House of Representatives
21 February 1967

26th Parliament · 1st Session



page 5

PROCLAMATION

The House met at 11 a.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General.

The Clerk read the proclamation.

page 5

OPENING OF THE PARLIAMENT

The Usher of the Black Rod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered the message that the Deputy of the GovernorGeneral for the Opening of the Parliament requested the attendance of honourable members in the Senate chamber forthwith. (Honourable members attended accordingly, and having returned)

The Deputy authorised by the GovernorGeneral to administer the oath or affirmation entered the chamber.

The Clerk read the commission, under the Great Seal of the Commonwealth, authorising the Right Honourable Sir Garfield Edward John Barwick, G.C.M.G., Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, to administer the oath or affirmation of allegiance to the Queen required by the Constitution to be taken or made by members of the House of Representatives.

page 5

MEMBERS SWORN

The Clerk laid on the table returns to 124 writs for the election of members of the House of Representatives held on 26th November 1966.

The following honourable members made and subscribed the oath of allegiance:

Adermann, Charles Frederick, Fisher, Queensland

Allan, Archibald Ian, Gwydir, New South Wales

Anthony, John Douglas, Richmond, New South Wales

Armstrong, Adam Alexander, Riverina, New South Wales

Arthur, William Tevlin, Barton. New South Wales

Aston, William John, Phillip, New South Wales

Barnard, Lance Herbert, Bass, Tasmania

Barnes, Charles Edward, McPherson, Queensland

Beaton, Noel Lawrence, Bendigo, Victoria

Beazley, Kim Edward, Fremantle, Western Australia

Benson, Samuel James, Batman, Victoria

Birrell, Frederick Ronald, Port Adelaide, South Australia

Bonnett, Robert Noel, Herbert, Queensland

Bosman, Leonard Lewis, St. George, New South Wales

Bowen, Nigel Hubert, Parramatta, New South Wales

Bridges-Maxwell, Crawford William, Robertson, New South Wales

Brownbill, Miss Kay Cathrine Millin,

Kingston, South Australia

Bryant, Gordon Munro, Wills, Victoria

Buchanan, Alexander Andrew, McMillan, Victoria

Bury, Leslie Harry Ernest, Wentworth, New South Wales

Cairns, James Ford, Yarra, Victoria

Cairns, Kevin Michael Kiernan, Lilley, Queensland

Calder, Stephen Edward, Northern Territory

Calwell,Arthur Augustus, Melbourne, Victoria

Cameron, Clyde Robert, Hindmarsh, South Australia

Cameron, Donald Milner, Griffith, Queensland

Chaney, Frederick Charles, Perth, Western Australia

Chipp, Donald Leslie, Higinbotham, Victoria

Clark, Joseph James, Darling New South Wales

Cleaver, Richard, Swan, Western Australia

Collard, Frederick Walter, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia

Connor, Reginald Francis Xavier, Cunningham, New South Wales

Cope, James Francis, Watson, New South Wales

Corbett, James, Maranoa, Queensland

Costa, Dominic Eric, Banks, New South Wales

Courtnay, Frank, Darebin, Victoria

Cramer, John Oscar, Bennelong, New South Wales

Crean, Frank, Melbourne Ports, Victoria Cross, Manfred Douglas, Brisbane,

Queensland

Curtin, Daniel James, Kingsford-Smith, New South Wales

Daly, Frederick Michael, Grayndler, New South Wales

Davies, Ronald, Braddon, Tasmania

Devine, Leonard Thomas, East Sydney, New South Wales

Dobie, James Donald Mathieson, Hughes. New South Wales

Drury, Edward Nigel, Ryan, Queensland Duthie, Gilbert William Arthur, Wilmot, Tasmania

England, John Armstrong, Calare, New South Wales

Erwin, George Dudley, Ballaarat, Victoria Failes, Laurence John, Lawson, New South Wales

Fairbairn, David Eric, Farrer, New South Wales

Fairhall, Allen, Paterson, New South Wales

Forbes, Alexander James, Barker, South Australia

Fox. Edmund Maxwell Cameron, Henty, Victoria

Fraser, James Reay, Australian Capital Territory

Fraser, John Malcolm, Wannon, Victoria

Freeth, Gordon, Forrest, Western Australia

Fulton, William John, Leichhardt, Queensland

Gibbs, Wylie Talbot, Bowman, Queensland

Gibson, Adrian, Denison, Tasmania

Giles, Geoffrey O’Halloran, Angas, South Australia

Graham, Bruce William, North Sydney, New South Wales

Gray, George Henry, Capricornia, Queensland

Griffiths, Charles Edward, Shortland, New South Wales

Hallett, John Mead, Canning, Western Australia

Hansen, Brendan Percival, Wide Bay, Queensland

Harrison, Eli James, Blaxland, New South Wales

Hasluck, Paul Meernaa Caedwalla, Curtin, Western Australia

Haworth, William Crawford, Isaacs, Victoria

Hayden, William George, Oxley, Queensland

Holt, Harold Edward, Higgins, Victoria

Holten, Rendle McNeilage, Indi, Victoria

Howson, Peter, Fawkner, Victoria

Hughes, Thomas Eyre Forrest, Parkes, New South Wales

Hulme, Alan Shallcross, Petrie, Queensland

Irwin, Leslie Herbert, Mitchell, New South Wales

James, Albert William, Hunter, New South Wales

Jarman, Alan William, Deakin, Victoria

Jess, John David, La Trobe, Victoria

Jessop, Donald Scott, Grey, South Australia

Jones, Andrew Thomas, Adelaide, South Australia

Jones, Charles Keith, Newcastle, New South Wales

Katter, Robert Cummin, Kennedy, Queensland

Kelly, Charles Robert, Wakefield, South Australia

Kent Hughes, Wilfrid Selwyn, Chisholm, Victoria

King, Robert Shannon, Wimmera, Victoria

Lee, Mervyn William, Lalor, Victoria

Luchetti, Anthony Sylvester, Macquarie, New South Wales

Lucock, Philip Ernest, Lyne, New South Wales

Lynch, Phillip Reginald, Flinders, Victoria

Mackay, Malcolm George, Evans, New South Wales

Maisey, Donald William, Moore, Western Australia

McEwen, John, Murray, Victoria

McIvor, Hector James, Gellibrand, Victoria

McLeay, John Elden, Boothby, South Australia

McMahon, William, Lowe, New South Wales

Minogue, Daniel, West Sydney, New South Wales Munro, Dugald Ranald Ross, EdenMonaro, New South Wales

Nicholls, Martin Henry, Bonython, South Australia

Nixon, Peter James, Gippsland, Victoria

O’Connor, William Paul, Dalley, New South Wales

Opperman, Hubert Ferdinand, Corio, Victoria

Patterson, Rex Alan, Dawson, Queensland

Peacock, Andrew Sharp, Kooyong, Victoria

Pearsall, Thomas Gordon, Franklin, Tasmania

Peters, Edward William, Scullin, Victoria

Pettitt, John Alexander, Hume, New South Wales

Robinson, Ian Louis, Cowper, New South Wales

Sinclair, Ian McCahon, New England, New South Wales

Snedden, Billy Mackie, Bruce, Victoria

Stewart, Francis Eugene, Lang, New South Wales

St. John, Edward Henry, Warringah, New South Wales

Stokes, Philip William Clifford, Maribyrnong, Victoria

Street, Anthony Austin, Corangamite, Victoria

Swartz, Reginald William Colin, Darling Downs, Queensland

Turnbull, Winton George, Mallee, Victoria

Turner, Henry Basil, Bradfield, New South Wales

Uren, Thomas, Reid, New South Wales

Webb, Charles Harry, Stirling, Western Australia

Wentworth, William Charles, Mackellar, New South Wales

Whitlam, Edward Gough, Werriwa, New South Wales

Whittorn, Raymond Harold, Balaclava, Victoria

Wilson, Ian Bonython Cameron, Sturt, South Australia

page 7

MR SPEAKER

Election

The Clerk:

– Honourable members, it is now the duty of the House to elect a member as Speaker.

Mr CHANEY:
Perth

– I propose to the House, for its Speaker, Mr Aston and I move:

Mr Turnbull:

– I second the nomination.

Mr Aston:

– I accept the nomination.

The Clerk:

– Is there any further proposal?

Mr WHITLAM:
Leader of the Opposition · Werriwa

– I propose to the House, for its Speaker, Mr Fulton and move -

That the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Fulton) do take the chair of this House as Speaker.

Mr Barnard:

– I second the nomination.

Mr Fulton:

– I accept the nomination.

The Clerk:

– Are there any further proposals? The time for proposals has expired and debate may ensue.

Mr WHITLAM:
Leader of the Opposition · Werriwa

– This is the first time since 1956 that there has been a contest for the position of Speaker of this House. On that occasion the retiring Speaker was opposed by a nominee of my Party. On the three subsequent occasions he was elected unopposed. It is well to remind the Parliament and the people that the position of Speaker in Australia is held by a politician. There is no convention in Australia as there is in Britain that the Speaker should not be opposed in his electorate and that he should always retain his position unopposed in the House for so long as he desires. Every person who is nominated as a Speaker in this chamber has full and equal rights in his party room and in committee with every other member of the Parliament.

In nominating Mr Fulton, I assert that he is a person eminently well fitted to hold the position. He has been a member of the House for eight years and more, continuously. He served for six years in the Australian Imperial Forces. He enlisted in November 1939 and was later commissioned. He served in the Middle East and in Borneo. Between the termination of his Army appointment and his election to this House he was continuously an alderman of the Cairns City Council, and for most of the time its Mayor. In this chamber and in the committees of the House he has played a full and decorous role. I should certainly think that by any standard of service to his country, to his community and to bis Party - and all candidates should be considered on all three counts - he is a person well qualified to hold this position.

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
Prime Minister · Higgins · LP

– We were enjoined by the Governor-General, through the voice of his Deputy, to proceed here to select a proper person for the high post of Speaker. From the Government parties there has come one nomination and from the ranks of the Opposition there has come another. I do not think I need to elaborate to this chamber the qualities which admirably equip the nominee of the Government parties for the position of Speaker. It is true, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has said, that every honourable member is in a position to be nominated and it is for the House to make its selection. This we shall shortly proceed to do. There is no need for me to elaborate on the qualities of the Government nominee because he has been conspicuously observable in this House for many years. He has been active in debate and highly successful in mustering the support required from time to time for the measures which the Government has brought forward. An increasing confidence has been shown in him by those whom he represents in the Parliament.

The Leader of the Opposition has given us some very interesting information about the nominee from the Labor side, without which some of those qualities to which he has referred might have escaped us. Indeed, one begins to wonder why it is that a man who holds such high esteem in the eyes of the Leader of the Opposition does not find his proper place on the front bench of the Opposition. However, it is the duty of the House to make its choice. I confidently expect that it will make the right one. I look forward to offering my congratulations in person to the Government’s nominee when the choice has been made.

Mr BRYANT:
Wills

- Mr Clerk, I trust that the House, in making its choice, will take cognisance of those qualities that we require in our Speaker. In the last Parliament the office of Speaker was held by a man of great capacity who showed inestimable qualities as an Australian in every way. Yet in every instance he was completely subjugated by the threat implied in the words and tone that the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) used here this morning. The right honourable gentleman, referring to the Government’s nominee, said that, during the last Parliament, he had shown great capacity to muster support for the Government. Are we being told this morning that we must elevate to the high office of Speaker a man whose capacity for the job is demonstrated by his ability to keep the House in order and subjugated to the whims and fancies of the Government? That is the way the affairs of the House have been conducted for the twelve years during which I have been a member of this place. That is just the way in which the present Prime Minister, in his current capacity and previously as Leader of the House, has expected the affairs of this place to be conducted.

In this chamber we speak for the people of Australia as their elected representatives. Without doubt there is a great deal of public concern about the way in which the affairs of this Parliament have been conducted in recent years. Honourable members opposite, including particularly the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner), have joined in public debate on this matter with honourable members on this side of the chamber. This morning our duty is not just to choose the Government’s nominee so that he may give effect to the whims and directions of the Government. Our duty is to choose a man who will see that the affairs of this House are conducted in accordance with the way in which the parliamentary institution has developed over the last three or four centuries and who will protect the rights of every one of us. The honourable member for Phillip (Mr Aston), who has been nominated from the Government side, has many capacities. During his term as Government Whip he showed great capacity to act immediately he received the signal from the front bench and to suppress honourable members on this side of the chamber. In that respect I was his victim on innumerable occasions. I do not expect that he will have improved as a result of bis victory in a close ballot last week. The Prime Minister asked why the Opposition’s nominee was not on the front bench on this side of the House. Yet his own nominee cannot even get into the first twenty-six though the Prime Minister picks them himself.

It is probably fruitless this morning to appeal to the good grace and sense of justice of honourable members opposite. Observation has demonstrated only too well that they are lacking in those qualities and that they will exercise their influence to ensure that what has happened in the past in this House will continue. I trust that as a result of the choice we make this morning we shall never again find our hour of meeting delayed, as it was on one occasion in the previous Parliament, because the Government is suspended above the clouds over Canberra in a Viscount aircraft and the Prime Minister cannot be present. I hope that the Standing Orders will not be used continually to suppress Opposition members in debate and that all flexibility in procedure will not be lost.

The Australian Labor Party has nominated this morning, in the true expression of the principles of democracy which this Parliament espouses, a man who should receive the support of the House. I trust that the care and keeping of the traditions of this chamber will be entrusted to the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Fulton), who has graced this Parliament and the country as a member of this place, as a soldier and as an alderman and as Mayor of the city of Cairns. In all those fields, he has demonstrated that he has every quality and all the capacity that we in this place require of out Speaker. I trust that we shall not this morning elevate to this high office an instrument of the Government who will suppress the freedom and rights of which honourable members ought to be assured in accordance with the practices of this House.

Mr CHANEY:
Perth

- Mr Clerk, it is true that there has not been a ballot for the election of the Speaker of this House since 1956. That was the year after I first took my seat here. Today, some twenty new members are sitting here and probably at this stage they are wondering, as we who were relatively new members in 1956 wondered: is this what Parliament really is? I can assure them that not even the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) means what he says. As a matter of fact, I well remember the honourable member for Wills, on one of those occasions when he was sent from this House, saying about the then Mr Speaker something totally different from what he said just now. I think all of us on this side of the House realise that both the nominees for election to the office of Speaker are held in high esteem by all.

The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has referred to the record of the honorable member for Leichhardt in local government in Queensland. I remind him that the honorable member for Phillip was Mayor of Waverley at one Sta Le of his career. Without wishing to decry any of the qualities of my friend. Mr Fulton, I emphasise that Mr Aston has served the community and the country most ably in both peace and war.

The Leader of the Opposition also said that the people of Australia ought to know that a politician is filling the office of Speaker in this Parliament. I am one of those w’ sometimes wonder whether Parliament itself has helped to reduce the term ‘politician’ to the point where members of the public use it with a curl of the lip. One of our responsibilities as members of this Parliament is to see to it that the term ‘politician’ is accepted by all as meaning a person who is here to do something for the good of the nation and not for himself. I believe that in electing Mr Aston to the office of Speaker of this House we shall be choosing a man who will do much towards achieving that objective.

In saying what I have, I do not decry in the least the qualities of Mr Bill Fulton, the honorable member for Leichhardt. I know that in the next three years the task of conducting this Parliament will be extremely difficult. But I think it was wrong for the honourable member for Wills to refer to what my friend the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) has said about the working of the Parliament. I do not think that is in any way related to the fulfilling of the office of Mr Speaker and to interpreting the Standing Orders.

Finally, I am confident that every honourable member on this side of the House will have no hesitation whatever in supporting Mr Aston. He is the choice of the combined governing parties and I believe that he will fill the role of Speaker of this House with distinction, that he will be held in the highest esteem by all and that his record will be such that we who elect him to office will be able to look back to this day with a great deal of pleasure.

