26th Parliament · 1st Session
The House met at 2.30 p.m.
– I desire to inform the House of the unavoidable absence of the Speaker, who is on parliamentary duties overseas. In accordance with standing order 14, the Chairman of Committees will take the chair as Acting Speaker.
Mr ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Lucock) thereupon took the chair, and read prayers.
– I desire to explain matters of a personal nature. I refer to a speech I made recently in Adelaide to a group of young people in my Party. As a result of the speech considerable publication and attention were given to remarks that I made during the course of the evening and which I now realise have embarrassed members on both sides of the House and the Parliament generally. I now wish to apologise. I make no excuse for and do not deny what I have said. The remarks were inaccurate and ill advised. They were not at all directed specifically at this Parliament. As reported, I intended them lightheartedly. This was unfortunate. If, as a result of the speech, I have belittled the parliamentary institution, again I apologise. I make no claims about having been misreported. 1 wish to make it clear that I have learned a painful lesson which I shall not forget lightly. It was never my intention to belittle any member or to cast any aspersions on this Parliament, and I admit that I was both foolish and indiscreet. I apologise to the House for my behaviour and promise all members faithfully that I will do my best to redeem myself in the eyes of my colleagues on both sides of the House.
– I direct to the Prime Minister a question relating to the statement just made in this House by the honourable member for Adelaide. I ask the right honourable gentleman whether he will use his prestige and influence within his Party to ensure that there is no repetition of this unfortunate incident. I further ask him whether he will ensure that the youth or- ganisations of his Party are given a balanced and accurate account of the dignities and responsibilities of this Parliament.
– The honourable member for Adelaide has just done the manly thing by acknowledging his error and apologising quite fully, I believe, to all members of this House. I hope we shall not exaggerate the importance of this episode. A reflection on members of the Parliament and the institution generally is, of course, a matter of importance, as the honourable gentleman has clearly now recognised and in relation to which he has apologised. I do not think that many people in Australia seriously believe that this Parliament is composed of idlers and boozers. This would be a poor reflection upon the people as a whole, of whom we are the representatives and who have chosen us to represent them in this National Parliament. They would have put their own assessment upon the published remarks of the honourable gentleman. He has the remainder of the life of this Parliament to show not only whether his judgment should be drastically revised but also whether he justifies the continued support of those who chose him to come here in the first place.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral: Can he inform me whether his Department or the Government has any control or jurisdiction over the sale of the assets of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission? I refer in particular to the sale of land formerly occupied by the Commission in Applecross, Western Australia.
– Honourable members will realise that the Overseas Telecommunications Commission is a statutory authority set up by an Act of this Parliament. It therefore has, within a broad area, control over its own operations. When it wants to spend an amount in excess of S40.000 on the purchase of land or wants to sell land which cost more than that amount, it must seek the approval of the Minister. Questions have been asked as to what will happen to the property in Applecross when it is vacated by the Commission. The area comprises about ninety-nine acres. It was purchased many years ago when Perth was considerably smaller than it is now. As the city has grown, it has expanded around this site and the Commission has had to move out of the area to a site north of Perth. The move will require the expenditure of very considerable sums of money.
The Commission, believing itself to be a business organisation, considers that it has a responsibility to finance as much of the new expenditure as possible out of the proceeds of the sale of the land at Applecross. I have not had any discussions with the Commission or with anybody particularly in relation to the value or the sale price of this property. However, I think most honourable members will appreciate that the Commonwealth Government cannot be a Santa Claus all the time. When it owns a very valuable piece of property, such as this is, and must transfer to another site, some thought must be given to setting off the value or sale price of one against the cost price of the other. I will have a look at the details of this proposal and will consult with the Chairman and members of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission to ascertain the difference in cost between the two properties. If necessary, I will be happy to ask my Cabinet colleagues to look at the matter.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister for External Affairs, by referring to the statement by the Australian Ambassador in the Philippines that the Government’s immigration policy is pretty old hat and not popular with the majority of Australians. I ask: Is this yet another indication of the lack of sympathy and understanding between officers of the Department of External Affairs and the Government in relation to the Government’s policy towards South East Asian countries?
– I will obtain from the Ambassador a copy of the text of his remarks and a statement of the circumstances in which he made them. Having studied these, I will let the honourable member have a reply. In the circumstances, I will be grateful if he will put his question on the notice paper.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. Is it a fact that the
Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Ltd has recently completed a detailed design study for a supersonic advanced trainer aircraft? Does this aircraft appear suitable not only to fill the gap between the Macchi trainer and highly sophisticated types like the Mirage and Fill, but also for closesupport ground attack operations? If so, could the Minister say whether a Royal Australian Air Force order for this aircraft is being considered, which would guarantee continuity of employment for this highly skilled work force?
– The answer to the first part of the honourable member’s question is yes. The proposition by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, together with one or two other proposals by other aircraft companies, has been made within the last few weeks. Answering the second part of the question, I think I should inform the honourable member that the present scheme of training envisaged for pilots of the Air Force is that they shall graduate from the Macchi to the Sabre, and then on to the Mirage or the Fill. We expect that for this purpose the Sabre will stay in operation until the mid-1970’s. A decision will then have to be made as to whether pilots can go direct from the Macchi aircraft to the Mirage or whether an intermediate type of aircraft will be necessary. On this, opinion is divided at the moment, not only in Australia, but also in other countries. It is a decision that is not easy to make because the Macchi aircraft is not yet in service. A similar decision had to be made twenty-five or thirty years ago when there was some divergence of opinion on whether a pilot could go straight from a Tiger Moth to a Hawker Demon.
The decision in the presence instance is more complicated; it is not one that can be made immediately or without a tremendous amount of discussion and thought. One realises also that cost affects the problem. These aircraft are expensive to make and to fly. However I realise, as the honourable member has said, that this decision will affect the future of the aircraft industry in Australia. The decision that the Government has to make is not an easy one, and it is not made any easier by the fact that the Corporation has suggested that it wants a decision within the next few weeks. Even then, delivery will not be made before 1973 at the earliest. These are the sort of matters that are receiving the close attention of the Air Force at the present time. When the Air Force authorities have come to a conclusion it will obviously become a matter of policy for the Government. When a decision has been made by the Government it will be announced to the House.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. I ask whether the Minister can inform the House why certain sections of the Seventh Battalion were pulled out just before the Battalion sailed for active service in Vietnam three weeks ago. If this is the case, can the Minister confirm or deny persistent reports that one of the national servicemen pulled out just before the Seventh Battalion moved from Ingleburn army camp is the son of a senior member of the Cabinet? Will the Minister try to throw some light on this disturbing report for the reassurance of members of this House, and will he explain why it was necessary for certain elements of the Seventh Battalion to be suddenly left behind at Ingleburn camp?
– I am not aware of the incident to which the honourable member refers. It is quite common procedure when a battalion is going overseas for last minute checks to be made of health or investigation of compassionate circumstances in relation to a particular family, and for certain soldiers under these conditions not to go with the battalion. This is a common occurrence, and it may be what the honourable member was referring to. I will make some inquiries to find out. To my knowledge no son of any honourable member of this House is in the Seventh Battalion, nor do I think there ever has been. The suggestion which was inherent in the honourable member’s question is, I think, beneath the dignity of the House.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. In order to assist the decentralisation of industry, can consideration be given to the construction of the natural gas pipeline from the Gippsland shelf to New South Wales on a more inland route than that now proposed? Would such an inland route involve the Commonwealth Government in any additional expenditure?
– The honourable gentleman’s question is a little premature in that so far no contract has been written between the distributors of gas in Sydney and the producers in Gippsland. It is true that certain interested parties, particularly shire councils and councillors in the Riverina and the north east of Victoria, have suggested that if and when a pipeline is built from Gippsland to Sydney it should be routed through their areas in order to encourage decentralisation. The Commonwealth Government has not until now come into the distribution of electricity. Electric power has been distributed from one State to another without the Commonwealth having any authority or say in the matter. The distribution of natural gas within a State is entirely in the hands of the State Government.
My Department has investigated the additional costs which would be involved if the route suggested by the honourable member were to be taken in lieu of the most economical route. It appears that certainly more than SI Om additional expense would be involved. In addition to the capital expense there would be, of course, the servicing cost of the debt. Further, the increased mileage would result in a greater cost in transmitting the gas through additional pumping stations and in other ways. Nevertheless, as I have mentioned, these councillors are anxious to visit Canberra to put their views to the Government. I am now making arrangements which will enable them to state to the Commonwealth Government their views on decentralisation.
– Is the Treasurer aware of the bid by the British owned company, Viyella International (Australia) Pty Ltd, to take over Davies Coop & Co. Ltd, a major contributor to our textile industry? Has he requested the Reserve Bank of Australia to use its powers to prevent such a takeover of this Australian-owned company?
– I have read in the newspapers some reports of an attempted takeover by the company mentioned by the honourable gentleman. No details of this proposal have been submitted to me. I do not think it would be proper for me as the Treasurer to ask the Reserve Bank to try to prevent the takeover.
– I ask the Acting Minister for Health a question relating to the alleged proposal of the medical profession in some States to increase medical fees. Will the Minister say whether the fund benefit societies will be able to carry these increased charges out of reserves? If this is not possible, will the fund societies have to prepare new schedules of higher , contributions? Alternatively, will refunds to contributors be lower to enable the funds to meet this extra medical cost to the societies?
– I have read a report regarding a proposal by one State branch of the Australian Medical Association indicating that it intended to recommend to the Federal Assembly of the Association an increase in doctors’ fees when the Council meets next month. As the honourable member knows, the Commonwealth has no constitutional power over doctors’ fees. The only way in which we have any control in relation to fees is by agreement where fees are charged for pensioner medical services. I believe that in 1965, when the last increase in doctors’ fees took place, a decision was made by the Federal Assembly of the Australian Medical Association to obtain assistance from an outside body to make a regular assessment of economic costs movements so that the Council could recommend whether or not there should be a change of fees. Therefore, any recommendation or statement by a branch of the Association at this stage would be completely out of order because the matter has not yet been before the Federal Council. However, whatever decision is made about fees, no change in medical benefit subscriptions or in the benefits payable is yet contemplated. If doctors’ fees were increased the situation would have to be reviewed in the light of the change.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Can be advise me when he intends to acknowledge the letter I addressed to him personally on 3rd March 1967, putting before him suggestions from the Randwick Municipal Council, in my elec torate, in regard to a national insurance fund which would guarantee a higher standard of living for the aged and the infirm and for superannuated pensioners? Also, can the Prime Minister advise me whether the attitude revealed by the neglect by him and his staff of my letter is to be a permanent feature of his Prime Ministership?
- Mr Acting Speaker, short of including a few more hours in the day and more weeks in the year, I do not think there is a great deal more I could do physically in the discharge of my duties of office. But if, in my concentration on other matters, there has been an oversight either on my part or on the part of some member of my staff of a letter sent by the honourable member then I regret it. I shall have some inquiries made and see that he is given an answer, in terms as suitable as I can compose, to the questions he has directed to me.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Is he satisfied with the overseas balance of payments position and can he forecast future trends?
– I understand that statistics published this morning show that there has been a continued deterioration in our balance of payments, due fundamentally to the short fall in private capital movement into Australia as compared with other years. But I point out to the honourable member that the figures published today must be read against the background that Australia has, in recent months, been making funds available through the International Monetary Fund to other countries. This means that our first line balances or reserves with the International Monetary Fund are being increased. Whilst I would not like to use the word satisfied’ as no Treasurer can be satisfied when there is an adverse balance of payments I can say to the honourable member that the figures published today, which are for the first nine months of this financial year, are fully consistent with the estimates presented to Cabinet and made known through the Budget when it was presented some months ago.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether he has noted that on several occasions in recent weeks official statements have been made that the Governments of the United States of America and Australia seek a just settlement of the war in Vietnam? Has he noted that on no occasion has it been said what a just settlement would be? Is he aware that this continued failure leaves room for doubt as to whether the Governments concerned are in a position to enter negotiations or to expect a response from those on the other side in the war? Will he say now what he considers a just settlement of the war in Vietnam would be?
– A just settlement is one in which justice is done to both sides or both parties to a contention. In relation to South Vietnam, one of the essential elements of a just settlement would be the right of the people to choose what form of government they wished to have over them. Another element - in this I express clearly my own view - would be one that gave an opportunity to the people of South Vietnam to advance towards a higher standard of living and a fully rounded community. Unless a settlement contained those two elements - freedom to choose their own government and, secondly, some reasonable hope of an improved life - I should not regard it as just.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for External Affairs. I refer to a recent statement by Colonel Marwoto, Director-General of West Irian Affairs at the Indonesian Home Ministry, concerning West Irianese who have crossed into Papua and New Guinea. I ask the right honourable gentleman: Have West Irianese crossed into Papua and New Guinea? If so, in what number? Is the Minister in a position to inform the House about the situation in West Irian which has generated this development? Will he indicate what attitude the Government has taken?
– To give an answer to this question I think one has to go back to the events of 1963, when there was a transfer of administration from the Netherlands to the United Nations, and from the United Nations to Indonesia. Up to that time the relationships between the two Administrations had been so easy and the co-operation so full that movements to and fro had not been noticed. My information is that since 1963 the total number of movements across the border would be of the order of about 1,200 people - something of that proportion. A large number of these movements occurred back in 1963. Indeed, at a time when I was occupying another portfolio, I was up on the border and actually saw some hundreds of these people. The reason for most of these movements was that it had been customary for people to move backwards and forwards in this country, and it was not until the meaning of an international border was explained to them, with some patience and care, by both the Indonesian administrative authorities and the Australian administrative authorities, that they became aware there was a border.
Since then there have been further movements from time to time. Again, my information is that most of the movements since 1963 have been customary movements across the country by people moving from one village to another. There have been a very small number of movements of persons from West New Guinea who, for one reason or another have sought asylum in Australian New Guinea. When it has seemed that, on humanitarian grounds, they had some claim to remain in Australian New Guinea, they have been allowed to remain. The numbers are very small and the condition of their remaining has been that they do not engage in any political activities while on Australian territory.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether the Government has recognised the recently installed military dictatorship in Greece as being the legitimate government of that country? Has the Government protested to the King of Greece against this military coup? As the Italian Chamber of Deputies has protested against this outrage on democracy, will this Government take similar action?
– The honourable gentleman will realise that as I returned to Australia only yesterday I have not yet had an opportunity to consult fully with my colleague in another place, who was acting for me in my absence. So I may not be fully up to date as to what has happened. My understanding of the matter is - this would be subject to consultation with my colleague - that our Ambassador in Athens has been given permission to recognise the new Government of Greece. No formal act is required on our part relating to recognition if a country changes its government and that government is constitutionally and practically recognised. We do not pass a judgment on the political events in a country to which our ambassador is accredited. We continue to deal with the constitutional government of that country, whatever it may be.
– I ask a question of the Minister for the Navy in his capacity as Minister in charge of Tourist Activities. In the planning of tourism on a national scale will action be taken to plan public relations in a manner which will stimulate good manners, friendliness and courtesy, particularly in many restaurants and amongst hotel receptionists in Sydney, where these attributes appear to be almost non-existent?
– I am a Victorian, so it would need a braver man than I to defend accusations by a Queenslander against the behaviour of waiters in Sydney restaurants. I remind the honourable gentleman that a survey has been made by an overseas consulting company of the attractiveness or otherwise of Australia. The honourable gentleman will be interested to know that the fifth most attractive feature of Australia in the opinion of overseas tourists and potential overseas tourists is the Australian people themselves - their manner and their charm.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question. Why is the PostmasterGeneral’s Department constantly downgrading its services to country people by reducing their mail services from six, five and four deliveries a week to three deliveries a week and by reducing mail deliveries in large country towns from twice daily to once daily? Why should country people suffer not only isolation, high transport costs and other inconveniences but also a postal service which in many instances is worse than it was fifteen years ago? Does the Post Office exist only to make profits at the expense of adequate services for country people?
– I reject much of what has been put by the honourable member in his question. I think all parties in this House have recognised the necessity for the postal service in Australia to be operated on economic grounds. This does not mean that each facet of the service is required to pay for itself. If it did I suggest that we would have very different financial results at the end of each year from those that we now have. In many areas of Australia it costs 18c to deliver a letter from a post office to the residence of the person to whom the letter is addressed. To some degree we have an across-the-board or averaging type of operation. When we let a contract for a mail delivery service we take into consideration the number of homes to be serviced, the number of letters to be carried and the cost. It is not a matter of making these services economic by restricting the number of deliveries, but there are cases where it has been necessary to reduce the number of deliveries in order to bring the service within reasonable economic proportions. I believe this is justified, in an overall sense. This is but an illustration of what does become necessary from time to time. But there is another factor which honourable members should recognise; the postal services of Australia in fact represent a very extensive user of labour, and it is not always possible to find the labour needed to do a particular job. This applies even in metropolitan areas. If labour is not available I am afraid that in some cases there is no alternative but to reduce the number of deliveries to the Australian public.
– My question is addressed vo the Minister for Civil Aviation. Can the Minister tell the House whether the original proposal to establish a rail link between Melbourne and Tullamarine Airport has been scrapped or merely deferred? If it has been scrapped, can he say why such an important communication link was not proceeded with?
– I am afraid I have no information about such a rail link. To be quite honest, I had not heard of it until it was mentioned a moment ago. I do know that the road link is under way and, I understand, it will be finished on time. I will certainly make inquiries regarding any suggestion of a rail link and will let the honourable member know. This is a matter which is, of course, solely within the responsibility of the Government of Victoria.
– T ask the Minister for Primary Industry a question. I refer him to a decision by a magistrate in Victoria which in effect prevents the Victorian Egg Marketing Board from retaining under section 6(1) of the Poultry Industry Levy Collection Act a proportion of the proceeds of sales of eggs for the purposes of the hen levy associated with the egg marketing stabilisation scheme. Has this decision affected the collection of the levy? If so, what’ machinery will be used for its collection, and what legal action, if any, does the Commonwealth intend to take?
– Legislation passed by this House places in the hands of the various State marketing boards the responsibility for collection of levies. It was on that point of collection that the magistrate gave a ruling. There is no suggestion, as I understand the position, that the legality of the levies themselves is in question. So far as the actual decision of the magistrate is concerned, the matter is in the hands of the Deputy Commonwealth Crown Solicitor in Victoria, and on this we have given certain instructions. However, other cases are pending which are similar to the one in question, and it might be as well for us to await the outcome of those cases.
– What is the machinery for collection now?
– There is no suggestion, of course, that the levies are not collectable. They are being collected, and anyone who gets the idea that he is not bound to pay the levy will find that such an idea is mistaken. Any person who does not comply with the Act will be prosecuted, or will be liable to prosecution.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Since it is understood that the term of office of Dr Darling as Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission will expire on 30th June next, when the Parliament will be in recess, and it will be incumbent on the Government to make another appointment in his stead, can the right honourable gentleman assure the House that the chosen successor will be of the same type and calibre as his predecessors, Dr Darling himself and the late Sir Richard Boyer - that is to say, a man of broad culture, of wide vision and of independent mind, not a man merely skilled in administration, however competent, or merely experienced in public relations, however distinguished?
– 1 think that the honourable gentleman, in the form of his question, rather, implies that Dr Darling would not be eligible for reappointment. 1 would like to make it clear that he would be eligible for reappointment if he were willing to make himself available. The whole question as to the composition ->f the Commission is currently under study by my colleague, the Postmaster-General. No specific proposals have been put to the Cabinet at any time, but clearly this will have to occur soon, i assure the honourable gentleman that not only have 1 a high regard for the qualities possessed by Dr Darling, which certainly enable him to measure up to the standards suggested by the honourable gentleman, but that in any consideration we give to the chairmanship of the Australian Broadcasting Commission we shall certainly not wish to countenance a standard lower than that which has been mentioned.
– 1 ask the Treasurer: Is it true, as reported in the Press a considerable time ago, that negotiations with the United Kingdom authorities in reference to the continuation, elimination or amendment of the double taxation agreement between that country and Australia have been completed? If they have, when will this Parliament be informed of the results?
– I have made a statement to the effect that negotiations on an official level between the United Kingdom and Australia have been held. A draft has been initialled by the officials. The document has to be presented to the United
Kingdom Government to see whether it will agree to what has been provisionally agreed to by the officials. The Australian Government has already had an opportunity to look at the proposals and to make up its mind about what it wants to achieve. As soon as 1 hear from the United Kingdom Government I will take the matter back to the Cabinet. A statement will then be made in this House.
– Has the Prime Minister’s attention been drawn to the success of the New England new State referendum in delineating an area of New South Wales, larger and more populous than Tasmania, in which a substantial majority of people have expressed their desire to form a new State? In view of this clear demand for decentralised administration, will the Prime Minister consider the establishment of an inter-governmental committee on the lines of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Constitutional Review to determine appropriate ways of bringing the Commonwealth Constitution up to date as an effective democratic instrument?
-I have been following the details of the result of the referendum conducted in New South Wales last Saturday as published in the Press. I do not claim to have a clear picture of the significance of the votes cast, and I therefore hesitate to offer an opinion. A decision as to whether a new State should or should not be formed inside the boundaries of another State is governed by the Constitution of the State concerned. The Constitutional Review Committee recommended that this Parliament should, by some change in the Constitution, take that power to itself. This was not one of the recommendations accepted by the Government when it studied the report of the Constitutional Review Committee. As matters stand, the constitutional position is as I have indicated.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: How much longer must the people of the Canberra suburb of Curtin and members of the household and staff at Government House put up with the sickening stench that comes from the apparently overloaded sewage treatment works at Weston Creek? Can the Minister give an assurance that the authorities concerned are taking vigorous action to overcome this problem, which obviously results from faulty planning?
– I sympathise with the people who live near the sewage treatment plant. I have smelt it myself. However, I can inform the honourable gentleman that the National Capital Development Commission has examined the plant and has made recommendations for certain alterations. It is hoped that alterations will be made within the next twelve months and that this will alleviate some of the discomfort now being suffered by people in the area.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Social Services Bill 1967.
Nationality and Citizenship Bill 1967.
States Grants Bill 1967.
Income Tax (Aged Persons) Bill 1967.
Debate resumed from 20 April (vide page 1568), on motion by Mr Chipp:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– It is now twelve days since the Bill was last discussed. This has been caused by the recess of the House. I would, therefore, remind honourable members of the tremendous importance of the Bill, which was introduced by the Minister for the Navy (Mr Chipp) who is, under the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), the Minister-in-charge of Tourist Activities. In introducing the Bill, the Minister for the Navy told the House that this was the first major step towards the greater promotion of an industry that was already the ninth most prolific earner of foreign exchange for Australia. This feature should commend itself to the House. The tourist industry is growing and will place Australia ever more in the forefront of affairs overseas. It will, therefore, support our overseas trade generally and will add to many other important aspects of our national life. The development envisaged by the Bill should, accordingly, be greeted with considerable eclat by honourable members on both sides of the House.
In looking at the provisions of the Bill, I wonder whether as yet sufficient weight has been given to the significance of the tourist industry. Let me outline briefly the proposal that is now before the House. It is that we should establish a commission which will consist of five voting members, including representatives of the travel industry and Commonwealth departments, and two non-voting members nominated by the State governments. The Minister for the Navy said that the Government’s decision to establish the Commission was in line with the best thinking of the tourist industry itself. Until now, Australia’s tourist affairs have largely been managed under the aegis of the Australian National Travel Association, and this Association has been very much to the fore in developing the thinking that has culminated in this new development. It is not before time that we as a Federal Parliament should be directing considerable attention to the tourist industry. The interest of those already in the field resulted in an expert commission investigating the potential of the industry. This brought forth an exciting picture, which shows that the tourist industry can stand beside our mineral development and other great growth industries in Australia. The picture is of 320,000 or one-third of a million visitors coming to Australia by the end of this decade and of this number doubling to more than 600,000 visitors within ten years. It is estimated that by 1975 600,000 people will visit Australia and will spend an amount in excess of $200m. This is a proposition that must attract the attention of most Australians.
I commend the Minister for the Navy, the Government and the Australian National Travel Association for their far-sightedness and their ability in bringing this new development to its present stage. It is not intended - and this must be made clear - that the new Commission will stand across the pathway of institutions or of activities that are already in train. It will not compete with State tourist authorities or commercial activities inside Australia. Indeed, the Commission will have power to publicise and promote Australia’s tourist activities as a whole, its facilities, and its particular attractions which will be of interest to people overseas. As the Minister for the Navy (Mr Chipp) has already made clear, the intention of the Tourist Commission will be to present the nation not as particular Slates or particular tourist attractions; it will speak on behalf of the nation as a whole. The Minister in presenting this measure to the House has set out many ways in which the Commission will sponsor tourist activities in Australia.
One disappointing feature of the speech by the honourable member for Dawson, who led for the Opposition, was his criticism of the role of the Minister for the Navy as Minister in charge of Tourist Activities under the Minister for Trade and Industry. He said that this was an unsuitable arrangement’. The honourable member said that he did not think it was in the best interests of the nation that the Minister for the Navy should, under the Minister for Trade and Industry, be in charge of tourist activities. He tried to justify what to my mind is an unworthy aspersion by questioning the qualifications of the Minister for the Navy to fulfil the requirements of this portfolio. Of course, he had not taken the trouble to investigate any of the facts. Had he done so, he would have been aware of the many qualities which the Minister for the Navy bring3 to bear in the field of tourist activities. He would have known that the Minister had his own management consultant company. Tn other words, he is an expert in management matters. The Minister was chief executive officer of the Olympic Civic Committee of the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne and had been executive director of the Victorian promotion committee for two years prior to that. It is undoubtedly true that the Minister is conversant not only with tourist activities throughout Australia but’ also, through his Olympic associations, with the things that people abroad are saying and thinking about Australia. I suggest that the appointment of a relatively new member to the ranks of the Ministry - a young and enthusiastic Minister - is exactly what is needed in this particular portfolio, and to meet this particular responsibility. I am sure that every member on this side of the House welcomes the appointment of the Minister for t!:e Navy to supervise this tremendously important development in our national tourist industry.
Turning now to the body which investigated the tourist potential within Australia - Harris, Kerr, Forster and Co. - I again remind the House of the magnitude of the attractiveness of tourist features that Australia has to offer. Interestingly enough, and this would probably be the opinion of most people, the outback is our greatest tourist attraction. Following this is our national phenomenon, the Great Barrier Reef, and then come our unique flora and fauna. Australia is a new frontier land, a land of rapid development. This is being appreciated by the rest of the world, as is proved by the fact that it is our fourth greatest tourist attraction. The Minister pointed out the pleasing fact that the fifth tourist attraction is the Australian himself. The Australian people are regarded as desirable people to visit’. Let us examine some of these attractions and see what we as a nation can do to exploit them. It is obvious that a tourist who intends visiting the outback will first plan an itinerary so that within a limited space of time he will see as much as he can. There are certain hazards that are at present hindering large scale development of the tourist industry. 1 do not need to emphasise what happened recently when there were floods in central Australia and elsewhere to show how tourist activity and transportation can be interrupted and how, sometimes, itineraries and timetables can be disastrously affected.
One proposition that I advance is that we should look at the arithmetic of this tremendously important foreign currency earner, which is of the magnitude of $200m per year, in the light of the cost of providing extra facilities, such as improved transportation to or communication with central Australia. But this depends upon our road system and the provision of an all weather road from Adelaide north to Alice Springs. It could bear also upon the completion of rail facilities between Alice Springs and the north- To give credit where it is due, the airport in Alice Springs has recently been modernised and brought up to date. It is now taking the most modern jet aircraft. But there are other ways in which improved communications could be brought about. I refer to an improvement of our roads and an extension of the already valuable development of our beef roads system. When one realises the kind of money which is involved in developing our tourist industry, all these things should be considered.
I propose to speak at some length on central Australia. Despite the rather scathing comments from the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), who assured honourable members that he had no desire to go back to a place like Ayers Rock - I took his remarks as being light hearted and not altogether helpful - I have been there twice and look forward to a third visit. I believe that the centre of Australia is a tremendous and increasingly attractive tourist focal point, but Alice Springs itself is a town, becoming a city, which bears scrutiny. When I first visited Alice Springs it was certainly an outback town, but on my last visit a year or so ago it was already blossoming under tourist attention. Already it is sporting restaurant, motel and hotel facilities which rival those of most other tourist resorts in Australia. The comfort of the motels and restaurants that are found there is a credit to the people of the inland and to the imagination of people in the tourist industry. I believe that Alice Springs can grow even faster and in a more exciting way than it is now growing.
Travelling out from Alice Springs one comes to some of the tremendous natural gas resources in Australia. I have spoken to the principals of the group which has control of the reserves of natural gas in the area and they are prepared to lay a pipeline for natural gas or to make available facilities for natural gas to be used in Alice Springs virtually at cost. This would be a tremendous attraction. I believe that the town could in this way be given very cheap air conditioning. There could be developed in the centre of Australia at Alice Springs an even more attractive oasis for tourists than exists at the moment. I believe that imagination of this kind is required and that adventurous thinking also is required if we are to have blazed across the headlines of the world tourist news some of the attractive features of Australia. I would go so far as to say that Australia should give consideration to shopping facilities in duty free ports in one or two areas of the country and that this facility should be encouraged. 1 know from my own experience in talking with tourists that very high on their list is shopping for bargains, the kind of things which can be bought cheaply abroad. That is one feature that does attract tourists. I know that we have duty free shops at our airports and in most of our major cities, which tourists can visit, but for the most part they are quite small and are located in out of the way places. They are not a feature, lt would be worth examining whether a town like Alice Springs could be developed so that it could be regarded as a shopping attraction. I do not mean that it should become merely a depot for Japanese cameras or something of this kind. But it could be developed as a place to which people could go and buy the kind of bargains which are so attractive to tourists.
There are many other ways in which the outback of Australia could become a feature to attract people from the antipodes to this country. We could not hope to provide or to compete with the kind of sophistication which one encounters in a place like Honolulu. God forbid that we should try to reproduce, even at the Great Barrier Reef, replicas of Oahu. We should tackle this problem of attracting tourists in a distinctly Australian way, using our own scenic virtues, and not just propound canned music and canned ideas from somewhere else. Let us not downgrade the particular attraction of things such as our great deserts. They do have their own appeal. People like to think they are going to a frontier; that they are going outback. They should be provided with facilities, but not luxurious facilities or feather beds. They want to feel that they are going to experience a little of the hardship and something of the atmosphere of the outback. We should develop more tourist activities so that people can experience at first hand the rugged splendour and breathtaking colour that the outback provides.
At the same time I am not unaware that a tremendous amount has to be done to safeguard these natural resources, because they are valuable. For instance, as one travels around the Alice Springs area and central Australia it is apparent that not many years will pass before many notable features are defaced or are no longer in existence. At Roma Gorge, not far from Alice Springs, are Aboriginal rock carvings.
These, of course, will never be repeated because the Aboriginals in that area no longer lead a tribal life and the markings are of ancient tribal origin. For the moment there are very few disfiguring additions to these carvings. But the rock is soft. It is a mereenie sandstone outcrop and this type of rock is very easy to carve. It will not be long before tourists destroy this irreplaceable relic of Aboriginal life. There is need for the Tourist Commission to give thought to establishing something like the national trusts that operate in other countries so that these natural features and tourist attractions, these things which are really a heritage from the past, can be protected against the depredations of vandals.
Another tremendous attraction is Kings Canyon. Anyone who has visited this canyon which has been carved out of the same sandstone rock realises how dangerous it is to see die place to advantage. Already people have been killed while clambering round the very brittle edges of the precipitous cliffs of Kings Canyon, lt is difficult to visit the area because it is on a private property. There is not always the co-operation one would desire between landowners and the tourist industry. Authority could be given to the Commission to proclaim certain areas as national trust areas where facilities for the entertainment of tourists could be erected and safeguards could be provided for tourists without disfiguring the features. I do not mean that people should be provided with a handrail so that they could climb Ayers Rock. God forbid. But I think thought should be given to the preservation of places like Kings Canyon and to the provision of facilities for tourists.
I was born and brought up in Australia and have travelled fairly extensively in this country but only recently, after the rains and a visit to central Australia to see their effects on the flora, was I aware that there were things such as a completely indigenous native orange bush, a native passionfruit, native tomatoes, and even holly bushes which look exactly like the traditional holly which appears on the English Christmas cards. There are flowers of all kinds. There is the desert rose, flowers very similar to the sophisticated sasanqua and other plants which are cultivated in our gardens. Such plants thrive in profusion in the centre of Australia but I have seen precious little written about these ancient forms of modern fruits and flowers which are seen so commonly in cultivated fields.
There are many ways in which we are only just beginning to appreciate the possibilities of tourism in Australia. Before leaving the attractions of central Australia I would like to refer to the Aboriginal people themselves and to some of the great natural monuments such as Ayers Rock. We have done something to try to preserve Ayers Rock from the depredations of tourists. We have drawn up conditions under which camping sites must be erected there. The ranger who has taken over from the famous Bill Harney is trying to preserve this feature in his own way. Nevertheless it is true that Aboriginal drawings in the caves at the base of the Rock are being added to. Some highly undesirable drawings are being added and this is rapidly diminishing the attraction of this ancient and unique feature. One of the things which must be done early by the Commission is to take all necessary steps to see that there is a preservation of what remains of the Aboriginal culture.
Visiting the various areas where the Aboriginals are still at work in their own way, such as the mission stations at Ernabella and Hermannsburg, brings to mind the fact that the tourist industry can pose something of a problem for the Aboriginal people. One of the temptations is that the Aboriginal people can make easy money by producing highly inferior sketches or drawings or other kinds of pot boilers which do nothing to develop their dignity. This is just a low level grab for tourist money. This temptation was not aided by comments such as were made by the honourable member for Dawson when he said that the tourists stood goggle eyed when the Aboriginals came to town. He said that these were the people that the tourists had read about and that these were the attractions we must sell. I do not believe we should be trying to sell the Aboriginals as something which makes tourists goggle eyed. We are trying to educate the Aboriginal people so that they will have a full sense of participation as citizens of this country. This is one thing that we must guard against. We must guard against this paternalistic or avuncular attitude to the Aboriginal which would make him a tourist attraction. Instead we should attempt to show people that we are in the forefront in providing facilities for the Aboriginals so that they can be dignified citizens of Australia.
There are other tremendously important spheres of tourism to which this Tourist Commission can direct attention. One area which I believe is particularly important is what I would call captive tourism. International conferences and conventions come to Australia more and more each year, as the Minister has pointed out. Quite often these conferences are attended by professional men. They are international gatherings of various kinds. They bring to Australia hundreds of highly qualified people; men who are leaders in their own spheres of life and men who often are spokesmen for large numbers in their own countries. These people not only bring with them the immediate return of the tourist industry - money spent on hotel and other accommodation, and money spent on shopping - but they return to their countries as ambassadors for Australia and tell other people what is to be seen and experienced here. This Commission must be greatly encouraged to see that when we do have these conferences, conventions, international expositions and the like, no reasonable expenditure is spared to ensure the visitors are given the necessary facilities to enable them to appreciate this country. Servicemen on furlough, on rest and recreation, present another area in which work can be done by the Commission in its efforts to capture tourist trade. These people come here as servicemen. Since World War II visiting servicemen have always been a means of telling people what Australia is like and what it can do.
There are other means of promulgating the Australian image which properly come within the sphere of this portfolio. For instance, much can be done through international sporting activities in which Australian sportsmen take part. At the moment the two great yachts ‘Gretel’ and ‘Dame Pattie’ are fighting out trials to decide which of them is to represent Australia in the America’s Cup race. These two yachts have hit world headlines, and who can estimate, in terms of dollars and cents, the good they are doing in promoting this country as a tourist attraction? Who can estimate the value of the publicity attached to an article in ‘Time’ magazine relating to Sir Frank Packer’s efforts to have ‘Gretel’ represent Australia in this race? All these things bring Australia into the forefront and attract international attention. They must be studiously cultivated and encouraged by the Government if it is to take advantage of the potential which this Commission has pointed out could possibly earn $200m for Australia by 1975.
I wish to counteract the unfortunate image that seemed to be given by the honourable member for Dawson when he pointed out the deficiencies in toilet facilities at Mackay airport. I do not know whether that name means anything in particular in this context but there are in this country great hotels that can hold their own with most hotels in the world; indeed, there has been a revolution in the type of hotels available in Australia. The new hotels in our capital cities today are not just hotels; they are exciting places. Also, there is a plethora of small restaurants, which provide a great diversity and widen the spectrum of our national life today. There is an increasing number of these small restaurants at different places where the tourist and the Australian himself may enjoy a night out for a wine and dance evening that is as sophisticated, exciting and interesting as anything he can experience overseas. That should be part of the picture of Australia that we are presenting. Yet, even as one mentions this one has to admit that there is something in the suggestion that we have our blind spots. It is easy to admire pictures of the Blue Mountains and the Three Sisters; but anyone who has lived in the Blue Mountains or who visits there casually is aware of the tremendous lack of real interest in this area today, and how much more remains to be done to care for the tourist and to look after the natural resources of such areas. We must discourage the rise of those little clip joints that try to make an easy penny at the expense of the tourist. As a nation, we have to consider all these things if we are to take advantage of the opportunity that tourism offers us.
I shall conclude on this note: We are entering a new, sophisticated era for Australia, and we must attract overseas visitors. I am sure that we will attract them in greater numbers. Australians should be our best ambassadors. The Government should consider ways in which Australians who go overseas could be provided with facts and figures, maybe included within a small souvenir booklet - or a number of them - which they could give to their hosts and hostesses abroad. In this way it would be possible to tell Australia’s story. If we get excited about this and really believe in it, we will be able to break down all barriers of distance. It will make us ever closer to oversea countries and enable us to develop a more robust tourist industry. Tourism is the front window for much more serious things, such as trade and industry, international understanding and immigration. I believe that in turning its attention to the proposed Commission the Government has wisely put its finger on a vital spot in respect of Australia’s growth and significance.
- Mr Acting Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) stated that 1 had spoken scathingly against Ayers Rock. I assure the honourable member that I did not. 1 stated that, as I had worked for several years in the area, I had no real desire to go back to Ayers Rock as a tourist. If the honourable member had spent several years in the area, with the flies and drought, and sleeping on a swag and spinifex, perhaps he would look upon Ayers Rock a little differently.
-Order! I call the honourable member for Kingston. I remind honourable members that this is the honourable member’s maiden speech.
- Mr Acting Speaker, I support this Bill with pleasure. Also, I commend the Government for its recognition of the valuable work done by the Australian National Travel Association. I commend the Government also for its good sense in heeding the advice of the Association and the organisations which undertook the examination of the tourist potential in this country - that is, Harris, Kerr, Forster and Company and Stanton Robbins and Co. Inc. I congratulate the Minister on his vigorous enthusiasm in his approach to his new task.
This Bill is but the beginning of the task of promoting tourism, and it is intended to be only the beginning. We must face the fact that tourism is promoted not by legislation but by the people, including those in commerce and industry and in rural areas. Everyone in this country must make a greater effort. And I add a note of urgency to the passage of this measure now that we have publicly announced our intentions. It has been said that this Bill is above party politics. In effect, this has been said already by both the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) and the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay). Let us get on with this job because there is a very big job to be done. This country needs - in fact it must have - the added revenue that tourism can produce. There is not one member of this Parliament who does not ask the Commonwealth Government for more money for something. For my part, I seek even further liberalisation of the means test and added grants for education, to mention only two matters. There are many other things that I should like to see done. I am sure this applies to all other honourable members. But if we want more money we have to earn it; that is indisputable.
We must realise that tourism is big business, and also a cut-throat business. It is of no use our looking at it from the inside; we must know what the other countries are planning and what they are expecting to do. Too many people fail because they look at things from the inside. They look at things from what people in the theatre call ‘the back of the house’ instead of from out front’, to use another expression of the theatre. We must look at things from the standpoint of the audience - in other words, from the standpoint of the customers. We all must see that the purpose of this Bill is fulfilled and that its provisions are put into operation as soon as possible.
I am sure all honourable members know that Australia has set an annual target of $120m expenditure by visitors by 1970. It is all very well to set your target in any field of economic or trading endeavour but we must not lose sight of the fact that although we are determined to achieve this target, there are numbers of people equally determined that we should not. The $120m which we plan to earn annually by 1970 will not necessarily be extra money con veniently put into the tourist earnings pool. It is money which we to a large degree must try to capture from other countries which are very practised in the art of attracting tourists. If we think that those countries will quietly allow us happily to take this money from them, we are in very grave error.
The Bill has come at the right time, I am sure. It is well that we should understand at the outset that we are planning to expand in a very competitive market. It is not an unstable market but it is one that is very difficult to assess. It is also very difficult to plan for this market. It is a market which changes its needs and its fashions almost overnight. We had better not be caught napping. We must not be caught without a long range plan, otherwise we not only will fail to achieve our target but could quite easily lose to other countries some of the tourist trade we already have. For a country situated so far away from the tourist market we have done very well already, largely due to the efforts of the Australian National Travel Association, which has been aided by grants from the Commonwealth. It is very significant that it was this Association which recommended the setting up as a statutory body of the Australian Tourist Commission, which this Bill seeks to establish. The purpose of the Commission is to encourage visits to Australia and travel in Australia by people from other countries.
I have spoken at some length about Australia’s tourist target. The target was one arrived at by research. Let us look now at some of the known rewards of tourism. The latest figures I have relating to Britain’s tourist earnings are for 1965. In that year Britain’s tourist earnings are recorded as £Stg360m. That amount, believe it or not, is equivalent to SA900m. That sum represents earnings of about $A2.5m a day. The figures for 1966 will probably be higher even than those for 1965. Mark you, those earnings are in a country which the British people themselves say does not have a climate, only weather. But Britain has other things, and she has the sense to exploit them to the full. She exploits to the full her virtues and attractions. She has the sense to make tourists feel at home when they arrive in Britain.
She has the skill to encourage the thought that visiting Britain is the done thing. She uses every possible means of getting the message across. So must we. Britain is aided in her task by her writers, her theatrical productions, her films, her television and her radio. She taps the tourist market very well and in a very subtle fashion. The result is earnings of £Stg360m in one year in an industry where the ratio of profit to cost is high; where the cost of production, if we like, is comparatively low.
The story is just as rosy in other countries, such as Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain, and the United States of America. I do not suggest that Australia can earn this kind of money immediately or even in the foreseeable future. What I say is that somebody earns it. I do this not only to demonstrate the earning potential of the tourist industry but also to focus attention on the kind of market into which we are trying to project ourselves. Thereby hangs a tale and therein, I think, lies one of the main points of the Bill. Surely all this must leave no doubt about the absolute necessity for the establishment of the Australian Tourist Commission. We must establish the Commission so that we may, as soon as possible and on the fullest possible scale, match the competition that will come from other countries. We must match the greater and more vigorous competition -that will come from those countries in the future.
Surely the tourist must be about the most angled-for type of customer. For instance, he is assailed by posters and bombarded by brochures telling him to go to the sunshine of Spain before he dies in the discomfort of the snow somewhere else. At the same time he is told that he must go out into the snow of Switzerland to get away from the dangers of the sun in Spain. This latter exhortation came no doubt at a time when the rain in Spain was not falling mainly in the plain. Everybody tugs and pulls at this precious customer with money in his pocket to spend. It is a wonder that he ever arrives in any country in one piece, but usually he does. Usually it is found that in his ultimate decision he has been influenced to a very large degree by a travel agent. This Bill acknowledges the importance of travel agencies and the travel industry itself.
For years, with the assistance of the Commonwealth, the Australian National Travel Association has been carrying the burden of encouraging tourism in Australia. But the time has come when this trade and the earnings that flow from it are too important for the Australian National Travel Association to be left to try to carve Australia’s share of tourism out of this changing, vital, exciting, almost effervescent world of travel - this market which is fought for in one of the most competitive arenas which any industry can be forced to enter. The value of tourism to trade, immigration, as an earner of foreign exchange and as an external boost to internal revenue is self evident, so we need not expand on this aspect at the moment. Let us even leave the important subject of profit in dollars for a moment, because there is another aspect of the Bill - another aspect of tourism - which is almost as important as results in dollars. In fact, I sometimes think it may be even more important, although it is an area of activity in which results are difficult and even at times impossible to trace. It is because of this aspect that I see this Bill as a tremendously significant one, with much wider ramifications than appear at first study.
For years other countries have been using tourism as a vast cleverly organised public relations exercise. Believe me, it is no hit or miss affair; it is a skilfully planned, deliberate and smooth running public relations operation. Greatest joy of all, it is a public relations operation in which the people concerned actually pay to have public relations practised upon them. But we must truly understand what the practice of public relations is if we are truly to understand what the Australian Tourist Commission must achieve. Public relations does not mean promotions. It does not mean advertising. Neither does it mean those little acts we all talk about from time to time as being good public relations when all we really mean is that we have done something for somebody and we hope that as a result somebody will feel very kindly towards us. Such acts may build up a little goodwill, but they are not public relations as understood by a qualified public relations practitioner. To call this public relations is much the same as saying that you are practising medicine if you can manage to bumble up some sort of bandage on somebody’s sore finger.
I say all this with feeling because we are now in my sphere. True public relations, the kind to which this Bill opens the door, is the planned, sustained, deliberate effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between, in this case, Australia and other countries. The planned, sustained, deliberate effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between this and other countries is what this Bill hopes to achieve. It hopes to achieve this result in trade, in tourism, in fashions - let us not forget that - in writing, in art and, we hope - and this was mentioned, in effect, by the Minister - in peace. It is because Australia has reached the stage at which this carefully planned, deliberate, expanded effort must be made that: the Australian National Travel Association recommended the setting up of such a body as the Commission which this Bill proposes to establish, a Commission, be it noted, which will work with the Commonwealth and State Governments and the travel industry, in which latter I include those organisations and people who are on the fringe of activities. 1 note that the Commission is to consist of five voting members and two non-voting members. I emphasise that the word used is ‘members’ and not simply ‘men’, and I hope that the Commission will include amongst its members a woman or some women.
– Hear, hear!
– 1 can think of no one better fitted to encourage the expansion of the tourist industry than women.
– Hear, hear!
– I suspect that the honourable member who is interjecting from behind me is thinking along lines somewhat different from mine. However, to return to my theme, market research has proved that most tourist advertisements must, if they are to be effective, be angled towards women. I know that there are other kinds of tourist advertisements, and perhaps the honourable member who interjected had those in mind - and I agree that they have a certain value. The fact is, however, that tourist advertisements are usually angled towards women, and, believe me, nobody can follow the workings of a woman’s mind as well as another woman. So what I have been saying represents more than a hint; it is a plea that at least one woman should be included amongst the members of the Australian Tourist Commission.
Obviously the Australian Tourist Commission must see to it that a special section is set up to go out after and actively encourage the holding in this country of conventions, which represent a most lucrative side of the tourist industry. I cannot at this moment think of any less expensive way of obtaining revenue in bulk than through conventions. Almost every organisation holds a convention these days, and many conventions organised by Australian bodies are held outside this country. We must try to attract the international hairdressers, lawyers, trade unions, the Lions Clubs, Rotary, Soroptomists, and so on.
If anyone is in any doubt about where these conventions could be held in Australia let me say quite seriously that my own electorate of Kingston has a good deal to offer, including good accommodation. Kingston has miles and miles of golden sand. No pebble beaches for us; nothing but the best in the way of golden sandy beaches and Mediterranean-blue seas. I will expand this theme at any time, given the slightest encouragement. In fact without any encouragement at all I add that in my electorate of Kingston we also have history. Still standing at Marino is the house in which the Kingstons lived, not only thc famous George Strickland Kingston but also his equally famous son, Charles Cameron Kingston. It is very interesting to note that it was during the ministry of C. C. Kingston that South Australia became, in 1894, the first Australian State to give women the vote. Without that achievement of C. C. Kingston, in fact, you might not have had me in this Parliament. We also have the historically important centres of Glenelg, and Brighton.
