26th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the Chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
-I have to inform the House that the Right Honourable Herbert Bowden, C.B.E., M.P., Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs in the Government of the United Kingdom, is within the precincts. With the concurrence of honourable members, I propose to provide him with a seat on the floor of the House.
Honourable Members ; Hear, hear! (Mr Bowden thereupon entered the chamber, and was seated accordingly.)
Mr BRYANT presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth praying that the Government remove section 127, and the words discriminating against Aboriginals in section 51, of the Commonwealth Constitution, by the holding of a referendum at an early date.
Petition received and read.
– To preface my question to the Prime Minister, I should like to inform the right honourable gentleman that the Commonwealth through the Overseas Telecommunications Commission owns 100 acres of land at the Applecross wireless station on a hill - a magnificent site - overlooking both the Canning and Swan Rivers. The Commission proposes to vacate this site. I ask the Prime Minister whether he will give consideration to representations that I made to his predecessor asking whether this land could be given to the Western Australian Government as a park and whether the Overseas Telecommunications Commission could resist the temptation to make an enormous amount of money from the sale of the land. This is a perfect site for a park. As the city of Perth enlarges in general park space is diminishing.
– I was going along very comfortably with what the honourable gentleman said until he got to the reference to the sacrifice of a large amount of money. At that point I could feel radiations coming to me from my colleague the Treasurer. Not having previously had this matter under my own consideration I shall undertake to look into it and if necessary confer with my relevant colleagues regarding it, and I shall note the honourable gentleman’s representation.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. Are Australian companies availing themselves to any great extent of the Government’s incentive of pay-roll tax deductions and income tax concessions for the purpose of encouraging exports? If not, has additional promotion been considered, or should additional inducements be offered to manufacturers?
– Manufacturers are taking advantage of the law that permits deductions from pay-roll tax based upon an increase in the quantity of exports. Within the last two weeks I have issued a document setting out the total amount of pay-roll deductions that have been allowed, and I have indicated also the amount of promotion expenses that has been permitted. In the Speech of the Governor-General to the Senate and the members of the House of Representatives yesterday it was pointed out that the measure would be continued in the present Parliament and that we would be looking at it to see whether any improvement should be made.
– My question to the Minister for Civil Aviation refers to the investigation into the air disaster in which an Ansett-ANA Viscount crashed at Winton, Queensland, in the middle of last year and 23 persons, passengers and crew, were killed. We all deplore the unfortunate accident. If the investigations have been completed, when can the House expect the report to be tabled for the information of honourable members?
– The expert investigation into this accident has not been completed. I hope that within a few weeks we will have the report from the experts. Immediately afterwards, as I have already announced, we will be setting up a board of accident inquiry to be conducted under the chairmanship of Sir John Spicer. Under the Act a minimum time of twelve days is provided from the receipt of the experts’ report until the public inquiry commences. As soon as the expert investigation is completed and I have the report I shall examine it and will pass it on to Sir John Spicer at the earliest possible moment. The public inquiry will commence within twelve days of that date. I expect to have the first report within a very short time.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Defence a question. Is it a fact that the British Government, due to its objections to certain policies of the South African Government, will not supply live ammunition, but only spare parts and practice ammunition, for British built naval ships supplied to South Africa? If so, would this not be a breach of the Simonstown Agreement, and is it not highly inadvisable for us in these circumstances to continue buying submarines and other major equipment from Britain, in case the present or some future government in Britain disagreed with some facet of Australian policy?
– As to the generality of the first half of the question, I would want to be quite precise in my answer to that. I do not have the information available at the moment. As to the second part, frankly I cannot visualise a set of circumstances in which the United Kingdom would refuse or fail to supply equipment necessary to put into proper operation major items of materiel bought from it. However, I will go so far with the honourable gentleman as to look forward, for my part rather eagerly, to a time when we will be able to provide all our defence needs from domestic sources.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. I refer to representations made to the Government to delete from assessable income for taxation purposes the pay-roll tax rebate provided in the export incentives scheme. The Governor-General’s Speech yesterday and the Treasurer’s Budget speech last year indicated that there was to be a general review of export incentives. I now ask whether favourable consideration will be given to the deletion of the pay-roll tax rebate from assessable income in order to give a further incentive to firms that are striving to establish export markets and so help to build up our overseas balances. I point out that under the present tax scale some firms are paying taxes at rates up to 50% on the pay-roll tax rebate.
– On several occasions consideration has been given by the Government to the deduction of pay-roll tax rebates from assessable income, but on each occasion my predecessors and I have decided that this would create so many difficulties, anomalies and precedents that it would be wise not to pursue the matter further. As the Governor-General said, and as I said in my Budget speech, the whole question of export incentives is now under active investigation. I cannot attempt to forecast the result of Cabinet’s consideration.
– I address my question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. During his recent visit to New Guinea, did he say that he was considering the provision of some new air navigation aids in the Territory? If he did. can he inform the House of the proposals? Also is there any prospect of an international air service through New Guinea being established?
– It is a fact that about a fortnight ago, in New Guinea, I made a statement regarding some experiments we are conducting with new types of navigation aids. These aids are unique and are being developed by the Australian electronics industry. They are to be used on the mountain peaks of New Guinea to give an all-round coverage for navigational purposes. We cannot achieve this at present because of the mountainous terrain and the difficulties created by weather conditions. We are developing a solar electric power unit, which draws power from the sun’s rays to activate an electric motor. This will enable it to be placed in distant areas for long periods without the creation of maintenance problems. It will, of course, be ideally suited to conditions in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Experiments are being conducted in two localities at present on mobile units and I hope to have some results from the experiments in a few months.
The honourable member also raised the question of an international service through the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I believe that such a service should be introduced and 1 am having discussions with our international operator, Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. Although at this point of time I cannot give any assurance, I am quite confident that before long we will be able to announce the commencement of an international service through the Territory. With this in mind, we can give approval now for Boeing 707-338 aircraft to operate from Port Moresby with certain restrictions. We have carried out tests on the runway there and wc will provide the additional navigation aids that will be needed for international purposes. We hope that before long we shall be able to make some suitable announcement.
– My question is addressed to the Postmaster-General. I remind him that on two occasions during the last Parliament he promised, in reply to questions I had asked him, that a stamp would be struck bearing a portrait of the late John Curtin who gave such magnificent leadership to Australia during World War TI. 1 now ask when the Postmaster-General intends to keep those promises.
– I believe I indicated to the honourable gentleman that we had under consideration commemorative stamps carrying the portraits of the ex-Prime Ministers of Australia. Perhaps he will understand that we can issue only a limited number of commemorative stamps each year and that there are quite a number of ex-Prime Ministers. This matter has to be considered and processed over quite a period. 1 can make no early promise to him that this will be implemented in the near future.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I preface my remarks by saying that there is very great concern in the Northern Territory at the apparent inability of Frances Creek Iron Mining Corporation Pty Ltd, the company operating the Frances Creek iron ore deposits, to meet shipping commitments of iron ore owing to apparent serious weak nesses in the Commonwealth Railways line between Frances Creek and Darwin. Can the Minister give any indication of when this railway line will be brought to efficiency sufficient to enable the company to meet its contract obligations to the Japanese buyers?
– It is quite true that there has been a regrettable series of derailments on the north Australian railway. I believe there were seven in January and early February. These derailments have upset the schedule for shipping iron ore. The Commonwealth Railways Commissioner has been busily engaged in consultation with the Northern Territory authorities and the Frances Creek Mining Corporation in finding ways and means of remedying these deficiencies. The remedy involves two things: firstly, a crash programme of restoring the weak parts of the existing track and, secondly, a complete relaying of the old track from Darwin to Pine Creek, a distance of about 140 miles. The rehabilitation of the existing track is proceeding immediately and I believe confidently that the railways will be able lo carry the requirements of iron ore over that track very shortly. During the last fortnight there have been no derailments.
– There have been no trains, of course.
– The timetable has broken down.
– I think honourable members should be aware that the position arises not only from the age of the track, which admittedly is very old, but also from a series of very heavy falls of rain in the Territory. The new spur line from the mining company which joins the existing track has been subject to washaways due to the climatic conditions. That spur line in itself contributed in part to the delay in reconstructing the existing track because priority in materials was given to the Frances Creek Iron Mining Corporation. The honourable member can be assured that the Commonwealth Railways is doing everything possible to maintain a schedule for the carriage of iron ore over this track. It is confidently expected that the whole of the track will be relaid with heavier rails and ballast and new steel sleepers by November. In the meantime reconstruction of the existing track is continuing and all weaknesses are being remedied as quickly as possible.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Industry aware that considerable delay in the production of Tariff Board reports is causing concern to Australian industry? Is he aware, too, that delays of more than twelve months and up to two years between a reference and the report are not uncommon and that a period of uncertainty for the industries concerned prevents proper industry planning? What are the reasons for these delays? Is the Tariff Board in need of additional staff? What action has he taken or does he intend to take to overcome this situation?
– The Tariff Board has all the staff that has even been sought for this work. Between the time of a reference to the Board and the making of the report a lengthy period has usually elapsed. In the first place, there is embodied in the trade agreement between Australia and the United Kingdom an historic arrangement that United Kingdom interests shall have an opportunity to present evidence to the Board within a specified time. I believe that there has been a tendency for the time allowed to be based on the old shipping times rather than on today’s fast air services. So, as a matter of custom, from the time of reference about three months at least elapse before the taking of evidence begins. The fact is that very careful scrutiny is undertaken and all possible opportunities are given to all interested parties, both Australian and foreign, to give evidence. This contributes to the elapsing of a fairly long time in getting reports through. A year is not at all uncommon, Indeed, I believe that would be below the average time.
– It takes up to two years.
– I understand that it takes up to two years and that on occasions it has taken three years. Frequently the interested parties ask for an adjournment to allow them to obtain fresh evidence, and this practice occasions delays. However, the disadvantages of this system have been overcome for the first time by this Government’s introduction of the Special Advisory Authority arrangements. Where there is real urgency, the Special Advisory Authority is required by the law to make a report within thirty days of a matter being referred to him. This provision is invoked wherever necessary, and it has overcome the problems that existed previously.
– I address my question to the Treasurer. Over some months I have noticed in the Press references to the possible formation by various banks of a finance corporation to finance Australian equity in projects of national importance. In view of the Government’s often expressed desire to have Australian equity in many of these projects will the Minister inform me what stage negotiations have reached? Will he lend his weight to the formation of such a corporation, which is highly desirable?
– From time to time I have noticed in the Press comments about the possibility of forming a banking corporation in order to provide rediscount facilities for the trading banks if they make advances for the development of Australian assets by Australian interests. Some months ago the trading banks of Australia submitted preliminary proposals for examination. These have been carefully studied. However, they happen to be comprehensive, and difficult decisions will have to be made. I hope that within the next week or fortnight I shall be able to put concrete proposals to the Cabinet for decision.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is he aware that because of the Government’s refusal to permit Trans-Australia Airlines to undertake helicopter charter operations a contract to provide helicopter services for an offshore oil rig in Western Australia has gone to a foreign operator? Will he take action to permit TAA to engage in this kind of operation so that Australian enterprise will be able to compete on equal terms with overseas firms for Australian business?
– I know of nothing that would prevent Trans-Australia Airlines from undertaking helicopter charter operations. Indeed, as the honorable member probably knows, it operates helicopters, most of which are working on charter. I have heard nothing of an application by TAA concerning services related to an oil development in Western Australia. However, I know that an application has been submitted by a company for a permit to import a helicopter for contract purposes in that area. That matter is under discussion and consideration at present. Applications have been made by other Australian companies in relation to this work, and I believe they have some association with the actual letting of the contract. I can assure the honourable member that consideration will be given to all applications that are received, whether they are submitted by TAA, by other Australian operators or by overseas operators. 1 assure the honorable member also that no preference will be given to overseas operators against Australian operators.
– Is the Minister for External Affairs now able to indicate to the House when he will be able to make a statement on foreign affairs?
– Next Tuesday.
– My honourable friend from Lang has correctly anticipated my answer. After consultation with the Prime Minister, it is proposed that a statement on foreign affairs will be made next Tuesday evening.
– I address a question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. There is growing concern in a section of the woodworking industry - the small factories which produce plates, platters, trays and so on - that imports from certain Asian countries, particularly the Philippines, are described as cottage industry products when in fact they are produced in large mechanised woodworking factories. Will the Minister have an immediate investigation carried out with a view to ascertaining whether such products imported from the Philippines and other countries can properly be described as cottage industry products? The section of the Australian industry to which I have referred fears that it will have to go out of production if imports of these products reach the volume which seems to be expected.
– I have no personal knowledge of this matter, but I am sure that if an Australian industry such as that mentioned by the honourable member feels that it is being harmed or endangered by imports it will have made representations to the Department of Trade and Industry. Such representations are made daily. I shall ask the officials of the Department whether any representations have been made. I can assure the honourable member that, if they have been made, already they will be under study. That is the course of events in that Department.
I think the honourable member, with all the rest of us in Australia, will be proud of the fact that this country alone has accorded a special tariff preference to certain products of the under-developed countries so as to give those countries an opportunity to earn some exchange. The products of hand/craft industries or cottage industries are one of the types of products to which, with the approval of the General Agreementon Tariffs and Trade, we have given a special blanket preference, for the first time in history.
– In addressing a question to the Minister for Primary Industry, I refer to repeated allegations, mostly by academics or pseudo-academics, that Australian wheat growers are treated financially as a most favoured section of the community. I ask: on what terms is finance made available to the Australian Wheat Board to enable it to make advance payments to wheat growers?
– Advances are made to the Australian Wheat Board by the Reserve Bank through the Rural Credits Department. All honourable members are aware of the legislation under which they are made. The provision governing the advances is similar to those in the legislation covering advances to other industries. The terms and conditions of the advances are laid down by the Rural Credits Department. The more recent rates to be charged are 4i% for advances that are not guaranteed and 4i% for those which are guaranteed by the Commonwealth Government.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question supplementary to that asked earlier by my colleague 3 honourable member for Stirling. The M.. lister told the honourable member that he knew of no reason why Trans-Australia Airlines could not operate the helicopter services referred to. Does the Minister recall that about five years ago in the New South Wales Supreme Court a rival helicopter company succeeded in obtaining an injunction to prevent TAA from operating helicopters in Antarctica? Does he recall also that on that occasion Mr Justice Jacobs said that TAA was authorised under its Act to operate helicopter services only as part of an airline service between the States or in the Territories; that it could not operate an independent helicopter service or accept independent helicopter contracts? If the Minister does not recall the case will he take advice and give to the honorable member for Stirling and to me an answer as if we were placing this question on notice?
– I have some recollection of the case referred to, although I could not go into details about it. What I said earlier is quite correct: TAA is operating helicopters completely in accordance with its charter and completely legally. It is operating them as part of its airline service and may continue to do so. In fact, both of the major domestic operators operate helicopters as part of the overall airline service in Australia. They do so principally upon a charter basis.
Perhaps a little further explanation is necessary in relation to the particular matter raised by the honourable member for Stirling - that the type of helicopter required for the special services in relation to the oil-gas development project is a twin-engine helicopter of a type which neither of the major operators possesses at the moment. To my knowledge, the applicants for permission to import this type of helicopter do not at present have in this country a helicopter of the type suitable for the work envisaged. So the application involves not only a licence to operate these aircraft but also a licence to import them. Whether either of the major domestic operators is interested in including in its fleet this type of helicopter which is used for a special purpose and which may have little use under the terms of the company’s charter is a matter for its decision. The fact that they have not applied would seem to indicate that they think this type of aircraft would not fit into their fleets for suitable use In the future, whereas another charter operator operating this type of aircraft for a special purpose may find it convenient to include the aircraft in his fleet.
– With your indulgence, Mr Speaker, I would ask the Minister a question supplementary to the one that I have just asked. Does he recollect the report of the Australian National Airlines Commission in which it stated that the fullest advantage cannot be taken of the helicopter charter work offering due to a lack of statutory authority to engage in certain categories of operations? When did the Minister last review the matter of the statutory power of TAA?
– This is a simple question to answer. During the last Parliament I announced that a review of airline policy was being undertaken. That was six months or so ago. That review is continuing. Both airline operators have assisted considerably in providing information for the review. I hope to be able, in the not too distant future, to submit this matter to Cabinet for consideration. To give a short answer to the question: a review is being undertaken at the present time.
– My question, related to road safety, refers particularly to the safety proposals for vehicle construction that the United States National Traffic Safety Agency will have enforced by law by 1968. Is it the intention of the Minister for Shipping and Transport or of the Government to institute similar legislation in Australia in association with the States? If so. will he consider the criticism that the present American proposals are inadequate, and will he endeavour to widen the measures to give some substance in this department of road safety, namely, life preservation?
– Last July at the annual meeting of the Australian Transport Advisory Council it was decided to set up a special panel of experts to examine certain features related to the construction of motor vehicles. This panel was called the Australian Motor Vehicle Design Advisory Panel and was set up with the approval of all State transport Ministers. The panel has submitted a report which will be examined next Friday at a special meeting of the Australian Transport Advisory Council called to consider safety features in the construction of motor vehicles. I do not know what will be the outcome of that consideration, but the panel has made certain recommendations. It is obvious that if we are going to require certain features to be incorporated in motor vehicles it is highly desirable that the requirements should be nationwide; there should not be different requirements in different States. I am fairly optimistic that agreement will be reached on what changes should be made in requirements for vehicle construction. We all recognise that it is highly desirable that advances should be made. Beyond that point, however, it is not quite so easy to decide who is to determine the standards, exactly what the standards will be and how they are to be enforced. In other words, a number of associated problems have to be considered. I can assure the honourable member that the State Ministers and the Commonwealth are aware of the problems and are genuinely trying to meet them, but real constitutional problems are involved.
– Can the Minister for the Army say whether it is a fact, as reported in today’s Melbourne ‘Age’, that thieves early yesterday stole ten Owen sub-machine guns from an armoury at the Ingleburn Army camp? If the report is correct can he explain how, with the country engaged in war, Army security is so haphazard that such a theft can take place? Further, can he give an assurance to this House that positive steps have been taken to guarantee that further attempted thefts of a like nature could not be successful?
-The reports in today’s newspapers are correct. About the middle of yesterday afternoon I first heard that ten Owen guns had been stolen from the Royal Australian Army Service Corps unit at Ingleburn. A full investigation is in progress. We are working very closely with the police in investigating the incident. The report that I have called for will involve not only the security procedures which are designed to safeguard Army weapons of all kinds - to see that they are adequate - but in particular this unit in order to ensure that the precautions that should have been taken were taken. I regret that until I get a report of this kind there is nothing further I can say to the House.
I can add one thing. Seven of the ten guns were without their bolts because the bolts are meant to be stored in a separate place as part of a safety precaution. Three of the guns were complete with bolts. They were guns in which the bolts had jammed and they were due to be sent away to be repaired within a few days. They were not in a working condition at the time of the theft, but this is not to say that a skilled machinist would not be able to repair them and put them into a workable condition.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for National Development. As demand is increasing for greater water supplies in the Murray Valley, as a means of increasing production and fostering decentralisation, 1 ask the Minister whether the River Murray Commission has considered building more water storages above the Hume reservoir, and, if so, with what result.
– The River Murray Commission has interested itself in tha future development of storages above the Hume Weir. As I have pointed out previously, there is a provision in the legislation covering the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority under which the Authority must either pay half the cost of increasing the height of the Hume Weir to increase storage from 2 million acre feet to 2i million acre feet or else build an additional storage. The Authority is looking at various sites. At present it is looking at one on the upper reaches of the Murray River. The River Murray Commission is also investigating one on the Mitta. In addition, the Victorian Premier has recently put to the Government for consideration a suggestion that a storage be built on the Buffalo - the large Buffalo Dam. This is, of course, a matter of policy. The Government has not had an opportunity of looking at it yet. But if a storage were built it would be possible to bring it under the control of the River Murray Commission, the payments to be divided between the three States and the
Commonwealth, and the storage could make additional water available in the lower Murray reaches.
– I direct a question to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry. Can the right honourable gentleman say whether the Government is trying to encourage Japanese importers of iron ore or iron ore pellets to carry these materials in Australianowned ships, by agreeing to a reduction in the price of the material? Is there any reason why Australian importers of crude oil for local consumption should not be directed to carry this oil in Australianowned ships instead of in foreign-owned ships, as it is being carried at present?
– I know of no reason why imports of crude oil, as distinct from any other imports, should be compulsorily carried in Australian vessels. We have never considered any policy to that effect. But it has been made clear by me and some of my colleagues that we are anxious to have exports of Australian iron ore carried in either Australian bottoms or in bottoms that are owned under joint ventures. The good offices of the Government are constantly employed to bring about this state of affairs. All I can say at present is that specific discussions involving business concerns have been taking place along these lines for a period as to which I could not be precise - certainly longer than six months and perhaps twelve months. This is big business and the matter is not likely to be brought to a conclusion very quickly.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I refer to the agreement he recently negotiated with the Premier of Victoria with regard to offshore oil, under which the previously announced Government policy was changed and the oil company kept the whole of the oil field, in place of part of it, in return for a small overriding royalty. I ask the right honourable gentleman: can he give an assurance that this agreement will not be considered as a precedent in cases where less than one half of the oil company is in genuine Australian ownership?
– The honourable gentleman has mentioned a small overriding royalty. I think that when it is considered that this is spread over the whole field it becomes quite a substantial addition to the royalty that might otherwise have been paid. As to the general question of policy which the honourable gentleman raises, I would not wish to follow that matter through completely at this point. It would require consideration as a special aspect of policy. But I think I should make some general observations. Firstly, Australia has still a long way to go before it can relieve itself from its own resources of the tremendous exchange burden that it is carrying at the present time for the growing importation of fuel and oil. Secondly, the Commonwealth Government in this matter has to consider the views of the States which themselves would wish to see the oil potential offshore from them thoroughly developed. They have an interest in the royalty payments that is even greater than the interest of the Commonwealth, while on the other hand we ourselves would benefit and, through us, the nation from the revenue receipts that we would obtain from the profits as a result of successful exploration and then development of any oil discoveries.