Mr LUCHETTI (Macquarie) [11.581- Mr Fulton, the honourable member for Leichhardt, has proved himself to be a good parliamentarian. He has shown on all occasions that he is a man of dignity and discretion. He has proved himself in this place to be a man of wisdom, tolerance and understanding. He is respected by every member of the chamber. Before coming to this Parliament, he occupied the office of Mayor of the City of Cairns in North Queensland for nine years, when he had the opportunity to give leadership to a vigorous and dynamic area. For thirteen years he was an alderman of that city and in that capacity displayed an outstanding knowledge of local, State and national government. Above all, he was looked upon as being a man who was fair and impartial in all his dealings, and surely that is what we are looking for in the parliamentary field. We are not looking for the man who has been the best axeman on the Government side; we are not looking for the man who has proved himself to be the best Whip on the Government side; but we are looking for a man to sit in Mr Speaker’s chair who is indeed a parliamentarian devoted to the principles of our parliamentary democracy and who will safeguard them on every occasion.

Last Wednesday Australian newspapers reported that the honourable member for Phillip, Mr Aston, would become Speaker of the House of Representatives. He had been chosen for the position, not by the Parliament, but by a meeting of Liberal Party and Australian Country Party members. He was not chosen because he had served the Parliament as Temporary Chairman of Committees or as Chairman of Committees. He was not chosen because he had served as Deputy Speaker. He was selected because he had rendered excellent service to the Government as Liberal Party Whip. Is this the quality that we seek in Mr Speaker? Is it good enough to read in the newspapers that Mr Aston will be sworn in as Mr Speaker? The newspaper article mentioned those whom Mr Aston had defeated in the ballot for Government nominee. One of those was Mr Chaney, a former Minister, who has been relegated to the ranks. Mr Chaney is also a former Whip. Mr Aston defeated men who have given signal service as Temporary Chairmen of Committees and as Deputy Speakers. Who can cavil at the service rendered to this Parliament by such gentlemen as the honourable member for Ryan, the kindly Mr Drury, or the honourable member for Isaacs, Mr Haworth, both of whom have served as Temporary Chairmen of Committees? If the Government parties wish to range into a wider field in search of a nominee, what of the services rendered by Mr Turner, the honourable member for Bradfield who has spoken for the Parliament, written on behalf of the institution of Parliament and devoted considerable time and thought to the development of this institution, so important to all of us. The honourable member for Lyne, Mr Lucock, has on numerous occasions served as Deputy Speaker. Irrespective of whether we agree with his rulings while in the Chair, nobody could doubt that he acted honestly in arriving at his decisions and in trying to interpret Standing Orders. But he was not in the picture. Mr Fulton is a member of the Parliament. He will serve the Parliament and work for the Parliament; not for the Party. I support his nomination.

Mr TURNBULL:
Mallee

– I am delighted to have had the honour of seconding Mr Aston’s nomination for the position of Mr Speaker. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has said that anybody has the right to nominate an honourable member as Mr Speaker. This is true. But this Parliament and the people of Australia, through their representatives here, have the right to decide who shall be Mr Speaker, and that decision will be made very soon. I do not suppose anybody in the Parliament has worked more closely with Mr Aston in recent years than I have as Australian Country Party Whip. In all that time his fairness has been outstanding. I am sure that he will fill the position of Speaker with great honour, that he will act fairly and that nearly all will be satisfied with his election to office. I have nothing against Mr Fulton, but Mr Aston can match most of the talents that Mr Fulton has and magnify them. The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) said that the Government’s nominee has on occasions moved the closure of a debate. That is true. The honorable member for Wills said that he had been the victim of the motion moved by Mr Aston. Those of us who have been in this Parliament for any length of time will have no doubt that in the circumstances Mr Aston’s action was justified.

I repeat that I am delighted to have had the opportunity to second the nomination of Mr Aston for the position of Speaker. I am sure that he will be elected. I wish him well. I am certain that most of us will be satisfied with his election.

Mr STEWART:
Lang

– The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) in speaking to the proposal reminded us that the Governor-General’s Deputy said that when electing the Speaker of this Chamber we should elect a person proper for that position. This is the point that I want the House to consider. The position of Speaker is an important post in the Parliament and in the history of Parliament, and accordingly we need to elect to that position a man with certain attributes and qualifications. Irrespective of politics this should be the outlook of all members: we should elect as Speaker the man most fitted for the position. Unfortunately this will not be the case, because in the first vote in this new Parliament the Government will use its force of numbers and will take no notice of the qualifications of the candidate proposed by the Opposition. In Bill Fulton we certainly have an outstanding parliamentarian, an outstanding civic dignitary and an outstanding soldier. Bill Fulton possesses all of the attributes that are so necessary for a Speaker of the House of Representatives, but numbers will decide the issue and the man finally elected to the position will be the person proposed by the Government.

However, for the sake of people outside the Parliament, let us examine the qualifications of the two candidates. The candidates start on an equal basis. Both have been members of four Parliaments - Mr Aston having been defeated once and Bill Fulton having continued here undefeated. They have one other similar qualification. Both enjoy the confidence of their parties, that confidence having been expressed by way of secret ballot. It is worth noting that this is one of the rare occasions when the Liberal Party members and Country Party members have the opportunity of deciding by way of secret ballot who shall represent them in the Parliament or elsewhere. Normally the dictator, the Prime Minister, and his assistant dictator, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen), foist upon the Liberal Party and the Country Party the persons they desire to fill positions in the Ministry or in the Parliament itself. The man who proposed Mr Aston was, for a short period, Minister for the Navy. During his term as Minister for the Navy he was all at sea. He now has been cast adrift by the Prime Minister.

The point we should all bear in mind - and this was emphasised by the GovernorGeneral’s Deputy and also by the Prime Minister - is that we should elect the person most proper to be Speaker of this House. Apart from those respects in which the nominees are equal - namely, that they have been selected by their parties by secret ballot and that they have both served in four Parliaments - Bill Fulton, the Opposition’s nominee, stands head and shoulders above the Government’s nominee in every qualification. For character, ability, tact, patience, understanding and public service Bill Fulton is the man who should be Speaker of this Parliament. Bill Fulton should be the Speaker because, first and foremost, and most importantly, he is the man who, in his four terms in this Parliament, has shown that he believes in freedom of speech. He practices freedom of speech; he believes in liberty. Concerning the Government’s nominee, one needs look only at some of his speeches in this House to see that his depth of feeling for liberty and freedom of speech is not nearly so great as that possessed by Bill Fulton. During the next three years some important decisions will have to be made in this House. The tact, patience and understanding of the Speaker will help us in making those decisions. Accordingly I think that the Labour Party nominee, Bill Fulton, would fill the position better than the Government nominee would.

Mr BEATON:
Bendigo

– This Parliament descends, of course, from the Mother of Parliaments at Westminster and, as I recall the practice in the House of Commons, when a Speaker is being chosen no regard is paid to the parties to which the various candidates belong. Consequently it has happened on numerous occasions in the House of Commons that when a Labour government has been in office there has been a Conservative Speaker and when a Conservative government has been in power there has been a Labour Speaker. 1 think this is something that the members of this House should bear in mind because after all, as I have said, our Parliament descends from the Mother of Parliaments. 1 am aware, as indeed all members of this Parliament are aware and the whole nation is aware, that the honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney) was a candidate in the pre-selection, if I may call it such, in the party room of a nominee for the Speakership. Indeed, to use our own political terms, the honourable member was rolled. We understand, and the country understands, that he was the Cabinet nominee and that he failed by only a narrow margin. His performance this morning must be admired because, it shows that honourable members opposite are trying to retain some sort of solidarity. Talking about solidarity, we must admire also the per formance of the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull). He is surrounded by a number of very silent Country Party members. 1 think the Country Party regards the Government nominee for Speakership rather as it does the lady who appears so often in the newspapers, Mrs Jones. It appears to me from the large number of silent Country Party members that they must regard the Government nominee as a second Mrs Jones - and for this my apologies to the honourable member for Phillip (Mr Aston).

The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) said that the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Fulton) could not make the front bench, but the Prime Minister is now offering us the man who is twentyeighth in line of succession on the Government side, there being twenty-six Ministers, with another yet to come and. indeed, already chosen.

Mr Anthony:

– Twenty-seven.

Mr BEATON:

– All right, the twentyseventh in line of succession. But whether twenty-seventh or twenty-eighth, he surely is a long way down in the line of succession on the Government side. Having regard to the calibre of many of the possible candidates on the Government side, we feel we have a great deal of justification in presenting to the Parliament the opportunity to select a man of stature, a man of experience and, indeed, a man of great capacity - the honourable member for Leichhardt. I will not enumerate his attributes, but he is a man who could carry out the tremendously important task of Speaker of this House with a great deal of dignity and capacity. Accordingly I ask honourable members to remember the practice in the Mother of Parliaments and to have regard for the great capacity of the Labour nominee.

Mr Clyde Cameron:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– Judging from the expressions on the faces of the honourable members for Maribyrnong (Mr Stokes), Balaclava (Mr Whittorn), Swan (Mr Cleaver), Bradfield (Mr Turner), Ryan (Mr Drury), Isaacs (Mr Haworth) and McMillan (Mr Buchanan), I believe I should say something on behalf of the defeated candidates. I can well understand why those honourable members look so terribly disappointed. I have no doubt that as we are talking at this time about the suitability of the candidate nominated by the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt), these honourable members are remembering, as I am, the almost loutish behaviour of the gentleman who is soon to become the Speaker of this Parliament. Do we not all remember how the previous Speaker had to call him to order repeatedly for his refusal to cease interjecting when honourable members on this side were contributing to debates? Do we not all remember how he and a former honourable member for Lilley, Mr Wight, used to carry on when they first came here? They were looked upon not merely as jokes but as people who appeared to have utter contempt for the Standing Orders of this Parliament and for the high traditions of this great and honourable House. I turn to the honourable member for Bradfield, Mr Turner. I sympathise with him because he must feel that he was easily the most outstanding of those nominated for this position. Many of us who know Mr Turner would have felt that, if it were not possible to have a really impartial Speaker, as would be provided by Mr Fulton, at least we could have had Mr Turner. But 1 think that the reason he failed was that he was too impartial. He had shown on too many occasions that he was not prepared to be a party hack for the Government. But after all is not this the sort of person we ought to have as Speaker?

I sympathise with Mr Chaney. I know that he was placated when his portfolio was torn from him by the promise on behalf of the Cabinet that he would be the pea for this job. It must be disappointing for the honourable member and to everyone associated with him to feel that right on the death knock, just as he was approaching the post, so to speak, this character from Waverley came up and snatched it from him. I can imagine just how the honourable member for Perth must have felt about it.

I am rather struck by an article that appeared in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ on 15th February dealing with this great and distinguished person Bill Aston. It said that he was having great trouble in finding a wig. Later he went shopping to get some dress shirts, white lace, cravats, cuffs and weepers, whatever they are. I think all honourable members on this side of the House will need weepers as soon as this honourable gentleman gets into action. It appears that he knows nothing about the Standing Orders at all yet. But this article says that he has decided to take a crash course in the duties of Speaker and that he is burning the midnight oil to find out what the Standing Orders are all about. You see, he has spent his time in the past in looking up the rules of the Liberal Party on how to crack people into gear when they did not want to vote for things. Suddenly he has decided it would not be a bad idea to have a crash course on the Speakership and the Standing Orders. I think the first thing my dear friend the honorable member for Phillip ought to do in order to carry out this crash course is to look up Sir Erskine May. He will see that the chief characteristics attaching to the office of Speaker in the House of Commons are authority and impartiality. Surely honourable members do not think that this gentleman possesses either one, much less both, of these qualities. I feel sorry for you, Mr Clerk, because of the task that confronts you. Just imagine the job you will have when snap decisions have to be made by the Speaker, and, if Mr Speaker is foolish enough to act on his own intuition, you will have to find some way of getting him out of his difficulty. I do not know how you will do it but I sympathise wilh you in the task ahead of you. This gentleman, the honourable member for Phillip, is to be paid very well for his crash programme and study of the Standing Orders because according to the Press the Government is going to give him no less than SI 6,400 a year plus perks. I suppose that means ‘perquisites’ or something. This gentleman is to be paid $16,400 for a position that he has never occupied, even in an acting capacity.

The Clerk:

– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. In accordance with the Standing Orders the bells will be rung and the ballot taken. Ballot papers will be distributed and honourable members arc asked to write on the ballot paper the name of the candidate for whom they wish to vote. The candidates are Mr Aston and Mr Fulton. (A ballot having been taken)

The Clerk:

– I have to announce the result of the ballot as follows: Mr Aston, seventyeight votes; Mr Fulton, forty-three votes. Mr Aston is declared elected.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon W J Aston:
PHILLIP, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I wish to express my grateful thanks for the high honour which the House has been pleased to confer upon me. (Mr Speaker having seated himself in the chair)

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
Prime Minister · Higgins · LP

Mr. Speaker, it gives me very great pleasure, Sir, to address you in that capacity for the first of what I hope will be very many times. You have been elected to this high office by what, if my recollection is correct, is a record majority in any contested election in the history of this Parliament. That, I believe, is a reflection of the support that you enjoy from the Parliament, and I offer congratulations to you personally from myself, from the Government that I lead and, I am sure, from the members of the Government parties and indeed from the great majority of members who sit in opposition to the Government.

You have been long enough in this place, Sir, to discount for yourself some of the comment offered a short time ago when support was being given to a candidate from the Opposition party. You know from the many expressions of friendship which have reached you from all sections of this chamber that you have over the years commanded respect. Indeed, you have drawn from friend and opponent alike warm personal friendship which I am sure they hold for you.

It was said earlier that in selecting a person proper to this office we should select a man who could command authority and would display impartiality. All of us who know you are confident that those qualities will be amply displayed so far as you are concerned. Indeed, we have been fortunate in this House in that the office of Speaker has been exercised almost without exception by the holder of that position without regard to his party affiliation and with fairness to all. In my own period in the Parliament I can remember only one occasion, Sir, when the then Speaker, who, as it happened, was drawn from the Labor Party, saw his government taking such a thrashing in debate that he descended from the chair and proceeded to express his support from the government side of the House. I do not imagine that you will feel any such necessity in the life of this Parlia ment. I can assure you that we shall not be looking for reinforcement. We shall be looking for the impartial exercise of the high powers that you possess.

Your experience in the Parliament has made you perhaps more closely aware of the Standing Orders and their significance than the general run of members, even some of those who from time to time exercise temporary chairmanship of committees. I think that those who hold the office of Whip in the various parties have to have a greater understanding and consciousness of the significance of the Standing Orders than other office holders in this place. So we are confident that you will discharge your duties with distinction, with fairness to all and to the satisfaction of this House. You follow a Speaker who established a record tenure of office. You will have our support in pursuing that record and perhaps outspan.ning it in the years ahead. I hope that by the time we reach the next election of Speaker you will have so cemented the confidence and support of all sections of the House that no opposition will be felt necessary on that occasion.

Mr WHITLAM:
Leader of the Opposition · Werriwa

Mr Speaker, on behalf of the members of my Party and myself, I congratulate you on your election to the high position of Speaker of this House. You can depend on it that whenever in public you are acting in this position you will have our support and respect. To the public, you more than anybody else embody this institution. The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) referred to your majority. I congratulate you upon it. I am still perplexed that it is not quite as great as I and my colleagues expected it to be on this occasion. It is however very much greater than the majority you achieved a week ago in the election which, together with that for Leader and Deputy Leader of your Party, your Party alone allows.

Sir, 1 do not wish to go into the history of your office or its occupants. If however your vote were required in a division I have no doubt that you would cast it in accordance with your genuinely held beliefs, as your esteemed predecessor did so often in 1962 and 1963. I hope that you will never be subjected to the improper pressure inside and outside Parliament to which Sir

Littleton Groom was subjected by one of the Prime Minister’s predecessors. In this House you have been a vigorous partisan but an honourable one. I must confess that I and many of my colleagues have thought that you have been reckless in some of your comments, but I acknowledge that when you are satisfied that something has been said without foundation or justification, you will not persevere in it yourself and will do your best to discourage others from doing so.

In your new high office a great transformation is required and expected of you. St Augustine of Hippo achieved it; St Francis of Assisi achieved it; I hope that the honourable member for Phillip also can achieve it. We shall pray to that end. We on this side of the House cannot wish that you should establish a record tenure of office, but you can be assured that if you discharge your duties and responsibilities as well as your predecessor did, then you will be widely regarded and long remembered. We wish you well as the head of the department of Parliament and as the spokesman for this Parliament in so many of its functions.