We have also a number of large industries such as those of Chrysler Australia Ltd and Hill’s Hoists Pty Ltd, which are well worth a visit by tourists. And just in case honourable members think I am being a bit one-eyed about my own electorate, let me assure them that I am. I could be a little one-eyed about South Australia, too, and mention the Adelaide Festival of Arts, but I shall exercise restraint, except to say that the Festival is organised and conducted by numbers of public-spirited people who act as guarantors for it. I would, however, like to mention the John Martin annual pageant which is now known all over the world, and is offering quite a bit of competition to famous pageants overseas such as that of Nice.
Let me now become a little more general. Imagine the scope that this Bill gives for the ultimate development of our understanding of - and with - Asia and the Asian people. It is nothing new to point out Australia’s proximity to Asia, and we all know the importance of this. There is no doubt whatever that we must direct a good deal of our tourist attraction activities towards Asia.
I mention once again what I consider to be the urgency of the establishment of the Australian Tourist Commission and I give point to it by suggesting that we should have a look at Europe. We must relate our efforts towards gaining tourist revenue in this sphere to the European Economic Community. We must realise that it is a dangerous practice to refer constantly to this association as the European Common Market’. We must speak of the European Economic Community and remember that it means exactly what it says - a community. Let us forget the word ‘market’ and remember that the idea of getting together on tariffs is only a part of the philosophy underlying the European Economic Community. The purpose is to pool labour, resources, ideas - perhaps even pensions - and to exchange tourists. It means the encouragement of free passage by people without any humbug at the borders, from one country of the European Economic Community to another. It means, too, the introduction of package deals in tourism between all these countries. It means that a tourist can move with ease from the southern tip of Italy through France and from there, as he wishes, to the Benelux countries. Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Western Germany.
Why do you suppose France and Italy gouged out all those thousands of tons of rock to make a tunnel through Mont Blanc? For the passage of goods, for the overall success of their tariff patterns? Don’t you believe it. The Mont Blanc tunnel is also for the passage of people, those much sought and cherished people, the tourists. Why do you suppose Britain is discussing with France a tunnel under the English Channel? It would make things very much easier for the transport of goods, but if would also make travel very much easier for people, who could pack everything into their cars in Italy for instance, and travel with ease right through to Britain. Is this unimportant? No, it is very important’. The tourism figure for Britain alone in 1965 reached £S360m. And that is not all. We must recall the declared intention of some years ago to the effect that when - not if - Britain joined the European Economic Community, eventually Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and part of Ireland would also be added to the group.
So I repeat my enthusiasm for this Bill, which is above Party politics. I repeat the urgency of getting the Australian Tourist Commission established and working as soon as possible. In the meantime, however, everyone of us, every member of this House, can be doing his little bit of public relations for this country. There must be a welcome for tourists extending beyond the point of arrival, and, for that matter, beyond any particular point. A welcome should be given by people like taxidrivers, hotel staffs, shop assistants. We must all see that visitors get a taste of life in an Australian home, that they see something more than the inside of a hotel room. Home-host schemes are now common in many countries promoting tourism. I believe a start has already been made in this country with home-host welcomes in Hobart. Our standards of training for the travel industry, our transport, our catering and our accommodation must be improved to world standards and our resorts must be developed so that there is no weak link in the chain of tourist attractions which could cause any visitor to leave Australia with any unhappy or unpleasant memory.
Last, but by no means least, I hope for two other things. First, 1 hope that the Government will be generous when it makes the budgetary allowance for the proposed Australian Tourist Commission, that it will bear in mind the difficulties the Commission must face and will realise that if we want to earn money we must spend money, and spend it well. Secondly, I hope that there will be no delay in the introduction of travel facilities for overseas Press, radio and television personnel, the granting of which I mentioned in this House about a month ago. These facilities will return us valuable publicity in journals abroad and on radio and television programmes. This is publicity for which we do not have to pay and which is heeded by the public in other countries sometimes even more than are the advertisements for which we have to pay.
Some years ago, as a working journalist, I was granted such facilities and spent quite a lot of time in Austria - at Vienna, Badgstein, Salzburg and so on. I subsequently enjoyed such facilities in Bangkok, Delhi, Beirut, Rome, Florence and Singapore. These courtesies and facilities could not have cost the people concerned more than a few hundred pounds, yet they returned them in publicity for their history and their country hundreds of hours of radio broadcasting and television. This is time and space which, I might mention, cannot be bought no matter what price is offered; it is therefore very valuable. I hope that if such facilities are granted to overseas writers they will give publicity to Australia in the Press and on radio and television to help us reach our target and hold it, or even surpass it. From all that I have said, honourable members will gather that I support the Bill.
– On behalf of all the members present I congratulate the new member for Kingston (Miss Brownbill) on her very constructive maiden speech. Not for sixteen years have so many people sat so silently listening to so few. Sixteen years have elapsed since we last heard a woman’s voice in this House. Mr Deputy Speaker, I am sure it would have been an example to all men everywhere to be here today to see how respectfully we listened to the honourable member. I wonder how many of us listen to our wives with the same respect.
May I record as a matter of history that a Mrs Fanny Brownbill served in the Victorian Legislative Assembly from 1948 until 1958 as the Labor member for Geelong West. She was the last woman member in the Victorian Parliament until last Saturday, when another woman was elected to the Legislative Assembly. Before Mrs Fanny Brownbill was elected, her husband, Mr Bill Brownbill, was the member for that district. Mrs Brownbill represented the seat until she died in 1958. Mr Bill Brownbill was a relative of the new honourable member for Kingston in this Parliament. So the name of Brownbill now figures in parliamentary history at both the State and Federal levels and in both the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal Party. This provides a very good link with history.
This legislation pioneers a new field of Commonwealth activity. It will give an urgently required boost to what I regard as Australia’s Cinderella industry. I pay a tribute to the Australian National Travel Association for the work it has done. This organisation was founded in very humble circumstances in 1929 by the late Sir Harold Clapp, Victoria’s far-sighted Railways Commissioner, who created a board of five members. It has grown since that time into a board of thirty members who represent every facet of the tourist industry - airlines, shipping lines, railways, hotels, motels, tourist boards, travel agencies and governments. The chairman for the last ten years has been Mr John D. Bates, of the P. & O.-Orient Line. This remarkable voluntary organisation has done more for tourism in this country than has any other agency, government or otherwise, and we must pay a tribute to it.
The depression blunted the work of this body between 1929 and 1934, and the Second World War also set it back; but in the mid 1950’s a new stimulus was given to it under the chairmanship of the late Sir Charles Lloyd Jones. In 1954 the Commonwealth Government lifted its contribution to the Association from $40,000 to $100,000. The States have assisted with contributions as well. So the organisation was lifted from obscurity into the forefront of Australia’s tourist drive. The various private organisations, through it, have contributed a great deal to the present standard of tourism in this country. In 1964-65 the Association’s budget for travel promotion grew to $960,000, including $700,000 from the Commonwealth Government.
We all agree that tourism is a manypointed star. It builds goodwill, promotes understanding between nations and people, builds new friendships, creates interest in other nations, educates and stimulates, sets money circulating, stimulates international trade, improves transportation and accommodation in the countries where tourists go, and encourages a country to take pride in its national assets - a very important aspect of tourism. Travel men estimate that the Commonwealth Government receives $11,200,000 a year directly and indirectly in tax paid by people employed in the tourist industry.
The spread of tourism, especially in the last ten years, has been very great. I will now give an illustration of what it has meant to Australia. In 1959 only 73,120 people came here as tourists, and they spent $26m. In 1964 the number increased to 165,039 visitors, who spent S58m. In 1965 there was an increase to 192,380 tourists, who spent $70m. By 1975 Australia will be receiving 670,000 visitors a year from overseas, and they will spend approximately $204m. This gives some idea of the magnitude of the industry in this country and its great possibilities, properly directed State by State. Now this new commission is to be created to establish Commonwealth responsibility as an overarching authority.
I shall now give some illustrations of what the tourist industry means to Australia and even other countries as an export earner. In Italy, Austria and Spain, the tourist industry earns more foreign exchange than does any other industry. In Hawaii the income from visitors is second only to the income from military activities. In Great Britain, the tourist industry is the fourth largest earner of overseas currency. In South Africa it is fifth, in New Zealand and Yugoslavia it is sixth and in Australia it is estimated to rank seventh amongst the industries earning export income. The statistics for the year 1963-64 show that wool earned for Australia in that year $962m, wheat and flour S406m, meats $244m, sugar $156m, sheepskins $74m, lead $66m and tourism $65m. The tourist industry ranks seventh in capacity to earn overseas income. I believe that in the next ten years it will advance and will be perhaps the fourth largest income earner for Australia.
The United States of America is by far the major reservoir of international travellers. In 1963, Americans spent more than S3,000m abroad and in that year for the first time more than one million Americans went to Europe. This shows the potential for the tourist industry in Australia, especially if we can attract American tourists to the South West Pacific area, which includes New Zealand and Australia. I will deal with the organisations in the industry. Ninety-five national tourist bodies belong to the International Union of Official Travel Organisations. Eight of them are partly financed and partly controlled by governments, eight are partly financed by governments and seventy-nine of the ninetyfive are wholly controlled and wholly government financed. This shows the significance of the tourist industry in other countries, where it is not left to individuals, private bodies, councils or State governments but is controlled and financed by the federal government entirely. Of the organisations linked to the international body, seventy-nine are financed wholly by governments. So governments are moving into the field of tourist promotion more and more. It is interesting to note that the tourist industry is almost Spain’s primary industry.
– It is helping to soften the hard line of Fascism there.
– As my colleague from Reid said, the tourist industry in Spain is helping to soften the Fascist influence in that country. That is good, although I noticed recently an announcement that Franco, the dictator of Spain, had ordered that no more political parties can be organised in that country. However, Spain must be attractive to tourists, because very many people go there. I believe this is partly due to lower costs in food, travel and accommodation.
During the last few years, I have tried to get the Government to say what it intended to do to attract tourists to Australia. On 7th December 1965 I asked a question of Sir Robert Menzies in this Parliament. My question was based on the report of the Australian National Travel Association that by 1975 Australia would be visited by many thousands of tourists who would spend about S204m here. I asked whether the Government had considered setting up a Federal division of tourism within the Department of Immigration, with the Minister having the dual title of Minister for Immigration and Tourism. Sir Robert replied:
The Government has a very lively interest in tourism . . . We have had under consideration at various times a variety of proposals. I am interested to hear the proposal that the honourable member makes now, because we are at all times looking for ways and means of increasing the benefit that undoubtedly will result from a flood of tourists coming into Australia.
Then a new Prime Minister came over the horizon and eight months later I asked a similar question of him. The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) replied:
The Government recognises the importance of a growing tourist industry for Australia, and the contribution that this can make to our earnings of overseas exchange. Year by year, in my experience as Treasurer anyhow, we have been increasing the provision which has been made for publicity purposes associated with the encouragement of tourism. A substantial lift has occurred again this year in the vote for these purposes.
Whether some change in the administrative structure with a view to giving greater drive to tourist policy and arrangement is justified is a matter of policy. I welcome the suggestion that the honourable gentleman has made as subject matter for further consideration by us.
Apart from such pressures as questions like this asked in the Parliament the Australian National Travel Association, behind the scenes, had pressed the Government to establish some kind of commission to encourage tourism. It suggested a body such as the Commission which will be set up by the Bill. This Commission will not be under the jurisdiction of the Minister for Immigration, as I had suggested, but under the jurisdiction of the Minister for the Navy (Mr Chipp). I have no quarrel with this, because people join the Navy to see the world anyway. The Minister for the Navy having the responsibility for tourist activities is a good arrangement, and I would like him to be called the Minister for Tourism. I commend the Minister for the way he has shouldered the burdens of this new office. We will help him in every way we can to make the legislation work, to give it teeth, to give it some stimulus and to make it a success in the years to come while he holds the portfolio.
The Bill shows that the Government recognises the work of the Australian National Travel Association and the importance of tourism as an industry. It clinches the acceptance of responsibility in this field by the Government. The Commission that is constituted by the Bill will have wide powers. It will consist of seven members and its work will be under the direction of the General Manager. In his second reading speech the Minister gave a brief outline of the work of the Commission. He quoted clause 15, which provides:
The Commission is established for the purpose of the encouragement of visits to Australia, and travel in Australia, by people from other countries.
He went on to say:
The Government intends that the Commission’s activities shall be concerned primarily with overseas promotion -
That is very significant: of Australia’s tourist attractions, with the object of attracting increased numbers of overseas visitors to Australia. The Commission will, of course, be based in Australia, and some of its activities will take place in Australia. But by far the greater part of its work will be carried out overseas in the countries from which tourists are to be attracted.
He then went on to say that the Commission would not compete with State instrumentalities or commercial enterprises in their activities within Australia. In some respects the work of the Commission is limited geographically, but that, of course, is all to the good. Tourists come from overseas and we want them to be encouraged to come to Australia. The Commission, therefore, will begin a bloodhound search for tourists. It will be a co-ordinating body and will work with the Australian National Travel Association and State bodies. Both the Association and the States will be represented on the Commission.
I want to speak on the matter of finance and I ask the Minister to take note of my suggestion. The Bill does not provide for direct financial assistance to the States. I believe that this is a blind spot and that eventually it must be removed. As the Commission’s work takes effect and the flow of tourists to Australia increases, the States will carry a heavy burden in providing adequate accommodation and in meeting the needs of tourists in other ways. The States have limited financial resources and their activities now are largely financed from the amounts they receive from the Commonwealth as their share of the taxes collected by the Commonwealth. We will face a situation that will be similar to that created when the flow of migrants increased. The Commonwealth encourages migrants to come here and even provides cheap fares for them. But the States have had to shoulder the burden of providing houses and jobs for migrants. The Commonwealth has provided assistance through the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. To its credit, it is, through this avenue, helping the States to build houses for migrants.
Let us look at tourism. It is not much different from immigration, except that the tourist does not stay long whereas the migrant is expected to live here. The tourist requires a different set of facilities for his welfare and for the success of any tourist promotion. The States will have to encourage and assist people who provide accommodation in hotels, motels and guest houses, so that they can provide firstclass accommodation and service to our visiting tourists.
Who is spending the money? The States are spending the money in this field of providing facilities for the overseas tourist. The Commonwealth will derive revenue arising from the Commission’s work but the States will have to provide transport services, information bureaux, good communications, and attractions for tourists such as scenic wonderlands, historic homes, national parks, and scenic entertainment. All this costs money, which the Commonwealth should in the near future provide by way of grants to the State tourist departments. For instance, Tasmania has its own loan funds for the provision of tourist accommodation. This was commented upon by the group of investigators from America who published a report after a two-year survey. These loan funds have enabled the State tourist department to make loans for the building of motels and other accommodation for tourists. Already, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent for this wonderful purpose under the loan scheme.
Mr Deputy Speaker, the Commonwealth will have to finance the States in their tourist ventures. It is of no use getting the tourists here if tourist facilities in which the Commission will claim that it has no direct interest are inadequate, inefficient or out of date. The tourist brings revenue to the State, it is true, but to whom does the revenue go? Who gets it? Not the State Government, but the private hotel keepers, motel keepers and other providers of accommodation. Of course, some of it goes by way of train fares to the State, but most tourists travel by bus or private car, and all that the governments get from these sources is derived from licence fees, registration fees for motor vehicles, and the like. Only a small proportion of the total amount spent by tourists in a State ever reaches the State Treasury. The Commonwealth Treasury reaps the benefit all the time by reason of increased taxation, which comes from the people who earn this money by providing accommodation for tourists.
I said earlier that in 1963-64 the Commonwealth derived some Slim in increased taxation from people with interests in or working in the tourist industry. This is something about which the Bill says nothing. The tourist money spent in the State goes not to the State Treasury but to private individuals, from whom it filters back to the Commonwealth by way of increased taxation. If the Commonwealth is to bring more tourists to this country, it must help State governments in Australia financially so that they may provide all the facilities needed by tourists. As it is, there is no doubt that they cannot do so out of their ordinary revenue.
Let me now mention the human side of the story. Tourism may be big business, but it caters for people. This is vital. Moneyspending tourists are primarily people with likes and dislikes. They are not slot machines, computers, robots, stocks and shares, bullion or merchandise, but people with very pronounced likes and dislikes. What do tourists want to see? In answering this question we must deal with the human and personal side of the story. Mr R. D. Piesse, LL.B., B.A., Dip. Ed., in ‘Review’, a publication of the Institute of Public Affairs, wrote an interesting article entitled Developing Australia’s Tourist Industry’. He devoted several pages to an outline of the needs of the tourist when he visits a country. I could not help sharing some of Mr Piesse’s thoughts with him; they are sensible and well expressed. He said:
There is still disagreement among Australians as to what are the main attractions of their country for visitors. The tourist is seeking the distinctive character of Australia - whatever we have to offer (whether it is of particular interest to us or not) which is unique or different to his own way of life or those of other regions such as Europe, with which he may already be fairly familiar. Blatant attempts to ape the place-names of Florida, the designs of Las Vegas or the music of modern Hawaii strike him as curious and even irritating.
He believes that we in Australia should concentrate on pure Australianism in our attempts to attract tourists to this country. He points out that a visitor to our country will want to see our architecture or design, as in Canberra, Australian houses and their gardens, as in Perth or Sydney’s North Shore suburbs, and art and the better museum collections, as well as many other things. He says also that people from overseas will want to see typical scenery of Australia, something that is different from city attractions which are the same in all parts of the world. He points out that they will want to see sheep on a sheep station, and to meet the people who run sheep stations. They will want to see exhibitions of our distinctive fauna and of Australian skills such as shearing, boomerang throwing, sheep-dog trials, lifesaving drill, and woodchopping. These activities will need to be sponsored by the States as tourist attractions.
I do not think we are doing enough on the entertainment side for tourists. Little entertainment is provided except for nightclubs and the like in our cities, which the tourists can see at home anyway. What is the difference between that sort of activity in their own country and similar activities in Australia? I have pointed out, Mr Deputy Speaker, the main requirements of attracting tourists to Australia. Mr Piesse says that Australia’s five big specific visitor attractions are undoubtedly the Great Barrier Reef, the Canberra-Snowy Mountains scheme area, the outback, the climate, and of course, Sydney, with Tasmania and Perth also of importance according to the country of origin and the direction of the visitor’s tour. He continues:
People everywhere are interested in other people, and research evidence points conclusively to the Australian people and their ‘way of life’ as being the outstanding attraction of any in Australia, once visitors have been there.
I urge the Tourist Commission to investigate the likes and dislikes of tourists and to emphasise the attractions in this country that they would really like tourists to visit as part of their world tour. Mr Piesse suggests the desirability of a home-host scheme in all major cities. Perth has just launched the first, a visitor introduction service. He would like to see visits to country properties, including Australian-style dude sheep stations providing accommodation for visitors, though these must be not only the equivalent of the United States dude ranches but also places that have the Australian emphasis. He would like to see also the development of an Australian-style outdoor entertainment in a typical bush setting which would include a really first-class folk museum. These are some of his suggestions. I say we shall also have to encourage the development of our national parks, which are so beautiful. In America, 70 million people visit the national parks every year. Having been to some of them myself, I know that the great national parks of America have magnificent scenery. I feel that we in Australia also have national parks that have a distinctive beauty. Money spent to improve the national parks throughout Australia would reap rich dividends for us in tourist revenue and tourist appreciation.
In concluding my remarks I would like to make some other suggestions. Firstly, under the powers and aims of the proposed Commission the Commonwealth Government should set up a travel information bureau at all major Australian airports. Secondly, Australia should be advertised as a country of sunshine, outdoor living, open-heartedness and mateship. Thirdly, the Government should win the interest and support of visiting seamen. This would be worthwhile because the seamen would become ambassadors for Australia as a tourist Mecca. Special paid workers of the Commission could make the waterfront and visiting ships a splendid travel bureau for distributing literature about what Australia offers the tourist. Seamen travel throughout the whole world and if we capture their interest in Australian tourist activity they would become excellent ambassadors for us.
Fourthly, the Government will have to ease restrictions on the amount of money that it will permit outgoing tourists to take from Australia. I understand that Britishers are permitted to take only $100 and Australians $1,000 when they visit other countries. We must ease ‘the restrictions if we are to encourage tourists to come to
Australia and to spend money here. Little is to be gained if they come here and pay only their fare and the cost of accommodation; we must enable them to spend more while they are here. Fifthly, we should concentrate on an Australian tourist image or a series of images and sell this image overseas. Several factors favour a tourist explosion for Australia. The first of these is the rising standard of living in Asia which gives Asians potentially an opportunity ‘ to come to Australia as tourists. Then there is the fantastic development in air travel with cheaper fares. Next is the challenge we can make that Australia is the last unknown of the tourist world, especially for Americans who have discovered Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. We must remind them that they have yet to see Australia. The next factor is the possibility of exploiting the South East Pacific as a tourist playground with Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand as a pathway to Australia. Finally, the move by big shipping companies to put more cruise ships on routes which bring them to Australia is an excellent sign. In this way many thousands of tourists will be brought to Australia within the next few years. The Bill is a pioneering measure of great importance and the Opposition gives its wholehearted support.
Debate (on motion by Mr Armstrong) adjourned.
Mr HOWSON (Fawkner - Minister for
Air)[4.43]- I move:
Customs Tariff Proposals No. 11 which I have just tabled, relate to proposed amendments of the Customs Tariff 1966-1967. These Proposals re-introduce the tariff amendments previously proposed in the Parliament on 22nd February, 14th March, 16th March, 4th April, 13th April and 20th April 1967. No new tariff changes are included in this Proposal and honourable members may recall that these changes related to, firstly, Tariff Board reports on air-cooled engines not exceeding 10 B.H.P., cycle saddles, electrical capacitors, plastic corrugated plates, sheets or strip, drums, augers and bits, and glass fibre, yarns, fabric, etc., and secondly, reports by the Special Advisory Authority on synthetic resin monofilaments for brushware, domestic tableware, soda ash, and man-made fibres and yarns, tyre cord and tyre cord fabric.
The re-introduction of the Tariff Proposals has been necessary because the introduction and passage of a Tariff Bill will not be possible before the House goes into winter recess. Full details of all the tariff alterations in Proposals No. 11 are contained in the summaries of tariff alterations being circulated to honourable members. I commend the Proposals to the House.
Debate (on motion by Dr J. F. Cairns) adjourned.
Mr HOWSON (Fawkner - Minister for
Air) [4.46] - by leave - I move:
That Customs Tariff Proposals Nos 2, 3, 4 and 10 (1967), constituting part of Order of the Day No. 17, Government Business, be discharged.
These proposals were either incorporated in the Customs Tariff Bill 1967 which has now been assented to, or have been re-introduced in Tariff Proposals No. 11.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– In supporting the Bill I first congratulate the honourable member for Kingston (Miss Brownbill) on an excellent speech. The measure brings to fruition the considerable time and effort which the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) has devoted to the development of the proposal for an Australian Tourist Commission. This was stated by the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities (Mr Chipp) in introducing the measure. I am quite certain that the Minister for Trade and Industry would be the first to say that considerable effort, energy and experience were brought to bear on this proposal by his assistant Minister. The establishment of the Commission is the first major step towards a greater level of effort to promote tourism in Australia. More importantly, it is the first step towards the co-ordination of tourism on some sort of national basis. It is a happy coincidence that this year is the United Nations declared year for international tourism.
As tourism expands in Australia it will help us culturally in a great many ways. It will help to broaden our education and, as has been stressed, it will assist our economic development. In each of these respects it will be equally important. Tourism creates a better understanding between peoples of the world and this must lead to better relations. I agree that by creating better understanding between people through tourism we will create a better atmosphere for peace. The establishment of the Australian Tourist Commission, composed of five voting members from the travel industry and Government departments and two non-voting members in an advisory capacity nominated by the States, will achieve these things. I join with others who have paid tribute to the contribution which has been made to tourism over a long period by the Australian National Travel Association.
The tourist industry is important and is now our ninth greatest income earner and it must improve considerably its position among our foreign currency earners.
