in Australian education is the Jack of statistics. That was brought out in the report of the Vernon Committee.

This is not so much a question of what the information was as of the cavalier treatment of the question asked by the honorable member and the failure of the Department to use all its resources to produce up to date information. The honorable member asked about the percentage of the population at the various age levels in schools. On page 953 of “ Hansard “ certain percentages are set out under various age groups, for various years and for a number of countries. In many instances the symbol “ n.a.”. meaning not available, appears. One does not have to do much delving at all in the Library to find out the United States figures. I presume that the figures for the other countries would be available after a little delving. The United States statistical year book for 1963 is in the Library. The figures can be taken from that. Someone might say that members of the Parliament ought to find this information themselves. But some of this information should be collated continually so that we can have a statistical picture of the progress of Australian education.

The answer to the question asked by the honorable member for Oxley was provided by the Prime Minister through his officers. He has to accept the responsibility. After all, he is a man who will bring an anonymous letter into this House and quote from it to support his case. It is his task and duty to ensure that the information that is placed before the House in answers to questions is the fullest, most up to date and most accurate information that can be supplied. That is one way in which honorable members are being treated in a cavalier fashion.

Another one is shown in the authoritarian attitude that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Bury) seems to be bringing to his functions. In today’s Press we read that yesterday Mr. Justice Wright of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission asked whether it might be that the Commonwealth was assuming the role of a judge addressing a jury in the basic wage case. There is every indication that the Government intends to use all the resources at its disposal to direct every instrument under its control towards its own thinking. And so I come to last week’s meeting here in Canberra of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Today the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) asked a question in which he suggested that the members of a delegation from this Parliament should express this Government’s policy when they go to conferences. In a commentary in the Melbourne “ Age “ of last Monday or Tuesday, members of the Government parties were quoted as saying that only people who are compatible - in other words, people who will comply with Government policy - should be allowed to be members of these delegations. I believe that this attempt to subvert the Inter-Parliamentary Union should be resisted to the utmost. Attempts to make it a single party instrument of Government policy have to be resisted to the utmost.

We have heard from honorable members opposite continuing complaints about members of the Parliaments of eastern European countries going to conferences and speaking with one voice. At the same time, honorable members opposite are demanding that we speak with one voice. Of course, that is different. This is the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Country Party. The members of those parties are angels without wings, or perhaps without haloes. They are a special group of people who are so righteous that the rest of us must be subservient to them. This is the continuing theme of the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party is the essence of authoritarianism in its approach to Australian democracy. It is the essence of authoritarianism in the way it approaches the administration of its own affairs.

Last Monday, accompanied by the honorable member for Oxley, in my innocence I visited the railway workshops at Ipswich in Queensland. When we went inside I pointed out very courteously that I wanted to have a look at the place and to see the kind of heavy work that it could do in relation to defence and so on. The people in charge of the workshops would not let us in. They have their bogies mixed. I do not know which ones they were afraid of. I only know that in France, India, the United States and England I was a welcome visitor to institutions which are more secret than even the railway workshops at Ipswich. I had to return to my own country to find myself barred. Mr. Speaker, you might well take up with the State Governments the possibility of the recognition of this Parliament in the same way as it is recognised by people overseas. I have placed before the House tonight the fact that the continuing authoritarian and dictatorial approach of this Government to the Parliament and to the instruments of government in Australia has to be resisted to the utmost.


.- It is interesting to note the efforts of some of the senior Ministers in this Government to play down the fact that Australia is trading with Communist China, while actually condemning that country as a potential threat to Australia’s security. The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), in answering questions in this House, has given the impression that the Government is not responsible for selling wheat to Communist China and that this is the sole responsibility of the Australian Wheat Board. As every honorable member of this House should know, the Commonwealth Government has complete and unfettered control over every shilling’s worth of our exports and imports. For the benefit of honorable members who are ignorant of that fact. I shall quote section 51 of the Constitution, which reads -

The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to: -

Trade and commerce with other countries, and among the States;

Surely that is clear evidence that if the Government wanted to do so it could ban the export of wheat, wool, metals or any other products to Communist China tomorrow.

