25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. PEACOCK presented a petition from certain citizens of Australia praying that the Australian Government increase by an immense amount its contributions to nonmilitary overseas aid, to be financed, if necessary, by increases in taxation, administered by some international organisation such as the United Nations and offered to countries without reference to political advantage or purposes, but solely on the basis of need.
Petition received and read.
– I. ask a question of the Acting Prime Minister. Is it a fact that he issued a statement last evening to the effect that he and the Premier of Queensland had agreed upon Commonwealth financial assistance to Queensland, such assistance to be directed to cane farmers who are suffering because of drought and the low price of sugar? If the answer is in the affirmative, I ask the right honorable gentleman why the principle laid down by the former Prime Minister was departed from in this instance, the principle being that on all important questions of policy statements should be made in the Parliament and not outside it while the House is sitting.
– The substance of the announcement, so far as the honorable member quoted it, is correct. The announcement was not made by myself. It was made jointly by myself and the Premier of Queensland. It was our desire that, as soon as a decision had been reached on the degree of aid, an announcement should be made. Those are the circumstances in which it was made.
– I ask the right honorable gentleman whether he will table the statement and move that it be noted so that we can have a debate on it.
– I do not have it in my possession but I will table it later and move that it be noted.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration whether his attention has been directed to a recent report in the Sydney Press to the effect that faulty screening of migrants had allowed many criminals to land in Australia and that a police check of 600 migrants in one ship 5 years ago had revealed that more than 400 of them had convictions. Is there any truth in these allegations purported to have been made by the New South Wales Police or is this merely a further repetition by a Press representative of the erroneous assumption that there is a higher incidence of crime amongst migrants than in the general community?
– I can understand the concern of the honorable member for Maribyrnong about statements such as the one he has mentioned, because I know that in common with other members in this House he has a considerable number of migrants in his electorate.
Opposition members. - Oh!
– Tha t is all right. I included other members and some of them are on the Opposition side of the House, too. Opposition members should be just as concerned as the honorable member for Maribyrnong is.
– We are concerned for better reasons than the Minister gave. We are not concerned for votes.
– The report mentioned by the honorable member for Maribyrnong reflects unfairly and unjustly on migrants. Migrants of more than 30 nationalities have been brought to Australia. They have settled down harmoniously and splendidly and have contributed to our economic well being. However, every now and again, generalisations are made about the conduct of migrants. On three occasions, proper investigations have been made and generalisations have not been proved. An investigation carried out by a proper committee showed that, proportionately, migrants have a better record than native horn Australians have.
– The New South Wales Police did not make this statement at all. lt is a fabrication.
– Exactly. The Leader of the Opposition has answered the question. But this obviously was a matter that needed to be clarified. It is not my function here to deliver a homily about the responsibility of the Press, but I think when the Press moves into the realm of fantasy, as it did on this occasion in saying that 400 undesirable persons on a ship with 600 passengers had come through the screening, the correct position should be stated. We can all imagine what such a ship would be like. It could aptly be described as a hell ship. Obviously, the Press report was completely untrue. My department immediately contacted the New South Wales Police and this is what the Acting Commissioner of Police said -
The statement did not come from the Police Department. The Police Department does not subscribe to it. lt is quite inaccurate and there is no evidence to support any statement of this sort.
– I ask the Minister for Territories a question. When the Fisheries (Licensing) Ordinance was being prepared and debated in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, was consideration given by his officers or was reference made in the House of Assembly to the need to rectify the boundary between Queensland and Papua, which was fixed by Great Britain in 1878 and which proceeds for at least 60 miles, within three miles of the Papuan coast? What consideration has so far been given to granting New Guineans an increased right to be masters of their own resources?
– The honorable member has raised a quite difficult matter. The boundary was drawn, I think, last century and it passes within the three mile limit along the coast of New Guinea. One Queensland island, I believe, is within a mile of the New Guinea coast. Obviously, this situation poses some difficulties. I am unaware of the present stage of negotiations with Queensland. I believe that some arrangement must be made with the State concerning fishing.
– I ask the Treasurer whether he can give the House any further information about the loan market for local government authorities in New South Wales, particularly in the Illawarra district. I refer especially to a statement made yesterday by the Mayor of Greater Wollongong to the effect that it is very difficult to raise funds for local government.
– I have seen a report of the statement made by the Mayor of Greater Wollongong. At the moment, I am not able to give the honorable gentleman any information about the prospects of loan raisings for municipal or shire councils in New South Wales. I shall check with the relevant authorities and ensure that my Department or, if necessary, the Minister for Air, who assists me, writes to the honorable member to let him know the result of the inquiries.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. I ask: Has he received a report on the tragic drawing of four Citizen Military Forces personnel at Forth, on the north west coast of Tasmania, last weekend? If so, is he in a position to inform the House of the details given in the report?
– I received a report on the matter about dinner time last evening and I am in a position to give the House some information about this unfortunate tragedy. The men were engaged in a tactical exercise in the course of which it was necessary for these soldiers to cross a river. A water crossing by improvised means was not part of the exercise. Indeed, in the instructions that were given to the soldiers before the exercise began, swimming was specifically banned, even though those who were concerned were able to swim. The evidence and the information that I have reveal that there were two safe fords, one 70 yards above the weir at which the attempted crossing was made and another 70 yards below the weir. There were also two bridges that could have been used to cross the river. These were a little further away and their use would have involved quite a detour for the soldiers who had to cross. When I first read the reports in the
The water in front of the weir was about 2 ft. 6 in. deep. It was flowing reasonably fast. The danger came from a turbulent hole below the weir. Private Smare had said that he knew this crossing and that hp had crossed in front of the weir at this point on several previous occasions in similar circumstances. His advice was accepted by the others. This, I imagine, would have discouraged further examination of the river at other points where a crossing might have been made. Private Smare led the way across. He was in fact the only person in the water when he tripped and was washed over the top of the weir into the turbulent area below. Corporal Walpole and Sergeant Hicks immediately entered the water and attempted to reach him, but they were unable to do so. Very shortly afterwards, Lance Corporal Horsburgh. Private Barber and Private Mawer also entered the water in an attempt to save their colleague. All these men showed remarkable bravery in attempting to save Private Smare and it is tragic that in doing so three of them lost their lives, these three being Lance Corporal Horsburgh, Private Barber and Private Mawer. The circumstances revealed at the court of inquiry do not indicate a need for any disciplinary action. I extend my personal sympathy to the relatives and friends of those who were involved.
– My question is directed to the Acting Prime Minister. It refers to the announcement by the Australian Government that it proposes to boost the economy of the sugar industry by means of a $19 million loan. Will the right honorable gentleman confirm that this scheme will cover sugar growers in northern New South Wales as well as those in Queensland? Further, does the scheme meet the requests made by cane growers’ organisations? Having regard to the revolutionary concept of this proposal, will the persistent efforts that have been made to achieve a new Inter-
– In the first place I want to make it clear that the proposal does extend to sugar produced in northern New South Wales. Under our sugar marketing arrangements the sugar produced in northern New South Wales in fact becomes the property of the Queensland Government and is marketed by the Sugar Board, and therefore it will come within the ambit of this proposal. The arrangements that have been made and announced are the outcome of representations made to this Government by the Premier of Queensland, Mr. Nicklin, whose case was based upon a request made to his Government by the two sugar organisations representing the growers and the cooperative mills of Queensland. The amount to be loaned is the amount requested. The Commonwealth volunteered, in view of the serious economic situation of the industry, to forgo interest on the loan for a period and to arrange for deferment of the commencement of repayment of the loan until the year 1970-71. This represents a quite substantial concession by the Commonwealth which, while technically extended to the Queensland Government, will ultimately benefit the Queensland sugar industry.
The open market price of sugar is deplorably low at present. It has been below £S15 a ton during the last few days. For a product which is not merely a farm product, but also a manufactured product - raw sugar - to be so much cheaper than the coarse grains is just beyond all precedent. The situation is disastrous, and this Government, following on the approach by the Queensland Premier to the Prime Minister, felt no hesitation in taking this step to help. We will continue the international negotiations which we conduct in close concert with the Queensland Government and the various organisations within the sugar industry to achieve a better open market price. We have succeeded in negotiating a satisfactory contractual price with the United Kingdom and a satisfactory contractual price or arranged price with the United States. We have obtained preferences for Australian sugar in Canada and New Zealand and preferences above the purchase quota in the United Kingdom. All these
[15 SEPTEMBER 1966.]
arrangements, I think, combined with the home price, have produced a situation in which the industry can survive. Had the open market price applied to all our export sugar I just cannot contemplate what would have happened to the industry.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether the reports that Australia is considering intensifying economic sanctions against Rhodesia in disapproval of that country’s constitutional arrangements, which discriminate against the native majority, are true. Secondly, I ask the right honorable gentleman: If it is the policy of the Australian Government to use economic pressure to rectify racial discrimination, has consideration been given to the position of the people of Tibet who, from the reports of the International Commission of Jurists, and many other reports, appear to be suffering not merely racial discrimination but also the depopulation of their countryside, the destruction of their culture, and genocide.
– The history of the Australian attitude to sanctions discloses that when it was proposed that the United Kingdom and other countries should impose severe but limited - not complete - sanctions upon Rhodesia for the purposes that are in our minds, the Australian Government accepted the proposal and acted accordingly. Later, when it was proposed that there should be an important increase in the severity of the sanctions Australia did not conform. The position has obviously been a matter of discussion by the Commonwealth Prime Ministers, and any report Other than that contained in the communique of the Prime Ministers would be unwarranted and should not be accepted at the present time. The Prime Minister himself will be back in the Parliament next week, and I am sure that honorable members will agree that it is best that he should himself report to the Parliament the Australian attitude and policy in this regard. In respect of Tibet I am not conscious of any proposal that has been made by any group of countries that Australia participate in economic sanctions. I presume the honorable member means sanctions against mainland China.
– As I promised earlier I now present the following paper -
Finance for Sugar - Joint Statement by Acting Prime Minister and Premier of Queensland. and move -
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
– Is the Treasurer aware of yesterday’s Budget statement by the Victorian State Premier, Sir Henry Bolte, in which the Premier said that the whole system of Commonwealth-State tax reimbursement was so patently crazy and loaded against the States that it was beyond comprehension how anyone could be found to defend it. In view of the very strong position taken by Sir Henry and other Premiers, does not the right honorable gentleman think it is time for a full scale review of Commonwealth-State financial relations and that representatives of Federal and State Governments, along wilh representatives of local governments, ought to get down to realigning these relationships to the satisfaction of all governments, and certainly to the benefit of the whole community?
– I have frequently stated that how the State Premiers conduct their own Budgets and the political activities associated with them are matters for them and not for comment by me. I am not prepared in any circumstances to debate in this chamber, or to engage in open debate for that matter with any of the Premiers, what they say in their Budgets. All do say is that Sir Henry Bolte’s Budget will repay study because, despite the forecasts of substantial increases in State taxes, the only substantial increase was in respect of charges made by the Gas and Fuel Corporation of Victoria and the State Electricity Commission, whereas the honorable member’s question ralates only to taxation.
– What about increased hospital charges?
– Those were outside charges, not budget matters. As I have said, it will repay study. 1 am sure that honorable gentlemen opposite would have no detailed knowledge at this stage of the contents of the Bolte Budget.
– I ask the Minister for Health a question. How extensive is the reorganisation of the Commonwealth Scrum Laboratories due to cessation of production of Salk polio vaccine? ls there any possibility of arrangements being made for Sabin polio vaccine, now being imported from Canada, to be manufactured at the Laboratories?
– I am informed that the production processes of Sabin vaccine are such that in view of the quantity required in Australia it is highly unlikely that it will ever be an economic proposition to manufacture the vaccine at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories or elsewhere in this country. The honorable gentleman has asked how extensive is the reorganisation of the Laboratories. It is not very great. Production of Salk vaccine was only a part of the widespread activities of the Labo.ralies. As I announced on Tuesday, staff employed on the manufacture of Salk vaccine have been absorbed easily into other activities of the Laboratories, both commercial and in relation to public health.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister a question. The Press statement issued last night on the sugar industry stated that it was the industry itself which had initially proposed a fully repayable interest bearing loan to growers - a loan which, under the present price/cost structure will only plunge growers deeper in debt. Is the right honorable gentleman aware that the rank and file growers had no knowledge of and no say whatever in this proposal for interest bearing loans? Is he aware that some members of the Queensland Cane Growers Council up to last week had no knowledge of this loan proposal? What is the Minister’s definition of an industry? Who, in fact, was the industry in these proceedings? Finally, did the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Ltd. know of the proposal?
– I do not know whether the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd. knew of the proposal. It may have. The producing side of the industry, as recognised by the Queensland Government, is the Australian Cane Growers Council on the one hand and the Australian Sugar Producers Association on the other. These are the two organisations representative of all cane growers, as the honorable member will, I think, know. As he knows, they are representative of the co-operative millers. These are the organisations which put the proposal, not precisely in respect of the rate of interest but precisely in every other respect, to the Government, with the outcome I have announced.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry whether his Department will conduct a trade exhibition in Japan next year of Australian products. Will Australian primary and secondary products be on display? Will experts from secondary industry be present to meet Japanese buyers and explain the value of their goods? If so, will the right honorable gentleman consider having at least three primary producers, with expert practical knowledge of the products they grow, present to give Japanese importers and consumers first hand information on the primary products on display?
– It is true that the Department of Trade and Industry is arranging an important trade display at Osaka in Japan. When that display in the great commercial centre of Osaka is concluded, the items will be transferred to Tokyo for exhibition at the Tokyo International Trade Fair. This is the ninth occasion on which a display of this character has been mounted by Australia in Japan. The display will include a broad section of the Australian products likely to be saleable in Japan - both processed primary products and manufactured secondary products. Representatives of all the primary products marketing boards and of exhibitors of secondary industry products will attend. I am informed that Australian banking interests will also be represented as well as Australian tourist interests. All will be given an opportunity to participate. It has been customary when these trade exhibits are arranged, for all exhibitors, be they marketing boards or manufacturers, to meet their own costs.
– I address a question to the Acting Prime Minister. Can the right honorable gentleman explain how the loan of SI 9 million which is to be made by the Reserve Bank to the Sugar Board is to be passed on to the growers? Will it be a short term loan at 4i per cent, interest? Or will the money be used by “the Sugar Board to increase the price to be paid to the growers for No. 1 Pool sugar? Is this to be a loan to the growers or will the Board carry the loan and make increased payments to the growers?
– The mechanics of the proposal are these: In order that the matter may be expeditiously dealt with, the Rural Credits Department of the Reserve Bank will make a loan to the Sugar Board. That loan will bc guaranteed by the Queensland Government and the rate of interest will be the prevailing rate of 4i per cent. The statute which covers the operations of the Rural Credits Department limits loans of this type, which are related to the marketing of primary products, to a period of not longer than one year. In some instances where the product has not been completely disposed of within the year there have been some extensions. But it is not contemplated that this loan will be extended. The Reserve Bank loan will be regarded as bridging finance in the first year. When the loan falls due, the Commonwealth Government will make available funds to the Queensland Government with which to discharge the Reserve Bank loan. Repayment will not commence until after the expiration of the first 3i years and then repayment will be spread over 10 years. The money will go to the possession of the Sugar Board which will use it not to make individual loans to growers but in connection with the payments made to growers and millers for their sugar.
– In addressing a question to the Treasurer, I refer to the recent criticism that the general level of spending in the Australian economy has been static over recent quarters. Having regard to the effects of drought and the expected movement of disposable income this year, does the Treasurer consider that consumer expenditure can rise significantly in 1966-67?
– As 1 have said before the Government is concerned about the slackness in consumer expenditure over the period of the last year.
– Then raise wages.
– Wages have just been increased by $2, as the honorable member knows. There has been a quite substantial reduction in the rate of increase of disposable incomes over the last three years. The figure dropped from 10 per cent, three years ago to only 4 per cent, last year. This, I am sure, was due to several factors, particularly the drought, because farm income fell by 26 per cent. It was due to the fact that there was only a mild rise in combined wages and margins. It was due to the fact that overtime had fallen and that we, as the Commonwealth Government, increased persona! income taxation by 2i per cent. Added to this, average earnings rose last year by only 4 per cent This year the circumstances are different. In some States the drought has gone and in other States there have been substantial spring rains, so much so that we think now the best estimate that we can get is that the fall in production of wool will be only 9 million lb on last year’s production. There will be 20 million acres sown to wheat. There will be at least a 3i per cent, increase in earnings due to the $2 increase in the basic wage. Consequently it is thought that average earnings this year will rise not by 4 per cent, on last year’s level but by between 6 and 7 per cent. This is a very big increase. The result of all this is that it is expected that disposable incomes will rise substantially this year. I want to emphasise to the House that while disposable incomes will undoubtedly rise, it is up to the people themselves to decide whether they will spend this extra money, and this is something on which I cannot make any forecast.
– I address a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport and I refer to the cost of constructing the standard gauge railway line between Kalgoorlie and Kwinana. I ask: Was the most recent estimate of cost in the vicinity of $130 million? If so, was the recent increase in the price of steel taken into consideration when arriving at that estimate? If it was not, is it then likely that the eventual cost will be at least double the original estimate of S82 million? Finally, if this is not so can the Minister say what the eventual cost is likely to be?
– There was an estimate of about $130 million, as the honorable member mentioned, and it contained contingencies for price increases and wage increases. 1 am unable to say whether it covered specifically the increase in the price of steel, but I think it did not. What the final cost will be is impossible to say at present, but I believe that the major contracts for the work have been let already. Prices are fairly well known and I should not think there would be any great escalation above the last estimate.
– I address a question !o the Minister for Primary Industry. Is he aware of reports of greatly increased demand for Australian wheat at a substantially higher price? Can he give any indication as lo the reason for this demand and whether it is likely to continue to grow? ls it yet possible to forecast the effect of the new price on the economy for the current financial year?
– I think that the actual position on the world markets is that the wheat surpluses that had accumulated are diminishing to such a degree that in the United States of America, for instance, producers have been asked to produce more than they did in previous years. America had a surplus of 1,400 million bushels. This has been reduced, and it is expected to bc further reduced by next June to about 350 million bushels. If there is not a reasonable crop next year America will regard the situation as having reached the danger level. Canadian sales have been rather extensive, and Canada’s surplus has been reduced correspondingly. Australia has no surplus at all, which means that the wheat market, has firmed. I think the best answer I can give so far as the current price is concerned is that the United Kingdom price is £S2S per ton. That indicates a considerable firming compared with the price as late as even six months ago. The present position is that the market appears to be firming for the future.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Is it correct that funds made available by the Commonwealth to the States for forestry purposes may be used to acquire farm lands for conversion to forests? If so, will the Treasurer consider similar concessions to enable States to use long term loan moneys, made available under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, for the purpose of acquiring land for slum clearance?
– This matter is wholly within the jurisdiction of the States. If money is appropriated for housing it must be spent for housing. However, if the States wish to spend other portions of their funds for the purposes mentioned by the honorable gentleman, that is a matter within their own jurisdiction.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. The Minister will recall that yesterday I asked whether young men who had registered for National Service and who had been granted deferment, which is still current, will now, as an alternative, be granted the right to join the Citizen Military Forces, a privilege not previously granted to them owing to the location of their place of residence. The Minister said the subject was being given consideration. I now ask: Can an early decision be expected? That the decision be in the affirmative is urgently desirable so that the young men to whom I. refer may be placed on equal terms with others.
– The answer is not forthcoming since I answered the question yesterday, but the matter is certainly being given very close and urgent consideration, f am not sure how the honorable member defines “ early “, but in the way that I as Minister define “early” the answer will be forthcoming early.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Reports of employment of Aborigines in northern Australia still show some disquieting features. There are suggestions of such features as employment of child labour, withholding of wages and degraded living conditions. Will the Minister have his Department prepare a report on these factors in northern Australia, particularly on pastoral properties in the Northern Territory, so that the Parliament can have access to what one might term objective impartial surveys from official sources, rather than have to rely on reports by people such as myself. Factual as these reports may be, honorable members opposite sometimes do not believe them.
– I shall confer with my colleague, the Minister for Territories, who has the major responsibility in this area and ascertain whether something along the lines suggested by the honorable member can be put into effect. However, I would say that the whole position in that area for those concerned is not exactly made smooth in providing suitable opportunities for those there to earn a living by the actions of some of the organisations to which the honorable member belongs.
– 1 address a question to the Treasurer. Can the right honorable gentleman say whether any opportunity will be presented to him during his visit to the United States of America to assure the American Administration and people of the very genuine support that this country has for the treaty arrangements which exist between the two countries? If so, will the right honorable gentleman let it be known that the likelihood of those arrangements being disturbed are virtually nil?
– I think the honorable gentleman is quite right. We will shortly be having an election and I am certain that we will be able to say after that election that the possibilities of any changes in the treaty arrangements will be absolutely nil.
– Is the Minister for National Development aware that contam ination of the River Murray waters by a continuing high percentage of salt content is causing grave concern to irrigators in the States of South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria? In view of the claim of the three States that they are completely committed financially and unable to provide the necessary finance to undertake a costly venture of this nature, will the Minister introduce an overall crash programme of investigation into ways and means of desalinating this extremely valuable water supply on which so many of our heavy contributors to the Commonwealth and State tax agreement depend for a livelihood?
– The River Murray Commission has set up a committee to inquire into this problem of salination in the Murray. We are holding a meering on Friday of next week at which this matter will be discussed. In addition, the South Australian Government has undertaken inquiries, in particular to see whether the building of the new Chowilla Dam will make the salt position worse for irrigators. 1 understand that the information available so far is that it is likely that, if anything, the position will be improved after the building of the Chowilla Dam because this will mean a greater flow down the lower reaches of the river during the period when sailing becomes high. We realise that this is a problem. We are looking at it but we do not believe there is any possibility that it will become any worse at the present time.
– Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the notice paper.
– Mr Speaker, I rise to order.
– Order! Does the point of order relate to a subject matter before the Chair?
– Yes. It is very important.
– What is the honorable member’s point of order?
– That question time is all too short. This morning we had the spectacle
– I want to ask whether the procedure was proper. This morning we had the spectacle of a Minister replying to a question asked by an honorable member by reading a report. I strongly object to that procedure and I would ask you to rule whether this is in accordance with Standing Orders.
– Order! I point out that it is very difficult to enforce all the Standing Orders at question time. In fact, I believe that if I did that, possibly we would have no question time at all.
Proposed Additional Facilities at Repatriation General Hospital, Springbank, South Australia.
Proposed New Kitchen at Repatriation General Hospital, Heidelberg, Victoria.
– I present the reports of the Public Works Committee on the following proposed new works -
Additional Facilities at Repatriation General Hospital, Springbank, South Australia;
New Kitchen at Repatriation General Hospital, Heidelberg. Victoria.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
– I present the report of the Public Works Committee on the following proposed new work -
Extensions to Repatriation General Hospital, Concord, New South Wales.
I ask for leave to make a statement.
– Order! There being no objection leave is granted.
– The report on extensions to the Repatriation General Hospital at Concord, and the two other reports that have just been presented, cover the first part of a four year plan of progressive improvement aimed at keeping the service to repatriation patients at the high level imposed by the latest techniques and standards of medical treatment. The plan envisages a total expenditure in this period of the order of SIO million spread over the establishments in all three States.
At the three hospitals visited by the Committee in the past three weeks we were most favorably impressed by the obvious air of efficiency and understanding displayed by the personnel who have the task of translating the cold terms of regulations into the warm comfort of nursing care. We were not so favorably impressed by the conditions under which these same personnel are required to carry out their duties. I hasten to add that this does not apply to the ward accommodation or the treatment received by the patients. These are excellent. I am referring only to some of the conditions relating to the technical work of the hospital. For instance, the artificial limb centre in Adelaide has not only outgrown its accommodation, it is crowded beyond endurance and it could not possibly operate with full efficiency. I doubt (hat it meets with the safety requirements expected in a workshop of this nature.
The importance of pathology services has grown so rapidly in recent years that this section at Concord has expanded into every available bit of space. A similar condition exists at Heidelberg where passageways are cluttered with equipment that should be housed in appropriate rooms There is no complaint about the quality of the equipment. These hospitals are provided with the most up to date machines. The very latest techniques are available for the patients, as I have already indicated, but the conditions under which the skilled personnel who operate these machines are required to make use of their skills leave much to be desired.
The current proposals go a long way towards alleviating this position but I feel it incumbent on me to point out that this deterioration in working conditions has been developing for a long time and should have been tackled earlier. We were told that a survey of needs was made in .1963-64 and a four year programme was eventually endorsed. The present proposals are the major items in the first year of this programme. However, even if the Parliament approves these proposals in the next few weeks, it will take up to a year for the preparation of drawings and a further year and a half for the completion of the buildings. The Committee was made painfully aware of the need for new operating theatres now, for adequate pathology facilities now, for an improvement in outpatient treatment now; but it will be 2i to 3 years before the present proposals are converted into realities.
I direct the attention of the House to these points, Mr. Speaker, because this slowness in bringing plans to fruition is happening all too frequently in respect of proposals examined by the Public Works Committee. The Repatriation Department has launched a four year programme. It has set down priorities for future works. I want to stress the absolute necessity of bringing these forward in a continuing programme that will obviate delays as much as possible. I trust that further plans will continue to be in the course of preparation so that the four year programme will always be a forward looking one on a continuous basis.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– 1 move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act I9I3-J965, the following proposed work bc referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: - Coolangatta Airport - Development of aircraft pavements.
The proposal involves three main elements as follows -
These works are required for the larger aircraft which the domestic operators propose to use at Coolangatta. The estimated cost is S 1.300,000. I table plans of the proposed work.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented by Mr. Freeth and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second lime.
The Bill before the House is in effect complementary to a proposed amendment to the Repatriation Act in that, together, they implement the Government’s decision to increase further the pensions payable in respect of Australian ex-service personnel and wartime mariners. It is of course the practice to maintain pensions and benefits payable under the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act at the same levels as those payable under the Repatriation Act. The Bill therefore provides for an increase of $2 per fortnight in the rate of pension payable under the Act to widows of Australian mariners, and also for an increase of $2 per fortnight in the “ intermediate “ rate of pension payable under section 18 (4a) of the Act to incapacitated Australian mariners unable to earn a living wage because they are unable to engage in remunerative employment except on a part-time or intermittent basis.
The increase of $4 per fortnight in the special rate pension - that is, the total and permanent incapacity rate - and in the supplementary rate of pension payable for certain disabilities, which is being provided under ;he amending Repatriation Bill, will also be extended to mariners by virtue of the amendment in clause 5 of this Bill to section 22a of the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act. Clause 4 of the Bill inserts in section 59 of the Act power to make regulations for the provision of medical treatment for student children of deceased mariners up to the age of 21 years, to bring the legislation into line in this respect with the Repatriation legislation.
The opportunity has been taken in the Bill to have all existing money references in the principal Act expressed in decimal currency. Clauses 2 and 7 ensure that, as is the usual custom, the increases in pensions shall be paid on the first pension pay day after Royal Assent is given. I hope that honorable members will grant the Bill a speedy passage.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Webb) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Howson, and read a first time.
.- -I move-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill will declare the general rates of tax for the current financial year 1966-67. I will later introduce a separate Bill declaring the special rates to apply to certain income of superannuation funds, trust estates and members of partnerships for 1966-67. Subject to a modification of the income limits within which primary producers may be taxed at the rate applicable to their average income, the two Bills will in conjunction declare the same rates of income tax as applied for the financial year 1965-66.
As announced in the Budget Speech, the income limits within which the averaging system may apply to primary producers are being raised from $8,000 to $16,000. The system will continue to apply for rating purposes in the same way as previously, subject to these raised limits. The Government has noted that the raised limits could apply so as to be initially disadvantageous to some primary producers. An amendment contained in an Income Tax Assessment Bill which I will introduce shortly is designed to prevent this occurring.
The increase in age pensions announced in the Budget Speech has necessitated some changes from last year in the age allowance provisions of the Bill. These provisions may apply to men aged 65 years or more and women not under 60 years of age, if they are residents of Australia. For the 1965-66 financial year a person satisfying these tests and in receipt of a net income of up to $988 was not required to pay tax. In conformity with the increase of $1 a week in the age pension for single persons, the Bill proposes to increase the exemption point by $52 to $1,040 for 1966-67.
A measure of tax relief is also provided where a qualified aged person is in receipt of net income somewhat in excess of the new exemption level of $1,040. This relief was available for the 1965-66 financial year if the net income of the person was not greater than $1,148. For the current year, the maximum net income to which this relief may apply will be $1,221. For 1965-66 exemption was provided for married couples subject to the age allowance provisions if their combined net income was not greater than $1,872. For the current year, the exemption level is to become $1,950. Marginal relief was granted for these cases in 1965-66 if the combined net income of the couple did not exceed $2,700. For 1966-67 this is to be increased to $2,882.
A memorandum explaining the proposals I have mentioned and other taxation measures will be circulated for the information of honorable members and it does not seem necessary for me to go into further detail at this stage. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Howson, and read a first time.
.- I move-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill will declare the rates of income tax for the financial year 1966-67 on income of certain superannuation funds, trust estates and members of partnerships. These are special rates for the purposes of legislation introduced in 1964 to counter tax avoidance arrangements brought to attention in the report of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation 1959-61. commonly referred to as the Ligertwood Committee. The rates were declared for the first time in relation to the 1965-66 financial year and no change is proposed by this Bill for the current financial year.
As to income of a trust estate, other than a deceased estate, to which no beneficiary is presently entitled and which is not taxed as if itwere the income of one individual, the rate declared by the Bill is 50 per cent. As to income from a share in a partnership over which a person lacks, or is deemed to lack, real and effective control and disposal, the Bill imposes a rate of further tax sufficient to bring the aggregate rate on the income up to 50 per cent. If a taxpayer’s average personal rate is 50 per cent, or more, no further tax will be imposed. As to taxable income of a superannuation fund that is not exempt from tax, the Bill declares a rate of 50 per cent. This rate does not apply to the investment income of a fund that is subject to tax only through the fund’s failure to comply with the 30/20 public security investment rule. The rates on this income are proposed in the Income Tax Bil! 1966 and are not being changed. The additional rate of 21/2 per cent, payable by individuals does not apply in relation to the special rates proposed by this Bill. Technical aspects of the Bill arc explained in a memorandum being made available to honorable members. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Howson,and read a first time.
That the Bill bc now read a second time.
The principal purpose of this Bill is to amend the income tax law to give effect to proposals broadly explained by the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) in his Budget speech. Most of the proposed measures apply to primary producers. One of their purposes is to assist producers whose incomes have declined in recent years because of the drought. An important amendment for this purpose will grant to primary producers who have elected to withdraw from the averaging system a right to come back into the system. As honorable members know, the averaging system operates so as to apply to the taxable income of a primary producer the rale of tax payable on the average of his taxable incomes over a period of years. The normal period is five years, consisting of the particular year of income and the preceding four years. In 1951 the averaging system was modified in certain ways and at the same time primary producers were given a right to withdraw from it. In view of changed circumstances since 1951, but particularly because of the effects, of the drought, it is now proposed to give any producer who has withdrawn from the system an opportunity to review his decision and change it if he wants to.
In broad terms, it is proposed that a primary producer who has elected, or elects, to withdraw from the averaging system for the 1965-66 income year or an earlier year will be able to come back into the system in respect of any income year up to 1969-70. He may choose any one of the four years 1966-67, 1967-68, 1968-69 or 1969-70 as his year of re-entry. In the year of re-entry, he will be treated as if he had never withdrawn from the system, but there will be no right to withdraw again. The right of re-entry will confer an advantage on producers who have withdrawn from the system in years of declining incomes. They will now be able to re-enter in years in which, after the drought, incomes may be expected to increase. Another amendment also relates to the average system. By a separate Bill, the income limits up to which the system applies are being increased from $8,000 to$16,000. The new limits will apply for the first time in assessments for the 1966-67 income year. There may be cases in which the new limits would operate to the initial disadvantage of taxpayers who have not withdrawn from the average system. To avoid this, the Bill proposes that application of the new limits will be deferred in these cases until a year of income in which they confer an advantage. Once this happens, they will from then on apply in the ordinary way.
The Bill also proposes a measure to assist wool growers who, because of the drought, advanced shearing dates during the 1965-66 income year. In these cases, proceeds of two wool clips would be brought to account for taxation purposes in the one year. It is proposed that these wool growers will be able to elect to transfer the net proceeds of the second clip to the 1966-67 income year. Primary producers who have made forced sales of livestock because of the drought may be affected by another proposal in the Bill. At present, a primary producer may make an election in respect of the profit on a forced sale of livestock in consequence of drought, fire or flood. If the proceeds of the sale are used principally to purchase replacement stock, the producer may elect to have the profit taxed over a period of five years instead of all in the one year. It is proposed to extend this right of election to cases in which the proceeds are used principally to restock by maintaining a breeding herd or flock.
A proposal of wider application to primary producers relates to the period for which past year losses may becarried forward for deduction. At present, the period for this purpose is limited to seven years. It is proposed to remove this limit in respect of losses incurred in primary production. The limitation will not in future apply to a primary production loss incurred in the 1957-58 income year or a subsequent year.
– Is that right- 1957-58?
– Yes. It goes back to that financial year. The removal of the limitation will apply to assessments for the 1965-66 income year and future years. The final proposal affecting primary producers will provide an outright deduction for the cost of fences erected to combat soil erosion by excluding live stock from the affected land. The outright deduction will be in lieu of the depreciation allowances now given over a period of five years. This amendment will apply in relation to expenditure incurred in the income year 1966-67 and subsequent years.
Some additions are proposed to the list of institutions to which gifts of $2 or more are deductible for income tax purposes. The Australian Council of National Trusts and the Australian Conservation Foundation Incorporated are being added to the list. It is also proposed to authorise deductions for gifts to prescribed colleges of advanced education where the gifts are for tertiary education activities of a college. These amendments will apply in assessments for the 1966-67 income year and subsequent years. The only other amendment of substance relates to the priority for payment of income tax assessments by trustees in bankruptcy. When the new Bankruptcy Act comes into operation, the ranking for payment of these income tax debts will be provided by that Act. In broad terms, it is proposed to repeal provisions of the income tax law that are inconsistent with the Bankruptcy Act. The repeal will be effective as from the date on which the Bankruptcy Act 1966 comes into operation. A memorandum giving more detailed explanations of the Bill is being made available to honorable members and I do not propose to speak on the Bill at greater length at this stage. I commend it to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Howson, and read a first time.
.- I move-
That the Bill be cow read a second time.
This Bill proposes a formal amendment of the Estate Duty Assessment Act to implement a measure announced in the Budget Speech relating to certain gifts. Under the present law, gifts to the National Trusts of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia are exempt from estate duty. The amendment proposed by the Bill will extend this exemption to the National Trusts of Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania. It will also extend the exemption to the Australian Council of National Trusts. The amendment will apply in assessments of estate duty of persons who die after the date on which the amending Act receives the Royal Assent. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Howson, and read a first time.
.- I move-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill will give effect to two pay-roll tax measures proposed in the Budget Speech. The first of these will give a pay-roll tax exemption to certain non-Government schools providing education at the secondary level or lower. This will place these schools on the same basis for pay-roll tax purposes as church schools providing similar education. The exemption will apply as from 1st September 1966.
The second measure relates to the pay-roll tax incentive for increased exports. In 1961 the Government introduced a system of export incentives that operates through the income tax and pay-roll tax laws. As announced in the Budget Speech a general review of the incentive schemes is now being carried out. The Government has, however, decided it would be appropriate to make one change in the pay-roll tax incentive legislation at this stage. The change proposed will affect the way in which the pay-roll tax rebate in respect of increased exports is calculated. At present an employer who pays sales tax or excise duty on goods, and recovers these amounts in the price he charges for the goods, is required to bring the recoveries into account for the purposes of calculating the rebate. In many cases, this has the effect of reducing the rebate that would be available if the amounts did not have to be taken into account. Exclusion of the amounts will simplify the rebate calculation considerably both from the viewpoint of the taxation administration and the exporters themselves.
In technical terms, it is proposed by the Bill to amend the rebate formula so as to exclude the amounts in question from the definition of the “gross receipts” that are taken into account for the purposes ofthe formula. The amendment will apply to rebate calculations for the current financial year 1966-67 and subsequent years.
A memorandum giving detailed explanations of the technical provisions of the Bill is being made available to honorable members. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Howson, and read a first time.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend section 16 of the Commonwealth Banks Act 1959-1965 to allow a member of the Board of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation to be appointed as a member of the Board of the Papua and New Guinea Development Bank. Paragraph (f) of section 16 of the Commonwealth Banks Act provides that a person who is a director. officer or employee of a corporation the business of which is wholly or mainly that of banking, is not capable of appointment, or of continuing to act, as a member of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation Board. This provision was enacted before the establishment of Papua and New Guinea Development Bank and is considered to be inappropriate in relation to service with that bank. The proposed amendment will provide that membership ofthe Papua and New Guinea Development Bank Board will not disqualify a person from being a member of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation Board.
I commend the Bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned
Bill presented by Mr. Howson, and read a first time.
.- I move-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to authorise the payment in the current financial year of an amount of$ 10,750,000 to the States of New South Wales and Queensland to assistthem in meeting the adverse effects of drought on their revenues. Of this amount, it is proposed that$8,000,000 be paid to New South Wales and $2,750,000 to Queensland.
Honorable members will recall that earlier this year, legislation was enacted to authorise substantial financial assistance to New South Wales and Queensland in 1965-66 and subsequent years in respect of the direct costs of drought measures taken by them. This action was taken in accordance with our undertaking to assist those States in relation to the direct costs of drought measures for as long as is necessary. Under that legislation, a total amount of$21,700,000 was made available to New South Wales and Queensland in 1965-66 and provision has been made in Appropriation Bill (No. 2) for the appropriation of further amounts totalling$24,.250,000 in the present financial year.
The amounts payable under the present Bill would be additional to those paid in accordance with the earlier legislation and would increase total estimated Commonwealth payments for drought assistance in 1966-67 to $35,000,000, of which $23,000,000 would be payable to New South Wales and $12,000,000 to Queensland. The additional assistance of $10,750,000 will be made available in the form of non-repayable grants. As these grants are designed to assist the States in meeting the adverse effects of drought on their revenues, they do not carry any conditions as to the purposes for which they may be spent.
The Government’s decision to provide these additional grants reflects our recognition of the budgetary problems confronting the States of New South Wales and Queensland this financial year due to the cumulative effects of the drought on their revenues. The assistance to be provided should represent a very useful supplement to the other special assistance which these States are already receiving from the Commonwealth in respect of drought. As the Treasurer indicated on an earlier occasion, the existing drought relief scheme is more liberal than any previous scheme of this kind in which the Commonwealth has participated. On top of the very large amount of assistance the Commonwealth is already making available to the States, the total commitment of about $35,000,000 in respect of drought assistance represents a generous contribution towards the States’ financial difficulties. I commend the Bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Sinclair, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill will bring to more than 820,000 persons an increase in the payments received by them from the Department of Social Services. Probably one half of all families in Australia have a close relative who will benefit. In his Budget Speech the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) announced the Government’s intention of increasing and otherwise improving certain social service benefits.
The purpose of this Bill is to give effect to that intention and to make certain machinery and consequential amendments to the Social Services Act.
The main features of the Bill are -
An increase in the standard rate of pension of $1 a week to bring the maximum weekly rates payable to single age and invalid pensioners, and to widow pensioners with children, to $13 a week.