Australia has many and varied attractions. Travel has been made much easier and much more rapid and therefore these attractions are now more accessible to people than they were even five or ten years ago. We have an equable climate and are almost free from climatic phenomena. We do not suffer from such disasters as tornadoes and avalanches. I do not want to recite all the attractions that Australia has but I shall mention a few facts that are not generally known. The Australian snowfields are larger than the entire country of Switzerland. Many people in Europe do not know that we have excellent ski runs. Indeed it is amazing to find when talking to people in Europe and many other countries how many people do not know that we do have snowfields. Our beaches are extensive. One thing in Australia which is unique is our outback.
– And our race tracks?
– I will refer to race tracks in a minute. The attraction of our outback has been mentioned by the honourable member for Wilmot. He said that we might be able to set up dude ranches on our sheep stations. I cannot visualise this myself but perhaps it could be accomplished. But some features in the Northern Territory and in northern Australia generally are unique in the world. This area is attracting tourists already and will continue to do so. One attraction which has not been mentioned is New Guinea, which is so close to Australia. I see great possibilities in the promotion of package deals in other countries which would provide round tours so that tourists could travel through Australia and to adjacent lands as well.
We should think about the preservation of our fauna and flora. Far more reserves should be proclaimed and more of them should be under Commonwealth control. Australia, despite its vast open spaces, has only a third as much land allocated for national parks as England has on a percentage area basis. We have many attractive species of fauna. Unfortunately forty species are already extinct and many more are now on the point of extinction. Also, many of our most attractive animals are nocturnal and cannot become a tourist attraction. However, if we do establish and maintain national reserves in the inland we will have to be careful that we do not allow the rabbit population to increase.
It is claimed that the wildflowers of South Africa are the best in the world. I have seen the South African wildfiowers and I believe that those in Western Australia are far more numerous and varied and cover a far greater area. I hope that the Western Australian Government is doing its best to preserve the national flora of that State while it is developing vast areas of land, particularly on the sand plain country which is the home ground of a lot of the flowers I have spoken about.
– It is.
– I am glad to hear that. Another interesting tourist attraction is the Mumimbidgee Irrigation Area and the adjacent Murray River area which I have the honour to represent in this Parliament. Better roads and better motel accommodation have attracted a lot of tourists to this district. In fact, during school vacations it is difficult to obtain accommodation. I want to refer now to a matter which the honourable member for Scullin (Mr Peters) prompted me about earlier. I refer to our thoroughbred horses and our racecourses which are of international standing and are an international attraction. We have in Australia a race which is unique, although it is not the most important race in the world by any means. I refer to the Melbourne Cup. This is the only race in any country that brings traffic to a stop in a number of cities and towns while people listen to the broadcast. The people of New Zealand take nearly as great an interest, and well they might, because New Zealand horses have won eight out of the last twelve Melbourne Cups. 1 stress the fact that it is easier to promote tourism when tours are arranged on a package basis. It is a cheaper and more attractive method. But as tourism increases so will the danger of the introduction of diseases, particularly stock diseases, and precautions carried out now may not be adequate. When an aircraft arrives in Australia from overseas an attendant walks up one side and down the other and sprays the luggage racks with a pressure pack. It may well be that the aircraft are treated also at the point of departure; I do not know, and I bow to the opinion of those better informed. But if the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) were here I am sure he would agree with me that this spray would not even make a mosquito from the outer Barcoo sneeze. This is a matter which I think should be treated with a good deal of respect. I would stress that, by world standards, our customs officials and health officials are efficient and courteous in their dealings with people entering this country. There is little that can be done about a person who tries to smuggle a piece of meat or some other commodity into Australia or about a dishonest person who does not admit that he has been in a foot and mouth disease area. Visitors are put through a thorough examination and interrogation by our health and veterinary officials and I hope this will continue. But I would not like to see irritating procedures introduced for tourists entering Australia.
Tourism is a very important feature in the life of many countries. From April to October about a million people flock into London. A large number of these are attracted by the racing season. Italy has a revenue from tourism which is greater than Australia’s wool cheque. Okinawa, a small island of about 60 miles by 15 miles, earns $20 million a year from tourism. Incidentally, Okinawa is our best export customer for rice after New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. Monaco is entirely dependent on tourist traffic.
The Minister said in answer to a question today that the fifth most important Australian attraction for tourists is the Australian people. It is good to hear this. But this could be offset if people endeavour to fleece tourists. It is said that a fool is born every minute; but it is also said that fools never travel. The practice of tipping is a vicious system and as one moves around the world one finds that in many places a percentage is added to a bill in lieu of a tip. In my opinion this is an admirable idea. Tourists are discerning people and look for value for their money.
We are no longer isolated. Once isolation was a security safeguard but those days have gone. I surprised some Americans whom I met in Switzerland last year by assuring them that Australia is only a few hours flying time further from the west coast of the United States of America than Europe is. This is perfectly true. Last year we had more than 200,000 visitors and it is expected that by the 1970s three times that number will be arriving each year. By then airline travel will have reached its peak; and people travelling in supersonic aircraft will cut down their travelling time by at least one half. The return from tourism in 1965-66 was S60m, and it is expected that this will increase to at least $200m by 1975. This is a great contribution to our economic structure. Honourable members will appreciate from these figures what great benefits can be derived from tourism.
This Bill indicates that we are putting tourism on a better basis, in order to make the most of the new tourist trade which is fast coming to this part of the world. I congratulate the Government on doing this, for it is something that was well and truly needed. I strongly support the measure.
– I join in the congratulations that have been extended by members of the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Country Party to the honourable member for Kingston (Miss Brownbill), who made her maiden speech during this debate. I hope that she continues to represent the constituency of Kingston for as long as she wishes.
The honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) seemed to express great concern that State governments would suffer if the efforts of the Australian Tourist Commission proved to be successful and brought about a greater flow of tourists to Australia. I believe his fears are unfounded. As honourable members know, most of the tourist drive is designed to assist our balance of payments problem, and any improvement in the financial situation of Australia is automatically reflected in the financial and economic position of the States. When the Commonwealth Government is in a position to allocate greater funds, the States will enjoy the benefit; in the long run they will benefit greatly. In my own State the Premier has taken upon himself the portfolio of Tourism as well as the portfolios of Premier and Treasurer. That shows the importance he attaches to this field in Western Australia.
I wish to express my views about a type of tourist whom we are apt to neglect. We should not look upon every tourist as merely a source of internal and external revenue; we should realise that many tourists are having a once in a lifetime holiday for which they have saved for a long time - a holiday to which they have looked forward for most of their lives and upon which they will look back for the rest of their lives. No-one in this category expects five star treatment, facilities or accommodation. If tourists have budgeted for a one-star holiday, we have a responsibility towards them. There are many of these tourists in Australia, some of whom travel round in their own transport. I am referring particularly to tourists who must also consider the wellbeing of young members of their families who have joined them in this once in a lifetime holiday.
I can only congratulate the MinisterinCharge of Tourist Activities (Mr Chipp) and the Government on presenting this measure. I have closely examined the report of Messrs Harris, Kerr, Forster and Co., who in 1964 were commissioned by the Australian National Travel Association to carry out this first survey of Australia’s tourist potential. If one examines the figures set out in a graph in the Association’s 1965-66 annual report, one sees the need to employ more than a purely voluntary organisation such as the ANTA to get the utmost benefit for Australia out of the tourist industry.
I pay tribute to the chairman of ANTA, Mr Bates, and also to its executive officer, Mr Atkinson, for their foresight and drive which over many years have brought the Australian tourist industry to its present stage. In the five-year graph that appeared in the Association’s annual report one sees that earnings from visitors increased from $47m in 1962 to S76m in 1966. During those years the number of visitors increased from 132,390 to an estimated 210,000 in 1966. These things were achieved on an ANTA budget in 1962 of $580,000, which grew to $1,021,000 in 1966.
I shall point out later why Australia must in some way counter the invisibles in its overseas trade. As the Minister pointed out, more is needed than the setting up of a Government assisted commission or the appointment of people to act in a tourist promotion capacity. There is still need for some hard selling, and for people to get out into overseas countries to sell the idea of travel in Australia. Unless the Australian travel industries do that, we shall not achieve the objective set out in the survey that was so carefully prepared by the firm that was commissioned for that purpose. In the past the Department of Trade and Industry had appointed trade commissioners in countries where we did not think it was possible to attract trade for Australia. I believe that we shall have to take this a step further and investigate every portion of the globe from which we might attract tourists to this country.
In the ‘Financial Review’ of 20th April 1967 there was a well worded article dealing with the future of the tourist industry. lt spoke of the invisibles, and claimed that they were a major drain on our overseas resources. It was pointed out that in the period between 1956-57 and 1958-59 the average annual deficit from this cause was about $394m. In 1965-66 the deficit had soared to about $640m. In 1964-65 the gap between the amount spent abroad and the money brought in by tourists brought about a deficit of $63m. This is clear evidence of the necessity for greater drive and a determination to go out and sell Australia in the overseas field. Honourable members will realise that this sum of S63m was one third of the net amount paid on freight, insurance and other charges on our international trading transactions during the year under review.
In all overseas tourist publicity I believe that the best agent is a satisfied tourist. If one person who comes to Australia returns to his country of origin with glowing reports of the treatment he received, the type of holiday he had, and the value he got for his money, he is the best advocate for tourism in this country and the best means of doubling or trebling our tourist trade within a certain number of years. On the other hand, one disappointed tourist, who might have come all the way from America, Great Britain or Europe, is an inbuilt bad publicity agent for the whole of our tourist industry.
I now mention something about which 1 have tried for years to convince members of the Government - that is, that some action should be taken to ensure a happy tourist. I have never been able to understand why someone who lives in Great Britain and who comes to Sydney on a trip that takes about twenty-eight days is subject for seven of those days to Australian customs duties while travelling round the Australian coast. Conversely, I have never been able to understand why the Australian tourist, who might save for a lifetime to undertake a trip to Europe, is for six, seven or eight days of that trip, if he leaves from Sydney to go to England, subjected to Australian customs duties on that part of his journey from Sydney to Fremantle prior to the vessel going into overseas waters. I have been told that to change the present system would involve the employment of additional customs staff. I do not go along with that claim. I have been told that material would have to be put into bond - not only liquor and cigarettes but gifts and things like that - on so many different occasions and that to change the system would necessitate extra work.
Let us compare the distance travelled on a Channel steamer going from Boulogne to Folkestone - almost the distance covered in crossing Port Phillip Bay or the distance
I would travel if I went by a little steamer from Fremantle to Rottnest Island. In that brief period of time in one case customs duties apply but in the case of the voyage from Sydney to Fremantle they do not. I think it must be galling for people from Europe arriving by ship at Fremantle to be forced to comply with customs formalities for the remainder of their journey around the Australian coast. The amount of duties involved is infinitesimal compared with the total excise and customs collections in Australia in one year. If these formalities were dispensed with people would at least have the opportunity to enjoy their voyage to the full. After all, it is a voyage that most people undertake probably only once in a lifetime. The report by Harris, Kerr, Forster and Co. lays stress on the attraction of tourists from overseas to this country so as to increase our earnings of overseas currency, but points out also that we have a responsibility to the internal tourist traffic. If you promote travel within Australia by Australians you will reduce their spending overseas. I know that this matter is not really the responsibility of the Commission that will be appointed but I think some pressure should be brought to bear on tourist agencies throughout Australia to improve facilities for travel by the ordinary Australian.
In its report the Harris, Kerr, Forster organisation states:
The relatively high standard of living of Australians enables many of them to satisfy their travel desires. This should be recognised as a very desirable national asset. We believe that State and Commonwealth Government policies should encourage even greater travel by Australians to maintain and increase knowledge and pride in their own country. This would offset to some extent the tendency of Australians to travel abroad and for some to remain out of the country.
It would at the same time conserve the funds that those same Australians use overseas in their preference for travel in other countries rather than in their own. The report continues:
It is not generally understood that an adequate and efficient travel plant constitutes an important part of the national defence structure. In times of war, national emergency or mobilisation, the transportation facilities become essential for the rapid movement of military personnel and supplies, and for facilitation of business enterprises engaged in the war effort. The accommodation facilities, particularly hotels, would accommodate military and business personnel in the major centres;
The report stresses that a build-up of facilities in Australia to enable people to travel will assist us in our balance of payments problem.
In 1959 there were in Australia 1,782,852 motor cars registered. By 1964 the number had increased to 2.599,340. For every motor vehicle registered you have a potential traveller throughout Australia, somebody who can see parts of his own country provided the facilities are there for him to do so. The report pointed out that one of the major attractions in Australia was the Kimberleys region and the northern part of Western Australia, which presented a unique opportunity to visit one of the primaeval areas of the world. Reference was made to the dramatic scenery of the area, the enormous tides, and the interesting geology and flora and fauna. The report recommended the establishment of major reserves and/ or national parks, and gradual development of access facilities. I do not believe that the person who lives in an urban area and is accustomed to big hotels, parks and gardens, really is in search of these same things when he visits another country. We must attract him with something that .is quite unusual - something to which he is not accustomed in his normal travels. Once we get him into Australia, allow him to travel fairly freely around the country and give him the kind of experience Chat he will go home and speak about.
I come back to the 21 million owners of motor cars in Australia. What are their chances of travel, assuming, as is the case with the population generally, that seveneighths of them live in the eastern part of Australia? The limitation on their travel is the limitation of a black topped road, because most people using their own cars prefer to travel on a bitumen surface. If we look at a map of the Australian roads system we will see that at present there are two great gaps in it. Those gaps are from just east of Norseman to Penong or Ceduna in South Australia and from Adelaide to Alice Springs. I know that the Premiers of Western Australia and South Australia have made a joint submission to the Commonwealth seeking assistance to fill in the first mentioned gap. I do not know of any other continent with the wealth of Australia that has allowed such gaps to exist in its road system. I hope that the submissions of the Premiers will not fall on deaf ears because they are vital to millions of Australians who have explored the beauties and the tourist potential of the eastern side of Australia and who are now looking westward for further adventure. The submissions of the Premiers are vital also to 800,000 Western Australians, many of whom are forced to end their travels at the border with South Australia because they do not like the prospect of the many miles of corrugated roads which they must traverse in order to reach the magnificent spots on the eastern coast of Australia about which we hear so much in this House.
There is one other thing we must bear in mind if we would have a tourist industry that will be spoken about by everybody who visits this country. I understand that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has not been able to come up with a quick solution to the fly menace. I know that Dr Waterhouse, who is in charge of the Division of Entomology, has, with his officers, done a considerable amount of work in an endeavour to defeat the fly menace. Anybody who watches on television the arrival at Canberra Airport in summer months of an important personage from overseas will see him or her giving the great Australian salute - waving the flies away from the face. This does not happen only in Canberra; the density of flies to the square yard is as high in many parts of Western Australia as it is in Canberra. I hope that the CSIRO will be given every encouragement, morally and financially, by the Government in its efforts to combat what I believe to be a great menace to our tourist industry.
Let me refer now to another matter. Because it is believed that major air carriers have reached an economic and stable position, America is now allowing greater use of charter aircraft to transport tourists in parties at a rate much lower than applies in normal travel on Australian airlines. I think this is something we could well adapt to Australian conditions. We have a twoairline system which is fairly economically viable, and I believe that the Government could well consider the possibility of more extensive use of charter aircraft for the purpose of taking parties on package deal flights not only throughout Australia but also perhaps to parts of the Far East and the Near East and South East Asia. If one accepts, as I do, the statement by the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) that expanded tourism to and from Australia will increase understanding between peoples, then we must acknowledge that we should make every effort to put within the reach of ordinary people within the community the facilities to enable them to take these tours.
I hope the Government will look very closely at the possibility of using charter aircraft services for this purpose. It is no use having only a small section of the community with the necessary finance available to them to visit distant parts of Australia or overseas countries. We should concentrate on bringing travel facilities down to the level of the ordinary working fellow so that he may be able to take a holiday which could rarely come his way in any other circumstances.
I commend the Bill and I congratulate the Minister. I, like other members on this side of the House, have great faith in his capacity to ensure, in conjunction with the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), that the best efforts are made to achieve the greatest results for Australia.
– This is one of the occasions when I take some pleasure in agreeing with most of the remarks of the honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney). In my own experience during recent years I have been impressed by the absence of flies in countries overseas that I have visited and the continued existence of great numbers of them in this part of the world. I agree with the honourable member that it is time we did something about the fly menace.
I agree also that the Government is making an important contribution to our national development in introducing this measure. It is stepping into what is, from the point of view of the Government’s political philosophy and general policies, almost an exotic field. The Commonwealth Government has been reluctant to step into very many fields, but in recent years it has gradually come to accept responsibilities in very many community activities and to set the pace, as it were. So it has decided to establish itself as a kind of developer of the Australian tourist industry and this, I think, is a most important move.
I believe that travel is a peacemaker. It is very difficult after meeting people of other nations face to face to continue to foster the hostilities that originated with differences of race, religion or colour. It is very difficult, once you have met and talked to them, to believe that the Russians and the Chinese have horns and tails. It is just as difficult for them to retain any such illogical beliefs about us. So it is to our great advantage to encourage to the fullest extent the visits to this country of people from overseas, and it is to our advantage to establish facilities for Australians to visit other countries.
It is true that we are one of the most isolated countries geographically. When one looks at a map published by Air France or some such organisation one sees Australia more or less at the end of the line. So, to many people of other countries, a visit to Australia presents almost insuperable obstacles, even when those people are seriously considering travel. The world is European based. There are many people in Europe who think the world ends at the Bosphorus. So many important world decisions are made in Washington, Paris, London and Moscow and the general area in which those places are situated that the world is dominated by the attitudes of the people who run things from those centres. One of our problems is not only to make Australia accessible but also to make life in this country accessible, in the way that facilities are made accessible in other countries. There are, for instance, many more accessible camping spots, or many more useful camping spots, around Europe - or at least the information about them is more easily found than is similar information in Australia. We still have a long way to go to integrate information about our own continent, so that we may readily ascertain what conditions will be like if we are driving through to Cairns - where can a decent camping site be found; where is water available; what facilities are in existence at a certain spot?
Several years ago while overseas I was impressed with the integration of the tourist industry and the tourist facilities of Europe. One can go to the Automobile Association in London and obtain booklets filled with information so that one never has to be flying blind. One can find, for instance, that, at say, the fifty-mile post somewhere between Le Havre and Limoges, there is a camping site with certain facilities. One of the things we must do is to make life accessible in this country so that it is not simply a question of flying from gold-plated hotel to gold-plated hotel and seeing so many city blocks and then saying that you have been to Australia. We must make the community and the country accessible. This is hot easy in a country like ours where the great besetting problem is that of distance. It is a long way across Australia. A person wanting to leave southern Australia has to travel 2,000 miles before he is beyond Australia’s boundaries. The person coming to Australia faces a similar problem. It is not feasible for a person to drop in on Darwin and then shop on from there. We have not done anything to make it feasible. So we have a special problem in making accessible Australia, Australians and the Australian way of life.
I would like to bring this matter to the notice of the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities (Mr Chipp). I have been thinking of doing something about this or of bringing it to people’s notice since I was overseas myself. The Australian traveller - and 1 am now holding a brief for the Australian traveller - travels furthest of all except perhaps for the New Zealand traveller. When an Australian travels to Europe he pays more in fares than other travellers do, yet he gets the same air luggage allowance as the person flying internationally between Paris and London. Such a person travels perhaps 200 miles and pays $20-odd for his fare. He is allowed 66 lb luggage first class and 44 lb second class. The Australian, having paid $1,100 or $ 1 ,200, having left home not for overnight but perhaps for weeks or months, is allowed the same amount of luggage. This comes back to my original point that so many international organisations and so much international thinking are dominated by Europeans. The great air carriers of Europe and America have the numbers in the Internationa] Air Transport Association, and I presume that Australia’s is a small voice despite the fact that we have shown a capacity to run airlines efficiently and are very valuable customers for these air carriers. If the Minister will take this up on my verbal representations it will save me the trouble of writing him a letter.
– What is the honourable member proposing, an additional allowance for Australians?
– Yes, an additional allowance for long-distance travel or something of this kind. I should imagine that with the tremendous power of modern aircraft the luggage allowance decided on years ago is no longer relevant. Perhaps it means that the airline operators are able to stack in more cargo instead of passengers’ luggage. Coming home from overseas some time ago I landed at Singapore and the authorities there wanted to charge me another £A30 for the things that I was carrying practically in my pocket. One almost reaches the stage in air travel when one cannot afford to buy another notebook. If one finds a very bureaucratic character behind the counter one is likely to have the notebook weighed and be charged another couple of dollars to bring home something that cost about 25c. I personally find this a most inhibiting factor of air travel. People might say: ‘You should not carry as much. You should throw things away’, but probably this also represents an infliction on people who are larger than others, because the spare clothes they carry weigh more than those carried by other persons. So I repeat that this is an inhibiting feature for Australian travellers, as it probably is for people coming here from overseas.
A good example of the problems encountered by people coming here from overseas was presented by the experience of delegates to the meeting of the InterParliamentary Union in Canberra last year. There were fifty-one nations represented, some by one delegate, some by two or three and some by quite large delegations. As far as I can recall, only one delegation stayed and had a look at Australia. I knew some of the delegates before they came here. I had written to many of them. I suppose I had contacted fifteen or twenty delegates by various means suggesting that they do all sorts of things in Australia. But of course they were travelling a long distance and their arrangements had to be made a long way ahead. They did not understand that if they bought a ticket through as far as Hobart it would cost the same as a ticket to Canberra and they would then have access to southern Australia. They did not allow enough time. The only people who stayed in Australia to have a look at the country were the Mongolians who at that time we did not recognise but who, I think, went back to central Asia and established a little island of friendship with Australia in their capital of Ulan Bator.
Australians themselves are great travellers. If you travel around the world you are likely to encounter an Australian no matter where you go. On the transSiberian railway one can usually find an Australian in one of the compartments. If ohe visits Moscow, as I did two or three years ago, one finds that on a population basis probably more Australians than people from other countries visit that city. Considering that Moscow is so far from Australia and a great cost is involved in travelling there, the presence of Australians is a tribute to the initiative, enterprise and prosperous nature of our community.
It seems to me that young Australians and elderly Americans are the principal travellers. Australians are great travellers. They must have readily accessible information so that they will know how to get to other countries and what to do when they arrive. Planning an itinerary in Australia is not easy. I suggest that we give away the idea of promoting air travel. Airline companies book travellers into the most expensive hotels in capital after capital. They say it is only for one night, but at the end of the trip the traveller has stayed in expensive hotels for thirty or forty nights, usually at an extra cost of $4 or $5 a night. We must do something to induce people to travel on the ground, because it is there that one can meet people. We must be wary of the travel agent who is not concerned about cheap travel.
At a gathering of travel agents in India - I think it was in the State of Rajasthan - officials were disappointed to find that the agents were not interested in the kind of travel they supplied. There is no point in a travel agent booking people at hotels where the tariff is two rupees a night, because 10% on that sum which is 40c Australian, does not repay them for their trouble. The Government must compete in
this field by making cheaper travel possible. We must compete against the commercialisation of the tourist industry by which people live on percentages and commissions. If we want to deal with ordinary mortals - the people who have saved for half a lifetime to travel to this country - we must make cheaper accommodation available to them.
I believe we must do something about our trains. Air travel is very desirable, but what is the best way to see the country between Sydney and Melbourne? It is unlikely that an ordinary mortal can afford to hire a car or buy a car in one place an’d sell it on leaving the country, as can be done in Europe; so something must be done about train travel. Most of the trains in different parts of the world are nothing to write home about. We have one or two very good trains, particularly the Southern Aurora which travels between Sydney and Melbourne; but it is far too slow. A few weeks ago I saw a report in a British newspaper that in Britain there were now twenty trains which travelled at 100 miles an hour. How long will it be before we have a train which wilt travel at this speed? It is because of our engineers that we have no such trains? Certainly not. Probably it is because of a lack of imagination or a lack of finance. Between Brisbane and Melbourne a standard gauge railway line has been open for four or five years but at no time has a traveller been able to remain on one train for the journey between these two major cities of Australia. Why is that so? Only rarely can one place a car on a train. If one wanted to hire or buy a car in Australia so as to travel over our enormous distances, one should also be able to put a car on the railway, as can be done in Europe, where the car and driver can be taken 400 or 500 miles overnight at reasonable cost. The traveller in Europe is then able to press on with his journey by road. The Australian railway system must be jazzed up, to put it in the vernacular, so that ground travel will be available to the people. Air travel is much too expensive for the general run of people, lt is very expensive to travel by air with one’s family. Apart from the cost of air travel, one is caught up in an expensive travel network.