Often we have been met with rejoinders from the Government side of the chamber to the effect that the Labour Party opposes trade with Communist China. The answer to that is: No, we do not oppose it. But we do not go around the country condemning Communist China on the one hand and accepting its gold in the other hand. We are not a pack of hypocrites. We do not use this matter to try to get votes. Nor do we use it to try to get preferences from the Australian Democratic Labour Party. Over the years that I have been in this Parliament members of the Opposition have been subjected to malicious innuendoes by members of the Government parties, particularly in election years or prior to by-elections. Only a few years ago, the Brisbane “Telegraph”, which is not a newspaper with Labour sympathies, under the heading “ Keep a sharp eye for McCarthyism “, published the following report concerning one Government supporter -

The fashionable Tory pastime of branding anyone left of centre as a Communist sympathiser has been given a new and fascinating twist at Canberra by an earnest feller-me-lad named Erwin from Ballarat.

Mr. Erwin has uncovered a murky Kremlin plot to indoctrinate the Australian public by injecting ruddy Red thoughts into the speeches of certain

Labour MHRs. And this dastardly attempt at brainwashing, he suggests, springs from unworthy and unwise fraternisation by the said members with Soviet Embassy officials.

What precious poppycock!

If, in the wisdom of the Government, we have formal diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, does Mr. Erwin suggest that the Ambassador and his officers should be treated like pariahs? Eventhe Prime Minister sees them as occasion and duty require.

Many electors will regard as blazing impudence the attempt by this back-bench politician to smear Labour members on such flimsy evidence.

The incident demonstrates the need for vigilance against the inclination of some extreme rightwingers to introduce the techniques of McCarthyism to Australia.

Some members on the Government side, if they see a Labour member having a cup of tea with a Communist, believe it is natural to assume that the Labour member is proCommunist. Let us consider what this attitude means. I have here a photograph that shows the present Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia drinking a glass of champagne with Skripov on the occasion of the celebration of the 46th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. According to rhe honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin), the Chief Justice would therefore be under suspicion. But does this action make him pro-Communist. I saw the present Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt), when he was Minister for Labour and National Service, on occasions having a cup of tea or wining and dining with Jim Healy. I saw the present Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman), when he was Minister for Shipping and Transport, wining and dining with Eliot V. Elliott. If a Minister in a Labour government were seen wining and dining with men such as these, what would some members in the ranks of the present Government say? They would imply that the Labour man concerned was proCommunist.

During the last Federal general election campaign, we witnessed the spectacle of one political party using on television programmes the most scurrilous tactics that I have ever seen in my life. Those programmes portrayed members of the trade union movement marching side by side. Just because Charlie Fitzgibbon, or perhaps somebody else, was marching beside a Communist, the implication was that the person marching beside the Communist also was a Communist. It is only natural that fellow members of the trade union movement march side by side. The marchers include not only Labour men, but also supporters of the Liberal Party of Australia, the Australian Democratic Labour Party and the Communist Party of Australia. Would anyone say that Mr. Joe Riordan of the Federated Clerks Union of Australia was pro-Communist? I have seen him marching side by side with Communists. These are typical of the tactics that are used against Labour supporters. Over the years, we have many limes been subjected to these vile tactics.

The Minister for Trade and Industry, who is Deputy Prime Minister, implies that this Government is not responsible for its trade with China. Years ago, we had the spectacle of many members on the Government sice of the House describing as bloodthirsty, murdering butchers the members of the Red Chinese armies that invaded Tibet. We all know that the climate of that country is very cold. The uniforms that the Chinese troops were wearing contained quite a lot of Australian wool. A famous military leader of the last century - I think his name was “ Napoleon “ - said that an army marches on its stomach. The Chinese armies today are marching with Australian food in their stomachs. I emphasise that the Australian Labour Party does not oppose trade with any country. We believe in trade for the benefit of the Australian economy in general and of the primary producers in particular. However, I repeat that we who belong to the Labour Party do not go about Australia hypocritically running down the Chinese while at the same time accepting their gold.