So, the honourable gentleman will appreciate that it is a large matter that is involved here. It is in the national interest that oil should be found and developed in Australia. While we do adhere to the general principle that we wish to see Australian participation as far as is practicable in these matters we recognise that the bulk of investment likely to be available for some time to come will be from overseas sources. I would believe that it was in the national interest for these discoveries to be made and the resources of oil to be developed as rapidly as we could contrive.
– I present the following paper:
Inter-Parliamentary Union - 55th Conference held at Teheran, September-October 1966- Report of Australian Delegation.
I ask for leave to propose a motion.
– There being no objection, leave isgranted.
– I move:
That the House take note of the paper.
I seek leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Suspension of Standing Orders
– I move:
That, in relation to the proceedings on any sales tax bills, so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent:
I mentioned briefly yesterday when I gave notice of this motion that the motion was purely procedural and that no immediate introduction of sales tax legislation was contemplated. Alteration of sales tax rates usually involves the introduction of nine sales tax bills, and over a period of many years the House has found it convenient for the nine bills to be taken together. Standing order 291 permits these bills to be introduced without notice, but it is necessary to suspend the Standing Orders to enable the bills to be presented and dealt with together. When passed, the motion will remain effective for this session. By moving the motion at this time we will avoid the speculation which could result if a motion were introduced later in the year.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented by Mr Bowen, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time. Honourable members will recall that towards the end of last year the Parliament passed the Statute Law Revision (Decimal Currency) Act the purpose of which was to amend each reference to an amount of money in Commonwealth Acts to its decimal currency equivalent so that when Acts are reprinted, money references can be expressed in decimal currency terms. The purpose of the present Bill is to correct certain typographical errors and incorrect citations in the Statute Law Revision (Decimal Currency) Act 1966. I commend the Bill to the consideration of the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 21 February (vida page 45), on motion by Mr Harold Holt:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition is opposed to the Bill. We will move at a later stage as an amendment to the motion for the second reading:
That the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted as an instruction to the Government to amalgamate related departments and to create new departments of (a) National Development, (b) Education and (c) Science and Technology.
The Opposition resents the way in which the Government has taken it for granted that this Parliament is going to place its imprimatur upon the decision made by the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) to have an additional Minister. Without his having consulted even his own Party as to who shall be the Minister, and without consulting the Parliament as to whether there shall be a twenty-sixth Minister, this Prime Minister dictatorially not only announced to the public that there would be a twentysixth Minister but also gave to the public the name of the person who would occupy the twenty-sixth position.
– Who was it?
– He announced that the new Minister would be the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly). So sure has the Prime Minister been that he will get this automatic approval from both Houses of the Parliament that we had the spectacle a fewminutes ago of the new Minister, whose appointment has not yet been approved by the Parliament, getting up in the House, making a ministerial statement on behalf of the Government, and announcing that he intends to move something.
– That is not so.
– He asked for leave to continue his remarks.
– He was the leader of a delegation on which members of your party were represented.
-It is little wonder that honourable members on the Government side have become irate at the way the Government is treating back bench members of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party and at its contempt for the Parliament. I want to quote a well known and highly respected Liberal senator who, in another place, on 3rd March 1964 said that Australia was living on the edge of a dictatorship, with the Prime Minister being able to appoint and to name extra ministers before the matter is even discussed by the Parliament. He also said that the Executive endeavours to subordinate the Parliament to its wishes and this creates a bad impression of democracy in this country. We all privately and secretly support what the honourable senator said on that occasion.
We all know that the back bench members of the Liberal Party are not happy with the present system of Cabinet selection. We know that the honourable members for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), Bradfield (Mr Turner) and McMillan (Mr Buchanan) have been loud in their condemnation of the present system which allows the Prime Minister to appoint whoever he chooses without reference to the rest of the party. Last year they moved that the party rules governing this matter be altered. This is to their credit. The deep rift within the ranks of the back bench members on the Government side is shown by the fact that the motion had the support of no fewer than twenty members. Those voting against the motion would include some twenty-five Ministers and their personal friends and followers. The fact that some twenty members supported the motion should give us cause for concern. The Minister who is scratching his head, the honourable member for Higinbotham (Mr Chipp) - I do not know what portfolio he has - is one of those who spoke up for the present system of choice by the Prime Minister. It is significant that soon afterwards he was chosen by the Prime Minister for the portfolio he now occupies. That is the pay off. That is why some honourable members on the Government side have said that the Cabinet has become a coterie of crawlers. It is not a question of the ability of a member; it is a question of how well he crawls to the Prime Minister. This has resulted in a Cabinet of yes men.
The history of the number of Cabinet Ministers, the subject matter of this debate, goes back over many years, but I propose to traverse only the last thirty years or so. Since 1934, the number of Ministers has grown from fourteen, four of whom were without portfolios, to twenty-five. No-one would object to more Ministers being appointed if there were in fact more ministerial work, but the Ministers must be competent. In order to get competent Ministers, the present system of the Government panics of allotting portfolios by favour must be abandoned. This system turns Cabinet into a court. The members of the Government parties should be given the right to choose by a free and secret vote the men they think best fitted to do the job. There is no doubt that, if the system of selection by free and secret vote were adopted, many of the men who now occupy the front bench would not be there and many of those who have been relegated to the back benches, some of them for as long as seventeen years, would be sitting on the front bench. I can give the names of two or three such members quite easily. Had their peers in the party been given the right to choose, they would have been Cabinet Ministers long ago. One who stands out in my opinion is the honourable member for Mackellar.
– The Minister for Immigration laughs at this.
– The honourable member has never shown friendship to him.
– I have never shown personal friendship towards the honourable gentleman’s views on Communism, but I have always said, and I repeat now, that I have had a very high regard for him as a person. I like him personally and I have the feeling - I hope 1 am correct - that it is mutual. We disagree, but I have immense regard for his capacity to tackle a problem and to set his mind towards the resolution of it. One has only to look at the question of the rail standardisation and all the other things which the honourable gentleman has taken up in this Parliament as a back bencher and in respect of which he has succeeded in producing greater results than have Cabinet Ministers with their retinue of servants and advisers. I give him credit for this. If the game were fair he would be in one of those positions. He could fill any of them well. Provided it had nothing to do with chasing Communists, he would do a first class job.
The honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) is another who has been relegated to a back bench for no better reason than that he was not prepared to become a yes man and allow Cabinet to become a court. This man has been relegated to a back bench and not because he does not have ability. He has outstanding ability, as everyone who knows him personally has to admit. He proved his ability as a Minister in a State parliament and he proved it here while he was a Federal Minister. But he was not prepared to bend the knee to an arrogant Prime Minister and, consequently, his portfolio was taken from him.
When Mr Chifley brought in a Bill to increase the Cabinet from sixteen to nineteen Ministers the then Leader of .he Opposition, who is now Sir Robert Menzies, said that some of the portfolios would not represent normal activity for a normal human being. Those portfolios are in existence today. The same portfolios which were described in this scathing manner by the then Leader of the Opposition were retained by him when he became the Prime Minister and they have been continued by the present Prime Minister. At that time Sir Robert Menzies specifically criticised the Labor Government for making the Post Office, the Army and the Navy separate portfolios. Up to a point I have to agree with the former Prime Minister. The Postmaster-General’s Department is a rubber stamping department. It never was and never should be a senior department on its own and separate from any other department. It is true that the present Prime
Minister has now added to the portfolio of Postmaster-General the position of VicePresident of the Executive Council. Bui the position of Vice-President of the Executive Council is not one which in my opinion justifies a person holding a position in the Cabinet for that reason alone. No-one can say that a person stamping letters is entitled to hold a Cabinet position for the purposes of making policy. If it is -impossible to run the Cabinet without the present PostmasterGeneral and if the remaining members of the Cabinet are so utterly devoid of capabilities as to be unable to carry out their duties without his brilliance, why does not the Prime Minister, in addition to making him Vice-President of the Executive Council, appoint him to some responsible position where his decisions will have a greater bearing upon the future of this country?
If one looks at the present Ministry and considers those who constitute the Cabinet one finds that the Minister for the Interior (Mr Anthony), who is the Deputy Leader of the Country Party, is a member of Cabinet and is helping to make policy decisions affecting every one of the twenty-five portfolios. But one who is not in the Cabinet is the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Freeth). Perhaps the Prime Minister considers that he is not Cabinet material. If this is so he should take this important portfolio of Shipping and Transport from him and give it to one who is Cabinet material. The Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes), a member of the Country Party, was in the Cabinet but has now been removed from it. No-one is going to say that in the eyes of the world what Australia does in its Territories is unimportant. The whole world is looking at us to see what we are doing in Papua and New Guinea and how we are administering the affairs of that Territory. Yet the Minister who holds that portfolio is, on the admission of his best friends, quite an incompetent person. He holds the portfolio for no other reason than that the Country Party follows the principle of seniority rather than suitability. Because he is senior to someone else he has to be given and allowed to retain an important portfolio like Territories.
We find also that the Minister for Immigration is no longer a member of Cabinet. No-one is going to say that the present Minister for immigration (Mr Snedden) has not the capacity to be a Cabinet Minister. I would be prepared to match his capacity against that of 75% of the present Cabinet Ministers and I believe that he would come out of it more than holding his own. No-one is going to say that Immigration is not so important that the portfolio should not be held by a person inside the Cabinet. It used to be. For years and years it was held by not merely a person in Cabinet but a most senior member of the Cabinet. The present Minister for Immigration is not a member of the Cabinet. The Minister for Social Services is, in the view of the Labor Party, an important Minister and Social Services is an important portfolio. This is the Department which spends more money on the welfare of the community than any other department. Yet this gentleman is not even permitted to go into Cabinet in order to press his point of view, ls this because the Government does not care whether social services are paid on a better scale than now exists? ls it that the Government regards social services as being of such little importance that it does no! matter whether the person holding the portfolio is in Cabinet or not? Speaking of the person who does hold the portfolio of Social Services, one has to concede, as one does in the case of the present Minister for Immigration, that he has the capacity to hold his own in the Cabinet.
No-one will suggest that the Minister for Social Services (Mr Sinclair) has not the capacity to be in the Cabinet. Of course he has. The reason that he is not in the Cabinet is well known. It is because the Country Party has an arrangement with the Liberal Parly under which it is limited to three Cabinet Ministers and no more than a total of six Ministers in a ministry of twenty-five. This has caused a great deal of friction in years gone by, and more so now, between the Country Party and the Liberals. Many back bench Liberal members believe that the Country Party ought to be done away with altogether. Senator Branson asked at a meeting of the Liberal Party whether it was absolutely essential to continue the coalition. He said: ‘Can’t we get rid of this incubus altogether? Can’t we get rid of the Country Party and govern in our own right? Why should we give members of the Country Party portfolios when we can govern in our own right and we have the numbers? Let the Country Party members vote with the Opposition if they wish, but let us at least be a fair dinkum Liberal Government and not be hammered and hampered by people in the Country Party.’ However, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen), who is the Leader of the Country Party, is a man of no mean strength. He is a lion among lambs, whether it be in his own Party or whether it be in a meeting of the joint Parties. He is a lion and he does not easily allow himself to be shuffled to one side. He has made it clear, not only to the present Prime Minister but also to his predecessor, who was made of much sterner stuff than the present occupant of that high office, that unless this position was handed out to the Country Party - this rump party - the rump party would not be prepared to keep the Government in office. So it is that because of this odd arrangement three members of the Country Party, no matter how inept they might be as Cabinet material, because of the game played by the Leader of the Country Party they go into the Cabinet. That is how the owner of Dalray - that seems to be his chief claim to fame - got into Cabinet in the first place and that is why, in a sense, the Minister for Social Services is not in the Cabinet.
We know that the Leader of the Country Party did not want the Minister for the Interior to be a member of the Cabinet. He did not want him to be the Deputy Leader of the Country Party. His choice was the Minister for Social Services. He felt that the Minister for Social Services had far more capacity, was far more reliable and was a far tougher man, though I find that hard to believe, than the Minister for the Interior. But when the Leader of the Country Party failed in his effort to persuade the rest of the Country Party to support the Minister for Social Services as Deputy Leader of the Party, he was reluctantly forced to nominate the new Deputy Leader, the Minister for the Interior, to be the Country Party Cabinet member. The Leader of the Country Party quickly took preliminary steps to ensure that the present Minister for Social Services would soon become Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party, by having him appointed to assist the Minister for Trade and Industry in the hope that he would slowly take over the mantle and become Leader. The present Leader had intended to resign during the life of this Parliament, at least from the position of Leader of the Party if not from the Parliament. But when he discovered that his Party was not prepared to accept his nominee for the position of Deputy Leader he decided that he would hang on rather than allow the person whom the Party chose for the position of Deputy Leader to become Leader. The present Leader now intends to cling to the office of Leader until the Country Party is prepared to accept his nominee.
Let us now consider the Minister for the Interior, who is Deputy Leader of the Country Party. I have a very high regard both for him as a person and for his ability. The House will have noticed that I have not said anything detrimental to his ability or his qualities. He is a man of tremendous capacity. Indeed, it is a pity that two men such as he and the Minister for Social Services have clashed over the position of Deputy Leader of the Country Party. When the Minister for the Interior became a member of the Cabinet the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) should have given him a much more important portfolio than that which he now occupies. He should have been given a portfolio sufficiently important to justify his inclusion in the Cabinet. But there was a good reason why he was not relieved of his present portfolio. The Country Party does not intend to let a Liberal get hold of the Interior portfolio during the next year or two, because, in that time, a redistribution of electoral boundaries will take place. The Country Party is determined that whoever occupies the portfolio when the redistribution takes place shall be a Country Party man who will do whatever that Party wants and not care two hoots about what the Australian Labor Party or the Liberal Party of Australia wants. From the standpoint of my own Party, I dread the redistribution that will emerge, though I hope that my feelings will to some extent be ameliorated by the equally bad effects that the forthcoming redistribution will have on the Liberal Party. The Deputy Leader of the Country Party did not come down in the last shower. He knows all about redistribution of electoral boundaries. He has given a great deal of thought to them. Anything that he cannot think of, the Deputy Prime Minister will think of for him. The House can be certain that when the redistribution measure is brought in only members of the Country Party will be happy with it. Members of the Liberal Party who are smiling all over their faces at my words will not smile so happily when they see what the present Minister for the Interior does with their electorates under the redistribution proposals.
I am not alone in my views about the usefulness of the portfolio held by the Postmaster-General. On the importance of that portfolio I quote the views of none other than the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies. Concerning that portfolio, the present occupant of which has a place in the Cabinet, Sir Robert said:
I have yet to learn that to be Postmaster-General and nothing else is a heavy job because on the whole I would think that the Postal Department was best run by a Postmaster-General who was deaf and dumb.
– Who said that?
– These words were uttered by Sir Robert Menzies, who has had more experience as Prime Minister of Australia than anybody else has had. If he does not know what he is talking about in these matters nobody does. He also had something to say about the importance of the Army portfolio. His views were expressed in these terms:
If I desired the perfect definition of a cushy job I should like to be Minister for the Army.
He said this in 1946 when there were more men in the then diminishing Army than there are now.
– The honourable member should not quote remarks out of context.
– I am not quoting remarks out of context. The right honourable gentleman was speaking in 1946 about the Army portfolio. He stated that the office of Minister for the Army, administering a diminishing Army, was a cushy job. What I am saying is that the so called diminishing Army in 1946 was larger than the Army of today. Sir Robert Menzies, who, I repeat, has been the most experienced Prime Minister in the history of Australia, spoke of the importance of the Navy portfolio in these terms:
All I can say is that the Minister for the Navy will not die of overwork. He will probably die of inanition.
Those are the views of the man who knows most about the subject.
This brings me to one specific criticism of the Government’s present proposals concerning the Ministry. For a long time people who have understood the defence needs of this country have considered that we ought to integrate our armed Services - that we should amalgamate the Air, Navy and Army portfolios with that of Defence and bring them all under the control of the one Minister. We want a better defence effort than we are getting now. We want a better Army, a better Navy and a better Air Force. These three Services are doing their best in their existing circumstances, but their best can never be good enough until they are integrated under the Minister for Defence. This was recognised by the late General Sir Leslie Morshead and this view was stated in a report that he presented to the Government. That report was never presented in this Parliament and never published. To this day it has been suppressed. In it Sir Leslie Morshead recommended that the portfolios concerned with the three armed Services be abolished and their functions amalgamated with the functions of the Minister for Defence. Many people even go so far as to say that there is a good case for the Supply portfolio to be amalgamated with that of Defence. I do not go so far.
Lel me read to the House some particulars of what is happening concerning the integration of the forces in other countries. These developments point to some of the measures that we ought to take if we are to gel the best possible defence effort from our armed Services. Some time ago, after years of intensive research and study, and after much trial and error, a White Paper on defence was issued in Canada. It recommended the abolition of the Army, Navy and Air Force portfolios and the integration of the three Services under one head and under the administration of the Department of National Defence. On 17th February 1966, in a statement to the Canadian House of Commons concerning the White Paper and its recommendations, the Honourable Paul Hellyer, Minister of National Defence, said:
In order that Canada’s armed forces might make the maximum contribution in terms of effectiveness to the deterrence of war and the maintenance of peace, it was announced in the White Paper, in
March 1964, that the headquarters of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force would be integrated on a functional basis as a first step toward a single unified defence force for Canada. This functional integration began on 1st August 1964 and has been going forward continuously from that date. Integration of the staffs at Canadian Forces Headquarters is now largely complete. Already the total number of persons employed at Headquarters has been reduced by more than 1,000, and the work is continuing as efficiently as and, in the opinion of the most senior departmental officers, more effectively than ever before. When the onetime work load due to the changes related to the integration process itself has been performed, a total reduction in staff of approximately 30% will have been achieved.
On 7th November 1966, it was reported in the Australian Press that’ the Minister had introduced into the Canadian Parliament a Bill to provide for the new structure of the armed forces and that’ he had said:
Could we not adopt the Canadian defence system? This would enable us to achieve two things. It would give us a much better defence system than we have now. At the same time, we could substitute for the three Service portfolios the additional portfolio that has been included in the list’ on this occasion and two others of more importance than the present Service portfolios. We suggest that the portfolio dealing with education could well have been provided for by the elimination of one of the Service portfolios. We want to see a Ministry of Education set up. We first advocated this in 1961. It has been part of the policy of the Australian Labor Party in every policy speech since 1961, and we have advocated it in the Parliament on several occasions. We moved a motion for the establishment of a
Ministry of Education on 27th February 1964, again on 28th April 1963 and again on 18th October 1966. On each and every occasion when the Opposition moved to establish a full-time Department of Education, what happened? The members of the Country PaTty and the Liberal Party, who now, after all these years, have decided to establish this department, voted against us. However, they have decided that they will not establish the department unless there is a twenty-sixth minister. This is the Prime Minister’s way of placating the back benchers of the Liberal Party who are resentful of the fact that, although the Liberal Party won a lot more seats at the election just held, the Country Party continues to have three members in the Cabinet and a total of six members in the Ministry. The Prime Minister, not in order to give better ministerial service but in order to placate his back benchers, has taken the step of establishing a twenty-sixth ministry. He announced the name of the twenty-sixth minister even before the Parliament had approved the proposition. 1 would not be surprised if, in another place, this proposal is seen for what it is and is rejected. The person who has already been announced as the new Minister might yet have to go back to his ordinary seat and do the rest of his speaking from a back bench. I like him personally, and for that reason I would not mind seeing him as a Minister, but not as the twenty-sixth Minister. I would like to see him appointed in place of some of those to whom I have referred or of others about whom I will have a little to say as time goes on.
I think I have put to the House an unanswerable case on the question of the three ministries I have mentioned - Army, Navy and Air. I have shown to the House that the Canadian Parliament has seen fit to abolish such separate portfolios. The Morshead report recommended their abolition. We ought to abolish them here and place all three Services under the control of the Minister for Defence.
I want to refer now, if I may, to some of the other positions in the Ministry. I speak now as an individual. Our party has not yet decided on any firm policy about what ought to be done in this regard but, for reasons which I shall give I think there is a sound case for amalgamating, for example, the portfolios of Interior and Postmaster-General. Neither Department is of very great moment. The PostmasterGeneral’s Department virtually runs itself. It is run mainly by administrative decisions rather than by ministerial decisions. I think that the Department of the Interior ought to be connected with the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, as, in fact, it was many years ago. That position ought to be reverted to.
I think, moreover, that there is a case to be made out for the attachment of the Civil Aviation portfolio to the present portfolio of Shipping and Transport, lt seems to me that a single portfolio of Transport ought to be wide enough to cover all aspects of transport - air, sea and rail. If we had an active Minister, a Minister of the capacity of the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), this might enable us in our lifetime to get a uniform railway gauge throughout this country. Until we get this, we can never properly defend Australia in times of emergency, nor will the railways ever be able to compete with road transport. The moment we have a uniform system of railway gauges we will cease to have to worry about section 92 of the Commonwealth Constitution or about interstate road hauliers breaking up our roads as they are now. With a proper uniform railway system operating between the large capital cities, no road haulage opposition would be of any consequence. 1 believe also that there is much work to be done in the field of stevedoring, lt seems to me that we pay too little attention to the need for up to date and mechanised stevedoring methods at our ports. If we have outmoded port facilities, if we have an antiquated railway system, if we have separate control over our air services and if we have a Minister who gives only part-time attention to the important questions of coastal shipping and even territorial shipping, this country can never be great. Much of our national product is taken up in transport costs, and even a small percentage reduction of those costs would save a tremendous amount of money each year. A saving of 1% could provide us with sufficient money to grant tremendously increased social service benefits, if that were found to be the only way of paying for them. It is important that, in a great country like ours, where centres of population are, unfortunately, separated by great distances, we have a Minister capable of giving full-time attention to the solution of the problems of transport. 1 think that the departments of Repatriation, Social Services and perhaps Health could be amalgamated. 1 believe that all these ought to be under the control of an active, energetic, vigorous and capable Minister. We have on both sides of the Parliament men capable of administering all three departments. There are Ministers who could do it. The present Leader of the Country Party would be able to master any of these departments. Although I know that some of his friends call him ‘Magpie McMahon’, I think that the present Treasurer-
– Older! I remind the honourable member for Hindmarsh that there are certain standing orders which he is coming very close to breaking.