An increase of $1 a week in the pension payable to widows without children.
An increase of $1.50 a week in the combined pensions of a married couple raising the basic payment to them to $23.50 a week.
An increase in the deduction for each child allowed from a pensioner’s income for means test purposes.
Increased benefits for certain patients on discharge from a mental hospital.
Repeal of the nationality qualification for age, invalid and widows’ pensions.
These measures represent an acceptance by the Government of the responsibility of the community to provide for its less fortunate members. They represent a continuance of the Government’s policy to provide greater financial assistance to the least fortunate.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, each of the measures I would now submit for consideration in detail. The Bill before the House increases the standard rate of pension payable to single persons from $12 to $13 a week and the combined married rate for married couples from $22 to $23.50 a week. When measured by variations in the Consumer Price Index, which is generally acknowledged as the best yardstick available, the proposed rates of pension have a substantially higher value than the rates in 1949, when the present Government came to office. To illustrate: The maximum amount payable to a single age or invalid pensioner in receipt of supplementary assistance will be $5.94 more than it would have been to a similarly placed pensioner if the rate payable had been adjusted since 1949 in accordance with the index. Similarly the maximum amount payable to a married couple will be $2.69 more and for a widow with two children the amount will be $9.87 more. It must also be remembered that the full value of the pension does not rest, for most pensioners, in the cash payment alone. As a result of measures introduced by this Government all pensioners are entitled to receive free medical and pharmaceutical benefits. In addition, concessions such as radio listeners’ and television viewers’ licences and the telephone rental rebate are provided by the Commonwealth for pensioners. The total value of Commonwealth concessions to each pensioner is now, on the average, in excess of Si- 15 a week. Various concessions are also provided by the States and some local authorities. These concessions make a substantial contribution to the pensioners’ position and I thank those who provide concessions for their cooperation with the Commonwealth in caring for the less fortunate in the community.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, following the introduction in 1963 of the standard rate of pension, there were some who felt that the higher rate for single pensioners was not justified. The decisions to introduce the standard rate and now to increase the differential between the single and the married rate of pension were taken only after thorough examination of the relative position of the two categories of beneficiaries. Not only is the variation recognised and accepted in a great number of other countries but in Australia is based on the fact that a married couple may, in consequence of their ability to share a wide range of their expenses, live more cheaply than two single persons. In addition, the differential rate assists financially the surviving spouse of a married pensioner couple who otherwise would receive only one half of the pensions previously payable to them both in spite of the fact that there would be no immediate, or even ultimate, halving of the cost of household expenses. 1 realise that there are some instances of single pensioners sharing expenses and that there are differences in the extent that married couples share expenses one spouse with the other. In spite of such cases the Government must examine the broad field of those in need of assistance. Single pensioners, who incidentally represent twothirds of all pensioners, stand out as in need of additional assistance. Contrary to popular belief an unmarried couple who are both pensioners and who are living together as a man and wife cannot receive two pensions al the standard rate applicable to a single person. Under the provisions of the Social Services Act, such a couple are treated as if they were married, when they have lived together for at least three years. Where they have lived together for less than three years the practice has consistently been not to place them in a better position for pension purposes than they would be in if they were married.
I turn now to the proposal to increase the amount of the deduction for children allowed from income. At present pensioners with children are allowed a deduction from any income they may receive, apart from their pension, of one dollar a week in respect of each child before that income is taken into account for pension purposes. This will be increased threefold to three dollars a week. In other words, by this Bill the pensioners will be able to earn an additional $2 per week for each child. For example, a widow with two children will be able to earn 86 a week for her children as well as, subject to her property and other income, S7 a week for herself. So that a widow may receive the full benefit of the increased income deduction for children the amount of maintenance she may receive for each child which is not considered as income will be increased from $1.50 to S3 a week. This means that maintenance of up to S3 a week received by a widow in respect of each child will not be included in her income for pension purposes.
Honorable members can get some idea of the value of these proposals if we take a look at the possible effect on the weekly income of a widow with two children. With an increase of Si a week in the basic pension the widow may receive a pension of SI 3, a mother’s allowance of $4 and additional allowances for the children of S3, a total of $20. Add to this the .new figure of permissible means of $13 and we have a maximum weekly income of $33. This is exclusive of child endowment and the value of the various concessions that are available to a pensioner. When one considers that the new male basic wage is S32.80 a week - that is, the weighted average six capital cities wage - I think the Government can fairly claim that these measures should greatly improve the situation of widows and other pensioners with children.
The Bill before us proposes additional assistance to pensioners when they leave a mental hospital. It increases from four to twelve weeks the period of hospitalisation for which pension may be paid on discharge. The Bill provides further that if a patient is not discharged, but is on leave, from the hospital the accumulation of pension will be payable after absence from the hospital for a period of four weeks. This is of course supplemental to the resumption of normal entitlement to pension payments immediately after leaving the hospital. In addition, it is proposed to extend this provision to sickness beneficiaries and persons claiming benefit on leaving a mental hospital.
Within the framework of existing pensions and benefits we propose to enter what is, in effect, a new field by making a substantial lump sum payment represented by accumulated pension or benefit instalments to those who have been mentally ill, to assist them in their adjustment to outside conditions when they leave a mental hospital. The various States have differing practices and procedures relating to release on leave and discharge of patients from mental hospitals. In New South Wales, for the year ended 30th June 1965, 77.1 per cent, of patients discharged had spent less than three months in the hospital. The stay of voluntary patients in mental hospitals is generally shorter than that of certified patients and it can be expected that the percentage of voluntary patients who spend less than three months in a mental hospital is considerably greater than the figure of 77.1 per cent, given, lt appears therefore that the majority of patients will suffer no loss of actual pension moneys if on discharge, or if after a period of leave, they are paid pension for twelve weeks of the period they were an inmate of the hospital.
Where a married person becomes an inmate his wife is, under existing legislation, entitled to receive a pension at the equivalent of the widow’s pension rate, the actual rate depending upon whether she has any children under 16 or student children in her care. Thus when a married pensioner becomes a mental hospital inmate, for twelve weeks of his hospitalisation two pensions will be payable - one to his wife at the widow pensioners’ rate and one to the patient at the standard pensioners’ rate.
The practical effect of the provisions contained in this Bill will be that where a pensioner is discharged from a mental hospital, payment of his pension will be resumed immediately. In addition, he will be entitled to a payment of pension in respect of the period during which the pension was suspended up to a maximum of twelve weeks, instead of the four weeks provided under the existing legislation. Where a pensioner is granted leave from a mental hospital for seven days or more, payment of his pension will be resumed and a payment up to twelve weeks in respect of the period during which he was a patient in the hospital will be made when he has been on leave or absent from the hospital for a continuous period of four weeks.
At the present time a person who is not a pensioner at the time of his admission to a mental hospital does not, when discharged, qualify for a payment of pension or benefit in respect of the period of his hospitalisation. On the passing of this Bill a person so placed, on discharge from a mental hospital or at the expiration of a period of four weeks leave from a mental hospital, may, if otherwise eligible, receive a payment of sickness benefit in respect of up to twelve weeks of the period he was a patient in the mental hospital. He may, of course, subject to the lodgment of a claim, receive benefit from the time he leaves the mental hospital.
These measures are expected to do much to relieve any financial worry a patient may have either prior to voluntarily entering the hospital or during the immediate posthospital period. This in itself will be a worthwhile contribution towards the successful rehabilitation of the patient.
AH migrants and those interested in their welfare will welcome the proposal to remove the nationality qualifications for age, invalid and widow’s pensions. To this day, the Australian law has been that aliens could not qualify for a pension. It has now been decided that it is inappropriate to retain these restrictions in the Social Services Act. The great stream of migration since the war, so vital to our development as a nation, has contributed to Australia’s remarkable postwar population growth. Forward looking Government policies have assisted the flow of migrants. It is in line with the objective of encouraging further migration that the alien restriction is to be removed from the Act.
The Government attaches great importance to the naturalization of migrants as a step towards assimilation in the Australian community. However, we believe that the desire for naturalization should not arise merely for personal material benefit, such as eligibility for social services. At the same time, it is not intended to vary the current residential qualifications which are of general application. These are: For age pensions - ten years’ continuous residence or a lesser period of continuous residence where actual residence exceeds ten years. For invalid pensions - five years’ continuous residence where invalidity occurred in Australia and ten years’ continuous residence where the invalidity occurred outside Australia. As in the case of age pensions this latter period of continuous residence is reduced where actual residence exceeds ten years. Widows’ pensions - one year’s residence where the widow and her husband were living permanently in Australia when he died. In other cases, five years’ continuous residence immediately prior to the date on which pension is claimed.
Migrants arriving to settle permanently in Australia are already entitled in the same way as other Australian residents to child endowment, unemployment and sickness benefits, maternity allowance and rehabilitation benefits. With the passing of this Bill, all Australian residents will have equal statutory rights to all benefits payable under the Social Services Act.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, this completes the outline of the main provisions of the Bill. Before passing on to the several machinery items I mentioned earlier I would like to refer to a proposed amendment to the principal Act which will enable exservicemen to be granted unemployment benefit immediately upon termination of repatriation sustenance allowance. A sustenance allowance - generally known as “medical sustenance” - is paid where the nature of the treatment given for a war caused disablement temporarily prevents an ex-serviceman from working. Under the provisions of the Social Services Act, an unemployment benefit is payable from the seventh day after the claimant became unemployed, or lodged a claim, whichever is the later. Similarly, sickness benefit is normally payable from the seventh day after the day on which the claimant became incapacitated for work.
The position of the person in receipt of unemployment benefit who becomes qualified to receive sickness benefit, or the person in receipt of sickness benefit who becomes qualified for unemployment benefit, is protected in that the change from one benefit to the other may be made without any loss of continuity of payment. This protection will now be given where the change is from repatriation sustenance allowance to unemployment benefit.
In addition to amending the Social Services Act to give effect to the Government’s Budget proposals, the opportunity is being taken to make a number of amendments of a machinery kind to the principal Act. The first of these is to replace the words “ hospital for the insane “ wherever appearing in the Social Services Act with the words “ mental hospital “. This is in keeping with the modern concept of treatment for mental illness. Secondly, so far as social services are concerned the title of magistrate is an anachronism. Accordingly, it is proposed that all references to “ magistrate “ in the Social Services Act be removed. The use of the title “ magistrate “ is a carry over from the days when pensions for age and invalidity were paid by the States and evidence as to eligibility was, in some States, heard in open court presided over by a commissioner who was usually a police magistrate. Many aged claimants regard k as something of an ordeal when told it is necessary to appear before a magistrate in connection with their claim for pension. This is an added reason for removing these provisions entirely. I should make it clear that this proposal will in no way interfere with the effective administration of the Act or the powers relating to the taking of evidence or production of documents- as the Act already confers these powers on other specified persons.
The third and final machinery item is designed to remove all references in the Act to “ Aboriginal natives of Australia “. Since 1959 when this Government legislated so that Aboriginal natives of Australia, other than those who are nomadic or primitive, could qualify for social service benefits on the same basis as other members of the community, there remained but three specific references to Aboriginal natives in the Social Services Act. While these are in no sense discriminatory in their application it is proposed to delete them to remove any doubt.
I would now like to give the House some details of the costs involved. The expenditure on social services for 1966-67, other than that resulting from the provisions in this Bill, is estimated to rise by some S34 million over the expenditure for the year 1965-66. This is partly due to the natural increase in the number of pensioners and the full year cost of the increases granted last year and partly due to the provision for an extra payment in 1966-67 to mothers whose child endowment is paid quarterly to bank accounts. Expenditure from the National Welfare Fund on items under the Social Services Act will rise from 5694.2 million in 1965-66 to an estimated $757.8 million in 1966-67, and total expenditure from the Fund from $941.5 million to over $1,000 million. The cost of the pension increases and improvements provided in the Bill before the House will add over $40 million to the annual liability for Social Services. For the year 1966-67 it will add approximately $29.6 million. Expenditure under the Aged Persons Homes Act is, of course, not included as an item of expenditure in the National Welfare Fund but since the inception of this Act in 1954 total expenditure is approaching $60 million resulting in the provision of accommodation for nearly 24,000 aged persons. Actually, at this point of time, the total expenditure is something in excess of $60 million. This means that over the period since the introduction of the Act something over $100 million in all has been provided through the functioning of the Aged Persons Homes Act towards the construction of homes for this aged section of the community.
As announced by the Treasurer during his Budget Speech additional Commonwealth aid is to be given fox nursing accommodation in aged persons’ homes. In the past subsidies were paid for a patient’s normal bed accommodation and for accommodation used for patients with temporary illness. In the case of temporary illness the patient’s bed had to be kept vacant during that treat ment. These restrictions have now been lifted. Beds in the nursing accommodation arpa may now be permanently occupied by particular residents, and their former beds allocated to other aged persons. Eligible organisations will be able to provide subsidised nursing accommodation up to one third of the total number of beds in aged persons” homes conducted by the organisation in a particular city or town.
In concluding, Mr. Speaker, may I say that the Government is working energetically to develop the economy of this nation and to increase the well-being of its people. Otherwise neither security nor the means of social development can be achieved. In accordance with the established practice, it is proposed that the pension increases provided under this Bill will come into operation on the pay days following the Royal assent. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Daly) adjourned.
Consideration resumed from 14th September (vide page 903).
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
Proposed expenditure, $28,720,000.
Department of National Development.
Proposed expenditure, (31,168,000.
– I have remarked many times of late that national development which, to me, is a real and important need for Australia, has gradually slipped in the eyes of the Government from being a really important national need to a consideration of very minor importance. If the speeches of Government supporters at the time when I came here meant anything at all, national development was then regarded by the Government as being of extreme importance. But the picture presented by successive Budgets is hardly inspiring. For example, in 1962-63, we spent $22* million on national development; in 1963- 64, we spent $50 million; in 1964-65 tho expenditure amounted to something over £25 million; in 1965-66, it was almost $30 million, and this year it is only §31,168,000. As I see the position, most of this money has been expended by the Bureau of Mineral Resources and the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. In 1963-64, when $50 million was voted for national development, approximately $23 million was allocated to the Snowy Mountains scheme.
The money voted for national development seems to be split up in much the same proportion year after year between administration, the Snowy Mountains Scheme and the Division of National Mapping. Lately, there has been a move towards improving our forestry operations. This has certainly not been before time. It is time we did something along these lines, especially when we appreciate that a tremendous amount of timber is imported into this country. I think the value of our timber imports is exceeded only by the value of our imports of petroleum products. There is certainly no indication in the Estimates this year that the Government is interested in some less profitable, or what might be termed more adventurous schemes, like the Snowy Mountains scheme.
To me, these Estimates have a rather hidebound look. They resemble the balance sheet of some fixed trust which is determined to maintain previous performances but which has no desire whatsoever to improve them. I realise that the question of money is involved, as it always is not only in this place but in all other sections of the Australian economy right down to the individual. Money is a very big problem to them all and it is becoming more and more acute as time goes on, due partly to the policies of this Government and the taxation imposed by it. We cannot keep on the way we are going. The Burdekin River scheme was started under the auspices of the Chifley Government but dumped in 1949 by the present Administration. The Ord scheme is in the same boat; it was started and then allowed to languish. If this continues, Australia, from a developmental point of view, will finish up looking somewhat like some of the houses we see which are started by people but are never completed.
It seems to me that the Government is interested only in development that will show a return immediately, or in the near future. The Government does not seem to mind spending considerable amounts of money on a project if it will yield a return almost immediately, or in the near future. I refer particularly to the allocation of money to the Bureau of Mineral Resources. In fact, almost half of the allocation for the Department of National Development this year is to go, as it has gone over a period of years and in almost the same proportions, to the Bureau of Mineral Resources and the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. These two sections of the Department are to have between them $25i million out of a total proposed expenditure of more than $31. million. To me, this represents a rather restricted approach to the huge problem of developing the whole of Australia, including the north. The handout to the Northern Division is, in my opinion, horribly weak. Just what the Government expects can be achieved for the expenditure of a paltry $377,000 is hard to imagine. I should say that certainly nothing of any consequence could be achieved.
I think we all remember when the Northern Division of the Department was set up. I point out that the Labour Party’s policy at that time included a proposal that there should be a minister for northern development. The former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, announced that he would set up a Division of Northern Development within the Department of National Development. No one in the area from which I come was particularly pleased about this proposal. We did not think that such a Division would function very well. And, of course, it has not functioned as well as we would have liked. But it was the only thing that was offered at the time and the people of my area looked upon it as being some sort of approach to development and felt that it might be of some little help. Most of them realise now that the creation of this Division was just another one of those election gimmicks.
I do not think that northern development means a great deal to the people of Sydney or Melbourne; but it is something of very great importance to the people in north Queensland. The people of the north are trying to help themselves. The various chambers of commerce, for example, have set up developmental bureaux. There is one in Townsville, and it is functioning quite well, lt is supported and maintained by the citizens of Townsville at no mean cost to themselves, lt is a sort of self help bureau. It assists people who come to the north with money to invest. A similar set up has been organised in Ingham, just north of Townsville. This small progressive town set up a bureau. The sugar areas must get more money to assist their development and to enable them to employ more labour. The sugar industry to date is not employing the labour it used to employ, and problems have arisen. These people are trying to help themselves, and a little more interest by the Government in northern development would be a great help. Recently, when the Minister was in the area, we heard much talk about the money being spent by Mr lsa Mines Ltd. and at the Army base and other places; but to me this was disguising the real issue with figures, because after all the Government cannot claim credit for what Mr Isa Mines Ltd. has spent or for what others have done to develop the sugar industry and to build universities. This was purely a smokescreen tactic and it did not fool anyone, least of all those people who live in my electorate, and this will become obvious as time passes.
The Burdekin scheme, on which a report was prepared by Mr. Kemp - later Sir John Kemp - with the State Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission more than 20 years ago envisaged a dam on the Burdekin River and a four stage plan to provide hydro-electric power and irrigation for the Burdekin delta and ultimately for Townsville, as well as irrigation water for improved pasture on the coastal plains. The way water conservation is developing with new techniques now available through the efforts of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, this scheme would have been a great help to the beef industry today. I think it would probably have paid for itself long before this, but the constant cry from the Government is that it is uneconomic, that the soil is unsuitable and so on. The Government makes these claims to prevent the scheme from proceeding. One problem has become extremely acute in the Burdekin delta and only a dam can permanently solve it. It is time the Federal Government and the State Government accepted some responsibility and showed some interest. I refer to the problem of the underground water supply which is dwindling rapidly. This is placing the whole sugar production of the area in jeopardy. For years the farmers in this area have produced sugar valued at more than S24 million annually. They have paid millions of dollars in taxation. Millions more have been spent on the four mills in the area. Yet until recently they have received little back from the State Government and nothing from the Federal Government. The State Government has helped in a small way with survey work on the water tables, but the farmers have to foot the bill for the pumps that are being installed at present to recharge the underground basin. It is estimated that this will cost the farmers about $300,000. I cannot understand why these people are not receiving some assistance, because they are developing the area, and surely assistance could be provided in the name of development. I can understand the justifiable indignation of the chairman of the shire concerned who said that not one red cent has been forthcoming from any government to help these people.
The water position at present is so bad in some places that farmers are pumping from 10 to 12 feet below sea level. They are down to 90 feet with their spears in some places. In many parts of the Burdekin delta - particularly the areas near the mouth of the river - salt water is encroaching into the underground aquifer from which fresh water previously was obtained. Farmers are being forced to shift their pumps from location to location in the hope of finding better water supplies. This is a very expensive process. It costs about $2,000 to set up a pumping system of this type. In addition, piping has to be installed to serve the areas where the cane can be grown. The cane cannot be grown just anywhere; it must be grown on the land assigned to the farmer and surveyed by the Queensland Sugar Board. In most cases the farmers prefer not to talk about salt water encroaching on their properties, because this depreciates the value of tha properties. Most properties are highly valued and any suggestion of salt water encroachment renders them practically worthless. This is a dry belt, with an annual rainfall of about 25 inches, and unless the underground water supply holds out the land is worth nothing. Underground water is not to be Sound everywhere; it occurs in distinct areas, and if any land in those areas suddenly is without water the farm is not worth much.
If this area fails as a sugar producing district there will be nothing left there. This would mean disaster for about 17,000 people, to say nothing of the effect on our economy and the losses to the shareholders in the various milling companies. I hope that the Government does something through the Northern Division of the Department of National Development. As far as 1 am concerned northern development will be the real issue in the coming elections. It will be the main issue because it is a real and permanent problem in northern Queensland. Were it not for the sugar industry, northern Queensland, from a developmental viewpoint, would resemble the coast of New Guinea. Although this industry provided $200 million for the economy in 1963 alone - a great deal of it was in overseas credits - the Government is prepared at present to make only about 10 per cent, of that amount available. This is ignoring the hundreds of millions of dollars paid over the years by sugar farmers through income taxation, including provisional taxation, which everyone knows is a real crippler, from an economic point of view, on a rising income. In addition, the farmers have paid sales tax, fuel tax and all the other forms of tax that the Government uses to extract money. I should have thought that the Government would have made at least half of the $200 million available if it could not have made the whole amount available. I fail to see how the. proposed expenditure will afford much relief to the people. I suppose I could say charitably that it is better than nothing at all.
In the few minutes left to me I should like to say a few words of praise about the C.S.I.R.O. and the work it is doing in the north. I think most people are aware of the value to Australia of the C.S.I.R.O. in its 50 years of existence. The general public, which rarely concerns itself with other than reading headlines and worrying about things close to it, does have an appreciation of the work of C.S.I.R.O. This is good. Most of the work of C.S.I.R.O. produces benefits of an indirect nature. These benefits are not always immediately forthcoming or obvious. I take this opportunity to pay a tribute, as I did last year, to those C.S.I.R.O. workers engaged in the Pastoral Research Laboratory at Townsville, and at Lansdown Pasture Research Station, which is situated about 30 miles from Townsville. Lansdown is a field station where dramatic results have been achieved by using fertiliser on improved pastures. The results are so obvious that any layman can recognise the difference between using 3 cwt. of superphosphate to the acre and 1 cwt. of superphosphate, or no fertiliser.
For many years - I said this the other day and I say it again - the tropical belt of Queensland was not considered the best cattle country in the world. The heavy monsoonal rains over the centuries have leached many of the elements from the soil, leaving it deficient in more than one mineral. This has led to peg leg, botulism and other problems in cattle. The area grows very poor native grasses, including spear grass. However, since the C.S.I.R.O. took over this problem and examined it there has been a dramatic change in the carrying capacity of these coastal plains. There has been an even more dramatic change in the value of the land, and this has put thousands of dollars into the pockets of the holders of this hitherto poor country. The improvement has come about through the judicious use of superphosphate as pioneered by the officers of the C.S.I.R.O., headed by Mr. Les Edye, a Master of Agricultural Science and a courteous and dedicated man. The staff will go out of its way to explain the operations of the laboratory and field station to any interested person. Any honorable member who is in the area should try to take advantage of his visit and examine the field station. The C.S.I.R.O. has succeeded in killing two birds with one stone. It has succeeded in overcoming the botulism problems which were caused indirectly by lack of phosphorus in the diet of the cattle in the area. This lack of phosphorus causes the beasts to chew the bones of dead animals and, as likely as not, they become poisoned by botulism, which is passed on to other animals when they die. As a matter of fact, phosphate deficiency causes such depravity of appetite that animals will eat decaying flesh.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I. too, will devote my remarks to that section of the Bill related to national development, it is covered by Divisions 340 to 351. The Department of National Development has constantly increased its expenditure over many years, and justifiably so. [ feel that the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Harding) may have confused the expenditure within the Department with moneys spent on national development because he did cite amounts spent for departmental administrative purposes, field operations and the like. It is true that the departmental expenditure proposed for the ensuing year will reach $31,168,000. As the honorable member for Herbert said, the Department of National Development covers several ancillary departments, including the Bureau of Mineral Resources where the expenditure for administration and field operations will total $17 million. In addition it includes the Atomic Energy Commission which in the next 12 months will spend $8,600,000. However, when we look at the Department and its ramifications we realise its importance, not only as a department of the Public Service with its administration for Commonwealth purposes but also as an arm in the development of Australia.
The Northern Division of the Department of National Development was mentioned by the honorable member for Herbert. In 1965-66 this Division had, in all, 29 project officers, research officers and the like. Looking at the Budget Papers for this year I find that the establishment will be increased to 35 similar officers. In other words, there will be a 20 per cent, increase in the Northern Division this year, provided that the Division can obtain the full establishment of officers. I am sure that these technical officers and research officers will produce many proposals for submission to the Minister, Cabinet and the Parliament over the next 12 months.
Also within the Department is the Division of National Mapping which has, apart from its Director and Assistant Directors, a total of 102 surveyors, technical officers and the like, and 42 persons who are classified as supervisors in the field. Those officers are in active operation in Australia. However, it is in the Bureau of Mineral Resources where the Department of National Development and the Commonwealth Government have attained spectacular success, in my view. In this Department the Minister has available to him very highly qualified staff, such as petroleum technologists, geologists, geophysicists, engineers and many highly trained personnel for the purpose of giving advice to him and to the Government. These people in the Department are fully engaged on national development projects in some form or another. My purpose today is to speak of some of the achievements and aims of the Department and, first of all, to try to define what is national development. There seems to be some confusion in the minds of some reporters and honorable members opposite that all national development should take place under the aegis of the Department of National Development, whereas in fact I believe that the Commonwealth Government should stimulate development in Australia. If need be it should stimulate development through the State governments and through local government authorities, but in particular it should ensure that when private enterprise invests money in Australia there is good reason to expect that excellent returns will come from that investment in this wonderful country of ours. When I speak of private investment I include overseas investment also.
Looking at the Budget papers again, I find that the Commonwealth Government will allocate this year for the State works and housing programme alone a total of $645 million, which is an increase of $40 million on expenditure last year. In my view this is expenditure in Australia for the national good of Australia and is in fact national development. To this expenditure we must add a further $198,600,000 for land development, water conservation, roads, railways, ports and other projects. If I cite one of these items alone it will be seen from the Budget Papers that through State governments $25 million will be expended on new railways and the maintenance of old railways during the next 12 months. We often hear about the need for more roads in Australia. The Budget
Papers tell me that in 1966-67 we will spend taxpayers’ money to the extent of $157,700,000 on the construction of new roads and the maintenance of old roads. The expenditure on water resources will be $10,300,000 and on forestry it will be $5 million. Even if we consider only those figures and forget the others that I shall mention shortly, I believe that they show that the country is in for an excellent year of development in 1966-67. However, as I have said, this is not the total figure because the Commonwealth itself has a large capital works programme. The Budget Papers tell me that this year the Commonwealth will spend $471,400,000 on its capital works programme.
In the three categories that I have mentioned, and I cite them right now - State works and housing, S645 million: payments to the States for specific projects, $198,600,000; and Commonwealth developmental projects, $471,400,000 - we see a grand total of expenditure on national development of $1,31.5 million. The amount is not $31,168,000 as was mentioned by the honorable member for Herbert. An expenditure of $1,315 million represents an increase of $90 million on last year’s expenditure. In my view, in a country of 1 1 million people, this is national development on a grand scale. But further figures can be added to those that I have cited already. For the record I think I should state that in the Northern Territory, which is a complete responsibility of the Commonwealth Government, we can add $51,700,000 to th: sum I have already mentioned. We all realise also that the Commonwealth Government is giving a grant of $70 million to the Administration of Papua and New Guinea for 1966-67. So looking at the final figures for national development in Australia from a Commonwealth, State government and local government point of view we find that a total of Si, 677 million, which is 28 per cent, of our present Budget, will be spent on national development. I believe that for a country of 11 million people this is a fantastic effort.
It is on northern development that the Opposition usually has a field day and criticises the Government for what Australia has not done. However, Australia’s effort is not only good; when we invite visitors to Australia and show them the results of the work of governments and of private enterprise most are startled by the work which has been done in Australia in the last 10 years. They then realise the limitations in their own countries. I am reminded of the Inter-Parliamentary Union conference which was opened in this chamber by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) who said that if America had obtained on a per capita basis the number of migrants that Australia had received last year, the United States would have had to build a further 500,000 homes to cope with the people entering America. As I say, the tendency is to measure development in terms of Commonwealth spending, whereas we on this side of the chamber realise that development must be measured not only by Commonwealth spending but also by spending by State governments, private enterprise and by other bodies. How much have we spent on beef roads since 1961? Can the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) tell me that? Of course, he would not know. Since 1961 the Commonwealth has spent $30 million on beef roads, $21 million of which was spent in Queensland and $8.4 million in Western Australia. I am not speaking in generalities; I am giving statistics. I believe that the people of Australia are more interested in what the Commonwealth designs to do than in what the Socialist side of the House wants the Government to do. The Commonwealth for years has assisted in mineral development through the Bureau of Mineral Resources. It was the Commonwealth Government which ensured that the standard gauge railway from Mount Isa to Townsville was reconstructed.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the sitting was suspended I. was telling the Committee of some of the factors associated with northern development in which the Commonwealth Government was particularly interested, and I had mentioned that it was this Government which had found the $36 million required for the reconstruction of the standard gauge railway line between Mount Isa and Townsville for the transportation of copper from Mount Isa to the refinery at Townsville. Very few people realise that the copper refinery which was established in Townsville in 1959 proposed initially to produce 40,000 tons of blister copper a year. This year 92,000 tons - something more than double the original intention - will be produced.
The Commonwealth Government, too, has found the money for the Weipa wharf and the township of Weipa. Total expenditure there is, or will be, $3,270,000. We all realise the need for additional facilities at Weipa because of the large bauxite deposits there. The Commonwealth Government has spent $4,460,000 on the wharf and ore loading and port facilities generally at Darwin. Very few people realise the millions of dollars which are being spent by the Commonwealth Government, the State Government of Western Australia and private enterprise on the six new townships to be built in Western Australia to cater for the tremendous iron ore deposits which have been located there.
Very few people know that Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria is most valuable to Australia because of the lode of manganese which has been discovered there. The Department of National Development, or the’ Bureau of Mineral Resources, rarely gets the credit for having located this manganese on Groote Eylandt. I wonder how many people, especially those from Queensland, realise that currently $2,000 million worth of development is taking place in that State. Where? North of Capricorn. How many people in this chamber or in the north realise that no city in Australia is growing faster than Townsville, unless it is Mount Isa? How many people in Queensland realise that in 1947 the population of Cairns was 16,000 and this year it will be 26,000? How many people realise that Mackay, which is in the heart of the Federal Division of Dawson, had a population of 1 5,000 in 1947 and today has 22,000?
How many people in the rural areas of Victoria and New South Wales realise that more power is developed on the coast of Queensland than in those areas? Let me point out also that the cost of power in the rural areas of Victoria and New South Wales is higher than it is in the coastal areas of Queensland. It has been said that consumer items are more expensive in Queensland than they are in Victoria and New South Wales, but this Government has introduced what is called the “ petrol equalisation fund “ which has enabled transport costs in Queensland to be reduced to a minimum. I believe that merchants in the coastal areas of Queensland charge what the people will pay, just as they do in the south. There is no difference. All the ports of Queensland have freight advantages over southern centres such as Mildura in Victoria and Wagga, Albury and Armidale in New South Wales.
Only last night one of our Government committees had Sir William Gunn before it. He gave to the committee details of the price of superphosphate in Cairns. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. King), who was at the meeting, said: “ Well, superphosphate is cheaper in Cairns than we can buy it in the Wimmera”. These are the facts. These are the things about which people from Queensland tell us something should be done, but the fact remains that costs in Queensland, particularly freight charges, are as cheap or cheaper than costs in many rural districts in Victoria and New South Wales.
THE CHAIRMAN. - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I direct my remarks to the allocation of $31,168,000 to the Department of National Development. I want to express disappointment that the Estimates contain no provision for the finance which may be necessary to commence the main Ord River dam. The Government’s failure to make a decision on this matter up to this time is shocking, and although some decision may be made before the forthcoming general election that is not good enough. A decision should have been made earlier. Of course, we do not know what the decision will be but it looks as though the Commonwealth Government, as a result of prodding from certain Australian Country Party interests which are concerned about the electorates of Canning and Moore in Western Australia, may do something about the Ord River second dam. But this is the worst form of political opportunism and it will not fool the people of Western Australia.
Where does the Government stand on the Ord River project? There has been hedging for quite a long time. A while ago, the project ranked so low in importance that even while conferences between representatives of the Western Australian Government and the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) and certain other Ministers were proceeding, junior Ministers were making statements condemning the scheme. For instance, such statements were made by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) and the Minister for Air (Mr. Howson). What kind of Government is it which allows junior Ministers to make statements while negotiations between the Commonwealth and the State on this very important matter are proceeding? When the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, opened the diversion dam on the Ord River over three years ago he said -
This is needed desperately for the future of the country.
But, of course, that was just prior to the 1963 election when the Government had a majority of only one in this House. Immediately the election was over the project was forgotten again. It was only a last minute decision. It appears that we will get another last minute decision, possibly just prior to the forthcoming general election.
The Government is guilty of prevarication on this issue. It said that it required further information from the Western Australian Government. After it received that information it said it required the results of a crop analysis. The Commonwealth Government received all the information that was necessary. The crops have proved themselves but still this Government hedges on this very important question, so much so that in the meantime the Ord is proving its own case to the people of Australia. Record crops have already been produced this year. According to the latest figures cotton could even be produced on the Ord, without the Government subsidy on which so much depends, to compete on the open market.
Of course, pressure groups have been strongly opposed to the Ord River scheme and many Ministers have been influenced. The Minister for the Interior, for instance, was subjected to pressure by the cotton growers on the Namoi River in northern New South Wales. We know that the Namoi area is producing 75 per cent, of Australia’s total output of cotton and about 50 per cent, of our requirements, but does that mean that cotton should not be produced elsewhere? The Namoi farmers had their pressure group here just prior to Cabinet considering this matter and there is no doubt that they influenced the decision that was made. They claimed at the time that the Namoi area, the cotton growing area in Queensland and the limited production on the Ord could produce sufficient to meet Australia’s requirements. They were concerned that the S4 million cotton bounty provided by this Government would have to be distributed among more growers if more farmers grew cotton on the Ord. The cotton bounty has a lot to do with the attitude of the Namoi farmers towards the development of the second stage of the Ord project. They fear that their share of this bounty will be reduced if the main Ord dam is proceeded with.
Dr. Alex Kerr of the University of Western Australia believes that profits made by farmers in the Ord area could soon reach the point, if they have not done so already, where a subsidy would not be required. This was mentioned in a leading article in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 25th of last month, and I am sure that the Minister has read it. We understand the people on the Namoi being worried about the Ord. When the Ord scheme is completed, the people there will have better water supplies than it is possible to provide in the Namoi area. The water supplies in the Ord area are unlimited, but they need to be harnessed and not allowed to drift down into the sea. What is needed is a second storage dam to retain the water. As the Minister knows, the first dam was supposed to bc a diversion dam, but it is now being used as a storage dam. If we compare the situation in the Ord area with the situation in the Namoi area, we find that the Namoi area lacks an assured water supply. After two years of drought, there is very little water in the dam. We know that the Keepit Dam is almost dry and reports say that it will take three years to fill, even if good rains fall in the area. I understand that even the recent heavy rains did not make any impression on the’ dam.
The Minister for the Interior has admitted that at least 70 per cent, of the crop in the Namoi area will fail this year because of lack of rain. In four years, flood has ruined one crop and drought has ruined another. I ask the Minister: How can an area such as this be compared with the Ord area where there is an assured water supply, where there will be no flooding once the water is harnessed and where the water can be used to irrigate a vast area of land? The cost of storing the water in the Ord area is lower than the cost anywhere else in Australia and it is many limes cheaper than the cost of the Keepit dam. lt is not generally known that the flow at the site of the main Ord dam could fill the Canning Dam in 50 minutes. But all this water is wasted because the Government does not see the need at this stage to provide the finance to build the second dam. There are now 26 farmers in the Ord area. They have planted 8,400 acres of cotton and the returns have been very good. The average has been 820 lb. of lint and some farmers have produced crops yielding more than 1,000 lb. The latest figures show an increase of 60 per cent, on the first commercial crop of three seasons ago. The construction of the main dam, when it does come to fruition as surely it will at some time or other, will enable another 140,000 acres to be irrigated. The total area under irrigation, once this is completed, will be 170,000 acres. But this is not all. A big part of the project, as the Minister well knows, is in the Northern Territory. Of the total amount of S70 million or so that the scheme will ultimately cost, I understand that S20 million will be spent in the Northern Territory.
When the Commonwealth runs out of other arguments in its series of prevarications on the Ord River project, it refers to costs and the shortage of manpower. The State is able to debunk these arguments. I have already said that the estimated cost is $70 million, but this would be spread over a period of 15 years. The requirement for the first year is only about $800,000 and fewer than 100 men are required for the first year of operation. Most of them are already employed by the State Government in the north of Western Australia. The Commonwealth Government stands condemned for its attitude to the north. Almost all the development that is taking place is being done by overseas interests and private enterprise. Very little is being done with money invested by the Commonwealth Government or by the Western Australian Government. This is a matter of national responsibility. Development of the north should be treated as a national necessity. I wonder whether the Government goes along with a former Minister in believing that, by leaving the north a wasteland, it would confound an enemy invader. 1 hope the Government does not believe in this philosophy. It should develop the north. If we deserve to hold it, we deserve lo develop it. “ Populate or perish “ is a good principle to be adopted when considering the north.
The “West Australian” of 15th August 1956 published an article in which a professor urged that we sell Cape York. This is a shocking suggestion, for Cape York is part of our mainland. The professor is reported to have said -
If a nation were to occupy Cape York, people overseas would say “ Fair enough. The Australians weren’t using it anyway. It’s not worth a war.”
That is the sort of attitude that we are creating outside Australia when we do nothing about our own country. The possibilities of the north are tremendous. The Ord scheme could be repeated on the Fitzroy and other rivers in Western Australia. But apart from this type of development, many other types of development could be undertaken. Almost any crop will grow in the north. Experiments at the Kimberley Research Station have shown that this is so. The north holds minerals and oil and the land could carry many additional thousands of head of cattle. The combination of cotton and cattle could be the answer. We should learn a lesson from the work in California, where 480,000 tons of cotton seed are treated each year, and thousands of head of cattle are topped off with the by-products.
The Premier of Western Australia has already said that, while the beef roads will get more cattle to the Wyndham meatworks, they will not be enough to bring the works to full capacity. At present the meatworks are using only half capacity. Some authorities believe that a staging depot of 30,000 to 40,000 acres is needed near the Wyndham meatworks to provide pasture land so that cattle can be topped off after travelling long distances. Of course, these lands can be irrigated by the Ord scheme. All this will add to our export income and help our balance of payments.
Dr. Alex Kerr, Reader in Economics at the University of Western Australia, believes that this area could maintain a population of 100,000 by 1980. He points out that America has large cities with a population of one million in areas with a climate similar to the climate of this area. But the present population here is .H people to every 100 square miles of the 577,000 square miles above the 26th parallel. The attitude of the Commonwealth Government towards northern development reminds me of ils former attitude, when it recommended crop restrictions. The policy today is just as short sighted. On the Ord, we have black soil capable of producing almost any type of crop. If there was an excess of cotton, the farmers could change to some other crop. The danger of a world food crisis surely warrants us proceeding with the Ord River project. I invite attention to the headline “ World food crisis may be closer “, which appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ on 22nd August last. The article contained a good deal of information about the possibility of the world being short of food by 1985. Yet we have areas in the north that are not being used to produce food.
