25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. UREN presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth praying that the Commonwealth Government repeal the Wards’ Employment Ordinance and legislate to provide at least the basic wage for all Aboriginal workers in the Northern Territory.
Petition received and read.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question which I asked the Acting Prime Minister yesterday. I asked whether the text of the request of the South Vietnamese Government to the Government of Australia could be published. If it cannot be published could the right honorable gentleman indicate what general principles underlie its nonpublication?
– I did see the published report of the question that has been asked by the honorable gentleman. I have no wish to withhold from the House information which would be of assistance to it, but there is a very well established principle in these matters. I have checked on the detail of this and I can say to the honorable gentleman that communications between governments on this, as on other matters of government business, are confidential to the two governments. I can assure him that our military assistance has always been provided in response to official requests and we have always given the fullest publicity to our actions in this field consistent with the confidential character of the communications and the nature of the subject. He will be aware, because he studies these things closely- as I think those members of the Parliament who have had ministerial experience will certainly be aware - that it is the practice rather than the exception for a good deal of prior diplomatic activity to go on between the two Governments concerned before a formal request is presented. Finally, the matter has come to us in the shape of a formal request from the Government concerned. There is nothing particularly mysterious about the language and nothing of any significance that I am attempting to conceal, but there is an established practice in these matters and I do not feel it proper to depart from it.
– Was it in the same terms as that which Mr. Holyoake received and published?
– I cannot answer for the practices of other governments. This is the practice that has been followed by governments from both sides of this House in our relations with other governments, and I believe we secure information on a wider and more frank basis because it is recognised that this is the way in which Australia treats the confidential communications it receives from other governments. I do not know the circumstances in Mr. Holyoake’s case. The practice may differ there. I do not suggest that a government in South Vietnam thinks up a particular figure; there is a general request to us to the effect that it would like further military assistance if we can give it. We look at the practicability of meeting this request and we indicate the sort of assistance that we can give. Then a formal request for that sort of assistance follows. That is the way in which this kind of thing is normally done in practice.
– I address my question to the Treasurer. Have the results of the Budget to date been consistent with the Government’s expectation that the general effect of the Budget would be expansionary? Will the result be affected by increases in farm incomes reflected, for instance, in the latest wheat crop forecasts and by higher rainfall conditions in agricultural areas this season?
– It is true that the results of the Commonwealth Budget so far will be somewhat more expansionary than we expected at the time the Budget was presented. The results can be summed up in this way: First, our expenditure is running at a high level. Expenditure was $100 million higher in the first three months of the financial year than in the corresponding period last year. If we look at the excess of expenditure over receipts we see a figure of $486 million, which is about $120 million more than last year. The net total of this is that there will be a short term cash deficit over a period of three months of $478 million, which is nearly §200 million greater than last year. So the answer to the honorable member’s question is clearly that the Budget for the first three months will be somewhat more expansionary than we expected it to be.
The honorable member referred to one other matter. This was the wheat crop of 346 million bushels. Already we have made arrangements with the Reserve Bank for advances to be made. The first advance will be over $400 million. This must not only help the wheat man himself but also flow into the national economy and consequently result in increased demand. Finally I want to make the point - although this was not raised by the honorable member - that the most careful analysis we can make of the State budgets shows that in the case of New South Wales and Victoria they will not have a deflationary impact upon the economy because the increase in revenue will be just about offset by the increase in expenditure. All told, therefore, we can strongly argue that the effect of our Budget is somewhat more expansionary than we originally expected.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question concerning the visit which will be made next week to Australia by another head of government, the Prime Minister of Malta. Will the right honorable gentleman be able to announce then that Australia will set up a High Commission in Malta? 1 point out to the Prime Minister that Australia already has High Commissions in .12 other Commonwealth countries and that Malta, which became an independent kingdom within the Commonwealth two years ago, has closer migration links with Australia than any Commonwealth country except Britain, and has had a High Commissioner in Australia since the middle of last year.
– I can assure the honorable gentleman that the matter he raises has already received consideration by the Government. Indeed, I might say that it has received very sympathetic consideration. Perhaps I will find it possible to make a firm announcement regarding this after the arrival of the Prime Minister of Malta and after I have had some formal discussion with him. The considerations which the honorable gentleman has referred to have been very much in the minds of members of the Cabinet.
– I wish to ask the Minister for the Army a question. I ask: Can he verify a report in this morning’s Press of Army plans for an air base? The report states that the Army is planning an air base at Oakey in Queensland to house a fleet of 80 helicopters and 80 fixed wing aircraft. The Minister will remember that 1 mentioned in a speech the lack of mobility of the Army, and I am glad to see that he has been able to correct this lack. Will the Minister verify the report, and will he tell me the strength of the Army helicopter fleet at the moment? Will he enlarge on the statement? Finally, why do members of the Parliament have to read of this in the Press before hearing about it in the House?
– 1 did see this statement, which may have been somewhat inspired, in the Press, lt is jumping the gun a little about what the Army is doing. Army aviation is expanding and will be expanding further, but in the strictly limited field of the two-man Sioux helicopter and the Cessna light aircraft. These a-re essentially aircraft which make it possible for Army officers to carry out an Army job more effectively than they would otherwise be able to do. They are not transport aircraft. The Army has no plans to purchase transport aircraft. Because of the new aircraft coming into operation in the Royal Australian Air Force generally it has been found impractical for the Army’s light aircraft to continue to be located at Amberley as they are now. This has meant that the Army has had to look round for an area which could be developed into a light aircraft centre for Army aviation. Various sites have been examined, but no firm and final decisions have been made by the Government on the matter at this time. The only other point I can add is that the number of these light aircraft coming into use in the Army will be greatly expanded over the next two or three years. The experience of the task force in Vietnam has shown how valuable they are in helping the Army conduct its operations on the ground.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has he confirmed that Hexham is not a suitable location for a civilian airport? Will he say what the Government’s policy is regarding regional airports? Is it a case of Commonwealth finance being made available for some areas, such as Broken Hill and Coolangatta, and that there is nothing for the city of Newcastle, which has a population of more than 300,000 people? Is it true that the Government will have spent more than $3 million on the Coolangatta airport by the time it completes current proposals there and that a large sum is soon to be spent on airport improvements at Broken Hill? Will the Minister examine a proposal to finance the establishment of an all weather airstrip at Pelican in the Shortland electorate by the dredging of the Swansea Channel in Lake Macquarie, thus killing two birds with one stone - the clearing of the channel and the construction of a long-awaited airport for Newcastle?
– It is a fact that a considerable works programme has been undertaken to improve airports at various centres throughout Australia. Of course, that includes Coolangatta, about which an announcement was made within only the last few weeks, and also some improvements to the airport at Broken Hill over recent years. But the situation is different in relation to Newcastle where there is established a large Royal Australian Air Force base. The problem there is mainly control of air space rather than availability of ground facilities. As the honorable member knows, this matter is at present under discussion between my Department and the R.A.A.F. We hope that from the discussions will emerge some proposals which may assist the situation. At present we are considering that it may be possible to expand the use of Williamtown for commercial purposes. That would to some degree help to overcome the problem. However, we will be prepared to look at the other proposal which has now been submitted by the honorable member and, after examination, I will be able to provide him with further information.
– Is the Prime Minister prepared to state that the decision of the Cabinet not to commit itself to provide financial assistance for stage 2 of the Ord River project at this stage is not to be attributed to three Country Party Ministers in a total Cabinet of 12? I ask this question because of repeated assertions in Press reporting and speculation that the three Country Party Ministers are responsible for the decision.
– Quite obviously it is not the practice to give in public an indication of the way in which individual members of the Cabinet have expressed their views. However, I will say as a general statement of fact that in the period in which this coalition has been in office since my predecessor took office at the end of 1949 I do not think I can recall a single issue on which there was a party line-up in the Cabinet.
Opposition members. - Oh!
– I know that honorable members opposite can scoff at my remark; they have rather different techniques in the Opposition ranks. But what I said was a statement of fact which I am sure my colleague, the Leader of the Country Party (Mr. McEwen), will confirm. Any reports which have appeared in the Press can be put against the background of the statement which I have just made.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. Has Australia’s deficit on the balance of current accounts with the United States exceeded $4,000 million during the last 16 years? Has this deficit been paid, in the main, by the inflow of indiscriminate, uncontrolled private American investment? Has the 1953 double taxation agreement between Australia and the United States of America resulted in a financial gain of over $80 million to the United States? Did the right honorable gentleman discuss these facts with President Johnson during his recent visit and did he inform the President of the growing concern on the part of a wide section of the Australian community, including the Deputy Prime Minister, at the loss of our heritage to United States investment?
– The honorable gentleman obviously invites a very considerable debate on these matters. My own views have been made patently clear in this House and elsewhere on a number of occasions. I shall deal with the last part of the question first, I had no discussion of this matter with President Johnson either in the course of his recent visit to Australia or at the informal meetings we had in Manila.
– What did you talk about?
– We talked about matters which are clearly of very much more concern to us than they are to the honorable gentleman. We talked about matters which concern the future security of this country and of the South East Asian region. That is an issue on which I have yet to find the honorable gentleman expressing one iota of concern in this Parliament.
– Watch your blood pressure.
– There is nothing wrong with my blood pressure. I am glad to say the doctors assure me I could be passed us a fighter pilot at the present time.
– Do not get up in the air.
– Perhaps I have the vision to be up in the air, as the Leader of the Opposition puts it, but he will find that we on this side of the chamber have both feel on the ground when we come to deal with him between now and 26th November. I am not sure that some people who are regarded as having their feet on the ground do not have their feet directed to other places.
– What about my question?
– Frankly, I do not regard it so much as being a question as. a declaration of faith - a sort of Uren charter on the matters which we are discussing. The investment which has come to Australia not only from America but also from the United Kingdom - the biggest contributor - and from other parts of the world as well, has helped to build one of the strongest economies of the world and provide the Australian people with one of the highest standards of living to be found anywhere in the world.
The honorable member talks about our having given away part of our heritage. The truth is that we are building a greater heritage for our children and our grandchildren by developing the Australian economy and its resources to an extent that would never have been possible by our own unaided efforts. I do not regard that process as having reached dangerous limits. When I last looked at the matter, the ratio of United States investment to our investment was about one-fifteenth of that which has taken place in Canada. Ninety per cent, of our own domestic investment in fixed capital items comes from our own Australian resources.
– J direct to the Minister for Labour and National Service a question concerning a report in this morning’s Press of an offer that has been made to the Waterside Workers Federation of a permanent wage of §47 a week and a pension scheme. This offer was announced yesterday by the General Secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, Mr. Fitzgibbon. I ask the Minister whether he knows who made the offer. Was the Government consulted about it before it was made? If not, is the Government concerned that a deal may be concluded in this most vital industry between the Federation and a certain few employers without reference to the Government or to the arbitration system?
– I imagine that this Press report refers to Mr. Fitzgibbon^ explanation to the waterside workers in Melbourne yesterday of the progress being made in negotiations being conducted under the chairmanship of Mr. Woodward. I have knowledge of these offers. One was of wages and the other of a pension scheme. These are, of course, inter-related with a number of other matters and are designed to form eventually part of a package deal. This will depend on a new scheme for permanent employment and on many other issues. Parlies to the discussions include my own Department, the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority and the Australian Council of Trade Unions. A number of matters are still outstanding. At the conclusion of the discussions and negotiations being conducted under the chairmanship of Mr. Woodward, the Government will review the results and take whatever action appears desirable in the public interest. It would be quite premature at this stage to attempt to state what action may be taken. I emphasise that it depends on many factors.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Why has the Government failed to provide Australia with an Australian national anthem? Has the visit of President Johnson highlighted the need to give musical expression to the Australian national spirit? Did the British national anthem take second place at official functions associated with the visit? Why has the Government not taken action to give statutory recognition to the anthem “ Advance Australia Fair “?
– I shall deal first with the part of the question relating to the Australian anthem taking second place at official functions associated with the visit of President Johnson. I would have thought that the honorable member was sufficiently well aware of practice and courtesy in these matters as between governments to know that the anthem of the country of the official visitor is normally played first and is then followed by the anthem of the country being visited. This has always been our practice in Australia regardless of the country from which the visitor comes, and similar courtesy has been extended to me when I have visited other countries.
– The Americans gave the right honorable gentleman a 19 gun salute.
– When the head of a government travels internationally, this is the recognised form of courtesy, which is extended by the salute, the inspection of an official guard of honour and the meeting of dignitaries of the government of the country being visited and of members of the diplomatic corps in that country. All these are part and parcel of standard practice in most countries.
Getting back to the substance of the honorable gentleman’s question, I say that I believe most of us recall that Sir Robert Menzies, when pressed on this matter in a similar way, answered - I believe it to be true - that a national anthem should come from the feeling of the people and should be an expression of their feeling at a significant time, usually associated with some historic event. So much of our history in Australia has been associated with our British heritage of democratic principles and parliamentary institutions and of loyalty to the monarchy that for most Australians the national anthem expresses their national sentiments more faithfully than would any synthetic production that could be contrived. I agree that there has been a strengthening of our national spirit. I welcome it and I certainly do not in my own mind reject the possibility that we shall develop a national anthem that will appeal strongly to the Australian people. “ Advance Australia Fair” has been rejected in the past because it is-
– Too Australian. That is why the Government has thrown it out.
– No. My understanding is that it is founded on some old English song. However, I do not claim to be an authority on these matters.
– Would the Prime Minister prefer “ Yankee Doodle “?
– 1 prefer that to “ The Red Flag “, which I understand to be the official song of the great international Socialist brotherhood to which honorable gentlemen opposite officially belong.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services a question. Do some State Governments supplement certain Commonwealth social service payments because they consider those payments to be inadequate? Were recent increases in the rate of civilian widows’ pensions granted by the Commonwealth related, at least in part, to an increase in the consumer price index? If these are facts, will the Minister explain how any State Government can justify reducing its social service supplementary assistance by an amount equal to the increase granted by the Commonwealth?
– The reasons motivating State Governments in their actions in any field do not fall within my responsibilities or those of the Commonwealth Government. It is a fact that the Commonwealth Government has progressively increased the range of social service benefits payable to the many beneficiaries in the community. Those increases have been related, at least in part, to variations in the consumer price index. Accordingly, any increase that has been provided by this Parliament has been designed to cope with those variations. Consequently any adjustment to other payments to pensioners that has the effect of reducing the net weekly intake of a pensioner must affect the ability of the pensioner to meet variations in costs. I repeat that any action taken by a State Government is a matter completely beyond the jurisdiction of this Government.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question. I refer to a huge housing project, consisting mainly of home units, in the Eastlakes area in my electorate. There a modern shopping centre has been established. At present 4,000 people are housed in the project. When the project is completed in the near future, including the erection of flats by the New South Wales Housing Commission, the number of residents will exceed 6,000. Last night T forwarded to the Minister a photostat copy of a request I had received, bearing the signatures of 1,300 residents, seeking the establishment of a post office or at least a sub-post office in the shopping centre. Will the Minister give earnest consideration to this request, as the establishment of adequate postal services in the area would be advantageous to the residents and would render a service to them?
– 1 understand that th: Rosebery Post Office was recently moved to new premises and is now approximately half a mile from the Eastlakes shopping centre. In addition, the Kingsford and Eastlakes Post Offices are about a mile distant from the shopping centre. It is not usual practice in my Department to establish a second post office within half a mile of an existing one. I will keep in touch with developments in the area. If it is found that existing services are inadequate, having regard to increases in population, endeavours will be made to review the situation.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services a question. Will he consider exempting from means test savings made in certain prescribed forms, such as insurance and superannuation?
– The benefits provided by the Commonwealth are designed principally to cater for those in the community with the greatest need. In order to provide these benefits at the maximum rate possible it has been found necessary to apply a means test. In 1961 the means test was modified so that property and income would be amalgamated in what has been termed the merged means test. Any distinction between one type of earnings and another or one type of asset or income and another would be difficult to justify. However, consideration is given by the Commonwealth Government through taxation concessions to persons who contribute to insurance and superannuation funds. Consequently, persons who care to cater for their own retirement are given consideration during their earning years.
– Has the Prime Minister been made aware of a statement made yesterday by the United States Ambassador to Australia in which he claimed that President Johnson’s visit to Australia would benefit Australia greatly because hundreds of millions of dollars would be brought here by tourists and invested; and in which he claimed that many of the tourists are loaded with money, are looking for diversification and will invest here? Amongst the areas of investment mentioned are oil, gas and certain of our natural resources. If the Prime Minister has been made aware of this statement, what significance does he put upon it?
– I have not yet had an opportunity to catch up with all the detail of reports in the Australian Press during my absence. However, I did see some references to the speech made by the United States Ambassador. I. have no doubt that he had in mind the tremendous publicity given not only to the President himself but also to Australia during the President’s visit. I question whether we have ever had such a spate of publicity in the Press of the United States of America, or indeed in the international Press generally, as that which resulted from the visit. Interest was stimulated iri Australia and the reaction in America to the warmth of the welcome given to the President was favorable to us. I recall Press references during the weekend of his visit here in two of the principal journals in the United States, the “ New York Times “ and the 11 Daily News “. Both had special supplements relating to Australia. We have had a good deal of publicity since then. It is not surprising that immediately following this publicity the Ambassador should point to some consequences that he expects to flow from it. He emphasised tourism. If tourists come here and see the opportunities that abound in a vast, relatively under-populated country with known resources that merely need capital for their development, it is not unreasonable to assume that capital will be attracted to Australia.
– They will hop in.
– The honorable gentleman says that they will hop in. In point of fact, the return on capital invested in Australia has not been as spectacular as the return that can be secured on capital invested in certain other parts of the world. What Australia has had to offer - certainly during the period of office of governments drawn from the parties on this side of the House - is a general economic and political stability that means far more in terms of attraction than the perhaps higher but not so certain return that can be obtained in other countries. Just as people are prepared to take a smaller return on the capital they invest in government bonds than they would obtain from some more speculative undertaking, so overseas investors see in Australia a haven of political and economic stability in which they can take a long term interest and in which they can enjoy a long term investment.
– I wish to draw the Treasurer’s attention to the recently issued annual report of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board for the year ended 30th June last and, in particular, to a paragraph referring to the quinquennial investigation which it is stated is now under way. The report indicates that it has not been possible to fill vacancies for actuarially qualified personnel on the etsablishment of the Commonwealth Actuary but that it is expected that investigation will be completed during the ensuing financial period. Can the Treasurer give me an assurance that he will give every assistance possible to the Actuary to enable him to complete the task by the projected target date?
– As I understand the report, the Actuary will be able to give me by the end of this year or early in the new year a recommendation on the distribution of funds from the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund. If that is done then it is hoped that in the new financial year - probably about September - the first distribution will be able to commence. 1 have been pressing the Actuary to let me have his recommendation as quickly as he can, but he points out that it is well nigh impossible to get fully qualified actuarial staff. This is the factor tha! limits his capacity to expedite the recommendation. I can assure the honorable member that if the Actuary wants any additional assistance from me or my Department, that assistance will be given willingly.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. I hope I am not spoiling a surprise for the Prime Minister, but I understand that he is to receive as a Christmas gift a Filipino shirt made from pineapple material. Assuming that the material is from the rough portion of the pineapple, can it be regarded as a modern version of the traditional hair shirt of penitents? Is it ominous that he is to wear it al ter November 26th?
– I am afraid that the honorable gentleman opposite will just have to wait for the penitent’s shirt. Mine is not coming to me as a Christmas gift. I, in company with every head of delegation and, indeed, the officials of all delegations to the Manila Conference, received as a gift a shirt made from the fibre of the coconut.
– From pineapples.
– I am sorry. I am not sure what my shirt was made of, but it was certainly wonderful material and highly suitable for the somewhat humid conditions one experiences in the Philippines. Not only did I receive the shirt but I wore it with pleasure to the celebratory function held at the conclusion of the Conference.
This function took the form of a traditional village festival, but glamorised to some degree, I conceive. The honorable gentleman will be welcome to inspect the shirt when I have had it appropriately laundered.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. The right honorable gentleman will be aware that Australia is shortly to face a general election to appoint its future government. Has the Prime Minister accepted the challenge of the Leader of the Opposition to make Australian military withdrawal from Vietnam a major issue? I further ask the Prime Minister: In the light of the seniority of the Leader of the Opposition and, therefore, the vital importance of his Deputy’s policies for the future of Australia, can the right honorable gentleman assure the nation that the major challenge of the election is on a genuine and abiding issue?
– That there is to be a general election has intruded on my consciousness, I can tell the honorable member. The issue to which he refers will not be, of course, the sole issue in the election. Neither the Leader of the Opposition nor I would wish that to be so, but both of us have publicly made it clear that we regard this as an issue of major consequence between us, and it will undoubtedly form a considerable part of our campaigning activities. 1 can assure the honorable gentleman that there has been no weakening or change in the position of the Australian Government in this matter, and shortly I shall be tabling the text of the documents agreed upon in Manila. These documents will make abundantly clear that not only Australia but the six other Governments associated in these discussions are all determined that they shall see through together this issue until a just and enduring settlement has been achieved.
– Is the Prime Minister aware of the proposed 40 per cent, cuts in part time staff of the University of New South Wales and the prospects of a virtual freeze of recruitment of full time staff? Is he also aware that new staff appointments will be filled only if urgently necessary and only 40 per cent, to 60 per cent, of vacancies created by resignations will be filled? Is he aware that this situation was outlined by the Vice-Chancellor, Sir Philip Baxter, yesterday as resulting from severe reductions by the Government in the financial programme recommended by the Australian Universities Commission? Finally, is the Prime Minister aware that there are indications that similar circumstances will exist in other Australian universities? Will this mean that university fees will be raised throughout Australia next year?
– I have not seen any details of the report to which the honorable gentleman has referred, nor indeed has the report itself so far come to my notice. I do know that this Government and the State Governments have accepted, in relation to the next triennium, commitments for expenditure going far beyond those of the previous triennium. Therefore, the report that the honorable gentleman mentioned seems somewhat inconsistent to me with the provision that I know that we and the State Governments are making. None of us in this chamber, I hope, underestimates the importance of university education, but none of us should fail to realise the enormous demand made from a host of directions on Australian resources for the needs of a developing continent. Even with the assistance we are getting from outside capital investment, we still fall far short of our aspirations in the resources that we can muster. I believe that we have been going forward in a far more spectacular fashion over recent years than experienced at any earlier time in Australian history in the provision of university facilities, and this remains the general view and position of the Government. I shall, however, be glad to study any representations which may have been made by the distinguished university leader to whom the honorable gentleman has referred.
– I present the following papers -
Manila Summit Conference, October 1966 - Declaration entitled “Goals of Freedom”. Declaration, of Peace and Progress in Asia and the Pacific.
Might I be permitted to add, Mr. Speaker, that copies of the complete text of these documents are now available to honorable members wishing to study them? It is my hope that 1 shall have been able to complete the preparation of a statement to be made to the House this evening after the dinner suspension. I understand from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) that he would wish to have some interval before a resumption of the debate on that statement after question time tomorrow morning. The Government will be glad to comply with that request.
– by leave - The Northern Territory (Administration) Act requires that where assent to an Ordinance passed by the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory is withheld the Ordinance and a statement of reasons for withholding assent shall be laid before each House of the Parliament. [ wish to inform the House of the considerations leading to the withholding of assent to the Land Tenure (Transitional Provisions) Ordinance .1966. On 19th October I tabled in the House a statement of reasons for withholding assent to the Agricultural Development Leases Ordinance which had been passed by the Northern Territory Legislative Council. This Ordinance provided that the Minister might grant certain developmental leases only in accordance with a recommendation of the Administrator-in-Council. Assent to that Ordinance was withheld because the power of the Minister to grant leases for developmental projects is a necessary part of the Government’s responsibility for the economic development of the Northern Territory. The considerations which led to the withholding of assent to the Land Tenure (Transitional Provisions) Ordinance are similar. The Ordinance passed by the Legislative Council provided that development licences, which carry a priority right to the grant of the pastoral lease, should be granted by the Administrator-in-Council.
The Ordinance was designed to reserve land in the coastal plains region and in the Daly River basin from long term alienation while the best use of the land is being assessed. It also sought to preserve the rights of the former pastoral lessees and grazing licensees who had been engaged in the buffalo meat and hide and pastoral industries by granting to them interim developmental licences carrying a priority right to a pastoral lease. The Government is concerned to ensure that the withholding of assent to this Ordinance does not adversely affect these individuals. Arrangements will be made under the existing law to ensure that so far as possible they are placed in no worse position. The licences they now hold are not terminated by the withholding of assent. It is proposed to offer each licensee a grazing licence over the area occupied by him and, in addition, in the coastal plains area, to grant a special purposes lease over the area occupied for buffalo abattoirs and associated facilities. Holders of grazing licences are entitled to some priority if the land they occupy is made available for pastoral leasing.
I present the following paper -
Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Land Tenure (Transitional Provisions) Ordinance 1966. together with statement of reasons for withholding assent.
Mr. NELSON (Northern Territory).by leave - Mr. Deputy Speaker, the facts of the matter are that the action of the Government has arisen out of an ordinance that was passed by the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory - the Land Tenure (Transitional Provisions) Ordinance 1966. It is a serious thing on the part of any government to set aside an ordinance that has been passed by a representative council such as the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory. This is a Legislative Council consisting of nominated members, non-official members and elected members. The majority of the personnel on the Council are nominated by the Commonwealth Government. It cannot be said that these people are not responsible and have not weighed the possibilities in regard to actions arising out of the legislation that they pass from time to time. The fact is, of course, that the Council feels deeply the lack of sympathy on the part of the Commonwealth Government towards its demands and requests for additional powers. The members feel that this is a field in which they should have more responsibility. They have asked that the assent to land titles be the responsibility of the Administrator-in-Council, where the
Legislative Council has representation, in preference to that of a Minister in Canberra who is remote and can often take action on lines contrary to the wishes of the Legislative Council.
The tragic effect of the withholding of assent in this particular case is that many settlers and many people who occupy and work on the lands involved in the ordinance have been waiting for years for their titles to the land, and will be further held up. In many cases they have been occupying this land for many years. There has been a delay already on the part of the Government in making up its mind about what it intends to do with the land involved. Now these people are going to have to wait a further period before they can secure title to their land.
I know that their rights are protected, according to the statement of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes), by the issue to them of grazing licences to tide them over the period in which this ordinance is in dispute between the Council and the Government. But this does not help them beyond protecting their interests in future development. The fact is that they have to wait. They cannot secure finance against these titles, because they are not accepted as security in any shape or form. These people are desperately anxious to get on with the job of developing this part of the Territory and are prevented from doing so by this dispute between the Legislative Council and the Government. I think it is time that the Government’s representatives got to work and tried to iron out with members of the Legislative Council the difficulties which are causing this dispute to drag on. Those who will suffer are the people involved in working this country.
The background of the dispute is that the Legislative Council feels that it is not getting sympathy from the Government in respect of the widening of its powers and in regard to certain reforms in the way that the Government has granted reform of the House of Assembly of Papua and New Guinea. The Legislative Council sees these reforms and advances being made in Papua and New Guinea but in this respect little is being done for the Northern Territory, despite the fact that the Territory’s population is growing and there has been development in the discovery and exploitation of minerals which will increase the population and economic wealth of the Territory still further. Members of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory feel that they are not participating in the advancement to the extent that they should be. The best thing the Government can do at the present time is immediately to get in touch iith the members of the Legislative Council. The majority of them are completely responsible men. Some have been elected and others have been nominated by the Government. The Government and the Legislative Council should get together and work out a solution to the problem so that the delay which has gone on now for some years in granting permanent titles to the areas can be ended. In this way we could save the people concerned much embarrassment and alleviate quite a lot of hardship in the process. Unless the Government gets down to a round table conference with the Legislative Council on matters of reform and grants additional powers to the Council, problems of the type I have mentioned will continue to arise.
– As Chairman, f present the following reports of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts -
Eighty-eighth Report - Treasury Minutes on Seventy-fourth Report, together with summaries of that Report.
Eighty-ninth Report - The Sixth Committee.
I seek leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The Eighty-eighth report relates to a Treasury minute on your Committee’s Seventy-fourth report which referred to expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer in 1964-65. Whilst your Committee is satisfied generally with the action taken, in respect of that report, two matters which are referred to in Chapter 3 of the report under the heading “ Observations of your Committee “ have caused your Committee some concern. The first relates to Item 872/2/03 administered by the Department of Health and the second relates to Item 668/03 administered by the Department of the Navy. In respect of these matters your Committee would emphasise that material tendered in evidence must be relevant to the subject of the inquiry concerned and further that departments appearing before your Committee should submit all of the information and argument which they regard as material to a matter under current examination by your Committee.
The Eightyninth report relates to the activities of your present Committee over its term of office and represents a distinct and new development in Committee reporting. Your Committee has long recognised that information relating to its activities, in terms of inquiries conducted, reports produced and the number of meetings held would be of great interest not only to the Parliament but also to various organisations and students of political science or public administration many of whom have requested such information over the years. Accordingly, in this report we have set out the objectives implemented to give effect to those objectives and an informative summary of the procedures adopted in the process.I commend the reports to honorable members.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment -
National Debt Sinking Fund Bill 1996.
Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1966.
Discussion of Matter of Public Importance
– I have received a letter from the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely -
The Government’s failure to release the Loder report on transport in northern Australia.
I call upon those honorable members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -
.- The contempt which this Government has for the people of Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia has never been more vividly demonstrated than by its action in concealing and suppressing the important report of the Loder Committee on transportation costs in northern Australia, a committee established as a result of promises made prior to the 1963 election. This action must rank as one of the most blatant acts of arrogance ever shown by any Government and it is a shocking indictment of the Government’s apathy not only towards northern development but also towards the people who live and work in the northern half of Australia.
The Government’s action in refusing to release the Loder report is in line with its action in the last few days in respect of the knocking of the water conservation project on the Ord River in Western Australia and the shipbuilding industry in Tasmania. In both these States the people and the newspapers are openly condemning the Government. In the Tasmanian “ Mercury “ the editorial did not mince matters. “ To hell with Tasmania “ is how it summed up the Federal Government’s attitude to Tasmania. In Western Australia trenchant criticism is being heaped on the Government because of the pathetic reasons given by it for its refusal to back the Ord River project. And now it is “ To hell with Queensland, to the Northern Territory and to Western Australia “. That is the theme and is exactly what the Government is saying in its almost unbelievable arrogance in refusing to release to the Parliament and to the people of Australia a vital report on the key issue of transport costs throughout northern Australia. Make no mistake about it, the Government is in for a major shock on 26th November because people in these States will not tolerate complacency and arrogance, which are the ever increasing trademark of the Government.
The obvious reason why the Government will not release the report is that on the one hand it is favorable to northern development and on the other it is critical of State and Federal Government policies on northern development. The pathetic and lame excuses being advanced to support the Government’s concealment and suppression of the report are beyond imagination. The reasons are in line with the pathetic excuses given by the Government for the wiping of water conservation on the great Ord River project. This is not a report prepared by public servants or inter-departmental committees. It is a report prepared by some of the most distinguished brains in the Commonwealth - highly respected businessmen, primary industry leaders and technicians, men who were chosen by the Government for their great knowledge of their respective fields relevant to northern Australia’s transport costs and problems. If we look at the calibre of these men we see why the Government is anxious to suppress the report. It is because its release would initiate a wave of reaction against the Government not only by the people of Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia but also by all sound thinking Australians. The committee was composed of Sir Louis Loder, former Director-General of Works; Mr. G. R. Fisher, Chairman of Mount Isa Mines; Mr. B. B. Callaghan, Managing Director of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation; Mr. Peter Baillieu, grazier and prominent businessman; Mr. Gordon Blythe, a grazier from Western Australia and an acknowledged expert on the cattle industry in the Kimberleys; and Captain J. P. Williams, Chairman of the Australian Coastal Shiping Commission. This was a top class, well balanced committee.
Now look at the record with respect to the formation of the Committee. The Committee was established as a result of panic promises made by Sir Robert Menzies and his Cabinet on the eve of the 1963 election. It was promised in his policy speech. At that time the Government was contesting an election after a wave of reaction swept against it in the 1961 election when Queensland almost threw the Government out. Queensland and Western Australia wanted the establishment of an efficient north Australian development authority modelled along the administrative lines of the Northern Australia Development Committee which was set up by the Curtin and Chifley Governments immediately after the last war, a body which this Government promptly abandoned when it came into office in 1949. After the 1961 debacle both Queensland and Western Australia wanted effective action. In addition, Labour had stated in categorical terms that it would establish a separate ministry for northern development and northern Australia. The
Government’s answer in 1963 to Queensland and Western Australia, and to Labour’s policy, was the establishment of the abortive Northern Division which has subsequently proved to be one of the greatest confidence tricks ever perpetrated against the people of Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia in the history of Federal Government administration.
The other promise was the establishment of this top level committee on transport costs, which was equally as bad because it involved a great waste of time and effort by responsible men who, like the people, were hoodwinked into thinking that the Government really wanted to do something with the north. When the Committee was established about three years ago the then Minister for National Development, the late Sir William Spooner, said -
The biggest task, and the one which will provide the greatest single impetus to Northern development, is to break through the bottleneck of costs in getting goods to and from the north and between areas of the north itself.
He added that the Government had secured a group of people with first class qualifications to carry out the investigation. But what else did the Minister say? Look at this remarkable statement -
The Government felt that the Committee should proceed steadily but not hasten the investigation at the expense of careful study and analysis because of any sense of extreme urgency. In view of the size and importance of the problems the investigation would not be too long, even if it took 12 months.
But this was three years ago. The Government also instructed the Committee not to restrict its findings to those things that the Commonwealth could do stating that State governments and private enterprise could also play their parts. The Minister said -
We want a good complete picture. Indeed, I hope that the report of the Committee may become a text book to which we may all refer in the future.
In view of what has now happened, what arrogant hypocrisy that was. Sir Robert Menzies, early in 1965, promised the report to Parliament in August 1965. When it was not forthcoming, he stated that it would be before Parliament by the end of the 1 965 sessional period. Not only has the Government betrayed the people of Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, but it has also insulted the former Prime Minister, a man for whom we are led to believe this Government had some admiration. One thing is certain: Sir Robert Menzies would never have allowed the state of affairs which exists today even to develop. Pi is ability as a political tactician screams out when contrasted with this unbelievable arrogance and weak and negative ability of the present Government. No government can afford to be complacent. No government can afford to be arrogant to its people. Yet this Government is so confident that it will sweep the polls at the forthcoming elections that it is not caring how much it insults the intelligence of respectable people or insults the Governments of Queensland, Western Australia, and Tasmania and its own Legislative Council in the Northern Territory. As I said before, it is in for a rude shock.
