House of Representatives
19 May 1967

26th Parliament · 1st Session

Questions 2433

Friday, 19 May

Mr ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Lucock) took the chair at 9.30 a.m., and read prayers.

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Prime Minister · Higgins · LP

– I wish to inform the House that the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) is about to leave Australia on an official visit to the United States of America. In Washington he will lead an Australian delegation to the Water for Peace Conference, which has been called by president Johnson. The particular purpose is to promote international consultation and cooperation in solving the water problems of many countries. The Minister expects to return to Australia on 1st June.

The Minister for Air (Mr Howson) also will leave today to attend a meeting of the Management Committee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in Malta. He will follow it with visits to Royal Australian Air Force units in Thailand and South Vietnam. He expects to be away until 14th June. During the absence of the two Ministers, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) and the Ninister for the Navy (Mr Chipp) will act as Minister for National Development and Minister for Air respectively.

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– Has the Minister for External Affairs noted an article written by Simon Malley on his recent visit to China in which he claims that Chou En-lai disclosed that China had advised Hanoi against going ahead with proposed negotiations with the United States of America last January in exchange for a cessation of bombing? Despite China’s warning Hanoi did indeed propose such negotiations, but the proposals were rejected by the United States Government. Does the Minister agree that this action discloses a considerable degree of independence of Hanoi from China and a real possibility of negotiations for peace if there is a cessation of bombing?

Minister for External Affairs · CURTIN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

Mr Acting Speaker, I would not attempt to analyse Chou En-lai’s attitude solely on the basis of a newspaper report, but I would say categorically that so far as I am aware - and 1 think I am in a position to be fully aware of the circumstances - Hanoi has not up to date made the sort of approach that the honorary member suggests they have.

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– Does the Minister for Labour and National Service know that the Executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions wants more conciliation and arbitration commissioners to be appointed so that claims for better wages and conditions may be settled more speedily? Does he agree that it is unreasonable to expect unions to wait more than twelve months to have such claims determined? Will he take some action in this matter?

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

– I hope that very shortly all these fears will be set at rest.

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-I direct a question to the Acting Minister for Trade that is supplementary to the one I raised earlier this week in relation to the agreement reached in Geneva recently on a minimum price for wheat. Has the Minister received any further details on the subject since the agreement was announced? If so, is he in a position to indicate to the House what effect the agreement will have on the incomes of growers? Will it have any bearing on the price of wheat sold in Australia for local consumption? If the price on the world market rises will there be an easing of demand on the Treasury through the stabilisation plan? Finally, has the Minister considered what effect the agreement will have on Australian export income?

Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Industry · NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– The effect of the Kennedy Round negotiations on wheat is to bolster the world minimum price of wheat within the countries associated with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. This means that in future it may be expected that commercial sales of wheat will be at or above the agreed minimum price. The new minimum price is expressed in $US, but converted into$A and expressed in terms of Australian wheat ex the Australian ports. I am able to explain to the House that the new minimum price represents about$ A 1.44f.o.b., with the one reservation that there are some difficulties in determining the exact freight rates that were used in the Geneva negotiations.

This figure is about 17c above the minimum price under the present International Wheat Agreement of $1.27. The current market price is higher than this, being about $1.52. The Minister for Trade and Industry has expressed the view that the new agreement should mean for Australia an increase in export earnings. The advantage of such an increase would be firstly to bolster Australia’s foreign exchange. The increase also should greatly improve the position of those who are selling wheat and it should in due course help to reduce the dependence of the wheat grower on contributions from the Treasury to the wheat stabilisation fund. It is not expected that there will be an immediate increase in wheat prices but it is expected that in the long term the stability of the wheat industry will be more assured as a result of the agreement secured in the Kennedy Round at Geneva.

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– I ask the Treasurer a question. Does the right honourable gentleman know that in April trading bank deposits fell by $143m, the largest fall since 1945; that bank advances increased in April by $l23m to a new peak of $3,085m; and that overseas funds have fallen to S 1,040m. the lowest figure since 1949? Are these trends proof of the growth and prosperity of the Australian nation, resulting from the application of the Government’s policies? If the trends continue will things get better and better in Australia?


– I can never see the sense in reaching for the panic button immediately you see an indication which might not be as favourable as you want it to be. The simple fact is that the economy is in a healthy state. All of the internal indications, whether in production, employment or overtime being worked and all the other symptoms of a healthy economy, can be seen and understood by anyone who cares to make the effort. The sale of motor cars has risen to a rate of about 410,000 for the year. This is a considerable improvement. The number of houses commenced for the year will be about 115,000. All the other indicators suggest that the economy is healthy. It is true, as the honourable gentleman has said, that in April deposits fell, but since he is one person in this House who understands a fair bit about finance and economics I am surprised that he should raise this point. He must know that this is the time when income tax assessments have to be met.

Consequently we find a fall in bank deposits and an increased demand on overdrafts at this time. As to our fall in overseas balances, we do have substantial reserves. I think our reserves now are something of the order of SI, 160m. As well, we have about $200m with the International Monetary Fund that can be drawn on immediately and $500m in second line drawings with the Fund. This discloses a strong position, which was established under the leadership of my colleague, the Prime Minister, who then was Treasurer, in order to meet the kind of problem we are facing today with our overseas balances. I am surprised that the honourable member should draw attention to these indications alone. We are not disturbed about them. We think that all the internal indications are those of a healthy economy.

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– 1 direct a question to the Attorney-General. I refer to the proposed judicial inquiry into the HMAS ‘Voyager’ issue and the question of parliamentary privilege. I would be grateful for your indulgence, Mr Acting Speaker, to permit me to say that there must be some doubt as to the circumstances under which a member of Parliament can give evidence, without the leave of the House, to a judicial inquiry with respect to allegations made by him in a speech in Parliament. In 1956 Mr Justice Townley, sitting as a Royal Commissioner, ruled that a senator could not, without the permission of the Senate, give evidence in relation to allegations made by him in the Senate. I ask the Attorney-General: In view of the explicitness of statements made by some honourable members in the House, and having regard to the fact that they may be anxious to give evidence before the inquiry, will the honourable gentleman say whether the Government proposes to take any initiative to ask the House to waive the privilege that may be involved in this matter?


– First, let me draw a distinction between matters occurring outside the House, such as, for example, something a witness may have said to a member of Parliament, and the proceedings in the House- As far as proceedings in the House are concerned, I think the general consitutional position is that a member cannot be compelled to give evidence either in a court or before a commission without a resolution of the House. As to whether a member who wishes to give evidence can do so without the permission of the House, I would think that this is less clear. It is not a matter on which, at short notice in answer to a question without notice, I would like to express a firm opinion. However, may I suggest that in those circumstances it would be preferable for the question to be dealt with as a particular matter-


– I rise to order, Mr Acting Speaker. From time to time, when members of the Opposition have asked questions similar to this, they have been ruled out of order on the ground that a legal opinion was being sought. No objection has been taken to this question.


– There is no point of order in the matter raised by the honourable member for Hunter.

Mr Bryant:

– lt is a matter for the Speaker.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– I raise another point of order, Mr Acting Speaker. As the honourable member for Wills said by way of interjection, is not the matter of privileges one for you to determine, Mr Acting Speaker? I do not suggest that this should be done off the cuff in a complex matter such as this. But surely it is for you, as the custodian of members’ rights, who should be answering this question.


-I feel that the question asked by the honourable member for Moreton is a matter of privilege which would be within the jurisdiction of Mr Speaker. Although I cannot speak for my senior I expect that he would desire, in regard to an important matter such as this, to receive advice from the Clerk of the House and from others who are in a position to give advice on legal matters, including presumably the Attorney-General. In those circumstances it might be as well if this question could stand in abeyance, as was suggested by the Attorney-General him self. It is not a question which can be answered off the cuff. Further consideration should be given to it.

Mr Killen:

– Before the House rises today, could you, Mr Acting Speaker, make a statement so that this matter could be resolved?


-I will discuss the matter with the Attorney-General and those in a position to give advice to see what the situation is.

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Dr J F Cairns:

– I ask the Minister for External Affairs: Does his Government feel any concern or disquiet at all over the escalation of the war in Vietnam towards world war in a situation which is thought by some world leaders to have reached a very serious crisis? Does his Government accept the view that this risk of world war could be ended by an agreement in Vietnam? Would his Government accept, in that agreement, participation by the National Liberation Front in the government of South Vietnam and leave the reunification of Vietnam to the Governments of North Vietnam and South Vietnam after the cessation of hostilities?


– I would not concede in terms as absolute as those used by the questioner that there is an escalation towards world war in Vietnam. On our side - and I again use that term because I have used it before - the greatest care, consideration and watchfulness are being given to avoiding the possibility that what we wish to see confined to a particular situation in South Vietnam should escalate into a wider conflict. That has been the constant endeavour on our side. I would not wish to deal with hypothetical situations and to lay down categorically what would be the altitude of the Australian Government in this or that prospective contingency. It is our clear and constant wish to see the termination of these hostilities. It is also our realisation that the way in which hostilities may be brought to an end can come in any one of perhaps several ways. I would not like to anticipate the way in which any proposals for discussions might eventually succeed. Because of that, I would not enter into the discussion of a hypothetical situation and say absolutely that we would or would not accept this or that condition. Our actions and our opinions would have to be governed by the actual circumstances in which the prospects of a termination of hostilities might arise.

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– Has the Minister for Works seen the transcript of an Australian Broadcasting Commission programme in which Mr O’Neil, Chairman of the South Australian Master Builders Association, stated that the recession in the building industry in South Australia was due to a very large extent to the falling off in Commonwealth Department of Works expenditure in that State? If the Minister has seen the transcript, will he tell the House whether Mr O’Neil has accurately assessed the position?


– I did see a transcript of the interview which the honourable member has mentioned, and I was concerned at the implications. 1 then had a look at the figures and found that in the last few years my Department’s share of building in South Australia has ranged from about 2.9% to about 3.7%. ft did seem to be rather unfair to say that any substantial decline in the building activity could be due to a diminution of Commonwealth works expenditure. On examination of the whole transcript, it seemed to me that the programme had an air of people playing politics. If I were to indulge in that kind of exercise, and of course I hesitate to do so, I think it would be much fairer to say that the decline in the building industry in South Australia is due in a much larger measure to the lack of confidence in the rather peculiar government in that State at the moment.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. As the present inquiry into the air disaster has confirmed that commercial aircraft are flying with maintenance services long overdue, will the Minister inform the House of the action his departmental officers are taking to carry out checks of company maintenance records to ensure that aircraft are not being flown with maintenance requirements long outstanding?

Minister for Civil Aviation · DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · LP

– This comes fairly close to the inquiry that is being held at the present time, but 1 can give an assurance that the normal maintenance checks by my Department are continuing to be made.

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– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Treasurer, by saying that I believe it is generally accepted that Australia needs specialists in many fields and that it is not possible for many courses of education to be completed before the student reaches twenty-one years. I ask the Minister whether, when framing the Budget, he will consider easing the burden on parents by allowing them tax deductions for education expenses paid for full-time students until such time as the student attains the age of twenty-five years.


– One of the problems that have interested the Government is that of young married people and the responsibilities they have for their families. I can assure the honourable member that this problem will be looked at acutely during the course of Budget discussions. I will also at the same time ensure that we have a paper relating to the responsibilities of those who educate their children and in particular those who educate their children after the age of twenty-one years. I can say no more than this: We are interested in both of these problems and they will receive most careful attention during the course of the Budget discussions.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. Is he aware that the recently announced discovery of natural gas by the Woodside group off the coast of Victoria creates a buyer’s market for natural gas? Is he aware of the stated adherence of Sir Henry Bolte to the terms of the as yet unsigned agreement with the Esso-BHP group for the supply of natural gas to Victoria at a city gate price of 4d per therm? Is he aware of the universal criticism of that price as being excessive? Is he further aware that the EssoBHP group’s supplies of gas are coming from the continental shelf, which is under the control of his Government? What action does he propose to take to protect the people from exploitation?

Minister for National Development · FARRER, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– I hope I can remember all the questions that the honourable gentleman has asked me. Firstly, this has been the most successful week for the dicovery of oil and gas in Australia that we have ever had. In three separate places, oil or gas or both have been located. This vindicates the policy of the Government, which has done a remarkable job in encouraging organisations to come to Australia and join in the search for oil. We are now starting to discover it. The honourable member for Cunningham asked about price. I have previously stated that the price being paid by the Victorian Government for the Esso-BHP gas appears from everything I have been able to discover to be a remarkably good price for a first discovery.

The expenditure of $.1 54m needed to get these wells into production must be amortised. Tf one compares the price with that paid in Holland, where the biggest gas field in the world has been discovered, il becomes apparent that the Victorian price is remarkably lower than the price in Holland. It is certainly much lower than the price paid for the first discovery of gas by BP-Mex in the North Sea. It is true that there is no complete knowledge of what the price is. The details of the price arrangement cover a two page document and the price will depend upon the amount drawn out. It ranges from 3c to something more than 2c a therm depending upon the quantity used. It will probably go even lower if more is sold.

The agreement will be renegotiated after five years and it seems to me that in all the circumstances the price is a remarkably good one. We must remember that the market for natural gas in Australia is small and it is amazing that we could obtain this high quality fuel at such a good price when there is such a small market. Within 500 miles of the Gippsland strike there is a total population of perhaps three million or four million people. On the other hand, within 500 miles of the North Sea strike there would be about 500 million people and it is remarkable that the price negotiated has been such a satisfactory one for Australia.

I shall not answer the rest of the Honourable members question concerning the offshore common code. This will come to the

Parliament in the spring. It is remarkable that Australia is the first federation in the world to succeed in getting joint agreement between the Federal Government and the States on an issue of this sort. We are already receiving many requests from overseas asking how we were able to obtain agreement. In the United States of America there has been constant litigation to decide who owns offshore natural gas. In Canada there is a case listed in the highest court to decide whether British Colombia or the federal government of Canada owns this resource. For the first time in the world as far as I know an agreement has been reached between the Federal Government and the States to enable the development of this natural resource to the benefit of both the States and the Commonwealth. Whether or not one government gets a little more than the other these discoveries will be of great benefit to Australia as a nation.