Mr McEWEN:
Minister for Trade and Industry · Murray · CP

– 1 offer to you, Mr Speaker, from myself and the other members of the Australian Country Party, our warm congratulations on your election to this high office. I speak for all my colleagues when I say we are confident that the House has chosen a man of dignity, a man of strength of character and a man of experience who will preside as Speaker with benefit to the House. It is your fortune, Sir, to follow a very distinguished Speaker, and it is my confident belief that you will uphold the standards which your predecessor exhibited in this House so clearly.

Those who have a real respect for the parliamentary institution realise that in the cut and thrust and the heat of debate there is a need to have in the chair someone with strength of character who can exercise an authority that will be accepted by all who wish the institution to work effectively and with dignity. It is my belief that you, Sir, will exhibit those qualities to us. It is the good fortune of the House to have now for its Speaker a man who, in addition to possessing those qualities, is, if I may use the term, a likeable person. You are, Sir, liked by all and, I am sure, trusted by all. You are a man who has never exhibited prejudice. There is a difference between prejudice and political views. I say without fear of genuine contradiction that the present Speaker is not a man of prejudice but is one who will comport himself with distinction, to the benefit of the Parliament. I think we are fortunate to have a Speaker of his calibre.

Mr FULTON:
Leichhardt

– I congratulate you, Mr Speaker, and express the hope that you will develop the tolerance and understanding of your predecessor. I assure you that you will have the full support of all on this side of the House provided that you carry out your duties with the dignity required by the Standing Orders. May I take this opportunity of thanking my Leader and my many other supporters on this side of the House, as well as the two honourable members not on our side who voted for me.

Mr SPEAKER:

-I am grateful for the congratulations offered to mc by the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt), the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) and honourable members. I take this opportunity of thanking the honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney) and the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) for moving and seconding my appointment as Speaker of this House.

I am fully conscious of the great honour which the House has bestowed on me in electing me to this ancient, distinguished and historic office. I am deeply aware of the obligations I have accepted and hope that I may responsibly fulfil the trust that has been placed in me. The position of Speaker has, since its inception in the British Parliament some 600 years ago, attained a dignity and respect which are unique. With the help of the honourable members and with their understanding and tolerance I shall endeavour to uphold the high standards required of the Chair.

page 15

PRESENTATION TO THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
Prime Minister · Higgins · LP

– I have learned that it will be the pleasure of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral to receive you, Mr Speaker, in the Library of the Parliament this day at 2.42 p.m.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Prior to my presentation to His Excellency the Governor-General this afternoon, the bells will be rung for three minutes so that honourable members may attend in the chamber and accompany the Speaker, when they may, if they so wish, be introduced to His Excellency.

Sitting suspended from 12.44 to 2.41 p.m. (The House proceeded to the Library, and, being reassembled)

Mr SPEAKER:

-I have to report that, accompanied by honourable members, I this day proceeded to the Library of the Parliament and presented myself to His Excellency the Governor-General as the choice of the House, and that His Excellency was kind enough to congratulate me on my election as Speaker.

page 16

COMMISSION TO ADMINISTER OATH

Mr SPEAKER:

– His Excellency the GovernorGeneral has presented to me a commission authorising me to administer to members of the House the oath or affirmation of allegiance. I now lay the commission on the table.

page 16

MEMBER SWORN

Mr Henry Jefferson Bate made and subscribed the oath of allegiance as member for the Division of Macarthur, New South Wales.

page 16

MESSAGE FROM THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL

The Usher of the Black Rod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered a message that His Excellency the GovernorGeneral desired the attendance of honourable members in the Senate chamber forthwith. (Mr Speaker and honourable members attended accordingly and, having returned)

page 16

MINISTERIAL ARRANGEMENTS

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
Prime Minister · Higgins · LP

– I desire to inform the House of ministerial changes and arrangements. I inform the House of the constitution of the new Ministry and of ministerial representation in the Parliament. The list of Ministers, which 1 shall now read, is dependent upon the Parliament’s acceptance of a Bill to amend the Ministers of State Act. I intend to introduce this Bill later today. With the passage of that Bill, the Ministry will be constituted as follows:

Prime Minister - The Right Honourable

Harold Holt

Minister for Trade and Industry - The

Right Honourable J. McEwen

Treasurer - The Right Honourable W

McMahon

Minister for External Affairs - The Right Honourable P. M. C. Hasluck

Minister for Defence - The Honourable A. Fairhall

Minister for the Interior - The Honourable J. D. Anthony

Minister for Supply - Senator the Honourable N. H. D. Henty

Minister for Primary Industry - The Right Honourable C. F. Adermann

Postmaster-General and Vice-President of the Executive Council - The Honourable A. S. Hulme

Minister for National Development - The Honourable D. E. Fairbairn,

  1. F.C.

Minister for Education and ScienceSenator the Honourable J. G. Gorton

Minister for Labour and National Service - The Honourable L. H. E. Bury

Minister for Shipping and Transport - The Honourable G. Freeth

Minister for Territories - The Honourable C. E. Barnes

Minister for Civil Aviation - The Honourable R. W. C. Swartz, M.B.E.,

  1. D.

Minister for Immigration - The Honourable B. M. Snedden, Q.C

Minister for Health - The Honourable A. J. Forbes, M.C

Minister for Air - The Honourable P. Howson

Minister for Customs and Excise - Senator the Honourable K. McC. Anderson

Minister for Repatriation - Senator the Honourable G. C. McKellar

Minister for Social Services - The Honourable I. McC. Sinclair

Minister for Housing - Senator the Honourable Dame Annabelle Rankin, D.B.E.

Minister for the Army - The Honourable

  1. M. Fraser

Minister for Works - The Honourable

  1. R. Kelly

Attorney-General - The Honourable

  1. H. Bowen, Q.C.

Minister for the Navy - The Honourable

  1. L. Chipp

The first twelve Ministers will constitute the Cabinet.

The Minister for Social Services will assist the Minister for Trade and Industry and the Minister for Air will assist the Treasurer in general matters relating to their portfolios. The Minister for the Navy will assist the Minister for Trade and Industry in matters relating to tourist activities.

To put into effect the proposals relating to the Ministry, it will be necessary to increase the number of Ministers by one to twenty-six. As mentioned previously, this will require amendment to the Ministers of State Act, which at present provides for the appointment of only twenty-five Ministers. Until such time as the Parliament has had time to consider this matter, Senator Gorton will be Minister for Works. The Minister for Immigration will be Leader of the House and, as in the last Parliament, the Minister for Supply will be Leader of the Government in the Senate.

In the Senate it is proposed that 1 shall be represented by Senator Henty, as will be the Minister for Trade and Industry, the Treasurer and the Minister for National Development. Senator Henty’s representation will include matters relating to tourist activities. Senator Gorton will represent the Minister for External Affairs, the Minister for Defence, the Minister for Labour and National Service, the Minister for Territories and the Attorney-General. Senator Anderson win: represent the PostmasterGeneral, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, the Minister for Works and the Minister for Civil Aviation. Senator McKellar will represent the Minister for the Interior, the Minister for Primary Industry, the Minister for Air, the Minister for the Army and the Minister for the Navy.

Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin will represent the Minister for Immigration, the Minister for Health and the Minister for Social Services.

In this chamber the Minister for Defence will represent the Minister for Supply, the Minister for Labour and National Service will represent the Minister for Housing, the Minister for Civil Aviation will represent the Minister for Repatriation, the Minister for Health will represent the Minister for Education and Science and the Minister for Air will represent the Minister for Customs and Excise. Questions in this House on tourist activities will be handled by the Minister for the Navy in his capacity as Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Industry on these matters. Pending the amendment of the Ministers of State Act, Senator Gorton, as Minister for Works, will be represented by the Minister for Shipping and Transport.

Associated with the appointment of a Minister for Education and Science, there has been established a new Department of Education and Science. The principal matters dealt with by this Department are education, scientific research and support of research. The new Department has taken over a number of the enactments previously administered by my department.

The Government Whip is the honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin) the Assistant Whip is the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen).

page 17

LEADERSHIP OF THE OPPOSITION

Mr WHITLAM:
Werriwa

– I have the honour to inform the House that the members of the Parliamentary Labor Party have elected me as their leader and the honorable member for Bass (Mr Barnard) as their Deputy Leader.

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
Prime Minister · Higgins · LP

– by leave - 1 ask the indulgence of the House to offer on behalf of honourable members who sit behind me our congratulations to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard). It is a great honour for any man in this Parliament to be chosen by the fellow members of his Party to lead that Party, and the honourable gentleman and his Deputy merit out congratulations because they have been so chosen. By virtue of that election he becomes leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition and his Deputy becomes the Deputy Leader. He can rely on the full co-operation of all honorable members on this side of the House to assure him of an indefinite continuance in that post. He adorns this area of the Parliament with such physical distinction that we feel he should grace it for as far ahead as we can see. However, he does carry our good wishes and, subject to the rules and practice of parliamentary debate, he will enjoy our co-operation in the continuing business of the House in an orderly fashion.

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa - Leader of the Opposition) - by leave - I thank the right honourable gentleman for his remarks concerning the Deputy Leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party and myself. We gratefully accept his good wishes for our long tenure of our positions in the Labor Party. We confess to some misgivings that the right honourable gentleman may show greater qualifications for the positions we now hold in the Parliament.

page 18

LEADERSHIP OF THE AUSTRALIAN COUNTRY PARTY

Mr McEWEN:
Murray · CP

– 1 have the honour to advise the House that I have again been elected Leader of the Australian Country Party and that my colleague, the honourable member for Richmond (Mr Anthony), has been elected Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party. The honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) is Whip.

page 18

QUESTION

THE HONOURABLE A. A. CALWELL, M.P

Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes:
CHISHOLM, VICTORIA · LP

– I ask for leave of the House to say a word of thanks and praise to the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell).

Mr SPEAKER:

– Leave is granted.

Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes:
CHISHOLM, VICTORIA · LP

– I would like to congratulate the new Ministers and the new Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). I have been associated in politics with the former Leader, the honourable member for Melbourne for more years than I can remember. We have disagreed on quite a number of things but I feel that he has given long and valuable service to the public. Now that he has resigned from leadership of the Opposition I would like to recommend to this House that we do offer him thanks and a word of praise.

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
Prime Minister · Higgins · LP

– by leave - If I may be permitted, I would certainly wish to endorse what my colleague the honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) has said. The honourable gentleman and I have been opponents for many years, but we have never been enemies. He has now translated himself, by voluntary retirement, to the place where he now sits; - I understand that this is the first time in twentythree years that he has sat on a back bench - and he has the respect and friendship of all members of the Parliament. We do not speak of him in any obituary sense as having left the active life of the Parliament, but we do express our friendship to him and our respect for the service that he has rendered to the nation so unstintingly. We know that he will enjoy the more tranquil environment in which he now finds himself.

Mr McEWEN:
Minister for Trade and Industry · Murray · CP

– by leave - If I may be permitted, I would like to associate myself and the Australian Country Party with the observations concerning the honourable member for Melbourne. I have always felt that the office of Leader of the Opposition is one of the most onerous of all offices of the Parliament. 1 am sure that the honourable member for Melbourne would confirm that. He has carried great burdens in the discharge of that office and I think he is entitled to the appreciation and thanks of the members of the House. The highest tribute that I feel I can pay to any man iri the Parliament is that he is a man of honour and a man of his word. I certainly say this of the honourable member for Melbourne.

Mr WHITLAM:
Leader of the Opposition · Werriwa

– by leave - My colleagues and I appreciate very much the remarks which have been made at this, the first meeting of the new Parliament, by the honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) and the Leaders of the Government parties, concerning my predecessor. In our own party meeting last week we expressed similar sentiments. We appreciate the opportunity to make the views so expressed bi-partisan and public.

Mr CALWELL:
Melbourne

– by leave - First of all, Mr Speaker, 1 congratulate you upon your elevation to the office you occupy. I assure you I did not vote for you, but I wish you well. I thank my doughty opponents the honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) and the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) for the references they have made to whatever service I have been able to render or have tried to render in the Parliament in the twenty-six and a half years that I have been here.

I am almost back now to where I started. I started in the seat which is now occupied by the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie). I sat on the front bench, on one side or the other, continuously for twentythree and a half years out of the twenty-six and a half years that I have been here. I hope still to make some contribution to the work of Parliament and to the welfare of the nation. I wish all honourable members who have been chosen by the people to serve in the Twenty-Sixth Parliament success in their endeavours. Nobody knows what is going to happen at the next election. Indeed, nobody knows what is going to happen at any election, gallup polls, forecasts and everything else notwithstanding. Everything is in the lap of the gods, and the lap of the gods is a very uncertain seat.

I thank all honourable gentlemen - and of course the honourable member for Kingston (Miss Brownbill) - for the felicitations which have been expressed to me from both sides of the House. I also thank the Leader of the Opposition for what he has said and I wish him success in his labours over the next three years.

page 19

EVIDENCE BILL 1967

Bill presented by Mr Harold Holt, and read a first time.

page 19

ADDRESS-IN-REPLY

Motion (by Mr Harold Holt) agreed to:

That a Committee consisting of Mr Munro, Mr Katter and the mover be appointed to prepare the Address-in-Reply to the speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General to both Houses of the Parliament and that the Committee do report this day.

page 19

GOVERNOR-GENERAL’S SPEECH

Mr SPEAKER:

-I have to report that the House this day attended His Excellency the Governor-General in the Senate chamber, when His Excellency was pleased to make a Speech to both Houses of the Parliament. The Speech will be included in Hansard for record purposes. (The Speech read as follows):

This - the 26th Parliament - assembles at a time when Australia is enjoying a sustained period of stability and economic progress. It is also a time of swift movement and transition amongst the countries of South East Asia and the Pacific, and of Asia generally. Developments in these areas bulk large in the array of external problems and responsibilities which compete with domestic programmes of economic and social development for the nation’s attention and resources.

At home, my Government is committed to policies aimed at maintaining economic stability and furthering welfare and economic growth. I shall refer later in some detail to these important matters.

I make special reference to the bushfires which have destroyed lives, homes, farms and other property in Tasmania. To those who have suffered loss, the whole Australian community has responded and still responds with sympathy and help. Warm and generous messages and practical help from beyond Australia have been greatly appreciated. My Government entered into immediate discussions with the Government of Tasmania concerning ways in which assistance can best be given. It promptly made a contribution of money for the alleviation of distress.

In the fields of foreign policy and defence, my Government is taking important measures.

We border on a changing Asia. This is in large part still an area of want, insecurity and great political tension. Since we are necessarily and increasingly involved in the future of Asia, my Government has felt it important to define clearly its objectives in relation to the area.

In this connection, the principles which Australia has upheld and on which we base our hopes for future peace and progress in the region were given fresh expression recently at Manila, where my Prime Minister, on behalf of my Government, met in conference with the Heads of Government of six other Asian and Pacific region countries, and joined in the historic Goals of Freedom declaration. The significant part which Australia can play in the affairs of the region is now widely acknowledged by its neighbours. Recent visits to Australia underline this - notably those of the President and Vice-President of the United States, the British Ministers for Defence and Commonwealth Affairs, and the Prime Ministers of Thailand, New Zealand and South Vietnam.

To meet defence needs, and for its responsibilities towards the security of he region, Australia is undertaking its heaviest defence expenditures since World War II. Also, it has substantially enlarged its programme of international economic assistance through such channels as the International Development Association, the United Nations agencies, the Colombo Plan, the SEATO aid programme and the new Asian Development Bank. Australia played a leading role in the establishment of the Asian Development Bank and has agreed to contribute $US85m to its capital. The Bank, which was inaugurated in December 1966, has been widely hailed as an outstanding example of economic co-operation among countries in the region.

My Government is aware of the need for flexibility in its external policies, and will take new opportunities as they arise for contributing to the stability and wellbeing of the region. It has developed closer relations with the countries of Asia, both bilaterally and through regional organisations and associations such as the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, the Asian and Pacific Council, the Manila Conference, and the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation.