We must do something about our natural assets. I think it was the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Armstrong) who pointed out that our national parks, relative to our area and population, were at a much lower level than those in Britain. We must have a national plan for making our beaches, mountains, rivers and so on accessible. Too many of our river banks are in private hands and too many of our mountain tops and mountains areas are inaccessible. We must make the real Australia accessible to the traveller. Nobody will bother coming to Australia just to see another set of city blocks - not even in Sydney. To show my objectivity, I think that Sydney is one of the loveliest cities in the world; but this is not enough to attract people from other countries. There is a lot of Australia outside Sydney. How can we make places like Lake Eucumbene easily, pleasantly and economically accessible? In some places in Israel the kibbutz run motels. This was the position in a place on the Lake of Galilee. The motel was run as part of a farm. There is much more room for governmental imagination in these matters. I think we leave too much to private industry and travel companies. Is there any reason why we cannot provide some grant or subsidy to municipalities so that they can develop their own facilities in line with what they think would be desirable and make them accessible to the people?
We must do more to advertise ourselves around the world. It is fair enough to have in the Strand pictures of bronzed young men surfing, but generally speaking I find that the well informed person overseas feels that there is something attractive about Australia because of its prosperity, stability and distance. One comment made to me overseas was this: ‘We thought of going to Australia, but isn’t it rough?’ I do not think Australia is rough, but how did this idea get abroad? I presume it was the result of people spending a lot of time complaining about Australian conditions. Generally speaking, although conditions may not be very good in many areas in Australia, they are no better in many other parts of the world. I asked a Swiss lady who had travelled to Canada and other places whether she had visited Australia and she asked: Where would I be among all those sheep?’ The Australian Wool Board is doing a good job but in its public relations it is submerging Australia beneath the sheep.
We must show that the people here are important.
Perhaps it is unfair to the British Broadcasting Corporation to say this, but I have been told that when in any radio or television serial the producer wants to get rid of one of the characters he has him sent to Australia, as happened years ago. When I was in London in 1964 a film was being shown about the airport. The viewer was shown all the glamour of magnificent airliners flying everywhere. Scenes were shown of the services run by Air India and of glamourous air hostesses in saris, of Pan American Airways, very well turned out and bang on, of KLM Airlines, Air France, and Airlines of Japan. They were shown in all their glamour and glory. Then were shown scenes of a Qantas Empire Airways Ltd aeroplane taking off with a plane full of migrants. The film also showed a crowd of people - mothers, grandmothers, nieces, sisters and sweethearts - seeing the migrants off, shedding tears and, as the aircraft faded into the distance to the strains of ‘Waltzing Matilda’, people were saying: ‘They have gone to Australia. We will never see them again.’ A Press report of about three years ago clearly shows that many people throughout the world think this way. This article stated:
But the new trend is already under way. This year will see 120,000 Japanese going abroad, a big step up from last year’s 98,000 . . .
Recently a poll revealed the favourite destinations of would be Japanese tourists. The United States, particularly Hawaii, headed the list, and Hong Kong, both because of its proximity to Japan and its shopping attractions, came next. Then came Paris, the Swiss Alps, Rome, West Germany and England.
No one nominated Melbourne, Sydney or Tasmania; Auckland, Rotorua and the Southern Alps were never mentioned.
So, we have a good way to go to get our image across. I hope we will succeed. From my own experience, I do not think that accommodation in Australia is too bad. I used to read a lot of unfavourable comments about Australian hotels, and I did not think much of them myself. But once the traveller gets off the beaten track in Europe he finds that all the hotels are not luxurious. A person who drives a car across Turkey will find hotels that are worse than many Australian country hotels. Even the worst of Australian hotels have their moments of luxury when compared with some of the hotels in Europe. But that is the way the world is. It is not made up merely of expensive hotels and city blocks. If we want to meet people we must get out amongst them.
I think the Minister should take up the problem of tourists entering Australia. The arrangements for people to visit Australia are about the most inhibited in the world. Anybody wanting to come here faces a tangle of paper work before he starts. What does a traveller do when he wants to come to Australia? We are one of the most dimcult countries to enter. It is almost as difficult to enter Australia as it is to enter the United States of America. With some exceptions, it is harder to enter Australia than the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Some years ago the Russians abolished the requirement that tourists travelling in groups must have visas. I do no know whether this is still so, but I noted the arrangement at the time I passed through that country. Yet only certain people can visit Australia without visas. A resident of the United Kingdom of European descent, a New Zealander or a Canadian does not need a visa. But this does not apply to other Commonwealth countries. Let us consider the position of people in India. A person from India does not need a visa but must get a permit. We can imagine how difficult obtaining a permit may well be. We have freedom of travel for Australians but restrictions for visitors. An Australian with a British passport can roam around Europe almost as free as the breeze. He can march through the border posts between Italy and Switzerland, between France and Germany and between the Scandinavian countries. Yet a national of every one of those countries must apply for a visa if he wants to enter Australia, and plenty of applications for visas are being refused in this age. The position of people coming from countries that we do not recognise is even more complicated.
Any Australian with a British passport, can, as I said, travel as free as the breeze in Europe. He may be standing in Paris and say: ‘Where will I go next? I will go through Belgium.’ He will not meet any difficulties at all in doing so. But imagine the plight of a traveller who has reached Portugese Timor and wants to visit Aus- tralia. Australia is just across the way and Trans-Australia Airlines provides a service between the two countries once a week. At a cost of $20 or $30 he can land in Darwin. But how does he get there? He must apply for a visa and to do so he must first find the Australian consul. He must fight his way through a tangle of papers and rubber stamps to battle his way into this last stronghold of freedom. What does the traveller do? Travelling is very much a matter of being able to decide to visit one country whilst in another.
I travelled to the conference of the Interparliamentary Union two or three years ago. We were in Japan and we took a boat to Russia. We travelled on the TransSiberian railway across Russia. We stopped at Irkutsk in Siberia and went down to Ulan Bator. We had no visa because we had not been able to contact anybody. We had received a cable which said: ‘Pick up your visas at Peking or Moscow*. That is not very easy to do. We rolled up to the border post and, so to speak, knocked on the door. A very firm and stern looking Russian officer came up to us after our passports had been taken to him. He said: ‘Mr Bryant?’ We shook hands on that. He said: You have come here without a visa. Why? He spoke in very stern and forbidding tones. We explained our difficulties. We told him that we did not recognise the place although we had seen it on atlases and so on. We realised that his country was a member of the United Nations and had friendly relations with other countries. He said: ‘I will do my best for you’. A couple of hours later, before the train left, we had the rubber stamp on our passports. Would that happen with anyone trying to enter Australia?
– The honourable member must have talked him into it?
– That is right. He responded to my firm, friendly spirit. The point I make is that around the world people are accustomed to dealing with these problems. Fortunately for the administration of Australia, it is very difficult for a stranger to arrive unannounced at our shores. But let us assume that somebody travelling in a private yacht arrived at Darwin without a visa. Let us assume that he came from a country that we do not recognise. We can all imagine how he would be treated. We must knock down the barriers that exist between us and other countries. The world would benefit if many barriers between countries were knocked down. I know that many restrictions have grown up through habit and no-one has imposed them out of malice.
I make a special plea for the people of India. An Australian can step ashore in India because he is a British subject and because he is an Australian, but an Indian cannot enter Australia without restriction. I suppose this applies equally even to such countries as France, just as it applies everywhere else. Freedom is one of the elements of travel. We will not be able to encourage people to come to Australia unless it is easy for them to do so. Travellers who land in Fiji on their way to some other place may say: ‘Let us go across to Australia’. But they may have difficulties in doing so. I do not know the rules, but whatever they are they should not impose unwarranted restrictions. We should remove most of the restrictions that now apply and we should issue instructions that freedom to travel to this country is the right of everyone on this planet who is in good health and has the documents appropriate to the country from which he comes. The trend around the world is the gradual removal of the need for documentation. A traveller can go from Switzerland to France, then to Austria or to Italy, A traveller can get into a motor car and drive to Moscow with a minimum of documentation. He can then drive back through Austria or any other country.
I believe that we are well out of step with the rest of the world. The arrangements in Canada, for instance, have changed a good deal in the last three or four years. I will read from the report of the Tourism Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. It states:
In 1963 Canada abolished the entry visa still required of Austrian, Spanish, Greek, Italian, Portugese, Swiss and Turkish nationals. Thus tourists from all OECD Member countries may now enter Canada without visas for visits not exceeding three months. For visits not exceeding twelve months entry visas allowing an unlimited number of entries are issued free of charge.
We can do much more to make our arrangements as easy as the visa arrangements in other parts of the world. The report also states:
With regard to relations between Member countries and South American countries . . . bilateral agreements providing for the reciprocal abolition of entry visas have been concluded since 1st July, 1963, respectively: between Germany (Federal Republic of) and Paraguay; between Norway and Ecuador, and between Norway and Paraguay; . . .
It goes on to list other countries. The report states further:
The ‘European Agreement on travel by young persons on collective Passports between Member countries of the Council of Europe’ is atp resent in force between Belgium, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Turkey.
Greece now applies the ‘European Agreement on Regulations governing the movement of persons between Member States of the Council of Europe’. Upon presentation only of a tourist identity card issued by the Greek authorities, Greek tourists may therefore enter Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Turkey, countries that have ratified this agreement
We are probably one of the most inhibited countries in the world in the field of international travel. I hope that wewill realise that Australia has a special function in the world. When we say that people can travel freely between France and Germany, we are speaking of countries that have torn themselves and others apart in wars twice in my lifetime. When we speak about the Turks and the Greeks, we must realise that problems still exist between them. When we speak about the Italians and the French, we must realise that they have had serious problems and have been at war with each other. But we in Australia have no enemies, except those created by the attitude of the Government. This afternoon, I make a plea for the Australian Government to accept what is happening in the rest of the world as the standard and to accept this standard for our country.
We should do something about our currency problems. Is there a case for United Nations currency of some kind? In some places sterling is accepted; in most places the dollar is accepted. But is it possible to create the equivalent of the travellers cheque and have a form of currency that is applicable everywhere, that is recognised everywhere and that can be cashed everywhere? Travel is breaking down the barriers that have been erected by politics. But we still have not done as much as we could to ease such formalities as customs. The honourable member for Perth was quite right. People I have met overseas have told me that the worst country of all is Australia. They may travel around the world, but the one country that will make them empty their suitcases is Australia. This just does not happen in most other parts of the world. We can travel freely in most countries of South East Asia, of Europe and in many parts of Asia. Except in odd instances, we are treated with great courtesy and arrangements are made for our comfort. This does not happen merely because a person is travelling on an official Australian passport, as I was. People just roll through these countries. I admit that most customs look at their own nationals with very close scrutiny. In Yugoslavia the people they are doing over are the Yugoslavs coming home, and in Switzerland it is much the same. This world has changed, in particular in the last twenty years. I believe that we have a function to perform in the world by accepting the challenge and making this country as accessible to others as the rest of the world is to Australians. I have always deeply regretted that though the people of Europe were able to travel with freedom between all countries in Europe, and Australians were able to travel through Europe without any inhibitions whatever, we in Australia insisted that before coming here Europeans must battle their way through a tangle of paper, and wait for a visa to come through. I hope this position will be rectified. The Minister at the table, under correct guidance, often has very liberal attitudes, and I hope that he will do something about the matters I have mentioned.
- Mr Speaker, I welcome the opportunity of speaking on this bill, which establishes an Australian Tourist Commission for the purpose of encouraging visits to Australia, and travel in Australia, by people from other countries, and which fulfils the election promise made by the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) in the November 1966 general election. It is an exciting and challenging measure signifying our growing awareness that Australia is on the threshhold of an unprecedented boom in international tourism, and opening up unequalled vistas of opportunity for internal development and external projection of our national image in the many territories and nations around the globe. The world today is our oyster, and the important and continuous expansion of international tourism during the last two decades constitutes one of the most spectacular features of the ‘leisure civilisation’ which is a developing and accentuated sociological characteristic of most countries in the Western world.
There is no doubt that tourism is the largest single industry and one of the fastest growing activities in the world today. International tourist movements have been developing since 1961 at an average rate of increase of approximately 12% per year. This trend is likely to be further accelerated as a result of the improvement in the standard of living and more leisure for the population of the developed countries; the need for relaxation and the desire to escape from large cities; the demographic pressures which tend to increase the proportion of young people and of the active population from whom international tourists are drawn; the increasing transport facilities and the reduction in the level of administrative barriers to tourist movements between countries. International tourism plays a significant part in international payments. In 1965, total world tourist receipts in foreign currencies reached about SUS11.6 billion which represents 6.2% of total world exports of goods and merchandise, as against 5.9% in 1964. Since 1961, world tourist receipts have increased on average by 15% per year which, taking account of the increase in prices, corresponds roughly to the increase in the volume of international tourism, and places the latter among the most rapidly developing economic activities.
It is imperative that Australia should share in full measure in this development because the advantages of promoting tourism to Australia are manifold. As the Minister pointed out in his second reading speech, earnings from overseas visitors to Australia totalled at least $A65m in 1965-66 and were Australia’s ninth most important source of foreign exchange in that year. The value of this achievement is underlined when one reflects on the Minister’s statement that in 1965-66 overseas tourism to Australia earned Australia a little less than exports from iron and steel recorded at $A70m and sugar and dairy products each recorded at $A94m, but more than motor vehicles and parts at $A42m, and chemicals at the same amount. These earnings are spread over a wide cross-section of Australian industry.
In addition to its vital contribution as an earner of overseas exchange, tourism creates employment, being particularly suited to providing gainful occupation for older or retired persons as guides, attendants and tour conductors. I understand that not less than 5% of Europe’s labour force earn its livelihood in tourism. Tourism also stimulates, by its multiplier effect, other economic activity; it greatly increases, by attracting industrialists and other ‘key people’ on vacation, the prospect of foreign investment; it depletes no natural resources, using commodities which are almost without exception produced locally, and it generates tax revenues. Checchi and Co., a Washington firm of economic analysts, has calculated that governments obtain 10% or more of the gross expenditures by tourists in the form of taxes and other revenues. The Harris, Kerr, Forster report computes this figure at 18% of estimated overseas visitor spending.
Finally, tourism’s greatest contribution to mankind is to be seen in its civilising influence. The contacts between men of different nations and the closer forms of communication which tourism engenders will go a long way towards dispelling the prejudices and suspicions which have characterised too great a part of this century. The only answer to world chaos is genuine international goodwill and understanding, and this mental orientation on the part of men and nations is one of the essential by-products of the development of tourism. As the United States Ambassador, Jonathan Bingham, stated in an address before the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations in 1963:
Tourism is a builder of international goodwill. Travellers abroad often foster and achieve friendship and understanding. They are apt to learn that people everywhere share similar hopes and ambitions, and often have the same frustrations and the fears. These personal contacts between the people of one country and another can be the means of promoting goodwill and crossfertilization of cultures on a scale obtainable through no other medium. . . .
In a sense, unrestricted travel is an international resource that should be held in trust by all nations as an instrument of world understanding and peace.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I had dealt in broad terms with the significance of international tourism and had emphasised the salient contribution which the development of the tourist industry could make to Australia. The prelude to the Bill before the House was provided by the excellence of the work carried out by the Australian National Travel Association, which was formed in 1929 to undertake as a voluntary organisation the task of promoting overseas tourism to Australia. With the support of Commonwealth Government grants, this big thinking, far-sighted and dedicated group has done a wonderful job for Australia in the field of tourism. It is typical of its approach that the Government’s decision to establish the Australian Tourist Commission has, in fact, resulted from a proposal put forward by the Australian National Travel Association itself, based on the report which it commissioned from the United States firm of consultants, Harris, Kerr, Forster & Co., and Stanton Robbins & Co. Inc. The tremendous potential in Australia’s tourist industry is clearly evident from the submissions made in this report which projected that by 1970 Australia should take as a target the attraction of 320,000 overseas visitors and that by 1975 this target should have grown to 607,000 visitors.
Visitors’ expenditures were estimated as totalling $A120m by 1970 and as totalling $A208m by 1975. However, it is important to emphasise that these projections were based on the following major conditions which must be met if the potential in the industry is to be realised: Firstly, Australia’s travel plant will be further developed and substantially improved. Secondly, Transportation costs to Australia will be reduced. Thirdly, Co-ordination of Australia’s travel industry will be accomplished with the Commonwealth and State Government as well as the travel industry assuming their proper roles. Fourthly, An intensive and aggressive promotion programme will be carried on in conjunction with carriers and other interests to penetrate the major market areas.
The marketing and provision of these conditions constitute both the challenge and opportunity before us. Whilst the total number of visitors to Australia and the estimated direct spendings by these visitors have manifested steady growth in recent years, it is clear that a great deal remains to be done. As the Bank of New South Wales ‘Review’ pointed out in February 1965:
At present (tourism) is, relatively speaking, an underdeveloped industry in Australia. In relation to total receipts for foreign trade, which in 1963/64 were in the order of £A1,400 million, tourism’s contribution which in that year was not more than £A30 million, was a very minor one. Although foreign tourism in Australia is increasing in scope, it did not expand at as great a rate as Australian visible exports which admittedly experienced a year of very favourable conditions. Great scope obviously exists for a substantial increase in the amount of foreign exchange which the tourist industry can contribute to the overall balance of payments.
With this realisation, I am sure that the establishment of the Australian Tourist Commission will provide the needed catalyst and energising medium for a national campaign of greater magnitude and dimension than hitherto to boost this country’s tourist industry. In co-operation with the States and in partnership with the tourist industry, the new Commission will be in a position to provide more effective and positive leadership to the industry, supported by a top team of marketing and promiotionally orientated personnel. Moreover, by bringing Australia into line with the great majority of national tourist organisations it will place us in a stronger competitive position. lt is important to stress that the Coinmission should have the vitality and dynamism of an entrepreneurial approach, that it should be flexibly structured so as to be in a position to capitalise on all publicity situations. The results of its promotional efforts will be commensurate with the degree to which this orientation can be provided, as an overly procedured and conformist attitude will greatly inhibit the value of its work. I have no doubt that the Minister will keep this closely in mind, particularly in view of his extensive and depth of background in the travel and promotional functions. The Commission’s salient brief is to encourage visits to Australia, and travel in Australia, by people from other countries. In this sense there is no intention or implication that the Commission will compete with State instrumentalities or commercial organisations in their work within Australia or be in any way involved in the attraction or control of tourists’ movements between States.
Of primary concern to the Commission will be the undertaking in overseas countries of publicity campaigns and promotional activities designed to publicise Australia’s tourist attractions and the facilities in Australia to cater for the tourist In this task I hope the Commission will be able to take the lead in bringing some sense and co-ordination to the existing overseas promotional activities of the various State instrumentalities, competition between whom is, unfortunately, all too often selfdefeating and divisive. The first objective must be to promote the national .’mage of Australia, then that of the States. When one has regard to some of the ludicrous State instrumentality advertising seen in some overseas countries one might be excused for assuming that the process was currently taking place in reverse order with confusion and disadvantage to all parties concerned.
In the report by Harris, Kerr, Forster & Co. and Stanton Robbins & Co. Inc. I was particularly pleased to see the reference to Phillip Island, an important part of my own electorate, as one of Melbourne’s most important tourist attractions. Phillip Island is the only place in the world where people can see the breeding cycle of penguins - in this case the small fairy penguins. A small beach area on the south east coast attracts the penguins which come in thousands towards the end of October to re-establish their burrows in the sand dunes, to lay and hatch their eggs until they go to sea the following April. There are generally some penguins in the area during most of the year. Phillip Island is also a nesting area for tens of thousands of shearwaters, a natural habitat for koala bears, a breeding ground for seals, and an attractive resort area with magnificent beaches. These are tourist attractions which bring to Phillip Island more than 200,000 visitors each year.
One of the major points made by the report was:
Phillip Island was the worst example they saw of the despoliation of a lovely island and a unique tourist destination through lack of overall planning, and effective zoning. We believe that Phillip Island could be one of the outstanding tourist destinations in Australia. Phillip Island deserves comprehensive planning. Particular emphasis should be given to its importance as a tourist destination, while preserving to the maximum extent, pastoral areas and fishing villages.
I could not agree more with this observation and I hope, as recommended in the report, that the Tourist Development Authority of Victoria will take the lead in co-operation with other appropriate State and local bodies in establishing a master plan for the sound development of the island.
Mr Acting Speaker, success in maximising Australia’s tourist potential will, I believe, be dependent on four critical areas. Firstly, the Australian National Travel Association has been hampered in its work in past years because of the exigencies of the funds available to it. It is useful to bear in mind that the United Nations Conference on International Travel and Tourism suggested that a working target or rule of thumb method of fixing a national tourist office’s budget might be 3% to 5% of expenditure by overseas visitors. I have no doubt that the Government is well aware of the need to ensure that the new authority has sufficient funds to do the job to which it is committed. This money will represent an increased subsidy to the industry, and in order to conform to the concept of a competitive economy, the tourist industry itself should be prepared to make a greater financial contribution in the field of promotion. As the Bank of New South Wales Review pointed out in its edition of February 1965:
Taking into account the benefit which the tourist industry (including for this purpose department stores and car hire services) derives from tourist promotion, the contribution which it makes to the Association is very small and would not compare favourably with the advertising budgets of many individual manufacturing and trading companies.
Equally important as the question of adequate financial backing for Australia’s promotional activity is the need for the creation by the Government of a favourable climate to stimulate investment in tourist plant. In New Zealand, there are two effective forms of incentive. Firstly to help encourage investment of private capital in hotel construction, the Government, from 1962, has provided loan capital for approved hotels, motels and tourist amenities, and further assistance by way of guarantee for projects which will result in additional accommodation of a high standard. Secondly, expenditure on certain oversea tourist promotion enjoys a tax incentive. Claims are allowable for expenditure on advertising overseas, bringing recognised travel agents to New Zealand, official trade or tourist industry missions to New Zealand, and tourist market research overseas.
These incentives have proved effective in boosting investment in the industry and I hope the Government will bear in mind the advantages of similar support in Australia, particularly along the lines of the following three recommendations of the Harris, Kerr, Forster report:
The benefits of financing loans from the Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia should be extended to worthy development projects under the classification of the travel and tourist industry on the basis that this industry should be given a development status.
The travel and tourist industry should be officially recognised as qualified for the market development allowances relating to overseas promotion.
The Commonwealth Government should adopt a plan permitting deferment for a period of ten years of up to 50% of company taxes payable in consideration of capital expenditures for the construction and equipping of accommodation buildings but not including the cost of the acquisition or valuation of the land involved. The amount deferrable would be limited to 50% of the total capital expenditures for any approved project. The deferred taxes would bear interest payable annually, and the principal amount thereof would be repayable in five annual instalments commencing with the eleventh full year after completion of the project.
Liberal depreciation allowances would be of particular benefit to the hotel industry because of the high ratio of fixed capital assets to profits before tax. Another possibility would be tax holidays similar to those enjoyed in Tahiti where certain hotels have almost complete tax exemption for ten years.
Secondly, there is an undoubted need to reduce the red tape and administrative formalities which visitors are required to undergo on entry. As Dr Francesco Allia Lloyd Triestino’s top agent in Italy said in Sydney earlier this year - and I quote the Melbourne ‘Age’ of 28th January: 1,500,000 Italians travelled abroad each year but practically none came to Australia.
Italian applicants for a visitor’s visa had to undergo the same medical checks and political screening as immigrants.
These and other formalities take at least six months in most cases.
Nine out of 10 would-be tourists lose interest after making initial inquiries.