When I first entered this Parliament years ago, the Labour Party advocated trade with China. That was before the Government got around to it. We were then classed as pro-Communists and fellow travellers with the Communists. If our attitude made us pro-Communists and fellow travellers, the Prime Minister and every other member of this House is pro-Communist and a fellow traveller, and you, Mr. Speaker, are a fellow traveller. That applies also to the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns), whom I see now sitting at the back of the chamber. If we were fellow travellers in the days when I was elected to this Parliament, honorable members opposite are fellow travellers now. I think it is time we saw a little more common sense in this House, Mr. Speaker. We all know that this is an election year and that the sort of tactics that I have described will begin again. But I warn those responsible that as fast as they bring up these implications against us, I shall throw them back in their faces.


.- Mr. Speaker, I wish to bring a complaint received from the South Australian Branch of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union to the notice of the House and particularly of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Malcolm Fraser), who, I know, is on hand to hear what I have to say. The complaint concerns a practice that has grown up in South Australia in recent times under which the Department of the Army places in butchers’ shops for training national service trainees or personnel of the Regular Army or other Army forces. The personnel concerned do work in those shops normally done by members of the Union. In November 1965, this matter was first taken up by the Union with the Central Command in South Australia. After some discussion, it was brought to my notice in February last. I subsequently arranged for Brigadier Bleechmore, who is in command in South Australia, to discuss the matter with the secretary of the South Australian Branch of the Union, as we believed that the problem could be more easily solved locally.

The Union objects to Army personnel making sausages, cutting up chops and preparing other cuts of meat that could be sold to the public. Indeed, the sausages that they make are sent from the establishment in question to butchers’ shops and sold direct to the public. The Union objects to this work, which is normally done by trade unionists, being done by men receiving Army pay. The matter was taken up with Brigadier Bleechmore who, in a letter to the Secretary of the Union Branch, stated -

I wish to explain that we conduct courses for the training of cooks throughout the year, the trade test for which requires that he should know cuts of meat and how to make the best use of them. He is also required to bone and roll meat, cut chops, cutlets and steaks.

The Army personnel seem to be employed more in the making of sausages than anything else according to my observation. The Brigadier stated that the firm in question had been very co-operative in letting Army personnel work in its establishment and he expressed the hope that the Union’s objection would not terminate the arrangement, lt is understandable that the firm in question would be pleased with the arrangement. It is getting sausages made and meat cut up by Army personnel paid by the taxpayers of Australia, and the meat that they prepare is sold to the general public. However, the Brigadier told the Union that this was a common practice in every State. The Union wanted to know the position and made inquiries in the various States. As far as it has been able to ascertain, this practice is confined to South Australia. On 15th April, the Secretary of the Union notified the Commanding Officer of Central Command that the Committee of Management of the Union had decided to persist with its objection and to point out that national service trainees or military personnel were doing this work at a factory in Adelaide. As I said earlier, they were making sausages which were distributed to various shops and which were sold direct to the public.

The Union suggests - I think this is quite a reasonable suggestion - that the Army should employ permanent butchers. It ought to be able to place them in an establishment in South Australia that would cater for this training. It is ridiculous to suggest that the trainees, in the time they are doing these jobs, will become accomplished butchers. The Brigadier suggests they will know all the cuts. In making sausages, all they have to do is to buy the mix in tins, add a bit of water, run it through the machine and put it in the casings. If the practice of using military personnel on this work is continued, industrial unrest could be caused. The practice could lead to some major trouble. The Union is trying to avoid trouble. For some time now it has kept its complaint away from the Minister, hoping to achieve a satisfactory result by negotiation. However, we now ask the Minister to conduct an investigation. I do not expect him to be able to tell me anything about this matter tonight, but I ask him to inquire into it and see whether it is possible to establish a unit in South Australia where butchers can be employed and where national service trainees or members of the Regular Army can be given proper training. They cannot possibly get proper training under the present conditions. If such a unit is established, a far better service will be given to the trainees and no accusation can be made that the lads have been used to break down industrial conditions. This could be an irritating situation and I ask the Minister to make an investigation.

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

.- The honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) told me a few moments ago that he intended to raise a matter in the House concerning the administration of my Department. This is the first time that this complaint has come to my notice. I will investigate it and I will be in touch with the honorable member at some later stage.