Vietnam remains of critical importance to Australia and to the cause of freedom. My Government has progressively increased Australia’s military and civil aid contribution to the combined help by friendly countries to the Government and people of South Vietnam in their resistance to terrorism and aggression - terrorism and aggression which are Communist inspired and directed. My Government will persist with its search for the attainment of a just and enduring peace.

My advisers are closely watching developments in China. The outcome of the crisis there will have profound implications reaching far beyond Asia. The greatest impediment to any general relaxation of existing tensions in Asia, and indeed throughout the world, is the attitude of the Communist regime in China.

A development which we have welcomed has been the ending of Indonesia’s confrontation of Malaysia. The change of outlook and policy in Indonesia has provided opportunity for constructive consultation.

Rhodesia causes continuing concern. My Government has supported the British Government in its efforts to achieve a constitutional settlement in Rhodesia - a settlement which would allow for orderly political change on a basis of justice and equal opportunity in the future to all sections of the Rhodesian community. My Government has taken the additional steps necessary to put into effect the Security Council decision calling for certain economic sanctions against Rhodesia. My Government has consistently opposed resort to force for the solution of the Rhodesian problem.

Australia’s expanding role in the international community has required a steady growth in the range of countries in which we have diplomatic missions. My Government intends to introduce legislation during this session of Parliament designed to give effect to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

My Government has consistently fostered our special links with Britain, the Commonwealth and the United States of America, and played its part in maintaining the effectiveness of Australia’s alliances. It will develop still further the close relationship with its co-operation over many fields between Australia and New Zealand.

In addition, it pledges its continued adherence to the purposes and principles of the United Nations and will continue to work for its effective functioning within the terms of the Charter.

My Government is assisting developing countries by working towards the removal of Impediments to their trade. It is participating actively in the work of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Under the planned expansion of the Government’s defence programme, the strengths of the forces will continue to increase and major new equipment will be taken into service.

The total strength of our regular forces, including national servicemen, is of the order of 73,500. The national service scheme, introduced to supplement voluntary recruiting in order to achieve an Army strength of 40,000 by this year, will complete its first full cycle in June. The forthcoming deployment of additional ground, air and naval forces to Vietnam, as announced late last year, will increase the number of Australian servicemen engaged in the fighting in Vietnam to more than 6.000.

An active defence research and development programme, and an efficient defence production organisation, support these forces. Provision has been made in the three year programme for new capital construction and for modernisation of existing facilities in these production and research establishments.

In the Navy two new Charles F. Adams destroyers, whose equipment includes the anti-submarine guided weapons Ikara and the Tartar sea-to-air guided missile, have joined the fleet. A third will bc added this year. The first of the four Oberon submarines, which will form a new branch of our Navy, is now undergoing sea trials, and will commission towards the end of this year. New Tracker and Skyhawk aircraft will replace the Gannet and Sea Venoms on the aircraft carrier HMAS ‘Melbourne’ later this year. Beginning this year twenty fast patrol boats, to be built in our own shipyards, will gradually be added.

In the Army, S48m will be spent in this financial year on additional capital equipment, including on modern conventional weapons and ammunition, vehicles and light aircraft.

In the Air Force, more than half the total order of 100 Mirage supersonic jet fighters has been delivered. These are being brought into operational service. The development of the revolutionary variable wing strike- reconnaissance aircraft, the Fill, is progressing favourably, and deliveries in 1968 are planned. Also in 1968, ten Orion P3B’s - the latest maritime reconnaissance aircraft - will replace the Neptunes, and deliveries are scheduled of the first of the 108 Macchi jet trainers. Twelve new C130E Hercules have been ordered to reinforce air transport capacity, and deliveries of these aircraft are now being received.

My Government will continue its policies of vigorous economic growth and development of resources. Most economic indicators point to a high and increasing level of economic activity.

New mineral discoveries have opened up wider vistas of national development. The expansion of the mineral industry has been spectacular. In 1966, the value of output of the mining and quarrying industry was $800m, with” exports of $330m. These compare with an output of $470m and exports of Si 90m five years ago. New discoveries and development projects relating to oil and gas, bauxite and alumina, tin, nickel and phosphate are likely to prove of particular importance in reducing or even eliminating basic deficiencies in the range of production of needed raw materials. Over the last decade, the mineral industry has achieved a growth rate of 5% per annum, and in the next five years this expansion rate is likely to double.

Legislation to govern exploration for oil and natural gas, and production, within the area of the continental shelf of Australia is being prepared in conjunction with the Governments of the States. Substantial progress has already been made, and it is expected that the legislation will be brought before Parliament this year.

In all the ventures where great new resources are being brought into play, my Ministers will see to it that the Government’s role is actively and imaginatively performed. My Government favours an Australian participation in the ownership and control of these resources. It looks to Australian investment and management being joined in these developments. It is working towards new arrangements and facilities for the provision of capital for these purposes.

With the easing of drought conditions in certain areas, grain production has recovered and a record wheat harvest of 448 million bushels is now estimated. The effects of the drought will continue to be felt on the livestock industry in New South Wales and Queensland but the overall volume of rural production in 1966-67 is expected to be 13% higher than in 1965-66, and the value of exports of rural origin $60m above 1965-66 figures.

My Government recognises that if desired rates of growth are to be attained without undue restraints or balance of payments difficulties, Australia’s export income must greatly enlarge over the next ten years. To this end, it will intensify its existing programme of export promotion, using such media as market surveys, trade missions, trade displays, exhibitions, store promotions and export journals.

My Government is closely interested in the work of the commodity groups, which have been set up within the Kennedy Round, to negotiate improved conditions of access to world markets for the major primary products. With the renewal of efforts on the part of the British Government to establish a basis for possible entry to the European Economic Community, the Kennedy Round has assumed added importance for Australia. It is expected that the Kennedy Round negotiations will be concluded by mid-1967.

The legislation authorising the present export incentives is due to expire in June 1968. These incentives have stimulated exports of manufactures and my Government has decided to continue them. It will introduce legislation to give effect to this decision, and to provide for any changes in the form of the incentives which are deemed desirable.

In its Budget of last August my Government announced that it intended to introduce a system of grants to encourage Australian industry to undertake more work on research and development. My advisers are pressing ahead with preparation of the necessary legislation.

My Government intends to introduce legislation to establish an Australian Tourist Commission to co-operate with State and other bodies. This Commission will undertake the promotion overseas of Australia’s tourist attractions, and will work to stimulate increases in the already substantial flow of tourists to Australia and the consequent foreign exchange earnings.

Recent changes in the British taxation system, in particular the introduction of Corporation Tax, make it necessary to renegotiate the double taxation agreement between Australia and the United Kingdom. It is expected that these negotiations will commence in April of this year.

The sugar industry, although attaining high production levels, is experiencing serious difficulties through the depressed international price for sugar, and faces an uncertain world outlook. My Government, in close co-operation with the Queensland Government and the industry, is actively seeking acceptable international arrangements which will ensure Australian sugar producers access to world markets at remunerative prices. It will confer with the Government of Queensland regarding a renewal of the existing domestic sugar agreement.

The present five-year dairy industry stabilisation plan expires this year. Consultations are being held with the industry with a view to its continued stabilisation.

My Government stands willing to increase the scale of its contribution for wool research and promotion when the present arrangements expire next June.

Recent drought experience emphasises the importance of water conservation in our programme of national development. My Government has announced its intention to set up a national water resources development programme with the object of increasing water conservation.

Progress with other major development projects has continued. The Snowy Mountains Authority should complete the major works of the Snowy-Murray development by the winter of 1969, and the final Tumut development some five years later. Since 1961, the Commonwealth has provided $28.9m for the construction of beef roads in Queensland and Western Australia and has approved expenditure of $28m for this work in the Northern Territory. It proposes to discuss with State Governments a new seven-year beef roads programme estimated to cost some $50m.

Under various railway standardisation agreements made with State Governments, approximately 420 route miles of standard gauge track have been completed since 1956. A further 680 route miles should be completed by the end of 1968. These will cost in all some $240m. Thus, by the end of 1968, the standard gauge should span Australia, linking capital cities of the east with Perth and Fremantle.

The Territories of the Commonwealth continue to advance. My Government is greatly encouraged by the prospects for further expansion of production in the Northern Territory and in Papua and New Guinea. In the Northern Territory, practical measures are being taken to assist the social and economic advancement of the Aboriginal people. My Government looks forward to increasing participation of the people of Papua and New Guinea in their own government as they move towards the point at which they are ready to choose their own future. Further discussions on the future of Nauru will shortly take place between representatives of the people of Nauru, and of the administering governments - Britain, New Zealand and Australia.

Increasing population is an essential element in Australia’s programme of national development. Currently, migration is contributing 40% of the annual increase in the work force. There is a valuable flow of migrants from Britain, and my Government aims to stimulate assisted migration from other European countries.

In this financial year, my Government will spend more than Si 50m on education, of which over $80m will be in the form of special purpose grants to the States. A record number of 52,000 students will hold various Commonwealth scholarships during 1967, compared with 41,500 in 1966.

Legislation will be introduced by my Government to authorise additional payments totalling $2,668,000 a year to independent schools for science laboratories and equipment. Legislation will also be introduced for the payment of $24m over three years for the construction of teacher training colleges for State Governments. At least 10% of places in these will be reserved for students who are not bonded to State Education Departments.

In view of the establishment of the Department of Education and Science, the Parliament will be invited to repeal the

Education Act and to approve a new Act governing the administration of Commonwealth scholarships. The new Department will also administer Commonwealth university scholarships.

Shortages of skilled labour continue within industry, and my Government has fostered apprenticeships and promoted industrial training schemes in its efforts to overcome these shortages. These efforts will continue.

My Government has been active in promoting greater productivity in industry. Progress has been made in many industries, working co-operatively with government, to exchange information on relative efficiency in the use of their resources. A large and growing number of productivity groups have been established. They are operated mainly by industry itself and have already resulted in considerable reduction of costs.

During 1965 my Government initiated a conference of all interested parties on the waterfront to work towards a new and better era in employer/ employee relations. The progress being achieved should assist tha stevedoring industry to handle successfully the introduction of new systems and methods.

Australia’s technological progress is being aided by a number of projects involving co-operation with other nations. We now have in Australia the biggest complex outside the United States of communication stations engaged on United States space and scientific satellite programmes. Co-operation with Britain in the operation of the Woomera Rocket Range continues and the European Launcher Development Organisation will spend an additional $20m at Woomera on operations directed to establishing its ability to place satellites into orbit for peaceful purposes.

The introduction of satellite communications represents a major development in the field of international telecommunications. Australia has hastened to take advantage of this development. The Overseas Telecommunications Commission has built a station at Carnarvon in Western Australia, and has commenced the construction of a second station near Moree in New South Wales.

My Government believes that home ownership is in the interests of both the

Individual and the community. It wishes to encourage more young people to save so as to own their own homes after marriage, and will assist them to do this by liberalising the Home Savings Grant Scheme. It will introduce legislation to give the Department of Housing discretionary powers to deal with certain cases of hardship that have arisen since the start of the Scheme. The amending legislation will also extend the Scheme to widowed persons aged less than 36 years who have one or more dependent children and will raise from $14,000 to Si 5,000 the limitation on the value of the home, including land.

The Housing Loans Insurance Scheme is now operating to increasing effect in all States. My Government’s offer to guarantee the repayment, with interest, of high ratio housing loans is enabling more and more families to acquire their own homes with a minimum deposit and without resort to costly second mortgages.

My Government has decided to introduce legislation to liberalise the means test for age. invalid and widows’ pensions. The amount of allowable means will be increased by $156 per annum for both single persons and married couples.

Legislation will also be introduced to expand the scope of the Aged Persons Homes Act by making local governing bodies eligible for subsidy. Further aid to the disabled in the community will be provided by capital assistance for sheltered workshops, and by a special allowance to disabled persons employed in those workshops. New grants will be made to certain national voluntary agencies working in the field of social welfare.

Bills of exchange, copyright, and patents will be amongst the matters affected by legislation which my Government proposes to introduce. Rules under the Bankruptcy Act will be circulated for the information of the public in the near future and the new Act will be brought into operation this year.

My Government is taking the necessary steps to enable the Trade Practices Act to be proclaimed.

Large changes in the number of electors in constituencies have made necessary a redistribution of electorates. My advisers took the view that because of the rapid growth of Australia’s population and the burden of representation, a redistribution without some increase in the size of the House of Representatives would not produce a satisfactory outcome. To this end, both Houses of Parliament passed a Constitution Alteration Bill at the end of 1965. This was to permit increases- designed to be modest - in the size of the House of Representatives without requiring corresponding increases in the size of the Senate. Another Constitution Alteration Bill passed in 1965 related to the counting of Aboriginals in censuses. On the advice of my Ministers, I did not proceed to issue the necessary writs for these referendum proposals, but it was announced that the Government would take up the matter again early in the life of this new Parliament. Its intentions will be made known in the near future.

I now leave you to the discharge of your high and important duties, in the faith that Divine Providence will guide your deliberations and further the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth.

Sitting suspended from 3.56 to 5 p.m.

page 24

DEATH OF THE HONOURABLE GORDON BROWN

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
Prime Minister · Higgins · LP

– I formally advise the House with regret of the death in Brisbane on 12th January last of the Honourable Gordon Brown, a former Labor senator for the State of Queensland, who was for a period of seven and a half years President of the Senate. Gordon Brown was elected to the Senate in 1931, taking his place in July 1932, and serving continuously until 1965, a period of thirty-three years. During this time he was for varying periods on the Standing Orders Committee, the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, the Public Works Committee, the House Committee and the Joint Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings. In addition he was trustee of the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Trust from October 1949 to May 1956. It will be seen from that record that he had a long, extensive and varied experience of the various activities of the Senate and the Parliament generally.

Gordon Brown will be remembered by those of us who were his contemporaries in particular, and by his colleagues in the

Labour Party, for his untiring efforts on behalf of the trade union movement in Australia. He had what some would have regarded as an unorthodox approach to authority, certainly in his early years. This earned for him a reputation as one of the colourful characters of this Parliament. But his sincerity and earnestness commanded the respect of his colleagues on both sides of the Parliament. He was Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate from July 1935 until September 1938 and was Chairman of Committees from July 1941 until September 1943. In September 1943 he was elected to the position of President of the Senate, a post which he held with distinction until March 1951. Those of us who were in the Parliament with the late Senator Gordon Brown will remember him as a friendly, genial man - a vigorous, ruddy athletic figure. I remarked earlier today that the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) and I were opponents. Gordon Brown and I were opponents, but he was the kind of man with whom it was difficult to be an enemy. He was a friendly man, liked by all sections of the Parliament in both Houses. We mourn his passing and offer our sincere sympathy to Mrs Brown, her sons and her two daughters. I move -

That this House expresses its deepest regret at the death of the Honourable Gordon Brown, a senator for the State of Queensland from 1932 until 1965 and a former President of the Senate, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service, and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.

Mr WHITLAM:
Leader of the Opposition · Werriwa

– On behalf of the Australian Labor Party I support the motion which the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) has moved. The right honourable gentleman has well referred to the ironical difference between the unorthodox youth of Gordon Brown and his august position as President in another place. He did, in fact, have a turbulent youth in England, Canada and Queensland, but it was always good humoured turbulence, which he used very successfully to put his point of view throughout his long life. The Primate of Australia, Archbishop Strong, in delivering the panegyric at the State funeral, referred to the Christian motivation of Gordon Brown’s life from his earliest days - a motivation he received from his family.

Throughout Gordon Brown’s life there was idealism; there was good humour. To illustrate what I have referred to as the turbulence of his youth I point out that he was arrested in Canada for holding unauthorised street meetings. He came to Australia in 1912 and became an official of the Shop Assistants Union and a prominent member of the Queensland Trades and Labour Council. He later became its VicePresident in 1926. He was one of the last survivors of what was called the Australian Socialist Party, and he played a leading part in the group known as the free speech movement. In Queensland, too, he was arrested a number of times for holding unauthorised street meetings. On the best remembered occasion he handcuffed himself to the Brisbane Post Office railings to prevent police removing him before he got his message across to the crowd which gathered.