I want to deal with another matter relating lo national development before I conclude. The Minister for National Development has not answered a question which has been on the notice paper since 16th March, lt is -
Did the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, slate in reply lo my question of 1st April l%5 that the report of the Committee of Investigation into Transportation Costs in Northern Australia would bc presented by the Minister for National Development before the end of August 1965?
I asked him whether the report had been received. I also direct attention to other questions that I have asked on this subject. On 11th May 1965, the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, said in answer to a question -
As promised 1 took this matter up with the Chairman of the Committee and have been informed thai the Committee believes its report will be presented by my colleague, the Minister for National Development, before the end of August.
That is not last month, but August 1965, but still we have not received the report.
Again, in September of the same year, he said -
I certainly hope that we will have the report during the currency of this sessional period, because I am sure that it will turn out lo be of great interest to all honorable members.
For God’s sake, give us the report, Mr. Minister.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Chairman, I enjoyed the pious note on which the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) concluded his speech. I do not want to ruffle his feelings unnecessarily, but I am bound to tell him that I was not terribly stimulated by what he had to say to the Committee. I would hardly describe my friend as being the benzedrine of Australian politics. However, I listened with interest to what he had to say. He devoted most of his time to the Ord River scheme. May 1 say to him that I find myself in a state of splendid neutrality towards that scheme. I have no fixed feelings of hostility towards it.
– Or towards anything.
– Wait a moment. I am putting my argument. I have no fixed views in favour of the Ord scheme. What always amazes me about honorable gentlemen opposite, when they talk in terms of economic planning and of general development in this country, is that they are possessed of the idea that as long as they have a plan all will be well. There is my friend, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), for example. He would vividly recall the East Africa ground nuts scheme. A Socialist government in the United Kingdom - I think it was the Attlee Government-
– I thank my friend. That Government took the view: “ If we could bound out to East Africa and establish a ground nuts scheme, all our economic ills would be solved “. One observer estimated that every ground nut that was produced by the scheme cost the British taxpayers £25.
– Sterling, too.
– I do not know. This sort of Byzantine extravagance does not commend itself to me at all. AH that honorable gentlemen opposite want is a plan. With respect to the Ord scheme. I am sure that my friend from Stirling will agree with me that the plainest of responsibilities falls on the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) and all his colleagues in the Government to assess, ‘before voting money for a scheme, its economic value not merely to Western Australia but to the Commonwealth as a whole. I have not been privy to talks on the Ord scheme that have been conducted, but I can recall talking to the disinguished Premier of Wesern Australia when he was in Canberra a few weeks ago. He, I understand, has great enthusiasm for the scheme. But even Mr. Brand himself would readily concede that the Commonwealth has a responsibility to the Australian taxpayers that must be discharged before it votes money for the Ord scheme. I have alluded to this because it points up what T regard as being a fundamental fallacy in Labour thinking about development in this country. The honorable member for Stirling, before he sat down, worked himself almost into a fever.
– A frenzy.
– 1 prefer the word “ fever “. He worked himself into a fever over development and he gave the impression that nothing was going on anywhere in the country. How does he answer the case that in Queensland alone more than $2,000 million will be spent in the current financial year on development north of the Tropic of Capricorn? When my friends opposite say that no development is going on anywhere in Australia, I wonder whether they have been to the places where projects are under way to see for themselves what is going on. It is a most exhilarating experience to go to Mount Isa and see the new shaft and the other new works that are being undertaken there, to go to Townsville and see what is going on there, to visit Collinsville and see the enormous new power house that is being constructed there, and to witness at all those places the genuine feeling of zest and enthusiasm exhibited by all the people who are associated with those enterprises. I wonder what those people must think, Mr. Chairman, when they hear knocking - in all candour, I must describe what we hear from honorable gentlemen opposite as sheer knocking - of those great enterprises. If I were a fitter and turner working on the Collinsville power house site, I would be as angry as a bee after having listened to the honorable member for Stirling saying this afternoon that no activity and no development were going on in north Queensland.
On the question of development, may I now turn to the speech made last evening by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser).
– I am grateful that I can get the honorable member for Watson to agree with me. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro last night spoke about the future of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority. I can understand his motives in this matter. I want to pui to the Committee what he said. I think that herein is the substance of his argument. He stated -
On the other hand, the Labour Party’s policy is to maintain the Snowy Mountains Authority in full as a tremendous continuing force, tackling the immense tasks of national development which challenge the people of this continent. Wilh a Labour Government, die Snowy Mountains Authority will bc expanded into a national conserration authority.
That is the honorable gentleman’s argument. For the purpose of my argument, let mc say that I understand him. if the objective - the sort of desideratum envisaged - is to have the Snowy Mountains Authority maintained in its present form, with all the expertise that now rests in it. If that is the argument, 1 understand it. But the case that 1 put to the honorable gentleman is this: The decision to maintain the Authority does not depend merely on the Commonwealth Government. My friend may be a little baffled by this argument, but I hope that he will bear with me. The Commonwealth Government has no jurisdiction simply to walk into a State and to commence a great developmental work. It must have the prior authority of the State concerned. If a project spilled over from the State authority involved, it might conceivably impinge on private interests. The interests of landholders whose estates might be affected would have to be considered. I put it to the honorable gentleman that these are relevant points. Before anybody can act on the suggestion that the Snowy Mountains Authority be preserved, some objective must be given to it. Be. ore an objective can be given to the Authority, the Commonwealth, one way or another, must work out a relationship with one State or, indeed, with all the States. I put it to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro that merely maintaining the Snowy Mountains Authority in its present form without giving to it some clear objective would be the height of futility. 1 shall now cite with warm approval the views of my friend, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, on this very point. I have :n my hand a little booklet entitled “ Labour and the Constitution “, which was published by the Victorian Fabian Society and which contains an address given by my honorable friend as the Chifley Memorial Lecture. 1 commend this reading to all honorable members. This address was entitled ,: The Constitution versus Labour”, and this is what my friend had to say -
The Commonwealth has also instituted the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. It was entitled to do so under the Constitution in so far as it was necessary to supply electricity and water for the Australian Capital Territory. The main purpose of the scheme, however, is to supply water for irrigation and to a lesser extent supply electricity for Sydney and Melbourne, and neither of these functions belongs to the Commonwealth under the Constitution. The Commonwealth has been able to proceed with the scheme, however, since neither the States of Victoria or New South Wales, which the High Court would have heard in opposition to the Commonwealth government, has seen fit to challenge it and since the private landowners whose land was being inundated or resumed have been bought off with attractive resumption prices and the contractors who objected to some of the methods of wage fixation have been suitably indemnified.
I agree wilh this. I have no complaint to offer about, that paragraph, except to point out the minor grammatical mistake of using “ or “ with “ neither “ and I am sure my friend, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, would agree with me. But that is beside the point. If the Commonwealth Government tomorrow wanted to go into north Queensland and embark upon a vast water reticulation scheme it could not do so.
– What he said was that where there’s a will there’s a way. It has been done before and it can be done again.
– I am coming to this, and I hope that by the time our wills meet you will find that we are on the same way. I am putting the proposition to the Committee that if the Commonwealth Government wanted to embark upon a vast water conservation scheme in Queensland, then if the Queensland Government of the day. no matter what its political kidney might be, said: “ You cannot come in and do this unless you consult with us,” then what would be the answer of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) to that stark circumstance? I am putting it to honorable members opposite that to use the Snowy Mountains Authority effectively and efficiently and to maintain it we must bring ourselves on to the threshold at least of a completely new concept of relations between the Commonwealth and (he States.
– The answer is that we would put a proposal to the State that it would jump at and bc glad to accept.
– I am going to come to one such proposition, and in this I hope we would find agreement. 1 hope my friend, the Minister for National Development, would encourage a re-appraisement of what I describe as the Bradfield concept. 1 have spoken to some very distinguished civil servants in this country who have poohpoohed the idea and said that the Bradfield scheme is not practicable. I do not know whether this is so, but Dr. J. J. C. Bradfield had this vision - what, 20, 30, 40 years ago? - of taking the water that now flows into the sea and turning it back into inland Queensland and inland Australia. A number of people have said to me: “ This move is not on “. I am not in a position to judge, but I wonder whether a contemporary assessment of the Bradfield scheme might not show it to be an eminently practicable one - if not as Dr. Bradfield spelt it out, then possibly in some other form. On the assumption that this sort of programme would be agreeable to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, it would need agreement between the State of Queensland and the Commonwealth, and it would be in this sort of project that the Snowy Mountains Authority could doubtless find a role suited to the great measure of talent and expertise that has been acquired by it over the years.
So I have taken part briefly in this debate on the Estimates merely to allude to what I regard as a weakness in the case put forward by honorable gentlemen opposite concerning the future of the Snowy Mountains Authority. I have started from the proposition that to continue the Snowy Mountains Authority in one form or another is eminently desirable, but on the authority of no less than my friend the Deputy Leader of the Opposition 1 have also put forward the proposition that that Authority cannot be maintained willy nilly and exercised willy nilly. It can be maintained and exercised only if there is agreement between the Commonwealth and the States concerned. There has during my time in this Parliament been a tremendous change in Commonwealth-State relations. I believe, as I observed a week or so ago, that more and more power is coming to Canberra, and some of the pristine views I held about the Federal system years ago have, I must confess, dried up a little because of the sheer force of circumstances. Nevertheless, until such time as it is thought desirable for this Commonwealth Parliament to exercise complete power there must be a recognition of the fact that the States do exist, and I hope that when honorable gentlemen opposite are talking in terms of maintaining the Snowy Mountains Authority they will be persuaded at least to recognise the existence of what I regard as a very real and practical difficulty.
.- I have taken part on several occasions in debates concerning the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth in this matter. Usually my antagonists have been members of the Country Party. The present Ambassador to Ireland was ejected from this chamber in the course of one such debate. The present Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) roundly asserted that it was impossible for the Commonwealth to help in flood mitigation in his own electorate. The last occasion on which I discussed this subject was in October last year. I said -
The Commonwealth can operate in any State with its authority. How else do the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Bureau of Mineral Resources and the Bureau of Agricultural Economics operate? As the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton) has asked, which State would knock it back?
Later in the same year in which I delivered the paper which my friend was kind enough to quote, the Commonwealth showed how it can operate. My paper was delivered in
June 1957. In September of that year an agreement was made between the Commonwealth, New South Wales and Victoria, and in December a supplemental agreement, concerning the Snowy Mountains scheme. Later in the same booklet from which the honorable member quoted, in the Curtin lecture “ Socialism Within the Australian Constitution”, delivered in July 1961. I referred to this position. I said -
New South Wales and Victoria did not have the financial means, and the Commonwealth would have had a very dubious legal right, to carry out the Snowy Mountains scheme if all governments concerned had not co-operated.
In July 1963 the remaining paper in the booklet, “ Labour Policies and Commonwealth Powers “ was prepared and it contained this passage -
The Commonwealth can establish development authorities . . . which can carry out development works in any State by agreement with that State (e.g. Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority) or which can promote the use of interstate rivers for navigation, conservation and irrigation (e.g. River Murray Waters Act, Constitution ss. 98, 100).
In March this year I listed in the House the agreements which have been made, in response to Labour pressure, in recent years. In 1963 there were the Blowering Water Storage Works Agreement Act, the Menindee Lakes Storage Agreement Act and the Chowilla Reservoir Agreement Act. In 1964 there were the New South Wales Grant (Flood Mitigation) Act and the States Grants (Water Resources) Act, and last year there was the Western Australia (Southwest Region Water Supplies) Agreement Act. It is quite clear that by agreement with any of the States unlimited use can be made of the skills of the Snowy Mountains Authority. It is monstrous that the experts assembled by this Authority, the most diverse and competent in the history of this country or in the southern hemisphere, are now being dispersed. It would be unthinkable in the United States for the Federal Bureau of Reclamation to be in any doubt as to its future.
I wish in the debate on these twin estimates to make particular reference to science policy in this country. Last year the only Government member who followed me in a debate on this subject said that the Labour Party did not have a science policy but a policy for science. From what he said and from what his colleagues have said or have not said in the intervening 12 months, the Liberal Party has neither a science policy nor a policy for science, lt would appear from the Budget papers that the Government has adopted the policy of lifting segments from our policies and implementing them, albeit in an incomplete fashion. Thus we see in the proposals this year that industrial research and development and agricultural extension are to be supported. Both of these have been urged for years by the C.S.I.R.O. and are in the Labour Party’s science and technology policy which deals with the application of science and technology. Looking at Government activity in other areas of science and technology, very little in the way of innovation has been achieved. The Robertson Committee, which is doing a valuable job in promoting research in universities, is but a shadow of the national science foundation requested repeatedly by the Academy of Science and which forms part of Labour’s science policy. Furthermore, the report prepared by Sir Frederick White, on his return from a study of government science establishments overseas more than a year ago, has apparently disappeared into the archives. Moreover, on 24th March last year Sir Robert Menzies announced that the Government had decided to create a body to advise it “on the most effective methods of co-ordinating and achieving results from expenditure on research “. Eighteen months later we still have not heard anything more about this advisory body.
The Government has no science policy; it has a system of ad hoc measures apparently devised largely in response to pressures brought to bear on it from time to time. Indeed, its general attitude seems to be one of doing nothing until scientists and technologists who are concerned about Australia’s future mount sufficient public pressure against it. Wherever the Government can get away with it, it trots out some excuse to the effect that this matter falls within the constitutional responsibility of the States. In all of this there is no overall co-ordination. Responsibility is fragmented between different Ministers, and so long as this remains the case an effective science policy will be difficult to produce and implement. I shall demonstrate the effects of this piecemeal approach by examining three areas of scientific activity - those of geology, forestry and research funds, particularly for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
The greater part of geological research responsibility sponsored by the Government is undertaken by the Bureau of Mineral Resources. During the years from 1963 to 1965 fifty-seven university trained professional personnel resigned from the geological, geophysical and petroleum exploration branches of the Bureau. Of these, seven had doctorates and these seven constituted a sizable fraction of the total number of doctors in the Bureau. Comparable figures for the last financial year are not available. However, in the provision for field operation staff of the Bureau in the Budget papers, the amount expected to remain unexpended constitutes 34 per cent, of the total provision for staff establishment. Last year it was 27.5 per cent. There has thus been no improvement in the staffing situation in the Bureau. Indeed, there have been several more resignations including at least two more Ph.D’s in the last year. The administrative structure of the Bureau is not suited to scientific research and the salaries offered compare unfavorably wilh those offered in the C.S.I.R.O., industry and universities.
I now return to the question of geological research. In answer to a question asked some months ago the Minister stated that 78 professional and technical positions were then vacant in the Bureau and that this reflected the overall shortage of suitable people in Australia. Yet despite this lack of suitably trained people the Government has not encouraged the creation of departments of geology or of earth sciences in our newest universities. Of the five most recent. Macquarie, Flinders, Monash, La Trobe and Newcastle, only the first has a school of earth sciences. Furthermore, although Australia has a chronic water shortage there is no adequate provision in any Australian university for training students in hydrology. Again, despite the large area of our continental shelves we have no national institute of oceanography to conduct marine geological investigation.
The Government’s attitude to mineral resources in Australia is akin to that of a quarryman to a quarry. You find the minerals, dig them out and sell them to the highest bidder. Just as the quarryman is not much interested in research into the material he is quarrying, the Government has a limited view of the research need in the earth sciences. Basic research in this field is left largely to the universities and only a limited amount is undertaken in the Bureau. The total amount spent on geological research is insignificant in comparison with the return to Australia from the petroleum and mining industries, lt is not sufficient to reply that private exploration companies are undertaking a considerable amount of survey work. This is not basic research and the results of it are all too often not made available to other interested parties.
The appropriation for the Forestry and Timber Bureau lias increased by 8125,000 over the last year. This amount is very small in comparison with the needs of industry as expressed by speakers at the conference of the Institute of Foresters last year. The increase in the planting programme to provide 75,000 acres of new plantings each year, which is being supported financially by the Federal Government, is but the first step, and the minimum one possible, in providing for Australia’s timber needs for the end of this century. There is need in addition to prepare a national inventory of forestry resources which would take 10 years’ work and cost $4 million, and also a full scale economic investigation so that future requirements can be reliably anticipated. Furthermore, a survey is needed to determine the areas suitable and available for softwood plantations in Australia. The total expenditure on forestry and forest products research in Australia is only a fraction of 1 per cent, of the total annual turnover of about $6,000 million in wood and wood products. If Australia’s future needs are to be met this proportion must be considerably increased.
There is scope for the Government to promote industry participation in an extended research programme. In the light of this fact the small increase in the appropriation for this Bureau seems inadequate. The staffing situation leaves much to be desired. In reply to a question last October the Minister gave figures showing that 18 per cent, of the professional staff positions were vacant. He indicated that these positions were in the process of being filled. The staffing figures given in the Budget papers suggest that this was not achieved. The proportion that remained unexpended on salaries last year was 33 per cent. This year it is estimated to be 26 per cent, which implies that some improvement is expected, but it remains to be seen whether it can be any better achieved this year than last year.
For the second year running the C.S.I. R.O. executive has commented adversely on the manner in which industry funds are allocated and administered. These funds comprise more than 50 per cent, of the money available to some divisions, yet they are controlled by committees on which the scientifically qualified users of the funds are in a small minority. In the past, the distribution of these funds has been indicated in the Budget papers. This year the figures are not incorporated in them and one must refer to the accompanying explanatory notes prepared by the Minister to determine how the funds are being used. The change is n retrograde one that makes it more difficult for honorable members and the public to follow the growth of support from this source. As they are at present administered industry funds suffer from diversification of control and they may be directed in inappropriate ways. There is potential overlap between the meat and wool research funds on meat research, and between wool and wheat funds on pasture research. The committees controlling the funds are likely to opt for individual short term programmes, thus providing inadequate coverage in any field and perhaps leaving gaps in knowledge which hinder the quick derivation of useful results. Moreover, the best results are often obtained from long term programmes, and it has always been difficult to convince laymen of the value of such programmes.
Accounting procedures are apparently overly complex, which suggests that the requirements set by the committees, at the insistence of Treasury, are more stringent than those that apply to the C.S.I.R.O. as a whole. The Government should revamp the funding procedures of the C.S.T.R.O. so as to eliminate these problems, while maintaining the important advisory role of industry representatives. Research funding generally suffers from this diversification of control, symptomatic of the Government’s piecemeal approach to science and technology. We have the Australian Universities Commission, the Robertson Committee, C.S.I.R.O. grants and industry research funds administered by various departments, and now the new Industrial Research and Development Fund, controlled by the Department of Trade and Industry. The difficulty of co-ordinating these activities and of getting an overall picture of them is increasing rapidly. The provision of machinery to vet applications will become difficult and there is a danger that administrators rather than scientists will have the final say. It is time we had a national science foundation to take care of part of these funds while the rest are placed under the control of users such as the C.S.I.R.O. In office, the Labour Party, which has both a policy and a strategy for science, and the confidence and co-operation of many Australian scientists and technologists, will see that science and technology receive their due and that our basic research is properly, promptly and economically applied.
.- I have great pleasure in supporting the proposed expenditure for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. The proposed vote for the Department of National Development is bracketed with that for the C.S.I.R.O. in this debate and national development must run hand in hand with science and investigation. I understand that when the C.S.I.R.O. was established it directed its attention mainly to agricultural matters. Since then it has extended its activities into all sorts of fields. Whether it has extended far enough is something I will attempt to deal with this afternoon.
I do not think anybody in Australia or outside it could accurately assess the value to Australia of the C.S.I.R.O. Tremendous benefits have accrued from the splendid work done by this organisation. In my speech on the Budget I referred to the money remaining unspent from last year’s appropriation. I find now, as I feared at the time, that the organisation may have been suffering from a shortage of skilled personnel to carry cut its programmes. My view is strengthened to some extent by the organisation’s annual report for 1965-66, which indicates that about 70 per cent, of its scientists were recruited from overseas. This information highlights the need to expand our efforts to train more scientists in this country and to hold them here. This is a challenge to Australia.
The organisation has apparently experienced some difficulty in attracting and retaining men of outstanding ability to take charge of its laboratories. This situation is not peculiar to this organisation. In the general fields of science and education we have a shortage of top men. This is something which the Government must look at very closely. The Government’s recent actions in channelling more money into universities and technical training will have results in the years to come.
In the field of primary industry, the C.S.I.R.O. is trying to make three or four blades of grass grow where one or none grew before. It is trying to run four or five sheep to the acre where formerly only one to the acre or one to two acres was run before. It has done these things, with the help of other organisations, such as State bodies and universities. More than ever before the world demand for food and fibre is increasing. We had evidence of this earlier today when the Ministry for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) gave some figures about wheat production. Anybody who cares to study the facts will find that supplies of food and fibre are declining. Australia faces a challenge to produce and deliver the goods to the various parts of the world. The trade will go to the country that can deliver the goods at a reasonable price.
Let me come now to what we are doing in Australia today. I was intrigued by a very interesting paragraph in the report of the C.S.I.R.O. headed “Causes of Storage Disorders in Export Fruit “. The paragraph reads -
Handling, transport and storage make up 80% of the total production cost of export fruit up to the time it is loaded on the ship. The cost of actually growing the fruit is only 20% of the total.
Ever since I entered this Parliament I have advocated containerisation of shipping cargoes. As we know, there may be a practical application of this system in the future. In the fruit growing industry’, the cost of actually growing the fruit is only 20 per cent, of the total cost of getting the fruit on to the ship ready to be sent to consumers in Europe. How can an industry survive under these circumstances? As I have said, the C.S.I.R.O. has assisted Australia by making two apples grow where one grew before; by making two grains of wheat grow where one grew before; but this is not our trouble here. It would be useless to continue to do all of our research in this field of production, although, Heaven knows, costs here are high enough. Obviously, if we take fruit as an example - it is not the only one - we must carry out research into how we can deliver the product to the world’s markets at a cheaper rate. Today the fruit industry is in real trouble. How can we as a Commonwealth Government assist? We have provided bounties in many industries. This is assistance. But is there not scope in the fruit industry for the C.S.I.R.O. to investigate problems, not only of production, but also of transport and marketing? I do not want to cut across the work that is being done along this line by other organisations. I have in mind moves towards containerisation of cargoes. But we have a tremendous job to do in reducing the costs that must be borne by people engaged in primary and secondary industry.
The position in the secondary field is somewhat different. For example, if a header costs more to produce this year - which is the case anyway - the price simply goes up and the producer has to pay. We do not produce two headers for the price of one, as we do in the case of grains of wheat. This is not real life. The cost of machinery has continued to rise, as have freight charges. As I said in my speech on the Budget, an inquiry into the cost of superphosphate production is long overdue. We find that about 35 per cent, of the cost of superphosphate relates to the period from when it leaves the factory until it gets into the ground. Surely there is plenty of room here for investigation into the way in which superphosphate is carted from the factory to the farm. If we do not sit up and take notice of what is going on with costs continually rising - the primary producer cannot pass on his rises in costs - all the science and technology in the world, designed to produce more and more of a particular commodity, will not assist our primary industries to any great extent if, when the commodity leaves its point of production and moves across the world, costs become so high that it is priced out of the market. There is obviously a lot of room for research in this field.
Turning to shipping, we have heard of the problem faced last year by Tasmania’s apple industry. Because of the way shipping schedules were arranged, Western Australia suffered also. These things should not have happened. Scientists and engineers should move in and solve these problems. I will go on saying these things here until we can see some daylight. Costs and prices in primary industries are increasing rapidly and we have no way to pass on such costs. In fact, for some commodities such as fruit it is becoming harder and harder all the time to find opportunities for sale because of the drop in returns. Sugar was also mentioned in the chamber today. During the last two weeks the price of wool has moved down after a fluctuation upwards. This also is a commodity for which the price is unstable. Quite recently the growers voted out a marketing scheme, and at the moment the price is moving down. If this trend continues the cost factor will obviously be important. The situation with relation to the export of wheat is becoming desperate. Wherever we look we see that freight costs and prices for machinery are increasing and this trend seems to be continuing indefinitely.
Another point to which I wish to refer relates to wool research by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. We find now that by 30th June 1967 the capital reserves which the wool industry has been using to assist wool research will come to an end. If the present rate of expenditure on wool research is to be continued after that date, then either the Federal Government itself, the growers themselves, or perhaps the Federal Government and the growers between them will have to find a considerable amount of money. If the growers are called upon to find the money after the capital amount that has been voted for research over the years has disappeared, we shall be faced again with the problem of costs. To date, the proportion of the return from sheep and wool which has been spent on research is about 1. per cent. This may not seem a great deal to those who can pass on the cost of advertising - promotion, as it is called - in the price of the article they are selling, but with a commodity such as wool, which is at the mercy of overseas markets and of the periodic fluctuations which I have mentioned, this cost could be embarrassing. I feel that the Government should be giving consideration to whether it will come to the assistance of the industry in this field as from 30th June 1967.
The industries of Australia - the primary industries in the main - have contributed very generously to research and promotion. The figures indicate that Australia can hold her own with other nations for the percentage spent in this field by primary industries, although it certainly cannot do this in connection with . secondary industries. This is one great problem that the wool industry will have to face up to. Whether the wool industry is well informed on the subject I do not know. It obviously should be. and equally obviously the Government should be giving some consideration to it with a view to deciding what it will do about continuing with this work. Although the work that is being done at the moment in connection with pasture improvement, animal health and so on is very important, I feel that the whole field of production, transport and delivery of our goods overseas must be taken into the orbit of research and investigation.
.- Let me say first that 1 appreciate that 1 have a very limited time to deal with a subject matter that requires a very long period of time if justice is to be done to it. I refer to petroleum. I have taken a great interest in this matter right from the time when oil and gas were first discovered in commercial quantities in Australia. So have other members of the Opposition. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) and a number of others have shown a very lively interest in it. The Labour Party as a whole is interested. Because of this interest, 1 have been amazed at what appears to be the masterly inactivity of this Government. It has refrained from taking any constructive action to ensure that the distribution and usage of locally produced oil and gas in Australia is organised in a way calculated to bring the greatest benefit to the great masses of the people of Australia. In July of this year, the Parliamentary Labour Party made its stand on this matter perfectly clear. It issued the following Press statement -
The recent discovery that abundant supplies of natural gas (and possibly ofl) are available off the shores of Victoria and South Australia, and in the Northern Territory implies significant changes in the future use of fuels in Australia with consequent economic implications for existing fuel supplies and gas and electricity production.
The exploitation of these abundant natural resources will involve considerable capital expenditure beyond the financial resources of the Stares, but not beyond the financial resources of the Commonwealth.
The Labour Party asserts that development of these new sources of energy should be a public responsibility in order that the maximum public benefit will be secured. Therefore the Labour Party will guarantee the necessary funds and, in association with the States, develop the resources as a public utility.
There is no equivocation as to our attitude on this most important matter. Let me quote another authority, Bishop Garnsey, of Gippsland, who, in an address lo the Diocesan Synod of Gippsland, said when referring to the Gippsland gas and oil strike -
Those who have been responsible for these discoveries should bc adequately rewarded-
The Labour Opposition concurs with that - but the ownership and management of these valuable resources should be placed securely in the hands of the Australian people. All natural resources are the gift of God and private ownership of them is against the natural law.
We all agree with the Bishop. But we find no evidence of any activity whatsoever on the part of this Government. My remarks apply mainly to off shore strikes because there are some constitutional difficulties relating to land based strikes. There are also certain constitutional difficulties about the respective powers of the Commonwealth and the States with regard to off shore strikes of oil and gas. It would appear that up to a certain date there was in the archives of the Bureau of Mineral Resources some formula to deal with the problems of any strike in an off shore area. It would appear also that in the absence of any real activity on the part of the Minister and the Commonwealth Government, the lease which was obtained by the Esso-B.H.P. combine was issued by the Government of Victoria on the same terms as those applicable to the leases normally issued in connection with land based exploration. I stand subject to correction if that is not so. Apparently there was a tacit agreement between the Commonwealth and the States that in these circumstances the lessees could coast along under their present exploration permit until such time as agreement could be reached between the Commonwealth and all the States as to the terms upon which permits to explore and, later, exploration licences should be issued. The whole matter is still in the air. On, 1 think, 29th November the Minister outlined here the broad conditions that were then existing in relation to offshore licences that were issued or would be issued. Briefly stated, he said that at the time the discovery was made the discoverer would be entitled to a share of what was called a reticular area, which would be split into nine allotments each of approximately 25 to 30 square miles. A condition of the lease was that the discoverer of oil or gas would have the right to nominate What would be called a centre block and to select four of the nine blocks for himself. The discoverer had from two to four years to take up those four blocks, after which time the Commonwealth would put up for tender the remaining five blocks. The discoverer of the deposit would then have the right to take up any or all of those blocks at the highest tender price. There seemed to be some wisdom in this arrangement. The successful discoverer would be given four blocks with the option to take up the other blocks after the Commonwealth had submitted them for tender and the Commonwealth had some idea of their value. By this means the Commonwealth would be recouped some of the value of the deposit which, after all, is the natural right of the people of this country.
The Minister outlined all this back in November, and subsequently a conference was held in Canberra between the respective State Ministers and the Federal Minister. The successful oil companies, including Esso-B.H.P. and West Australian Petroleum Pty. Ltd., which has only a one-fifth interest in the Barrow Island discovery, and some other interested parties, were admitted to the conference. It was announced in the Press later that a minor change had been made in the lease conditions. The Minister did not call it a minor change; one of the newspapers did; but it was of very great significance, inasmuch as instead of the discoverer being given the right to four blocks he was given the right to five blocks. Each block comprises about 25 square miles, so by giving the successful oil striker an additional block he is given an additional 16,000 sea acres in which to operate. This is a handsome concession. There might be some sense in the proposal if such a concession were given to those still plodding away trying to find oil. It becomes a public scandal when we find this type of concession extended to the Barrow Island discovery in Western Australia. West Australian Petroleum Pty. Ltd. has a lease from the Western Australian Government. The company’s representatives were present at the conference of Ministers. Apparently they almost cried and, behold, we had the announcement that the Western Australian Government, no doubt with the concurrence of the Commonwealth Government, said, in effect: “ As a concession, because of the good work done by your company in Western Australia you may have a lease of 100 square miles offshore from Barrow Island “. The company then asked - I would not say it had the impudence to ask - for the 5 per cent, royalty it was obliged to pay to be waived in recognition of its good luck in discovering oil in Western Australia. Fancy this happening when the company expects to earn $4.1 million net profit in its first year of successful operations and up to $14.9 million a year in subsequent years. Despite this expected profit the company is handed on a platter the additional concession.
I am concerned that the Bolte Government should be a party to this sort of thing. I am satisfied that the strike off the Victorian coast is a bonanza. Sir Henry Bolte has been abroad. It was reported that he had raised the matter of Commonwealth financial aid at the Loan Council meeting and that a special meeting was to be held on his return from overseas. However, since his return apparently it has been blown in his ear that a lot of private investors are interested in the wealth that has been discovered off the Victorian coast. According to the Press, Mr. Hetherington, soon after his inquiry in Victoria, intimated that he had had some confidential talks with private financial interests in Victoria who were willing to invest in this strike. A report in the. Melbourne Sun “ of 8th September confirms that the Victorian strike is a bonanza and one of the greatest things to have happened in Australia. According to the “ Sun “ a financial and industrial group is prepared to finance, build and operate natura] gas pipelines to each of the capital cities. It is estimated that a pipeline from Melbourne to Sydney would cost $62 million, from Gidgealpa to Adelaide S47.4 million, and from Brisbane to Roma SIO million. Those who will bc members of the company to be known as Australian Interstate Pipelines are the Gas and Fuel Corporation of Victoria, the Australian Gas Light Co. of Sydney, the Australian Mutual Provident Society. Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Ltd., the Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society Ltd., the National Mutual Life Association of Australasia Ltd., the Temperance and General Mutual Life Assurance Society Ltd., the Bank of New South Wales, the National Bank of Australasia Ltd., and Ord Minnett T. J. Thompson and Partners. No wonder there has been no great recent publicity about pressure from Sir Henry Bolte for Commonwealth Government finance. This appears to have been sewn up by the State Government, with the Commonwealth Government assenting or sound asleep. The gas and oil discoveries in Australia will go to a vast consortium of private interests whose yield, if this comes off, will need to be at least 7 per cent., and before it makes any real profit possibly 10 per cent.
We have Reserve Bank finance available and it would be a far better proposition to have a Commonwealth consortium like the Snowy Mountains instrumentality which, under agreement with all the States, could operate a national fuel policy which would return profits to the public by way of cheaper domestic power. The people would thus enjoy what Bishop Garnsey described as the gift of God and the natural right of people to exploit on their own behalf.
– We all think from time to time that the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has his heart in the right place but that it is a pity his head is not a little bit more accurately screwed on. The honorable member did not seem to know quite where he was going. I am one who would agree with the proposition that the ownership of Australian oil should be held in Australia, but in order to do this surely it is necessary to have engaged in the industry some of the consortiums which he denounced so eloquently. All that the honorable member is doing is to make certain, by this kind of hatred which his Party has for private enterprise and private ownership, that the real control goes abroad. This, I think, is not his motive, but it is the effect of what he is saying.
It is necessary that the pipelines for gas should be big and well planned. 1 would hope that their ownership would be Australian and 1 think it is a good thing perhaps that big Australian concerns, like the Austraiian Mutual Provident Society which he was denouncing as a mammoth concern, are interested. The A.M.P. is really only a conglomeration of the interests of small Australian people who buy insurance policies, but apparently the honorable member wants to put the knife into the A.M.P. This was rather silly on his part, although I think he meant well. Perhaps in future he will put a little more consideration into these things before he starts to talk. I would have hoped that some of the finance for these big pipelines would come from abroad, that it would come on debenture terms with the equity held in Australia. If we simply strain to use Australian capital to build the whole of the lines we will keep the rest of Australian development short of Australian funds.
Surely the right course to take is to try to raise from abroad debenture capital, whether it be through the Government or in some other way - preferably, I should think, by private enterprise - to keep the equity capital in Australia and thus prevent the position where a large drain on Australian resources for pipeline purposes would have the effect of denying the rest of Australian development access to Australian funds. I put it to the Government that this is the right kind of way to approach this kind of proposition where there would be, if properly handled, debenture money available from overseas to carry a large part - not all - of the cost. I put it also that the controlling equity share should be held in Australia. I say this in passing because there are two matters to which I want to direct the Minister’s attention. The first one is a matter of principle in regard to Government subsidies which are given for various economic activities.
I believe there is one principle under which subsidies could be safely given and this is that they will be self-liquidating. If we have the position where, given a large turnover, costs will be cheap and, given the position that at the same time costs can be made cheap if there is a large turnover, it is up to the Government to come in and give a subsidy which will terminate when the volume of production rises. Nobody expects a self starter to drive a car. A self starter gets the engine going. If we can see that, given a start, an activity will bc profitable, 1 believe it should be a simple principle for the Government to come in and to act, as it were, as a self starter on the economic motor to get the thing going by subsidy with the idea that, when the volume of production of whatever it may be rises, the subsidy could be eliminated. I tried to apply this principle earlier in regard to the subsidy on phosphate for the Northern Territory and this was an example of the application of that principle. It was an important example, but not the only one. I commend the principle to the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) and I suggest that it might be made the basis of major governmental policy.
There is one other point about which I wanted to speak and it is one which comes within the purview of the Minister who is in control of both the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority and the Atomic Energy Commission. In recent months - perhaps in the recent couple of years - there has been a dramatic fall in the cost of nuclear energy produced from a reactor. Already in certain circumstances it can be competitive with even the energy produced from our cheap Australian fuels. There is still, perhaps, a little margin in favour of the cheap New South Wales coal. So far as Victoria’s brown coal is concerned, that margin has probably already disappeared. But at all events, looking head, nuclear energy is the energy of the future for Aus tralia and, indeed, for the whole industrial world. We cannot afford to be left out of this.
We cannot afford to have produced a situation where we have no nuclear technologists in Australia and so will not be able, from our own resources, to take benefit from the cheap sources of power which will later emerge. We cannot afford to have the situation created where we have no fuel for the cheap reactors of the future which are going to require a substance called plutonium. For some decades plutonium is likely to bc in short supply. Like Great Britain, we should be now accumulating commercial stocks for our future cheap power. Otherwise Australian secondary industry in the next couple of decades will be placed at a disadvantage. There are great opportunities for and great advantages in getting a nuclear reactor established in Australia as soon as possible. I should hope it would be one of the things mentioned by the Government in its policy for the coming three years, because the Government will undoubtedly be returned at the next election.
Where would we put this reactor? One place which seems to me to have some considerable advantage is in conjunction with the Snowy Mountains scheme. At the present moment the Government Members* Atomic Committee is undertaking a detailed investigation of the costs concerned. I hope it will not be many weeks before we can put before the House and the people some conclusions backed up by figures. It would seem that the Snowy Mountains scheme produces peak hour power and that this could be most cheaply augmented by the now well tested system of pump storage where the generators - the nuclear reactors - work right round the clock. On peak, they deliver their power straight into the main grid for New South Wales and Victoria - indeed, the main grid might well be extended to South Australia and Queensland - and off peak they use their power for reversible turbines to pump water up. That water is allowed to descend in peak hours thus augmenting the supply of peak hour electricity. Looking ahead at the pattern of demand and the way in which peak hour requirements will increase in the next 25 or 30 years, which is the life of the kind of generator we have in mind, it would seem that the system could be fully economic.
I can say now for certain that this system could deliver peak hour power on to the main grid at the price which is at present being charged for Snowy peak hour power on to the main grid and still overall show a profit to the Government. But I cannot yet say how great that profit would be. Perhaps in two or three weeks I will be able to answer that question but at present I can say for certain that there would be a profit at the prices currently charged for Snowy power. In these circumstances, could there be any reason for delay?
May I add one point? We want to keep the Snowy Mountains Authority together. This would bc a way of doing it. Tt was pointed out to me by Mr. Dugald Munro, who is our Liberal Party candidate for Eden-Monaro and who undoubtedly will be the honorable member for Eden-Monaro in the next .Parliament, that this was the only way so far suggested in which the Snowy Mountains Authority in the Cooma-Snowy Mountains area would be able to employ large staffs of design and construction personnel. In other words, this is the only scheme which will allow the Snowy Mountains Authority to operate efficiently in the area in which it is at present operating. This scheme will not employ all the Authority’s resources. Of course not. It will still be possible for the Authority to be carrying out water conservation work in the north of Australia or in the Darling Valley or doing something of that character but this scheme, and this scheme alone, as Mr. Munro pointed out to me, will ensure that in the Cooma-Snowy Mountains area there will be employment for the design and construction labour force of the present Snowy Mountains Authority.
When one puts these two things together; when one looks at the very great advantages of keeping up economic activity in the Snowy Mountains area; when one puts this alongside the fact that we can get peak hour power at the price which is at present being charged and still show a profit; and add to that the tremendous advantage of installing a nuclear reactor immediately in Australia, surely the case is overwhelming and surely the contention that Mr. Munro has put forward is one which should receive the Government’s sympathetic consideration.