– 1 am sorry. This honourable gentleman whose nickname I shall not mention again is another who, I believe, could do the job admirably. Anyone in this Parliament who has had any experience of the Repatriation Department knows perfectly well that the Minister for Repatriation is only a rubber stamp for the Department. I have yet to receive from a Minister for Repatriation a reply saying that he has altered a decision of the Repatriation Commission or of any of the tribunals or authorities attached to his Department. That has never yet happened to me. I would like anyone in this Parliament who has been able to get the Minister to upset a decision of the Commission to stand up and let me have a look at him. He has achieved something 1 have never been able to do.
It is clear to me that the Minister for Repatriation is nothing but a rubber stamp for the Repatriation Commission. I am not criticising this. Perhaps it is a good thing. Perhaps repatriation is not the sort of subject we could put under the control of a particular individual, thus placing that individual in the position of having to agree to the payment of a lifelong pension to a person who was not entitled to it or to suffer the consequences in his party room or elsewhere. Perhaps it is a good thing to have a commission, so that the blame for not giving a pension can be laid at the door of a full-time departmental head who cannot be sacked. But if this is a good thing, if this is the reason for having this kind of control, then, in my opinion, it provides an unanswerable case for amalgamating the Department of Repatriation with the Department of Social Services so that the two can be administered by one Minister. Does not the House see that more and more portfolios should be made available for important things which, so far, this Government has not seen fit to look at?
It may be that the Department of Health, if properly administered, is too big to be amalgamated with the Department of Social Services, but one can safely say that social services and repatriation need to be brought under one administrative head. In many respects the legislation governing both activities is the same. A serviceman who is entitled to a service pension has the same sort of means test applied to him as is applied to every other pensioner. The only difference is that he gets the pension at 60 years of age instead of having to wait until he is 65. I am not the only one who is dissatisfied with the present set-up of the Department. 1 propose to show that many Government supporters are not satisfied with what has happened. For example, many of them are dissatisfied with the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck). Many of them agree with the views expressed in an article in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 29th November 1966 which read:
Perhaps the greatest difficulty about the Country Party’s fixed quota is Mr McEwen’s apparent determination to promote according to seniority. This is the reason why one of the least successful Ministers, Mr. Barnes, is in Cabinet, occupying one of the most sensitive and important portfolios, Territories.
On 28th November 1966 an article in the Daily Telegraph’ stated:
Mr Barnes has not had the easiest of runs in Territories, although he does seem to have been carrying - uncomplainingly - some of the political babies fathered by his predecessor in Territories, Mr Paul Hasluck, now Minister for External Affairs.
There may be something in this. Perhaps the Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes) is being unfairly blamed for what are, in fact, the mistakes of his predecessor, the present
Minister for External Affairs. Something of this is revealed in an article in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 29th November last year which read:
The future of the Minister for External Affairs, Mr Hasluck, will be a matter for speculation again when Mr Holt reshuffles his Ministry within the next few weeks, lt is now about three years since Sir Robert Menzies offered Mr Hasluck the post of Australian Ambassador in Washington for reasons best known to himself but which were not regarded as very complimentary to Mr Hasluck as Minister by the very few people in the know at that time.
Of course, the honourable member for Bradfield is well known for his truthful and courageous criticism of the Ministry. A report in the ‘Age’ of 18th October 1966 stated:
No leader should have as much power over his followers as Sir Robert had, Mr Turner said.
Sir Robert had a court, not a Cabinet. To most Liberal MP’s - Ministers as well as backbenchers - he had been as awesome as Goldsmith’s ‘Village Schoolmaster”.
Well had the boding tremblers learned to trace the day’s disasters in his morning face’, Mr Turner said.
Senator Ian Wood said something along the same lines. He said that if a member wanted to get into Cabinet under the existing system he had to crawl to the Prime Minister in the hope of promotion. Senator Wood said that this system makes Cabinet Ministers aloof and completely unaware of the needs of the people whom they represent and, in fact, contemptuous of their fellow members of Parliament. I know that this is so because Mr Roy Wheeler, a former member of this Parliament, once said that Cabinet Ministers might well reflect that they are the servants of the people, not princelings. But they behave as princelings. We all know, irrespective of the side of the House on which we sit, that Cabinet Ministers regard themselves as princelings and behave accordingly.
I know that as far back as 1964 the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr Jeff Bate) told a meeting of his party that he thought that the cost of maintaining the Ministry was getting out of proportion. He referred to the Commonwealth ‘Year Book’ and said that the increasing cost of maintaining the Federal Ministry was a disgrace. He quoted the ‘Year Book’ to show that the cost of the Ministry had risen from £181,000 in 1960-61 to £245,000 in 1961-62. For how much longer can we continue to do these things? I do not for a moment say that we should not have a Minister if a case can be made out for appointing one. I would much prefer to have too many Ministers than not to have enough, because if you do not have enough Ministers, those whom you do have must lean upon departmental heads to an increasing extent. I would rather have sufficient Ministers to do their jobs properly in this Parliament without having to rely so completely on departmental heads as they now do. But our present Ministers rely on their departmental heads so extensively, not because we do not have enough Ministers but because the best men on the Government benches are not in the Ministry. Having regard to the mediocre types who now make up the Ministry, even if there were 500 of them they still would lean on their departmental heads. I look at the honorable member for Angas (Mr Giles). He is a South Australian who would make an excellent Minister of any department. He is a man of outstanding capacity. He has always shown great ability in anything that he has undertaken. I have no doubt that the new honorable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson) with his background and capacity to master a subject also would make a good Minister, but I warn my young and honourable friend that he will wait a long time before getting into the Ministry. The fact that he is a Rhodes Scholar and has topped the law examinations in South Australia year after year will avail him nought in his efforts to get into the Ministry unless he crawls to the Prime Minister or becomes a mouse instead of a man. This has been the unfortunate fate in the past of so many men like him that he might well ponder his future and ask himself whether he is to be man enough to stand by his principles and decide that he does not want to be a Minister if first he must crawl to the Prime Minister.
Undoubtedly, relations between the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party are severely strained. These relations are made worse, perhaps by the behaviour of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Freeth). We know that at every opportunity the Minister has exacerbated the feeling that exists between members of the two Parties. We know that on one occasion he made a very telling attack on the Leader of the Country Party (Mr McEwen). fi
Western Australia, the Minister did his utmost to see that Country Party candidates were defeated in the elections. Presumably he would have preferred to see Labor Party candidates win rather than Country Party candidates. Unfortunately, as a consequence of his actions it is certain that he will never be invited to become a Cabinet Minister, no matter what his ability may be, because the Leader of the Country Party has made it perfectly clear to the Prime Minister, as he did to the former Prime Minister, that: *If Freeth walks in, I walk out’. The Leader of the Country Party said to some of his friends: ‘I do not worry about this man. I never fight people who are beneath my standard. I can afford to ignore him completely.’ But while the Leader of the Country Party is ignoring the Minister, the Minister is not ignoring the Leader of the Country Party and at the moment he is making headway.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr Connor) adjourned.
– I move:
Customs Tariff Proposals No. 1, which I have just tabled, relate to proposed amendments of the Customs Tariffs 1966. The amendments will operate from tomorrow morning. The most significant amendments contained in these Proposals are those which provide for temporary duties which arise from recommendations made by the Special Advisory Authority in a report on certain synthetic resin monofilaments for brushware. The Special Advisory Authority found that urgent action is necessary to protect the local industry against imports. The Authority reported that the local manufacturers of certain polypropylene, polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride monofilaments used in brushware manufacture were at a considerable price disadvantage compared with monofilaments made overseas. This price disadvantage has resulted in an appreciable increase in imports.
To provide urgent protection against increasing imports, the Special Advisory Authority has recommended temporary ad valorem duties of 32½% (general) and 30% (preferential) on polypropylene monofilaments, exceeding 1 millimetre crosssectional dimension, for use in the manufacture of brushware. The temporary duties arc in addition to the present ad valorem duties of 74% (general) and free (preferential). On polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride monofils, not exceeding 1 millimetre crosssectional dimension, used in brushware manufacture, the temporary duties are at the rate of 20% (general) and 17½% (preferential). These are in addition to the present ordinary duties of 15% (general) and 71% (preferential).
The temporary protection is only a holding action pending the Government’s decision on receipt of the report by the Tariff Board on the matter. The balance of the amendments in Proposals No. 1 are of an administrative nature to improve the translation from the Customs Tariff 1933- 1965 to the new tariff based on the Brussels Nomenclature which operated from 1st July 1965. Full details of all the tariff alterations in Proposals No. 1 are contained in the summaries of tariff alterations being circulated to honourable members. I commend the Proposals to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Dr J. F. Cairns) adjourned.
Reports on Items
– I present the following reports by the Tariff Board which do not call for any legislative action:
Felt-based Floor Coverings (Dumping and Subsidies).
Floor Coverings of Vinyl (Dumping and Subsidies).
Dichlorphenol (Dumping and Subsidies).
Parts and Materials for Ladies’ Handbags (Bylaw).
X-ray Film (Dumping and Subsidies).
Components and Unmachined Castings for Pipeline Valves (By-law Admission). Single-engined Aeroplanes.
Pursuant to Statute I also present a Special Advisory Authority report on:
Synthetic Resin Monofilaments for Brushware.
In addition I present a report by the Special Advisory Authority on band-pass crystal filters which does not call for any legislative action.
Ordered to be printed.
Motion (by Mr Howson) - by leave - agreed to:
That in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, the following members be appointed members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works: Mr Bosman, Mr Chaney, Mr Fulton, Mr Holten. Mr James and Mr O’Connor.
Debute resumed (vide page 64).
– I naturally support the terms of the amendment forecast by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron). It is worthy of comment that in the very first formal debate in this House after a major election campaign the Government returned to office with eighty-one members cannot even provide speakers in support of its case for this Bill. This will undoubtedly be treated in the proper fashion by the city and provincial Press of Australia. If we look to the policy on which this Government was elected we scarcely can see any justification for this measure. We can take it further: there was no indication in its policy that there would be even an increase in the number of members of the Cabinet. It is true that it was forecast that a Ministry of Education would be established. We do not cavil at that proposal. I think it can be fairly said that the position of the Government at present is that it was elected with a mandate on one issue only - foreign policy. As for the rest of its policy, it is so meagre and of such paucity that there is scarcely anything to be implemented.
If we look further into the field we find - and this is where we take issue with the allocation of the twenty-five portfolios that now exist - that there is very real need for original thinking on the part of this Government. Of course as to whether it would be capable of an original thought is a matter that I will discuss at some length. It can be said in general terms that like the Australian cricket eleven the Cabinet and the Ministry is harder to get out of than to get into.
– It has a long tail.
– It has a very long tail indeed. One Australian political commenta- tor said directly that the former Prime Minister had surrounded himself with a firebreak of mediocrity. Truly it has been said that nothing grows in the shade of the oak tree. Potential rivals were killed off and by today we are faced with a Ministry, with a few notable exceptions of talent, which has been described correctly in an article in the ‘Australian’ of 15th December 1966 as follows:
Affable ‘Arold’s game of draughts. Undoubtedly the basic prerequisite needed to get on in Federal politics these days is to come from the right State at the right time.
Sir Robert determined his Ministries under the rigid laws of the Old Boys’ Club.
Now conies a marked shift in emphasis. Mr Holt has decided on the much more gentle approach of Affable ,A .1 A He is, apparently, listening to everyone and offending nobody.
Whatever one might think of the calibre of the incoming Ministers, it is irrefutable that State representation and the intricacies of a coalition have dictated who does what.
It is the States who have decided the allimportant numbers. The identities, with one exception, have been of secondary, if not minor, importance.
Mr Holt has merely moved into place with a minimum of ill feeling the men allotted him, rather in the manner of a polite game of draughts with its equal number of black and red counters.
We have passed a long way since the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act provided for an Executive with seven Ministers of State. We have the unfortunate disadvantage of suffering from an antiquated Constitution, one redolent of late Victorian thinking and of venerable antiquity, and from an unchanged pattern of thinking on the part of this Government.
Let me quote also from another celebrated political commentator, no less a person than J. K. Galbraith. He said: it is easier (for a country) to continue to do what it is doing than to do something else . . . borrowing from the terminology of space mechanics, it is a reasonably advanced example of inertial guidance. But it is also evident that the momentum under which it has long been operating is at last running out.
And that, of course, is the fact as it applies to this Government. This is an old government, a stagnant government. A nurseryman would refer to it as a potbound government. It is not a government of talents; it is a government that simply repeats what has previously been done. This Government, like many other governments, is lost in contemplation of its own virtues. It is literally a horse and buggy government, and is typical of a government functioning under the present Constitution. The division of functions between the various portfolios has never been properly evaluated. The established divisions have been taken for granted for many years.
The Speech of the Governor-General, which, of course, with due respect to that honourable gentleman, is dictated by the Government, was a cardinal example of smugness. However, I do want to anticipate the debate that will ensue, and will merely say that we suffer under the present Government because of the tall shadow still being cast by the former Prime Minister. He dominated the Parliament, at least as far as his own party was concerned. The talent which might have been used by this Government was killed off by him over the years. There is an archaic flavour in the whole approach of this Government and its leader to the allocation of portfolios, and here I would like to give the House another quotation from ‘The Lucky Country’. The following devastating comment was made in that book by its author, Donald Home. He said -
If this interpretation is true h means that throughout a period in which Australia has been in need of orientation towards Asia and towards technology it has been governed by a man who has deeply absorbed the provincial standards of Melbourne at the beginning of the century.
That is precisely the position today. This Government is provincial in its outlook. We are in a new age, a new era. We are in an age of technology, an age of science, of electronic data processing, of astrophysics, of ergonomics, of earth satellites, when the only constant is the speed of light. We are in an era of world population explosion when, in the words of the former Prime Minister himself, Australia must take primary risks and have primary responsibilities. We are in the era of the European Common Market and all the economic threats that it holds for the trading future of Australia. We are in an era of postcolonialism. We are in an era of stagnation of the economy resulting from the backward policy of this Government.
And what does the Government now offer us? It was said of France that in 1870 it was fully prepared for the Napoleonic Wars, that in 1914 it was fully prepared for the Franco-Prussian War, and that in 1939 it was fully prepared for World War I. Similarly this Government has nol advanced in its thinking beyond the late Victorian era. Let us consider the allocation of functions amongst the various portfolios. Take as a particular example the allocation of responsibilities with relation to transport. There are no fewer than five Ministers implicated to a greater or lesser degree in the administration - or lack of it - of transport. There is first, of course, the honourable gentleman who is sitting at the table, the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Freeth), who is limited in his operations to coastal shipping and shipbuilding. We find that the Minister for Trade and Industry, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen), has really muscled in on the control of the major section of shipping. Then we find that the stevedoring industry is the province of another Minister, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury).
We talk glibly about co-ordination of transport, but in reality we find that under this Government there is, in addition to the Ministers T have already mentioned, a Minister for Civil Aviation. The final rub is this: having introduced legislation for the control of restrictive trade practices - which it has yet to implement - this Government will, in applying that legislation to the shipping industry, have to call on the services of the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen). So we have five different Ministers in charge of the one industry, an industry which is of vital importance in this era of containerisation and of jet travel. We have at last decided to do something about standardisation of rail gauges, but the control of Australia’s ports is fragmented between thirty-five or forty different port authorities, and we have reason to hang our heads in shame for the general backwardness of Australian port facilities.
The importance of this matter of transport can be gauged by the statement of, I think, the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), who said on one occasion that well over 30% of Australia’s gross national product was directly or indirectly absorbed in transport costs. Yet this Government, with its attitude to coordination, still depends on five different Ministers to handle transport problems. Let us take another field, that of the AttorneyGeneral. With the downgrading of that portfolio we can expect very little in the way of legal reform.
I made a brief reference to the Deputy Prime Minister and the price that Australia as a whole is paying for the antics of the Country Party. Here indeed we see a government within a government. The Leader of the Country Party not only has his say on the subject of transport, in relation to overseas shipping, but also is in charge of trade and industry. Let me tell the House that if the crunch comes, as it undoubtedly will come, and Britain enters the Common Market and we seek new markets for primary products, the Minister will then have to face a dichotomy of loyalties. He will have to decide between his allegiance to Country Party primary production and his responsibility for the sale of Australia’s secondary products, and I know which he will choose. Australian secondary industry will suffer. We have already had Japanese trade delegations here quietly applying pressure in this very direction. With hissing politeness they have come along and told us that there is a strong case for certain inefficient and small Australian industries to be - I will not say thrown into the discard but at least suppressed in their development so that the Japanese manufacturers may, with the benefit of greater efficiency in technology and the general economics of large scale production, export their goods to this country. This is a situation which cannot be tolerated.
Consider the same Minister’s dilemma at present in connection with the New Zealand Trade Agreement. Not satisfied with having control of all these matters the McEwen empire goes further. The Minister provides guidelines for the Tariff Board. He draws up the terms of reference for Tariff Board inquiries. According to well authenticated reports, and not merely rumours, he is also making incursions into the Treasury - and this for a party for which the writing is on the wall. To ensure the right of succession, the sorcerer’s apprentice, a young man of considerable ability, the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair), has been given an extra task over and above his duties as Minister for Social Services. He has been designated Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and
Industry, so that when the Deputy Prime Minister ultimately retires, trade and industry will continue as the prescriptive rights of the Country Party.
Naturally the Country Party has staked out a claim to certain portfolios. It will continue to hold them. There is the Interior portfolio, of course. It is noteworthy that the Minister for the Interior (Mr Anthony) has been elevated to the inner Cabinet because Interior is only a light weight portfolio. But it will be of the utmost importance. There will be another man within the inner Cabinet when the vote for the survival of the Country Party is taken and the electoral redistribution is at stake. Similarly, the Country Party has now swung away from its old love, the Postmaster-General’s portfolio. Apparently the Country Party has wrung it dry and country areas have reached saturation point in relation to the installation of telephones and the provision of postal services. New political tricks are to be taken through the Department of Social Services because it seems that we shall have a succession of Country Party Ministers administering that portfolio. A similar situation applies regarding the Territories portfolio. We must admit that if there is a right for the Country Party to exist then there is undoubtedly a right for the Country Party to administer the portfolio of Primary Industry.
Sir, in addition to the telescoping of certain ministries to which the honourable member for Hindmarsh referred, a case can be put forward for the establishment of new portfolios by the further merging of various portfolios. I think in particular that the Ministry of Education and Science, although not a contradiction in terms of education, does require division into separate portfolios. Today in a world in which technology and science play such a great part science should be covered by a distinct portfolio quite apart from education. A country the size of Australia with its small population needs to obtain the very best from every person in it. We must multiply our numbers not merely by machine power but also by brainpower if we are to survive, develop this country and justify our right to its retention.
Again, let us take the portfolio of National Development. This is an omnibus portfolio, a sort of sink into which anything is tossed that no-one else seems to want. But it is a portfolio that is capable of severance. What major industrial country in the world today lacks a ministry of fuel and power? What major country in the world today lacks a national fuel policy? What country in the world today, other than Australia, is prepared to sanction development without applying the principles of cost benefit analysis? What other country in the world today would allow a ministry with a new portfolio such as that of National Development to deal inter alia with mineral development. We heard in the Governor-General’s Speech special emphasis placed on the major contribution being made to the export income of Australia by mineral industries. Again, on the question of northern development there obviously is material for a separate portfolio.
The point that I wish to make in conclusion is this: the Government is completely lacking in ideas. It is living in the past, lt is living on past performances. It is the victim of its own inertia. It should in decency reconsider this whole measure. It should confine its Ministry to a membership of twenty-five. If it aspires to justify the confidence of the Australian people, and provide for our proper economic development and welfare, it should have a general recasting of portfolios and functions within the limits that I have suggested.
– The Opposition makes certain suggestions regarding this measure. We on this side of the chamber believe that there is a case for the amalgamation of the Service portfolios and that there is a case for the separation of the science and education functions of the Education and Science Ministry which has come into existence. When the Department of Defence of pre-war years proliferated into the Department of Defence, the Department of the Army, the Department of the Navy, the Department of Air and the Department of Supply during the Second World War, a case existed in the circumstances of that war for such a separation to take place. As well as being Prime Minister, the late John Curtin was Minister for Defence. This gave him overall supervision of the other portfolios which had a magnitude of administrative work associated with them far beyond that of the Services today.
During the war of which I am speaking, the Minister for the Army had an army of one million men and women. The mere problems of organisation, pay, promotion and so on presented a massive administrative task. Today the Army that is being administered has less than one-twentieth or perhaps not much more than onetwentieth of the force of one million during the last War. The case for the maintenance of a separate Department of the Army is fairly slender. Similarly, the Department of the Navy during war time had some 200,000 members. If I am not mistaken this personnel is now approximately 15,000 members. Our Air Force during the war years had more than 200,000 persons involved through the Empire Air Training Scheme alone. I would very much doubt whether the Air Force of today numbers 20,000 members. There seems to be a clear case from the point of view of administrative detail alone for amalgamating these Ministries.