The report was compiled 15 months ago. Organisations throughout the north worked with enthusiasm to prepare and present facts to the Committee in 1964. Is it any wonder that these organisations - chambers of commerce, local authorities, progress and development bureaux - are completely fed up with the Government? Ls it any wonder that they consider they have been the victims of a confidence trick by a Government attempting to win votes in 1963? I have not the slightest doubt that the Treasury and the knockers who abound in Canberra are busily preparing evidence and reports to sabotage the recommendations of this Committee in a manner similar to that adopted by the Government in connection with the Vernon Committee’s report. But even this Government, in all its arrogance, would balk at rubbishing the men of the Loder Committee on top of the rubbishing it gave the Vernon Committee. This would be too much as it would show the people how shallow and how pathetically negative this Government really was. It is almost unbelievable to think that during the entire life of this 1963-66 Parliament the Committee’s report will not be seen. I believe this is utter contempt of the Parliament.
The tragedy of the investigation is that the substance of the report is based on 1964 data, much of which is completely out of date. The freight position in the north is a scandal of the highest order. Even the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) who sits so comfortably or. I should say, so uncomfortably, at the table. admitted that in 1964 when he made his annual pilgrimage to the north to see the sun. Time and time again the Minister deplored the scandalous freight cost position when irrefutable evidence was given to him. Listen to these words of the Minister, which were widely reported in the Press -
The Loder Committee was set up by the Commonwealth Government to investigate some of the fantastic anomalies that have come to his notice.
He instanced the freight rate on powdered iron from Melbourne to Mr lsa of £28 a ton by sea. The cost of shipping the same cargo from Melbourne to London and then to Mr Morgan was £7 15s. a ton. The company of course, did this consigning of goods to Mr Morgan through its London office. The freight on carbide from Mr Morgan to Sydney is £(2 a ton, but carbide is shipped from South Africa to Sydney for £2 a ton. The freight on limestone to Newcastle from Mr Morgan is £12 a ton. So blatant are these freight rates in Queensland, and so loaded are they against tha people of the north that it is almost impossible to start any manufacturing industry. The Mackay Development Bureau has shown that the cost of sending a fibre glass boat from Mackay to Bowen, a distance of 100 miles is more than that of shipping it from Brisbane to Bowen, a distance of 750 miles, lt is two or three times dearer to ship manganese from Port Hedland in Western Australia to Melbourne than it is to ship it to Tokyo. The freight cost from Cairns to Port Moresby is more than that from Perth to Port Moresby.
I remind the Minister of this statement which he made in Cairns in 1964 and which, again, was reported widely - lt was a tragedy that the north had suffered from these laughable freight anomalies for so long.
Does he remember his statement that: “ The Cairns and Atherton people are boiling mad because New Zealand dairy produce, New Zealand meat and Tasmanian vegetables were selling in New Guinea yet none came from north Queensland because of the exorbitant freight costs”? What are the Minister and the Government doing about it? The serious freight costs were highlighted by the organisations and people who gave evidence to the Loder Committee. But now the Government does not want this Parliament and the people to see what the
Committee recommends because its recommendation would be a clear indictment of the Government. The Loder Committee could not fail to bring out the blatant sucking of the blood of Queensland country areas by the leech-like policies of Brisbane. Everyone knows that the efficiency of the central Queensland and north Queensland railway systems is enabling them to earn substantial profits to pay for the huge operating losses being experienced in Brisbane.
In the last 15 years, the railways north of Brisbane have earned operating profits amounting to $50 million white in the same period the Brisbane railways have suffered a loss of $74 million. The fact that the economic blood of the Queensland country areas is being sucked by Brisbane must be highlighted by the Loder report which in fact would be a condemnation of the Queensland Government’s arrogance towards the country areas - the areas which arc supplying Queensland’s basic wealth and the nation’s export income.
Then, only three weeks ago, we witnessed another savage increase in freight rates in Queensland - another reason why this Government must conceal and suppress the report because it would only heap more fuel on the already raging fire. This freight increase imposed by the Queensland Government on transport systems which are already earning substantial profits is completely unwarranted. Transport permit fees increased from a minimum of 20 per cent, to 87 i per cent, on livestock and wool rates.
The industries most affected are those which have been devastated by the disastrous drought. I refer to such industries as the sugar industry. All have been crippled by economic chaos as a result of the unbelievably disastrous policies of the Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government. The freight rates on sugar cane and raw sugar have been increased by 7i per cent. How benevolent it was of the Queensland Treasurer to say that, because of the difficult position of the sugar industry, the increase will be delayed until 1st January next. How benevolent! How utterly blatant, because the railways in the area are making substantial profits. The freight rates on coal, coke and other minerals, wheat, maize and other grains, hay - even hay - and chaff, flour and refined sugar were increased by 15 per cent. The freight rates on cement, livestock and general merchandise were increased by 10 per cent, while those on fruit, cotton, wool and general contracts were increased by 7£ per cent.
Why has the Queensland Government savagely increased the freight rates in areas which aTe producing the wealth of the State; areas which are providing the nation’s export income, and areas in which the transport systems are operating efficiently and making a substantial profit? The answer is that the increased revenue is required to finance road works and unproductive ventures in many of the capital cities, especially in Brisbane, and the seaside resorts. This is what the Queensland “ Country Life “ had to say about it all -
Northern Development! That and any other kind of development has a hollow ring after the budget brought down by the Queensland Government. lt asks -
Why slug the country? Why this vicious imposition on transport which is vital to outback development?
I heartily agree. The Federal Government stands condemned in the eyes of every sound-thinking Queenslander, Territorian and Western Australian for its refusal to let the people know the facts about the public mismanagement which is rife in northern Australia.
Had the Loder report been unfavorable to the north, the Government would have rushed it into Parliament as fast as possible, but, because it will expose the scandalous truth and reveal to the people how arrogant this Government is, the report will not be released. As I said before, we will see who tells the truth and what the people think on November 26. The people will not tolerate any longer the deceit, broken promises and smears which have been characteristic of this Government’s attitude to northern development and which apparently now characterise its attitude towards development in Tasmania and Western Australia. This is where the Government is making its greatest mistake. Never have its stocks been lower in Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and the Northern Territory; the people will not be hoodwinked any longer by broken promises and arrogance. I repeat that the action of this
Government in concealing and suppressing this report and not allowing it to be tabled during the life of this 1963-66 Parliament will rank as one of the most blatant acts of arrogance by any government, and it is a shocking indictment of the Government’s apathy to transport costs and the people of northern Australia.
– This discussion initiated by the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) is meant to be what I would call an election canter. The honorable member started at a canter but soon slowed to a trot and appeared to finish up at a walk. With his usual intemperance he used words such as “ complacency “ and “ arrogance “ about 20 or 30 times. If arrogance lies anywhere in this place, then 1 know where it does lie.
Let me speak about the report to which he referred. The honorable member see.ns to believe that when the Government calls for a report it should not be a report to the Government but should be a report to be made available to someone else. Had the Commonwealth Government not wanted to know more about the north and to find ways in which it could reduce costs, it would not have called for this report. In seeking to do its utmost to reduce costs in the north, the Government set up this Committee. Let me read the words that were spoken by Sir Robert Menzies when he announced the proposal to appoint the Loder Committee of Investigation into Transportation Costs in Northern Australia. He said -
When we consider the great increases, and sometimes multiplication of costs in the Northern Territory, the north of Western Australia, and parts of the north of Queensland caused by the costs of transportation, we see that we have here a practical problem of great magnitude.
Before anybody offers to say how this northern freight problem should be tackled, it is necessary to have a thorough authoritative examination of the facts, and the feasibility of various method of dealing wilh the problem disclosed.
We propose to establish a competent Committee of Investigation to conduct this examination and report to the Government.
I emphasise the words “ report to the Government “. Had it not been for the parties on this side of the Parliament in the first instance, this report would never have been undertaken. As the honorable member for Dawson has said, we appointed a top committee to look into these matters, and that Committee produced a report that has been very useful. In this report, we see assembled for the first time a large body of valuable information on transport costs in the north which was obtained from a wide variety of sources.
As 1 have previously disclosed, the Committee made a total of some 49 recommendations. The Government looked at them closely. It discovered that some were, in effect, only observations that did not involve proposals for any particular course of action and therefore did not call for any action by the Government. Other proposals related entirely to matters of State responsibility. Obviously, the Commonwealth Government would have neither the power nor the wish to make announcements about those, because they are in the field of responsibility of the State Governments. There were proposals relating to minor matters that scarcely justified full consideration by the Cabinet or by the Government generally. These were matters that could be discussed in the departments and many of which could be attended to by the departments. Finally, there were conclusions that raised questions of policy. On these, the Government has brought to bear a considerable amount of work and in many instances it has taken action of the kind recommended. I point out to honorable members that on at least half a dozen recommendations made by the Committee the Government has taken action similar to that advocated by it.
– Will the Minister tell us what the relevant matters are?
– Let me go through the field of transport improvements in the north. I believe that the honorable member will then see that this Government has done more than any previous government looked like doing in improving transport in the north. It does not matter what field of transport one considers - whether road, rail, sea or air transport. One will find enormous improvements in all fields. To begin with, let us look at the improvements in ports and harbour facilities in the north. I am sure that my colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth), who is to speak later, will discuss this aspect much more fully than I can. Let mo begin in the west and move round to the east.
Harbour after harbour has been improved and modernised. We now have in Western Australia adjacent to the iron ore areas excellent harbours that shortly will be capable of taking ships up to 100,000 tons. Let me mention Broome specifically. This Government made a contribution - in fact, it contributed the entire cost - to the Western Australian Government to enable it to build a new jetty there. As a result, Broome has been transformed. For 85 years, the berthing areas in the old harbour were out of water half the time. They could be used only by vessels with flat bottoms thai could tie up and remain high and dry while they were unloaded and then be refloated and taken out to sca whan high water returned. We have now at Broome a magnificent jetty that will lake ships with a draught up to, I think, 34 feet. This means that any reasonably large overseas vessel can berth there. This has revolutionised the port of Broome, lt may seem a small thing to honorable members down here, 2,000 miles away. They may consider thai the expenditure of $3± million is nothing. But the people of Broome realise just what this has meant. They know thai it has made the difference between life and death to their community.
Moving north east to Derby and Wyndham, we see the harbour improvement that have been made there. At Darwin, facilities on the wharves have been considerably improved, quite apart from work on the jetty itself, to provide for the iron and other ores that wi” be shipped there. I should mention Weipa also. This Government has made a substantial contribution to the development of the harbour at Weipa. So we see this pattern of the improvement of facilities for shipping throughout. Further improvements in facilities for shipping will come with the development of the enormous ore resources al Gove and at the McArthur River, which undoubtedly will lead to the provision of harbour facilities in those areas.
Let us now look at roads. This Government commenced the beef roads scheme under which we have so far spent something like, I think, $26 million. We have before us at a very advanced stage a scheme for a long term programme of beef roads. Wc have had a constant programme since about 1961 or 1962, when the scheme began. But we now have a long term programme to ensure the complete development of the north through a system of beef roads. This will open up remote areas and allow beef to be transported to both the Australian market and the world’s markets. This is a tremendous programme. 1 received only recently some photographs sent to me by Mr. Camm, the Minister for Main Roads in Queensland. These showed some of the work that had been done with the aid of beef roads grants given by the Commonwealth to that State. Not only have we the tremendous improvements resulting from the beef roads scheme. We have also the improvements resulting from the constantly rising sums provided by Commonwealth Aid Roads grants. I think that when this Government took office in 1949 about £9 million annually was paid to the Slates by way of these grants. Today, the figure is $150 million annually. If to the beef roads funds we add expenditure out of Commonwealth Aid Roads grants to the States and Commonwealth expenditure in the north, we find that something like $42 million annually is being spent on the improvement of roads. This is one way in which we arc trying to reduce transport costs. I believe that no requirement is more vital in the north than improved road facilities.
Let mc now turn to air services. This Government has a policy of encouraging the opening up of the remote and vast areas by subsidising the construction of aerodromes and the operation of air services. Wc are paying subsidies to reduce coastal shipping freights and also to reduce air freights. Lastly, we can look at the improvement in rail facilities. These have vastly improved. Considerable expenditure has been undertaken, partly by the Commonwealth and partly by the Queensland Government, in improving the railway line from Townsville to Mount Isa. This line probably more than any other in Australia is responsible for opening up a vast, remote outback area. Some years ago, when I was Secretary of the Government Members Rail Standardisation Committee, I travelled on that line, which was then in very poor condition. I think it was built in the years between 1880 and. 1890. I recall that the members of the Committee were sitting with the State Commissioner for Railways in his carriage, which he had had attached to the rear of a train. I should say from the look of the carriage that it had been built about 1890 also. The sugar bowl suddenly overturned. The Commissioner sent a message to the driver telling him not to exceed 25 miles an hour in any circumstances because any higher speed made his carriage at the rear of the train sway and vibrate too much. Look at what has now happened to the Mount Isa line. Let us see what has happened since then. Here we have a first class line over which millions of tons of ore can and will be carried to the port. The cost of that line is some $40 million. Considerable improvements have been made in the line from Adelaide to Alice Springs and in the North Australia Railway. In addition a tremendous amount of money has been spent in re-equipping the services with diesel electric locomotives. All that I have said leads me to the conclusion that there is no reason why the Government should table the report. I cannot see any advantage to be gained in tabling it. The Government has examined the report closely. It is the Government that makes decisions as to what it will do or will not do. We have looked closely at the report. We are still analysing it in a number of respects because there are some difficult constitutional aspects to some of the recommendations made by the Loder Committee.
The Committee had before it a task of considerable magnitude. Its examinations were concerned with the cost of transportation to and from and within the vast area of northern Australia, with particular reference to the cost of transporting goods and the effect of such costs on the development of northern Australia. The Committee’s report deals with a wide range of matters of far reaching importance affecting transport in northern Australia and encompasses great detail. At the direction of the Government, the report has been subjected to exhaustive study by the relevant Commonwealth departments. Because of the length and complexity of the matters embraced in the report it was only recently - in point of fact, at a time when the Government was entering on Budget discussions - that the departments were able to furnish their views on matters covered by the report. While in some cases measures already adopted by the Government closely parallel certain proposals in the report, the findings of the Committee in general are far from clear cut and neither the departments concerned nor the Government have felt able to take a final decision on them. Con.sideration is, of course, proceeding. In the meantime, the Government does not propose to table the report.
.- It was strange to hear the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) criticise the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) because when the honorable member was Senior Assistant Secretary of the Northern Division of the Department of National Development he was held in very high regard both by the Minister and by Government supporters generally. In fact, on 24th September 1964 the Minister expressed himself as being very delighted to hear honorable members on both sides of the House speak so highly of Dr. Patterson. Apparently, while the honorable member for Dawson was Senior Assistant Secretary of the Northern Division what he said was accepted as being of some authority, but immediately he began to express views from this side of the House the Minister held them up to ridicule. I do not know how silly the Government can get.
The Loder Committee’s report was brought down by a committee set up in early 1964 to inquire into all aspects, so we have been told previously, of transport in the north of Australia. This would include, of course, the Northern Territory, northern Queensland and the north of Western Australia. No doubt it would have meant some investigation into transport methods and costs in southern parts of Australia for purposes of comparison. The Minister for National Development has said nothing to justify the Government’s refusal to make the report available to this Parliament. Notwithstanding views expressed by honorable members opposite or the nature of the Committee’s recommendations, the report cannot help but be of considerable importance to honorable members. By the same token, the report must be of great importance to the development of the north because transport costs in the north are a serious problem and have a consider? bie effect on the cost of living and on production costs. Because of the importance of the report to northern development and the north generally, the Government has a duty to present it to the Parliament for consideration. This it has failed to do and I join with the honorable member for Dawson in voicing my protest on behalf of the Opposition.
We have no alternative but to come to the conclusion that the Government has no intention of ever making the report available to members of the Opposition. The Government’s decision could have been made only because the report contains some criticism of the Government or of some Liberal State Government or because it contains recommendations which, while being worthy of consideration and implementation, are not acceptable to the Government. But even if this is so, it is still no reason why each and every representative of the people in this House should not be given an opportunity to debate the report.
One of the disturbing features of the report is that it comes within the responsibility of the Department of National Development - the Department which has a very poor record as far as northern development is concerned. The Department has failed to push ahead with the Ord River scheme, lt has refused to present the report on beef roads, lt has failed properly to pursue the use of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. Its Northern Division is now treated as a joke. In fact, the Government has been a failure as far as northern development generally is concerned. Contrary to what the Minister for National Development has said, I submit that statements made and answers given by the Minister and the former Prime Minister show that the report was expected to contain material of considerable importance and that the Cabinet had every Intention of placing the report before the Parliament long before now. On 24th September 1964 the Minister, in the course of a debate, told the House that the Committee had made certain inquiries. He pointed out that the Committee was composed of some very able people in the transport field. In other words, he implied that they were experts in the affairs they were expected to examine. The Minister went further and said that it was hoped that it would be possible for the Committee to make recommendations that would assist in solving what is probably one of the biggest bugbears in the north, namely the cost of transport. So it cannot be denied that the Minister had every confidence in the Committee. I feel that his remarks are significant when measured against what has actually happened. 1 say that because what the Minister has said, in effect, is that whatever the Committee recommends in its report and whatever views it may express should be heeded because of its undoubted ability in the field of transport. The Minister ha« also said, in effect, that northern transport was such a problem more than two years ago that once the report was delivered to his Department it should be given immediate attention because it could be the answer to our transport problems in the north.
Let me now refer to what the former Prime Minister said on this subject. On 5th September last year, in reply to the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb), Sir Robert Menzies said that he had nol seen the report but that he was sure - this is important - th.it it would be of great interest to all honorable members. That is different from what the Minister for National Development has just told us - that the report is a matter only for the Government. Surely what the Prime Minister said must have meant that he intended at that time to present the report to the Parliament. But this matter goes further. On 26th October last year, in reply to a question, the former Prime Minister said- -
I can assure the honorable member tha: as soon as I can get my clutches on to it and have a look at it 1 will do my best to see that it is made available for debate during the course of this sessional period.
That was more than 12 months ago. Not only have we concluded that particular sessional period to which the Prime Minister referred, but we have come to the end of a further year’s work in this Parliament and still the Government is not prepared to make the report available. In fact, we have a complete contradiction of what was obviously intended or was put forward as the Government’s intention two years ago. According to an answer given by the Minister for National Development, the report was in the hands of his Department early in August last year and now, 14 months later, the Parliament still has not sighted the report. I am not upset, personally, if the Government feels inclined to ignore me, but I am concerned that it should ignore me as the representative of nine tenths of Western Australia, including the entire north of the State. 1 am disturbed to think that other honorable members representing the people of the north have been ignored. But what I am really concerned about is that the Loder Report may have made suggestions or recommendations which, if implemented, could ease or eliminate the heavy burden of transport costs that rests on the people of the north.
The State Government has made rather steep increases in freight charges on State ships operating to the north of Western Australia, ft has also applied a road hauliers’ tax, and MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd. has increased its freight charges. This means that the cost of living and the cost of production in the north of Western Australia have increased and will continue to increase unless some alternative proposal is introduced. The Commissioner for Railways in Western Australia has made certain recommendations which, if accepted by the State Government, will not only mean increased transport costs but will also mean a loss of employment and a downgrading of some northern towns. We know the attitude of the Commonwealth Grants Commission to freight charges on State ships. But despite all this, the members of the Commonwealth Parliament who represent northern areas and who. as a result, are particularly concerned with these aspects, are denied the opportunity to read and analyse a report that could perhaps - I say “ perhaps “ because I do not know its contents - solve some of the transport problems.
Of course, one of the reasons for the Government’s refusal to table the report is that the north of Australia is represented in the Parliament by Opposition members. If the report contains recommendations which, if implemented, would assist the north, the Government knows full well that we would do everything possible to ensure that they were implemented. This, of course, would not suit the Government’s policy - or rather its lack of policy - for the north generally.
No doubt the report contains recommendations for the upgrading and sealing of the main northern highways and perhaps some of the feeder roads. To implement such recommendations would require a considerable expenditure of money that the Go ernment is not prepared to provide for the north. No matter which way we look at the position, it is quite obvious that the report contains something that the Government is not willing to make public. This being so, it is also obvious that it is something that could seriously embarrass the Government. Rather than be embarrassed, it will allow the people of the north to continue to pay higher and higher transport costs. I believe that the “ West
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard) has directed his remarks to the question of the tabling of the Loder report. My colleague, the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) has answered this point adequately. My remarks will be directed partially to answering the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson), who departed from a consideration of the transport problem and covered an area ranging from the Ord River to Tasmania. He also went in other directions. The important consideration is not the Loder report but the Government’s attitude to northern development. It has shown its concern with northern development. Whatever the Loder report may have to offer, the mere fact that the Government appointed the Loder Committee shows its concern for northern development. The fact that the report has not been tabled does not mean that we have in any way relaxed our efforts to develop the north.
As I said, the honorable member for Dawson covered an area from the Ord to Tasmania. He is obviously an enthusiast, but 1 think we must agree that he is also an academic. He does not have the cold calculated, realistic approach of people who live in the north. Academics in the south take the happy view that large quantities of money - say. SI 00 million - spent in the north is northern development, irrespective of the results that are achieved. The honorable member advocated the extension of the sugar industry (o the Ord River. What has happened to sugar production? The honorable member now represents an electorate in Queensland in which sugar is grown. Does he still advocate the production of sugar on the Ord to compete with the sugar grown in his electorate and to add to the record crop of sugar that Australia already has? I think the honorable member for Dawson will have a completely different story when he speaks in his electorate. He would be dealing with a rather touchy subject if he were to suggest there that sugar should be grown on the Ord.
He revealed his academic approach in another aspect. He advocated the construction of the dam on the Ord River. The cost of the head works and the various ancillary canals would be about $70 million. But nothing is said of the tremendous expense in establishing amenities in the township such as hospitals, power plants, schools and roads. This would probably be double the $70 million required for the dam. But what are the economic prospects of such a” venture? According to the honorable member for Dawson, cotton would bc the main crop grown as a result of this tremendous expenditure. The Government’s approval of the venture would encourage people to invest in it. Is it right that we should commence this undertaking now? Undoubtedly the Ord will be built. But is this the time to encourage people to go there and to grow a crop of cotton? There is a surplus of cotton in the world today. In fact, present world stocks of cotton are equal to 11 times the annual consumption. If wc produce large quantities of cotton on the Ord, where will wc sell it? What sort of disruption will be caused on the world markets? But this is the academic approach of the honorable member. We must admire people for their ideas, but I think the practical men should make the assessment of the prospects.
The honorable member for Dawson remarked on the recent increase of freight charges in Queensland. It is hard for me to understand his attitude when j have in mind the interest the Government has taken in northern development. People seem to forget the Mount lsa strike. This was the greatest blow to northern development in this century, lt was a disastrous strike.
Mount lsa Mines Ltd. brought a new industry to north Queensland. A town was established in a very remote and arid part of north-west Queensland. Between 10,000 and .15,000 people were living in a town that had amenities equal to any to be found in a township of equivalent size anywhere in Australia. The people at Mount lsa were provided with opportunities for sport - including swimming pools - and everything that is needed to make a happy community. 1 would back Mount Isa against most townships of its size anywhere in Australia. The industry encouraged northern development in another way. Townsville developed. But the strike meant that the copper refinery and the fabricating works were closed down. The loss of production at Mount lsa over a period of months had cruel results. The Queensland Government estimated that it lost $10 million alone in revenue from its railways. It is not easy for a State to make up such a loss, especially when a drought is taking a toll of its revenues. These are some of the reasons why the Queensland Government is in trouble.
The honorable member for Dawson is a member of the Australian Labour Party. Two of the most prominent members of the Parly, the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), who are front bench members and members of the shadow cabinet, as it is called, took an active and leading part in fomenting the Mount lsa strike. They tried to keep it going, with a resultant loss to northern Australia. The honorable member for Dawson is a member of this Party and is committed by oath to support its policies and attitudes. He represents an electorate in northern Australia. How can the people in the north have confidence in the honorable member, particularly in view of the altitudes adopted by the Australian Labour Party, which supports site allowance strikes and similar activities? Look at what has happened in Queensland since there has been a Liberal-Country Party Government there. There has been increased development of mineral resources in Queensland. Look at what has happened in the Northern Territory. 1 have secured Cabinet approval for the payment of a superphosphate subsidy in the Northern Territory, which will be of considerable assistance to the people there. It will reduce the landed cost of superphosphate at Darwin to the Townsville price, and the subsidy will apply as from 1st July last. The Darwin price for bulk superphosphate will drop from §41 a ton to S30 a ton. This will mean a drop from $52 a ton for bagged super to $34 a ton. Over five years this will represent $$ million. This will encourage the use of superphosphate and will be a tremendous aid to northern Australia. The subsidy will help bridge the gap until a local superphosphate manufacturing industry is established.
I have also secured Cabinet approval for a new beef roads programme to service the western Barkly area. The programme will extend from Daly Waters to Cape Crawford and from Cape Crawford to the Barkly Highway. It will help open up this area. Unfortunately my time has expired so I cannot refer to other interesting developments that are taking place in the north. However, no doubt I will have an opportunity to do so on some future occasion.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented by the Minister.
– Has the honorable member for Hindmarsh spoken?
– No, Sir. The Minister has misrepresented my position in this community and I believe that I have the right, as a member of this House, to clear my name of the imputations of the Minister, so 1 crave your indulgence in seeking that right. I was amazed, as I walked into this chamber, to hear the Minister, a responsible member of the Cabinet and of the Government, quite blatantly declare, as though it were the truth, that I had been to Mount Isa during the dispute that occurred there in 1964.
– Was not the honorable member there?
– No. The Minister’s statement was false, although it would be accepted by persons not favorably disposed to the Australian Labour Party, principally the management of the Mount Isa mining company and their cohorts.
– Order! I suggest that the honorable member for Hindmarsh make his point about the misrepresentation and not develop it into a debate or discussion.
– lt is not true that I went to Mount Isa. I was not in Queensland during the currency of the strike.
– Did the honorable member support Pat Mackie?
– I did not send any money to Pat Mackie.
– Did the honorable member support him?
– I sent no money to the council for membership control. I expressed the opinion, which I hoped would be shared by all people on my side of the Parliament, that when there is a lockout by a company of the magnitude of the Mount lsa mining company, which is controlled by foreign interests, the workers should win the struggle.
– The honorable member supported the strike.
– ‘lt was not a strike; it was a lockout. I supported the mcn who were locked out, and I expressed the hope that they would win.
– I should like to make a personal explanation.
– Order! Does the honorable member for Dawson claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) said thai I advocated sugar production ou the Ord River. This is a deliberate falsification which could be made only by a Country Party Minister fearful of the people’s reaction against him and his Party because the Country Parly has rubbished the Ord scheme in the last three years. I repeat what I said yesterday. While I was in the Bureau of Agricultural Economics in 1961 and we were looking at the possibilities of alternative crops–
– Order! The honorable member for Dawson has claimed to be misrepresented. He has a perfect right to prove how that misrepresentation was made. The only factor involved is the misrepresentation that he claims was made in this debate. He cannot debate the subject matter of that misrepresentation. I would suggest that he restricts himself to the point of the misrepresentation.
– All right. My point is that I did nol advocate the growing of sugar on the Ord River. To clarify the position, J repeal what I said yesterday. While 1 was in the B.A.E. in 1961 and we were looking at alternative crops for the Ord, I recommended that one of lbs crops to be investigated should be sugar. I said that my view was backed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. If the Minister wants to read what I. said he can read my paper delivered last year to the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science. He will see in black and white that I made the point that for economic reasons sugar cane should no: bc grown on the Ord as it could not compete with the Queensland industry, which had an established infrastructure.
.- It is noted that the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) referred to this debate as an election stunt. There can be no doubt in the world that had the report of the Committee of Investigation into Transportation Costs in Northern Australia - the Loder Committee - supported the Government’s policies and activities, thai would have been publicised and would have been used to the hilt as an election stunt. The only inference to be drawn from the fact that the report is not being made public is that it does not favour the Government and that it would hinder the Government during the forthcoming election. The development of northern Australia surely is of considerable importance, even to the Government. The Government has taken the step of establishing a special department to give attention to this subject.
– It does not function.
– Of course it does not function, because there are insufficient electors in the north to reward the Government for any development it might undertake. The opinion of the people in the north on the Government’s activity there is well illustrated by the fact that the Opposition holds every seat in central and northern Australia. That surely is indicative of the Government’s reluctance to do anything for the north. The Minister mentioned the Mount lsa railway line reconstruction, which cost S34 million. Did the Commonwealth Government give any of the money for this reconstruction work? No, not one cent. It loaned the money and the repayments will total S57 million - §23 million more than the sum loaned. The money will be repaid not by the Mount Isa mining company but by the taxpayers of Queensland. The benefits, of course, will go to Mount lsa; the taxpayer will pay the bill. Let us have another look at some of the alleged benefits accruing to the northern portion of this State as a result of the activities of the Government. Superphosphate is a very important item these days in the agricultural and grazing industries. The price of superphosphate in Brisbane is $24 a ton. In north Queensland the price is $40 a ion, and in Darwin it is $60 a ton. The people will have in mind, particularly those who live in the north, that while they are paying up to nearly three times the basic price in the capital cities for their fertiliser, they are, in addition, handicapped by the fact that having produced their product they must then transport it back to the major market, adding to their costs by paying the freight charges that are incurred. They are unable to get more for their product because they have to sell in competition with produce produced in the south with the result that they have to take a lower return. The net return to the people who go out to pioneer these areas of the country is much lower than that which is received by those in the more settled areas of the south.
So the man who goes into the north, who takes the risk, and who is prepared to do the pioneering, pays increased freight in both directions. Let me point out to the Government that apparently it takes this criticism of its northern policy, and its decision not to make public the Loder Report, sufficiently seriously to put forward in this House today, to counter the criticisms that are made against it, no less man three Ministers. Apparently this is something that the Government takes very seriously.
– It is a Minister’s job to do this.
– It is a pity, so far as the northern part of Australia is concerned, that the Ministers would not do their job.
If they had done their jobs there would be no need for any debate on this Report. The Committee was set up by the Government to obtain information about the present state of transport and freight costs in northern Australia. Apparently the Government did not know what the costs were or it would never have called for such a report. However it did call for a report from the ablest men it could assemble on this Committee. The Government obtained the report and now 12 months after the report has been examined by the Government it declines to make it public. There can be only one reason for this. If the Government were to make the Report public its contents would react unfavorably on the Government and its electoral interests in the next few weeks.
The Government must have known in a general way for many years of the disabilities that face people resident and working in the north. The Minister for National Development himself is reported in the “Courier-Mail” of 5th August 1964 «is proposing an expenditure of £174 million or $35 million for northern development. He also proposed to spend £1 million on the Cairns and Townsville harbours and £10 million on proposed roads. Where has all this gone to? Where has this £1 million that was to be spent on the Cairns and Townsville harbours gone to? It has disappeared somewhere, lt certainly did not turn up there. We have been told about the money that has been spent in Gladstone. But who is spending it? Not the Government. Any money that this Government has made available to any authority in Queensland has been loan money. It will have to be repaid. As I pointed out a while ago, the interest to be paid in connection with the Mount Isa railway line amounts to $23 million. This means increased taxation within the State.
A report submitted by the Northern Cattle Committee in Queensland as far back as 23rd September 1965 pointed out that a certain gentleman whose property is 20 miles west of Chillagoe has to pay £20 a ton in freight charges. These are the things, Mr. Acting Speaker, that the Loder Committee was appointed to investigate. What are the disabilities of the people who live and work in northern Australia? What could be done by the Government to alleviate these difficulties? What could be done by the Government to increase the develop- ment, the population and the output of products from these northern areas? lt is vital to this country that this part of the continent be effectively and permanently occupied by people. Mining, at the best, is a temporary occupation. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) is quite enthusiastic about what goes on at Mount Isa. There are 15,000 people there because of the mineral output, but every ton that is taken out of Mount lsa reduces the length of time that these people will stay there. What we want in the northern part of Australia is permanent population - people who will go there and stay there.
The Loder Committee reported, undoubtedly, on ways and means of accomplishing these things, but we are not told, and apparently are not going to bc told, what this Committee did report. Away back in 1964, the Minister for National Development visited central Queensland. He went to Gladstone, Mount Morgan and Rockhampton and told us what he was going to do. That is more than two years ago. We would be very pleased to have anything done, but we are not pleased to find that the report of the Committee which was appointed to tell us what should be done is not going to become public property. Is the public to know what the Government is doing in relation to this Report? They do not even know the contents of the Report. The money that will be spent is public money. The country belongs to the public. The public is entitled to know what is in this report and it is entitled to know what the Government proposes to do about it. lt already knows what the Government has nol done.
Sitting suspended from 12.38 to 2.15 p.m.
[2.15J. - Just before the suspension of the sitting the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) had made a personal explanation to the House, protesting that he had been misquoted or misreported in relation to statements about the growing of sugar cane on the Ord. He said that he had made recommendations about this as far back as 1961 and that when he spoke on 20th August 1965 to the Thirty-eighth Congress of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science he had suggested that it was not economic to grow sugar on the Ord. I undertook by interjection to tell the House exactly what the honorable member did say, and I shall now quote from the text of his address.
– Quote the whole lot.
– It is rather a long document and perhaps too long to quote the whole lot, but 1 certainly intend to quote the relevant paragraphs about sugar.
– Quote all the-
– If the honorable member will just allow me to read it I intend to quote everything relevant. I have said so. The honorable member said -
Experimental evidence to date suggests that with suitable cane varieties, there is little doubt that satisfactory tonnages of cane per acre can be achieved on the Ord. More information is needed on the effects of climatic conditions on the distribution of the sugar content of cane throughout the crushing period. This work is in progress.
Several salient facts are pertinent when considering sugar production on the Ord. Because the industry in Queensland with its built-in infrastructure is firmly established, milling and marketing costs would be significantly lower than at the Ord because brand new milling, transport and storage facilities would be required. As regards farm cost of production, the Ord could be expected to satisfactorily match relevant Queensland irrigation figures despite the fact that costs of inputs would be higher on the Ord. A major advantage of the Ord is that the cane growing areas could be effectively planned mound a centralised large mill and that maximum utilisation could be made of production and harvesting machinery. Under these circumstances, the most efficient cane farms would have assigned areas of at least 300 acres. Such farms would be *’ big “ when compared with Queensland farm acreages, either irrigated or dry land.