.- I do not wish to say more than a few words on the functions or responsibilities of the Department of National Development but I shall have more to say about the Northern Division of that Department. Everyone in this chamber and outside it knows the history, the difficulties and even perhaps the tragedies of this Division. It is the symbol of what possibly will rank as one of the greatest confidence tricks in the history of Australian politics. There were grandiose statements by the former Prime Minister and grandiose promises to the people of northern Australia. In fact, since its inception we have had nothing but insincere statements about the great work which this Division is doing.
If many of the men now employed in the Northern Division had remained in their respective organisations, such as the Queensland Department of Primary Industries, the Bureau of Mineral Resources, the Snowy Mountains Authority, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, the Department of Civil Aviation and the Forestry and Timber Bureau, they would have contributed and, in fact, would still be contributing something positive to the development of this nation through their normal activities. However, I regret to say that many of them are fast becoming, not only disillusioned, but also the usual type of browbeaten public servant instead of the high class technicians that they were in the organisations to which they previously belonged. They were caught in a trap, one might say. completely at the mercy of an unsympathetic Government which considers northern development something of a political plaything which raises its head when elections come round.
The Division itself is toothless and clawless. It has no funds which it can utilise for development. It has no power. As I have said previously in this chamber, it is unfortunately almost under the control of an infamous inter-departmental committee. Even technical agreements, like those referring to the clearance of the brigalow land, the construction of beef roads, the Ord River project, the Mount lsa railway and the construction of coal ports and harbour facilities, are outside the control of the Department of National Development. The Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) does not even handle the relevant legislation when it is introduced into and passed by the House of Representatives. Every time a bill relating to these matters is introduced, the Labour Party will continue to raise this problem which the Minister knows full well is of major proportions. He and his Department should be in complete control of all these technical agreements.
The honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) and the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) mentioned the Ord River project. I do not intend to spend much time on that. It has been belaboured in this chamber so many times now that it is becoming a public scandal, but I do agree with the honorable member for Moreton that it is essential that some economic investigation and preparation be made in relation to a particular scheme before the Government enters into an agreement with a Slate to lend or grant funds to it. As to the Ord, I know of no other project in the history of Australia which, to use the usual term, has been done over so many times by experts. In fact, I often think that the Minister must, get sick of reading the memos, minutes and other documents that are presented to him because by now he must know them like a parrot.
The point I wish to make to the honorable member is that, in fact, these investigations have been made not once but many times. But why single nut the Ord River project? The thin:: which puzzles me is that when opponents of the Ord River project rise in this place they always advance the same argument but they never tell us that no economic investigation has ever been carried out in. relation to southern developmental projects in latter years. Some such projects are the Chowilla Dam, flood mitigation in New South Wales, the Blowering Dam, the Tasmanian road development for hydro-electricity, and rail standardisation. Rail standardisation is a classic example. If we had done more homework on rail standardisation we may not have had to face the tremendous upsurge in costs today. There are other projects, but I think I have given enough.
The point is that I agree in principle that economic investigation should be made to determine the viability of a project and certainly to determine its position within the framework of national priorities. It is impossible to place the Ord amongst national priorities, because the project is half constructed. It had a bad start, because it was financed by an ad hoc loan. The Western Australian Government commenced construction without very much thought for the future and certainly no research on the economic possibilities of agriculture. But since then, the Commonwealth and State Departments have pulled together and have shown conclusively by results that the Ord project will stand on its own feet on the basis of export income earned related to import parity price for cotton. It will be one of our big assets in the north. It will not, as many people think, send its produce only to the south of Australia: it will send its cotton and by-products overseas, especially to Asia, and increase our export earnings.
The honorable member for Moreton spoke of the Bradfield scheme. The point is that today evaluation is not placed on the engineering practicabilities of the Bradfield scheme. Today, soil scientists of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the Queensland Department of Primary Industries have been able to map very large areas that are admirably suited to irrigation and are in close proximity to the Herbert. Burdekin and Fitzroy basins. Economically, it is far better to serve those areas than to divert water into the inland. If decentralisation had been the major consideration, the emphasis would have been different. [ would like to comment on (he Loder report, which was mentioned by the honorable member for Stirling. Here again we can ask: Where is this report? lt was promised by the former Prime Minister. Sir Robert Menzies, in August of last year, but we still have not seen it. Blind Freddie knows that the report will be released before Jong. It will be released with some recommendations before the election is held. But 1 am afraid that this is not the way to win votes. The people in northern Australia are completely fed up with the way they have been treated. They went to a lot of trouble to give evidence, but the evidence is now two and a half years out of date. I assume that the Government will release the report in the next few weeks.
Another report related to beef roads. We have had a lot to do with this subject in recent months. The most important omission from this project, of course, is the Nebo-Mackay road. We thrashed this out before. It is a top priority road and should have been included in the beef roads programme. The Minister was good enough to give his reasons for the omission. His explanation clarified the position to some extent, in that he said that the design and planning had no! reached the stage at which it could be included. But as I pointed out to the Minister, this is just so much poppycock. Whoever told him this did not give him all the facts. This road has been used for 40 years by cars, trucks and cattle and it is quite different from a new road, such as the Georgetown-Mount Surprise road, where there was not even a track. An interesting development occurred in the last few days. In another place. Senator Ian Wood supported the amendment of the Australian Labour Party relating to the Nebo-Mackay road. He realises that this road is important to the economy and he realises the injustice that has been done. I chuckled to myself, I must admit, when he supported the Australian Labour Party. I wondered what would happen and yesterday we saw what happened. He was dumped from his position of Temporary Chairman of Committees by the Liberal senators. If that ever happened in the Australian Labour Party, it would be headline news. Senator Wood is recognised as a top authority in this position of Temporary Chairman, but because he supported an amendment seeking the development of the Nebo-Mackay area he was dumped by the Liberal senators. 1 would not be a bit surprised to learn that he had resigned from the Liberal Party and was standing for the Senate as an Independent.
The Government has mentioned the amount of money that it has spent in the north. It has given various figures, ranging from $300 million to S2.000 million. But the true test of Government sincerity is this: How much has it given in grants to the work? The test is not the amount that has been given in repayable interest bearing loans but the amount that has been given as grants for developmental schemes in the north. The Government speaks of a figure ranging from $300 million to §2,000 million, but for Queensland the true figure is $16 million over 16 years. Honorable members on the Government side speak about the Mount Isa railway. They mention amounts that the Government has contributed to this work. They even say that the Government has financed it. Let me give them figures that the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) has supplied to me in answer to a question I asked. For the $34 million provided to Queensland for the Mount Isa railway, Queensland has to pay back $57 million. For the $5.8 million provided for the brigalow land scheme, Queensland has to pay back $10 million. For the S6 million provided for the sealing of beef roads, Queensland has to pay back $9 million. The point I make is that, when we speak about development in the north and what the Commonwealth has done, we should at least recognise that there is a major difference between loans and grants.
Last night, the question of foreign ownership and foreign control of our assets in the north was raised briefly, lt may interest honorable members to know that we do not own the north now. In the cast Kimberleys, 70 per cent, of the carrying capacity equivalent is under the control of absentee owners and is predominantly foreign owned. In the top end of the Northern Territory, including the Victoria River district, the Darwin Gulf and the Barkly Tablelands. 65 per cent, of the total occupied area is under the control of absentee owners and is predominantly foreign owned. In the Gulf country, in Cape York, the figure has now reached 70 per cent. Wc saw the attitude of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) last night. He tried to defend the Americans winning a ballot in the Northern Territory. To argue that the land is leasehold and that the Commonwealth can. therefore, resume it at any stage is to adopt the wrong basis. Those who argue in this way do not quite know the facts. It is more difficult to resume leasehold land than freehold land in the Northern Territory, because the conditions of leasehold are laid down very carefully. Last night the Minister said that leasehold land of Alexandria could be resumed for agriculture. Agriculture in a low rainfall area? What would grow in the Barkly Tablelands?
One other point about national development concerns the Bureau of Mineral Resources. This is a section of the Department of National Development that has certainly made a name for itself. But it is being crippled because it is under the control of the Public Service Board. The Bureau should be given status similar to that of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. It should not have to put up with the interference of the public service administration as it is required to do at present.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Failes). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Deputy Chairman, I thought, when the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) rose, that he intended to speak for only about three or four minutes. He began his speech with a criticism of the Northern Division of the Department of National Development and described it as a trick or a trap or some such thing.
– He made a magnificent speech.
– Yes. As an old hand, listening to this new young member talking about national development, I thought it almost appeared as if his north was the whole nation.
– That is what he thinks.
– Yes, that is what he thinks. He reminded me of a frustrated public servant. However, I think he forgets that he is now not a public servant but an elected member of the National Parliament. If he would get that into his head, he would get along much better in this place.
– He is like a horse without a bridle.
– That is so. His one idea in this place is to try to win votes so that he can stay in the Parliament. I think he believes that he will not be able to find a suitable place in his old occupation again if he loses his seat.
All this, Mr. Deputy Chairman, however, is not what I rose to say. I want to discuss national development, with particular attention to the work of the Department of National Development. Holding views contrary to those of the honorable member for Dawson, 1 look on that Department as one that really does much to lay down the base on which we can build Australia as a great new nation. This is how 1 see the situation. In all truth, one can say that up to the present time this Department has contributed greatly to our development and done a magnificent job, ever since it was first established, in pursuing the objective of laying down the base for the building of a great new nation. All the Ministers who have occupied the National Development portfolio, beginning with the present Governor-General, who was followed by Sir William Spooner, he being succeed by the present Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn), have been men of ability who have had a wide vision of the needs of this country. I do not propose to spend much time on this point. We have only to look at the record of what these men have done, as is shown by the success of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme and the search for and discoveries of oil deposits. Great results have been achieved also in the enormous development that has taken place in the mineral field generally.
Earlier today, I heard honorable members mention the Mount Isa railway, the Rum Jungle mineral field, iron ore development, the bauxite field at Weipa and other developments. There is no need for me to repeat what has already been said. The Ord River scheme also has been menetioned a great deal in this debate. However, coal production is something that we seem sometimes to forget. In a position that I occupied some years ago, I was deeply concerned with the problems of coal production. The Department of National Development has done a magnificent job in increasing the output of coal in Australia by various measures that it has adopted. The Department has done a great deal of valuable work also in developing beef roads and in undertaking northern development generally. I could mention many other matters, all of which are basic to Australia’s development.
When we talk of building a great young nation, we ought to be conscious of the fact that we have now reached a stage at which we ought to be taking another great step forward towards the attainment of our objectives. I propose to make some suggestions to the Minister. We ought to be conscious of the fact that in Australia we have six States, each with sovereign powers and each intent on development within its own boundaries. We must remember that we are the only country that is bound by the sort of Constitution that leaves sovereign powers with the States and confers only delegated powers on the Federal authority - in this instance, the Commonwealth Government. We must never forget our situation in a great continent with a population of fewer than 12 million people sparsely spread throughout our great area. We have enormous natura! resources, it is true, but these are not confined to any particular State. They are national resources. We must remember, too, that we are part o!” the British Commonwealth of Nations and that we derive our traditions principally from the United Kingdom. We have the knowhow that we need, our standard of living is high and there is a great future ahead of us. However, we can do only the things that the men and resources that we have enable us to do. For many years, we have had a situation of full employment. We need above all, I believe, more people. Perhaps we have now arrived at a crucial stage. The United Kingdom, obviously, is not able fully to support its population. This no doubt affords Australia an opportunity to increase considerably its intake of migrants from that country in order to get the people that we so greatly need if we are to develop as a great new nation.
Each year, as we read every day, the States put increasing pressure on the Commonwealth for more money. This afternoon I do not want to go into the whole ambit of the workings of the Australian Loan Council and financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States. Each State is at present scraping the bottom of the family money boxes, so to speak. State taxes are being increased in order to provide the necessary funds. This is an unenviable position to be in. It is brought about because each of the States is intent on its own development. We have the resources of manpower to do a great deal, and. as I have said, we have the situation of full employment. No doubt every project that the States propose is a good one. However, each State appears to look at these problems through State eyes instead of from the national standpoint. We need to look at these things from the standpoint of the nation as a whole. I believe that the time has come for us to use our resources to develop Australia as a nation and not as a number of separate States.
I put it to the Minister and the Government that we should now establish a national development Federal and State planning council. No such thing exists in Australia at present. No doubt some of the functions that would be discharged by such a body are at present exercised by the Department of National Development to a degree, but there is no opportunity for representatives of all the States and of the Federal Government to get together and undertake a proper analysis of the situation in order to proceed with research and planning in the matters which are so important and on which our future depends. I believe that enormous waste and overlapping in effort and expenditure occurs because we have not a planning body of this kind. 1 believe, although perhaps many State authorities will not admit this, that State jealousies and considerations of political expediency are hampering development. This is certainly happening with respect to northern development, as we have seen this afternoon. Listening to the speeches that have been made in this debate, one could sec that considerations such as these are having far too much effect and are hindering our progress in development. This must cease. 1 think it would cease if we established a body in the functioning of which the States would have the right to participate in a joint planning scheme. We would then have, as we must have, a proper understanding of where and why the huge sums spent on development are to be expended. In other words, we must have some system of priorities if we are not to suffer a great degree of economic waste. This is of the utmost importance at the present stage of our national development.
I am not critical of the things that have been done. I know that the Snowy Mountains scheme will be of enormous economic value. No doubt there is great merit in the
Ord River scheme. But I challenge any member of this committee to say that either of those projects is of greater importance than some other developmental project. Both of those undertakings have value, but, after all, what is our object? Surely it is to build a great nation. Surely it is the responsibility of the Australian people, and particularly their elected representatives in the National Parliament, to establish a sound base upon which this great nation can be built. This cannot be done unless we are prepared to plan the developmental needs of the nation and decide which of particular undertakings should be given priority. 1 have listened with interest to the speeches in this debate, and from every corner of the chamber 1 have heard honorable members urging that particular things be done in particular electorates in particular States. If we in the National Parliament are looking at the problem of national development in this way, how can we expect that the State Governments, each of which has. its own sovereign powers, will not look at. the matter in this way? It is not the way, I suggest, in which this Government should be approaching the subject of national development. We must accept the fact that we are a young country and that in our neighbour countries in this part of the world Jive more than half of all the people in the world, sorting out their way of life and needing great economic assistance. We have enormous problems here. We can be of great assistance in this part of the world. We need population, but we can produce the know-how and it is surely our duty to develop this country and make it the great nation that it is destined to be. We will not develop it as quickly, as efficiently or as economically as we should unless we are prepared to study our developmental problem in all its aspects, and lay down suitable priorities.
I suggest, therefore, that we should establish a council - I use that term for want of a better one - consisting of representatives of the States and the Commonwealth, and that we should try to obliterate State jealousies. In this National Parliament we should consider this problem without any of the State prejudices and jealousies, political or otherwise, which are obvious al the present time.
.- The honorable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) criticised the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) for his plea for the development of northern Australia. What would he expect from the honorable member for Dawson, this former distinguished head of the Northern Division of the Department of National Development, selected by the present Administration? What would he expect from the honorable member for Dawson who now represents an electorate in northern Australia? The Parliament ought to be grateful that the honorable member for Dawson is one of its members and can speak in this place from his intimate knowledge and his profound technical understanding of the problems of northern Australia. His wealth of talent, his training and his idealism are the things which are most necessary if this nation is to go forward as it should. How can we talk, as the honorable member for Bennelong has talked, about the development of the nation unless we talk about the development of northern Australia? Northern Australia has been neglected. Everyone knows this, and it is necessary that in this Parliament the people from the south should join with those who represent northern electorates in a campaign for the balanced development of all Australia. I will say no more on that aspect at this stage.
A critical analysis of the estimates for the Department of National Development reveals the inadequacy of the vote for that Department, the impotence of the Minister, and the lack of constructive policy and planning. There is nothing to excite the imagination in these estimates, which are utterly depressing. Nothing has been mentioned which would quicken the national pulse. The Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) has made it clear that he has no plans for the future of the Snowy Mountains Authority, no plans for the Ord River project and no plans for a national conservation authority. He has no plans for a national fuel policy and no plans for the decentralisation of even a single industry or the establishment of a single industry in one country town or city. This is the dismal story. This is the “ no “ story from the Minister for National Development, and the Government sets out to justify its inaction and inertia and its attitude of no development.
It will be impossible in the time allotted for me to touch even briefly upon the many matters which warrant the critical examination of the Committee. The Government’s understanding of development involves the plunder of our resources. It displays this attitude repeatedly to the Parliament and to the public. To the Labour Party development means the balanced development of this nation. It means the processing of our resources and the manufacture of goods for home consumption and export.
The Australian Labour Party is concerned that action of a constructive kind has not been taken. We would much prefer to come into Parliament and offer congratulations to the Government for doing a good job, but we cannot, and we must withhold any words of praise. But we are obliged to offer criticism of a Government which is neglecting most important matters affecting this country. The Opposition believes that it is necessary to develop in order to defend. Unless we develop we will make our defence problems much greater.
I propose in the short time available to me to mention three matters - the failure of the Government to establish a national conservation policy in order to impound and reticulate Australia’s precious water which at present is being lost to this thirsty land; the unforgivable refusal of the Government to proceed with a national energy policy, and, thirdly, the failure of the Government to deal with the problem of decentralisation, for which every municipal and shire council and chamber of commerce throughout Australia has been crying out.
For its failure to establish a national conservation policy this Government deserves the censure of the Parliament. I condemn the Government for its unforgivable failure in this regard, and also for its failure to maintain the Snowy Mountains Authority, to honour an implied promise to build a major storage dam on the Ord River and to accept the responsibility of carrying out a conservation project in northern Australia. One would think, after listening to the Minister for National Development, that the future of the Snowy Mountains Authority was a matter for the States. The Minister dismisses entirely the responsibility of the Commonwealth for the Northern Territory, which covers 500,000 square miles, or more than a sixth of Australia’s land surface. The Minister says that the future of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority rests with the States. This is a convenient way for him to evade his responsibility and to allow this imaginative project, commenced by a Labour government, to close, with the loss of the skilled people at present engaged on it. It will be remembered, Mr. Deputy Chairman, that when this project was commenced only one member from the Government side, a member of the Country Parry - the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) - attended the opening. The Minister and the Government evade their responsibility. They fail to face the fact that Queensland and Western Australia at one time were prepared to join in the establishment of a North Australia Authority. How far in recent times have they tested the possibility of establishing such a body? I doubt whether they have gone very far. But let it be remembered by the electors of Australia that if this is a failure on the part of the Commonwealth and the States it is a failure of anti-Labour Governments in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia, which all follow the same brand of politics as the present Government of the Commonwealth of Australia; they are Liberal-Country Party Governments.
There is a water shortage throughout the land. The Gascoyne River, in an area so ably represented by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard), has a proven water supply. Around Carnarvon, where the people have confidence in the potentialities of the area, further water conservation is wanted so that vegetables can be sent down to the southern markets of Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and elsewhere. Water is required right throughout Australia. Projects have been submitted for the Fitzroy-Dawson river system in Queensland and also for the Burdekin River. The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) has spoken in this place about the need to do something on the Darling River, and we know that the tobacco growers in northern New South Wales, and the cotton growers on the Namoi, will soon go out of business unless water is provided. Water conservation schemes are needed also along the Macquarie and Lachlan Rivers of New South Wales. Water is the most important thing we need today. Recently the New
South Wales Government had lo restrict the use of water in these areas.
These are matters in relation to which the Government needs the strongest condemnation. It is impossible to go into all of them, but one to which 1 want to refer briefly is the need for the adoption of a national fuel policy, which should have regard to the energy requirements of this country. Action should be taken by the Government to deal with this question without further delay. Foreign oil companies have been allowed to dominate this field. Determined action should be taken to see what is to be done with the various energy resources of Australia - our coal, oil, natural gas, water and nuclear power. I heard the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) refer to nuclear power today. I should like to pay a tribute to the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) for initiating a discussion in the Parliament on this subject and directing the attention of honorable members to the great potentiality of atomic power for the peaceful development of Australia. His words are bearing fruit, and it is good to know that discussion is now taking place on this matter.
For its failure to adopt a national fuel policy the Government deserves the censure of the nation. Whilst the Australian people and industry wait for leadership from this Government, a struggle for supremacy and the control of these resources is being fought in the jungle of big business. Industry calls for a master plan for our fuels. In the “ Australasian Manufacturer “ of 15th January this year there appeared an editorial entitled “ A national energy policy: key to industrial planning “. This valuable article ought to be read by all honorable members. It contains a plea by a responsible group of people, the manufacturers, asking that a programme be put into operation and that something be done without delay to give a guide line to industry and tell it what it can expect will be done about the power resources of this country. It is necessary to have a charter. We should determine the matter of offshore drilling and the responsibilities and duties attaching to such operations. We should also determine what pipelines shall be used for, and who shall construct them. The problems associated with State boundaries need to be solved. These are all matters which should be clarified without delay.
May I say quite clearly that the Labour Party accepts the challenge in this direction. A Federal Labour Government would cooperate with the States in establishing a joint fuel board to discover, develop, conserve and market fuel and power, especially atomic power and natural gas. More should be done speedily in the field of research than is being done. I have here a most interesting statement from the “ Scientific American “ of February 1966. lt deals with the treatment of oil shales. The Minister for National Development should study this valuable article. Even if for the present only pilot plants were established at Wallerawang and Lidsdale in the central west of New South Wales to tap the rich shales and have them treated and valued and to look into the possibility of establishing new retorts, that would be something worth while. I ask the Minister to look carefully at the article 1 have mentioned to see what can be done. In the United States of America some of the major oil companies are involved in this research at present. Among them are the Union Oil Co. of California, the Oil Shale Corporation, the Standard Oil Co. of Ohio, the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Co. and the Sinclair Oil Corporation. These bodies are interested in shale oil, its exploration and development. Yet these companies are in the United States of America, where flow oil is fairly abundant and looks like being in great supply for many years to come. We should look at this matter, because during the two world wars oil from Newnes and Glen Davis played some part in the security of this nation. I ask the Minister to give careful consideration to the proposals made by me and to consider the pleas made by various people, governments, honorable members and others, for a national energy policy to deal with the resources of our country.
.- Throughout this debate, and particularly in relation to the estimates for the Department of National Development, Opposition speakers have convincingly built up a case for an indictment against the Government for its attitude to national development. We have become in Australia a sort of international bargain basement where foreign investors from all around the world have been able to come in and take advantage of our resources and our discoveries. I want to say at the outset that I am not entirely opposed to foreign investment, but surely certain standards should be set down to safeguard the interests of our people and of our Commonwealth, lt is obvious that these standards have not been set down, and it has been a case of an open go for whoever likes to come here. There have been no controls whatsoever. So we have become, as I said, a sort of international bargain basement where people from all over the world have come to develop our resources and to make a profit from them. This is a perfectly natural process. They come here to make a profit and we ought to recognise this fact. They come here not to develop our country for our benefit, but to develop and use our resources for their particular benefit, and we ought to recognise this. I understand that leases are to be advertised for the development of the new mineral deposits found near Rum Jungle. I hope that the leases will provide for a maximum Australian participation in the development of these deposits. We should be developing our own mineral deposits. They have been discovered, I understand, by government instrumentalities - the Atomic Energy Commission and the Bureau of Mineral Resources. The deposits were found by joint action on the part of the Government and the people. We should not hand them over to foreign interests to make profit out of them. I enter a plea with the Minister to see that there is full Australian participation in the development of these deposits. If there is not enough private capital in this country to develop them, why does the Government not join with private enterprise in this country and develop our resources jointly? Rather than have these deposits developed by foreign interests, surely it is better to develop them with capita! provided wholly by the taxpayers or jointly by private enterprise and the Commonwealth. I do not blame overseas interests who want to develop and exploit these resources. This is their business. They are here to exploit the resources and to make profits.
Despite the Government’s attitude to national development, we are destined to become a great nation. But, unfortunately, it will be a lopsided one. I want to deal with the aspect of balanced development.
We have in this country vast open spaces which are sparsely populated. We have a few capital cities which in the future face the prospect of being strangled to death by the very size of their populations and by their incapacity to provide properly and in an orderly manner the community needs of the 20th century. Our five mainland State capitals contain almost 57 per cent, of Australia’s population. By 1970 the figure will have increased to more than 60 per cent. More than 40 per cent, of Australia’s people live in the major capitals of Sydney and Melbourne. Surely this situation is disturbing to all Australians, city and country dwellers alike.
We should have a programme of national development to counter this trend - to ensure that we get development outside the capital cities. We need a programme to counter the drift from country areas to the cities and to dissuade migrants from settling down in the cities, thus adding to the sprawl of the metropolitan areas. I know that there are advantages to the industrialist or a company in setting up an industry in a capital city. A company establishing itself in a capital city has a major market at its doorstep. The city is the focal point for rail, road, sea and air transport. All the service industries are readily available. A large labour pool is directly available. These are good and adequate reasons why an industrialist should establish his industry in a capital city, but over the years that I have been in this Parliament I have endeavoured to point out that these are not the only factors to be taken into consideration. Surely the great cost to the community of this sprawl of urban areas should be examined. The cost of this trend to our young and developing country is tremendous. The cost of the sprawl of our metropolitan cities - the social cost of our urban sprawl - is tremendous. It would be cheaper in the long run to counter balance this development by inducing industrialists and companies to establish themselves in country areas. The people would follow them to the country. Decentralised industry, for want of a better term, can exist satisfactorily and can compete. There should be a programme of decentralisation. With the continued expansion of our cities, the cost of providing overpasses and freeways and of widening suburban outlets to take the increasing traffic flow causes rates and taxes to be increased to the stage where they become a burden on a community. Already the authorities in Sydney and Melbourne are looking further afield for water supplies. The provision of sewerage services is becoming a problem to these cities. Other costs become a direct burden on the individual. Because the city sprawl spreads unchecked, the cost of home building increases. In Sydney or Melbourne today nobody can buy a decent block of land for less than $4,000. This is a direct charge on the individual and indirectly a charge on the community as a whole, lt adds to the general cost structure. I am disturbed to read that Sir Henry Bolte is looking forward to the day when Melbourne will be a city of five million people. I confess that I am not. If the chaos that already exists in the traffic of Melbourne is multiplied because Melbourne’s population doubles, the situation will be shocking.
The former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, promised to chair a conference with State Premiers to deal with the problem of balanced development and decentralisation. I understand that as a preliminary a committee of Federal and State officers was set up to examine the problem of balanced development and decentralisation. I understand also that the committee has met only twice since its inception. I further understand - I will be happy to be corrected - that the committee last met in March 1965. If these are facts, surely a hoax has been perpetrated on country people and those organisations seeking and working for decentralisation and balanced development. The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) yesterday asked a question about this matter of the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen), who cleverly sidestepped the issue. The honorable member asked whether it was a fact that the committee to which 1 have referred last met in March 1965. The Acting Prime Minister did not answer the question. If the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) cannot say that the committee has met more recently than March 1965, I say a hoax has been perpetrated on people who live in country areas and I would lodge my protest at the Government’s handling of this matter.
We should have a national approach to decentralisation. It is a pressing problem and is beyond the means of the States. A programme financed by the Commonwealth to stop the sprawl of the metropolitan areas would save the capital cities from choking themselves to death. We want a concentrated programme of decentralisation. Regional centres with potential for future growth should be selected and developed.
Today I accompanied the Chairman, Secretary and members of the Victorian Decentralisation League in a deputation to the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme). The League sought a concession on trunk telephone charges. These charges impose considerable hardship on many country industries. The request was rejected by the PostmasterGeneral. He said, among other things, that this was not his responsibility. Perhaps it is not. Perhaps it is the responsibility of the Government to see that something is done. I was rather alarmed at the attitude of the Postmaster-General. It seemed to me and to members of the deputation that he was unsympathetic towards their cause. The deputation felt that it had been unsuccessful. I was shocked by one statement which the Postmaster-General made about the ordnance factory at Bendigo. He said that he felt that the factory which has been set up at Bendigo should never have been established in a country area. I was particularly shocked at this, but I do not want to be unfair and must add that he claimed that the disabilities with which the factory has to cope indicate that it should not have been set up in a country area. My point is that if this is the attitude of the Commonwealth Government towards decentralisation obviously we shall never get anywhere under this Government.
.- The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) said that he would finish a little early. He has done that, and I appreciate it because the debate on these estimates is to end at 10 minutes to 5 and 1 now have 5 minutes in which to speak. I have listened very keenly to this debate. As the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is a very important organisation and as the Department of National Development is a very important department, I shall devote that time to speaking about them.
I cannot, in the short time at my disposal, go into any detail. Suffice it to say that the device adopted by the Opposition is to compare this Government’s present actions with this Government’s own record. The Government has been in office for almost 17 years. During that time, Australia has made great progress. The honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) has stated that the true test of sincerity is how much the Government grants to the north. As the Opposition claims that economic conditions have deteriorated in this country and that we are not enjoying the prosperity we experienced when Labour was in office, the important question now is: How much did the Labour Government grant to the north in those good old days of alleged great prosperity, the light on the hill and all that?
– Do you remember there was a war on?
– Yes, I have some recollection of the war as the honorable member well knows. My point is that both arguments advanced by the Opposition cannot be right. Either the country was not prosperous and the state of the economy was very low, or times were prosperous. If the country was not prosperous then Labour’s argument that it was cannot be right. Honorable members opposite cannot have it both ways. Again, I take the argument of the honorable member for Dawson that the true test of sincerity is how much is granted to the north and I ask: How much did the Labour Government grant? We all know that the Labour Government granted to the north only the smallest fraction of what this Government is granting now and what it has granted over the years. Most honorable members present do not know what the Labour Government did because they were not here.
– They went to the war.
– The war was over. Honorable members opposite say that the country was prosperous; that progress was being made when Labour was in office whereas now, under this Government, the economy is in the doldrums, there is no prosperity, money is scarce, and so on. If that argument is correct, then this Government should not be in a position to do as much as Labour could have done when it was in office. That is only sound logical thinking. Let us apply logical thinking to the arguments adduced by the Opposition.
In the main, they are advanced by backbenchers who would not have to implement the reforms that they advocate, anyway. All this argument by the Opposition is just so much froth and bubble; it means nothing whatever. There is no logic in it and it has no foundation. Therefore, it is not acceptable to the sound thinkers in the Commonwealth Parliament.
I have two minutes left. Let me devote that time to paying a warm tribute to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation for the great work it has done in connection with skeleton weed. No one in this Parliament can accuse me of not fighting for the eradication of skeleton weed. I am happy to say that, through my advocacy, assisted by that of other members, we have been able to have a certain amount of money allocated for research into combating this weed in wheat producing areas. If some action had not been taken, this weed would have pulled down the production of wheat considerably. This Government is always ready to adopt suggestions made by members for the good of the community and for the lifting of rural production in Australia.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman -
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) put -
That the question be now put.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. L. J. Failes.)
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed expenditures agreed to.
– Order! Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yesterday when I was speaking in Committee 1 apparently used the expression “ Leader of the Deposition “ when obviously 1 meant “ Leader of the Opposition “. As a result of my slip of the tongue the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) and other members of the Government indulged in laughter while I was making a brief reference to the rather tragic attempted assassination of the Leader of the Opposition. I criticised members of the Government for their laughter. Subsequently the Attorney-General explained why he had been laughing. I regret that I made a mistake, and I accept the explanation offered by the Attorney-General.
Department of Customs and Excise.
Proposed expenditure, $17,991,000.
Department of Trade and Industry.
Proposed expenditure, $13,482,000.
Department of Primary Industry.
Proposed expenditure, $33,880,000.
.- This is an important section of the Estimates covering many great primary industries. In the short time at their disposal honorable members can do no more than select possibly one topic and get cracking on it. I intend to refer to the apple and pear industry and its importance to our export trade. In my home State of Tasmania it is one of the great exporting industries. This industry is worth $17 million annually. It employs hundreds of seasonal workers, lt is sustained by hundreds of growers, most of them small growers. It gives work to hundreds of waterside workers and provides employment for carriers, transport men, sawmillers, carton manufacturers and executives.
– It provides employment for seamen, too.
– Yes, on the ships that come to and go from Tasmania. The industry provides considerable revenue to the shipping companies. As an illustration of this I need mention only that in 1964 a ship came from the United Kingdom in ballast to take fruit back to the United Kingdom. lt left Tasmania with fruit worth $60,000 in freight. The shipping companies must experience a bonanza during the fruit season. Last year the industry exported from Tasmania 4,120,513 cases of apples and 388,966 cases of pears to various markets throughout the world, principally, of course, to the United Kingdom. At present costs are the greatest bugbear to this industry, as they are to most primary industries. It costs $4 to ship a carton of apples to the United Kingdom. This is made up of $1.90 freight, which is almost 50 per cent, of the total cost; the carton in which the fruit is packed accounts for 70c; and the balance of $1.40 is taken up in local freight rates, storage and commission. In order to come out with a small profit the grower needs a net return in the United Kingdom of about 38s. sterling, which, when exchange is added, results in a return of $4.70.
Let me deal with the impact of freight on the apple and pear market. I refer to the twentieth annual report of the Australian Apple and Pear Board, that for the year ended 30th June 1966 in which, in respect of the freight rate of $1.90 a carton, it is stated -
This represents close to 80 per cent, of the f.o.b. value of the product - probably the highest incidence of any primary product exported in volume from Australia. The Board is most concerned therefore to note that further increases in freight rates are indicated from the latest results of the Formula exercise.
I will refer to further increases presently. The freight rate is $1.90 a carton and last season’s returns indicate how far below the minimum profitable return of $4.70 our apples fetched on the United Kingdom market. The highest prices were $3.55 for Jonathan apples and $3.88 for Sturmer apples. This is nothing like the return that is necessary to give the growers even a small profit. The picture is as grim as the picture for any Australian primary export. The situation is not only grim, it is also desperate. Last, season some of the growers received debit notices instead of a return for their product, and some pear growers had quite large debit notices sent to them insteaed of credit notices. Competition from South Africa was one of the main factors in the poor price obtained on the United Kingdom and European markets.
I want now to refer quickly to the future of the apple and pear industry. I mention freight first because it is a critical aspect. The recent decision by the conference lines could sound the death knell to small growers in my State within two years. The conference lines have decided to increase by 6.2 per cent, the freight on all types of cargoes carted overseas. But a storm warning for apple and pear growers is contained in the announcement that the rate for refrigerated cargoes will increase beyond 6.2 per cent. The exact figure has not yet been announced. However, it has been calculated that a 10 per cent, rise in the freight on refrigerated cargoes, which would include apples and pears, could involve an additional 19c on each case of fruit in freight alone. If 6 million cases of fruit are exported from Australia, the additional cost to the growers would be Si million which would be spread right throughout the industry. How the industry will find this additional sum I do not know. The freight increase could well be the hammer blow to the apple and pear industry.
The only possible short term solution is for the Federal Government to subsidise freights for the next season at least. Why could not the Federal Government treat the present situation as an economic crisis to a vital export industry, especially as this industry will be hardest hit by the freight rises? Having decided that a major crisis exists in the fruit industry, why could not the Federal Government agree to subsidise the increased freight for at least the 1967 season? As I have said, the increase will approximate Si million. Is that too much to ask from the Government to save an export industry from possible collapse within two years? I cannot see any other temporary solution or any other answer to the questions that the industry is asking at the moment. Supposing we sell 6 million cases next season - we sold 7 million cases in the whole of Australia last season - the increased freight would amount to approximately $1 million. Could not the Government absorb that amount? It provides subsidies, bounties and special grants to other sections of primary industry. Relief is provided in the event of drought, hail damage or other disasters. Here is one way in which, by making a small outlay of $1 million, the Federal Government could absorb in one fell swoop this vicious, wicked and unjustified 10 per cent, increase in freights, an increase which is hitting an industry which is already so delicately balanced that we do not know what will happen to it next season. Many growers are looking already to possible alternatives. It would be a tragedy indeed if they had to pull out fruit trees in this age and generation when so many starving people throughout the world are clamouring for our products.
I should like now to mention markets. The United Kingdom and European market has a glut of apples from South Africa in particular, a country which increased its export from 2,759,000 cases in 1965 to 3,828,000 cases in the 1966 season. According to my arithmetic that is an increase of 28 per cent, in one season in one country to the British and European market. It is little wonder that last season our prices were so disastrously low on the London market. The increased exports from South Africa mean that we must look more and more to Asia to absorb our apple crop. At the moment Singapore, Malaya, the Philippines, East Africa, Hong Kong, Aden and the Pacific islands are taking a substantial part of our apple and pear crop. For example, in the 1966 season these markets took 556,693 cases. We should have a concerted campaign, highly financed from Commonwealth sources, to popularise our applies and pears in the Asian markets. For example, have we ever sent on a mission to Asia a ship carrying exclusively fruit? Have we sent a refrigerated apple and pear ship to Asia to introduce our products to new clients in Asian countries? Trade missions from Australia have gone to Asia and have achieved good results, but I believe the big weakness has been that there has not been enough follow up.
After a trade mission visits a country key experts should be left behind, attached to our trade commissions, to organise, advise and sell the products which have been popularised by the visit of the mission. It is not a bit of good when the 20 who went on a trade mission all come back home again and leave nobody behind to carry on the good work which was set in train by the visit of the mission or ship to that country. I am grateful that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) is at the table during the debate on this section of the Estimates. This is an important point which I should very much like him to follow up so that he can find out whether anybody is left behind when trade missions of 10 or 20 people leave an Asian country after their visit by sea or air. It is not a bit of good sweeping through a country in two weeks and then coming away hoping for the best, even when the mission is met by an interested clientele. We must popularise our apples and pears. Let us send to Asia with industry experts who can be left behind to popularise our fruit at the possible market point a ship carrying fruit exclusively.
I refer now to sorting and packing and the associated problems. It seems that cases are now being replaced by cartons at slightly extra cost. Buyers in other countries prefer cartons, so cased apples will probably disappear gradually. Some of our experts say that there should be changes in packing and more research into the casing of apples. Another point was raised by Mr. A. V. Cross, a member of the State Fruit Board and an orchardist from Cygnet in the electorate of Franklin. Mr. Cross’s remarks were reported in the “ Mercury “ of 14th September where the following appeared - “ Serious thought must be given to arrival dates and less to dispatch dates.”
He was referring to ships. He continued - “Why should a grower be forced to have fruit on the wharf by a closing date if a ship is one which takes up to eight weeks before discharge? “
Claiming that some countries have ships carrying only fruit, Mr. Cross said the industry was worthy of a much improved delivery programme, especially with freight at S2 a case.
Quality is another aspect. Some growers are still careless about quality. We have had trouble with this sort of thing with exports from all sections of primary industry. I believe that quality is essential if we are to popularise apples and pears and compete successfully with overseas countries and that nothing should be allowed to interfere with quality. If growers tend to take short cuts with sorting it may become necessary eventually to have centralised sorting sheds in the apple growing districts so that inspectors can be on the spot to make absolutely certain that only the finest fruit goes into the cartons for export. I hope that this will not be necessary, but we know of some instances where growers have been careless to the detriment of the quality exported. Their action destroys the image which has been created by the honest grower and it is bad for the export market when poor quality apples are included in overseas cargoes. I hope that the Minister will take into consideration the thoughts that I have expressed.
Hie DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Failes). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- At this time of the year the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) and I tend to get together and agree for a change. I thought last year would be the last time we agreed on anything but I find myself once again in some agreement with him. In the brief time at my disposal 1, as the representative of an area which produces apples, citrus fruits, canned fruit, wine and dried fruits and where even dairying is carried on, will be general in my remarks. The honorable member for Wilmot confined himself mainly to matters pertaining to the apple industry. We all would guess from this that he comes from the celebrated little island off the south coast of Australia which obviously has had a bad time this year.