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– I ask the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry whether he will see that the fine work done at Geneva by the Minister for Trade and Industry is given adequate publicity so that the Australian public will be made fully aware of the Minister’s tremendous success against almost insurmountable odds. Because of the importance of his success to the whole economy it is important that the public should know what has happened, especially in view of the obvious reluctance of many metropolitan dailies to give full credit to the Minister for Trade and Industry for his work at Geneva.


– As the honourable member has said, the Minister for Trade and Industry and the members of the delegation who included the permanent heads of both the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Primary Industry, have achieved tremendous success at Geneva. Due tribute was paid to this achievement by the Prime Minister last week when he commented upon the results of the Kennedy Round. Beyond this there has been quite a bit of comment in the Press as to the substantial effect on Australia’s economy and upon the economy of many nations as a result of the recognition this has got for the first time of some measure of agreement on agricultural products. The achievement. as the honourable member for Hume has said, is really worthy of commendation and 1 am sure that all honourable members join in paying tribute to John McEwen for what he has been able to do.

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Royal Commission: Ministerial Statement

Prime Minister · Higgins · LP

– by leave - I am sure the House would have wished the Government to move as speedily as it could in resolving terms of reference which could be submitted to the inquiry I announced yesterday. It is our desire, as 1 am sure it is the desire of every member of the House, that these matters should be investigated expeditiously and findings given upon them. Consequently I bring to the House what we propose by way of terms of reference. My colleague the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) will set as speedily as he can about the business of finding what judges would be available for this purpose. We would hope to make an announcement about that as soon as this can be arranged.

I shall comment on one aspect not covered by the terms of reference after I have given their detail, since it relates to a matter raised in the debate by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) as spokesman for the Opposition and was mentioned, if a little obliquely, by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) when he was questioning me yesterday as to what the terms of reference would cover. We felt that in order that this matter could be dealt with with reasonable promptitude and so that there should not be uncertainty increasing the distress of affected persons we should concentrate upon those matters which we believed were exercising the attention and concern of the Parliament and of the public. We recommend that the terms of reference of the inquiry be:

To inquire into and report upon:

  1. Whether any of the allegations made by Lieutenant-Commander P. T. Cabban in the document attached- that is the document to which the Leader of the Opposition made reference yesterday; I think it ran into about nineteen pages - regarding the drinking habits and seamanship of Captain D. H. Stevens were true and being true established that Captain Stevens was unfit to retain command of HMAS Voyager’.
  2. If it is found in answer to question (1) that Captian Stevens was unfit to retain command of HMAS Voyager’:

    1. Did the Naval Board know or ought they to have known of such unfitness to retain command and were they at fault in failing to relieve him of command?
    2. Should the findings made in the report of the Royal Commission relating to the loss of HMAS Voyager’ be varied and, if so, in what respect?
  3. Whether the alegations in the document disclosed evidence which was available to counsel assisting the Commission and was improperly withheld from the Royal Commission.

I think honourable members will agree that this concentrates the inquiry on the salient matters which were of concern to them. The other matter to which we did give consideration, but for reasons which I shall outline we did not include in the terms of reference, was the aspect raised by the honourable member for Hindmarsh as to the circumstances in which the Government came to settle a number of claims of dependants of those who went down with the ship. I think a little reflection by the House will confirm the soundness of the view we have taken - that to include an item of this sort would prolong the inquiry indefinitely and would confuse the issues on which we have concentrated in the terms of reference that I have read out. The Government has no desire, in this particular aspect, other than to see that the inquiry is able to concentrate on the matters which primarily engaged the attention of the House.

Concerning the aspect of the settlement of claims, the Attorney-General would be entirely willing to confer with the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues or, for that matter, other interested members, explaining why this procedure was followed. I am sure that most honourable members will be able, from their own practical good sense, to come to the conclusion that this was the desirable and sensible course to pursue. Firstly, there was a royal commission which was taking evidence and which necessarily would extend over a considerable period of time. Litigation is inevitably a protracted process and even dealing with the claims by way of settlement has, in some instances, been drawn out since the disaster until either late last year or even early this year. Thirty-nine claims have been settled and I think one claim remains outstanding because the claimant has not yet furnished certain particulars which were required. If each of these claims had to be litigated upon, or even if some of them had to be litigated upon, in a period in which there was a royal commission with its findings to be resolved, then there not only would have been delays which would have been inconvenient to dependants in need of financial assistance, but the whole process for them would, I suggest, have been of a more harrowing, painful and, indeed, embarrassing kind. So this was the background to the course of action which the Government pursued.

If further detail is required on this aspect then, I repeat, the Attorney-General will be happy to supply it. Of course, it is always open for the Opposition, if for any reason it felt dissatisfied with the course pursued, to take appropriate parliamentary action in relation to it. I do not believe the Opposition will do this. I think that on reflection members opposite will agree that it was not appropriate for this matter to come into this particular set of terms of reference. The inquiry will necessarily take the form of a royal commission, because it is under the legislation concerning royal commissions that we can set up the inquiry. To do it in any other way would call for legislation.

Mr Hayden:

– It will not be another whitewash, will it?


– That remark is quite unworthy of the honourable gentleman and it would not be echoed by his colleagues. I hope I do not have to stress again that the purpose of my predecessor, as it has been of myself and my colleagues, has been to see that the truth emerges and that justice is done.

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Ministerial Statement

Minister for National Development · Farrer · LP

– by leave - In April 1964, my predecessor, the late Sir William Spooner, announced the appointment of the Committee of Investigation into Transportation Costs in Northern Australia. The Committee consisted of Sir Louis Loder, C.B.E., Mr P. L. Baillieu, Mr L. G. Blythe, Mr B. B. Callaghan, Mr G. R. Fisher, C.M.G.. and Captain J. P. Williams, C.M.G., O.B.E. In foreshadowing the appointment of the Committee late in 1963, the former Prime Minister staled:

When we consider the great increases, jnd sometimes multiplication of costs in the Northern Territory, the north of Western Australia, and parts of the north of Queensland caused by the costs of transportation, we see that we have here a practical problem of great magnitude.

Before anybody offers to say how this northern freight problem should be tackled, it is necessary to have a thorough and authoritative examination of the facts, and the feasibility of various methods of dealing with the problem disclosed.

The terms of reference given to the Committee are set out at the beginning of the report now tabled and I therefore do not need to repeat them in detail at this point. Nevertheless, I draw particular attention to the two matters the Loder Committee was invited to examine. These were:

To make a thorough and factual examination of, and to report on, the costs of transportation to, from and within Northern Australia, with particular reference to the costs of transporting goods and the effects of such costs on the development of northern Australia.

To examine possible means whereby such costs might be reduced and to report on the practical and economic feasibility and the implications of each means so examined.

The report of the Committee was received by the Government on 30th September 1965. As honourable members will observe, the Committee put forward a great number of conclusions. Forty-nine of these are listed in the summary of conclusions provided in the report, and members will see from a study of the document that some of the conclusions encompass a number of related issues. Since it was transmitted to the Government, the report has been under close examination, and extensive investigation by the various Commonwealth departments has been necessary. Action has been taken by the Government on a number of the measures dealt with in the report. I shall refer to these again later in this statement. Studies will continue in regard to a number of matters raised in the report as part of the continuing responsibilities of the Government departments and authorities concerned. The Government believes, however, that it is now appropriate for the report to be tabled and made generally available.

Honourable members will appreciate that the Committee had before it a difficult task. It was a task of great proportions, involving all modes of transport, a wide variety of interested persons and organisations, and a vast area of country. The part of Australia with which the Committee was concerned aggregates some 1.4m square miles and is characterised by low population density, some very harsh climatic conditions, and widely scattered centres of population and industry.

The essential first step m the Committee’s investigations was to make a thorough and factual examination of the costs of transportation to, from and within northern Australia. Accordingly, the Committee travelled extensively in the north, made a series of on-the-spot investigations, interviewed many people, and assembled for the first time a large body of useful information on northern transportation costs.

Some of the Committee’s conclusions relate to the possibility of achieving reductions in transport costs which might be passed on in lower freight charges and lower product prices to northern residents. Transport costs are, of course, a function of distance, and transport costs in our distant northern areas are inevitably high in comparison with transport costs in the south. It is therefore important that, in the operation of northern transport services, every effort be made to reduce costs and charges to a minimum by the most efficient utilisation of resources, by efficient methods of operation, and by the use of improved transport equipment and techniques. The report provides a timely reminder of the need to pursue these objectives continually. Other conclusions in the report envisage the subsidising of transport services in and to the north. Subsidies do not reduce costs, of course, but rather transfer part of these costs to the taxpayer. However, if subsidies are passed on in the form of lower freight charges and lower product prices, users of the transport services concerned do derive a benefit.

As I intimated earlier, the report contains a great number of conclusions. Some of these are observations which do not involve proposals for particular courses of action. Others relate to matters of State responsibility on which it would not be appropriate for the Commonwealth to comment. Copies of the report have therefore been made available to the Governments of Queensland and Western Australia. A further group of conclusions relate to matters of relatively minor importance which the responsible departments will bear in mind in carrying out their normal functions. Of the more important findings in the report, the Committee expressed its strongly held judgment that a vigorous road programme is the most important single step needed to accelerate development of the north. The Government, as honourable members are aware, has pursued for some years an active policy of northern road development. The Government has recently approved an additional $14m beef roads programme for the Northern Territory. Furthermore, at the present time the Government is discussing with the State Governments concerned its proposals to allocate up to $50m towards a further beef roads programme in the States extending over the next seven years. This is in addition to the continuing and increasing assistance that the Commonwealth is providing under the Commonwealth aid road arrangements, which require at least 40 per cent of the funds provided to be spent on rural roads, and which recognise the special needs of such States as Queensland and Western Australia with their large areas.

With regard to the Committee’s conclusions which would involve subsidies or taxation concessions, the Government has provided a freight subsidy on superphosphate landed at Darwin with the objective of assisting pastoral and agricultural development in the top end of the Northern Territory. In another field, the Government provides substantial subsidies to airlines operating in northern areas to ensure the maintenance of services at reasonable frequencies and tariffs. The Government also last year approved a subsidy on the transport costs incurred by producers in the Northern Territory when re-stocking their properties following the drought. The income lax law has been amended to remove the limit of seven years on the period for which primary producers may carry forward losses of previous years for income tax purposes. Action is in course with regard to uniform road permit conditions for the operation of cattle road trains, and much has been achieved in reducing wharf and shed congestion at the port of Darwin.

It will be apparent from these illustrations that much has been done, and is being done, that accords with the Committee’s findings, As honourable members will see on examining the report, however, a number of the Committee’s conclusions were not entirely clear cut, and the feasibility and implications of some proposals were not fully explored in the report. This is understandable, of course, bearing in mind the magnitude of the Committee’s task. The Government considers that attention to these matters appropriately forms part of its continuing examination of northern transport issues. The Committee’s views will serve to give added direction and purpose to consideration of these issues. As I intimated earlier, copies of the report have been made available to the Queensland and Western Australian Governments, as certain of the conclusions in it deal with State transport questions.


– by leave - In releasing the Loder report the Government has at long last succumbed to mounting pressure not only from the Australian Labor Party but also from vitally interested development organisations throughout northern Australia. Recalling the excuses periodically advanced by the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) and the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) for not releasing this report one can understand why the Government is fast degenerating into a political circus, with the Prime Minister and the Minister for National Development acting as ringmasters. The Minister for National Development, who has now released the report, has consistently explained why the report should not be released. Why the back somersault now? Nothing in the Minister’s statement today supports his past arguments for not releasing the report. The Minister’s statement about develop ment of beef roads, which is recommended by the Loder Committee, is quite illogical. This Government did not authorise the Loder Committee to inquire into beef roads. The Committee simply recognised a fundamental fact, namely that’ the development of beef roads was essential :.o northern Australia, and it recommended, according to the Minister, along those lines. But the important’ recommendations relating to beef roads are contained in the report on beef roads and I hope that the Government now will consider releasing that report.

It is obvious that the Commonwealth Government is no longer prepared to protect the Queensland Government’s outrageous rail and road freight policies. Discontent is mounting throughout Queensland over the blatant exploitation of people in country areas, particularly in northern Queensland, for the benefit of people in Brisbane. If the Committee has done its job properly - I believe it has - it will reveal that the Queensland Government is using the profits made consistently in the central and northern Queensland railway systems to subsidise cheap freights and cheap fares in Brisbane and to offset the huge deficits incurred in the Brisbane metropolitan complex. The action of the Queensland Government is a blatant miscarriage of justice and indicates how little the Queensland Country Party-Liberal Government cares for the people who live in country districts. If the Loder Committee has not brought out the fact that the north is subsidising Brisbane it has not done its job.

Certainly the Queensland Government will not be happy about the Commonwealth’s releasing this report. Primary producer organisations and local government authorities throughout Queensland are today savagely criticising the Queensland Premier for his Government’s unjustified rail and road freight policies. This discontent with the Queensland Government’s policies will be evidenced in the Loder report, but since the report was completed in September 1965 the Queensland Government has again savagely increased freight rates. Road permit fees were increased by up to 87i%. Freight rates on primary products on railways which are operating at a profit have been increased by 15%. The action of the Queensland Government is an example of hypocrisy and exploitation of the worst order. Any conclusions reached by the Loder Committee on the subject of the Queensland Government’s freight policies are doubly fortified by recent experience. The need to protect the Queensland Government from the criticism which must flow from this report can be the only reason why the report has been withheld for so long. In his statement the Minister advanced no valid reason for the Government’s extraordinary action in refusing to release the report since it was completed in 1965. The Federal Government has now passed the buck to the Queensland Government. The Minister stated in polite terms that some conclusions relate to matters of State responsibility ‘on which it would not be appropriate for the Commonwealth to comment’. He said:

Copies of the report have therefore been made available to the Governments of Queensland and Western Australia.

Does the Minister think that this Parliament is completely naive? Does he expect us to believe that the Queensland Government has never seen the report and has never objected to its obvious criticisms? If the Committee has done its job properly and has revealed the blatant freight rate policies of the Queensland Government and its exploitation of the northern, western and central areas of the State, only one result can emanate from the publication of the report and that is that a complete review of the Government’s road and rail freight policies, which are crippling and inhibiting industries in the areas I have mentioned.

The Labor Party has hammered the Government for the release of this document. We served notice on the Government last year that we would continue relentlessly to criticise the Government until it did release the report. The report is important for the development of north Australia. But the principal thing is that taxpayers’ money was involved in the investigation and in the compilation of the Committee’s report. This made it imperative that the report be released to this Parliament and to the people of Australia. I am pleased that the report has at last been released but let us have no repetition of the disgraceful stalling that has occurred in this case, which will now be known as the case of the Loder report.

Mr Kevin Cairns:

– It is my intention only to-


– Order! I point out to the honourable member for Lilley that what is before the House at the moment is a statement made by the Minister for National Development, for which leave was granted, and a statement made by the honourable member for Dawson, for which leave also was granted. There is no motion before the House.


Mr Acting Speaker, will the Minister move that the House take note of the paper, in order to give us an opportunity to debate this matter at a later stage?

Mr Fairbairn:

– No.


– I ask for leave to make a short statement.


– Is leave granted?

Mr Fairbairn:

– No. We have alist of work ahead.


– The Government is frightened to have a discussion in this House on transport.


– Order! There is no motion before the Chair at the moment. I suggest that the House come to order.

page 2442


In Committee

Consideration of Senate’s requests.

Clause 7.

After section 14 of the Principal Act the following sections are inserted: 14a. …… 14b.- (1.)….. (3.) Sub-section (3.) of section sixteen of this Act does not apply to relation to a person to whom this section applies but, for the purposes of this Act, the acceptable savings of such a person (being a person in relation to whom the prescribed date is a date later than the thirty-first day of December, One thousand nine hundred and sixtyseven) as at a time (in this sub-section referred to as ‘the relevant time’) after the thirty-first day of

December, One thousand nine hundred and sixtyseven, are subject to this Act, the moneys that were saved in Australia before the relevant time by the person and -

Senate’s request No. 1.

In paragraph (b) of sub-section (5.) of proposed new section 14b, after ‘society’, insert ‘or credit union that has as a substantial part of its business the lending of moneys to its members for the purpose of the purchase or erection of dwelling-homes (including acquisition of land) for occupation by those members

Clause 8.

Section 16 of ihe Principal Act is amended by adding at the end of sub-paragraph (i) of paragraph (b) of sub-section (3.) the words ‘or was described in (hose books or records in any other way that indicated that the moneys were for use in connexion with the purchase or construction of a dwelling-house’.

Senate’s request No. 2.

Leave out the clause, insert the following clause:

Minister for Labour and National Service · Wentworth · LP

– I move:

Perhaps it would be more convenient if I spoke later.

Mr Connor:

– 1 think the Minister should state the Government’s reasons.


– Since the Opposition takes that view I will proceed. It has been made abundantly clear since the inception of this legislation, and in the original policy speech of the Government, that the scheme would be confined to savings in prescribed accounts and this policy has never been altered except for the inclusion of money paid for land. This was included in the initial Bill. The reason for this provision is that the encouragement of savings in institutions that provide long term housing loans at reasonable rates of interest helps to provide housing for young people much more quickly. That has been made clear from the outset. That is the purpose of the legislation.

A succession of amendments of this kind has been moved by the Opposition to include credit unions. In the initial stages the Government received a series of representations from credit unions which, as I have said many times in this House, ate very useful and good institutions when they are operating in their own field. Credit unions were not included in the legislation because their functions are not directed towards the provision of long term first mortgage money for housing at reasonable rates of interest. They are not geared to this function. But if they wished to do so, I am sure that they could approach their State authorities to seek amendment of the legislation under which they operate to make this activity possible. The bulk of the loans made by savings banks and housing and building societies, in which under this legislation the savings are required to be lodged, average close to $7,000 and are usually repayable over twenty years or longer. The Government has been interested continually in increasing the supply of money that is available for this sort of financing. On the other hand, credit unions very largely concentrate in the field of consumer durables. They perform valuable work in collecting savings upon which they pay quite a high rate of interest and in relending broadly for the purposes which are covered by hire purchase companies and finance companies of various kinds.

The most prevalent rate of interest being charged by credit unions on loans made by them is: a flat rate ranging from 5% to 6%, monthly rests of about 1% or lc in the $1, and fortnightly rests of from 5/ 12c in the $1. Generally, the maximum loan made by a credit union does not exceed $2,000 but three credit unions are empowered by their rules to lend over $2,000 and up to $4,000 if a mortgage over real property is taken. Loans made by these credit unions in excess of $2,000 carry an interest rate of % on monthly rests. The effective rates of interest are very much higher; if they are translated into normal rate terms they are about 12%. This is appropriate for the kind of business that credit unions do. They are almost wholly co-operative, and they provide a very good service. Because of their nature, it is necessary for them to charge these rates. By contrast, the highest rate of interest on which the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation will insure loans for houses is at present 7i%.

I repeat that the basic reason why credit unions are not included in this legislation is that they do not lend money for a long term at reasonable rates of interest for housing. They provide second mortgages and they perform a number of useful functions, such as lending for housing repairs, the purchase of furniture and carpets and so on, but they do not really fit into the basic pattern of this legislation. I cannot repeat too often that this legislation is designed to direct savings for housing into channels that provide first mortgage money at reasonable rates of interest; that is what the young people of this community so urgently need. Credit unions are depositories for savings for the purpose I have indicated. They are going ahead; they are booming. There is no bar to or inhibition of their activities, but the Government does not wish savings for housing to be diverted into institutions other than those that provide suitable housing finance. Though credit unions represent one form of co-operative saving and they are part of the general approach to economic affairs, the proper co-operative institutions for housing purposes are the co-operative housing societies; they provide a great deal of long term money at reasonable rates of interest. The Government has steadfastly encouraged development of this movement. In fact, the co-operative housing societies are now becoming one of the main providers of the small deposit loans insured by the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation and they are the right repository for savings of a cooperative character designed to finance housing. This is why the Government will not accept credit unions as at present constituted into this field.

It is open to those unions, with their money and membership, to form cooperative housing societies. I am sure that over a period of years they could have legislation changed to make this possible. At present, to acquire funds, it is necessary for them to pay their depositors quite a high rate of interest. They have their expenses and their reasons for lending money in the way that they do. Therefore they have to charge fairly high rates, but they are probably lower than those charged by hire purchase companies. Any profit goes back to the depositors, who form part of the union. This is a fruitful activity. It encourages a lot of savings which would not otherwise be made, but it does not direct funds into long term first mortgage loans for housing. This is why the Government rejects the amendment.


– The Minister, in stating the Government’s opposition to the amendment, has done everything except read and answer the terms of that amendment. When this legislation was introduced the Government, for a period of approximately twelve months, chose to recognise credit unions. It had certain purposes for doing so. One stated reason was that people could, if they wished, transfer their savings to other organisations. But on 31st December 1964 the shutters came down on savings in credit unions as qualifying for a grant under this legislation. Ever since that time credit unions, whose strength and funds have been growing - they now have a total membership of 200,000 in Australia, including 100,000 in New South Wales, and funds amounting to more than $80m in Australia, including $40m in

New South Wales - have been fighting to have restored to them the recognition which was taken away so arbitrarily.

The Government introduced this legislation as a means of bridging the deposit gap in housing. The main cause for that deposit gap was an increase not in wages or the cost of building materials, but in the price of land. Profiteering and black marketing in this field have been uninhibited in the post-war period. During the second reading debate I gave figures which showed that from 1954 to 1966 the cost of land had risen four and a half times as fast as wages had in the building industry and more than four times as fast as the cost of building materials.

If the Government is sincere in its protestations, the very least it can do is to accept the amendment. I will read the amendment for the information of honourable members. It is a most important one. It is most reasonable and most commendable, because it accepts the Government’s objections at face value. But the Government in its obtuseness, wishes to be dictatorial. Apparently it would be a loss of prestige for it to accept something that it had advocated itself. I refer particularly to the text of the amendment, which seeks to add the words:

Or credit union that has as a substantia] part of its business the lending of moneys to its members for the purpose of the purchase or erection of dwelling-houses (including acquisition of land) for occupation by those members.

The amendment is quite restrictive, lt accepts what the Government has said. It accepts what the Minister for Housing in another place has already stated in a letter to Mr Arneil, the President of the Australian Federation of Credit Union Leagues, that the Government wanted to confine its grants to such credit unions as were able to provide funds for the construction of nouses. The very point that the Government has raised as the gravaman of its objection has been accepted by another place. The amendment proposes to recognise only such credit unions as in fact do provide moneys to members for the purpose of the construction or purchase of dwelling houses. A limited number of credit unions have already achieved that status.

We will not quibble about the terms of the loan or the amount of interest that is to be charged. But it is noteworthy that already credit unions are modifying their interest rates and will continue to do so, because the very basis of their existence is co-operation. Co-operative societies do not profit from members. In fixing a rate of interest, they are concerned mostly with the risks they must cover and the costs of administration. But it is notorious that a number of credit unions are substantially reducing the charges to their members and, correspondingly, the size of deposits. This has not been refuted by the Minister or the Government. Mr Arneil, speaking officially on behalf of the Australian Federation of Credit Union Leagues, has said that no less than 30% of their funds are already being applied for housing purposes and that includes the addition of tooms, renovation of homes and repairs to homes. If we want to get down to a real consideration of interest rates, we should recognise that the real exploitation today in the field of housing finance is in terms of second mortgages or bridging mortgages. Any amount can be borrowed at a flat rate of 10%. When the Minister chooses to quote the flat rate of 5% or 6% that may be charged at present by credit unions, let him consider which is the better, the interest rates charged by the credit unions to get their members out of the clutches of the hire purchase companies or the rates charged by the hire purchase companies themselves. I know what the answer should be. So do you, Mr Chairman, so does the Minister and so do the people of Australia.

Let us take the other part of the amendment, which refers to the acquisition of land. 1 joined issue with the Government at an early stage of the debate on the Bill on the same matter. It was sticking out like a sore thumb at the time. This was a complete gap in the whole chain of logic of the Government. Al no time has money that has been paid as instalments on the purchase of land been going back into a pool for the further development of housing. The Minister could not prove it and no one else on the Government side could. Land sales are in the hands of speculators, and it is in the nature of speculators that they acquire substantial tracts of land, develop them and sell them for the best price they can get. That price in the main is excessive. It is in the profits that are being made by land speculators that we see the key to the problem of housing costs today. There has been nothing short of a flagrant blackmarket not merely in Sydney and Melbourne but in every major city of Australia. The Government has the chance to correct the situation and will not take it, because it is on the side of these people.

Let us consider the position ‘.hat would arise if the amendment were accepted by the Government. A typical case would be found within my own constituency. A member of a credit union would be able to offer cash for his purchase and would be able to deal with individuals. At present he has the choice of dealing with land speculators or no-one. There are plenty of people with private blocks of And who are willing to sell them at decent and reasonable prices to decent and honest working men. If the Government is prepared to extend recognition to the purchase of land from speculators, it should extend recognition to the principle of a working man, or any other citizen for that matter, buying land through a credit union. The amendment does not necessarily refer only to trade union credit’ unions. The Government should extend to members of credit unions the privilege of making a purchase for cash at the best price offering and making their repayments through their credit union. The Minister has no answer to this proposition either in politics or reason. If he refuses to accept the amendment, only one construction can be placed on his action by the people of Australia and that is that the Government is on the side of the land speculators, that it is not sincere and that it will not offer to the people of Australia the means of bridging the deposit gap in housing.

Sir JOHN CRAMER (Bennelong) [10.47J - 1 cannot allow the statements of the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) to go by without some comment. He has made his attack on the Government’s refusal to allow credit unions to be recognised in this legislation on the ground that certain of the credit unions are making finance available for homes and therefore should be recognised. He also attacks the costs of land and alleges that these costs are created by land speculators. I will deal with these two matters. As the Minister said - it should not need repeating - in terms of logic credit unions were never intended through their structure to provide finance for home purchase. If a credit union wanted to indulge in this activity and be recognised as such an organisation, it would be very simple for the people who run the credit unions to establish a permanent building society within their own organisation. The legislation dealing with co-operatives covers these matters. Credit unions are one part of it and permanent building societies are the other. Why should they want to have credit unions recognised in this legislation when the means are available for people to deposit their money for the specific purpose, and the specific purpose only, of lending for home purchase in the building society movement? I do not understand why the Labor Party should persist in its advocacy. It will not succeed, as has been intimated by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury). 1 warn the Labor Party that by supporting these amendments and by using its numbers in another place to prevent the benefit of this legislation being available to the people it makes itself responsible for preventing in the next six or twelve months many hundreds, indeed thousands of people from getting a home. As we all know the Bill provides for an increase in the amount of advance from $14,000 to S i 5,000. This is important for a large number of people and many of them will not be able to get a home if this measure is not allowed to go through. The Opposition must accept responsibility for this. The Government has refused to accept credit unions as eligible organisations and does so on purely logical grounds. Credit unions do not treat with the home seeker in the usual way. They pay a high rate of interest on money borrowed and accordingly charge a high rate of interest. Credit unions would give no help to home ownership but rather would confuse the situation.

Dealing with the question of land costs I can prove effectively to the honourable member for Cunningham that he is completely on I he wrong track. Tracing the rise in the cost of land over many years one finds that the increase has been the result of government interference right throughout the length and breadth of Australia.

Because of increased government activities affecting land governments have resumed huge areas. This has driven out the private owner.

Motion (by Mr Erwin) put:

That the question be now put.

Question put -

The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman - Hon. W. C. Haworth)

AYES: 51

NOES: 26

Majority . . . . 25



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Question put -

That the requested amendments be not made.

The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman- Hon. W. C. Haworth)

AYES: 53

NOES: 27

Majority . . . . 26



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Resolution reported; report adopted.

page 2447


Second Reading

Debate resumed from11 May (vide page 2041), on motion by Mr McMahon:

That the Bill be now read a secondtime.


– Th; Opposition supports the Bill in principle but does not support the method of financing this sugar loan. The purpose of the Bill is to provide a Commonwealth interest bearing loan of SI 9m to the Queensland Government to enable it to repay to the Reserve Bank of Australia a loan already received by the Australian Sugar Board. The Opposition believes that the funds provided by the Commonwealth should be in the form of a non-repayable grant, half of which should be borne by the Queensland Government in the form of an interest-bearing loan to be paid back to the Commonwealth. In other words, half of the $I9m would be a non-repayable grant. In view of the events that have happened there is no justification for the provision of an interest-bearing loan. The Commonwealth Government endorsed the Queensland Government’s decision to expand the sugar industry and therefore if is the Commonwealth Government’s responsibility to share jointly with the Queensland Government the burden of the low income being received by sugar farmers, because that1 low income can be attributed primarily to the depressed free market price for sugar.

Because Australia now exports 70% of its total exports at the free market price, Australia is in a most vulnerable position. In other words, 50% of our total production is sold at the free market price and this is the prime reason why the sugar industry is in such a precarious financial position, although drought, too, has had some effect. The possibility of Britain entering the European Common Market is another problem facing the industry, and this will have to be solved in time. My point is that the producers are not responsible for the low incomes they are receiving. Certainly in some areas drought has been a major factor but the prime reason has been thm the sugar industry was expanded. The Queensland Government authorised the expansion and the Commonwealth Government endorsed it. If the Queensland Government authorised the expansion on the assumption that there would be no significant drop in the world price - in other words it believed the spancial position of the sugar industry would be sound - and if the Commonwealth Government endorsed the State Govern ments decision then in this interim period it is the responsibility of the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments to share the burden of the low incomes received by farmers. It is not right for the State Government to withhold funds from the sugar industry to repay this interest-bearing loan.

If it is good enough for the wheat industry, the dried vine fruits industry and the dairy industry to receive grants from the Commonwealth then it is good enough for the sugar industry to receive grants, particularly at a time of crisis such as it is facing now. lt is important to realise why the industry is in trouble. Up until the time the recommendations of the Gibbs’ report to expand the sugar industry were accepted and endorsed by the Queensland Government the industry was tightly protected. Only 20% of its total production was sold on the notoriously unstable free market. Today 50% is sold on the free market. Of a peak of 1.2m tons of sugar, approximately 335,000 tons were protected under the agreement we had with the United Kingdom, 1 80,000 tons were protected under an agreement with the United States of America, and 650,000 tons were protected under domestic marketing arrangements. A total of about 1.1m tons was protected, leaving a small quantity only for the free market. This meant that even though world prices fluctuated - and a few years ago we saw the price reach a peak of over £105 Sterling and then fall to £12 Sterling a ton early this year - the sugar industry was not materially affected because it was protected by the home market, by our agreement with the United Kingdom and by the United States agreement. Today the sugar industry is in the unenviable position of having spent about $100m on fixed improvements and being at the complete mercy of the export market. We have no international sugar agreement. This has been in the course of negotiation for the last two years, but we still have no agreement, so in the interim period it is essential that the industry be fully protected by the Commonwealth and State Governments.

Let us consider the actual loan itself. It has been claimed in this House that the industry asked for the loan at the proposed rate of interest. This is not true. In fact the industry had to approach the Government for financial assistance and it was virtually told by the Government what to ask for. The rank and file producers of the sugar industry did not know the situation until it was announced, and it was announced outside of the Parliament. Members of the Executive of the Queensland Cane Growers Council did not know the terms of the loan. The only persons or bodies to know the actual terms were the secretaries and presidents of the Queensland Cane Growers Council and of the Australian Sugar Producers Association Ltd, and of course the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd and the State Government. Honourable members will recall that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) at the time posed a question to the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt). The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) then tabled a statement in the House, but it was never debated. On the few occasions when the Opposition has had a chance to discuss sugar it has made it perfectly clear that the finance that is being provided should not be by way of loan but as a matching grant.

Persons in some sections of the Queensland sugar industry are receiving unemployment benefits. This is how serious is the financial position of some persons in the industry. Only two weeks ago the Queensland Government was forced to provide loan funds - again interest bearing - to some sectors of the industry which were in serious trouble, principally because of drought. Certain sections of the industry are in serious trouble and it is only fair that the Commonwlaeth Government should accept its responsibility in this matter. There can be no doubt whatsoever that the Commonwealth and the State Governments must share some of the blame for the expansion which has been the prime cause of the present difficulties. There is no doubt in my mind that after a time the expansion will prove a good thing for Queensland. The sugar industry is the only one I know of which, within the terms of agreements, has been able to expand its production and let the Commonwealth Government hold the financial baby. It has been able to do this because Queensland - or any State for that matter - has the right to expand production if it wishes, but the Commonwealth liability under the domestic sugar agreement is for a peak of only 1.2m tons, not 2.2m tons. This will have to be the subject of negotiation in connection with the new agreement.

One of the most telling reasons why the industry should not have to pay back this loan is that when sugar prices were high the industry rose magnificently to its task. It financed bulk handling facilities and it financed research from its own funds. It met heavy increases in taxation, and with its increased income it stimulated the economy not only of the sugar areas but of the whole of Australia because of the increase in export income. All these considerations lead to one conclusion only, that the sugar industry should be given exactly the same privileges as the wheat industry, the dried vine fruits industry and the dairying industry. Those industries are protected by stabilisation schemes. They are protected by guaranteed prices and they are given the benefit of a guaranteed level of income up to a certain level of production. It is essential that the Queensland Government, when it is repaying these moneys to the Commonwealth, does not levy the sugar industry, and that the grower or the miller does not withhold funds from sugar sales in order to repay the Commonwealth. The industry has made a mistake, if we can call it that, in the short term. In the long term I have no doubt that people will laud the industry and laud the Commonwealth and State governments for this expansion, but in the short term the industry is in trouble, and because it is in trouble it is the responsibility of the Commonwealth and the State governments to foot the bill by preparing a properly conceived financial arrangement. There is nothing in this agreement between the Commonwealth and the States to indicate that the industry will have to repay the money. In fact from the way it is written it would appear that the Queensland Government will have to repay the money. The Opposition will move an amendment to provide specifically that the Government and the State of Queensland will not levy the sugar industry or withhold funds in order to repay the Commonwealth. This will make it clear that when the time comes for the Queensland Government to repay the money it will not reimburse itself from levies or by withholding funds from the sugar growers. Although the agreement does not say that this will happen, 1 believe it needs to be specifically stated. If it is not stated one must assume that it is the intention of the Queensland Government to levy the growers when prices are much higher in order to repay this money.

The problems facing the sugar industry, as I have already said, and not just in the last few years, have been grave. I have mentioned before the problems associated with the projected entry of Britain into ihe European Common Market. One can only expect and believe that Britain will honour the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, irrespective of the conditions imposed on Britain by the six countries if she is successful in joining the Common Market. Until 1974. then, we can hope that Britain will honour her promise to protect the Australian industry with a guaranteed price and a guaranteed outlet, but what will happen after that time? It is essential either that the industry be ready to diversify production or that we find other markets for our sugar. Certainly the Japanese market is an important one. Today Japan takes about 600,000 tons of sugar at the world price. We all remember the remarkable statement made last year by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) that the expansion of the sugar industry was made possible only by the Japanese Trade Agreement.

No-one argues about the great benefits of having a market in Japan, but one cannot diverse price from outlet. If it was the Japanese market that was responsible for the expansion of the industry - and this has been proved to be correct because Japan is now our biggest buyer of sugar - the expansion should have been accompanied by a bi-lateral agreement with the Japanese. This, of course, is still possible. We will await with interest the Deputy Prime Minister’s remarks about the outcome of the Kennedy Round in the context of the extent to which trade with Japan in sugar can be strengthened, or of the concessions that secondary industry, for example, might have to make to provide greater strength for the sugar industry. All these matters are important.

The most important point to be made with regard to this Bill, Mr Acting Speaker, is that although the industry is in serious trouble there is no question that in the long term the expansion will be good for Queensland’s development. In the short term, however, in the interim period, the industry needs financial assistance. It is based on monoculture. It cannot readily diversify its production. In this respect it is unlike the wheat industry, for instance, where with a rotational system the acreage of wheat can be reduced and a greater area sown to barley or linseed or oats, or the numbers of sheep and cattle increased. In the sugar industry the farmer grows sugar or he does not grow it, and if he does not grow sugar he loses his assignment. The mills are geared to a certain capacity, lt is essential, therefore, to recognise the salient fact that the sugar industry has to continue at a certain level of production. It has no alternative because of the capital sums already sunk in the farms and in the mills

In conclusion I simply make these points: The sugar industry is a dynamic industry. It is the backbone of the economy of a very large section of Queensland. It is an important export earner for Australia. It is the most important industry in northern Australia because it can support a permanent population. It has shown that white men can work and live successfully in the tropics. It has shown that tropical agriculture, or at least the growing of sugar, can become one of the most efficient forms of primary production in the world. When prices were high the sugar farmer accepted his responsibility to the industry by financing bulk handling facilities, port works and research. Although governments have financed these activities for other industries, the growers and millers of the sugar industry have accepted this responsibility and, as I said before, have paid more in taxation than most other industries, thereby stimulating the economy. This industry made a magnificent contribution to the economy of Australia when sugar prices were high. Therefore, in this interim period, sugar prices having collapsed after the Queensland Government and the Commonwealth Government authorised expansion from 1.2 million tons to 2.2 million tons, thereby placing the industry at the complete mercy of the export market, the Commonwealth and State Governments should bear the lion’s share of the short-term cost of supporting the industry. In the long term other arrangements can be considered, whether in the form of an international sugar agreement or a stabilisation scheme. This Bill makes provision for an interest bearing loan, but for the reasons I have already stated I advocate for the short term not a loan but a matching grant. The sugar industry does not need charity. Make no mistake about that. But it certainly needs a fair go. Some small farmers with a 1,000- ton cane quote have mortgaged themselves to the hilt on the assumption that the sugar industry would continue to be sound. Indeed, some cane growers whose farms are worth, not on the open market but in the view of the Central Sugar Cane Prices Board, up to $100,000 are receiving unemployment benefits.

Mr Robinson:

– The honourable member is talking them out of it, too.


-Order! The honourable member for Cowper must not interject.


– He cannot help it, Mr Acting Speaker. The claim I am making demonstrates the seriousness of the position in some areas, particularly those that have been hit hard by drought. We know that the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson) has no concern for the sugar industry. If he has any concern for it, let him say so. In his gullible way he makes some most outrageous interjections. We know from this past contributions to debates that he has infuriated his own constituents, but I invite him now to support the amendment that I have moved. After all, this industry did not get into trouble by itself. The cane farmers of northern New South Wales, in the Burdekin and Pioneer areas of Queensland and in northern Queensland do not see why they should mortgage themselves any further by taking up another loan. They simply ask that they be put on the same basis as the wheat grower or the dairy farmer. When it comes to supporting the dairy farmer the honourable member for Cowper is most talkative. I do not blame him for it, but when support for the sugar farmer is raised, he will no doubt argue in favour of an interest bearing loan. The crux of the matter is that the sugar industry needs assistance.

Mr Robinson:

– Which it has been given.


– But it is not fair that the sugar farmers should have to repay the financial assistance with interest - and I emphasise that it is a high interest charge.

Mr Robinson:

– Does the honourable member deny that loans are interest free for the first three years?


– Order!


– The honourable member cannot help it, Mr Acting Speaker. As I was saying before I was interrupted, this industry does not want charity; it simply wants a fair go. It wants farmers to be able to receive a decent income from their efforts. Some producers are so heavily mortgaged that this loan, added to present debts, will make their financial position even more intolerable. Therefore, it is the considered opinion of the Opposition that the only right and moral way to meet the situation is by agreeing to this amendment. As the Commonwealth Government endorsed an expansion scheme that is primarily responsible for the poor financial position of the industry at the present time, it should share joint responsibility with the State Government for it. The only way it can share the burden is by making a matching grant.

Mr ROBINSON (Cowper) [U.36J- On behalf of the sugar industry of Australia I shall endeavour to put before the House the true facts about its present position, and in particular to express to this Government the gratitude of the industry for this legislation. We listen to the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) hour by hour, day by day, presenting his incredible, coloured and remarkable approach to primary industry problems. However, his contributions lack facts, apparently deliberately so, especially when he is criticising the Government’s approach to this industry and many other matters. However, I shall not waste any more of the time of the House in giving an account of the honourable member’s shortcomings. They are apparent enough. The sugar industry would certainly not want to be associated with his views. The proposal with which we are dealing was brought before the Government by a very responsible group of organisations representing the Australian sugar industry - the Queensland Cane Growers Council, the New South.

Wales Cane Growers Association, and the Australian Sugar Producers Council. Clearly and positively they put before the Government a proposal for financial assistance that is being regularised in this legislation. The Commonwealth is making available through the Rural Credits Department of the Reserve Bank of Australia a loan of SI 9m. This sort of action has been taken to help other industries in times of crisis when there has been a lag in return from overseas markets. lt was apparent when the dramatic fall occurred in world sugar prices, that this kind of assistance would be inadequate for our sugar industry unless the terms of the scheme were extended and liberalised. Therefore, on 22nd July 1966 the Government announced that these funds would be repayable over a period of ten years commencing in 1971 and that until 1970 advances would be interest free. The Queensland Government has been associated with the administration of the sugar industry in Australia for the past fifty years and has developed comprehensive legislation in respect of this industry. The sugar industry of northern New South Wales, which represents about one-fifteenth of the industry in Australia, has also been brought within this useful administrative framework for both production and marketing purposes. The honourable member for Dawson has made some serious allegations. Pie said that the industry did not know what was being put before the Government. This is a dreadful indictment of the senior executives of the sugar growing organisations I have mentioned. I hope that in due course he will be decent enough to apologise for his claim. He has come into the House many times in the last year and made false claims - claims which he knows full well are not based on fact.

Dr Patterson:

– I rise to order. I ask that the honourable member be made to withdraw his allegation that I have made false claims.


-Order! I suggest that the honourable member for Cowper employ a slightly different phraseology.


– I am ready and willing to withdraw anything that injures the feelings of the honourable member for Dawson.

If he wishes it I am happy to say that his claims are without foundation. I will proceed to explain to the House the reasons for my assertion.

The honourable member has said that the Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government are directly responsible for the present plight of the sugar industry and alleges Commonwealth concurrence in the increased acreage now permitted by the industry for the growing of sugar. This is a quite fallacious claim. The honourable member knows full well that the Gibbs report stated a case for increased acreage. He knows also that this was not a matter which became the responsibility of the Commonwealth to approve or reject. So to say that there is a direct responsibility on this Government for the increased acreage is quite unfair and without sound reason. But the honourable member proceeds to say that this is the whole reason for the plight of the industry; this is why sugar prices have fallen to £Stg12 a ton on the London market in the last year, although they have risen again now to about £Stg25. The honourable member fails to give us an analysis of the world situation with sugar. He does not set out to substantiate his claim that the increased acreage in Australia is singularly responsible for this situation and, of course, it is not. The very reverse is the position. If he was, as he has alleged in his speech in the House today and on other occasions, knowledgeable about the sugar industry he would know that the expansion of acreage has in fact saved many of the growers from worse disaster.

The reason for this is simply that the cost factors are lower for the increased production. If the honourable member wants this explained in elementary language it means that there is the same range of machinery, perhaps an extra tractor; there is a similarity in the range of land ownership because assignments and acreages on total holdings do not in the main represent the whole of the land holding by a grower. Therefore, the production cost factors become lower with the increased acreage and the total productivity results to the individual grower is substantially increased. Of course, there are some areas where there are new growers and unfortunately these growers have experienced somewhat serious difficulties. But this situation has been taken into account by the Governments and by the sugar organisations - in fact, by all of those concerned with the management of the industry. In the main the increased acreage has meant a benefit to the Australian sugar grower in this time of crisis. If we in Australia had failed to increase our acreage at a time when most other sugar producing countries were increasing their acreages, we would certainly not have been doing justice to the industry or the nation. I ask the House: Why is it that the honourable member for Dawson fails to put forward a proper analysis of the facts in this regard? The reason is that he is concerned only with politics; he is not seriously concerned with the welfare of this industry.

There is a further consideration in what the honourable member has submitted to the House. He has said that the assistance being provided under this Bill should be t grant without any requirement for repayment and without any interest charge. I put it to him that the Government has acted in a most responsible manner in making available these funds without stringent conditions and with an expression by responsible Ministers - by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann) - that if the plight of the sugar grower did not improve within a reasonable time the Government would look further at the matter. I suggest that it was for this reason that the first period of the loan is based upon an arrangement under which no interest will be charged. It is fair to say that if the plight of the industry were as bad as or worse than it was six months ago. in three or five years time when this matter becomes the subject of further negotiations between the industry and the Government, of course the Government would extend further consideration to the industry; of course the Government would be lenient; of course it would consider the necessity of not requiring this money to be repaid. But there is no justification at this stage for making such a final and definite arrangement. So I suggest to the honourable member for Dawson that he keep close to the industry in Queensland; that he get to know its problems and to understand the management of it. I suggest that he endeavour to appreciate the very good work that is done by the executives of the sugar growers organisation and the Queensland Sugar Board. Then perhaps he would not waste the time of this House with the kind of proposition he has put forward and with the amendment he has foreshadowed.

I do not want to dwell unnecessarily upon this issue. It is my purpose merely to express on behalf of the sugar growers of northern New South Wales their gratitude for the help that is being given by the Government and to say that the sugar industry recognises the efforts of the Government to bring about a better trading arrangement for the disposal of sugar on the world market. We must continue our efforts through the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade - it is not clear at this stage on what basis further negotiations may proceed - to achieve an arrangement for sugar marketing which will be to the advantage and for the eventual betterment of the sugar industry and the individual grower in Australia.

Sugar farmers have developed a very high level of efficiency. They have recognised the need not only to gear their industry to the production of sugar in the most advantageous way economically but also to see to it that their sugar is of high standard; that it is of a grade that will attract buyers on the world market. This they have done. At the same time they have built up a reputation as one of the best of Australia’s primary industries for the reason that technology has been carried right into the field. The industry has paid heed to the requirements of milling and has adhered to every recommendation of a scientific character. These things have made the Australian sugar industry one of the world’s leading sugar industries. It is certainly wrong to suggest that there is a defeatist attitude in the sugar growing areas of Australia. Perhaps this is true of the electorate of Dawson, where many things have been put to the growers which are not factual and which are fairly incorrect, but in other areas there is no doubt that there is a clear appreciation of the situation today in the industry.

I am satisfied, as are most honourable members I am sure, that the Government is looking to the interests of this industry in a very responsible way. There is no doubt that this is not just a momentary thing. It has been suggested that the sugar industry has demonstrated a great, sense of responsibility in the provision of funds for research, the provision of funds for sugar handling facilities, and so on. This is true. It was a wealthy industry until quite recent times. It is to its credit that these things have been achieved. Let us also recognise that this Government has given considerable help to the sugar industry in the past. I remind the honourable member for Dawson that one of the most advanced sugar loading terminals in the world was provided at Mackay in the centre of his electorate.

Dr Patterson:

– By the growers.


– The provision of that terminal was the result of the foresight and good management of this Government. The Government saw to it that a sugar port was developed there at a time when it was required to enable sugar to be transported to the world market in the most economical fashion possible. The Commonwealth Government put forward the funds to make this possible. Certainly, there are charges on the growers and some of the funds for the loading facilities come from the industry. But the development of the sugar port sprang from the Liberal-Country Party Government of Queensland and from the Federal Government in Canberra. Have we heard one word in recognition of these things by the honourable member for Dawson? No, not at all. He comes into this House day after day and criticises, cries and weeps, but fails to make a case which would do justice to the industry in his electorate which he purports to represent or to himself. I support the measure and I deprecate what has been put to the House by the honourable member for Dawson.

Mr FULTON (Leichhardt) fi 1.52] - I do not think the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson) is as familiar with the sugar industry and the situation of the growers as is the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). I do not think the honourable member understands the plight of the new growers who have just gone into the sugar industry. They are in a worse position than any other individuals who were encouraged to go onto the land by the State and Federal governments. Another thing that the honourable member said also influenced me to make that remark about his knowledge of the industry. He said that the sugar terminal at Mackay was built by the Commonwealth Government. It was not built by the Commonwealth Government; nor did the Commonwealth finance it. The terminal was built by the State Government and by the growers.

The sugar industry is just as valuable to Queensland and to Australia as the wool industry is to Victoria, New South Wales and Australia. It has earned overseas funds for Australia and is an industry in which the Commonwealth should take a sympathetic interest. I have no doubt - nor have my colleagues - that the $19m lent to the industry by the Commonwealth under this Bill will assist it. But in the circumstances, and knowing the assistance given by the Commonwealth to other States and industries in other States, the Commonwealth should have treated the sugar industry more favourably. I think it should have provided a matching grant. The assistance given in this legislation will not help the growers who were encouraged to go into the industry when it was expanded. We cannot blame the new growers in the industry for the situation that now exists. They were encouraged to go into sugar production by the State and Federal governments which agreed to the expansion recommended by the committee which investigated the industry.

Why was this recommendation wrong? There are several reasons. One reason was that the assessment of the potential of the industry made by the committee was based on the false sugar price prevailing at that time. The price then was over £100 a ton. But that price was created by the situation in Cuba and the situation of the beet sugar industry in Europe. Because the Committee did not assess the situation properly it encouraged new growers into the field. They put their life savings into the industry; they bought land at inflated prices. Land values were high because of the sugar price at the time. They were also encouraged into the industry because of the expansion of the sugar mills. At that time the whole industry was going through a period of mechanisation, not only in bulk loading operations but also in harvesting. The industry was passing from the stage of manual cutting to that of mechanical cutting. All those things contributed to the downfall of the sugar industry.

What the Opposition is concerned about, and what the honourable member for Dawson is concerned about, is the situation of the new growers who were encouraged into the industry. I have some of them in my own area. Some have had to leave their properties, but they are not prepared to let them go altogether. I tried to get assistance for them from the Commonwealth Development Bank. I must admit that bank representatives went to Queensland and had a look at the area. They admitted that the growers were quite capable, but claimed that they had reached their limit as far as the Bank was concerned. These growers had to leave their properties and seek employment elsewhere - with local authorities, in the timber industry or in the tobacco picking areas - in order to get a living. They are waiting for the time when they will have enough finance to work the new ground that they purchased and when the industry again will reach a peak. I have no doubt that the sugar industry will recover from these problems but this will take time. As I said earlier, in my opinion it will take three to five years. However, the period may be shorter and I hope it will be.

Australia is not the biggest sugar producing country in the world. We must remember this. The world market price is determined by the major sugar producing countries, not by Australia. The industry fell into this bad period not because of what the growers did but because of the encouragement to expansion given by the Queensland Government and the Federal Government. Therefore both Governments have a responsibility, particularly to the new growers. That is why I support the honourable member for Dawson in saying that the Government should have made a matching grant, or some other kind of grant, so that the growers could-

Mr Robinson:

– The industry is getting the whole lot.


– It is not getting the lot. It is getting a loan on which it has to pay interest. The money has to be repaid. If the industry recovers quickly enough it will be able to do so. If it does not recover quickly it will still be in trouble. This industry is to Queensland what other industries are to the other States. The Commonwealth Government has given more assistance to the southern States than to Queensland.

Mr Robinson:

– Oh!


– It is all right for the honourable member for Cowper to say: Oh.’ The Queensland Government had to meet the cost of big projects from its own resources. It had no help from the Commonwealth. This industry is vital to Queensland and to Australia, and should receive more assistance than it has from this Government. The industry is thankful for this loan of $19m. Naturally, it would be thankful for any handout from the Commonwealth. But I still say that the industry is worth fostering and should have more help from this Government. Over the years the Queensland Government has tried to build up many industries in that State. The sugar industry is just one of them. The tobacco industry is another. The resources of the Queensland Government have been put into these schemes and there has been no assistance from the Commonwealth Government in any shape or form. The Tinaroo Falls scheme was financed from State resources. There was not one penny from the Commonwealth Government.

The Queensland sugar industry accepts this assistance because it has to accept it. It has to accept any hand-out from the Federal Government. Nevertheless, the assistance given in this measure is not as good as it should be. The Opposition considers that there should be a matching grant to the industry. This would help growers considerably in their efforts to overcome the financial difficulties which were caused by the expansion of the sugar growing industry and of the milling industry, and by developments in mechanical harvesting. All these things put a load on the industry just at a time when world prices dropped. That is why these new growers are in such a plight today.

I appeal to the Government to take a close look at the industry again when it prepares the new CommonwealthQueensland Sugar Agreement. I hope that the industry has recovered by that time. More sympathetic consideration should be given to this worthwhile industry, which is one of Queensland’s biggest. It can foe expanded, but this must be done when the time is ripe on the world market, or when cane growers can get a guaranteed price overseas. The home consumption price might have to be increased to assist this industry. This is not asking too much. Other industries in Australia have received assistance in this way from the Federal Government. Why cannot this industry, which is so vital to Queensland, have a fair go?

For these reasons I will support the amendment that has been foreshadowed by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). I am sure that the loan of $19m is not good enough. The Government should have gone further and made a grant on a dollar for dollar basis. The growers should have been assisted to a greater extent by the Commonwealth Development Bank or the Commonwealth Treasury. If such assistance had been given the new growers who have been encouraged into the industry would not be as badly off as they are today. I ask the Federal Government to have a serious look at the position and to give more assistance to these people.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Administrator recommending appropriation announced.

In Committee

Clauses 1 and 2 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.

Clause 3

The agreement a copy of which is set out in the Schedule to this Act is approved.


– I move:

At the end of the clause add “subject to the agreement being amended -

to provide for a grant of financial assistance of nineteen million dollars to the State of Queensland to enable the State to meet its guarantee to the Reserve Bank of Australia, one-half of the grant to be a nonrepayable grant and one-half to be an interest-bearing loan in accordance with the terms and conditions contained in the agreement, and

to provide specifically that the Government of the State of Queensland will not levy the sugar industry or withhold funds from the sugar industry in order to make repayments to the Commonwealth”.

A have already ‘ explained the reasons for the amendment. The’ Opposition believes that there “should “be a matching grant beacuse the responsibility should .be shared equally by the Queensland Government and the Commonwealth Government. The cost should not be passed on to the grower; this is the reason for paragraph (b) of my amendment.


– I oppose the amendment. I should be failing in my duty if I were not to speak briefly on what has been suggested by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). In the first place, the sugar industry has been in very close consultation with the Queensland Government and with this Government. At this stage it has not asked for this concession. Therefore, consideration of such a proposition by this Parliament now is premature. In due course there may be grounds for a review of the agreement, which is now being regularised by this legislation. In opposing the amendment I do not in any way depart from my feelings of sympathy for the industry. Only six weeks ago I attended a meeting of the Cane Growers Association in my electorate and there expressed the view that if the state of the industry did not improve further concessions should be granted. 1 suggested that relief from interest payments should be afforded - indeed, that there should be total relief from responsibility in this matter. But in fairness to negotiations which no doubt will have to proceed in the next few weeks, it would be a pity if the matter were dealt with now by way of an amendment to the Bill.

I appeal to the honourable member for Dawson to withdraw his amendment and to confer with the sugar industry in Queensland. Then he would be in a far better position to help that industry, for there would be a common approach to the Government without this Parliament’s having rejected this proposal, put forward albeit in good faith, to help the industry. The whole subject would then be open for positive negotiation in the light of the present world market and knowledge of the likely outcome of negotiations that are now being carried on overseas. If the honourable member could see the wisodm of this course and were to follow it, he would receive great credit from the sugar industry. I shall not recount all the facts surrounding the proposal that is embodied in the Honourable member’s amendment. They are well” known both : inside and outside the chamber. I believe that the sugar industry has been properly sustained for the past year. I have no doubt that the industry and the Government have faith in one another and a mutual belief that close coordination between this Government and the Queensland Government should be preserved. In the interests of the sugar growers, who deserve all possible help and sympathy, there should be no illwill.


– One would think from the way in which the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson) concluded his remarks that he was sympathetic towards the cane growers, but it is obvious from his words that he has nailed his colours to the mast. He is willing to support in this House the payment of approximately $135m over the next five years by way of grant to the dairy industry, but he is not prepared to support a matching grant to the sugar industry. This attitude clearly shows just how much the honourable member thinks of the cane growers in his electorate. He could not care less. He supports the dairy farmers but tells the sugar farmers to jump in the lake. He has told me to consult the representatives of the sugar industry. I assure him that I consult them almost every weekend and at other times. I am fully conversant with the problems of the industry and the problems of repaying the debts. But it is most important that this Parliament and the people of Australia should know that the honourable member for Cowper does not support the sugar farmers in his own electorate.


– The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) has lost sight of two points. The simple fact is that there were consultations between representatives of the industry, the Queensland Government and the Commonwealth Government. The honourable member is crying sour grapes because he was left out of the discussions. He now tries to make some cheap political capital out of this. That point needs to be made clear to the Committee. The second point is that the honourable member has spoken about matching grants, but he has not said in any detail who will match the grants. Does he expect the Queensland Government to match the grants? Who will match them?

Dr Patterson:

– The Queensland Government, with the Commonwealth Government.

Mir NIXON - Has the honourable member had talks with the Queensland Government and obtained its agreement? Of course he has not. The simple fact is that the industry discussed the matter with the Queensland Government and the Commonwealth Government and arrived at this basis for the Bill. I support the remarks of the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson) and oppose the amendment.


– I do not think the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) is in order. Apparently the sugar industry in New South Wales is not in the same straits as the sugar industry in Queensland is, if we can judge by the remarks of the honourable members for Cowper (Mr Robinson) and Gippsland. As the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) said, he is in close contact with the growers in the north. The growers in Queensland would welcome matching grants and I am sure the Queensland Government would not object. The sugar industry in Queensland would support the proposal and the Queensland Government would have to go along with it.

Amendment negatived.

Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.

Third Reading

Bill (on motion by Mr Snedden) - by leave - read a third time.

page 2457


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 11 May (vide page 2040), on motion by Mr McMahon:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Melbourne Ports

– On behalf of the Opposition, I move:

That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: ‘this House, whilst not declining to give the Bill a second reading, is of opinion that the financing of the purchase of aircraft by the Australian National Airlines Commission should be met from revenue and not from a loan raised overseas’.

The amendment will be seconded by my colleague, the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). The Bill is similar to one that was before the House on 9th March 1966 - not much more than a year ago. Whilst I do not think my speech on that occasion was so memorable that honourable members will recall it, I do not want to traverse in the same detail the arguments that I raised then. The sum of money on that occasion was four times the sum that we are dealing with now. From memory, it was $US54m. The sum now is $US13m, which is equivalent to $A11.6m. Our view is that the sum is so small, looked at in the national perspective, that it would be better to pay cash for the transaction than enter into hire purchase arrangements. That in essence is our case.

In answer to a question asked by my colleague, the honourable member for Scullin (Mr Peters) this morning, the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) said that he thought Australia’s reserves at the moment were healthy enough. He put them at $l,170m. They may be a little less than that, but they are in that region. These aTe our first line reserves. He went on to deal with what he called the second line reserves, which amount to an additional $700m in aggregate. There is no shortage of money to pay for this equipment and it should be treated as an import transaction. I was interested to read in the Treasurer’s second reading speech that the transaction is to be financed by an organisation in the United States of America called the Export-Import Bank. The Minister said the primary function of the institution is the financing of exports by the United States. So at least the United States regards the sale of the aircraft as exports and I think on our side we should regard the purchase as imports.

The sum of $13m is relatively so small that we believe it is better to pay cash than to enter into a hire purchase transaction which involves interest at near enough to 6%. The basic rate is 5i% and service charges are added on the undrawn amounts. On this basis the interest rate would be close to 6%. Each year that the loan is outstanding, an additional $780,000 will be paid and the total liability will be increased by more than half over the period of the loan. For those reasons we have moved our amendment, which is in similar terms to that moved on 9th. March 1966. We do not object to Trans-Australia Airlines re-equipping itself with these aircraft. We believe this is necessary. They are a modern type of aircraft and will help TAA to compete effectively in air transport. We believe that, in view of the present position of Australia’s overseas reserves, the $13m should come out of current money rather than out of loan money.

If time were more favourable, I could go into aspects of overseas investment. There may be some circumstances in which it is necessary to have overseas investment. But if it is necessary we believe it is preferable to have direct investment on a loan basis in a government to government transaction or even loan capital as distinct from share capital. But if the reserves are available, the payment of cash is preferable to either. I do not want to traverse the argument at this stage. I hope an opportunity will be given in the next session to debate in some detail the question of Australia’s balance of payments, the quantity and scope of foreign investment, whether certain restrictions should be placed upon the entry of capital and so on, but in view of the wish of most honourable members to end the session as soon as possible I leave it at that. I ask the House to consider on its merits the amendment that I have moved, which will be seconded hy my colleague, the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson).

Dr Patterson:

– I second the motion.

St George

– I rise’ to support the Bill and to oppose the amendment moved by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean). The honourable member made the point that in the context of this Bill the sum involved is so small that we should proceed on a straightout purchase basis rather than raise a loan and extend our commitments in this field. In the short term view and considering this Bill alone one might see some merit in the argument but this is not the only Bill that has been dealt with in these circumstances over a period of years. Indeed it will not be the last Bill that will be dealt with in this manner and follow this principle. If the honourable member for Melbourne Ports seeks to persuade us to take a harrow short term view, let me remind him of the figures of government securities on issue which appear in the Budget Papers. If he were to study these he would see that loan raisings from 1962 until the end of the 1966 financial year amounted to about $80m for this type of transaction for not only the Australian National Airlines Commission but for Qantas Empire Airways Ltd as well. On this basis alone the honourable member’s argument will not stand. If we are to take the long term view of what we might envisage in the field of civil aviation bis argument holds less water than ever. It rings fairly hollow. It will be necessary to examine civil aviation in a rather broad context, more so than has been done in the past.

The honourable member will agree there would be very few aspects of government administration, particularly in the Federal sphere, which have had such a spectacular growth as civil aviation has had, or, indeed, even aviation generally. It is worthwhile to bring this before the House. Over the past few years, the Government by pursuing the principle involved in this Bill has enabled Qantas and the Australian National Airlines Commission to achieve an efficiency in administration equal to any in the world. As a brief example of this, let me refer to the fact that Qantas of all airlines has continually - even in periods of difficulty in the aviation industry - shown a profit. I believe that it is the co-operation of the Government with Qantas and its administration that has enabled us to lift airlines internally and internationally to a standard which is the equal - let us not make any extravagant claims about being the best in the world - of any in the world. It has held its own and that is something for us to be proud of.

In civil aviation we have expanded on a scale that would not have been dreamed of in the early days. I have said that about $80m has been spent in this field of obtaining jet aircraft. Honourable members may recall that in 1959 when the first jets came on the scene Qantas had a fleet of sixteen or ninteen Constellations. The capacity of these aircraft is almost infinitesimal in comparison with that of the Boeing 707. I cannot let the occasion pass without paying tribute to the top executive of Qantas, Mr Turner, for the brilliance of organisation that he has brought to this airline of which we can be justly proud. The policy of the Government has enabled Qantas to give effect to the organisational brilliance of Mr Turner, as well as that of other executives and the board which has supported him over a period of time. Today Qantas has a fleet of planes matching in efficiency anything in the world and in addition the airline has continually shown a profit. This has been assisted by the system to be adopted here under which the Government negotiates loans to obtain the necessary foreign exchange for the purchases of these aircraft. In turn, Qantas or the National Airlines Commission over a period of time pays the money back into consolidated revenue. Up to a certain period this was done by promissory notes but I understand this is a different arrangement through the Export and Import Bank.

On the question of the amount of money required, I again refresh the memory of honourable members who may not have made a particular study of what will be required for Australian airlines and indeed the rest of the airlines of the world. We know that it has cost a tremendous number of millions of dollars to reorganise intercapital air services. This has been particularly successful as can be seen from a study in the past few weeks of the timetable of inter-capital flights. Between Melbourne and Sydney we have only two flights a day of prop-jet aircraft and piston engine aircraft have gone completely by the board. This has been brought about by the system followed by the Government of organising and guaranteeing loans overseas, so enabling the companies to modernise their fleets and bring them to first class world standards. Let us look at the standard of the airlines themselves - Trans-Australia Airlines, Qantas and indeed Ansett-ANA - and what they have achieved with Government finance. I submit that there is some basis for congratulation in what we have achieved over the past ten or fifteen years. It was remarkable to see what Qantas did with the Boeing 707 jets. In 1956 Qantas had the foresight, against a lot of opposition, to order the 707 jets. This is the short one - Its model number is 138. By trimming its requirements and keeping purchases within due bounds, Qantas was able to introduce this aircraft in 1959 and was able to cope with the rapid expansion of civil aviation in the period from 1959-60 up to 1963.

Gradually, and in a most able manner which again reflected on the organisation of Qantas, it realised that the 338 aircraft was necessary. This aircraft is the larger intercontinental jet. Again with the cooperation of the Government and through policies similar to the one that we are debating this morning it was able to purchase the 338s. lt now has a modern fleet of from twenty to twenty-three of these aircraft and has been able to dispose of, or is in the process of disposing of, the smaller fleet. But let us try to find an analogy between this and the attitude of the Government in civil aviation as it has developed in Australia. 1 refer particularly to the facilities which are required to handle these big aircraft. I wonder how the attitudes of the Government can be reconciled when we consider our airport requirements. I should imagine that the capacity of an airport would determine its priority in the provision of facilities, yet today we have the astonishing situation in which we find that the airport at Perth, which has a passenger turnover of about 250,000 per year and which rates as fifth in the turnover of passenger traffic, is the only airport in Australia which has first class facilities for jet aircraft.

If honourable members were to study the figures available on passenger turnover they would find that the situation in other airports compared with Perth is remarkable. For example, Tullamarine ranks second in passenger turnover and yet, even at this stage, it is not a first class international jet airport or even a domestic airport which can cope with what is required. The provision of airport facilities is relevant to the financial discussion which is now before the House on the policy of the Government in relation to airlines. We must consider its policy in providing airport facilities. Tullamarine is not yet ready. Ten years after the introduction of jet aircraft by Qantas to Australia we still do not have a jet airport to serve Melbourne. But let us consider some of the other comparisons which can be made. Launceston, which is not even an international jet airport and which is seventh on the list in passenger turnover has one of the most up-to-date modern airport terminals in Australia. How does this situation come about? Let us consider the position in Adelaide and compare that with the situation in Launceston, which has a passenger turnover of 166,000.

Mr Crean:

Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to order. Is this material relevant to the debate on a Bill to provide money for the purchase of aircraft and equipment by the Australian National Airlines Commission? The honourable gentleman is quoting statistics relating to traffic handled by commercial airlines. 1 could equally have gone into these matters if I had considered them to be relevant.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! I ask the honourable member for St George to relate his remarks to the Bill.


– I can offer no apology to the honourable member for Melbourne Ports if his arguments do not follow the same direction. The Bill which we are debating relates to the Government’s financial policy on civil aviation in this country. I am drawing attention to the value of this type of policy and, as a comparison and to highlight its value, I am referring to the financial policy of the Government in another direction. In explaining the value of this type of Bill I am using as a comparison the shortcomings that we see in another area. Surely I am entitled to use this type of argument to emphasise my points of view and to highlight the value of the Bill. 1 return to the point that I was about to make.

Let us compare the situations in Adelaide and Launceston. The passenger turnover in Adelaide is 681,000 whereas in Launceston it is only 166,000. Yet compared with airport facilities at Launceston the conditions at Adelaide are a disgrace. How does the Government arrive at its financial policy in respect of airport facilities in view of the Bill that we now have before the House? In each case it applies its financial policy in a totally different manner. Where is the problem? Is it with the Department of Civil Aviation or is it within Government policy itself? When one comes to address himself to a Bill such as this it is difficult to relate the two policies. The comparisons I have made are highlighted when we consider that Sydney airport, which has the greatest turnover of passengers - the 1966 figures are not available, but at the end of 1965 the annual turnover was something of the order of 2,600,000 passengers - when compared with Perth which has a turnover of 250,000 passengers. There is a difference of two million passengers between the two airports, and yet the facilities for international traffic at Sydney are something dreadful.

This situation is not new. The report of the Department of Civil Aviation for 1961 talked about the rebuilding of an international airport at Sydney, but here it is in 1967 and nothing has been done. Whatever has been done is of comparative insignificance in view of the problem that we have to solve. Sydney airport is the gateway to Australia and is of tremendous importance. The Minister for the Navy (Mr Chipp) who is now in the chamber is charged with the responsibility of trying to establish a tourist commission, and most tourists wilt come into Australia through Sydney.

Mr Clark:

Mr Deputy Speaker, I draw your attention to the Bill, lt relates to the provision of finance for the purchase of certain aircraft and equipment by the Australian National Airlines Commission. I suggest that the honourable member should confine his remarks to the Bill. He has been talking about aerodromes.


-Order! I have already asked the honourable member for St George to relate his remarks to the Bill. Having regard to the fact that the second reading speech covered a fairly wide ambit I have allowed the honourable member a degree of latitude. However, again I ask the honourable member to relate his remarks to the Bill.


– Getting back to what I said earlier, this debate relates to the financial policy of the Government. I suggest that if is pertinent to compare the Government’s financial policy in relation to other aspects of civil aviation. Surely the honourable member for Darling (Mr Clark) must concede that this is relevant. I am addressing my remarks to the Government’s financial policy and this has a bearing on the Bill. Surely I am entitled to quote figures relating to a different aspect of the Government’s financial policy.

I have made the point that the Government has displayed a spectacular ability and remarkable degree of co-operation in its financial policy relating to Trans-Aus- tralia Airlines and Qantas, but on the other hand its efficiency seems to be lacking when it comes to spending large sums of money elsewhere. The Budget last year provided for expenditure of the order of S74m for aviation. Although this is a large amount it is nothing when compared with what will be required. If the honourable member for Darling is not satisfied with my explanation, may I bring him back to what is proposed in the Bill? The measure provides for the expenditure of about $11. 6m. If I may use a very crude term, this amount is only peanuts compared with the expenditure that will be required in future when the Jumbo jets come into service. It must be appreciated that Qantas will be using these aircraft. When that time arrives we will see Bills introduced and we will be asked to approve expenditure of the order of $100m, or perhaps expenditure of hundreds of millions for the purchase of supersonic aircraft, if we decide to take the Concorde and the SST. This is the point that I am trying to make to the House. With respect to the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), the expenditure involved in this Bill is small compared with what we can expect when other aircraft become available.

I hope that the Government will apply its big thinking to the whole field of civil aviation. It must have regard to what will be required of it in the future if it wants Qantas and TAA to maintain the positions they occupy in this field. I refer again to the financial policy that seems to apply to civil aviation in respect of the provision of facilities to cope with modern developments, and I instance what has happened at Mascot. Big thinking is needed at Mascot - the same thinking as has been applied to Perth and to Tullamarine. We need at Kingsford Smith airport-


-Order! The question of airport development is not within the ambit of the Bill.


– All right, Sir. You have made a specific declaration although I should have hoped that you would have continued to accept the point I made earlier. I refer now to minor details related to the Bill. What will be the cost of the borrowings authorised by the Bill? In 1963-64 approval was given for the raising of a loan of $1,250,000. According to a document I have in my possession $1,120,000 was raised leaving a gap of $130,000 between the loan that was authorised and the money that was raised. Can the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) explain the interest rate that will apply on the borrowing we are now authorising and compare it with the interest rate on the 1963-64 loan? I remind him that the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) said that the interest bill would be of the order of about $65,000 per annum.

Mr Crean:

– The honourable member’s arithmetic is faulty. The interest will amount to about $780,000 annually.


– I regret that the figure I gave was inaccurate. Can the Minister explain the situation? I regret that your ruling, Mr Deputy Speaker, will not enable me to discuss matters relating to airport facilities. I commend the Government’s policy as contained in the Bill but reject the amendment proposed by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports. The amendment represents short thinking and is not in keeping with the achievements we have made in the past and which we hope to make in the future. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports has time and time again emphasised Australia’s need for capital investment. Loan money is required for national development and in this instance TAA is aiding national development. It provides services to areas from which it receives a negligible return or in respect of which it makes a loss. The Government has a successful policy within which airline companies have been able to operate successfully financially. However, it is incongruous to me that the Government can follow a successful policy, as it does by this Bill, yet apply an entirely different concept to other aspects of civil aviation, particularly in relation to developing facilities that are required.

Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2 p.m.


– I would like to express to the House my appreciation of the co-operation I have received from the honourable member for Melbourne Ports and other members of the Opposition. They have given me every opportunity to make a contribution to the debate and I will not trespass on the forbearance of the House by prolonging the debate further. There are just one or two further remarks I wish to make. I cannot support the Opposition’s amendment for the reasons I gave earlier. I believe it reflects short term thinking on the subject of raising loans for a purpose that is connected with national development, particularly when we have regard to what is going to be required for aircraft acquisition.

As I said earlier, legislation of this kind has contributed ‘ very materially to the development of our airlines system. But although we have first class air services, the facilities for handling passenger traffic are inadequate. I believe the Government and the Department of Civil Aviation could improve the situation without any difficulty at ali. In order to demonstrate to the public that it has its priorities right, the Government should make an immediate announcement that work on the Kingsford-Smith international terminal will proceed immediately and that the domestic terminal will be constructed wihtout delay. The Government should immediately announce that work is under way on site preparation for this terminal.

I support the Bill and I reject the Opposition’s amendment.


– The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) has stated that Australia is passing through a period of unparalleled prosperity. He has said that we have immense funds overseas to meet our requirements. The honourable member for St George (Mr Bosman) stated that the amount necessary for aviation equipment is peanuts.

Mr Bosman:

– Quote me accurately. 1 said that in this Bill it is only peanuts compared with what is required.


– The honourable member said that it is peanuts. I ask him not to interrupt me. I am quoting accurately what he said in the very few moments in which he said anything at all about the measure before us. He said the amount required was peanuts. If the Treasurer is correct in saying that we are passing through a period of unparalleled prosperity and that we have immense funds overseas, and if the honourable member for St George is right when he says the amount needed to

PaY for the equipment we are going to uy is peanuts, then the situation is like that of a millionaire with practically unlimited ready cash raising a loan at a high rate of interest in order to buy a wheelbarrow. For this reason I strongly support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean).

Mr Bosman:

– I wish to make a personal explanation.

Mr Lucock

– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?

Mr Bosman:

– Yes, by the honourable member for Scullin. During my speech I said that the amount covered by the Bill before the House was only peanuts by comparison with what has been raised in the past by means of this kind of legislation and what will be required in the future. I did not use the term ‘peanuts’ in respect of the amount required overall for aircraft equipment.

Amendment negatived.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Administrator recommending the appropriation announced.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Mr Snedden) read a third time.

page 2463



– I wish to inform the House of the following appointments of Senators and members to be members of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs: Senators Bull, Cormack, Laught and Mattner have been appointed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty). Senators Drury, Mulvihill and Willesee have been appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy). Senator McManus has been appointed by the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party in the Senate (Senator Gair). The honourable members for Riverina (Mr Armstrong), Angus (Mr Giles), Parkes (Mr Hughes), La Trobe (Mr Jess), Moreton (Mr Killen), Gippsland (Mr Nixon), Kooyong (Mr Peacock) and Brad- field (Mr Turner) have been appointed by the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt). The honourable members for Bass (Mr Barnard), Fremantle (Mr Beazley), Banks (Mr Costa), Brisbane (Mr Cross) and Braddon (Mr Davies) have been appointed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam).

page 2463


The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:

Softwood Forestry Agreements Bill 1967. Petroleum Research Subsidy Bill 1967.

page 2463


Motion (by Mr Snedden) agreed to:

That the House, at its rising, adjourn until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.

page 2463


Motion (by Mr Snedden) agreed to:

That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next meeting.

page 2463


The Hon. H. F. Opperman, O.B.E. - Margarine

Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:

That the House do now adjourn.


– I wish to refer to a very remarkable man. This is the last opportunity that we will have of doing so in this Parliament, because he is about to leave the House and probably will not again be a member of the Federal Parliament. You know, Mr Acting Speaker, that I refer to Hubert Opperman. Mr Opperman has been in many walks of life. He has been a champion cyclist, a parliamentarian and a Minister of State, and he will be very shortly the Australian Ambassador to Malta. During the period in which he was a champion cyclist he was known all over the world as ‘Oppy’. This nickname was a household word which at that time one could have heard in practically every country. As a parliamentarian, of course, he was Mr Opperman, as a Minister he is the Honourable Hubert Opperman, and now as Ambassador to Malta I understand he will be addressed as ‘Your Excellency’.

Our colleague has had a varied career, but in every phase of it he has been appreciated by people here and further afield - indeed in most countries of the world. I put to one side all the positions that Hubert Opperman has held to speak about him as a man. I have been closely associated with him since he came into this Parliament. I was a member when he was elected on 10th December 1949 and I was present when he made his maiden speech on 22nd February 1950. Although he did not have any parliamentary experience at that time, his first speech was a good one. Like many members of this House who would not be able to state offhand the extent of the national debt, the honourable member is a man of principle. It may be a somewhat dismal thought, but there is no doubt that every member of this Parliament, and almost everybody in the nation except for one or two babies born today or tomorrow who will live to a freak age of 106 years or so, will be dead seventy, eighty or ninety years from now. The important thing is that the principles for which men stand will continue:

They will withstand the kingdom of decay

When time is o’er and worlds have passed away

Cold in the grave the withered heart may lie

But that which warmed it once can never die.

I have always found Hubert Opperman to be a man of high principle. Irrespective of what happened he would stick to his principles. I am able to say this from the knowledge that I, the Country Party Whip, gained from close association with him both as a friend and as the Government Whip. We had many discussions on problems that had to be overcome. I always found him to adopt a fair approach and I found that what he said was worth taking note of. Later he moved into the Ministry. So the Government and those who make such appointments must indeed have regarded him highly.

I have read in the newspapers that it takes a long time and considerable effort and training to become a great sportsman. I do not subscribe to this view. Although Hubert Opperman became a great sportsman and no doubt trained strenuously to improve his cycling ability, I am sure that had he never won a cycle race, had he finished second last or even last, he would still have been a great sportsman. The fact that he was and still is a great sportsman means more to me than his becoming a champion cyclist. He stands high in the annals of the sporting world for his sportsmanship. I have heard him say that sport helps to build character. I do not doubt him. However I know of many people who are not champions at sport but who have fine characters. Reputation is what people think you are; character is what you really are. Hubert Opperman has had many tests of his character, and he has always emerged from them with flying colours.

To use an expression that is applied here, some members of Parliament can give it but cannot take it. Another attribute of our colleague is that he has always been able to take it. He did not win all the bike races in which he started, and when beaten to the finishing line he was always glorious in defeat. In the give and take of parliamentary life one must be able to take a joke. That Herbert Opperman can do sois illustrated in this story that he told against himself. The setting for it was a spring day when, although one may be past bike riding or some other strenuous athletic performance, one feels full of vigour. On one such day he took out his old cycle and all the accoutrements that go with it. He donned his costume and cycling shoes, mounted his bike and pedalled along outside Geelong. As he rode along he noticed some girls eating their lunch outside a factory and thought to himself: I shall give these girls a bit of a treat. I shall show then what I used to do when racing on my cycle from Lands End to John o’ Groats, or on one of the great races I won.’ As he pedalled strenuously past these girls something happened that might seem not so strange to us. One of the girls called out: ‘Good on you, pop’. The remark completely deflated him, but still he told the story against himself. I admire any man who can do this.

Often I have claimed that a good woman can sometimes make a bad man good; but she can always make a good man better. My tribute goes out not only to Hubert Opperman; I extend it also to his wife who has always been by his side. As honourable members know, be has had some very strenuous contests in Corio and in them all Mrs Opperman has played a big part. Although I have had many conversations with our colleague, I cannot recall his ever making a disparaging remark about anyone. Further, I have never heard anyone make a disparaging remark about him. This is all the more remarkable because he was not a man who did not come onto the field and fight for what he believed was right. But when he did so he always was quite fair. I have advocated in this House on many occasions that members should fight policies, not personalities. Certainly Hubert Opperman was one who fought policy and not personality. As this is the last time that 1 suppose we will see him in this House as a parliamentary colleague, I should like to tell him how much 1 and all members of the Country Party have appreciated him. I believe that he leaves Australia to become our High Commissioner at Malta heavily freighted with the best wishes of the community.

Melbourne Ports

– 1 associate myself with the remarks of the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull), who rather quaintly described the prowess of the honourable member for Corio (Mr Opperman), a former Minister, as a champion cyclist as being a walk of life. I am sure that it was more than a walk for him. My acquaintanceship with the honourable member for Corio goes back to the time when as a boy of twelve or thirteen years I was still living in Hamilton, the town in which I was born. Hubert Opperman was then at the height of his prowess as a racing cyclist. I think he came to Hamilton to demonstrate his ability on the local cycle track. As some honourable members may know, my father and uncle also bad an association with the sport of cycling in those days.

I think it is fair enough to say that the honourable member has endeared himself to his parliamentary colleagues. Even though he is on another side, I think all honourable members would claim, certainly when he became the Minister for Immigration, that whenever there was a possibility of bending procedures a little he would do it, and if he could not he would give what seemed to be a reasonable explanation for not being able to meet the request. On behalf of the Australian Labor Party I wish him well in his now position. He has been aptly described as a great sportsman. Therefore, I hope members will sportingly accept my wish that his successor may not sit on the same side of the House. It will not be the honourable member’s fault. We of the Opposition wish him well in his new post. I hope that he, his wife and family have many more years of fruitful contribution to the Australian community.


– Earlier this session 1 made a statement concerning the use of tallow from condemned animals by Marrickville Margarine Ltd in the manufacture of margarine. I said that animals condemned for various reasons - tuberculosis and cancer - are used for making tallow from which Marrickville margarines are made. I have been under challenge concerning this claim and I now wish to make clear the facts upon which I based my original statement.

I want to outline the health requirements applicable to slaughterhouses and abattoirs which produce edible and inedible tallows. I deal firstly with tallow produced for Australian consumption. This comes under the administration of State Departments of Health. Taking New South Wales, the Pure Foods Act referring to dripping requires a minimum free fatty acid content of 2% and a maximum of 1% of material used in processing, such as salt. Health inspectors make periodical inspections of slaughterhouses, abattoirs and the like, but obviously cannot ensure that the health regulations are enforced all the time. Once tallow comes onto the market it is bought for edible purposes on criteria such as free fatty acid content, colour, taste and appearance. The simple fact is that great care is taken to see that the foreign buyer receives edible tallow of a high standard, whereas the Australian consumer has little protection against products made from tallow of doubtful origin.

Secondly, I refer to the standards required for edible tallow sold in Australia for export. Before edible tallow may be exported it must meet stringent conditions required under the Commonwealth meat regulations. Firstly, all stock must be slaughtered in a licensed export establishment, which in turn will be licensed by the Commonwealth Department of Primary Industry only if it meets certain minimum standards of hygiene. Secondly, no meat or offal may be exported for edible purposes if it comes from diseased animals. Thirdly, and this is the significant condition, there is at each licensed export establishment a permanent officer in charge and graders, all of whom are employed by the Commonwealth Government to ensure that meat and other edible meat products, including tallow, sold for export meet satisfactory standards of health and hygiene. Fourthly, if tallow produced in these licensed export establishments does not meet prescribed standards, it may be exported only as inedible tallow and clearly identified as such.

I now refer to certain published newspaper reports. I refer firstly to a report which appeared in ‘Country Life’ of 30th December 1 966. It read:

Marrickville directors, in their recently presented annual report, said they had made a swift reorganistation of the company’s activities to offset the effects of the margarine production dispute.

The takeover of the flour milling and stock feed business-

Referred to earlier in the report - represents only another of the many fields into which the margarine company has spread.

Earlier, they had taken over Eddie Searfs Sagon boiling-down works at Oxford Falls, which no doubt helped consolidate their supplies of animal fats for margarine production.

Bird Bros., another producer of tallow, lard, stock feeds and fertilisers from butchers’ bones and dead animals, and who have been big suppliers to Marrickville in the past, also appear likely to come under their control.

The report said manufacturers were using tallow at three or four times the volume of vegetable oil products, and edible tallow was only a small proportion of the animal fats being used.

Health authorities in Sydney said that trouble of this nature had occurred from time to time but they thought it all had been cleared up long ago. The report in Country Life’ continued:

But it was quite impossible for the Health Department to keep a continuous check on boiling down works to ensure that health regulations were fully enforced at all times.

Of course, this would not present any problem if the company concerned were not unscrupulous.

Until recently Bird Bros. Pty Ltd and T. A. Field Pty Ltd held a half share in Crago Stock Feeds Pty Ltd, with Marrickville Holding Ltd holding the other half. Shares held by Bird Bros, and T. A. Field have now been bought out by Marrickville Holdings Ltd, making Crago Stock Feeds Pty Ltd a wholly owned subsidiary of Marrickville Holdings Ltd. Another subsidiary of Marrickville Holdings Ltd, which is not mentioned in the article to which I referred, is Peerless Processing Co. Pty Ltd, which is a company incorporated in Victoria. It is a tallow Tenderer and meat meal producer, supplying the local and export markets through Peerless Processing (Exports) Pty Ltd. It is quite apparent that my earlier references in the House to Marrickville Margarine Ltd were based on fact and were accurate.

I make one further and final point. In a letter published in the ‘Financial Review’ of 20th April 1967, Mr R. C. Crebbin, Managing Director of Marrickville Margarine Ltd, purports to defend cost factors which had been referred to in the ‘Financial Review’. Unrefined tallow is referred to. In his letter Mr Crebbin indicts himself for he admits that he is using unrefined tallow. He claims that a large percentage is lost in the deodorising and refining processes. If this is true he is certainly using an inedible tallow. When we find Mr Crebbin referring in a letter appearing over his signature to the use of tallow and the refining of it, it is obvious that the allegations I made in the House some time ago were based on fact and are beyond dispute. There is undoubtedly a serious implication in all this. I hope that the company will have sufficient decency and courage to ensure that the public does not have dished up to it a product that comes in part from the sources to which I have referred.


– 1 was in the House on the other occasion when the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson) raised this matter. I think it is safe to say that on that occasion every honourable member, with the exception of the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon), who prompted the statement by the honourable member for Cowper, deplored the incident. There is only one way in which the honourable member for Cowper can allow the authenticity of his statement to be tested, and that is for him to go outside the Parliament and repeat to the Press what he has said in the House and which now appears in Hansard. Let us see how much courage he has. I hold no brief for Marrickville Margarine Ltd but if an honourable member sees fit to say in this House that cattie suffering from cancer and tuberculosis are slaughtered and their byproducts used for human consumption, common decency demands that he repeat his statement outside the House. But the honourable member for Cowper does not have the courage to say these things outside the House. Veterinary officers and many officers of the Department of Primary Industry have been greatly upset by his statement.

All that the honourable member has ;>aid may be true; I do not challenge the truth of his statements. Bui let him make his statements outside the House so that the Marrickville people may have an opportunity to refute them.

Treasurer · Lowe · LP

– I rise to support my very good friend from the Country Party, the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) in saying farewell to a very distinguished member of this House, the honourable member for Corio (Mr Opperman). Hubert Opperman has always been a good friend and a good companion. He could be trusted completely and everyone who has known him has valued his friendship. I certainly have. As a good companion, I can relate one incident that happened when I was the Minister for the Navy. We went over to northern Tasmania on an election tour, assisted by Hugh Roberton, a Scot who was then the honourable member for Riverina. At the time there happened to be an international cycling festival being held. As I got out of the car I saw a very big audience - I imagine there were 2,000 or 3,000 people present - and there was a roar of applause. I felt: Well, how popular I am; what a wonderful reception this is for a Minister for the Navy. It was quite unequalled. Bui as well as Hugh Roberton, I had Hubert Opperman with me. The people trundled up a bicycle. I had never ridden a bicycle in my life, strangely enough.

Mr Curtin:

– Only a three wheeler.


– Quite right. I wondered how on earth I could get round the track on this bicycle. But I decided that for the good of the party I could try anything once. I thought that if others had succeeded maybe, after a little practice, I could succeed. But as they gave the bicycle to me the roar of the crowd became immense and the people bellowed: ‘Good on you Oppy.’ It was not only a moment of great disillusionment - and I was disillusioned - but it was also a moment, as Oppy will remember, of great relief for me. But we had the mutual satisfaction of knowing that at least we won that seat - and we won it for the last time up to this moment. As I have said, Hubert has been a good friend and a good companion. All of us have found a great amount of pleasure in his company. As the honourable member for Mallee said Hubert Opperman would never say anything nasty about any man. When he was dealing with issues he dealt with the fact. He did not descend to personalities. He did not criticise people. He was a bit above that because he had an intrinsic belief in humanity and an intrinsic belief in men and women.

We have mentioned his sporting career. Oppy must be a little older than I am. I would not have thought that was so but I think it must be. Most of us will remember his achievements overseas when the name Oppy was a household word. Certainly it was to me, and I am sure it was to most of my companions.

Now 1 want to refer to his parliamentary career and to what he achieved as a Minister. Hubert Opperman has won the esteem and the affection of every honourable member of this place in the time that he has been here. I do not know of anyone who could be considered to be a critic of him and certainly there are many of us who can be regarded as his friends and who regard him as a friend. I imagine that the greatest distinction he achieves - and this is something that I think we all ought to remember - was in the field of immigration. Oppy’s philosophy was that all men are equal; that all men have an equal right to success and that all men have the same responsibilities and the same obligations. He put this belief into practice. No-one made greater changes or greater reforms in our system of immigration in a few years than Oppy did. I think the changes he made in our immigration programme in regard to the right of people to come to this wonderful country were unequalled by almost any other Minister. He applied the philosophy that nonEuropeans and Europeans alike were to be treated without discrimination and that, providing they could be integrated into the

Australian community and could play their part here without creating great difficulties for us, they had a right to come here, to become part and parcel of the Australian community and to prosper with it. In other words he believed in the ordinary man and the ordinary woman. He will never be forgotten for the way in which he introduced those principles to our immigration programme.

The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) would have liked to be here to say much the same as I have said. Regrettably he had to go to Melbourne today. I can sum up by saying what I think the Prime Minister would have said: ‘He was a good bloke. He was a good friend. He was a good companion’. He is going overseas for some time but I am sure that every member of this House will welcome him back whenever he cares to come back. To Oppy, to his wife and to his family we say: ‘Good health. We hope that life continues to be enjoyable’. Oppy leaves this house with the respect and affection of every honourable member sitting here today.

Minister for Immigration · Bruce · LP

– by leave - Mr Acting Speaker, I would like to put on record the personal debt that a group of us owe to the honourable member for Corio (Mr Opperman). We came into this place in 1956 after the election in December 1955. We came here looking rather bewildered. We felt rather bewildered. We found that Hubert Opperman was the Whip for the Government parties. 1 remember him taking us to his room and explaining some of the mysteries and intricacies of this place. We did not understand them then but as time went on we came to understand them. We found in him a truly wonderful person. He advised us and helped us to ease our way into this Parliament. All of us formed a very warm affection for him. We will always retain it. We will always remember the way he treated us. I am sure I speak not only just for that group but for all who served under him when he was Whip. We have a very great appreciation of his services to us as Whip for the Government parties.


– I should like to endorse the eloquent remarks of the previous speakers concerning the great service rendered by Hubert Opperman, the honourable member for Corio. I have always known Hubert to be a very genial personality. He was always ready and willing to assist in any immigration problem. I should like to recount one incident that happened when he was Whip for the Government parties. The present Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) was Minister for Immigration at that time. I received an urgent phone call one evening about 6.30 concerning the arrest by officials of the Department of Immigration of a Chinese market gardener. I took the call and was told that the case was one of mistaken identity. I was asked to delay the order for deportation next day if I possibly could. I went in search of the Minister for Immigration, but unfortunately I could not find him although I searched everywhere. I asked Hubert if he had any idea where the Minister for Immigration could be found and he said: ‘No. But I will try to find him for you.’ Hubert was only half way through his meal but he was good enough to find the Minister for Immigration for me. He then returned and resumed his meal. I thought at the time that there would not be very many people who would be willing to do that, although 1 had given the impression that it was a matter of urgency. Later it was proven that this was a case of mistaken identity. 1 have never forgotten that incident, Mr Acting Speaker. I have never forgotten that this fellow was willing to leave his meal half eaten in order to find the Minister for Immigration so that I could attend to this urgent matter. I was pleased to hear the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) say that he wished Hubert Opperman the very best in the future for his wife and family. I sincerely trust that they will enjoy everything of the best.

Dr Patterson:

Mr Acting Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. I wish to apologise to the honourable member for Corio (Mr Opperman) and to the House. I walked into the House when the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson) was speaking about the use of condemned cancerous and tubercular animals for the manufacture of margarine. I did not know that this time had been more or less reserved so that honourable members could extend congratulations and best wishes to Mr

Opperman. I regret having interrupted honourable members and apologise for doing so. I am sorry. I apologise for answering the honourable member for Cowper.

Mr Lucock

-Before calling the honourable member for Corio (Mr Opperman) I should like to associate Mr Speaker and myself with the remarks that have been passed about the honourable member and his services to this Parliament and this country, both as a member and Minister and as a sportsman. I must confess that perhaps there were times during the past three weeks when I wished that he had taken some honourable members away on a bicycle trip or had got them so breathless that they were not able to speak at length. But seriously - and briefly, because of the time factor - I wish the honourable member the very best in his future career of service to this country. The appreciation expressed by honourable members in the House today is one of the rewards that makes worthwhile service to this country as a parliamentarian. I know that the honourable member has deserved those remarks and that he will continue to deserve such comments in the service which he is now about to enter. I associate Mr Speaker, and those who are associated with him in the workings of this Parliament, with those expressions of appreciation and I extend those expressions to include the honourable member’s wife and family.


– May I reply to you, Mr Acting Speaker, and to the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull), the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), the honourable member for Watson (Mr Cope), the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) and the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). About a week ago when 1 spoke in this House I gave an understanding that those would be my last words here, unless I was personally attacked or otherwise provoked verbally. However, today’s events have caused me to rise again. I thank those honourable members who introduced an element of humour into their words; otherwise it would have been impossible for me to rise to my feet. This is a very precious occasion to me.

It is an extraordinary coincidence that my first speech in the Parliament was made during the debate on the Address-in-Reply when the Parliament met in 1950 after the 1949 election and that now, in the closing hours of this sessional period, I find myself uttering perhaps the last speech. Honourable members can imagine, probably, with what mixed feelings I stand here today, having listened to words from colleagues on both sides of the House which were uttered sincerely but which to my mind relate to a standard that I could not attain. This is a place where differences of opinion on policy naturally lead us to some degree of personal bias against those who are opposed to our own point of view. I like to think of the various non-partisan times when honourable members meet one another. Perhaps those who condemn and criticise the journeys that are made by members of Parliament to other countries and various parts of Australia do not realise the way in which honourable members gain an appreciation of one another in such circumstances. I know that when I first came into this House I had the feelings of prejudice that we all have after an election. As time goes on we come to realise the merits of the other fellow. As I look at the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Griffiths) I recall our trip together to the Northern Territory. I returned from that journey full of respect for his opinions. Though when we met in debate we would certainly oppose one another, we had this mutual personal attraction.

Those who go together through arduous times and periods of strain and stress develop a feeling of comradeship that does not occur in any other way. Reference has been made to my sporting career and the Tour de France, which is the most strenuous sporting event in Europe. Those who had participated in that event and who had gone to the extreme of their strength and skill in an endeavour to win were the best of friends when they were together. Something that others could not understand bound them with a common tie. In Service life it was the same. Together we survived hazards that brought us together in a way that it is difficult to explain. Thus it is in this House of Parliament

As I stand here now after listening to the honourable members who have spoken, I assure the House thatthe part about which I am most proud is the fact that in this placeI have been able to express my views and to support policies and yet know that at any time I could go as a friend to any honourable member who did not share those views or support those policies and we could put our differences aside. People outside often talk of the qualifications that are needed to fit a person as a representative of the people in this Parliament, but there are other qualities that they do not think about which those who come here must have. One has to be patient and tolerant and be able to withstand the shafts, barbs and arrows that are hurled at one even though he knows in his heart that he and his colleagues are doing the best for those who attack them. Perhaps it is that common knowledge that binds us here.I cannot help recalling some lines from Gray’s ‘Elegy in a Country Churchyard’ which I learned at school:

Perhaps in this neglecied spot is laid,

Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;

Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway’d,

Or wak’d to ecstasy the living lyre.

We honourable members might not be swaying the rod of empire; but what is said in this House, the legislative action that is taken here, and what will be said and done here in the future by those who carry on, influence the course of this great country. Therefore, honourable members must have a sense of responsibility towards this Parliament in which they serve. This is a place in which no-one can think too much of himself for too long. When one loses sight of the fact that this Parliament is bigger than the individual members then one will be cut down to size.

Let me repeat a story that I have told before. When I first entered this Parliament I was naturally very pleased and proud. After the first couple of sessions I had occasion to take my car from Essendon Airport to set out for Werribee. The car broke down. I had to make a telephone call to my wife to get her to come and pick me up. In the summer evening, as I was sitting on the kerbstone awaiting her, a fellow who had been alongside me when I made the call at the post office - a typical Australian type, fairly garrulous - began to talk to me. He did not know who I was. I did not tell him, for Werribee is not in the electorate of Corio and there was no need to do so. He began talking about his brother and said: ‘Yes, I have a brother in the Mallee. He wrote to me the other day. This wheat farming is no good. You put your seed in and the drought comes along and the seed does not come up. You plant it again, it comes up and the grubs eat it down. Then you get the mice, or the hailstones knock it down. If you do not have all that tocontend with, you have the blasted politicians.’ I realised than that I had been cut down to size. I have never forgotten the incident.

Mr Acting Speaker, if my parliamentary colleagues feel that I have been of service to the Parliament, it has been the result of the good will that has existed here.I thank the honourable member for Mallee for his remarks. I have a special affection for the Whips. I served for a time as Whip on this side of the House. The Whips, perhaps more than anyone else, know the fluctuations of outlook that can occur. They meet those who are selfish and those who are unselfish. Parliamentarians as individuals, with their problems and desires, flow through the Whip’s office. But my period as Whip was most educational and was perhaps the most enjoyable period of my parliamentary life. I am deeply appreciative of my appointment to the position in Malta. This is a great honour. As I said when I came to this place seventeen and a half years ago, no-one can see the end of the political path. I have reached the end of my political path by receiving this tremendous honour.I realise the responsibility I will carry in my new position. On previous occasions I have carried the colours of Australia abroad. I will do my very best as a representative of Australia in my new office. I will carry with me the memory of the expressions of good will and the kind comments that have been made about me here today, and I will try to meet the standards that have been set for me in this place.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 2.52 p.m. until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr