25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I preface a question to the Minister for National Development by saying that the Government is giving very active consideration to the future of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority. As the Parliament will be in recess within a few days can the Minister give me, now, any progress report or any information which would be helpful to members of the staff of the Authority in estimating their own future?
– I am afraid that 1 cannot give the honorable member any further information. As the honorable member knows, this matter is the subject of close consultation by the Government at the present moment. I hope that, perhaps when the House meets again, I will be able to give the honorable member some further information. If I can do so at an earlier stage I will certainly let him know.
– My question to the Minister for External Affairs is supplementary to one asked by my colleague the honorable member for Moreton yesterday. I ask the right honorable gentleman whether he, the Government or his Department, has ever received protests against nuclear tests. If so, can he inform the House who has made these protests and whether there have been more protests against tests carried out by Western countries than protests against tests carried out by Communist countries? Could he add this information to the notes he promised the honorable member for Moreton yesterday he would prepare for the House?
– From time to time over the years we have received communications from various individuals and also from various organisations. It is a fact, from which the House can draw its own conclusions, that whereas even up to the present moment bodies which are dedicated to nuclear disarmament, world peace and various other causes write protests about the intention of the French to explode a nuclear device, I personally have never had one protest from those same organisations about the actual fact that the Chinese have exploded a nuclear device.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Immigration. Will the Minister ascertain from the Premier of Western Australia, Mr. David Brand, whether the Premier was correctly reported in today’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ wherein he is alleged to have said in Tokyo that Japanese technicians in any field are welcome in Western Australia. If the article is correct will the Minister promptly make known to Mr. Brand the firm assurances on this important matter he gave to the Parliament on 29th March of this year when winding up a debate on immigration?
– I have seen the newspaper report, but after all it is quite a long distance from Tokyo to Sydney and we know that statements are condensed-
– They are not always accurate.
– The honorable gentleman has claimed that, but without such good reason. However, I understand that Mr. Brand said that the Commonwealth was responsible for the entry of migrants. That is so, even for British migrants. It is the Commonwealth through which migrants are processed and the States deal with them after the Commonwealth has given its approval for their entry. We know that some Japanese technicians have worked in Australia and that when they came here they were welcomed because they were required for the job that had to be done. After discussions had taken place between Commonwealth and State representatives and the trade unions, their entry into Australia was sanctioned. If a similar situation arose, discussions of the same kind would be held. If everybody concerned agreed that the particular job could not be done by Australian technicians and that it was necessary for the progress of Australia to allow Japanese technicians to come here, they would be welcomed. In that sense the Premier of Western Australia was quite right in saying that these people would be welcomed.
(Mr. Whittorn having commenced to address a question to the Treasurer) -
– Order! If there is such a question on the notice paper, the question asked by the honorable member for Balaclava is out of order. I call the honorable member for Dalley.
– What is the number of the question on the notice paper?
– It is No. 1718.
– Order! The question asked by the honorable member for Balaclava is capable of being answered by the answer that may be given to the question on the notice paper. I call the honorable member for Dalley.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is the Government responsible for policy as it affects civil aviation? If so, is it not an extraordinary procedure to establish a committee consisting of officers of the Department of Civil Aviation to bring down a report affecting policy? Did the Minister state in this House that one of the reasons for not appointing a legal man to the committee was that such an appointment could result in prolonging the inquiry? Did the Minister state last week that time was a secondary consideration in the committee’s deliberations? Why has the Minister refused to make public the committee’s terms of reference, and will the fact that he has refused to do so mean that the committee will take evidence for the most part in camera?
– First of all, I did not make any statement here or anywhere else to the effect that an expert committee was being appointed in preference to a judicial committee for the purpose of saving time. I did say in response to a question in the House a couple of weeks ago that this committee was being appointed. The information that it will gather is required by the Government to make an assessment of the situation. It is up to the Government to decide the best way to obtain the information. In the search for ideas in this direction, a proposal was made earlier that a tribunal of some kind should be established to conduct an investigation, a barrister being appointed for the purpose. I looked at the matter but I came to the conclusion that the best results could be obtained in the shortest time by appointing a committee of experts in this field to obtain the information we required in order to decide whether or not some change can be recommended to the airline operators with regard to their parallel timetable policy. There is no suggestion as to how the committee will conduct its hearings or take evidence. The committee will be left to make its own decisions in these matters. There has been some report - I presume the one to which the honorable member referred - about secrecy. Our intention is just the opposite. The committee’s terms of reference are fairly broad. There is no particular reason why they should not be known. If anybody wants to know the terms of reference I see no reason why I should not make them known. What we want is a report so that we, as a government, may decide whether we should recommend to the airlines any change in existing policy. We have decided that the inquiry by the committee is the best way of going about this matter. The composition of the committee has been announced. Tt will commence its sittings within (he next few weeks.
– Will the Minister for National Development inform the House of the circumstances surrounding the discovery of deposits of phosphate rock in the Mandurama, Borenore and Molong areas in the electorate of Calare and near Wellington in the electorate of Lawson? Are the discoveries encouraging? What activities are taking place to investigate the scope of the deposits? Is the capital employed coming from within the Commonwealth or from overseas?
– I understand that deposits of phosphatic material have been known for some considerable time in the areas to which the honorable member has referred. There is a deposit near
Canowindra which was worked for some time in order to obtain flux for the steel mills which were at Lithgow prior to about 1920. There has been an interest in the areas referred to recently and the New South Wales Department of Mines has issued two licences to prospect for phosphate. One licence has been issued to an Australian company and one to an American company. Each licence refers to an area of about 400 square miles. My understanding is that, so far, there have been no new developments in discoveries in the areas.. The deposits appear to be fairly small but others may be discovered later.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. I have in my hand a pamphlet entitled “Vietnam. Questions & Answers.” lt is published, by authority, by the Government Printer in Canberra. I ask: How many copies of this document have been printed and at what cost? To whom have they been distributed? 1 ask further: Will the Government authorise the publication of the Opposition case against our involvement in Vietnam? Further, is the purpose of the publication of this pamphlet to try to brainwash the Australian people, particularly school children, into support for an unwinnable civil war in Vietnam?
– I think the honorable gentleman’s last question reveals why it is necessary for an Australian Government to bring home to the Australian people the facts rather than the fancies of the situation. As to the specific matter which he has raised, I shall endeavour to get precise information for him. The honorable gentleman is pursuing a very curious course in this country. Whether one agrees with the policies of the Government or not, it is engaged in active military operations. The honorable gentleman is supporting, he alleges, a policy of securing volunteers for our military forces rather than national servicemen, yet he creates an atmosphere of defeatism and intense criticism quite discouraging to any efforts of this sort or to a combined national effort in finding an early and successful answer to the challenges presented in Vietnam. I believe that factual information of an authoritative kind such as this pamphlet contains is very necessary for a full understanding by the Australian people of the issues here. This is made the more necessary by the persistent campaign of misrepresentation which comes from honorable members opposite.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise. I refer to representations I previously made to the Minister for Customs and Excise concerning the value for duty. At that time I asked the Minister whether he would, after the introduction of decimal currency, consider accepting the value for duty for customs purposes as being to the nearest dollar. By way of explanation I draw the Minister’s attention to the fact that the New Zealand Government has for some time taken value for duty as being to the nearest £1. An alteration in our system would cost the revenue nothing and would simplify procedure to the benefit both of the Department and of customs agents. Has the Government made a decision in this matter?
– I know that the honorable member for Henty and the honorable member for Wakefield have been interested in this subject and have made representations to the Minister for Customs and Excise from time to time. I think the Minister has already informed the honorable member for Henty that he would investigate this subject after the introduction of decimal currency. The investigations are now taking place. They are not related solely to customs. They are related also to sales tax, as the two are sometimes connected in one way or another. The investigations are continuing, and when the Minister has an answer he will convey it to the honorable member. In the meantime I shall remind the Minister of the question to see whether the answer can be expedited.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Trade and Industry. In view of the very serious financial position of the Australian sugar industry, with the only possibility of relief appearing to be the satisfactory negotiation of a new international sugar agreement or the implementation of a Commonwealth stabilisation scheme, can the Minister inform the House and, at the same time, many thousands of anxious cane farmers, as to the latest prospects for a successful negotiation of a new international sugar agreement?
– The position is that the international conference which took place last October was not successful. However, it was not accepted by any of the delegates or any of the countries represented that the attempt to get a satisfactory international sugar agreement should be abandoned. It was agreed that the conference, which comprised representatives of nearly 70 nations and which involved much political discussion as distinct from commercial discussion, might be replaced in the short term by a smaller group comprising the great sugar importing and exporting countries. Consequently, 16 or 17 countries, including Australia, of course, have had discussions convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Some progress - although I am bound to say not great or immensely encouraging progress - has been made. In the meantime the producer members of the International Sugar Council, which has not been disbanded although the quota provisions of the International Sugar Agreement are in the discard, have decided that an attempt should be made progressively to lift the price of sugar by quoting rather higher prices. This has been attempted, but I have to say that it has neither succeeded nor failed up to the present. I can only say to the honorable member and to all interested in sugar that no effort is being spared by this Government, and, I believe, by most other governments of good faith involved in this issue, in trying to bring about a better world price for sugar. I have had bilateral discussions with some other countries. I think there will be a resumption of the International Sugar Conference under the aegis of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. It appears to me that there will be a resumption later this year, in the spring of the southern hemisphere.
The honorable member raised the question of a stabilisation plan for sugar. The policy of the Government has always been that an industry best knows its own affairs, and we consider stabilisation plans when an industry on its own initiative makes a proposal to the Government. This has not been done by the sugar industry. However, I must say that the sugar industry today and for many years has conducted its affairs on a basis that is itself very substantially a stabilisation plan. Sugar is sold at home at one price; to the United States at another and better than world price; to the United Kingdom by contract at about double the world price today; and to Canada and New Zealand. Additional quantities are sent to the United Kingdom under preferential tariff and special sales, amounting recently to 500,000 tons a year, are made to Japan. The returns from all these sales are pooled and the sugar grower receives one price, which is the average pool result of all the sales. This is a basic feature of any stabilisation plan.
– May I give the Leader of the Opposition some details in answer to the question he just asked of me? The information has just been supplied. The number of pamphlets printed is 75,000. The estimated cost is $2,500. The distribution is to organisations, institutions, the Press and leading citizens of the community. The last category includes clergymen and headmasters of secondary schools in their capacity of community leaders.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. I refer to the recent visit paid by the right honorable gentleman to South East Asia, a gesture which T venture to describe as being overwhelmingly appreciated by the Australian people. I ask: Has the Leader of the Opposition asked for similar facilities to be placed at his disposal to enable him to visit South East Asia? If the honorable gentleman should ask for facilities to be placed at his disposal, will the Prime Minister undertake to provide him with every facility so that he may go there equipped with his five policies on South Vietnam to find out that they are all wrong?
– I think the Leader of the Opposition is aware that, by virtue of the office he occupies in this place, the Government would seriously consider at any time any request he made for travel facilities to any part of the world to which he wished to journey in the Interests of the Australian political situation.
– I have never known that before in such specific terms. I have never asked for privileges.
– I do not say this in any critical spirit. The honorable gentleman has been abroad, using facilities made available by my predecessor.
– In the days when I was a Minister - twice in 26 years.
– No, I am speaking of a period in which he has been Leader of the Opposition. I recall the honorable gentleman having been abroad in a representative capacity, and I think it is very proper that he should be. We want a well informed Parliament, and certainly there is room for improvement in the accuracy of the information used by many honorable members in the ranks of the Opposition. It is well known, I think, that the Government has made arrangements for a delegation of the Parliament to go abroad in the recess and to cover much the same itinerary as I have recently concluded. The selection of the Opposition members of the delegation is a matter within the Opposition’s own compass. But if the honorable gentleman has had any misunderstanding of the position then I repeat the assurance that, by virtue of the position he occupies as leader of the alternative Government here in Australia, not only has he a right to be accurately informed as to what is going on in significant areas of the world but I believe he has also a duty so to inform himself.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Because accounting procedures vary greatly by exclusions and inclusions of State Government expenditure in the compilation of budgets, does the Prime Minister regard budget percentage comparisons of educational expenditure as a fair comparison between the States? Does he recognise that consistent appeals from State Ministers for Education, teacher organisations and school bodies for more financial assistance are genuine appeals? In order to meet the challenge of educational needs and since education deals with people and not percentages, will he treat education requirements more seriously and not accept doubtful percentage comparisons as a substitute for positive action on such an important matter?
– I think the point I was trying to convey to the honorable gentleman in answering a question from him recently was that each State Government, within the resources available to it, will decide what proportion of its own budget will go in one direction or another. 1 did not intend that reply as a criticism. This is a matter within the constitutional capacity of the Government concerned. As to the importance attached to education, I do not think anybody could seriously argue that any government in the history of the Australian Federation has done more than the Government of my predecessor to assist the States with the development of education facilities. It is well known that Sir Robert Menzies was a pioneering enthusiast in this field for Commonwealth assistance and encouragement to the governments of the States. I hope that the Government that I have the honour to lead is revealing no less concern to assist in this direction. We as a Government shall continue to assure to education an important and prominent place in our consideration.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Health. 1 ask: Is the Minister aware that his predecessor was active in endeavouring to overcome the shortage of medical practitioners in the country districts of Australia and that he gave advice and submitted suggestions which were appreciated? I ask: Is the present Minister continuing this work and, if so, with what result?
– I am well aware and the House is well aware of the interest and concern which the honorable member for Mallee has in this matter, lt is an interest and concern which 1 believe to be well justified. I am aware also that my predecessor conveyed to -the honorable gentleman on a number of occasions information and, as he describes it, some helpful advice. He pointed out in relation to information, as I remember, first, that the provision of medical practitioners in sparsely settled areas was a responsibility of State Governments and that, in fact, some of the States do take measures of one sort or another to attract medical practitioners into sparsely settled areas. The Commonwealth, of course, is responsible in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. If I remember rightly, the former Minister pointed out to the honorable gentleman also that a good deal of advantage could be gained by local authorities and hospital boards in country areas if they advertised in journals such as the “ Medical Journal of Australia “ and particularly the “ British Medical Journal “. I believe that he pointed out matters of the sort that advertisements should cover.
I may add that there is one additional aspect in which the Commonwealth has been able to assist and will continue to assist. Undoubtedly, in the long run the solution of this problem will come from the training of an adequate number of doctors in Australia. This will mean a larger output of doctors by our medical schools and teaching hospitals. As the honorable member will be aware, the Commonwealth Government is allocating considerable sums to the States to permit the training of doctors by university medical schools and by teaching hospitals.
– My question, which is addressed to the Prime Minister, is supplementary to that asked by the Leader of the Opposition. I ask: When the earlier pamphlet on Vietnam was printed and distributed at the Government’s expense, did the Council of the New South Wales Teachers Federation carry a resolution protesting about the dissemination of a one sided approach to a highly controversial international question in violation of the practice of presenting both sides of an issue? In view of this, will the right honorable gentleman consider having the Opposition’s views on this highly controversial question circulated to the same sources at the Government’s expense, thereby making certain that the Opposition’s side as well as that of the Government is considered?
– The Opposition’s view on this matter, at any rate, could hardly be described as one sided. In fact, the difficulty is to discover, among the many sided views put, what is the official view of the Australian Labour Party. That Party has never been lacking in either activity or capacity in trying to get its version of affairs across to the public. What we did in this instance was to distribute the latest pamphlet by a method similar to that chosen for the distribution of the recent departmental pamphlet on aid. The objective is to assist in ensuring that the public is as well informed as possible on the Government’s policy and activities. This action has been taken in response to numerous requests for this information that we have received from members of the public. The honorable gentleman is well aware of the manner in which, when he was Minister for Information, he made government information generally available. I do not recall any instance in which he invited the Opposition of those days to avail itself of an opportunity to have a document setting out its views widely distributed at public expense.
– I welcome back the Attorney-General by asking him a question. Is he aware of the experience of many migrants who wish to remarry and who find it virtually impossible to obtain legal verification of the death of a spouse taken from Poland or a neighbouring country to a concentration or labour camp? To provide for the acceptance of statutory declarations in appropriate circumstances, I ask whether a directive clarifying the provision in the Marriage Act stipulating that legal verification is usually required may be issued to guide registrars and celebrants of marriages.
– This question relates to a matter of policy and it is not the custom in this House to answer questions on such matters. However, if I were to answer the question, I would reply: “ No, I will not give such a directive “. In this country, we cling very strongly to the idea that marriage is monogamous - the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others for life. It is therefore necessary, before there can be a dissolution of the marriage, for the marriage to be proved. To substitute for proof of the marriage a mere declaration that the marriage had occurred would, I feel quite sure, lead to the possibility of a second marriage being contracted which would turn out to be a bigamous or polygamous marriage and one which, at some later time, would have to be undone, with perhaps very harmful social effects. Proof of marriage must be taken care of by the country where the marriage was celebrated. There are provisions for notarising documents as to proof of marriage. This is taken care of now in the Act and the rules.
– On the death of the spouse?
– The honorable member should have asked Elizabeth Taylor this question.
– She is a much divorced actress, no doubt. I shall look at the question and give the honorable member an answer.
– I address a question to the Minister for National Development. Will the honorable gentleman confirm that the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority has referred to the Public Service Board the claim by its engineers for termination agreements and that the Authority has done so after being advised that it will be wound up? Is the Systems Investigations Branch of the Authority now defunct? Has the Development Division staff fallen to half it’s previous numbers already? Under present plans, will the rundown of the Authority’s staff greatly accelerate in the new year?
– The Authority has certainly not been advised that it will be wound up. At the present moment, work is continuing on a very active basis. In fact, the amount of funds being made available for the Authority is greater this year than it has ever been in the past. It is correct to say that in one fairly small Branch - the Systems Investigations Branch - there is a reduction in the amount of work available in the Snowy Mountains area itself. However, the slack has been taken up by a number of requests from authorities both inside and outside Australia to make investigators available. We have done this on the understanding that the cost to the Commonwealth Government will be recouped. This has enabled the Systems Investigations Branch to remain at full strength. The Design Branch will remain at full strength for at’ least 12 months from now, but will start to run down after then.
I was assured a few weeks ago by Sir William Hudson, Chairman of the Authority, that he makes a point of asking any engineer who leaves the Authority the reason why he is leaving. In only one case was it said by an engineer that his leaving was directly related to the fact that the future of the Authority was uncertain. Sir William Hudson said that in other cases this might have been a minor contributing factor but the basic factor probably was that engineers decided to move elsewhere for reasons relating to schooling for their children or something of that sort.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral: Since January 1964, when public telephones in New South Wales were converted to take sixpences instead of pennies, has there been a substantial increase in the incidence of thefts, depriving the Post Office of many more thousands of dollars of revenue? If this is true, has the Department taken appropriate steps to catch the culprits and to tighten up arrangements for the security of revenue? If so, with what results?
– Thefts from public telephones have not increased greatly since the slot machines were converted to take sixpences instead of pennies. The Post Office employs quite a team of investigators who are constantly concerning themselves with problems of this nature as also the technical side of the Post Office is concerning itself with new types of equipment which might overcome some of the problems associated with the equipment currently being used. Recently, three persons were arrested fo1 theft in relation to telephone boxes. Each of these persons has been convicted.
– In view of the fact that Australian troops are being killed and wounded by Vietnamese and that Vietnamese are being killed and wounded by Australian troops in the undeclared war in Vietnam, can the Prime Minister give this House an assurance that Australian troops will be given the protection of the Geneva Convention in the event of them being taken as prisoners by those whom they are fighting in Vietnam?
– I cannot give the honorable gentleman any assurance as to the conduct of the subversive terrorist troops of the Vietcong. It is a regrettable fact that the weapon of terrorism which was employed with such destructive effect against civilian leaders in South Vietnam by the forces of the Vietcong has been a feature of the situation there. Our own servicemen are fully instructed and fully aware of the obligations which rest upon them. I was assured while in South Vietnam that they had adhered rigidly and strictly to the requirements of that Convention.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. I ask: Has the Minister recently advocated the building of ships in which Australia would convey its primary products to overseas customers? Would this proposition be in conjunction with certain overseas buyers of these products? Has the suggestion any connection with the general establishing of an Australian Overseas Shipping’ Line?
– Answer “ Yes “ to each question and finish it up.
– The answer is “No” lo the latter part of the question. In this House and elsewhere I have expressed the view that with the great bulk cargoes that are being generated now in Australia for the export of iron ore, bauxite, coal and alumina, there is a new opportunity for the Australian trade ownership of bulk cargo ships. There are various cost factors attached to this advantage. There are the cost factors attached to the handling of general cargo, such as the high cost handling on Australian wharves, and the high cost wages paid to the crews of the ships.
– I ask a question of the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that, because of violent public reaction to the decision to conscript national service trainees for Vietnam, the Government has undertaken an extensive Press, radio and television campaign to convince the people that this action must be endorsed? Is if a fact also that part of this campaign will include the use of security police to photograph and check all demonstrators and protest meetings, the suppression of free speech and assembly, and prosecution, by every means at the disposal of the Government? Is the campaign directed also to brainwashing school children by the despatch to schools of a publication entitled “ Vietnam. Questions and Answers”, compiled by the Department of External Affairs, giving a biased, distorted and misleading view of the situation? If so, on what grounds–
– Order! The honorable member is making his question rather lengthy.
– If so, on what grounds does this Government justify these undemocratic and unprincipled actions?
– The sting is in the tail.
– Well, the sting is in the tail because, without waiting for the reply, the honorable member assumed as a fact something which he had not established as a fact. Then he proceeded to attack something which in point of fact, does not exist. It is the oldest form of attack in debate known, and it is worthless because it is based on completely false premises. So far as the central part of the question is concerned - that which related to the security services - there is no foundation whatever for any suggestion that this Government has taken special action in that regard. As to the first part of the question, this Government, finding that the Opposition has been so regardless of the responsibility it should be exercising in a period when Australia is engaged in military activities in more than one theatre of operations to the north of Australia, has found it necessary to engage actively in bringing to the attention of the Australian public the facts of the situation in Vietnam. We are doing this by the appropriate means. I am not aware of any organised campaign on the part of Ministers. I am glad to see my colleagues taking, as I am taking, the normal opportunities which come to us at public gatherings of explaining the Government’s policies and the basis for them. On the other hand the Opposition, exercising its own democratic rights, is quite obviously seizing every opportunity it can to attack the policies of the Government. We are fortunate to be living in a country where all of us can indulge in these activities without fear of the terrorism and subversion which unfortunately are afflicting South Vietnam at this time.
– Yesterday the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) asked me whether the contents of a report on beef roads which has been available to honorable members on loan from the Parliamentary Library for some months, but which was recently stated to be confidential, could be referred to when certain legislation is before the House. Subject to the rules applying to relevance and unparliamentary expression it is not within the province of the Chair to judge whether a document declared to be confidential should be restricted in its use in the House. The matter is not governed by Standing Orders and it must be left to the good sense and discretion of an honorable member to determine whether or not he should use material in his possession.
– I present the report of the Advisory Committee on Educational Television Services and I ask for leave to make a statement in relation to the report.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The Advisory Committee on Educational Television Services was appointed, with ministerial approval, by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board in January 1964 to advise the Board on the contribution television might be able to make to education in Australia, in view of the fact that the uses of television for this purpose had become a matter of increasing professional and public interest. The Chairman of the Committee was Mr. W. J. Weeden, Director of the Common wealth Office of Education. Membership comprised a panel of distinguished educationists whose names are listed in the report. The Committee had fairly wide terms of reference, as might be expected in relation to a complex matter such as educational television. The Committee was also to advise on the way in which the educational television needs of this country could be met.
The Committee met in several States over a considerable period, and during the course of its inquiries obtained the views of educational authorities and others concerned with or interested in educational television. A large number of people from all States were interviewed. The Committee’s report is a valuable contribution to a relatively new field - a field in which experience in other countries shows that there is unlikely to be uniformity of viewpoint in arriving at solutions to the various questions that pose themselves for consideration. The report is equally valuable in providing an opportunity for reviewing current policies and for consideration of future developments.
The Government has given very thorough and detailed consideration to the Committee’s report. First, the Government supports the Committee’s view that instructional educational television programmes and their nature and content ought to be developed as an integral part of the education systems in Australia. It agrees also that these are primarily matters for State authorities. Education is a sovereign responsibility of the States and accordingly, it is this Government’s view that a first and essential step on the Committee’s report must be consultation with the State Governments as to their requirements and priorities, and the extent to which they would be prepared to incur expenditures on educational television services. The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) has therefore written to the State Premiers suggesting that a conference between the Commonwealth and the States be held at an early date to explore the matter generally and, in particular, what the needs of the States are; the possible basis for co-operation in any expansion; machinery for regular reviews of needs; a basis for regular consultation about Slate programme needs and about meeting those needs.
The Commonwealth is prepared to provide some additional finance for expanding instructional television programmes if this is desired by the States and if the States are prepared to contribute resources for the purpose. The Commonwealth is willing also to discuss ways in which additional resources deemed necessary can be provided on a joint basis. The Commonwealth sees its role in this matter as being one of acting as an agent for the States by assisting in the provision of co-ordinated activities, including in particular facilities for the presentation and transmission of instructional material. These activities must, of course, be within the limits of the facilities and funds available at any time. With regard to the technical aspects associated with the availability of frequency channels for educational television purposes, the Commonwealth has responsibility for the allocation of bands to meet the frequency requirements for all types of radio communication services, including radio, television, aeronautical, shipping, governmental and various private user services.
The matter must be looked at from the long term viewpoint. At present, television services are operating in the very high frequency - V.H.F. - band and, as the Committee suggests, in the larger population centres there is provision for the allocation of only one additional V.H.F. channel for television purposes. The Government believes that it is desirable to allocate channels in a band where there is scope for orderly development with minimum dislocation to other user requirements. Undoubtedly, as Australia develops, there will be need for extension of the existing types of television services, which could not be considered without considerable technical difficulty and cost to other users if the Government reserved the remaining V.H.F. channel for educational purposes. Then too, the long term demands for educational television are such that they are unlikely to be accommodated by the provision of one additional V.H.F. channel. Another factor is the requirement for Australia to meet its obligations under the International Telecommunication Convention and associated Radio Regulations.
At the present time there is ample scope for the development of television services in the ultra high frequency - U.H.F. - band.
The Commonwealth would be prepared to arrange the allocation of frequency channels for educational television purposes in this band. It does not at present believe that it should specifically reserve a portion of this band for such purposes, particularly since as yet it has no accurate knowledge of the expected requirements.
The Government will ensure that tha appropriate Commonwealth Authorities give full consideration to frequency needs for educational television services in the light of the requirements of all users and technical considerations when the allocation of channels in both the V.H.F. and U.H.F. bands is being examined. Such an examination can be arranged when more is known of educational television needs, especially after the consultations with the States to which 1 have already referred.
The Committee recommended that, initially, educational television should be instituted by using the facilities of existing national and commercial television stations but that there should ultimately be a separate network of educational television stations. The Government gave particular consideration to this question but decided, in all the circumstances, that facilities available to the Australian Broadcasting Commission and commercial stations were adequate now and in the foreseeable future to provide a satisfactory educational television service.
As honorable members will be aware, the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the facilities of which have been used successfully in the closely allied medium of school broadcasting for 30 years, has successfully integrated educational television into its established organisation including programmes at primary, secondary and, to a lesser extent, tertiary levels. In considerating the proposals by the Committee that ultimately a separate network should be provided the Government bore in mind that any new network of stations exclusively for instructional purposes would be unused for varying periods of each day and, on the other hand, there would be unused capacity in the national and commercial transmitters not only to the extent which at present exists, for example in the mornings, bur because of the transfer of instructional type programming from the Commission to tha new network. The Government’ has, therefore, decided that the Australian Broadcasting Commission should continue to present instructional type programmes in association with the State authorities and using the normal consultative machinery. The use which is at present being made of the Commission’s technical and programme facilities for educational television already represents a substantial Commonwealth investment in this field, and the Government’s decision will open the way for further development. At present, one-third of Australian schools have viewing equipment and the number is steadily increasing. The Government contemplates that the machinery for co-ordination between the Commission and the States should be reviewed if necessaary with a view to overcoming any deficiencies which might at present exist in the provision of adequate and appropriate instructional programmes by the Commission.
When the consultation with the States has taken place and the views of the States on the report are known, the House will be further informed as to the specific course of action the Government has decided upon. The Government is grateful to the Committee for the thoroughness with which it carried out its investigations and the care with which it presented its views.
I present the following paper -
Educational Television - Report of Advisory Committee - Ministerial Statement, 11th May 1966- and move -
That the House take note of the papers.
Debate (on motion by Dr. J. F. Cairns) adjourned.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1965; the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for Investigation and report: - Proposed new secondary school at Nightcliff, Northern Territory.
It is proposed to erect a secondary school complex of a main two-storey class-room, an attached annex containing administration and library facilities, a single-storey craft block and a covered assembly area. The two-storey class-room block and annex will be in reinforced concrete frame construction with precast exposed aggregate infill wall panels and the single-storey craft block will be of steel framed construction with brick infill wall panels. Appropriate finishes and associated engineering services will be provided for. The estimated cost is $2.2 million. I table preliminary plans of the proposed work.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1965, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to this House: - Provision of building extensions and central air-conditioning plant at the A.B.C. Television Studios, Gore Hill, New South Wales.
The proposal submitted to the Committee involved the provision of a second central air-conditioning plant room including additional equipment and a studio-office building, comprising ground and four upper floors as an extension of the existing studio building at a total estimated cost of $800,000. In reporting favorably on the proposal the Committee also recommended that a proposed future vertical extension of four floors should be carried out at the same time as the studio-office building extensions. It is proposed to accept this recommendation which is estimated to cost an additional $380,000. Upon the concurrence of the House in this resolution detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendaitons of the Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
, - I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1965, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to this House: - Provision of laboratories for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation at Indooroopilly, Queensland.
The proposal involves the provision of accommodation, facilities and services required for research and routine examinations in the fields of animal health and entomology. It is proposed to erect two separate three-storey laboratory wings connected by covered ways to a central twostorey administration block to serve both laboratories. The buildings will be in reinforced concrete and load-bearing brick construction with appropriate finishes and associated engineering services. The estimated cost is $1,150,000.
In reporting favorably on the proposal the Committee has drawn attention to the need for improvements to the existing killing and post-mortem facilities. These facilities do not form part of the present proposal and the Committee’s comments have been referred to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation for separate action.
Upon the concurrence of this House in this resolution, the detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendation of the Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Speaker, last night I was misrepresented in debate by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). The Deputy Leader referred to an occasion when he and I were together in the United States of America as guests of the United States Government. He said last night that officials of the State Department and the Pentagon were appalled at certain conversations they had had with me about dropping the bomb - I assume he means nuclear weapons - on Hanoi and suggestions that rice fields and paddy fields should be drained by destroy ing the dams that irrigate them. This is a complete fabrication by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Not only is it a fabrication as to fact but also I am completely confident that officials in the Slate Department and the Pentagon with whom 1 spoke would not report to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition the substance of my conversations.
– Mr. Speaker, I also wish to make a personal explanation. I have just been informed, while outside the chamber, that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) was making a statement about me. He did not extend the usual courtesy of informing me that he intended to make a statement. 1 believe that he was in the House last night when I spoke-
– I was not.
– I regret-
– I was not informed last night that the honorable gentleman intended to make his statement.
– The fact that I was to speak last night was well known. I was on the list. What I stated last night was correct. 1 was told these things by officials of the United States Department of State and the Department of Defence, at the State Department and in the Pentagon respectively, in May and June 1964. The officials expressly mentioned that the honorable gentleman had expressed the view that the bomb, referring to nuclear weapons, should be dropped - that nuclear weapons should be used against Hanoi. They expressed astonishment at his irresponsibility in this matter.
– Mr. Speaker-
– Order! This is becom-ing a debate.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has chosen this opportunity to repeat his false statement of last night.
– I am repeating the truth.
– The Deputy Leader has repeated a falsehood.
– I am repeating the truth.
– The honorable gentleman would not know the truth if he saw it under his nose.
– The Minister would deny the truth in any circumstances.
Debate resumed from 5th May (vide page 1527), on motion by Mr. Howson -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- The Bill, as the Minister for Air (Mr. Howson) stated in introducing it, relates solely to the change over to decimal currency and is of a routine character. All that it does is insert into that very important document, the Financial Agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, decimal amounts instead of the old amounts. 1 sometimes think that the powers contained in the document were not fully realised when the amendment was passed. I am gratified that the Agreement was entered into and 1 would hope that sometimes other powers might be just as surreptitiously handed over from the States to the Commonwealth as they are in this Agreement. The Agreement gives more flexibility to arrangements between the States and the Commonwealth than would otherwise have been the case. I feel in a way that if the States had known how much power was in the Agreement the referendum relating to this matter might not have been so willingly carried, lt was carried almost overwhelmingly.
This Agreement is one of the fundamental and sensible documents relating to financial arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States. Having changed over to decimal currency, it is logical that amounts specified in the Agreement should be in decimal currency. I understand that after the second reading has been agreed to, a message recommending appropriation will be announced. Seeing that this is a Bill of a routine nature, I am mystified as to why there should be a message recommending appropriation. A message means that a sum of money is needed to carry out the purposes of the legislation. I have spoken to one of the Clerks who has assured me that this is only a formality - that the original message referred to amounts expressed in pounds, shillings and pence and that the message would not have any validity unless the amounts were now expressed in dollars.
– That is right.
– If that is the explanation, I am satisfied, although it seems to me more like red tape than anything else.
– Order! The honorable member has the assurance that he seeks.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Howson) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 10th May (vide page 1633), on motion by Mr. McMahon -
Thai the Bill be now read a second time.
– When the debate was interrupted yesterday evening 1 was referring to the invasion of Australia by foreign capital. I said that Australia was seeking to secure capital from Japan, Germany and elsewhere; that the flow of capital from Britain was being reduced and that this was an alleged reason for giving all manner of inducements to Japanese, German and other investors in order to get them to take over Australian industries. I pointed out that since 1950 Australia has had favorable trade balances totalling $2,045 million but that during the same period Australia had paid in shipping freight, insurance of goods in transit, interest and other items amounts totalling $6,445 million more than she received. That unfavorable balance on invisibles is a colossal sum. It was this deficit that made the Australian economy dependent on overseas capital. I said that capital was invested here by citizens of other countries not to develop Australia and not for the welfare of the- Australian people but so that the investors could make profits, and the bigger the profits the better. I continue my remarks from the stage at which I was interrupted.
Hundreds of agreements are in operation whereby overseas companies restrict the export trade of their Australian subsidiaries. Overseas boards of directors determine the output of Australian factories, decide whether to engage or dispense with employees and, to a big extent, determine what working conditions shall be. The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) has said rightly that dependence on overseas capital can rob a nation of its freedom. Overseas companies use the savings of Australia -and of Australians to extend their dominion over Australian industry. Not long ago I related the story of how electricity rebates and taxation concessions have enabled the Aluminium Company of America to take over an ordinary well established Australian manufacturing business. General MotorsHolden’s Pty. Ltd. and other overseas companies borrow Australian money at fixed rates of interest but will not allow Australians to buy an interest in companies domiciled in Australia but owned overseas.
Must Australia be sold cheaply on foreign markets? Are there no other ways of meeting our overseas obligations and of obtaining those articles that are essential to our needs and growth? There certainly are other ways. Australia can and must reduce its dependence on other nations. The United States of America shows the way in this regard. It has balance of payment difficulties, as has Britain. Relatively its disabilities are not so great as are those of Australia. President Johnson tackles these difficulties by getting more money for exports. He reduces the amount payable for imports. He insists that the carriage of commodities from and to America shall be in ships flying the flag of the United States and that the insurance of goods in transit be carried by companies owned and controlled in the United States. Canada is establishing a joint national corporation to channel and regulate both local and overseas investment. These are some of the things that Australia should be doing instead of selling herself to foreign investors.
The Commonwealth Government offers immense taxation concessions, and State governments give huge reductions in electricity prices and other forms of advantages, to foreign investors. I suggest that these advantages should be given to local investors. Double taxation agreements should not be accorded the Japanese, Germans and others. We should review the agreements already in existence with a view to their gradual elimination. Special conditions are not required to get for Australia the sums and types of capital our industries require. I would advocate government owned shipping lines and insurance companies, but privately owned shipping lines, or part privately owned shipping lines, and privately owned insurance companies or part privately owned insurance companies would help Australia on the road to independence and self reliance. Another way by which our reliance on overseas capital can be reduced is by governments - Commonwealth, State and municipal - giving contracts of all descriptions to Australian owned industries. They should also encourage private enterprise and individuals to do the same. If actions like these are taken, as they are taken in other countries, they would expand our Australian owned industries, promote technical and scientific development and dispense with the necessity for purchasing so much undefined knowhow at exorbitant prices from foreign lands.
There seems to be general agreement that Australians should retain a big share in Australian industries and that they should not be excluded from participation in ownership by overseas firms like General Motors-Holden’s and others that operate in this country. The Commonwealth Government must take action to ensure, as other countries ensure, that at least portion of the ownership of local industries shall be retained in the hands of Australian investors. Australia has had only one investigation by independent experts of the inflow of foreign capital. This was undertaken by the Vernon Committee, which reported that the Australian Government should obtain more particulars concerning the operation of foreign capital in Australia. The Committee said that there should be prepared and maintained a register of all foreign ownership within Australia. It said also that the inflow of capital should be restricted to $300 million a year, which amount would be sufficient only to pay the dividends on overseas capital already invested here. In the year in which the report was issued the capital inflow to Australia totalled $516 million, and already in the current year the inflow totals $632 million. The inflow of capital into Australia in nine months is more than double the amount that the Vernon Committee suggested should be the maximum for any one year. The Government should not, in panic, sell Australia to Japan, Germany and other countries without having further detailed information. The Vernon Committee is the only committee to report on this subject. It was set up by the Government and it consisted of the best experts that the Government could And. If its recommendations are to be brushed aside, there should be some further investigation and not merely a decision taken by the Government. So important is this matter that another inquiry or a royal commission should be held to determine what will be the results of the encouragement to foreign nations to take over more and more of the assets of Australians, If Australia does not act at once, it may well be too late. When Japan and Germany turn off the taps of their investments because they have difficulties of their own or because there is nothing more in Australia that they want to buy, Australia will face disaster.
If the Government will not embark upon policies of increasing exports, of eliminating unnecessary imports - there are hundreds of millions of dollars worth of unnecessary imports each year - of establishing an overseas shipping line and an insurance company to insure goods in transit, of establishing an investment corporation similar to the one in Canada and of granting taxation and other concessions to Australian owned industries rather than to foreign owned industries, it should at once appoint a committee to make an urgent report on the whole question of the inflow of foreign capital. Banking institutions with hire purchase subsidiaries of other countries are being set up in Australia in big numbers. Investors of overseas capital are using all the devices, such as obtaining loans and financial manipulations which enable them to use the capital of Australians, to fasten their grips on the economy of Australia and to dominate our Government.
Honorable members may have read a report in the Press today that, with the tightening of capital inflow from the United
Kingdom still in the minds of investors and the news of a further setback on Wall Street on Monday, the Sydney share market recorded its largest daily fall since June last. 1 have no time to go into the details, but it should be obvious to all that, if the health of the economy of Australia depends upon the foreign controlled firms operating in this country, conditions here will be determined in America, Britain, Japan and elsewhere. The dependence on overseas capital must be reduced or eliminated. The bear and bull operations on the stock exchanges of New York and the capital cities of Germany and Japan should not determine the level of employment provided for the workers in Australia and the conditions under which their families must live. It is not enough that the employment of Australian workers and the living conditions of their families should depend upon the results of bull and bear games played on the stock exchanges of London and New York; the Government intends to ensure that we in Australia will depend upon bull and bear operations also on the stock exchanges of Germany and Japan. Why should nations spend fabulous sums on war efforts to gain dominance over institutions in Australia? Why should they spend their blood and treasure if they can gain this dominance at a much smaller cost, especially if they can buy control over our destiny with the aid of Australian resources made available to them through the intervention and the kindness of the Australian Government?
I believe that the question of whether the Government should encourage Japan, Germany and others to take over more and more of our industries and gain control of the economic life of this community is an issue of outstanding importance and that no government should take the step that this Government apparently proposes to take without the deepest consideration and without having more detailed particulars of the present ownership of Australia by foreign companies, the likely future ownership and the effects of this ownership upon the livelihoods of the people of Australia.
.- My purpose in speaking in this debate is to direct attention to two aspects of our social services and tax legislation which I believe ought to be altered. I believe in each case that we should adopt a fresh approach to these problems. First, I want to refer to invalid pensions and particularly to the pensions of persons employed in sheltered workshops. During the past few months, in company with some of my colleagues, I visited a number of sheltered workshops in Melbourne. I am, therefore, speaking from first hand knowledge. I believe that only a very small percentage of those who require employment in sheltered workshops in Australia are being catered for at present. If we can accept the results of a survey that was recently conducted in the United States of America, it would seem that 1 per cml. of the population is handicapped either physically or mentally to the extent that they need sheltered employment.
Most of the sheltered workshops in Australia are operated by charitable bodies which are themselves handicapped either by insufficient funds or unsuitable premises, or both. The majority of persons employed in sheltered workshops are capable of performing very useful work and in fact many of them do so. They are permitted to earn, in addition to their pensions and subject to the extent of their non-exempt property, the sum of $7 a week if they are single and $14 a week if they support a wife or husband, without the rate of their pension being affected. Many sheltered workshops hold contracts with manufacturers for both assembly and packaging work, and I have seen letters from some of these firms attesting to the quality of the work done by employees in sheltered workshops.
Obviously, it is in the best interests of these handicapped people, of their fellow citizens and of Australia that they should be permited to work to the full extent of their capacity. I believe that it is in the interests of the workers themselves because of the substantial psychological benefit they derive from being able to engage in useful employment and from the boost that their morale receives when they realise that they are not a liability to the rest of the community. One has only to visit some of these workshops to be sure of this. I think it is equally obvious that the community in general must benefit from the contribution that these people are making to national production. For the same reason, Australia must gain from this addition to national production. Indeed, the Commonwealth Treasury could benefit from the col lection of income tax on some of the earnings and certainly from the sales tax on some of the goods that are produced., if the limit that is placed on earnings were raised, lt is my opinion that for so long as there is a limit on these earnings, the workshops can never develop their full potential because - again, I am speaking for myself only - I believe that people employed in sheltered workshops have a philosophy which is no different from that of any other workers in that they will do $7 worth of work for a payment of $7 and they will do no more. For that reason I think the output from sheltered workshops is not as high as it could be, although the cost of operating the workshops does not vary directly in accordance with the rate of their production.
I said earlier that I thought I should adopt a fresh approach to this problem. First, the limit of $7 per week permissible income has been unchanged since 1954, although the general rate of pension has increased in the same period by 71 per cent, and, according to the Commonwealth Statistician, the average adult earnings have increased since 1954 by more than 72 per cent. So if we wish to preserve the status quo of 1954, the permissible earnings of $7 per week ought to be increased to approximately $12 per week. Secondly, and more importantly, I believe that invalid pensions, pericularly those paid to handicapped persons, ought to be paid as a form of compensation for incapacity with a higher rate of pension paid to those with a greater degree of incapacity, just as is done with the war pensions, instead of being assessed on the basis of need as they are at the present time. I am indebted to Mr. F. L. Fitzpatrick, of Melbourne, who for some time has been vitally and actively interested in sheltered workshops and who recently visited a number of sheltered workshops in a variety of countries throughout the world, for the information which I am about to give as to the approach which many of these countries have to the problem of handicapped persons.
According to Mr. Fitzpatrick, in respect of earnings limitations to the prejudice of pensions, Australia seems at present to be one of the least enlightened countries in the world. I should like to try to support that statement by comparing with our own attitude the approach of some other countries. To do so I shall quote figures provided by Mr. Fitzpatrick, a gentleman who is held in very high regard in commercial circles in Victoria. In New Zealand, two years ago, handicapped pensioners were permitted to earn, in Australian currency, $10 per week without their rate of pension being affected. Mr. Fitzpatricks inquiries in France elicited the information that earnings up to S30 per week in sheltered workshops did not affect pension rates. In Czechoslovakia he was informed by the Social Security Department in Prague that there is no limit under the pensions regulations to the earnings of old age and other disabled pensioners whose pensions are awarded, in the words of that Department - . . to accord with the degree of disability, and who are encouraged by the State to work to their full capacity, in the interests of the community generally.
It does not give me any particular pleasure to have to hold up one of the Iron Curtain countries as an example in any field, but I do suggest that we could learn something from their approach to this problem. I point out that the earnings of workers generally in Czechoslovakia suffer very badly by comparison with the wages of Australian workmen, but handicapped persons are paid a much higher proportion of the average wage. In addition, each industry is asked to employ a nominated percentage of handicapped workers. I have an idea that a couple of years ago there was something in excess of 24,000 handicapped persons employed in that way in Czechoslovakia. These persons are permitted to earn a little more than SO per cent, of the average adult wage, without having to pay income tax, and the earnings of blind pensioners, irrespective of amount, are completely exempt from income tax. This leads me to the second matter to which I wish to draw attention, that is, income tax as it affects persons of pensionable age.
At the present time the system of granting tax relief to persons in this category is based on the ability to pay. The purpose of the existing legislation is to leave persons of pensionable age, who either through thrift or because they have continued to work after reaching retiring age and therefore make no claim on the Government for age pensions, with as much income after tax as the pensioner is permitted to receive tax free. However admirable might have been the design of this legislation, in many cases it does not achieve its objective because it virtually disregards the fact that pensioners, in addition to receiving their joint pensions plus permissible income, taxfree, pay no medical expenses whatever because of the pensioner medical service and they receive concessions from the Commonwealth Government with respect to telephone rentals, television and radio licences, and in many cases receive fare concessions from State Governments. I want to make it perfectly clear to honorable members opposite that 1 am not saying that they should not receive these benefits, nor am I saying that their needs are adequately catered for, but I do say that other persons of similar age who receive no pension whatever because they have provided for themselves should also receive the same privileges.
I want to demonstrate how the present age allowance operates. When a taxpayer has reached pensionable age his income tax assessment is calculated by two different methods. Whichever method results in the lower amount of tax is applied to him. The first method is to calculate tax in the normal way by deducting from the taxpayer’s gross income all items for which there is a concessional rebate, such as rates, land tax, medical expenses, donations to approved charities and so on. Normal taxation rates are applied to the net taxable income. The second method of assessing or calculating tax for persons who have reached pensionable age is by calculating the tax at the very high rate, in this financial year, and the rate this year is not very much higher than in previous years, of 46.125 cents in the SI on the amount by which the taxpayer’s gross income exceeds the amount of pension plus permissible income. The gross income includes also income which is exempt, in the case of many pensioners. I refer to rent which they receive from tenants. When the pensioner’s permissible income is calculated the value of the rooms or the property which he lets is taken into account, but the income is disregarded. Consequently, many pensioners have quite a deal of exempt income, even over and above the present limit of $36 per week. The second method of calculating the tax of an aged person is to assess tax at the rate ot 46.125 cents in the $1 on the amount by which the taxpayers gross income exceeds the amount of pension plus permissible income.
A single pensioner is permitted to receive $988 per year tax free and a married couple are permitted to receive $1,872 per year tax free. But the result of applying the age allowance in this way means that a single person, once the income reaches Si, 148, which is only $260 per year more than that which is given tax free to a pensioner, receives no tax relief whatever through the medium of the age provisions. The married pensioner who entirely supports his wife loses the benefit of the age provisions when his income reaches $2,396 per year. Of course, as 1 said before, if his tax comes to a lesser amount when calculated by normal methods he gets the benefit of that. However, I believe that it is logical to assume that the older a person becomes the higher his medical expenses are likely to be. Yet where the assessments of age pensioners are calculated by normal methods, the pensioner receives no tax relief for age with respect to high medical expenses or, for that matter, with respect to any other expenses which are normally concessional deductions. He is assessed on exactly the same method as a teenager. That is to say, if the age relief system is not applied or does not react to his benefit, his tax is calculated by exactly the same method as that applied to a teenager.
On the other hand, the taxpayers have to bear the whole cost of medical care and medicines and in many instances the whole cost of hospitalisation of those who receive pensions. I could have said that the Government has to bear these costs, but I say that the taxpayers bear the burden, because they are the ones who ultimately foot the bill, and they include the group to which I have been referring - persons of pensionable age who do not draw a pension. As honorable members are aware, the taxpayer who provides for his retirement by contributing to superannuation funds, or who takes out life or endowment policies or who purchases an annuity is limited to an annual deduction of $800 for these purposes. In theory, the Taxation Branch tells him that after he retires he may obtain a deduction for any excess over this figure that may have built up over the years during which he was a contributor. In other words, he may continue to deduct up to $800 a year from his assessable income, even after retirement, until the surplus has been absorbed. But in fact, when the taxpayer’s income is being assessed, if his income is such as to give him some benefit from the age allowance, his gross income is taken into account. There is no concessional deduction in that event and he therefore loses the right to a special deduction for this item, which is available to every other taxpayer.
Late last year, during the consideration of the Income Tax Assessment Bill 1965, I made two suggestions that if adopted would, I believe, be fairer to the class of taxpayers to which I have been referring. My first suggestion was that before the age allowance formula was applied the gross income of a taxpayer of pensionable age should be reduced by $10 for each year by which his age exceeded 65 and by a further $10 for each year by which his wife’s age exceeded 60. This would mean that where the husband was 70 and his wife 68, his gross income would be reduced by 13 times $10, or $130, before his tax was calculated according to the age formula This would have the effect of giving greater tax relief each year as the taxpayer became older, his ability to earn decreased and his potential medical expenses increased. My alternative suggestion was that after assessing the taxpayer under the present age provisions the actual amount of tax calculated as payable should be reduced by $4 for each year by which his age exceeded 65 and $4 for each year by which his wife’s age exceeded 60. To return to my earlier example of a husband aged 70 and a wife 68, the tax calculated as payable under the present age provisions would be reduced by 13. times $4, or $52. The effect of each of these schemes would be to give tax relief gradually. As the measure of relief increased each year, the taxpayer would receive the greatest benefit when he most needed it.
The Victorian Taxpayers Association, at its most recent conference, endorsed the second of these two proposed schemes and pointed out that it would be simple to operate and that, because of its flat rate application, it would confer no greater benefit on wealthy .persons than on persons on low, or border line, incomes. I realise that the first scheme, involving the deduction of SIO from assessable income for each year by which the taxpayer’s age exceeded 65 and a further SIO for each year by which his wife’s age exceeded 60 would confer a greater tax benefit on those with higher incomes. But under the second scheme, if tax were assessed under the existing age formula, or in the normal way if the age formula did not apply, the deduction at a flat rate from the tax assessed would confer no greater benefit on wealthy persons than on persons on border line incomes. This is undoubtedly correct, and therefore this would be a fairer scheme than the one that I first proposed. Whether or not some of the details of these two schemes need refinement, I urge the Government to consider earnestly the proposals that I have made today for tax relief for elderly persons and for an invalid pension based on the degree of disability rather than on need, particularly for persons who are employed in sheltered workshops. [Quorum formed.]
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I propose to avail myself of this opportunity to address the House in order to make what will be the last speech that I shall make in this place as member for Kennedy. I shall not be present during the Budget sessional period. My colleagues on this side of the Parliament have conferred on me the honour of choosing me as their representative at the InterParliamentary Council meeting which was held in Canberra recently and also at the Conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union which is to be held at Teheran later in the year. So I take this opportunity to place on record my appreciation of the support that I have received from the electors of Kennedy for the past 30 years at no fewer than 12 elections. Incidentally, I point out that at the last two elections almost two out of every three of those electors supported me. So I believe that I should give the electors of Kennedy my thanks for reposing their confidence in me so steadfastly over so long a period. I trust that they will accord an equal measure of support to Mr. Barry Dittmer, the son of a member of another place, who has been endorsed as the Australian Labour Party candidate for Kennedy at the next Federal general election. I should like to take this opportunity also to thank sincerely the members of the numerous Australian Labour Party branches throughout the vast Kennedy electorate, which is nearly as big as New South Wales. They have given me invaluable support. As honorable members will realise, a member of this Parliament is attending the Parliament for six months of the year. This means that for the other six months he is unable to get around his electorate. These men make the daily contacts with the electors. They keep in touch with the member for the district and advise him of any urgent matters that might arise during the period when he is not able to visit the electorate. To them I say: “ Thank you very much for all that you have done “. People in the smaller centres where there are no branches of the Australian Labour Party - people in the small towns, people on cattle properties, on sheep properties and in lonely mining camps - have rendered similar services to me. I place on record my thanks for the assistance they have given me. Before proceeding further, I should like to thank the aldermen, the councillors, the clerks and others in local government who have assisted me very considerably in the work that I have been called upon to perform as a member of this House. Irrespective of political opinions. I have received the fullest possible cooperation and assistance from them, and T now say: “ Thank you very much “.
The people to whom I have conveyed my thanks for what they have done for me - people who are living on the frontiers of the nation and who are pioneers of the second and third generations, doing work of a developmental kind - have not received from this Government or this Parliament the consideration that they should have received over the years. It is all very well to talk about beef roads. The beef roads scheme was not inaugurated for the purpose of assisting these people in the accepted sense of the word; nor was it inaugurated to help to develop the north. The Government asked: “ In what industry will expansion give us the exports we need to build up our external balances? “ The answer was: “The cattle industry”. It was the need to build up our external balances that inspired the Government to take generous action in relation to beef roads. It had previously ignored the many requests made for help with roads by local authorities and private organisations. We tried to get the Government to construct defence roads and we were wiped, but when overseas balances became involved the matter became a horse of another colour. I say to the Government now that any requests made by the people living in these places will have to receive a lot more consideration than they have received in the past. If the Government wants evidence to show that it must do something for them, I point to the fact that the member for Dawson now sits on this side of the Parliament. This is because of the support he has received from the people to whom I have just referred - the second and third generation pioneers who are doing work of a developmental kind for the nation.
The Labour Party has asked this Government to establish in the north an authority similar to the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority. Many reasons have been given to show why, in the opinion of the Government, this is not possible. It has been said that the State Governments must be consulted. For nine years now a CountryLiberal Party Government has been in office in Queensland. When opening the present State election campaign, the Premier of the State said that his Government was going to approach the Commonwealth Government on this matter. It has taken the Queensland Government nine years to make the approach, and I hope its efforts will be a little more successful than have been the efforts of members of the Australian Labour Party in this House.
To the Clerk of the House and to all other officers of the Parliament I express my sincere thanks for the assistance they have rendered to me. When I was Chairman of Committees it gave me great confidence to know that I had at my right and left elbows men with vast knowledge and experience not only of the ordinary duties of a chairman but also of the procedures and practices of this Parliament. These officers do a wonderful job. They are seen, but they are heard only by those with whom they are directly associated - Mr. Speaker and the Chairman of Committees. I extend my thanks to them. I should like also to thank the Librarian and his staff for the assistance and the many courtesies they have extended to me over the past 30 years. Their assistance has been greatly appreciated. I know that almost all honorable members avail themselves of the services of the Library staff to do the research that is necessary in the preparation of speeches to deliver in the House. To them also I say: “ Thank you very much “.
I wish to thank very sincerely the branch president, the branch secretary, the district secretaries and the organisers of that great Queensland union, the Australian Workers Union. Long before 1 entered this Parliament I was assisted greatly by the Australian Workers Union. To be the member for Kennedy in this place, it is essential to have behind you an organisation similar to the Australian Workers Union. Because the great distances between towns the conduct of an election campaign is most difficult. It would not be possible for a candidate, on his own, to hold meetings at night, drive perhaps a couple of hundred miles the next day, hold a meeting on that night and do the same thing again next day. One must have help to do this. Without help, it would be impossible. I have tried to work out just how far the officers of that Union, its organisers in particular, have transported me in the past 30 years. From my calculations, they have transported me over at least 250,000 miles in that time, or approximately 8,000 miles each year. That gives some idea of the contribution that this Union and its officers have made to any success that might have come my way as the endorsed Australian Labour Party candidate for the Kennedy electorate. As T have said, it would be impossible to carry out the duties of the member for that electorate without their assistance. Not only have the organisers and district secretaries assisted me with transport, but they have also been in daily contact with the workers, the underprivileged section of our community. They become your representative, organisers on your behalf. They become the contacts between you and the people you represent. Tt has been a great pleasure to be associated over that long period with not only the present occupants of the positions but also the men who are no longer in those jobs. Many of them have passed on. In respect of all of them, I wish to express my deepest appreciation of the help that they have given me.
I can express here an opinion that is held by many people in western Queensland when they see me stepping out of an A.W.U. car. It has been said to me, not once but many times, that this is a demonstration of the closest co-operation between the industrial and the political wings of the great Labour movement. Mr. Deputy Speaker, it is a demonstration with the happiest of results particularly at election time. I have received also every possible assistance from the other unions in the electorate of Kennedy. To them all I express my appreciation. Although they are not great in numbers, they, too, have assisted me in carrying out this job. To the thousands of unionists in the Kennedy electorate I express my thanks most sincerely.
During my membership of this Parliament, I have had the honour of being a Cabinet Minister. I was the Minister for the Navy at a period that will be always for me one of the happiest periods of my life and which has evoked some of the happiest memories that I willtake away from this Parliament.
– The honorable member was the best Minister we have had too.
– I thank the honorable member for Batman. Many of the men who were in the senior civil section have retired since 1 was last at the Department of the Navy. But many who today occupy senior positions in the Department were officers in it when I was the Minister. To those men, both past and present, I say: “Thank you very much for the assistance that you gave me when I was attached to your Department “. To the uniformed men from the Chief of the Naval Staff whom I know very well - he was a senior officer in my time as Minister - down through the commissioned officers, non-commissioned officers, petty officers and all ranks, I wish to express my personal thanks for the very valuable assistance that they gave to me. They all helped to make my term with the Department of the Navy the success that it was.
The Navy is a great body of men. I used to visit their ships. I talked with them. I told them: “ This place is your home. This is your workshop. I have come to see where you live. I have come to see where you work. The Government is anxious at all times for all sections of the Navy to he contented with their lot.” 1 can honestly say that from every person in that Service - from the skipper of a ship right down to the newest rating - I received every possible courtesy and assistance in every respect. The receptions that I received from the humblest rating up to the Chief of the Naval Staff were of the highest order and were in keeping with the grand traditions of that great Service - the Senior Service.
As I stand here, I recall what a great pleasure it was for me to be able to secure from the Chifley Cabinet consent to change the name of the Navy to what it should have been always - that is, to change its name from the Royal Australian Squadron to the Royal Australian Fleet. Another great occasion was when the Chifley Cabinet agreed that we should have an ex-Jervis Bay trained cadet as the Chief of the Naval Staff. I am glad to say that ever since that appointment the Menzies Government followed that tradition. I hope that all future governments will follow this tradition of appointing a graduate from the Naval College to be the Chief of the Naval Staff. This means that a lad who attends the College knows that if he has what it takes even the top job is not beyond him. He knows that the position will not be given to somebody who comes from some other place.
Australia is an island continent. It is far removed from friend and foe. The paramount job of the Navy in time of war is to keep the sea lanes open so that we can continue to make the surface contact which is so essential with the other parts of the world. Let it never be forgotten either that the moment war is declared every member of the Royal Australian Navy is on active service. It behoves all governments to give these men modern equipment to enable them to do the job that the people and the government of the day know that they will do. It saddened me over the years to see the way in which the Menzies Government permitted this branch of the Services to run down. I have one more recollection. This is the securing of the consent of the Chifley Cabinet to the purchase of two aircraft carriers and the establishment of a Fleet Air Arm. Had the Labour Party been returned to office in 1949, Australia would have had very shortly afterwards three aircraft carriers, and not two aircraft carriers as it did. In the troublesome times at present we have only one aircraft carrier.
The expansion of the Royal Australian Fleet is essential. 1 say to the Government now that it has converted H.M.A.S. “ Sydney “ to a transport for the movement of men and equipment that it should beg, buy, borrow or charter two aircraft carriers so that in the event of trouble it will have two aircraft carriers operational and one in reserve. With regard to manning the carriers, we faced this problem right after the end of the Second World War when everybody was rushing to get back into Civvy Street. But we faced this problem as the present Government will have to face it and should be facing it now. The Government must face this problem, not by conscripting 20 year old boys, but by making pay and conditions in the Service attractive enough. The Government must take the same action as industry takes when manpower is short. This is what many sections of industry are doing today. The Government should also push on with the submarine programme. Again, it was the Chifley Government that commenced anti-submarine training when it secured the loan of two submarines from Britain.
To the present Cabinet 1 say: “ Any advice that you receive from your naval advisers is advice from men of great knowledge, experience and capacity. They know their job. They know what they want and they know what the country can afford.” But always remember this: The road to the top in the Royal Australian Navy is tougher than the road into a Cabinet position in this parliament. Men of great knowledge, great capacity and great experience - in other words, dedicated men - reach the top to become the advisers of governments. These men are not actuated by any political bias. They are actuated purely and simply by the demands and by the necessities of their job.
I cannot conclude this speech without a word of thanks to my parliamentary colleagues. My association with the Parliamentary Party has been a very happy one for me. Only one member is left on this side who was here when I arrived. That is the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark). I came to this Parliament in 1936. The honorable member for Darling came here in 1934. My long association in the Party has been a very happy one. I have made some lifelong friends. As I said, the Parlia mentary Labour Party honoured me first by appointing me as Chairman of Committees, then by appointing me to the Chifley Cabinet, and subsequently selecting me as a delegate to the two conferences to which I have referred. To all members and former members of the Parliamentary Labour Party and the Labour Party generally I want to say that I deeply appreciate the confidence that they reposed in me. lt is a confidence that will always be appreciated long after I have left this place.
I want also to thank the members of the Party for the assistance they have given me in recent times. To the members of the Labour Party generally I say: “Thank you very much for your many courtesies, your assistance and your mateship “. Never let it be forgotten that the foundation stone of the Australian Labour Party was mateship. In Queensland what is now the Australian Labour Party was born in Barcaldine in the Kennedy electorate. It was born of industrial strift at the time of the shearers’ strike in 1891 when the shearers said: “If they are going to take political action against us in an industrial dispute we will organise politically “. And so they did. From that day onwards the State seat of Barcoo has consistently returned a Labour candidate. Incidentally, the first’ candidate was T. J. Ryan. He was no relation but had the same initials and name as the man who was later premier of Queensland. He afterwards became Deputy Leader of this Parliamentary Labour Party.
The future of the Australian Labour Party, I say to members of the Party in this Parliament, is in your hands. Never mind about propaganda campaigns. The malicious Press will always wage a war against us. As it has done in the past it will continue to do in the future. Forget it. Remember the basic principles of the Party. Remember the foundations upon which it was built - mateship born of industrial strife, mateship among bushmen who were forced to band together fo fight their political opponents. Then, no matter how vicious the campaign against the Party may become, the very attack ought to be, as it were, a welding stick to weld the Party more strongly together so that it can go on to the destiny that lies in front of it.
The Labour Party is fortunate. It was Ben Chifley who said: “Let the light on the hill be your guide “. The light on the hill is there all the time. Thanks to the establishment of the welfare state under Ben Chifley unemployment is not as devastating as it was. It is still with us, but with the achievement of the Labour Party’s objectives unemployment and the other loads on the backs of the toilers will disappear. I say to all members of the Australian Labour Party - not only to Parliamentary members but to those outside - “ Rally round your leader and give the display of unity so vital to the success On any party “. You have the leader, you have the platform, you have the policy. The times demand a change here at Canberra. You have the men, you have the platform and the policy to enable you to lead this country to its ultimate successful destiny. Before I conclude I want to thank “ Hansard “ very much. I nearly forgot this, but it was purely an oversight. There is no question that many members will agree with me that the speeches we get back in proofs from “ Hansard “ are far better speeches than the ones we delivered in the Parliament. I reckon that “ Hansard “ is the best speech maker in this place. I think I can honestly say that I am expressing everybody’s feelings about “ Hansard “ when I say: “ Thanks very much for the assistance that you give to all Federal members “.
I conclude by saying to the Parliamentary Labour Party that the Australian Labour Party has the ideals, a goal and definite objectives which set it apart and make it distinct from all other parlies. Never forget that, and remember Ben Chifley’s light on the hill. I have finished. I rose to place on record publicly my personal thanks to all those who have helped me during my political life. It has not been easy to make a speech such as this. I hope that I have not forgotten to thank anybody who has helped me. If I have, it is purely an oversight.
– I think I would be understood if I said that I have very mixed feelings on this occasion. I am glad to have an opportunity to say a word or two about our retiring colleague the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan). I am sad that after such a long and very distinguished career in this Parliament he has decided to call it a day. I am sure he will understand if I excuse myself from joining issue with him on the mild points of controversy that he has injected into his remarks. Thirty years, I suppose, in the workings of the world, is nothing; but 30 years in the life of a man is a long time. To spend 30 years in Parliament borders on the incredible. It is given to very few people to make a speech in which they say goodbye to Parliament. Some people do not have that ecstatic experience at all. The honorable gentleman has for various reasons decided to retire and the prospects of retirement are before him. Some of us, of course, require to be submitted to more stern measures in order to remove us from the Parliament.
I am sure it would be the wish of the House if I presumed to say on its behalf to the honorable member for Kennedy that he goes out of this place having the goodwill of us all. Beyond that, he goes out having the respect of us all. Speaking for myself I say that although we trade blows from time to time it is a good thing for Parliament that friendship can cross party barriers. The honorable member has been a friend of mine for a great number of years. I have welcomed his friendship while disagreeing violently with his politics. 1 am sure that everyone will agree that it would be simply impossible to point to one shabby act that the honorable member for Kennedy has ever done in the 30 years that he has been in the Parliament. He goes with our goodwill, with our respect and with our affection and good wishes to himself and to his wife who has been of great assistance to him. She is well known to many members on both sides of this Parliament as a very lovely, charming and refreshing personality.
The honorable gentleman referred to a part of Queensland that I know very well, the outer Barcoo. I worked there and the honorable gentleman has represented the area. It is part of the legend in the outer Barcoo that if you cross the Barcoo on three occasions and drink from it on three occasions you will always return to it. I have crossed it on countless occasions and drunk from it on countless occasions, and I dare say that the honorable gentleman has too. I would simply say to him that I hope that at some time in the future both of us will be out there under a coolabah tree boiling the billy. I hope that whatever the honorable gentleman does and wherever he goes he will remember that he has the very good wishes of members on all sides of this Parliament.
I turn from that happy occasion - happy in that I have had the opportunity to pay a tribute to the honorable gentleman, to something that may have a more discordant note, and that is the question of trade by various countries with North Vietnam. This is something that has a bearing upon what has happened in the past and, in my view, will have a bearing upon future events. First of all, I want to direct the attention of the House to a publication known as the “ Daily Commercial News and Shipping List” which is published for the benefit of the commercial and shipping world and deals with exports from Australia to various countries. I want to direct attention particularly to the edition dated 4th March 1 966. This shows that for the months of July and August of 1965 some 207 tons of tallow was shipped from Victorian ports to Haiphong, which is the main port of North Vietnam. Let me say at once that the issues which divide the Opposition and the Government on the question of Vietnam are plain, and though we may quarrel about them I am sure that no person would doubt their existence. I disagree profoundly with the views held by members of the Opposition, but I also disagree profoundly wilh the policies which have been pursued by the Government in the matter of trade by various countries with North Vietnam.
If people think that the information I am giving to the House, dealing as it does with July and August of 1965, is irrelevant, I ask them to reflect upon the fact that the first battalion from this country arrived in South Vietnam in May 1965. During the months of June, July and August - June presumably, July and August certainly - some oleaginous creature in Victoria exported from that State tallow to a country which, upon the plainest of tests, is this country’s enemy.
I know an argument that will be resorted to will be to this effect: “ Ah, but we are not at war. There is no technical declaration of war”. I will say something about that in a moment or two. I have been led to believe that these shipments have now ceased, but I am going to say to my friend, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), that they should have ceased a long time ago. Between June 1964 and July 1965 a total of 1,120 tons of tallow was shipped from Victorian ports to North Vietnam. My friend from Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) has referred to Communist China by way of interjection. I say to him that I leave Communist. China out of this. My views on trade with Communist China are, I hope, tolerably well known by now, I am dealing specifically with North Vietnam.
The question may be asked: “ Well, what about it? Is it important? “ I suppose that in terms of strategic material - that blessed phrase - it is not important, but I ask any honorable gentleman who may subscribe to that view what his feelings would be if he were being shot at by the Vietcong, which is sustained by North Vietnam, knowing that his country was or had been shipping tallow to the North Vietnamese. On no principle of morality that I can discern is this defensible - none at all - and I am going to ask the Government to give very serious consideration to amending drastically the Trading with the Enemy Act because as that Act now stands I would not be encouraged to believe that a prosecution could be successfully launched against any individual who exported goods to North Vietnam.
Mr. Speaker, I hope the Government will consider prosecuting at common law the individual who shipped tallow to North Vietnam. It is not necessary, I submit, for a declaration of war to have been made in order that a prosecution may be launched at common law against an individual who has traded with the enemy. We are in a rather weird atmosphere in which we must plainly accept the fact that the old Palmer.stonian days of declaring war, formally lodging an instrument of declaration with the ambassadors involved, have gone. But the fact remains that war can be just as real without a declaration of war as it can be with one, and this applies precisely in the case of our relations with North Vietnam. The position is no doubt distorted in many respects and made more difficult by the fact that the Vietcong are not the representatives of a country. They support a particular ideology or idea but they are not the representatives of a country and technically in that sense we cannot be considered at war with them. But 1 want to direct the attention of the House to the views expressed by the Court of Appeal on this very point in 1939, in the case of “ Kawasaki Kisen Kabushiki Kaisha of Kobe v. Bantham Steamship Company, Limited “. This matter went to the Court of Appeal on the question of interpreting the meaning of “ charterparty “, and its relevance will be seen when I quote from the judgment. The Master of the Rolls, Lord Greene, or Sir Wilfred Greene as he then was, referring to the argument put to him by counsel, who happened, incidentally, to be the late Sir Stafford Cripps, said - He-
That is Sir Stafford - said with regard to the phrase “ if war breaks out involving Japan “ that the word “ war “ has not a loose or popular meaning, but a technical meaning, and that technical meaning, he said, is to be found in the principles of international law. Where these principles of international law for this purpose are to bc found 1 must confess that 1 remain in complete doubt, since the only source of these principles suggested to us was the writings of various writers on international law. lt is to be observed, as indeed it was to be expected, that these writers do not speak wilh one voice, and it is possible to extract from their pages definitions of “ war “ which not only differ from one another, but which are inconsistent with one another in important respects. I asked for any authority in which for the purpose of the municipal law of this country “ war “ is in any way defined. No such authority could be suggested. The nearest authority for that purpose which has been furnished is the observation of Mathew J. in the Driefontein case, in which he cites with approval the passage from Hall on International Law, 4th ed., p. 63, referred to in the judgment of Goddard J. But to say that English law recognises some technical and ascertainable description of what is meant by “ war “ appears to me to be a quite impossible proposition. If the English Courts had endeavoured in ancient days to lay down such a definition, no doubt one of the things which in those days they would have regarded as essential to “ war “ was a declaration of war. Nobody would have the temerity to suggest in these days that way cannot exist without a declaration of war. Similarly, the recent events in the world have introduced new methods and a new technique, wilh regard to which I conceive that writers on international law will dispute for many years to come. I do not propose to be the first to lay down a definition of “ war “ in a so-called technical sense.
The proposition I put to the Government is this: At common law trading with the enemy is a misdemeanour. If the provisions of the Trading with the Enemy Act are found to be insufficient to sustain a prose cution, then ignore it. Proceedings can be launched at common law. I submit further that it is wrong to contend that a declaration of war must exist, and I also submit that there is a substantial case to stimulate the Government to prosecute the individual who exported tallow from Victoria to Haiphong. I can think of no more despicable form of commerce than to send tallow from this country to Haiphong.
I turn from that to another aspect of trading with the enemy. On 8th March this year I asked the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) a question without notice about ships flying the British flag going into Haiphong. Among other things the Minister in reply said -
Before considering this question the Government did - as apparently the honorable member has not done - examine the figures relating to the trade.
I take not the slightest exception to a hard blow being given at me, or to any blow being given at me, because given the occasion I will certainly trade in them, but the right honorable gentleman gave no explanation of what I thought was a rather odd reply saying implicitly that I had not considered the figures. Well, the right honorable gentleman is entitled to draw that conclusion if he sees fit, but he is also obliged to run the perils associated with drawing that conclusion. Before I move on to the substance of my second point of argument I will deal with this fluff on the outskirts of the argument. I nurse no ill will against the right honorable gentleman. Some of my colleagues have said that he may have been tired. That may be, but if T thought for a moment that his statement was intended to cause some damage to me, I say frankly: I will excoriate him. But I believe that he did not make his statement with any such intent, so I put it down charitably to an amiable aberration occasioned by ministerial fatigue. I then placed on notice some questions on this matter. I asked -
The then Acting Minister for External Affairs provided the following answer -
J want to make some observations about those answers. Plainly the first thing that looms in front of one are the words “ no precise statistics “ and “ no precise information “. How can you support an argument when you are not in a position to say precisely what has taken place? How can any person logically say that, for example, 3,000 tons of a particular commodity are not going into Haiphong when he does not have precise statistics? Can anybody say that no strategic material is going into Haiphong in ships flying the British flag when the Acting Minister states that he has no precise information? How can you say that something is definite when you have no definite information? This is a form of nonsense that has come from the Acting Minister and the Department of External Affairs. I do not reflect on the civil servant who prepared the reply. The Acting Minister must take the responsibility and I say to him frankly that I think his answer is stupid. Beyond that, the argument that ships flying the British flag cannot be controlled would seem to me to rest upon very dubious authority. Ever since the 13th century to my knowledge, ships flying the British flag have been required to be registered in some form or another. In 1660, in the reign of Charles II, a register was brought into being. The whole business of registration of shipping was regulated by the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894, the first section of which provides for the registration of ships. No ship may fly the British flag unless it is completely owned by British subjects or owned substantially by a corporation made up of British subjects. In the case of a corporation owning a ship, it must be susceptible to British municipal law. So I say that it is complete nonsense, in reply to my question, to say -
Most of these ships … are under time charter . . .
These are British ships flying the British flag under charter to some foreign agency. lt is ridiculous to say that they cannot be controlled: It is complete rubbish. I say that with all goodwill to the Minister The whole philosophy behind control of British ships has been that in time of war they can be controlled. Here is the absurd position - I do not argue the merits of it - of a Socialist Prime Minister of the United Kingdom asking Australia to impose sanctions against’ Rhodesia. The House knows my views on that subject and I do not recapitulate them other than to say that this Government’s attitude with regard to sanctions against Rhodesia is strikingly reminiscent of a gentleman attending a garden party who loses his trousers and pretends that nothing has gone wrong. [ disagree completely with the imposition of sanctions against Rhodesia. But here is the absurdity: We have imposed sanctions against Rhodesia although not one Rhodesian has ever lifted a finger other than to help the people of Australia. Yet we go ahead and say, quite meekly, that we will not protest to Mr. Harold Wilson about ships flying the British flag going into Haiphong. The two points, I submit, cannot be reconciled, and I say to the Minister for External Affairs: You should, without the slightest compunction, request the British Government not to allow ships flying the British flag to enter Haiphong.
Again I put it to the House that if you are being shot at by the Vietcong and you reflect on the fact that British ships are going in ballast into Haiphong, picking up fruit and coal according to the Minister, would that stimulate you to say: “ Here it is - the land of hope and glory”? If ever there has been anything to disenchant one completely with the fecklessness of British policy, it has been this situation. I do not care whether one or 20 ships have gone into Haiphong under the British flag. I say it is not defensible. It is a scandalous outrage that Australia should be prepared to impose sanctions against Rhodesia but is not prepared to go to the British Government and make a manly request that no more ships flying the British flag should go into Haiphong.
The war in South Vietnam is a cruel war. All war is cruel. I yield to no person in my hope that peace will be restored to the country. Meanwhile the struggle goes on; the cruel war goes on. Haiphong is, in my view, the key to the war in South Vietnam, simply because the great mass of material that sustains the Vietcong in South Vietnam must perforce go through Haiphong. An elemental examination of the logistical problem indicates that Russian supplies cannot go by rail into North Vietnam. I have been able to find only three possible points where rail lines can go into China. One is near Kazakhstan, another at Nausk in Outer Mongolia and another at a place in Siberia. Supplies are shipped from a 5 ft. rail gauge on to a 4 ft. 81 in. rail gauge in Communist China and then brought to Pinghsiang in North Vietnam and transferred to another size rail gauge - three different gauges. From that I suggest that one can draw the very reasonable inference that the bulk of supplies going into North Vietnam go in via Haiphong.
The port facilities at Haiphong are sufficient to cater for six large ocean-going ships. I recently heard the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) talking about hawks in the Australian political setup, and 1 suppose that according to him I am a hawk. I am desperately interested in seeing that peace comes to South Vietnam. As long as these port facilities in Haiphong are allowed to exist in what can be plainly identified as a sanctuary zone then this war regrettably is going to continue. Of course, the argument is that Polish ships go there and that Soviet ships go there and that if they are damaged the war plainly could escalate. I submit there are many occasions when the port facilities in Haiphong are not caught up in loading or unloading Soviet or Polish ships. I submit that there is a powerful case to be made out for blowing those port facilities out of the water.
This is what I have had to say on the question of trade with North Vietnam. I reject, with great respect, the argument put forward by the Minister for External Affairs that we cannot or should not ask the British authorities to see that ships flying the British flag do not go into Haiphong.
Britain did not hesitate to ask us to impose sanctions against Rhodesia and our Government meekly did the bidding of the Socialist Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson). I submit that the two attitudes are not to be reconciled at all. I am overwhelmingly concerned with bringing to South Vietnam peace and stability but I submit that the policy that has been pursued by the British Government has not been conducive to that end.
.- As the first Opposition speaker following the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) 1 should like, on behalf of the Parliamentary Labour Party, to say how much we respect him and how much we appreciate his final speech. We sincerely hope that his remaining days in public life - if he stays in public life outside the Parliament - will be as fruitful as his time in this Parliament. We thank the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) for his remarks about the honorable member for Kennedy. The honorable member for Moreton is not always disposed to passing compliments freely, but he certainly has passed compliments in this instance and I am certain he means them, and wc thank him.
During this debate I want to deal with some of the problems facing Australia in the development of export industries. In recent weeks we have heard speakers from both sides of the House refer to the economy of the country and, either explicitly or implicitly, say that the economy, as measured by the balance of payments situation, is not healthy. The problem, of course, is that we are a growing country. We pursue policies of full employment; we pursue policies of growth; and we pursue policies that are designed to give us a high standard of living. If wc wish to continue with these policies the economies must be susceptible to the ups and downs of export markets on which we are so dependent. It is. quite obvious that if one looks at the indicators of the economy - the level of exports in relation to the level of imports - and if one looks at the marginal propensity to import, which is really the relationship of imports to the gross national product, and if one looks at the growth rates associated with the indicators, it does not require much imagination to see that if the indicators, such as imports and the outflow of capital, continue at their present rate we will have to rely more and more on increasing our export income. This has been made very clear by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) in several of his recent speeches. The biggest question facing Australia is how are we to achieve an increase in exports.
A government can put mild or severe brakes on imports or on the outflow of funds, but all such devices are not palatable to the Australian people. Therefore it does seem that the Government will have to take fairly positive action to provide incentives for exports or to bring about substantial increases in exports. When we look at the structure of exports we can see only that we are gambling considerably. We are gambling on the weather and we are gambling on an increase in commodity prices. Of course the weather is unpredictable, but in commodity prices it would seem that there are only two industries for which there is a bright star, on the horizon - our mineral industry and our beef industry. I believe that the Government’s policies must be orientated largely towards greater production and greater efficiency in these two industries. This does not mean that we should not concentrate on providing export incentives to secondary industry. Many of the export incentives given to secondary industry at present are paying dividends. Certainly much more needs to done, particularly in the field of research. However, when we look at the situation today we cannot escape the fact that the backbone of the Australian economy is primary production.
I should like now to deal with the problem of water, which is a subject I have raised several times in the House. There are many ways whereby we can stabilise or increase production by monetary means, but one of the most important of the physical means at our disposal is the harnessing of water. We know that it costs a lot to harness water. I have always subscribed to the view that water is one of our most precious assets. A government that is prepared to implement a policy based on water conservation over a long term will reap handsome dividends. In recent years, much has been said about grandiose schemes for water conservation in various parts of Australia. However, they tend to overshadow the smaller schemes which often are far more important to the economy of the areas in which they are implemented. The Ord River project is, of course, a major scheme. It will play its part in the development of the Kimberleys. The major schemes for northern New South Wales, which have been put forward by members of the Australian Country Party, will without doubt play a major part in the development of the economy of the State. Other major schemes in the Fitzroy, Pioneer and Burdiken will play their part elsewhere.
Bat as we are inclined to concentrate on the major schemes, perhaps the most fruitful avenue for investment in water conservation in Australia is in the proven and established areas on the eastern coast of Queensland and New South Wales, where we know that very significant losses of production occur every time we have seasonal distress. Whether it be in the cattle industry, the sugar industry or agricultural industries generally, the same pattern is found. The monsoons are relatively safe, although I must admit that some parts of eastern Queensland have not had a really decent monsoonal season for seven or eight years. However, most areas of northern Australia do have reasonably good rains over January, February and March. When these rains fall, we see a paradox. Millions of acre feet of water flow out to sea. If the rivers could be harnessed by a series of weirs and small dams and the water reticulated by direct gravitation, pumping from the rivers or by pipelines to areas that need water, our primary production would receive a tremendous boost. In many areas, of course, large scale water schemes are not practicable and even large scale dams on properties are not practicable. This situation is usually associated with the low rainfall or arid areas of Australia. These are the areas where we must rely on using the available water in the rivers. The Government should, therefore, seriously consider providing assistance by concessional taxation rebates, straight out subsidies or matching grants to encourage property owners to undertake their own conservation schemes in areas where they will never be able to benefit from major schemes or from the construction of weirs in rivers.
We have heard various comments about the future of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority. This was mentioned again today. I did not hear as well as I would have liked to have heard the remarks of the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) on this subject, but I believe he said that the services of the investigational section of the Authority were being made available to the States free of charge. If he said that, this is the first time it has happened. Of course, we on the Opposition side of the House have been asking for this arrangement to be made for a long time. Although it is correct to say that the services of the Authority have been made available to Queensland, it should also be said that Queensland has always had to pay for these services. This may or may not be right, but, when we realise that the services of Commonwealth instrumentalities such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and the Bureau of Mineral Resources are made available to State Governments free of charge, I can see no reason why the excellent investigational services of the Snowy Mountains Hydro- electric Authority should not also be made available to the State Governments free of charge, if the Commonwealth believes that the projects on which the services will be used are worthy of investigation. If in fact the Minister said what I thought he said, it would seem that the Government has taken a very important step in providing the services of the Authority to Queensland without charge. I criticised the Government severely in the House several weeks ago for its stand on the question of employing men from the Authority in the Burnett area during a time of drought. The Commonwealth charged the people of Bundaberg $20,000 for the services of the Authority at a time when they had been brought to their knees by drought. I sincerely hope that the Government has seen the light and will provide the services of the Authority, free of charge, to the Queensland Government and to other State Governments that seek these services.
Today, I asked the Minister for Trade and Industry a question about sugar. I regret to say that I detected a note of caution, or perhaps even pessimism, in his reply regarding the prospects of the International
Sugar Agreement. At present, the sugar industry is hanging its hat almost entirely on two prospects. One is the successful negotiation of an International Sugar Agreement and the other is the implementation of a stabilisation scheme. I know that officers of the Department of Trade and Industry are working as hard as they can in Australia and overseas to try to arrange an agreement that will be satisfactory to Australia, particularly to the sugar industry. But when one studies the operations of agreements in the past, one finds that they have never been really satisfactory to Australia. In the two agreements in the post war years, the minimum floor price of 3± cents was exceeded only for about 50 per cent, of the time. Of course, price is not the only important factor in an International Sugar Agreement; the quota also is important. The quota aspect may give us trouble in negotiating an agreement because our industry has expanded quickly. This may have a reaction with the less developed or underdeveloped countries that also export sugar.
In dealing with the sugar industry, I believe that the Government should seriously consider, and if possible follow, certain lines of action. It should provide immediate relief to help the most needy people in the sugar industry. These, of course, are the farmers who have been hit by drought and the farmers who have just come into the industry as a result of the policy of expansion. I know that a bill which will be before the House later provides assistance of $1,750,000 for millers and for the needy cane farmers who have been affected by drought. However, we need to know more about the workings of the proposal and we will deal with this assistance when the Bill is before the House. But this does not solve or even touch the major problem of the sugar industry. The industry now, for the first time in its history, is forced to sell more than 50 per cent, of its total production on the export market at prices that are vulnerable to world fluctuations. As we all know, the free market price for sugar today is only a little over £20 sterling per ton. That is probably 30 or 40 per cent, below the cost of production of raw sugar. But luckily, or perhaps unluckily for the sugar industry, depending upon which way one likes to argue, at least 50 per cent, of
But the very important point is that somehow or other we have to raise the price of sugar to the industry. Otherwise there will be a collapse in the industry in the immediate future. I believe that the big grower will be able to stand by for several years, but the small grower, the man with the small peak and the small man who must put nitrogen on his land every year and who has a high cost per acre, is the one who is feeling the severe pinch. It is no good providing him with loans, whether they are at 2 per cent., 3 per cent., or any other percentage, if he has not the income with which to repay them. It is quite obvious that one of the immediate problems which must be faced is how to provide assistance to the industry, either by loan or by grant, in such a way as to raise the average price of raw sugar to the cane grower. This can be done either by stabilisation or by grant to the Sugar Board or to the Queensland Government. There are a number of ways in which it can be done, all achieving the same result. The other important factor is one with which I have already dealt. In some areas of the Burnett and the Pioneer, the most important factor in stabilising produciton and in. stabilising income even is not price but the provision of water. I am pleased to see that the Premier of Queensland is giving serious consideration to asking the Commonwealth for funds with which to implement water storage schemes in the Burnett area.
I sum up by saying with regard to the sugar industry that the Minister for Trade and Industry was right in saying that it is up to the industry to put forward a stabilisation programme. We on the Opposition side have always argued this way. My personal opinion, based on experience of stabilisation while I was for many years an officer of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, is that stabilisation of any major industry which has to rely on exports in one of the most precious objectives it can have. I know of no better example of stabilisation than the wheat industry. To my knowledge that :s the only industry where the guaranteed price was reduced - that action followed a survey
Resolutions are being passed all over north and central Queensland for this purpose and, of course, the industry has to weigh up the pros and cons of a scheme before it puts forward a case to the Commonwealth. However, it would seem that if the Government is not confident that a new international sugar agreement can be negotiated, it should give some indication to the sugar industry to this effect and that it bad better hurry up and put before it some sort of stabilisation scheme. I would say that the sugar industry is one of the easiest industries to stabilise so far as the mechanics are concerned because it is one of the few industries which is a true monoculture. Those who are aware of the workings of stabilisation realise that one of the greatest headaches of a stabilisation scheme is the determination of a cost of production which is acceptable to the industry and to the Government. Another great headache in this respect is deciding how to treat sideline incomes.
Anybody who has had anything to do with economic surveys of industries knows full well the tremendous problems faced by the economist in trying to sort out sideline income and to measure sideline costs. Consequently the wheat industry stabilisation scheme, the dried vine fruit stabilisation scheme and other schemes are always open to criticism because of the method of treating sideline costs. With the sugar industry we are very fortunate in having one of the most highly organised industries. In this respect a cost of production is something which we can gauge possibly more accurately than we can for any other industry because, as I have said, it is a monoculture. On the other side of the determinant for cost of production is yield. Again, the yield of cane per acre or of raw sugar per acre - the ces. or by whatever medium one wants to measure sugar in - is well known to the industry because of the method of producing and selling cane. Given this combination of factors it is not a difficult matter to provide the machinery for an effective stabilisation scheme.
The role played by Government agencies is assisted in the sugar industry because the method used universally in moving the costs of production upwards or downwards each year by the index of cost movements and the application of price relatives is much easier to apply in the sugar industry. Further, there is not the problem of the sideline incomes. So if the industry does find that it has to come to the Government with a stabilisation plan, one thing for which we can be thankful is that the mechanism of the scheme or its application will not be so difficult to implement in this industry as it would be in some other industries into which both Labour governments and this Government have introduced stabilisation schemes. My personal opinion is that stabilisaton is desirable. I feel that, particularly in those areas which have expanded so quickly, stabilisation of the sugar industry will be a Godsend to the sugar producers and millers. However, only time will tell. But one thing is certain: Even though I believe that in five or six years time we may again be looking to expand the industry, it seems to me that in the interim period something has to be done by either method that I have suggested.
Another important industry about which we do not hear very much in relation to Queensland is the dairy industry. In central Queensland and in parts of north Queensland the dairy industry is certainly not a happy one. All sorts of reasons have been put forward for this state of affairs but, basically, it comes down always to one factor - productivity per cow. When one looks at productivity per cow in these areas it is not difficult to find some of the basic reasons why it is relatively low when compared with some of the better dairying areas, such as in New South Wales or, particularly, in Victoria. For example, we see dairy cattle being grazed on pure black spear grass country. All the experts in the field of agronomy would advise dairy farmers not to run dairy cattle on this kind of country all the year round. Some of the spear grass country, of course, if treated properly either with superphosphate or by various other methods advocated by the Department of Agriculture, could grow some of the tropical pastures that are now being recommended by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the State Departments of Agriculture. But, here again, the problem is finding the necessary funds. Where are they to come from?
Another problem with the dairy industry in central Queensland concerns the size of properties. Regardless of how efficient producers may be and how long may be the hours they work, as the latest surveys of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics have shown, there is the problem of the net income being so low as not to provide a family with a reasonable living. The dairy industry, like most primary industries, is faced with continually rising costs on small properties. There is not much that the farmer can do. He has to accept the situation and try to become more efficient. If he has not sufficient finance, he must continue to battle on, usually reducing his own standard of living.
– Has the honorable member read of the Queensland Government’s proposals for the dairy industry?
– I have read of its proposals for subsidising the industry. It seems that the problems of the dairying area of Queensland could be effectively delineated. This could be achieved by defining the marginal areas. We are inclined to think only of patterns of production or of particular broad areas when considering the dairy industry. But even within the marginal areas, we find prosperous or efficient dairy farmers, according to whichever term we wish to use. It would be a constructive move to undertake effective surveys, delineate the marginal areas and define the problem, even if the conclusions were that some dairy properties ought to be aggregated into beef holdings. At least we could define these problems, particularly in the areas which, I am afraid, represent the Cinderella areas in dairy farming today.
I have not time this afternoon, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to deal at length with the beef cattle industry, which is a hobby horse of mine. But it is obvious that in the wet, tropical areas along the coast of north Queensland and in northern Australia the beef cattle industry has tremendous potential. I sincerely believe that the investment by this Government of funds for the development of this industry in the north will pay enormous dividends. As you, Sir, know, in writings in many publications I have stated that the cattle industry is safer and has a greater future than any other primary industry in Australia.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, first of all 1 would like to support the remarks that other honorable members have made about the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan). I believe that the changing face of this House, in a sense, is demonstrated by the fact that in the last two days we have heard a maiden speech by the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Peacock) and a farewell speech by the honorable member for Kennedy. We may even say that the honorable member for Kennedy is lucky, since he was able to make his farewell speech knowing at the time that it would be his last speech in this place. I join with other honorable members in wishing him well, as we do other honorable members who are to retire shortly. We wish them all a happy and enjoyable retirement.
In this debate on the financial measures, I want to discuss a problem that has been raised in this House many times - the problem of decentralisation - and link it with the problems of our primary industries generally. The honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) said that Australia’s economy was based on the primary industries. Members of the Australian Country Party have been saying this and working for many years to have it accepted. We have always said that if our primary industries are prosperous Australia is prosperous. However, I believe that this fact is sometimes lost sight of, if we are to judge by comments made in certain sections of the community at times.
The primary industries face many problems. We recently had in this House a debate on tariffs. As I have said before, no-one objects to tariff protection for secondary industries, for no-one fails to realise the importance of secondary industries to Australia. But it is remarkable that those who are the strongest advocates of tariff protection for secondary industries become our greatest critics whenever we advance proposals for the assistance of primary industries. Let us face the realities of the situation, Sir. In many instances, the costs of the primary industries have been raised by tariff protection accorded to secondary industries. I and my colleagues say frankly that if the establishment of secondary industries is to be assisted by the affording of tariff protection, consideration should be given to the establishment and sustaining of primary industries by the same means.
I thought when we were discussing tariffs recently, with particular reference to tariff protection, that the subject should be studied closely, for we all should realise that protection is not given to an inefficient industry. We have heard from many quarters comments about the efficiency of primary producers. I believe that the efficiency of the primary industries has been proved many times. In recent years especially, production has increased even though the numbers of persons employed has decreased. The increase in production has been made possible by more efficient methods, mechanisation and new scientific developments and discoveries. Despite all these developments, Sir, there are problems over which the primary producer has no control. The magnitude of the problem that faces Australia and its primary producers because of its vast area and the wide range of geographical features throughout the States is illustrated by the interesting fact that though parts of New South Wales and Queensland are drought stricken Western Australia has just experienced one of the best seasons that it has had for many years. Whenever good conditions are experienced in one area, others geographically far removed experience climatic difficulties.
In this place, we have recently heard much discussion of drought relief for certain areas in New South Wales and Queensland. The problem of drought continues. Efficiency, not matter how great, cannot solve the drought problem for the man on the land. For this reason, I believe that consideration should be given to further discussions between representatives of the State and the Federal Governments with respect to water conservation and associated problems. We know that many dams that have been built in New South Wales to solve the problem of drought are now drying up to a serious degree. I would like to see established a committee of representatives of the State and the Federal Governments to examine the problem of water conservation.
Our primary industries face other problems too, Sir. One of these is the possibility of the United Kingdom entering the European Common Market. Another is the problem of continually having to find new markets for our dairy produce and for other primary products. The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) and his Department, in co-operation with interested sections of the community, have achieved remarkable results in the development of trade with many countries. The question of trade is one to which we should give a good deal of our attention.
I said that one of the subjects 1 wanted to talk about was decentralisation. We talk a great deal about establishing new industries in country areas but sometimes we are inclined to overlook the importance of supporting industries that are already established in those areas. Certain concessions could well be given to such industries. One concession that I think could be given without a great deal of difficulty is a concessional rate for telephone calls.
Honorable members will appreciate that an industry situated 200 miles from, say, Sydney is faced with a much heavier telephone bill in doing business with Sydney firms than is a competitor in the metropolitan area. I know that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department has explained the difficulties that would confront it in granting this concession. For example, it would be difficult to isolate, and then to assess just what amount to charge for, business calls to the metropolitan area, but I feel that this difficulty could be overcome by granting a flat rate discount of perhaps 10 per cent. This would give country industries a better opportunity of competing against similar industries in the metropolitan areas. It would also meet the point made by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department that if a concessional rate were applied to particular calls the keeping of the necessary records would create administrative difficulties.
There are many other ways in which industries in country areas could be helped, but they would involve the State Governments also. I would suggest, therefore, that the Commonwealth give consideration to co-operating with the State Governments. To my mind, the problems of decentralisation will have to be solved by co-operation between local government, State Government and Commonwealth Government authorities. In some cases, local authorities bear the whole burden now. This is too much for them. In some cases, the burden would be too heavy even for State Governments. Co-operation between the three authorities is essential.
We have made some progress in recent years in solving the problem of decentralisation, but I hope that further consideration will be given not only to seeking to establish new industries in country areas but also to assisting those already established there.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
– Mr. Speaker, before the sitting was suspended, I was commenting on the fact that the need exists for us to face up to the responsibilities of assisting our primary industries which make a valuable contribution to the Australian economy. I suggested steps that might be taken in regard to the problem of decentralisation. I wish to make a brief comment at this time regarding overseas investment in Australia. This is something that has been causing a great deal of discussion in Australia over a number of years. I think everybody will agree that overseas investment is necessary in Australia and, for that matter, in any developing country. But I think we must give very careful consideration to many of the aspects concerning this problem. I asked the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) a question in regard to overseas investment to which he replied. At the time of answering my question the Treasurer said that he would obtain additional information for me. In that additional information - I thank the Treasurer for obtaining it for me - there is a comment in regard to overseas investment that I think is worth noting. The Treasurer points out a statement made by his predecessor, the present Prime Minister (Mr.
Harold Holt), to this House and goes on to say -
As was indicated in that statement, the Government has, at various times, made it plain that it welcomes arrangements which provide for Australian equity participation in undertakings that would otherwise be financed wholly by overseas capital. Local borrowings by overseas-controlled enterprises, however, are different, in certain respects, from share issues by such bodies. Although it is not possible to lay down detailed criteria as to what financing arrangements the Government would regard as acceptable in each case, the statement provides broad guidance in the matter.
Within these guidelines, Australian banks are free to lend to overseas-controlled organisations in Australia, subject to general credit policy considerations, where the criteria of acceptability indicated by the Government are met.
He goes on to make further comments in regard to the matter.
One of the things that I would query is the occasion when Australian banks make Australian finance available to overseas companies to establish themselves here, and that finance is then under the control of the overseas companies concerned. If this finance is made available to these companies, then it should be under Australian control and should be accepted as Australian participation in that company. I cannot see why the money, if it is made available from Australian sources by Australian banks, cannot be acceptable also as an Australian investment and not be regarded as a loan by an Australian bank to an overseas investor. To my mind this is defeating one of the arguments that we use - an argument that is justified - in moving to bring overseas capital into Australia. If we are using capital that is already here naturally, we are not increasing the amount of new capital that is brought into the country. I have spoken previously on this subject and I would like to emphasise one thing that I have mentioned before. We have to be extremely careful concerning overseas capital coming into Australia and taking over already established industries.
I wish to mention something further at this time regarding the Vietnam war. Sir, a great deal has been spoken in regard to this matter. While we concede to each man the right to his own opinion, one of the aspects in relation to this matter that is disturbing me is what I might call the dogmatic arrogance of many people who are critical of the policy of this Government. In their arguments, they are completely and absolutely right, and, according to them, everybody else is wrong. I think that it would be well if some of these speakers paid attention to what has been said by both the Prime Minister and the Leader of my own Party, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen). Both of these distinguished gentlemen, together with the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) and others, have said that the Vietnam war is a complicated problem and that the situation in Vietnam is not one that can be described as all black or as all white. Careful consideration should be given to all aspects of this matter. To my mind, some of the so-called critics of the policy of this Government are far more concerned with publicity than they are with principle.
The honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden), during the course of a speech during the Grievance Day debate on 31st March 1966, was highly critical of the action of the police and spoke about demonstrators and the right of people to demonstrate against a particular action or policy of the Government. In this country, no-one will deny the right of people to be able to object. But 1 ask the honorable member for Oxley, if he is critical of police action, to take into consideration some of the actions of certain groups on one occasion when the Prime Minister was in the electorate of Kooyong. The Prime Minister spoke there about the aspects of this situation and the problem that was facing Australia regarding Vietnam. Some of those who were protesting rocked the car of the Prime Minister and showed no disposition to accept instructions from the police. They almost became a mob of hooligans. I wish to quote for the honorable member for Oxley a question that was asked in the New South Wales Legislative Council, not by a person of the political belief of the Government, but by a person who shares the belief of the Opposition here. This is the Honorable J. L. Kenny. He said -
My question without notice is directed to the Leader of the Government in this House and is supplementary to the question that was put to him last Tuesday. Is it a fact that a public demonstration by misguided youths took place in the city and at Parliament House yesterday? Does the Minister feel that these misguided youths should be reminded that they are living in a country which is virtually a paradise, and that most of them owe their chance of a career at the universities to the generosity of the taxpayers? Is it a fact, also, that the scandalous conduct of these irresponsible dupes who are being used by proVietcong communists and various peace front organisations are holding universities up to public ridicule?
Sir, my point in quoting that extract is to illustrate to the House the very argument that was put forward by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Trade and Industry. This is an issue upon which there is conflict of opinion and upon which people are entitled to express their opinions. But when these views are being put forward by some people it should be noted that in most instances, as I have already said, there is a dogmatic arrogance on the part of these people who are opposed to the policy of this Government. When one takes the general note of the speeches delivered by members of the Opposition one sees that their view is that the contentions put forward by the Government are completely wrong.
Sir, I wish to quote from an editorial in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ on Monday, 28th March 1966. The editorial reads -
The flare-up of fighting in the Plain of Jars, in which the Communists have wrested control of the last usable airstrip in north-eastern Laos from Government control, is a reminder that the Vietnam solution proposed in some quarters - Communist participation in a coalition Government; neutralism guaranteed by the Great Powers - has already been tried in neighbouring Laos and has dismally failed. The Laotian equivalent of the Vietcong, the Pathet Lao, and its political wing have refused to take part in the tripartite Government provided for by the 1962 Geneva Agreement and remain in arms against it. The Pathet Lao has now proclaimed itself the “ Laotian Liberation Army “ - a title and a role which identifies it more closely with North Vietnam, with whose troops it is working in close collaboration - and its leader, Prince Souvanouphong, is clearly more than ever subject to Vietnamese control.
On his side, the neutralist Prime Minister, Prince Souvanna Phouma, has drawn closer to the Rightwing parties and also to the United States. He has welcomed American help, notably in the air supply of loyal tribesmen and in air attacks against Communist positions. The Laotian situation, in fact, has reverted to very much what it was before the Geneva Accord.
Ironically enough, what has saved Laos - for the time being - from an all-out war on the pattern of South Vietnam has been the North Vietnamese need to use the Ho Chi Minh Trail through Laos to supply and reinforce the Vietcong. Nothing could better demonstrate that Prince Souvanouphong and the Pathet Lao now take their orders from Hanoi than the diversion of the Pathet Lao forces from their offensive against Luang Praban and Vientiane to the protection of those areas necessary to the security of the Trail. A settlement in Vietnam could have unpleasant repercussions in Laos.
That, in general terms, reinforces the argument that has been put forward by speakers on the Government side in regard to the situation in Vietnam. I would say that one might take more notice of what has been said by members of the Opposition if their argument was not much the same as that which they put forward when they objected to Australia’s participation against the Communists in Malaya.
A great deal has been said about the position in Vietnam. I remind the House of what was said by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) yesterday evening. He asked whether we could not imagine that a great deal of the opposition to the Communists in Indonesia today and of the courage of people there who are opposed to the Communists and China revealed itself because the United States and Australia were providing the shield they are at present providing in Vietnam. It should be obvious to any who have been studying the situation in Asia that the defence action taken by the United States, Australia and the other allies in Vietnam is an encouragement to those who want to oppose Communism in Asia. If we were to walk out of Vietnam and South East Asia generally the Communists would take complete and absolute control.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) said that it was notable that three American Presidents have supported the action in Vietnam. I would say that the action in Vietnam has also been supported in comments made by the Foreign Secretary in the United Kingdom’s Labour Government, who on numerous occasions has argued in support of the Americans in their stand and their action. There may be one or two matters in which there is slight disagreement, but basically the American policy in Vietnam, and the principle guiding it, are supported by right thinking people in the United Kingdom Government. The United States did not take action in Vietnam - by bombing, by the supply of troops and so on - until it became obvious that that was the only way in which North Vietnam and the Communists could be defeated in their endeavour to overcome and take control of South Vietnam. Let us face the situation.
There are freedom movements in these areas, there are nationalistic movements; but these movements in many instances have been taken over by the Communists and made to suit their purposes and their plans.
Earlier I said that we would give to every man the right to his own point of view and the right to put forward that point of view. But let me say seriously and sincerely to all those who have been so vehement in their opposition to the Government’s policy: Can they point to a fact showing that the United States is in Vietnam for territorial gain? Can they point to a fact showing that Australia is in Vietnam for territorial gain? One of the most despicable statements that I have ever heard in this House is the accusation from some members of the Opposition that the Government, or some members of it, have literally traded the lives of Australians for American finance. That may be the way the Opposition plays politics, but members of the Opposition should not think that decent people anywhere play politics in the same way. I think such a statement is a damnable accusation against the people and the Government of the United States of America and the people on this side of the Parliament. Let the Opposition, if it so desires, disagree with the policies of the Government. Let Opposition members say, if they so desire, that the United States should not be in Vietnam; but for honorable members opposite to say that we are prepared to sell men for money and that the United States is prepared to accept such a deal is one of the most despicable statements that I have heard since I have been a member of this House. Let me say to those who stand up and are critical of our policy-
– It is exactly what the honorable member is doing anyway.
– I would not expect anything different from the honorable member for Wills, from my experience of him since I have known him in this House. Let me say to those who would incite national service trainees to oppose the call up that they are undermining the morale and the standing of this Commonwealth. We can blow bugles and talk about nobility, sacrifice and all the rest of it, but those who incite the youth or any people of this country to try to evade the responsibilities of citizenship are recreant to the sacrifice and the service that has been given and paid for by so many in this country. Those who incite anyone to evade their responsibilities are only trying to make us depart from civilisation and go back into primeval darkness.
Comments have been made by the Opposition that this is a dirty war. Can anybody tell me of any time when there has been a clean war? If a man is killed in war it is a tragedy that everyone would wish to avoid. Members of the Opposition sometimes have spoken about the sacrifices of their families and sons. Let me say that no-one in this House has a claim to speak of a greater sense of responsibility or duty than any other member of this House. Tn that regard I would say that in any debate, or in any consideration, if members of the Opposition want to disagree with the policy of the Government let them do so, but do not take those steps which are not only dangerous to the country but also dangerous to civilisation as we know it.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Jones) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. McMahon. and read a first time.
.- I move - That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill seeks authority for the borrowing in the United States for defence purposes of amounts up to a total of SUS450 million. Of this, an amount of SUS350 million relates to the arrangements which were concluded in Washington on 9th February 1965 and referred to in a statement on 23rd March 1965 by the then Minister for Defence, Senator Paltridge. The United States authorities have now agreed to finance this amount at 4) per cent, interest with repayment over seven years. As a formal “ borrowing “ by the Commonwealth will be involved, Commonwealth legislation is required to authorise the borrowing. Since that time there have been changes in the composition of the items and in their prices, and a further credit of SUS20 million for these purchases has also been arranged with the United States authorities.
During the course of these discussions the United States authorities also agreed in accordance with the arrangements for the FI IIA purchase to provide a credit of $US80 million to meet the increased costs of those aircraft. The terms of these additional loans, totalling SUS100 million, are still under discussion in Washington. However, the Bill has been introduced at this stage in advance of the final settlement of these terms, as drawings from these loans should commence on 1st July next. The terms will be announced as soon as practicable. These credits will assist the Commonwealth from both the budgetary and balance of payments points of view.
The Bill is necessary to give full force and effect to the detailed agreements which have yet to be signed, the first of which, when signed, will take effect from 1st July next. I commend the Bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 3) 1965-66. Second Reading. Debate resumed.
.- Before the debate on this Bill was adjourned to allow the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) to introduce another measure, we listened to a very interesting speech by a person who for years allegedly has preached a “ love one another “ policy. One of his classic remarks tonight was that in which he referred to the dogmatic arrogance of people opposed to this Government. I ask honorable members to take their minds back to an occasion a few weeks ago when that honorable member occupied the Chair at question time and gave one of the worst’ rulings-
-Order! The honorable member is now placing himself out of order. He must not reflect on the Chair or the conduct of the occupant of the Chair. As a matter of fact, I think the honorable member should withdraw the remark.
– I withdraw the remark.
– As a Deputy Chairman of Committees, the honorable member should know better.
– Correct, Sir, but the remark was not directed towards you.
– The honorable member must not reflect on any occupant of the Chair.
– When people talk about dogmatic arrogance it is as well to look at the attitudes they themselves adopt from time to time. Let me direct the attention of the honorable member for Lyne to the actions of certain members of his own party in New South Wales. He referred to what went on in Melbourne during the Kooyong by-election. What about the conduct of Mr. Darby’s son, who I believe is a member of the Liberal Party, at the Mosman Town Hall when the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) was addressing a meeting convened by the Australian Labour Party to explain our attitude towards Vietnam? What about the group of young hoodlums who attended that meeting with their Nazi stickers and booed and shouted and tried to break up the meeting? Was their’s not a dogmatic attitude? What about the attitude adopted last night by the old Fascist across the way who is interjecting, when the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) was making a statement in this Parliament? Last’ Thursday night we gave the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) a good hearing. None of our people interjected while he read his travel talk about his trip overseas, but when the Leader of the Opposition made his statement last night you, Mr. Speaker, had extreme difficulty in maintaining order in the chamber so that the Leader of the Opposition could be heard. Did not the honorable member for Chisholm (.Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) and the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) display a dogmatic attitude in continually shouting and trying to shout down the Leader of the Opposition?
The very pious honorable member for Lyne has a lot to say about our attitude on Vietnam. This Government has a lot to say about its attitude towards China but the fact remains that in the last year for which full figures are available £84 million worth of wheat, wool, iron and steel were shipped to China. It has since been stated by the Chinese themselves that many of these commodities are now being trans-shipped back to North Vietnam. So we are entitled to ask where the Country Party stands on this question. Honorable members opposite are prepared to accept Chinese money, Communist money, for the goods they produce.
It has been stated in this House by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) that if we do not sell our wheat to China, Canada and various other nations will sell their wheat to China, and that therefore we may as well join in the bun rush or get in for our chop. It is all right to sell our wool and wheat to China but it is no good trading with the Chinese in other commodities, according to the Minister and other members of the Government. This certainly shows their dogmatic attitude on the question of selling these commodities to China.
Honorable members opposite have given us no convincing reason why they should be trading with China, but in any case I ask: Was there any person twisting their arms to make them purchase the £8.1 million worth of goods that were bought from China in 1963-64? Of course there was net. Yet we hear Government supporters in this House criticising members of the Labour Party for their fair criticism of the Government’s policies. We, of course, have advanced reasons why Australian forces - and American forces as well - should not be in Vietnam, yet it is suggested that we are dogmatic and arrogant. I ask honorable members to cite one occasion when members on the Government side have risen in this chamber and sided with the Opposition on this subject. Not one member on the Government side has ever said that he agrees with what the Opposition has been saying, just as not one of our people agrees with the attitude of honorable members on the Government side. We know where we are going on this subject. We know that what we are advocating is right and we are entitled to continue our advocacy, firmly believing that it is along the right lines.
– You have not told us your views yet.
– I had a few words to say on it, if the honorable member will cast his mind back, when the Prime Minister’s statement was being debated. I told the House where I stood on the subject. I had intended to speak on another subject entirely, but unfortunately I have taken up a good deal of my time in dealing with the statements of the honorable member for Lyne.
– Very ineffectively.
– The honorable member need not worry about that; he is only here temporarily. To show that I am not dogmatic I would like to offer congratulations to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry in having assumed responsibility for certain matters which should be within the jurisdiction of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) and the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn), and also for matters concerned with overseas investment in Australia. In recent months the right honorable gentleman has made numerous statements, all of them outside this Parliament, dealing with shipping and other matters. I am pleased to see the Minister for Shipping and Transport in the House tonight. For some reason best known to himself he has been very silent of late on the Government’s intentions about organising the wharf facilities and stevedoring activities of this country. The Minister for Trade has found it necessary to move in and take over his responsibilities.
– They do not agree.
– It is obvious that they do not agree. In the field of national development we have heard many comments and continual criticism from the Minister for Trade about what is being done with our mineral resources. The Minister has made many statements about our resources being sold, leaving us only with holes in the ground. His statements have been frequently repeated all over Australia. He has said that we will finish up with just holes in the ground. We all remember his famous statement to a Country Party conference, likening our selling of this country’s resources to overseas interests to the disposal of a bit of the farm each year. Tonight I want to join forces with him. Once again I have to rely on Press reports for what I propose to discuss because neither the Minister for Trade and Industry nor the Minister for Shipping and Transport nor any other member of the Government will come into this chamber and make a statement on the subject in order to give us an opportunity to debate it. We have any number of statements on foreign affairs, telling us what is happening in Vietnam and Malaysia, but the Government will not tell us what it is doing about shipping and freights. One is forced to rely completely on Press reports. The Opposition believes that a commission should be appointed to rationalise and organise our entire transport system, internal and external, co-ordinating our road, rail, air and sea transport systems. There is no doubt that one of the major factors in our cost structure is transport. Australia is a large land mass with a small population. Transport figures largely in our economy. Although the Government set up the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads about 12 months ago, the organisation has been operating in silence. Nobody knows anything about it. After deciding two years ago to introduce the necessary legislation, the Government took a further 12 months to appoint a full-time director and we have heard nothing about the operations of the organisation since that appointment was made.
– It is a confidential organisation.
– It must be. A MinisterI do not care whether it is the Minister for Trade and Industry or the Minister for Shipping and Transport - should make a statement on the Government’s intentions with regard to wharfage and stevedoring. These are facets of our transport system that need considerable improvement. Many people, far from commending governments for what they have done about wharfage and stevedoring, have criticised all governments in Australia for what is happening in these fields. I propose to refer to a document entitled “ The Port of Newcastle in the Australian Economy”, prepared by the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce. In part the report reads -
At present there are insufficient adequate general cargo berths available in the port with resulting delays and the uneconomic handling of ships. Increasing strain has therefore been placed on the outmoded storage areas, which are now well behind the times in terms of the increased mechanisation of cargo handling.
The entire publication is a criticism of the Government for its failure to do something about providing a more economic and modern system of wharfage and stevedoring. In its annual report for 1965, which honorable members received only a couple of days ago, the Australian Oversea Transport Association stated -
Too much emphasis cannot be placed on the need for Australian interests, including Governments, to do all that is possible ro improve conditions on the waterfront, and in the organising and handling of cargoes. Unless there is a marked improvement in these sectors, further freight increases will be inevitable with their consequent adverse effect on the export industries. References in the past have been made repeatedly by the Federal Exporters Oversea Transport Committee to this aspect of the cost of the shipping service, but the situation continues to deteriorate.
So let Ministers tell us what they have in mind for improving the stevedoring and wharfage’ systems in Australia. The New South Wales Government recently announced a substantial programme of improvement to the wharves of Sydney and Newcastle, lt is proposed to spend $96 million in Sydney and $58 million in Newcastle in the next few years on wharves, but will this money continue to be spent in the haphazard and unplanned manner in which money has been spent on wharf facilities in previous years in Australia?
As I have said, all reports indicate that our stevedoring and wharfage systems are the most antiquated in the world. Australia is one of the 12 leading trading nations. Shipping should be one of our most efficient forms of transport. This should be one way to keep down costs and prices, lt is high time the Government produced a concrete plan of what it proposes to do in this field. It is obvious that new methods of shipping will call for a great deal of planning on the part of the Government. Containers will to a large extent replace conventional loading methods, such as the use of large batches. I call upon the Government to formulate a plan, which should be financed completely by the Commonwealth. It is the Commonwealth’s responsibility to finance such a plan, but the plan could be evolved, if necessary, in co-operation with the States. Most of the goods handled on the wharves are either exports or imports, which are basically the responsibility of the Commonwealth and not of the States. Intrastate shipping would not account for more than 2 per cent, of the total traffic in any harbour. So it is the responsibility of the
Regarding the control of freights, I am delighted to see that in the last couple of days the Minister for Trade and Industry has once again in another field taken over the responsibility of the Minister for Shipping and Transport by calling a conference here in Canberra to discuss how freights between Australia and overseas countries may be improved. As the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) has said, members of the Opposition have been dogmatic on this subject. This is because for years we have pointed out to the Parliament how Australia has been overcharged in the matter of freights. Only recently the Minister for Trade and Industry admitted that overseas shipping combines were charging freights 10 per cent, to 15 per cent, higher than they should have been charging. In November last year, a statement on freight rates by the Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry, Sir Alan Westerman, was reported in the Press. Nothing was said on the subject in the Parliament. When I contacted the Department of Trade and Industry and asked for a copy of the statement 1 was told that it was confidential and not available to honorable members. But I was able to read it in a newspaper. Nobody has denied that the newspaper account was factual. So we find that the Department is considering this subject at the moment. Once again I criticise the Government for not bringing this matter before the Parliament so that honorable members may have an opportunity of discussing it. There can be no shadow of doubt that Australia is being overcharged in the matter of freights. In a letter to the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, published on 23rd October 1963, Mr. R. W. Miller, referring to freight rates charged by his company, wrote -
Our freight rates are not only lower than the current rate struck by overseas oil companies but have the added virtue of being arrived at in Australia and not at secret conferences overseas. Australian shippers know only too well how these conferences fix rates without any reference to Australian conditions.
There was the case last year of the Conference Line, which advised Australian meat exporters that it would increase freight rates to the west coast of the United States of America by 10 per cent, as from 1st October. Fortunately for Australia, an
Almost every major country has its own shipping line, irrespective of seamen’s wages. I deplore the use of the flag of convenience whereby British ships are manned in the main by cheap labour. The days of cheap labour should be over. The only reason we are kept out of this field is that ships owned by the British shipping lines - the P. & O.-Orient Lines and the other magnificent lines that are declaring huge profits at the expense of Australia - man their ships with cheap labour from Hong Kong and India. I do not intend at any time in this Parliament to advocate or support a policy of cheap labour. I believe all our ships should be built in Australia and should be manned by Australians. It has been suggested in recent weeks that there should be an arrangement between Japanese shipping interests and Australian shipping interests to form themselves into a consortium to transport iron ore, coal and bauxite from Australia to Japan. I would have no objection to this proposal, but what has astounded me are the statements by the Minister for Trade and Industry - outside of the Parliament - that the ships involved will be built by Japan. If we are going to have an overseas shipping line why cannot the ships be built in Australia? Why cannot we continue to develop and expand an already efficient shipbuilding industry? Why cannot we guarantee the Australian shipbuilding industry the continuity of orders that is essential to any well organised shipbuilding industry? I deplore the Minister’s statement that this shipping consortium to be created will use ships built in Japan. I enter a plea for the Australian shipbuilding industry that although initially ships may be chartered or purchased overseas for the transport of these minerals, provision should be made whereby ships will be built in Australia and added to this shipping arrangement. We know that in the next 25 years the quantity of iron ore, bauxite and coal that will be shipped from Australia to Japan will be at a rate of not less than 25 million tons a year. Orders already placed will ensure that the proposed shipping line will be fully occupied transporting ore from Australia.
I have the greatest respect for, and give credit to, R. W. Miller & Co. Pty. Ltd. for its action in bursting the monopoly that has existed on the Australian coastline in the transport of petroleum products. These products were once transported in foreign owned and foreign manned ships. R. W. Miller entered the field and was able to break up the monopoly. Licences have been issued to enable 12 ships to operate on the Australian coast, and all ships are manned by Australian seamen. One of the conditions of the licences was that the companies involved would build ships in Australian shipyards. I believe that only two companies have made a move in this direction, namely, BP Australia Ltd., which is building two ships at the State Dockyard in Newcastle, and the Shell Co. of Australia Ltd. which last week announced that it would build a 22,000 ton tanker at Whyalla. The R. W. Miller Co. lodged a bond of $1 million with the Government as an earnest that it would build in Australia within a certain time three ships to replace the three it imported. I believe the time limit was 29th June 1965 for the first two ships and 17th August 1966 for the third ship, but the Government has given the company an extension of time. I should like the Minister to report on the present situation. I asked him a question recently but could not get a satisfactory reply. We know that a conference was held recently, so the Minister should advise the Parliament what is happening. Is this company going to build three ships in Australia? What about the other companies that were given permits to bring tankers into Australian waters? When will they be compelled to place orders with Australian shipyards for the construction of tankers? At present 4,118 million gallons of crude oil is imported annually. When will the Government do something about compelling the overseas owned and controlled oil companies to build ships in Australia to transport our oil imports? Is there any justification for these companies continuing to transport the oil to Australia in cheap labour ships that are owned and controlled overseas? Our present freight bill is $300 million annually.
The Government talks about improving our balance of payments position. One way of overcoming its difficulties and at the same time providing work for Australian seamen and Australian shipbuilders is to develop an efficient shipbuilding industry in Australia. Within a few years most of the ships trading between Australia and overseas countries will be of the container type. They will have a marked effect on the employment situation on Australian wharves. Let us compare a 12,000 ton container ship and a 12,000 ton conventional ship. To load or unload the container ship would require the use of two 20 ton lifting capacity cranes operated by three to four men on each crane for two shifts. The conventional type ship would require the employment of about 120 to 150 men working three shifts for 11 days. I appeal to the Government that when it utilises container ships it give consideration to the redundancy of labour resulting therefrom. The use of these ships has had a marked effect on employment at our ports. For example, in 1963 810 wharf labourers were on the register at Hobart. An average of 677 wharf labourers were employed daily. With the introduction of the “Seaway Queen “, the “ Seaway King “ and the “ Empress of Australia “, the number on the register dropped from 810 to 595 and the average daily employment is now 298 men. The daily employment has dropped from 677 to 298. The pattern is repeated in Devonport, Launceston and Burnie.
We saw what happened on the north coast of Queensland with the conversion to the bulk carriage of sugar. No real provision was made in the ports to cater for the labour that became redundant. I hope that in the years to come - it will not be very far away - the Government will not only have a plan to improve wharfage and stevedoring but will not forget the human beings who work on the wharves. The Government should make some adequate provision for the labour that will assuredly become redundant with the introduction of new methods and new ideas in the transport of goods throughout the world. We are not opposed to the new ideas and I know that the wharf labourers are not opposed to them. I have discussed this matter with the union leaders. What worries them is what will happen to the men after the new methods and the new ideas are introduced.
.- Earlier this evening we heard a very forthright speech from the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock). He concluded with some comments on foreign affairs. I thought it was an outstanding speech. He dealt with the term that has been used by the Opposition member’s - “ Diggers for dollars “. I do not think this expression brings very much credit to them. It is a disgusting term and I hope that they will cease to use it. The innuendo contained in such an expression must have a tremendous impact on the people. It is more an indictment of the Opposition members who use it than an indictment of this Government and of the Government of the United States.
The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) saw fit to throw up his old bogey of trade with China. Opposition members suggest that our trading with China is dishonorable, in the light of the activities we have undertaken in Vietnam. It seems to me that they advance a twisted suggestion that suits their argument. This is in line with the doubtful foreign policies they have pursued since 1949. We remember their policies on Manus Island, Korea, Malaya, Malaysia, Borneo, West New Guinea and North West Cape, and their suggestions of nuclear free zones. Their policies on those matters are no more than parliamentary exercises used for party political expediency. In trading with China, we are acting as we did with Indonesia. I ask the honorable member for Newcastle whether he is prepared to stand in his place and say that our policy on Indonesia in past years was wrong. I ask him whether he is prepared to stand up-
– I will.
– The honorable member is standing now. He will have an opportunity to speak later. With Indonesia, we kept open the avenues of trade. We continued our aid to Indonesia, despite criticism from Opposition members and from within our own ranks. But has our policy proved to be wrong? On another occasion, the honorable member for Newcastle can take the opportunity to declare himself on this question. We now have the same situation with China. The door is kept open all the time. We are willing to negotiate at the peace table just as we are willing to negotiate at the trade table. China wants our goods and is willing to trade with us. It has come to the trade table and it can come to the peace table. When it wants peace, it will come to the peace table and will negotiate. Like the honorable member for Newcastle, I have been diverted from the subject that I originally intended to discuss in this debate.
I want to refer to civil aviation. I note that another $1,775,000 is being provided for the remainder of this year. This will bring expenditure for the year to $39,195,100. This I take the trouble to point out is apart from expenditure on capital works associated with civil aviation, which will require an additional amount of about $15 million. I should like to deal with the recovery of amounts by the Department of Civil Aviation. I note from the figures that have been made available that the return from air navigation charges for this year is expected to be about £2,800,000 or about $5,600,000. I submit to the Government that there is room for improvement in the amount that is recovered. We are expending about $40 million in one area of civil aviation activities and another $15 million on capital works. For this outlay, we recover only about $5,500,000 in air navigation charges. The total income - not the profit - of the Department is only about $10 million a year, despite the tremendous outlay. 1 offer an observation to the House. We expend $39,195,000 and there are about four million passenger flights a year on Australian airlines. We recover in air nagigation charges about $1.35 per flight, but the average expenditure for each of the four million passengers is about $10. I stress that I am referring to operating expenses and not to expenditure on capital works. If we take the total income of the Department of $10 million per annum, we find that the recovery is $2.50 per flight. If we take this recovery figure from the outlay of $10 a flight, we find that the Government is subsidising every passenger carried on the Australian airline to the extent of $7.50. I submit that there is room for a big improvement. For instance, the average cost per mile of a flight to Melbourne, first class, is about 5c. This is cheap travel in any form of transport.
I know that, under the agreement with the airlines, we are bound to a maximum increase of 10 per cent, a year in air navigation charges. I realise also that the Government is restrained from imposing further charges that might in turn be passed on to the passengers, because of the limitation of section 92 of the Constitution. But I believe that we should be able to look at ways in which further revenue can be raised. I will give a further example of how well the airline passenger travels. Let us consider how air navigation charges affect him. In this context, we must bear in mind the facilities that are available at the major airports and, for that matter, at every airport. The air navigation charges are levied on this basis: Aircraft are allocated certain all up weights. Examples of these are the Frienship, which has a registered all-up weight of 42,000 lb., the Viscount at 72,500 lb., the Electra at 116,000 lb. the Boeing 727 at 152,000 lb., the Boeing 70’) of the 338C class - that is the larger one - at 312,000 lb., and the DC8, which is commonly used by the overseas arlines, 315,000 lb. In the recent amendments to the air navigation charges these aircraft were divided into four categories.
The first group includes aircraft weighing up to 25,000 lb., the second category is between 25,000 and 50,000 lb., the third category is from 50,000 to 100,000 lb., and the fourth category consists of those exceeding 100,000 lb. Aircraft in the first category attract a charge of 13.14c for each 1,000 lb. or part thereof; for those in the second category the rate is 20.48c for each 1,000 lb. or part thereof; in the third category it is 26,34c; and in fourth category it is 30.74c. The application of these rates to aircraft weights shows that a Friendship would attract a charge of £1 15s. 10d., which is near enough to $3,60; the Viscount, on old figures, would attract a charge of $8; for the Electra it would be $14.49; the Boeing 727 would pay $20.63; the Boeing 707, $36.34; and the DC8 would attract a charge similar to that for the Boeing 707.
In addition, each airline route, according to its value, is given a factor. For example, the Sydney to Melbourne route has a factor 4; Sydney to Brisbane also has a factor of 4; Melbourne to Brisbane has a factor of 8; Melbourne to Adelaide has a factor of 4; and Melbourne to Perth has a factor of 12.
To obtain the ultimate cost for the airline company to operate an aircraft on a route, the factor is multiplied by the charge to which I have most recently referred. The result is that a Viscount on a flight from Sydney to Melbourne would incur a cost to the airline company of $3 1.16c for each trip. The cost to operate a Boeing 727, the one most commonly known today, would be $82.52. If this amount were divided by the loading capacity and we assumed an average loading of 90 to 100 passengers, the cost for each passenger would work out at ic per mile. That is all that a passenger pays in tax through the Department of Civil Aviation to the Government for a trip from Sydney to Melbourne on a Boeing 727. In return for this payment privileges are extended to him once he enters the airport area, he is provided with safety measures throughout the trip and he is extended similar privileges at the end of his journey. The whole trip from start to finish - from the time he enters the airport to begin a journey until he leaves the airport at the end of the journey - is covered by this charge which is a very modest one.
The cost to the airline company of the trip from Sydney to Perth, a distance of about 2,000 miles, is approximately $247.80, or $2.50 for each passenger. From his airline fare, $2.50 goes to the Government in tax. This works out at one eighth of lc per mile for the privileges extended to the passenger by the Department of Civil Aviation.
I hope that I have shown by these figures that the airline traveller is heavily subsidised in Australia. I have no doubt that if all the deficits of the transport systems in every State were added together they would not be as much as the amount paid by the Department of Civil Aviation to provide these facilities. In making these remarks I do not wish to disparage in any way the work of the Department. It has been operating in a pioneering field which is only now beginning to settle down under the good guidance of this Government. We must admit that the bad days are over and that there is a very healthy life ahead for civil aviation, not only in Australia but also throughout the rest of the world. If I did have any criticism of the Department it would be along the lines that I discussed last week in regard to such things as the noise hazard - the curse of noise over airports - and perhaps a slowness in expanding the terminal facilities which are needed now and will be needed to a greater extent in the immediate future.
I wonder whether the Department of Civil Aviation is fully aware of the tremendous expanson that will occur in civil aviation. Only recently Pan American World Airways Inc. in the United States released figures which show that that company alone is providing 288 flights across the Atlantic each week. Just consider that fact: One airline company has available 40,000 seats for the Atlantic trip each week, virtually on one route. This is what Pan American Airways has ready for the forthcoming fiscal year. I can see no reason why a proportionate expansion basis should not take place in Australia. But, first, I hope that the Department is ready for it and, secondly, I believe that the airline traveller is subsidised to a substantial degree these days and that there is room for an increase in the contribution that the traveller makes to departmental funds. There are many fields in which the Department requires to extend its activities and investigations, not the least of which is the one to which I referred last week - noise.
Because of the short time allowed to a speaker in an adjournment debate, I was precluded from completing my statement last week. I should like now to add to those remarks in which I had emphasised the importance of trying to reset the flight plan for Mascot Airport, in particular. I would not like the House to think that Mascot is the only airport that concerns me. I give warning to honorable members who represent airport areas in their respective capital cities to take heed of the trends in civil aviation in Australia and throughout the world. They can be assured that the time is not very far distant when they will be confronted with this problem of noise in areas surrounding the airports. But dealing particularly with Mascot Airport, I should like to lend weight to my argument by reading a few quotations from mail which I have received from constituents in my area. A gentleman from Farr Street, Rockdale, which is one of the areas really cursed by this menace of civil aviation noise, wrote -
I am gladly signing your paper and am also complaining about them cracking both our bedroom ceilings. They both collapsed and now we have had to pay for them to be repaired and it is costing us £85.
These people have to pay SI 70 for repairs to their house. Another letter is from a distinguished gentleman of the cloth in the same area. He is responsible for one of the largest churches and he wrote in reply to correspondence on the question of aircraft noise -
I certainly share the sentiments expressed in your letter. And what a dose we got over Easter! There was no Easter peace in Rockdale and sleep was impossible! I
Another one from a church in Rockdale stated -
As almost every church service is interrupted by the noise of the planes, our people, from this point of view alone, are pleased with your intention to present the petition.
I may add, Sir, that tomorrow I shall present a petition to the House on behalf of thousands of people in the St. George district and the surrounding areas. I have here another letter, from a lady in Mill Street, Carlton, which gives a further indication of the damage that is being caused. She writes -
I enclose a list of dates and times aeroplanes and helicopters pass over our home causing much noise and damage to our property.
We have been obliged to replace a fluorescent light and an expensive shade in our T.V. viewing room, over which the aircraft pass at frequent intervals, also causing interference with T.V. reception.
They also pass over our sun room causing cracks in the walls which my son has recently repaired and repainted.
This is just another of the complaints that have come to my attention. Perhaps I ought to read a passage, finally, from a letter written by a gentleman who lives in Lydham Avenue, Rockdale. It is as follows - 1 wish to thank you for your active interest which, I trust, will bring mitigated if not permanent relief from both the health menace and the progressive deterioration of our home building.
These are just a few examples of complaints in writing from constituents in the St. George district and the surrounding areas. I am delighted to see the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz) in the House this evening. I suggest to him that more expenditure should be devoted to research into this problem. He was good enough yesterday to make an extensive statement on the problem of noise and its side effects in relation to airports. However, although that statement was comprehensive, I noticed one omission. There was no mention of vibration, which causes a large proportion of damage of the kind described in the letters that I have quoted. It summed up what the Department of Civil Aviation is doing. However, I submit to him that up to the present the Department has not been doing enough. 1 appreciate the fact that the present Minister has only just taken over his portfolio. But I hope that the actions that he has taken early in his administration of this Department can be regarded as heralding positive action to solve the problem that I have raised. I direct the attention of the House to the fact that it is the Minister’s intention to ensure that Australia is represented in the not too distant future at a conference in London on the noise problem in relation to airports.
I wish to make one final point on this subject. Here, 1 raise the question of whether the international airlines are playing the game in their attitude to the Department’s regulations concerning landing approaches and climb after takeoff. I have no doubt that the regulations are being observed by Australian pilots, but I have personally observed that international aircraft make a low, slow climb alter takeoff. No doubt this is conducive to economical operation and results in a considerable saving in the fuel used by these powerful jets. At this point, I name the Alitalia, U.T.A. and K.L.M. airlines as not always playing the game in respect of the regulations governing takeoffs at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. I hope these airline operators will take notice of the fact that their transgressions have been noted and that they will rectify the situation. Residents in the Rockdale area are subjected to a terrifying experience, particularly in poor weather, when big jet aircraft operated by these international airlines takeoff with maximum loadings and gain altitude slowly.
I now turn to another matter that is a fitting subject for discussion in the debate on the appropriation and supply measures - the shortage of telephones. I refer particularly to this shortage as it exists in New South Wales. At 31st August 1965, there were 50,623 outstanding applications for telephone services in New South Wales, and a total of 83,290 for the whole of Australia. There were approximately 17,000 more applications outstanding in New South Wales alone than in the rest of Australia. I realise that here again the portfolio involved has been taken over by the present Minister only fairly recently - in this instance, some two and a half years ago. This is a portfolio of tremendous complexity and importance, I know that the present Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) has tried to come to grips with the problem. Last financial year, he gained a considerable increase in the financial allocation to his Department, as well as a considerable increase in the allocation of funds to work undertaken by his Department in New South Wales. I trust that the honorable gentleman intends to keep up the pressure for more money and that he will again increase the allocation of funds to New South Wales - at least for the installation of new telephone services even if for no other purpose. I understand that this financial year the Postmaster-General’s Department has allocated $72 million for expenditure in New South Wales. I understand also that something like $80 million is required for the coming year. I appeal to the Minister to continue his representations to the Government for an increase in the allocation of funds.
The number of deferred applications for telephone services in some New South Wales electorates is shocking. In the electorate of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), 3,308 deferred applications were listed at 31st August 1965. Yet for the whole of Tasmania only 1,346 outstanding applications were listed and there were only 3,852 for the whole of Western Australia. In the electorate of Werriwa, which is represented by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), 2,056 deferred applications existed. There were 1,036 in the electorate of the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Bowen) and 1,027 in the electorate of the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Irwin).
– What are these figures?
– They were deferred applications listed at 31st August 1965. The situation has improved a little. I am aware that the Postmaster-General has changed his attitude to the allocation of telephones. He has gone out of his way to see that lines are relocated where possible to provide some measure of relief in neighbouring areas. I only hope that he has not interfered with the major plan of operations to such a degree as to cause it to break down in a short time. I trust that the action that has been taken will not prove to have been only an expedient. I commend the Minister on his efforts and thank him for his endeavours to make the maximum possible use of the facilities available in New South Wales at present. I am glad to see that he is present in the chamber now. I hope that he will continue his efforts to improve the situation in New South Wales, where there has been some improvement in the last six to nine months. However, he has a long row to hoe. I am sure that nobody realises it better than he. It will be a tremendous task to make good the- backlog. 1 cannot understand how it ever became so great. I am sure that the Minister is embarrassed by it and by the tremendous number of outstanding applications in New South Wales alone compared to the rest of Australia. I hope that the Minister’s efforts will bring worthwhile immediate results and that before too long the fantastic backlog in New South Wales will be completely eliminated.
I am aware that the number of applications for telephone services received in New South Wales exceeds that in the other States. I know that this aggravates the situation. I am aware, too, that there are other problems in New South Wales with respect to major trunk line routes and changes to new systems in the further development of various phases of communications. Nevertheless, Sir, the present situation cannot be allowed to continue in respect of telephone services in New South Wales. I again ask the Minister to do his utmost in the Cabinet room to obtain an allocation of additional funds to New South Wales. I appeal to him to encourage the staff of his Department in that State to maintain their efforts to improve facilities. They must do their utmost to rise to the occasion and relieve the shortage of telephone services which is causing great problems for business people as well as ordinary citizens, especially those who are ill.
.- On what might be called the Australian home front, the question of marine transport and marine transport costs has been the subject of newspaper headlines in the last couple of weeks. This week, for example, we have had no less a person than the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) addressing, lecturing and taking to task an assembly in this city of leading representatives of the overseas shipping industry. His theme was a simple one. Australia today is spending $600 million on overseas shipping freights. In addition to that, it faces the prospect, if it is to increase its exports, of considerably expanded freights being imposed by the overseas shipping combine which has Australia in its deadly, deathlike grip. My colleague the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones), who represents a constituency. with a port and a city of a similar type to my own, has made very notable contributions to the problems of shipping and their solution. Within the city of Wollongong and the port of Kembla we study the example of Newcastle. Having come on to the national industries field at a later stage and rapidly overtaken it in population and development, we examine closely the methods which it has adopted. We are seeking to follow very largely some of its methods in developing our area.
First, of course, as in the case of Newcastle, the port of Kembla was a coal shipping port. Newcastle Harbour then took the next stage in its growth. Because it was on the Hunter River and at the mouth of a very fertile valley, Newcastle was able to develop as a port for the export of primary products. It has now taken a further step and has tapped the hinterland, notably north western New South Wales and the New England area. It has developed a considerable export trade from each of those areas. We are seeking to do precisely the same in our area.
Before I deal with the particular problems of my own constituency, let me say a word or two on the general situation with relation to shipping and transport in Australia. If ever there were an Alice in Wonderland situation, this is it. Before this Government takes to task any section of the shipping and transport industry, it ought to put its own house in order. We have a minister for shipping and transport who is like the sorcerer’s apprentice. He can start something in relation to his portfolio but he does not know how to stop it because there are no fewer than six cooks, if I might change the metaphor, having a stir of the broth. He is Minister for Shipping and Transport in name but not in fact, because his province relates solely to ship building and shipping around the Australian coast. Overseas shipping conies within the province of another gentleman who seeks to be an omnibus Minister - the Minister for Trade and Industry. If ever there was a skilled exponent of the Parkinsonian law of aggrandisement of a department, he is the best practitioner in Australia today.
Overseas shipping does not concern the Minister for Shipping and Transport. For that matter, if there is a problem in relation to stevedoring, that does not concern the
Minister for Shipping and Transport either; it comes within the province of another Minister - the Minister for Labour and National Service. Civil aviation, which obviously ought to be integrated with transport, is again the province of a separate Minister. To make confusion worse confounded, if we want to negotiate with the overseas shipping interests exploiting us and really try to do something to bring them to heel, the Attorney-General, no less, comes into the picture. At an early date, we will have before us for consideration certain proposed additions to the restrictive practices legislation. So far as the Government is concerned, it is a case of: “Physician, heal thyself.” It has to put its own house in order. Not only has it to put its own house in order, but it has to consider its proper functions as a national Government.
Today there are ten major ports in Australia - those of the capital cities, Newcastle, Port Kembla, Geelong and some of the Queensland ports. Not one of those ports is capable today of handling modern cargo vessels of the largest tonnage which are now being launched, which are in operation in many oceans of the world and which are in fact already coming to the north west coast of Australia. There is a need for the National Parliament and the National Government to exercise national functions. We have a precedent for joint activities between the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales in the Joint Coal Board, which operates for the benefit of the industry in terms of production and development. A similar joint authority ought to be set up to co-ordinate the activities of shipping and transport in Australia, and particularly to expand overseas trade, to extract the maximum profit from that trade, and, by the same token, to save foreign exchange. If ever we should have learnt a lesson, it has been in the last two years when controls were imposed by the United States and the United Kingdom on investment in this country. This Government is now scurrying around, ant-like, trying to do the best it can to get some relaxation of the United Kingdom restrictions. We live in a new age. We live in an age of technology, an age of giant ships, an age of science, and this Government is utterly unprepared for it. If I may draw a parallel, this Government is like the French Government which was considered to be ready in the Franco-Prussian war for the Napoleonic war and to be ready in World War II for the Franco-Prussian war. By the time this Government gets around to doing some thing, we will be in a new age in terms of shipping.
Today the rationale of containerisation is that all shipping is one integrated operation. First, let the Government integrate its administration and control and then let it integrate the whole process of transport from the point of production, over rail or road to the wharf, to loading into the ship and finally to unloading at the port on delivery. Super ships are a reality today. How many of the ten major ports of Australia are capable of accommodating them? In the two entrance channels to Sydney harbour, the maximum depth at low tide is only 42 feet. There are several hundreds of cargo vessels, tankers and super bulk carriers of the order of 80,000 tons and 100,000 tons sailing the oceans of the world today. Orders are in hand for ships of 120,000 tons. In fact, some such ships are under construction. One ship with a cargo carrying capacity of 150,000 tons has been launched in Japan. Already the United States is talking in terms of vessels of 250,000 tons and 300,000 tons capacity.
We can take Sydney as a classic example of our Australian ports. Sydney has one of the finest harbours in the world but it is one of the worst ports in terms of wharfage and cargo handling equipment. As a State parliamentarian, I was largely responsible for securing the construction of the Port Kembla inner harbour and I sought the best advice available. I was assured that a depth of 36 feet at the entrance channel would be adequate for any ship that was likely to come into that port. I was told that this would accommodate a ship of 45,000 tons to 50,000 tons. Maybe that advice was correct at the time. But shipping has developed on a very large scale. This development was associated to a very large extent with the closing of the Suez Canal at the time of the crisis over its control. At that time the shipping interests of the world discovered the benefits and the economies of scale that would result from super ships.
It was discovered that it was possible to cut down very considerably on the cost of construction of a vessel of 80,000 tons to 100,000 tons. At the present time, for instance, the Japanese tanker “ Tokyo Maru “ with a capacity of 150,000 tons is operated by a crew of 29. Twenty years ago a crew of 29 would not have been adequate to operate a cargo ship of 10,000 tons. This is the different world that we live in. It is impossible and really beyond the financial competence of the States of Australia to finance the necessary port development. It is a national responsibility. My belief is that it should be tackled on precisely that basis.
The Japanese today are leading the world in shipping in regard to costs, in the times of delivery, in types of vessels. The Japanese have wrested the lead - I regret to have to say it - from Britain, from the Clyde and from Belfast in particular. Although big ships are still being built there, in terms of cost, operating expenses and time of delivery, the Japanese have gone far ahead. We are losing out in this race also because the biggest ship that Australia can build is of the River Darling class which has a limit of 49,000 tons. Nothing bigger can be built at Whyalla, because of the problems of depth of water at the launching berth, I understand. But we also have to think in terms of super vessels. A super vessel has remarkable economies. The “ Tokyo Maru “, for instance, is capable of transporting fuel oil from the Persian Gulf to Japan for SUS.2 per ton compared with a freight rate of $US.4 per ton in respect of a normal tanker of 40,000 to 50,000 tons.
Australia is an island continent. We are of British stock. We follow the British tradition. We are part pf a maritime empire. By the sea we live. By the sea we develop. By the sea we will prosper. If we fail to keep our paramount place in the oceans of the world we will die. The problem is as simple as that. In relation to my own electorate Port Kembla at the present time in terms of tonnage is the sixth port of Australia. It was developed originally as a coal port of the open road style without the benefit of the protecting breakwaters, which were built subsequently. Further development came in the form of the establishment of a copper refining industry. Copper concentrates were unloaded on the jetties which were constructed there. This in turn Was followed by the development of a fertiliser industry with the treatment of guano from some of the Pacific islands. Then, in 1928, came the steel industry when Australian Iron and Steel Pty. Ltd. - Hoskins, as it then was - transferred its major undertaking from the Lithgow area to the harbour facilities of Port Kembla and the coal deposits of the Bulli coal seam.
Consequently, in the 12 years that I represented the district in the State Parliament, I followed the pattern of consistently developing that port to its fullest along those lines. But this was always with the ultimate thought that associated with this development of what is termed a heavy cargo port or a bottom cargo port would be its ultimate parallel development as a general cargo port for the hinterland of south-eastern New South Wales. Although I was responsible for the expenditure in those 12 years of some £20 million on that port, much remained to be done. At the time when I resigned from State Parliament, a coal loading plant had been built on the north-eastern side of the Port Kembla inner harbour and foresaw the rail link to the coal loading plant would serve also for the needs of a general cargo development on its northern boundary.
We have had today the benefit of a visit from the New South Wales Minister for Public Works, the Honorable Davis Hughes. Mr. Hughes came down to mend some political fences. Prior to the recent State election, the present Premier, Mr. Askin, came with a great flourish of trumpets to our city and said that a wheat silo would be constructed at Port Kembla to handle wheat from the Riverina area and other parts of New South Wales. He said that Kembla had glowing prospects of development as a major general cargo port. In point of fact, as subsequent developments have revealed, the State Government has announced a port development plan for the whole of New South Wales spread over a period of 10 years in which $166 million is to be spent. Of this sum an amount of $96 million is to be expended on the reconstruction of the port of Sydney; $58 million will be spent on the port of Newcastle; and $12 million is to be spent over a period, mark you, Sir, of 10 years on the remainder of the ports of New South Wales.
Precisely where does the port of Kembla fit into that pattern? It does not fit in at all. The present State representative of the area, who is a political novice in the kindergarten class, was handed a booby prize in the form of £250,000- $500,000- for the construction of a breakwater at the fishing port of Wollongong. As for the needs of Port Kembla - the sixth ranking port in Australia - we will get precisely nothing. But in the process of mending the political fences - Mr. Hughes obviously came down with his written instructions from the Premier that he would have to do a job of covering up - Mr. Hughes has announced that he is passionately interested in the area. He has said that he has the best interests of the port at heart - his heart even bleeds for us - and he announced a programme which will be spread over a period of 15 years, phased in .very nicely, of course, behind the 10 year period in which $166 million will be spent elsewhere, and under which we will get precisely nothing. This is a Kathleen Mavoureen stunt. It may be for years and it may be for ever. In the meantime, the port of Kembla will be left behind in the race for supremacy.
The port of Kembla is a very important port to Australia today. I propose to quote from the “ Australian Financial Review “ of 20th July 1965. A very stimulating article is to be found in this publication that every honorable member in this House who is interested in shipping and transport should read. The “ Australian Financial Review “ makes the point that general shipping trends call for a start on super ports. This is the gravamen of the argument. In relation to the various ports of Australia the article states that the logical ports to develop immediately are those of Newcastle and Port Kembla which are Australia’s two main steel ports and which account for the bulk of coal export shipments from New South Wales. These ports account also for 90 per cent, of the current Australian steel making capacity. I commend the writer of this article for the breadth of his knowledge of the steel and coal industry. The article points out that in the case of Britain both Richard Thomas and Baldwins and the Steel Company of Wales plans to lift their service port capacity from 10,000 ton vessels to those in the 60,000 to 100,000 ton range. It points out also that that will represent a cost advantage of some 4 per cent, to British steel compared with the present price of steel landed on the wharves. It is further calculated that a similar investment in the case of Port Kembla and Newcastle would completely cover the outlay within a period of five years. In five years, it is also pointed out, the likely super port construction in steel producing centres could considerably erode Australia’s traditional cost advantages in steel making. The case of Japan is cited. Japan is well endowed with natural deep water harbours but it still thinks little of building piers two miles out to sea to work mammoth vessels. The final point made is that without super ports in Australian steel making centres this country’s mills could operate at a considerable freight disadvantage.
A system of priorities needs to be evolved for Port Kemba The first need, of course, is the deepening of the harbour to accommodate vessels of 80,000 to 100,000 tons - those same vessels which are calling at the northern ports of Australia today. A paradox is that by the early 1970’s Australia will be despatching 100,000 ton ore carriers from several ports in Western Australia but will still not be able to handle vessels of over 50,000 tons at Port Kembla and even less at Newcastle. The export of steel represents probably one of the best opportunities that Australia has of adding quickly and substantially to its export revenue. The second priority obviously is the provision of docking facilities at Port Kembla. I had the honour to be for eight years a member of the Port Kembla Harbour Advisory Committee under the aegis of the Maritime Services Board of New South Wales. The need for the establishment of docking facilities was repeatedly stressed by that Committee. If a modern engineering industry is to be established in Port Kembla a dock is absolutely essential. We look to the Commonwealth Government to give to Port Kembla the same treatment that has been accorded to the port of Newcastle where, under the terms of a special arrangement, a floating dock has been established. I do not care whether it is a floating dock or a graving dock that is established at Port Kembla. Under the arrangement made between the Commonwealth and the New South Wales Government the dock at Newcastle is under the control of the State Government, but for defence purposes the Commonwealth has the right to use it. A similar arrangement should exist in relation to Port Kembla.
A general cargo dock is, of course, absolutely essential. From the very nature of the development of Port Kembla with cranes on the wharves and with the use of ship’s gear for the heaviest lifts it is impossible to build cargo sheds, or, as they are called in the trade, transit sheds, for the sheltering and the storage of general cargo. Another obvious requirement is a new rail connecting link. I am not referring merely to an improvement in the present rail link between Port Kembla and Moss Vale. A new link is necessary in order to tap primary produce from western New South Wales now shipped at Sydney through Granville Junction, and this link should be between Liverpool and Wollongong. If that link were provided goods from the rural export producing areas of New South Wales could be diverted to Port Kembla, which would solve the problems of congestion which arises because of Sydney city traffic congestion and because of the lack of rail links to the great majority of the present wharves in Sydney Harbour.
– What is the rail link to Port Kembla like?
– We could get a link from Liverpool through Dark’s Forest and Helensburgh. It would be quite practicable to construct such a link and it would considerably relieve congestion in the port of Sydney.
There has been considerable interest within recent years in securing shipment of wool through Port Kembla. Various trading interests within the city of Wollongong have advocated that the whole of the wool sold at Goulburn should be shipped from Port Kembla. I only hope that it can be. but first a general cargo wharf must be established and, secondly, transit sheds must be constructed. There are certain very real difficulties in the way. One hundred and twenty thousand bales of wool are exported annually from Goulburn out of a total sale of 140,000 bales sold at that city. At the present time - I refer honorable members to the terms of the Tait Committee’s report - the whole of the transportation of Australian wool, 65 per cent, of which goes by the overseas conference lines to the United Kingdom and the continent of Europe, is in the hands of the liner trade. The liner trade is concentrated on the capital cities because a liner, as its name implies, follows a regular schedule and calls at specified ports at regular times.
The overseas conference lines, or the combine, whichever term honorable members like to use, has carefully cut up - I refer honorable members to schedule 9 of the Tait Committee report - the whole of the wool export trade between 11 or 12 shipping firms. The problem which will naturally arise will be this: Is it possible or practicable for the liners, having taken a major part of their cargo on board at Sydney, to call at Port Kembla, take on board comparatively small consignments of wool and pay the extra harbour dues involved? As I see the picture, the obtaining of a shipment of wool from Port Kembla will be through the establishment of an Australian national shipping line, because until the Australian Government moves into this, the most profitable of all forms of freight’, and uses the saving we will make to offset the cost of establishing an Australian national shipping line, we will not get such a line. This is the most valuable form of freight as it bears the highest cost of any major form of bulk freight from Australia. Our wool should be carried in our own vessels. If containerisation means anything it is quite possible for shipping to be concentrated and the wool loaded info wool ships. These ships could form the nucleus of an Australian national shipping line.
There is also the question of the export of wheat. Whilst I desire to see wheat exported through Port Kembla, it is necessary to face the realities of the position. We must consider that the whole of the southern Riverina at the present time is tapped by a network of rail communications which link up with the ports of Melbourne. Geelong and Portland. It is practicable, of course, for Port Kembla to tap the production of the northern Riverina area through rail junctions at Cootamundra and Junee.
In conclusion I want to say that I share with my colleague the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) the desire to safeguard the interests of waterfront employment in the event of a containerisation trade being established. Unfortunately, the establishment of this trade is not so simple as it sounds. A comment by Captain Williams of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission was published in yesterday’s “ Canberra Times “. I think his comment is very well balanced and absolutely correct. Speaking of containerisation he said -
The introduction of ships built specifically to handle cargo in container form would not solve Australia’s problems of import and export shipments at this stage.
Captain Williams went on to say -
From such studies as we have made it seems that the trade we are dealing with may be better served by looking at the utilisation concept in comparison with the containerisation concept.
I believe that, while goods shipped from Australia are almost 100 per cent, containerisable, only 60- 70 per cent, of our imports, say, from the U.K. can be shipped in containers. lt is possible that vessels converted so that they can carry a mixture of loose cargo and containerised cargo on deck and in the hatches may be suitable as an intermediate step towards the introduction of the more sophisticated form of container vessel.
In conclusion, I want to revert to the general trading needs of Port Kembla. With 300,000 people in the City of Greater Wollongong, in the City of Goulburn and in the City of Canberra, due consideration should be given not merely to the export trade but also to the import trade, and there is obviously a very real advantage in using Port Kembla as the point of entry of a greater volume of our imports.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Wentworth) adjourned.
Consideration of Senate’s amendments. Clause 23.
A person is not eligible to be appointed to be a Judge of the Federal Court of Bankruptcy unless -
Senate’s amendment No. 1.
In paragraph (b) after “ State “ insert “ or of a Territory “.
– I move -
That Senate’s amendment No. 1 be agreed to.
Senate’s amendment No. 1 was to insert in clause 23, paragraph (b), the words “ or of a Territory “ after the word “ State “. The Committee will recall that this clause dealt with the qualification of a person for appointment to judicial office, and it required that he be a practitioner of a State for five years. The Senate thought that the words “ or of a Territory “ should be included and the Government accepts this amendment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 39. (1.) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other Act, but subject to the next succeeding subsection, an appeal does not lie to the High Court from a judgment, order or sentence of the Court given, made or pronounced under this Act except by leave of the Court or of the High Court. (2.) An appeal lies to the High Court from an order of the Court being a sequestration order or, on a question of law, from an order of the Court convicting a person of an offence against this Act. (3.) Notice of an appeal or application for leave to appeal shall be filed in the office of the Registrar for the District in which the judgment, order or sentence was given, made or pronounced within seven days after notice of the appeal or application for leave to appeal has been filed in the High Court or other Court.
Senate’s amendment No. 2.
Leave out sub-clause (2.), insert the following sub-clause: - “ (2.) An appeal lies to the High Court from an order of the Court, being -
a sequestration order;
an order convicting a person of an offence against this Act -
on a question of fact - involving a fine exceeding Two hundred dollars or imprisonment for six months;
on a question of law; or
an order involving a civil right or pro perty amounting to, or of the value of, Three thousand dollars.”.
– I move -
That the Senate’s amendment No. 2 be disagreed to but that the clause be amended as follows -
Omit sub-clause (2.), insert the following subclause, - “ (2.) An appeal lies to the High Court -
from a sequestration order made by the
from a judgment or order of the Court involving directly or indirectly a claim, demand or question to or respecting any property or any civil right amounting to or of the value of Three thousand dollars;
from an order of the Court convicting a person of an offence against this Act, being an order that imposes a sentence of imprisonment for a period exceeding six months; or
on a question of law, from any order of the Court convicting a person of an offence against this Act.”.
This clause deals with the circumstances in which an appeal may be taken from a court exercising bankruptcy jurisdiction, that is, the Federal Court of Bankruptcy or a State Supreme Court, to the High Court. The Bill as passed by this House provided for the following system of appeals from a court exercising bankruptcy jurisdiction:
an appeal would lie as of right in the following cases:
in all other cases an appeal would lie by leave of the bankruptcy court or of the High Court.
The Bill was amended in another place to provide for the following system of appeals:
Court would lie in the following cases:
an order involving a civil right or property amounting to $3,000; and
The changes thus made in clause 39 (2.) involve giving a right of appeal in the following additional cases:
Although, under the existing bankruptcy law, an appeal lies as of right to the High Court in all cases from a court exercising bankruptcy jurisdiction it is clear that, having regard to the burden of work faced by the High Court and to the status of that Court, there must be some limitation on the right of appeal. I do not think that in any case an appeal as of right on a question of fact from a conviction resulting in only a pecuniary penalty should be granted. The maximum pecuniary penalty under the Bill is $500. Appeal in these cases otherwise than on a question of law should be by leave. Under the Judiciary Act, an appeal lies as of right from a State Supreme Court to the High Court on a civil matter where the subject matter involved amounts to $3,600. In criminal cases and in other civil cases an appeal to the High Court lies only by special leave.
Having in mind all of the arguments which have been advanced on this matter, I have come to the conclusion that the provisions of the Judiciary Act should be followed in civil matters. In criminal matters, having in mind that the criminal jurisdiction of a bankruptcy court is a summary jurisdiction, I am prepared to accept the principle that a person should have the right of appeal in a case where conviction has resulted in his being deprived of his liberty for a substantial period. Accordingly, the amendment which I now propose provides for an appeal as of right against a conviction where the sentence imposed is a term of imprisonment exceeding sue months and from a judgment of the bankruptcy court which involves directly or indirectly any property or civil right amounting to $3,000. This will, of course, be in addition to the provisions providing for an appeal as of right against a sequestration order or against a conviction when the appeal relates to a question of law only. In all other cases appeals will lie by leave. I should make it clear that in essence there has been an acceptance of the amendment moved in the Senate. The Draftsman has made some alterations to the method of expression but the only exception from what was moved in the Senate is this: The Senate proposed that there should be an appeal as of right to the High Court when there was a fine of $200. It does seem that to make this provision would be to overload the High Court unduly or unduly to provide additional jurisdictions for the High Court when, I think we would all agree, the High Court should be protected from what are relatively minor matters. I should point out that even though there is no appeal as of right from this pecuniary penalty if the House accepts the amendment that I propose, there is an appeal if the pecuniary penalty involves a point of law, and there is in any event a right to obtain leave either of the bankruptcy court or of the High Court. I commend the amendment to the House.
.- In another place, the amendment was carried because honorable senators felt some misgivings at the loss of the right of appeal which had stood in the Bankruptcy Act since it was first enacted by this Parliament in 1924. The Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) has given reasons for modifying the amendment which came to us from the other place. I have had the advantage of conferring with my learned colleagues in the other place. They agree with me that the AttorneyGeneral’s views on this modification of the amendment, which my colleagues in another place supported, are well founded. Accordingly we in this place will support the amendment, as we will support all the other amendments which have come from the other place - in this case and in one later case with some modification which will be moved by the Attorney-General.
We are aware, as is the Attorney-General, and as was his predecessor, of the difficulty that the High Court is experiencing in being the court of appeal from all Federal courts, both the Territory courts and those with specific jurisdictions, such as the Bankruptcy Court. We wish the Attorney-General well in his efforts to establish a Commonwealth appeal court intermediate between the Bankruptcy Court and the High Court; between the Territory supreme courts and the High Court. The creation of such a court, equivalent to the full courts of the State supreme courts, will obviate many of the matters with which the High Court is at present burdened.
This is an appropriate occasion to say that the Attorney-General and his predecessor have in the last th,ee years gracefully accepted amendments moved in the other place to bills which they have introduced here, lt may be useful to list those bills. They were the Air Accidents (Commonwealth Liability) Bill 1963, the Crimes (Aircraft) Bill 1963, the Service and Execution of Process Bill 1963, the Crimes (Overseas) Bill 1964 and the Trade Practices Bill 1965. These have been happy outcomes of very careful consideration which has been given to these bills in another place. The AttorneyGeneral and his predecessor have accepted some amendments which have been moved to these bills in this place as well. I would make the suggestion that it might not be amiss for us to have a joint standing committee on law reform. There is a very great measure of agreement on technical matters in the legal field, as we found in relation to the bills I have just recalled, and on this Bill. There are other bills, particularly in the industrial property field, which will be coming from the Attorney-General in the Budget session. He has already made a second reading speech on the Trade Practices Bill. This may include matters of policy as well as technique. He has made a statement forecasting the introduction in the Budget session of a bill relating to copyright. This will be a bill altogether technical in character. I think we can say from our experience on all the Bills I have mentioned that there is a very great deal of agreement between the two Houses and between both sides of both Houses. The bills concern subjects which must come before this Parliament and which could, I feel, be well dealt with by a standing committee. It is too rigid a procedure to have to move amendments at the second reading or Committee stages in the two Houses. If there were a joint standing committee we could deal with these subjects less formally and more rapidly and with the same happy result as has been achieved in all these cases.
As I have said, the Opposition will support this amendment and the other amendments in this chamber, and this and a later one to which the Attorney-General is moving a modification the Opposition will sup port when they go to the other place. The result of our efforts - both chambers, both sides, and the expert committee which reported to the Government and whose report was presented to the Parliament - is that in just under 12 years we shall have achieved a very much more effective and modern Bankruptcy Act. I take the opportunity of complimenting the Attorney-General on the fruition of the efforts of Sir John Spicer, Sir Neil O’sullivan, Sir Garfield Barwick and himself.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 109. (1.) Subject to this Act and to sections 221p and 22 1 yu of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1965, the trustee shall, before applying the proceeds of the property of the bankrupt in making any other payments, apply those proceeds in the following order: -
Senate’s amendment No. 3.
In sub-clause (1.), paragraph (g), leave out “by accident “.
Clause 139. (3.) Where a trustee of the estate of a bankrupt carries on a business previously carried on by the bankrupt, he is not personally liable for any payment in respect of long service leave for which the bankrupt was liable or for any payment in respect of long service leave to which a person employed by him in his capacity as trustee of the estate of the bankrupt, or the legal personal representative of such a person, becomes entitled after the date of the bankruptcy.
Senate’s amendment No. 4.
After sub-clause (3.), add the following subclause: - “ (4.) This section does not affect any liability of the trustee of the estate of a bankrupt other than personal liability.”.
Clause 149. (1.) Subject to this section, a person who becomes a bankrupt after the commencement of this Act is, by force of this section, unless sooner discharged in accordance with the next succeeding section, discharged from bankruptcy upon the expiration of five years from the date of the bankruptcy. (2.) Subject to this section, a person who was an undischarged bankrupt immediately before the commencement of this Act, whether he became a bankrupt under a law of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory, is, by force of this section, unless sooner discharged in accordance with the next succeeding section, discharged from bankruptcy upon the expiration of five years from the commencement of this Act. (3.) This section does not operate to discharge a bankrupt from a bankruptcy if -
Senate’s amendment No. 5.
In sub-clause (2.), leave out “ five years from the commencement of this Act”, insert “three years from the commencement of this Act or five years from the date on which the sequestration order was made against his estate or he otherwise became a bankrupt, whichever is the later “.
Clause 216. (3.) The time within which a deed of assignment or a deed of arrangement is to be executed shall not be extended under section 33 of this Act after its expiration.
Senate’s amendment No. 6.
Leave out sub-clause (3.).
– I move-
That Senate’s amendments Nos. 3 to 6 be agreed to.
I point out to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) that it will not be necessary for me to make a modification to any of these amendments. There appeared to be a typographical error, but it has been resolved. The effect of Senate’s amendment No. 3 is to leave out of paragraph (g) of sub-clause (1.) of clause 109 the words “ by accident “. This provision deals with the priorities which are accorded to payments to be made for compensation. In some States - I know it is so in Victoria - the words “ by accident “ do not appear in the workers compensation legislation and elsewhere and it was thought desirable to leave them out of this provision. The Government accepts the amendment.
Amendment No. 4 adds to clause 139 a new subclause (4.). In looking at this matter, the Senate was considering the clause which exempts personal liability of a trustee when he is doing certain things in pursuance of his trusteeship, but one of the things a trustee may do is carry on a business. While he is exempted from personal liability, the provision there added by the additional sub-clause was that the clause was not to affect the liability of the trustee of the estate of the bankrupt other than his personal liability. The Government accepts this amendment.
Amendment No. 5 refers to sub-clause (2.) of clause 149. The provision deals with the automatic discharge of a bankrupt after a period of time. The original provision was for automatic discharge after five years. In another place in the course of debate it was put in argument that there were circumstances where five years was too long. If, for instance, the sequestration order had been made six years prior to the commencement of this Act then the period of automatic discharge should be only three years but if, on the other hand, the sequestration order had been made two years before the coming into effect of this Act it would be three years after the coming into effect. The consequence is that there is what one might call a retrospective effect of up to two years prior to the coming into effect of the Act if the sequestration was made before the coming into effect of the Act. The Government accepts this amendment.
The sixth amendment refers to clause 216 and proposes to leave out sub-clause (3.). This particular provision deals with the capacity to extend time in a particular circumstance. The particular circumstance here concerned is where a debtor who is required to enter into his composition cannot, in respect of the deed of assignment or the deed of arrangement, have the opportunity to have the time extended under section 33 of the Act after the expiration of the time. In argument in the other place it was put that there could be circumstances in which the debtor ought to have the opportunity of an extended time. For instance, it was put that if he became stricken by a serious illness just before the time expired he would not be able to fulfil his obligation and he might need to get an extension of time and that, in any case, it would be within the court’s control and the court would itself decide whether it was proper for him to be given extended time.
I must say that the Committee, which was composed of experts and men experienced and practised in the field, strongly recommended this sub-clause, based on the experience that they had had. On the other hand the arguments in the other place were very persuasive and I have come to the conclusion that the best thing to do in this case is to accept the amendment and then if it proves at some time in the future that it is not working in practice that would constitute a reason to come back to the Parliament to put new facts before the Parliament and to seek to persuade it to alter the provision. In the meantime - and I do not use the qualified sense, but I put it in its full inclusive sense - the Government does accept this amendment.
I believe that if all these amendments are accepted here and in another place and the Bill is finally passed, after the regulations and so on are drawn up the people of Australia will have a very good piece of bankruptcy legislation, much to the credit of the Committee which formulated the report and to the members of this House and of the other place who have given such painstaking care to it.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Resolution reported; report adopted.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 3) 1965-66. Second Reading.
Debate resumed (vide page 1715).
– I should like to refer, if I may, to some matters within the province of the Department of External Affairs. Perhaps the most important and significant thing that has occurred recently is the alleged detonation of a thermonuclear bomb by Communist China. I say “ alleged detonation “ because I am not certain whether it is propaganda or reality. It has been put by some people that this is a mere pretence - a propaganda bomb. This may or may not be true. I do not know whether it is true or not. It is at least certain that it will not be long before Communist China is capable of detonating a thermonuclear device, so for the purposes of argument I am prepared to accept the detonation as a detonation of a thermonuclear device. What does this mean? It means that Communist China has surmounted another step and is capable of manufacturing weapons of mass destruction - but not yet in quantity. The quantity it has so far is not yet dangerous. One or two thermonuclear devices mean very little, but if Communist China has one or two now it will not be long before they will be available in greater numbers. If the claim of Communist China is correct that this was a thermonuclear device - and I would be prepared to accept that as a working hypothesis at present - then we face the position that although Communist China is as yet weak in this department of mass destruction it will not be weak for very many more years. What are the consequences of this?
I want to read to the House some extracts from a speech made on 14th February 1964 by Mr. Suslov to the plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party in Moscow. This is the keynote speech which formed the basis of the resolution that was subsequently adopted. I intend to read these extracts for the moment more or less without comment. May I say that I am reading them from the Moscow news text, which is the official Russian text in English of this speech. I think the House and the country might well take note of what was said of Communist China by the leading Russian organisation, the Central
Committee. It at least bad a view of what Communist China was doing. The extracts are as follows -
The Chinese leaders refused to take all that into consideration. Plainly showing off their irresponsible attitude, they affirm that the nuclear bomb is a “paper tiger” and in no way affects the issue of war and peace. Tn keeping with this logic, which runs counter to elementary common sense, Mao Tse-tung, speaking at the Moscow Meeting in 1957, argued that the struggle for Socialism even stood to gain from a world thermonuclear war. “ Can we foresee “, he said, “ the number of human lives that the future war may take? It may be one-third of the 2,700 million inhabitants of the world, that is, a mere 900 million people. I had an argument over this matter with Nehru. He is more pessimistic in this respect than I. I told him that should half of mankind be destroyed, the other half would survive; in return, imperialism would be wiped out completely and there would be only Socialism in the world. In half a century or a whole century, the population would grow again - even by more than half”.
Mr. Suslov goes on to say
No party that really cherishes the interests of the people can fail to appreciate its responsibility in the struggle for averting another world war. Yet the Chinese leaders, as we have seen, even boast that, allegedly for “the sake of the revolution”, they are prepared to agree to the destruction of half of mankind.
He goes on to recount the conversations of Mao Tse-tung with other leaders of Communist parties that follow the same line, saying that if the Communist Chinese leaders get the bomb they are prepared to work for the destruction of over half of mankind. Then he goes on to say that the opposition of the Chinese leaders to the policy of peaceful co-existence is closely tied up with their position on disarmament. He says -
The dangerous, adventurist views and propositions on questions of war and peace that the Chinese Communist Party leaders wanted to impose upon the fraternal Parties have quite understandably been categorically rejected. . . .
Then he says -
It is well known that the Chinese Communist Party leaders insistently sought to obtain the atomic bomb from the Soviet Union. They expressed their deep mortification when our country did not give them samples of nuclear weapons.
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Government have already explained why we consider it inexpedient to help China produce nuclear weapons.
I will not go on. I think the quotations speak for themselves. These are not my words. They are the words of the Soviet leaders, who are very well versed in what the Chinese leaders are plotting and mean.
In the light of this, we can understand what has happened. We see as an observed fact the split between the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party of China. This originated in 1959 when the Communist Party of the Soviet Union withdrew its economic aid from Communist China. But perhaps we have not realised until recently what this was all about. I suggest to the House that the speech of Mr. Suslov, given in 1964, does provide the clue to what really happened. What really happened was this: Stalin - the infamous Stalin - did plot world war when Russia was armed with nuclear weapons. He died or was assassinated at the time when Russia was just obtaining nuclear arms; so he could not carry his plot into effect. The people who succeeded him or perhaps assassinated him believed that the potential of nuclear destruction was so great that not even the Russian Communist system could face it. But the Chinese believed differently. The Chinese remained followers of the Stalin plan, and this was their difference with Russia.
The Chinese pressed the Stalin plan. They allied themselves with the old Stalinists in Russia, who at that time - I do not know what the position is now - were in the minority. The Russians thought they could control the Chinese. There was a conference in 1957, when Mao Tse-tung came to Moscow. It is not often that one believes a Russian Communist, but I believe that for once Suslov is telling the truth, that in 1964 he gave the true account for the first time of what happened in Moscow in 1957. This explains the split. Mao Tse-tung came to Moscow and demanded that the Russians keep on with the Stalin plan. He intimated to the Russians and to Communist Parties in other parts of Europe that the Chinese proposed to proceed with the Stalin plan, even if the Russians did not. The Russians then did something that was at the time perhaps a little difficult for us to understand. The Russians withdrew their economic aid from Communist China. As Mr. Suslov has said, the Chinese were exerting pressure on the Russians to give them nuclear capacity, and the mortification of the Chinese arose, Mr. Suslov says, because the Russians refused to give the Chinese that nuclear capacity. But further than this, the Russians, in order to 1 think that the House would do well to remember that this sort of thing does not them is a little bit - not much - or tritium, happen at random. It is a great step for a doctrinaire party, such as the Chinese Communist Party, to violate the fundamental canon of Communist unity, the monolithic structure of the world Communist Parties. Yet this happened. There must have been some very big and deep motive for this extraordinary action that we observed and admit happened. I put it to the House that there can be no other sufficiently grave motive than the one I have suggested. If this is so, what is the position that we face today? The worst fears have been realised. The power to destroy half of mankind - not just a few tens of thousands or tens of millions of people but half of mankind - will shortly lie in the hands of people who intend to use it, at least according to the Russians. lt does not lie there now. There are still years before it will be lying there, but unless something is done it will be there. Are we to stand aside while these criminals, who, on the evidence of their Russian comrades, will not scruple to risk the death of half of mankind, obtain the weapons of destruction by which they can do it? I pose the question. I wonder whether we have the moral right to commit this sin of omission, to allow this thing to happen. Sins of omission are no better than sins of commission in this regard. If what the Russians say is true, the Hitler adventures and things of that description were mere child’s play where a few tens of millions of lives were at stake.
But, indeed, whatever was said in 1964 pales into insignificance beside what can be said in 1966, in 1967 or in 1968 because these powers of destruction are not decreasing - they are increasing. The world will act in time or the world will take the consequences of its own sin of omission. On the evidence of the Russians, their comrades, here are war criminals - aggressors - who make Hitler look like an innocent child.
Now let me come down from these matters and say something about the physical things which lie behind this. We know that the Chinese Communists have exploded at least three nuclear weapons. We do not know as yet whether any of them were thermonuclear weapons, but let us think of what is involved. The first weapons, as we know from our analysis of the fallout, were weapons based on uranium 235 which is obtained in a separation plant and which requires a very high degree of technical skill. There were some people who thought that these initial weapons were not produced by the Chinese but were simply the result of cannibalisation of the enriched uranium which the Russians had given them before 1958. This might have been true for two weapons; I doubt whether it could be true for three because there would not have been enough enriched uranium. At all events it would now be established in the minds of most competent scientists that the Chinese were capable of producing, at any rate, some quantity of refined uranium 235. This gave them one kind of fission trigger.
It may be that, as they boast, they have also got reactors which can produce plutonium, the other kind of fission trigger. These little triggers which are capable of producing explosions of a few hundred thousand tons of T.N.T. equivalent, capable of destroying a small city but not a big one, can be used to detonate a thermonuclear bomb. What is necessary in order to build them is a little bit - not much - of tritium. Tritium is produced, as all honorable members know, from lithium in a nuclear reaction. The irradiation of lithium in a nuclear reactor gives tritium. Now, has China got such a reactor? It says it has. I do not know. But a reactor is a much less complicated thing to build than the separation plants which we admit she has built. There is reason to think, therefore, that she has a reactor. Then what other things are needed? A fair quantity of lithium 6, deuteride, is needed. This is a comparatively simple thing to manufacture. Compared with the difficulty of separating the two isotopes of uranium, this is child’s play to manufacture. It would be foolish to think that China cannot provide the lithium 6 deuteride. Then she needs uranium, and there is every reason to think that she has plenty of uranium available - ample stocks of uranium.
Given these things, there is still need for a great deal of experiment and a great deal of technology. These are not insuperable things. For a power which has no regard for human life, two or three years experimentation is what is needed. If a country has regard for safety precautions, which Communist China does not have, then it would be a longer period, as France is finding out.
Under these conditions, how long have we got? We certainly have some time. The crisis is not on us now. We may have two, three, four or five years altogether. We do not want to be dogmatic, but this is the correct order of magnitude to assign to the time that we have in front of us. It could be two years or three years - 1 do not know - but we do have some time. But we do not have much time and we have not much time in comparison with the time necessary for changes of heart to take place in the leadership and control of Communist China.
I am not trying to draw a moral. At the present moment 1 am trying only to put stark facts before the House and the country. While we are worrying about trivialities, and the things that are consuming us in our debates on foreign policy are comparative trivialities, this thing is happening. What are we going to do about it? Do we remain in paralysed immobility while the destruction of half mankind is plotted and prepared? Is this the right thing to do? I ask the House. The House may have some kind of answer.
I point out to the House once again that there has been this split between Russia and China. I am not taking it necessarily at its face value, but I have given the Russian version of it. I do not think that the Russians are the goodies in this by any means and it may be that they are artfully playing Chinese intransigence in order to get us to accept them as the lesser of two evils. I do not put this beyond the bounds of logic. This may well be the point. But I still say that the balance of world power will change terrifically if and when China becomes possessed of full nuclear capacity. She is not in that position at the present time. This boast that China possesses nuclear power may well be a tactic of terror meant to impress us and Asia and, indeed, the world. But even if it is at present an empty tactic of terror, the real and substantial threat is not many years away. Let us think about these things.
Finally, let me remind the House of a paradox. Ostensibly, China split with Russia because she regarded Russia as revisionist - that is, unwilling to risk world war for the sake of Communist revolution. This is agreed on both sides. Yet China, which is immediately adjacent to the Vietnam war, has not seen fit openly to send her armies into Vietnam. Let honorable members ponder this. If Russia split with China on this issue of revisionism - and both sides agree on this - what are these critics of revisionism doing about Vietnam? I shall tell the House. They are doing one thing. Nothing will provoke them into war while they are getting ready to prepare world devastation. In this, China is like the soft shelled lobster that cannot be brought out of its hole.
The only reason why the Chinese are not intervening with open force in Vietnam is a reason that honorable members might well ponder: They are getting ready for something worse. Above everything else, until they are ready to go forward with their plot against the world, they want to protect against destruction and attack the nuclear installations and arsenals from behind which they are plotting world murder. Let us take them at their own face value. Let us consider what they have said about themselves, and what Russia has said about them, for, in this instance, the two are the same thing. Both say, in effect, that they have split because the Chinese regard the Russians as revisionists who will not risk world war. Yet the Chinese Communists, when war comes to their borders, are not prepared for the sake of Communist revolution - and that is what the Vietnam war is - openly to intervene. Why have they betrayed their own principles - the principles that led them to this traumatic split with Russia? There can be only one reason: They are getting ready for something worse. I ask the members of this Parliament and the members of other Parliaments around the world: Is conforming to Communist strategy the right tactic for us?
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I wonder whether the few honorable members who are present in the chamber this evening have really registered what an extraordinary speech we have just heard from the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). Indeed, it would seem to me all the more extraordinary if I had not heard similar sentiments voiced by him on several occasions previously. This evening, he has postulated to us the tremendous threat of China in its acquisition of nuclear power. He speaks of our sins oi omission. Admittedly tonight, he did not quite reach the point that he had the brazen effrontery to get to on a previous occasion. On other occasions, he has pictured for us this tremendous threat and has then gone one step further to postulate what is in his view necessary in order to deal with what he describes as this great threat to mankind. If 1 remember rightly - the honorable member can correct me if I am wrong - on previous occasions he reached the point of suggesting that mankind could be saved from this evil power only by what he termed the denuclearisation of continental China, or Communist China. He did not quite get to that point tonight. But he suggested it in no uncertain manner. As I said earlier, the honorable member talked about our sins of omission and said that they could be just as important as our sins of commission. Apparently he regards as a sin of omission our failure to deal with China at this stage before she attains the ultimate status of a world nuclear power.
In the last few” weeks, the public Press in this country has intensely scrutinised the speeches of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). 1 have read accusations to the effect that he has one policy one day and another the next. I have read allegations about so called divisions within the Australian Labour Party on foreign policy. Earnestly and sincerely, and with a sense of responsibility, I now put to the Government the question’. Are the views that have been expressed this evening and on previous occasions by the honorable member for Mackellar the views of a significant number of Government supporters in this House? Do they also accept this theory that China is on the eve of becoming a devastatingly evil power that will bring only mass destruction to mankind throughout the world? Do a significant number of Government supporters hold the view that if we are to deal with the situation and avoid this tremendous threat, we must somehow or other - the honorable member for Mackellar did not quite say how - get to the point of denuclearising Communist China? On a previous occasion, he went further. I am depending on memory now. If I remember correctly, on that occasion he said that we should be prepared to drop bombs on Chinese nuclear plants before the Chinese had attained full development of nuclear power, which the honorable member envisaged would occur in three, four or maybe five years, though he was not prepared to be dogmatic about this. I believe that the people of Australia are entitled to know whether his view is shared by a significant number of Government supporters. But when the question is posed, silence reigns supreme.
– Does the honorable member dismiss lightly everything that the honorable member for Mackellar said this evening?
– A very serious postulation has been put to the House tonight and I believe that we are entitled to know the answer to the question: Is this attitude shared by a significant number of Government supporters? If it is, a number of features in the Government’s foreign policy and in the advocacy of a number of people start to become understandable. One can only suspect - and suspect strongly - that there are in this country, as there are in the United States of America and other countries, extremists who are prepared to work as hard as they can to provoke China into participating in the war in Vietnam. Nothing would give them more satisfaction and nothing would be more in accord with the solution postulated by the honorable member for Mackellar tonight than escalation of the war in Vietnam.
– What rot.
Mr. REYNOLDS^ suggest to the honorable member that this is a reasonable interpretation of the views expressed by the honorable member for Mackellar.
– He did not say anything about that.
– The honorable member for Mackellar himself does not deny what I have said. The interpretation that I have placed on his remarks seems to be perfectly logical. How else is the situation to be dealt with in his view? He has not been in any way backward or shy about saying what he intends or wants anyone to do. He speaks about denuclearisation. What else can that mean but the destruction by th ^ Western powers of the instruments that China has at the moment and which it hopes to perfect? This latest incident shows that China is making progress along those lines. I do not believe that honorable members even on the Government side regard me as holding extremist views on this matter. I seldom talk on foreign affairs. I shall not talk much about the Vietnam question until 1 have had an opportunity, along with other honorable members on both sides, of going to Vietnam and making a first hand inspection, limited as it may be, in a month’s time. But what has happened tonight does raise for me. as I am sure it must for many parents like myself who have sons coming up to military age, the thought that Australia’s foreign policy could be in the hands of people who are out deliberately to provoke war with China in order to have the opportunity to denuclearise China, to use the expression used by the honorable member for Mackellar.
I do not want to go much further on that matter. 1 only hope that we shall get some clarification and further elaboration of the honorable member’s ideas. The people of Australia are entitled to know what the position is. If the views expressed by the honorable member for Mackellar are not the views of a significant number of Government members but the views of only a few, I hope that the Government will show some tolerance for the opposing major political party in this country if its members have some shades of difference in their attitudes to this conflict, lt is as plain as a pikestaff that the views expressed by the honorable member for Mackellar will be disowned completely by many Government members. At any rate, I hope so. I fervently pray that they will be disowned heartily by the overwhelming majority of Government members. If they are not, I can hardly reconcile the Government’s foreign policy and defence policy with its trade policy. How could any member of the Government with any sense of honesty, any sense of political integrity or any sense of morality hold views such as the honorable member for
Mackellar has put forward tonight and still engage in substantial trade with a country that he believes to have the potential evil genius that the honorable member for Mackellar postulates?
– I ask the honorable member to yield for a moment. He has put a number of questions to me. I am quite willing to answer them, but I can do so only if he yields to me.
– 1 hope the honorable member will take the opportunity that will be available to him. I shall be quite happy to hear him.
– I ask the honorable member to give me an opportunity now.
– The honorable member will have plenty of opportunities to reply, and I hope he will take them. I hope he will give us the benefit of an elaboration of his views. I hope he will say with a little more specificity what he means in relation to this business of the awful threat and what must be done to meet it. Honorable members seem to be amused at the use of the word “ specificity “. I think it is quite a good one. I submit that it is a reasonable word to use. The honorable member for Mackellar is again asking me to yield. I do not intend to answer the honorable member across the chamber at the moment. I have other things to do.
I am asking how any member of the Government parties, especially a member of the Country Party, can hold views such as those put forward by the honorable member for Mackellar tonight, or any views akin to them, and still engage in the very substantial and increasing trade that we have with China at the present time. Earlier tonight my colleague the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) quoted some statistics. In 1963-64 our exports of wool, wheat, minerals, iron and steel to China were worth £84 million and we imported from that country goods to the value of £8.1 million. How can members of the Government reconcile that position with the views that have been expressed tonight by the honorable member for Mackellar? After all, it is for Government members to excuse this trade; it is not for us to excuse it. Sometimes the question is turned back on us and we are asked whether we would trade with China. That is beside the point.
We are asking honorable members on the Government side to argue from the basis of their assumptions about what kind of power China is and what kind of threat she holds out to the world. If Government members, even those holding less extreme views than those that have been voiced by the honorable member for Mackellar tonight, put forward a foreign policy, it is up to them to show how the Government’s trade with China fits in with that foreign policy, lt has been argued by some Government members that we should keep the door open, that we should be placatory to China. What a dramatic contrast that is with the views that the honorable member for Mackellar has expressed tonight. How many other members of the Government hold views similar to those expressed by the honorable member for Mackellar? 1 hope we will hear a little less about the so called divisive policies within the Labour Party and that closer attention will be given to the wide range of foreign policies and defence policies held by members of the Government parties.
I cannot let this opportunity go by without again protesting at the publication by the Government, at public expense, of a booklet entitled “ Vietnam, Questions and Answers.” I have raised this matter on a previous occasion, and it was raised this morning by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). Here is the Government, at public expense, putting out a document containing nothing more than LiberalCountry Party propaganda. This morning, the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) argued that what the booklet contained were statements of fact. Even if that were true, the right honorable gentleman should have said that it contained a selection of statements of fact. But it does nothing of the kind. It does not restrict itself to statements of fact. It is loaded with opinions, it is loaded with interpretations, and it is loaded with judgments. It is loaded with categorical statements on matters that are open to quite wide controversy in the Australian community. It does not give an objective statement of facts; it does not give even a selection of facts.
Mr. Hughes__ It is very good, all the same.
– If it is meant to be a’ Government propaganda sheet, it probably, is good. Is it regarded as good to put over a one-sided portrayal of policies on the controversial question of Vietnam? If that is the criterion of what is good, I suppose this is a good publication. It is slanted and one-sided. What is more, it is put out at public expense. It is paid for out of the taxes not only of people who support the views contained in it but also of people whose views are diametrically opposed to the views expressed in it.
– It should be paid for out of party funds.
– Of course it ought’ to be paid for out of party funds. Apart from that, the Government has denied the Opposition an opportunity of putting forward its point of view in a similar way at public expense. In this country, which is nearly equally divided in terms of support of two major political groups, the whole population has to pay for a booklet which contains only the views of one side on this controversial question. I ask now, as I. did on a previous occasion when this matter came up: “ What is the limit to this kind of thing? “ If the justification is that this is a matter of public interest, that there is a demand for information, what is to stop the Government from publishing every week, at public expense, a booklet containing all aspects of its policy?
Why cannot we have a booklet produced next week on why the Government cannot abolish the means test? What about a booklet on the attitude of the Government towards stevedoring in Australian ports? Why cannot we have something about the reason why the Government is not prepared to put limits on the flow of foreign capital into Australia and also the increasing foreign ownership of Australia’s natural resources? Why do not we have a policy statement in booklet form on those matters? The Government says that this publication on Vietnam is justified because of public interest and public demand for information. Why not go right ahead and produce booklets on these other matters? Carried to the extreme, these are the techniques that were used by Hitler - that is, the control and use of public funds to put forward the views of the power that holds the position of government of the day.
I have heard the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) speak about the way in which ordinary members of this Parliament are stifled. What about the way in which the Opposition is stifled? Does not the use of public funds to put forward one sided views on this matter represent to the honorable member for Bradfield and other genuine liberal minded members of the Government a threat to the democratic operation of this Parliament? Is it not conceded that governments already have great advantages over political oppositions under our parliamentary system? Has not a government all the resources of bureaucracy with all its expertise and the facilities of departments that are available to it and that are denied pretty much to an opposition? Yet, the Government comes into this field and starts putting out publications of the type to which I have referred.
The other point is that the Government is to send this publication to 75,000 selected persons in the community. I imagine that there will be many people in the community who could be affronted by the fact that they do not receive this document and that the Government did not regard them apparently as being significant people in the community who would have an influence in relation to public attitudes. We are told that 75,000 people are to be favoured with these documents at the expense of the rest of us in the community. We will be paying so that these people can have information which they may or may not be prepared to pass on to us.
I put it to the House that this is a thoroughly dangerous practice. Honorable members opposite have to think of what the situation might be. Their political opponents might be the government. I always find that it is a pretty fair rule to make my judgment on the basis of how I would feel if the position were reversed. This is the question that honorable members opposite should ask themselves. How would members of the Government feel if the Labour Party came into office and took this thing to its fullest extent as it would be entitled to do? The Government has enunciated the principle. The only principle that seems to be involved is: There is public interest in this issue; it is a controversial issue; therefore it excites public interest; there is a sense of inquiry in the public mind; therefore,
Government is entitled to come forward and put its view to the exclusion of any other point of view no matter how widely held that point of view may be in the community. I suggest that this is a thoroughly undemocratic practice. I hope that we will not be treated between this time and the forthcoming election to a spate of Government documents of this kind in which the Australian public is asked to pay for LiberalCountry Party election propaganda.
Let me now get away from this matter altogether. In the time still left to me - I did not want to get as involved in the matter as 1 have - the issue that I wish to raise tonight relates to a matter that I think is of great importance. This is the extent or lack of extent to which Australia uses the findings of science and technology to modernise industry. I suppose that if there was one issue more than any other on which the Wilson Labour Government received overwhelming support in the recent election in Britain it was on its policy of rejuvenating and modernising British industry by taking the findings of science and technology out of research books, learned treatises and various publications, and getting them in the practical field so that they could be applied to industry. I feel that one of the reasons why we are losing our economic independence today is to be found in this field. We are finding it difficult to control our own resources.
We have all seen the kind of warnings that have been given in recent times. Even today, the “ Australian “ reported a statement by Mr. R. W. Norman, who is the General Manager of the Bank of New South Wales. He directed attention to the grave concern that is aroused through foreign control of our resources. We are having difficulty in promoting our exports to the extent that we would like. We are having recurring crises in our trade balances. We are bemoaning the sell-out even at bargain prices of our rich natural resources. I think that the key to these problems and the reason why we are concerned with these matters derives from the fact that we are so dependent not only on capital but also on technical knowhow from overseas. These two things are closely linked. We have to accept the capital and the enterprise from overseas because we seek both the technical knowhow and the managerial capacity that come with it in order to develop or even partly develop our resources.
I know that this question has been raised many times. In the early part of this decade, there were people who were advocating the establishment of a national science foundation. What I wish to speak about tonight is something, shall we say, at a lower level. It is not so much in the high realms of science and technology but is more of the level of applied technology. In Britain in 1948, as part of this programme of bridging the development gap, the Labour Government of the time introduced what was called the National Research Development Corporation. I know that I will not have nearly enough time tonight to indicate the full extent of this organisation.
– That is good.
– If the honorable member wishes to remain ignorant, that is his entitlement. But if he cares to look at the House of Commons “ Hansard “ for April of last year he will be able to read a full elaboration and eulogy from speakers on both sides of the House in relation to the work that has been carried on in Britain to bridge this development gap by such organisations as the National Research Development Corporation.
In principle, this organisation was set up to take over some of the inventions that were discovered in the various governmental laboratories, defence establishments, and other such organisations. Many inventions frequently are made in these establishments through the use of their equipment and funds for inquiry. Quite often these inventions have no patent and above all they are not processed or developed to the stage where they can be applied to civil industry. So, this Corporation was established. It has been imitated since by the establishment in America of the American National Research Development Corporation. Canada, which is in the same position as we are - I described that position a while ago - has set up also an organisation akin to the National Research Development Corporation in Britain.
The first function of this Corporation was to take over and develop inventions that were discovered in government establishments. But it has gone further than that.
The Corporation is a statutory organisation. Originally, it was given £5 million capital. A very learned group of men guided its destiny. Progress was slow for a while. Then the progress achieved became so considerable that the Government increased the capital loan available to the Corporation to £10 million. Last year, so considerable had been the contribution of the N.R.D.C., as it is called, that the Government increased its capital to £25 million. Now the Corporation has gone beyond the function I mentioned of taking over and developing inventions that were made in government enterprise. It has now gone out to cater for all those industrial and commercial firms in the community, and also individuals, who have bright ideas but who have not the resources to capitalise on them. They might have only a blueprint or they might have only a thought in their minds and be without any resources to carry the project into effect. Others who have the resources to carry out the projects might not have sufficient resources to protect their inventions legally. Other people can thieve the inventions and develop and exploit them without the inventors being able to obtain legal redress.
The second function of the Corporation is to help develop ideas presented to it by industry and private individuals. The N.R.D.C. is a very flexible organisation. It is businesslike. It is a corporation, not a government department. It is therefore able to negotiate with private enterprise and to make all sorts of arrangements about what will happen if the inventions are sold or exploited on licence by overseas or domestic users. In some cases a 50-50 arrangement is made between the Government and the Corporation both putting up the capital. The Corporation might make legal services or managerial services available. It might make available the services of salesmen or public relations people to exploit an invention to its fullest. Then also agreements are made as to what is to happen to the invention and how the profits are to be shared. This organisation of course makes profits. The profits are used to make its services available to an ever increasing number of organisations within the community. A similar body, if not in Britain, certainly in Canada, has acted on this basis. On some occasions the Corporation just takes up the invention from a private firm or private individual and all it asks in return for having successfully exploited the invention on behalf of the individual is that the Government should have royalty free use of it. Sometimes it is a process and not an actual commodity that is involved.
This great organisation, the N.R.D.C., has been principally responsible in Britain for the development of hovercraft. It pioneered to a large extent the development of computers in Great Britain. It has also developed a flexible liquid carrying barge. It is quite an invention I believe. The Corporation has gone into the field of medicine and medical supplies. It has gone into the field of electronics and printed circuits. It has even discovered a very successful potato harvester. 1 am mentioning just a small sample of what this great statutory body has been able to do. It does give the warning however that quick results should not be expected from such a body. For the first two or three years this Corporation did not look like being a success. The Corporation found that it normally took eight years on an average between a bright idea and the successful exploitation of that idea. The Corporation is asked to run on businesslike lines; nevertheless it is also urged by the Government to reach out, to accept bright ideas which might look risky and would be unacceptable to ordinary private business. The Corporation is urged to develop these ideas in the hope that it might be able to launch something in Britain that will help to give Britain leadership in the world of commerce and industry.
I knew that I would not have nearly enough time to elaborate the ideas 1 have on this matter. There is the whole field of taxation, subsidy arrangements and so on that could be discussed. I thoroughly recommend the whole notion to the Government in the hope that we will not be so dependent over the years ahead on foreign knowledge and foreign patents, paying for licences for overseas patents and seeing our own experts having to go overseas, as Professor Green has recently had to do. He is another one in the long line of the brain drain from this country. We could ensure that men such as he would not have to go overseas to exploit their professional skills. They would not need to do so if they had opportunities and the backing in this country of an organisation such as the National Research Development Corporation that exists in Britain, Canada and the United States.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I ask for leave to make a statement not exceeding two minutes in length in reply to the specific questions asked by the honorable member for Barton.
– Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
.-! do not wish to delay the House at this late hour, but the matter I wish to raise in this debate is one which I feel deserves a full explanation from the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt), the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) or some other responsible Minister. I refer to the situation in connection with the United States naval communication station at North West Cape and certain financial difficulties being experienced, so we are told, by some people and firms as the result of work or services carried out at or in connection with the construction of the station. Reports indicate that a considerable amount of money is involved ranging from several thousand dollars to just a few dollars, and also that it is not only large business firms which are concerned - which can stand some delay in payment - but also a large number of very small firms, and even individuals, who can become financially embarrassed to no small degree if payments are lost or even withheld for any length of time. For instance, in the “Sydney Morning Herald” of 25th March last the Financial Editor reported on a statement issued by the Western Australian Chamber of Manufactures. He had this to say -
The -most serious questions relate to the future of Concrete Industries (Monier) Ltd. since the breakdown of its senior and much larger U.S. contracting partner, Paul Hardemann lnc.
But this is not the matter that concerns the Western Australian Chamber. That body spoke out yesterday on behalf of hundreds of W.A. suppliers who have been carrying unpaid bills for more than a year as a result of the failure of two other American contractors. Datronic! and Keltec.
Then we have more detailed reports of the statement of the Western Australian manufacturers. The first is to be found in the “ Australian Financial Review “ under the heading “ W.A. call for Government inquiry on N.W. Cape ‘. The article says -
The Australian and U.S. Governments should initiate a top-level inquiry into the financing of the U.S. Naval radio station project at North West Cape, Mr. Denis Cullity, president of the West Australian Chamber of Manufactures said yesterday.
Mr. Cullity said the inquiry should be made not only to ensure that Australian firms at present owed overdue accounts by contracting parties are paid in full, but also that the present and future suppliers’ claims will be met.
Then there is a further report in the “ SunHerald “. The article reads -
The Chamber said a U.S.-based sub-contractor last year owed W.A. suppliers more than $100,000.
One source said yesterday that nearly 30 suppliers and sub-contractors were owed about $130,000 by the original prime contractor for the first stage, but that this was only part, probably a small part, of the total.
The established indebtedness of Datronic Engineers Inc., a U.S.-based sub-contractor which started work on tower erection at the base some months ago, was more than $118,000 at the end of last October, the source said.
The Chamber president, Mr. D. M. Cullity, said yesterday that the Chamber strongly disagreed with the statement by the Defence Minister, Mr. Fairhall, in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. . . . “ The Minister is well aware of the many factors which remove this project from the category of commercial transactions which normally involve credit rating investigations of participating companies by potential suppliers,” he said. “ Such credit ratings involving foreign companies were, and are, for small companies difficult to obtain. “ The effective credit rating as far as Australian suppliers were concerned was that the contractor was acceptable to the U.S. Navy.”
The fact that so many suppliers, including small suppliers, are involved presents a very serious situation, one of which the Government has apparently been aware for quite some time. I, like so many other people, was most surprised and disturbed when in reply to my question the Minister for Defence said it was very doubtful that the Government could do anything but that ordinary recourse to law was available to the suppliers concerned. Recourse to law, as everyone knows, is not always a simple matter, and in a case such as this it would certainly not be an inexpensive pro cess. It would undoubtedly mean a great deal of research and inquiry before a case could be put in motion, lt would certainly prove very expensive. While it may not be beyond some of the fairly large firms the difficulties would certainly prevent some of the suppliers from taking legal action.
But that is not all. There is some confusion as to the need for litigation and what could ensue from it, and this again, of course, makes it very difficult for little companies or suppliers in a small way to come to a firm decision. I want to refer to an article in the “Australian Financial Review” of Tuesday 29th March which carried the heading “ Confusion on N.W. Cape Bonding Situation “. It said -
Australian and American businesses owed money by North West Cape contractors have diagonally opposed views on their prospects of payment.
The principal of one U.S. group, which has sued for payment, told the “ Review “: “ This is a bonded contract. It’s as simple as that.” “ We are not worried.”
The Australian viewpoint, as put by the Chamber of Manufactures was: “ It may be bonded, but we want to know a lot more about this bonding. lt could turn out to be a real Kathleen Mavourneen affair involving Australian companies in long delays and expensive litigation.”
Explaining the bonding system Mr. John J. Peers, project manager for high-frequency antenna contractors Keltec (Australia) Pty. Ltd. said: “ We feel that the business community here in Perth is in a needless state of unrest which could cause a dangerous chain reaction of litigation.”
The prime contractors and each of the subcontractors were required by the U.S. Navy to bond themselves against failure to perform or failure to pay all their suppliers or sub-contractors
He claimed it was only Australian businessmen’s lack of appreciation of the bonding safeguard that caused concern.
But from the Navy there was the qualification that “ there may be some delay in settling up or settling the amounts.”
Spokesman for an American sub-contractor said: “ I’ve known of this kind of thing dragging on for two years after the job has been completed.”
He added that the bonding company could be approached for payment only if the organisation that had forfeited payment had performed to the letter of the contract.
Mr. Cullity last night added: “ Australian businesses have supplied on the basis of being paid in 30 days. To talk of the possibility of being paid in three or four years in this context is ludicrous.”
I have been interested in this matter and I have read articles other than those I have quoted. I have made inquiries in certain quarters and from what I can gather it seems possible that the bonding system may protect only the contracts but not the suppliers of anyone else, and that a settlement by recourse to law may not be nearly as simple as the Minister seems to suggest. I am not a solicitor, of course, but I would be interested to hear the views of people on either side of the Parliament who have had legal experience. Perhaps they can throw some light on this subject, not just for my information but for the information of all honorable members, and also for the information and guidance of the people who appear to be the sufferers in this situation. This is a very serious matter and certainly one which requires to be cleared up if it is possible for this to be done.
There is another very important aspect of this matter, apart from that of assisting people to whom money is owed, lt appears that at present some doubts are entertained as to who is actually at fault in the existing situation, and as a consequence of this doubt blame could easily be attributed to the wrong person, and unfounded suspicions could be entertained. This is another reason why the matter should be cleared up as soon as possible. 1 would like to refer to one other point on which an explanation from the Government is desirable. I refer to an article in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 5th May 1966, which was last Thursday. The article was headed “ N.W. Cape Problems - Concrete Industries Omits Dividends *’. Let me say at once that I am not interested in whether a dividend was declared by Concrete Industries (Monier) Ltd., but I am interested in what this article had to say -
Original estimates of the joint venture were based on the most favorable material prices available either in the U.S. or Australia.
Because of the U.S. Navy’s preference for use of U.S. materials in lieu of the use of equivalent Australian materials, our costs have been enormously increased “ directors say.
As the U.S. Navy awarded the contract on the basis of an American contracting company being the major and managing partner, it appears morally unfair, directors say, to place the whole burden on Concrete Industries as the minor participant, “ particularly as defective U.S. materials and workmanship have resulted in the greatest increase in costs “.
If the statement by the directors of Concrete Industries (Monier) Ltd. has been correctly reported I can look upon it only as a very serious charge not only against the United States Government but also against the United States Navy and against the Government of Australia. If the charge has any foundation the Government should answer it and we are entitled to a full explanation. I say this first because of the purpose of the station and also because of what is contained in the United States Naval Communication Station Agreement. The purpose, according to the Schedule in the Act, is that the establishment, maintenance and operation of a United States naval communication station in Australia will materially contribute to Australia’s, New Zealand’s and America’s individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack and will assist in efforts for collective defence. This being so, one would naturally expect that the Australian Government would wish to ensure that the station was of solid construction and did not contain sub-standard material such as the directors of Concrete Industries have referred to. This in turn raises a question regarding the claim by the directors of that company that the United States Navy showed a preference for United States material and also that such material was defective. The reference to a preference for United States material must surely mean that the material was available in Australia and also that the Australian material was at least equal if not superior to that from the United States. This again raises the question whether the Australian Government took full advantage of Article 5 of the Agreement which says -
At all stages in the construction and maintenance of the station, the maximum practicable use will bc made of Australian resources. Arrangements for giving effect to this Article shall be as determined from time to time by the two Governments.
I would suggest that the words “ maximum practicable use “ give the Australian Government fairly wide scope and a fairly convincing argument for the use of Australian material and it would be as well to read at this stage what Sir Garfield Barwick said when, as Minister for External Affairs and Attorney-General, he introduced the Bill to give effect to the Agreement. He said -
Article 5 provides for the maximum practicable use of Australian resources in the establishment, maintenance and operation of the station. It is evident that to apply such a general phrase to the circumstances of so vast a project, some arrangements will need to be made from time to time by the two governments. Accordingly this article so provides. We have already had some discussions with the United States regarding the means by which this article will be given practical effect. Nothing but Australian or United States resources will be used. The prime contract for the initial construction phase may be awarded only to a joint venture of Australian and United States interests. Practically all the constructional steel within the capacity of Australian industry and all the cement and hardwood for the entire construction will come from Australia. Air conditioning and ventilating materials as well as piping, electrical material, paints, and many other building and other materials will be purchased in Australia.
As far as I can gather, the contract for the North West Cape project was announced in July 1963, which would suggest that tenders were called for well before this Parliament gave approval to the Agreement. Further, the contract was given to a joint venture - Concrete Industries (Monier) Ltd. and its partly owned subsidiary Hutcherson Bros. Pty. Ltd., in association with a large American contracting firm, Paul Hardeman (Inc.) of Nevada. Paul Hardeman had a 75 per cent, equity in the venture, Concrete Industries 15 per cent, and Hutcherson Bros. 10 per cent. The contract was the largest with which any Australian firm had ever been associated and was for the sum of $31,142,854. The contractors had 960 days in which to complete the job. The project involved employment of between 1,000 and 1,200 men. I am reliably informed that Paul Hardeman, as the managing partner, controlled the operations. I am told also that the contract was given to the lowest bidder.
As far as I can gather. Paul Hardeman was a major international organisation which had originated in California and expanded into construction work in Europe, Latin America and the Pacific. It also carried out other contracts overseas for the United States Government, including the United States Navy. Before the contract was awarded the United States Navy made full inquiries into the capacity and resources of all partners in the joint venture. This surely means that, as the Australian firms held only a 25 per cent, equity between them, Hardeman should have been subjected to the most severe investigation. But it appears that it is the American company that has gone bad, leaving the Australian companies holding the bag. The Australian companies are the ones which had no previous experience in handling contracts of the size of this one. If this is so, and as the Agreement provides that the contract had to be let to a joint venture of Australian and American companies, it is the Government’s responsibility to ensure some protection and safeguards for Australian firms.
While, no doubt, some items of material or equipment needed at the base were not included in those mentioned by Sir Garfield Barwick, he did, however, cover what one would expect to be the major items of construction. If all the materials mentioned by Sir Garfield Barwick and used at the Cape were produced in Australia, some explanation should be given as to what the material was that the Monier organisation referred to and which the Americans claimed to be defective. If, on the other hand, some of the material referred to by Sir Garfield was not made or produced in Australia, we should be told which material this was and also why Australian material was not used instead, lt has been reported, correctly or incorrectly, that some very ordinary and simple equipment, such as plumbing fittings and acoustic tiles, was imported. If this is so, it seems strange that Australian made articles should not have been suitable. There was a report about the United States Navy rejecting some steel manufactured by Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. on the plea that it was not up to specifications. This claim was strongly denied by the B.H.P. company. A report in the “ Sun Herald “ in November 1965 read -
Non-payment of wages by Datronics of the United States, the sub-contractor erecting the towers, brings to a head what appears to have been an uneasy relationship between them and Concrete Industries.
It is now claimed that Datronics has left debts estimated at more than $118,000. There seems to be a story behind the failure of Datronics. lt appears that it had two teams of tower erectors in Australia, which had nothing to do for some weeks during a holdup due to the United States Navy’s rejection of the B.H.P. company’s steel. When the erection of the towers finally began Datronics was asked to put more people on the job because of the risk of liquidated damages if delays on the towers held up the whole project. It was believed that Datronics could not meet the schedule and it did not seem to have equipment of the quality required. In the meantime, the company got into difficulties in the United States and is reported not to have been able to meet wage commitments in Australia. The question I pose here is: What was the full effect of the rejection of the steel which the B.H.P. company said was all right but which the United States Navy was not prepared to accept and which was replaced by overseas steel? The Government, because of its rights under Article 5 of the Agreement, should know the full facts about that steel.
The charges made by Monier may have no substance. I would hope that this is so, but we are not in a position to know. Nor is the general public in a position to know. The Government is in a position to know because of its rights under Article 5. Unless the Government comes out with an explanation or a denial of the charges, we must accept that the charges are valid and that the Government has no answer to them. So I hope that a responsible Minister will, before we rise, make a full and clear statement on this matter.
If it was found necessary to import the materials referred to, will the Minister making the statement say whether any consideration was given to the effect of those imports on the sub-contractors and others who, because of the contents of Article 5 of the Agreement and the remarks of Sir Garfield Barwick, would have submitted tenders on the basis that Australian materials would be used?
As 1 see it, the position is that the Commonwealth came to an agreement with the United States Government for the building of a communications station at North West Cape. The Agreement provided that Australian materials, labour and manufacturers should be used as much as possible. As a result the sub-contractors and suppliers placed considerable reliance on what was expected to be Australian Government cooperation and insistence that the maximum use would be made of Australian materials. Those sub-contractors and suppliers extended their credit and provided services in the belief that the Government would protect them by exercising its rights under Article 5. But now, apparently, some firms or suppliers, big and small, not only stand a good chance of suffering a loss of finance but also could suffer damage to their reputations. That damage could in some instances be unwarranted. The Government has a responsibility as a result of what it has said and how it has acted to have this whole matter well ventilated, explained and cleared up.
The Minister may say that an inquiry is in progress regarding the payments or nonpayments and that the time has not arrived for a statement to be made. But even if this is so it does not alter the fact that the Government should be in a position either to explain or refute the charges by Concrete Industries regarding preference for American material. If Article 5 of the Agreement has been strictly observed by the Government, it must know all about this matter because Article 5 states that arrangements for giving effect lo the maximum practicable use of Australian resources shall be determined from time to time by the two Governments. If that Article has been observed, the Government should have known at all times where the materials came from. If the charge by Monier is valid the Government should be aware of the preference for American material over Australian material. I would suggest that in the interests of everybody concerned as explanation of at least that aspect of the situation should be made immediately. I would be very surprised if the facts were actually as they have appeared in the Press. 1 would nol expect the Government to permit such a situation. If it did, it would be a shameful thing to allow American material to be imported and used to the exclusion of an Australian product, if that Australian product were as suitable as the product from America - and I would be surprised if it is not as suitable. However, if the director of Monier has been correctly reported he definitely said that there was a preference for American material over what he referred to as equivalent Australian material. This being so, it is a serious charge against the Government, when Article 5 of the Agreement stipulates that the maximum practical use will be made of Australian resources and gives the Government the right to decide as to this from time to time. I repeat: This warrants an explanation and I hope that we will get one before the House rises.
.- The recent decision of the Chancellor of the Exchequer of Great Britain, Mr. James Callaghan, to cut off the flow of new British capital into Australia has again thrown the Australian Government into turmoil. The Government has no plan to alleviate the blow that Australia’s economy will suffer, although it has been aware that both Britain and the United States of America have had difficulties with their overseas balances for many years. No plan has been presented by the Government concerning our long term reliance on foreign investment. It has been the policy of the Government to allow any type of indiscriminate foreign investment into Australia as long as it fills the deficiency in our balance of payments created by the excess of imports over exports. Our deficit balance on current account from 1st July 1950 to 30th June 1965 was $4,711 million. For the six months to 30th December 1965 there was a further deficit of $556 million. There was a deficit on current account for the year ending 30th June 1965 of $784 million, which is the second highest deficit during this Government’s 16 years in office and was surpassed only in the financial year that ended on 30th June 1952 - the year of the “ horror Budget “. If the deficit continues to grow at the rate it was growing at 31st December 1965 we will have, for the second time in Australia’s history, a deficit of more than $1,000 million in one trading year.
Our two main contributors of foreign investment have been the United Kingdom and the United States. An examination of our trade relations with these two countries is particularly interesting. Our deficit balance, which includes invisibles, with the United Kingdom from 1st July 1950 to 30th June 1965 has been $4,160 million. Just imagine this great trading deficit of over $4,000 million with the United Kingdom; and this deficit mostly during a period when there was no talk of Britain entering the European Economic Community. About three years ago a great panic was caused by the suggestion that Britain would enter the European Economic Community, but even without her entering it we have accumulated a deficit of over S4.000 million with Britain. During the same period our deficit with the United States has totalled $3,714 million.
An examination discloses that we had a credit with the United States in one year only of this Government’s administration, and this was in 1950-51, which was the first year of its administration. Australia then had a credit of $122 million. This credit, of course, was set in train by the Chifley Administration. The present Administration was not responsible for it. The deficit for the year ending 30th June 1965 with the United States of America was $607 million. This may be one of the reasons why the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) has had to get a loan of $450 million - the “ dollars -for diggers loan “.
Our combined deficit with our two traditional friends is $7,800 million. Luckily we have had credits with Japan, China, Russia and other countries to the extent of $3,149 million, giving us an overall trading deficit of $4,7 1 1 for the period. The United Kingdom and the United States are the major contributors of foreign investment in Australia. Both countries have favorable double taxation agreements with us. Australia entered into agreements with Britain in 1946 and the United States in 1953. A conservative estimate is that the United Kingdom Government and United Kingdom investors have benefited by more than $250 million from the double taxation agreement. In addition they have benefited by about $56 million from the abolition of the 2s. in the £1 undistributed profits tax in 1951. These two concessions alone, given by this present Administration to the United Kingdom, represent over $300 million. Since 1953 United States investors have saved in excess of $95 million under America’s double taxation agreement with us and the savings on the undistributed profits tax amount to about $54 million. United States and United Kingdom companies have received generous treatment from the Australian Government.
Last year, for depreciation of plant and equipment an amount of $1,440 million was allowed in rebate. This represents 8.4 per cent, of the gross national product. In the first year of this Government’s administration the depreciation allowance represented only 4.2 per cent, of the gross national product. This means that all public companies share among themselves a further 4.2 per cent, of the wealth of this country, and we know that foreign companies share at least 25 per cent, of that 4.2 per cent. This is just a brief background to the wonderland - the happy hunting ground - that Australia has been for British and United States capital.
My colleague the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) has for many years been advocating action by the Government to control and plan foreign investment in Australia. From a small beginning, we now have a broad section of the Australian community calling for some controls, some planning and some protection of our national assets. We will join forces with any Australians who will support action against the selling of our Australian heritage. Already foreign investment has a stronghold in many of our industries. The motor vehicle industry is almost wholly owned by overseas investments. The petroleum and aluminium industries are only two of the other industries that are almost completely controlled by overseas investments. The “Australian” of 1st June 1965, in an item headed “ The Foreign Slice - It’s officially 26 per cent.”, reported -
Treasury estimates released yesterday show that the contribution by overseas investment could be about one-quarter of the total investment in Australia.
We may not all agree on the action to be taken, but we in the Australian Labour Party will support any progressive move against the takeover of established companies, the selling out of our mineral deposits and the takeover of manufacturing and processing industries. A wide section in Australia is now alert to the danger and is calling for action. This section should be supported and commended for its action, no matter what its political views may be. The front page of the “ Australian “ today carries the following headline -
Banker urges sweeping reforms.
The accompanying article states -
Mr. R. W. Norman, general manager of the Bank of New South Wales, told the annual convention of the New South Wales division of the Australian Institute of Credit Management that if companies hesitate it might be worth introducing a sliding tax scale . . .
Mr. Norman is reported as having said
Vital as it is for capital and know-how to be imported, it is also important that we do not let our birthright pass from us . . .
Even democratically-elected governments can be overridden by overseas industrial empires which, by ownership of key sections of the economy, could virtually negate decisions affecting the whole electorate.
Because this is a situation where considerations other than the economic and the immediate are of great significance, overseas companies will, I hope, adjust their affairs so that Australians might have at least original opportunities to become partowners in offshoots created in this country.
I repeat that Mr. Norman is reported to have said -
Surely we all agree with Mr. Norman. Even honorable members opposite must agree with him. They say they want to protect our birthright in Vietnam. They say “ Fight in Vietnam, not in Australia.” Here a leader of a great banking organisation, the Bank of New South Wales, and a pillar of the establishment says: “ Do not let our birthright pass from us.” We have problems on the home front that should be as much the concern of honorable members opposite as the protection of our birthright in Vietnam is. They should give some protection of our birthright here in Australia. The Melbourne “ Herald “ tonight contains a report of a speech made by Mr. C. G. Crane, Chairman of the Australian Mutual Provident Society, to the Society in Sydney. He is reported as having said -
The challenge to Australia was to ensure that the ownership and control of its newly-found resources remained mainly in Australian hands
Much of Australia’s resources were already in foreign hands.
A conservative estimate of our resources in foreign hands is said to be 25 per cent. We have already sold a quarter of our assets, of our industries and of our heritage. We should learn from history and there is much that we can learn from events in Canada. Canada has experienced the problems of overseas investment. Recently 1 read an item in the “ Australian Financial Review “ which was headed “ Canada sets guide lines for overseas capital “. The article interested me and I contacted the office of the Canadian High Commissioner. His officers were good enough to forward to me a copy of the guide lines, which are contained in a letter sent to all foreign based companies in Canada by the Honorable Robert Winters. The letter was sent to the chief executives of foreign companies with subsidiaries in Canada. It is dated 31st March 1 966 and states in part -
The Canadian Government is desirous that subsidiaries be free to develop their full potential within the Canadian community. In this regard it is most important that subsidiaries should not have restrictive limitations placed upon their sound development by their parent organisations.
This objective can be made more difficult if foreign Governments introduce measures which affect the financial or commercial policy of parent companies or seek to influence them in their relations with their foreign subsidiaries.
The letter sets out the guide lines under the heading -
Some guiding principles of good corporate behaviour for subsidiaries in Canada of foreign companies.
With the concurrence of honorable members, I incorporate the guiding principles in “Hansard”.
Desirable objectives include the following: -
Realization of maximum competitiveness through the most effective use of the company’s own resources, recognising the desirability of progressively achieving appropriate specialization of productive operations within the internationally affiliated group of companies.
I will not deal at length with the 12 principles, but 1 shall refer briefly to two of them. The third principle is -
Maximum development of market opportunities in other countries as well as in Canada.
Surely this is a sound principle. Honorable members opposite should read the 12 principles. They may then be convinced that their Government, after all these long years, should set some guiding principles that will give some incentive, some protection and some leadership to this country. The tenth principle is particularly interesting. We know that honorable members opposite represent the capitalists and big business interests. The tenth principle is -
To have the objective of a financial structure which provides opportunity for equity participation in the Canadian enterprise by the Canadian public.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has urged that there should be Australian participation in all foreign companies operating in this country. I ask honorable members to consider the principles I have enumerated. There are ample examples to be found in Australia that show we are selling our assets day by day. An article that appeared in the “ Australian “ of 25th June 1 965 was headed: “ We mustn’t be a pawn of foreign capital - Raggatt “. The report states -
The former secretary of the Department of National Development, Sir Harold Raggatt, said in Melbourne Inst night, Australia could drift into a future where development could be prejudiced by foreign decisions. “ We cannot afford to bc a passive pawn in this game.” he said.
The report continued -
Australia needed a national mineral development policy, and companies should be encouraged to process minerals before they were exported.
He urged the formation of a national mineral development policy.
Too great foreign ownership of Australian mineral resources could mean a conflict of interest between Australia and the owners. The owners could take the understandable view that Australia was primarily a source of raw minerals.
Surely what Sir Harold Raggatt has said is common sense. We know that this is a difficult aspect. One of the greatest problems that this country has to face is the balance of payments problem, our rate of growth and the control and ownership of Australian industry and assets. The opening paragraph of the editorial which appeared in the “Australian” on 28th June 1965 under the heading “ Policy on Overseas Investment “ stated -
Of the deficiencies of the present Federal Government perhaps the most grave has been its complete failure to formulate and implement a recognisable policy on overseas foreign investment in Australia.
I could possibly agree completely with this statement, if a slight amendment were made. We need to link with foreign investment the Government’s policy on South Vietnam. I believe that it is necessary for the maintenance of our Australian heritage to be one of the main factors guiding this Government or any future government. We should follow a plan of expanding our export trade by finding new markets and by extending our present markets. We should seek markets in Asia, Latin America and Africa far more aggressively than we are doing at the present time. We should seek new markets all over the world. We should have a get out and sell policy - not sell our heritage, but sell our primary products, and our manufactured and processed goods. Trade commissioner posts should be set up in many more countries than at present. We should develop and expand an export bank and the Export Payments Insurance Corporation to finance our exports and to enable us to sell on credit. Labour has advocated for years that Australia should have its own overseas shipping line. The Government at last seems to have heeded our warning. We have said that Australia is being exploited by overseas shipping monopolies in freight charges in the transporting of goods to and from Australia. The establishment of such a line would greatly lower the cost of exporting our products and, in turn, would assist our balance of payments.
Australia should be highly selective in her imports. We should discriminate against non-essential goods and determine on a planned basis what we need. Goods which can be processed or manufactured by our own workers with our own materials should be produced here. Australia’s future rate of growth and the application of industrial priorities should be planned. If we have not a surplus in our balance of payments with which to purchase necessary capital equipment for urgently needed technical know-how, we should raise overseas government loans. If we need private overseas investment in order to create, expand or develop a section of Australian industry, agreements should be entered into with foreign investors. Restrictive franchise should not be permitted. It should be a part of the investment agreement that a percentage of their production and sales should assist our export drive. United States and United Kingdom owned industries already established in Australia should be told that if they do not export their products their favorable double taxation concessions will cease. Where a firm was exporting its products, a more favorable attitude would be taken. Portfolio investments and investments in non-essential industries should not receive the same favorable taxation concessions as investments that meet the requirements of the Government’s planning of the economy. All these propositions are within the power of the Government.
Surely all honorable members should be able to look at this matter objectively. Surely they know that we are selling more and more of our life blood every day. We know that it was only a trickle to begin with, but it is now becoming a flood. Unless we settle this problem the future of Australia will be in jeopardy. Honorable members know that we have the power in this Parliament to take action. If the Parliament does not take action, the least we can do is to give some leadership to industry. We should be able to provide guide lines and lay down principles on which foreign investment should be able to operate in Australia, in the same way as guide lines have been laid down in Canada. But I believe that we should go beyond that and we should use the power of the Parliament to legislate. The Parliament governs this country and should accept the responsibility of governing.
Thursday, 12th May 1966.
.- I feel that it is the wish of honorable members to retire to their homes at this late hour.
I shall endeavour to curtail my remarks to ten minutes and not avail myself of my full time of 30 minutes.
– Hear, hear!
– In the absence of interjections I feel quite sure that 1 will be able to carry out my intention. However, if honorable members interject they can be assured that they will have to suffer the consequences of my reply. I have been inspired to speak tonight by a reference made in my absence by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) who, I am assured, and for the second time to my knowledge in this Parliament, has suggested strongly that the western powers should denuclearise the People’s Republic of China. It is with extreme regret that all honorable members learn that the People’s China is rapidly developing a nuclear device. I believe that all honorable members were disappointed to learn that the People’s Republic of China, despite the nuclear test ban treaty - she is not a signatory - ‘has fired another nuclear device. We all agree on the danger to the world of the extension of nuclear weapons and nuclear testing by any power. But despite this error on the part of People’s China, I do not agree with the suggestions of the honorable member for Mackellar that the West is entitled, in view of what China has done in developing a nuclear deterrent, to bomb factories in People’s China associated with nuclear installations and development. I visited People’s China in 1962, and I am greatly disappointed at the suggestion of the honorable member that People’s China be bombed. Should this occur, it would be a great tragedy for the world.
I want to place on record a reference in one of the latest books on China that is available in the Parliamentary Library. It is entitled “ A Curtain of Ignorance “ and it is written by Felix Greene, who has, I think, impartially recorded in his books his impressions of People’s China. Most of us should know that in that country, under the ruthlessness of the Kuomintang, women had to sell their children on the street by the pound. When we talk of the evils of Communism in People’s China we should also talk of the Kuomintang Government which actually brought about Communism in China. At page 210 of the book to which I have referred appears portion of an article published by Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia in the 17th September 1965 issue of the “ Weekly Nationalist “. It reads-
I want to remind our readers that this article is not intended to speak in defence of People’s China because it has no need whatever for others to do so on its behalf. My purpose in writing this article is simply to answer those questions which prominent personages and journalists in the West have so often put to me . . . the naivete of these questions stupefies and baffles me, but at the same time it permits me to gauge the depth of misunderstanding in the West of the greatest nation in the world . . . with all the consequences this will bring to our common future. . .
The Chinese people know far belter than the Western politicians what Mao Tse-tung’s government has brought them because now they have land to cultivate and an income fairly distributed according to productive work; because even if they do not have feasts, their daily meals are assured and for the first time they have been eating their fill; it is sufficient to look at the Chinese children to be convinced. . .
I assure the House that that is the impression that I found - . . because they are now decently dressed . . because they know that they enjoy free medical care, that their children have the right to public education, and that they will not be abandoned in case of natural calamities; and because they are assured that there will be no more plundering by bureaucrats, soldiers, and pirates. . .
I hope that Government supporters will dissociate themselves from the remarks of the honorable member for Mackellar each time he advocates, whether inside or outside this Parliament, the bombing of nuclear installations in People’s China. As I assured the House that I would curtail my remarks, that is all I wish to say at this juncture.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Howson) read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Howson) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Orders of the Day Nos. 2, 3 and 4 for the resumption of the debate on the second reading of the Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 1965-66, the Supply Bill (No. 1) 1966-67 and the Supply Bill (No. 2) 1966-67 being called on and read together and a motion being moved that the Bills be now passed.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 4) 1965-66. SUPPLY BILL (No. 1) 1966-67. SUPPLY BILL (No. 2) 1966-67. Second Readings.
Consideration resumed from 4th May (vide page 1437), on motions by Mr. McMahon -
That the bills be now read a second lime.
Bills (on motion by Mr. Howson) passed.
Bill returned from the Senate with requests.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment -
Vinyl Resin Bounty Bill 1966. Tractor Bounty Bill 1966. Asian Development Bank Bill 1966. International Wheat Agreement (Extension) Bill 1966.
Income Tax (International Agreements) Bill 1966.
Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill
Loan Bill 1966.
Motion (by Mr. Howson) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Mr. Speaker, I do not apologise for rising at this late hour. I do not intend to delay the House at great length, but I want to raise the question of the embargo on the importation of poultry and poultry products into the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. This is a matter of great importance to the poultry industry and in particular to a number of producers on the central coast of New South Wales. An embargo was placed on the movement of poultry and poultry products from State to State in Australia and in importation into the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, New Zealand and Pacific islands when an outbreak of Newcastle disease occurred in Queensland earlier this year. The decision to impose an embargo was wise, because we needed to determine how virulent the disease was and how widespread throughout Australia the outbreak had become. When this information had been obtained and tests and discussions had been conducted, the ban on the movement of poultry and poultry products within Australia was lifted.
On 15th March the Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes), in answer to a question, stated that the outbreak of the disease, as far as was known at that time had had no economic effects in Australia. So the embargo on movement within this country was lifted on 25th March. On 31st March - about six weeks ago - I asked the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) whether the embargo on importation into the Territory would be lifted. I believe that extensive tests have been conducted in the Territory, but the embargo remains. The reasons given six weeks ago for maintaining it are possibly still valid. I am pleased to see that the Minister for Territories is in the chamber, because I would like him to comment later if he feels so inclined. On 31st March, he stated that he intended, for the benefit of the indigenous population in Papua and New Guinea, to ensure the development of a sound poultry industry there. There are two main breeders or hatchery men in the Territory named, I think, Nielsen and Purnell. These people supply poultry to egg and meat producers. In addition, the Department of Agriculture, Stock and Fisheries provided a very effective service throughout the Territory by buying day old chicks in Australia - before the embargo, of course - growing them to six weeks and then selling or supplying them to Papuans and New Guineans to build up.
In 1964 the price for imported or frozen poultry meat in the Territory was 8s. 9d. to 9s. 6d. per lb. Last year, up to the time of the embargo it had dropped to 6s. 3d. to 6s. 6d. per lb. because of the development of the market. Since the ban has been imposed and imports have come only from New Zealand, the price of poultry whether it be for the white population or for the Papuans and New Guineans has risen to 10s. to lis. per lb. Since the ban, I understand, imports of both frozen chickens and day old chicks have come only from New Zealand. As I have said, the aim of the Administration has been to build up the industry in the Territory.
I ask the Minister: Has this disease which is at present in Australia any economic effect upon poultry growing in Australia?
The Minister for Health has indicated in the House that it has no economic effect. I ask another question: Will the virulence of this disease increase in time? The evidence that I have obtained from veterinarians and university people and have presented to the House during previous adjournment debates is that it will not increase. The United States has had Newcastle disease for 20 years and the virulence of the disease has not altered in that time. We know that the disease has been present in Australia for a year and possibly longer. The virulence of the disease which has been shown to have no economic effect has not altered in that period.
I wonder whether imports from New Zealand will help. The evidence is that they will not help for a number of reasons. Until the disease was discovered in Australia at least four hatchery men in New South Wales were exporting to New Zealand. All of those hatcheries were found to have the disease so, on the evidence of veterinarians which I presented to the House previously, the indications are that New Zealand will get the disease if it is not already there. The evidence points to the fact that New Zealand has no hope of stopping the disease coming in.
The importation of poultry and poultry products into the Territory from New Zealand is spasmodic. It is difficult to get shipping from New Zealand to the islands and, as I have indicated, if the price has not already increased it is likely to increase in the future to a fairly substantial degree. In addition, it is doubtful whether the disease will be kept out of the Territory. The chances are that it is already in New Zealand. If the disease does get into the Territory will it affect the industry there? The evidence that I have - this is one of the questions 1 should like the Minister to comment upon at some stage - is that it will not affect the industry.
I appreciate that when the Minister answered a question on 31st March he expressed sympathy to Australian poultrymen and to the poultry industry generally in this country. But I must point out to the House and to the Minister that already, as a result of the embargo which is in operain Papua and New Guinea, 31 people have been dismissed from one company, producers of poultry meat are being cut back in their production and freezer space on the central coast of New South Wales is blocked up with chickens that cannot be exported. All this, too, has had its effect upon prices on the Australian market.
The companies in this country, because of their better genetics and better types of birds have helped build up the industry in Papua and New Guinea. In this way, they have done much to improve the quality of food marketed in that Territory and to help the long term development of the industry there. 1 do ask the Minister to reconsider this matter. If he is waiting for further surveys to be carried out or further information on which to base his decision, I ask that he do everything possible to speed up those surveys or the supplying of the information so that the matter can be resolved quickly one way or the other for I can assure him that very grave fears are held throughout Australia, and particularly in the poultry industry on the central coast of New South Wales.
.What I have to say will be brief and quite straightforward. I refer first to a statement made by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), as recorded in “Hansard” of 22nd March 1966. He was speaking on Government policy, and he said -
As a result of happenings in the last week or so, it appears at the moment that the very real risk of Indonesia falling into the hands and control of the Communists has been averted. We can gauge Australia’s feelings about the whole problem of Communist encroachment in South East Asia and our own instinctive concern with our own security by considering for a moment the reaction of Australians to the displacement of the pro-Communists in Indonesia. No-one would deny that there has been a wave of relief throughout Australia at the turn of events. There is a wave of relief because it seems that, for the time being at least, we are not to have a Communist next door neighbour. This is what Australians fear, and what Australians are entitled to fear. Yet it is something to which the Opposition will not refer. This general instinctive assessment of our own self-interest reflects our concern at the spreading towards Australia of the front of Communism.
A friend of mine, whose veracity I do not doubt, and the accuracy of whose reporting I do not doubt, went to a meeting addressed by the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) in Canberra about two or three weeks ago. My friend gathered the impression from what was said by the honorable member for Yarra at the meeting in Canberra two or three weeks ago when referring to the statement by the Minister for Trade and Industry that the Minister for Trade and Industry had exulted in the massacre of a large number of Indonesian Communists. He came away from the meeting with that clear impression, but in order to be more certain about it he went to another meeting in Sydney last night which was addressed by the honorable member for Yarra, my colleague the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) and others. He took a tape recording, which can be produced, of what the honorable member for Yarra said on this same point last night. It is reasonable to assume that the honorable member for Yarra repeated last night what he had said at the meeting in Canberra two or three weeks before, and probably what he had said at many other meetings before that and perhaps what he will continue to say. I should like to quote the transcript of the tape recording of part of what the honorable member for Yarra said last night. He said -
And, of course, what happened in Indonesia was that, very largely because the Communists and their supporters did not possess weapons, 350,000 of them were killed in six weeks. Maybe many people disapprove of this kind of thing. But our Minister for Trade says he welcomed what had happened in Indonesia with a sigh of relief.
That illustrates the technique of the honorable member for Yarra. I think that anybody who heard that statement, which is duly recorded - the evidence is there - would draw the inference that the Minister for Trade and Industry exulted or leaped with glee at the thought of 350,000 Communists being massacred. It is quite clear from the statement that I quoted from “ Hansard “ that that is not what the Minister for Trade and Industry said or implied for one moment. Quite clearly, he was glad of the turn of events which had defeated the Communist coup in Indonesia. He made no reference to the massacre. He did not exult in the massacre. Nothing that he said related to the massacre. Yet, quite obviously, looking at the words that the honorable member for Yarra used, the impression that he conveyed to his audience was that the Minister was pleased to see the slaughter of 350,000 Communists.
I regret, as I am sure all other members of this House do, the massacres that have occurred in recent times, whether in Indo nesia, Tibet or any of the countries in which campaigns of terror have been waged. I quote this statement because it is an example of the technique of the honorable member for Yarra. This gentleman holds himself out as an academic with a fair minded approach to these problems, as one who is seeking merely the truth and as one who sets out to put the evidence on the line and to invite people to draw their own conclusions from the evidence. This is a fraud. This is intellectual dishonesty. I know of no worse sin in any public man, and much more in a man who holds himself out as an academic and a seeker after truth, than the sin of intellectual dishonesty or of setting out to mislead the people of this country. This is his technique not only in this instance but in the whole of the campaign that he is now waging.
So I put this on the line. It will go into “ Hansard “. Honorable members or anybody else who chooses to do so can study these two statements side by side - what the Minister said and what the honorable member for Yarra said. The honorable member for Yarra will claim that he merely stated the facts; but I think that any impartial person, reading the honorable member’s presentation, will draw from it the same conclusion as my friend did when he went to the meeting in Canberra two or three weeks ago and when he verified that the matter was put in precisely the same way at the meeting in Sydney last night. The thing in itself may not be important; but as a technique, and one that has been followed by this gentleman who puts himself forward as an impartial man, it should be exposed. It is now recorded in “ Hansard “. It is there for all honorable members and any members of the public to read so that they may know the position.
Let me say in conclusion that during this evening - about two hours ago - I sent a note to the honorable member for Yarra to let him know that I would be mentioning this matter in the House, so that he might have an opportunity to reply if he so desired. We are near the end of this session. This is my last opportunity to say these things. I have sought to give him an opportunity to rebut them. If there is any doubt about the words that he used at the meeting, a tape record is available to anybody in this House or outside it, including members of the Press. There is no question as to what he said. Honorable members may decide for themselves what inferences they draw from the way he said it.
.Unfortunately, the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) is home in bed ill this evening. In commenting on the remarks made by the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) 1 say that I at least gathered, not necessarily from the words but from the crushing silence of honorable members opposite, the impression that they thought that the things that had happened in Indonesia were good and that they did not regret, if they were not positively pleased about it, the massacre that took place there. I hold very strong views about such things as capital punishment, the murder of people and international immorality. I deplore this kind of operation whether it goes on in one country or another and whether the victims are Communists, Fascists or anyone else. Looking the matter straight in the face as a piece of national morality as expressed by the Government of this country and honorable members opposite, the honorable member for Yarra was drawing at least a fair conclusion from the attitudes, the silence and the general humbug and hypocrisy of the people opposite.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.35 a.m. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
s asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Ramsgate - Progressively during 1966-67;
Blakehurst- By October 1966;
Rockdale - By 18th June 1967, and the remaining 46 progressively by June 1968; Kogarah - By June 1966; Hurstville - Progressively during 1966-67.
n asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows - 1 and 2. 1 am aware that Brisbane television stations covered in their programmes the demonstration in Brisbane on 24th March referred to by the honorable member. 1 did not see the programmes myself. From the information I have obtained the telecasts were made by reason of the fact that the demonstration was of significance from the point of view of news, the presentation of which is in the ordinary course of the activities of television stations. The activities of the State Police on the occasion are not the concern of myself or the Commonwealth, although I have no reason to believe that they merited any criticism.
In the circumstances, there would be no justification for me to meet the honorable member’s request that 1 should arrange to have the films screened at Parliament House.
b asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
What was (a) the value in time lost and (b) the proportion of each dollar lost due to (i) industrial stoppages and (ii) industrial accident and sickness during 1965?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
There are no official statistics on the total financial loss to the economy due to industrial stoppages and/or industrial accident and sickness. The Commonwealth Statistician reported that during 1965 815,779 working days were lost due to industrial disputes.
Statistics based on workers’ compensation are produced in all States, but differences in compensation legislation and in statistical systems make it impossible to collate these figures into accurate national totals. In any case figures for 1964-65 are not yet available from all States. However, an estimate based on the most recent figures to hand indicates that the total time per year lost from occupational injuries and diseases in the whole of Australia is approximately 750,000 man-weeks.
n asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
This examination indicates that as the share of natural increase declined the contribution of migration increased. In 1961 migration provided 29 per cent, towards our total population growth. By 1965 its share had risen to 46 per cent. Apart from the years 1949 to 1951 when Australia offered a home 10 very large numbers of displaced persons, the 1965 contribution of migration represents a record ‘ achievement towards population building since the war.
Actual percentages for the years from 1961 are as follows -
b asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
m asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
m asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
When members of 32 Small Ships Squadron, Royal Australian Engineers, have been required to attend and serve during any Sunday or holiday, have they been granted in lieu a holiday or portion of a holiday on a subsequent day in accordance with Australian Military Regulations, Regulation 476? If not, why not?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The provisions of Regulation 476 apply to office Staffs normally working regular hours and it was never contemplated that this would include ships’ crews, who obviously on occasions will be called upon to work outside regular hours, usually on a shift basis, according to the nature and extent of the ship’s employment.
Every effort is made to ensure that members of 32 Small Ships Squadron, who are required to work on Sundays or holidays are given holidays in lieu or additional leave under the provisions of Australian Military Regulations 468 and 474. Australian Military Regulation 474 makes provision for granting leave of absence of up to three days in any one instance by local authority. Australian Military Regulation 468 makes provision for additional recreation leave to cover specifically those cases where extra duty has been performed outside regular hours.
It must, of course, be recognised that operational and other requirements may, on occasion, restrict the amount of additional leave that it is possible to grant, but every effort is made to avoid restrictions wherever possible.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 May 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1966/19660511_reps_25_hor51/>.