Italian tourists could obtain a visa to the United States in one day, needed none to enter Canada, and entry applications for other countries were a mere formality.
According to the ‘Australian’ of 11th March, one Italian protested: ‘You would think I was a diseased member of the Mafia’. Most visitors take in New Zealand as well as Australia when visiting this part of the world but one of the most annoying features for visitors to both countries is that they are subjected to a similar array of forms and formalities. This could be easily resolved by consultation between the two countries with advantage to both. Generally, Mr Acting Speaker, our approach should at all times be visitororientated and this calls for an overhaul of our customs and baggage handling systems which are still chaotic and obstructive at wharves and airports. Sydney’s airport terminal, for instance, is merely a ‘reasonably decent outhouse’ according to Sydney’s Lord Mayor. If this is the case, one could only describe Canberra’s airport terminal as an indecent outhouse.
Thirdly, the most important problem facing the new authority is to find an attractive image overseas which will make Australia more saleable to potential visitors. As the Harris, Kerr, Forster report emphasises, the major elements which are distinctive to Australia and which should be considered as promotable images are: The outback; the Great Barrier Reef; the flora and fauna; Australia as a dynamically developing country and land of opportunity; the Australians as a people; and, Australia - land of outdoor activity. These are the features which are distinct and unique to this country and which should be more heavily promoted both within and outside Australia, not the phoney American touches such as the little Miamis which we have seen developed in some parts of the country and which do us no great credit from a tourist viewpoint. They are merely inadequate copies of more comfortable overseas attractions which are less expensive and more convenient to reach by most world travellers.
We have a culture and way of life of our own. Let us develop it and not pander further to the ‘Austerican’ ideal so well depicted in Robin Boyd’s ‘The Australian Ugliness’. The views of one American visitor quoted in the ‘Australian’ of 11th March are worth recalling. He said:
Knock the Gold Coast off your must see list - every country has its American facsimile like that.’
Tourism equals people - and fauna and flora and unique sights. We want comfort, sure, but we want discovery, too. Give us camera safaris. Give us koalas we can surprise in their natural settings - not ersatz Nevadas.’
Fourthly, I take this opportunity of emphasising the obvious point that the quality of services rendered by the employees of the various businesses involved in travel and tourism is a most important factor in maximising visitor satisfaction. There is a definite need for more extensive and sophisticated training courses than are currently offered. Formal training facilities are available only in the hotel management field and in certain trades. The lack of adequate training programmes gives cause for concern in terms of our capacity as a nation to cope effectively with the increased volume of tourist traffic that we can expect and must prepare for in the future. Mr. Acting Speaker, the Bill before us opens up a number of exciting possibilities hitherto unexplored. This is particularly so in the multi-million dollar convention business which not only brings travellers in the hundreds of thousands but also introduces a new area for holiday travel to which they may return in company with their friends. We are well placed to attract substantial convention business but at this stage many of our capital cities lack the large convention halls and associated facilities which are indispensable for this purpose.
Finally, I refer to the reciprocal visits which the Australian Jaycees, the National Union of Australian University Students and other groups have arranged in recent years for Australian and South East Asian students and community youth leaders. Such programmes in the youth tourist field can have tremendous dividends not only for the tourist industry but also for international understanding and the promotion of our national objectives. With a top level lead it would be possible for some thousands of Australians in the age groups of eighteen to thirty-five years to visit South East Asia and other regions of the world for educational purposes on a basis of visit reciprocity. I hope the Commission will give this idea early consideration.
I commend the Government on its initiative in introducing this measure, which I am sure will receive the support of all honourable members. This is the first step in a programme to give Australia its proper share of the international tourist market. Based on our own unique quality of tourism, I have no doubt of our capacity to succeed.
Debate (on motion by Mr Calder) adjourned.
Message from the Administrator recommending appropriation announced.
Bill presented by Mr Howson, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill and of the associated Appropriation Bill (No. 4) is to obtain parliamentary authority for expenditure for which provision was not made in the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1966-67 and the Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1966-67. The total appropriations sought in this Bill amount to $270,896,000.
The various items included in this Bill can be considered in detail in Committee. I propose at this stage to refer only to some of the major provisions. Further appropriations totalling $8.7m are required for departmental salaries mainly because of the increases in salary rates arising from the national wage cases, reclassifications of offices and additional staff. The additional requirements for departmental administrative expenses is $7.9m, including $1.3m for the referendums to be held this month. Additional appropriations amounting to $17.2m for departmental other services include 39m for emergency food aid to India; $1.6m for Commonwealth university scholarships - tuition fees and allowances - and S2.3m for repatriation pensions and benefits.
An additional amount of $23m is sought in the appropriations of the Service departments to carry out the current defence programme, but as a result of shortfalls in expenditure under other appropriations, mainly in respect of deferred payments on aircraft purchases, lags in shipbuilding and deliveries of stores, the estimated total expenditure on Defence Services for the year is not expected to exceed the original appropriation of $886.2m.
At the time of the Budget, it was tentatively estimated that net loan raisings and drawings against defence credits in the United States of America would fall short of the excess of expenditure over receipts by about $270m. However, mainly because of the uncertainties that attach to the various estimates, particularly the estimate of net loan raisings, it was not possible to estimate precisely the amount that it would be necessary to obtain by way of temporary borrowings to finance the shortfall. Because of this, authority to borrow up to $300m and to use the proceeds to finance expenditure on Defence Services was obtained in the Loan Act (No. 2) 1966. The amount that will have to be obtained by way of temporary borrowings could prove to be substantially less than originally expected, in which case it would not be necessary, in order to make these borrowings, to use to anything like the full extent the existing authority to charge expenditure on Defence Services to the Loan Fund. If, however, a large proportion of the total expenditure on Defence Services is to be charged to Consolidated Revenue rather than to the Loan Fund, additional authority will be needed for this.
At this stage of the financial year it is still not possible to make any precise estimate of how much will have to be obtained by way of temporary borrowings and how much expenditure on Defence Services will have to be charged to the Loan Fund. To cover all possible eventualities, therefore, we are seeking authority to charge to Consolidated Revenue up to $200m of the expenditure on Defence Services, which we are presently authorised to charge to the Loan Fund. This will not affect the total of expenditure on Defence Services; it will simply provide scope for altering the distribution of such expenditure as between the Consolidated Revenue Fund and the Loan Fund.
Under Business Undertakings an additional amount of SI 2m is sought, including $8.3m for the Postmaster-General’s Department - mainly to cover increases in salaries end wages; $1.7m for the Australian Broadcasting Commission; and $1.7m for the Commonwealth Railways. Additional appropriations totalling S2.4m are sought for the Territories, including $1.4m for the Northern Territory and $0.9m for the Australian Capital Territory.
I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Message from the Administrator recommending appropriation announced.
Bill presented by Mr Howson, and read a first time.
– I move:
Thai the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to obtain parliamentary authority for additional expenditure in 1966-67 amounting to $12,742,000 on various items relating to capital works and services, payments to or for the States and certain other services. Although additional appropriations of $ 10.9m are sought for capital works and services, it is expected that after allowing for savings in other appropriations the total expenditure on capital works and services will not exceed the Budget estimate of $467m by more than about $8m. The major requirements are $l.lm for war service homes, $4m for capital expenditure on telephone and telegraphic services, $729,000 for acquisition of sites and buildings and $770,000 for expenditure of the National Capital Development Commission. Additional appropriations of $1.5m are sought for payments to or for the States, including $900,000 for research grants and $625,000 for flood relief in Queensland. An additional amount of $265,000 is required for other services. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Message from the Administrator recommending appropriation for proposed expenditure announced.
Bill presented by Mr Howson, and read a first time.
That the Bill be now read a second time. The purpose of this Bill and the associated Supply Bill (No. 2) is to appropriate moneys to carry on the necessary normal services of the Government during the first five months of the financial year 1967-68. The total amount sought in this Bill is $1,000,195,000 comprising:
In general these amounts represent approximately five-twelfths of the 1966-67 appropriation and make no provision for new services. However, the amount of $413,986,000 for Defence Services makes provision for the continuation of the current defence programme and large contractual payments due in the first five months of the financial year. An amount of $20m is sought for an advance to the Treasurer to make advances which will be recovered within the financial year, and to make moneys available to meet expenditure on services of the Government, particulars of which will afterwards be submitted to Parliament. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Message from the Administrator recommending appropriation for proposed expenditure announced.
Bill presented by Mr Howson, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to appropriate 5235,098,000 for certain expenditures to carry on the necessary services of the Government for the first five months of 1967-68. The total amount sought comprises:
The amount for capital works and services is required in general for the orderly continuation of works programmes. The amount of $20m sought for an advance to the Treasurer is to make advances which will be recovered within the financial year, and to make moneys available to meet expenditure, particulars of which will afterwards be submitted to Parliament. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Debate resumed (vide page 1614).
– I support the Bill. I wish first to congratulate the honourable member for Kingston (Miss Brownbill) on her maiden speech and for the very concise way in which she dealt with the subject of tourism. The Australian National Travel Association, whose chairman for the last eleven years has been Mr John Bates, has done a great deal for tourism in this country. It is as a result of a recommendation by the Association that the Government is now proposing to establish the Australian Tourist Commission. If the tourist industry is to prosper there must be co-operation between the Australian National Travel Association and all people associated with the industry - transport operators, hotel operators and those who provide other types of accommodation, right down almost to the private motel owner.
One of the important prerequisites of a flourishing tourist industry is main roads over which people may travel in large numbers. One road which I hope would be high on the list for attention is the Port Augusta to Alice Springs road. This road was referred to by the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay). On numerous occasions the road has been washed away and tourists have been delayed in their travels for weeks on end. Aircraft timetables have been disrupted, tourists have been held up aud missed their connections, and consequently there has been a serious reduction in the number of tourists visiting the centre.
Just as a matter of interest, I might mention that last year 15,000 tourists went to Ayers Rock. This shows the importance of tourism to central Australia. It is important not only to central Australia but also to many other parts of Australia, because tourists from overseas who want to visit the centre have to arrive in the country at some other place before proceeding to the centre - that great Mecca of tourism which stretches from Ayers Rock and Mount Olga to Darwin and then to the Arnhem Land escarpment and the country in the north where the Aboriginal artefacts are available. These tourists have to arrive originally at some city. They have to use the airports and then the hotels and motels in the cities and country towns. Then they have to travel by air to many destinations.
Getting back to my theme about the provision of roads in central Australia, I point out that many of the more spectacular tourist attractions cannot be reached and enjoyed to the utmost unless one goes by road. Air fares are fairly high and most people in any case like to travel by car. After all, one can see the country much better from the ground. Travelling along the roads one can get some idea of the flora and fauna and the various topographical features. To mention a few examples of the need for co-ordination with regard to access roads, there is the Ayers Rock via Mount Ebenezer, Victory Downs via Curtin Springs which is impassable at the moment. Thousands of tourists are starting to flock into this country but they cannot go by this route which takes them right past the excellent motel at Victory Downs. Similar difficulties are experienced with other roads in the area. The Frew River Gorge Road is out. Then there is the King’s Canyon Road, on which a four-wheel drive vehicle is necessary from Yowa Bore to King’s Canyon. I heard another honourable member mention this spot in the debate today. I agree that it is a most attractive and quite outstanding place, but one cannot get there without a four-wheel drive vehicle. I hope the proposed Commission will look closely into the whole system of roads and work out priorities, so that a satisfactory system of roads will be fitted into the overall plan.
I might mention also, while on the subject of transport, the railway which was extensively washed out by the recent rains. The railway would be a most essential part of any tourist co-ordination plan. After all, although many people would not be travelling out to the main outback tourist areas by car they would like to have their cars when they get there. They would want to put their cars on trains and collect them at various designated destinations. But at the moment the line is operating under some difficulty. For miles on end the permissible speeds are down to fifteen miles an hour or ten miles an hour. The railway, therefore, should also be considered in the overall tourist plan.
Accommodation is one of the main items to be considered. Not all tourists expect Ritz Plaza hotels, but we must give tourists, especially those from overseas, a good standard of accommodation. Again hammering this theory of co-ordination and cooperation, I believe that the overall plan should include provision for the development of first class hotels and motels to serve places like Ayers Rock, the Gippsland Lakes, the Darwin area, the Arnhem Land escarpment and the Katherine Gorge. The Gorge is a fabulous place with cliffs hundreds of feet high and the Katherine River running at the foot of them, but there is no accommodation available at all. These are the places that people will want to come and see. Many people go straight to Ayers Rock, have a quick look at it and then go back to America. If we can cater for them all, so much the better. Hundreds of thousands of people arrive here and want to spend more than just a few minutes at one place. These are the people we should be catering for and I hope that the proposed Commission will look very seriously at the possibility of providing plentiful amounts of low-interest, long-term money for the accommodation section of the tourist industry.
Then I come to publicity. Much has been said about overseas publicity selling this country abroad. I admit that it is very valuable. But what we must keep in mind is that our publicity should be accurate. Many attractions are built up out of proportion and sold to tourists who find on arrival that what they were led to expect does not really exist. So I urge the Commission to consider very seriously a standdard for accuracy of publicity. I hope also that it will insist on a proper spirit of service throughout the whole industry. The people who provide service for tourists should find joy in doing so. If they do not, and if they look on their jobs as menial tasks they will achieve nothing. The necessity for this new attitude will have to be sold to the industry. There are vast numbers of tourists who could be induced to come to this country, but they will demand service and we will have to give it to them. In central Australia we have learned this the hard way. Originally the tourist was looked on with some disdain. He was more or less sneered at because he was not a local. But now we know very well the value of tourism, especially since we have had to rely on it during the last eight years of drought. We now realise that the tourist is a person to be appreciated, looked after and served to the best of our ability. This is something that the other parts of Australia could well learn.
The very best way to sell Australia in a particular overseas area is, in my opinion, to sell it to one person and let him tell others about it. We must have our publicity campaigns - fair enough- but if we sell the goods to one person or one group of persons, that person or those persons will then carry the message to others. I suggest also that there should be some control over publicity so that people will know the fares they will have to pay and the accommodation that will be available when they arrive here. Having arrived here they will find that we can deliver the goods. Tourists should not be regarded as so many opportunities for a touch, as it were. They come here to see our country and we want them to see it. We want them to go away and tell others that this is the place for them to come. We must have co-operation between the Commission, the Australian National Travel Association, the transport companies and those who provide accommodation in the cities, the towns and the outback.
To get the best from the available tourist potential I suggest that instead of pushing certain particular areas in our advertising we should try to sell Australia-wide tours. A person might land in Sydney and go to Bondi Beach, then up to the Snowy Mountains, across to Wilpena Pound, up to Ayers Rock and on to Katherine Gorge, out through Arnhem Land and then down through Brisbane or Perth. We should try to give a general picture rather than push a particular place, because Australia is a vast land which has many and varied tourist attractions. Tourists like to get off the beaten track. We hear them saying: We would like to camp out’. The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) camped out for a year or so at Ayers Rock, and I did so for ten or fifteen years in stock camps at Argadargada and various other places. Tourists like that sort of thing, although probably they do not like things to be too rugged. But they like to get out into the bush.
– Do they drink billy tea?
– Yes, they drink billy tea. Dude ranches have been mentioned, but it is not practical to run a dude ranch and a cattle station together. I agree that dude ranches would be a good thing for tourism; but the cattle industry is a good thing, too. So long as someone else is running dude ranches, they will be all right as far us 1 am concerned.
Previous speakers have mentioned fauna and flora in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. I have not seen the Western Australian wild flowers, but those in the Northern Territory are really worth seeing. I have in mind Sturt’s desert pea, both white and red, which stretches for miles; yellow daisies; white flowers, some of which are perfumed; and trees, shrubs, bushes and even grass in a profusion of blossom. These are things that the tourist would travel thousands of miles to see. I stress that the Commission must take every step possible to preserve fauna and flora because, with terrific growth in the country, we could suffer very badly from bush fires. Apart from the stock feed that would be burnt out, all these beautiful flowers, trees, shrubs and grasses would be destroyed. Bush fire precautions in the north are only in their infancy. So I point out that the Commission will have a very heavy commitment in getting co-ordination and cooperation in bush fire protection. This applies especially to this year; the bush fire risk will be serious if something is not done about it.
This marvellous scenery is being spoiled by our own people. Native paintings, carvings and caves are being defaced and stalagmites and stalactites are being knocked off. People are spraying their names on rocks. For example, on the Devil’s Marbles there appears the name Joe Soak, Rockhampton’, or a similar name, and the date. This matter would have to be seriously considered by the Commission. We have in the Northern Territory the Reserves Board, the Tourist Board, the Wildlife Advisory Council and the Welfare Branch. These organisations are all working to a great extent to preserve tourist attractions. I do not wish them to be placed under the one control, but they could be given a general direction and support in policing these paintings and carvings, including the fabulous carvings out in the scrub at Willeroo, Cloncurry and other places. Someone will have to police these things, because people can go into a cave with a paint brush or spray pack and do a lot of damage, ruining the cave for all time. Policing of these things will take money and organisation. I would like to see an educational policy followed to show the people how to look after their own country, its beauty spots, caves, flora and fauna. If this were done, a vast amount of money that would be required for rangers to police these things would be saved. The Northern Territory Reserves Board employs rangers, but it cannot afford to employ very many. So the Commission must be able to do what is necessary to prevent the public from destroying these assets.
As has been mentioned by previous speakers, the Commission could well investigate ways to encourage groups of tourists to travel through Australia. Recently a Queensland Rotary District held an annual conference at Alice Springs. This conference, which was a great success, was held in a hotel and was attended by 300 or 400 people. This could be done in other places too, provided the whole business was co-ordinated. That is what I am asking this Commission to do - to bring about co-ordination and to get co-operation from tourist companies in relation to accommodation and other things. Points of interest should be made known to people so that parties of tourists will go to see them. For instance, they could see a bangtail muster at Alice Springs. Only yesterday 70 or 80 floats of a humorous and topical nature went down the main street there. Frankly, I have never before seen anything like it in a country town; it had to be seen to be believed.
– Was Jock Nelson there?
– No, and neither was Charlie Orr. One of the floats was devoted entirely to Charlie Orr. This is the type of thing that I hope the Commission will be able to bring before the people. The Brunette races and the rodeo at Katherine are typical events. People want to see Aboriginal stockmen doing their work. They want to live in stock camps and see what is done. Rodeos are held all over the Territory - at Hermannsburg, Papunya, Aileron, Katherine and other places. A very good rodeo is put on in these places at the right time of the year.
– What about the Darwin show?
– Yes, there are the Darwin show and the eisteddfod.
– What time do the hotels close?
– One does not have to rely on the hotels because there are other things to do, such as camping under the stars. For instance, there is Henley on the Todd in October. Although there is not a drop of water in the river eight-oar races are held up and down the dry bed of the river. The organisers actually insure against rain falling. This event is a great advertisement.
I should like to speak about flies. Flies are one of our big menaces. I have on occasion seen them swarming in the outback. However, I have noticed a strange occurrence with flies that the Minister may be able to refer to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Last year heavy rain fell in the Territory. At the beginning of the summer when flies would normally be swarming there were no flies at all. The flies did not arrive in central Australia until after the recent rain. There seems to be some connection between the rain and the swarming of flies that may be useful in the research work of the Organisation. It rained and we had no flies. This is most amazing.
I will continue with the benefits that are derived from tourists. As I say, to get to central Australia a traveller must go through Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide or some other place and must stay somewhere. He must use an aeroplane or some other means of travel and this means the use of petrol or some other fuel. He may even buy a spare tyre, but in any event he would use something. This all requires the expenditure of money which is one of the benefits of tourism. I have not mentioned the Aboriginals. They are craftsmen in their own right. They have paintings, artifacts and other goods to sell. But it needs to be brought home to them that some of their work now is not worth buying. They are carried away by the attention of tourists and on occasions do some pretty rubbishy work. However, they are quite capable of doing first class work. They can use many materials. They can paint on bark or on canvas, or, for that matter, on anything at all. They should be made to accept responsibility. They should receive special consideration from the Commission. After all, this country was theirs originally and they are very good at providing attractions for tourists. I think we should help them to develop their abilities. This would also help to rehabilitate them.
The few brief points I have made tonight, I think, justify my support of the Bill. I commend the Government for bringing it down and I hope that it will receive the support it deserves from all parties. I hope the whole country will support the rapidly growing and exciting tourist industry.
– The Bill seeks to establish the Australian Tourist Commission. Its purpose is to encourage visits to Australia and travel within Australia. This must be regarded as a start in tackling the major task of promoting the tourist industry. Honourable members have in many interesting ways discussed the wide possibilities of the tourist industry and I would be less than charitable and just if I were not to pay a tribute to the honourable member for Kingston (Miss Brownbill) for her contribution to the debate. It was thoughtful and contained a number of new and interesting ideas. The tourist industry is of supreme importance to Australia. The Minister for the Navy (Mr Chipp) in presenting the Bill mentioned that it is the ninth largest earner of foreign exchange, that receipts from visitors in 1965-66 amounted to $59m and that Qantas Empire Airways Ltd alone earned $6m from the tourist traffic. If we could account for every cent spent in Australia, I am sure that the estimate of the money spent in this country by tourists would be increased substantially. However, it would be extremely difficult to measure precisely the amount of money that tourists spend in any country or any town.
One important feature of the tourist industry is that we can sell our tourist attractions year after year without losing any part of them. This is quite unlike the plunder of our resources. When we sell our iron ore, bauxite, copper, silver-lead or other minerals, we plunder our resources, leave holes in the ground and our assets diminish. It is important to recognise the value of the tourist industry. As this great industry grows from year to year our assets do not diminish. Instead of being reduced, the value of the industry is enhanced as the years go by. The figures given by the Minister are quite interesting. Our great iron and steel industry provides us with foreign exchange to the value of $70m, our sugar industry S94m and our dairy industry $94m. It can be seen that the tourist industry is important. The Parliament has a responsibility to ensure that the industry is promoted adequately and to do whatever is necessary to provide for its growth and development. I question at this stage whether the Bill goes far enough. However, as I say, it is a beginning in the great task of developing an important national undertaking. The Minister said that the sale of motor vehicles and parts brought Australia $42m. This is less than the value of the tourist industry at present and shows the importance of tourism to Australia.
The Government hopes that its proposals will encourage tourists to visit this country. What must the Commission do to achieve the best results? It has been said that five A’s are of paramount importance in promoting the tourist industry. The first A is attraction. The next is access to get to the attraction and this includes transportation. The third is accommodation. The fourth is amenities. This includes services of all kinds. The last but not the least is advertising. The proposals in the Bill perhaps deal largely with publicity, and this is an important factor. But it would be of little use in proving publicity if the four other A’s were not dealt with adequately. Australia has natural attractions. We are well endowed by nature with majestic scenery. Much of it is unique. It is diverse and ranges from the golden beaches and the warmth of the tropic sun to the snow fields of the Australian Alps.
The attractions in Australia compare favourably with those of any other country and perhaps the quality and diversity of the tourist attractions in Australia surpass those in many other countries. We have the mystic qualities of the Blue Mountains and the rich colours of the centre of Australia, which have been discussed by the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). The rich colours to be found in our country would fascinate visitors and are not likely to be seen anywhere else in the world. We have diverse attractions. We have the Blue Mountains, which have special attractions and beautiful colours. There the tourist can see deep gorges and the majesty of sheer sandstone cliffs of 1,000 feet or more. The mountains are covered with rich vegetation. That is in one of the most interesting and beautiful electorates in Australia - the electorate of Macquarie, which was traversed by the early explorers when finding a way to the golden west and the hinterland which has been referred to in such splendid fashion earlier in the debate. The Great Barrier Reef and the waters off the Queensland coast, with their varied marine life, are also wonderful attractions. This area is of outstanding beauty. The Queensland coastline and the waters near the coast, protected by the Great Barrier Reef, offer the tourist some of the most wonderful and interesting scenery in the world, together with the wonders of the deep which, of course, cannot be matched in many parts of the world.
The honourable member who led for the Opposition referred to the electorate of Dawson. The whole of the eastern coastline of Australia is of great beauty and scenic quality, and in the west there are fascinating places such as Yampi Sound and King Sound, where great sheets of water with their delightful colourings add to the beauty that tourists coming to Australia might be happy to see.
We readily agree that Australia has the natural attractions that are needed to entice tourists from overseas, but it is necessary to promote them. Their natural beauty must be supported by accommodation and other amentities, without which they will merely encourage visitors who are prepared to endure hardship and, in a sense, to become pioneers. To assist in this way, it is necessary for the Commonwealth Government, the State governments and local authorities to play their separate roles, though in a co-ordinated fashion, in making these attractions known and in promoting them so that the best can be obtained from them. National parks must be established throughout Australia. It is pleasing to know that they have been established in a number of places and that action has been taken to preserve our very special flora and fauna. This, of course, is one of the essentials, not merely for the tourist but also for the sake of Australia and our heritage. To preserve our heritage, this unique flora and fauna must be protected. National parks and game reserves are required. Other nations promote them: South Africa is a case in point. We, too, can well follow in the footsteps of other countries; we should follow their example and go on with this necessary development.
I should like to mention one matter that came to my attention last weekend at Wentworth Falls where, high in the Blue Mountains, almost 4,000 feet above sea level, a sailing carnival was held on a sheet of water that had its beginnings years ago when the New South Wales Government Railways banked up a small creek and held back water for use in the steam locomotives then crossing the Blue Mountains. Here is an example of amenities adding to the natural charm and beauty of the countryside. This was done on the Blue Mountains in the way I have described. I submit that all forms of government - Commonwealth, State and local - ought to team up and make funds available for the development of our water resources, not only in mountain areas but everywhere. Wherever there is water, there is attraction. The supply of water brings with it natural development. Attractive stretches of water are a valuable prop and aid to the tourist industry. Water is also essential to the economic life of this country. Therefore I suggest that the Commonwealth Government pay some attention to my submissions.
In the matter of access, we in Australia have vast distances to travel. Modern transportation is required in all forms of transport - road, rail, sea and air. We must upgrade our transport system, bringing it to the highest possible pitch. I believe that air travel is at present of a high standard in this country, with a safety record that is one of the best in the world. We can do more in sea travel. Coastal ships such as the ‘Kangaroo’ in the Western Australian coast are ideal for the tourist trade. The Government of Western Australia, which initiated the State Shipping Line, deserves the commendation of everyone. I believe that more can be done in this field to stimulate development of the tourist trade and the internal economy of this country. The Commonwealth Government should come to the fore with roll-on, roll-off ships such as those now plying between the cities of Melbourne and Sydney and Tasmania. This idea should be developed throughout the continent. Tasmania, of its own accord and virtually without Commonwealth assistance, has developed a lucrative tourist industry by its own efforts and ingenuity, spearheaded by the leadership of the State Government and people concerned in the industry. More can be done in this field. I believe the Commonwealth has a part to play in providing better sea transportation.
The honourable member for Northern Territory (Mr Calder) emphasised the importance of better roads, and I agree with him. I think it is necessary that roads be tar sealed. The idea that overseas visitors will travel over dusty, dirty roads is not good enough. We shall not induce wealthy tourists from abroad to subject themselves to hardship and the inconvenience of having to swallow dust mile after mile in reaching some scenic spot. Tar sealed roads are essential. Just as we have beef roads for the purpose of stimulating the beef industry, so too we should go ahead with Commonwealth grants to the States for the provision of tar sealed roads to scenic attractions so that they might be boosted. I know of no better way of seeing the country than travelling by road.
High standards of comfort and service should be provided to holders of inclusive railway tickets. I can only hope that the uniform gauge railway across the continent will be completed with greater speed. The Broken Hill and Kalgoorlie links must be quickly completed so that people from Brisbane may go right across the country, seeing the whole picture of Australia’s scenic wonders through the train window. This will offer a wonderful opportunity to travellers. I have noticed in travelling on the intercontinental train that all-inclusive tickets are available on trains across the continent as far as New South Wales, but on entering New South Wales it is necessary to pay for breakfast on the train. This does not apply in Victoria, South Australia or Western Australia, where the price of breakfast is part of the inclusive cost of the ticket. It is rather irksome and annoying to a traveller, when breakfasting on the day he will reach Sydney, to have to pay for breakfast. This could be added to the cost of the ticket, removing the irritation to which many travellers using this delightful service are subjected. I hope that thought will be given to the removal of this small but irritating matter.
As to accommodation, the old method of roughing it, going out and camping under the stars, appeals to many people. I rather like it myself. It has a great fascination, but it is not good enough. If we want to attract the wealthy to Australia to spend their money here we must have good accommodation. The Government must regard this as a responsibility of government. We do not want to build, one after the other, luxury hotels such as Qantas Empire Airways Ltd has invested in recently, where the tariff seems to be much above what can be afforded by the average member of Parliament or the ordinary person in the community. That accommodation seems to be only for diplomats, those with extensive bank accounts or wealthy company directors.
No doubt in the near future we will have a great influx of visitors from overseas, particularly from North America and the United Kingdom, who will be wealthy company directors coming out here and wanting to look over their investments in Australia. They might be happy to spend their money on these very costly and luxurious hotels. But what the tourist trade needs for the mass of people coming to Australia is the comfortable hotel, the family hotel where the tourist is treated as a guest or as one of the family, where there is a bathroom associated with the bedroom suite, where the guest feels that he is living in a home and feels that he belongs. This type of accommodation can be provided only to the extent and quality needed if Commonwealth and State finance is available to help in this field. Therefore I suggest to the Minister that he consider the provision of long-term loans at a low interest rate to improve the quality and quantity of accommodation throughout Australia. Moderately priced hotels and motels have a very wide appeal and this type of accommodation is necessary if we are to promote the tourist industry. Above all we must provide our tourists with something which costs very little, if anything. I refer to courtesy, civility and, at all times, attention. These are important considerations.
Many other matters could be discussed in regard to our needs in developing the tourist trade. The need for the right type of accommodation, the air conditioning of rooms and other matters are worthy of thought. But I should like to say a word now on publicity, which is the very central theme of this legislation. I propose to speak about advertising. If we are to consider the publicity that we need we should build up a national image. We must sing the song of Australia. We must think in terms of Banjo Paterson, Henry Lawson, Dorothea
Mackellar, Kendall and others and talk in terms of ‘This is our country’. We must not be ashamed to say this is a beautiful country. We must speak up for our country. Dorothea Mackellar referred to it as the land of the rainbow gold. What better words could be used in publicity overseas for Australia in some good publication than ‘Australia, land of the rainbow bold’. I can think of nothing better. This would help to sell Australia. It is colourful. It is used in relation to the Gold Coast, to the gold won from the soil, the gold being taken out of Australia in investment at the present time. All this thought of gold has a ringing appeal. It has the same appeal as that used by salesmen who speak about something being scientifically tested, that expression having some great and positive appeal.
In Australia, let us sing the song of Australia and its development. Let us think in the words of our great poets and writers. Let us go forward with our radio, television, Press and lecturing campaigns talking about Australia, its wonders, this great land of the Southern Cross. If we do this we must make advances. Almost every Australian knows something about the States of America. All Australians know something about Texas, Kentucky, Wyoming and all the other States, and about the cities and towns because in Australia we sing songs about them. Yet in our own country what do we have? We have ‘Road to Gundagai’ and ‘Croajingalong’ or something like that. This is not enough. We must expand on this. We must sing the songs of the Northern Territory, of Standley Chasm and Simpson’s Gap. Let us have more words about the beautiful Blue Mountains, the gold of Turon and Hill End, about the Great Barrier Reef and the Holtermann nugget. I advance these ideas to give the Government inspiration. I suggest that these things can be done. Further, I believe that through the News and Information Bureau the Commonwealth Government could play a significant part in making these thoughts known through film and literature. Let us consider the type of literature that we have. We have ‘Walkabout’ and a few magazines of this kind which are of quite good quality. But should not the Commonwealth Government help in this field if we are to sell Australia?
Let us consider overseas publications. Of course the Soviet Union, the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom and other lands are stronger, bigger, wealthier and have greater populations, but they produce publications of very great quality. I can only hope that the Commonwealth Government will be courageous and go forward to sing the song of Australia, to extoll the virtues of this country and to tell the world of this wonderful, healthgiving climate, of the opportunities here for people not only as tourists but as settlers. Mention was made today about the difficulty people coming to Australia experienced in obtaining visas or passports. This is of importance. The Commonwealth Government should ease restrictions and make travel for tourists as easy as possible. Whilst we in this country have a definite migration policy and have firm and fixed ideas on the matter, I believe that for our Asian neighbours, who live close to us and who want to change from an Asian to a European type society, Australia offers very great advantages. I believe that we should seek this Asian trade.
We should encourage people from Asia to come here and to spend their money here, to look over our country and to share the brand of equality that we have here, I believe that the friendship of the Australian people is outstanding. We arc acknowledged in this field. It is acknowledged that the Australian person is one who wants to make other people welcome, provided that the other person plays the game by him. I support the legislation and can only hope that the Commonwealth will go on from this initial legislation by which it will establish the Commission to take those positive steps to make our attractions just a bit more accessible, to provide better road transportation, to improve our accommodation, to provide ‘he amenities which are necessary and, above all, to ensure that our publicity is imaginative and colourful, that it is in keeping with this great country of ours that we wish to sell on the world’s market as a tourist place.
. - The honourable member for Kingston (Miss Brownbill) made an excellent maiden speech earlier today on this Bill. I gladly take this opportunity to congratulate her on her thoughtful and stimulating contribution to the debate. As she has said, this Bill to establish an Australian Tourist Commission is above or apart from Party politics and so far has been supported by every honourable member who has spoken in the debate. It is certain to be passed. An Australian Tourist Commission backed by the full support of the Commonwealth Government will put Australia on the tourist map of the world. This development has occurred in close consultation with the Australian National Travel Association, which has promoted overseas tourism to Australia since 1929. Although a voluntary private association, it has been substantially supported by Australian governments. The Government share of its annual expenditure has been about 70% since 1956-57. The report on Australia’s travel and tourist industry by Harris, Kerr, Forster and Co. and Stanton Robbins and Co. Inc., known as the HKF report, was made as the result of an inquiry commissioned in 1964 by the Australian National Travel Association. The report, which was presented in 1965, indicated a bright and attractive future for the tourist industry in Australia. The prospects indicated were so good that ANTA proposed a greater and more dominant role by the Commonwealth such as this Bill will provide.
The Bill is an excellent one. I only wish to make two main points about it. One is that the Commission as it evolves and grows should become closely associated with tourist facilities within Australia. Secondly, the Commission should sponsor the development of an Australian guide book.
Unless the Commission does become closely involved in the planning and development of tourist facilities in Australia it is very likely to get completely out of touch. In its promotion and advertising of Australian facilities the Commission must be thoroughly aware not only of the overall state of the Australian tourist industry at any given time but of its continuing growth or lack of growth in certain areas. The Commission should be competent at any time to advise the Government on how to stimulate those areas in Australia in which tourism may be suffering some form of erosion.
The honourable member for Flinders (Mr Lynch) mentioned other things that the
Commonwealth Government can do to stimulate the tourist industry. He made some interesting suggestions about tax concessions. There are obviously many other ways in which the Commission could advise the Government. The point I want to make is that in order to do this the Commission must be closely associated with tourism and its development including the provision of tourist facilities.
Equipped with the sort of experience I am advocating, the Commission would be competent to advise State and Federal governments on how roads, ports and communications should be developed - for example, along the south coast of New South Wales. Inadequacies in these facilities are handicapping tourist development on this otherwise irresistible coastline.
In choosing the attractions of the electorate of Eden-Monaro to illustrate my point, I freely admit to bias. But EdenMonaro is unique in being able to provide more variety in tourist attractions than any other area in Australia. Where else are you able to surf in the morning, ski in the afternoon and dance all night in an alpine village? I do not think there is any other Australian electorate where this can be done.
The coastline from Eden through Merimbula, Bega, Moruya and Bateman’s Bay, to Milton-UIladulIa has a great natural beauty which can be either enhanced or wrecked by development. This is a clear illustration of a case where it is not what you do but the way that you do it. The Commission could play a very important part in the development of the south coast by assisting to co-ordinate planning.
When travelling in Eden-Monaro from Marulan through Goulburn, Queanbeyan and Cooma to Bombala, one passes through country with some of the greatest tourist attractions. Goulburn, as ‘the hub of the southern tablelands, has a lot to offer the tourist. I will give one example of how co-ordination can be done. Several weeks ago the Caltex Oil Company held its annual convention in Canberra. About fifty Caltex representatives from nineteen countries were to travel from Sydney to Canberra to attend this convention which was to last for about a week. The overseas delegates expressed to some of the Australian representatives a desire to travel by road rather than to fly to Canberra so that they could see something of the country. They also said that they would like to stop along the way to have a barbecue and meet some of the people living in the area. We were able to arrange this for them at a place between Marulan and Goulburn. It was a very enjoyable day. They saw a kookaburra but we were unable to muster the local tame kangaroo. We did find that our local rabbit inspector was an expert in boomerang throwing. He had not thrown one for twenty years but had quite a collection and still retained his mastery of the ancient skill. The visitors seemed to enjoy this particularly, probably because they participated in it. There was, of course, the thrill of danger and risk, with about seven boomerangs in the air at the one time. With entirely amateur throwers in action it was sheer luck that no one in the party was scalped. I became involved in this activity myself and almost deprived the Caltex company of its Hong Kong representative. But this is the sort of thing that can be done if we are in touch with people coming to Australia and are prepared to look after them.
The Snowy Mountains scheme is famous throughout the world. Certainly it is known to everyone in Australia. The great storage reservoirs, together with the eternal ranges are rapidly providing summer tourist attractions to balance the winter snow season. Of course some problems are inevitable in any development. In the Snowy Mountains area the question has arisen of who is responsible for maintaining the roads built by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority for construction purposes but which now serve an increasingly large travelling public. One of these roads, the Alpine Way through Thredbo Village, is a case in point. The issue is getting hotter every day as the pot holes get deeper. Here again <the Commission could help by giving advice from the tourists’ point of view. I am not advocating that the Commission should buy into every political dog fight, but it should provide a competent, continuing and powerful voice for the tourist industry so that the industry can be represented in every context. This problem of maintaining the roads built by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority, which are now being used by tourists, was something that was not foreseen when the Snowy Mountains scheme began in 1949. We cannot expect any government to foresee everything. Perhaps that is just as well. But we are able to do something about these problems now and in the future.
While I do not advocate for a moment that the Commission should control everything it should be prepared to combat misleading publicity. Recently a part of the television programme ‘Four Corners’ dealt with Queanbeyan. I missed the programme as I was ‘returning from a rural convention held at Dubbo. However I heard about this programme from a number of people. Apparently the programme depicted Queanbeyan as a one-horse, two-dog, three-fly town. According to Mr Steve Mauger, the State member for Monaro, the film must have been taken at 5.30 a.m. on a Sunday. It gave a completely distorted picture of Queanbeyan and its relationship to Canberra. I am not suggesting that the Australian Broadcasting Commission should control this, or even harshly criticise it. What I am suggesting is that the Commission should be aware of what is going on within this country and should be able to suggest ways in which misleading information can be combatted. This would apply to many other similar instances. We do not want to sell ourselves short or run ourselves down.
My second point deals with sponsoring an Australian ‘guide book. Several books are already available in this field; some are put out by the National Roads and Motorists Association and by other organisations in New South Wales and elsewhere in Australia. But we need something along the lines of the Michelin Guide in France, which gives a clear indication to travellers in that country of what they can expect. It provides a simple and objective standard of evaluation of accommodation and its cost, as well as details of travel facilities. This type of book would not only contain information but, by its scaling and evaluation of the services available, also would promote a consciousness of the value of these services among the people who provide them, thus engendering a spirit of competition and an effort to improve their services and facilities. It would be necessary to establish a permanent group or subcommittee so that such a guide would be published in successive annual and uptodate editions. Of course, it would be most important to preserve completely the independence and integrity of the people compiling such a guide, so that they would not be susceptible to any form of approach to vary their opinions of the services and facilities they have to evaluate.
My two suggestions are these: firstly, that the Australian Tourist Commission should- and must if it is to be effective - be involved closely with the planning, development and growth of the tourist industry within Australia; and secondly, that it should sponsor an Australian guide book, not only as a service to people coming into this country but also as a service and standard setter for people within the country. If we are successful in doing this, as well as in establishing a brilliant public relations service overseas, we really can look forward to tourism as an industry and an earner of overseas income, to lifting it from ninth place to somewhere round fifth or sixth place, and to its competing with some of the industries which we have for long regarded as some of our most important export income earners.
– When I first read this measure I was concerned to know which Minister would legally administer the legislation when it is placed on the statute book. I notice that the term *the Minister’ is not denned although it is used frequently throughout the measure. Section 17 (i) of the Act Interpretation Act provides: “The Minister’ shall mean the Minister for the time being administering the Act or enactment in which or in respect of which the expression is used;
I now turn to the schedule appended to the latest Administrative Arrangements Order, which appeared in the Commonwealth Gazette’ of Friday, 10th March this year, and in particular to the reference to the Department of Trade and Industry. Although one could not expect to find a reference to the legislation we are now dealing with, the second column sets out that this Department deals principally with trade and commerce with other countries and secondary industry. It could be argued - and I would not contend unsuccessfully - that the Australian Tourist Commission Bill would come within that description; but I should hope that when this measure becomes law we shall have an order amending the present Administrative Arrangements Order to include in the third column of the schedule ‘The Australian Tourist Commission Act 1967’, in the entry for Department of Trade and Industry.
The intention of the Bill is set out in the preamble and specifically in clause 15 as a Bill to establish an Australian Tourist Commission, whose purpose will be the encouragement of visits to Australia, and travel in Australia, by persons from other countries. I emphasise these final words because in this respect the Commission will follow the functions of the Australian National Travel Association - the promotion overseas of travel in Australia. As the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities (Mr Chipp) said in his second-reading speech, the Government in no way intends that the Commission shall compete with the States or commercial enterprises in their activities within Australia or concern itself with attracting the movement of Australian tourists from one State to another. I am glad that the Minister mentioned that if the Association decided to continue its operations, the Government will recognise it as the body that is representative of the tourist industries in Australia. I believe that this puts on record an appreciation of the excellent work done in our overseas tourist promotion by this rare partnership in ANTA, between the Commonwealth and the State governments and private enterprise.
It is particularly apt that the Commission is to be established this year, for 1967 has been designated as International Tourist Year by the General Assembly of the United Nations, on the recommendation of the Economic and Social Council. This in turn stemmed from the first United Nations Conference on International Travel and Tourism, held in Rome in 1963. Indeed, it might be said that the appointment of an Australian Minister-in-charge of Tourist Activities and the proposal to establish this Commission are not before their time, having in mind that since the Rome Conference in 1963 ministries of tourism have been established in Cambodia, Israel and Luxemburg and tourism boards have been established in Portugal and Tunisia. It is clear, however, that the Australian Government is making a significant contribution to the success of the United Nations plan to highlight during 1967 the economic, social and cultural importance of tourism. In fact, on the day that this measure was presented to this House the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) announced that three international agreements relating to tourism had come into force in Australia on that day. The three agreements, drawn up under the auspices of the United Nations, are the convention concerning customs facilities for touring; the additional protocol to that convention, relating to the importation of tourist publicity documents and material; and the customs convention on the temporary importation of private road vehicles.
One of the United Nations recommendations was that written declarations in respect of accompanied luggage should be dispensed with as far as possible. In common with others, I do not doubt that everyone when travelling abroad is slightly irked by the amount of paper work involved, especially if one is on a busy tour involving many countries. As each country is approached it is necessary to fill out an extensive document in regard to what really should be a formal matter. I was interested to read in the Press recently that Australian customs officers are finding that the oral declaration works very well. I hope that the other suggestions made by the United Nations will be adopted in this country. Very few people are aware that international tourism is the largest single item in world trade today. The figure for 1966 is about $US13 billion. My source for that figure is the International Union of Official Travel Organisations. The figure represents consumption of goods and services by tourists in the countries visited. It does not include their expenditure on international fares, which at a conservative estimate would increase the figure by 30%.
The world wide development of tourism over the last ten years has made the travel market highly competitive. Between 1958 and 1963, for example, world tourist expenditure rose by 75%. The question we must ask ourselves is: Are we keeping up? Our founding fathers could not have foreseen the necessity for the Commonwealth Government to publicise Australia overseas in order to attract tourists. Looking at our
Constitution we find that the development of tourism and facilities within Australia is basically a matter for the States. I note that the Australian National Travel Association has long been insisting that research and planning are essential if Australia is to fulfil her potential role as a major world tourist centre. This aspect has been covered fully in the 1965 survey commissioned by the Association. The point I make is that we cannot afford to attract visitors here by excellent overseas publicity only to have them return home dissatisfied because our facilities are not as good as we have represented them to be.
As it grows tourist traffic becomes more diversified. I was reading in a United Nations report recently that thanks to the increasing rapidity of air travel, every country is. now within the reach of the regions from which the majority of tourists come. New tourist patterns have been added to the traditional ones as a result of the opening of new regions and the desire of tourists to explore new countries. Figures show that North America and Europe provide the great majority of world travellers. Although figures show that in 1965 we attracted 19% more Americans and 34% more Germans to Australia than we did in 1964, it is clear that we must redouble our efforts to see that we maintain our share of these lucrative markets, and if possible increase it.
There is, of course, another way of looking at international travel other than from a balance of payments point of view, lt may he said that international travel contributes to world peace by breaking down prejudice caused by ignorance. This two-way concept of international travel should not be ignored. I am sure that honourable members who have had the benefits of international travel will agree with me on this point. As a nation of Europeans living on the Asian side of the world we should encourage as much travel as possible in the Pacific area.
In conclusion I congratulate the honourable member for Kingston (Miss Brownbill) on what might be described, perhaps more aptly than in the case of any other honourable member, as her maiden speech. I found it both thoughtful and thought provoking. She was good enough to mention Hobart’s home host scheme. During the. last financial year some fifty-five American visitors were entertained in private homes in Hobart. This is an experiment which, because of its success, I would recommend to all honourable members. I commend the Government for promptly giving effect to its election promise regarding tourism. I hope only that the Australian Tourist Commission will be given adequate funds so that it may help Australia to compete in this highly competitive industry.
– I join with the honourable member for Denison (Mr Gibson) in congratulating the honourable member for Kingston (Miss Brownbill) on her thoughtful contribution to the debate. The Bill provides for the establishment of the Australian Tourist Commission as successor to the Australian National Travel Association. We on this side of the House believe this to be a move in the right direction. It is a move that is long overdue, but we on this side have become accustomed to being grateful for any crumbs that fall from the Government’s table.
Tourism is big business. It has grown beyond the capacity of the private sector to handle. Since 1929 the Australian National Travel Association, which was a private organisation, has undertaken the task of promoting overseas tourism in Australia. The Association has had the full support of the Commonwealth Government. It has had fairly substantial financial support from the Commonwealth. Since 1952-53 the Government has made grants to the Association totalling almost $5m, including a grant for 1966-67 of $862,000. The amount provided by the Commonwealth each year since 1956-57 has represented about 70% of the Association’s finances. The Government’s decision to establish the Australian Tourist Commission was the result of a proposal advanced by the Australian National Travel Association. The Association found that it was not able properly to control the growing business of tourism in Australia.
The Minister for the Navy (Mr Chipp), who is Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities, is a young man. With his experience in public relations prior to entering Parliament I feel that he is well suited to the task of handling tourist activities. Although I do not agree with all of his attitudes towards Government policy, I would like to encourage him in his responsibility for tourist activities. The honourable member for Denison, who supports this Government, was somewhat concerned that tourism should come under the administration of the Department of Trade and Industry. We must remember that since this Government took office seventeen years ago our balance of payments position has been deteriorating. Tourism comes under the control of the Department of Trade and Industry because it is a great earner of income and plays a significant part in our balance of payments position.