The question arises whether there would be any defence advantage. I wish to make some reference to Canada in a moment in relation to the question of amalgamating the Services. Before doing so I should like to draw the attention of the House to a statement by Group Captain A. V. Rogers in the authorative work on the Services, Brasseys Annual’ in 1966. In this article Group Captain Rogers points out as an example of what happens between the Services that the helicopter force that was operating in Borneo on behalf of the forces of the United Kingdom during the confrontation period was being provided by three separate Services - the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. The weaknesses of this arrangement were never exposed because the confrontation did not become a major fighting operation. It was a preventative standing-to of the United Kingdom and other armed forces. If it had developed into a major fighting operation, the situation might have become very serious. As it was, it was profoundly uneconomical.
Group Captain Rogers pointed out that the operations were controlled by the Air Force in what was passing for a joint Army and Air Force operation. The Army and Navy helicopters were commanded by the senior representatives of each of these Services in the Borneo theatre. In the tactical area, Group Captain Rogers asserted, the Army helicopters were a law to themselves and were used at the direction of the local Army commander. The tactical deployment of helicopters was dictated to some extent by the Service to which they belonged. Group Captain Rogers wrote: (t is not uncommon to have incompatibility of communications and this was particularly prevalent in early days of operations. In some cases the Army Scout helicopters are underemployed whilst the Whirlwinds are over-flown, and vice versa.
Group Captain Rogers wrote that the Services providing the helicopters were working to different operating procedures. They had different provisioning and servicing patterns. The air crews wore different uniforms, had different terms of service, expected different promotional opportunities and were the product of three different flying training programmes. There were eight different types of helicopter operating in the region with all that that could mean in the effort of provisioning the spares had there been heavy casualties among the helicopters. Imagine having the complications of providing eight different types of spares for .eight different types of helicopter because the three different Services at different phases had all decided on different purchasing procedures and different sorts of helicopters. The group captain concludes his study of this by saying: lt is not until a full and comprehensive costing is made of a helicopter force from three separate Services that the awful economic significance of this aerial circus can really be appreciated. Is this not an extraordinary situation to prevail in the armed forces of a nation which has a deficit in her balance of payments at the time of writing of some £900,000,000 and with her defence budget pegged at £2,000,000,000 at 1964 prices.
That is a simple instance of an operation conducted by three Services each determined to have its private empire. Remember that the Army, the Navy and the Air Force are all determined themselves to run a separate air force. The helicopters I have spoken about are just one example of their separate activities. The group captain points out very clearly in his article that this leads to an absolutely uneconomic, wasteful and inefficient defence. If we had a Minister for Defence really in charge of these activities we would not have what I think we have in Australia. With the three separate Services having three separate Ministers each Minister is annexed by the heads of Services in his department to buttress them in their maintenance of their separate empires, with the kind of consequence which I mentioned when quoting from the group captain’s article.
When, in Canada, Paul Hellyer, the Canadian Minister for Defence - who in the Canadian Liberal Party is expected to be the successor to Pearson, the Canadian Prime Minister - brought in the integration of Canada’s Services there was an uproar. An article from the Ottawa correspondent of the ‘Canberra Times’ said:
Unification has produced an emotional response dwarfing every other political issue in the country in the past six months. The public debate began in earnest last July when Rear-Admiral William Landymore, the head of the Maritime Command, publicly denounced the unification policy. The Defence Minister, Mr Paul Hellyer, fired Admiral Landymore from his command and dismissed him from the Navy for his breach of military regulations.
The battle lines developed overnight. Scores of retired officers spoke up in defence of the admiral and against the Minister; organisations sprang up to fight for the retention of the three services. Other senior retired officers publicly announced their support for the one-service concept.
An essentially emotional debate, it has produced no victor. But Mr Hellyer and the Government, deeply committed to unification, clearly have the whip hand and should prevail in the long run.
Advocates of unification promise increased fighting efficiency, great savings in manpower (particularly at the headquarters level), subsequent reductions in administrative costs and hence more money for equipment. But unification represents a radical break with established military traditions and its opponents - of whom there are an increasing number - claim it will destroy esprit de corps and service morale.
But commenting on what integration has meant in Canada the writer of the article says this:
The integration stage has already produced significant economies, including an estimated reduction of 30% in the number of administration personnel due to the elimination of positions duplicated in the three services. In a lengthy speech in the House of Commons last month, Mr Hellyer said that, had it not been for integration, the Defence Department would have been able to spend only $97 million for new equipment in the 1966-67 fiscal year, as opposed to $327 million provided in the budget.
In other words there was a saving of $230i which went into equipment in the ending of this separation of functions. The article continues:
Further economics are expected with physical unification, and for the Government the economic argument alone is almost enough to warrant unifying the forces. The defence budget is more or less frozen at about $1,375 billion a year (about one-sixth of total government spending) and the Government feels that any increase above this figure could not be justified politically or economically in peacetime.
The Government does not expect unification to produce any reduction in overall defence spending, but it anticipates that with a angle force, substantially more money will be available for sophisticated equipment and higher Service pay.
The article goes on to say that Hellyer is staking his whole career on this integration being effective, lt states:
What the proponents do not agree on is what should be done to meet the problems. The Government has decided that unification is the only answer and has staked its existence on the policy.
I direct the attention of the House to the fact that Canada’s Liberal Government is a minority government. The article continues:
Among individuals, Mr Hellyer has the most to win or lose. He has established himself as the strong man of the Cabinet and as the leading contender to succeed the Prime Minister, Mr Lester Pearson, as Liberal leader. His reputation rests on his unification policy. If the policy fails to get parliamentary approval, or if unification flops in practice, Mr Hellyer might as well go back to the construction industry from which he came. 1 think that we need somebody to stand up and tell us why it is necessary to have five Service portfolios and why the three Services cannot be amalgamated under the Minister for Defence. I believe that if they were amalgamated under one Minister in this time of rapidly changing technology we are much more likely to get a rationalisation of the Services in the interests of increased efficiency, if not in the interests of tradition, than if the separation of the Services is buttressed by the separation of the portfolios. I stress that in sheer administrative detail the present situation is not to be compared with the situation during the war years.
The other point I want to make relates to the separation of the ministries of education and science. The Opposition suggests two separate portfolios - a portfolio of education and another of science. This suggestion, I might say, would have the support of those responsible for the activities of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. They have good reason to fear that the development of Commonwealth action will be heavily along the lines of education and that the attention of the Minister could become swamped with the problems of a developing education. The Commonwealth already has a large stake in university education. It has also a considerable stake in secondary school scholarships. It is going to develop a stake in teacher traaining. lt is going to have a look at the whole of Australian education, in my opinion, from the point of view of national efficiency; and it is going to have a look, in an atmosphere not contaminated by politics, at the whole question of the efficiency of education in the private sector in order to decide whether the nation is giving to the children of this nation, who happen to be in private schools, the education which they need. All of this does suggest an immense development of the portfolio of education.
The scientific and industrial research activities of the Commonwealth are very highly directed towards industrial action. They are unrelated to education except, of course, that scientifically educated men carry out the activities of such bodies as the CSIRO. But then, so do scientifically educated men carry out the activities of the National Health and Medical Research Council. The Commonwealth needs (o give complete attention to science in Australia. I say this because I believe that the CSIRO should not be used only for the development of this country. I believe that we are moving towards a position in which we must accept a great deal of responsibility for the whole of South and South East Asia, using highly skilled men from such bodies as the CSIRO. I have mentioned before in the House that the late Sir Ian Clunies Ross, when he was head of the Organisation, thought one morning of the British Army in India in the days of the British Raj when there was a Viceroy of India. The Hindu troops of the Viceroy healed much more slowly from their wounds than did the Moslem troops. He asked himself why this should happen and he realised that the
Hindu dietary prohibitions against the consumption of all sorts of proteins in the form of meat stopped cell formation in the body and made their healing from injury much slower than the healing of Moslems. He asked himself what form of protein would meet Hindu restrictions and he realised that we in Australia poured the finest form of protein down the drain - skimmed milk. He developed a form of powdered skimmed milk, sent a lot to India and persuaded various authorities in India and New Zealand to set up the Airie milk colony near Bombay. They rounded up all the useless cows that wandered the streets of Bombay, fed them properly, milked them and reinforced their poor quality milk with powdered skimmed milk. This produced one million gallons of high quality milk a day.
If we could proliferate this activity right through India, we could make the disease and mu nutrition maps of India obsolete. We Australians consume in all forms - ice cream, butter, cheese and so - about 2,000 pints of milk a year a head. If the people in India could consume 700 pints a year or a quart of milk a day, the starvation and disease maps of India would be rendered obsolete. This is perfectly possible. If one Australian turning his thoughts to the problems of India could achieve a development such as the Airie milk colony near Bombay, what would happen if many Australians turned their thoughts to these problems? Most of the agricultural research in the world is not done in tropical areas, but the starvation in the world is. I can say off hand that we are almost the most advanced country in arid agriculture. A tremendous amount of tropical agricultural research is done in Australia and much of it has relevance overseas. If we can use all this as a force to answer starvation in South Asia, we have it as a force to answer chaos in South Asia, and it is an important defence consideration for this country, quite apart from what should be our basic motive and that is our respect for these people as people.
I believe that the scientific activities of the Commonwealth are of immense importance in the defence of Australia, and not merely the military defence, though that is absolutely obvious, but also the kind of defence that comes from having a population which, if we do our job as we should, will be a highly skilled and precious population in our part of the world capable of taking very great responsibility. We believe that the science portfolio should be entirely separate from the education portfolio, that before science is an unlimited expanding future. If they are tied together under one Minister, very largely as unrelated subjects, the efficiency of the Commonwealth in both fields will be impaired. The Australian Cabinet system has just grown. Before the Second World War, the Menzies Government had a Minister for Defence and nobody else. The proliferation of Service portfolios during the war was perhaps inevitable, but there is no case for these portfolios to continue now. Nobody stands up and attempts to justify them. They just growed like Topsy and they just go on. If the Service portfolios, which are a duplication, were eliminated, we would get more efficiency and portfolios would be available for ministers to’ accept responsibility in fields of activity in which the Commonwealth should now be engaging. We believe that this Cabinet structure now being presented to us, with another portfolio simply being added, is not the result of a rational consideration but is the result of inertia continuing what is already there. We believe that this is a mistake.
– We are being asked in this Bill to increase the members of what must be one of the most exclusive and comfortable clubs in the Commonwealth. I say this with the qualification that there are people in the Ministry who do work very hard. But it must be apparent to the House and o people outside that there is in the Cabinet a representation that is excess to the requirements of the country. The bluntness of the Federal Government in saying that it will increase the number in the Ministry must be without equal. Surely no private organisation would have the gall to try to stack the representation on its board of directors for a not entirely creditable purpose, as the Government has done. A private organisation trying to do this would expect considerable trouble. Australia appears in a very poor light when the number of its Ministers is compared with the number of Ministers in other countries, having regard to total expenses, population and the responsibilities that must be accepted. OU ministerial representation is top heavy. When I look around I see good reasons for reducing the number in the Ministry. It is quite obvious that some people in the Ministry are being carried along.
Let us look at the total cost of our Ministry. I have worked it out at $525,650. This includes all the costs of keeping Ministers operational. I have the itemised costs in pounds and the figures must be converted to decimal currency. The twentysix Ministers each have a parliamentary allowance of £3,500 a year. Their electorate allowances range from £1,100 to £1,300. The Prime Minister has a salary of £8,500 a year, with expenses of office of £4,000. The Deputy Prime Minister has a salary of £5,000 and £1,800 for expenses of office. The Treasurer has a salary of £4,900 and £1,800 for expenses of office. The nine senior Ministers have salaries of £4,250 and expenses of office of £1,800. The junior Ministers have salaries of £3,000 and expenses of office of £1,500. In addition, the travelling allowances are £18 a day for the Prime Minister, £15 a day for the senior Ministers and £12 a day for the junior Ministers. This is a fairly generous arrangement and it is very generous in terms of Australia’s requirements. What we are concerned about is the ad hoc approach to appointing Ministers. For instance, could there be anything more incongruous than the Minister for Education and Science also having the responsibility for works in the Commonwealth. This is completely unrealistic. It is irrational.
– That is precisely what the Bill is designed to change.
– It will probably change the position to some extent, but the Minister is anticipating me. The Bill will not change the position to the extent of appointing one Minister for Education and another Minister for Science, will it?
– It changes the position to a point where there is a separate Minister.
– It will not provide for a separate Minister for Education and Minister for Science, will it? It will increase the loot, as one honourable member has sug gested and as I want to mention. In the present situation in Australia education has been treated by the Federal Minister as a second-rate responsibility and a matter of second-rate importance. I wish the Minister for Health would listen to me now instead of picking an odd point out of context and making something of it. Is the Minister listening to me now? One can never tell whether he is conscious or unconscious when these things are going on. We now have the situation where the universities are cutting back the percentage of enrolments that they will allow in relation to the number of students who have matriculated. Why is this necessary? It is not because the quality of the matriculants has deteriorated; it is because the amount of money that a State government is prepared to provide has been reduced by the Federal Government’s action. In Queensland we are going to lose a university which was proposed at Mount Gravatt. It will be lost for at least five years and probably for a longer time.
It is the overlapping of duties that we are most concerned about. I refer to the ad hoc approach to various responsibilities in the Ministry. As an example I cite the way in which the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) is really stepping into an important regulatory capacity in controlling the economy, a regulatory capacity which really should be more the concern of the Treasury. Yet we have in this capacity the Minister for Trade and Industry who, because of his extreme protectionist policies, is imposing tariffs which are detrimental to our economic growth. One of the problems in Australia is that we have an overprotected secondary industry. This encourages sloppiness, it encourages inefficiency, and it encourages the maintenance of industries which have tar surpassed their economic contribution to the welfare of the country. Yet we are propping them up. If we have excessive tariffs we are asking people to forgo part of the living standards which they are achieving and which they would have if we got rid of this silly sort of sloppiness which is fostered by the tariff policies of the Federal Government. This is really a major economic concern which should not be part of the Ministry of Trade and Industry. This should not be part of the Treasury’s responsibilities either. It should be part of the responsibilities of a Ministry of Economic Affairs.
Let us consider the responsibilities of the Ministry of Labour and National Service. This Ministry is well known for its interference in arbitration matters. We know from long experience that applications before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission for wage increases have little chance of success if they are opposed by the Federal Government. We know, for instance, that only twelve or eighteen months ago when the workers were on strike at the plant of General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd for an increase in wages, although General Motors-Holden’s was well endowed to provide the increases, the Federal Government stepped in and applied pressure to the court to prevent it from granting the wage increase. What the Ministry for Labour and National Service is doing is another feature which should be the responsibility of a Ministry of Economic Affairs which would be concerned with economic planning within the community. Yet we have this proliferation of various responsibilities under different Ministers and this competition between Ministers.
Returning to the responsibilities of the Minister for Trade and Industry, I believe it is well known that his Department and the Treasury arc continually at loggerheads. It is well known also that because of the tremendous power which the Minister for Trade and Industry has by virtue of his dominance and control of the Country Party he has been able to win out in most of these struggles. Of course there has been the odd person in the Government ranks who has waged a valiant but unsuccessful fight to bring the Minister to heel over the authoritarian manner in which be has been able to assert his power. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Freeth) is now smiling. I think he knows the person to whom I refer. He was very active at one stage in trying to bring the Minister for Trade and Industry to heel because of the opposition which existed between members of the Country Party and the Liberal Party.
Members like the Minister for Shipping and Transport are concerned not so much about responsibilities being at cross purposes but more, as in this case, with the competition between personalities and, most importantly, the appointment of the extra Minister, the honorable member for Wake field (Mr Kelly). This appointment has been for no other purpose than to silence this member. In the past the honourable member for Wakefield has been a trenchant critic of the Government’s trade policies. I must say that I endorse much of what he has said. But the Minister for Trade and Industry, who is head of the Country Party, has said: ‘We have to stop this member. How are we going to stop him? He is in a safe seat and we cannot hope that be will be defeated at an election. The best thing is to have him appointed to the Ministry where he will have to be silent forever after.’ I am quite disappointed that the honourable member for Wakefield has allowed himself to be subverted in this rather questionable manner.
There is another peculiar circumstance which has occurred in the appointment of a Minister. The Minister for the Interior (Mr Anthony) has been elevated to the Cabinet and is now a senior Minister. Why has this been done? The Interior is a bits and pieces portfolio, a portfolio for beginners. In the past some beginners who have held the portfolio have been beginners for a long time. Nevertheless, it is a beginner’s portfolio, the sort of portfolio in which junior Ministers begin. Why was the Minister elevated to the Cabinet position with the retention of this portfolio? I think the reason is fairly apparent to honourable members and even to members of the Country Party, who are blushing with embarrassment. To put a Minister in a senior position and to demand that he retain a junior portfolio is a terrible insult to heap upon him. In order that the Minister for the Interior could be elevated, the Minister for Territories had to be demoted from the Cabinet. Of course, he heaved a sigh of relief, and I understand from the public service talk in the town that his Department also heaved a sigh of relief when it knew it was no longer under the very direct scrutiny of top members of the Cabinet.
Let us consider the cost of the overlapping of the various Ministers. There is a Minister for Defence, a Minister for Supply and a Minister for the Army, one for the Navy and one for Air. The total cost to keep these five Ministers looking after their various defence responsibilities is $97,000. Then there is a Minister for
Shipping and Transport and a Minister for Civil Aviation at a total cost of $36,400. This is a fairly expensive duplication for the Australian economy to finance in view of the sorts of responsibilities that they have. It is very difficult to see where the Ministers for the Army, Navy or Air would obtain sufficient work to keep them occupied full time in the jobs that they have while we have a Minister for Defence and a Minister for Supply who are the senior Ministers and who carry out the bulk of the work in this field. During the war when the responsibilities were much more onerous, the people involved in the defence forces were much more numerous and the equipment involved much more numerous, we had only one Minister for Defence. The implication seems to be that a Labor Minister for Defence is more capable than five Liberal or Country Party Ministers.
Let us make a comparison between the demands that exist in Australia and those which exist in other countries. I propose to cite quite a few statistics which 1 believe will be valuable for the record. I refer first to Canada which is nearly comparable with Australia in terms of economic development and which has a population of twenty million - double that of Australia. Its armed Services total 107,000 men and last year its Defence Budget amounted to $US1,461m. It has a Ministry of twentysix members, the same number as that we have here. But its population is double that of Australia. Furthermore, Canada has cut out the separate ministries for the three Services, which we retain here, and has coordinated the three armed forces. France, with a population of forty-nine million, has a total of 522,500 men in Rs armed Services. In 1966 its Defence Budget was $US4,465m. It has a Cabinet of only eighteen Ministers, and it has only one Minister directing the armed forces. This highlights the ludicrous practice that has developed in Australia. Here we have a tremendous number of Ministers for the population that we have. The Ministry here is a sort of club or place of good fellowship and its members sit on the front bench on the Government side of the Parliament looking after each other and no doubt trying to find something to do. We have eleven million people in Australia and twenty-six Ministers, whereas France, with forty-nine million people, has only eighteen Ministers. We have a total of five Ministers to look after our defence needs. France has only one Minister concerned with defence.
The Federal Republic of Germany, with a population of fifty-seven million, has twentytwo Ministers, and only one Minister in charge of defence. Its armed Services total 440,000 men and last year its Defence Budget amounted to $US4,335m. Italy, with a population of 52,900,000, has a total of 376,000 men in its armed forces and in 1966 its Defence Budget was $US1,982m. It has twenty-six Ministers and one Minister in charge of defence. Japan, with a population of more than ninety-eight million, has 246,000 persons in the defence forces. Last year its Defence Budget came to $US946m. lt has a Cabinet of only nineteen, and one Minister of State who is Director of the Defence Agency. 1 have obtained these statistics from a publication entitled ‘The Military Balance 1966-67’, which is issued by the Institute of Strategic Studies in London.
Let us look at the contrast between Australia and these other countries which have many more people than we have. In most instances, the ministries have many fewer Ministers and some have only one Minister concerned with defence. Yet in Australia we have this terrible duplication that 1 have described. One of the things that this duplication in defence ministries leads to is the sort of thing that occurred in wartime in Great Britain, where the Air Force and the Navy competed against each other to gain their own strategic objectives. On many occasions each undertook strategic attacks that were kept secret from the other Services. This shows how the sort of competition that we have in Australia can develop to ridiculous levels. We must guard against this sort of thing. For this very reason, the three Services ought to be integrated into one. The only factor weighing against this is the hidebound tradition that seems to prevail. It appears that some senior officers in the Navy are more concerned about the way in which the knots on the trappings of their swords are tied than they are about the logistics and efficiency of the Service. Much the same can be said of the other two Ser- vices. As the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) has pointed out, we do not propose that, by taking the action that we suggest, defence expenditure should be reduced. What we aim at is greater efficiency and the availability of more funds for expenditure on the hardware and manpower requirements of the Services. This would achieve higher efficiency than we have at present in the forces.
In coming to a conclusion in developing the points that I am making, I should like to quote some more figures to demonstrate more clearly how superfluous the duplicated ministries concerned with defence are in relation to the other responsibilities that the National Government has. Canada’s annual expenditure exceeds $US8,274m. Annual expenditure is approximately $US1 2,448m in Japan, about $US1 9,000m in France, some $US22,733m in the Federal Republic of Germany, about $US10,711m in Italy and approximately $US26,097m in the United Kingdom, whereas Australia spends annually some $US6,642m. I have already given figures concerning the sizes of the ministries in the countries mentioned. None has more members in the Ministry than we have in Australia, though in every instance our population is much smaller. It is strictly accurate to say that only Canada and Italy have as many persons in the Ministry, as we have in Australia. All the other countries mentioned have considerably fewer members in their ministries. Why do we need all the additional Service Ministers that we have? Why should we have all this competition between them and between their departments? Is this a further example of the operation of Parkinson’s Law - of people trying to expand their responsibilities and the power that they can wield by making more and more people subordinate to them, mainly for the sheer luxury of being able to exert this sort of power and authority? One suspects that this factor is largely involved. If it is, this represents a very expensive sort of luxury for which the Australian people are expected to pay.