The apple growers in my area are quite close to the city of Adelaide and they also have experienced a reasonably bad time this year. I think those who have been in these industries for some years are well geared to protect themselves against the effects of the old law of supply and demand. When world gluts have occurred in our habitual markets, such as the United Kingdom, the growers in my area have been in a little better position than have those in the area represented by the honorable member for Wilmot because South Australian apples usually attract a slight premium on the Tasmanian product. However, this is open to question.
The honorable member dealt with rising costs in these industries, lt is as well to look at the cost structure. 1 looked at some figures today which prove fairly conclusively to me that there has been almost no increase in the cost structure affecting, for instance, dairy farmers in New Zealand. Their basic wage has been pegged at a very miserly level for many years now compared with the basic wage applicable to Australia. Therefore, when we consider the wellbeing of primary producers and the relevant facts, we must come to the conclusion that the dairy industry in Australia has achieved a remarkable record of increased productivity. Quite frankly, having regard to rising costs which must be borne by the small primary producers in Australia, they could not have remained in existence without this increased productivity.
Much the same story applies to a lot of other smaller industries to which I have already referred. The increased costs that the small farmers have attempted to absorb and, in many cases, have successfully absorbed over the last decade points to a great increase in efficiency and, where applicable, mechanisation to ease the degree of labour usage necessary. Unfortunately a limit must be reached. The kind of industry to which the honorable member for Wilmot referred has within it a high degree of labour usage, a limit to what can be achieved by mechanisation and a limit to increased productivity in the future. So I share the honorable member’s worry about what lies ahead.
I have in my hand the minutes of a meeting held only the other day in the upper Murray section of South Australia. This was a combined meeting of the various agricultural associations in the area. It was called together to deal with rising costs in the fruit industry. Many of the submissions made at the meeting relate to the responsibilities of the State Government. Mention was made of water rates and the additional cost of cartage and fertiliser which, of course, gets much nearer to the matter before the Chair at this time. 1 trust the Committee will forgive me - perhaps I could not expect honorable members to remember - if I direct its attention to the fact that in my maiden speech two and a half years ago I tried to make a strong case for a subsidy on nitrogen. I made the case because I reasoned that, with the advent of the petro-chemical industry in years to come as an adjunct to the fuel problems and possibilities of the future, we could perhaps fill in the gap before cheaper nitrogenous fertilisers were available for these industries. I am delighted, as no doubt the honorable member would be, with the attitude of the Government indicated by its recently announced subsidy on nitrogenous fertilisers.
I believe that if a subsidy is to be applied it should be applied at the source of the production process. I do not know that I can go along completely with some of the honorable member’s ideas on subsidies and freights. It seems to me that we should apply a subsidy at the point at which the efficient farmer can take full advantage of it. We must always look seriously at the application of a subsidy which will encourage inefficiency. I congratulate the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) for his forethought and the work that no doubt he and his departmental officers have put into giving the small farmer this benefit in the form of a subsidy on nitrogenous fertilisers. I think it is extraordinarily important to this section of the Australian farming community.
I should like to mention one or two other matters which affect industries of the kind to which I have been referring. Due to the growth of the fruit industry in the towns of Renmark, Loxton, Barmera, Berri and Waikerie over the years, and, prompted by the attitude of State Governments of the past towards war service land settlement, home finance and the establishment of funds for forward payment for crops, the situation arose in which the State Government would have nothing to do with financing small farmers. Bear in mind that in many cases these farmers went on to their property without the equity in the early days of establishment that other farmers may well have had or do have today. Because of the attitude of the South Australian Government of the day, which I regretted, the financing of these farmers was channelled into unusual quarters. As the Minister mentioned a year ago when discussing a bill relating to war service land settlement, a lot of the finance is held by the co-operative packing sheds. But I point out that a good deal of the financing of the co-operatives was, and of course still is, done by the South Australian Government. So we have the slightly peculiar situation in which funds for forward payment of fruit crops and for many other purposes are not made available along the lines adopted by the Kyabram fruit canning shed which uses funds from the Reserve Bank to finance forward payment for crops.
Probably there is good reason why we must remain geared to finance coming through the State Bank of South Australia. lt is hard lo see how, on the one hand, it could finance the whole co-operative packing shed situation and, on the other hand, expect the Reserve Bank to step into the field of forward payment for crops. This is the difficulty which surrounds many of these fruit growing industries in my area. The effect is that there is a general lack of liquidity apparent in these small towns geared to fruitgrowing as an occupation. The lack of liquidity is due to the withholding of funds from forward payments. This happens in all industries, nevertheless it is becoming a trend, particularly through certain co-operative wineries. It inhibits the proper growth of the industry and the ability to replant and to improve efficiency. Frankly, I do not know the answer to this problem. I merely put it before the Committee and wonder how we will come to terms with it.
At this stage, I would like to comment on the remarks of the honorable member for Wilmot about freight. We have been told in the last two or three days of the faith of the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) in the future of containerisation, and I would go along with him. This will certainly be the salvation of many of our export industries, if the process brings reasonable costs. But we would be foolish to expect that it will save us this year, next year or even the year after. Much planning work must be done on the many factors involved in a change in the method of handling cargoes. However, I hope that the Government will press ahead as rapidly as it can to introduce containerisation. I think it is vital to the small fruitgrowers, whose returns depend largely on exports. This is especially true of the dried fruit industry. The streamlining and rationalisation of costs over the years is vital to this industry. My recollection of the last figures I saw is that 40 per cent, of the crop is exported. The figure has been even higher, but generally it runs at about 50 per cent. However, I do not adopt the theory of the honorable member for Wilmot that the Commonwealth should pay a subsidy on freights.
Another matter of interest at this stage is the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Many ideas about the Kennedy Round have been expressed. People in the industries that will be affected have followed with interest the suggestions that have been made. Unfortunately, we must accept that a singular lack of success has accompanied efforts to reduce tariffs by 50 per cent. Any move towards this objective would be of considerable help to Australia’s primary producing industries in general. I see that on 17th September the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade Agricultural Meeting will be held again in Geneva. So, within a very short period, we should hear whether any effective results have been obtained and whether tariffs will be reduced to help our industries. I do not know whether the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), who is now at the table, has heard anything, but I know the Government pays much attention to this subject. It is vital to the future of our primary industries. I have great faith that the Government will do all it can to help the food producing industries. On moral grounds or on practical grounds, the future of our primary industries is vital to the interests of Australia in the area of South East Asia in which we exist.
.- During the debate on the estimates now before us and during the debate on the Budget, we have heard references to containerisation. The hope has been expressed that this method of handling cargoes will help Australia as an exporting nation. At this stage I pay a tribute to the Australian Meat Board for the resistance it offered to the efforts of overseas shipowners to increase freights on refrigerated cargoes, particularly from Australia lo the north American coast. We should also thank the Israeli shipping Une, which came in at the right time and offered to work in the trade for the present rates. Queensland beef producers export meat to the United States of America. The freight charges on their produce are said to be in the vicinity of Si. 000 million for the current year. This seems to add weight to the Opposition’s contention that we should have an overseas shipping line. Support for this move has come from the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) and the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. Mc Ewen).
How would we operate an overseas shipping line? If we were to establish one now, it would not be our first venture into overseas shipping. Honorable members will recall that, after the First World War, Australia operated a shipping line for several years. However, with the advent of the Bruce-Page Government, the ships were sold to a certain person who has not even to this day redeemed his debt. Perhaps one of the reasons for his failure is that for a long time he was a guest of His Majesty. It is pleasing to note that nien such as the Prime Minister and the Minister for Trade and Industry support the suggestion that we should establish an overseas shipping line, although they have referred mainly to bulk cargo and containerisation. I am indebted to the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia for the current issue of “ Maritime Worker “. in which the Federation point out that one man with a button can load a ship. This issue of the “ Maritime Worker “ reports that Pakistan - a country that we believe does not enjoy our high standards of living - has developed its own national overseas shipping line. The publication states -
The first vessel on the run, m.v. “ Ravi “ is now loading jute and general cargo at Chittagong and Jalna (East Pakistan) for Fremantle, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.
Several vessels are to be built for the Pakistan National Shipping Corporation, which now operates 1 7 vessels.
Whenever the Opposition suggests that the Government should establish an overseas shipping line, it is asked to say how many ships it wants to build. We hear a lot of nonsense about the huge cost. Our critics seem to think that we want to replace every vessel now operating from Australian shores to overseas ports in one fell swoop. This is not so and it never has been so. Our idea is that an Australian overseas shipping line would offer competition to the conference lines, just as the Hughes Commonwealth Government Line of Steamers did. It is interesting to note that in the period immediately following the 1914-18 War, when freights were rising everywhere else, the competition from the Australian ships in the overseas trade kept down freights on Australian trade.
Containerisation will present problems to the Department of Customs and Excise. I am pleased to note some comment on containerisation in the annual report of the Department for 1965-66, which 1 have just received. The report states that the Department was represented at a conference on containerisation which was called by the Minister for Trade and Industry and which met in Canberra from 9th to 12th May J 966. Many other interests also were represented, including port operators, trade unions, customs agents and other government departments. The Department of Customs and Excise is investigating the various aspects of containerisation as they will apply to its operations. It can be seen that there will be quite a number of problems lo be overcome. Containerisation is by no means a new development, lt has been adopted for internal transport in other countries and also for trade between countries. Therefore, we should be able lo get some guidance in the problems that we shall have to overcome, and it should bc possible for us to solve them. At any rate, I am pleased to see that the Department has already taken note of the problems associated with containerisation, particularly in trade wilh other countries, some of which do not impose quarantine conditions as strict as those to which we in Australia adhere.
I was interested to note in the Department’s annual report also mention of the various methods that have been used by people in evading the payment of customs and excise duties. Revenue from customs and excise duties is estimated this financial year to be reduced by $127,796 compared to that of last financial year. The greatest reduction is estimated to be in excise on tobacco. Estimated receipts from this source in the current financial year are $17,138,000. Receipts of excise on cigars and cigarettes last financial year were $199,720,192 and they are estimated to increase to $210,154,000 this financial year. A very healthy increase in receipts of excise on beer and spirits is expected.
I wish to devote a few minutes of my time to the differential between the excise on brandy and that on rum, gin, whisky and other spirits, Mr. Chairman. I have directed attention to this matter previously in debates such as this. Since the latter part of 1953, when the excise on brandy was reduced by 30s. a proof gallon, the consumption of brandy has increased rapidly. Between the end of June 1963 and 30th June 1966, it increased from 291,000 proof gallons a year to 708,000 proof gallons a year - an increase of 35 per cent, per annum. It is said that drinkers have their own particular tastes. For example, it is said that there is a snob value in Scotch whisky. More Scotch whisky than Australian whisky is consumed in this country. I am not a whisky drinker and I do not know whether there is any great difference between the two products, but the fact is that the consumption of imported whisky is greater than that of the local brew.
– How does the honorable member find rum?
– I stick to the local stuff. We make a very good brew at Bundaberg. I can get a personal recommendation for it from my friend, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James). It is good for medicinal purposes and for rubbing on the skin to draw out bruises. The excise on rum was increased in August of last year. In March of this year, a representative of one of the main producers of rum in Australia said that since the increase in duty last August the sales of his company’s product had fallen by 35 per cent. For many years, there was close similarity between the rates of excise on these various spirits. It is interesting to recall that in 1902 the excise was lis. a proof gallon on brandy, 13s. a proof gallon on gin and rum, 13s. a proof gallon on whisky and 2d. a gallon on beer. The present rates vary considerably. In 1965-66, excise receipts rose by $120,278,679 because of the higher rates imposed on spirits, tobacco, cigarettes and cigars in August of last year. I point out that the differential between the rates on brandy and those on other spirits due to the reduction of the rate of excise on brandy was introduced because of an excess grape crop in the southern States. It was felt that a reduction in the excise would stimulate sales of brandy. As I have pointed out, this has happened and over three years they rose by over 35 per cent, per annum. lt is worth noting, that despite the unfair advantage accorded to brandy, rum has maintained its position reasonably well. Consumption of rum per head of the population was .055 gallons in 1953 and in the same year the consumption of brandy was 034 gallons per head. In 1965, the consumption of rum fell to .050 gallons per head, whereas that of brandy increased to 089 gallons per head. I want to make the point that most Australian wage earners drink either rum or beer. Some people prefer a brandy after a meal, but those who exhibit this preference are not generally people on lower incomes. Furthermore, a great many people take rum for medicinal purposes. A very dear friend of mine, who was known to the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts), died in Brisbane at the age of 108. He believed in having his noggin of rum each day. I do not say that everyone should do this, however. There may be many reasons why some people live to a great age. Doubtless some people claim that they attain a great age because they do not drink rum. But there are not many, really, who can say why they have lived to a great age. I have pointed out the preference that is accorded to brandy by the differential rates of excise. The present rate on brandy is 80s. a proof gallon, whereas the rate on rum is 1 1 3s. a proof gallon. The duty on beer, incidentally, is lis. 4id. a gallon. I believe it is time for a review of this preferential treatment. I do not suggest that the duty on brandy should go up because I know that some very good friends of mine on the other side of the Committee like a brandy.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I congratulate the Department of Primary Industry on the excellent way in which it has operated in the last year under a very capable and enlightened Minister. What I wish to do this evening, however, is to make suggestions for the future - I hope, the immediate future - even though these suggestions will involve considerable expenditure of money. I wish to make a plea for the institution of a plan which will result in the elimination of the cattle tick from Australia. This creature is at present causing untold losses in the beef cattle and dairying industries every year, the losses in Queensland alone amounting to more than $20 million annually. This covers losses in beef and milk production, deaths from tick worry and red water fever, and also the capital and running costs of cattle dips and the costs of the frequent musterings that these dippings involve, lt also covers da-mage to hides and the cost of quarantine restrictions. These losses must inevitably mount from year !o year in the future.
I am making my plea now because the problem has assumed a far more sinister aspect with the appearance in Queensland of strains of cattle tick which resist the acaricides currently used in dipping. These preparations are us:-d lo control the number of ticks infesting cattle. The problem of the cattle tick is potentially a most serious one, and it could indeed be disastrous if nothing is done about it in the near future.
Looking at the problem from first principles, as honorable members are undoubtedly aware the life cycle of the cattle tick is in two phases. One phase, in the middle life of the tick, is spent on the cattle themselves. There the tick sucks the blood of the animal, matures and then mates. The beginning and the end of the tick’s life are spent on the ground. The mature female drops off the bovine, lays its eggs and then dies. The young creatures then hatch out and later secure a hold on other beasts. The control of the tick can therefore be achieved by breaking the life cycle. This can be done, either on the beast itself by killing the ticks that are on it or by using cattle which will not act as hosts to the ticks; or it can be done on the ground, by the spelling of pastures for sufficient time to ensure that most of the larvae die off. lt is quite possible - in fact this is done - for an individual farmer to free his property of ticks by using one or other of the methods I have mentioned, but it is most unwise for him to do this because his cattle, when free of ticks, will lose their resistance to the diseases carried by the ticks, and almost certainly they will become reinfested from surrounding properties and fall a ready prey to these lethal diseases, mainly red water fever. So I suggest that any scheme adopted should be part of a national scheme. It must be based on sound scientific principles; it must be very carefully coordinated and it must be very strictly policed.
The question is: Which is the best method? I suggest that it is not planned dipping. A programme of planned dipping carried out in New South Wales not so very long ago failed for a variety of reasons. For instance, it was thought that the animals were incompletely dipped and ticks remained in the ears of the cattle, and that young calves which were not dipped acted as hosts of the ticks for one life cycle. Then it was thought that larvae were probably carried by the wind, and there were also many human factors involved. There was undoubtely incomplete quarantine control, for instance. The net result was that the method failed, and I think it would be foolish to employ it again.
Another possible method would be the widespread or universal use of cattle which do not act as suitable hosts for the ticks. This is theoretically possible and I understand that a great deal of work is being done along these lines, but before suitable strains which could develop into first class beef or dairying cattle could be evolved and bred in sufficient numbers too long a time would have to elapse. It would be many decades before this could be done, and by that time, I submit, the problem of the cattle tick would have got out of hand.
There is only one method left, I believe, and that is the method of pasture spelling. 1 maintain that this method can be used successfully, and in fact I say that it should he used forthwith. A great deal of basic research has been done on this problem. The latest publication that I am aware of is one that has been released this year on work done by Harley. It appeared in the “ Australian Journal of Agricultural Research “. Harley found that the longest survival time of the non-parasitic stage of the tick - that is to say the stage during which it lives on the ground - was 27.3 weeks. Other authorities have given maximum times varying from 19 to 21 weeks. The figure of 27.3 weeks is probably an ideal one because in the field in actual practice the larvae would probably not live so long and one might suggest the spelling of pastures for nine months would be adequate. But there are other factors which must be considered. There is the existence of residual cattle - cattle not mustered in the first instance. There is the fact that dogs can act as hosts to the ticks, although dingoes apparently cannot do so sucessfully There may be other animals that can act as suitable hosts to the tick. So I suggest that for such a method to be reasonably safe it would be necessary to spell the country for a period of slightly more than 18 months. lt is suggested that a period from, say, the end of April, which is the end of the wet season - and incidentally it is the end of the maximum period of viability of larvae - to the end of the dry season in the year following would be the most suitable period for pasture spelling. During this time, however, it would be imperative to ensure that no ticks were brought into the area, and the scheme would have to be strictly supervised.
The problems, I maintain, are not as great as one would at first imagine. If one looks at the distribution of ticks one sees that in New South Wales there is only a very small area in the north east in which they are found. In Queensland the ticks do not go further west than Texas, and that is a very liberal estimate. One could take a line from Texas through Miles and Roma then to Hughenden as giving the furthest westward incidence of ticks - and that is being extremely liberal. Then the tick line would go west to Mount Isa, there being none south of that line. Ticks occur throughout the northern half of the Northern Territory and the Kimberleys of Western Australia. So the area of incidence is a fairly clearly self-delimited area. The majority of the affected cattle are in the coastal areas of Queensland, and I suggest that eradication begin here.
As a broad outline of the plan, the details of which will take some working out, I suggest the infested country be divided into areas and, where possible, rivers should be used as natural boundaries. It is imperative that all cattle be eliminated from the area from which the ticks are to be eradicated. I suggest that a beginning be made in a small area of south Queensland and the whole of the affected portion of northern New South Wales and that the scheme proceed progressively northwards and then towards the west. It is imperative also that each area should be surrounded by a buffer of cattle free country so that when cattle are eliminated you eliminate the possibility of native animals such as kangaroos carrying the ticks to those areas which have been treated. This would render the method more certain of success. The watchword at all times should be: “ Neglect no means “, and absolutely the strictest of quarantine procedures must be employed.
There must be vigilant control both on the ground and from the air to ensure removal of any residual wild cattle. The movement of dogs in the area must be stopped to the maximum degree possible and the public must be educated so that they will co-operate in the scheme. From this point of view it is essential that motor cars be watched. Motor cars are a great carrier of cattle ticks and the method at present employed to prevent the spread of ticks into New South Wales, if I might be permitted to say so, although I appreciate that it gives the minimum of inconvenience to motorists, is ludicrously inadequate. I maintain that the underneath of cars travelling into the area to be cleared should be subject to steam blasting or some other suitable method, or some effective acaricide used which will eliminate the chance of the car itself carrying the tick. People should be encouraged not to picnic as they may picnic in a tick infested area on a rug and then carry the rug into a freed area, dump it on the ground and then picnic again and thereby spread ticks. All of these methods must be considered and, of course, no cattle must be allowed to travel through the area - another reason for the failure of the New South Wales experiment.
All of this, of course, carries other implications. Compenesation must be paid to property owners as they will be without income for some time. On the other hand they will gain the advantage that their country will probably be improved by the enforced period of spelling. Numerous problems of detail have to be surmounted but none of them is by any means insuperable when one considers the magnitude of the problem confronting us now that these resistant ticks have appeared. It might be said that v/e can get new acaricides; but I maintain that the tick is adapting itself to these new complex acaricides with increasing frequency and the resistance is being passed on to future progeny. It is a Mendelian dominant resistance in most cases, which means that it is passed on very quickly indeed. I think one is sticking one’s head in the sand if one wants to endeavour to produce a new acaricide each time resistance to the old one appears. 1 do not doubt that in the short run this campaign will probably cost a great deal, but in the long run the country will be saved untold sums of money. The cattle industry will be the most important export income earner for Australia in the future. It is growing now, and it will be even more important in the future in a world which is demanding more and more meat. I think that primary producers would bc willing to pay a levy which over many years would amortise the cost of this work. Because of this I believe that the taxpayers at large would not be called upon to foot the bill to any great extent. It is now not quite 100 years since the tick was introduced to Australia on Brahman cattle. That is another point. The introduction of Brahman cattle is nol the solution to this problem. As is being shown in Cape York Peninsula at this very moment Brahman crossed cattle must be dipped regularly if they are to produce the best results. What 1 have suggested is the only method by which the problem can be solved, and I hope that by the time the centenary of this obnoxious creature’s arrival is reached the necessity for its elimination will have been faced fairly and squarely as it must be, by proceeding wilh the methods I have suggested.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
.- If time permits, I wish to refer to problems in three Australian industries, all concerned with the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry and the Department of Trade and Industry. If ever any Australian industry were under threat of eventual extinction it is the flour milling industry. This threat has been evident for a long time. Prolonged pressure in the post-war years has gradually caused the closure of a great many flour mills. Those that have survived have been engaged in a kind of dog eat dog process, even having to buy out some bakeries in order to preserve their sales. Whereas once we were the world’s leading exporter of flour, now we are struggling to retain an almost vanishing market. In South Australia 13 mills have closed since 1950. In Victoria, at least 10 have closed since 1950. Those mills, as well as others around Australia have been the victims of changes in circumstances in the world’s flour trade. Three factors are responsible for this situation. The first is heavily subsidised flour exports from Europe, particularly France and Germany. These have undercut our flour sales in traditional markets. The second has been the growth of industries in Asia. The third is the long term low interest credit that has been extended to developing countries, particularly in Asia, by the United States of America.
The second and third factors must be accepted in the light of the needs of underdeveloped countries and hungry people unable to pay spot cash for their needs. As a result of subsidised exports coming from Europe - and I have mentioned France and Germany in particular - undercutting us in our traditional markets, sometimes by as much as $30 a ton and by at least $10 a ton in most markets, we have been eliminated from those markets. This is understandable because obviously customers in those countries - and remember, they are mostly Asian countries - have turned to a cheaper source of supply. France, which was not even an exporter until after World War II, has built up an annual trade of about 500,000 tons of flour a year. Germany’s trade is in excess of that figure. It is ironical that Germany can buy Australian wheat, yet land flour made from it on our doorstep to the north of us - in Asia - and in the Middle East for substantially less than we can export it to those areas. Japan can do the same. This situation has helped to put our flour mills out of action.
– They are not supposed to do this under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
– Perhaps not, but they do it. The statistics tell the tale. Between 1949 and 1959 our average export of flour amounted to 700,000 tons a year. Between 1959 and 1965 the average amount exported fell to about 500,000 tons a year. In the first six months of this year we have obtained orders from our traditional markets for less than 200,000 tons. This is in the busiest time of the year. It indicates how disastrous the situation is. Ceylon, Malaysia, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Burma all have commenced to produce their own flour. They are producing the byproducts^ - bran and pollard - for their developing livestock industries. This is not a pretty picture for the Australian flour milling industry. The point I make is that there is a need in Asia for our flour. Countries like Indonesia need flour. They are delighted to be able to buy it. Our product is of good quality. But these countries do not have the capacity to pay cash. Our flour milling industry necessarily requires to be paid in cash, and in sterling. But the United States can offer long term low interest credit and usually can accept payment in the currency of the country buying the goods. Take the case of Indonesia. The United States of America is willing in the case of Indonesia to take payment in Indonesian currency. This puts our industry on the outer. Our industry cannot afford to give credit. Because of this lack of credit backing it has lost the opportunity to make export sales.
The situation is critical. I suggest to the Minister that we should attempt to achieve two aims by one act. We should try to assist the industry. Also, because of our more friendly relations now with our nearest neighbour in the north, Indonesia, and because Indonesia wants our flour, which we have available for export, the Government should take some action to assist the sale of Australian flour to Indonesia.
– Would the honorable member be specific about the terms of the credit he proposes?
– I would like the Australian Government to say to the flour milling industry: “ If you can get orders from
Indonesia or any other under-developed country to our north which requires flour, the Government will meet the interest bill “. That would be fair enough. The point is that our industry cannot sell the flour to Indonesia, although Indonesia wants it, because that country cannot pay cash. The same thing applies to other under-developed countries in Asia.
– Over what period would the credit extend?
– I have in mind seven or eight years - even ten years. The United States is selling 1.5 million tons of flour in Asia to under-developed countries because she is able to offer long term low interest finance. The Government should recognise that the Australian industry is in difficulties and should do something along the lines I have suggested. After all, this would be a friendly action to a near neighbour - a country wilh which we desire to be friendly. Indonesia is our nearest neighbour. Obviously she wants to buy food. I know that we have made gifts of food to Indonesia. I have even proposed in this chamber that we make gifts of food to Indonesia. I fully support that policy. But we are not in a position to give away our primary products all the time. We should see whether we can assist this industry, which is in trouble, and show friendship at the same time towards a country in our near north.
I would like to refer, now, to a matter dealt with earlier in the debate by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie). 1 refer to the problems facing the apple and pear industry. Unfortunately the season just ended has been regarded, from the point of view of export sales, as probably one of the worst ever. This has created considerable depression in the industry. Growers do not know what to do next. They are very apprehensive for the future. This situation applies to Tasmanian growers and certainly to many growers in my electorate in the Harcourt district, where I am sure the Minister will agree some of Australia’s best apples are grown. Sales have slumped by 20 per cent. This has resulted in a fall in export income to the growers of between $5 million and $6 million. This is disastrous. I understand that in the United Kingdom market supply has exceeded demand. This is easy enough to understand, having regard to the explana tory given to me, but 1 would like confirmation of this. I understand that although we shipped about 700,000 fewer cases than in thi previous year to Britain, there was actually an over supply of some 300,000 cases because of increased shipments from South Africa and Nev/ Zealand. Sou;h Africa in particular had a marked increase in her exports lo Europe and there was an over supply as a consequence. It has been suggested That although Australia’s presentation and standards were the same as in pi clous seasons they were not good enough in comparison with those of other countries. That is a very serious aspect which I feel bears some examination. Various other reasons were offered. One related to packing, lt is apparent that the old style wooden case is going out of the marketing o!’ apples and nears and that the cell pack and the wrapped tray pack are coming into more general use.
Unfortunately, our pears apparently arrived on the United Kingdom market while some 900,000 cases of South African pears remained to be sold and although the importers took them into store and held them over, apparently they lost substantial sums of money. It is quite obvious that one result of this would be a serious loss of confidence in Australian fruits - pears in particular - in the future. I understand that the shipping strike in the United Kingdom could have had something to do with the problem, but again I am not sure of the fact, nor is this Parliament. I suggest that there should be a complete inquiry into the marketing methods of the industry both at home and abroad.
– -Are you sure the industry wants it?
– Yes, I am sure the industry wants it. Certainly the apple and p;ar growers to whom I have spoken want an inquiry into our marketing methods. They want to see the present marketing methods overhauled. Quite frankly, I think there should be an examination of these marketing methods and that after the inquiry, the Minister should make a statement in this Parliament setting out what is wrong with the industry and what ought to be done. 1 know that shipping freights have something to co with the problem. The recent 10 per cent, increase in shipping freights was another crippling blow to the apple and pear industry. I have two suggestions to offer. Because of the present difficulties and depressed condition, I suggest that the Government ought to give some consideration to making short term financial assistance available to these industries. I am not asking for long term subsidies on freights because I do not think that is right, but 1 do think the Government ought to do something about arranging some short term assistance to enable these industries to get over their present difficulties. 1 suggest also that the Government ought to recognise the advantages to be derived from adopting the Labour Party’s suggestion that we establish an Australian shipping line. Surely we must have reached a stage where this Government recognises that we can no longer depend upon the shipping lines of the rest of the world. This huge island continent is a great trading nation. Our trading lifelines extend all over the world, and on all of those lifelines there are foreign ships plying to and fro, but virtually none of ours. In my opinion, this is a national disgrace. Whether it be a Commonwealth shipping line, owned and operated by the Commonwealth itself, whether it be a private enterprise line, or whether it be a line run in partnership by the Commonwealth and private enterprise, some action should be taken to establish a shipping line to break the hold which the conference lines and other foreign shipping lines have on our trade. This is an urgent necessity not only for the benefit of the apple and pear industry but also for the benefit of all export industries, particularly primary industries.
Every few months we read of increases in freight charges. This is not good enough. Something positive has to be done by the Government. We want more than merely a few words of regret every time freights to our customer nations round the world are increased. Our valuable apple and pear industry is being threatened and there should be a full inquiry into all aspects of marketing. I repeat that after a full inquiry the Minister should make a statement in this House so that we may all understand fully the ramifications of the difficulties with which this industry is confronted in its overseas trade.
.- I want to answer very briefly one or two of the propositions that have been put forward by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton). Let me tell him first that overseas countries prefer to buy whole wheat because, when they grist it for flour they aic able to retain the by-products from the operation. Therefore, the demand is for wheat, not flour, when we are making sales If we are making a gift, that is a quite different proposition. The Australian Government has made gifts of flour to undeveloped countries. The honorable member speaks of selling flour. He should know that the buying countries always wish to buy wheat.
Let me deal now with the apple industry. As the honorable member for Bendigo is well aware, I pass right through those very fine Harcourt orchards as I travel to an 1 from Melbourne. All along that road fruit is being sold in stalls. People who go out on trips on a Sunday, and people passing through as I do buy quite a lot of fruit direct from the grower. These stalls represent one of the growers’ best markets. The growers of Harcourt realise this and are selling as many apples as they can through these stalls.
It must be remembered that this Government is always willing to consider any reasonable proposition. To give an instance, I point to the dried fruits industry. For many years, that industry was not operating on a stable basis but, after advocacy in this House by certain members whom I shall not name-
– Why not name them.
– Because I am a rather modest person. Because of this advocacy, the dried fruits industry now enjoys stabilisation. This stabilisation has not necessarily resulted in increased prices for dried fruits because prices depend on the world market of which the honorable member for Bendigo spoke. But at least it has given the growers security. They know that if world prices fall they will be helped over the lean period under the stabilisation scheme which is now in operation.
I come now to the question of fat slock. Here we are certainly dealing with a pri mary product. Lest you should think, Mr. Chairman, that in speaking about one or two points to which I shall refer, I am getting away from the subject, let me assure you that I shall be able to link up my remarks most satisfactorily. Some time ago we heard the honorable member for Bendigo stressing the need for price control in Australia. He said that was Labour’s policy and I have no doubt that it is. We in the Country Party corner asked by way of interjection: “ Would you control the price of stock on the hoof? “ But we did not get any reply. Primary producers everywhere are well aware of what happened to livestock marketing when a Labour Government was in office; but many members of the Labour Party who have come to this Parliament since that time are not aware of it. If they were, they would not be advocating price control.
– Times have changed.
– Of course they have. This country is now wonderfully prosperous. I am glad to know of the honorable member’s statement. The primary producers are now on a completely different footing. Even the wheat stabilisation scheme which was introduced by a Labour government, has been so improved that it would not be recognised now. The wheat growers all up and down the country will agree that the scheme has been greatly improved.
But let me return to what the Labour Government did in connection with the marketing of livestock. 1 shall refer to the marketing of livestock in Victoria because I know more about that. The Labour Government fixed the prices for livestock on the hoof. This was done with the idea of reducing the price of mutton and stock. Lamb and mutton prices were controlled and the Labour Government claimed that control over the prices of livestock on the hoof had become necessary because prevailing rates were so high that butchers were unable to sell lamb and mutton at the fixed prices. What the Labour Government did was to appoint a man to move through the pens and determine at what price the stock should be- so.’.d. He would say, for instance: “ Here is a pen of lambs. They must be sold at 16s. a head” This happened just after the war when the Labour Government was still operating under wartime regulations. He might fix the price for the next pen of sheep at £1 a head. When the auctioneer offered the sheep and he reached the price fixed by the Labour Government appointee as the price of stock on the hoof, he had to knock it down at that price irrespective of what it would have made in open auction. This is Labour’s record of price fixing. If any primary producer who is marketing livestock has any doubts about this he need only look at the records to see how prices slumped and how primary producers were financially embarrassed by Labour’s action in those days. This is common history and although price fixing may be all right in places where price tags can be changed simply, as in some secondary industries, it cannot apply to stock on the hoof, and to primary products generally. Obviously the Labour Party is not acquainted with what happens in primary industry.
– What about superphosphate?
– The Labour Opposition is interjecting, but what I have said is absolutely true. I was going to say “ substantially true “, but it is definitely true. I. ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) to be vigilant to see that this situation does not happen again. The Labour Party has been talking about the approaching election. It is up to the primary producers to cast their votes in such a way that Labour will never get control of primary industries again. I have recounted what happened once, but it must not happen again. I have sought to reply to what has been said by some members opposite. Other members of the Country Party will be speaking during the debate, but if it becomes absolutely necessary, as I have taken only half the time allotted to me, I may decide to speak again later.
.- The Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Primary Industry are two of the best departments in the Commonwealth Public Service in my opinion. They are fortunate in having as permanent heads very able men. The Department of Trade and Industry had as permanent head Sir John Crawford, and he was followed by Sir Alan Westerman. I doubt whether the Commonwealth Public Service could get men of higher calibre. The Department of Primary Industry has been similarly served by Mr. Alf Maiden. I believe he was personally chosen by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) for the job, and I do not think anybody would doubt the tremendous ability of this quiet man who gets things done. He is a man of whom the Commonwealth Public Service and this Parliament can be proud. 1 intend to deal this evening with the sugar industry. On 21st April, in discussing the seriousness of the situation, I put to the Government two propositions to solve the problems. 1 suggested these be used in the event of the International Sugar Agreement failing and a stabilisation scheme or some other mechanism being implemented at some later date. For the immediate future I suggested that the Commonwealth Government give the Queensland Government or the Sugar Board special loans to finance growers who were in serious trouble. My second suggestion was that the Government Should immediately compensate the Sugar Board with the object of raising the average return of the growers to a fair figure. This, of course, has now been done.
– Is the honorable member going to take credit for that?
– I am not like the honorable member, thank heavens. Nothing was done until last night when the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) issued a statement announcing that the industry would receive a $19 million loan, referred to in the text of his statement as a repayable grant. This was quite unusual language from the economic or Treasury viewpoint. In fact, it is a fully repayable interest bearing loan with a rest period for the first 34 years. I, and other members representing sugar areas, have raised various questions in the House, but at all times we have been mildly ridiculed and sometimes severely ridiculed by Ministers for having the temerity even to ask such questions. It was always implied that it was the industry’s place to raise these issues. We do not dispute that. We always accept that the industry is the correct organisation to put forward proposals, and in the Press statement last night it was made patently clear by the Acting Prime Minister and by the Queensland Premier that the industry had, in fact, initiated the $19 million interest bearing loan.
In a question to the Acting Prime Minister this morning I asked whether he was aware that the individual growers - the rank and file growers - had no knowledge of the proposal and had had no opportunity of debating, discussing or considering this proposal that was supposed to have emanated from them. I asked also whether he knew that members of the Queensland Cane Growers Council were unaware of the proposal. In actual fact, the Secretary and Chairman of that body knew of the proposal, but the members did not know of it. In other words, the rank and file growers and the grower executives of the industry did not know of the proposal. This may dumbfound the Minister for Primary Industry, who is sitting at the table. Apparently it dumbfounded the Acting Prime Minister this morning, because normally when he answers my questions about sugar he attempts to score a point. This morning he was very polite. Obviously he was startled by the facts - and they are facts; I have personally checked them. If the Minister reads the telegrams I received today he will see that they vouch for the authenticity of my statements. Could anyone imagine the beef cattle industry, the wool industry, the dairy industry or the wheat industry putting proposals to the Government when the rank and file growers or the grower executives of the industries had no knowledge of such proposals? What would happen, for example, if Mr. Mitchell, the Chief Executive Officer, or Mr. Shute, the Chairman, of the Australian Meat Board did not consult the members of the Meat Board or the rank and file beef producers before putting forward a proposal to the Government? This is the proposal which the Government says comes from the industry. If this proposal had gone to the industry and had been debated by the industry, it would have been thrown out hook, line and sinker because the industry knows it is fully entitled to a grant, not a fully repayable interest bearing loan.
The Minister for Primary Industry has quite rightly always championed industry representations and he has always made the point that proposals should be put to the rank and file producers who should be given an opportunity to express their opinions. This did not happen with the sugar industry. Who did know about the proposal?
Obviously the secretary of the Queensland Cane Growers Council, who is a paid secretary, and the chairman, Mr. McAvoy, a highly respected cane grower, knew about it. I cannot say who knew about it in the Australian Sugar Producers Association, but I have checked and found that the secretary and chairman, Mr. Pearce and Mr. Bennett, respectively, knew about it. I have no doubt whatever that the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd. knew about it. I have no doubt that the proprietary millers knew about it, and I have no doubt that the co-operative mills knew nothing about it.
It dumbfounds me that this sort of thing could go on because the rank and file growers are opposed to loans at this stage. They have mortgaged themselves individually to the hilt, to a degree which leaves them in a position where they cannot stand very much more in the way of loans. Now they are being asked collectively to mortgage themselves. The only thing that will save them is an increase in the world price of sugar, and that is what we are all hoping for. I agree with the Government that if this is the growers’ objective, we should hope that they get an increase in the world free price of sugar or that there is a satisfactory international sugar agreement. But that does not alter the fact that when sugar prices were high the sugar growers contributed millions of dollars to Consolidated Revenue in increased taxation. They contributed directly and indirectly to the economy through substantially increased export income which generated activity and circulated money throughout the economy which in turn generated increased taxation for the Commonwealth Government.
The growers financed completely bulk handling facilities, a responsibility which is normally borne by governments. They financed research completely. Again, governments help most primary industries in research. One would have thought that when this industry was in trouble this year the Government would have at least given the growers the benefit of a grant, not a repayable interest bearing loan, pending the negotiation of an international sugar agreement or some alternative proposal which would assist the industry. What are the effects of the loan? The Acting Prime Minister and the Queensland Premier did not say in the Press statement that this money would be paid only up to peak sugar. What will happen to the sugar above the peaks? It appears from my inquiries tonight that mills like Racecourse, Pleystowe, Farleigh, Plane Creek and Proserpine will not harvest all the sugar in the fields because the growers will find it uneconomic to harvest cane in excess of the peak. I understand that in Maryborough growers were even talking last week of striking. That is how serious the position is. They are growing sugar considerably in excess of their peak, but the loan does not apply to sugar above the peak. This should have been explained in the Press statement. Is it any wonder that growers in the Mackay area are hopping mad about this? If growers had been consulted in the first place this situation could have been avoided as the faa would have come out. A differentiation loan could have been made to assist growers in those areas where they are growing cane above their peak. Some mills in the Mackay area, for example, are growing considerably less than their peak, but the mills which are being supplied with sugar above the peak will be severely penalised.
It must be becoming quite obvious to the Commonwealth that something must be done in the administration of the sugar industry. This is the only industry of which I know - in fact it is the only type of project or industry - in which the industry or a State Government can, of its own volition, decide to expand the industry and leave the Commonwealth holding the baby. That is what is happening in this instance. I have asked the Minister for Primary Industry, who is now at the table, whether he, the Department or the Commonwealth Government had been consulted about the expansion of the sugar industry. It is very difficult to get an answer, but from what I can understand it appears that the Commonwealth was consulted verbally only after all the plans had been made and after the State Government had decided to go ahead. Perhaps I should not say that the industry made that decision because I understand that the Queensland Cane Growers Council had advised the State Government to go slow on the expansion of the industry but the Queensland Government went ahead and expanded it. We all agree that the expansion will be successful in the long run, but it is in the interim period that the peak problem will arise. It is my belief that the Queensland Government expanded the industry without considered consultation with the Commonwealth Government.
Under the Commonwealth and State Sugar Agreement, what responsibility does the Commonwealth Government now have for the sugar which is being produced in excess of the provisions laid down in the Agreement? There seems to be some doubt about this. It would appear that the Commonwealth responsibility applies only to the surplus of the No. 1 pool as applying to arrangements previously agreed to. There is some doubt about this and I have not been able to clear this matter up by repeated questions and discussions, even with the Department. The other important thing is that because the sugar industry is now exporting at the world price 70 per cent, of its exports, which is 50 per cent, of total production, it is becoming abundantly clear that the sugar industry should be placed on a national footing in the same way as the wool industry, the meat industry, the wheat industry and the dairying industry. The Federal Government should control the industry. Otherwise we could find this situation being repeated. It is not fair that taxpayers should be asked to come to the party after a State Government has made up its own mind to expand an industry without the Commonwealth having any real say about the expansion. Of course, some people would undoubtedly oppose Commonwealth control, but the C.S.R. company knows that if such a scheme were put into operation in such a way that the growers and the Federal Government control the industry, it would mean the end of the control which the C.S.R. company now has over the industry.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Drury). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- !n Committee yesterday we discussed the estimates of the Treasury. In the course of my remarks I dealt with the lack of planning for and control of foreign investment in Australia. In debating the estimates for the Department of Trade and Industry I propose to deal with the real cause of the necessity for succeeding governments during the last 16 years - first the Menzies-Fadden Government, followed by the Menzies-McEwen Government and then continued by the Holt-McEwen Government - to rely more and more each year on the indiscriminate inflow of foreign investment. During the 16 years from 1st July 1950 to 30th June 1966 the deficit on the balance of current account has amounted to £5,529 million. At this stage, with the concurrence of honorable members, I will incorporate in “ Hansard “ a table headed “ Balance of Payments on Current Account “. The source of the information contained in it is the Commonwealth Statistician.
An examination of this table will disclose that in the financial year ended 30th June 1966 we recorded a deficit of $818 million, the second highest deficit in the 16 years. It was surpassed only by the deficit of $1,165 million in the financial year 1951- 52. In 1964-65 we had a deficit of $784 million, so over the past two financial years our deficit on current account has totalled $1,600 million. In these two disastrous trading years we have sold more of our country to the pawnbrokers of overseas foreign investment than ever before in the 16 years history of this coalition Government.
May I remind the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) of his comments on 11th June 1962? They were reported in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ the following day in these terms -
Mr. McEwen was addressing 120 United States businessmen at the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia at the Hotel Australia. He said: “Americans buy less than $1 per head from us whereas Australians buy J46 per head from them every year. This is a statement of trouble . . . Australia has bought 81,200 million more from the United States than the United States bought from Australia and yet they have 20 times our population. In addition, we have run up a debt to the United States of the order of S 1,300 million.”
The figures 1 have quoted are in United States currency. They sound brave words, but may I inform the Minister that the American businessmen have taken very little heed of his remarks? Our debt to the United States has increased by $2,387 million. This debt accrued between 1st July 1962 and 30th December 1965. Those are the latest figures available in relation to this aspect of our trade with the United States. As I said earlier, surely American business concerns could have taken some heed of a statement made by the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, but people of that kind heed nothing but legislation. It is the Government’s responsibility to legislate and legislative action by this Government is long overdue.
The deficit with the United States for the year 1964-65, the last full financial year for which figures are available, amounted to S607 million. Just imagine: In one year we had a deficit with one country of more than $600 million. For the first six months of the last financial year up to December 1965, the deficit ran at something like $437 million. How are we paying this debt? The Minister for Trade and Industry said -
We are selling a little of our heritage year by year.
Those were the Minister’s own words. When can we expect some action from his coalition Government? You know the old saying: Talk is cheap. This nation wants action in the form of controls and curbs on foreign investment. There should be economic planning. When will we begin to plan this country’s imports? When will we begin to determine priorities in imports, particularly from the United States and the United Kingdom, our old traditional trading partners? 1 have cited some details relating to our balance of payments on current account with the United States but our total deficit with that country over the 15i years from June 1950 to December 1965 amounted to $4,151 million. A few years ago we heard a great deal of calamity howling about Great Britain’s proposed entry into the European Economic Community. What has been our trading position with that country? During those 15i years to which I have refered we have had a deficit with the United Kingdom of some $4,336 million. So our deficit with these two old traditional trading partners in that period has amounted to some $8,487 million. Imagine such an astronomical deficit as $8,487 million with our old traditional trading partners, Great Britain on the one hand, and the United States on the other hand. It is fortunate that we have had some trading credits with other countries. We have had credits with Japan and China, but despite these our overall deficit has amounted to $5,529 million. That is the trading record of this coalition Government and of the Minister for Trade and Industry who is the Deputy Prime Minister.
Now let me turn to percentages. The figures which I shall cite are available from the Bureau of Census and Statistics. In 1938-39 we exported 48.9 per cent, of our total exports to the United Kingdom. Last financial year this had dropped to 17.4 per cent. In 1938-39 we exported 15.4 per cent, of our total exports to North America. Last year this had dropped to 14.0 per cent, so the level of our exports with North America has been almost maintained. We find that in 1938-39 we exported only 3.5 per cent, of our total exports to Japan, but last year this had risen to 17.3 per cent, which is only .1 per cent, less than the percentage of our exports last year to Great Britain, which used to be by far our greatest trading partner. Taking Asia as a whole, in 1938-39 we exported 10.2 per cent, of our total exports to that area. Last year this had risen to 3 1 .4 per cent. It is obvious that our future lies, not with our old traditional trading partners, Great Britain and the United States, but with Asia. Our future rests on our relationships with Asia. It is to our benefit that the standard of living in Asia should rise.
How will we rectify this imbalance in our trading account? Our first proposal is to get out and sell Australia - our products and our goodwill. Trade and our relationships with Asia are our front line of defence. We must expand our trade commissioner service and increase the staff in overseas posts of the Department of Trade and Industry. We should aggressively seek new markets and expand existing markets in Asia, Latin America, Africa, in fact all over the world, and we should even seek increased trade with our old traditional markets. We should develop our own banking and insurance corporations to finance our exports and enable us to sell on io;ig term credits. If honorable members doubt the wisdom of granting such finance, 1 remind them that last year Australia expended in the Vietnam war alone more than $13 million. Certainly it is better to provide long term credits on our Australian products sold to Asian nations than to send our Army into Asia to fight and to interfere in the internal affairs of the nations there. We should establish an Australian overseas shipping line to assist in the transport of our goods to new and old expanding markets. An Australian shipping line would strengthen our bargaining position with the overseas shipping monopolies and would help to stabilise shipping freights. Surely members of the Australian Country Party will support this suggestion. I ask the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) to read the report on the dried fruits industry. The dried fruits industry asked exactly for this. It wants shipping freights stabilised.
An economic planning committee should be set up to determine the type and quantity of our imports. The planning committee, in co-operation with our manufacturing industries, should determine the type of goods to be manufactured here. Our deposits of bauxite, copper, iron ore and other minerals should be processed or partly processed in Australia before being exported. We should plan Australia’s future rate of growth and the application of industrial priorities.
I remind the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, that time is running out. This is 1966, not 1949. He has talked for too long. We want action. He has said that we are selling our heritage little by little each year. I hope that he believes this. If he cannot get support from the Government ranks for his efforts to correct this situation, he should seek the support of the Australian Labour Party. We will support any progressive legislation and any action that will curb or turn the tide that is flowing against Australia. Our nation is drifting into the hands of foreign ownership, and we must prevent any further encroachment by overseas interests.
– It may seem a little unusual, but I agree with the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) that trade is the life blood of th( nation and the main element in our develop ment. I have just had the good fortune to visit Asia and a large part of Europe. I disagree with one of the honorable member’s contentions. Criticism has been levelled at some of our representatives overseas, but I think it is very dangerous to under-estimate anyone who is acting for us, whether in the realm of politics, sport or any other field. I think I can offer a reasonably fair judgment on this matter, and I say that all the diplomatic, trade and Service representatives that I contacted overseas measured up to the highest standards that can be set. I was mainly in contact with our trade representatives. Their courtesy, advice and assistance was of tremendous benefit to me. I think it is fair to say that their efforts enabled me to do more in 8i weeks than, in other times, might have been done in as many months.
I would like to dwell at some length, a little later, on a matter that is of importance to us. This is the matter of wool. Most of my investigations are centred on wool. However, I will speak now on the subject of trade in general. The development that will most influence Australia’s trade in the next decade, if we are given as long as that to meet the difficulties that will arise, will be the advent of the European Common Market. I believe that in time Britain will inevitably join the European Common Market. At present, its entry is obstructed by political considerations. France has offered most of the obstructions and this may be largely the result of the attitude of one man, who for some odd reason has taken an extraordinary opposition to Britain in many ways. This is difficult to understand when we reflect on what Britain did for France during the Second World War and what it did for President de Gaulle in particular. However, this is incidental. Many factors lend weight to my suggestion that within a period of time - it would be hazardous to say how long - there will come into being a European Common Market embracing all the countries of Europe.
The industries that will be most affected by this combination of European countries are canned and dried fruits, fresh fruits and more particularly the dairy industry, with special emphasis on the butter section. I think I am correct in saying that between 85 and 90 per cent, of our butter exports are now taken by the United Kingdom. This trade will be adversely affected when Britain joins the European Common Market. However, there are very helpful signs in Asia, and I am quite sure that those who control the industry are well aware of them. Thailand is one place that is taking an increasing volume of our dairy products, including condensed milk and dried milk. The slack that will occur in our exports with the development of the European Common Market can be taken up in Asia. Honorable members may be interested to know why I am so adamant in saying that the whole of Europe will be embraced in the European Common Market. It is clear that the countries in the European Free Trade Area are eager to get into the European Common Market, and several countries in the Common Market would like to have countries of the Free Trade Area, especially the United Kingdom and Denmark, join them. I am certain that Belgium, Holland and West Germany would like the other countries to join them. There are, of course, difficulties in the way of these moves. They are too detailed to speak about in the time at my disposal. They may retard the eventual union of the European countries, but I am certain that they will not obstruct its final accomplishment.
The second matter I would like to mention was raised by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), who is now at the table, when he spoke recently. This matter is also mentioned in the Budget. I refer to the allotment of money by the Commonwealth to the States for extension services. Last year, an amount of $1.4 million was provided. This year, the amount is $2.9 million. The amount will be increased annually for the next few years and within four years an amount of $5.4 million will be made available to the States for extension purposes. During the next four years, a total exceeding $20 million will be provided. This reflects much credit on the Government and shows its awareness of the importance of extension services, particularly to our agricultural and pastoral industries. Our scientific achievements have been notable, but we all know that science is of .no use at all if it remains in the laboratories or if it does not go beyond the experimental stage. Many developments seem to be satisfactory on a small basis, but when they are carried into industry on a broad basis they are sometimes proved to be not economic or not practicable. At this stage, technology is perhaps falling slightly behind. Knowledge about a great many things needs to be brought to the person who puts it into practical application.
I want to dwell at some length on the activities of the International Wool Secretariat, Mr. Deputy Chairman. As I have said, it was my good fortune to have an opportunity to study wool in some detail. I studied one aspect or another of it in 11 countries and discussed it with 63 different authorities. When I speak of authorities I am not talking about individuals. I am talking about collections of individuals. Often, one individual may tend to override the opinions of the others in a group, but the opinions of all in the group must be considered. I for one, as a wool grower, had certain anxieties about the way in which the money that we paid in levy was being spent on promotion and research. Having had an opportunity, over a few weeks and at close band, to study the wool situation, I am confident - I stress this point again - that it is dangerous to overrate the people who are working on our behalf. Nevertheless, I say with a great deal of confidence that the International Wool Secretariat is guided by a man who has unusual ability, great dedication to his task and tremendous energy. Those qualities are reflected in every sphere of the Secretariat’s activities. I refer, of course, to Mr. W. J. Vines, the Managing Director.
Research findings show that wool is losing in competition with synthetics in terms of fabric percentages. The quantity of wool used remains static, but the percentage of woollen fabrics compared to synthetics is falling. Wool has qualities that no other fibre possesses. Acrylic fibres such as Acrilan have the feel and appearance of wool, but they do not have its strength. Terylene is a strong fibre, but it has not .the appearance of wool. I am certain that the blending of wool with these fibres will come about. But the International Wool Secretariat has put forward the policy that blending should begin on the right basis, at the right time and with the right degree of control from the standpoint of wool. If the wool industry promotes blends at this stage, it will do so from a position of weakness. Once it has established its influence, it can afford to go along with blends.
The Wool Mark symbol, much to my surprise, is not so much appreciated or so well known as it should be in Australia. In Europe there is a far greater awareness of it than there is even in the United Kingdom, where it is better appreciated than here. While overseas, I saw the processing of wool from the treatment of the raw material to the sale of the completed article - mostly men’s clothing. In Europe, there is a marked awareness of the value of the Wool Mark. I saw this as people came into the shops and looked to see whether the Mark was present in suits. I do not say that if it was present the prospective customer necessarily bought the garment. But customers generally were aware of the importance and the worth of the Wool Mark. It is very important that in the time at our disposal we establish the image of wool.
We in the industry went through a period of tremendous debate at one stage. The one thing that is now agitating the minds of people in all the consuming countries that I visited, and the one thing that is retarding the advancement of wool, is the fact that synthetics are obtainable on a predictable price basis and wool is not. The wool manufacturing industry has changed very much, particularly in the United Kingdom. In Yorkshire, even as lately as a decade ago, there were up to 100 private companies engaged in the trade, whereas today there are only about one-fifth as many companies, principally public ones. There is now a completely different outlook on the holding of the economic situation of the industry. This is having a marked effect on thinking in the wool trade. I am posing a lot of questions, I know. I believe that it is up to the industry to find the answers. Less than a year ago, a great many people were coming forward with numerous answers. But all their proposals represented merely fiddling with effects, not dealing with the causes of any of the difficulties that face the wool industry today.
Nearly one-third of Australia’s export income still comes from wool. This situation will remain for quite a long time. Minerals may overtake wool as our greatest export earner in the foreseeable future, and this will make our economy all the more balanced. But, for a long time to come, wool will remain a vital factor as an earner of export income - income that enables us to buy raw materials for our own secondary industries. I say to wool growers with a great deal of confidence that the International Wool Secretariat, in which Australia is the main partner, is carefully and wisely spending the money that the growers put into it. The growers’ money is being very well spent by it.
.- Mr. Deputy Chairman, in discussing the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry this evening, I wish to address my remarks to bounties paid under the terms of the Dairying Industry Act in respect of butter and cheese. I do not intend to discuss the matter in the hysterical fashion in which the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) dealt with it a few nights ago. Nor do I propose to make ill advised comments of the kind that he delivered in an earlier debate. Rather, I propose, dispassionately and honestly, to survey at some length a matter that has become of vital interest to the dairy industry ann to the manufacturers of food products other than dairy products. A great controversy has developed in the community about the respective merits of butter and margarine production. I think it is well for the people to be told the facts of the matter quite dispassionately so that they may judge for themselves, free of the influence of party politics, and make their own decision about the just and proper thing to do.
In the columns of the Press and throughout the country there has arisen a conflict of opinion between Marrickville Holdings Ltd., which, through its subsidiary, Marrickville Margarine Pty. Ltd., manufactures margarine, and the Australian Dairy Industry Council. I say frankly that each party to the dispute is entitled to put its views to the people and the Parliament and to state the pros and the cons from its own standpoint. Indeed, if either party did not put its case to the people, it would be letting down the interests that it represents. I believe that neither party in this dispute should be criticised for the views it has expressed or for its endeavours to have its own views prevail, believing this to be n the interests of those whom it represents. For my part, this evening I shall say a few words on behalf of the consumers. Evidently, there are in this Parliament some, including the honorable member for Gippsland, who think that the consumers who buy the products in question do not matter. I am one of those who think *hat the consumers are the most important section of the community. Indeed, if they did not buy, there would be no margarine industry and no dairy industry. To disregard completely the interests of the consumers, as the honorable member for Gippsland did the other evening, and as other honorable members have done, is to do something that should not be tolerated in this community.
It is true that there has been a dispute about quotas for margarine production The dispute got as far as the Privy Council, where the appeal against the quota system was rejected. The fact that it was rejected does not show that the law is a just law. The law may have been a mistake, and the fact that the Privy Council has ruled against a certain company does not mean that the existing legislative provisions are not out of step with the wishes of the majority of the Australian community.
For my part, although the vast majority pf the people like to buy and use butter - it is a great commodity unless you happen to have the kind of figure that increases in size if you eat too much of it - if some people want to buy another product because butter affects their health or for some other reason, then this Government has no right to say: “ You cannot buy the food you want “. By all means let people buy butter if they want it. It is a nutritious product and its production does much for our internal economy, for our export income and our general prosperity. But if it is to be provided it should be at a price that the people can afford to pay. If this Government wants butter to compete with margarine or any other product and if the price of production of butter is too high, then let the Government do what the Labour Government did - subsidise butter to the extent necessary to put it on the tables of all the people of this country. If that were done, then I think neither margarine nor anything else would be able to compete with it. But when we find that the butter subsidy has been pegged for years by this Government, and that butter has been forced off the tables of the people because they cannot afford to buy it, then how can honorable members opposite presume to say that people must go without the nutrition provided by this kind of food and then be also denied margarine at a lower price?
I say to the members of this Government: “You have no right or mandate to tell any person, whether in my electorate or in any other electorate, that he or she cannot buy a basic commodity that meets all the requirements and health standards of the States involved, simply because in the view of the Government the sale of that commodity would affect another industry. If another industry is being affected the answer is to subsidise the production of butter so that people can afford to buy it and so have freedom of choice.”
There are people on the Government side who say that those of us who put this point of view are opposed to the dairying industry. Nothing is further from the truth. That is the kind of argument we hear when the Vietnam conflict is being discussed. If we are against the sending of Australian soldiers to Vietnam we are anti-American or pro-Communist. Those are smears of the worst kind. Honorable members opposite cast this kind of aspersion on members on this side of the Parliament whenever they put a case for the consumer who wants to buy a certain product, even when it may not be the product they would choose but simply happens to be the one they can afford. Let me remind honorable members opposite that it was a Labour Government that stabilised the Australian dairy industry. It was a Labour Government that gave a five-year guarantee of at least the cost of production for the products of the dairy farmers. It was not until the Labour Government came to office that dairymen and other primary producers had prosperity, security and guaranteed markets and prices. We lifted the dairying industry and other primary industries from poverty to security. We took the primary producers out of the hands of the banks and gave them a basis of independence such as they have not enjoyed since Labour was defeated. We guaranteed the dairying industry 40d. of the cost of production, and the Liberal-Country Party Government that sits opposite took this way and destroyed what was the basis of a really secure industry.
I give the Committee that background so that dairy people may know the facts and may know that Labour always supports their point of view. But the people who sit behind the Government, who profess to believe in free enterprise, the right of competition, the right to sell on the best market, now seek to force margarine off the market because they say it is affecting butter production. The original quota imposed on margarine production was probably justified because imported materials, including products of cheap labour, were being used. In those circumstances the Government was entitled to protect the Australian industry. But that entitlement disappears when we find that all the ingredients of margarine are produced by Australian primary producers. The case against the abolition of the quota fails once the materials used in the manufacture of margarine are 100 per cent. Australian. The Government has no right to tell any person in any electorate what food he shall be allowed to buy, simply to protect an industry that is not necessarily inefficient but that cannot produce the goods it wants to sell at a price that people can afford to pay.
Let us take a closer look at the situation. The quota system for table margarine was introduced because it was said that this product represented a threat to an efficient Australian industry. The quota is still being imposed even though the ingredients cif margarine are all being produced in Australia. I say that the quota system now affects the Australian margarine industry and the Australian edible oil seeds industry. No other Australian product is restricted by quota in its sales on the Australian market
The company most immediately threatened by this quota system, which is supported by the Country Party - a socalled free enterprise party - is Marrickville Holdings Ltd. This is an all-Australian com’pany, one of the few all-Australian companies left in the food industry in Australia today. It employs 3,000 Australians. This year it will buy about $20 million worth of Australian primary products. This company simply asks that table margarine made from Australian raw materials be free of quota control, and that the people should be free to choose between Australian butter and Australian margarine. Is that not a fair choice? If the dairyfarmers can produce their butter at the right price, or if it is subsidised to sell at the right price, I think they will win the battle that is being fought today in this sphere. The dairying industry and a few people personally and vitally interested, such as the honorable member for Gippsland who, apart from his interests here is tied up with dairying interests, want to stop this free competition betweeen butter and margarine. Marrickville Holdings Ltd. is bent on encouraging and promoting the growth of Australian food manufacturing and Australian primary industries, and unless quotas on Australian margarine are lifted the livelihood of thousands of Australian workers will be in jeopardy and a major market will be lost to the Australian oil seed growers. The whole future of the oil seed industry is threatened.
The issue is essentially one of freedom. Surely one Australian industry should not be allowed to sell its products freely in competition with another Australian industry which is restricted. Surely Australian consumers should be free to buy as much tablemargarine as they want so long as it is made from only Australian raw materials. Does anyone object to that proposition? If he does, let him say so. In 1959 the Commonwealth Government established a committee to inquire into the state of the Australian dairying industry. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) was responsible for that. In 1960 the Parliament received the committee’s report after it had been hidden away for some time because the Government was not game to produce it. This is what it said in its summing up on the question of margarine as opposed to butter -
Table margarine as at present manufactured and presented for sale is a wholesome nutritious food closely resembling butter in appearance and pack and is obtainable at about two thirds the price of butter. Restrictions on the production of such a food are repugnant to freedom-loving Australians and as such could scarcely be justified, even on the grounds of “ the greatest good for the greatest number “.
That gives the Committee an idea of what that dairying industry committee said. One of the people most strongly opposed to the abolition of the quota is the honorable member for Gippsland. The other night he made a speech in the Parliament, and I now ask him if he will let me have incorporated in “Hansard” the reply of the managing director of Marrickville Holdings Ltd. to the statements that he made. Does he approve?
– I am quite happy.
Mar. Adermann. - No.
– The honorable member agrees but his Minister does not, for the simple reason that the managing director of this company has nailed to the mast every statement that the honorable member for Gippsland made. He has shown every one of those statements to be false. The Minister is not prepared to have the facts placed on record. He prefers to hide behind a screen. The major organisation opposed to the abolition of the quota system is Allied Mills Ltd. And who is cne of the directors of that organisation? None other than the honorable R. C. Wilson, a former M.L.C., a member of the Country Party. This is his background: He was a Country Party member of the Legislative Council. He was on the Federal Executive of the Country Party. He has been general manager of Grazcos Co-op. Ltd., a director of Allied Mills Ltd., the Australian Guarantee Corporation, the Bank of New South Wales, and of Country Radio and Television Pty. Ltd., where he sits with H. V. Budd, M.L.C., and Mr. Fuller, the Country Party Minister in the Liberal Government. He is a director of Tooheys Ltd., of Standard Securities, and of Transport and General Insurance Co. Ltd., and he is a member of the Australian Club. So here we have a member of the Country Party sitting on the board of the company that is opposing Marrickville Holdings Ltd. and demanding that quotas be applied rigorously. The company of which he is a board member controls 54 per cent, of” the market tor margarine, and he seeks in the most rigorous way to retain that control, while his puppets sit in this Parliament and tell the people of my electorate that they cannot have the food of their choice. Did you ever hear anything so contemptible in your life? Did you ever hear the like of it? ls it any wonder, Mr. Deputy Chairman, that this situation is nauseating to the Australian electorate? The people who sit in the Country Party section of the Parliament sell their wheat, wool and raw materials to China and North Vietnam while Australians die as conscripts. Today, Marrickville Holdings Ltd. advertises throughout the length and breadth of the country in Country Party journals because those journals will take its money although their parliamentary representatives deny the company the right to sell its product. Thirty pieces of silver with them is costly compared with what it was to Judas in days gone by. I say to the people of this country who want margarine - the pensioners who are forced on to the breadline by this Government - “ Why should you be denied margarine because the Wilsons, the Budds, the Fullers and the people that control the Country Party interests–
– And the Nixons.
– “ And the Nixons and others say you cannot have it because they have to protect the dairying industry.” I should like to hear the honorable member for Gippsland answer this. Here is what was put to the Dairying Industry Committee -
Australian producers of vegetable oils are seeking tariff protection. If they are successful, and the cost of producing margarine is thereby increased, the competitive position of butter will be strengthened and may be such as to permit a relaxation of restrictions on margarine manufacture. The industry acknowledges that if margarine were a wholly Australian product, it would have no grounds for opposing the lifting of restrictions.
I say to the members of the Country Party that here is a product 100 per cent, produced with Australian materials. Here is a product that is going to give unlimited prosperity to the primary producers in the safflower and other fields. Do the Country Party members opposite say that that section of primary industry is to be denied a market for its product? On what reasonably sound ground can Country Party members opposite justify not lifting the quota on margarine, which is 100 per cent, produced from Australian materials? If they do not believe what I say in support of these people let them read the results of the gallup poll which showed that 76 per cent, of the people support the lifting of the quota.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Deputy Chairman, Australian television is looking for local talent. Since there has been a certain suggestion that we should increase the percentage of Australian talent and the Australian content of television, it might be an idea for television interests to approach the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), because I am sure that without any trouble at all he would be able to help increase the Australian talent in our television. Without any difficulty at all he would be able to sell himself, if necessary for two hours. This would be a comparatively easy thing for the honorable member for Grayndler. In regard to the allegations that have been made by the honorable member for Grayndler, those of us who have been in this House for some considerable time know that over a period, on various occasions he has put forward the theme he has given us tonight. There might be some particular reason why it is being put forward a little more vehemently now than has been the case previously. One of the arguments that has been put forward all the time is that this margarine is a 100 per cent. Australian product and that the margarine industry is a completely Australian industry in exactly the same way as is the dairy industry. This, Sir, is not true. A Tariff Board report of 30th August of this year shows that Marrickville Holdings Ltd. asked for a bylaw entry of oil into Australia. This means that it wanted to buy the oil and bring it into Australia below the Australian price. That is quite obvious.
I should like to thank the honorable member for Grayndler for the speech he made tonight, because I am sure that it is going to be of tremendous value to some of us in the election campaign. I should like to know where some of the Opposition members from rural areas, particularly dairying areas, stand on this matter. 1 should like to know particularly what the candidate in my electorate who is opposing me - in a dairying area - thinks of the comments of the honorable member for Grayndler and the attitude of the Labour Party. The honorable member said in the early stages of his remarks: “ Let the Government do what the Labour Party did “. Let the honorable member for Grayndler come up into my area and ask some of the dairy farmers there what they thought, and what they still think, of what the Labour Party did from 1943 to 1949 when it was in control of this country. I can tell the honorable member what they think of what the Labour Government did at that time. On many occasions in this chamber the honorable member has said that his people, meaning the working men and unionists, cannot buy butter because it is too dear. This shows just what arguments Opposition members are prepared to use to try to justify their contentions. There are many members on the Opposition side who use such arguments. The index on which the basic wage is fixed is assessed on, amongst other things, the price of butter. In other words, the price of butter is taken into account in assessing the basic wage. The argument put forward by the honorable member for Grayndler tonight therefore does not hold up.
During my speech in the Budget debate I mentioned the problems and difficulties which were confronting the primary producer. I said that the Country Party stands firm for the primary producer in this country because it realises that the economic security of Australia depends upon him. Do not let us forget that fact. In regard to secondary industry in Australia, as was pointed out by the Leader of the Country Party three or four years ago, the finances earned overseas by the sale of wheat and wool provide the income and the finance necessary for secondary industry to purchase the things necessary to sustain itself.
– What rubbish.
– The honorable member for Scullin ought to know about talking rubbish, because he talks as much of it in this chamber as does anybody else. The reason the Country Party realises the value of the primary producer is that it is interested in every man, woman and child in Australia, and knows that an economically viable primary industry creates employment. Let rae point out to those critics of primary producers, particularly those of the dairying industry, that they themselves are the men who stand up in this chamber and yell the loudest for protection for secondary industry. Nobody on this side of the chamber, no Government supporter, objects to tariff protection for secondary industry. I have pointed that out a dozen times. We realise that secondary industry in Australia, in order to establish itself, needs tariff protection against low cost countries. But ft is this tariff protection that in many instances increases the costs of the primary producer - and these are things over which he has no control. So it rather amuses and amazes me that those people, who are the strongest protagonists of tariff protection for secondary industry, yell the loudest whenever there is any talk about assistance to primary industry.
Let me place on record the fact that the argument that the margarine industry is a completely Australian industry is completely and absolutely untrue. The honorable member for Gippsland pointed to the fallacy of these claims, not only in his speech in this chamber but also in a television interview a couple of weeks ago. The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) is interjecting - and from this side of the chamber. This shows that the Opposition realises that it is impossible fairly and justly to defeat the case put forward bv the Country Party. The honorable member for Watson has even seated himself on the Government side of the chamber, perhaps in an attempt to pre tend that a Government supporter is supporting the arguments advanced by the Opposition.
It is obvious that 26th November is drawing close. The Australian people and people of other countries know full well that this Government will be returned to office, with an even greater majority than it now has. The Opposition fully realises that this will happen, so it is desperately trying to draw red herrings across the trail. The Opposition knows that its foreign policy is torn and shattered. It has no policy to present to the people, so it is trying to draw red herrings across the trail and to bluff the public into giving it some semblance of support. We know that this will not happen. We know that the people of Australia have more sense than the Opposition sometimes gives them credit for.
It is interesting to note that the firm of Hansen Rubensohn, which conducted the advertising campaign for Marrickville Margarine Pty. Ltd., also handles the Australian Labour Party’s advertising campaign in the State and Federal spheres. The firm has a very close association with the A.L.P. This is something to bear in mind. In a bulletin published in August last by Marrickville Holdings Ltd. the following statement appears -
The quotas could well prove a disaster for the health of the nation. The following statement was made recently by a leading medi~al authority -
This is delightful. It continues -
While Mr. Anthony and the representatives of the dairyfarmers’ organisations welcome the Privy Council’s decision in the case of Marrickville Margarine Pty. Ltd. as an important political ;victory, it could well prove a disaster for the health of the nation.
That statement does not appear to me to be a factual statement as far as the health of the nation is concerned. We did not claim that the Privy Council decision was a political victory. We did claim that it was a victory for that which was right. In this case the Opposition is saying, in effect, that if a man burgles a house and gets out into the street with the goods, he should go free because he has got away with it. Here the law has been broken. When in power, the Labour Party weakly, but occasionally, took action against Marrickville Margarine Pty. Ltd. Now the Opposition says that it does not matter if this company has broken the law; we should close our eyes and make legal the breaking of the law by these people. If any government were to follow such a policy it would be destroying completely the foundations of our system of law. The law has been broken. The court has given its decision. Taking all the factors into consideration, I say that some action must be taken against these people. The law must be upheld. I apologise to “ Hansard “ for speaking so quickly, but time is my enemy and I have a lot to say. We must face realities. The dairying industry supplies the necessaries of life and looks after the welfare of about 600,000 people. It provides industry an( assists progress and development in country areas. It is a great Austraiian industry and we must give it all the help we can.
Some comparison was made between the situation in New Zealand and that in Australia. The basic wage in New Zealand has not changed for about five years. It stood at the relevant time at $21 compared with the Australian wage of $37.80. It has been my privilege to live in country areas for many years before entering this distinguished Parliament. I know the farmers. I know the people in the dairying industry. I know of their efficiency. On the score of efficiency, the dairying industry compares more than favorably with any other Australian industry. In this case, attempts have been made to lay down a smoke screen in order to hide the facts about margarine. One cannot ignore the economic and social value of the dairying industry to Australia. The facts submitted by the dairying industry and by the Australian Dairy Produce Board are basic. The Board can readily support any statement that it has made. The truth is that margarine is available to consumers who need it. The recourse to histrionics by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) in his claim that people are not allowed to buy margarine was futile.
Marrickville Margarine Pty. Ltd. gave a research grant to a team of workers to conduct research into the cholesterol problem. The team included Professor Blackett, Dr. Mischael and Miss Joan Woodhill. The problem of cholesterol is one on which the most eminent medical authorities will not make dogmatic statements. Professor
Blackett claimed that there is some danger in eating butter. Dr. Mischael accompanied a promotion campaign launched by Marrickville Margarine Pty. Ltd. Miss Joan Woodhill said recently at New England University that there was not enough evidence to prove Professor Blackett’s claim. The honorable member for Watson is interjecting again. I suggest that he eat some butter and improve himself in more ways than one. What medical evidence have we on which to assert dogmatically that butter is dangerous? Eminent medical men. competent to express an opinion, have said that there is insufficient evidence to support such a claim. Let us face the reality of the situation. Our dairying industry is of vital importance to us in many ways - economically and socially. Let the Labour Party, if it wishes, say that the industry is of no value and that Labour would destroy it.
.- I have been reminded how surprising it is for a Christian gentleman, such as the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock), to support in this chamber an artificial restriction on the production of food in a world where perhaps one third of the people go to bed hungry every night. Even in Australia many people - young and old alike - are very short of food. I think the honorable member is in difficulties when he attempts to advance an argument for the restriction of food supplies in the world today. He spoke in favour of two proposals: First, the supreme virtue of the LiberalCountry Party Government, and secondly, the supreme virtue of butter. He was confident that the Government will win the next general election. He holds that butter is so far superior to any competing product that it is on a par with the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party, lt seems to me that a gentlman who takes this position and yet has to apologise to “ Hansard “ for speaking so fast is in a rather contradictory position.
If butter were so superior and if the Liberal and Country Parties were so superior and were sure to win the next elections, why does the honorable member for Lyne have to speak so fast in defence of his propositions? Why does his Party have to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on television programmes? Why does the Government’s supporters - members of the so called Democratic Labour Party - have to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on television programmes? Why do they have to tell lies about members of the Opposition, acacusing them of being traitors to this country? Why do they do these things when they are so sure they will win the next elections? Why is it necessary to restrict the production of margarine if butter is so superior? It seems to me that the honorable member’s position is somewhat contradictory in respect of both of his propositions. This is not surprising because the position of the Government Parties in this Parliament has for a number of years been fundamentally contradictory. I leave it to those who are not committed, through desire to remain in the House or for other reason, to supporting this Government, to reach their own conclusions about it. I want to speak about the viability of the Australian economy; that is to say, the ability of the economy to maintain full employment together with a high rate of economic growth. I think it can be said that it is theoretically possible to obtain both these conditions as the result of internal factors, but over the last 16 or 17 years we have not maintained full employment together with a high rate of economic growth. In fact, during that period the economy has shown a stop-go characteristic together with a very serious loss of gross national product in a number of years.
It is theoretically possible to maintain long term viability through internal conditions, but I suggest that it is not theoretically possible to maintain long term viability in Australia when we take into account external conditions. One has only to look at the balance of current account over recent years to see that a fundamental problem is revealed. The figures, which are available to us all, show a continuing increase in the balance of current account deficit year by year. The last two years for which we have complete figures are 1964-65, when the deficit was$818 million, and 1963-64, when it was $784 million. I emphasise that in two years the current account deficit totalled approximately $1,600 million. This serious position has existed only once before in Australia’s history. That was in the fatal year 1951-52. The size of our cur rent account deficit is staggering. The cost of servicing this debt by borrowing money to meet it is becoming significantly high as a result.
I have taken out some figures to show a comparison between the balance of property income payable overseas - not the whole cost but the balance payable overseas - and the value of exports, less the nett cost of invisibles. From the nett invisibles figure I have subtracted the balance of property income payable overseas in order to avoid taking it into account twice. This gives us the proportion which our balance of property income payable overseas bears to our export income. The proportions for the respective years were -
The proportion which the cost of servicing the debt bears to the adjusted export income has risen almost threefold over the period. This is a considerable increase in the amount that has to be found.
The other factor that has to be noted in assessing the long term weaknesses of the economy in this respect is the significant decline that is taking place in the percentage of our gross national product represented by our exports. In 1956-57, our exports represented 19 per cent, of our gross national product. In 1958-59, the figure fell to 15 per cent. In 1961-62, it rose to 181/2 per cent., but in 1963-64 fell back to 15.7 per cent. In 1964-65, it was 15.6 per cent., and in 1965-66 it was only 15.4 per cent. Despite very intensive campaigns to increase our exports, the proportion of our exports to our gross national product has shown a significant downward trend. Therefore, not only have we to meet an increasing cost of servicing our overseas debt, but our capacity to service that debt as represented by the proportion which our exports bear to our gross national product is diminishing.
This state of affairs can be offset only by increased borrowing overseas, so that we have a vast flow of foreign investment into Australia. This may be tolerable for a considerable time, but it brings with it at least three factors that have to be taken into account. As I have said, the cost of servicing our debt, that is, the balance of property income payable overseas, has been rising significantly, but it has to be remembered that a great deal of money is left in Australia by foreign investors and this can be withdrawn and taken overseas in time of crisis. Therefore, in addition to meeting the ever increasing burden of the cost of servicing our debt, we are faced with the possible withdrawal of a very considerable amount of money in any kind of financial crisis, and this exposes the economy to all sorts of pressures.
We have also to take into account the effect of foreign investment in Australia upon industrial relations. Industrial relations are in fact hardened as the result of foreign investment because very often company directors who live overseas take a harder line in industrial relations than they would take if they were living on the spot and could see for themselves the effects of industrial disputes on organised labour in industry. It is well known that attitudes in industrial relations have hardened considerably through the influence of foreign investment. Then we have the influence which foreign investment undoubtedly has on foreign policy decisions on occasions. This cannot be ignored. Therefore, the cost of servicing our debt by increasing foreign investment brings with it significant influences that may be of great disadvantage to Australia.
The practical problem underlying all this is the achievement of a high rate of economic growth with a minimum amount of foreign capital obligation. Surely everyone will agree that it is sensible to try to achieve a high rate of economic growth with a minimum of overseas foreign capital obligation, but it seems to me that there are people on the other side of the chamber who are prepared to maximise the inflow of capital,’ or who are unconcerned with it. I think it offers some attractions for people who are in or associated with the business of foreign investment. It would seem that there are psychological advantages for some people to feel that the country is getting a greater inflow of foreign capital than would otherwise be the case. These things spell weakness for the economy as a whole and as I see the problem, the first task of any government with a sense of national responsibility is to achieve a high rate of economic growth with the minimum of foreign capital obligation that can be undertaken.
How can this be done? That is the paramount question. First of all, I suggest it is possible to achieve this state of affairs by improving our terms of trade. To improve our terms of trade, we must improve the productivity of our exporting industries in relation to the productivity of the industries of those countries from which we import goods. Productivity depends on technical development, and I shall have something to say about that shortly. The second task is to change the balance of relative monopolisation. At the present time, our primary industries are more competitive with imports than are our manufacturing industries. For a number of years now the Australian Labour Party has emphasised the need to deal with the monopolistic practices of wool buyers in this country. This urgent need has been largely ignored by the Government over the years, but this is one way to reduce our dependence upon foreign capital.
Another way is to reduce the percentage which our imports represent of our gross national product - import replacement. This is not attempted deliberately enough. We have to plan in such a way as to use our resources to meet certain priorities in national requirements. Over the years, this Government has refused even to consider the establishment of any kind of advisory body such as the one recommended in the Vernon Committee’s report. This Government wants to live in this world on an unplanned economy, lt will not come to the stage of development achieved by almost all the western countries to which it looks for leadership in all other things, lt will not see that in every western country today there is some sort of overall plan to establish recognised national priorities. No such attempt has been made in Australia. I repeat that this would be still another way of reducing our dependence upon foreign capital and increasing our long term viability. A third way is to increase exports of both our primary products and our manufactured goods. Here I would say the possibilities are not just by export promotion but by entering into new markets. We live on the edge of Asia and Asia is going to be the place where increased Australian exports will be sold. Standards of living are going to rise with the changes that are taking place in Asia, and this probably is the most important long term hope for an expansion of our trade there. These are factors that are normally considered, but a fourth one that I want to mention is the significance of invisibles. These have risen to very high figures and are increasing as a proportion of the gross national product and of import earnings. The invisibles are the cost of insurance and of freight.
The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) the other day was able to point out that as a result of a conference with overseas shippers he expects some considerable progress to be made by those shippers in the kind of vessels they will use in overseas trade. They will achieve this with the help of insurers and of bankers. Obviously not enough insurance is being done by Australian insurance concerns. Obviously not enough is being done by Australian banks to finance exports from Australia. If the Government wants to proceed further in the development of public enterprise in these fields at least it could do something with insurance and with banking, as presumably insurance and banking have done all right with the shipping industry. But, of course, we need public competition in these monopolised fields. They will not do nearly enough unless they are required to do it by competition, and the Commonwealth is in a position to enter this field competitively with these private monopolised concerns.
Much can be done to increase the long term viability of the Australian economy, but this requires a positive understanding of the economy and the development of the new institutions and new practices that are necessary to meet our needs. Australia has not reached the end of her historical development. She is at the beginning of it in many respects. However, the Government assumes, as did the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) who preceded me, that everything that is being done by the Government is perfect and that it cannot possibly lose the coming election.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Drury). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I rise to discuss briefly the margarine myth that has been spread throughout most media in Australia in the past few weeks. I feel that I should do this rather than shelter behind the Australian Country Party umbrella, because among other things I happen to be the Australian President of a little body called the Australian Jersey Herds Society. To acquaint honorable members with the remarkable properties of Jersey cattle I assure them that Jerseys are the producers of the milk from which butter is most economically made. I feel I must hasten to join in this debate for many reasons, including that of loyalty to the breeders whose organisation I represent. Furthermore, I suggest that the argument I put forward is not as coloured as the margarine that is coloured to imitate a well known foodstuff. While discussing colour, or perhaps I should say discolour, I would ask the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) where Marrickville is, because I am not quite sure. I do not know what colours the honorable member’s attitude when he debates this subject, but I assume I am right in believing that Marrickville is within the boundaries of the electorate of Grayndler.
I think it pays us to look at one or two opinions that have been expressed on this subject. One of the tragedies of this debate has been that although a lot of sensible things have been said from both sides of the House, and some good points have been made, the position has been clouded by a lot of very stupid contentions. 1 do not know whether we ought to consider the question of vested interests. I feel this is rather overlooked. My information, for instance, is that the controlling body of Marrickville Holdings Ltd. took over this industry by, to say the least, very questionable means. I think we could go a little further. I point out that its attitude for some time has been in violation of the law. One can also blame State Governments for not sticking to the margarine quotas that have been set by the Agricultural Council, and I speak as a former State member of parliament. This has made a farce of the quota system which has been established and properly controlled in some States by legislative action. Frankly, the question of quotas is not one for discussion or decision at this level. 1 can remember full scale debates on this topic in past years and I have no doubt my former State parliamentary colleagues would be rather amused to think that the question of quotas is being discussed seriously at this level in this Parliament.
However, I wish “to move on to discuss one or two opinions that are worth considering. They are from reputable people. First, I should like to quote Professor McMillan. He has a trained mind and is a specialist. He questions the future continuity of supply of safflower vegetable oil. He does so on several grounds. First, he says there is no likelihood in the future of reasonably assured supplies of this oil.
– Mrs. Jones has a different opinion.
– I do not believe she has an opinion at all: She is being used. Professor McMillan says that an assurance of a supply of edible oil from the safflower crop is not likely to be of help to the margarine industry because safflower suffers from two big debilities. First, it does not like wet feet; it gets foot rot. Secondly, it has not even a rough immunity to semidrought conditions, a factor that J suspect the honorable member for Grayndler, if his figures are up to date, will realise has occurred recently. If we examine the demand for vegetable oil in Australia we will find - and I am quoting from memory, because I. did not think I would be discussing this matter tonight - that it is 9.75 million gallons a year. This is required by many industries, including paint manufacturers. But what is the position today? The latest figures I have been able to get indicate that the industry succeeds in supplying 2.1 million gallons of edible oil annually. I do not know whether any other honorable member has more up to date information than this, but those figures prove - and the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) made this point excellently last week - that it does not matter whether we limit the production of margarine by way of quotas, the Australian oil seeds industry would have to increase its volume of production by four and a half times before it reached the quota used in the production of margarine. This seems to me to be common sense. We can look at this in another way. Even if the oil seeds industry could meet the demand of other industries, in their many forms, the experience in other nations with poly-unsaturated margarine suggests that the margarine manufacturers would not in all likelihood take much more oil from the safflower industry than they are taking today.
Let us look at the position of Marrickville at present. As honorable members will know, Marrickville has been producing margarine outside the legal quota set for it. How much safflower oil are margarine manufacturers using at present? It will bc found that contrary to the accepted law, in South Australia, for example, manufacturers are using as much lard - animal fat - as vegetable oil in table margarine. I know that in South Australia that contravenes the State regulations. Table margarine should not contain fat of animal origin. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) is now interjecting. He was reared on butter, from the look of him. If he had been reared on an artificially produced commodity I am sure he would not be so virile in debate as I trust he is in many other spheres.
I should like to mention not only Professor McMillan but also Professor Blackett. This is interesting because Professor Blackett, Dr. Michel and a Miss Jane Woodhouse were given a grant by the Marrickville Margarine Company to develop a case. These are trained scientists with a certain amount of intellectual honesty, I imagine. I would be forgiven for supposing this, I should think. They received a grant to develop this story of high blood cholesterol level in saturated fats. In the meantime two of these people, I think in particular Professor Blackett, with a won.derful display of academic honesty, having been given a grant to look into this question, has gone about the countryside of Australia pointing out that in his finding saturated fats could produce, in certain conditions, a high blood cholesterol level and that he was quite satisfied that a case was proven against, shall we say, the butter industry by inference.
The interesting thing about the third member of this group, Miss Woodhouse, is that she also, in a much more quiet and I trust feminine way, has gone about the countryside pointing out that never at any stage in her work with her two colleagues were these conclusions reached as a matter of academic honesty. Here is one member of a group of three who categorically denies the grounds on which some of her colleagues are peddling this information about the countryside - after they have been well recompensed for their original work of such academic honesty, and by whom? By the Marrickville Margarine Company. 1 push this aspect into the arena because this is a matter which we must consider in weighing evidence. I would certainly not distrust Miss Jane Woodhouse any more than I would a male scientist. I should think her academic honesty would be of just as high a level and of just as high repute.
In this matter they have succeeded, by very careful advertising, in introducing a fear complex into people who wish to be reared on butter. I believe that this has been done very craftily. Frankly I do not like to see big business entering the arena of mass media by way of promotion or by way of advertising when there is some questionable degree of academic honesty from the scientists they have employed. I say again that this is evidenced by the fact that there is disagreement between the team of three scientists. I believe that we must question whether we are not allowing too great a degree of fear to enter into the selling of goods. How far can a vested interest go in these matters while still retaining some vestige of honesty?
The President of the Australian Jersey Herds Society before I took office was a very important man called Dr. Pearson from Perth. He has patrolled the countryside, including New Zealand. At a world conference of jersey breeders recently he pointed out that in his medical opinion he was critical of the policy of this mounting campaign which pinned doubt to a com modity which has been a worthwhile ingredient of our physical makeup from time immemorial. The other day we heard a very good answer from the Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes) to a question relating to the same topic. I consider that the Minister’s answer was objective and fair. As a representative of the dairy industry I suppose it would bc inferred that I could not glean the right emphasis from what he said. Let us go a little further and consider the subsidy to the dairy industry. This subsidy has remained at the one level for a period of some years. No doubt some of our colleagues on the other side of the party fence think that this is favouritism for one industry. If this is their belief they should look at the subsidy paid to many other competitors in this field. For example, I ask them to consider the tariff protection which, quite properly, has enabled industry to expand throughout Australia, particularly in the last two decades. This was not done by leaving it to the law of supply and demand; it was dons through act of Parliament, with proper responsibility and proper objective thinking to achieve a purpose. The dairy industry subsidy has been at the level that it is now for some years, despite a vastly increased production. Obviously, from the point of view of those who think that the industry is overprotected. we are working our way out of our problem.
If we consider the competitors with butter at the present time, as we are debating this question we should consider the peanut oil industry which is subsidised about five times as much as the dairying industry. Let us consider also the cotton seed industry. Certainly the subsidy has decreased as production has increased, but in effect it is still subsidised to the extent of about 40 per cent. The same can be said of all the competitors. The dairy industry is averaging a subsidy of about 14 per cent. My only reason for debating this matter tonight is that I believe one could become very emotional and, if we do not watch out, very affected by some of the advertising and wildly erratic remarks which have been made. My view is that the margarine question is not of great moment in Australia. We must keep a balance between our primary industries and our secondary industries. It is right that we should do this and I do not believe that much of a problem exists.I support the remarks of the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon).
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Drury). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- We have just witnessed what probably could be described as the phenomenon of an angas defending the jerseys. I commend the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Giles) on the calm manner in which he dealt with this matter. I believe that some of the propaganda to which honorable members and the public generally have been subjected has resulted from placing great emphasis on free enterprise and freedom to carry on business as one would wish. Perhaps this is a rebound of some of the Government’s own propaganda in this regard. The Australian Labour Party has always recognised that there are times when there is a need to impose restrictions for the benefit of the majority of the people. We have never denied this. We do not claim that in a free enterprise there is a free go for everyone who wants to transact business. We believe that there are times when restrictions are necessary. This, apparently, is an occasion when it has been necessary to imposea quota on the manufacture of table margarine. It is necessary that people realise that it is table margarine only to which the quota applies. There is a certain freedom of choice. Frankly, table margarine has never appeared on my table. However, proprietors of country stores have told me that quite an amount is sold in country areas. I presume some of the consumers would be dairy farmers. I am not a medical man and I will not quote any medical authorities because I do not think I could convince anyone on this. It is a matter of choice, and people may have a good reason for eating margarine. I understand the Services purchase large quantities of margarine because of its non-melting qualities. It is supplied in packs to troops on exercises and in action and it is used widely. The use of margarine is also common in many of our State prisons and institutions but this may be because the person in charge or the caterer is working to a budget or else is acting on the advice of the medical superintendent. In any case, it is a matter of choice whether a person wants to eat margarine or butter.
I point out that those people who say: “ There must be free enterprise and we support free enterprise “. in this instance are recognising the need for restriction, as the Labour Party does. I do not want to waste a great deal of time on this because the honorable member for Angas has pointed out that it is a State responsibility to enforce the quota. When a Labour government was in office in New South Wales honorable members opposite were very quick to point this out and to lay the blame for what was happening in that State on the Labour Government. Quite some time has elapsed since that Government was defeated but the position remains unaltered. Let me refer to a point which was raised by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann). I do not think he displayed very high ethics in having his name and photograph on an advertising pamphlet.
– It was a crook photograph.
– I thought it was a very good photograph. He may be able to use it for electioneering purposes. I conclude this section of my remarks by reciting a jingle which is not my own. I believe that full credit should be given to its author, Mr. Lebnstant, who won a prize for it at a recent dairy festival. It goes like this -
Substitutes will let you down Quicker than a strapless gown, Stick to butter, milk and cheese, Dairy goods you know will please.
– Why not sing it?
– I do not sing too well. That is one of my wife’s qualities, not one of mine. The other matter I wish to raise relates to the sugar industry. At question time today I asked the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) a question as to whether the funds to be made available by the Commonwealth to the sugar industry in Queensland were to be passed on in the form of a loan to the growers by the Queensland Sugar Board or whether they would be used by the Sugar Board to bolster the price being paid to the growers for the No. 1 pool sugar. I understood from his reply that this money was to be made available to the growers to supplement the price they are at present receiving for their sugar and that they were not obliged to repay it. I have since received information which does not seem to agree with my understanding of the Minister’s reply. I do not know whether I am mistaken. I am not claiming that the Minister would give false information. Perhaps my interpretation of what he said is faulty.
In any case, I want to make the point that if the money which is being given to the canegrowers has to be repaid they will be much worse off than they are now. I think the Minister for Primary Industry is well aware of the position of cane growers even in his own electorate. Most of them are hanging on, hoping for some relief. One mill manager has told me that no sugar will be crushed in his mill in excess of the No. 1 pool because the mill cannot afford to crush it at its present price. This means that sugar will be left in the field. I point out that in the Maryborough mill district there are no new growers in the industry. The only expansion that has taken place has been an expansion of the existing growers’ assignments. These are established growers, many of whom had smaller assignments previously.
There has been some talk amongst these men in the past two weeks of refusing to supply cane. The wiser and more stable members of the cane growers organisation have not encouraged this talk. I mention it only as an indication of the feeling of these people on the question of whether they should work and get nothing or give the whole thing away and take a job. If a further burden is to be placed upon the cane growers, even if they are given 3£ years grace before being required to commence repaying the loan, it will be only adding to their troubles. I would appreciate an explanation from the Minister on this point.
.- I did not intend to enter the debate but the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) and, by way of interjection, the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) asked me where I stood on the question of margarine versus butter. I represent a dairying constituency and I want to make it perfectly clear that I support wholeheartedly the dairy industry in Australia. Some 600,000 people in the industry are dependent on it for a living. Allied to those are many other people who look to it for a livelihood. I support wholeheartedly these people in their struggle for a living.
However, as I said during the Budget debate, what worries me very seriously is the fact that this Government, after having been in office since 1949, has done nothing to solve the problems confronting the dairy industry. Yet we heard these hypocritical people in the Country Party corner stand in their places tonight and support the dairy industry despite the fact that they have done nothing to support it in the many years this Government has been in office. The interim payment for butter for this year 1966 is 39c per lb. Last year it was 40c per lb., so the interim payment is lc lower this year than it was last year.
Twelve years ago, in 1954, the interim payment for butter was 4s. 6d per lb. or, converted to decimal currency, 45c. When we remember that the interim payment 12 years ago was 45c per lb. compared with this year’s interim payment of 39c, and when we bear in mind the tremendous increases which have taken place in the costs of production, in the price of machinery and in all the things that are associated with the dairy industry - costs which the dairy farmers have not been able to pass on - we must come to the conclusion that this Government and its supporters who pride themselves on being the defenders of the dairy industry are talking absolute poppycock. They have done nothing in all the years they have been in power to support it. I should remind the Committee of another significant fact. The drift from the farms since this Government has been in office indicates its lack of support for and lack of interest in this vital industry.
I was very interested to hear what you had to say. Mr. Chairman, when you made your speech on these estimates but your claims are not borne out by the facts. In the State I represent we have a dairy season which lasts for at least eleven months of the year and we have difficulty in drying cows off to give them a spell for the last month of the year. We have a tremendous dairy industry of great potential, but because prices have been so low and the farmers have not been able to keep up with the cost of production, 50 per cent, of the farmers in Tasmania have left the land in the last 15 years. In the last 10 years, the percentage of people who have left the land in Tasmania has been no less than 25.
I find on going through industries in my area, such as Australian Titan Products Pty. Ltd. and Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd., that farmers are working there. They have had to take part time jobs in industry to supplement their farm incomes. If they did not do this, they would not be able to meet their farm expenses and the commitments they are obliged to meet in the upkeep of their properties. This is getting back to the situation that existed in the days before Labour took office. When Labour formed the Government, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) introduced the first dairy industry stabilisation plan. Before this, it was sweat and labour for the people on the land. We are now getting back to those conditions. Today, the mother and the children are compelled to help the father and the father is compelled to go out to work in industry in order to supplement his farm income and so meet his farm commitments. Tonight we heard the members of the Australian Country Party, who sit in the corner here, say that they represent the dairy industry and the farming community. These are the people who stand up and say: “ We are the saviours of the people on the land “. But as I said when I commenced to speak, the interim payment for butter fat now is lc less than it was in 1965 and far below the rate of 45c in 1954.
I had hoped to be able to defer my remarks until we were debating war service land settlement, when the inevitable bill is introduced into the Parliament to authorise a loan for this purpose. But I am afraid that I must mention these facts. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), who is at the table now, is in charge of war service land settlement. He is the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party. But the Government represents private enterprise. I know that the Minister for Primary Industry was saddled with the failings of the war service land settlement scheme when he was given his portfolio. But what a dismal failure the scheme has been. I refer to the dairy farms that were established under the scheme and have been mentioned tonight in the controversy between butter and margarine. We should look back to the concessions that were offered to the settlers in 1959 and to the proposals in 1965. Today, more than 30 farms are vacant on King Island. This is the position after 12 months of haggling and 12 months of humbug. We were promised that these farms would be subdivided and added to existing farms to strengthen them so that the farmers on King Island would have an economic holding and would be able to make a living for themselves and their families. Those who remain on King Island would then be able to meet their commitments and pay their way. When I realise that war service land settlement is controlled by the Minister for Primary Industry, who is a member of the Australian Country Party, I just cannot have any faith in the arguments propounded tonight by members of that Party.
In the post-war period, we have had as many as 160 farmers on King Island. Now we have just over 100. The turnover of farms has been tremendous. Today more than 30 farms are vacant. This shows the lack of faith in the Government and in the proposals that have been advanced for these people. I pay tribute to the Minister for Primary Industry; he has been to King Island twice. But the scheme on King Island has been developed on the wrong basis. Country Party members would have us believe that they are the saviours of the dairy farmers; but they have left the people on King Island in the lurch. As I said, I did not intend to speak tonight. I intended to save my remarks until the loan bill relating to war service land settlement was before us. But I am very concerned. Evictions from war service land settlement properties on King Island and at Mawbanna are pending. Four out of the eight people at Mawbanna have been advised that, if they do not meet their commitments, action will be taken against them. On King Island, many settlers are threatened with eviction. What a shocking state this is. The Government should not allow this to develop. But people seem to regard these properties as peasant plots.
If these farmers sign over control of their farms, they are placed on a living wage of £26 a week on King Island and £20 a week on the mainland. After many years of handling their own finances, they are now expected to meet their living expenses, health, education and other expenses on this wage. But we find that people write to the newspapers and say: “ Why hand over these vacant farms on King Island to people who do not have any war service? “ Somebody wrote to a newspaper and said that the farms should be saved for the young soldiers coming home from Vietnam. Another person wrote to the newspaper and said that ex-servicemen from Vietnam would not be interested in the peasant plots. How can anyone on King Island, or anywhere else for that matter, be expected to live on £26 a week after having handled their own finances for many years? Out of this amount they must pay their living expenses and their health, education and other expenses. This is a serious problem. People on the Tasmanian mainland do not have the expenses usually associated with an island community and their allowance is only fi, 040 a year. The Minister for Primary Industry and the other members of the Australian Country Party profess to represent the rural areas. After having handled the finances from their own farms for 10 or 15 years, would they like to be put on an income of £26 a week or £20 a week?
The problem about which I have spoken is a blot on the Government’s record. I realise that the Minister for Primary Industry has done what he can, but I think this problem is the result of divided control. I will have more to say on this subject when the bill relating to war service land settlement is before us. I ask the Minister in the meantime to look at the provisions of the legislation and decide whether the action taken with the people on the war service properties is legal. He should decide whether it is legal to put these people, who are said to be on peasant plots, under control. This question was raised about 12 months ago. These men have had war service. Is it legal to treat them in this way? An ex-serviceman, who produced 17,000 tb. of butter fat a year when the standard production on King Island was raised to 12,000 ib., died bankrupt. How is it that a young man with a young family and with no excess costs relating to other people can die broke in a country like this when he produced 17,000 Ib. of butter fat while the standard was only 12,000 lb.? This is a matter that requires the most careful consideration.
In my speech on the Budget, Mr. Chairman, I discussed the position of the apple and pear growers in Tasmania and asked the Government to consider again the question of an advance to the growers in Tasmania for the 1967 crop. As I indicated in that speech, it costs at least $4 to present a box of apples on the markets in England and on the Continent. Tha freight rate is $1.90 a box - almost 50 per cent, of the cost of presentation. Unless the growers in Tasmania receive a satisfactory agreed price next year and some freight concession, the Tasmanian industry will be in a very difficult position. This is a very important industry. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) pointed out earlier this evening that it involves many people in Tasmania.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Chairman, quite a number of matters have been raised in this debate. Most of them seem to concern the Department of Primary Industry, which I administer. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies) and the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) mentioned particularly the apple and pear industry. We know the history of what happened during the last season. There was a combination of circumstances that made the situation difficult for the industry. The honorable member for Bendigo mentioned the United Kingdom shipping strike, which had a considerable bearing on fruit shipments. There were also seasonal circumstances that delayed the maturing of the apple crop to such a degree that all the earlier shipping scheduled to move the crop had to leave port without it. This caused a delay in shipment of fruit to markets. Had it not been for this, shipment would not have had to be so rushed and the crop would probably have reached the markets before the shipping strike began. The combination of late deliveries of fruit because of late maturity, the shipping strike, increased competition from South Africa and accumulated stocks detrimentally affected the market. As we all can readily understand, such a combination of circumstances will probably not recur.
No-one would say that we ought to abandon, the industry. I appreciate the difficulties caused by the 10 per cent, increase in freights. The honorable members concerned may be glad to know that the Australian Apple and Pear Board is sending a delegation to London in October to review the market and the transport arrangements. On the return of the delegation, I shall be happy to discuss the whole matter with its members in order to see what recommendations I can make to the Government. The representatives of the Board who will make up the delegation are directly associated with the industry, which they know thoroughly. They have had considerable experience and they are well aware of the difficulties through which the industry has passed this year. They will report on their return. I think that we must leave the matter there for the moment.
– When will they come back?
– They will need to return reasonably expeditiously so that whatever action is necessary can be taken before the harvesting of the next crop. I am sure they will not delay their return.
The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Armstrong) made what I thought was a miscalculation when discussing the sale of our butter on the United Kingdom market. I just want to state the correct figures. He said that about 90 per cent, of our butter exports go to the United Kingdom market. I have made a calculation on the figures that are available to me. As everybody knows, we have a quota in the United Kingdom market of 66,700 tons. We export approximately 92,000 tons. So about 73 per cent, of our exports of butter go to the United Kingdom. In the last year or two we have diversified our markets and have increased from about 10 per cent, to about 27 per cent, the proportion of our butter exports that goes to markets other than the United Kingdom.
The honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) and the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen) discussed the sugar industry. The honorable member for Dawson seems a little disappointed, I think, because this Government is out to help the industry. I cannot follow the reasoning behind his remarks about the two organisations that represent the industry. He knows, as does everybody else, that the negotiations in which any responsible Minister would engage would be entered into with the executive members of the organisations concerned. The Queensland Government and the Commonwealth Government have dealt with the executive members of the two organisations that represent the sugar industry. I was in Mackay on the Friday when the matter raised by the honorable member for Dawson was being considered. I addressed a public meeting there and I discussed the matter privately with the President and the Secretary of the Australian Sugar Producers Association Ltd. and the President of the Queensland Cane Growers Council. In effect, the honorable member is attacking executives of those organisations and saying that they have not the support of the rank and file members. That is the effect of what he said tonight. That is a charge for the executive members of the organisations to answer. On this occasion, they made representations to the Government officially as has been done over all the years. Obviously, the Government had to accept those representations as coming through the executive members officially from the organisations. That is the situation.
I turn now to the question of the help that this Government has given the sugar industry. We have helped it in a major way in response to a request that came through the Queensland Government from the industry to the Commonwealth Government. The terms of the request may have varied slightly in some respects, but in general the request was for a loan to be repayable over a period. The individual producers will receive the moneys advanced. All of the funds will go to the producers. That is the whole purpose of the assistance. The honorable member for Wide Bay rightly asks whether the individual producers will have to pay the money back. They will not as individuals. It will represent part of their annual pay. The purpose of the assistance is to build up the returns to producers to about $86.58 a ton of sugar. That is the basis upon which calculations are made in the same way that the return that they received last year was computed. When the producer receives his pay, the money is his. The industry as a whole will accept responsibility for repayment of the loan when repayments begin in 1970-71. If it is not able to repay the money, the Queensland Government will repay it, and has given the Commonwealth a guarantee to that effect. There is an understanding that if necessary the Commonwealth Government will take into account the circumstances existing at the time.
The Commonwealth has made a considerable contribution to assist the sugar industry. It has made available a loan of §19 million, free of interest until 1970-71, to help bring the industry through this period of calamity, if. we may so describe ii. The provision that no repayments shall be made until 1970-71 represents a noteworthy contribution by this Government No interest will be charged until 1970-71 and repayments will not begin until then. I can assure the honorable member for Wide Bay that the individual producer will receive his pay- The loan is to be used to build up the pay of the individual producer in the hope of maintaining returns to producers at least at the level of last year, unless prices fall lower ever than they are today. And heaven knows, they are bad enough. I think that those who have some knowledge of the sugar industry know that the present Sugar Agreement expires on 31st August next. Obviously the industry, the State and Commonwealth Governments will be negotiating between now and next June and the whole position of the industry with regard to overseas markets and other things will be considered in those discussions. The recommendations from the industry will be sympathetically considered. In the past we have always accepted them, wherever practicable. Whether there is to be some form of agreement other than that which we have had in the past is a matter for the future. Whether it is to be a form of stabilisation that will be submitted 1 do not know, but whatever it is it will be considered. The industry has always worked, as we know, on the assignment system, with peaks allotted for the year and so on. If the industry and the two bodies working together come forward with a general submission through the Queensland Government to us we will, of course, look at that, and we will need to look at it in relation to the movements in overseas markets between now and then.
The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) interested me greatly tonight, as did the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Devine) the other night. It is quite interesting to hear these honorable members attacking the Government on margarine quotas. The Commonwealth Government has not fixed a margarine quota. I remind the honorable members that the quotas on margarine have been fixed by State Governments. The quota in New South Wales was fixed by the State Labour Government. The court action taken against the Marrickville company was initiated by the State Labour Government. We just cannot follow the honorable members. Of course the honorable member for Wide Bay and the honorable member for Braddon disagree entirely with the honorable members for Grayndler and East Sydney. They would not go out and say in the country districts the things that have been said in this Parliament by the honorable member tor Grayndler and the honorable member for East Sydney. The quotas imposed on margarine manufacture are imposed by the six State Governments, and at the moment two of those are Labour Governments. There is an understanding between all the Governments that if there is any intention to alter the quotas the Government having such an intention will, as an act of courtesy, advise the Agricultural Council. As Chairman of that body I have had no advice of any intention to alter the quotas. Honorable members know the political complexion of the various State Governments, and the fact is that not one of them has suggested that there should be an alteration.
It has been stated in the Press that there will be a special meeting of the Agricultural Council for the purpose of discussing quotas. As Chairman of that Council I have not been asked for a special meeting and I say quite frankly that I do not desire one. But we have discussed the matter quite frankly. 1 think I have been remarkably silent on this whole matter. As Chairman of the Agricultural Council I do not think that while the matter is sub judice it is my function or right or purpose to enter into the controversy. I have merely corrected some action taken by the company which I thought was not in the best interests of the game.
– It is shocking what the Marrickville company has done.
– I think it is. But I do want to correct certain misstatements and I have some figures provided by my Department. When the honorable member for
Grayndler says that 100 per cent. Australian products are being used in the manufacture of margarine he surely knows that this is not true. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Giles), speaking from memory, was very near the mark. The total market is 9.35 million gallons and the Australian production is 2.1 million gallons of all oils. So there is plenty of room for the Australian oil industry to expand. But I hope that when these margarine companies or any other users of oils encourage the growers to expand they will pay a reasonable price for the product. I hope they will not seek to pay prices such as those they pay for oil in overseas countries. Let them encourage the oil industry to expand, but let them stick to an Australian price basis; they are not prepared to contract on such a basis; they are not prepared to buy at such a price. They are getting a lot of oil in at concessional rates of duty. This, I think, is good Government policy. It is good policy to assist these industries in that way because it helps to keep the price down and to keep the cost of living down.
I did think the honorable member for Angas made one mistake when he referred to the peanut industry being subsidised for its oil at $10 a ton or something like that. Let me say quite candidly and emphatically that the peanut industry has never been subsidised to the extent of one penny on edible or oil peanuts - not one penny.
– Now you have cracked the nut, Charlie.
– Yes. I am still the colonel of the nuts, you know. But I am not going to enter any further into this controversy, other than to correct the misstatement that has been made and to show that there is ample room for the expansion of the oil industry. As a Queenslander I know that most of these products are grown in Queensland and I am prepared to go and discuss this matter with the industries concerned at any time. I have had no complaint in this regard because the people in the industry know that there is room for expansion. Even taking into account the increased cotton production this year, which is included in the figures I have given to the Committee, there is still room for expansion to the extent of approximately 75 per cent. in the oil industries. So do not let it be said that all the margarine produced in Australia is made from Australian products. It is not.
Secondly, I do not know of any shortage of margarine anywhere. I have never known of anybody being unable to buy a pound of margarine if he wanted it. There is no quota on margarine other than table margarine, as the honorable member for Wide Bay has said. The quotas are on table margarine. They are fixed by the State Governments and at the moment two of those are Labour Governments. Neither of those and not one of the other four has asked for any reconsideration. If they do the matter will be discussed at the Agricultural Council meeting to be held in February. We meet at least twice a year but I as Chairman have not been asked for a special meeting.
– This is the best speech the Minister has ever made.
– I am interested in what the honorable member for EdenMonaro thinks, having regard to all the dairymen in his electorate. Does he agree with the quota system or is he opposed to it?
– I am thoroughly in agreement with the point of view you have put.
– I am glad to hear it.
– I thought everybody knew it. I have made it plain everywhere.
– I want to say only one other thing. It concerns war service land settlement. I was a little surprised at the attitude of the honorable member for Braddon. He was fair enough to say that I had inherited this, but after all this Government is rather proud of its record in war service land settlement and of the vast amount of money we have contributed in this direction. There are millions of acres of land in the various States that would otherwise not have been under production and are now in very good production, assisting the economy of this country. The honorable member referred to King Island. Very soon after I became Minister for Primary Industry in 1958 I visited King Island to ascertain the difficulties there. I assessed the position as being partly due to the hurry of some of the settlers to get on to the land before it was fully developed. It was evident that a lot of the farms were not sufficiently developed. Because of this I ordered a redevelopment scheme. It cost the Government about SI -3 million to bring all of these farms up to the stage of development which the farmers were entitled lo have. Does the honorable member for Braddon deny that?
– I gave the Minister credit for that.
– We appreciated the difficulties that King Island had which other settlements did not have. There was excessive undergrowth and also an excess of depreciation costs. What did wc do then? We assessed the position and farmers were given a minimum quota of 12,000 lb. of butter fat a year whereas on all the other soldier settlements the farmers were working on a basis of 10,000 lb. We calculated that the income from this amount would enable the farmers on King Island lo live and pay back their commitments.
After our assessment of the position we proceeded to write off £800. or §1.600. of the accumulated debts of every settler on the island, and we asked the settlers to meet representatives of the Federal and Tasmanian Governments so that an assessment could be made, lt might interest honorable members to know that some of those who had met all their commitments received a cheque from the Commonwealth Government as a consequence. Is not that playing fair? There was then a deputation to me, and the only people for whom it was advocating were the few settlers who had refused to meet the representatives of the joint governments even to discuss their position or make satisfactory arrangements for the payment of arrears that were due. Let anyone who wants to lay a charge of unsympathetic action against this Government, or even against the Tasmanian Government, have another look at this matter. We have been more than generous, and it has cost the Government an extra $1.73 million to help those folk on King Island alone. I have no apology to make so far as King Island is concerned. The Government has been more than sympathetic and I am not afraid to stand here and defend our treatment of soldier settlers under my jurisdiction. lt is not right for anyone to say that we have not played the game with them. We are very proud of the Government’s record in this field.
.- We have just witnessed the really amazing spectacle of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), who is an advocate of free enterprise, advocating a restriction of competition by legislation. This is one of those magnificent trapeze acts for which the Country Party is notable. 1 congratulate the Minister tonight. Without a smile he revealed that while he preaches the gospel of free enterprise, and although he entered this Parliament on a policy of removal of restrictions, he still favours restrictions although he is a free enterprise man. He pointed out that this Parliament does not fix quotas for margarine, but there are in this place a lot of good defenders of the policy of fixing quotas and it is obvious that if quotas are going to be fixed the Minister will lead the way.
I should like to remind the Minister that there are some people on his side with different opinions. The honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) was hardly complimentary a few years ago when this question was raised, and he is a real liberal in the sense of knowing what consumers and the public want. He does not take the narrowminded approach to things that the Minister and members of the Country Party take. I congratulate the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies) and the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser). They are in this Parliament because the dairy farmers know that they stand for the things that dairymen want - a good return for their labour, a market for their products and better conditions ali round. The people in the electorates of Braddon and Eden-Monaro know that what their members said tonight was the truth. The only Party that has done anything for the dairy farmers is the Australian Labour Party. The dairy farmers would all be bankrupt today if it were not for the legislation whose basis was laid by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and endeavoured to be given effect by the two honorable members and other Labour representatives to whom I have refered
I now allude to a matter that was raised earlier tonight. I should like the Minister to tell me something. Allied Mills Ltd. is a holding company of flour millers, margarine manufacturers, bakers and stock feed manufacturers, lt controls about 40 companies including Mowbray Pty. Ltd., Meadow-Lea Margarine (W.A.) Co. Pty. Ltd., Daffodil Food Products Pty. Ltd., and as I say about 40 other companies. Allied Mills Ltd. has an interlocking directorate with Meggitt Ltd. They control 54 per cent, of the margarine quota in New South Wales and one of their leading directors is a member of the federal executive of the Country Party, who is sponsoring this policy of restriction of this product, because he has a monopoly and quota control which enables him to give benefits to his company at the expense of 3,000 employees in another industry. And members of the Country Party tell me about ethics. The Country Party says it does not want margarine quotas to be extended, but here is a Country Party member controlling 40 food companies, which at this stage are prospering because of this monopoly quota control given to them. If members of the Country Party have any principles of free enterprise and believe in the right of people to choose the food they want, how does one of their leading members, a former M.L.C., a man recognised by the Queen, stay iri the Party and support a quota of production in his own interests with the blessing of the Minister and Liberal-Country Party Governments?
I now want to read a letter that the Minister tonight was afraid to let me incorporate in “ Hansard “. The other night a vile charge was made against a Marrickville margarine company. All kinds of charges were made under the privilege of Parliament. Tonight I want to read the reply of the managing director of the company to those charges that have received widespread publicity. I will read the letter out in full because I was not allowed to incorporate it in “ Hansard “. I think I should do so in fairness to the company concerned. The statement is by Mr. R. C. Crebbin, Chairman and Managing Director of Marrickville Holdings Ltd., in reply to Mr. P. Nixon, M.H.R. It reads -
Mr. Nixon’s speech in Parliament on Wednesday night attacking my company from behind the refuge of parliamentary privilege contained many statements which are false.
I challenge Mr. Nixon to come out into the open in fair argument and repeat his statements outside Parliament.
In his speech Mr. Nixon gave not one tittle of consideration to the consumers of Australia who have shown by an overwhelming majority of 76.6 per cent, in a recent authoritative Gallup Poll, conducted by Roy Morgan Opinion foils, that they want table margarine to be free of all quota controls.
My company has said over and over again that we stand for the principle that only margarines made of all-Australian raw materials should be free of quota controls.
Does this free enterprise Government quibble at that? He continues -
The dairy industry itself admitted to the Dairy Industry Inquiry Committee in 1960 that if margarine were a wholly Australian product they could have no grounds for opposing the lifting of the restrictions.
The great expansion of the Australian edible oilseeds industry has now made all-Australian table margarine by the end of this year a reality.
I challenge Mr. Nixon to say where he stands on this. I know where my company stands. We stand for freedom of choice for Australian consumers between butter and margarine made of all- Australian raw materials.
Does Mr. Nixon now want to wriggle out of the specific undertaking made by the dairy industry to the 1960 Inquiry Committee and out of the equally specific and identical undertaking made by Mr. E. G. Roberts, the President of the Australian Dairy Farmers’ Federation, to the 1960 Inquiry Committee? 1 quote from the evidence of Mr. E. G. Roberts, 19th January 1960, before the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry - “From a dairy farmer’s point of view the manufacture of a substitute for any dairy product should be banned unless it is made entirely from Australian primary products and manufactured under Australian conditions, or recommended on medical advice for special diets, as may be the case for some ‘ filled milks ‘ “.
That was given before the Dairy Committee of Inquiry. The letter continues -
At the moment, Australian-grown oil is in temporary short supply because of the shortfall effects of the drought and imported oil has been used since June 1966 in Miracle and other margarines. Up to that time Miracle margarine was 100 per cent. Australian and our other margarines approximately 90 per cent. Australian in raw material content.
With due respect to the Minister I will take Mr. Crebbin’s word that what he says is correct. He continues - lt is therefore untrue when Mr. Nixon says that my company is not using all the local oil available. We are using every drop of local oil presently available to us.
Bui the situation is now changing rapidly, and I believe that the reason for Mr. Nixon’s outburst is thai he knows how very well the expansion of the Australian edible oilseeds industry is proceeding. Specifically safflower growers have taken seed sufficient for the planting of 130,000 acres and planting is going ahead apace. The recent rains give promise of exceptionally good yields of safflower oil. This year’s cottonseed crop is more than twice last year’s, as recently confirmed in Federal Parliament by Mr. Nixon’s own Deputy Leader. Mr. C. F. Adermann, the Minister for Primary Industry.
This is like the argument the Minister has advanced about the photograph of himself used in advertisements. The letter continues -
So during 1966-67 there will be . a total of at least four and a half million gallons of locally grown edible oils available from Australian farmers. This will be more than three limes last year’s availability of locally grown edible oils. This will be more than sufficient to make possible completely Australian raw material content in all table margarines made in this country.
My Company, which has S,00(1 for the expansion of the Australian edible oilseeds industry through all the attacks launched against that industry by other margarine manufacturers and by dairy interests, welcomes this achievement and we stand by our principle of freedom from quota controls on all-Australian table margarine, t repeal, where does Mr. Nixon stand on this great issue of freedom and justice? Mr. Nixon says that the total market for all vegetable oils in Australia is about 9.75 million gallons. But he does not say that nearly one-half of this market cannot be replaced by local production of safflower, peanut and cottonseed oil.
Of the 37,000 ions of imported vegetable oils which came into Australia in 1965-66 only about 24,000 tons are in any real technical or economic sense substitutable by domestic OUtput. Anyone with even an elementary knowledge of the vegetable oils trades knows this. Of this 24,000 tons of imports, a good 5,000 tons represent “ mandatory “ imports of peanut oil.
This year, total availability of safflower, cottonseed and peanut oils from domestic output will reach nearly 20,000 tons, lt is clear that by early 1967, when the full quantity of this year’s coming safflower crop is available, there will be no further room for these oils substituting for imports.
What is more, domestic demand for these oils is being supported by a level of table margarine production about 50 per cent, above quota levels. Should production of table margarine be cut back to quota, then the market for Australian edible vegetable oils usable in table margarine will fall by more than a quarter.
A protected and subsidised dairy fanner himself. Mr. Nixon’s only answer to this national problem is 10 say that one edible oilseeds industy, safflower. is facing “ tremendous “ agricultural problems. The truth is that safflower acreage has risen from under 19,000 acres lo some 130,000 acres in three years. Whatever “ tremendous “ problems the safflower industry has, its growth is also surely tremendous and wonderfully heartening evidence of the pioneering spirit of Australian farmers.
My Company welcomes competition among margarine producers. If the quotas are enforced, one company Allied Mills Limited, through its subsidiaries Vegetable Oils Pty. Ltd. and Mowbray Industries Limited, will be able to control over 53 per cent, of the whole table margarine market in Australia. So lifting the quotas will provide more competition for margarine makers themselves.
Other statements made by Mr. Nixon I now specifically deny and challenge him to repeat these statements outside Parliament, instead of under the cloak of Parliamentary privilege.
Mr. Nixon says my Company “has made a deal with a trade union to sack 500 employees, and then slowly re-employ them “.
This statement is false.
Mr. Nixon says my Company has spent 5750,000 on ils current advertising campaign.
This statement is false. We have spent less than one-third of this amount, and this from our normal advertising appropriation. Turnover of all products in the Group have benefited substantially from the campaign by increased sales.
Mr. Nixon says my Company has indulged in activities which have caused the price of our shares to drop.
The truth is thai all our efforts have been and are being directed lo expanding our Company’s activities and the protection of our shareholders’ interests. 4 Mr. Nixon says we have failed to co-operate with the Commonwealth Statistician in supplying figures.
This statement is false. We have made out full returns to the Commonwealth Statistician for the 1965-66 financial year and for every month of that year. The Commonwealth Statistician has been advised of delay with our July production figures because of the usual financial year-end rush for information of all kinds and computer problems in our offices. Il is unusual for the monthly returns to be submitted before the 25th of he subsequent month and this has been the accepted practice for twenty years.
We have, therefore, been obliged in respect of this one month of July lo delay the tendering of the production statistics by a week. This is usual at the end of each half year, and particularly the end of the financial year, and is no doubt common to many companies. 5 Mr. Nixon said that most of the good men associated with our company have left.
This statement is false. I am proud of the way all executives, including those recruited in recent years, have stood by the company and have exerted themselves far and away beyond the call of duty in this fight. Over the last four years we have greatly strengthened and expanded the executive of the Group to meet the demands of our increased strength and turnover. I state that the management of the Group has never been more efficient or stronger. 6 Mr. Nixon says we have been attempting to set two primary industries at each others throats.
This statement is false. At all times during our fight for freedom, we have been simply asking for the right of one group of farmers, the edible oilseeds growers of Australia, to be given the same freedom to sell their products as the dairy farmers of Australia. This is only fair.
My Company is fighting for the rights of ordinary citizens in a democracy to buy the food they choose to eat in the quantities they choose at competitive prices.
I hope the Minister for the Interior is listening to this. The letter continues -
It is plain that in doing so we have offended established interests which do not have the good of the housewives and farmers of Australia at heart. These established interests include certain dairy industry interests and other major margarine manufacturers. To these latter the quota system gives a protected monopolistic share of the market.
The withdrawal of Vegetable Oils Pty. Ltd. from the Edible Oilseeds Growers Group is evidence of their reluctance to support the Australian Edible Oil Industry; and to content themselves with over 53 per cent, of the table margarine quotas and the right to use imported raw materials in their production.
I ask the honorable member for Gippsland to put that in his pipe and smoke it. Let him accept the company’s challenge. Let him look at the Country Party newspapers which carry advertisements for margarine. When he is endeavouring to have the Commissioner of Taxation investigate the company’s advertisements, let him also urge the Commissioner to think back to the time when the Labour Government’s banking legislation was before the Parliament and when the private banks spent £2 million or £3 million to defeat the proposals. Let the honorable member see whether the private banks were allowed tax concessions at that time in respect of their advertisements. In general, let him look to his conscience. Before he tells people whom he has forced onto the breadline what they shall eat, let him display a little humanity for the people who have to make do with dripping because he has forced up the price of commodities.
The honorable member for Gippsland has an opportunity to repeat his statements outside the Parliament. He is a subsidised dairy farmer. One cannot blame him for protecting the dairying industry. I hope that the people of Australia will not think he is disinterested in the matter. Like the Minister for Primary Industry, the honorable member may say what he likes on these matters but he is a 100 per cent, quota man. 1 want removal of quota restrictions only for companies that produce all-Australian margarine. It is my belief that Australian industries and Australian products are entitled to the market and should get it. It is amazing that a government elected on a policy of free enterprise should, on the eve of a general election, seek to restrict competition by legislation. This is a shocking repudiation of their principles.
– Order! The honorable member’s lime has expired.
Proposed expenditures agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) proposed -
What theHouse do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Speaker, I am sorry to keep you out of bed but 1 have some news which, I am sure, you, amongst others, will be very glad to get. I am able to tell you that at long last I find myself in the position of being in complete agreement with and supporting the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns). This is a moment not merely of truth, but a moment of pure ecstasy which I cannot, even with my imagination, disguise from anybody at all. I feel under a heavy obligation to disclose to the House the nature of my arrival at this position. 1 was fascinated to see in last Friday’s Melbourne “ Age “ - here I interrupt myself to say that everybody agrees that the “ Age “ is an eminently respectable newspaper - this advertisement -
The Labor Party needs your help to publish the truth about Vietnam! Post donations and offers of other assistance to Dr. J. F. Cairns, Box 75, P.O., Richmond.
I confess quite readily that the kindly assumption I make is that the Dr. J. F. Cairns referred to in this advertisement in the Melbourne “Age” of Friday 9 th September 1966 is our dear colleague, the honorable member for Yarra. If that assumption is by any chance destroyed, then, of course, the whole of my case tumbles; but if it survives then at least there are one or two points that the honorable member should be apprised of. The first is that I took it upon myself this afternoon - no doubt in a spirit of utter impertinence - to wander around and find anybody who was willing to subscribe to the subscription list. I tell the honorable member for Yarra that all the members of the Government parties propose to contribute to the publishthetruthaboutVietnam campaign which is being organised by Dr. J. F. Cairns. I even consulted members of the august other place and they have willingly agreed to chip in. Even the honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Jack) was able to suppress his frugal and Presbyterian way and say that he would come to the party, whatever the ante might be.
All this fascinates me; but I must tell you Sir, in complete candour, that there is one string attached. We want to know which version of the truth about Vietnam the honorable member for Yarra proposes to publish. For example, does he turn to the version adopted by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley)? Does he suggest that the version is to be that which is retailed in such stark fashion by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell)? Possibly he may even be persuaded to accept the version given by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). I have no doubt about the modesty of the honorable member for Yarra. No doubt, had he been on hand on that celebrated occasion when Pontius Pilate asked the famous question “ What is the truth? “, the honorable member for Yarra would have had a ready answer.
Again in complete candour, I admit to the House that no doubt on occasion the honorable member for Yarra does stumble across the truth. But I regret to say that what puzzles, indeed bewilders me, is that he seeks to have us regard the stumbling as an exhibition of an old time dance - perhaps an imperial two step. But here it is; the honorable member for Yarra now asks us to support his campaign to publish the truth about Vietnam. We are in it to a man. I only hope that the Labour Party opposite will be as willing to subscribe to this fund as we are. We are most anxious to see that the Labour Party’s policy on Vietnam is made known.
For my part, I take the view that the distinguishing feature about the Labour Party’s policy on Vietnam is that it has a red flag in its hand on one occasion and the white flag of surrender in its hand on another occasion. But I try to put asleep this rather partisan view and I have put three stanzas together. I am sorry they are not written in the epic tradition. But nevertheless, what I have written conveys my thoughts. This is the honorable member for Yarra, indeed -
Send those dollars in boys,
Send those dollars in!
It’s really wise
When Labour needs to win.
The truth we mean to say boys,
The truth we mean to say:
The Vietnam war
Just makes us sore
Who needs the U.S.A.?
But just ‘tween you and me boys,
Just ‘tween you and me,
I’d love to know
Dear friend or foe
What is our policy?
.- I realise that every circus must have its clown. We have just heard one. 1 should like to inform the House that all donations will be gratefully accepted and I am sure the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) will put the money to good use in enlightening the people about this Government’s policy on Vietnam. But I did not rise to speak about that matter.
A member of Parliament has certain privileges; but those privileges should not be abused. During a recent debate some members of the Government were very critical of the way in which the Parliament is being administered. It is possible for a member of Parliament to rise in this chamber and, hiding behind parliamentary privilege, make defamatory statements about any citizen of the Commonwealth. But if an ordinary citizen makes a defamatory statement about any member of Parliament, he can be brought before the Privileges Committee of the Parliament; indeed, he can even be brought within the precincts of the chamber and dealt with. A study of history will disclose that this Parliament has dealt with citizens of the Commonwealth who have been guilty of this practice.
During the Budget debate on 31st August, the honorable member for Gippsland(Mr. Nixon) - I am glad to see him sitting in the House - launched an attack on Marrickville Holdings Ltd. In the course of his attack, the honorable member made one defamatory statement that should not be allowed to go unchallenged. He cast a stigma not only on this company but also on the trade union movement. For the benefit of the House, I read what the honorable member had to say - 1 have been told on good authority -
He does not say who the authority was -
I ask the House to note this particularly - that it has even gone to the lengths of making a deal wilh a trade union -
Of course, he was referring to Marrickville Holdings Lid - so that it may sack 500 men it’ action is taken against it, wilh the idea of re-employing them gradually later.
I have made a check to ascertain just what trade unions represent the workers at this company’s factory. I have ascertained from the employees that the trade unions involved arc the Storemen’s and Packers Union, the Transport Workers Union, the Building Workers Industrial Union of Australia, the Electrical Trades Union of Australia and the Australian Workers’ Union. The industrial union with the most employees in this factory is the Australian Workers’ Union, lt is the only union with more than 500 employees there. The honorable member’s statement was an attack on the integrity of the trade union movement within Australia. No union would enter into such agreement with any business or firm, so how stupid was his statement? We are all aware that if this company’s quotas were curtailed the natural reaction would be for the firm to dismiss employees because work would not be available. No trade union would make such a deal with any firm. However, it is the type of situation that the honorable member would like to see arise, with men being thrown out of work. The Country Party would not care. We know that it is an anti-trade union party, that il does not believe in trade unions. The honorable member would not care, because the people concerned live in the cities and we know that the Country Party is not concerned about the urban population; all it is concerned about is the country population, if quotas are restricted unemployment will follow.
I have been in touch with the Australian Workers Union and it has emphatically denied that it has entered into any agreement with the company, and the company has denied that it has entered into any agreement with any trade union. If the honorable meember for Gippsland has any evidence to substantiate his statement he should stand up in this place and be man enough to name the trade union concerned. If he is not prepared to adopt that course he should withdraw the statement and apologise to the company and to the trade union. I challenge the honorable member to rise and make a statement. I challenge him to name the good authority that gave him the information that this company had entered into a contract or an agreement with a trade union to sack 500 men. If he will not name the trade union then, Mr. Speaker, I suggest that that proves that he has been telling untruths. If he is not prepared to get up and make a statement I am sure that the members of this Parliament will look down upon him and shun him for the stupid statements he made during the debate.
– I desire to lake up what the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) said, perhaps not in the light vein that he used because I have not that ability. However, it was most interesting last night on the motion for the adjournment of the House to hear certain statements that were made by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Giles) and which immediately, and as always, caused the Labour Party to fly to the defence. The honorable member referred to some association with Communists and he created the normal reaction that comes when a Labour Party member is accused of an association with the Communist Party. I agree that the honorable member would have been wiser to have named the particular member, because immediately he spoke 10 possible names came to mind. I know whom I was backing at that particular time, but I was found to be completely wrong, so I should like to apologise for the thought that flashed through my mind. We then had the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) talking about the grand move the Labour Party took during the last war in forging an alliance with the United States of America. Immediately we thought of the grand old days that were, and then, of course, we thought of the present days, and in looking about it was hard to realise that the sick and tired persons we saw were the ones who claimed credit for this great act in the past.
The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) in a most worthwhile article, referred to four or five points of similarity between Labour Party policy and Communist Party policy on Vietnam. He said, in effect: “How can you talk of forging an alliance when you are doing everything possible to break the alliance and to take your forces out? “ He mentioned this as a point of similarity between the Labour Party and the Communist Party in respect of Vietnam. We all know that the Labour Party policy is that the National Liberation Front, or the Vietcong, in Vietnam should be a party at the conference table should any attempt at holding a conference be successful. The honorable member for Fremantle, who is a member of the executive of the Parliamentary Labour Party, made the point that this means that the Communists will gain ground and he asked: “ Is this part of the Labour Party policy? “ I am firmly of the belief that it is. However, I think it is unfair to infer that a party or an individual has some association with Communists unless this can be proved. Over the years we have brought into the House unity tickets and we have put them in front of the Leader of the Opposition. He has shut his eyes and has not seen them. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has talked about an association with Communists and the trade union movement in Victoria. He has gone to Victoria, with the Press breathing heavily down his neck, to see what action he would take, but no action whatever has been taken.
We had the situation where the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), having returned from South East Asia, had some remarks published in the Melbourne “ Herald “ on Wednesday of last week. His opening remarks were magnificent. He said - 1 have recently travelled in South East Asia among 175 million people. I talked to most of their leaders and I was free to go anywhere and make any inquiries.
He then proceeded with the most amazing half truths and untruths that I have ever read in any article on Vietnam. He sets himself up as one of the world leaders in diplomatic relations and on foreign policy. He sets himself above all those statesmen who have gone from the United Kingdom, India and other countries to try to bring about peace negotiations. He not only does this but he sets himself up as a strategist and as a military expert. He says that Australia has no reason to fear the Vietcong because the Vietcong have no planes, no tanks and no navy. I wonder whether he thinks the Australian public are fools. I would not know. He then has the hide, as my colleague the honorable member for Moreton said, to start dunning the public and begging people to give him money - him, of all people - so that he may publish the truth about Vietnam. He is a man who over the years has said that on the colour charts the Labour Party must be close to Communism. On a number of occasions he has attended certain functions and stood on certain platforms, but this is denied by the Labour Party, which says: “ You cannot say anything nasty about anybody in the Labour Party, because it is untrue”.
While browsing through the Library today I came upon a booklet entitled “ My Years in the Communist Party”, by Ralph Gibson. It was published in June 1966, so it is fairly up to date. In the introduction Mr. Gibson says -
Whatever I have said critically about some Labour Party leaders, or about the Labour Party in some periods, is nowhere intended to be destructive. It is part of the effort to win a clear understanding and a common purpose on the part of all sections of the Labour Movement alike. This end should be sought by free and honest debate and mutual criticism between Labour Party and Communist Party members, and by the unity of both in common action for the many purposes they can immediately agree upon.
It is obvious to any student of foreign policy that the Labour Party foreign policy on Vietnam is exactly the same as the Communist Party policy. If one reads the “ Guardian “ one knows that any meeting addressed by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) or the honorable member for Yarra receives full coverage in the Communist journal. However, in this booklet that I have mentioned, even more is brought to light. The first half of the booklet, which concerns Mr. Gibson’s life in tho
Communist Party, deals with the period from his infancy until about 1949-50. From then on it makes most amazing reading. 1 would bet a silver dollar that nobody can guess .who gets most mentions in the latter part of the book. We could have a competition on this. Guess who is mentioned at page 186. It is the honorable member for Yarra. We go further. Who is mentioned at page 217? The honorable member for Yarra. We go through again to page 235 and on to 253 and to 261. The man Gibson about whom the book is written does not have a chance; he comes into only the first half of the book. We go further to page 263. Again it is the honorable member for Yarra. We go to page 264 and there again to our surprise is the honorable member for Yarra. May 1 say in consolation to the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) that he gets only one mention throughout the whole darn book. However, I suggest that there are others who may be able to do him justice and will do him justice in the future.
When the honorable member for Yarra advertises in newspapers that he wants money from the public to enable him to tell the truth about Vietnam, it is only fair and just that the public should be told of the association of this man with members of the Communist Party, of the similarity of his policy in respect of foreign affairs and defence to that of the Communist Party, and it is indeed fair that the public should be told of the adoration and admiration which is held by the Communist Party and leading members of the Communist Party for the policies that this man propounds and for the man himself.
.- I have often heard the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) speak in the House. He frequently speaks in a similar vein. After he has finished one always feels that one has been overfed - as it were, stuffed full of tripe. It is interesting to see how his face distorts as he speaks. I might point out to the House that he is one of those super loyalists. He is an ex-serviceman, it is true. He is a veteran of a number of battles. After all. he was involved in many struggles - College Crossing and One Tree Hill - all in the front line of duty where he valorously displayed his capacity in some sort of night escapade. I think the honorable member should reflect for a few minutes before he sets about destroying people’s character in such an unprincipled way and in such an unrestrained way. Really, if he was such a super loyalist he had plenty of opportunity in the past to prove this and to display this in the field of combat. I do not like saying this, but the facts are that he made jolly sure that he never got closer than a couple of thousand miles from the front line.
I do not want to waste much time on this poor man and his warped and distorted mind which allows him to read something written by some member of the Communist Party. Really, it was a little difficult to follow the rambling sort of speech that he made. However, he reads; this stuff, apparently written by some member of the Communist Party. But then it is such a blatant misrepresentation to say that this is what the Labour Party stands for. To blazes with what the Labour Party might think or how it might want to express itself. He has read something and wants to misrepresent it so that he can misrepresent some particular character in the Labour Party. I feel sorry for the honorable member for La Trobe who has this horrible complex which he shares with one or two of his fellow members. I rather suspect that each night when he trudges back to the Kurrajong Hotel he has a furtive and frightened look under the bed in case that horrible honorable member for Yarra is there threatening his very security.
I want to go on to something else and I do not want to waste too much time on these unnecessary and valueless remarks which do not embellish the procedures of the House. Then we had a delightful display of, shall we call it, Butlerism - yes, I think Butlerism is a good term - from the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen). He was talking about raising money, I believe. He said that the honorable member for Yarra wanted to raise money. I read where another organisation wanted to raise money to send him overseas. In fact, I saw some interesting photographs of him with another gentleman. I suppose this would be another case of Butlerism. This really amazes me from people on the other side of this chamber who are so prone to resort to this type of smearing. They have much to answer for themselves. The most interesting part of the speech by the honorable member for Moreton, as with all his speeches, was in this happy knack which he has developed, this wonderful circumlocution. One gets so giddy trying to work out where in the blazes he starts from. I am sure that the honorable member must be a successful lawyer because no-one could keep a clear train of thought with what he is saying. Anyone else of average ability - I know that we are inferior to the honorable member - would use 6 words where he takes 26 and half a dozen syllables where he takes 50. I suppose one must admire this tremendous feat of stamina. But let us not waste time on this much longer. I wish to make one other observation.
Why is it so terrible and disloyal of the Australian Labour Party lo espouse certain policies on Vietnam? 1 need hardly recapitualate them tonight because we have pressed them home in this House and outside and we will continue to press them home here and outside because we sincerely and fervently believe in them. Why should it be disloyal for us when people like Senator Robert Kennedy, brother of the late President Kennedy and a Catholic, incidentally, has said the same sort of things. He is hardly the type of man to be a fellow traveller in the Communist camp. We have people like Senators Mansfield and Fulbright in the United States Senate - tremendously responsible men holding tremendously powerful and responsible positions in the United States Senate. Such a large number of people in the United States Senate and a large body of people in Australia support our view.
Why is it disloyal always for the Australian Labour Party to disagree with this body of men opposite and the views that one honorable member opposite puts forward and all the others endorse in some mute style? Why is it that honorable members opposite should expect that they should have the monopoly on loyalty in this country? This super loyalty is horrible. There are honorable members on this side of the chamber who are just as loyal as any honorable member opposite, and there are people who support the Australian Labour Party who are just as loyal to this country as anyone who supports the Parties on the other side of the chamber. There are, incidentally, people who have supported the
Government Parties in the past but who are not prepared to support them now because of Vietnam. Even Senator Hannaford has made a statement that he thinks the Liberal Party is wrong, and I understand that other senators have said that. But as the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) has reminded me, if any member of the Australian Labour Party takes a particular stand on Vietnam he is a Com., a fellow traveller or a dupe in the eyes of the Government. What about the people in the Government’s own party who say that the things we stand for are right? Are they fellow travelers? Are they Coms.7 Why must honorable members opposite be so crude and so destructive of people’s characters? I cannot imagine anyone reaching to a lower depth than some honorable members opposite who have set about destroying people’s characters as quickly as they could. I am not suggesting that every honorable member opposite does this. The majority of honorable members opposite, although they do not agree with our policy, do not set about destroying people s characters or smearing them, thereby causing all sorts of distress to their families and to loyal supporters of their Party.
But the point that I wish to discuss tonight is this debate in relation to margarine and butter and their relative merits. I think it is ridiculous the way this matter has got out of hand. The margarine people are waging an extensive campaign, principally at the taxpayers’ expense because of the laws that this Government maintains which makes advertising a tax free element. But this is an inconclusive campaign because who can lift the quotas? The answer is the State Liberal and Country Party Governments and the Commonwealth of Australia. Yet all these people opposite are starting to panic. Do they not trust their counterparts at the State level? If they do not trust them, why not? Perhaps a statement on this should be made to the House. Are the statements made by people in the margarine industry through television, radio and the Press correct statements? Is it suggested that they are not correct? This is difficult to discover because the people who say they are not correct are fighting a partisan view just as much as the margarine people are fighting a partisan view. I suspect that some of the statements are incorrect . This could be cleared up quite easily.
– Why does the honorable member spend all his time defending the dairy farmers?
– I am sure that the honorable member for Hindmarsh will agree with me on this. Why could not the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) prepare a report and introduce it into this House to give us the true facts on the situation of the dairying industry and the margarine industry? This is another thing which could be done. But let me get back to the other point. Why all this panic? Why all this hysteria? The marvellous thing about this is that we frequently discuss the dairy industry in this House. I remember on one occasion that not one Country Party member rose in his place to discuss the problems of that industry, but the elections are coming and now they all become glorious defenders of the dairy industry. Even if the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony), giggling Gertie-
– Order! The honorable member will withdraw that remark. He is reflecting on the Minister for the Interior.
– I withdraw. I am sorry. I thought it was true. But why should this kind of silly business be going on and be fought out in the Federal Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia when in actual fact the issue is a State one? We have the thing out of perspective in the first place and, in the second place, members of the Country Party are wallowing in the opportunity to be hypocritical and to try to present themselves to the electorate as defenders of an industry in which they have shown no particular interest and for which they have done very little.
The industry in Queensland has difficult problems. These problems will not be solved by inactivity on the part of honorable members opposite, particularly members of the Country Party, who rouse their ire and anger for a short period once every three years, just before a general election. If the industry is to be rehabilitated we need some kind of policy, and policy does not come from sitting on one’s backside as the Country Party has been doing for too long.
– There are two characteristics of the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden) which are worth while noting on an occasion such as this. The first is that he is well known in Queensland for taking the lead in the annual march of the Queensland Peace Committee from Ipswich to Brisbane. The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) is interjecting. I will deal with him later. The second factor which is worth while noting about him is that it is almost impossible to engage him in debate on a public platform concerning Vietnam.
– You are a liar.
– He has chick.ened out of this on a number of occasions.
– You are a liar.
– Order! The honorable member will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it and call him a fibber.
– I want to say one or two gentle words concerning a body which has engaged the attention of the alternative Government of this country, the Australian Labour Party. The body is known at the “Defend Australia Committee”. I know that the Labour Party has been concerned about this. Being among the sponsors of this body, a number of us have been concerned about the kind of charges which have been levelled against it. We are also concerned at the attitude of the alternative Government towards an organisation which has concerned itself with the defence of this country and with certain principles which must underlie the defence of Australia.
I have been a little troubled as to why such an organisation should be banned to the great numbers in the Australian Labour Party. Has it been banned because of its aims? Has it been banned because of its membership? Has it been banned because its membership includes members of the Communist Party? We have searched all of these avenues to learn why it has been banned. It is worth while mentioning one or two of the aims of the Defend Australia Committee because they are appropriate to the discussion. They are stated in this way -
It is the conviction of the Committee to ensure) without possibility of any misunderstanding whatsoever that Australians are prepared to make great sacrifices to safeguard a national policy of survival-
So the Labour Party banned it - and to make certain that American commitment in South East Asia continues in the strong belief that Australia will remain a constant and firm ally.
So the Labour Party banned it. The Committee believes -
That the military expression of this policy of national self-reliance is that Australia should develop a military power which, in size and variety of weapons, shall be adequate for the defence of Australia with allies if allies are available, and which shall give Australia the prospect of maintaining herself if allies cannot help.
Another section of the policy of this Committee is worth considering. It states -
In the foreseeable future, Australian foreign policy can have only one over-riding aim - the development of effective alliances whose object is the economic development of South East Asia -
The economic determinists of the Opposition should favour this - and its protection from Communist China and her allies.
There is not one principle there with which, on the face of it, the alternative Government of this country would disagree yet it has banned members of its own Party from belonging to that Committee. Is it because there are on this body members of various political parties - people known as extremist Liberals? Of course, this may be so. Perhaps it has been banned because it has members of the Australian Democratic Labour Party as sponsors. Perhaps it has been banned because it has members of no political party as sponsors. We seek to learn why it has been banned.
If the matter of association is the reason why this body has invited banning, I could give a list of progress associations and similar organisations which would invite banning, due to a co-existence of members of various parties on their executives. But in a very discriminatory manner the Labour Party has directed its attention to only one organisation which is concerned with the defence of this country. A matter of concern to the Australian people is that the banning of this body was a unanimous decision by the Labour Party. One can only say that in a sense it could be only ideological barbarianism which would cause the banning of such a body, yet the Labour Party has persisted with its attitude.
Now let me turn to a different attitude which the alternative Government has adopted towards a conference which is being organised in Queensland in a fortnight but which has not invited banning. It has, as one of its sponsors, one of the witless 12, one of the people who joined in the unanimous decision to ban the Defend Australia Committee. The conference which is to commence in Brisbane on 30th September is known as the Queensland Conference of South East Asia and Australia. It has on its executive Mr. Fred Whitby, a member of the Australian Labour Party. The list of sponsors of this conference include not just one or two, but 24 members of the Communist Party. But there is a glorious immunity which the alternative Government of this country directs towards a body of this kind. On the executive of this body we have people such as Alec MacDonald, a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party; J. Henderson, a full time tutor for the Queensland Communist Party; Dr. H. Silverstone, a member of the Communist Party and Mr. J. Sherrington, an organiser for the Building Workers Industrial Union. All are members of the Communist Party, yet members of the Australian Labour Party are allowed to co-exist with them, not only as sponsors but also as members of the organising executive committee.
I can go a little further to illustrate how this discriminatory attitude causes concern. Only today the names of three eminent speakers were announced. They will address audiences in Brisbane at the conference commencing on 30th September. The three speakers are Mr. Norman Docker, a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Australia who is well known to those concerned with the waterfront; Mr. Ken Kemshead who is the official commentator on foreign affairs for the Australian Labour Party in Queensland; and the third speaker who will co-exist with these members of the Communist Party is none other than one of our distinguished brethren on the other side of the chamber. Honorable members can take their choice but I will tell them that it is a gentleman named Mr. Gordon Bryant, M.P. We in the northern State are delighted to have him as a visitor during this kind of weather, and I know he will inform his audience of his version of the truth about Vietnam and of other matters.
Overriding all these facts, we see two points that are worth considering. There is a very discriminatory attitude towards the Defend Australia Committee, which is concerned only to make this country safe and to make people aware of the sacrifices necessary to defend it. On the other hand, members of the Australian Labour Party, including the honorable member for Batman, have been cruelly and viciously expelled for being concerned with defence. Then we have an obviously Communist front organisation, which was not allowed by the Queensland University to hold its meeting within its precincts. This Communist Party organisation invites the approbation of honorable members opposite, the approbation of one of the witless 12 and certainly the very strong support of the very eminent member for Wills.
.- There are two or three points that ought to be raised. I suppose that most members on the other side of the House know that the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns) is the direct agent in this House of Mr. B. A. Santamaria. On Tuesday last, he came down in an aeroplane with him. He had intended to travel with the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden). He usually travels by Ansett-A.N.A. but-
– If the honorable member for Wills would observe me rather more often, he would see me frequently going into the Q.C.E. rooms in Brisbane.
– I suppose in those circumstances he is doing his ordinary bit of spying. One reason why we would not Iike the Defend Australia Committee is that some of its members just are not dinkum. The honorable member for Lilley is a man somewhere in his 30’s. During his lifetime there have been several opportunities for him to take his place on the battlefield;’ with Australians and do his bit. But he has not done so and he will not do so. He is like a lot of others, to whom the same comment applies. Honorable members on the other side are interjecting. I do not ordinarily speak like this and they know that full well. But let me tell them from here that if they want to mix it with us on these terms, they will get it and get it personally. I will not touch anybody who does not reply in the same terms, but I believe the attitudes of half a dozen people in this House on these matters are a disgrace to the Parliament. One senator, the D.L.P. senator from Victoria, is a man of my own ase. Where was he when the guns were barking? But he has the hide, the brass and the cheek to question the loyalty, courage and integrity of members of my Party. I think this is plain nonsense.
– Were you on a Communist platform?
– I do not go on Communist, Liberal or Labour Party platforms. When I go on platforms, I speak for tha cause in which I believe no matter whom I may be associated with. Organisations should not be condemned merely because 1 address them. I addressed the Defend Australia Committee in Sydney and I will probably address this meeting in Brisbane, too. But the point I simply make to the House is that some members on the other side of the House, in the course of their political aberrations or whatever they are, are descending to a level that is a disgrace to Australian politics. One member on the other side for whom I have the greatest respect in these matters is the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen). At a recent election - I think it was the last election - he was asked to state his attitude on this question of alleged Communist control of the Australian Labour Party. He said that anybody who suggested that the alternative government of Australia was under the control of the Communist Party did Australia a disservice. I have always held very strong opinions about freedom of association. I have no hesitation whatever in associating in the closest possible way with the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) in relation to the Aboriginal issue. I chaired a meeting in Melbourne which he addressed in a most forthright, vigorous and effective way. I will do that for anybody else, no matter what his politics are, if the cause that he is sponsoring happens to be one in which I believe.
– What was wrong with Benson?
– Nobody got rid of Captain Benson, who is the honorable member for Batman. He chose himself. It is for him to decide what he wants to do. But that is not the reason why I rose to speak. The issue now before the House is the way in which Australians intend to conduct themselves in public affairs. Honorable members opposite may speak as they wish on these matters. There are half a dozen of them who are well known in this respect. The honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) and I, I suppose, look at politics from opposite ends of the spectrum, if that is the correct term to use. In a way, he is my favourite reactionary. I believe that on occasions he does get around to making the kind of speeches that are made by other honorable members opposite. But I pay him this respect: As far as he personally is concerned, he has always been prepared to place himself between this country and its enemies. I cannot say that for a number of other people of opposite. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) is going to take around a subscription list. I suggest that he should start another one designed to raise money to pay the fares of members of the Government parties in this House who are of military age and who, if they had the guts and the courage to stand for what they believe in, would go to Vietnam themselves.
– Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.57p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
Medical Research Projects. (Question No. 1818.)
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1. (a) 65; (b) 108; (c) 31.
m asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
How much (a) free and (b) paid time was occupied by each political party on each commercial television station at the last elections for the Queensland Legislative Assembly?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
On the basis of information supplied to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board by Queensland stations, the amount of time on television occupied by each political party at the last elections for the Queensland Legislative Assembly during the election period from 19th April to 25th May 1966, was -
Station TNQ Townsville- A.L.P. 10 minutes; D.L.P. 5 minutes
m asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
b asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1, 2 and 3. No decision has been made regarding the introduction of colour television in Australia. An essential pre-requisite for a colour television service in Australia is the determination of technical standards. Following recent failure to reach international agreement on a common colour television standard for Europe at a meeting of the International Radio Consultative Committee (C.C.I. r.) of the International Telecommunications Union it is apparent that the most advantageous course for Australia will be to await further developments in the introduction of colour television services in Europe, particularly in Britain, so that the merits of competing technical systems may be assessed on the basis of the practical operation of comprehensive colour television services in those countries. The timing of the introduction of colour television into Australia is a matter for decision by the Government at the appropriate time. Consideration of all the factors relevant to the matter including the experience of overseas countries in colour television suggests the desirability of a cautious approach.
Development of Brigalow Lands. (Question No. 1734.)
n asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
What sums have been expended by the Queensland Government from Commonwealth loan funds for the development of Areas I and II of the brigalow under the headings of (a) cattle, (b) fencing, (c) waters, (d) other structures, (e) roads, (f) land and timber treatment, and (g) other expenditure?
– The answer to the honor able member’s question is as follows -
The Brigalow Lands Agreement Act 1962 defined the purposes for which loan funds provided by the Commonwealth could be used in the development of the brigalow lands in Areas I and II of the Fitzroy Basin of Central Queensland. At the request of the Queensland Government the Act was amended in December 1965 to provide for some variation in the purposes for which these loan funds could be used. The Commonwealth has not at any time specified the amounts which could be expended under the individual headings listed by the member for Dawson. It has taken the view that the development scheme should be administered by the Queensland Government and that the Queensland Government should have the responsibility for determining how the funds should be allocated within the terms laid down by the Act. Moreover I understand that the funds provided by the Commonwealth are pooled with other State funds spent on the project, and it would not be possible to state how much of the Commonwealth’s moneys in particular were spent under particular headings. To the .period ending 30th June 1966, the Commonwealth Government has made available $5.8 million of the $14.5 million allocated as a long-term loan to the Queensland Government for the development of Areas I and II.
Development of Brigalow Lands. (Question No. 173S.)
n asked the Minister for National Development,, upon notice -
What sums from the announced loan for brigalow development in Area HI will be spent on (a) cattle, (b) fencing, (c) waters, (d) other structures, (e) roads, (f) land and timber treatment, and (g) other expenditure?
– The answer to the honor able member’s question is as follows -
The Commonwealth Government has agreed in principle to provide a loan to the Queensland Government to proceed with development of Area III of the brigalow lands of the Fitzroy Basin of Central Queensland. Legislation to provide for an agreement between the two Governments to proceed with this development project will be introduced in the near future, and this will define the types of expenditure which can be incurred from loan funds provided by the Commonwealth Government. However, as in the case of the agreement covering Areas I and II it is not expected that the amounts to be expended on each of the individual items listed by the member for Dawson will be specified.
Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. (Question No. 1739.)
n asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
What are the provisions of the relevant Act which allow the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority to perform services for (a) Queensland and (b) overseas countries?
– The answer to the honor able member’s question is as follows -
Matters of law are involved as to which it is not customary to furnish information in answer to a question.
son asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
I understand that the New South Wales Minister for Conservation, the Hon. J. G. Beale, M.L.A., in a statement earlier this year said that he had recommended tha* his Premier approach the Prime Minister for a scheme of water conservation in New South Wales.
However, as this correspondence between State Premiers and the Prime Minister is of a confidential nature, I am unable to say if there has yet been a formal approach on the matter.
m asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
How many deferred telephone applications are there in each electoral division?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Although statistics of deferred applications for telephone services are not kept in terms of electoral divisions, a special study was made as at 30th June and the following details show the position in each electoral division as at that date.
d asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
In reply to Question No. 1298 from the honorable member on this matter (“ Hansard “, 19th October 1965) I indicated that a broad-band communication link such as it has now been decided to establish between the Eastern States and Western Australia will enable a relay link for television purposes to bc provided readily between Perth and Kalgoorlie. I also said that this may be relevant to the provision of television in Kalgoorlie, but as the honorable member will appreciate for television to be provided at Kalgoorlie, normal television transmitting and associated facilities at Kalgoorlie would also be necessary. Kalgoorlie is one of a considerable number of areas to which television has not yet been extended. I have asked the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to prepare a report and recommendations to me concerning the further development of the services and the honorable member may be assured that full consideration will be given in the report to the question of the practicability of providing television in Kalgoorlie prior to my making recommendations to the Government on the general question of the extension of the services. It will be a little lime before the report is completed and considered by me in view of the complexities of the matter.
b asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
The Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board informs me that he issued no such warning and a statement by him to this effect was contained in later Press reports. His remarks did not arise because of misleading advertising on radio and television.
b asked the Minister representing the Minister for Housing, upon notice -
– The Minister for Housing has supplied the following answers to the honorable member’s questions -
r asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
b asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
Under the terms of the Commonwealth Constitution, development of water resources is primarily a matter for individual State Governments. Notable exceptions are those cases where special authorities have been set up in order to handle the development of water resources where catchments cross State boundaries.
Accordingly there is no national plan for conservation and development of water resources in Australia.
However, arising from a general recognition that there was an urgent need for better data as a basis for planning of such development, the Australian Water Resources Council, comprising appropriate Commonwealth and State Ministers, was set up in 1962. The Council was responsible for the publication of a report, “ Review of Australia’s Water Resources, 1963 “ which presented for the first time a general assessment of the surface and underground water resources in Australia.
In addition, on the recommendation of the Water Resources Council, the Commonwealth Government, under the provisions of the States’ Grants (Water Resources) Act, 1964, undertook to provide financial support for the State programmes of measurement and investigation of surface and underground waters, in order to expand and to accelerate the programmes of collection and recording of the data necessary for development planning. Thus, although we have no national plan, we do have national co-operation and Commonwealth assistance in the basic study and research necessary for planning.
n asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
Mr.Fairbairn. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Stream Gauging. (Question No. 1993.)
n asked the Minister for
National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Largest Catchments Gauged -
Fitzroy River at Yaamba. Queensland - 52,760 square miles.
Burdekin at Home Hill, Queensland- 50,075 square miles.
Diamantina at Birdsville, Queensland - 44,480 square miles.
Smallest Catchments Gauged -
Experimental Site 70 (near Alice Springs, Northern Territory) - 1.19 square miles
Frog Hollow at McMinns Street, Darwin, Northern Territory - 1.29 square miles.
Acacia Creek at Stuart Highway, Northern Territory - 3.0 square miles.
Rapid Creek at McMillans Road, Northern
Territory - 4.1 square miles.
Bee Creek at Upsan Downs, Queensland - 6.0 square miles.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 September 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1966/19660915_reps_25_hor52/>.