The Prime Minister has referred to Gordon Brown’s career in the Parliament. We remember him in particular as an inveterate story teller. All of his stories were fit to print: in fact, they were printed in a book, ‘My Descent from Soap Box to Senate’, a title which some of his successors did not find amusing. On a personal note, I may say that when I came into the Parliament he was no longer President. He was an elder statesman in the Parliament and in the Labor Party. He, another gentleman about whom the Prime Minister will be moving a motion presently - George Lawson - and a slightly younger colleague, Senator Courtice, held high offices during Labor administrations. I should like to acknowledge them as among the most generous and encouraging people I have found in my Party. 1 should like also to record the fact that we are all in the debt of these three men for their contribution and service in high offices in my Party and in this Parliament. There are many younger members of the Parliament who are in their debt and who remember them with great affection. I support the Prime Minister’s motion expressing condolence to Gordon Brown’s widow, his children and his grandchildren.

Mr McEWEN:
Minister for Trade and Industry · Murray · CP

– I associate the Australian Country Party and myself with the motion moved by the Prime

Minister (Mr Harold Holt) and supported by the Leader pf the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). I am one of the members who knew Gordon Brown for many years. He had a very long service in this Parliament, reaching the high office of President of the Senate, an office which he occupied with dignity and distinction from 1943 until 1951. For any member of the Parliament to reach the office of President of the Senate is evidence that he is a man of considerable substance. I did not know Gordon Brown in his younger days, but he always had the reputation of having been a radical in the best sense of the word. He had his strong views. He had his modicum of contempt for authority at one phase of his life and he expressed himself and fought for the things he believed in, irrespective of the rules of the time. This, I am sure, was the Gordon Brown who was recognised by the Labor Party as a man entitled to promotion, a man entitled to rank, a man who held strong views and fought for them without pulling his- punches. I join in expressing appreciation of his services to the Parliament and I extend the warm sympathy of the Australian Country Party to his widow and his daughters.

Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable members standing in their places.

page 26

DEATH OF THE HONOURABLE GEORGE LAWSON

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
Prime Minister · Higgins · LP

– It is again with regret that I advise the House of the death on 25th November 1966 of a veteran Labor Party parliamentarian, the Honourable George Lawson, who for thirty years was a member of this House. He was, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) pointed out, another notable Queenslander who found promotion and high office in the ranks of the Australian Labor Party. He was a member of the Legislative Council of Queensland from 1919 until the abolition of that body in 1922. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1931 for the electorate of Brisbane, and he held that seat continuously from then until his retirement in 1961. He served as Opposition Whip from 1934 until 1941, and from 1941 until 1943 he was Minister for Transport and Assistant Minister to the Postmaster-General. He was also a member of the Parliamentary Joint Com mittee on War Expenditure in 1941 and from 1943 to 1946.

As a young man of eighteen he enlisted to fight in the Boer War and was mentioned in dispatches. On his return from the war he took an active interest in the trade union movement and was instrumental in forming the Carters Union. He was a member of the Australian delegation to the twenty-seventh session of the International Labour Organisation of the League of Nations in Paris in 1945 and also represented the Commonwealth Government on the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Committee which toured Europe during that year.

In this place I had a long personal association with George Lawson, spread over more than twenty-five years. We were together on the Parliamentary Joint Committee o,n War Expenditure and I recall with satisfaction the very valuable work that Committee performed in a non-partisan fashion, looking quite objectively at the matters which came before it. If I remember correctly, I was the Deputy Chairman of the Committee at a time when the Labor Party was in office, and we were all able to do constructive work together - work in which George Lawson made a most valuable contribution. He was very easy to like. In appearance he more closely approached what people overseas think of as typifying the Australian character and temperament than do most people who come to this Parliament. It was typical of the man that his sense of adventure and service took him to the Boer War at an early age. He had an earnestness and a sincerity which were most appealing, and a loyalty to his Party which earned him the respect of opponent and colleague alike. There were no bitter springs to his temperament and he left none but friends in this place. We remember him with warm affection, and all who had the pleasure of his friendship in this place and who served with him in the Parliament will regret his passing and join with me in extending deepest sympathy to his widow and his family. I now move:

That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honourable George Lawson, a member of this House for the Division of Brisbane from 1931 to 1961 and a former Minister of the Crown, places on record its appreciation of bis long and meritorious public service, and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.

Mr WHITLAM:
Leader of the Opposition · Werriwa

– I support the motion which the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) has moved. The right honourable gentleman has very eloquently paid tribute to the qualities of George Lawson as he knew him in the committee of this Parliament and in the government of this nation. He has referred to his service as a young man in the Boer War. George Lawson fully shared in the fascinatingly adventurous life which characterised Australians of that time. He went abroad to the Boer War, but I believe that he went abroad for the first time under different circumstances at very short notice. He had delivered some horses to the Brisbane wharves for transportation to India. When he arrived at the wharves with the horses he was offered the job of looking after them on the voyage to India. He just took time to send his parents the message that he would be back home a little late - after delivering the horses to India. Then he was off. After he came back from the Boer War he took an active part in the industrial life of the Labor movement. He joined the Carters Union and when it became the Transport Workers Union in 1907 he became its foundation secretary. He held that position until his election to this House in 1931. He was prominent in the affairs of the Queensland Trades and Labour Council. He was its Vice-President in 1923-4 and its President in 1925 and 1927. He had made an earlier visit to Geneva as a delegate to the International Labour Organisation Conference in 1925.

The Prime Minister referred without elaboration to the fact that George Lawson was a member of the Queensland Legislative Council. In fact he was appointed to the Council on the clear undertaking that he would do his best to work for its abolition. He fulfilled his obligations faithfully. He was a member of what is known still as the suicide squad’ - Legislative Councillors pledged to vote for the abolition of the Council. He helped give Queensland one of the few unicameral legislatures in the world. Nebraska and New Zealand are other examples that come to mind.

The Prime Minister has given his record in this Parliament. He was a distinguished and effective member of the first Curtin Government. Those of us who came into the Parliament in more recent years remember him as being as dedicated as ever but a very unassuming man. As I said of Gordon Brown, I found George Lawson a person who had singularly endearing qualities of encouragement and generosity. I benefited from these qualities myself, I acknowledge on this occasion. His successor in his seat of Brisbane is typical of the many younger people whom he encouraged to take a part in the Labor movement, in both its industrial and political aspects. We mourn his passing. We thank the Prime Minister and join him in the expression of our regret which this House wishes to be conveyed to his widow and to his children and grandchildren.

Mr McEWEN:
Minister for Trade and Industry · Murray · CP

- Mr Speaker, I associate the Australian Country Party and myself with the motion before the House which has been moved by the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) and has been supported by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). All of us who knew George Lawson liked him. No-one could fail to like him. I think we could all feel that he was an average good Australian - a typical Australian. He was one who had all the characteristics that I should like to think are typical of Australian manhood. He reached very considerable office without ever appearing to aspire to forward himself at all, but he had a long record of service.

There must be few left who served with the Australian contingents in the Boer War as George Lawson did. His life spanned a long period of Australian history. I am proud to have sat with, and to have known, a man who was an adult at the turn of the century, a man who with many millions of others contributed to creating the Australia that we inherit today. I think that is worth remembering. We all liked George Lawson and I respect his memory. My Party wishes to be associated with the motion before the House.

Mr CROSS:
Brisbane

– 1 also should like to associate myself with the motion before the House by placing on record my memory of the late George Lawson. It was my privilege to know Mr Lawson for more than twenty years, and during the last fifteen years of his parliamentary career, so I think that I might add a little to the record in paying my own tribute to him.

Mr Lawson was the first paid trade union secretary in Queensland. He became a trade union secretary well before the days of compulsory unionism or preference to trade unionists. He was the first secretary of the carters union. I have been told by other retired members of that union that quite frequently Mr Lawson had to protect himself when people were paid to assault him in the course of his endeavours to collect union dues and while he was carrying out other trade union responsibilities. Mr Lawson in his day was no mean hand with his fists. He developed a reputation of being a straight shooter, a reputation he carried right throughout his life. He was associated with the foundation of the Trades and Labour Council of Queensland. On two occasions he was its VicePresident and on two occasions he was its President.

As has been pointed out he served in the Boer War. When I took over his office in 1961 I found two references written by two of his commanding officers in the Boer War paying tribute to his gallantry in action They were very fine tributes and I have had the privilege of returning them to him. Mr Lawson was a very fine horseman. In his parliamentary service he served in the Queensland Legislative Council and after its abolition in 1922 he served terms in two of the local authorities in the metropolitan area of Brisbane which were subsequently merged into the greater Brisbane City Council. At the time of the First World War the seat of Brisbane was held by William Fyfe Finlayson - Bill Finlayson - who was a pacifiist. Mr Finlayson was defeated after the First World War by Sir Donald Cameron, a very distinguished Australian soldier who held the seat of Brisbane until 1931. The Australian Labor Party found it extremely difficult to unseat Sir Donald Cameron but George Lawson was able to do this in 1931 at the election in which the Scullin Government was evicted from office by the people of Australia. I think it is a tribute to the respect with which Mr Lawson was held and a tribute to his political ability that he was able to win the seat of Brisbane at that time, a seat which was a difficult one for the Australian Labor Party to win.

As I have said I was associated with Mr Lawson for only the last fifteen years of his parliamentary career. At his state funeral I was impressed not only by the number of old people who came along who had known him in the days of the depression when he was first elected to the Parliament but also by the Rev. Monsignor Carlton who had been the administrator of St Stephen’s Roman Catholic Cathedral at that time. He spoke of Mr Lawson’s good work during the depression. I believe that Mr Lawson was a very worthy representative of the people of Brisbane and of the Australian Labor Party and I join in paying this tribute to him.

Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable members standing in their places.

Sitting suspended from 5.25 to 8.0 p.m.

page 28

SALES TAX BILLS

Notice of Motion

Mr McMAHON:
Treasurer · Lowe · LP

– I give notice that, at the next sitting, I shall move:

Thai, in relation to Hie proceedings on any sales tax bills, so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent -

the introduction and the first readings of the bills together;

one motion being moved and one question being put in regard to, respectively, the second readings, the committee’s report stage, and the third readings, of all the bills together, and

the consideration of all the bills as a whole together in a committee of the whole.

I should explain, Mr Speaker, that this motion will be purely procedural. No immediate introduction of sales tax bills is contemplated. As I shall explain more fully to-morrow, the motion will merely clear the way for introduction of sales tax bills together at any time during the life of this Parliament.

page 28

QUESTION

ELECTORAL

Mr WHITLAM:

– I ask the Prime Minister a question. He will recall that in his first speech to this Parliament as Prime Minister on 8th March last he said:

  1. . we intend, early in the life of the next Parliament … to enable a referendum to by held on the proposal to break the nexus between the two Houses of Parliament.

In view of the Governor-General’s form of words today that the Government’s intentions will be made known in the near future,

I ask the right honorable gentleman whether the Government will honour its earlier intention to hold this referendum. If he cannot give such an undertaking, I ask him what steps he must still take before he can announce that he will carry out his promise or that he will go back on it.

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
LP

– The Government has had under consideration not merely the matters to which reference was made in the earlier legislation but also, in relation to referendum proposals generally, a variety of matters which we felt should be closely studied. Those matters are currently receiving Cabinet consideration and, as the statement in the Speech of the GovernorGeneral pointed out, we shall make out intentions known quite shortly.

page 29

QUESTION

PUBLIC TELEPHONES

Sir JOHN CRAMER:
BENNELONG, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that a very high percentage of public telephones are continuously out of order in Sydney and suburbs? For his information, every public telephone was out of order one day last week within a mile radius in my electorate, including those at Hunter’s Hill post office. Is this the result of the present wave of hooliganism, which is causing such serious concern to citizens, the State Government and police authorities in Sydney? Has the Minister any information as to the cause of the explosion which destroyed a telephone booth at Killara two days ago? Will he have an immediate investigation made into these matters?

Mr HULME:
Postmaster-General · PETRIE, QUEENSLAND · LP

– I think it would be wrong to suggest that many of the public telephones are continuously out of order. However, I do know that there is a tremendous amount of vandalism, particularly in some areas of our capital cities. I would say that this is causing considerable concern to the Police Department and to my own Department. In fact, it is also resulting in a very substantial cost to the Department in the repair of the damage which is occasioned to public telephones. Recently I have been looking at the actual cost and the basis on which public telephones should be installed in various areas. 1 have been appalled at the revenue which is applied to justify the installation of a public telephone. This relates substantially to the maintenance costs of these telephones brought about by placing articles other than coins in the slot, by destroying wires and by the destruction of other parts of the telephone booths.

In this way the Department is faced with what I believe to be an unnecessary cost. I say without hesitation that vandalism is substantially responsible for it. I believe that the public can help in this regard. If members of the public, when they see any evidence of vandals at or near public telephones, would so inform the Post Office or the local police we might be able to reduce this unfortunate element I remind the House that in many cases of illness a public telephone is the only source of contact with an ambulance or medical help. If the nearest telephone is out of order - and public telephones generally are not established at intervals of less than one-quarter of a mile - considerable inconvenience is occasioned to the people concerned.

page 29

QUESTION

BUSHFIRE RELIEF

Mr BARNARD:

– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I refer to the recent tragic bushfires in Tasmania. I am sure honourable members will agree that the Prime Minister has expressed in his statements the sympathies of all Australians with the anguish of those who lost relatives and property in the fires. I ask the Prime Minister: Can he give specific details of the amount of Commonwealth assistance to be given for relief and rehabilitation in the devastated areas? Can he outline the basis on which this Commonwealth assistance will be given? Further, in view of the magnitude of the Tasmanian disaster and other national disasters caused by flood and fire in recent years, will the Prime Minister consider establishing a national disaster organisation and a national disaster fund similar to those which operate in New Zealand, Canada and the United States?

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
LP

– I shall answer the last part of the question first while it is fresh in my recollection. The proposition mentioned has been considered on a number of occasions by Commonwealth governments and always they have reached the conclusion that such a measure would not be practicable in this country. However, in view of what the honourable member has said about experience in the countries named, I shall personally investigate to see whether we can learn from it something that would have useful application to our own needs.

As to the bushfire disaster in Tasmania, the honourable gentleman has rightly commented that from the outset the Commonwealth has not only expressed sympathy but has also used its best endeavours to give practical support. I may say that I was in New Zealand when the news reached me. I immediately tried to communicate by telephone with the Premier of Tasmania. Being unable to make contact with him, I spoke with the then Acting Premier and asked whether the Commonwealth was doing all that could usefully be done. He assured me that we were doing all that could be expected. My colleague, the Acting Prime Minister, had already arranged for the Minister for Air to serve in the capacity of a liaison between the two Governments. ] am sure that Mr Reece, the Premier of Tasmania, will agree that from that time on we have done everything that could reasonably be expected of us or that we would wish to do - indeed, that our performance has been above what might reasonably have been expected of us. We were impressed by the fact that those in leadership in Tasmania were themselves almost stunned by the magnitude of the tragedy that had befallen the State. I tried to reassure them as quickly as possible.

Several practical measures have been put in train. As recently as the meeting with the Premiers last week the Tasmanian Premier conferred with my colleague, the Minister for Air, and me about the basis of the support that could be given. My colleague the Treasurer also was involved in these discussions. We proposed that assistance could be given by way of hardship relief, and cash has already been provided for that purpose. Other assistance for rehabilitation will be given partly by way of loan and partly by way of grant. In some instances where people wish to put themselves in a rather better position than they were in before the fires, it would be only reasonable for the additional financial assistance to be given by way of loan. I can assure the honourable member that the Premier of Tasmania has expressed himself as gratified at and, indeed, satisfied with what we are doing. We shall endeavour to maintain that spirit in our relations with respect to this matter.

page 30

QUESTION

AUSTRALIAN ARMY

Mr JESS:
LA TROBE, VICTORIA

– I wish to ask the Minister for the Army a question. I am sure he will agree that the shortage of junior officers and senior non-commissioned officers that occurred in the Army is being overcome. However, a shortage of field officers is becoming apparent because of the retirement of older majors and half colonels, with the result that promotions from the rank of captain to that of major and above are taking place after shorter periods of service in the lower rank than are usual. Has the Government considered the advisability of perhaps endeavouring to recruit United Kingdom officers who are returning home from Malaysia to retire because their appointments are being terminated as a result of the reduction in the size of the British Army and whose experience could be of great value to the Australian Army?