We do not need as many persons in the Ministry as we have. We certainly need Ministers in charge of separate portfolios relating to education, as I mentioned earlier, and to science. However, these two fields of activity are to be lumped together under one portfolio. The Minister for Health earlier made a brilliant interjection that did not tell us anything. The Government’s proposal under the terms of this Bill is supposed to be designed to rectify the deficiencies that have existed in the Ministry up to the present, but the measure will not make good the most glaring deficiencies, because it does not provide for separate portfolios in the fields of education and science. Furthermore, there is no proposal to integrate the functions of the Minister for Shipping and Transport and the Minister for Civil Aviation. I am sure that the Ministers in charge of these portfolios would be the first to agree with me, if they discussed the matter with me at some time, that they certainly have not enough work to keep them both fully occupied. Wc have also the Minister for Trade and Industry competing with the Treasurer and the Minister for Shipping and Transport. There is excessive competition of this kind within the Ministry. It is unnecessary and it leads to inefficiency and the breaking down of harmonious relations not only within the Ministry itself but also between the various departments, lt is completely ridiculous for Commonwealth departments to be engaged in the sort of keen competition - indeed, at times almost bitter competition - that is allowed to intrude on their functions at present because of the jealousies that filter down from the top. There is no proposal in this measure to overcome these deficiencies. Therefore I move:
– I second the amendment.
– I rule that the amendment is out of order. The Ministers of State Act fixes the number of Ministers but does not authorise the establishment of departments of state. That function is the constitutional right and duty of the Governor-General under section 64 of the Constitution. Therefore, the proposed amendment is out of order as it is not relevant to the Bill.
- Mr Speaker, I regret the necessity, so early in your occupancy of the Chair, to move:
That the ruling be dissented from.
– Will the honourable member state his objection in writing?
– Yes. (The motion having been submitted in writing)
-Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion.
– In proposing that your ruling be dissented from, Mr Speaker, I am aware of the logic - one might call it the narrow logic - of the interpretation which has been given. However, it would have the effect of frustrating an expression of the view that the Opposition desires to put to the House on this matter. We feel that in circumstances such as these, when we have stated our position clearly and generally, we must be able to proceed with an amendment consistent with and reflecting the arguments we have put during the debate.
The debate was a wide one. It covered the number of Ministers who could be appointed under this Bill. That is the matter covered by the narrow title of the Bill. In addition, however, arguments of the Opposition covered a wide range of subjects such as whether departments should be amalgamated, whether new departments should be formed and so on. The mind of the House was expressed during the course of the debate. Now, at this late stage, we find ourselves unable to give expression to the mind of the House by way of an amendment. That surely is an unsatisfactory position.
The Opposition finds this particularly galling because all the speakers who took part in the debate were Opposition members. At no stage was the Government, with its overwhelming majority - it has eightyone members in the House - able to provide a speaker to answer the submissions made on behalf of the Opposition. Therefore, we move dissent from your ruling so that we may be permitted to move an amendment which will cover the scope of the debate and which possibly will result in getting
Government members to their feet to answer the penetrating and general criticisms that we have made of this Bill and of the Government’s conduct in framing the Bill. I shall say no more at this stage because I want to give the Government an opportunity to provide a speaker on this very important matter.
– Mr Speaker, your ruling on the amendment moved by the Opposition has been questioned by the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns), and questioned on one ground only. He said that the debate ranged over a wide field. I would ask the House to examine the logical implications of his argument. If, due to the tolerance of the Chair, a debate ranges over a wide field and, for that one reason, the Opposition must be allowed to move an amendment which has some reference to a part of the debate but which may be outside the scope of the Bill, this is an invitation to the Chair to be very strict in enforcing the rules during a second reading debate.
By tradition in this House, we allow latitude and tolerance in second reading debates. We try to allow honourable members to express their views. But to deduce from that that honourable gentlemen, because they have expressed a view during the second reading debate on a Bill before the House, must be allowed to move an amendment which may have no relevance to that Bill, and which it may be quite outside the powers of this House to deal with, seems to me to be an exercise in false logic. The honourable member for Yarra has produced only this as a reason for moving dissent from your ruling.
Let us look at the situation. The Bill before the House relates to two simple things - a sum of money and a number. Virtually, what is proposes to do is to increase the number of Ministers by one and to add to the total sum of money voted for expenditure on Ministers of State. It has been well ruled by you, Sir, that the arrangement and organisation of Ministries are the prerogatives of the Executive. I do not doubt that each honourable member opposite would have a different arrangement if he were the Prime Minister of the day. This is a fascinating exercise. We have never heard from the Opposition what its policy would be in the remote likelihood of its being in office, but there is one thing of which I am certain. If there were a Labor Prime Minister he would insist that he had the right, within the powers of the Executive, to organise the Ministry in the way he saw fit, leaving to Parliament control over the total numbers. This is the right of an Administration. To debate an amendment of the sort introduced by the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) is clearly outside the powers of this House, and the amendment is quite unacceptable. 1 do not know why honourable members opposite, except that it be for propaganda purposes, have couched the amendment in the way they have, lt is quite plain that, if they had devoted a little more thought to it, they could have produced some kind of amendment which it would have been within the power of this House to deal with. The plain truth is that honourable members opposite have been making propaganda of this Bill all the time. I have heard several amendments to Ministers of State Bills debated during my time in this Parliament, but I have never listened to a more feeble raking over of the coals than is the case on this occasion.
– I rise to order.
-Order! I ask the Minister to confine his remarks to the question before the Chair.
– In view of the fact that the Opposition apparently does not want this debate to be widened, perhaps honourable members opposite will be in a more acceptable frame of mind if we put the motion of dissent from the ruling to the vote fairly soon. I. submit that we have not had one shred of evidence yet, Sir, that your ruling is wrong in any sense. Indeed, it is clearly correct, as I think I have demonstrated. I submit again that honourable members opposite are only doing this for propaganda purposes, and it is not a very creditable effort on their part.
– I think there are twenty new members in the House. 1 hope they realise how important in the general structure of the parliamentary system is a debate on a ruling by the Speaker and how important are the precedents that are set by rulings from the Chair. In a sense, this is one of the most important debates in which we are likely to participate for some time in this House.
You have ruled, Sir, I think, that the subject matter of the Opposition’s amendment is irrelevant. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Freeth) has indicated that there are points of view on his side which, I think, have dangerous implications to parliamentary democracy. He has said that it is beyond the power of this House to consider the administrative structure of the Departments of State which are created by Acts of this Parliament and which are answerable to this Parliament. Every Department of State is the creation and the creature of this Parliament. Each has been created to carry out some function laid down by this Parliament pursuant to the powers given to it by the Constitution. So anything of this nature is of primary importance for consideration here. The Government has chosen to amend the Ministers of State Act. The Act has to do with the number of Ministers and their payment. It is concerned principally with the payment of salaries. The Minister for Shipping and Transport has suggested that debate on the Bill is restricted because it is concerned only with a sum of money and numbers. If such a restriction were placed on members of Parliament our position would be impossible.
– Order! I ask the honourable member for Wills to restrict himself to debate on the motion that the ruling be dissented from. The honourable member is ranging far afield at the moment.
– You, Sir, have ruled that our amendment is irrelevant. The Minister for Shipping and Transport has said that the Bill has to do with only two things - the number of Ministers and salaries. We on this side believe that the Bill seeks to make a fundamental alteration to the structure and adminsitration of the Government of Australia and we believe that it is not only proper but also our duty to discuss the entire structure of the Bill when considering this matter. In our amendment we refer to the number of Ministers and to the structure of the Government. Are we, as a result of your ruling, to confine ourselves in debate to some mystical or semantic discussion of the difference between 26 and 25 or 27 and 22 without being able to refer in any way to the structure of the Administration? This would be an impossible imposition to place on the Parliament. It is not right that we should be asked to tolerate such inflexibility of discussion. In the eleven or twelve years that I have been here increasing strictures have been placed on members of Parliament in the discussion of these matters.
-Order! I remind the honourable member once again that the motion is that the ruling be dissented from. The honourable member for Wills is endeavouring to go further. He is not making a mere passing reference to the Bill. He is beginning to move into a debate on the Bill. I ask him to restrict himself to the motion.
– I understand that you, Mr Speaker, have ruled that our amendment is irrelevant to the Bill.
-Order! I have ruled that the proposed amendment is not relevant to the Bill.
– I presume that the words ‘relevant’ and ‘irrelevant’ have the same root and that therefore the question is whether the amendment is relevant. I submit that we may discuss its relevance only if we look at the contents of the Bill and the implications of the amendment. The Minister for Shipping and Transport is completely unaware of the significance of the debate on your ruling. When you make a ruling of this nature you, in effect, establish a precedent to be followed in this chamber in subsequent times. This is an important debate, even if the Minister is unable to understand that. I submit that anything concerned with the structure of Departments of State, flowing as it does from this administrative action by the Government, is relevant to the debate on the motion and that any restrictions which you impose must be rejected by the House as fundamentally affecting the way we are to proceed in this place during the life of this Parliament.
– I raise a point of order. The matter before the Chair is not concerned with what is relevant to the debate. It is a matter of whether the amendment is relevant to the Bill. The honourable member for Wills has referred to matters relevant to the debate. You, Sir, have ruled on the relevancy to the Bill of the Opposition’s amendment. This is a far different matter from that which the honourable member for Wills is now trying to debate.
-Order! I think the Minister for Shipping and Transport has a point. I have endeavoured to explain this to the honourable member for Wills.
– Mr Speaker, before you make what appears to be a ruling on the submission of the Minister for Shipping and Transport I ask you to hear a view from this side. I submit that if one listens carefully to what the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) is saying one will understand that he is arguing that certain things must be taken into account if one is to decide whether what is being said now is relevant to what the Bill allows to be said before this House. I submit that everything which the honourable member for Wills has said up to this point of time is relevant to that argument. He is not making some distinction between what should have been said in the debate on what was relevant to the debate and what is relevant to the Bill. He has submitted that certain things must be taken into account if one is to decide what is relevant to a discussion of the Bill. I submit that everything that he has said comes within the purview of those terms.
-Order! I remind the the honourable member for Wills of the terms of the motion before the Chair.
– I hope that the House is aware of the significance of the debate on your ruling, Mr Speaker, and that it comes somewhat out of the blue. But the question revolves around the meaning of the word relevant’ and its application in this House. If we take a restrictive view of the word relevant’, coupled with the practice in recent times of the Parliamentary Draftsman to prepare short Bills, impossible restrictions will be placed upon honourable members. Accordingly, I submit that in giving your ruling you should have due regard to our amendment and its relationship to the government of Australia. I submit that you should rule that the amendment is relevant and you should concede that your present ruling is unduly restrictive. I submit, with proper respect, that the House should reject your ruling.
That the ruling be dissented from.
The House divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed (vide page 75).
– Previous speakers have strongly supported a proposition that the various branches of the armed forces should not be under the control of separate Ministers. I am not in favour of this. I well remember a previous occasion when such a course was adopted and the troops felt that they had been deserted. I think it is a good thing to have separate Ministers for the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. I would suggest, however, that perhaps the portfolio of Shipping should be included with that of the Navy, because the matters dealt with under the two headnigs are very similar. Likewise I believe that it might be a good thing to have the portfolio of Civil Aviation brought under the control of the Minister for Air. I do believe, however, that it is wrong to suggest that the three armed Services should operate under one command.
Honourable members have said that this course has been adopted in Canada. I do not want to belittle Canada, but 1 think we should look at the bigger nations, where we find that the various branches of the armed forces are under the control of separate Ministers. When war broke out between Japan and Australia, Japan had three distinct armed forces, a Navy, an j-my and an Air Force. It did not have a single defence force, as seems to be the objective in Canada. Britain has had three arms of her Services, Navy, Army and Air Force; so has Australia and so has the USA. I would not like to see any one of our three Ministries done away with. I think each branch of the Services wants a Minister, and I cannot see the logic in the argument that we will achieve better control by having only one man in charge of all three branches. A previous speaker said that we should avoid any situation in which permanent heads of departments run the forces. It seems to me that once the Ministers are removed we will be in the position immediately of having heads of departments in control, and to my mind this would be quite wrong.
I hope the House will consider my proposition seriously and will not do away with any of our existing Service Ministries.
Each of our Services is very important, and each of them will be more satisfied if it retains its own Minister.
– I do not want to detain the House, and perhaps I can say what I want to say between now and the time of suspension of the sitting. There would be no point at this stage in reviewing or repeating the arguments that have b:en advanced by the Opposition in proposing an amendment and opposing the Ministers of State Bill. I want to say something quite different. In the course of the debate this afternoon the Opposition has offered very substantial criticism of what is proposed in this Bill. This criticism could be summed up under two headings. Firstly, as was explained by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) in great detail and with references to statements by Ministers and other members on the Government side, the addition of one more Minister is not for the purpose of making the Ministry function more efficiently. The purpose is not the simple one of providing a Minister to deal with education matters; it is to help to solve problems that exist between the Liberal Party section of the Government and the Country Party section of the Government. This criticism was fairly well detailed and 1 think a case has been made out for Government speakers to answer. But no Government speaker has chosen to answer any of the points that were made. They have been left to stand.
Mi Nixon - The honourable member is wrong.
– Nobody has said that The honourable member for Gippsland, who is frequently present to interject but rarely to speak, had the opportunity of saying this. The fact is that nobody on the Government side tried to dispute the case made by the Opposition. This, of course, is not unusual. Time and time again during the life of the last Parliament, and the one before, and the one before that, and the one before that also, in my experience, the same sort of thing has happened. The Opposition has put a case calling for an answer, and Government speakers have not tried to answer it. They have simply sought to use this Parliament as a rubber stamp for decisions made not even in the Cabinet room but in the Party room. I think the Australian people should take note of this. It is time that all those who call for effective opposition from this side of the House realised what is going on.
In the course of this debate we have submitted four speakers who took in all cases practically their full time. They were the honourable member for Hindmarsh, the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor), the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) and the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden). They put forward a well considered case which not one Government speaker has seen fit to try to answer.
I said earlier that the case made out by the Opposition was in two parts. I have referred to the first part and have said that what is being done in providing another Minister is not being done in the interests of the efficiency of the Ministry but in order to help to settle problems that have arisen between the Country Party and the Liberal Party. But if such members as the honourable member for Gippsland, who frequently interjects but hardly ever speaks, want to allege that this has been purely propaganda on our part or that it is rubbish and does not need an answer, then the second part of the case made out by the Opposition was quite different. We said that in the interests of the efficiency of the Ministry there should be some consolidation or amalgamation of the work that is being done. Here again a very detailed case was put forward. It involved an examination of the work required to be done in, say, the Postmaster-General’s Department or the Repatriation Department, which is insufficient to keep a Minister going. It extended then to an argument by the honourable member for Fremantle that the subject of science and education should be separated, and that we need a separate department for each of them, but that we do not necessarily need separate Ministers for the Army and the Navy. Nobody on the Government side has seen fit to come to grips with this criticism. It has nothing to do with politics. That point was made clear by the Opposition. So we ask the question, in this Parliament in which Government members have become inflated to the point of greed, in which the Ministry has been swollen in numbers but obviously not in debating ability: is this going to continue to be the state of affairs in the coming Parliament?
I think I have made all the points 1 wished to make, Mr Speaker, and I hope that even now some members on the Government side will try to answer them.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The House divided.
Ayes . . . . 60
Noes . . . . . . 35
Majority . . . . 25
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Snedden) read a third time.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) - by leave - agreed to:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Accounts Committee Act 1951-66 the following members be appointed members of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts: Mr Cleaver, Mr Collard, Mr Dobie, Mr Fox, Mr Gray, Mr Peters and Mr Robinson.
Debate resumed from 21st February (vide page 45), on motion by Mr Munro:
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.
-I rise to commence the debate, from this part of the House, on the motion addressed to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral. It was moved yesterday in this chamber and reads:
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General he agreed to:
May It Pleasb 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.
Sir, there has never been any doubt as to the loyalty of the members on this side of the House to cur Most Gracious Sovereign. Flowing from the news this morning that Her Majesty is under medical treatment, and that at this hour is in ill health I express, on behalf of the members on this side of the House, the wish that her recovery to normal good health is swift and that Her Majesty soon will not be in need of further medical advice.
The next step I desire to take in this debate is to extend to you, Mr Speaker, my congratulations upon your election to your high office. May you bring added lustre to the Parliament by a display of tolerance and strict impartiality so that maybe when you step down to make way for a new Speaker in the next Parliament, made possible as a result of a change of Government, you will leave on the pages of history a record, having been elected from a position of partiality in the Parliament to the high office of Speaker, of having shown that you were capable of rising above party politics and bringing to this House a new thought and impartiality in respect of what is necessary from the Chair, particularly in modern-day parliaments. Parliament is the bulwark of democracy, and this Parliament, having elected you to this high office, puts you in this position: your Party no longer needs your support, but the Parliament does. I am one who will be looking to you, knowing that your Party does not any more need your support, to bring to this House the lustre and impartiality that should always vest in the seat which you are occupying now.
The debate was launched last evening by two members new to this Parliament - both from the Government side, of course. I congratulate them upon their individual efforts, and I want to thank each for having made due reference to the men they have replaced. To the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Munro) I say that his speech was worthy of the representative of Eden-Monaro, and if he can carry the banner for Eden-Monaro as well as it has been carried for the last twenty-three years by A. D. Fraser of happy memory he will be doing a great work for Eden-Monaro and for this Parliament. To the member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) I repeat the same words with respect to Bill Riordan. The honourable member replaces a man of very high integrity who put this Parliament on a high pedestal. However, in the honourable member’s maiden speech last night I noticed a little touch of rancour with respect to international affairs such as, I suggest, never before came from a member for Kennedy. The members from Kennedy we have become accustomed to in this Parliament were men of very high standing desiring only to represent the people of Australia in the national Parliament in a fair and honourable way.
Returning to the subject matter with which I am concerned I want to congratulate the honourable member for Kennedy for the manner in which he so capably summed up, in less than one paragraph actually, this Liberal Party Government’s attitude towards the country areas of Australia generally and the north in particular. It is worthy of quotation. I listened carefully and I think that I could not have put it better myself. This is what the honourable member said:
For twenty years, Mr Speaker, 1 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 twenty 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.
That is the call from a new Country Party member coming into this Parliament after almost twenty years of a Liberal-Country Party Government which has neglected the north. That in itself is an indictment on this Government’s attitude over the last twenty years with respect to the very area the honourable member represents. This Government must accept, first of all, from one of its own new members the challenge to do the right thing at least in the next three years - something different from what it has done during the last eighteen years it has been governing this country. Since 1949 the members of the Party to which the honourable member for Kennedy is now attached have allowed the Government to neglect the north from one year to the other. Let me repeat what the honourable member said:
Morale is shattered and the great agitation fades away. On reflection I must conclude that these well-intentioned moves lacked substance.
There has never been any substance in this Government’s internal development policy in any direction affecting the north since it came to office. The cry that came from the new member for Kennedy last night might well be taken up by every wellmeaning Australian in this country because nothing tangible will develop from anything that this Government has done in national development since it came to office. When this Government is defeated at the next election the almost twenty years it has been in office will go down as the blackest period in the history of the development of Australia since Captain Cook landed here.
The speech of any Governor-General opening any parliament is the mirror of the thinking of the government - the planning of the government of the day. I have no doubt that the Speech delivered yesterday states the plan of this Government, fresh from the hustings, fresh back with a mandate to do what it likes. We got this plan in the Speech delivered yesterday. lt was delivered in an excellent manner by a good Australian, but there was nothing in it for Australia. I was one, Mr Speaker, who listened carefully to the elegant manner in which this speech was delivered. T nad visions of a new government coming back to office with twenty new members, a government spurred to a greater effort than it had made before, because it had the greatest mandate that a government here had ever had from the country to go and do the things that the country was calling out for. I had hoped that in this nation’s greatest hour of need - and this is its greatest hour of need - the Government would have announced some definite plans. We cannot afford to waste any further time. We must properly develop this country if this nation is to succeed in the future. I had hoped to hear, first of all, maybe, of the Government’s plans to immediately set about doing such things. I will name one or two of the things. 1 hoped to have heard that the Government was moving towards taking the necessary steps to inquire into and settle the great disquiet that at present occupies the minds of those employed in the Commonwealth Public Service. For a long time now we have been on the fringe of great difficulties in the Commonwealth Public Service.
Automation has struck us. Nobody knows better than the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) the difficulties he has experienced with the development of automation in the framework of the Postmaster-General’s Department, which is a section of this Government’s activities. He knows that staff discontent has flowed from that automation. This is evident right through the Commonwealth Public Service and the Government must know it. But here we cannot find in the Governor-General’s Speech, which reflects the thinking of a government fresh from the hustings, one word about auto*mation or the problems of the Public Service. This is almost unbelievable at a time when we all know of the immense dissatisfaction that is running through the Service. If the Government sincerely holds the beliefs about which it speaks from time to time, J would have thought that it would have been considering the problems of costs and prices in Australia. The Government must know that, if the cost spiral continues, finally - perhaps within three years - Australia will price itself out of the world’s markets. But here in a Speech that mirrors the Government’s proposals for the three years to come, not one word is said about measures to stabilise prices and wages. I would have thought that the Government would have had some proposal to ensure that at least the workers on the low wages would receive value for the money they earn.
I was astounded to see that the Government did not reveal anywhere in His Excellency’s Speech any proposal to provide real assistance to widows. Instead it has said that a widow who has children and who is under the age of thirty-six years will be able to get £250 if she can save £750 in a period of three years. That is a blot on the record of any government; it should not write such trash. 1 would have thought that His Excellency’s Speech would have revealed a plan that the Government had devised to stabilise prices for home building. Instead it is raising the level of housing loans. This will put a further load around the necks of those who try to buy a home. Surely a man is entitled to earn enough during his working life to buy a home so that he can enjoy it in the evening of his life. But not a word is said about this in the Governor-General’s Speech. Not a word is said about reducing building costs or attempting to stabilise the building industry so that a worker can achieve the objective of his working life - a home. I would have thought that these would have been the plans that a government fresh from the hustings would have put in the Speech. If it had, we would have been given some hope and something for which to fight. Instead, all we had was a spinning of words.
I would have thought that one matter that would have agitated the mind of a government preparing a programme for the next three years would have been the morale of the nation. The Government should examine the reasons for the decline in the nation’s morale. It is being undermined because of the continued drift of married women back into employment. Concern is now expressed about the growth of hooliganism. One of the big problems facing us now arises from the drift to a two-unit wage structure. Approximately 45% of the female work force today consists of married women. Most of them have children. They are not working because they want to work; they are working because our economy has reached the point where married women must work if they and their husbands want to buy their homes and the modern appliances that are available today. 1 hope I will not hear anyone say that hooliganism and what is happening to our young people is not the concern of this Parliament. We control the purse strings. It is our responsibility to see that a family can enjoy decent living standards without being dependent on more than the one wage. I would have thought that the Government, through the Governor-General’s Speech, would have given national leadership and would have dealt with problems of the kind 1 have mentioned.
We hear talk about the war in Vietnam. I was tremendously impressed by the speech last night of one of our new members. This was the speech of the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Munro). He spoke of the war he knew - the war on the roads. He told us that in 1965 we lost 3,164 lives on the roads and that in 1964 we lost 2,961. If we add together the fatalities on the roads for 1964 and 1965, we find that more people met their deaths on the roads in this country in two years than will, according to His Excellency, comprise our fighting force in Vietnam. His Excellency told us that the Government has 6,000 mcn in the fighting forces in Vietnam now. The honourable member for Eden-Monaro also told us last night that we had 77,723 casualties on the roads in 1965. That is 4.000 more than the Government has in our armed forces after twenty years in office. But in this Speech, which purports to be the mirror of the Government’s activity, not one word was said about this national war within our own circle that was mentioned by the honourable member for Eden-Monaro. If the Parliament raised every penny of taxation that it could and used it to make the roads safe for the travelling public, and as a result saved only one-tenth of the lives that have been lost, it would be the best money that had ever been spent by the Parliament in the interests of the nation. Someone will say later that this is a State matter. Is there anything in the Speech that would lead us to believe that we will not drift on for another three years in the same way? In the last two years, deaths on the roads rose from 2,900 to 3,100. If we do not take some action, by the end of the three years term of this Parliament we will find that deaths on the roads have risen to 5,000 a year, simply because we say this is a State matter.
I never thought that I would hear a Speech such as the one I heard yesterday. In my view, it is the mirror of the Government for the next three years. It shows a lazy, careless government, bereft of any plan for the development of the nation. If this is the mirror of the Government’s activities for the next three years, the Government must surely be branded as the government that has least regard for the people of Australia. It should be striving to establish standards that will once again make Australia proud of the conditions in which its people live. Instead of this, our standards are slipping down to a lower level each year. Each year we have more complaints of hooliganism; more married women going back to work; more people trying to find homes; and we are reaching the stage where our whole nation is crumbling. I cannot understand why the Government should provide a Speech such as the one we heard delivered by the Governor-General yesterday. Today we debated a measure to expand the Ministry to twenty-six. But if the Speech delivered yesterday mirrors the activities of the Government for the next three years, we do not need six Ministers, let alone twenty-six. If we really heard about the policies of the Government, all I can say is that the future of the people of Australia is black.
The State governments, whatever their political colour, are bankrupt. They can do no more than they are doing to make travel on the roads safe. They can only call to the people to save themselves. They can do no more than they are doing to provide the safety measures that are needed. They can do no more than they are doing to restore rail and road transportation to the level it should enjoy. They can do no more than they are doing for education. Babies are being born in the streets because of a lack of hospitals. But the Speech delivered yesterday denies all hopes to the States of finding the means to provide for their own development. I thought yesterday that I discerned some sadness on His Excellency’s face. He is a great Australian and knows as well as I and every thinking person knows that the Speech he delivered yesterday gave no hope of advancement for this fair Australia. The Speech suggested that the Government intends to let things run as they may, to let people be killed on the roads, to let married women go back to work and to let the children become hooligans. The Government believes that these problems are not its concern. It is no concern of ours. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. As I gazed across to the Press gallery yesterday afternoon while listening to the Speech I thought that the boys in the gallery would be pretty good if they could get much news from the Speech.
I remind honourable members of how the Press treated the Speech. The Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’, which is really the Government’s own newspaper, was more concerned with boys in a wild chase than with the Governor-General’s Speech because that was pushed off the front page. If we pick up the ‘Australian’ we see that it was more concerned about efforts to study too hard for status, because in that newspaper the Governor-General’s Speech had been pushed from the front page. The ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ at least published a photograph of the Governor-General and, in a little line at the top of the page, told the reader to go to page 8 to read about the Speech. We come then to the Melbourne newspapers. The ‘Sun News-Pictorial’ was more concerned with five persons on fraud charges than with anything in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. From the ‘Courier-Mail’ in Brisbane we would have expected a bit on the Government’s side, but when we look at the front page we see that it is concerned with a four lane road. Later we find that it is more concerned about a writ issued by a woman against lock Sturrock than with anything that was said by the Governor-General about the development of Australia.
I suggest to the House that 1967 is a terribly important year. The Government will achieve nothing unless it settles down. When I read the headline about five people being charged with fraud I thought that twentyfive people should be charged. If the Speech delivered yesterday is, as it should be, a mirror of the Government’s proposed activity, every Minister in the Parliament will be defrauding the nation to the extent of the money he is paid having regard to the job he is doing. The Government’s proposals are a disgrace to the national Parliament in a country which is crying out for development and for., other things which are needed. Is the Government proud of the fact that it can bring down a programme which neglects to do anything about the cause of 3,500 people being killed on the roads last year? Is it proud of allowing a two-unit wage system to develop in Australia so that instead of breeding good Australians we are breeding hooligans, as the Press is saying? Are we proud of the fact that in Sydney and Melbourne, because of the two-unit wage system that we are allowing to develop, we have reached the point where the police force is being called upon to do things that we never believed it would be called upon to do? For God’s sake, let no honourable member opposite think that these matters are the sole responsibility of a Stale government. The Commonwealth Government controls the purse strings and makes improvements in transportation possible.
Today I heard the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Freeth) explain what was happening in the Northern Territory railway system. He referred to 140 miles of track. 1 challenge him to lay on the Table of the House all the information that the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner has brought to him over the last six years relating to the need to renew the 140 miles of track to which he referred. The Government talks about developing the Northern
Territory, but it will noi even build a railway line or find the money to build a railway line over which the iron ore can bc hauled. In my view the Government has reached a stage where it has become complacent. It believes that it can never be beaten. The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) likes fishing and his Ministers like it easy. 1 have arrived at the conclusion that if the Speech delivered yesterday is the policy that the Government intends to follow, the people of Australia would be well advised to watch what happens between now and the time when we put some life into the Government. The Australian Labor Party is full of ideas. We will fight to the bitter end and we will fight with our teeth bared for decent conditions for the workers of this country, whether they are white collar workers or others. We will not stand by and watch the Government make hooligans out of future generations of Australians. We will not stand by and watch the Government allow our roads and transport systems to get to such a stage that we have 5,000 road deaths each year. We will not stand by and watch while people have additional burdens tied round their necks by way of interest rates on loans when they begin to buy a house. My Party will follow the principles and seek the goals for which it was created.
From now on the Government is warned that this Party will fight with every ounce of strength it has for every benefit for the Australian people, for the hooligans, as they are called, for improved road systems, for the white collar workers and for those concerned with transport. We will bring to them at the next election a plan which will sweep the Government from office in such a fashion that politically it will be dead. We will bare our teeth from now on. The Government has got away with an idiotic policy and it got away with international affairs, but its days are numbered. Government supporters are not going to get away with talking about 6,000 men in Vietnam while ignoring the cause of 6,000 people being killed on the roads in two years. We throw down the challenge to the Government. From tonight, so far as this Party is concerned, it is on.
Mr BRIDGES-MAXWELL (Robertson) (8.35]- Mr Speaker, I should like to express to you my congratulations and best wishes on your election to the high office that you now hold, and I should like to pass on to you the respect of your many friends on the central coast of New South Wales on the occasion of your election. We have just heard a very warm speech from our friend, the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr E. James Harrison), in which he accused the Government of having no new thoughts and making no new proposals in the Governor-General’s Speech, lt is notable that he discussed a number of new points of policy but that not one of them originated with him. They were mentioned by the honorable member and he stated them as coming from the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Munro) and the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter). This is indicative of what is happening in this Parliament. Government supporters are providing for the rejuvenation of the Parliament with new ideas and new policies which the Opposition is quoting. The only matters which the honourable member raised came from the maiden speeches of my colleague, the honourable member for Eden-Monaro, and my friend, the honourable member for Kennedy. I should like to express’ my congratulations to those new members on their very fine maiden speeches. They showed that in this Parliament we shall undoubtedly have new proposals. There will be modifications because, as has happened in the last seventeen years, many matters which were not mentioned in Governor-Generals’ Speeches have emerged during the term of the Parliaments. This is the process of government. The honourable member said that he has seen this country go down the drain further and further. The only figures that can really be correlated with this are those which show the size of the Opposition.
I should like to express my sympathy and sorrow to the people of Tasmania on the recent bushfires which they have suffered and to voice my admiration of the very great courage which was shown by individuals and by the people of Hobart and the rest of Tasmania in their ordeal. I express the sympathy of the people in the division of Robertson who were concerned at their plight. Many people spontaneously organised appeals and raised money which has been sent to Tasmania in order to try to replace what can never really be replaced because of the tragedy suffered.
Although honourable members opposite have said that there is nothing new that has happened in this Parliament, one thing which I believe is of very great significance is the establishment of the Ministry of Education and Science. This is of very great importance. Honourable members opposite seem to be claiming that they discovered or initiated this proposal. I admit that it has been part of their policy since 1961, but to claim it as theirs reminds me of people who say that Australia was discovered by Captain Cook. I believe Dirk Hartog had been to the western part of Australia before then. There were many before Captain Cook. If we look further at the proposal to establish a Ministry of Education and Science we find that it was suggested by Professor Messel. The Conservatives in Great Britain had adopted the policy well before the Labour Party ever discovered it and had stated it in one line of their policy. Apart from two lines in 1958, this is the first time that the Australian Labor party has, since Federation, mentioned a Commonwealth interest in education as part of its Federal platform. Having been through the platform of the Australian Labor Party for the years since Federation, I know that this is correct. The Conservatives in Britain and many people in other parts of the world acknowledged the importance of science long before. We in Australia have gone through a process of evolution and in our Federal system we have developed to a stage at which we can now establish a Commonwealth Ministry of Education and Science. In another debate this afternoon Opposition members discussed this subject at length. One would have expected various Opposition speakers, notably the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), who gave the most concise and most constructive speech on this matter, to go further and propose that education and science be associated in one portfolio and that a separate Ministry of Technology be established. The honourable member for Fremantle got very close to proposing this but did not quite get to that point.
Education and basic science have many points of similarity. The Labour Government in Great Britain has established a Ministry of Technology separate from the Ministry of Science that already existed. We in Aus tralia are a number of years away from this development. I believe that we should put this new department on firm foundations and get it functioning properly first. The next logical development would be the establishment of a Ministry of Technology. On this question, it is of great interest to read the views expressed by Lord Snow, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Ministry of Technology. As C. P. Snow, he has written more on science and the administration of science than any other Englishman, I suppose. Addressing the Sixth Meeting of the Science and Astronautics Committee of the United States Congress as a member of the Panel on Public Policies on Science and Government last year, he mentioned the reasons for the United Kingdom development and the factors concerning the need to separate technology and science that operate in a country that has limited resources.
As I have said, we in Australia have reached in the development of our Federal system a stage at which we have been able to make the major move of establishing a Ministry of Education and Science. The next stage, which may be a number of years away, will be to establish a separate department in the field of technology, after we have proceeded with the measures that are now proposed by the Government - though honourable members opposite say we are barren of thought - relating to the subsidising of industry and to assistance for research in secondary industry. With that sort of development will come the logical further step of establishing a new Department of Technology. The development of new knowledge raises associated problems that face every country in the world. There is no simple answer to them. In August 1965 the Labor Party announced its platform on science. In effect, honorable members opposite then discovered science and for the first time provided for it in their platform and policy. For the next eighteen months or so they boasted vehemently about this aspect of their policy. It was a very elementary science policy that has been shown to be unworkable in any other country.
Each country is evolving new methods. The United States of America has run into great trouble in the administration and sponsorship of research, and great public debates are occurring in each of the organisations that operate in this field. The Americans are trying to reorganise and develop new methods. In the United Kingdom for many years government participation in the development, sponsorship and administration of science has encountered difficulties. Problems have arisen also in France. One has only to read the publications issued by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, such as ‘Ministers Talk Science’, to see the difficulties encountered in evolving an effective method of administering this area of government activity. The basic reason for these problems that have arisen is that knowledge is advancing at a tremendous rate. People in public office, whether in Cabinet, in Parliament, in the Public Service or in other fields of public administration, must either understand science or rely on the advice of people who understand the subjects with which they themselves are not familiar. There will be no simple answer to the problem. The search for a solution must be a continuing one. We in this country have faced this problem perhaps more realistically than the people of any other country.
At present, we have a unique record. In fewer than 200 years we have developed what is undoubtedly the most barren continent of all into one that supports a nation that is among the top ten trading nations. 1 believe that we have a unique opportunity to create a nation by developing a continent. If we can do this and maintain a high standard of living and provide a full franchise we shall have done something that no other country has done. If we can do this, it may well be our destiny to prove to the world whether or not democracy can really work. I believe that science, technology and the development of new knowledge represent the key that will open the door to our destiny so that we may see whether it lies in the direction that I have mentioned.
The question is whether we can exploit the benefits of science and reject the dangers of technology. Science is the seeking of new knowledge - of the truths of nature. Technology represents the use to which man puts the knowledge that he gains. Herein lies the danger. A ton of iron refined from ore from the Hamersley Range is a physical fact. The use to which it is put depends on the direction given to technology as distinct from science. That ton of iron could be used to make scalpels to cure or to make guns to kill. This illustrates the inherent danger to which I am directing attention. We in Australia are not unique in the world in facing this danger. We who are in public life must come to understand its essential nature. Vice-Admiral H. G. Rickover, who was responsible for the development of the nuclear submarine carrying Polaris missiles, in a Granada Lecture before the British Association for the Advancement of Science, delivered at the Guildhall, London, on 27th October 1965, gave what I regard as one of the finest papers ever presented on this subject of the dangers of technology. In the concluding paragraph of the lecture, which was entitled ‘A Humanistic Technology’, published in Nature’ of November 1965, he declared:
A free society centres on men. it gives paramount consideration to human rights, interests and needs. But, once ordinary citizen; come to feel that public issues are beyond their comprehension, a pattern of life may develop where technology, not man, would become central to the purpose of society. If we permit this to happen, the human liberties for which mankind has fought, at so great a cost of effort and sacrifice, will be extinguished.
Let me just give the House an illustration to demonstrate man’s imperfect understanding of the dangers of technology. It concerns the threatened extinction of the sperm whale, particularly in the southern oceans. A survey of the environmental needs and breeding cycle of these whales has been undertaken. Man has been killing them in large numbers and they are now likely to become extinct. If this happens, the giant squid, which is kept down in numbers because the whales feed on it and which is not now seen along the coasts of the world, will gather along the coasts in great force. This in turn will have a tremendous effect on the smaller fish. If we do not understand science, technology and the new knowledge that we are creating, we are liable to upset the ecology and cause far greater damage than possibly would the controlled use of atomic weapons and other matters such as that.
We come to the question of what we in this country should do. I believe we are very fortunate indeed that the Academy of
Science under Sir Macfarlane Burnet has taken such an interest in this matter I recall with great interest a very important speech that he made - several members of this House were present - when he opened a conversazione at the University of New South Wales held by the Academy early last year. I have in mind also men like Sir Frederick White of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. The facilities of that body are being used to hold seminars such as the one that was held for scientists and journalists at the Academy of Science in Canberra fast year. The Academy of Science has recently established an organisation to bring industry and the people in industry closer to the scientists. Something is being done by our newspapers. For example, this week the Sydney Morning Herald’ has been publishing a series of articles to educate people in science. The Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’is publishing articles on science written by Professor Butler. The ‘Australian’ was, I think, the first newspaper to have a fulltime science journalist on its staff. The Australian Broadcasting Commission, through Dr Peter Pockley, has been running a series of television and radio programmes on science. Work is also being done in this field by organisations in industry. I shall mention only two of them. They are the Australian Institute of Management and the Royal Institute of Public Administration. They have taken a great interest in The subject of government, science and the use of technology. Thisis only a start. As Vice-Admiral Rickover has said, this is a national problem.
In this Parliament on 20th October 1965-I refer to page 2033 of Hansard for that year - the suggestion was made that we establish an unofficial committee of the Parliament, similar to that which has been operating since before the war in the United Kingdom Parliament.I should like to see such a committee established, and I shall endeavour to get it established, in the Australian Parliament during the next three years. Perhaps I may refer to the British committee. It consists of members of both sides of both Houses of the Parliament there. They are people who are not members of the Cabinet or the Ministry. Other representatives are scientists and members of scientific bodies throughout the country. The committee meets regularly and has several main objects. These are -
To promote a liaison between politicians and the scientists and to provide members of Parliament with authoritative scientific information from time to time in connection with debates.
To bring to the notice of Members of Parliament and Government departments the results of scientific research and technological development which bear upon questions of current public interest.
To arrange for suitable action through parliamentary channels whenever necessary to ensure that proper regard is had for the scientific point of view.
To examine all legislation likely to affect the above and take such action as may be suitable.
To watch the financing of scientific and technological research, education and development.
To provide its members and other approved subscribers with a regular summary of scientific matters dealt with in Parliament.
I think this is a matter of considerable importance. We in Australia need, perhaps, more than the people of any other nation, a very great understanding of science and technology, because we will have to use it in competition with countries with far more sophisticated administrations than we have and who make far greater use of science and technology than we do. We have a smaller population and more limited resources. If we are to survive as a nation, we will have to compete against other nations with our products. To do this we must produce goods of better quality and at lower prices. This will involve the use of up to date technological methods. I hope that when a proposal for the establishment of this committee is brought before this Parliament the reaction to it will be favourable, because I believe its establishment is a matter of considerable importance.
In addition, as we develop, we shall have to make far greater use of the knowledge that is available in the world. Perhaps in this context I might briefly mentionThe development of our libraries. The Australian Advisory Council on Bibliographical Services published in 1963 a report by a Professor Tauber on the services that are available in this field. I believe that quite a lot has been done since 1963, but there is far more to be done. I believe the Council has prepared submissions for the various governments of Australia. I think it is of great importance that more money should be devoted to this work. It should be used not only to increase the size of the collections of our libraries for research and historical purposes but also so that the retrieval and dissemination of knowledge may be quick and effective. There are teleprinters linking the eight areas of Australia connected with the National Library. 1 think that the President of the Senate (Sir Alister McMullin) and Mr Harold White, the National Librarian, have done a great deal in this field. It is of importance, but of greater importance is the development of this system to cover a wider area so that we can have information available immediately, or locate it, not only within Australia but also overseas, where far more material is stored. This will cost not thousands of dollars but several millions of dollars, but 1 believe it is money that we cannot afford no! to spend.
A sub-committee of the Council is examining the whole question of the retrieval, dissemination and storage of knowledge through libraries. This is not confined to Australia. The sub-committee is examining the question also from the point of view of allowing our research workers and industries to use the facilities and knowledge available in other countries. We must recognise the limitations of our ability to generate knowledge. We must pick the areas in which we will expend funds, and we must be willing and able to use the knowledge that is freely available in other countries. The former Attorney-General (Mr Snedden) very kindly made available to me some officers of his Department to discuss the matter of patents. This is an area within Australia that is largely untapped. It is an area where vast knowledge is available which can be applied and used by Australian industries. The problem that we face in Australia today is how to use new knowledge to develop this country as rapidly as possible. Mr Dunlop, Chairman of the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd. in his annual report this year, said:
Research is expected to make innovations; but it also has a vital function in maintaining a climate for technical development, for change and innovation and for increasing productivity in all parts of a company. These things are the heart of industrial progress.
I go further and say they are the heart of national progress. If sufficient Australians believe this, if we as a people can come to understand our needs and the benefits and dangers of science and technology, and if we retain a private enterprise system, then we will populate, develop and hold this continent; we will fulfil our destiny and prove that democracy can work.
- Mr Speaker, may I take this opportunity to congratulate you on your elevation to your high office. I trust that in the course of the next three years we do not have too much trouble with each other.
The honourable member for Robertson (Mr Bridges-Maxwell) treated us to quite a discourse on the subjects of education, science and whales. With most of his pious thoughts we can thoroughly agree, but might I remind him that he supports the parties which have the opportunity to do something about these matters. It will be interesting to see just what the honourable member succeeds in achieving during the life of this Parliament. It is worth drawing to the honourable member’s attention that in order to get more education the prime necessity is not so much a new Ministry of Education as more money. We already have in this country at least six Ministers for Education. Money is what they want. Something else is of great importance in the field of education: we can extend our education facilities generally and add great facilities for higher tertiary education, but what of our graduates? It may be of some interest to honourable members to know that at least 2,500 Australian science and technology graduates arc now living permanently abroad. People whom we have already educated are no longer living in this country because we failed to find positions in which to employ them after we educated them. I think it is important not just to provide education but also to be able to retain the services of our graduates after they have completed their courses.