While I am on my feet, I would like to say a word about one aspect of the remarks made by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant). He referred critically to my absence from the House this morning and, I think, yesterday. 1 agree that the presence of Ministers in the chamber is of paramount importance and that Ministers should recognise that this is so. But there are rare occasions when the absence of a Minister from the House when it is sitting is justified. This can occur when events relating to the administration of his portfolio arise is other parts of Australia. I regarded the departure of the 5th Battalion and other units that are going to Vietnam within some days or hours as an occasion that justified my absence from the House. I wanted to assure the members of the 5th Battalion and of the other units that they had the support of the Government and of every member on this side of the House, even if they had no support and only criticism from the honorable member for Wills.


– I wish to refer briefly tq the remarks made by the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) following the speech I made last night. I raised this issue because it had received publicity throughout the Australian Press. I read 11 newspapers in the Library - I stopped reading after that - and they all had basically the same report. I will not go over the matter again tonight. I want to point out that the Minister is reported in the newspapers as having said that the ordinary European who comes to Australia does not choose to live in the north. This has caused consternation particularly in north Queensland. The Press report is at variance with what the Minister claims to have said. However, I will give him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he was misreported in the newspapers.I did not misrepresent the Minister.

The second point is that the Minister is alleged to have stated that he did not believe for a moment that our defences would be helped by northern development. All of the newspapers reported this statement in inverted commas. In a personal explanation the Minister stated that apart from strengthening our national economy he did not believe that northern development of itself increased our ability to repel an invader. Perhaps he may be right. That view has been advanced by other people, as I stated last night. No less a person than the former Postmaster-General, Sir Charles Davidson, stated in the House several years ago that building roads and improving our transport system in northern Australia were dangerous things to do because they would allow an invader to come down into the heart of Australia where the people are.

The alleged statement by the Minister for National Development has caused a lot of consternation in the north. Several editorials were devoted to it in newspapers. Deputations have waited on me and other Labour members representing electorates in northern Queensland. Even chambers of commerce have taken up the matter. These are the reasons why I raised it last night. IfI did not say so last nightI say now that I do not believe the Minister meant to say the things I understood him to say, because in my association with him he has never indicated that this is the way his mind works. This is why I was most amazed to read these statements. I am pleased to hear that the Minister’s words were taken out of context. I assure him that I will have no hesitation in telling the editors of some of the newspapers in northern Queensland if they raise it with me, as well as other people who have raised this matter with me, that the words were taken out of context and that the Minister did not use them in the way they were published.


.-I am grateful for the opportunity to address the House tonight. Tomorrow I leave Australia, but I have no doubt thatI shall return. The Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) and his colleagues smile, but to me today is a solemn and sad one in Australia’s history. Through the streets of Sydney today have marched more than 1,000 of the cream of Australian manhood, many of them conscripted, on their way to the battlefields of Vietnam. This is the first time in our history that an Australian government has taken this step. Some of those boys may be happy tonight on board ship before they sail. Some may be keyed up anticipating adventure and the unexpected in Vietnam. But many a mother’s heart will be bleeding in this country tonight when her mind goes back over what has happened to Australian manhood in two world wars.

Mr Turnbull:

– And this speech will not improve it.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– The honorable member should keep quiet.


– This is howI feel and if the honorable member for Mallee does not feel this way he is not a loyal Australian.


– Order! The honorable member for Hindmarsh will remain silent.


– Each day that this Government allows conscription to continue I think of my own 14 year old boy, as I think of every other boy. I think of the sacrifices my wife and I have made to educate him in the hope that he may be able to attend a university. But if this Government remains in office I can see what might happen when be turns 18 years of age. He will be sent away for gun fodder to the war in Vietnam unless a settlement is brought about earlier.

I want to place on record in this Parliament what I think is a poem appropriate to the present situation. Our first troops for Vietnam were sent away by ship from Sydney Harbour in the early hours of the morning. Almost at the same time the former Prime Minister of this country was pictured in the press at Mascot airfield waving goodbye to a former Governor-General of Australia. The report states that the Prime Minister had sadness in his eyes and tears were rolling down the cheeks of Dame Pattie. But there were no tears shed by members of the Government for the boys who were sailing clown Sydney Harbour on the way to Vietnam. Many of them have not come back, and many of them have come back as stretcher cases to be treated in suffering for many years because of the Government involving us in the filthy war in Vietnam.

I consider that the words I shall quote are appropriate to the situation. They are available to all honorable members in the Parliamentary Library. The poem is titled “Battle Hymn of the Compulsory Crusaders “ and reads -

Onward conscript soldiers,

Marching as to war;

The comrades you are leaving

Were lucky in the draw!

Fight like Christian soldiers -

It’s O.K. with God-

The path you tread ten million dead

In ages past have trod.

Onward then ye conscripts,

On to Viet Nam.

Why and what you’re there for

You could not care a damn.

Slay the yellow heathens,

Burn their fields of rice-

And by this feat we’ll sell them wheat

At twice the normal price!

Earth’s foundations quiver

To bombs on Viet Nam;

A first class dress rehearsal,

For Mao and Uncle Sam.

Flourish freedom’s banners,

Praise dictator Ky,

One in faith and politics,

And in democracy!

Onward conscript Christians

Through the smoke and flame;

Hide the cross of Jesus,

Lest He blush for shame.

Forward then ye conscripts,

Fail not Holt or Ming,

And day by day with L.B.J.

Your requiems we’ll sing.


The actions of the Government will be judged at the next election. The hands of members of the Government are stained with blood, and it is true, as many people say outside this Parliament, that they are murderers because of the actions they are taking against Australian youth by sending them to Vietnam.


.- I doubt whether this Parliament has ever heard anything worse than what has just been put across by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James). However, I think the average member of this Parliament will forgive him. I doubt that he knows what he does. I suggest to him that if he thinks any honorable member on this side of the House believes that he may have written the poem he read, or that it was an original version, I assure him we are not that gullible. We are quite sure that if it were known whence it came, it might make an interesting story. The honorable member referred to his 14 year old son. Other people have sons. It is not something which is peculiar to the honorable member. Many people have sons who are being called up for service and who believe it to be worthwhile and necessary for the protection of this country. The honorable member also said that he has worked and made sacrifices. So has everybodyelse. I suggest to him that perhaps he might give a little more thought to the future of his son and the future of his family, if what is happening in South Vietnam and other parts of the world is not stopped. I do not want to say any more than that. The honorable member seems only to have one outlook and that is that we have to compromise with the Communists and seek out a solution that is all their way. I did not rise to answer the honorable member; it is just that I think the content of his speech was rathernauseating.

It is my intention to refer to the remarks of the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) who, after many years of peace, or perhaps of silence on these matters, made reference to my distinguished colleague from Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin). The honorable member for Watson made the statement that the honorable member for Ballaarat had said that every time a Labour man is seen talking to a Russian or somebody from a Communist country, he is called a Communist. He knows quite well that that is not completely accurate. He knows when he makes a statement such as that that aMinister could be seen at a reception at the legation of one of the Communist countries. He knows that the Minister would attend this reception in the course of his duties. He knows too that when the Minister for Shipping and Transport, perhaps, is at a dinner at which the Communist secretary of the Seamen’s Union of Australia is present, he is attending in the course of his duty. I know quite well that the honorable member for Watson does not willingly mix with Communists but he knows that there are members of the Labour Party who most certainly do. It is in line with the old theory that you can tell a man who boozes by the company he chooses. That is so without any doubt. I do not have to quote Liberal members of Parliament to substantiate this.

We can quote time and time again members of the Labour Party itself. Let me read what Mr. Allan Fraser has said. I quote from the Melbourne “Age” of 21st February 1966 -

Mr. Allan Fraser warned that current trends in the Labor Party might eventually produce a revolutionary situation in Australia. He said “ The Communist aim is to destroy (he Labor Party so as to clear the way for its own success. … If so called moderate members were driven out of the Parliamentary Party by defeat, and out of the Labor Party branches in despair or disgust, then the Labor Party would bc open for Communist capture at all levels.”

We know that this is what a number of distinguished and honest members of the Labour Party think in regard to what is happening.

Let me also read from the “ Age “ of 31st July. Here, Mr. R. W. Holt, a former President of the Labour Party, is reported to have said -

The recent Victorian A.L.P. conference decision to seek lifting of the ban on unity tickets, opened the way to a “ united front “ of Communists and A.I-.P. men.

The article concludes -

He thought A.L.P. policy on a nuclear-free zone in the Southern Hemisphere might have originated from Russian sources . . . and if the leftward swing in the A.L.P. was allowed to go unchecked, the Communist Party could exert increasing influence on A.L.P. policy.

These are Labour men who are talking. We then come to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). In the “ Age “ of 28th August a statement is reported in which he concludes by saying -

There would be more and better A.L.P. mcn in union and Parliamentary posts if the Victorian executive had been clear and prompt in condemning and combating collaboration with the Communists as it has been loud and quick to condemn and combat collaboration with the D.L.P.

That is the comment of the Deputy Leader of the Party of honorable members opposite. I have quoted three men. One is a former President of the Australian Labour Party from Victoria, one is the Deputy Leader of the Party and the other one is a distinguished member of the executive of the Party. Let us go a little further. In a booklet I have here entitled “ Australia’s Way Forward “, published at the end of last year and which is sold at the price of 3s., honorable members can find the programme of the Communist Party of Australia. The Communist Party says, speaking of the Labour Party - and I will have time only to read a section -

There is an ever-widening field for agreement and common action in the working class and labour movement around progressive policies. . . .

Then it goes on to refer to the co-operation between certain members of the Australian Labour Party and the Communist Party and how it can be used. There is a lot that is clearly set out by both members of the Communist Party and A.L.P. members themselves. They talk about how the left wing is trying to get rid of the right wing members, and how it has to get rid of what they call the extremist right wing of the Labour Party.

Then in a booklet published at the end of last year by Mr. E. F. Hill entitled “ The Australian Socialist Movement”, there are three or four chapters on the Australian Labour Party. It is all set out clearly for anyone who wishes to read it. Let it not be said that there is any similarity between the matter mentioned by the honorable member and a Minister of the Crown who may be responsible for shipping and transport or some other portfolio sitting at a dining table at a dinner with a Communist secretary of a union. That is part of the Minister’s duty but it is not part of the duty of Labour members to purvey in this House and throughout this country Communist propaganda, as certain of them are doing now. I know that the honorable member for Watson is not one of them. I know that he does not like Communists and 1 know that he will fight Communists, but he knows as well as 1 do that the Communists are doing their best to rid the parliamentary wing of the Labour Party of people such as he. He knows that when he loses his preselection he will be replaced by a member of the left wing of the Labour Party and. as was stated by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), eventually the control of Labour will be taken over by the Communist Party. We know this process is going on in the Labour Party Caucus room now. We know that that is what the big fight is about. Honorable members opposite know that as well as we on this side of the chamber do.


.- Mr.


Motion (by Mr. Aston) agreed to -

That the question be now put.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 11.12 p.m.

page 1120


The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -

Skeleton Weed. (Question No. 1555.)

Mr Collard:

d asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -

  1. Since the recent discoveries of skeleton wees in Western Australia, has the Commonwealth adopted any extra precautions to prevent seeds of the plants being carried into Western Australia from the eastern States?
  2. If so, what are the additional precautions being taken at present, and are any further precautions contemplated?
Dr Forbes:
Minister for Health · BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -

As the honorable member is no doubt aware, the Commonwealth has the power under the Quarantine Act to pass legislation designed to prevent the spread of plant pests between States, and the State Governments are also in a position to exercise legislative powers with the aim of preventing the incursion of plant pests across their borders. It has ordinarily been the practice for the States to exercise their own responsibilities in this field. However, the Commonwealth has passed legislation in a number of cases in the past and would be prepared to do so in this instance, if requested. My Department is aware of the situation to which the honorable member refers and has offered to assist the Western Australian Government by way of an amendment to the Commonwealth’s quarantine legislation, but a firm request has not yet been received from the Western Australian Government in pursuance of this offer.

Abduction of Part-Aboriginal Child. (Question No. 1594.)

Mr Webb:

b asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -

  1. Has he any further information regarding the abduction of a part-Aboriginal child named Barry John McKenzie who was taken out of Australia without his mother’s approval in May 1964?
  2. Is any further action being taken in the matter?
Mr Opperman:

– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -

The only information that has been obtained concerning the child, Barry John McKenzie, is that the people who were responsible for his removal from Australia were reported to be living in East Germany. Inquiries in the matter arc proceeding.

Overseas Investments in Australia. (Question No. 1614.)

Mr Peters:

s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. What is the present value of investments purchased in companies in Australia with the following yearly inflows of private overseas investment -

    1. £38 m. in 1947-48
    2. £42 m. in 1948-49
    3. £68 m. in 1949-50
    4. £68 m. in 1950-51
    5. £86 m. in 1951-52
    6. £25 m. in 1952-53
    7. £68 m. in 1953-54
    8. £105 m. in 1954-55
    9. £117 m. in 1955-56
    10. £104 m. in 1956-57
    11. £103 m. in 1957-58
    12. £125 m. in 1958-59
    13. £193 m. in 1959-60
    14. £234 m. in 1960-61
    15. £148 m. in 1961-62
    16. £221 m. in 1962-63
    17. £214 m. in 1963-64
    18. £258 m. in 1964-65?
  2. Alternatively, what is the present value of all overseas investment in companies in Australia?

Mr McMahon:

– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -

In the absence of established market values, it is not practicable to calculate the “ present value “ of investment in companies in Australia, whether Australian or overseas owned, either in respect of annual additions to investment or the accumulated total of investment to the present time.

Bauxite and Alumina. (Question No. 1576.)

Mr Hayden:

n asked the Minister for

National Development, upon notice -

  1. What prices are being obtained on world markets for exported bauxite and alumina, and what quantities are involved in each market?
  2. What quantities of these commodities are consumed domestically, and at what price are they sold?
Mr Fairbairn:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -

  1. There are no open world markets for bauxite and alumina and hence the world selling prices are unknown. However, some indication of the values of exports can be obtained from export statistics.

Exports of bauxite from Australia in the first nine months of 1965 totalled 421,792 tons and were valued at $2,042,000 f.o.b.; an average of $4.84 per ton. In 1964 exports totalled 405,825 tons and were valued at $1,907,164 f.o.b.; an average of $4.70 per ton. The quantities and destinations of exports in 1964 were as follows -

As there is only one exporter of alumina, details of exports of this commodity are not available for publication.

  1. Apparent domestic consumption (i.e., production plus imports minus exports) of bauxite in 1964 was 378,632 tons; of this 557 tons were imported mainly for use in refractories and 12,673 tons were produced for purposes other than aluminium production.

Details of domestic consumption of alumina cannot bc given as export figures are not available. However, production in 1964 totalled 158,121 tons and in the first nine months of 1965 totalled 141,949 tons. Imports during these periods were 71,437 tons and 42,736 tons, respectively.

Information about the prices at which domestically produced bauxite and alumina arc sold is not available.

Coal. (Question No. 1510.)

Mr Hayden:

n asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -

  1. What is the extent of Australias coking coal reserves in terms of years of supply available?
  2. Where are the deposits of this coal located?
  3. Which deposits are being exploited for (a) domestic consumption and (b) export purposes?
  4. In relation to deposits being developed for (a) domestic and (b) export purposes -

    1. What is the yearly rate at which extraction is taking place?
    2. What arc the details of any royalties being paid to governments?
    3. What firms are exploiting these deposits?
    4. Which of these firms are (a) wholly and
    1. partly overseas owned and which are wholly Australian owned?
    2. In the case of firms owned partly by over seas interests what is the proportion of foreign ownership?
Mr Fairbairn:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -

  1. The most recent authoritative estimate of Australia’s coking coal reserve was published in detail in Appendix 5 of the Annual Report of the Joint Coal Board for 1964-65 released in November. The Report shows that coking coal deposits are confined to Queensland and New South Wales, the total known reserve being placed at 1,300 million tons. There are very large inferred reserves of black coal in the two Stales and information available to date suggested that the availability of recoverable coking coal could be at least double the known reserve. The projected life of Australian coking coal reserves based on 1.300 million tons may be estimated as follows. Domestic depatches of coking coal in 1965 were estimated at 12.8 million tons, of which 6.8 million tons will be exported. Based on contracts to 1st December 1965, the level of exports of coking coal in 1970 will be approximately 12.5 million tons, of which 4.5 million tons will be from Queensland. If it is assumed (hat coking coal exports stabilise at 10 million tons yearly and domestic consumption of this material increases at’ the following compound rates of growth, the life of reserves will be as follows -

Exports -f- domestic growth rale 4i per cent.: Life of 50 years - i.e., to year 2015.

Exports 4- domestic growth rate 6i per cent.: Life of 43 years - i.e., to year 2008.

  1. A map of Australian coal measures is given in Appendix 5 of the Report of the Joint Coal Board referred to above. A list of the localities in which resources of coking coal occur is as follows by State and coalfield.
  1. Deposits of coking coal in Australia being exploited for domestic consumption and export purposes are as follows, by district -
  2. Royalties. Broadly speaking the royalty rate for coal in New South Wales is 8c (9d.) per ton delivered and in Queensland 5c (6d.) per ton raised. The respective State Departments of Mines would be able to give more specific details. (iii), (iv) and (v) New South Wales. Of 88 operating mines in New South Wales, 12 mines are owned by companies with a degree of overseas control. These mines produce 20.9 per cent, of all coal produced in New South Wales, and with the exception of two small mines in the Western District t. all are heavily dependent on the export trade. Two mines owned by the domestic iron and steel industry are making a large contribution to the export market but this situation is not expected to continue after the completion of the present contract. One of three Government mines contributing to the export trade is expected to become heavily dependent on this trade from April, 1966. Another Australian-owned company, Coal and Allied Industries Ltd., is currently committed to the export trade and has export contracts for relatively large quantities up to 1971.

The Companies owning the twelve mines with a degree of overseas control are -


Of the 60 mines operating in Queensland, 5 mines are owned by companies with a degree of overseas control; these mines produce 41.0 per cent, of all coal produced in Queensland. One company which operates two mines at Moura is heavily dependent on the export trade. These two mines produce 32.9 per cent, of all coal won in Queensland. In addition, an overseas company will commence mining at Blackwater to supply a large Japanese order. All mines operating in the Bowen area are subject t to a degree of overseas control.

There are 5 mines which it is understood are owned by companies or subsidiaries of companies listed on the Brisbane Stock Exchange and are not subject to overseas control. These mines produce 6.9 per cent, of the State’s output. One of these mines, the Dawson Valley Colliery, has supplied some coal for export.

The remaining 50 mines are owned by private companies, individuals or partnerships. They produce 52.1 per cent, of the State’s output. None is engaged in the export trade.

There are now no mines operated by the Queensland Government or its instrumentalities. There are no mines operated by the steel or cement industries. However. Mt Isa Mines Ltd. (53.9 per cent. U.S. controlled) owns all the ordinary shares and one half the preference shares in Bowen Consolidated Coal Mines Limited.

The Companies owning the 5 mines with a degree of overseas control are: -

Theiss-Peabody-Mitsui Pty. Ltd. - (Japan 26 per cent.; U.S. 52 per cent.).

Utah Development Company Pty. Ltd. - U.S. 100 per cent.

Bowen Consolidated Coal Mines Ltd. - U.S. (see above).

Dacon Collieries Pty. Ltd.- -U.K.. 100 per cent.

Civil Aviation: Fares and Freight Rates. (Question No. 1635.)

Mr Whitlam:

m asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -

On what occasions and by what percentages have passenger fares and freight rates been increased in the last 15 years on flights (a) between Australia and other countries and (b) between tha States?

Mr Swartz:

– The answer to the honorable members question is as follows -

  1. Details of the changes in passenger fares and freight rates between Sydney and selected overseas points which have occurred in the last 15 years are shown in the accompanying tables. The overseas points selected are typical of those served by Australia’s international airline, Qantas.
  1. Domestic Fares and Freight Increases.

Civil Aviation. (Question No. 1540.)

Mr Webb:

b asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -

  1. ls it a fact that the Trans-Australia Airlines 727 jet service from Perth to Sydney connects wilh Flight 497 to Canberra only on Monday, Friday and Sunday, and that the Ansett-A.N.A. jet service from Perth to Sydney connects with Flight 325 to Canberra also only on Monday, Friday and Sunday?
  2. If so, could it be arranged for these services from Sydney to Canberra to operate on alternate days so that there is a daily service from Sydney to Canberra at 8.30 p.m.?
Mr Swartz:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -

  1. Yes.
  2. Arrangements are being made by the two airlines to provide a connecting Sydney-Canberra service with the Perth-Adelaide-Sydney flight five times weekly with a possibility of a service on the sixth day.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 April 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.