Mr Malcolm Fraser:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP

-The honourable member has stated correctly that the rapid expansion of the Australian Army in the last two and a half years from a strength of 24,000 to 41,000 has strained our resources and caused a shortage of the traditional skills in the Army. However, the Army is not like a private corporation or business, which can recruit executives from outside, lt must train its own senior NCOs and junior officers. The point that the honourable member raises has come up and has been examined. Over a period of years, a number of officers from the United Kingdom have joined the Australian Army. This is a process that is welcomed, and I hope that it will continue. I would add that the major officer shortage in the Army is in the rank of captain, but 1 hope that this problem will be solved in the next few years to quite an important extent. For example, quite a number of national servicemen are being trained as officers. They will take positions in the Army as second lieutenants. We believe that, together with the officer output from Duntroon and Portsea, the national service officers who will choose to stay in the Army will overcome the present difficulty and strain in that sphere.

page 31

QUESTION

ORRORAL VALLEY SPACE TRACKING STATION

Mr J R Fraser:
ALP

– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Supply a question. Will he ascertain under what power, and for what reason, the Department of Supply caused to be distributed to employees at Orroral Valley Space Tracking Station circulars drawing their attention to the provisions of certain sections of the Crimes Act and of the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act, and required the employees to sign certain undertakings relating to these Acts? Do some sections of the Crimes Act referred to apply only to Commonwealth officers or Commonwealth employees? Are the employees at Orroral Valley engaged as employees of a private company? Why were these actions taken only in relation to employees at Orroral Valley and not in relation to employees at other tracking stations at Tidbinbilla and Honeysuckle Creek? ls a dispute pending at Orroral Valley over alleged failure by the private contractors to abide by the terms of an award? Will the honourable gentleman seek from the Minister for Supply a full investigation of conditions at Orroral Valley?

Mr FAIRHALL:
Minister for Defence · PATERSON, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– Unfortunately I have not any information on the matters referred to by the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory but I will make inquiries of my colleague in another place and furnish him with a reply.

page 31

QUESTION

THE LORD’S PRAYER

Mr TURNBULL:

– 1 preface a question addressed to the Prime Minister by stating that we are all aware that the reading of the Lord’s Prayer at the commencement of each day’s sitting of this Parliament is appreciated by countless thousands of citizens of the Commonwealth. 1 therefore ask: will the Prime Minister use his influence in an endeavour to have the Lord’s Prayer read at the beginning of each day in all schools throughout Australia? I realise that as Prime Minister he has no jurisdiction over schools in the States, but his assistance in this matter would be appreciated by Australian men and women in all walks of life.

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
LP

– I am sure all honourable members appreciate the motive behind the question asked by the honour able gentleman, but, as he himself has acknowledged, this is a matter which falls directly within the province of the State governments and, of course, of the Premiers of the respective States. I think that what I should do in the circumstances is convey to them the question which the honourable gentleman has asked. I do not think it would be proper at this stage for me to try to influence their judgment on a matter which is directly within their own province.

page 31

QUESTION

PRIME MINISTER

Mr Clyde Cameron:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Does the Prime Minister hold 1,000 shares in Consolidated Gold Fields (Aust.) Pty Ltd, a company which is dominated by foreign investors and which is now rapidly taking over a controlling interest in other Australian companies? Does the Prime Minister agree that he is not only condoning but actively encouraging, through his own action, the take over of local companies by large and wealthy foreign companies? Will the Prime Minister reveal to the House the extent of his interest in foreign dominated companies, and perhaps how much he paid for his interest in such companies?

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
LP

– I am quite willing to make available to the Leader of the Opposition for bis information any matters relating to my private financial circumstances. However I do not propose to parade my own private financial affairs publicly unless I think there could be some conflict with my duty to the Parliament. But I repeat the offer: If the Leader of the Opposition cares to examine with me my private circumstances, he is welcome to do so. He can then decide whether there is any basis for the honourable member’s claims. I do not know whether that offer will be acceptable to all honourable members opposite. If it is, they can have it.

Mr Clyde Cameron:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– The right honourable gentleman may examine my private affairs.

Mr HAROLD HOLT:

– To look at the honourable member is enough for me.

page 31

QUESTION

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

Mr TURNER:
BRADFIELD, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I ask the Prime Minister a question. I refer to the fact that hanging is at present prescribed as the penalty for certain offences committed in the Australian Capital Territory and to the fact that the exercise of the Crown’s prerogative of mercy, arising in a particular case at any time, will, as matters stand, inevitably be subject to emotion, pressure and other undesirable and extraneous factors. In all sincerity I ask the right honourable gentleman whether, with his colleagues in Cabinet, he is prepared to give the most serious thought to allowing or promoting a debate in this chamber on capital punishment, followed by a free vote as the best means available to expose the considerations involved in this issue and to reflect the moral attitude of the community on this subject.

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
LP

– The Government and the parliament have responsibilities in this matter in respect of Commonwealth Territories. Within my own experience in this Parliament we have dealt with cases of a capital kind. Sometimes the death penalty has followed. In more recent times, generally speaking, there has been a commutation of the death sentence. While I shall give consideration to the suggestion that the Government promote a discussion on this matter, the honourable member will be aware that it is open to a member of Parliament, within the forms of the House, to initiate such a discussion.

Mr Turner:

– I asked whether the Government would promote such a debate or allow an honourable member to do so.

Mr HAROLD HOLT:

– Thank you. Whether there should be a general discussion initiated by the Government is a matter of policy on which I would not be prepared to give a direct answer at this time.

Mr Turner:

– If an honourable member chooses to initiate such a debate perhaps the Government would make the time available.

Mr HAROLD HOLT:

– The matter could be raised during the time set aside for the discussion of private members’ business. It could be raised also during the AddressinReply debate, the Budget debate and on Grievance Day. All of those occasions lend themselves to a statement by any honourable member of his views on a subject of this kind.

Mr Turner:

– But the Government arranges the timetable.

Mr HAROLD HOLT:

– That is so, and allowance is made for the discussion of private members’ business. I hope that, in the course of this and succeeding sessions, reasonable opportunities will be offered to private members for this purpose. But I take it that the essence of the honourable member’s question was whether the Government itself would promote a discussion.

Mr Turner:

– Or permit an honourable member to do so.

Mr HAROLD HOLT:

– I am certain that I can answer the second part of the question affirmatively and directly: yes, the Government would.

page 32

QUESTION

ARMY ORDNANCE DEPOT, ELIZABETH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Mr NICHOLLS:
BONYTHON, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

– I ask the Minister for the Army a question. Recently it was reported that an Army ordnance depot would be established at Elizabeth, South Australia. If the report is correct, will the Minister say when the project will be commenced and will he provide other relevant details of it?

Mr Malcolm Fraser:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP

– I saw the report relating to the establishment in the future of an ordnance depot at Elizabeth. The Army owns something fewer than 300 acres of land in this area and there are long range plans for the transfer to Elizabeth of the ordnance depots in the Adelaide area. But this is not something that is likely to take place for some time because of other works of more urgent importance in different States. However, in this current year the Army has plans for building a radio transmitter, which will be valued at something under $200,000, in the Elizabeth area. It is also hoped - subject to all the normal provisions of finance, but it is certainly something to pursue and plan for - to construct in the next year a CMF depot in the Elizabeth area for the 27th Battalion of the Royal South Australian Regiment. These two works are quite separate but they will be in the same general Elizabeth area and on part of the Army property. The base ordnance depot project is in the more distant future.

page 32

QUESTION

SOCIAL SERVICES

Mr WENTWORTH:
MACKELLAR, NEW SOUTH WALES

– My question relates to the Government’s announced intention to alleviate the means test by raising the permissible income. I ask the Prime Minister whether he is in a position yet to indicate when the necessary legislation for this purpose is likely to be brought before this House.

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
LP

– I cannot give very precise information but it is my understanding that in the course of this session, and after the general debates are out of the way, we will introduce this legislation.

page 33

QUESTION

VICTORIAN NATURAL GAS

Mr HAYDEN:
OXLEY, QUEENSLAND

– I address a question to the Prime Minister. Has his attention been drawn to reports of secret negotiations between his Government and the Victorian Government which give the Victorian Government the right, without Commonwealth control, to sell off-shore mineral assets to other States? Is there any truth in these reports? If so, will he table the agreement with a minimum of delay and also indicate just when the agreement will bc tabled? Will he advise the constitutional position regarding the granting of this privilege to Victoria, namely, whether the Commonwealth Government in fact can give away this right to the State? Finally, does he appreciate that Australia is urgently in need of a practical national fuel policy and that this arrangement with Victoria, insofar as it applies to fuel minerals, only makes more difficult the introduction of such a policy?

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
LP

– My colleague the Minister for National Development will be introducing some legislation giving an indication of the general position of the Commonwealth on these matters, but this may not occur until next session. I can assure the honourable gentleman that the published reports of the negotiations to which he has referred are far from correct. There has been an exchange of letters between me and the Premier of Victoria, and the object of the correspondence, far from being to put Victoria in a special and privileged position, has been to safeguard the position of other States that might desire to secure natural gas from any surplus which may be found in Victoria. I would be quite happy to have the contents of those letters released by my colleague the Minister for National Development.

Mr Hayden:

– Will you be happy to table the letters?

Mr HAROLD HOLT:

– Whatever the necessary form is, wc shall go about it. The contents can be made public. I have cleared this with the Premier, Sir Henry Bolte. What is more, we have an understanding that before there is finalisation of any arrangement by the Victorian Government the Commonwealth is to be in possession of the facts, and any transaction that does not satisfy certain specified requirements will be capable of rejection, in effect, by the Commonwealth Government. All this can be made more clear if the letters are before members.

Mr Hayden:

– Has not the Victorian Government already introduced legislation?

Mr HAROLD HOLT:

– Yes, but the Victorian Government cannot derogate from whatever powers the Commonwealth might possess, and I think that when the honorable gentleman sees the correspondence he will appreciate that a practical understanding has been reached between us on this matter. The purpose is, I repeat, to preserve and safeguard the interests of other States of the Commonwealth.

page 33

QUESTION

HOUSING

Mr CLEAVER:
SWAN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

– My question is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service in his capacity as representative of the Minister for Housing. I ask: as a practical encouragement to the National Housing Week being organised for the month of April by the Housing Industry Association, will the Government raise the limit on standard housing loans? Has consideration been given to the Association’s recommendation regarding a new mortgage facility similar to that provided in the United States of America by the National Mortgage Association, to provide support for our existing housing loans insurance scheme?

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

– The honourable member will be delighted to hear that the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation has been increasing its business recently at a quite rapid rate. This is for the purpose of progressively narrowing the gap between what an ordinary man can raise to build a house and the amount of equity that is required. I presume that the first part of the honourable member’s question relates to the limits which are now imposed by the savings banks and other institutions of a governmental character which come, one way or another, under the influence of the Commonwealth Government. This, as the honourable member will appreciate, is a very far-reaching subject because at the moment the rate of house construction is working up towards what one might reasonably consider the limits of capacity and therefore any easing financially will have to be approached in rather a cautious way. I know that there are always certain people who would extend loans and so add to the cost of houses and inflate the whole scene generally; but we must avoid any unnecessary further increase in the price of houses. I will convey the honourable member’s question to my colleague who will furnish him with a full answer.

page 34

QUESTION

TELEVISION

Mr COLLARD:
KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

– I wish to ask the PostmasterGeneral a question relating to the provision of a national television service in the districts of Kalgoorlie and Geraldton. I preface my question by referring to a reply I received from the Minister on the same subject on the opening day of the previous Parliament three years ago. The Minister said:

I do not think that a decision has yet been reached on how we might provide television to these areas. This is now being investigated by those who advise me on these matters.

I now ask: has the investigation which was in progress three years ago been completed? If it has, can the Minister now say whether a decision has been made as to the best method of providing a television service for the districts referred to? More particularly, can the Minister tell the House whether a service is to be made available and, if so, when?

Mr HULME:
LP

– Since I answered a question by the honourable member some three years ago I have made it clear to the House that a micro-wave system to be installed between South Australia and Perth may make it possible to provide television facilities at Kalgoorlie. This depends on what route the micro-wave system will take and the cost of linking that system with a television transmitter at Kalgoorlie. I am not in a position to give definite information at this moment. The micro-wave system is not expected to be completed before 1969 or 1970, so that it would be impossible to provide television for Kalgoorlie before that time if that system were to be used. However, I am asking the Cabinet to look at a report that has been made available to me by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, which deals with the extension of television generally. If anything comes out of this which has any relation to Kalgoorlie I shall advise the House and the honourable member.

page 34

QUESTION

MISSING UNITED STATES SATELLITE

Mr IAN ALLAN:
GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Supply. The Minister will be aware of reports that a rocket carrying organic matter has been lost in this country. Can he say whether the matter contained in this rocket includes any weeds, insects or bacteria that could constitute a danger to human life or to Australian primary industries? If it does so, can he give an assurance that there 3s no possibility of these pests being released from the rocket capsule?

Mr FAIRHALL:
LP

– I am afraid I have not the information that the honourable member seeks. I will inquire of my colleague, the Minister for Supply.

page 34

QUESTION

TARIFF PROTECTION

Dr J F Cairns:
YARRA, VICTORIA · ALP

– I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry whether he has read the lecture of Sir Leslie Melville, former Chairman of the Tariff Board, which was delivered in Melbourne in January? Has he noted among the conclusions of this lecture that Sir Leslie said that ‘Instead of providing more and more protection to virtually whatever industries seek assistance we should deliberately select for assistance only the less costly ventures’, and that ‘the prospect that any of these guide lines will be followed does not at present seem good’? Does the Minister agree with Sir Leslie Melville’s conclusions about the guide lines for tariff making and his conclusion that it is unlikely that the Government will take any initiative to reduce over-protection in Australia? Does the Minister consider that there is over-protection in Australia?

Mr McEWEN:
CP

– I have not read Sir Leslie Melville’s lecture. It has been the consistent policy of this Government not to engage in the planning of industry. It is the policy of the Government to leave the entrepreneur to decide whether he shall or shall not proceed with the production of certain items. I am not of the opinion that there is excessive protection.

page 35

QUESTION

TRADE PRACTICES

Mr HUGHES:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Can the AttorneyGeneral inform the House what progress has been made in appointing people to the staff of the Commissioner of Trade Practices? Can he tell the House when a proclamation is likely to be made fixing the dale of commencement of those provisions of the Trade Practices Act which have not yet come into operation?

Mr BOWEN:
Attorney-General · PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– Answering the second part of the question first, it is not possible at this stage to set a date for the proclamation bringing into force the substantive provisions of the trade practices law. However, the honourable member for Parkes has mentioned the major factor of uncertainty - the recruiting of staff for the Commissioner of Trade Practices. He has to have a staff and an office in Canberra and in every capital city. He has been interviewing people and recruiting staff members for a considerable period now and considerable progress has been made. The difficulty is that until the staff is completely recruited and is in a position to give service at each of the offices to which I have referred it would be premature to fix a date of commencement because the worst thing that could happen so fur as relations with business are concerned would be to have inefficient or inadequate staffing at the various capital city offices.

page 35

QUESTION

TAXATION

Mr CURTIN:
KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES

– 1 preface a question to the Prime Minister by pointing out that United Slates Congress reports show that President Johnson recently has imposed extremely heavy taxation upon the American people. I ask the Prime Minister, seeing that he has committed himself to go all the way with L.B.J., is it his intention to impose similar heavy taxation on the Australian community in the Budget which he proposes to bring clown in this House shortly?

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
LP

– The honourable member for Kingsford-Smith has the advantage of me. My recollection is that President Johnson reduced taxation in the

United States over quite recent times and although there has been talk about a tax increase, if it has been imposed I have not yet caught up with it. I do point out that in two of the last three budgets introduced into this Parliament substantial increases in taxation were levied because of the necessity to cover the greatly increased expenditure on defence. In view of the effects of drought in two of the larger States of the Commonwealth - Queensland and New South Wales - it was decided that there should be some expansive action taken in last year’s Budget. There was no increase in taxation then, certainly not in the broad. So I do not quite follow the point of of the honourable gentleman’s question.