In the matter of development, what has been done in the north? We are told that in that part of Australia, from which I come, all kinds of deposits, principally coal and bauxite, are being developed. But the Government is not developing these deposits’, private enterprise is. In a few years our landscape will probably resemble the landscape of the moon, if latest photographs from satellites sent to the moon are a reliable guide. Our countryside will be filled with large holes. It will be exploited and our minerals extracted and exported. We will probably be able to develop a flourishing tourist trade showing sightseers over this landscape. We are told that at present at Mount Morgan we have one of the biggest man-made holes in the world. It is about three-quarters of a mile across and 820 feet deep. Busloads of people are taken to look at it. But at least we can say that Mount Morgan has been developed by Australians mainly for the benefit of Australians. What is the position with some of our other activities? Bauxite is being extracted from northern Queensland and sold to Japanese interests for £2 a ton. Those interests resell it for £28 a ton.
– It is not very profitable for us, but it is good for the Japanese. The Japanese steel industry today exists largely on Australian iron and coal. What the Japanese failed to get twenty years ago they now have.
– Given to them.
– Yes, given to them. They pay a royalty of 3d a ton on the coal. One of the remarkable things about this deal is that the royalty starts at 6d a ton and after a certain tonnage has been reached it is halved to 3d a ton.
– Australia is a good quarry.
– This is what Australia is at the moment being developed as - a quarry. Is it not possible for us in this country to develop industries around our mineral deposits? Are we to become the quarry for the world’s industries? We do not for a moment suggest that we should do all of these things.
– What about the steelworks-
– Order! The honourable member for Robertson has already spoken in the debate.
– What is wrong with building a steelworks in Queensland? It would be a good idea to have a steelworks in Queensland. What we are developing today is a sizeable unemployment situation which could be remedied by developing industries.
We are developing in this country new coal deposits. We have enormous quantities of coal in Australia. One of the shortages that confronts Australia is a shortage of motor fuel. We obtain only 2% of our present requirements of motor fuel from our own resources. Motor fuel accounts for one of our largest expenditures of foreign exchange. The United States has developed a method of extracting fuel oil from coal for l1c a gallon. It costs us more than 40c a gallon. South Africa is able very largely to produce its own fuel oil today for 25c a gallon, and all of it from coal. Australia has probably the largest coal resources in the world. Near where I live is a coal seam 98 feet thick. There is only 16 feet of overburden. But that deposit is not used because the coal is not of the particular type which the exporters wish to exploit. We have plenty of other coal deposits. There is plenty of coal at Moura and at Blackwater. The limits of these deposits have not yet been ascertained although the deposits have been bored for 240 miles and they are coal all the way.
There are ninety-one by-products of coal. From coal you can get dyes, picric acid and all sorts of things. But we do not exploit these by-products. This is something we could do. It is possible that we could be independent in the matter of motor fuel. Why do we not do something about this? Before all else we in Australia should do something about water conservation. Australia is the driest continent. Most of our water flows into the sea. What do we do about this? We talk about it. Governors and Governors-General in opening parliaments talk about these things. Their governments say that they will investigate them. In central Queensland we have one of the largest river systems in Australia - the Fitzroy River basin. On 2nd October 1928 a Bill went through the Queensland Parliament to enable the building of a dam on the Nathan Gorge. The gorge is still there but, thirty-nine years later, there still is no dam. What sort of progress in development is this? What is the position relating to the building in central Queensland of the Nogoa Dam? Where have we got with its construction? People have been agitating for this dam for fifteen years. The site is there, the water is there and there is a use for the cotton and the other primary products that we could grow if we had the dam - but there is no dam. There is not likely to be a dam while we deal with these problems as we do. We say: ‘Let somebody else do it’. This Government is prepared to do all the developing in the world if somebody else will pay for it. This is what is happening in central Queensland today. We see bigger and better machines, employing fewer and fewer men, being used to drag the coal from the ground. The developers dig a hole in one place, cut across the country opening up a man-made canyon and place the spoil back in the spot they have just passed. When they have finished .the country cannot be used even to graze bandicoots. And what have we got for all this? Threepence a ton.
The Queensland Government Railways provide cheap freight rates for coal that is exported for somebody else. The charge is $2 or $3 a ton, but when it comes to getting the grain sorghum out of central Queensland the freight rate is $10 a ton. We can help the Japanese to get cheap coal, but we cannot help Australians to get cheap bread or Australian farmers to get their grain on to the market. The Government was horrified when the primary producers of central Queensland suggested that they should get their grain carried for the same price that coal was carried. The primary producers were told: ‘No, we have to pick some grain up here and some more down the line whereas the coal is all picked up at once’. The Government will do nothing to help the. people of this country, but it will collect 3d a ton on the export of coal. lt could get 2s a ton if it wanted to. The Japanese need the coal and are prepared to pay for it, but we cannot blame them for getting it as cheaply as they can while this Government is idiotic enough to sell it to them at that price.
The Government intends to do great things in respect of defence. Of course the Government must do something about our defence. When the country is being invaded it is no good thinking of what should have been done years before. This attitude does not pay dividends. It is even worse than realising, after our coal has all gone, that 2s a ton royalty and not merely 3d a ton could have been got for it. Nobody quarrels with the proposition that we need allies and friends. Australia has always needed them and it is prudent to get the best allies we can and to make the best deal we can, but we should not discount ourselves in the process. The Australian people are told that we could not resist invaders because we have not the population, but why could we not do so? Let us take as an example the situation with which we are concerned now. Vietnam is a nation of eighteen million people. We arc fighting a half of a half of that nation in South Vietnam. Our opponents are estimated to have 350,000 men in the field. They are fighting against the greatest military power the world has ever seen - its greatness measured by manpower backed by technical know-how. That great military power is allied to us, to New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand, yet the massive manpower and equipment lined up against our enemy in South Vietnam has not been able to defeat it in five years. Imagine the weight of manpower and material that has been poured into that urea. Yet we are told that a small nation cannot hold off a big one. There must be some magic about the Vietnamese, because they are holding off the mighty. There is no proof today that we are any nearer to victory than we were years ago. We are still fighting and we are increasing our manpower. The enemy we are fighting has no artillery, no aircraft, no navy and no armoured fighting vehicles. They fight in the jungle with nothing bigger than mortars.
– They use bows and arrows.
– That may be so, but my point is that they are successfully resisting a combination of power that should have overwhelmed them in a month. We are told that if this sort of thing happened to us we would be defeated quite easily. No notice is taken of the requirements to mount an invasion. We have forgotten what happened in the invasion of Europe when two of the greatest maritime forces in the world took two solid years to accumulate 2,000 merchant ships and between 500 and 600 naval craft to transport an army 22 miles; and when we got to the other side of the Channel it was no pushover either.
This country can do more than it does. We have two million men in the manpower age group. For the $ 1,000m we spend each year surely we can do better than to aim at a permanent army of 40,000 and a navy which, with all due respect to everybody, is organised largely as an anti-submarine patrol and whose surface combat ability is not very great. Until the arrival of two destroyers from the United States of
America the biggest gun that went to sea in the Australian Navy was 4.5; now it is a 5-inch.
– It is an improvement.
– Yes, but while we were buying three destroyers from the United States the Indonesians were getting seven of a similar class from Russia. When we compare the vessels we see that against our 5-inch gun the Indonesian vessels carry four 5.1 guns which have an additional range of possibly 400 yards. I was told by a former Minister for the Navy that one of the reasons why we bought this class of destroyer as against the cruiser 1 suggested we should get from Great Britain was that the American destroyer travelled at 35 knots and the British vessel at 33 knots. The Indonesians now have seven destroyers that can do 38 knots, so we have missed out anyway. Our vessels might just as well be 5 knots slower as 3 knots slower, because the Indonesian vessels could catch ours or escape from ours. The Indonesians operate their destroyers with 100 fewer men in each crew. Their vessels have four twin missile launchers whereas ours have one. A recently retired admiral said that although we can reload our twin launcher rapidly it cannot be fired again until the first two missiles disappear from the radar screens. If we put our three destroyers against the seven Indonesian destroyers there is not one single point on which we have an advantage, except that we have bigger crews in our vessels. This means, of course, that if the vessels are lost we lose more men. This is not good enough for the money we are spending. It has been alleged by people who know something about the construction of naval craft that we could have got more for our money had we built the vessels in Australia. These destroyers cost $44m each, which is a lot of money for a destroyer no matter where it is built.
It is difficult to believe that we are getting the best we can get from the money we spend. We are now purchasing a number of swing-wing general performance aircraft at a cost of $9,030,000 each. Nobody knew when the aircraft were ordered what they would cost, because they were purchased off the drawing board. In this instance, however, we will be getting some thing that will be up to date - but at what price? The Swedes claim that they could have sold us aircraft with a similar performance for half the cost. They are building such aircraft for themselves. We can afford twenty-four of these planes yet the Swedes, with a population only threequarters of our population - Sweden has barely eight million people - have established an air force of about 1,000 front line aircraft, comprising 600 fighters of the Mirage type and 400 bombers. They build them themselves. They have established an aircraft industry which can do it; we have not. We have almost twelve million people in our country, yet we say that we cannot do this and that we must purchase our aircraft from some other country, despite the obvious disadvantage that in time of emergency we may be deprived of vitally necessary parts. We have the Mirage in service. We can construct 85% of it, but nobody has yet been able to train pilots to fly 85% of an aircraft. You must have 100% - and do not imagine that the country supplying the vital components will always be willing to do so. We have already had an experience with the Swedes. We purchased an item of army equipment from them, an infantry projector, the Karl Gustav missile - and what happened? The missile was sent to Vietnam for use by the infantry there, and what did the Swedish Government do? It promptly said that it did not approve of the war in Vietnam and so there would be no more ammunition. If we make these items of equipment ourselves we are independent. Irrespective of what we on this side of the House may think of the war in Vietnam, and we think plenty about it-
– What do you think about it?
– I will tell the honourable member what I think about it. If we are engaged in a war in Vietnam or anywhere else and use equipment that depends on foreign ammunition and we cannot get that ammunition when we need it, then we are making an error of gross magnitude. We have people whom we have trained to use these weapons and who depend on the necessary ammunition to make them effective, but the ammunition is not available when needed. This has happened, let me repeat. It happened last year, and honourable members on the Government side know that it happened.
J think we are quite justified in criticising any government policy that results in the development of our defence around the importation of even one single item that we could manufacture in this country. As for the cost of these items, nothing could be more expensive than the Fill aircraft, and the Government is not too sure even yet that it will operate according to the claims that are being made for it. The Government does not know the price of it. It has not a clue how much it will cost, although we know that the price is now quoted at between nine and ten million dollars for each aircraft. This is one of the unhappy and indisputable facts that make us dependent on somebody else, turn us into a satellite. One thing that this country at least could do is try to be independent. If we have allies one of our obligations is to be able to stand up to any treaty that we enter into, to be able to pull our wight. We should not enter into a war, as we have done in this instance, with no control over the policy behind the pursuit of that war and no say in if. If the Americans wanted to stop the war tomorrow they could do so, and they would not even ask us our opinion. If they wanted to keep it going for ten years they would not ask us about it. That is for certain. But we will be tangled up in it for the full period, simply because we are afraid not to be. We are not afraid of the North Vietnamese or of the Chinese. We are afraid that if we do not back our allies on this occasion they will not back us if an emergency arises. The only thing I can say about that is that if anybody attacked Australia and we did not have the assistance of our allies in Vietnam, if they cannot do any better than they are doing in Vietnam we would still manage to last a long time, particularly with the industrial ability that we have and the reputation that we have in this field. We could do a lot better than is being done in Vietnam at present.
– We have never fought a war on reputations.
– No, but we have built a reputation in wars, and it is not the worst in the world either. I have not forgotten the fact that in both the major wars in which we have been involved the people of this country saw fit to elect Labor governments to fight them, and they fought them successfully against nations with a great deal more power than Vietnam ever had. This Government cannot win even the one against North Vietnam, against a handful of people who cannot even get modern equipment.
– What did the Liberal Government do in 1939?
– It was kicked out to make way for a government that could fight the war. Although this Government may try to give the impression that the Opposition is against the defence of this country, let me say that the only criticism we have is that what the Government is doing is insufficient, and that it would not in a crisis be sufficient to keep anybody out of this country. This Government could not fight Portuguese Timor at the moment.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– May I ask you, Sir, at the outset to pay my respects to the Speaker we elected yesterday. I am sure 1 speak for honourable members generally when I say that we wish him a very happy and peaceful tenure of his hot seat. Those of us who have known and worked with Mr Speaker over the years have a great admiration for his very fine qualities, and I ask you, Sir, to pass on these comments to him.
I join with the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr E. James Harrison) in expressing the best of good wishes to the Governor-General, Lord Casey. Many of us have felt very proud of the job that he has done as our senior representative and as the representative of the Queen in this country. He has travelled widely and he has an extraordinarily alert mind. I hope that he also has a very happy time during the remainer of his term as GovernorGeneral.
I would like also to congratulate the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. I listened carefully to the remarks they made, as did the honourable member for Blaxland, and I thought they both did an excellent job and will make first class representatives of their electorates. I thought it quite right and proper that one of them belonged to the party that you represent, Mr Deputy Speaker, when you are not in the Chair, and the other one belonged to another party. I thought they gave fine examples of maiden speeches and 1 formed the opinion that they will be widely honoured during their terms in this Parliament and, 1 hope, in many Parliaments to come.
Let me move on now to the very lively speech of my friend the honourable member for Blaxland.I thought he followed an unusual line of logic tonight. He roundly condemned the Government for neglecting northern development, yet he seemed to resent interjections asking which parties won the seats in the northern areas in the recent election.I suggest he cannot have his cake and eat it too. I did, however, appreciate what he tried to do tonight, which was to infuse some life into his party, to give it some encouragement and determination to fight issues out over the next three years. For this I give him great credit. I would remind him, however, that if he tries to infuse life into this situation he will need more than words. A few deeds will be needed as well.
If I may follow up that line, I was very interested in the few words on northern development that we heard from the honourable member for Capricornia (Mr Gray). One thing that he said I frankly thought quite extraordinary, although he has been here a good deal longer than I have. He said that the Government does nothing about northern development and simply leaves it to private enterprise. This is one of the most naive remarks I have heard for some time. Surely one of the policies that any responsible government follows is the encouragement to the maximum extent of private enterprise in areas such as the northern areas of Australia. Any Government that did not encourage this would be irresponsible. After all, where do we get our investment from? I may not be a very profound economist but I imagine we get our investment from the private sector of the economy, from the public sector and from foreign investment. Surely everybody in this place knows that there is a critical shortage - and there always will be - of investment funds to enable us to progress as rapidly as we want to. This is quite obvious.
Now, what are we supposed to do? We are asked by the honourable member for Capricornia to try to use up valuable governmental sector funds to produce a situation which could probably be handled by a complete alternative in the other two sectors that I have mentioned, private investment and overseas investment. May I quote just a small example of this. What has the Government of Tasmania done just recently in the case of iron ore? If 1 understand the position correctly, the Tasmanian Government has dealt with Japanese investment to develop the resources of the State. Is there an inconsistency about this or is there not? Do honourable members opposite want to have their cake and eat it too? I just cannot understand the position when the Labor Government in Tasmania takes action of which honourable members opposite disapprove and which they do not encourage in the Federal sphere.
Where are we going on this matter? I must point out that I do not represent the northern aneas of Australia. As far as I can see from my travels whether it be to Weipa in Queensland or anywhere in the Northern Territory, Australia is booming today. Why is it booming? It is booming because this Government has encouraged investment in those areas. That is the reason why Australia is booming. It does not matter where honourable members opposite look into in the future, but it is no use harking back to the old days. The investment and expansion possibilities of these areas in the future is what we have to look at. I suppose honourable members will not mind me becoming a little self-centred and pointing out that today I asked the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) a question on the banking corporation which we hear may be introduced. I believe that Australia should be able to have an equity in projects of national importance. This applies to many of the new mineral resources development plans which will occur in the future in Australia. I believe that this is right and that the Government has the situation as well in hand as our limited investment possibilities can make it today. I have every faith in this Government because it has proved that it can act and not just talk and that it will carry this matter through into the future.
Every time I rise to speak I seem to cross swords with the honourable member for Capricornia on the subject of the Fill aircraft. I will dispose of this subject very briefly tonight by pointing out that, in spite of the fact that the honourable member says that we do not know the costs of this most modern and tremendously exciting aircraft, he knows as well as I do that this is not so. We do know the basic costs of the Fill. What we do not know is the cost of any other additions, alterations or modifications that we might see fit to make or ask for in the development of this aircraft. The honourable member for Capricornia knows this fact. It has been mentioned in this House not once but time and time again. Yet we still hear this irresponsible statement that the Government does not know what the costs are. The Government does know what the basic cost is.
– Will the honourable member tell us?
– I cannot tell the honourable member and he cannot tell me what modifications and alterations we may make in the future of this aircraft. But honourable members opposite are dodging the point and are guilty of gross overgeneralisation if they tell the people of Australia that we do not know the costs of the Fill aircraft. We know the basic costs. We will price out any modifications that are made. I am sorry if, temporarily, I am not making my remarks through you, Mr Deputy Speaker, but I will come back and patch up that discrepancy immediately.
I am interested that the last two or three speeches have dealt with defence and foreign affairs. I welcome the chance to shoot down - I hope once and for all - some of the antiquated thinking that has been expressed in this House in the past in relation to our defence position and our foreign affairs thinking. The first point that really aggravates me ls the tendency of Australians - members of Parliament or not - to prejudge what is a democracy in South East Asia. This is the most fatal mistake that we in Australia can make today because (a) nobody defines democracy, and (b) we get this vast, dangerous over-generalisation in this regard. Although I respect him very much as an individual, I consider that nobody is more guilty of this than the former Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell). He says that we should not risk the lives of out men in a country that is not democratic. Now, what are the facts? There are 122 nations that are members of the United Nations today. Over 50% of those nations do not have a government based on majority rule.
May I get at the problem another way. Exactly twelve months ago - almost to the day, I think - I was in Kuala Lumpur at a seminar on economic development. An Australian trained professor who was based at an overseas university read a paper, the sum effect of which was that, in his opinion, democracy could not work in South East Asia; it was not working in South East Asia; and it could very likely inhibit economic development in that region. Two days later - that is, two days after a very solid debate on this subject - delegates to the seminar - and these were big delegations with fifteen members from each of eleven nations of South East Asia - agreed completely amongst themselves that democracy was working in South East Asia and that anyone who tried to prejudge their ideas on democracy just could not do so. Now, these delegates had a case. They said that if we set a totalitarian regime on top of a society we must enforce it rigidly and that this cannot be a democracy. They took the view - and the same position might apply in Africa as in South East Asia - that a democracy must grow with education, responsibility and, to use a hackneyed phrase, from the grass root level. They took the view also that if one of these nations grew from the underdeveloped stage, the local government level, the regional government level or the provincial government level and still had virtually a dictator on top of the pyramid, as it were, this was a move, and a correct move, towards democracy in the South East Asian area.
The first thing of which so many people have been guilty over the last twelve months has been to say that we should not attempt to rescue a nation because, to use a generalisation, it is not democratic. Democracy is a matter of degree. There are many, many countries - some of them awfully close to home - which I quite frankly would not accept as completely democratic. But the decisions are made by ‘the society of the nation in which people live. People are responsible for the decisions. People are responsible particularly if they have a voice in their nation’s affairs and if they have a vote in a secret ballot. I take the point that the Australian Government has sent troops on invitation to a nation to help it to put up a resistance to this business of being overrun by infiltration, by terrorism and by every other means that will have the ultimate effect of not allowing a person to have his private vote through a ballot box. If, in time to come - and I think we could well have an example of this, regrettably enough, in India - people exercise their right through the ballot box to say whether they want one form of government or ideology or another form, it is their right to do so. As for the moral case, I feel certain that we will stand in good faith with the people of South East Asia if we stick to principles that are right and in which we can believe. This is exactly what is happening at the present time in South East Asia.
I notice, for instance, that the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) in his book ‘Living With Asia’ says that Australia should not intervene militarily in Asia. He gives, amongst other reasons, this statement:
Intervention harms Australia’s relations with most Asians and indeed with much of the rest of the world and this ultimately harms our power to defend ourselves.
I do not know whether lie said this but I see that the honourable member for Yarra is reported as having said in Saigon:
There is no antagonism towards Australia or her commitment in the Vietnam war. It is simply regarded as our own business and not a topic for discussion.
I can imagine that he did not wish it to be a topic for discussion, but frankly these are amongst the most ridiculously somersaulted couple of opinions I have heard for a long while. But if there is a lesson in this it is that the people who go to these countries with an open mind and have a look come back with a slightly altered opinion from that which they held before they went. This is as it should be.
Personally I look on our involvement in South East Asia as running with the tide of Asian opinion. There will be others who will disagree with me, and it is their right to do so, but I feel strongly that we are running with the tide of feeling in South East Asia today. Possibly I have used this argument before in this House, but let us think back five or ten years and ask ourselves what we thought would be the future of Thailand, Laos, Burma, South Vietnam, North Vietnam, Cambodia and the many countries of Asia in this region. How did they feel? I think that without any doubt what they felt was that politically, economically or militarily they would be controlled in due course by Communist China. Some might think there is nothing wrong with that, but that is what they accepted as a fact. It was this possibility that moulded their thinking. It was this concept that they had to accept; they had no alternative.