If further investigations showed that a sugar industry could be established on the Ord, the fact nevertheless remains that in the short term, at least, the established Queensland sugar industry has economic advantages over the Ord, not necessarily as regards increased efficiency of cane production on the farm, but rather because the giant infrastructure of railways, port facilities, tram lines, sealed roads, mills, storage facilities and township development are already a well established and sunk investment.
All of this is not really relevant to the matter that is now before the House, but I have read all that the honorable member said on this topic. The honorable member for Dawson has tried to tell the House that he was not in favour of growing sugar on the Ord.
– I raise a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I should like to know what this has to do with the subject that is before the House - the refusal of the Government to table the Loder report on transport costs in north Australia.
– I am very happy to get back to the subject, Mr. Speaker. I promised the honorable member that I would tell him what he did say, and I am sure the House is now aware of it. lt is interesting to note that the honorable member for Dawson resigned his position as head of the Northern Division of the Department of National Development as a great national protest about northern development. But what did he say in this debate? He made some complaints about the State Government’s freight charges for the carriage of goods up the coast of Queensland. That was practically the sum total of his contribution to this debate. What did we hear from the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard)? We heard nothing about northern development or freight rates in general except some complaints about the State Government. If the honorable member for Kalgoorlie were to go. as I did the other day, to North West Cape he would see there a town of 2,000 people or more being developed. If the Labour Party had had ils way and the North West Cape radio station had been condemned there would be nothing at North West Cape but the barren land that was there before. Today there is a township of 2,000 people served by a daily aircraft service. All this is part of the Commonwealth Government’s active contribution to northern development.
These freight problems are considerable. The Commonwealth is aware of this and is continuing to make a substantial contribution to northern development. Consider, for a start, the air services in the north. How many of them would be in existence if it were not for the specific subsidies paid by this Government, which have amounted to $3.5 million in the last three financial years for remote and isolated air services? An amount of $6 million has been spent in the last three years on airport development and providing safety aids in the north. In areas north of the 26th parallel of latitude there are 38 government civil aerodromes and 266 licensed aerodromes, and all of these except 15 of the licensed aerodromes have received or are receiving some form of assistance from the Government.
So far as shipping freights to Darwin are concerned - and this comes within my own immediate knowledge - in 1957 the freight rate from Melbourne to Darwin was 296s. a ton. Today, nine years later, it is 20s. a ton less, and the Australian National Line is providing a good shipping service to Darwin and running it at a loss in order to help the development of this area. Further, it is planning to make this even more efficient, lt has in hand a quite new and unorthodox concept of a combined container ship and bulk carrier. This will carry general cargo in containers, while in the bulk holds it will carry cargoes of manganese from Groote Eylandt. The Australian National Line is exploring this possibility, and the design and speed of the ship are at the moment under study. It has placed orders for roll-on roll-off vessels and is engaged in the construction of terminals for them so that these vessels may be used between Melbourne and the north Queensland coast, lt has now placed orders for three vehicle deck cargo ships of 4,000 tons dead weight. It is doing this not in the expectation of large profits but to provide a service for the area.
The honorable member for Kalgoorlie quite ignored the fact that the State Shipping Service in Western Australia is also bringing itself up to date and planning for increased and more efficient services.
– And higher freights.
– The point is that one cannot have anything for nothing. This Government has paid $2 million a year to the State Shipping Service for many years past, through the Commonwealth Grants Commission, and with improved ports, better and faster ships and other facilities which exist now or will come into existence on the Western Australian coast, there is every reason to believe that it will be possible to reduce freights and give a better service to the northern areas.
This is a practical demonstration of Hie Commonwealth Government’s work in connection with shipping and air services. I have not time to go into details of how the Commonwealth Railways have been assisting the northern areas except to mention briefly that at the present time the Francis
Creek iron ore deposits are being developed with the assistance of the Commonwealth Railways, which is spending millions of dollars on locomotives and rolling stock and upgrading the line. This is an active contribution in a practical way towards carr, ing out some of the things which would have come under the consideration of the Loder Committee. When a government appoints experts to advise it and then proceeds to use the information it obtains from them. I see no reason whatever, if the results justify the Governments action, why it should have to publish the detailed information contained in the advice tendered to it.
Mr. NELSON (Northern Territory) [2.25). - Mr. Speaker, the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) took nine and a half minutes of a ten minute speech before he even mentioned the Loder report on transport in Northern Australia. The subject of this debate is the failure of the Government to release that report. The Minister did not even see fit to mention the report except in his concluding remarks. He made no attempt to justify the Government’s reluctance to publish this report. Why? What has the Government got to hide? lt is obvious that it has something to hide, otherwise it would rush lo make the report available. It has done this with other reports that have affected development and other matters. But here we have a report that obviously is an indictment against the Government in some way, or an indictment against the State Governments, as the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard) said, and the Government is reluctant to make the facts known. This present attitude of the Government is far different from that adopted by the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies. He gave every indication that he was prepared to release the report after he had studied it. He was going to make the Report available to every member of the House so that the information contained in it would be available for study, and criticism if need be. But we have not had an opportunity to see what is in the report.
I asked the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) to name some of the things mentioned in the report and to say what had been implemented. He named a lot of things that the Government had in train, but he did. not say that these activities were the outcome of recommendations by the Loder Committee. I think the Minister said that 49 recommendations were contained in the report. Some affected State Governments, some affected private sectors of the community, and some affected the Commonwealth. I think that at least the Minister should be prepared to release that section of the report dealing with Commonwealth responsibilities. But he has not done even that. There is no dodging the issue -on this matter. If he is reluctant to commit the States or the private sector to a line of action, or proposed line of action, that the report might recommend, at least he should be prepared to face up to the Com.monwealth’s responsibilities in respect of the report. This is something we should know. It would be some measure of the Government’s confidence, not only in the report but in its own ability to implement recommendations in the report, if it tabled that section which dealt with Commonwealth administration. We have not received that section, of course. We have been told of a long list of things that this Government has done. But the things that it has done were not instigated by the Government in any case. They were the results of private enterprise on the part of companies and individuals who went into these matters and forced the Government’s hand. Where the Government has had responsibility for initiating action it has not done so. The initiative has been taken by private enterprise and the Government has had to follow up by providing services for that activity.
Government members and supporters cite the remarkable record of the Government in northern Australia. What about Gove? The development at Gove has languished for 20 years since the deposits were discovered. The project has been bandied and kicked about by company after company and by overseas interests from France, England and the United States. The project is still not yet at a stage where it is producing one ounce of bauxite let alone one ingot of aluminium. Twenty years have been wasted in the development of this great enterprise. What has happened about the lead and zinc mine that Territory Enterprises Pty. Ltd. has under its control on the Rum Jungle field? After this deposit was discovered it was proved to a depth of over 2,000 feet - about eight or ten years ago.
The official excuse for not developing it was that it was a borderline proposition, lt is no longer a borderline proposition because of the way that metal prices have increased over the -past few years. Another venture, which has been discovered by the Bureau of Mineral Resources, would, when added to this field, make a major contribution to the economic development of the north. But these things are not being done. The Government is dragging its feet and doing nothing about them. It will wait for some private investor to go in and do something about it, and the investor will reap the reward.
The Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) sneeringly referred in the course of his speech to academics. Attacks of this kind were made on the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) during the Dawson byelection campaign, and honorable members know what happened. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) made such an attack on that occasion on the honorable member for Dawson. We know that the Government lost that seat, that there was a landslide victory for this academic fellow sitting in the corner here. The honorable member for Dawson has been called an academic, in a slurring way, and this will be resented by thousands of scientists, technologists, chemists, agronomists and other people who delve and deal in research throughout Australia.’ According to the Minister for Territories an academic is some sort of queer, remote creature who has not got his feet on the ground and knows nothing about the practicalities of any situation at all. He regards an academic as a person who goes round with his head in the air. Let me remind honorable members that it was the Minister’s Government that appointed this academic, the present honorable member for Dawson, to take charge of a newly created section within the Department of National Development which was to revolutionise northern development. The Minister’s own leader, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), as a member of the inner Cabinet and the second member of the Government, must have endorsed the appointment of this man to this position. The Minister for National Development at that time was pleased to take credit for the appointment when it was made known. We all thought it was a wonderful appointment - and I mean honorable members on both sides of the House. But when the honorable member for Dawson, as he is now - and will remain - found that he was getting nowhere within the confines of the Government’s control, that its idea of northern development was a phoney, he pulled out and joined the ranks of the Australian Labour Party, which does have a positive policy on northern development. Since then, the Government has turned sour on him and has taken every opportunity to run down this great and capable civil servant. This is the attitude of, and the tactics adopted by the Government. But in the Dawson electorate the only result will be the return of the honorable member for Dawson with a greater majority than he had on the first occasion.
The Government has put up three Ministers to speak on this subject. One is a Country Party man and the others arc Liberal Party members. Now we know where the opposition to the Ord River scheme is coming from. We know that it is coming from the Minister for Territories who today did nothing to indicate that he supported it in any way. In fact, he made it plain that he resisted the idea that it should proceed. One third of the area covered by that scheme comes within the control and administration of the Minister himself. The area spills over by one third from Western Australia into the Northern Territory. One would have thought he would have taken the greatest measures possible to push a scheme that would benefit a Territory for which he has direct responsibility. Instead, the Country Party has let this scheme go by. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) only the other day drew attention to the fact that there has been only one Country Party member of this Parliament who has spoken in favour of the Ord River scheme.
– One Country Party member spoke on it, but not in favour of it.
– He spoke of it, but not for it? Well, this is even worse than I thought - and that was bad enough.
– He said that they did not want another Humpty Doo.
– Apparently the Country Party does not want development in the north at all. All it wants is development in the south in areas where it can get votes. It is not interested in areas where it has no chance of securing more votes. The subsidy on superphosphate announced by the Minister today is one which we have sought for 17 years. It is only after 17 years, on the eve of an election, that we now find the Government coming forward with a promise to provide a subsidy for fertiliser.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The House is debating a matter of urgent public importance, namely, the Government’s failure to release the report of the Loder Committee on transportation costs in Northern Australia. Any person listening to the debate might be excused for thinking that it was on some other matter. Three Ministers have spoken in this debate. Although one Minister, to his credit, did not endeavour to do so, the other two tried in no mean measure to depreciate the efforts and ability of the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson), to write him down and to rubbish him in the hope of affecting him in his electorate. I take issue with the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) when he says that the report of the Committee is the property of the Government. I do not agree with him. I do not believe that committees are set up to whitewash governments or merely to assist the party which is at the time in government. The taxpayers of Australia have paid for this report. Many eminent men gave evidence to the Committee. Four members of the Committee are recognised for their ability. The former Prime Minister was one who recognised their ability at the time of their appointment.
I believe that as the people of Australia have paid for the report and are interested in it. and particularly people living in the northern part of Australia, it is not the sole property of the Government but belongs to the people of Australia. If the report contains some matters which concern State Governments only, I believe, as was suggested by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), that it is open to the Government to delete those parts of the report. But at least those sections concerning the Commonwealth should be tabled in this place. Freights in Northern
Australia are a subject for concern. There is no question about that. Despite all the statements that have been made by the Ministers, much is left to be desired. Last Thursday in this chamber 1 mentioned that the Commonwealth Government, through its sales tax legislation, imposes a further burden on people in remote areas because sales tax is put on freight on all items. It is imposed not only on luxury items but is applied also to necessaries such as motor vehicles and other commodities. The sales tax is payable on the last wholesale price and also on the freight from the point of manufacture to the wholesaler. Because of the importance of the inquiry by the Loder Committee I believe that its report should be tabled. I have much pleasure in supporting the honorable member for Dawson in this respect. I hope that some Government supporter can at least say why the report cannot be tabled in this place.
– Order! The discussion on this matter is concluded. As it is now past the time provided for precedence of general business, Government business will be called on.
Assent to the following Bills reported -
Public Service Bill 1966.
Air Navigation (Charges) Bill 1966.
Loan Bill (No. 2) 1966.
Income Tax Assessment Bill 1966.
Income Tax Bill 1966.
Income Tax (Partnerships and Trusts) Bill 1966.
Estate Duly Assessment Bill 1966.
Pay-roll Tax Assessment Bill 1966.
Debate resumed from 20th October (vide page 2003), on motion by Mr. Barnes -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- We should aim to make the Papua and New Guinea Act, which we are now amending, the constitution of an independent republic of New Guinea within, we hope, the Commonwealth of Nations. The Bill deals with two constitutional aspects, the parliament and the judiciary. The amendments it makes are ones which we in the Labour Party wholeheartedly support. We have moved amendments on the last two occa sions on which the Act has been amended in relation to the parliament. In 1960 we moved two amendments. The first was designed to provide that it would be a common roll on which all the elected members of the Legislative Council, as it was then known, would be elected. The Government defeated our amendment. In 1963 the Government adopted our amendment. In 1960 we moved a second and contingent amendment which, if carried, would have ensured that at the following election for the Council that was the election due in 1961 there would be an election on the common roll. We wanted to delete the provision that the system instituted in 1960 would continue until an ordinance of the Council was passed. Our amendment was defeated. However, the Government adopted it in 1963.
When the Act was being amended in 1963 we moved that there should be no appointed official members, that there should be 83 instead of 44 elected members and that there should be 10 non-indigenous elected members only until the Territory Parliament otherwise provided. A membership of 100 was recommended by the visiting mission from the Trusteeship Council under Sir Hugh Foot, and it was supported by all our allies in the Trusteeship Council. It was supported also in the United Nations General Assembly. The Government went ahead with the provision for a smaller parliament. The Government has now accepted the necessity for a larger parliament onthe grounds which commended themselves to the United Nations and its organs and to the Labour Party. Accordingly we accept the amendments which the Government is now bringing in.
– It is awake at last.
– It is always three years behind on this subject, as I have demonstrated. In accordance with the undertakings which the Government gave the Trusteeship Council, it has brought in amendments to carry out the recommendations of the Select Committee on Constitutional Development appointed by the New Guinea Parliament. These recommendations were: That the number of open electorates be increased from the present 44 to a total of 69; that all special electorates as they now exist be abolished and a new form of electorates, to be known as regional electorates, instituted; that there be an education..! qualification for the candidates nominating for such electorates, such qualification being the attainment of the Territory intermediate certificate or an educational qualification equivalent thereto; that there bc 1 5 such electorates; that voting for these electorates be from a common roll; that in addition to the existing qualifications a candidate for nomination who was not born in the Territory must have resided in Papua and New Guinea for at least five years. These recommendations of the Select Committee are either provided by the Bill or are permitted by the Bill to be the subject of ordinances passed by the Parliament of New Guinea. The Government has acted on the Select Committee’s recommendations as quickly anc! as fully as it undertook to the Trusteeship Council to do.
There are other respects in which the political advancement of the Territory should be promoted. The first, to quote from the Trusteeship Council’s resolution of July of this year, is to bridge the gap between a fully representative Parliament and a fully responsible government. The Trusteeship Council suggested that the select committee should consider the observations of the 1965 Visiting Mission, and of members of the Council, concerning the extension of the House of Assembly, the number and size of electorates, the recommendations of the Council at its 31st session concerning special and official seats in the House of Assembly, and the recommendation of the Visiting Mission to review the present system of parliamentary undersecretaries, to develop further the system of parliamentary committees and to consider the idea of a ministerial cabinet in which New Guineans would hold positions of responsibility. It also suggested that preparation for the transition between a fully representative Parliament and a fully responsible government should be one of the principal tasks of the Select Committee.
The Select Committee did not have time, within the timetable laid down by the Government, to report on these suggestions of the Trusteeship Council. The Labour Party believes, however, that it would be in accordance with these suggestions if we were to move again, as «fe did when the Act was last being amended by this Parlia ment in 1963, to provide that the under secretaries should bc elected by the New Guinea Parliament and should hold office while they held the confidence of that Parliament. This would bridge the gap which the Trusteeship Council has pointed OUt; it would hasten the day when New Guineans could rule themselves, and it would give them the necessary experience forthwith.
The other matter of political advancement concerns local government in the cities. The Government has recently extended local government to Goroka and district, lt has not yet extended local government to the ports of Port Moresby. Lae, Madang and Rabaul. The rate of political advancement in all emerging countries is determined by the cities - by the ports, as they usually are. The political ferment in New Guinea takes place in the ports. The people who live in the ports do not govern them. There is an increasing degree of local government everywhere in the Territory, except in the principal political foci. This can be done by administrative action, lt is not appropriate to do it in the Bill. When we are discussing political advancement in the Territory, however, we must direct attention to this gap. lt is not proper that the principal centres of population, the principal political and economic centres in the Territory should be ruled by Australian officials or Australian businessmen.
The other matter dealt with by the Bill is the judiciary. Hitherto, the powers of the Supreme Court of the Territory have been exercised by the individual judges. Any appeal from them had to go to the High Court of Australia. This is as anomalous as if appeals from single judges of the supreme courts of the Australian States or mainland Territories could go only to the Privy Council. The High Court of Australia has never sat, for instance, in New Guinea. I certainly do not suggest that it should. The Bill makes provision for a Full Court of the Supreme Court of the Territory. It will thus be possible for appeals to be taken from single judges to the Full Court. We shall not again, therefore, have the position which arose in the Sear case about seven years ago in which a judge imposed a fine for the manslaughter of a New Guinean by an Australian planter. The Government considered it inappropriate to appeal to the
High Court against the leniency of the punishment, one of its reasons being that any more severe punishment would have been a term of imprisonment which the planter would have had to serve in Australia and which would then have precluded him from ever returning to New Guinea. If such unfortunate circumstances were to arise again, it would be possible to have the appeal determined in New Guinea by the Full Court of the Supreme Court.
There is another reason why it is desirable to have appeals to an intermediate court of appeal. That reason was pointed out by the present Chief Justice of Australia in an article which he wrote, as AttorneyGeneral, for the inaugural number of the “ Federal Law Review “, the journal of the Faculty of Law in the School of General Studies in the Australian National University. In it he pointed out that between 1957 and 1963 the High Court had been called on to hear 103 Territory appeals, including applications for leave to appeal. Sir Garfield Barwick did not separate appeals from the mainland Territories and those from the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Such figures are available in an answer which the present Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) gave me on 29th September of this year. In 1 963, the High Court heard four appeals from the Supreme Court of the Territory. In 1964 it heard three and in 1965 it heard three. It is clear that most appeals now will be more speedily, more conveniently and more cheaply heard. Above all, they will be more appropriately heard in the Territory itself.
The Bill makes some other amendments concerning the judiciary. In all respects, they improve the constitutional situation of the judiciary in New Guinea. I shall not make any lengthy remarks about the general position of the judiciary in New Guinea. The British people, either directly, or through their own colonies like Australia and New Zealand, have given three very great legacies to their colonies. The first is the idea of representative and later responsible government. The second is an impartial judiciary. The third is an honest public service. The British people have given to their colonies the legacies of representative and later responsible government, of an impartial judiciary and of an honest Public Service.
We are doing the same for New Guinea. In all emerging countries, there is a very great difficulty with respect to the judicial system. It has always been the habit to appoint judges from the ranks of the legal profession. All the emerging nations have a very limited number of members of the legal profession, and most of those are expatriates. This is one of the difficulties at present in all the East African members of the Commonwealth of Nations. This is the situation in New Guinea. There are no New Guinean lawyers. This means that it will be a very long time before there are New Guinean judges if our system is continued by New Guinea. Accordingly, we should take much greater steps than we have taken hitherto in developing the legal profession in the Territory and thus safeguarding the legacy of an impartial judiciary.
This subject was discussed in September last year at a conference in Port Moresby conducted by the International Commission of Jurists and at a similar conference conducted by the Commission in Sydney last July. In particular, Mr. Justice Minogue of the Territory Supreme Court made some trenchant remarks about the whole judicial, magisterial and professional system in the Territory. We should take his views to heart. At the conference in Port Moresby, Mr. David Fenbury, Secretary of the Administrator’s Department in the Territory, questioned the relevance of the Australian - that is, the English - judicial and legal system to the needs of the Territory. The text of his paper appears in the issue of the journal “ New Guinea “ for December and January last. We should not take it for granted that Australian laws appear relevant to New Guineans. Our own legal system has become so expensive and so technical that most Australians themselves cannot make use of it unless they belong to organisations which can guarantee or subsidise them. I direct attention to these matters which can be dealt with within the Territory. I hope that Australia will give great assistance in making it possible for New Guineans to develop a relevant legal system and to continue the best features of ours.
I now turn to other features which are the subject of various statements which since May last year have been recorded on the notice paper as items of business.
I assume that I may deal with these subsidiary subjects concerning New Guinea in the same way as statements which had not been debated were allowed to be debated during the consideration of the 1963 measure. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes), in his second reading speech on the Bill now before us, spoke in wide terms. My remarks, I believe, will have equal bearing on the New Guinea situation which in this debate we have the best opportunity to discuss during the life of the present Parliament.
First, I want to discuss the educational system in New Guinea, lt is essential that any emerging people should be able to communicate with each other and draw on the experience and the wisdom of the people of other countries. They can do this satisfactorily only if they are literate and become moderately technical. We have not proceeded nearly far enough in this respect in New Guinea. We have an unfortunate record in the higher ranges of education in New Guinea compared with the record in British and French colonies. The comparative figures of university graduates, matriculants and technologists are well known. I shall deal principally with the secondary school system, comparing figures which the present Minister and his predecessor have given me in answer to annual questions. They have told me that the estimated number of indigenous children of school age in the Territory has risen from 540,000 in 1963 to 600,000 in 1966. In 1963, indigenous children receiving secondary education numbered 1,831 at schools run by the Administration and 1 ,543 at mission schools. There were 85 receiving education in schools in Australia with Government assistance. The respective figures for 1966 are 5,403, 3,750 and 96. Clearly, there has been an improvement. Nevertheless. when we think that not many more than 9,000 indigenous children in the Territory are receiving secondary education, the prospect is appalling.
We do much more for the children of expatriates, nearly all of whom are Australian. There are very few non-indigenous children, to use the Minister’s term, undergoing secondary education within the Territory. The number has increased from 301 at Administration schools and 5 at mission schools in 1963 to 490 and 21 respectively in 1966. Most of the Australian children are subsidised by the Administration to obtain their secondary education in Australia. There were 1,273 of them in 1963 and there are 1,586 in 1966. We hear a great deal about the generosity of Australia in foreign aid, most of which, of course, goes to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. A great deal of the beneficence of the Australian Government in New Guinea is for the benefit of the Australians there. I have given a very clear illustration of the way in which, under the heading of international aid, we pay for Australian children in New Guinea to receive their secondary education in Australia.
I come now to the other aspect of education - the one which is basic and central to all education - the availability of teachers. Here I cite an answer which 1 received from the Minister for Territories on 16th August this year. In Administration schools there are 1,445 indigenous teachers and 974 expatriate teachers. Of that number 132 hold university degrees and 559 hold an Austraiian or other overseas teachers college qualification. In Administration schools 1,445 indigenous teachers and 236 expatriate teachers hold Territory qualifications. In subsidised mission schools there are 3,561 indigenous teachers and 892 expatriate teachers. Of that number, 71 hold university degrees and 450 hold an Australian or other overseas teachers college qualification. In subsidised mission schools, 2,666 indigenous teachers and 260 expatriate teachers hold qualifications gained in the Territory. lt is clear that teachers in New Guinea, both in Administration and subsidised mission schools, who hold qualifications which are sought and usually required within Australia by both public and private schools, are much scarcer than U thi- c:ise in Australia. In these circumstances the Government’s rejection of ‘he recommendations of the Martin Committee on teacher training appear all the more reprehensible. In fact, in April last year the Government forewent the opportunity, by agreement with the States, to take any teachers who were under bond from the State s> stems - that is, any teachers who had been trained by the State Departments. It is true that more recently the Government has sought assistance in providing teachers from international bodies. In November last year I asked the Minister this question -
Did the Trusteeship Council this year reiterate the recommendation it made in 1962 and 1964 that Australia should invite assistance from U.N.E.S.C.O. in providing more teachers for New Guinea? Does the Government intend to heed the recommendation on this occasion?
To the first question the Minister replied: “ Yes “. To the second he replied -
The Government has always taken careful note of the recommendations of the Trusteeship Council, as it will do in respect of the- particular recommendation referred to in the honorable member’s question.
Not until later, as appears from the answer I received on 16th August, to which I have referred, did the Government make arrangements with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund - on 23rd December last year - and with the U.N. special fund - on 14th January this year - for assistance in science teaching equipment and in secondary teacher training. In this respect, as in other respects, the Government has insisted that any assistance provided by international personnel should be provided by persons coming from north western Europe. In the university which has been set up in New Guinea this year the range of staff who can be recruited is limited by the ban on Asians and Latin Americans, for instance, coming to teach in New Guinea. Australia still determines who will live in New Guinea.
Perhaps I may briefly illustrate who may go to New Guinea and who may leave New Guinea. Honorable members may remember that we have placed a ban on the visit to New Guinea of Soviet journalists. One would think we had something to hide. I do not believe we have. To limit the visits of representatives of foreign newspapers gives New Guineans no training in freedom. Again, the Government has recruited officers from Africa. In particular the Minister told me last May that we have recruited 18 police officers from colonial administrations in Africa.
– From Rhodesia.
– This is probably so but all I can say is that my question referred to colonial administrations in Africa. I did not specify which ones. I would doubt the suitability or the necessity of recruitment in Africa for the police service in New
Guinea. More serious is the fact that as long as Papua remains a Territory of the Commonwealth its residents will be Australian citizens. They cannot, however, visit Australia without a permit and, in most cases, without entering into a bond to leave Australia at the end of the period of the permit. As honorable members know, it is not possible for Papuans to leave Papua or for New Guineans to leave New Guinea byairliner without the appropriate travel documents. The bond required is S200. Last year two thirds of the indigenes who visited Australia had to enter into such a bond. A concluding illustration of our attitude towards the foreign relations of the Territory is afforded by the fact that French military aircraft and possibly French naval ships have visited Port Moresby on the way to Tahiti for the nuclear tests. I am not suggesting that those aircraft or ships were carrying nuclear devices or fuels. The fact is that if Britain, Australia, New Zealand and the United States had denied facilities to French aircraft, the French nuclear tests could not have proceeded in Tahiti. The aircraft with which the French wished to conduct the tests and to observe them could not have got to Tahiti. The Neptunes did not have the necessary range.
I come back to the general aspects of international affairs. I have referred on previous occasions to the Budget, which has reduced Australia’s aid to developing countries this year compared wilh last year’s Budget. 1 refer to a publication by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) in which he sets out four headings of external aid. They are Papua and New Guinea, bilateral, multilateral and defence. If one excludes aid to Papua and New Guinea and defence aid and talks in terms comparable to those which other countries use in describing their international aid, Australia spends less per head and devotes a smaller percentage of her national income to official economic aid than do America, France, Belgium, Britain, Germany, Portugal, Canada, Sweden, the Netherlands, Austria, Norway, Japan and, on one table but not on another, Denmark. So we are well down the list. We are well below all comparable countries.
The United Nations Trusteeship Council has for years recommended that we seek assistance from international bodies. It has done so in relation to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation since 19S3 and in respect of the United Nations technical assistance programme since 1953. It has made other recommendations that we seek help from the World Health Organisation, and from the United Nations for training in administration and related functions and by requesting fellowships for women. The details can be found in an answer that the present Minister gave to me on 13th October 1964.
More interest has been shown in recent years. Particularly I think I should acknowledge that under the present Minister we have been prepared to confer with international organisations and to seek assistance from them to an extent that we never showed before. The Minister asked the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development - that is, the World Bank - to send an economic survey mission to the Territory. The mission’s report was received in September 1964. Its recommendations concerning shipping have not yet been carried out. This appears from an answer which the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) gave me on 27th September of this year.
More important, however, is the fact that three years ago, when Australia became a regional member of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, it did so in respect of continental Australia only. It excluded the Australian Territories. This was all the more remarkable in that West Irian had just come within the aegis of E.C.A.F.E. While Indonesia later allowed its membership of the United Nations and therefore of E.C.A.F.E. to lapse, it has recently reactivated its membership. The significance of membership of E.C.A.F.E. is that aid from the Asian Development Bank is available only to members of the Commission. The Australian Government three years ago overlooked or excluded the membership of Papua and New Guinea in the Commission and thus has denied to Papua and New Guinea aid from the Asian Development Bank. West Irian can receive aid; eastern New Guinea cannot.
Perhaps the clearest example of our neglect and our snubbing of international organisations has been in regard to the International Labour Organisation. Ten conventions apply clearly to New Guinea. They are as follows -
No. 50. Recruiting of Indigenous Workers, 1936;
No. 64, Contracts of Employment (Indigenous Workers), 1939;
No. 65. Penal Sanctions (Indigenous Workers), 1939;
No. 82, Social Policy (Non-metropolitan Territories), 1947, revised in 1962;
No. 83, Labour Standards (Nonmetropolitan Territories), 1947.
This convention, however, has been adopted by only one member and is not yet in force. The others are -
No. 84, Right of Association (Nonmetropolitan Territories), 1947;
No. 86, Contracts of Employment (Indigenous Workers), 1947;
No. 104, Abolition of Penal Sanctions (Indigenous Workers), 1955;
No. 1 10, Plantations, 1958; and
No. Ill, Discrimination (Employment and Occupation), 1958.
In answers to me on 12th September 1963 and 17th October 1963, the Minister’s predecessor set out the respects in which the Territory laws and practices fell short of the standards set by those ten conventions. It is notable that the conventions are really applicable in the circumstances of today’s world only to New Zealand, Britain, France and Australia. Australia has adopted none of them. New Zealand has applied five to Cook Islands and Niue and two to the Tokelau Islands. Britain has applied six to Fiji, the Gilbert and Ellice Islands and the Solomons. France has applied two to French Polynesia and New Caledonia. In this context, I might recall that a tripartite mission drawn from employer organisations, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Department of Labour and National Service, visited the Territory in September and October 1960 and unanimously recommended that a similar tripartite mission should visit the Territory two years later. Six years have passed, but no further mission has gone to the Territory.
It is in this context that one should look at the general development of the Territory. Our objective is self-government or independence. That is our international obligation under the Charter of the United
Nations. As Bernard Shaw said: “ Selfgovernment is not necessarily for a people’s good; it is for their satisfaction.” How far are we training the New Guineans for economic independence? We are making slow political advance and a slower social and educational advance. How much are we advancing economically? Let us take the glaring example of settlement on the land and compare the position for Europeans and for indigenes in receiving soldier settler blocks. 1 quote from an answer on 15th October 1963, which shows that 131 indigenes and 145 Europeans had received blocks. The average loan received by an indigene was £860 and the largest was £1,200. The average received by a European was £21,660 and the largest £31,400. The average block received by an indigene was of 29 acres and the largest 62 acres. The average received by a European was 431 acres and the largest 2,712 acres. We have devised very inadequate, slow moving machinery to determine land titles, based on conquest from the Germans and disrupted by the Japanese. The lesson is clear to people who are dissatisfied with rural conditions. It is that conquest is the way to establish title to land. There has been a good deal of land squatting in the Gazelle Peninsula.
Perhaps the more urgent question is the use to be made of the Territory’s resources. We have been allowing the resources to be developed if at all by private companies. The consequence will be that, when New Guinea is independent, the resources will be controlled by foreign companies and, since they will mostly be Australian companies, Australia will incur the resentment which always arises in those circumstances. Clearly, in developing resources, in processing, financing and transporting them, we should have more government initiative. If we do this, when New Guinea becomes independent, the share of the Australian Government will become the share of the New Guinea Government. The New Guinea people will thus retain control of their resources. The Bulolo plywood factory is the model for development in the cities and of the resources, because it is half owned by the Australian Government. In due course, it will be half owned by the New Guinea government. This is the model for developing the canneries and processing works and shipping and other services which the Territory requires. The great failure of the report of the World Bank was that it was talking in North Atlantic terms, lt did not have relevance to the people and resources of New Guinea.
.- I should like to congratulate the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) for using some very temperate words in discussing Papua and New Guinea, because I have heard him speak not so temperately, not only in this Parliament but in Goroka in New Guinea. I asked him, by way of interjection, when he thought independence should take place, but he did not answer me. However. I remember the date he suggested on another occasion - and he knows what I am talking about. The former Minister for Territories, now the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), was the visionary who started the real development within Papua and New Guinea. He held an idealist’s view - a view without parallel, in my mind. The present Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) is a very practical man. I am not trying to draw comparisons between the two Ministers. I have visited the Territory on several occasions - probably more than anyone else in this Parliament - so I am somewhat au fait with what the people in the Territory think. The average person in Papua and New Guinea - and I am nol referring to the right or left extremists; and the right extremists are what they call the “ befores “ and the left extremists are the rather dissatisfied or dissident public servants - has a tremendous regard for the present Minister. Friends of mine in the Territory have a great regard for this man, and I seriously deplore attacks in the Australian Press on the Minister as incompetent. Among the persons in the Territory who have this regard for the Minister are Jim Leahy of Bunting - and although it is not usual to name public servants perhaps I shall be permitted to do so as I am retiring shortly - Keith McCarthy. David Fenbury and John Gunther, who is now the head of the university there.
Having been to the Territory several times I know that the Minister’s impact as a practical man is deeply appreciated. He has sought to get to the bottom of the problems there. It is a country that cannot be run solely by the Administration. It is important that it should be understood by everybody that all people in the Territory - not merely Europeans or expatriates but the indigenes and the Europeans who were born there and live there - have real confidence in the Minister. This is why I resent the ill formed criticism of this Minister that 1 have read in certain newspapers. I am not buttering up the Minister; I am saying what 1 have heard expressed in the Territory.
I have been to Papua and New Guinea many times, so I may be forgiven for expressing a direct opinion about the Territory. As was suggested by the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart), we must try not to lag behind what the Territory wants. We must anticipate and provide as best we can so as to prevent any accusation that we are neglecting the Territory. The impression 1 gained some few months ago when I was in the area was that there was a degree of unrest among the people of Papua and New Guinea. If I judged it aright, the feeling in the coastal areas of Port Moresby and Rabaul was that we were not keeping up with their wants and desires. If we want to protect our good name and maintain the goodwill of the inhabitants we must try to anticipate what they need. The Minister has done much in this regard. He set up the Select Committee on Constitutional Development which has recommended a larger Parliament in the Territory. From now on the House of Assembly in Port Moresby will contain a majority of native members. This is all to the good because it will protect and maintain the good name of Australia in that area. As we know, Papua and New Guinea are administered from Port Moresby. We hope that ultimately both areas will be one entity. There still exists some feeling between the inhabitants of Papua and the inhabitants of New Guinea. In truth, the fact is that New Guinea is the wealthy part of the Territory. If we want to weld this into a useful nation what we should be aiming at through the United Nations is to make it one nation.