Mr Curtin:

– Surely it is clear enough. Does the Government propose to impose extra taxation?

Mr HAROLD HOLT:

– I know it suited the honourable gentleman and some of his colleagues to distort what I said in relation to Australian participation in Vietnam as meaning a sacrifice of Australian independence of judgment on policy generally. The Opposition tried that one out in the last election and found that it did not work. It is time the honourable gentleman, whose own majority was substantially reduced, woke up to the folly of trying to put that sort of boloney over the Australian public.

page 35

QUESTION

MAIL DELIVERIES

Mr IRWIN:
MITCHELL, NEW SOUTH WALES

– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Is he aware that many firms are having their mail matter delivered by road from city to city? They are adopting this procedure because of the long delay being experienced in the delivery by the Postal Department of letters. Is there any chance of the mail delivery position being improved? What would be the loss of revenue to the Commonwealth as a result of private arrangements for mail delivery?

Mr HULME:
LP

– It is possible that some firms are using means of transport other than the postal services for some of their mail or some of their publications. I would not know whether or not the amount of mail they are delivering in this way is considerable, nor would I know whether there is resulting a substantial reduction, or any reduction, in the revenue of the Post Office. I do not accept a contention that there is considerable delay in the delivery of mail throughout the community. There has been some delay in Sydney, but I shall give an example of the situation as of two weeks ago. I remind the House that some three and a half million mail articles are passed through the mail exchange at Sydney every day. This amounts to approximately twenty-five million articles a week. As at the close of business on the Friday night in question there were some 350,000 articles which had not been sorted. By Monday morning the number had been reduced to six thousand. In those circumstances, Sir, I am justified in saying that there is no undue delay in postal services. While we should like to have all mail cleared day by day as it is received at the Sydney General Post Office, we have had problems in relation to the electronic mail sorting equipment. However, we believe that we are overcoming the teething problems. Last week we handled some 600,000 articles per day by electronic means and we hope that the number will be one million a day within a very short time. It is our desire to give the best possible service to the Australian community, but having regard to the substantial increase in business and mail volume, and the over-full employment situation, it is not easy for the Post Office to stand up to the increasing obligations which have been imposed upon it through circumstances.

page 36

QUESTION

DECENTRALISATION

Mr LUCHETTI:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES

– The question I address to the Prime Minister is about a matter that is causing very great concern to people in country districts throughout Australia, affecting as it does the loss of population and the lack of industry and job opportunities in country districts. In view of the omission of any reference in the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General to proposals for the dispersal of industry and the balanced development of Australia, will the Prime Minister say whether the Government has any intention to introduce measures to promote decentralisation and country development during the life of the present Parliament? If the answer is in the affirmative, will he make the proposals available to the Parliament as speedily as possible?

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
LP

-I can assure the honourable gentleman that the absence of any special reference in no way reflects a lack of interest by the Commonwealth Government in this matter. I would have thought that he would be aware that discussions on decentralisation issues have been proceeding in a committee of Commonwealth and State officers for some considerable time.

Mr LUCHETTI:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– Two meetings in a life time.

Mr Beaton:

– Two meetings in two years.

Mr HAROLD HOLT:

– The honourable gentlemen may have their own view as to whether enough meetings are held. I have been in a position recently to inform Cabinet of the action that has been taken by the committee and the present stage that it has reached. An information paper to this effect has been prepared. That does not mean, of course, that while these investigations and discussions are under way measures of a practical kind, helpful to those outside the major city areas, cannot and have not been adopted. Perhaps the quickest illustration that comes to mind is the legislation that brought the price of petrol to a reasonable level for people outside the city areas. That is only one measure that has been adopted. Others include the provision in the aid roads legislation that a specified percentage of the finance for roads be used in rural areas; the activities of my colleague, the PostmasterGeneral, in ensuring that television services stretch out to as wide an Australian audience as possible in as speedy a time as we can contrive; and decentralisation of air services. These are illustrations that come quickly to mind. The two Government parties want to see Australia’s development proceed in a balanced way, making the best possible use of resources outside the city areas.

page 36

DEVELOPMENT CAPITAL GUARANTEE DECLARATION

Mr SPEAKER:

– I have received from the Speaker of the House of Assembly in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea a copy of a resolution known as the Development Capital Guarantee Declaration. The House of Assembly agreed that the resolution should be transmitted to the Parliament of the Commonwealth. For the information of the House, I lay the resolution on the table.

page 37

APPOINTMENT OF OPPOSITION WHIP

Mr WHITLAM:

– This afternoon, when we came to the stage for the Prime Minister to announce ministerial changes, for me to announce the Opposition leadership and for the Minister for Trade and Industry to announce the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Trade and Industry went on to announce the names of the Government Whips. I therefore would like to inform the House that the members of the Australian Labor Party have elected the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) as Opposition Whip and the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) as Assistant Whip.

page 37

CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES

Mr FAILES:
Lawson

– I move:

Mr Drury:

– I second the motion.

Mr CLARK:
Darling

– I move:

Mr Fulton:

– I second the motion.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order! Is there any further motion? The time for further motions has expired. In accordance with the Standing Orders the bells will be rung for two minutes and a ballot taken. Ballot papers will be distributed and honorable members are asked to write on the ballot paper the name of the candidate for whom they wish to vote. The candidates are Mr Costa and Mr Lucock. (The bells having been rung, and ballot papers having been distributed)

Mr Hansen:

– I raise a point of order, Sir. Is it in order for counting to begin before all the ballot boxes have been emptied?

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order! The election is still in progress. The votes are not yet being counted. (A ballot having been taken)

Mr SPEAKER:

– The result of the ballot is seventy-eight votes for Mr Lucock and forty-two for Mr Costa. Mr Lucock is therefore declared elected Chairman of Committees.

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
Prime Minister · Higgins · LP

– I am delighted to be able to congratulate the Chairman of Committees. The fact that his appointment was not debated I think shows that his qualities are widely known throughout this chamber and that there is full approval for the performance which he has given so ably in this capacity in previous Parliaments. He has the confidence of all sections of the House. His knowledge of the procedures and the Standing Orders must at this stage be unrivalled. I know, Mr Speaker, that because of your aptitude and experience you will quickly master your task but I am sure you appreciate that in the Chairman of Committees we have a man who is fully equipped to support your authority and to command the respect of the House while at the same time exercising that impartiality which he does so sincerely and to the general satisfaction of all.

Mr WHITLAM:
Leader of the Opposition · Werriwa

Mr Speaker, on behalf of the members of the Opposition I congratulate the Chairman of Committees. He achieved an even greater vote than you yourself, Sir. This is the fourth Parliament in which he has served as Chairman of Committees. He has also served as chairman or vice-chairman of many parliamentary committees and has led delegations from this Parliament overseas! I have recognised his notable impartiality ever since 1962 or 1963 when a bill to give a vote to the member for the Northern Territory was debated. As the honourable member for the Northern Territory could himself cast a vote on that legislation, the numbers on each side of the House were evenly divided. Therefore, in Committee, Mr Lucock had the casting vote. When a motion was moved by a Government member he exercised his vote in favour of the motion; when a motion was moved by an Opposition member he exercised his vote against the motion. By so doing, Sir, he was able to show that when in the Chair he can vote both ways on the same subject matter. I do not think we could ask for a greater testimonial to his impartiality.

Mr McEWEN:
Minister for Trade and Industry · Murray · CP

– I should like to join the Prime Minister in offering my congratulations to my colleague, Mr Lucock, upon again being chosen by the House to fill the office of Chairman of Committees. Mr Lucock, of course, enjoys the high confidence of my own Party and clearly he is entitled to the confidence of the Parliament for the evident capacity that he has displayed in the discharge of his duties, both in interpreting Standing Orders and in the exercise of correct and impartial judgments. I remind the House that he has acted for not inconsiderable periods as Speaker of the House with the same capacity and the same dignity.

Mr COSTA:
Banks

– I desire to join with the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt), the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) in congratulating Mr Lucock upon being re-elected Chairman of Committees. Naturally, I am disappointed with the result of the ballot for, knowing how serious is the split between the Liberal Party and the Country Party, T had the idea that some of the members of those parties would take this opportunity to show that they wanted to do something about it.

There is another point I should like to mention in connection with Mr Lucock. I am very glad that he has been re-elected to this high office. I have some recollection of an experience with Mr Lucock before he was elected to this Parliament to take the place of the late Mr Eggins who had been the member for Lyne. When the by-election was being held, the Labour Party sent me, with the former member for East Sydney, the late Mr Ward, to Lyne to try to keep Mr Lucock out of this Parliament. We did not succeed but I remember being on one occasion in Taree which is in the heart of Mr Lucock’s electorate. At that time there were beautiful lawn median strips in the streets of Taree. I suppose they are still there. Mr Lucock was addressing the electors from one of the median strips. He noticed Mr Ward and me as we came to the area where he was speaking. He stopped speaking to the electors, turned to us and said: ‘Do not go away, I shall only be ten minutes and you can then address the electors’. That was when a big crowd started to gather around. Nevertheless, I sincerely congratulate Mr Lucock. I have never given him any trouble in this House. I thought somebody would say something about my credentials for the position of Chairman of Committees because 1 have the unique record of never being called to order in the seventeen years that I have been here. I doubt whether that is a good qualification for a Chairman because I believe in and respect the decorum of the House and I might have thrown out a few rowdy people.

Mr LUCOCK:
Lyne

– Once again I thank the House for the honour and privilege it has bestowed upon me in again electing me to the position of Chairman of Committees. I thank the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) and the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) for their kind remarks about me. I remind the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), as I did on that other occasion, that I vote on either side and it was not my fault that he was on the opposite side on both occasions. 1 leave it to posterity to decide which one of us was right but as far as the records of the House are concerned it is obvious that I was.

I thank the honorable member for Banks (Mr Costa) for his remarks. I remind all honorable members that each and every one of us has in his and her hands the future and the dignity of this Parliament. May I take this opportunity, Mr Speaker, to offer to you my warmest and most sincere congratulations on your election to the office of Speaker. It will be a pleasure to work with you. If at any time I can do anything to assist you I shall be only too willing to do it.

page 38

GOVERNOR-GENERAL’S SPEECH

page 38

ADDRESS-IN-REPLY

Mr Munro, for the committee appointed to prepare an Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral (vide page 19), presented the proposed Address which was read by the Clerk.

Mr MUNRO:
Monaro · Eden

– I move:

That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to:

May It Please Your Excellency:

We, the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.

In moving the motion, I would first like to express my gratitude at being chosen for this task and for the honour that has in this way been accorded to the people of Eden-Monaro.

Secondly, I would like to say something about my predecessor who represented the people of Eden-Monaro in this place for about twenty-three and a half years. Mr A. D. Fraser was a private member who represented the individual problems of his constituants to Commonwealth Ministers and departments in an excellent manner. He worked hard at his job and I have nothing but praise for his efforts in this respect. In fact’ I hope that I may at least equal him in this regard as well as in the length of his stay here. 1 am particularly proud to be here as the representative of the people of EdenMonaro. Our electorate extends from the Victorian border and the snows of Kosciusko, across the tablelands of Monaro and Goulburn to some of the most beautiful coastline in the world. Like everyone else, we have our problems. In this large area of more than fifteen thousand square miles, plus several thousand square miles of sea, we still have great undeveloped potential in all the fields of primary, secondary and tertiary industry and we have a particular problem in that we need, as soon as possible, better communications and transport between the coast and the tablelands in order to overcome as rapidly as possible the physical division that still exists between these regions.

We in Eden-Monaro will be paying particular attention to the development of natural gas resources, because we feel that we have an endless number of uses for this fuel in our electorate and we very much hope that legislation pending in relation to natural gas will make this fuel available throughout the electorate.

We also have the most versatile and successful hydro-electric and water conservation authority in the country. The Snowy Mountains Authority was established with a degree of efficiency on the part of the government of the day which courtesy forbids me from commenting on at this time, but it developed nevertheless into a Federal instrumentality with great efficiency for research, design and construction. I am sure that this Government will not lose the skills and the teamwork of the Snowy Mountains Authority in any way. At the same time, I must compliment the Government on its electoral fortitude, particularly so far as Eden-Monaro is concerned, in not being stampeded into a policy in relation to the Snowy Mountains Authority without first obtaining some degree of agreement with the States.

The Commonwealth already has to its great credit a unique agreement with the States in respect of timber resources and reafforestation throughout Australia. This is one of the most significant examples of Commonwealth and State co-operation, although it does not seem to have been over-publicised. Obviously the Commonwealth wants to deal with water conservation on a co-operative basis with the States. Our Constitution disposes but unfortunately our river systems are disposed neither to obey constitutional provisions nor to heed State boundaries. This is an obvious field for a lot of groundwork before anything of a major nature is started.

But something can be started in a major way. This is something that we must look to in the near future. I refer to vast possibilities, presently, and only presently, available in Australia for the construction of major water conservation works using the technique of diffusion blasting. ‘Diffusion blasting’ is a translation of a Russian term for a technique of moving earth and rock, principally by means of nuclear explosions. The explosions may also be produced by conventional explosives: these would produce the same results, but nuclear explosions will produce them more cheaply in big works. We have the space now; we may not have it in such abundance later. America has the technique now but has run out of space. America has done experimental work in this field and a lot of experimental and constructional work of this nature has been done in Russia. American production being what it is, price lists are available for devices of this kind, although they are not readily available in every American drugstore or from mail order firms. But I understand that the Americans have for some time been willing to make them available to us.

Using this technique it is possible to move earth and rock for as little as onetenth or less of the cost involved in using conventional methods. The technique can be used to blow walls up in the constructive rather than the destructive sense. Tunnels may be drilled accurately by the simultaneous triggering of a series of precisely calculated spherical devices. The rock and available moisture are gasified producing a compression which forms the cavity and then gaseous rock condenses on the walls of the tunnel, forming a lining of lava.

I should like now to leave these rather futuristic propositions, but only leave them with the thought that we will have to do something about the situation now, because it requires long-term planning. This is the kind of thing that cannot be developed at a later stage, because people and buildings within a rough radius of twenty miles are apt to be disturbed by this type of construction work.

I turn now from these lava-lined caverns to the more humdrum dangers of our daily life. I want to say something about the continuous war that is going on every day on our roads and which we sometimes fail to see. In 1965 we lost 3,164 lives and suffered 77,723 casualties in this war. I believe that a Commonwealth instrumentality is the only real means of finding out what can be done about this situation. We have had an indication that something realistic can be done. This indication is a by-product of the Snowy Mountains Authority, which found that through its traffic control regulations that it could reduce the incidence of accidents. The First World War resulted in 50,000 casualties each year, including 12,700 deaths; in the Second World War there were 10,500 casualties each year, including 3,180 deaths. In 1964 we had 57,000 casualties on our roads, including 2,961 deaths. If we were able to apply to the whole of Australia the type of system used by the Snowy Mountains Authority - and admittedly it was applied on a relatively small scale - there would have been 5,400 casualties but no deaths on our roads in 1964.

I have a number of ideas on this subject, as I am sure everyone else has, but I believe that the only answer is to have a thorough investigation, based on Australian and worldwide experience, to determine whether something cannot be applied throughout Australia. This will necessarily involve highway construction, which is slow, the training of drivers, which can be quick, and the introduction of safety regulations for motor vehicles and for drivers - and I instance making seat belts compulsory - which can be relatively quick. In the short term I think we could reasonably expect to halve the casualty and death rate, and surely this would be worth very considerable effort.

This kind of approach could be applied by the Commonwealth Government to the problem of delinquency, which is supposed to be a problem inseparable from large cities. I have heard it said, and I refuse to accept, th:,t any city of over two million people must produce the sort of environment which will naturally make for delinquent and criminal behaviour. Perhaps part of the answer lies in trying lo make individuals in a large city accept the idea that they are also part of a much smaller community within the larger complex of the big and modern city. I do not know, but I believe that a Commonwealth inquiry is the only correct way to approach this problem, as part of the answer may well involve the gradual establishment of a national service scheme, not wholly military, for everyone as they pass through a certain age.