The great thing that the nations of the free world have achieved already in South East Asia is to give an alternative to these people. It is not necessary for me at this stage to run through comment after comment from leaders of these nations for honourable members to appreciate their feelings. Ten years back we could see no alternative. Imagine how they felt. Today they can see an alternative, and I believe that it is this alternative that is at present lifting the morale of all the small nations in Asia. This, of course, is not the culmination of the line of thought or indeed of the action. We must in due course adopt bigger and more generous measures of civil aid. I think it was the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) who some time ago said that it is very hard to give civil aid when your throat is cut. There is a lot in this. It must be extraordinarily difficult. The statement of the honourable member for Wakefield, as are so many of his comments, is a truism which strikes at the core of the problem because it affects thinking in terms of balance of defence forces and civil aid forces.
I have no hesitation in saying that the honourable member for Capricornia (Mr Gray) is quite incorrect when he says mat there ‘has been literally no change in the situation in Vietnam over the last twelve months. Without question there has been a tremendous change and there will be a bigger change as area after area becomes demilitarised and pacification forces take over.
We will then have a situation in which foreign and civil aid can apply. Earlier today the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) made another of his fine and reasoned speeches, in this case he touching on the subjects of dried milk and the ability of India to feed itself. In his remarks he said that he believed that the northern agricultural research establishments, such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation establishment in Townsville and many others, were making a donation of such a magnitude that would help develop new species of clovers and grasses and do other work of a more fundamental nature to help the countries of South East Asia. I do not think that the honourable member for Fremantle, although a most estimable character in every way, talks as one profoundly knowledgeable about agricultural research.
– I hope, in justice to his brain power, that I am correct and that the honourable member for Bendigo is wrong, because there is no real possibility of the suggestion of the honourable member for Fremantle coming into effect. Queensland has spent many, many years and a lot of money trying to develop, for instance, a tropical legume. I do not believe it has obtained an answer to the problem yet. I would guess that it probably will not do so for a period of years. This side of plant breeding experimentation has a long way to go. We can think of paddy melons and the things we see growing around bare paddocks in mid-summer and wonder why the plant breeder has not yet succeeded in growing something that is green and luscious looking for growing in drought regions.
The problem we face is whether our form of extension work and research activity can, indeed, be of any help to these Asian nations. In basic research I can see some hope, some future, for the suggestion of the honourable member for Fremantle. In most other directions I am afraid I cannot see any hope unless these nations in South East Asia develop their highlands and start grazing cattle or growing alternative crops to the ones they are growing today. There is no room for the expansion of paddy fields in South East Asia. This land is in short supply. There is pressure of demand for this type of land. There is no pressure of demand for land generally in most countries of South East Asia except in the case of central J.iva. There would be no pressure of demand for land resources at all if we could find alternative crops and develop the northern highlands for them.
Perhaps J can get at this problem another way. About nine years ago the late Allan Hookings, M.L.C., from South Australia and I alternated for many years in visits to Taiwan where we attempted, in our simple fashion, to help the Taiwanese with the development of highland land. For many years we tried alternative clovers and grasses that we produced for them. Finally, from other sources again, they have succeeded in establishing grasses on mountains - on very high mountains. Eventually they ran stock on these mountains. This was something completely new for them. One day when I was there I saw 200 Taiwanese trying to move 100 head of cattle, a sight not quite familiar to the average Australian, not even the honourable member for Fremantle.
This is the way that things will go and this is the way in the future that perhaps we can help these people in outlying areas away from the centres of population. We can remember the rather ridiculous onslaught of the previous member for Eden-Monaro some time ago. He had his facts distorted in relation to the dairying unit in South Vietnam that had been supplied with Australian aid. The dairying unit was there until the Vietcong came through and cut the hamstrings of all the cattle and indeed of a very well known Australian fighter pilot of the last war. We must have security in these areas. As long as this Government acts rather than talks, as long as it intends to stabilise South Vietnam in the quickest way possible, intends to give civilian aid of an imaginative nature and to show in this way that a democratic process of some sort can achieve results, then, Sir, this is the Government I support and I will be proud to do so.
– In speaking on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply it is not my intention to answer any of the statements that have been made by the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) because I think that he spoke on matters which would have been more appropriately dealt with after the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) has delivered his speech on foreign affairs next Tuesday evening. It is my intention to speak on something which is closer to many members of the Parliament and the people who travel in aircraft in Australia. We know that last year on 22nd September there occurred one of the worst air disasters in Australia’s history. Today in the House the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz), in answering a question asked by the honorable member for Banks (Mr Costa), said that the results of the expert investigation would be completed within a fortnight or so and that after he received the report of this investigation he would look at it and would then hand it to the appropriate committee which would conduct an inquiry into this matter.
I have protested to the Minister about the composition of the committee that he has chosen to conduct the inquiry. In my opinion, the members of the committee have been hand picked and the official inquiry will not result in justice being done. The disaster occurred about five months ago, but the investigation still has not been finalised. On a previous occasion, a Viscount aircraft crashed into Botany Bay. The investigation into that disaster was completed within three months and the inquiry was then conducted. The aircraft was at the bottom of the sea and all the parts were recovered within three months. On that occasion, the aircraft, after taking off, had run into a pretty heavy electrical storm. Probably the Government thought it could hide behind that occurrence and went ahead with the investigation within a short period.
As I have said, I have written to the Minister and have complained about the structure of the committee. Of course, the inclusion of Mr Justice Spicer does not surprise anybody, but I am opposed to the pilots who have been appointed to the committee. Any pilots chosen to undertake the inquiry should have been independent pilots. They should have come from England or America. The committee should include a person with a considerable knowledge of engineering. In a letter I wrote the Minister I suggested that the Dean of the Faculty of
Engineering at the University of New South Wales, the University of Sydney, the Australian National University or some other university should be a member of the committee. The inclusion of such a person would have resulted in a more balanced committee to investigate the disaster.
The Minister has assured me that the members of the committee will be impartial. Captain Griffin, who is a training captain for Ansett-ANA, is a member of the committee. What will be his position if the terms of reference call for an investigation into the maintenance procedures of AnsettANA? Surely such an investigation will be warranted. I am pretty sure that there are members on this side of the House who know more about the disaster in Queensland than the Government wants .them to know. I believe that Captain Griffin should not be a member of the committee. I do not believe that any member of that company should be a member of the committee of inquiry. Recently we had a hanging in Victoria. It would have been nice for the gentleman who was hanged if someone from his own family had been a member of the jury that tried him. But that is the situation that arises with this committee of inquiry and I believe that it is an injustice.
The committee includes a Mr Air, who is an employee of Hawker De Havilland Aust. Pty Ltd. I must protest against his appointment, because Hawker De Havilland do a certain amount of work for AnsettANA. It would be very hard for him to give a decision against the company for which his employer does maintenance work. The committee also includes Captain Ritchie and Captain Ball of Trans-Australia Airlines. They are both pilots. The committee seems to be overloaded with pilots. To my knowledge, Captain Ritchie has never held a Viscount licence. Captain Ball is now an executive of TAA. He may give a fair and just decision. However, I still believe that representatives from Ansett-ANA should not be allowed to sit with the inquiry. The Minister has assured me that he has complete confidence in the people appointed to the committee. I cannot share his confidence and I believe that many other people will agree with me.
I have been concerned that the terms’ of reference have not been announced. Surely the accidents and incidents that have occurred and are still occurring, particularly with Viscount aircraft, are enough to justify an all embracing inquiry. We have read in the newspapers about a faulty Quill shaft. It may have been defective. But does it not appear more feasible that a fuel leak could have caused the accident in Queensland? I would like to know whether the aircraft had previously suffered from any fuel leaks and what unserviceabilities had been found in it during the preceding twelve months. So that all matters can be examined fully at the public inquiry, I suggest that the terms of reference should include the following points: investigate the maintenance practices and procedures of Ansett-ANA; ascertain the principles and procedures adopted by Ansett-ANA in obtaining dispensations and having items of equipment included on the unserviceability schedule; investigate the possible causes that may have directly or indirectly contributed to the accident; report on and list unserviceabilities that have been allowed to persist on the aircraft over the preceding three years and report on the manner in which they could prejudice safety; submit recommendations with a view to removing from the unserviceability schedule any items whose unserviceability could prejudice safety. I consider that if these matters are not included and if the announcement of the terms of reference is being delayed so that they can be tailored to fit the investigation report, any inquiry will be a waste of time and taxpayers’ money and a miscarriage of justice.
I should like to .tell the Parliament of the difficulty that an honorable member has in obtaining any information at all from the Minister for Civil Aviation and his Department. Before the end of the Twenty-fifth Parliament I had tried to obtain information by placing a question on the notice paper about the number of unserviceable items with which an aircraft is permitted to fly. The Minister did not answer the question, but after the Parliament had risen be sent information to me. He wrote to me on 25th November 1966. This was the day before the election. He told me that, because of the large number of unserviceable items that were permitted, it would be impossible for him to give me a complete list. After I read the letter, I thought he was right because he told me that there are approximately 5,000 items and a complete list would cover more than 500 quarto pages. I could not ask for such a list to be printed in Hansard because if I did we would have a very large volume.
I then asked the Minister to give me a list of the unserviceable items permitted in Viscount and Fokker Friendship aircraft. I made that request on 29th November. I had no reply in December or January. At the end of January, I wrote the Minister a further letter asking for the information. I suggested that, if he could not give me the information, he make the list available to me at the Department of Civil Aviation. He replied on 2nd February and informed me that I could have a look at the list, but unfortunately the schedules were held only at the Department’s head office at the Victoria-Tasmania regional office, both of which are. located in Melbourne. Consequently, if I wanted to see which unserviceabilities were listed I would have to fly to Melbourne to look at the schedules. It would cost the taxpayers more than $40 just to enable me to travel to Melbourne to look at the lists of unserviceabilities. This is a nice state of affairs when the Department of Civil Aviation has offices in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, but at none of these offices is there a complete list of unserviceabilities to determine under what conditions an aircraft can be flown!
Because I have been making representations to the Minister in regard to safety officers employed at Mascot airport and in Canberra I have been provided with some information. I have been told that no safety officers are available in Canberra. We know that there are safety officers at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport but that they work only between 8.30 a.m. and 4.51 p.m. daily and do not work at weekends. These are the men who are supposed to check the aircraft to ensure that they are being refuelled properly. They are the ones who check to see whether aircraft are flying with any unserviceabilities. Yet these gentlemen and Mr Miller, who is the senior airworthiness surveyor at Mascot airport, have not a copy of the list of unserviceabilities. Do the pilots know what they are or are the engineers who are employed by the airline companies aware of them? Apparently if they want to know anything they have to fly to Melbourne to study the lists. This situation is stupid and ridiculous and one which I believe the Minister has been evading. He has been trying to duck-shove the matter, to hide it under the counter, and he does not want to give the information because he does not want us to know.
– But you are a member of Parliament.
– I am a member of Parliament and I think every member of Parliament should be entitled to know what these unserviceabilities are. If the Minister does not want to provide me with this information I must fly to Melbourne to look at the schedule. I believe that this is wrong. 1 believe it is wrong also not to have the lists available at the headquarters of the Department of Civil Aviation in each capital city. If the Minister does not want to make this information available publicly, let him provide it by having the lists made available to the Library so that honourable members can study them. If he does so we shall be able to find out what these unserviceabilities are.
To state an example, I know that aircraft can be flown when the windscreen wipers are not working. A person may not drive a motor car without windscreen wipers, yet an aircraft which is carrying passengers is permitted to fly without effective windscreen wipers. I have referred to the fuel quantity gauge. I spoke about this on the day before the unfortunate Winton disaster. I said that there were unserviceabilities in this respect and that the fuel quantity gauge was the only means by which the pilot could know whether his fuel tanks were leaking. If he flew an aircraft with this unserviceability he could find with the fuel leaking into the wing that the plane could become a flying bomb and, perhaps, a flying inferno. But I know that at the present time aircraft are still flying while having this unserviceability. They still fly with leaks in their fuel tanks.
On 26th January this year a Viscount aircraft belonging to Ansett-ANA made four trips between Sydney and Canberra and also flew on to Melbourne with fuel leaks in its tanks. The pilot complained about this. The aircraft was checked at Canberra and fifty gallons of fuel were taken from one of the tanks. He was told that the fuel leak had been stopped. Probably the leak had stopped because the level of fuel in the tank had fallen below the point at which it leaked. But in that situation, when the aircraft took off and banked to one side, surely the fuel would again leak from the tank. What is the pilot to do? Must he fly the aircraft level between Sydney and Canberra?
– Is the honourable member sure that it was a leak?
– 1 am pretty sure about this and I can state the number of the aircraft. I can tell the honourable member of the particulars entered in the book and, if he wants me to do so, I can tell him the names of the pilots who flew the aircraft on that occasion. I know what I am talking about - otherwise I would not make these statements in the House. I am saying this because I know that the honourable gentleman flies in aircraft operated by Ansett-ANA. It is natural that he should be greatly concerned about what I am saying. I would be concerned also if I flew with that company, but I do not; I support the government operated airline.
The point is that we should be concerned about these things. It is a waste of time for departmental officers to stipulate conditions which govern the inclusion of an item in the unserviceability schedule if the Department does not ensure that those conditions are adhered to. It is ridiculous for the Minister to say, as he did in answer to a question on 13th October last year, that approval for the inclusion of an item is not given if such an approval would affect the safety standards. Surely the Department must know of the danger of a leaking fuel tank or fuel line and that the pilot’s only warning of such a leak would come from a serviceable fuel quantity gauge and fuel flow meter. Yet these two instruments are listed in the Ansett-ANA Viscount unserviceability schedules.
In the case of the fuel quantity gauge, the only condition is that the unserviceability must be rectified at the next major depot overnight where spares are available. It is very important to note the words where spares are available’. We all know that some depots do not carry a great many spares. If the aircraft can be flown to the next overnight port while having this unserviceability it is legal for the aircraft to be flown while this instrument is unserviceable. An aircraft which stays overnight at Mount lsa, Darwin or Cairns may have to fly to Brisbane before the unserviceability is repaired. I believe that this is wrong. When air safety is involved aircraft should be grounded and should never be allowed to fly if there is any risk to any person flying in the aircraft. I have been critical of the pilots. I know that they are supposed to be in control of the aircraft, but I find that they are being intimated by the company. I know also that there is nobody who can act as a mediator in a dispute between a pilot and the company. If there is any dispute the pilot must state whether or not be is prepared to fly the aircraft, but in that situation the pilot has been intimidated. As a result many pilots are flying aircraft with these unserviceabilities. The Minister and the Department of Civil Aviation should ensure that air safety officers are on duty more often to check- on aircraft and to make sure that unserviceabilities are repaired at overnight stops.
The Minister has told me that air safety officers cease work at 4.51 p.m. on week days and that they do not work at weekends. If an aircraft arrives after the air safety officer has finished work for the day, who is there to check the aircraft? Nobody. In that case the engineer signs the authority and the aircraft flies away again. The Minister and the Department of Civil Aviation are responsible to the Parliament for any disasters which may occur as a result of any of these unserviceabilities and I believe that they must be held responsible. I feel that more air safety officers should be employed and that they should be making more checks on aircraft. In that way, I believe that no risk will be taken by any aircraft which flies in Australia.
I should like to refer also to an uncontrollable fire which occurred on 4th August 1965 in the port outer engine of an AnsettANA Viscount aircraft while it was flying between Canberra and Melbourne. On that occasion the pilot made an emergency landing at Mangalore. The report of the Department of Civil Aviation for 1965-66 states details of this incident. Unfortunately, the report does not present in full the true facts to show what happened on that occasion. It just glossed over the accident. This is extremely disturbing to me. I have since learned that after the aircraft landed the DCA fire crew was unable to extinguish the fire by normal methods and had to use fire axes to cut the burning metal away. That is not mentioned in the report. Neither is there any mention of the fact that many of the metal parts of the Viscount aircraft are made of magnesium alloy, the same kind of metal that had to be cut away with the fire axes. Under the Air Navigation Regulations the Minister for Civil Aviation does not have to make the report available. He can withold it if he wishes. I believe that he is witholding it. If he is witholding it he is giving favours to certain airline operators. If he does not let the public know what is going on it is natural that those who are getting away with these things will do so more than ever. If he does not bring the facts out into the open, how can we offer informed criticism? How are we to know what the facts are? Our only course is to adopt backdoor methods to get the information so that we can discuss it in the Parliament and let the people know exactly what is happening.
Surely the Department of Civil Aviation is aware that a magnesium alloy fire is extremely difficult to control and that the detection devices and fire fighting equipment for dealing with such fires on Viscount aircraft are inadequate. What action has the Department taken to provide the pilots of these aircraft with a fire detection system capable of providing earlier warning of such fires? To my knowledge it has taken no action. So the fire hazard remains, because pilots cannot get adequate warning if such fires occur. We know that the fire that I have mentioned is supposed to have been caused by the failure of a rear compressor bearing. I have recently learned that rear compressor bearing failure has been detected also in maintenance work on the engines of a Fokker Friendship aircraft. As honourable members are aware, both Friendship and Viscount aircraft are equipped with engines of the same manufacture. I have been led to believe that the engines of Friendship aircraft were fitted with rear compressor bearings of higher capacity and that the modification that resulted from the Mangalore accident applied only to the engines of Viscount aircraft. I should like to know whether this is the case and whether the programme for the replacement of bearings of the old type with bearings of higher capacity has been completed or whether some engines are still not modified eighteen months after the accident. The engines of Ansett-ANA Viscounts are overhauled after 5,000 hours in service. Normally this represents about two years flying time. However, this means that aircraft could be flying with the old bearings for up to eighteen months before the bearings were replaced. I believe that in allowing this to happen the Department has fallen down on its job.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr Lucock) adjourned.
Message received from the Senate intimating that the following Senators had been appointed members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works: Senator Branson, Senator Dittmer and Senator Prowse.
Message received from the Senate intimating that the following senators had been appointed members of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts: Senator Fitzgerald, Senator Webster and Senator Wedgwood.
Message received from the Senate intimating that the following senators had been appointed members! of the Joint Committee on Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings: The President, Senator McClelland and Senator Sim.
Motion (by Mr Sinclair) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to bring to the attention of the House this evening a television programme in serial from entitled the ‘Rat Patrol’, which has been produced in the United States of America and which was shown in England in January. Perhaps most honourable members have read in the newspapers of the anger of Britons and of Australians domiciled in Great Britain at this television series. For ‘the benefit of those who may not have read about the programme, I should like to read extracts from two Sydney newspapers. The ‘Sun’ of 7th January stated:
When the first episode of the series was shown in Britain on Wednesday night angry Britons and Australians flooded the switchboards of the BBC with complaints.
The series is about four Americans whose mission was to make life difficult for Rommel and his men in the Africa campaign.
What infuriated Britons was that the action takes place before the battle of El Alamein and the Americans did not land until after El Alamein.
Much of the success of Alamein is attributed to the 9th Australian Division which spearheaded the infantry attack.
The 9th made the breach which enabled Montgomery’s armour to pour through the German defences.
But Australians who saw the show were irate for different reasons.
They could take the historical inaccuracies and the fact that one of the Americans was wearing a Digger hat.
What they could not stomach was that one was wearing the Australian Rising Sun.
The Army spokesman at Australia House said the unauthorised wearing of the Rising Sun was a crime’. ‘I cannot give you my thoughts about the show over the phone,’ he said ‘The P.M.G. might be upset’.
The ‘Daily Mirror’ reported as follows:
You Australians can toss away your slouch hats, cover up your wounds and return all active service badges - the war in the Western Desert was won by the Rat Patrol.
The Rat Patrol - three Americans and a daffy Englishman - attacked Rommel’s supply lines, blasted his trucks and slaughtered the Afrika Corps.
No Nazi was safe from their free-roaming jeeps with mounted machine-guns.
The Rat Patrol has been fighting the war every week in a television series the BBC bought from the Americans.
It’s probably the most unpopular buy in television history.
Viewers are screaming, the critics are ranting and Eighth> Army veterans are almost up the wall.
The BBC, to understate the issue, is embarrassed.
It will not even say how many protests have been made.
But one protest was shoved right up its venerable nose this week when its own workers protested: “The Yanks weren’t even there.’
To get some idea of the ubiquitous Rat Patrol you must consider other Hollywood histories of World War II.
I think that all Australians acknowledge with deep gratitude the major role played by the Americans in bringing World War II to a successful conclusion. We shall never cease to recall the unforgettable Battle of the Coral Sea, which was the prelude to a projected Japanese invasion of Australia. However, I do not believe that the facts of history give licence to any profit making film producing company to depict falsely scenes and events that are supposed to have occurred during the war. Incidentally years ago there was produced another film which was entitled ‘Operation Burma’ and which starred the late Errol Flynn. It portrayed the Americans as winning the Burma campaign, though we all know that the British won that campaign. That film was banned in all British cinemas. According to the newspapers the British Broadcasting Corporation has dropped the ‘Rat Patrol’ series as a result of the widespread protests received from people who complained that it showed American victories in the British theatre of operations in World War II. It has been reported that Mr Michael Peacock, controller of the BBC network said:
The series caused a lot of resentment in Britain.
Many young people with little or no knowledge of the last war, particularly of the Middle East campaign, after viewing such a film would naturally conclude that the Americans were responsible for the defeat of Rommel’s army in the Middle East. As I said before, I believe it is unbecoming of any film producing company to falsely depict campaigns in the last World War which are dear to the hearts of the British and Australian people. I informed the Postmaster-General of my intention to mention this matter. My purpose in bringing it before the House is to seek from the PostmasterGeneral an assurance that under no circumstances will he permit this television series to be televised in Australia. If he does, I suggest he will be inundated with protests from the Australian people, from the returned servicemen’s organisations in particular.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.21 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 February 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1967/19670222_reps_26_hor54/>.