One of the tasks confronting the Minister will be to sell the positive aspects of Australia to the world. I have had some experience of overseas travel, having in 1965 represented this Parliament at a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Ottawa and Dublin. I have talked with people from Europe who endure long, dreary, cold winters. They are hungry for warmth and sunshine. Australia’s greatest asset is sunshine, warmth and good beaches. These are the things we must sell to the people of the northern hemisphere but we must be sure to sell them in a positive way. We must sell these things to the people of North America, England and continental Europe. We must sell them not only to the people of western Europe but also to the people of eastern Europe, because as standards of living rise in socialist countries, the people of those countries want to escape from their long, hard, dreary winters. They want some warmth, and what better country to find it than Australia. With the advent of air travel at supersonic speeds - the British-French Concord will fly at 1,500 miles an hour and a planned American aircraft will fly at about 1,800 miles an hour - people living in the northern hemisphere will be able readily to reach our shores. Not only will travelling time be reduced but also, due to more economical operations, fares will be reduced. So one of the major jobs confronting the Minister will be to sell overseas the positive advantages to be gained from a visit to Australia. Nature has endowed Australia with warmth and sunshine at a time when people living in the northern hemisphere are experiencing long and cold winters. We know that the majority of the world’s people live in the northern hemisphere. We know that the world’s wealth lies in that part of the world. I trust that in the years ahead Australia will gain a greater share of tourists from the northern hemisphere than we have had in the past.
In his second reading speech the Minister referred to relations between the nations of the world. There is no doubt that tourism is a step towards better international relations. Used positively, tourism can be a means of bringing people together. We all recognise the wisdom of the words of the song ‘Getting to Know You’ from the film ‘The King and I’ - ‘Getting to know you, getting to know all about you’. As we travel from country to country and get to know people we discover that they are different from the way we had pictured them. For instance, within the United Nations we find ourselves aligned wilh so many backward countries following the hard line - countries like Spain, Portugal and South Africa. Visitors from overseas, who want to get to know us, feel that we too, in aligning ourselves in the United Nations with South Africa and its apartheid policy, are following a separate development policy. But when they come here they find that we are a people without prejudice. They find that we do not believe in colour discrimination; that we hold no superiority of race over others. Overseas visitors discover that we want to use our immigration policy to develop Australia economically and to foster goodwill with other nations. We want to bring people here to get to know us. For instance last year we had a meeting in Canberra of the InterParliamentary Union, and the delegates from both European and Afro-Asian countries went away with completely different views of Australia from those they had previously held. So it is important that we follow the positive policy of attracting people to this country with our main asset - the sunshine and warmth of Australia. We should use it to draw people away from the cold season in the northern hemisphere which sometimes is long and arduous.
Tourism is becoming big business and it is costing Australia more and more each year. Mention has already been made of a survey which was sponsored by the Australian National Travel Association and carried out by the United States firms of Harris, Kerr, Forster and Co. and Stanton Robbins and Co., Inc. The survey team estimated that by 1970 Australia should set itself a target of 320,000 visitors from overseas, and that by 1975 this target should be increased to 607,000. In money this would represent SI 20m by 1970 and S208m by 1975. Last year the income was about $58m. So far, Government supporters have talked only about income from overseas visitors. The Minister in Charge of Tourist Activities (Mr Chipp) has mentioned a figure of about $65m or $66m, but in fact the income from travel in this country, according to the Department of Trade and Industry, was some $58m last year. Incidentally I may tell the House that last year Australians travelling overseas cost us some SI 22m. In other words we were about S64m on the wrong side of the ledger.
Looking at the period from 1950 to 1966 during which this Government has been in control we find that the total income from people travelling to this country, tourists and business people, has amounted to $398m. In the same period it has cost us $l,032m for our people going overseas. On those figures, therefore, we have shown a deficit of about $634m in respect of travel. In my opening remarks I said that this proposed action by the Government is a little belated although we are grateful for the crumbs that fall from the table. What has the Government done during the seventeen years it has been in office? It has allowed a private organisation, a part-time organisation, to try to control this growing world wide business of tourism. I may add that during this period our overall trade balance has shown a deficit of something like $5,535m. Those are the figures displayed by the deficit on the current account for the period between 1950 to 1966 administered by the very Minister - the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) - who has had jurisdiction over tourist activities, which now, of course, will be taken over by the Minister newly appointed to this portfolio.
Why has it taken this Government so long to act? As with everything else, the Government adopts some positive action only when it is forced to do so. I do not criticise the Minister because, after all, he has been a member of the Government for only a short time. I said earlier, however, that the shift from the Australian National
Travel Association to the proposed Australian Tourist Commission is merely a move from control by a semi-government or private concern to control by a government concern. The Government intends to take over this business itself, but it will have to show greater qualities of leadership. Qantas Empire Airways Ltd is a very efficient airline. This company, which operates one of the most outstanding airlines in the world, is owned by the people of Australia, but the Government does not like to recognise that it is a Socialist undertaking which was introduced by a wartime Labour Administration.
An examination of the total revenue earned by this company reveals its efficiency. In the ten years from 1956 to 1966 the country received about $753m in revenue from this company. This meant that a great deal of foreign exchange was saved. After paying taxation for the ten years, a profit of $ 19.5m was made by this Socialist undertaking. The company paid approximately $ 12.1m in taxation, so a gross profit of nearly $32m was earned. In addition, this airline shows people overseas what Australian hospitality is like, and it establishes goodwill. After meeting people, it brings them to our shores and accommodates them at the Hotel Wentworth in Sydney. This hotel, which is one of the outstanding hotels in the southern hemisphere and possibly in the world, was built after years of wrangling. For many years the previous Hotel Wentworth was second rate or third rate; it was* kept in that condition because an element within the Government frustrated the airline and stopped it from building a first class hotel for its passengers. Many years ago I agitated for the hotel to be built. Mr Wheeler, the then member for Mitchell, joined the present Speaker, the honourable member for Phillip (Mr Aston) in opposing the erection of a new hotel.
– They tried to stop it.
– That is true. There was pressure inside the Cabinet to prevent it. The main pressure was from the Korman group, which built the Chevron Hotel at Kings Cross. We know that that hotel was not completed and that the company has got into financial difficulties. However, the new Hotel Wentworth, which is a beautiful structure next to Qantas House in Chifley Square, in the heart of Sydney, was built by Qantas after years of delay. Let us examine the profits not of the exclusive international standard hotel that is now operating but of the third rate hotel previously run by Qantas. Since 1956 the profit, after paying taxation, has totalled §944,000.
– What is the standard like today?
– Now there is a hotel of international standard in Sydney. The Minister is a progressive and enlightened man and I suggest that he considers assisting in the establishment of a hotel of a similar standard in every capital city of Australia, to be run by the Australian Tourist Commission, Qantas or Trans-Australia Airlines. With the great influx of visitors from the northern hemisphere, it is important that hotels- of a very high standard be constructed.
Earlier in the debate mention was made of our beautiful national parks, beaches and forests. The only way in which these assets can be developed is by the provision of Federal revenue. This may cost a great deal of money. I will give an example which perhaps the Minister will know about. I do not wish it to be thought that I am adopting a parish pump attitude, because that is not my approach. In the district of Parramatta, which is represented by the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) and myself, are many places of historical interest for which assistance will be needed. It is well known that Parramatta is the heart of our nation and that in that district are many structures built early in our nation’s history which are being sold to private enterprise. The National Trust of New South Wales had to beg, borrow or steal to get sufficient money to purchase Experimental Farm Cottage. Luckily it is now in the hands of the National Trust and can be preserved.
Elizabeth Farm Cottage is due to be auctioned. This was the first farm in Australia; it was established in 1793, five years after the landing of Governor Phillip. Within a few weeks it will be auctioned and anyone will be able to purchase it. I believe Federal revenue should be made available for preserving this item of our national heritage, because this is where the birth of this nation took place. Such historic places should be maintained so that when tourists come here they can be shown them and told how this nation began.
One other matter I would like to mention briefly relates to the controversial Sydney Opera House. Much has been said about the cost of the Sydney Opera House. As a comparison, let us consider the cost of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. If the cost of Notre Dame were taken as a percentage of the gross national product at the time it was built and compared with the cost of the Sydney Opera House taken as a percentage of the gross national product, I guarantee that the cost of the beautiful cathedral in Paris would be far more in proportion than the cost of the Sydney Opera House. But the beautiful structure that is the Notre Dame Cathedral has brought a substantial income to Paris and to France. People from all parts of the world have come to see it. Why can we not think in these terms when we consider the Sydney Opera House? A non-Labor Government is now in office in New South Wales, lt is necessary that the Federal Government make finance available to the New South Wales Government to ensure the completion of the Sydney Opera House as it was originally intended. It is important that this distinctive building be completed so that it will attract tourists.
I do not want to be parochial and talk only of Sydney. I know that other projects in many cities should be completed. Many beautiful structures could be erected in other capital cities and even in provincial cities throughout Australia to attract people to this country. We need distinctive and outstanding buildings. When we draw people to this country to enjoy our sunshine, we must have something to show them. The delegates of some fifty nations who visited Canberra for the conference of the InterParliamentary Union were amazed at the progress of the beautiful city of Canberra. Of course this is a planned city. We know that Socialist planning would make this land of ours as beautiful as it should be. We want to see outstanding buildings in our National Capital. In fact, only one building in Canberra is of international architectural standards and that is the National Library, which is now being constructed.
We must think big. We must use our revenue to develop our nation and make it flourish. If we build beautiful structures we will draw tourists from overseas. A vast sum of money will be spent by tourists in the years ahead and we should ensure that we share in this wealth. I repeat again to the Minister that our greatest asset is our sunshine, coupled with our beaches. People will come from the cold Northern Hemisphere to Australia in the Southern Hemisphere and enjoy our sunshine. I have great pleasure in supporting the Bill and I congratulate the Minister on the way he introduced it.
– I should like to commence by congratulating the honourable member for Kingston (Miss Brownbill) on her delightful, constructive and informative maiden speech. She, with many other honourable members traversed a wide field in speaking to the Bill. Therefore, my remarks at this late hour, following as they do the constructive approach made by the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren), will be brief. As is enunciated in the Bill, the Australian Tourist Commission is to be established for the purpose of encouraging visits to Australia and travel in Australia by people from other countries. The powers to be vested in the Commission to achieve this purpose are contained in Part III of the Bill. In fact, the Commission’s prime aim will be to promote Australia overseas. It is probably fair to say that at the present moment Australia is only scratching the surface of tourist markets offering throughout the world. Britain has twenty-six overseas tourist promotion offices; Australia has four. Yet we have more need to promote the attractions of our country overseas than has a country like Britain, as one example, because of our late start in the business of attracting visitors. In addition, our remoteness from markets in years gone by has meant that comparatively little interest has been shown in us. It is a fact that Australia is neglected in education systems overseas whereas other tourist markets receive considerable prominence. This makes the job of promoting Australia a far more difficult one and points to the need for us to he doing more if we are to compete successfully with better known tourist areas.
While on this question of overseas promotion, I should like briefly to refer to the prospect of attracting more tourists from Asia. 1 notice in reports of the Australian National Travel Association that visitors from Asia total only about 20,000 or about 10% of all our tourist traffic. I note also that in 1965 the Association sent a travel mission to Japan, Hong Kong and the Philippines to investigate the prospects of attracting tourists from those areas. What the Australian Tourist Commission is likely to do about exploiting the opportunities that no doubt exist for considerably increasing the flow of visitors from Asian countries is of tremendous importance. The Minister for the Navy (Mr Chipp) referred to this point. I hope the Commission will recognise the importance of a large flow of Asian tourists, not merely for the financial gain to our country but, perhaps more importantly, as the honourable member for Reid said, because of the powerful effect that such visits have in cementing mutual understanding between ourselves and the various peoples of Asia. A positive approach to this area is most important.
The methods that we use to promote Australia overseas are, of course, up to the Commission to decide. But I note that in discussing the range of activities contained in clause 16(2) of the Bill, the Minister said that the Commission will run campaigns by advertising Australia’s attractions in magazines, by special presentations such as lecture tours, by films and so on. In view of this statement, I cannot let the opportunity pass without informing the House of a film that I was privileged to see last Friday week. An invitation was kindly extended to me by Mr Norman Spencer of the Melbourne television channel HSV7 to witness a preview of a film devised and directed by Mr Spencer. It is entitled ‘The Seekers Down Under’. Honourable members are no doubt aware of the world acclaim that has been given to the Australian vocal group, The Seekers. The film that features them runs for approximately fifty minutes and will, I understand, be shown on Melbourne television tomorrow night. The film is in colour. Although it could not be described by any means as a travelogue, it is unquestionably one of the most compelling films one could witness from the point of view of attracting people to Australia. The film features Canberra, Surfers Paradise, Sydney, the Barossa Valley and Melbourne.
– What about Maroubra?
– -It did not show Maroubra.
– That is a lovely beach.
– If Maroubra were shown, the film would not include the sights of Sydney Harbour that are so gloriously presented in it. Views of Australia are attractively presented and even the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Curtin) would agree that they are a good selection. I urge the Minister and the Commission to seek out - this is not a pun - the management of the television station in an effort to obtain the film for use overseas to attract tourists after it has had its showings throughout the world. The film is of such a high quality that it will unquestionably be shown most successfully throughout the United States of America, where many places operate colour television. The full effects of the film are felt when it is shown in colour, lt is regrettable that we in Melbourne do not yet have colour television, which would enable people to witness the most compelling effect of this film - one of such high quality that it will unquestionably be a great success overseas. I urge the Minister to see whether, having been shown throughout Europe and the United States, the film might be utilised here as a means of promoting Australia.
– Has the honourable member an interest in that television company?
– No, regrettably I have not. We must ensure that we have the facilities to cater for tourists. The proposed Tourist Commission will realise this. More hotel accommodation is needed for oversea visitors particularly in resort areas. The Harris, Kerr, Forster report on Australia’s travel and tourist industry points out that 46,500 additional rooms will be required throughout Australia by 1975, and of these, 16,100 will be needed to accommodate the number of oversea visitors that we expect, according to their target projections, to attract by that year. To ensure that sufficient accommodation is available to cope with Australia’s tourist growth, the
Government must give serious consideration to depreciation allowances on accommodation premises and on accommodation loan system to enable economically viable projects to proceed on the basis of repayment at reasonable rates of interest and periods of repayment. The honourable member for Flinders (Mr Lynch) having referred to these points, I have no wish to enlarge on them, but I urge the Government to pay due credence to them.
Australia is becoming aware of the importance of tourism. Honourable members will surely have noticed television and radio features aimed at stimulating export consciousness, particularly on the part of Australian manufacturers. These programmes have been most effective. 1 suggest that the proposed Tourist Commission might consider the merits of somewhat similar campaigns aimed at stimulating and educating the tourist industry and the general Australian public on the importance of tourism to the economy. The development of tourism is not simply a matter of manufacturing a product but a complex and highly personal business involving people not only visitors and those connected with the tourist industry, but also the people of Australia as a whole. Because the desires and satisfactions of visitors are involved in their seeing and understanding us, Australians have a role to play. As the Harris, Kerr, Forster report indicated, the people of Australia constitute an attraction in themselves. With their activities and accomplishments, they are probably at the very heart of tourism. Accordingly, any Australian tourist programme if it is to succeed requires the awareness, under standing and co-operation of the people of Australia.
Finally, I refer to the composition of the Commission as provided by clause 6 of the Bill. It would appear to me from reading the clause that the Minister could face some difficulties in relation to the composition of the Commission. Certainly, he has very little room in which to manoeuvre. Sub-clause (3) of clause 6 provides:
Two of the voting members shall be persons appointed from among persons nominated, in accordance with sub-section (6.) of this section, by a body or association that is approved by the Minister as being representative of the industries in Australia connected with tourism.
Of course, the Minister has stated that ANTA will be the body to represent the tourist industry in Australia. Sub-clause (4.) prescribes that at least one public servant is to be appointed to the Commission. I suspect, as I think the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) does, that two or even three public servants could be appointed to the Commission, thereby leaving only another two voting members to be chosen, we understand, from a panel nominated by ANTA. The Minister will then be limited in his choice to people nominated in this panel. I sincerely hope that ANTA nominates men of vision and dynamism, and that the Minister does not feel impelled to sacrifice the quality of men to satisfy parochial State interests. As a Victorian I would not be concerned if all the men chosen came from Queensland or Western Australia. It is of the utmost importance that the best available men be appointed. I commend the Bill and also the Minister for his obvious appreciation of the role to be played.
Debate (on motion by Mr Erwin) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.36 p.m. ,
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
How many employees of Commonwealth departments and instrumentalities are stationed in each capital city?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Information on the number of employees stationed in each capital city is not available and cannot be obtained without a special large scale survey. However the number in each State or Territory is as follows:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
It is the continuing policy of the Commonwealth to maintain a close liaison with State and local government authorities and, wherever possible, to comply with their zoning and planning schemes, even though it is not bound by State statutory requirements to do so.
asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
What amount has been repatriated each year since 1960 by foreign owned insurance companies operating in Australia?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Commonwealth Statistician has advised that the income payable overseas on direct investment by non-life insurance companies was $A21 million in 1964-65 and $A22 million in 1965-66. Statistics for earlier years are not available. These amounts include net earnings in Australia by overseas reinsurers.
The Statistician said that some of the income payable overseas would have been re-invested in the companies concerned, and added that he hopes to publish in the near future statistics of the amounts actually paid overseas.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Fishing (Question No. 184)
asked the Minister for Primary
Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
At the request of the Commonwealth and State Ministers responsible for fisheries, an Australian Fisheries Development Conference was held in Canberra in February 1967 for the purpose of considering the problems facing the fishing industry and the action needed to stimulate its development. The report of this Conference will be studied at the meeting of Commonwealth and State Fisheries Officers to be held later this year and recommendations will be submitted to the meeting of Ministers responsible for fisheries, which will be held immediately thereafter.
It is anticipated that Commonwealth and State action to foster development of the Australian fishing industry will be determined after consideration of such recommendations. The report of the Fisheries Development Conference will be circulated to members as soon as it is published.
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1 and 4. The Federal hen levy is imposed in respect of all hens kept for commercial purposes, whether they are within or outside areas controlled by Egg Marketing Boards. 1 am not aware of the numbers of Queensland producers in the different areas as the levy in respect of hens owned in Queensland is not collected by the Commonwealth but by the Egg Marketing Board on behalf of the Commonwealth. The Australian Capital Territory is the only area in Australia where the Commonwealth collects the hen levy. 2 and 5. As set out in the First Annual Report on the operation of the Poultry Industry Assistance Act, as at 30th June 1966, 157 Queensland producers were indebted in respect of hen levy payments. The great majority of these producers were indebted because they were late with their payments - i.e. they had omitted to make the payments of the full amounts owing, within the 14 days required under the legislation. A penalty at a rate of 10% per annum is payable on the amounts of levy remaining unpaid. In accordance with the requirements of the Poultry Industry Assistance Act a similar report will be made to Parliament on the operation of the Act in respect of the year ended 30th June 1967 as soon as practicable after the end of the year. 3 and 6. As I explained above, the Queensland Egg Marketing Board administers the collection of the levy in Queensland, on behalf of the Commonwealth, and it is the responsibility of the Board to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to collect the amounts payable. The Board makes every effort to avoid prosecutions; however, when other means fail, the Board places evidence before the Deputy Crown Solicitor with instructions to proceed with the necessary legal action to enforce the terms of the legislation. I am not aware of the details of all prosecutions which have been undertaken in the States, but I understand there have been very few, not only in Queensland but all over Australia.
C.E.M.A. scheme, all State Egg Marketing Boards agreed not to sell eggs in another State except through that State’s Egg Board.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
The estimated number of 1,500 new pilots in Australia over the five years to 1970 to which I have referred will be influenced by the impact of retirements, resignations and airline recruiting programmes and accordingly will vary from year to year so that the timing of employment opportunities will consequently be uncertain. For example there appears to be some stagnation in the growth of charter activity as the result of drought conditions in certain areas of the Commonwealth and the demand for additional pilots in this part of the industry has tapered off. I believe however that this is only a temporary situation which should ease within a reasonable time.
I think it will be obvious that in any employment field there is no consistent demand and that there will always be fluctuations. I am confident that the expected pilot requirement in the coming five years will be substantiated by actual experience over the period. It is to be expected however that prospective employers will seek to obtain the most experienced pilot offering at the particular time and therefore there will be some initial difficulties for the less experienced pilots in obtaining employment but this is only consistent with other avenues of employment.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
How many members of the Commonwealth of Nations have a parliamentary democracy of the kind with which we are familiar in Australia, and how many do not?
– The Acting Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply:
I would prefer not to answer the question in a way that might imply criticism by the Australian Government of the internal affairs of fellow members of the Commonwealth. The honourable member will doubtless form his own judgment after a study of the constitutions and political practices of each nation.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
In view of his statement in reply to a question without notice on 11 April (Hansard, page 1070) that it has been estimated that known resources of uranium in Australia today would be sufficient to fuel only three atomic reactors for their economic life, could he say what the total of these known resources is, and how much of these resources is held in stockpile of uranium oxide, in material mined or in process and in unmined ore?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The total known resources of uranium in Australia today are as follows:
Uranium oxide estimated to be economically recoverable within the price range $5 to $10- per lb-
Reasonably assured - 8,080 short tons.
Possible but not proven - 2,580 short tons.
Uranium oxide estimated to be economically recoverable within the price range $10 to $30 - per lb -
Reasonably assured - 3,540 short tons.
Possible but not proven- 650 short tons.
Total reserves -
Reasonably assured - 11,620 short tons.
Possible but not proven - 3,130 short tons.
The division between reasonably assured and possible reserves is arbitrary. The possible reserves have been indicated following preliminary drilling but have not yet been fully proven.
A reduction factor must be applied to the reserves quoted above because of inevitable losses in the treatment process. In the case of some of the ores which are included in the totals stated in the table, recoveries could be expected to range from 65% up to 95% in the most favourable cases.
Included in the above estimates are reserves of UsOs held in stockpile of ore mined and awaiting processing or in oxide. The total uranium oxide content of these ores is approximately 2,600 tons, lt will be noted that the proven economically recoverable uranium in Australia today is limited and in the view of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission it is inadequate to support even a modest programme of power production in this country.
Since the inception of the uranium exploration programme in Australia in the early 1950s, uranium has been a prohibited export. Moreover, the Commonwealth has on all occasions looked at the essential needs of the country before approving the export of uranium oxide. In so doing, it has insisted upon contract arrangements which would have regard to those essential needs. The policy recently announced represents the first departure in that, subject to our international obligations, the Government has agreed on a general basis to give a specific entitlement to export as a means of promoting the exploration for this important material
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Debt of the Commonwealth and State Governments at 30 June 1966 (as evidenced by securities on issue) and the annual interest liability thereon, is shown in a table on page 7 of the White Paper Government Securities on Issue’. The following details have been extracted from that table:
Total government securities on issue at 30 June 1966 were S1Q;639,142,000.
The annual interest liability on these securities at 30 June 1966 was:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Housing, upon notice -
– The Minister for Housing has supplied the following answers to the honourable member’s questions;
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Housing, upon notice -
Will the Minister arrange for War Service Homes loans to be made available to all national servicemen whether or not they serve overseas?
– The Minister for Housing has supplied the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Any proposal to amend the War Service Homes Act to extend the categories of persons eligible to receive assistance under the Act involves a question of future Government policy. As it is not the practice to provide information relating to a matter of future Government policy, it is impracticable to furnish the information required.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Housing, upon notice:
– The Minister for Housing has supplied the following answers to the honourable member’s questions:
A recent review established that only approximately 15% of applicants seek approval to raise secondary finance to supplement their War Service Homes loan. Against this background the Government decided that the present arrangements should be maintained for the time being.
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
The airstrip is on land leased from the owner of Brampton Island to Trans-Australia Airlines. It is in the nature of a private airfield operated and maintained by the owner of the island and T.A.A., working together.
The Department exercises air traffic control, from Mackay, over aircraft flying to and from the island. The density of air traffic is not such as to warrant a departmental air traffic control service at the airstrip itself.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 May 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1967/19670502_reps_26_hor55/>.