His Excellency mentioned the proposed action of this Government in the field of education. He referred to the provision of teachers colleges paid for by the Commonwealth. Their location will be a matt:r for the State Government, and in Eden-Monaro we are hoping that the final decision will include the establishment of a teachers training college at Goulburn in the near future. It is proposed that at least 10% of the places in these colleges will be reserved for students not bonded to State education departments. This is good, but more will have to be done if the private school system is to survive. The private school system is jealous of its independence. It recognises, as we always must recognise, that Government funds involve Government custody, and neither side - if we are on two sides on this issue - wants too much to happen too quickly. However, the private schools do seem to have a real case for not being able to afford the increasing demands of the State.

There is no question of any government ever supporting a particular religious creed. Religion must always remain a private matter if we are to avoid the troubles and divisions of centuries past. We need to know actual figures, and those concerned wilh running private schools are working on the figures now and should be in a position soon to supply sufficient concrete evidence of their costs to enable us to make a decision. When they do provide the information it will be up to us to act as quickly as possible.

I was particularly interested to hear what His Excellency had to say about the establishment of an Australian tourist commission to encourage tourists to this country. We have need of foreign exchange. I should like to see the terms of reference of the proposed commission extended to include making recommendations to the Government for grants to specific tourist enterprises. This could result in the establishment of tourist developments more attractive to overseas visitors and to ourselves. Government planning could apply to this without interfering with private enterprise. In fact, it would help private enterprise by providing an overall plan.

Let me instance the south coast of New South Wales. This could be developed beautifully from cove to cove and from beach to beach. The architecture and topography of these developments could be kept harmonious within each physically distinctive area and there could be plenty of variety, as different people could be employed on each job. By extending its terms of reference some life could be put into this commission which might otherwise very easily become just a retailer of pamphlets and brochures, and we probably have enough of such facilities already.

His Excellency mentioned the Government’s intention of easing the means test slightly. This will represent some progress in the eventual elimination of the means test. However, I think that we should pay some attention, and soon, to an allied field. There are a considerable number of people on fixed incomes, or on unfixed but not very large incomes, who have just about enough coming in to cut them out of a pension. At the same time, of course, they are not receiving the fringe social service bene fits available to pensioners. I feel that we should be considering measures such as, for example, making deductible from the taxable incomes of these people an amount equal to the full pension rate. This would have to be considered, perhaps, in relationship to some sort of means test for them. The present setup simply discourages thrift. People can save or contribute to superannuation schemes for the whole of their working lives and find that they have in fact very little real benefit from them. In fact, we discourage thrift - not intentionally but by the way that this legislation has grown - in the same way as at present we discourage disabled people from rehabilitating themselves.

The present - in my view ludicrous - situation is that a person who becomes disabled and is receiving an invalid pension starts to lose that pension as soon as he begins to earn a little income. There is quite a good precedent in the repatriation provisions for paying the invalid pension simply because a person has a disability, and paying it on a permanent basis for life. Equally, there should be no objection to encouraging these people to earn as much money as they possibly can, since the income tax that they will pay on the money that they earn as income will help to pay for their disability pensions. But many of these people, on beginning to rehabilitate themselves by earning money, are seriously discouraged by the fact that as they start to do this in a small way they lose their pensions quite quickly and therefore their first efforts may result in a net loss to them.

I was particularly interested in what His Excellency had to say about the foreign affairs and defence policies of the Government and while I am no expert I should like to make just one point. No one can look at the possibility of a stable and friendly government in Indonesia without concluding that this is concrete evidence of the wisdom of those policies.

I hope that we can continue to build a great country here. May we always believe that with some wisdom, firm resolve, hard work, and a little bit of luck, we may continue to build a country in which we all can be happy and proud to live.

Mr KATTER:
Kennedy

- Mr Speaker, I rise to second the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. To be called upon to do this is a privilege not only for myself but for the people of Kennedy and I am deeply grateful for this. I am also deeply grateful for the privilege that the people of Kennedy have given me in electing me as their Federal member, and I am acutely aware of the responsibility which is mine to give them effective and virile representation. Also, Mr Speaker, I think this is an occasion to pay a tribute to the many years of devotion of the honourable Bill Riordan to the people of Kennedy. Bill and the Riordan family have made an indelible mark on the political history of Queensland. They have indeed a very proud record.

Though I would not presume to set myself up as an expert on foreign relations I still feel that at a time like this, when the twenty-sixth Parliament has been convened and is about to commence a three years term which could be possibly one of the most crucial in our history, certain observations should be made regarding the situation in Viet Nam. Mr Speaker, we people who live in the northern parts of Australia feel that we are so very much nearer the situation that does exist and we are sensitive to the fact that we can, through valuable and effective alliances, not only with the United States of America but also with our Asian neighbours, create a sphere of security and prosperity. That is provided, of course, that we do our part. We can do this, firstly, by coming to the defence of neighbouring countries that are under threat of aggression, as we are doing in Viet Nam; secondly, by defending our own country and by making it clear that we are not prepared to stand by while Communism advances towards us, and, Mr Speaker, we are doing this in Viet Nam; and thirdly, by developing and populating this vast land of ours. If wc do not do these things, I say quite decisively., by the laws of God and man we are not entitled to hold this land.

In 1964 I heard a rather interesting broadcast by Mr Khrushchev. It was rather a scoop, I imagine, for the British Broadcasting Corporation, an actuality broadcast of Mr Khrushchev being interviewed by a famous commentator. The commentator said: ‘Mr Khrushchev, do you estimate that the bitterness that exists between yourselves - the Russians - and Communist China is due to the fear that some day there will be a population explosion in China and they will pour across into Russia?’ His reply was most interesting. I was overseas, and as an Australian it rather staggered me. He said: ‘No, I do not think this will happen at all’. The commentator said: ‘Well, do you think that there will be a population explosion?’ He said: ‘Most decidedly there will be’. The commentator asked: Where will they pour into?’ Without any hesitation Mr Khrushchev replied: ‘Into Australia’ - not into Vietnam or not into Thailand. Without any hesitation he said: Into Australia’. So we see the long range plan. The necessity is for constant and eternal vigilance.

On the matter of trade: the moves that Britain is making in relation to the European Common Market - moving, as was stated only the day before yesterday for an Atlantic free trade organisation - emphasise the need for us to establish alternative and secure markets. Having wandered around Europe, England and the Middle East, I have concluded that with the improved standards of living amongst the people - it is amazing to see what is happening when one gets off the beaten track - in the Middle, Near and Far East there is a tremendous potential for trade, but we must get off the beaten track. We must pursue the moves that have already been made to create our own common market, a South East Asian common market, which will cause us to come into contact again with friendly nations, with those many millions of Asiatic people who live so near to us and particularly to us people in the north.

Now let us turn to and deal with our own country and the situation that exists, more particularly in the areas that I know best, the inland and northern parts of Australia. First, I should like to make a few general observations. I say quite decisively that the time has come to do something more than merely refer to northern development in a voluminous and unrealistic manner. For twenty years, Mr Speaker, I have been closely and actively associated with this great cry to develop and populate the isolated areas of this country. I refer particularly to the northern and inland areas. For 20 years I have watched one move after another reach a climax and then die. Morale is shattered and the great agitation fades away. On reflection I must conclude that these well-intentioned moves lacked substance.

But of recent years a new look has appeared in the organised forces that are planning the future of these areas. Reasonable investigations are being carried out by local research bureaux and so the whole approach has become far more constructive. When we people in these areas now cry out for development we will have our arguments well prepared and fully and properly documented.

We have, however, one great hazard to contend with, and that is the present attitude of most of the economists who say that we must accept the principle of intensive development rather than extensive development: in other words, centralisation instead of decentralisation. This theory ignores completely the crucial necessity to populate and develop the sparsely peopled areas of inland and northern Australia, or, for that matter, of any part of Australia. Let me refer to the fantastic potential of my own electorate of Kennedy. I do this with a great deal of pride. I am very happy to point to this showcase which demonstrates the potential of the area. First there is the vast industrial complex of Mount Isa. Then there is the new copper find at Cloncurry. In the same district there are deposits of phosphate rock which could prove to be among the world’s most substantial. There has been a discovery of vast nickel deposits at Charters Towers, and there are seemingly unending coal deposits in the Blackwater area of central Queensland. Every time I pick up a paper in central or northern Queensland I expect to read of the discovery of another coal deposit around this Blackwater area. There is a tremendous potential for grain growing and fodder production in the central highlands, a potential which makes vitally necessary the construction of the Nogoa Gap Dam. When this is completed we will be moving constructively towards alleviating future drought catastrophes because these central highlands would become the granary of the inland.

This brings me to a consideration of the vast and wealthy grazing areas of my electorate which include some of the finest sheep country in the Commonwealth, stretching through the central west of Queensland, the great cattle breeding country of the Gulf district and the traditional fattening areas of the Channel Country. Let me get back to the economists for a moment. They claim now that the Channel Country is no longer the traditional fattening country of Queensland because the creeks and streams have dried up. If we are to accept the suggestion that this is no longer fattening country because the streams have dried up and the grass is not there, we will simply have to write off half the grazing areas of Queensland. Honourable members can see how illogical this is.

To get back to the potential of my electorate, let me tell the House about the superb port of Bowen, with vast mango and tomato plantations nearby, with extensive coke and salt production and with its wealthy hinterland, including the coal mines at Collinsville and the vast cattle grazing areas, the stock from which converge on the great meatworks at Merinda, some few miles away.

There is, however, a tragic element in this story. Not only are all these primary industries failing to stimulate population growth, failing to build virile, healthy towns; in addition, with a few notable exceptions, the population of the various districts is fading away. There is hidden wealth in the form of nickel, phosphates, coal and copper, being discovered in vast quantities and about to be exploited. But there is at the same time an inland area which is becoming increasingly depressed. We must plan now to provide the only solution to the tragic drift from these isolated areas. We must have the potential of these parts evaluated and everything possible then done to have secondary industries which are related to these primary industries established - not in the metropolitan areas, not in the large provincial coastal cities, five hundred or six hundred miles away, but adjacent to where the wealth is being produced.

I am not suggesting that this is economically possible in all cases, but it seems to me that a proper evaluation of the situation has never been carried out. So my suggestion is that these secondary industries should be established where the great primary industries already exist. This is the kind of policy that built the United States of America. And for heaven’s sake, let the one-eyed economists keep out of this. The theories of Dr Bruce Davidson will result in the permanent destruction of frontier development. They will result in a sick race of Australians who will cluster about the five or six great cities that we see arising these days, particularly Sydney and Melbourne. We must realise that something more is at stake than the drift of population from the rural areas. If we do not decentralise, the most precious asset that we have will disappear; our great, healthy, rustic, clean Australian way of life will be gone. The challenge is clear and decisive: succumb to the theorists, the centralisation advocates, and we will destroy the Australian spirit with its real Australian earthy characteristics.

Please understand that not all our economists are of this sort. One notable exception is Percy B. Harris, who was senior lecturer in economics at the Queensland University. He is now specialising in post-graduate work in depressed areas. He is the sort of man who will eventually save this country. Let me give one example of how theory can be fatal if followed without the sobering assistance of practical experience. One of the most disastrous drought areas of inland Queensland is the Richmond area. It is really black with drought around there. Honourable members would have to see the conditions to believe them. A local grazier was told not long ago by one of these theorists that if he attempted to grow cotton in that area he would be making a damned fool of himself. What did he do? He grew the cotton. Let me tell you how he did it. He did it on a rainfall of 453 points. He built his own dam, which cost, I think, about £10,000. He was able to provide irrigation from this dam even with a rainfall of only 453 points. His cotton has been evaluated as being possibly equal to the very best crops in Australia. This year he will grow 200 acres of cotton and probably in ten years time there will be 2,000 acres of cotton grown in the area. This despite the assurance from a theorist that it was impossible, despite statements such as: ‘You live in a vast arid part of Australia which should be written off. Get out of it and come back to the coast and enjoy life’.

Let me sum all this up by saying that it is a most serious responsibility of all governments, Federal, State and local, to assess the potential of such areas and then give every assistance - financial, concessional and technical - to encourage private enterprise to invest in these areas and establish secondary industries there. This is the only way to stimulate real production. What additional action should be taken by the Federal Government? I say that it should give us a Ministry specifically to look after decentralisation. The New South Wales Government has established such a Ministry and has achieved dramatic success in a very short time. In addition, I think the Government should examine the system of financing purely developmental projects that was introduced in the United States after the 1914-18 War. That country was faced with a situation somewhat similar to our present situation. Government and semi-government bodies had reached a point at which the raising of further finance was almost impossible. It was useless to approach State governments because they had just about run out of money. The Federal Government was at its wit’s end to meet the national accounts. It decided to form a committee, consisting mainly of economists - 1 must pay them a tribute in this case - to look at the various places where finance was lying idle. The committee discovered huge reserves of finance in insurance companies and other large financial houses. The Government introduced a system of tax free bonds which was eminently successful. It resulted in billions of dollars becoming available for purely developmental projects. How do I know all this? A chap named Fitzgerald came out from the United States about twelve months ago and addressed us at a symposium on northern Australian development. He gave us all the facts and figures. I do think that this is a possible solution.

I heard the question of television discussed tonight. This is a great amenity that the people of the inland are constantly seeking. Wherever I go in my electorate people say to me: ‘Get us television’. They yearn for it. It is a wonderful amenity for people living hundreds of miles from the more privileged provincial and metropolitan areas where you can go to the races or sit on the beach and watch the bikinis go by. The people living in those areas enjoy all of these amenities, but to the people in my area television would be almost the only amenity. I ask the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) to exercise every effort to expedite moves which may accelerate the introduction of television in inland Queensland.

One of the most significant contributions made by this Goverment to the development of northern Australia is the beef roads system. By June this year, 2,408 miles of beef roads will have been built in northern Australia. One of the primary objectives in introducing this scheme was, of course, drought alleviation. However, at the present stage of development of the roads and with a drought that was so widespread as the recent drought, the roads were of only partial benefit. I wonder what this drought has cost the nation. I think that $ 1,000m would be a very conservative estimate. I have been fortunate in securing much valuable information which was collected on the spot in the United States of America by people who are very close to this particular problem. These techniques, though costly to introduce, have saved the pastoral industry in the USA many billions of dollars. It is imperative that we learn these methods and introduce them without delay. It is not a matter of being able to afford to introduce them. We cannot afford not to move decisively to make sure that we never again suffer the effects of such a drought.

I have tried to turn the spotlight on some of the problems and the hopes, the great wealth and the potential not only of my own electorate of Kennedy but of many other similar areas in northern and inland Australia. This is my duty and I do it in the belief that no government can refuse to recognise the great need to exploit the fantastic mineral and pastoral wealth and general potential of these areas. But we must become specific. The nebulous cry of northern development is no longer convincing. We must now approach the question with more vigour than ever and back our arguments and demands with specific and factual evidence of our needs. This we will do in our search for much greater government assistance.

I conclude by again stressing the fact that I am acutely aware of the most serious responsibility which is mine, not only to work and fight for my people of Kennedy, but as a supporter of this Government, to work to the best of my ability for the betterment of all Australians and for the preservation of our greatest national asset - our democratic way of life.

Debate (on motion by Mr Duthie) adjourned.

page 45

MINISTERS OF STATE BILL 1967

Bill presented by Mr Harold Holt, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
Prime Minister · Higgins · LP

– I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Ministers of State Act to permit the appointment of one additional Minister, making twenty-six in all, and to increase the annual sum provided for ministerial salaries by $6,000 to $197,300.

The amendments to the Act arise out of the appointment of a Minister to administer the recently established Department of Education and Science. As honourable members will know, Senator Gorton has been administering both the Department of Works and the new Department and the amendments will permit continuation of the practice of having each Minister responsible for only one department.

Arising from the increase in the number of Ministers, an increase in the annual sum set aside for Ministers’ salaries will be necessary. The sum currently authorised is $191,300. The amount now proposed to be set aside is, as I have said, $197,300. The increase proposed, namely $6,000, is the minimum needed for the annual salary of one Minister at the present time. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Whitlam) adjourned.

House adjourned at 9.56 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 February 1967, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1967/19670221_reps_26_hor54/>.