It has been suggested that the Solomon Islands and other contiguous areas might, with Papua and New Guinea, become part of a federation. The attitude of inhabitants of Papua and New Guinea is: “ Look, we are not too rich ourselves, so we do not want to have to subsidise other areas “. The first thing we should try to do is to weld the people of Papua and the people of New Guinea into one entity. In my opinion the word “ independence “ is completely misunderstood by many honorable members. There is a great deal of difference between independence and self-government. Independence means, of course, quite simply a complete break away from Australia. lt is exactly- that and no more. But self-government, which we are now giving to these people, is important to them. I am one of those who believe thoroughly in the principle of a split budget. In short, 1 believe that the House of Assembly at Port Moresby, with a majority of native members, must have the right to exercise its own power over the finances which are raised within the Territory. We have given the House of Assembly this power to a degree, but it is not a complete power. I know it is not a simple problem but 1 believe that this is one way of indicating to the indigenes our trust in them and it is a responsibility that they must accept themselves.
Some kind of suggestion has been made, of course, that this Territory should become a seventh State. I, for one, completely reject the proposition of a seventh State for several reasons. First of all, I do not think the people of Papua and New Guinea really want this at all, but I reject the proposition on other grounds as well. If we are to accept Papua and New Guinea as a seventh Stare we must frankly consider the practical results of this. One of the practical results would be that the people would have to be paid the same social services and enjoy the same rights as everyone in this country enjoys. This would place an additional burden on the taxpayers who, after all, are now being asked to supply a fairly large sum to subsidise Papua and New Guinea. These are things which should not be ignored. These people underneath, if I understand them, are a proud people and 1 do not think they would like a proposition that would make them what we might call a “ mendicant State “. Of course I am a Tasmanian and I belong to a mendicant State. I am prepared to accept that fact. The people of Papua and New Guinea are very proud and if they are going to achieve nationhood they will have to stand on their own feet, aided by their own income. What I am saying does not ignore the fact that we must continue for some years to come to make a contribution from our Budget to help the Territory to build up its economy.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) raised the question of language. On this point I join issue with him. I know that the Administration in Papua and New Guinea believes that all of the people should be taught English, but I believe that in order to benefit the widest group possible it is necessary to continue the teaching of pidgin English. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition quoted figures to show that despite all our efforts we have not been able to educate more than one third of the people. Pidgin must be used and later the people can be converted to the use of English. I believe that pidgin is still the lingua franca of this country and must be used if people are to understand each other. It is no use, as it were, ramming another language down their throats. Although the teaching of English might be an ideal we must not lose sight of the fact that pidgin, particularly in the outlying areas, has a real use and a real value. 1 should like to join issue, again, with what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said on the development of the Territory. Probably the only way to develop Papua and New Guinea is by introducing outside capital, and even Australian capital. But unless the country is developed economically, with financial assistance, there will be a large group of people who have been trained to at least secondary level who could well become a group of dissidents. They will have learned to wear a collar and tie but what prospects will they have in front of them? There will be no jobs for them. This, to me, is a fundamental problem that really matters immensely, and it is one which I know the Minister for Territories fully understands because I have discussed this matter with him on several occasions. The country must be developed economically. Whatever amount of money we put into Papua and New Guinea each year, it is not going to create, despite our efforts, jobs for these people, lt will continue to provide outstanding patrol officers, administrative personnel and other experts who can go around and advise the people on all the necessary things associated with government. However, unless outside capital is provided, the country will not be developed. I am going to put my neck right out by suggesting that this capital should be obtained even if we have to call on Japanese or West German capital to develop the Territory. If this capital is not introduced this Territory is going to go along in a rather idle fashion.
At present we are seeking to improve the education of the people and to provide them with medical services, thus improving their health but, as I said, as we improve the standard of the population wc reach the stage where we have a group of people who have been trained to at least secondary level but for whom there are no jobs available. Where are these jobs to bc found? This is the major problem that has to be faced. I know that the Minister understands the position well and truly. It is for this reason that I reject the suggestion of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that we should not bring in outside capital.
– I was rather putting the point that we should not leave it to outside capital or wait till it comes in, but that in fact we should have Government initiative.
– What does the honorable member mean by “ Government initiative “?
– As in Bulolo. 1 quoted that example.
– Does the honorable member know the history of Bulolo? Two years ago that place could not even sell its plywood.
– That was partly because of Australian import restrictions.
– I am not qualified to speak on that. It is a question of the availability of capital and we are limited as to how much capital we can put in. What is wrong with the proposition of providing capital on certain terms, and I underline the word “ terms “. Australia could have a 51 per cent, controlling interest and we could invite outside capital to help build up this country. In truth this is a fairly poor country and will remain so unless it is developed by expertise and by technical knowledge.
I have little more to say in conclusion than this: I have a tremendous admiration for the Territory and for the people who live there. I have a great deal of admiration for the indigenes with whom, oddly enough, I happen to be able to get along. 1 have a great admiration for the Europeans, the Australians, who have done such a tremendous job in that country. I deprecate suggestions that are heard from time to time that people go up there just for a job. I know that some of them do, but, goodness me, they are very few. This is still a country to which we have a responsibility, and one which is terribly important. We must never forget our responsibility to Papua and New Guinea, which is a country that is going to come of age in the not far distant future.
Incidentally, I must apologise to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for taunting him about what he said a little while ago. I think he has become more temperate on the subject.
– I stick by what I said, but I hope the honorable member does not mind my putting it in my own way.
– I do not think you hurt his feelings.
– That is impossible. However, I did not mean to taunt the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I know that he has a real interest in the Territory and that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) also has as much interest in the Territory as any other man in this country. The Territory is important to us not just because it lies to the north of us, not just because it might be one of our defence bastions, but because we have a responsibility to the people there, and if we do not accept that responsibility we are recreant to our trust.
.- I wish the Bill before the House a swift and safe passage. I think all members of this Parliament want to do all they can for Papua and New Guinea. We are faced with very complex questions. I have listened with interest to the two previous speakers, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) and the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder). They have both spoken from a good deal of experience.
Of course their views differ to some extent and I am not going to say here which one I go along with. I can say, however, that I have spent a fair bit of time in the Territory. Some of my relatives have lived in the Territory. Some of them were born there and have been there since the turn of the century. But my thoughts on Papua and New Guinea have not been coloured by what my uncle, who was at one time the Assistant Administrator in Port Moresby, told family gatherings in Australia at Christmas time about what was going on in the Territory.
I have been into some of the most remote parts of New Guinea. I have a relative at the moment who is the only Australian amongst 27,000 of the local people. I stayed with him for quite some time and it is true that there is at present some unrest - although I would not say a great deal of it - in the Territory. It is confined in the main, as the honorable member for Franklin said, to the seaports. This cannot be helped because when ships from all parts of the world come into the seaports, the people from the ships and the people from the shore mix freely together and exchange views and ideas, and a little bit of unrest develops. From my experience of Papua and New Guinea the people inland have views that are different entirely from those of the people in the seaports.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition pointed out that there was no local government in Port Moresby. I wish to differ from him on this subject because I believe it would be a bad thing at present to introduce local government. In Port Moresby at present the best possible brains are occupied in simply keeping the place moving smoothly. There is a big inflow of ships and cargo into the port. The place is growing very rapidly. It would be wrong at this stage to say to people who are not ready to take over: “ You look after this or that. You look after the wharf; you look after the arrival and disposition of cargoes; you be responsible for the insurance work and the transportation “. That would not help Papua and New Guinea at all.
Speaking of transport, I think the form of transport that has played the biggest part in development so far has been air transport. If it had not Deen for the daring of the pilots who went up there originally and have been going up there ever since - I should say 99 per cent, of them Australian - the place would never have been developed to the extent that it is at present. Those men have flown over soma very rough terrain, landing and taking off from airstrips that would make one’s hair stand on end. They are the people who have played a very big part in the development of Papua and New Guinea. This is something that I wish people would consider when they suggest that we have not done very much to help the people of the Territory.
I venture to suggest that it will be a lon? time before members of this Parliament would care to go to Papua and New Guinea and say to one of the local people: “ 1 will travel in your aircraft and you can take me over the Owen Stanleys and put me down at Popendetta”. I know that the time will come when the local people will be capable of doing this, but is there anyone in this House who would say at the present time: “ One of the local boys will do me. I will get on board his plane and go for a trip over the Owen Stanleys or over the Finisterre Range?”. As far as I know, only one of the local people has been trained in Australia for flying. 1 understand that he was trained by Ansett-A.N.A. I have not heard any protests from people in this House that there should be more of them trained, although I know that there are many people who think that more of the people of the Territory should be trained in Australia to fly. I understand that there is only one man who was trained by AnsettA.N.A., and I believe he is now serving as a chief officer for one of the inland airlines in Papua and New Guinea.
I want to say something about, education in the Territory. It is all very well to come into this House and say that something more should be done. The fact is that we are constantly saying that something more should be done for education here in Australia. We hear protest after protest in this House that we have not enough teachers or enough schools in Australia. In those circumstances where are we going to get the teachers from? If we want to teach the people of Papua and New Guinea properly, the teachers in the main will have to come from Australia, and we can get only a certain number of devoted people to go there. As the honorable member for Franklin said, the people who go up there to teach are mainly devoted people.
Then there is another aspect of this subject. If a man wants to make his home in Papua and New Guinea, whether as a teacher at a school, as an artisan or as a professional man, he takes his wife and children with him. Naturally he and his wife want their children to be educated at least to as high a standard as they themselves attained. So they make an agreement with the Government before they go. A man will say, in effect: “ If I go up there with my wife and family to pioneer that country, surely the Government should give me some kind of compensation so that my children may come back to Australia to obtain a university education “. They want their children to be taught so that they will have sufficient knowledge to enter a university.
These things will come to Papua and New Guinea, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but we have to be patient. We have to do the best we can, and we have to keep striving to see that these people are led along the right path. The thing that amazes me is that when Papua and New Guinea is discussed at the United Nations there are protests all the time from the representatives of two sectors - the Russians and the Africans. They are always finding fault on the ground that Australia is not doing the right thing in Papua and New Guinea. Even when United Nations representatives go to that country and make known what is happening there this information is not accepted by those sectors. Those of us who have been to Papua and New Guinea and have looked around know that what the Russians and Africans say is not true. 1 have taken a lot of interest in the young men who have gone out into the back country as patrol officers. I have said to them: “ Look, your days are coming to an end “. They said to me: “ We used to think our work was coming to an end. We know that by rights we should be the first to give way to the local people; but we cannot get the local people to take over.” What are they to do if the local people do not want to do this kind of job? The Australians cannot just walk out, as this would make it harder for the local people. Therefore these devoted people are carrying on. 1 know that the Government has tried very hard to get the local people to take on administration of this sort, but they do not want to do so. Two or three have tried it, but they then got out, and got out quickly. 1 think it is only right that Australia should take the problem of the development of Papua and New Guinea not only in our stride but also in the stride of the people who live there.
The honorable member for Franklin pointed out the difference between independence and self government, and I think this is a matter to which every honorable member should give a lot of thought. 1 think that independence for Papua and New Guinea is a long way off. 1 think these people must proceed with their development through the commonsense way of local government. This has been established in most parts of the Territory where the local people have the ability, and now 30 extra members are to be elected to the House of Assembly. 1 doubt whether two thirds of the elected members who sit in the House of Assembly actually know what is going on; but still, it is Tight that they should be in that place. I do not say this to insult those people in any way. We must start this process and they must go through the procedures. They must be shown and taught the democratic way of life. We know that there are a few of these people who are brighter than the others; we know that they have their ideas and that they think that quicker progress should be made.
In my opinion there is one thing wrong with the way that we have helped in the development of Papua and New Guinea. I think we were just a little quick in allowing alcoholic liquor into the Territory for genera) consumption. I would rather have seen liquor cut out altogether, for everybody, than to see what is happening in some of the villages now. The island is divided now into West Irian and the area we know as Papua and New Guinea. The religion of the people who now look after West Irian includes abstinence from strong liquor. They do not believe in it. Therefore, on one half of the island people are being told that they must not have strong drink but across the border the people can have as much as they like so long as they are prepared to pay for it. I am no wowser, and I am not a teetotaller, but I think more steps should be taken to try to educate these people that it is easy to drink too much and that it is a very hard thing to stop once started.
One thing that worries me in Australia is the difference in thought that one hears about the Territory. If one speaks to a military man one finds he looks upon the area as his domain - a domain that must be defended, lt is in this respect that governments come into their own. Where you have a government, no matter what government it is, you get a little bit of balance on this sort of thing. Different people see Papua and New Guinea in different ways. We know that a certain amount of effort on defence will be of benefit to the people of the Territory because they are living in an area where anything can happen. We all do our best and we hope and pray that wars will not come about; but they do. It would be wrong if Australia did not take precautions to see that those people were protected. The people of the Territory know and appreciate that a lot of Australian blood was shed in the Territory in the 1940’s, not only in our defence but in defence of the Territory also. I suppose we could have got out of the Territory during the last war. We were nearly forced to get out when the Japanese got to within about 30 miles of Port Moresby. But it was decided by the government of the day that something must be done to save not only Papua and New Guinea but Australia. We obtained aid from the United States of America, and Papua and New Guinea and Australia were saved. Let us be frank about it: If we had not got that aid Papua and New Guinea could have been wiped out. Australia could have pulled out and then gone back to the Territory after the war, but the government of the day decided that the Territory was worth saving. The Government still thinks so today. All thinking Australians say that the Territory shall stand, and we will do all in our power for the safety of that area.
So, Mr. Deputy Speaker, there are many problems in Papua and New Guinea. I do not know what the legal problem concerning Papua is about. We know the history of Papua; that it was given to the Queensland Government by Great Britain and then taken over by the Commonwealth. I have spoken to some Papuans and, as honorable members know, they class themselves as Australians. Some of them say: “ Why can’t we come to Australia? Why do we have to get a permit, when we are Australians? Why can’t we have free access? “ They do not know why they cannot have access to Australia. These are some of the things that must be explained to them. I see no harm in Papuans coming to Australia, but I have spoken to people of all political beliefs and have found that a lot of them say that they do not want Papuans here and that the regulations governing entry are right. Perhaps they are, but the people there do not understand that sort of thing. As time goes on we must move one step ahead all the time, as the honorable member for Franklin said. We must not let these people down. I think they understand, in the main, that 58 per cent, of their income is provided by Australia and that the taxpayers of Australia are making quite a contribution to Papua and New Guinea. Scientists and academics in all walks have gone to the Territory. People in Australia do not quite understand the agricultural work that is being done there by the dip.lomates and people with degrees who go to the Territory, devoted people who teach the local people how they should farm.
Agriculturally, Papua and New Guinea is a very rich country and the people know that if they scratch the ground they can get a crop very quickly. Away from the cities of Papua and New Guinea there is no poverty whatever. So far as I know - the Minister may be able to correct me on this - 98 per cent, of the land in Papua and New Guinea is owned by the people themselves and all governments have jealously guarded their rights. They have drawn up titles for the land and given the land to the people. It has shown them what they own. If there have been disputes between tribes they have been rectified by patrols going out and by the Lands Commission making a search and saying: “ Yes, you own this “. Some plantations are owned by Europeans, but 98 per cent, of the land is owned by the local people. All governments have played their part in seeing that the rights of the people have been maintained. I think it is right that the membership of the Parliament should be increased by 30. I hope that the people of Papua and New Guinea will understand the working of Parliament better. We must be patient with them. I am sure that if they are led along the right track they will get on. I conclude by saying: Be patient with them and it will achieve results.
.- The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) was advocating a little more patience. It is pretty easy to be patient with other people’s problems. The people of Papua and New Guinea, of course, have not much else to do but be patient because their lines of communication to Australia are sparse indeed. It is only the occasional Federal member who can go to the Territory and the occasional report that we receive in the Press which can establish communications between this country and the people of Papua and New Guinea. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) said -
The help can be truly effective only if il is based on co-operation between the Australian Government and the House of Assembly and the people of the Territory.
Basically I can concede that in this measure there is more co-operation between the Government and the people of the Territory, expressed in the wishes of the House of Assembly, than has been previously apparent. The fundamentals of the Select Committee on Constitutional Development appointed by the House of Assembly have been completed. This is a good thing. It is not a good thing that fundamental changes in the judicial and constitutional structure of Papua and New Guinea should come before this Parliament in such a hurried way when there is no time for adequate consideration. I believe that this is a rather cavalier treatment for the people of the Territory and for its House of Assembly. When dealing with the Parliament of the Territory and the structure of its judicial system we are dealing with things which are so important that they should get the greatest measure of consideration by the Commonwealth Parliament. It is unfortunate that this cannot be so. In fact, what we are doing is placing our imprimatur on a decision made by the Department of Territories.
It is all very well to talk about cooperation between the Australian Government and the House of Assembly and the people of the Territory, but it would not be a bad idea to introduce a little co-operation between the Australian Government and our Parliament. There are some hidden menaces in the closing words of the Minister’s speech in which he said -
The situation would, however, plainly be different from that on which the Government’s present approach to assistance for the Territory has been developed, and the Government’s responsibilities to this Parliament and to the taxpayers of Australia would require it to re-examine the position, including the level of Australian aid.
This would be so if we did not get the cooperation of the House of Assembly in these matters. In other words, the members of the House of Assembly can do whatever they like so long as they do whatever they are told. So long as they co-operate to the extent that they are in complete agreement wilh the policies enunciated by the Government, they will get continued financial support. The real battle in the world today is for the undeveloped countries to acquire aid without strings. I believe it was a sad piece of policy pronouncement for the Minister to thrust these thoughts into his remarks. 1 do not suppose he means them in quite the mailed fist way in which they look if one examines the words carefully. We have a responsibility to the people of Papua and New Guinea which transcends our responsibility to any other people externa] to Australia in the rest of the world. This is our closest and most important trusteeship. We have no one else to blame but ourselves if things go wrong. I believe that we are operating in a basically friendly area.
On the three occasions on which I have been to the Territory I have been struck with the ease with which co-operation can be developed with the people of Papua and New Guinea. Although I do not congratulate the Minister, neither do I slate him particularly. The Minister is expressing the view of the Department and the Government and, to a certain extent, the Parliament. We have only to look at the rest of the world to see that in Papua and New Guinea the achievement has been greater than in any similar situation throughout the world, lt is significant that if something goes wrong - a breach of the law, some violence or a murder in even the most remotest parts of Papua and New Guinea - within a week or so the Administration will hear about it and, within another week or so, the malefactors will be brought to justice. In many other places in the world with a long stretch of civilised government behind them, this is not so. So there are measures in Papua and New Guinea about which the Australian people can be proud. However, there are measures of deficiency to which we should turn our attention. 1 believe there has not been enough coopera;ion between Australia and the Territory. In fact, Papua and New Guinea has been too isolated from Australia and from this Parliament, The isolation is based, apparently, on the system by which it is administered through the Department of Territories. There is not enough Australian administrative involvement. I know that we can deal with this in a doctrinaire way and say that it would be an infringement upon their future independence, but there is no doubt in my mind that the Australian administrative system through every Commonwealth department is first class in the way it is managed. For instance, consider the Post Office. Papua and New Guinea has its own Post Office and Australia has its own Post Office. I do not know what the technical difficulties are inside the postal system, but I presume that there are plenty with telephones at least. I presume that the telephone system of Papua and New Guinea is isolated from the Australian system and that when they run into real technical problems the research facilities and so on of the Australian Post Office are not as readily available in, say, Port Moresby as they are in Darwin. This is an administrative division which is not acting to the advantage of the administration of Papua and New Guinea. I have mentioned these matters in the Parliament before.
I would hope that there would be a greater measure of travel between Australia and Papua and New Guinea. It is interesting, in a world in which the barriers are tumbling down and in which the French and Germans twice in my lifetime have just about torn the world apart but are now coming together, that Australia is erecting barriers between people who technically, as the honorable member for Batman has pointed out, are Australian citizens, thai is, the people in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I agree with the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) that we should be keeping one or two steps ahead. I think it would be simple, with the resources at our disposal, with our knowledge of the country and with our direct relationship with it in so many ways, to keep not just one step ahead but to get miles ahead and to have some sort of overall planning. I am not very happy about the World Bank .report. I believe it was based on the general conservative attitude on which most of these things are designed. If I have a criticism of the Minister and the Government, it is not so much for sins of omission but for a general conservatism in their approach in an area such as finance and industry. It is a completely doctrinaire approach.
I would hope that by some sort of administrative action we can do a few things immediately about transport to and from Papua and New Guinea. The honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) pointed out the differential rates between Australian ports and Australian and Papua and New Guinea ports. These people who are living in one of. the. undeveloped parts of the world, whose national income and whose private and personal income are among the lowest in- the whole region, are the people upon whom we are inflicting some of the highest freight rates. This applies equally to air fares. For example, I think that to travel 500 miles by” air in Papua and New Guinea costs about as much as it does to travel 900 miles in Australia. The position is similar with regard to telephones. A phone call from Australia to Port Moresby costs about $3 whereas the most expensive phone call within Australia is about $1.50. -These are matters which just ought not to be tolerated if we are genuine in our proposals to develop the Territory.
We are concerned in this measure with the functions and development of the Parliament of Papua and New Guinea. Its establishment was imaginative. When the Government established the House of Assembly it had reasonable regard for all the verities. For example, it introduced adult suffrage and a satisfactory adult suffrage election over the whole Territory was carried out. This was a demonstration to the world that this sort of thing can be done. It was a demonstration to the doubters of democracy that it can be done, and I believe that the House of Assembly has gone along on its way as well as can be expected, although it could have had much more trust placed upon it.
The Parliament of the people of Papua and New Guinea will be their vehicle for achieving full independence, or full sovereignty, call it what you will. I, am not very much concerned with terminology. It is the relationship between people that matters and we do not want to be inhibited by the terminology of the past. 1 should like to see some effective steps taken towards establishing a system of Cabinet government. I suppose that having been brought up in a system of Cabinet government, where we have parliamentary representation and where we have direct executive authority vested in the Parliament, we are prone to be prompted by our own experiences. In many respects, I think our system is superior to the presidential system although it may be more difficult to operate in the early stages.
The people of Papua and New Guinea have chosen their representatives. 1 think it is part of the pattern of development that we place upon them as much responsibility as we can. On my last visit to the Territory I received criticisms about the positions of the under secretaries. It was suggested that they were only highly paid billy boys. They are not highly paid by anybody’s standards, but it was difficult to imagine their achieving any real executive authority. Our own democracy is a bumbling one on occasions. We have made tremendous errors of all sorts. State Governments and Commonwealth Governments have made great errors of judgment and have been, guilty of great errors of policy over the years; but that is the way democracy works. Papua and New Guinea does have the advantage of a blanket protection in that if some tremendous error is made there we shall doubtless be able to help pull the Territory out of its difficulty, whereas we have always had to try to get out of our difficulties ourselves.
I do not think there are many dangers in giving people executive authority and the right to make mistakes. After all, Papua and New Guinea does not have a tremendously complex industrial development in which economists might make the kind of fundamental errors that are made so often in our own community. There are some areas of restriction that I would impose upon any government. For example, 1 would restrict its right to take human life - to impose capital punishment and so on. This has been my attitude of mind for a long while, but it is not necessarily the only restriction that should prevail in that particular field. Perhaps there should be implied sanctions against restriction of freedom of speech and freedom of association. But apart from those, I cannot sec many areas where complete faith should not be placed in the House of Assembly.
I do not think that the path to sovereignty, or independence, call it what you will, can be defined by any constitutional document. Too often, written constitutions have been inhibiting factors - straightjackets - as is ours. I believe that the development of parliamentary democracy in Papua and New Guinea, step by step, is the way to the development of independence. It is not a question of independence now, or next year, or in 200 years time. But each law that is passed by the House of Assembly will represent another step along the road to independence. For example, when the House of Assembly bans card playing in Papua and New Guinea, that, to the people there, is another revolution, another step towards establishing their own authority.
Parliamentary government is an evolutionary system. People make laws, regulations and ordinances in accordance with the needs of the moment. These needs cannot all be foreseen, lt is best to make progress a step at a time, but in doing so, I think we have to develop a new relationship between Australia and Papua and New Guinea. I do not know what the ultimate relationship should be. We see developing in the world today relationships which have nothing to do with executive authority. For example, Australia and New Zealand have completely separate executive governments, yet the Australian can step ashore in New Zealand and be almost the equal of a free New Zealand citizen. The same applies to the New Zealander coming to Australia. By reciprocal agreements with respect to social services, the right to vote and so on, we establish between our peoples a relationship which transcends in import ance any consideration of executive authority, sovereignty or whatever name it is given.
What I should like to see develop between Papua and New Guinea and Australia is a continuing and close relationship between people as people, under which persons as such shall be able to come and go freely; a relationship under which, when people are trading they will always have some concern for the other partner’s future - for his security, economically and in other ways. I would hope that the Parliament, the Government, its Ministers, its officers and so on will begin to evaluate the position in a new way and that attempts will be made to see what can be done in this matter of relationships. For too long now we have been tangled with the idea of all embracing laws. I believe this is one of the reasons why so many people show a complete lack of appreciation of relationships throughout what was formerly the British Empire, but now is the Commonwealth of Nations. The relationships between Commonwealth countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain are excellent, but our relations with some African countries are tenuous indeed.
The important point is that there is an affinity which cannot be defined in Acts of Parliament, ft is something that can be developed and hurried along on occasions by conscious action on the part of people in authority. I would think that this would be the way we would go with Papua and New Guinea. What the Territory ends up calling itself - whether it be the seventh state, a new dominion or just a freely associated community - does not matter very much. The fundamental needs of Papua and New Guinea are in the fields of political development, industrial development, education, and national development, and I believe that in these areas the Commonwealth Government has been more diffident than it ought to have been. lt is true that Australia has spent great sums in Papua and New Guinea. It is possibly true also that in doing this we have done no more than we ought to have done considering our position as one of the world’s wealthiest nations and considering that Papua and New Guinea is under our trust and therefore is our particular concern.
It has been to the advantage of the people of Papua and New Guinea that they have had the eyes of the world upon them. It has been to their advantage that our administration of our trust comes under the scrutiny of the United Nations. So far as I know, Australia has never inhibited any evaluation of its work in Papua and New Guinea, but the fact that the Territory comes under scrutiny has kept the Australian Government, if not exactly on its toes then certainly sometimes with its heels off the ground in proving that it is trying to do something. We have only to compare the relationship between the Australian Government and the people of Papua and New Guinea with the relationship between the Australian Government and its own Aborigines to realise this. I do not mind the Russians and the Africans kicking up a fuss about these things in the United Nations. There have been occasions when I would have liked to be there to say a few words about certain things. On occasions certain comments have been made by our own representative. I do not think we have anything to hide. I think we have a fair reputation throughout the world, although I do think that political advancement of the Territory, of which the House of Assembly is a part, is still being grudgingly offered, and offered too slowly.
The real millstone around the neck of Papua and New Guinea in the future will be lack of industrial development. This, I believe, stems from the doctrinaire approach of this Government to all economic problems. I think most honorable members on the Government side would admit that their free enterprise attitude is one of deep seated doctrine and that they regard public enterprise in general as poison.
– That is wrong.
– Perhaps the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) does not talk like that but the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) and his predecessor are both very conservative people when it comes to public enterprise. And it will only be by public enterprise that Papua and New Guinea will develop. Is it likely that any large corporation with a great sum to invest will invest it in an area such as Papua and New Guinea? It would seem to me, after studying the history of the last 20 or 30 years that this would be one certain way by which the area could lose at least 90 per cent, of its future independence. I would certainly take strong exception to. this method of development. 1 think the people of Papua and New Guinea will have enough battles on their hands without having round their necks the millstone of tight capitalist control of its development, perhaps by overseas investors.
Australia has had long enough, goodness knows, and by now it should have formulated an industrial development plan for Papua and New Guinea. Light industry should be developed, for instance. I suppose that a start could have been made in this field with clothing factories - establishments producing things such as shoes, socks, shorts and shirts. These are things that all Papuans and New Guineans will come to use. Let us consider what probably happens with shoes, for instance. I suppose that when a cow is killed somewhere outside Cairns, for example, the hide is taken to Brisbane to be tanned and then to Melbourne for manufacture into shoes. The shoes are then transported to Port Moresby to be sold in the shops. It would have been just as easy to develop some light industry in this field in Port Moresby or somewhere else in the Territory. The same applies to a wide variety of fields of light industry. Unless this sort of thing is done, there can be no proper development. The young people who go through the schools will have nowhere to go for employment. They will be in the same position as are many young people whom one meets in Thailand these days. Those young people, having gone through the education system, are highly qualified, but no jobs are available to them except perhaps work in shops, waiting on tables in hotels and the like. Until we have established in Papua and New Guinea an industrial complex of some sort, no matter how small it may be, there will be no future for the people there. There will be no future self reliance for them such as there must be in any modern community. If there is one country anywhere in the world that could have worked with some competence and some confidence to provide these things for the people of the Territory, it is Australia. In a century or so, we have developed from a primary producing country pure and simple into one of the world’s largest industrial nations. Indeed, I think Australia is about the largest industrial complex in the whole of South East Asia.
Another field that has been neglected in my view is the field of education. I consider that the recommendations in the report of the mission of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development concerning education were pretty close to disastrous. I disagree with my friend, the honorable member for Batman. I do not think it is true to say that the best effort has been put forward in education. The best effort may have been made by the people in the Territory, but the fact is that we have relied too completely on the teaching services of Australia. This has meant that the Commonwealth Government has been scouting about and pillaging the teaching services in Australia in order to gather teachers to serve in Papua and New Guinea. Ff there were an indigenous teaching system and a proper system of teacher education, teachers’ colleges would have been established long since. There is a lot of experience to draw on in the rest of the world. It is my belief that we have been too shortsighted in these matters. We have not called on the people with experience. Not many things have been done well in Indonesia since it gained independence. But I believe that its approach to basic and adult education, even though it may not have done especially well in the last two or three years, has brought good results. The Indonesians have had a great deal of experience and there are in other parts of the world other countries with much greater experience of illiteracy than we have had which have adopted a successful approach to the problem and resorted to all sorts of methods to bring adult education to the villages. We have not done this. In fact, education is of fundamental importance to the development of Papua and New Guinea and we should have done better in this field.
The fourth point that I want to make is that a national development programme for Papua and New Guinea is vital. This requires an approach different from that envisaged in the report of the World Bankmission. It requires an examination of transport problems and the development of a proper system of roads. I do not sc.how the Territory can develop properly without a decent system of roads. We have had a lot of experience in constructing roads, though mostly in country completely different from the terrain of the Territory. The world in general has had a lot of experience in constructing roads in mountainous terrain. Until there are adequate lines of communication on the ground between the major centres of population on the main island of New Guinea, there will not bc complete development. These are fields to which Australia could give a great deal of attention and in which it could give a great deal of assistance. We would not need to attach any strings to that assistance. This House should have had an opportunity before now to examine these problems much more thoroughly and much more continually.
The members of the Parliament of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea will in the end be the key to the whole development of the Territory. I believe that they have to be given much greater personal resources. It is good to see that we are now providing for a large increase in the numbers of members of the House of Assembly. I recall that two or three years ago we on this side of the Parliament were proposing numbers something like those now envisaged. As usual, the Government gets around to doing something only with hesitancy and after the loss of much time. It has now agreed to increase the numbers of members of the House of Assembly to 94. A member of Parliament in Papua and New Guinea in particular, and even in Australia, is effective only in accordance with the kind of travel facilities placed at his disposal and the scale of pay and allowances that he receives. These ought to be adequate to enable him to operate freely without fear or favour, to go and to come and to carry out his duties full time. In addition, he needs associated facilities such as telephone services and secretarial assistance. One of the most important needs is adequate transport facilities so that he may travel here and there as his duties require. These things are needed perhaps even more in Papua and New Guinea than in Australia. The members of the House of Assembly need to be able to pry into every corner of the community and to talk to people everywhere in the Territory. I believe that without a great deal of difficulty or cost to ourselves, we could give members of the House of Assembly facilities to enable them to travel to and from Australia much more freely.
Members of this Parliament perhaps ought to be able to travel to Papua and New Guinea on the same basis as they are allowed to travel within Australia. 1 do not believe that I would go to the Territory unless I went there for special purposes. If one wants to look at the education system there, for example, one may visit the Territory. Six months later, one may wish to go back to check on developments and to extend his knowledge still further. Facilities for members of this Parliament to travel to the Territory only once every three years are not good enough, especially for those members who are deeply concerned about particular aspects of development there. I do not believe that members of this Parliament would go charging off to Papua and New Guinea every long weekend, any more than they rush off to widely scattered parts of Australia every long weekend. Better travel facilities would develop better lines of communication between us and the people of the Territory. 1 turn finally to the field of financial responsibility. I realise that it is a besetting sin of this Government that it refuses to place much trust in the way in which people anywhere handle their money. The people of Papua and New Guinea are making a substantial contribution to their own development. It seems to me that it would not be difficult to enlarge their control over their own finances. I notice that the Minister for Territories is at present considering this matter. I hope that he reaches his conclusions in the light of our belief that people in a democracy are entitled to make their own mistakes. The people of Papua and New Guinea will handle their own money as carefully as anyone else does. I hope that in working out the final relationships on this issue, the departmental officers responsible will adopt an attitude based on the belief that we ought to have an adventurous trust in the people who administer the funds of the Territory. The indigenous people will not need to make too many mistakes to find out how the electoral system operates.
Although the people of the Territory are not basically literate, they are fairly sophisticated in dealing with their own affairs. They are also perhaps fairly conservative. I do not think that differences between them matter much, nor do differences between people all round the world, just as intern:1 differences in a homogenous community such as Australia do not matter much, in the development of a capacity to handle one’s own financial affairs, to impose one’s own taxes, to put up with the consequences and to take the kicks when elections come round. I believe that giving the indigenous people more responsibility for their own financial affairs would represent one of the best steps we could take in leading them along the road to selfgovernment or independence - call it what you will. 1 hope that the Government will throw away some of the jargon and terminology and get down to the facts of life. This is something that concerns the people. It will not matter what terminology is used, so long as we establish in Papua and New Guinea a basically friendly nation close to Australia that will co-operate with this country, with an affinity with us in foreign relations and in domestic economics and the like. If we do this, we shall be able to regard the cost as representing a substantial premium for insuring our future. Our future security will be strengthened. 1 believe that the friendship of the people to our north will be the most important factor in the defence of this country and its continuing relations with the rest of Asia. In Papua and New Guinea, we have an opportunity to show the world what can be done between people of different race, religion, background and colour. I believe that so far, despite a lot of unrest and uneasiness here and there, and especially great blunders in relation to matters such as pay in the Territory Public Service, Australia has so far managed to show that it is possible for effective co-operation to be developed between black and white, between people of different cultures and different background influences.
– in reply - I am sure that the people of Papua and New Guinea appreciate the attitude that has been adopted by honorable members to the recommendations submitted by the Select Committee on Constitutional Development appointed by the Territory House of Assembly. The Committee’s recommendations were approved unanimously by the House of Assembly.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) claimed that most of the provisions incorporated in this Bill were proposed by the Opposition in 1960 and 1963 when the structure of the House of Assembly was the subject of debate in this Parliament. I would point out that there is a basic difference in philosophy between this side and the other side of the House. The Government has made it clear that Australia does not want to impose its ideas on the Territory. We want to leave matters generally to the people of the Territory. We believe that they have a right to self determination. It is better that suggestions come from them. After all, they have an elected House of Assembly. It can make changes when it feels that the Territory is ready for them.
Some years ago the Foot Mission recommended that the House of Assembly should consist of 100 members. But the people who gave evidence before the Select Committee said that they did not want a House of Assembly of 100 members. The general recommendation was for a House comprising half that number because the people felt that not sufficient of them understood parliamentary matters. But the people of the Territory have found that in this rugged area where communication is not easy they are not able to see readily their local member. Some of us here in Australia hear similar criticism in our electorates.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred to the importance of local government, particularly to the larger centres of the Territory. The Government is behind the idea of local government. It is endeavouring to encourage the establishment of local government bodies, particularly multi-racial local government councils. This will be a step towards democracy. The wonderful work being done in local government councils is a great factor in bringing democracy to the people. These councils raise revenue and produce budgets, all of which benefits the local people. They become aware of the advantage to the community of spending of money raised locally. This is a splendid exercise in democratic government.
There is a great desire for more education in the Territory. I agree with the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) that the provision of better educational facilities is not an easy task. Even in Australia we are not completely satisfied with our education system, despite the millions of dollars that we have spent. In the matter of education, I do not think it is right to compare Papua and New Guinea with a sophisticated country like Australia. It would be more appropriate to compare Papua and New Guinea with other underdeveloped countries. If honorable members do this I am sure they will see that we have nothing of which to be ashamed in New Guinea. Nevertheless, we are making great endeavours to extend education in the Territory. We have our teachers’ colleges which will provide teachers for the Territory, particularly primary school teachers.
I think the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was a little unfair in claiming that we were placing too much emphasis on expenditure on expatriate education. It must be remembered that many of the expatriate officers in Papua and New Guinea look to their future retirement, when they will be living here in Australia. They do not know whether their children will remainin the Territory. I believe that these officers want their children to be reared and educated in an environment to which they will probably return and earn their living. I think this must be taken into consideration.
-I do not dispute that. I query whether such assistance is frankly described as “ overseas aid “.
– I do not think it is. In any case, it is only a fraction of the Budget. Aid is another factor. We need overseas aid in all our efforts in the Territory. Some time ago we made informal approaches to the World Bank for assistance. Recently, the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon), when in the United States made a formal approach for assistance. I am hopeful that we will get some of the millions of dollars required for the development of roads and communications, which are so essential for economic development. We depend on overseas capital, including private enterprise capital, for economic development. Here again there is a difference in philosophy between the Government and the Opposition. We have no hope of developing Papua and New Guinea purely by government expenditure. I agree with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that portion of the investment in the Territory should be reserved for the local people. This is a principle we have accepted. In every operation we make it a condition that the local people or Australian investment be given an opportunity to participate. The Board of the Development Bank of Papua and New Guinea will meet in the next week or so. The Bank will have an opportunity to participate in the various enterprises that are getting under way. Eventually, the Territory may become independent. I would not like to say when this will happen. It will be a considerable time before it could happen, if we listen to the people of the Territory. But this is a matter for them to decide.
As the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) said, we need overseas aid to develop the Territory. We need Japanese participation. We need overseas investment to develop the tremendous timber resources of the Territory. We must find export markets for this timber because it is obvious that we cannot absorb all of the timber milled or all of the plywood produced in Papua and New Guinea. We will have to export it.
Reference has been made to the matter of land settlement. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred to the encouragement of expatriate land development and the small capital assistance being provided for this purpose to local people. Expatriate land development is the wish of the local people. They have asked me, particularly in the southern highlands, to encourage Australians and Australian companies to go into the area and start industries. Before you can encourage an Australian with the requisite experience and skill, particularly in primary industry, to go into a coffee plantation or a cocoa operation he must be assured of good economic prospects. Those prospects will have to be better than he would have in Australia if he is to be tempted to uproot himself and go to a strange environment. There must be greater attractions for him in the Territory than there are in Australia. As the local people develop and acquire greater skills they will have greater opportunities to engage in industry. This has happened, too. Local people are in quite a big way in coffee, cocoa and other lines and this will continue. The large freehold areas in New Guinea that were taken by conquest from the Germans were mentioned. There is dissension in these areas and squatting is occurring on some of them. But I would like to draw a distinction. Some of the titles to land in the areas are not quite clear. Where the title is established, we do not have any squatting but. where there is a little legal doubt about the situation, we do have squatting. These people are smart enough to know that there is a legal doubt. However, the position will have to be decided by the proper process of law. This is the only way to do it.
The honorable member for Franklin mentioned the ambitions of the people of Papua and New Guinea. They are very ambitious for economic assistance to improve their material lot. Unfortunately, we in Australia need vast sums for our own development. I think the Australian taxpayers have produced a remarkable effort in making available large sums every year for the development of Papua and New Guinea. After all, on a per capita basis, the sums we put into the Territory far exceed the amounts expended by other countries on underdeveloped areas. The honorable member also mentioned the unfair criticism that Australians go to the Territory for what they can get out of it. This is complete nonsense. As he said, a few may go there for this reason, but the vast majority go there with a very genuine desire to help the people. I think the mere fact that the Australian taxpayers provide vast sums each year, without expecting any material return, shows our interest in the Territory. We provide vast sums so that we can do our job in helping these people. We have a very affectionate regard for them. We had a very sincere association with them during the war. I do not have anything else to say. Again, I express my appreciation of the support given to the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Section 5 of the Principal Act is amended by inserting in sub-section (1.), before the definition of “ Acting Administrator “, the following definition: - “ ‘ a Full Court ‘ means a Full Court of the Supreme Court;”.
.- It would appear that we shall pass this Bill through all stages much earlier than we passed a similar bill in May 1963. On that occasion, we took all the Wednesday and proceeded to the edifying hour of 2.15 on Thursday morning. The Opposition moved 11 amendments. The Government accepted three unchanged and a fourth in another form. On this occasion, we shall move six amendments. We have circulated them. They are designed to bring the principal Act, the embryo constitution of New Guinea, more into line with the Australian Constitution and the parliamentary system which we inherited from Britain. The first of the circulated amendments will change the name of the Parliament of New Guinea from “ House of Assembly “ to “ House of Representatives “. This is one of the amendments we moved 31/2 years ago. The reasons which prompted us then prompt us now.
We believe that the term “ House of Representatives “ is more in consonance with contemporary thought and with national legislatures. It is the term used in the United States. It is the term which we have adopted from the United States for our own chamber and it is the term which New Zealand has similarly adopted. It is very much more prevalent than the term “ House of Assembly “. In fact, the term “ House of Assembly “ is not only archaic; it also has provincial connotations. There are 99 legislatures, some of them bicameral, in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in its main State and provincial branches, in its affiliated, auxiliary and subsidiary branches and in its associated groups. In many more than 100 Houses of Parliament in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the term “ House of Assembly “ is used only by the legislatures of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, South Australia, Tasmania, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Guyana,
Barbados and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.It will be seen that in all of these Parliaments the term is at least 100 years old. My recollection is that in some of the West Indian legislatures it would be some centuries old. The term has never been used in any new legislature in the world, as far as I know, for over 100 years.
The term “ Assembly “ is a very apt term. The term “ Legislative Assembly “ is used by a very great number of legislatures in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The term State “ Legislature “ is the term used in the United States. The term “ National Assembly “ is a thoroughly acceptable term. It is used in France and in most of the new African members of the Commonwealth. The term “ House of Assembly “, however, must make it appear that the body to which it applies is one of great antiquity or subservience. It is not a term which we should be suggesting for the Parliament of New Guinea. The term “ House of Representatives “ was suggested by the Foot Committee. It was endorsed by all our allies on the Trusteeship Council and in the General Assembly of the United Nations. We still think it is a better term. I move -
At the end of the clause add the following paragraph: - “and (b) by omitting from sub-section (1.) the definition of ‘ the House of Assembly ‘ and inserting in its stead the following definition: - “ the House of Representatives “ means the House of Representatives for the Territory;’.”.
.- Whatever we do in this Parliament in relation to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, we should have in mind the future of the Territory. In calling the House the “ House of Assembly “, I think all that will happen is that eventually the name will be changed by the people of Papua and New Guinea when they have their independence. We may as well look to the situation now and consider what would please us better if we were in their situation. Would we like our Parliament to be called the “ House of Assembly “ or the “ House of Representatives “. To me “ House of Assembly “ denotes rather more a debating society than a House of Parliament. It is just some place where certain people from the Territory assemble. However, if it is called “ House of Representatives “ it is given a definite meaning - a meaning that this is the place where the representatives of the people meet. For that reason, the Australian Labour Party suggests again on this occasion that the name of the House should be changed. If it is not changed by us now, I am certain as .1 stand here that, when the people of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea gain their independence, they will certainly change it. Our attitude on all these problems should bc to hand over the Territory of Papua and New Guinea in such a state that the authorities will have little to do to keep it running. Whatever decisions we make should be made so that in future the authorities in that country will not have to rewrite the constitution, change the name of the House of Parliament or alter various other things that we have done. We must look to the future, and in so doing we might at this stage describe the Parliament as the “ House of Representatives “ rather than the “ House of Assembly “.
.- 1 support the name “ House of Representatives “. First, I do so because .1 think the expression has more dignity. We are actually describing a parliament being created by our intention. A little while ago the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) said that on the Government side of the House they did not believe in imposing anything, and that we believed in imposing something. The choice of amendments and the choice of clauses that were advanced three years ago were not a question of one side not imposing and the other side imposing. It was often a question of choice of terminology - choice of salary even. Whatever was done was being imposed. I think the term “ House of Representatives “ has more dignity in the world. I would concede to the Minister that at the moment it has the character of an assembly because there are some people in the chamber who are not representatives - they are official persons. However, I think “ House of Representatives” gives a clear earnest of our intentions. I think it would be a good thing if this Parliament retained the same name through its history, so as quickly as possible we should use the name that finally will be us-.d. I think it declares to the world our intention. We are moving towards a parliament that will consist exclusively of representatives, and the measure that is before us takes quite a big step in that direction.
I hope a little later that the humiliation of the Assembly, whereby it has had its salary rate imposed on it from outside by administrators, will go too: but that is concerned with another amendment. I agree with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) that as a description “ House of Representatives “ is better now, and as an earnest of intention it is immeasurably better than “ House of Assembly “.
.- I support my colleagues, and this amendment. “ Member of the House of Assembly “ is the title applied to members of the Tasmanian State Parliament. This title came into being 60 to 70 years ago. The names of legislatures are not changed with the passage of time. Their original description remains. To my knowledge there has been no alteration in the title of any Australian legislature since Australia first achieved representative government. However, be that as it may, in Papua and New Guinea we are embarking on a new and wonderful concept - a new experiment in representative government.
– ls the honorable member suggesting that Tasmania is 70 years behind the limes?
– No, it is many years ahead, but the fact is that these titles were determined many years before we were thought of and they have not been changed. Why should we not give the New Guinea Parliament the title “ House of Representatives “ at the beginning of its history, It is a dignified name and, as the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) said, it will have great significance to other nations. There is much to commend this amendment. We should bestow on the people of the Territory the greatest dignity possible at what could be the commencement of hundreds of years of representative government. This legislature will be there long after we are dead and gone, and long after our children are dead and gone. We are determining a name that may remain for 200 to 300 years, so it is important that we do the right thing now.
. -I appreciate the argument advanced by honorable members opposite, but an important fact is that the people in the Territory do not want the title “ House of Representatives “ to be used. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) said, this title was recommended by the Foot mission. A subsequent select committee toured Papua and New Guinea and took evidence from the people, who said that they did not want the name “ House of Representatives “. A recent select committee was perfectly aware of the debate that took place here in 1963, when a similar amendment was moved. If it wanted the title changed it would have said so. I see nothing wrong with the name “ House of Assembly “. As the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) pointed out, the Tasmanian State House has this title. I have visited there on many happy occasions and have not felt any sense of inferiority or of being in the dark ages. The Government’s policy is to consider the wishes of local people, so we are not prepared to accept this amendment.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be added (Mr. Whitlam’s amendment) be added.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 21
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 4 and 5 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Proposed new clause 5a.
.- I move -
That the following new clause be inserted in the Bill- “ Sit. Section 19 of the Principal Act is amended -
by omitting paragraphs (b) and (c) of subsection (2.) and inserting in their stead the following paragraph: -
ten members of the House of Assembly.’; and
by omitting sub-section (3.) and inserting in its stead the following sub-section: - (3.) Each member of the Administrator’s Council (other than the Administrator) shall be elected by the House of Assembly and shall, subject to this section, hold office during the pleasure of the House.’.”.
The effect of the amendment would be to help bridge the gap between a fully representative Parliament and a fully responsible Government. It will be recalled by members of the Committee that I quoted that phrase from the Trusteeship Council’s report of July. At the moment, the members of the Administrator’s Council consist of three persons who are official members of the House and seven who are elected members, and each of these 10 members is appointed by the Minister on the nomination of the Administrator and holds office during the pleasure of the Minister. If the amendment were agreed to, all the members of the Administrator’s Council would be elected by the House and would hold office during its pleasure. 1 hasten to assure Government supporters that this will not produce resolution or subversion in the Parliament of New Guinea. The functions of the Administrator’s Council are to advise the Administrator on any matter referred to the Council by the Administrator and, in accordance with an ordinance, on any other matter. Thus, the Administrator, who is not a head of State, but an Australian official, would in fact determine what matters were referred to the Council, or the Australian Government would determine what any ordinance would permit to go to the Council. The Council’s functions are thus quite limited. It could do none of the things which the Government of an independent country could do. The virtue of the Council is that it gives training in administration to the elected members of the New Guinea Parliament. I am told that, at the moment, members of the Administrator’s Council who are elected members, as distinct from official members, are not even given the opportunity to answer questions put to them. Questions in the New Guinea Parliament have to be put on notice, except that, within severe limits, supplementary questions may be asked.
Council members ought to have at least some experience in administration and in the conduct of a Parliament, but they are given very little experience in either. In effect, the elected members who are appointed to the Council can appear to their colleagues who are elected to the House very much as puppets or stooges. If the Council is to be an embryo cabinet then it ought to be given responsibilities in Parliament and in administration appropriate to members of a Cabinet. Accordingly, I have moved this amendment. It is in the same terms as an amendment we moved in May 1963.
.- This is one occasion when the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) will be right when he says that this amendment shows the differing views between the Labour Party on the one hand and the Liberal Party and the Country Party on the other, lt is easy to see that the present provision was put in the Bill by a Liberal-Country Party Government for the simple reason that their Cabinet system follows exactly the same pattern. The Prime Minister selects the people whom he wants. The Administrator in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea selects the people he wants. The Labour Party, on the other hand, believes that the members of a government should have the right to elect their Cabinet.
The amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) does not make any attempt to take away the Administrator’s authority but merely gives the House of Assembly, the embryo parliament of the Territory, the opportunity of deciding who shall be the members of the Administrator’s Council. This is not an imposition of our thinking upon the people at all. I am certain the elected members of the House of Assembly would agree entirely with this proposition. If our suggestion is not adopted voluntarily by the Minister and the Government, then before very long the Minister will find the elected members of the House of Assembly endeavouring to arrange for an elected Administrator’s Council rather than one appointed by the Administrator. As I said in my earlier speech, I think it is better for us to do these things in the first place instead of having to be pushed into doing them later. This does not involve a big concession. The members of the House of Assembly, particularly the indigenous members, have demonstrated that when it comes to selecting a man to do a job they can show fairly good common sense. On previous occasions they have done so and have gone for the man with ability. They would do the same in this case.
In addition, however, this would provide some incentive to members to give of their best, because they would know that if they settled down to their work in the House of Assembly and showed promise they would have a chance of being elected to the Administrator’s Council. In addition to all these arguments, I think our suggested system is a much more democratic one than a system under which the Administrator selects the people for his Council and then the Minister appoints them. Our system would give the members of the House of Assembly an opportunity to express their opinions and to exercise a democratic vote. It would certainly be a further indication to the world that Australia intends to allow these people to govern themselves as soon as possible. For these reasons I support the amendment.
– The Committee must feel indebted to the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) for having directed attention to the striking similarity between the system which the Government clings to in New Guinea and its own system of selecting a Cabinet in the Australian Government.
– Autocracy rather than democracy.
– Yes, autocracy instead of democracy, as my learned and gallant Deputy Leader has just remarked. There are at least 20 members in this Parliament on the other side-
– Order! 1 suggest that the relationship of members on the Government side of the Parliament has no relevance to the clause under discussion.
– When I mentioned 20 you knew what F was going to talk about-
– Order! The honorable member mentioned it himself.
– Well, there is this striking similarity between the idea of having the Administrator selecting all his ministers, or all his administrators, and the system adopted by this Government, whereby the Prime Minister does the same sort of thing. He makes the selection. The Parliament itself has no say. The party room has no say. Here is where we see the similarity with the practice in New Guinea, and perhaps it is for this reason the Government will not alter this practice.
I wish also to refer to the virtual undertaking that the Government gave to the United Nations Trusteeship Council many months ago that it would do something about the position of Under-Secretaries. I wish to refer to the official draft regulations and conclusions of the Trusteeship Council, which had this to say -
The Council notes the statement made to its 33rd session by the Under-Secretary for Health for Papua and New Guinea that the system of Under-Secretaries in his experience has been worth while. The Council recalls its previous suggestion that the Select Committee review the present system of parliamentary UnderSecretaries and notes with interest the statement of the Minister for Territories on 21st April 1966, several months ago -
Something like six months ago, I think, on a quick calculation - that it is intended that all possible means of making this system more effective should be taken.
That was the solemn undertaking by this Minister to this Parliament and to the Trusteeship Council more than six months ago, yet not one single thing has been done, nor is there any positive or concrete evidence that the Government or the Minister intends to do anything about it. How can the Trusteeship Council accept the word of a government which gives these solemn undertakings and then allows six months to elapse without doing anything about them? Is it any wonder that we get hostile criticism from the other members of the Trusteeship Council? Of course some of them would oppose us no matter what we did, but why deliberately give them ammunition to shoot us down with, as we have been doing? Why can we not occasionally, when we have pledged our word to do something, carry out our word and do it? Then when a Minister of this Government gave an undertaking of this kind the people in the Trusteeship Council might say: “ Here is an assurance given by a Minister who will, as experience has shown, be as good as his word.” Unfortunately after 26th November if the new Minister gives similar undertakings we will be hampered by the suspicions and doubts engendered in the members of the Trusteeship Council by the previous Minister. They will suspect our integrity and doubt our intention to do whatever we say we intended to do.
– The honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) have provided me with an argument for sticking to the present system. They have likened it to the system adopted by the Liberal and Country Parties in this country for selecting a cabinet, and that system must appeal to the people of Papua and New Guinea when they consider the success of those parties and their governments over the last 17 years in this country. But I think it is proper that if there is any change to be made it should be only after the people themselves have expressed a desire for it. The select committee was appointed to look into constitutional matters affecting the future of Papua and New Guinea. I think 1 pointed out before that the time factor limited the Committee to a range of inquiry which related to the structure of the House of Assembly. It must be appreciated that before these changes can be made the Papua and New Guinea Act has to be amended as we are amending it now. Then ordinances have to be put through the local legislature, rolls have to be printed, new electorates have to be drawn and obviously the time factor is very important. So the select committee intends to consider matters relating to an executive form of government probably within the next year.
I point out, also that most diverse opinions are held on this matter amongst the people themselves. If we go to the highlands, if we go to Rabaul and to Port Moresby we will hear varying opinions expressed. The honorable member for Lang said that probably we will have to amend this legislation in a few years time, and I would agree that this is possible. We have agreed to consider the wishes of the people in this regard, and I think that any such changes should be initiated by the people themselves rather than by this Government. For this reason the Government does not accept the amendment.
Question put -
That the new clause proposed to be inserted (Mr. Whitlam’s amendment) be inserted.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause 6 agreed to.
Proposed new clause 6a.
.- I move -
The the following new clause be inserted in the Bill- “ 6a. Section 37 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting paragraph (a) of sub-section (4.) and inserting in its stead the following paragraph: -
for two consecutive months of any session of the House he, without permission of the House, fails to attend the House; or
The general intention of all these amendments, as I have said, is to make the embryo constitution of New Guinea conform to our Constitution and to British parliamentary traditions. The amendment would provide that a member would lose his scat in the New Guinea Parliament in the same circumstances as a member of this Parliament loses his seat. The wording is the same as that in section 38 of the Australian Constitution. The terms of the Bill are not nearly so clear. They provide that a man loses his seat if he is absent without permission at all times during each of three consecutive meetings of the House of Assembly. A meeting of the House is defined as commencing when the House first sits following a general election, a prorogation of the House or an adjournment of the House otherwise than for a period of less than seven days, and it ends when the next House is either prorogued or adjourned otherwise than for a period of less than seven days.
Honorable members will see that there is great obscurity. The opportunities for manipulation are considerable. The amendment would be quite clear in terms of time and procedure. These are the terms which we apply in the Australian Parliament. Despite all the suggestions which have been made for amending the Australian Constitution no suggestion has ever been made to amend section 38. Accordingly, the Opposition moves that we insert a corresponding provision in the constitution of New Guinea.
– Mr. Chairman, this is again an amendment moved previously, in 1963, I think, by the Opposition. Again, obviously this matter was considered by the Select Committee or. Constitutional Development. I think the peculiar circumstances of sitting of the House of Assembly must be appreciated. I have a list here showing some of the times of sitting. For instance, the House sat from 8th June 1964 to 1 6th June 1964. The next sitting was from 1st September to 10th September 1964. The next was from 1 8th January to 22nd January and so on. There were many similar sittings. The Government believes that this is a situation which is satisfactory to the people. I appreciate the motives expressed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), and we wish to conform with British parliamentary systems. But here again are circumstances which the Government believes asI said before are suitable to the people. The people express no desire for a change. Therefore the Government is not prepared to accept the amendment.
– I would like to mention a point to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition who has moved this amendment. I feel I may be able to persuade him not to proceed with it. 1 hope to do so because I think that if he succeeded in having this amendment passed although the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) indicated that the Government will not support it, it would result in a most curious situation. It would result in a situation in which all members would have to get leave because a session begins with the assembling of the House of Assembly and ends with its prorogation. The consequence is that it remains in session notwithstanding that it sits for only perhaps a fortnight or a few days at a time and then does not sit again for perhaps three months. My colleague, the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) has just given some indication of the gap in the actual sittings. Let us suppose that on 25th February the House was going to get up, if I may use that term, and would not sit again until May. In that case it would still be in session. It would therefore be necessary to give all members leave for the period because it extends beyond the period proposed in the amendment, namely,two consecutive months. The consequence is that everybody would have to get leave on every occasion on which the Parliament did not reassemble to sit for a period of longer than two months. We would have a situation where a person who had put himself in jeopardy of being disqualified by reason of this provision would have to be given leave in globe with everybody else and it would bring to an end that period of not sitting which had put him in jeopardy. The nest consequence which would flow from it is that if a member were not given leave between sittings he would be disqualified for an absence from just one meeting of the House, using the term “ meeting “ as distinct from “ session “ because it will be readily agreed a session is the period from the assembly to prorogation.
– And “ meeting “ is defined in the Act.
– That is right. So I put it to the Deputy Leader that the amendment is not a good one. Quite apart from the reasons which my colleague has given, it should be refused. I suggest to the honorable member that he should not proceed with it.
.- In view of what the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) has said I shall not press this matter to a division. Perhaps it can be defeated on the voices. I certainly appreciate that in view of the definition of the word “ meeting” in the Act it would be necessary to have consequential amendments if this one were carried. On the other point mentioned by the Minister, whenever this House adjourns, for example in May at the end of the autumn session or in November or December at the end of a Budget session, when we are not having an election, leave is given to all honorable members. I have never been able to understand why we have had to have leave from Parliament when Parliament is not going to sit. Nevertheless, we go through this procedure.
– That is because Parliament is still in session, even though it is not sitting. With our sittings there is a policy of continuity, whereas there is not with the House of Assembly.
– I realise that a practice has grown up in the Territory to have quite short weeks of sittings. I would have thought that consequential amendments in the Act were possible and in practice were probable. Nevertheless, we shall not divide on this amendment.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Proposed new clause 6b.
.- I move -
That the following new clause be inserted in the Bill- “ 6b. After section 38 of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - 38a. Until the House of Assembly otherwise provides, each member shall receive an allowance of Three thousand dollars a year as from the day on which he is elected.’.”.
It will be noticed that the amendment reproduces the terms of our own Constitution, except as regards the amount of allowances.
The words are taken from section 48 of the Constitution. This, too, was an amendment that we moved in May 1963. Our motive was then, as it is now, to ensure that the parliamentarians themselves take responsibility for their emoluments - and this is an important aspect of training for any Parliament. At present in the Territory emoluments of parliamentarians can be suggested by them in an ordinance which, like any ordinance, can be reserved, referred back or disallowed. This means, therefore, that not only the Administrator, who is an Australian official, but the Australian Government can hold the parliamentarians in New Guinea in suspense. It can veto them. It is a more democratic and more dignified procedure for their embryo constitution to state what their allowances will be and leave it to them to alter it. They then take and accept responsibility for any decision they make. It is not proper that legislators should appear to be so much in the palm of the Executive as this leaves them. We would have resented the fact if, when the Parliament first sat in 1901, its salaries had to be reserved for the Queen’s assent on the advice of her British Ministers, lt will be remembered that this was well before the Statute of Westminster. The situation is similar in New Guinea now to what it was in Australia at the beginning of the century. Accordingly, we believe that this is a proper provision to put in the embryo constitution.
.- I believe we can almost anticipate that the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) is going to arise and say: “ If they had wanted this, they would have said so “.
– No, I would not say that.
– I should think not. I had 12 New Guinea members of Parliament to dinner on one occasion, and perhaps as many again, some European and some indigenes, on another occasion. If there was one thing on which they were united it was the inadequacy of their allowances and their salaries.
– That is a complaint in this place too.
– Yes, but in their case it was genuine. The allowance of $1,920 would be the equivalent of £960. First, for it to be prescribed as it was for us, when £400 was fixed in 1901, is in conformity with the dignity of the House when it starts off. They do not have to haggle about that. If the amount had been £1,500 per year it would have been a more realistic figure than £960 to enable them to meet the expense of travelling about and there would have been no need for minor adjustments to bring the allowance to £960. I think also that it is inconsistent with the dignity of the Parliament that it should be subject to outside authority in the fixing of salaries for its members. For those reasons I believe that we should put this provision into the New Guinea Constitution.
.- Judging from the attitude of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) up to this stage towards the amendments which have been proposed by the Opposition, 1 would be reasonably certain that he will reject this one also. All I can say is that if the racehorses that he bred moved as slowly as he is moving he would have gone broke a long time ago. The amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) seems to me to be a logical suggestion. For the salaries of members of the House of Assembly to be subjected to veto by either the Administrator or the Minister seems to me to be wrong in principle, and for it to be as little as $1,920 is also wrong in principle. In the House of Assembly in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea there are many Australians who, naturally, have lived at a fairly high standard during the time they were in Australia and during their stay in the Territory. Unless we intend to develop a race of part time politicians, people who are running plantations or businesses and not devoting the whole of their activities to their parliamentary duties, we must increase the salaries so that they will be able to have a chance to live on their salary. To the indigenous members who, perhaps, up to this stage have enjoyed but a subsistance existence, $3,000 might sound a great deal, but surely our ultimate objective is that these people shall govern their own country. Therefore, if we are to encourage Europeans to play their part in the government of the country at this time, we should give them the opportunity to devote the whole of their time, not just part of it, to their parliamentary duties. In these days very few members in this House, on either side, do not devote most of their time to their political jobs. There might be a few who have farms or other businesses, but the time they spend on those activities is very little compared with the time they devote to their parliamentary duties. For those reasons I submit that the amount proposed to be paid to the members of the House of Assembly should be increased, and that we should provide that the Parliament shall have the right for all time to decide what the salaries and allowances will be.
I also support the arguments advanced by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). I have had many discussions with both indigenous and Australian members of the House of Assembly. They all complain that their salaries are too low. Perhaps we all make this complaint but surely in these days $1,920 is far too low a sum, especially for an Australian who is in the Territory. I therefore ask the Minister to get out his battery and try to put on a spurt.
– Some very attractive arguments have been put forward in support of the proposal. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has pointed out, this amendment was moved by the Opposition in 1963. The subject of the fixing of salaries and allowances for members of a parliament is a very difficult one. We know from our own experience here that it is no easy matter. The Parliament in Papua and New Guinea is, in a sense, in a stage of transition. At what stage do we hand over complete power over questions such as this? I do not think the time is ripe for doing it now. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, an ordinance sets out the machinery for fixing salaries and allowances.
With the setting up of a new House of Assembly and the difficult task of assessing the duties and responsibilities of its members and officers, the determination of salaries and allowances has been a difficult matter, especially when we realise that in Papua and New Guinea communication is difficult and travel is slow. We feel that the present arrangement has worked fairly satisfactorily. We have made what we believe are fair adjustments after having listened to deputations on the matter. I might add that the question of some change in salaries is under consideration at the moment. In all the circumstances, I do not think we are yet ready to grant these additional powers and the Government is not prepared to accept the amendment.
Question put -
That the new clause proposed to be inserted (Mr. Whitlam’s amendment) be inserted.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause 6c.
.- I move -
That the following new clause be inserted in the Bill- “ 6c. Section 54 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (2.) and inserting in its stead the following sub-section - (2.) Subject to the next succeeding sub-section, within three months after the day on which the Ordinance was presented to the Administrator for assent, he shall declare according to his discretion but subject to this Act -
that he assents to the Ordinance:
that he withholds assent; or
that he reserves the Ordinance forthe GovernorGeneral’s pleasure.’.”.
The effect of the amendment is to set a limit of three months within which the Administrator must declare that he assents to, that he withholds assent, or that he reserves an ordinance for the Governor General’s pleasure. When the Opposition proposed an amendment in these terms in May 1963, we were again assured that there was no undue delay in the Administrator signifying his attitude towards the ordinances passed by the House of Assembly. I have obtained particulars of the timetables for ordinances of the Northern Territory. There are many more instances in relation to that Territory than there are in relation to Papua and New Guinea. The Legislative Council for the Northern Territory passed a Control of Roads Ordinance on 29th May 1963. It was reserved for assent on 3 1stJuly 1963. It was disallowed on 12th March 1964. Reasons for the disallowance were given on 23rd April 1964. The Council passed the Control of Roads Ordinance (No. 2) on 18th May 1964. It was disallowed on 11th August 1966. The Council passed an Agricultural Development Leases Ordinance on 12th August 1965. It was disallowed on 11th May 1966. The Council passed a Local Government Ordinance on 18th February 1965. It was disallowed on 1 1th May 1966. The Council passed an Agricultural Development Leases Ordinance on 10th August 1966. It was disallowed on 6th October. Local Government Ordinance (No. 3) was passed on 11th August 1966 and was disallowed on 6th October. Today, the Minister gave the reasons for disallowing the Land Tenure (Transitional Provisions) Ordinance. This was passed by the Legislative Council in September 1965. It was returned for recommendations in May 1966 and was disallowed yesterday.
All these are Northern Territory ordinances. There is one case of an ordinance of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea which is relevant. The Public Service (Papua and New Guinea) Ordinance was passed by the House of Assembly on 26th February 1965. lt was disallowed on 31st July 1965. Reasons for the disallowance were given on 24th August 1965. It will be noticed, Sir, that disallowance of the Control of Roads Ordinance (No. 2) 1964 occurred 2± years after it was passed. None of the other cases is so bad. Less than three months was taken to disallow only two ordinances - the Agricultural Development Leases Ordinance 1966 and the Local Government Ordinance (No. 3) 1966. This is an appalling record. Here we have a Territory legislature being kept waiting not just for month; but for years to be told that ordinances have been disallowed. The Government should be able to do better than this. If the people of Papua and New Guinea are to be prepared for self government, clearly their elected legislators must be treated with respect. “I he Territory legislature is entitled to know promptly whether its ordinances have been vetoed. There should not be a veto by delay. For these reasons, Sir, an amendment in the terms just moved is again proposed.
– Mr. Chairman, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has related his arguments to the Northern Territory. The situation there is completely different from that in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. He mentioned the Control of Roads Ordinance (No. 2) 1964 which was disallowed. The provisions of that Ordinance conflicted with the Australian national policy on roads. Obviously, that Ordinance required extensive consideration. The record in respect of ordinances of Papua and New Guinea is excellent, apart from the one ordinance that the honorable member mentioned. I have a note which states that 127 ordinances for the year 1965-66 have been examined and that there is no evidence that they were not assented to on the date on which they were presented to the Administrator, with one exception. So, in the sense argued by the honorable gentleman, there has generally been no delay. There has been no local request for any change in the situation. Therefore, the Government is not prepared to accept the amendment.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole.
.- Mr. Chairman. I refer to clause 10, which provides - (I.) Sections 61 und 62 of the Principal Act are repealed and the following sections inserted in their stead: - “62*. - (I.) The judges of the Supreme Court or a majority of them may make Rules of Court, noi inconsistent with this Act, with respect to the practice and procedure of and in the Supreme Court.
I move -
At the end of proposed section 62a add the following sub-section: - “(10.) Where the Governor-General disallows the Rules or part of the Rules, the Minister shall cause a statement of the reasons for disallowance to be laid before each Mouse of the Parliament as soon us possible, but in any case within fifteen silting days of thai House after the date of disallowance.”.
The Minister has been good enough to tell me that he will see that this amendment is accepted by the Minister representing him in another place when the Bill is considered there, lt is comparable to one which the Opposition proposed in May 1963 and which the Minister’s predecessor accepted on that occasion. By accepting the Minister’s assurance now, we shall save time in printing and the other place will be able to receive the Bill forthwith.
– Mr. Chairman, I give the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) my assurance that this amendment will be accepted in the other place.
Remainder of Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Barnes) - by leave - read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 6A to 8 p.m.
– by leave - Mr. Speaker, 1 report to the House upon the Manila Summit Conference from which I have just returned. Following the Conference I have made some comment in Manila and also to representatives of Press, radio and television who were awaiting me on my return last night at Mascot Airport. All this has been widely publicised. Earlier today, 1 tabled in the House of Representatives the official documents which emerged from the Conference. They are the “ Joint Communique “, the “ Declaration of Peace and Progress in Asia and the Pacific “ and “ The Goals of Freedom “. I have mentioned these facts because I believe it is not necessary for me to go over all of the same ground. It is proper, however, that there should be on the record of the Parliament an authoritative account of the Conference and its results. 1 attended with my colleagues, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) and the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) and other members of the Australian official delegation. This was in response to the invitation which Australia received from the President of the Republic of the Philippines after his consultations with the President of the Republic of Korea and the Prime Ministers of Thailand and the Republic of Vietnam.
This week history was made at Manila. Sometimes we are too close to great events to measure their significance. But time, I suggest, will convince us all that the Manila Conference was an event that helped to shape contemporary history in our region of the world. The leaders of seven nations in the Asian and Pacific region met on October 24th and 25th to review their wider purposes in Asia and the Pacific. They gathered together to chart a programme for the peaceful and free development of a great and changing area of the world. This, remember, is also our part of the world and we were there in Manila with our Philippine friends, our Vietnam friends, our Korean and Thai friends and our American and New Zealand friends - all of us looking to the future. The future is expressed vividly and in a few words in the Conference document “ The Goals of Freedom “.
The document recites that the goals are - . . to be free from aggression, to conquer hunger, illiteracy and disease, to build a region of security, order and progress, to seek reconciliation and peace throughout Asia and the Pacific.
Does the honorable member for Wills, who sneers at what I have been saying, challenge any one of those objectives as being a right and proper objectives for us? To him they are just cliches. To some people they are the very finest principles for which men and women have fought and died through history. These are not an empty set of words.
Although we were at Manila to assess the military situation in Vietnam, our greater task was this vision of the future. The participants were President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, President Park Chung Hee of the Republic of Korea, Prime Minister Thanom Kittikachorn of Thailand, Chairman Thieu and Prime Minister Kao Ky of the Republic of Vietnam, Prime Minister Keith Holyoake of New Zealand, President Lyndon Johnson of the United States of America, and myself, representing Australia. We had agreed to make a thorough review of the Vietnam situation. This was to include an assessment of the military position and of continuing resistance to Communist inspired and directed aggression and subversion. We wished to look at the progresss being made through programmes of social development and pacification, the tasks of economic stabilisation and rehabilitation and the evolution of democratic institutions.
It was part of our purpose to look at practical means for peaceful settlement of the conflict in Vietnam. Problems of regional security, co-operation and development relating not only to Vietnam but to Asia and the Pacific generally were also to be examined. The products of our discussions are to be found expressed in some detail in the three documents which I have earlier today presented to the Parliament. They are the “ Joint Communique “, the “ Declaration of Peace and Progress in Asia and the Pacific “ and “ The Goals of Freedom “.
I have described the Summit Conference as historic. There have been various meetings in the past of Asian and Pacific
Governments, a recent notable instance being the Asian and Pacific Council meeting, or A.S.P.A.C. as it has come to be known, at Seoul in Korea where nine Governments came together for discussions on matters of common interest. But until the Conference at Manila it was unprecedented for Heads of State and Heads of Government of seven countries in the Asian and Pacific region to meet for a collective purpose. The meeting was historic in that sense, but it was historic in even more important ways. Only great issues can bring such a meeting about in times when Heads of Government are so busily engaged. The issues in this case affect the security and prospects for a better life of 15 million people of South Vietnam. They closely affect the future of the neighbouring countries of South East Asia. They affect the basic security of the whole Asian and Pacific region. Indeed, the world as a whole is involved in the consequences of the outcome. These issues produced the meeting. The documents express our particular conclusions. 1 should like to say a word about the Australian and New Zealand participation in the meeting. 1 say with gratification that each of the Asian Heads of Slate or Heads of Government warmly welcomed mc and the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr. Holyoake, into their counsels. This is a very important factor in the approach of the Asian countries to the Conference and, even more, to the Vietnam issue. I mention this and stress it because I have heard honorable members opposite say so often that our participation in Vietnam is alienating Asian opinion against us. Here is evidence to the contrary. Honorable members and all Australians will be interested to note the words of welcome that President Marcos accorded our participation and that of New Zealand in this Conference. He said -
The participation in this meeting of the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand is also a hopeful augury. These two freedom loving nations are our neighbours by the accident of geography but our friends and partners by deliberate choice. They are as fully committed as ourselves to the freedom of Asia and to the attainment of the secure and just peace indispensable to the economic development of these combined nations. They have much to contribute to the attainment of our common goals.
The opening speech was made by President Marcos at a public ceremony. It set the stage for the confidential discussions which were to follow. In an eloquent and memorable address he expressed with deep personal conviction a longing of the Asian people for social and economic stability and for freedom from insecurity and military threat. This theme, with particular emphasis on the problems of Vietnam, became the focus of the Summit Conference activity. It is this theme that finds expression in the communique, the declaration, and notably in the statement of the “ Goals of Freedom “.
The language of official documents, however warmly and graphically slated, for understandable reasons can rarely reproduce the atmosphere of a conference or its full significance, or the contacts between the personalities who participate. As one who not only was present throughout the Conference proceedings but also shared in the intimate discussions of those Conference meetings confined to the participating Heads of State and Heads of Government, I regard this as being as important a conference as I have ever attended or believe myself ever likely to attend. I can recall no conference in which agreement was more readily forthcoming on all matters of substance. I have read various reports since the Conference which alleged that there were delays because of wrangling and that there has been surprise that documents of such weight could emerge from so limited a period of discussion. There was no wrangling in our talks together. There was strength of purpose, firmness of resolution and dedication to the principles that we expressed in our declaration and the statement of our “ Goals of Freedom “. As to surprise, it must not be. overlooked that our discussions together neither began nor ended at Manila. The Governments represented are in almost daily contact by one means or another, including diplomatic representation, cabled advices and the like. We are familiar with each others’ views. The Foreign Ministers had met informally and had done some useful ground clearing immediately prior to the Conference. Later they did their share of the work of drafting while the Heads of Government went ahead with their own ideas of what the contents of the documents should be. lt is not to be wondered at that a good deal of time was required for these purposes and the exchanges of thinking until at a final meeting together the Heads of Government and Foreign Ministers produced the documents in the forms they ultimately took.
The communique deals principally with the situation in Vietnam and the problems of the present and the future there in the military, social and economic fields. The Declaration of Peace and Progress in Asia and the Pacific sets out the principles on which we base our hopes for future peace and progress in the Asian and Pacific region, for, as the declaration states -
In the modern world men and nations have no choice but to learn to live together as brothers.
The “ Goals of Freedom “ express briefly, and in language that all should be capable of understanding, the essence of our declaration. We said there -
We, the seven nations gathered in Manila, declare our unity, our resolve and our purpose in seeking together the goals of freedom in Vietnam and in the Asian and Pacific area. lt struck me as quite remarkable that the representatives of the Republic of Vietnam should be able to accept so explicitly and however regretfully a continuing line of demarcation between North and South Vietnam until a decision had been taken democratically by the people of both areas for reunification. They stated that the work of the constituent Assembly elected to draw up a constitution for the Republic of Vietnam was proceeding ahead of schedule. They gave an undertaking that general elections to select a representative government would be held within six months of the adoption of a constitution. Believing that the democratic process must be strengthened at the local level as well as the national level, the Vietnamese leaders announced that, to this end, village and hamlet elections would be held at the beginning of 1967. They further announced that they are preparing a programme of national reconciliation. They would open all doors to Vietnamese who had been misled or coerced into casting their lot with the Vietcong. They would be given amnesty and assisted to resume a normal existence as to their employment and community participation.
Further, the Vietnamese representatives made it clear that they were not making any demands on North Vietnam other than that the aggression should cease. When it is considered that the Republic of Vietnam is still subjected daily to military and terrorist attack, with continuing infliltration and eternal subversion, the attitude of the Vietnamese representatives at the Conference must be regarded as most helpful and forthcoming. The Vietnamese leaders stated their intent to train and assign a substantial portion of their forces to what are termed “ clear and hold “ actions in order to provide a shield behind which a new society can be built. The tactics of “ search and destroy “ so frequently employed by the allied forces in the past have been found by experience to be inadequate for satisfactory follow up action of reconstruction, civic action and pacification. This is because the civilian Vietcong remain in the area to commit acts of terrorism and sabotage after the military forces have moved on. Illustrations were given to us of the construction of schools in the wake of the departure of Communist military forces, only to be followed by the physical destruction of school buildings by individual Vietcong or small marauding bands drawn from the civilian element of the Vietcong. It is now proposed that the clearing operation should be more thorough and that a military component capable of securing the area should be assigned to enable civic action and rehabilitation operations to be carried through with enduring benefit.
The Government of the Republic of Vietnam wishes to forge what is described in the communique as a “ social revolution of hope and progress. Even as the conflict continues, the effort goes forward to overcome the tyranny of poverty, disease, illiteracy and social injustice.”
– After 20 years.
– The present Prime Minister of Vietnam has been fighting for more than half his lifetime to preserve his country and he deserves something better than the sneers of the honorable member for Yarra. Top priority is to be given to land reform and tenure provisions. Agricultural credit is to be expanded; crops will be improved and diversified. The leaders recognise that to build confidence and co-operation amongst the people they must be convinced that honesty, efficiency and social justice form “ solid cornerstones “ of the Vietnamese Government’s programme. The participating governments applauded these declarations, recognising that they open brighter prospects for the people of Vietnam. Each undertook to give its continuing assistance according to its means, whether in funds, skilled technicians or equipment. The Vietnamese appreciate® the help being given in non-military fields by other countries and expressed the hope that this help will be substantially increased. The participants further agreed to appeal to other nations and to international organisations working for the full and free development of all nations to give further assistance to the Republic of Vietnam.
We devoted a good share of our discussions to peace objectives, reviewing the many efforts for peace already undertaken. What is sought is a just and reasonable solution; but Hanoi has still shown no sign of taking any step towards peace, either by action or by entering into discussions or negotiations. I know that recently reference has been made to rumours or to some feeble peace signs that seem to be emerging. I know of none that can be attributed directly to Hanoi. We all agreed that the search for peace must continue. The Vietnamese representatives pointed to the suffering they had experienced from the ravages of war for more than 20 years. They declared themselves to be second to none in their desire for peace and would welcome any initiative that would lead to an end to hostilities while preserving the independence of South Vietnam and protecting the right of its people to choose their own way of life.
The detailed views of the Government of the Republic of Vietnam are set out in the communique. The other participating governments endorsed these as essential elements of peace and agreed that they would act on this basis in close consultation together. We pointed out that Allied forces are in Vietnam because that country is the object of aggression and in response to the support requested by its Government. We agreed that our troops would be withdrawn, after close consultation, as the other side withdraws its forces to the north and ceases infiltration and the level of violence subsides. Our forces will be withdrawn as soon as possible, not later than six months after the conditions mentioned are fulfilled.
My own contribution was designed to indicate our sense of partnership with our allies, our awareness of the great common issues at stake and our determination with our allies to see the issue through. I spoke, of course, against the background of the views which had been offered by early speakers - ‘President Marcos and Chairman Thieu .at the public session, and Air ViceMarshal Ky in private session. Separate statements on particular aspects of the Vietnam situation were made by members of that country’s delegation. There were military reviews by General Cao Van Vien, Chief of the General Staff in Vietnam, and General Westmoreland, Commander, United States Military Assistance Command. Vietnam. Others spoke on the civic action, revolutionary development and rehabilitation programmes.
I said at the time I had no need to go over ground already covered, beyond confirming the Australian Government’s clear recognition of the military realities and the vital issues at stake. I expressed our belief that Vietnam is, unhappily for its people, a battleground for not only its own national security, freedom and integrity, but of even wider issues - issues of freedom, security and progress affecting generally the future and stability of all free peoples in the Asian and Pacific regions. I spoke of aggression as an age old enemy of mankind - a challenge to be taken up and defeated just as poverty, disease and hunger, other age old enemies, are to be taken up and defeated. I expressed the view that it would be useful to seek to build up world opinion more widely against the aggression which now manifests itself through tyranny and oppression in Vietnam.
There are many countries throughout the world which seem more indifferent than is desirable or wise. This is not necessarily a question of seeking military assistance by other groups or individual countries. It is important to secure a wider acceptance of our narrow but essential objectives in Vietnam, and also a widening of the economic effort for the development of Vietnam, both immediately, so far as this is practicable, and after the fighting has terminated. I assured the Conference of my Government’s determination that the Australian Government would conduct itself as a dependable ally, continuing its contribution on both the military and non-military sides. I mentioned specifically the aid which we have been giving on the medical, engineering and education fronts.
Plainly, while the fighting continues, it is not practicable for us and others to give, or for Vietnam to receive, more than the level of assistance of a material kind that can be absorbed. But if peace could be brought about, we and others would be in a position to divert more resources to civil rehabilitation and Vietnam would become capable of gaining more benefit from the contributions that could be made.
Mr. Speaker, I have already said that the question of peace was given a great deal of attention in the Conference itself and, as honorable members will see, it takes up quite lengthy passages in the Conference final documents. It was the view of all of us that we not only stand ready but are anxious to consider any possible approaches to a settlement, and in general to enter into unconditional discussions at any time provided that concessions prejudicial to our basic objectives must not be made. The peaceful settlement of the Vietnam conflict must be just and enduring. A settlement achieved at the cost of freedom and security for the South Vietnamese people would be unacceptable.
In the words of President Marcos, the peace we want is not the peace of death or the peace of betrayal. We want a purposeful peace that will guarantee the option for liberty and progress of the people of South Vietnam and of all other peoples similarly situated. This is why we have said in the communique that we are united in our determination that the South Vietnamese people shall not be conquered by aggressive force and shall enjoy the inherent right to choose their own way of life and their own form of government and that we shall continue our military and all other efforts as firmly and as long as may be necessary, in close consultation among ourselves, until the aggression is ended.
It was the view of all of us that only when the other side realised that our countries mean precisely what they say - that there will be no weakening or flagging, that all the necessary measures will be taken - it is only then that the other side will conclude that the aggression will not succeed. That conclusion on their part is the essential requirement for the bringing about of peace. Whether peace is to be reached through discussion and negotiations or whether through a dwindling away of the conflict, serious efforts will be maintained through all avenues to bring the other side to peace. Part of the peace effort is convincing them, through our steadiness of purpose and our capacity and readiness to meet force with force, that aggression will not succeed.
The benefits I derived were not confined to the results of the Conference itself, highly successful though, in my judgment, they were. The venue of the Conference provided me with my first visit to the Philippines. I had not previously met President Marcos nor had I previously met President Park Chung Hee of the Republic of Korea. It will be helpful in my future contacts and discussions to have built these new friendships and to have further consolidated those already made wilh the other Chiefs of State and Heads of Government.
Let it be understood that we are not engaged in Vietnam because we want to roll back the frontiers of Communism, but because we do not want the frontiers of Communism to roll back down over South East Asia. But always we must see the conflict in Vietnam in its greater context as a battleground for human values of freedom and dignity. AH Asia looks today at the future of free choice in South Vietnam. If it is preserved - and it will be - the basic future and stability of all free peoples in the Asian and Pacific regions will, I believe, be guaranteed. And this is a prospect equally important to us in Australia, and indeed to the whole world.
I present the following paper -
Manila Summit Conference -
Ministerial Statement, 27th October 1966 - and move -
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
– 1 present the following paper -
Sixth General Index to the Papers presented to Parliament- Sessions 1950-51 to 1961 (Nineteenth to Twenty-third Parliament).
Ordered to be printed.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate -
Without requests -
Poultry Industry Levy Bill 1966.
Canned Fruit Export Charges Bill 1966.
Without amendment -
Poultry Industry Assistance Bill 1966.
Poultry Industry Levy Collection Bill 1966.
Superannuation Bill 1966.
Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill 1966.
Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Bill 1966.
Slates Grants (Special Assistance) Bill 1966.
Dried Vine Fruits Stabilisation Bill 1966.
– I have the honour to bring up the sixteenth report from the Printing Committee sitting in conference with the Printing Committee of the Senate and move -
That the report be read.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The Report having been read by the Clerk)-
Report - by leave - adopted.
(No. 2) 1966.
Debate resumed from 25th October (vide page 2105), on motion by Mr. Howson -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- With respect to the Customs Tariff Validation Bill (No. 2) now before the House I desire to move an amendment which will be circulated in my name. I move -
That all words after “ That “ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “in the opinion of this House, consideration of the validation of Customs Tariff Proposals No. 17 introduced into the House of Representatives on 25th October 1966, should be deferred until the meeting of the new Parliament”.
I move this motion to defer consideration of this matter for reasons that I think both sides of the House will fully appreciate and, I think, will support. The Australian chemical industry is a very technical and complicated industry with a large volume of capital equipment and with many technical problems. The industry has recently been considered by the Tariff Board on a submission made by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson), and the Board recommended by a majority decision a very considerable increase in the tariff of a very wide range of chemicals. This will have the effect of increasing the cost of many of these chemicals to Australian primary and secondary industries, and it will make a very considerable difference to the cost structure of this country. We all know at the moment the problems that arise from increasing costs and prices, particularly to primary industry, and I should imagine, therefore, that this matter would have considerable appeal to the Australian Country Party. Just recently, a resolution was passed unanimously at the 17th annual conference of the Australian Primary Producers Union held on 26th October 1966. The resolution was as follows -
We protest in the strongest terms against the very steep increase in tariff duty in a number of chemicals essential to primary production.
We feel strongly that these duties will increase the cost of production of primary products whereas the alternative recommendations of the Tariff Board for a selective bounty would cover any disabilities to the manufacturers without penalising the farmers.
I would imagine that such a resolution would appeal to the Country Party, if anything can. As I said, the industry is complicated. A report has been made by the Tariff Board. It was a majority report. There was a substantial difference of opinion in the Tariff Board. One member considered that tariffs should not be increased at all. Two members, a majority of one only, considered that tariffs should be increased. I submit for this reason this House should not proceed at this stage with this matter but that it should receive further consideration by the House and those associated with it.
Finally, the Tariff Board has made a report to the Parliament which is very bulky. I think it is one of the most substantial reports we have had for many a long day. It contains 153 pages and is a report on a most complicated and difficult industry. The Board made its report on 13th April 1966. When was the House given this report? It was given the report on 25th October 1966, only two days ago. It has been necessary for the Government and its advisers to have this report in their possession for six months in order for them to make up their minds about what they were going to do in respect of the legislation before the House, but it is good enough for the rest of the House, including the Opposition, to have two days in order to do this. I repeat that the report was tabled two days ago, on 25th October 1966. 1 should imagine that if ever there was a case for the deferment of a matter we have that case here in respect of this report on the chemical industry. I challenge any member of this House to consider a report of this kind in two days. I challenge any member of this House to say that he has even read the report in that space of time. Yet we are asked to deliberate upon a matter which is going to increase the costs of Australian industry by 30 to 40 per cent. Probably, not more than the number of members that one could count on one hand have looked at this report since it was tabled. Of course, there is a case for the deferment of this matter. I know that there is a technical question involved in respect of the Constitution, but the Government should not face the House with a problem of this sort at less than 48 hours notice. This matter could have been brought before the House on any sitting day during the last four or five weeks.
– How does the honorable member know that?
– Because the Government has had the report for six months. If the Government is not able to discharge its responsibilities on a matter of this sort for six months it should not be in office. If the honorable member for Gippsland wants to defend this proposal which will increase costs of people in his electorate by from 30 to 40 per cent, let him do so. Let him defend it in view of this resolution that has been passed by the Australian Primary Producers Union. Let the honorable member for Gippsland do that and also the young member from Richmond, the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony). Let this young Galahad defend the matter if he wishes to do so. other than by interjection.
– There is a practical question to be considered.
– The honorable member for Higinbotham knows that this industry has been in suspense for two and a half years. This matter was submitted for inquiry two and a half years ago. So for two and a half years the industry has been in suspense. The honorable member for Higinbotham says there is a practical question raised - keeping the industry in suspense for another couple of months. I think the industry is well accustomed to being in suspense. It was investigated for two and a half years. The report was submitted six months ago - another six months of suspense. Now there is an infernal hurry; everything has to be done within a couple of days.
Mr. Acting Speaker, I would think that the case for a deferment is as strong as any I have seen. There is only one question that may militate against a deferment, and the Minister will no doubt rely completely upon this. He will tell us that if the Customs Tariff Validation Bill does not go through before the end of the session the protection that has been given to the industry by the adoption of the proposals on 1 6th August this year will come to an end. When one considers that there is a division of opinion in the Tariff Board, that one member is resolutely against any protection at all and that it is only by a majority of one that protection has been recommended by the Board, then perhaps the deferment would not represent such a serious handicap to the industry. Perhaps the best course to follow is to allow the industry to be unprotected for a little while longer so that it can take its own form, so that the more efficient and larger plants, perhaps, can take a larger share of the industry and the smaller and less efficient plants can go out of the business. That is the way free enterprise does it. That is the way laissez faire does it. That is the way the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) would like to do it. Why should it not be done this way? I think, therefore, that this constitutional objection that we will hear from the Minister does not have a great deal of weight.
– The honorable member is spoiling a good speech, because there are not a great many producers of these items, are there?
– There are 41.
– In the whole industry?
– Well, there are many items.
– I think 41 is a fair number, and Mr. Cossar, the minority opinion on the Board, considers many of these small producers -quite inefficient, that there ought to be a rationalisation of the industry and that this is the only future ahead of it.
– Why does not the honorable able member for Higinbotham read the measure?
– Why does not the honorable member for Reid say something intelligent for a change?
– Order! The honorable member for Yarra has the call.
– It is a pity, Mr. Acting Speaker, that honorable members opposite do not take part in the debate. They seem to be very good at interjecting. I intend to speak at greater length on this matter a little later. All I intend to do at this stage is to make a case for a deferment. I think that such a case has been made. It consists of an assertion, which is true, that this industry is technical and complicated and that it is unreasonable and unfair to expect the House to consider in two days a matter of this kind and then make a decision. A considerable increase in tariffs is proposed. It will impose high costs on industry. We cannot be expected to dispose of this in 48 hours. There is a difference of opinion in the Tariff Board, with a majority of only one for what the Government is proposing to do. The report was announced only two days ago after the Government had had it for six months. I rest my case on those points.
– I second the amendment, Mr. Acting Speaker, and reserve my right to speak later.
.- I will make it clear at this stage that I will vote against the amendment, and my reasons for doing so I will make clear immediately. It is true that the legislation was introduced into this chamber only two days ago, but the honorable member for Yarra knows that this is only a validation bill. The Government does not expect us to consider this in full debate until some time in March next year. It would have been impossible, of course, to digest a report of this magnitude in the time we have had. The honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) may have been able to do so, but I certainly have not. I will admit that I have read all the published evidence that was presented on this subject and so can claim to know something about it, but I am being quite frank and open in saying that I have not studied this report properly; The honorable member for Yarra must have done so, otherwise he would not have taken the responsible step that he has taken in saying that we should not agree to this validation. When this matter is discussed in full debate after the backbreaking consideration that it deserves to receive, then I shall vote in the next Parliament according to the position as I see it. But to adopt the attitude taken by the honorable member for Yarra, and indeed by the Opposition, is, 1 think, to take a mean advantage of the opportunity the Government has given us to have a look at a very important report.
I repeat that when the time comes, and after I have given the matter proper consideration, 1 shall vote as I see fit, but I shall not vote until I have done the homework that will be necessary to support the kind of responsible decision that voting for or against the amendment entails. I have issued challenges on many occasions, particularly to the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) to have a vote on matters such as this. But in this case I am not prepared to vote until I have studied the report. The honorable member for Lalor may have sufficient mental capacity to digest in two days a report that took three years to prepare and took the Government six months to consider, but I cannot.
There has been a change in attitude for which I would like to compliment the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise. When this report came down last Tuesday I admit I was bitterly angry at the scant, sparse information contained in the second reading speech. When I received a copy of the notes that were given out at the Press interview, in which the members of the Press were instructed about the consequences of this duty increase, I felt even worse. But since then the Minister has been kind enough to bring to the chamber the document that he presented last night, in which he amplified many of the statements he had made. When the Minister brings the matter up in full debate in the next Parliament there are several aspects of the document presented last night that I would like him to explain. However, I repeat my general commendation that in this case there has been an attempt to give the House the kind of basic information that I think it deserves. I commend the Minister for it.
There are several other matters that I would like to bring out and which I think ought to be made clear to the House in the second reading speech when the Bill is to be revalidated next year. The first matter concerns the first paragraph on page 4 of the statement presented to us by the Minister. This deals with the vexed question of support prices, which the Minister explained reasonably well although not well enough to clarify my mind. He said in his statement -
The prices will bc subject to annual review and in any future instance the support price will be established only after an inquiry conducted under the provisions of the Tariff Board Act.
I would like the Minister to tell me later - if he could, I would appreciate it if he did so now - whether this means that the Tariff Board is going to inquire and report on the matter; whether this means a public discussion, or at least a public report, lt is quite clear that these support prices, which are a new departure, are going to work in the same way as duty. If they are not lowered, or if they are kept high - or are altered in any way - it is the same as altering a duty. I understand from the Minister’s statement that this is going to be done by the Tariff Board. If this is so, it should be made public.
There is another matter I would like to mention, and it is dealt wilh in the second last paragraph on page 29 of the Tariff Board’s report on industrial chemicals and synthetic resins. This paragraph deals with the components that make up some part of the chemical industry, arranged around about 50 per cent, of the components, and the Board said that particular effort should be made to reduce the substantive duty in this case. There has been no attempt by the Government to say whether it has brought in this suggestion or whether it has allowed for it or not. Again, I do not expect the Minister to reply specifically to this question when closing the debate but I would like him to refer to it.
The other thing that needs a good deal of explanation concerns the basis on which these support prices are to be fixed. There is far too little information in the Board’s report and in the Minister’s statement about the basis upon which they are to be fixed. It is quite clear that if they are fixed high - and they seem to be fixed high - this is the same thing as giving undercover duty. Obviously you can affect the real rale of duty by putting the support price high. I repeat that there is nothing in the Minister’s statement, and far too little in the Board’s report, to give us reason to be able to say with confidence on what basis these support prices are fixed. I would like the Minister to pay particular attention 1o this matter.
– Higher than the ad valorem? ls that what the honorable member has in mind?
– Not higher than the ad valorem rate. What the honorable member for Gippsland really means is the duty-paid price.
– Yes, that is right. Well, whether it is higher than the duty-paid price or not the trouble is, and the hidden danger is, that many of the duty-paid prices are covered by the sliding scale duties, which remove the incentive to reduce prices. I think honorable members know enough about tariff making to see that if you have a sliding scale duty you remove the incentive to. reduce the cost of imports. There are many of these imports on which the prices fixed seem to me to be too high in relation to world prices. This is related probably, I think, to the fictitiously high prices caused by sliding scale duties. To say which is the basis would take me a week of work, or more. I admit that some of the prices that 1 looked at quickly today seem to be suspiciously high. But I am not prepared to say that the Government is wrong until I have done the homework that is required.
I pass now to my final plea to the Government, and I think this is fundamental: In the Minister’s speech when introducing this subject, and in the speech he made yesterday, there was not proper consideration given to the point of view put forward in the minority report of the Tariff Board. As the honorable member for Yarra rightly said, three people worked on this report - or three people signed it. Indeed, two people worked on it, Mr. Cossar and Mr. Callaghan. I have read the evidence given in this case. Mr. Rattigan, the Chairman, was present at the first hearing, but the other hearings were before Messrs. Callaghan and Cossar. 1 agree with the honorable member for Yarra that the minority report should have received more attention in the Minister’s first speech and in his statement last night. After all, it was the view of half the members that sat on the Board. I make this complaint in respect of all Tariff Board reports containing minority opinions. The point of view dealt with in the minority report should be examined and dealt with.
I hope that the willingness of the Minister last night to give us information is a token in this respect for the future. I hope that more information will be given in second reading speeches. If this is done Tariff Board reports will be much more interesting and it will be a lot easier for honorable members to enter into debate on them. Such action would take out a considerable amount of the back breaking work that now has to go into debates on these matters. I often see the Minister walking about with a great heap of documents under his arm which I guess contain all the homework - all the figuring that I have to do myself. I would like to have a statement as to the rises and falls in the duties. I have been through some of the subjects covered and have picked up some information from the report. I understand there are 150 increases and 76 decreases involved; but no one told me this, and the vital information is not the number of increases but the value of the increases.
This information should be given to us. It should be given to us in the second reading stage when the Minister presents these matters to the House. If it is not contained in his second reading speech it should be included in an attachment. Obviously this work is done. The homework must have been done by the people concerned in the department. To deny this information to honor able members is to deny them the opportunity to discuss important questions intelligently. I appeal for open presentation of these difficult subjects - presentation in a way which would make it easier for us to follow. This would make for far better debate in this House.
There are many comments that J could have made, but I think they should be dealt with during full debate. I am concerned about the reference itself. The reference by the Minister to the Board was in such a way that it was an open invitation to the Board not to weigh the economy and efficiency of the industry. The reference was in these terms, in effect: “ We have got the industry, but which is the best way to protect it?” 1 can understand the practical politics of this, because the industry is in existence, lt is a difficult thing in politics, and for various reasons, to close down an industry. But I feel that the difficulty I will have in discussing this report later is that although a lot of the industry may be efficient, by the very size of the Australian market it may prove to be uneconomic. Yet the Board was not given the opportunity to measure whether the industry was economic or not. It was asked to decide what kind of protection best fitted the industry, assuming that we would have the industry. I repeat that this is a difficult decision for any Minister or any government to make, but it is very dangerous to make the political decision that an industry has to go forward, that it has to be protected, as it was in this case.
– That is a question of fact, not of political direction.
– Yes, but there must be a political decision to keep the industry going, as the Government decided in this case.
– If it wanted to do so, the Tariff Board could bring down some form of report to make it difficult for the industry to carry on.
– I guess it could, but a Tariff Board which did its job would have to be guided by the reference and answer the Minister’s inquiry. I am sure the Minister would agree that his inquiry was in such a form that the Board was not bound to consider whether the industry was economic. It was a decision made by the
Government. I repeat that there have been many complaints that recommendations should not be written into the reference to the Board in this way. 1 do not say that in all cases it is wrong, but it should be pointed out at this stage that this is one of the difficulties that we will have when discussing this matter later in a full debate.
– The honorable member seems to be having some difficulties now.
– I make my position clear, particularly to the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) who I know has an active interest in these matters. I am not prepared to vote for an amendment to defer a duty or a series of duties which I have not studied. I think the House will give the benefit of the doubt eventually by doing likewise, Probably, wilh difficulty, I will get round to doing the homework, but at this stage I believe it is a case either of political expediency or irresponsibility to defer a judgment on the validation of duties on a report which no-one, except, those in the Government, has had time to study properly.
.- The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) said that he did not want to vote for the deferment of a duty which he has not been able to study, yet he does not hesitate to vote for the validation of a duty which he has been unable to study. The validation proposals before the House relate not only to industrial chemicals and synthetic resins; they relate also to glassware, motor vehicles, hollow bars, tubes and pipes of iron or steel, clothes pegs, coffee, footwear, candles and vanillin and ethyl vanillin. As was said by the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), honorable members have not considered even the report on industrial chemicals which is now before them. They certainly have not studied the other series of reports. The footwear report, for example, covers quite a number of pages, and so do the reports on the various other items to which I have referred.
All of these reports were submitted only a few days ago. The reference by the footwear industry was applied for in 1964 and the Tariff Board had completed its report on 12th August 1966. On 26th August 1966 the Board forwarded the report to the Minister. Although not only employees but employers and others have requested that the report be submitted to Parliament, it was not tabled until a couple of days ago - a couple of days before the end of the session when Parliament goes into recess. No opportunity has been provided to discuss the report at any length. I intend to say no more with respect to that report; 1 shall reserve my remarks on it until after the proposition raised by the honorable member for Yarra has been disposed of.
.- I concur in the attitude adopted by the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) in relation to the validation proposals relating to chemicals. There is no industrial structure in our civilisation which is more important than the chemical industry. Anybody who has looked even briefly at the report which came into our hands on 25th October must be staggered at the intricacies of the questions which are involved. I listened to the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) with rapt attention when he explained his attitude tonight. If I understood him correctly he said he refused to support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Yarra because further opportunity to discuss the validation of these tariffs would come in March next year. But the honorable gentleman did not tell the House that last night a number of bounty measures were before the Parliament for debate and determination. One related to acetate flake and another was sulphate of ammonia. Another one still was a bounty provision for urea. But the honorable member for Wakefield, who admits that he has not studied this report, supported those bounty measures. They were not measures which the House will have an opportunity to consider again in March; they were measures which provided for bounties which run for as far ahead as 1969. The honorable member had no hesitation in supporting them. I believe he did not even bother to speak on them, which is unusual for him. I had expected a contribution from him.
– There was one, but the honorable member was a bit hazy.
– The honorable member might have thought I was a bit hazy, but the fact is that last night he was not sufficiently interested to inform the Parliament of his views. Although the Minister has had this report since 26th October, he is hastening the Parliament into a decision on the report which nobody has had much opportunity, if any, to study.
– I mentioned that point particularly.
– The honorable member did not. Tonight the honorable gentleman says that we will study this in March, but I remind him that the bounty provisions dealt with last night are now fixed and determined until 1969. The honorable gentleman did not think of that, but he extricates himself from difficulty tonight with the excuse that I have mentioned.
Let us consider other features of the report. We find that there was a dissenting decision by a member of the Board. I cannot understand why there has been such delay in presenting the- report to Parliament, f agree with the statement that the report deals with a most intricate matter which has been dealt with by the Tariff Board since 1963. By 13th October 1966 the Tariff Board had, from its point of view, successfully wrestled with all the problems with which it had been confronted. Contained in this very comprehensive report is a long list of all the witnesses who appeared before the Board in opposition to the application and a long list of witnesses who gave evidence in favour of the application for continued protection for this industry. I do not complain about the length of time taken by the Board to complete its investigations, for this is a most difficult subject, but I do complain about the fact that, after having completed its laborious task, the Board submitted its report to the Minister as long ago as 13th April, yet it was not presented to this Parliament until the day before yesterday. If, as a result of failure to release this report any of these important basic industries suffer any disability, then the responsibility must rest with this Government. The plain fact is that the Government is treating this Parliament with utter contempt.
– That is not so.
– The honorable member for Gippsland would be well advised to keep quiet for he is sitting in a corner where, normally, there are numerous members of the Country Party, but where at the moment there are only two, one awake and one asleep or, if not asleep, certainly with his hands over his eyes. I should say that the primary producers are most intimately concerned in this matter. But there is something more involved, and I wonder whether the factor that I propose to mention is the real source of the trouble. The chemical industries with which this Parliament is asked to deal tonight after having had so little time to examine the expert report of the Tariff Board, are concerned mainly with chemicals which are petroleum derivatives. 1 remind honorable members that 18 months ago an enormous deposit of natural gas was discovered off the Gippsland coast. Those who are taking any interest in the matter know only too well that immediately the fertilisers that can be extracted from natural gas are placed on the market the primary producers of this country will be able to pour out increased quantities of primary products for export to the markets of the world at substantially reduced cost. If that is not an important consideration here, I do not know what is.
Perhaps one of the reasons behind the long delay in this instance is the impotence of the Government to deal with the discovery of offshore natural gas and petroleum. In its report, the Tariff Board publishes a list of chemicals together with examples of the different routes or processes that may be used to produce them. For instance, the possible routes or processes for the production of ammonia include the combination of nitrogen with hydrogen obtained from coke oven gas, the cracking of petroleum fractions, or natural gas. Is there some conflict of interest between those who would utilise coke oven gas or the cracking of petroleum fractions, and those who prefer the new alternative method of extraction from natural gas? I do not know. How could I when I have had this voluminous report for the brief period of approximately 24 hours? I note, too, from the Tariff Board’s report that three possible routes or processes are given for the production of ethylene. They are the dehydrogenation of ethyl alcohol, the cracking of various petroleum fractions and extraction from natural gas.
Anybody who has taken any interest in the discovery of natural gas not only off the Victorian coast but also on the mainland, anybody who has made even the briefest study of the matter and has looked at what has happened in other countries, must realise that the discovery of natural gas will alter the whole face of chemical production in Australia in the very near future. 1 am not suggesting that it will mean the scrapping of existing plants, or anything like that. Many of these plants can be utilised. I speak mainly of the titanic struggle at present going on behind the scenes between Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd., with its affiliate Esso Exploration (Australia) Incorporated, on the one hand and the conservative Victorian Government on the other hand with relation to the development of this offshore discovery. Involved also in this struggle is the Commonwealth Government which holds complete constitutional power over the offshore natural gas deposits. In Queensland a most difficult position confronts the State Government. Here the Commonwealth is not so directly concerned because the Queensland Government holds sovereign rights over gas and oil discoveries. There we know that a combination of American, Australian and Japanese interests is proposing to build a pipeline from the gas fields of Alton or, alternatively, Roma, into Brisbane. This gas will be used for the production of fertilisers and other chemicals, is proposing to build a pipeline from the light of all these things, this Government should be so indolent as not to convey to this Parliament sooner than 25th October 1966 the report now under consideration. At least we should have had it at the earliest practicable date after it had been thoroughly considered by Cabinet. It should have been submitted to us no later than one month after 13th April. I have no more to say about that.
Generally, this Opposition Party has been staunchly and firmly protectionist, but we will not allow ourselves to be used as a stalking horse to ensure to some industries in this country a measure of protection which their balance sheets would indicate they are not entitled to enjoy. The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) will be mentioning shortly some industries that are in dire distress. He will refer in particular to the small manufacturers of such things as slippers and clothes pegs. But the Government has no hesitation in bringing before the Parliament bounty bills such as those with which we dealt last night to ensure that the profit-making operations of big industrial chemical industries are protected. Of course, in that case the Government shelters behind the excuse - it is a good one because it is substantially true - that the primary producers will benefit directly and the consumers will also benefit ultimately. Unfortunately, while this protection is given without the Parliament having a proper opportunity to consider the matter, profiteering is probably rampant.
Everybody knows that within the last 12 months there have been big operations between the fertiliser manufacturers in Australia. One particular operation resulted in the seller of a fertiliser plant that is indirectly connected with the chemical industry taking out a clear profit of £2,250,000. In another case, that of Cresco Fertilisers Ltd., the value of shares on the market was boosted by the operations of two contending factions - W. R. Grace & Co. and, I think, Boral Ltd. Cresco shares rose from 50s. to 90s. within a couple of months. Who will profit from these transactions? Do the members of the Country Party believe that the people who paid 90s. for shares in Cresco will allow superphosphate to be sold to the farmers of Australia at a price that will not allow them to recoup to themselves the excess price they have paid for the shares and the controlling interest they have bought in that company? They would not do so.
We have not been informed whether there has been any analysis of the situation by the Tariff Board or by anybody else. If one looks back into history, one finds that in 1929 the Tariff Board reported on the relationship of the tariff to the prices of fertilisers sold in this country. The highly respected father of the present honorable member for Wakefield was then a very astute and very appropriate member of the Board. As a result of its investigation on that occasion, the Board reported to the Parliament of the day that the fertiliser companies were extracting from the primary producers of Australia at least 5s. a ton more for each ton of fertilisers sold than they were justified in taking. Phosphatic rock, when operated upon by sulphuric acid, is a marvellous product. Its use has been so successful in raising agricultural output that the annual consumption has increased from less than 1 million tons in 1929 to about 4 million tons in the current year. The fertiliser companies today may be getting from the primary producers even as much as 10s. a ton more than they are entitled to. But even if they are getting only 5s. a ton extra, they are getting away with £1 million a year in excess profits. 1 say no more about that, except to emphasise that this sort of thing cannot continue any longer, lt is in contempt of the entire Parliament. Indeed, it excites a suspicion that the big men in this country rather than the consumers generally are being protected, though it is the consumers whom this Parliament should protect.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, we have just heard from the lips of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) an indication of what could happen if the Australian Labour Party were to get into office. I do not want to misrepresent the honorable member. I believe that, in the connotation of what he has said, Esso Exploration Australia Incorporated, the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. and like companies could see the implementation of the first plank of the Labour Party’s platform if by some chance it were ever to take office. That plank proposes the nationalisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange. The honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) has asked us to support an amendment designed to postpone the consideration of the validation of Customs Tariff Proposals No. 17 until the meeting of the New Parliament next year. The honorable member proposes this action because of what he describes as the effects on the cost structure to primary industry in these Tariff Proposals. He appealed particularly to honorable members who belong to the Australian Country Party to support the amendment. I do not recall whether the honorable member claimed to have read the Tariff Board’s report on industrial chemicals and synthetic resins. But his amendment makes it obvious that he has not read the report or assessed the value of the proposed variations in rates of duty. The honorable member made the general statement that protective duties were going up to rates of about 30 per cent, to 40 per cent. For this reason he appealed to us to support the amendment. I hope to demonstrate to him that his basis is quite wrong. In fact, the chemicals that are important to primary producers will not be subject to increased duties. In most instances, the rates of duty will be reduced.
– The honorable member should not be so silly.
– The interjection demonstrates that the honorable member for Lalor has not read the Tariff Board’s report. I do not claim to have read all the report, but 1 have done enough homework to know what will be the effect of the new duties on chemicals which are used in orchards, vegetable gardens and the pastoral industry. I hope also to allay to some degree tha fears of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly). Let us consider the main chemicals that are subject to alterations of duties. I recall being in this House in 1964 when the honorable member for Wakefield became upset over the high rate of duty that D.D.T. attracted at that time. I know that he will be very pleased to know that the new rate is in fact 10 per cent, less than the rate of duty on D.D.T. proposed by the Tariff Board in its report in 1964. I know also that the farming community will be happy to be aware of this feature of the recent report of the Board.
– Where did the honorable member get that information?
– 1 had to work it out by my own methods of research.
– The Department of Customs and Excise does not agree with the honorable member.
– Then the Department, I am afraid, is in error, as it has admitted. The second important spray used in orchards a great deal is paraDichlorobenzene. The old rate of duty was equivalent to about 85 per cent. The rate is to be reduced to 40 per cent. These sprays about which I am speaking are not used heavily. Large tonnages are not involved. The next spray is one with a name that presents me with some difficulty. If the honorable member for Wakefield can help me, I shall be delighted. It is orthoDichlorobenzene. The old rate of duty was 40 per cent., and there is to be no increase. Another very important spray is Pentachlorophenol, the duly on which is to be increased from 32i per cent, to 40 per cent. - an increase of 7i per cent. The next two chemicals that I propose to mention are very significant -sprays for pastures. The first is 2,4D, the rate of duty on which was previously up to 60 per cent. The rate is now to be reduced to 40 per cent. This is a significant reduction in the tariff- protection on this chemical. The second of these two chemicals is 2,4,5T, on which the rate of duty was 45 per cent. This is now to be reduced to 40 per cent. I hope to allay the fears of the honorable member for Yarra and to show him that there is no basis for his amendment.
Let me now turn to fungicides. The name of the first one gives me great difficulty. It is dialkylithiocarbamate, the rate of duty on which is to be reduced from 30 per cent, to 25 per cent. Two types of fungicide sprays are made from this product. The next chemical also has a difficult name. It is Tetramethylthirundisulphide. This is used mainly as a spray for leaf curl on peach trees and the like. The rate of duty is to be decreased from 30 per cent, to 25 per cent. Hexachlorobenzene is another orchard spray. The rate of duty is to be increased from 20 per cent, to 40 per cent. This spray is used very rarely. lt is used far less frequently than the ones I mentioned earlier, which are the most significant sprays in farming. The duty on lead arsenate is to be reduced from 30 per cent, to 25 per cent. These are the main chemical products used by farmers that are mentioned in the Tariff Board’s report. So the honorable member for Yarra will realise that there is no ground for his amendment.
The honorable member mentioned that the Board’s report was agreed to by a majority of only one. He went on to talk about the minority report by Mr. Cossar, who, he said, disagreed with other members of the Board. The honorable member for Lalor, too, has not read the part of the report which appears at page 34 near the top of the second column and which reads -
Mr. Cossar disagrees particularly with his colleagues concerning the recommendations for support values. He agrees there is some justification for the form of protection provided by the support value recommendations. . . .
It would seem to me that Mr. Cossar agrees in principle but not in some detail as to the rate of support. The honorable member for Yarra has not studied this matter fully. I know that the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) understands this. For these reasons I submit that the amendment moved by the honorable member for Yarra should not be accepted.
Let me say something about the support price method. The honorable member for Wakefield expressed some concern about this. Because it is a new form of protection I understand his fears. He fears, first, that the support price level may be expressed too high. I think he means by that that the farmers will be unable to buy chemicals from world markets at reasonable prices. But this is taken care of because of the annual review when even in this House we have an opportunity to review the new level of support price that is suggested.
– This is open to some doubt.
– I hope that the Minister for Air (Mr. Howson) will clear that up. In fact the support price will be reviewed each year. Whether we get an opportunity may be another matter. In 1969 there is to be a detailed review of the whole situation, so I believe that the interests of consumers are protected.
The honorable member for Wakefield expressed a fear also that the support price would insulate the local industry against a downward trend in price and that, thus, the Australian consumer would be disadvantaged. Again I think the annual review will take care of these aspects and will lead to a fixing of a new support price. Perhaps the Minister will confirm that this House will have an opportunity to debate this matter. So this is a hypothetical fear. We do not know whether the honorable member has a fear in fact. I think my small study of this matter gives me a better understanding of the Tariff Board’s report than has been obtained by the honorable member for Yarra. I oppose the amendment.
– I rise to speak to the amendment. I say at once that the Government does not accept it. The first reason for not accepting the amendment should be obvious to every honorable member and more obvious to the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) than to anybody else, for they have been handling tariff matters for years in this House and they must know how the tariff machinery works. They know that the Government has to bring down a tariff to operate immediately from the day on which it is introduced and that there is always a delay between the time at which the tariff is imposed and the time at which this House proceeds to debate it.
Mr. Pollard__ Do not confuse people.
– It is the Opposition which is attempting to confuse people. Its amendment is designed to confuse the House. The Opposition is seeking to delay the operation of this tariff. It knows that the usual procedure is to bring down a tariff and to debate it at a later stage. It is a pity (hat the honorable member for Yarra was not in the House last night when I explained a lot of these things in a statement. 1 did that to help the House in its deliberations. Let mc repeat what I said last night, because few members of the Opposition were present then: This is purely a validation bill. As soon as the new Parliament meets, a bill will be introduced giving every honorable member an opportunity to debate the effect of these new duties. The honorable member for Yarra knows that a lot of things have to be done between the time the Tariff Board presents a report to the Government and the time the tariff is introduced in this House. Apart from anything else, we have various international obligations which we intend to honour and which cannot be dealt with in just a few days.
Let me deal, now, with what will happen. We are dealing with a validation bill. As soon as the new Parliament meets early next year a full opportunity will be given to the House to debate the measures and the new machinery that will be entered into. At that time. I would hope that members of the Opposition would take time to study the Tariff Board’s report in detail. It is obvious that so far they have not done so. 1 turn to some of the points raised by the honorable member for Yarra, particularly the expected effects of the Board’s recommendations in relation to important chemicals. Some of these points have been dealt wilh ably by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon). There are now four classes of chemicals - those on which the general rate tariff will be 40 per cent., those on which it will be 25 per cent., those on which it will be 60 per cent, and those on which it will be 7i per cent. It has been estimated that total sales of chemicals in the 40 per cent, rate bracket will amount annually to S37i million. The effect of these recommendations will be that in respect of a range of chemicals such as ethylenedichloride, dichlorphenol, carbon tetrachloride and some epoxy resins and others on which tariffs have been increased the annual sales will he S8 million, but the sales on chemicals on which tariffs have been decreased will be S8.7 million. In respect of other chemicals where sales amount to S20.8 million there will be no change. The decreases are on such things as nitrocellulose, mercaptobenzothiazole, phthalic anhydride and phenol. As the. honorable member for Gippsland has pointed out. the duty on paradichlorobenzene comes down from 85 per cent, to 40 per cent, and on calcium carbide from 60 per cent, to 40 per cent. So in that range of chemicals there will be a net decrease rather than an increase in costs. Let us take the effect of this duty in the 25 per cent, rate bracket where sales are estimated at $27.4 million Here there will be an increase in duties on certain chemicals like methanol, acetone, anthates. fluorocarbons and acetyl salicylic acid in which the sales will be $17.6 million. There will be a decrease in respect of other chemicals such as sodium dichromate, sodium bicarbonate and calcium chloride on which annual sales are S9.8 million. The duty on aluminium sulphate will come down from 60 per cent, to 25 per cent.
Let me deal with those chemicals in the 60 per cent, rate bracket. There will be increases on things like polyethylene and synthetic rubber on which sales amount to $14 million. There will be a decrease on chemicals such as polyvinyl chloride and hydrogen peroxide on which sales amount to $9.2 million. Finally, in the section dealing with the recommendation that 7i per cent, be adopted, there will be nothing but decreases. The amount of the sales of these chemicals is $2.1 million. The rate on citric acid, tartaric acid and naphthalene comes down from 60 per cent, to Ik per cent. I think it would have been wise if Opposition members had taken a quick look at the report and had recognised some of its effects before they made wild statements about increases in costs in the chemical industry. The real question that must be answered, as is quite obvious from the report, is: Does the country need a chemical industry?
– It is childish to talk like that. Everybody acknowledges that we need it.
– I am glad that at last the honorable member for Lalor acknowledges that we need a chemical industry. If he reads through the report, he will see quite clearly that, if there is to be a chemical industry with a chance to operate profitably, a system of tariff protection on the lines that have been recommended is necessary. The honorable member for Lalor commented on the profitability of the chemical industry. I refer him again, as I did last night, to section 9 of the report of the Tariff Board, which deals with this subject. He will see that there has been a very low level of net earnings from the production of chemicals by member companies over the last five years. I incorporated these figures in “ Hansard “ last night and I will not go over them again now. I think if the honorable member studies the report he will see the effect of the operations of the tariff over the last five years. If we are to have a progressive industry that is willing to invest in new products and in new capital development, some scheme such as that devised by the Tariff Board is absolutely vital.
I have only a moment in which to answer a few of the questions asked by the honorable member for Wakefield. Let me explain first the way in which the Tariff Board will examine the machinery. As he knows, there will be a system of support prices on a range of chemicals. I think the number of chemicals is 23. Once a year, the Tariff Board will examine the prices in an open inquiry. Then, if a new support price on any chemical is required, the matter goes to a Special Advisory Authority.
– Is that in the meantime?
– Yes. When a Special Advisory Authority makes a recommendation, as happens with every other report of a Special Advisory Authority, it will go to the Tariff Board for examination. Over and above that, in three years’ time, in 1969, the Tariff Board will examine the whole system of support prices to see to what extent it is working and what effect it has had generally on the industry as a whole. Perhaps I did not make that clear in my explanation last night. I hope I have answered the honorable member’s questions.
As I said, my statement last night dealt only with the facts of the situation and the way in which the Government is proposing to administer the industry after receipt of the report. I did not go into the other details of the report. I said that will be dealt with when we examine this matter in the bill to be brought down in the next Parliament. I will, therefore, deal with the other matters in three months’ time. To sum up, the Government, for very obvious reasons, rejects the amendment and hopes that the proposals will be validated so that they can operate until the new Parliament meets.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be omitted (Dr. S. F. Cairns’ amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– The question now is that the Bill be read a second time.
– Mr. Speaker-
-Order! The honorable member has already spoken.
– No, Mr. Speaker, 1 have spoken only on my amendment.
– Order! ‘I he honorable member opened up the debate and he then moved an amendment. If he wishes to speak again he will need leave of the House, ls leave granted?
– 1 rise to order, Mr. Speaker. 1 moved an amendment to provide that consideration of this matter be deferred. 1 took it that that was the subject matter 1 was debating. The amendment was put and it was decided that we should proceed to the second reading debate. I bought to speak to the second reading.
-Order! The motion before the chair was that the Bill be now read a second time. The honorable member rose and addressed his remarks to the subject matter before the Chair and then moved an amendment. In those circumstances he has exhausted his right .and if he wishes to make some comment because he claims to have been misled it will be necessary for him to obtain leave.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. In the speech of the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) and in my own speech it was made clear that we intended to speak on this Customs Tariff Validation Bill. The Deputy Speaker, who took your place, led us to believe that we would be allowed to do so, but apparently our remarks are to be curtailed.
– Order! The position was that an amendment was before the Chair, and the honorable member for Scullin addressed his remarks only to the amendment. That being so he has the right to speak to the motion that the Bill be now read a second time.
.- This Bill validates customs duties on a number of items, namely glassware, motor vehicles, hollow bars, tubes and pipes of iron or steel, clothes pegs, coffee, footwear, candles, vanillin and ethyl vanillin, and industrial chemicals and synthetic resins. An investigation was made into footwear as a result of submissions made to the Tariff Board on 19th November 1964. The Board considered the proposition and on 12th August 1966 drew up its report and submitted the report to the Government on 23rd August 1966. Those submitting claims to the Tariff Board for protection for the footwear industry contended that -
The Australian industry has the capacity and the skills to meet the whole of the Australian demand and its requirements for variety and quality.
The Australian footwear industry makes a major direct contribution to the Australian economy. It is a large employer of labour, contributes to decentralisation and uses virtually all Australian made materials. Its activities affect not only the wellbeing of a broad cross-se :tion of secondary industry supplying these materials, but reaches further back to primary industry production as well.
The importance of the industry to Australia’s national defence activities both in the past and in the future is a major reason why its development should be encouraged by the Government.
Those opposing the requests of the manufacturers stated that -
The granting of the requests for very much increased levels of duty will mean virtually tha stoppage of all imports into Australia, particularly from Italy, China and Japan, against which countries the balance of trade is very much in Australia’s favour.
The position is that in 1964-65 the industry produced about 42 million pairs of footwear but in the next year it produced about 41 million pairs. There was a reduction in the production of Australian footwear of over li million pairs. As a result, men were put out of the industry in Victoria and New South Wales, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney. Others were put on part time employment in sections of the industry. Their occupations were reduced, and they have been reduced further since then. The Board deliberated and brought in a rather lengthy report which is vague in many places. For instance, the report states -
Information on wage rates and working conditions in the Japanese and Hong Kong footwear industries suggests that average monthly earnings (including welfare costs) are about one-half and one-third, respectively, of average monthly earnings (excluding overtime) of Australian workers engaged in direct production. On an hourly basis the Australian manufacturer would be at a further disadvantage, but, even allowing for recent wage increases in Australia, this does not appear as marked against Japan as in 19S9.
The Board was told by the Australian agent for Chinese footwear that earnings of Chinese workers are between 60 yuan ($A22) and 80 yuan ($A29) for a 192 hour month. Thus average hourly earnings in the Australian footwear industry could be from six to nine times higher than in the Chinese industry.
The nations behind the iron and bamboo curtains are sending footwear to Australia. They have planned economies. They are not concerned with the cost of production, and the result has been that they have been dumping their products on the Australian market. In recent years particularly, cheap products have come from China to Australia and have been dumped here at below the cost of production. Tariff protection afforded the industry has not been sufficient to enable Australian industry to stand up against the competition of these Chinese products. The Chinese, as a lot of Orientals do, have been copying types of manufactured articles which exist within Australia. The lasts used in Australia, which sell to advantage, are copied exactly and the products made with these lasts are put upon the Australian market with the result that the Australian product is undersold. Anyone has only to walk along any main street in any capital city of Australia to see footwear products from overseas.
Vast quantities of footwear come from Italy. The Tariff Board report points out that while the cost of manufacture of footwear in the main cities of Italy is as great as it is in Australia, the cost of manufacture in cities in the hinterland is far below that of the main cities of Italy, but the framers of this report did not know exactly what it was. Of course, it is not only a question of whether the cost of production of footwear in Italy is as great as the cost of production in Australia that is important. What matters to a large extent is the margin of profit upon the footwear that is being sold to the Australian people.
– Who imports the footwear from Red China?
– I cannot hear the honorable member. If I could hear him I probably would not understand him so I will continue with my remarks. What matters to the retailers of footwear in Australia is the margin of profit. The margin of profit determines what footwear the salesmen in the emporiums of Australia will push. It determines which products will be displayed in the front windows of shops. Because the margin of profit on goods coming from overseas is greater than the margin on Australian production, wholesalers and retailers in Australia push the foreign produced article to the disadvantage of the Australian article with the result, as I have pointed out, that although the population of Australia has increased vastly during the last few years the production of footwear by Australian industry has been greatly reduced and is decreasing further than ever. It should be increasing. Every year more men and women should be going into the footwear industry of Australia but they are not doing so because there has been dumped upon the markets of this country cheap products from countries such as Italy, Czechoslovakia, Japan and China that are manufactured under conditions that do not operate in Australia.
The Minister for Air (Mr. Howson), who is seated at the table, would probably say, as members of the Country Party say: “ We sell wheat to China, we have to accept something in return “. Because the Government sells wheat to China which aids China’s war effort and helps to build up the Chinese Army, it accepts in return footwear from the Chinese people which destroys the industry that exists in Australia and puts our own people out of work. The Tariff Board’s report has been considered by various sections of the industry. I shall now read my last extract from this report under the heading of “ Findings “ which is in big black letters. The report states -
The Tariff Board finds-
that footwear with outer soles of leather attached to leather uppers has been sold to a person in Australia at export prices which are less than the normal values, in the country of exportation;
In other words, the Board is saying that the goods have been dumped upon the market in Australia. The Board also found -
The Board concluded with the following paragraph -
Attention is invited to the Board’s remarks in Part A of this report on the sale of waterproof rubber footwear at export prices below fair market values in the countries of origin.
Despite these facts, the Government has not done the things that are necessary to preserve the Australian industry. The Australian industry should not merely be preserved; it should be extended. It should be extended, not merely for the reasons submitted by the manufacturers, but because it is an essential wartime industry, because it encourages decentralisation by employing people in country areas and because it absorbs the primary products of this country. It also is an import replacement industry that is essential if Australia is to improve its balance of payments overseas. The Government has pointed out that two things are essential in connection with Australia’s trade: One is that we increase our exports. The other is that we reduce our imports or that we create what are called “ import replacement “ industries. The footwear industry is an import replacement industry and does not add to our difficulties overseas. We are now destroying that industry and putting skilled artisans out of work.
The Australian footwear industry is recognised right throughout the world as a most efficient industry. Articles are produced in Australia by more skilled artisans than are working in most other countries. This is because the Australian footwear artisan has to spend a long period at a technical college in order to learn his trade and effectively carry it out. He spends more time learning the trade of boot production than do people who produce boots in China, Japan, England or Italy. People who have devoted their youth to acquiring in the technical colleges of this country, during the last few years, skills necessary for the production of footwear are now being put out of work. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Bury) will probably say that they are not out of work because the unemployment figures show that there has been no increase in unemployment during the last six months and that the number of employed now has reached a certain figure. The point is that many of these people who have skills and aptitudes above the ordinary are forced into industries that require no skills.
– How many people would have been put out of work if the amendment you tried to put through the House a few minutes ago had been accepted?
– I did not try to put through any amendment.
– You tried to get the whole of this Bill deferred, and every one of the duties that have been imposed cancelled. How many would that have put out of work?
– The Minister for Air evidently agrees that my submissions are correct, but he says: “In spite of the correctness of the arguments you are now putting to the House, something you did five minutes ago was wrong.” Well, I am not going . to discuss what I did five minutes ago. I am pleased to see that the Minister admits that the actions of this Government have caused the unemployment of thousands of skilled artisans and the wastage of aptitudes and capacities that have been learned and built up at considerable cost and effort by many of our people, not only in my electorate but also in other electorates throughout Australia.
The report of the Tariff Board has been considered by very many people in the footwear industry. The result of the Board’s deliberations has been studied by the secretary of the Boot Trade Employees Union. In an article in the “ Australian “ newspaper of 26th October 1966, under the heading “ Shoe Industry Faces Slump: Call to Stop Cheap Imports “, the following appeared -
Australia’s footwear industry is facing its worst recession for more than 20 years because of the dumping of low-priced boots and shoes by communist block and low-wage countries.
Several hundred employees in the trade have already been sacked. Many others are being forced to work short-time.
Further sackings, industry spokesmen say, could follow in the main footwear manufacturing centres of Victoria and N.S.W.
Employees in other states may also be affected unless the Federal Government acts to protect the industry against the importation of low-priced goods from the communist countries of Czechoslovakia and China, and also from Italy and other European countries.
The dismissals are the result of the recent Tariff Boar J report which did little to help the Australian industry’s request for increased protection.
The event of redundancies in all states is the subject of a joint inquiry by the Chamber of Manufactures and the Boot Trade Employees Union.
The union’s secretary, Mr. J. Condon, says that in one Victorian factory 150 employees have been sacked and in another 80 out of 180 have been lai:i off. “ I have not experienced such a serious recession in the industry since 1945.” “The industry is in the doldrums at a time of year when we expect buoyancy. “ With the big Christmas buy on the way, our factories should be working overtime. The reverse is the case.”
Mr. Condon said that China and Czechoslovakia offered the most competition because they were selling in Australia at less than it cost them to manufacture.
More shoes were imported from Italy but they could not sell for as little because the Italians were out to make a profit.
That is the position, and this Government that gives lip service to a war against Communism promotes materially the interests of Communism. As I have said before, it sells the Communists our wool and our wheat so that they can service their armies. The Government sells them wheat so that they can sell their rice at high prices to other countries and purchase with the proceeds all the requisites of war, both defensive and offensive. And what does Australia get? It gets what the members of the Boot Trade Employees Union have pointed out - cheap products dumped upon the markets of Australia in the form of footwear that is destroying a national Australian industry. If this kind of thing is allowed to continue, of course, disaster must ultimately face the people in the Australian footwear industry. The Government should take heed of the views that have been expressed, not only by employees but also by the manufacturers. Manufacturers are going out of business. They are closing down because of conditions in the footwear industry. This all results from the trading policies adopted by the present Australian Government.
I know that Government supporters, and particularly members of the Country Party, will get up and say: “What do you want? Do you want an industry protected so that the footwear manufacturers of Australia can exploit the Australian people and charge them more for footwear than they should? “ They will tell us that the footwear industry is not efficient. It is not an efficient industry because it cannot compete against the dumping tactics of the traders of China and Czechoslovakia. It is not an efficient industry because it cannot compete against goods sent to this country from Japan, Britain and elsewhere and put in the front of shop windows to be pushed by the retailers because they get a bigger margin of profit from them than from articles produced in Australia.
I am very pleased, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to have had the opportunity, despite some difficulty, of putting clearly to this Government the proposition that it should not only protect employers and employees and the consumers of this country, but that it should also seek to create, by the extension of industries that already operate in our country, a self-reliant and prosperous country. I do not advocate in any circumstances the exploitation of the people by the capitalists of Australia or by the capitalists of Italy or by the Communist bosses of Czechoslovakia and China.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Howson) read a third time.
PUBLIC SERVICE BILL (No. 2) 1966. Second Reading.
Debate resumed from 26th October (vide page 2190), on motion by Mr. Bury -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition is pleased that at long last something has been done for permanent female employees of the Commonwealth Public Service who wish to remain in the Service after being married. For too long Australia has lagged behind the rest of the world on this issue, and it has lagged behind without having any excuse for doing so. The Australian Government has had before it from time to time reports of the International Labour Organisation which have recommended that this discrimination against women should be removed, lt has had, moreover, the report of its own Boyer Committee brought down eight years ago to this Government and recommending that section 49 of the Public Service Act be repealed to enable permanent female employees to marry and still retain their permanency. This Government has indicated its lack of interest in the subject by the fact that for the first 12 months after receiving the report of the Boyer Committee it did nothing ,bout it at all. Honorable members had to wait 12 months even to get a glimpse of the Boyer report which recommended that permanent female employees of the Commonwealth Public Service be allowed to retain their permanency after marriage. Now, after eight years, the Government has tardily accepted the recommendation of the Boyer Committee and has brought down this Bill to alter the Public Service Act accordingly.
It would be unfair to an honorable member who is not with us tonight not to mention that the real reason why the Government has moved in this direction, after eight years delay, is that that member, the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden), on 2nd December last year moved -
That, in respect of the Commonwealth Public Service this House is of the opinion that -
The honorable member for Oxley moved that motion nearly 12 months ago. This Government did nothing about the matter until now. I am certain that the Government would not have acted now but for the fact that an election is in the offing. It realised that its failure to act could be - and no doubt would be - one of the things which could cause it to lose considerable public support.
Even though the Government has at last moved to allow women who are permanent employees in the Public Service to remain in the Service after marriage, it has imposed upon them considerable disadvantages compared with other women employed in the Service. For example, the Government has decided to repeal ‘that section of the Public Service Act which allows an officer in charge to give to a married woman in the Public Service what is known as marriage leave. Women who enter the Public Service in future will not be entitled to marriage leave. The Government has graciously agreed - only because it is compelled to do so for contractual reasons - that women permanent officers now in the Public Service will continue to enjoy the right to take marriage leave. But the long service leave entitlements which women will be able to preserve have been reduced in this Bill so far as married women are concerned compared with single women in the Public Service. I will refer to this later.
The Government has decided to grant a minimum of six weeks leave of absence prior to confinement and six weeks leave after confinement to married women who wish to take maternity leave. The maximum period allowed will be six months leave. Twelve weeks confinement leave is the minimum amount recommended by the International Labour Organisation, and the minimum accepted by practically every country in the world today, including many of the African states. So there is nothing in that provision of which the Government should be proud. I believe that to limit to six months the maximum amount of maternity leave that a woman shall be allowed and still retain her permanency in the Service is to overlook and completely disregard some of the difficulties that are sometimes associated with childbirth. On this score the Opposition will move an amendment in Committee to extend the amount of leave which a woman may take to have a child to as much as 12 months.
The Opposition will also seek to delete from the Bill the provision which removes from the Act the right for newly appointed women to have long service leave when they retire because of marriage. The Opposition believes that the Bill is too restrictive when it provides that a woman is to be denied the opportunity of taking her long service leave upon retirement through no fault of her own. Quite rightly the Government has said that it will make no distinction between concessions granted to married women in the Service as against single women. Neither should there be concessions only to married women. I agree with the Government on that point. However, there are certain circumstances which could arise in the case of a married woman which would impose on her a great injustice and which could force her to retire and forfeit her long service leave. For example, if a woman’s husband were transferred from Canberra to Western Australia to work she would have no right to go to the chief officer and say: “ My husband has been transferred to Perth and I want a transfer too “. No single woman would have the right to say: “ I want to go to Perth because somebody 1 am fond of has gone there “. A married woman therefore should not have that right either, but she should have the right to retire from the Service without losing her long service leave.
O’n the other hand a woman may not want to retire from the Service immediately she marries as she is required to do under the Act. She may want to continue working for some time after marriage and then retire. This could quite easily happen. One sees dozens of reasons why a woman might want to continue working for some time after marriage and to retire after she and her husband had bought a home, had paid off a motor car. had saved money to go for a holiday, or something of that kind. In those circumstances a woman should not be penalised so far as her long service leave is concerned. Another case could arise where a woman would say: “ I am not going to retire from the Public Service now because of my marriage; I will remain in the Service until I have a child. I will not retire until 1 have a child.” This sort of thing happens very often. When that child arrives that woman should be able to retire if she wishes to do so and receive her full long service leave entitlement.
I believe that for those reasons we can say that this Bill has given too little too late. This Bill limits maternity leave, as I said, to a total of six months. The Opposition believes it should be 12 months. This Bill discriminates between the amount of long service leave that a married woman gets upon retirement as compared with what any other woman in the Service gets who retires through sickness. It excludes long service leave altogether for new female employees who leave as a result of marriage. I think it is true to say that a woman’s status in any society is one of the best measures of the civilisation of that society. I do not think we ought to live in the spirit of the Old Testament - that a woman’s place is to stand breast high amid the corn. Surely this is not the attitude that people of this day and age should adopt towards women - to treat women as if they were really not human beings but just chattels for men to use, abuse and exploit. For too long this has been the attitude of men down through the ages in all countries. It is more noticeable in primitive countries.
Yet, people reading what the. I.L.O. report said about Australia’s attitude towards women and the way we discriminate against women would be entitled to believe that we are amongst the most primitive of all nations. 1 wish to refer to something that appeared at page 273 of the March 1962 edition of the “ International Labour Review “. lt said -
While legislation discriminating in general terms against the employment of married women is apparently very rare, there are a number of formul regulations barring or restricting the employment of married women in the public sector. These include countries like Australia and Ireland which bar or restrict the employment of married women throughout the regular established Civil Service.
The International Labour Organisation found itself impelled to draw to the attention of the world the backward attitude of Australia and Ireland to the position of women in society and, in particular, in the Public Service. But I should like to refer also, if I may, to the position that applies in the United States. Tn that country the Classification Act of 1949, which establishes a comprehensive plan for the classification of positions and rates of compensation for civil employees in the classified Civil Service, expressly provides that -
In the administration of this Chapter there shall be no discrimination with respect to any person or with respect to the position held by any person on account of sex, marital status, race, creed or colour.
And neither there should be. Nobody can possibly justify discrimination against women because of marital status, creed, or for any other reason. The Australian Council of Trade Unions for years now has been advocating an amendment to the long service provisions of the Public Service Act to give to anybody, man or woman, single or married, the right to retire from the Public Service after five years of service for any reason at all and to receive pro rata leave in the same way as is provided in the New South Wales Act. This is not asking the Commonwealth to break new ground. On the other hand, the Commonwealth Government should be breaking new ground. This is merely asking the Commonwealth to catch up with the law which already applies in New South Wales.
Nobody can tell me that women are not as capable as men or that some women are not more capable than some men. 1 should like to refer to two women who are outstanding and are well known. Ali South Australians know Justice Roma Mitchell, a woman of outstanding personal qualifications and legal qualifications. She has a keen and brilliant intellect. Nobody who knows that marvellous woman will say for one moment that she and people like her - no doubt there are others who may nearly approach her standing - should not be treated as equals with men. Let me remind the House of the name of another woman known to every honorable member. I refer to Mrs. Shirley Warde who at the moment holds the position of Director of the Legislative Research Service in the Parliamentary Library. She is third in the hierarchy of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library staff. I want to tell the House about this woman’s position to drive home the injustices which have been perpetrated upon women employed by the Commonwealth Public Service.
This woman joined the Commonwealth Public Service 21 years ago. She came as a young single girl with a university degree. She entered the Commonwealth Public Service at that time as a permanent officer. She was entitled to superannuation rights. She remained with the Service until she married some 20 years ago. The moment Mrs. Shirley Warde married she had to forfeit her permanency and go back as a temporary employee of the Commonwealth
Public Service. She had to forfeit her rights to superannuation and to various other benefits that go with permanency. Could anybody knowing Mrs. Shirley Warde justify that kind of treatment of a person of her outstanding qualifications? She has a brilliant brain and is a magnificent research officer. I do not think there is a man in the Commonwealth Public Service who could say that he was superior to Mrs. Warde as a research officer. Yet this is the way that this outstanding woman has been treated. Her only crime is that she has been born a woman. Because she was unfortunate enough to be born a woman she has to be punished in the way that I have indicated. For 20 long years she has suffered the difference between permanency and temporary employment. I repeat that the Government has no excuse for allowing this situation to continue for 17 years as it has done. For the last eight years of that period it has had a report from the Boyer Committee recommending that this very thing be done. I want to draw attention to another anomaly in the Act. The Bill and the Act read together provide that if a permanent female employee of the Commonwealth Public Service is unfortunate enough to become pregnant-
– It could be fortunate.
– I do not think an unmarried girl could be said to be fortunate because she becomes pregnant. I suppose different people have different standards, but I do not think it can be said that she would be fortunate. She can have her child and come back to the Public Service without suffering any disabilities relative to long service leave because she could take any accrued sick leave due to her. She would not be required, as the Bill now requires of a married female officer, even to take the six weeks prior to and six weeks after confinement as a minimum period of leave. That proviso is a good thing. It should be a minimum requirement. I congratulate the Government for stipulating in the Bill that no married permanent female officer should be allowed to have marriage leave of less than six weeks prior to and six weeks after confinement. But what I do say to the Government is that to limit it to six months is not good enough. 1 have had the benefit of talking to medical men on this matter. They have informed me that certain situations can arise in which a woman might find that it would be necessary for her to be away for practically the whole of the period prior to her confinement in order to have proper medical treatment. A medical member of the Parliament who has a wide practice has told me that although it is not usual - it happens occasionally, and more often than many people realise - some women, right from the moment of conception until confinement, suffer excessive vomiting to the point where they are just not able to continue to work. They have to stay in bed. Others who are prone to abortion can have their baby and keep their baby only if they remain in bed almost from the time of conception until it is born. ]f a woman has to remain in bed for eight or nine months of her pregnancy before confinement, and must take another six weeks leave after confinement, which is required by the Act, how on earth can she possibly do all this in the six months which is allowed for in this Bill? This is something that 1 think the Government ought to have a good look at. I said before that I believe it is a good thing that permanent female officers who marry should be permitted to retain their permanency. Looking round this Parliament, I see permanent female officers of the Public Service holding very high offices in various departments. They are extremely capable women - women who would have made good wives and good mothers but who, I dare say, remained spinsters for no reason other than that they lived during an era when, to have married, would have been sacrificing their careers in the Public Service. Those women should have been given the right to marry without sacrificing their permanency, and without sacrificing their careers. This, of course, will be permissible in future.
Another good thing is that this Bill makes it possible for the first time for women who are already married to enter the Public Service. I commend the Government for doing that. I thought that the figures that were produced by the Minister were rather illuminating. He told us that 37 per cent, of all married women between the ages of 20 and 44 years and 26 per cent, of those between 45 and 64 years of age are already in the work force. Thirty seven per cent. of those between 20 and 44 yeaTS of age is a big percentage to be employed in the work force. No doubt this number will continue to grow until it reaches the dimensions already reached in many other countries, particularly in Europe. No doubt the Government realised that it was ridiculous for it to go on barring married women from employment as permanent officers of the Public Service when such a huge percentage of married women are already fully employed in industry of some kind. It is certain that if the Government had persisted much longer in its refusal to allow women to retain permanency after marriage many of the best types of its female employees would have left the Commonwealth Public Service and perhaps taken up better positions in private industry. I know of women who have left the Commonwealth Public Service to get married and who have taken up better positions in private industry.
I notice that the Bill gives the Government power to make regulations governing the employment of married women. This is a good and proper provision. A lot of regulations will have to be made. I hope - and I have no reason to believe that this will not be so - that the Department of Labour and Industry, which will be administering the regulations, will see to it that whatever regulations are required are sympathetically formulated in order to meet fairly and decently the special circumstances of married women in the Commonwealth Public Service.
However, there is one criticism and condemnation that 1 have to utter about the Bill. It keeps Australia among the few European countries which do not allow paid maternity leave. However, it is good to know that the Government will allow a female permanent officer who wishes to take maternity leave, to use up her accrued sick leave, her accrued recreation leave and her accrued long service leave. I suppose that in most cases that would be sufficient to cover the first pregnancy, at any rate. But it would not be sufficient to cover the second pregnancy, although I would quite agree with the Minister if he were to say that perhaps a woman ought not to continue to work if there is a second pregnancy. However, we cannot know the circumstances of all these people. For example, there are those women in industry who have sick husbands. They may be few but if they could not continue to work to maintain their husbands and children, great hardship might result. Again, there are those married women who have been deserted by their husbands and who have children dependent upon them. They have to keep working in order to maintain their children.
All kinds of circumstances could arise in which a woman would be compelled to keep on working. Personally, I believe that once a woman becomes a mother she ought to give up working, at any rate for the first three or four years of the life of her baby. For that time, she ought to stay at home to look after the baby. I cannot see how a baby can get proper attention from anyone but its mother for the first three or four years of its life.
– Some families do not have enough income to allow that.
– I know that. 1 am expressing the personal view that, generally speaking, I do not think it is proper that a woman, once she has had a child, should continue working if her husband is fit and well and there are no other special circumstances. But there is still the isolated case of the unfortunate woman who, because she has a sick husband, because she is a deserted wife, or because she is a widow or a divorcee, just has to keep on working. I agree with the Minister when he says that he does not believe that many women will continue to work after they become mothers. I do not think they will. But the Bill, so far as I understand it, does give them the right to re-enter the Public Service and perhaps some will do so when their children have reached the age at which they do not need a mother’s constant care.
I am surprised to see that in many other countries special provision is made in industry for such things as time off for a mother to feed her baby during working hours. Those countries include Italy, Bulgaria, France, East Germany, West Germany, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Rumania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics and Yugoslavia.
– Many of those are Communist countries.
– Yes, and some are non-Communist countries. The provision in all those countries is that the mother must be granted paid maternity leave during the period when she is away from work. She also has to be given two half-hour periods in between the ordinary meal breaks to feed her baby. If she works in a factory, the factory has to provide a creche for the baby. A woman who has twins gets 45 minutes to suckle her children while the woman who has only one child gets 30 minutes. Some countries provide that if there is no creche for the children to bc kept in the mother must be given 45 minutes to go home, or to wherever the child may be located, to suckle it.
– What is done in Australia?
– In Australia it seems that they go to the nearest chemist shop, buy an unbreakable feeding bottle, a teat, and some ready-mixed milk or any other substance that will keep the baby happy, and get on as quickly as possible with whatever business they find more interesting.
One thing that 1 think ought to be looked at is that in many countries the mother i3 entitled to full wages for six weeks before and six weeks after the baby is born. This applies in West Germany, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Spain, Switzerland, Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Finland, France, East Germany, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, New Jersey and many other American States. This is something that we in Australia shall have to do one day. I believe that we ought to pay to a mother a maternity allowance for at least six weeks before the baby is born and for six weeks afterwards, regardless of whether she is married. The wife of an ordinary working man finds that having a baby is so expensive a business as to impose a great burden on the family budget. The maternity allowance is often described as the baby bonus. The amount of baby bonus that is paid is nowhere near enough to meet the extra cost of napkins, cribs, prams, pushers and all the other paraphernalia that go with having a baby. We should not adopt the attitude that babies just come and that is all there is to it. We should not forget about the problems that arise and let mothers deal with them as best they can.
I have drawn up a table that illustrates the difference between the position of a married woman in the Commonwealth Public Service and that of any other Commonwealth public servant with respect to long service leave. Under the terms of this measure, a married woman with not less than five years’ service but less than eight years’ service will receive one month’s long service leave. Under the terms of the principal Act, other public servants having not less than four years’ service but less than eight years’ service receive two months’ long service leave. This is provided in section 74(1.) (a). I cannot understand why a married woman who leaves the Public Service because she marries should be compelled to accept one month’s leave for five years’ service when some other public servant can get two months’ leave for four years’ service. Let us take the case of a married woman who leaves the Public Service after not less than 8 years but less than 12 years. She may receive a total of two months’ long service leave. Any other public servant who works not less than 8 years but less than 10 years - 2 years less than the married woman just mentioned - is entitled to three months’ long service leave. A married woman with not less than 12 years’ service may receive three months’ long service leave, but any other Commonwealth public servant with not less than 10 years’ service receives three-tenths of a month’s leave for each year of service. This is provided for in section 74 (I.) (c) of the principal Act as amended by the measure passed about two weeks ago. For 14 years of service, a married woman would be entitled to three months’ long service leave whereas any other Commonwealth public servant would be entitled to four and one-fifth months’ leave. Can the Minister for Labour and National Service or anyone else tell me why this distinction is made?
– What is one-fifth of 31 days?
– That, apparently, is indicative of the Government’s attitude. I ask it to explain why this discriminatory distinction has been allowed to remain. I would like to refer honorable members to an article entitled “ Married Women as Public Servants “ which was contributed to a journal by Miss M. D. Raftis. She makes this point -
In most countries for which data are readily available the rate of labour force participation for mothers tends to be higher - often very considerably higher - for those women who arc widowed, divorced or separated than for those whose husbands are in the home . . . and for women whose husbands are in the low income groups or whose incomes are uncertain.
I do not want women who become mothers to have to leave young babies in the care of others while they go to work, but we have to remember that there are circumstances of the kind mentioned by this writer. There are some circumstances which are not normal and which compel a woman, often very much against her wish, to continue working and to arrange for somebody else to look after her baby. She does not do it willingly. She does it because she has no alternative. The article continues - lt is not unreasonable to assume that some of the women who resigned on marriage (many of whom had been taught their skills at Government expense) and who wished to continue working, obtained jobs in private industry and so were absorbed effortlessly into the economy.
Of course this is true. I pointed it out earlier. If we continued to maintain this barrier against the employment of married women in the Commonwealth Public Service, all that would happen would be that we would lose highly trained, skilled officers who had been trained at great expense to the Commonwealth. Private enterprise would get the benefit of their services. The article goes on - lt ls important to remember that despite the marriage bar in the Public Service, one in every len workers in 1961 was a married woman.
The proportion is very much greater now. We have recently seen figures that show that in one age group the proportion has risen to 37 per cent.
I want the Minister to remember, when at the Committee stage we propose an amendment designed to increase the maximum period of maternity leave from 6 to 12 months, that this is not leave with pay. It is leave without pay, to be taken only if the woman concerned is subject to special circumstances that require it to be taken. As I mentioned, the need could arise from illness before confinement or from a desire to breast feed a baby for several months after confinement. These two circumstances together could easily require a total of 12 months leave. There is nothing new in this. In Victoria, married women teachers are granted maternity leave without pay for a maximum of IS months. The leave must be commenced four months before confinement and must continue for at least six months afterwards. In Canada, maternity leave is granted as leave without pay to a total of eight months. An additional two months leave can be obtained on application. I leave the matter there, Mr. Deputy Speaker. When the Bill reaches the Committee stage. I shall move the amendments to various clauses that I have indicated. I hope that it will be possible to vote on them all in one division.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I could not have a better reward on the eve of my retirement than to witness the passing of this Bill, which removes a discrimination against the employment of married women. I loathe all forms of discrimination. I believe in equality of opportunity. I believe that we should get rid of anything that discriminates as between one citizen and another.
One of the greatest qualities of Australia is the equality of opportunity. 1 dealt with this matter in the House on 19th March 1959. The House was then dealing with the Commonwealth Banks Bill, in which it was proposed to incorporate clauses of the Public Service Bill dealing with the employment of married women. Clause 104 of the Commonwealth Banks Bill read - (1.) A married woman shall not be appointed to the Service except in special circumstances. (2.) A female officer shall cease to be an officer on her marriage unless the Corporation is satisfied that there are special circumstances which make it desirable that she should continue in the Service.
Those two provisions were identical with the provisions found in section 49 of the Public Service Act. Dealing with those provisions I said - lt is a relic of the time when it was the exception rather than the rule for women to be employed. Nowadays, almost all women seek employment and they have played a very big part in the development of this country. Why should this bank, after it has trained experienced officers, be compelled to dismiss those officers just because they marry?
I then quoted passages from the Boyer report, which had been presented to the Prime Minister on 21st November 195S. In its report the Boyer Committee said -
It is probable that a substantial proportion of women employees would resign on marriage even if this were not compulsory. But when the Service is short of qualified people, even the small proportionate losses entailed by the present section are scarcely justifiable, while there is an unknown additional loss of potential recruits from among married women and from single women who are deterred by a knowledge of this section from seeking a career in the Service.
The report continued -
This is at a time when increasing numbers of women are gaining professional or other qualifications for employment, and when employment is increasingly sought by married women, especially those without children, whose children have grown up, or who need to be breadwinners on their own account.
Apart from these considerations, section 49-
That is, section 49 of the Public Service Act -
Reads strangely in a country which has adhered to the I.L.O. Convention for equal employment rights for men and women. We have also been told that a U.N. Economic and Social Council Report, prepared for the Commission on the Status of Women in 1951. dealt with this subject.
In the debate on the Commonwealth Banks Bill I criticised quite severely the marriage bar. On 5th April I960 I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt), who was then Treasurer, this question -
Can the Treasurer say whether the Government has yet given consideration to the marriage bar which deprives married women of the right to employment in the Public Service and which forces a single woman to retire from the service on marriage? The Treasurer will recall that on 19lh March 1959 he said the matter would be fully considered by the Government.
After this long battle I am extremely delighted that the Government has decided to introduce a bill for the final abolition of the marriage bar. I congratulate the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Bury) on the introduction of this Bill. This must be an extremely pleasing incident for the Minister, because on 19th March 1959 as a back bench member he himself raised this matter. Speaking in the debate on the Commonwealth Banks Bill he said -
I should like now to add something to the remarks made by the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) concerning the employment of married women in the Commonwealth Banking Service. There is no doubt that in this particular matter Australia lags well behind other countries.
Disabilities on the employment of women have been imposed by successive governments, Labour and otherwise, and continue to be imposed by this Government. They are repeated in clause 104 of the Commonwealth Banks Hill, in a provision which means that when a girl employed on the Commonwealth Bank staff gets married, she will get the sack, even if she wishes to work two or three years after marriage so as to have the money to help to form a household for herself and her husband until her family begins to arrive. As far as my inquiries show, this is a disability not imposed upon women by other banks. The trading banks do, in fact, allow most of their girls to stay after marriage, and they form a very useful part of the staff. Of course, more than banks are concerned in this matter of the employment of women. Like the honorable member for Sturt, the only reason I would not vote against this provision is that the Government has before it the report on Public Service recruitment which recommends the abolition of these penal discriminatory clauses.
How wonderful it is for the Minister now to be able to introduce into this House this momentous Bill which carries into effect what he as a private member advocated in the House on 19th March 1959 and has continued to support during his term as a private member and since as a Minister of the Crown. I think every honorable member who has strong views on any political matter would like to see the day when he, as a Minister, could have his views carried into effect. I would like to pay my tribute to the Minister for his success in carrying into effect this very great principle.
There is much more in this matter than may appear on the surface. The Bill goes to the fundamental principles of the Australian way of life. We are a country that is noted throughout the world for fair play and for willingness to give everyone an equal opportunity. People migrate to Australia in thousands every year because they believe that in Australia there is equality of opportunity. That is why it behoves us, as we are doing in this Bill, to ensure that discrimination of every form is removed. I would like to give a few instances of forms of discrimination that I have seen removed and have helped to remove since I have hat! the honour to be a member of the Parliament. I remember, Sir, that when I entered the House our Aborigines were not entitled to an age pension. Now that discrimination has been removed. They like every other Australian citizen, are entitled to a pension on reaching the requisite age, if they have the requisite residential qualification. I remember the discrimination against alien migrants. An alien, even a migrant who was not naturalised, was not entitled to an age pension even if he had been in Australia for 20 years. That discrimination has been removed. I remember that non-Europeans were not entitled to naturalisation until they had been in Australia for 15 years, whilst Europeans were entitled to naturalisation after 5 years. That discrimination has now been removed.
The Government has a proud record o; achievement in removing the last vestiges of discrimination which we inherited. Bui some still remain and I am sure the Government will continue its watchfulness and remove discrimination wherever it occurs. There is still a marriage bar under the Commonwealth Banks Act. The Minister, in his second reading speech, gave an assurance that this will be looked at. There has not been time to do so just at the close of this session, but the Minister has said that the matter will be looked at. I have no doubthat the marriage bar in the Commonwealth Bank will be removed as it has nov been removed in the Public Service. 1 do not propose to deal with the details of the Bill. They have been dealt with adequately by the Minister and he is supported, I am glad to say, by the Australian Labour Party. Therefore, I will not take up the time of the House by dealing with them. I merely conclude by saying how happy I am to see that the marriage bar has been removed. I hope that the Government will continue its watchfulness and see that all forms of discrimination are removed from the laws and regulations of this country few as the remaining ones may be.
– in reply - rt is customary to congratulate members from all sides of the House on their maiden speech. Perhaps you may be able to enlighten me, Sir, for I do not know whether it is proper to congratulate the honorable member for Sturt (Sir Keith Wilson) on his speech. It may well be his last speech in this chamber. During his stay here, I have listened to many of his speeches and I must say that I think his last speech was of the same very high quality. Throughout his time in this House, he has been on the side of social reform. He leaves the
House having achieved by one means or another, 1 am sure, very considerable alterations to the statute book.
I turn now to the remarks of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), who, 1 am glad to say, is broadly though not perhaps altogether in detail on the side of the angels in this matter. He opened by claiming, as perhaps we nil do as a convention, some particular credit for the Australian Labour Party for this measure. I think this a matter that has been advocated by various members on both sides over many years and I do not think it can be attributed exclusively to one side or the other. The honorable member for Sturt recalled when he and I were together advocating, in one context, the removal of the marriage bar. Perhaps the honorable member for Hindmarsh was not here at the lime. If he had been, he may have supported us. hut at that stage we did not draw any support from the other side. However, 1 will deal with some of the specific points he raised. The first is the question of leave for childbirth. I would like to make clear lo the House that the maximum period of six months is in fact the period that the Public Service is compelled by the Act to grant, but there is no ultimate limit to what can be granted by a Chief Officer.
– I think the Service is compelled lo grant six weeks before and six weeks after.
– The person concerned - that is. the woman about to bear a child - is compelled to take 12 weeks leave. On the other side, the Public Service is compelled to permit her to take six months leave if she so requests. For that purpose she may, of course, use up her various entitlements - sick leave and so on. But this is not necessarily a limit to the leave she can have. The period of six months has been included only after a great deal of inquiry as to the administrative arrangements of other countries. Six months is quite a long time to keep a job open. Generally speaking, this maximum is quite reasonable. However, I would point out to the honorable member for Hindmarsh that there is no limit on the subsequent applications for leave that she may make. If the Chief Officer concerned considers the circumstances reasonable, she is in a position to get longer leave, either without pay or by using her leave entitlements.
The honorable member also referred to the question of transfers. He asked what would happen if a woman married and then some time later her husband was transferred to another State - if he is in Canberra, for instance, and is transferred to Perth. In this case, it is open to her to apply for a transfer to Perth, as indeed it would he for any other Commonwealth officer in the normal course of events. If a vacancy occurred to which she could be appointed, the same kind of considerations would apply is now apply to all other Commonwealth officers.
– She would have no special right to go because her husband was transferred?
– No. If no vacancies existed the circumstances would be different. However, on the other side there are the normal exigencies of Service requirements. It cannot be entirely one way traffic. The honorable member for Hindmarsh referred to an International Labour Organisation report of March 1962 in which, he suggested, Australia and Ireland were singled out. The reason why we differ in Australia is that we have a different system of wage fixing which is highly integrated through the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Our whole wage system must be considered in the broad. I would say that ou,r system, and the standards we have established broadly over the whole field compare very well with those of other countries. I point out to the honorable member for Hindmarsh who spoke about unmarried women being treated the same as married women, that leave requirements are open, irrespective of whether a woman is married. So the Bill provides for unmarried women.
I was not clear on what the honorable member for Hindmarsh was suggesting about the marriage allowance, but the provisions governing this have not been specifically related to long service leave provisions. I understand that they have been pretty well the same since the original Public Service Regulations of 1902. A marriage allowance was granted as some compensation to a woman who, on marriage, lost her permanent status. So this link with long service leave cannot be carried too far, but for general purposes the married woman will be on the same basis for long service leave as any other Commonwealth Public Service employee. In other words, normal furlough entitlements include authority for payment after 10 but less than 15 years service where the Board is satisfied that the cessation is on account of domestic or other pressing necessity. In other cases it accrues on completion of 15 years’ service. In both cases temporary service counts for this purpose. This provision is broadly based on a pattern which has become established in our other legislation.
On the whole 1. am grateful forthe rather enlightened attitude that the honorable member for Hindmarsh has taken on this matter. I hope that when similar enlightened measures are introduced in the future we can continue to count on his broad support, whatever his criticisms in detail may be.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
After Division 5 of PartIII. of the Principal Act the following Division is inserted : - “ Division 5a. - Special Provisions Relating to Female Officers. “54a. - (1.) Except as otherwise provided by this Act- “54b. - (1.) A female officer who has (whether after becoming an officer or not) becomes pregnant -
– by leave - I move -
Amendment No. 1 seeks to recast proposed new section 54b. (l.)(a) to take the period of leave that a married woman might ask for when she becomes a mother to 52 weeks instead of up to 26 weeks. At the moment, as the Minister explained, she can demand 6 months leave as a right, but this amendment would extend that right to 12 months leave. Amendment No. 2 seeks to amend proposed section 54c. (1.) (a) so that it will correspond with section 74 (lj of the principal Act, which is the section covering long service leave for officers not entitled u> furlough. This section states -
The Board may grant to an officer who ha« continued in the Commonwealth Public Service for not less than four years but less than fifteen years, immediately prior to his retirement from the Commonwealth Service on, or subsequent to. his attaining the age of sixty years, leave of absence on full salary as follows: -
My amendment would bring the rights of married women in line with the rights of those persons referred to in section 74(1.) of the Act. My other amendments simply follow the principle of extending to women who retire because of marriage the same entitlement relative to long service leave as anybody else in the Commonwealth Public Service would be entitled to receive if they retired on account of age before they completed 15 years’ service. There is no doubt that we ought not to discriminate against these women. I refer honorable members to some information that appeared in answer to a question by Senator McClelland directed to Senator Henty in another place. Senator McClelland asked -
How many officers of the Commonwealth Public Service are employed in the First and Second Divisions of the Service? How many of such officers are females?
The answer was that there are 26 officers in the First Division and 589 in the Second Division. All First Division officers arc males and one officer of the Second Division is a female. This shows how few females are given the opportunity of reaching these higher divisions. No-one can tell me that there are no women who are as good as some of the officers who occupy these positions. No-one can tell me that the best woman employed in the Commonwealth Public Service is not better than the worst man employed in the Second Division. I refer honorable members to what
Mr. Chipp had to say on this subject. He said -
The Commonwealth Public Service is one of few large employers where women executives ure not rare.
He was wrong there, but a lot of people think this is true. We see women advising Ministers in this Parliament. We see highly skilled women telling members of the Parliament how to make speeches - and 1 refer again to Mrs. Shirley Warde. We have women who are virtually telling men how to do very highly paid jobs. Mr. Chipp also said -
In Mr. Burys own Department women are iti charge of Commonwealth Employment Offices, ot psychological units. Not surprisingly he has a senior woman of great experience, and charm, 1 might add- 1 agree with him on that point - in charge of the Department’s women’s section.
– Who said that?
– This was said by Mr. Chipp, giving an address at the Women at Work Conference in Melbourne on 3rd May 1966. Mr. Chipp is quite wrong. He talked about the large number of women employed in executive positions in the Commonwealth Public Service. He talked about one senior woman of very great experience and charm in the Minister’s own Department. 1 do not know whether this lady is in the Second Division. If she is not, she ought to be. It seems to be quite wrong that women should be constantly held back for some reason. 1 do not know why they are not given more recognition than they are. The only crime the poor things have committed is that their parents decided to make them women instead of making them men. Intellectually and in every other respect many of them are far superior to men.
I am sorry to say that many women are their own worst enemies. They are inclined to be self-effacing. They tend to write themselves down far too much because they are women. They ought to stand up for their rights more than they do. The Minister may not be able to agree to my proposition now. J know that it is not easy for a government to alter a bill under these circumstances, but in the near future I think he ought to look at the position associated with the three circumstances to which I have referred. First, a woman who has to take maternity leave should be able to take a maximum of 12 months to meet the special circumstances instead of the period being limited to six months. I do not think that a woman should be compelled to make the decision as to whether she will retire on the date of her marriage. I think she ought to be given the right for which my amendment provides. Instead of having to retire from the Commonwealth Public Service on and from the date of her marriage she should be able to continue to work as a permanent officer and to retire at any time after her marriage. She might wish to continue as a permanent officer for two or three years after her marriage or she may wish to continue to work as a permanent officer after her marriage until the first child is born, until she and her husband can save the money to buy a house or until some other time. She should not be compelled to make the decision on the day of her marriage but she should have the right to continue to work until some other event, other than the mere marriage itself, intervenes.
I do know that married women are usually - not always, but usually - more reliable than unmarried women. I know that young unmarried women have been most unsatisfactory. I had them working for me when I was secretary of the Australian Workers Union. I had a large staff. 1 found that young unmarried women constantly had their minds on some other subject. You could come in and catch them when they were unawares and you would find them gazing into mid-air thinking about something. I have often tried to guess what was occupying their minds so much. I did notice that once they got married they seemed more satisfied and more contented. They did not have that appearance of frustration that seemed to plague them before marriage. It seemed to me that they were ever so much better employees after marriage than before. Why should we turn our back upon a woman who by doing something of her own volition becomes a more efficient officer?
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) has advanced what amounts essentially to three changes. The first change concerns a proposal that he mentioned during his second reading speech to the effect that a married woman should have a right to 52 weeks leave instead of 26 weeks leave. I explained at the time that the reason for choosing 26 weeks as the maximum was that that period met normal cases. Even a period of six months, but certainly a longer period, could well disrupt the work of the Service. For most cases the period of 26 weeks is quite enough and that limit is quite reasonable. But I pointed out also that although there was an actual compulsion on the Public Service to grant six months, that period could be extended. There is flexibility to meet cases as they arise.
– Can the period be extended without affecting their permanency?
– What section pro*vides for that?
– This Bill gives them the positive right to be granted leave up to six months.
– Where does it give them the right to be granted more than that?
– The right is not absolute but the chief officer has a discretion to give them more than six months if circumstances justify his doing so. That discretion already exists for any purpose, but to give them more than six months for the ordinary run of cases would probably be unnecessary and would tend to disrupt the Service. That is why we cannot accept the amendment.
– For ordinary cases I agree, but I am talking about extraordinary cases.
– The extraordinary cases can be met by the chief officer exercising his discretion. As far as long service leave rights are concerned, the- married woman will continue to enjoy the same long service rights as any other officer. I take it that what the honorable member is aiming at is that long service rights which now accrue in certain cases because of invalidity or early retirement should be enjoyed, not just for that reason, but by reason of marriage and pregnancy.
This again is something we cannot accept because the whole aim of this Bill is to put men and women, for this purpose, on the same footing. 1 agree with the honorable member’s general remarks to the effect that we have too few women exercising authority in senior positions in the Public Service. This is a natural legacy of the past. In the last few years the number of young women coming into the Service in important positions is increasing. In the course of the years, the present small number will become much larger. The honorable member quoted from a speech by Don Chipp at the married women’s employment conference. If he had read further he would have realised that Mr. Chip also said the same thing as he said. Mr. Chipp went on to say that one of the reasons why women had suffered a disability was because of a kind of natural modesty which prevented them from thrusting forward in the same way as men do in many cases. I am glad that the honorable member referred to my own Department because it has done a great deal to persuade other employers to employ women in senior positions. It has pointed out the advantages which many intelligent and well trained women can bring to industry and other fields of employment. In the Department of Labour and National Service women are given every encouragement.
I could not help being rather bewitched by the honorable member’s incidental statement that parents choose the sex of their children. He said that if some parents chose a particular sex this would govern the ultimate employment of the person. It is interesting to speculate whether he would still be here debating tonight if his parents had chosen to make him a girl.
The third amendment involves, I think, (he question whether female employees should have the option of collecting their marriage allowance on marriage or subsequently. I shall give the reason why we resist this amendment. In the first place the marriage allowance was designed as compensation because a woman ceased to bc a permanent officer on marriage, lt was by way of compensation for the loss of her job. If, however, under the new legislation a woman does not lose her job but continues to be a permanent employee, the rationale for that compensation ceases. Previously a woman came in on the basis that she would on marriage get the benefit of this allowance. She understood that to be her right when she entered the service, and for such a woman that right will continue. But for women who join the service in future there is no reason for providing compensation for losing permanent employment. We feel, therefore, that this amendment should not be accepted.
Mr. CLYDE CAMERON (Hindmarsh) [11.421. - I am sorry that the Minister cannot accept the amendment. I think he will find that forcing new employees to choose at the time of marriage whether to retire could have the effect-
– But they can go on.
– But to collect the marriage allowance they would have to retire at the time of marriage, as I understand it.
– Only those who have been employed before this legislation becomes operative will be entitled to the marriage allowance.
Mi. CLYDE CAMERON.- I know, but I do not think it ought to be limited to existing employees. I. do not think the Government would lose much by continuing to give to these people the benefits that we ask for. The Minister twitted me for saying that the parents have some say in determining the sex of their children. I was merely repealing something that was told to me by an honorable member on his side of the Parliament. That honorable member told me thai he had evolved a formula by which he could determine the sex of his children, and that it worked satisfactorily except on one occasion. The only time it came undone was when he and his wife had not taken into account the Lord Mayor’s Ball.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill fon motion by Mr. Bury) - by leave -read a third time.
Motion by Mr. Howson) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until tomorrow at 9.30 a.m.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment -
Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Bill 1966.
Extradition (Foreign States) Bill 1966.
Stevedoring Industry Bill 1966.
Sulphate of Ammonia Bounty Bill (No. 2) 1966.
Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Bill 1966.
Nitrogenous Fertilisers Subsidy Bill 1966.
Agricultural Tractors Bounty Bill 1966.
Urea Bounty Bill 1966.
Debate resumed from 26th October (vide page 2191), on motion by Mr. McMahon -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not offer any opposition to the Bill. We will not move any amendments at the Committee stage. However, 1 cannot let this opportunity pass without referring to a statement made by the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) in his second reading speech. The Minister said -
However, owing to the extreme pressure of work upon the Parliamentary Draftsman and his staff at this stage of the parliamentary session, it has not been possible to attend to all the minor consequential changes which are seen to be necessary such as to provide for the disposition of her pension upon a married woman pensioner being detained as a patient in a hospital for the insane or committed to prison. Clearly, such matters are not urgent and it is proposed to attend to them in a further Bill early next year.
The Opposition must object to this action on the part of the Government. It has almost become a practice for the Government to introduce Bills before the draftsmen have had a proper opportunity to put them in a reasonably final form. It is all very well for the Minister virtually to blame the draftsman or to say that this Bill is not 100per cent complete because the draftsman has not had enough time to attend to it. I have no doubt at all that the draftsman and his staff have not had sufficient time to work on the legislation that has been presented. What amazes me is that the number of draftsmen we have are able to cope with the tremendous volume of work that they have to handle. I have taken the trouble to get a copy of the Appropriation Bill 1966-67. I note from the Schedule that we have one Parliamentary Draftsman, two First Assistant Parliamentary Draftsmen and three Senior Assistant Parliamentary Draftsmen a total of six. In addition, there are principal legal officers, senior legal officers, legal officers, professional assistants, clerical assistants and so on. The work of drafting the Bills as distinct from regulations, ordinances and the like rests on the shoulders of about five men. This is not good enough.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 October 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1966/19661027_reps_25_hor53_c1/>.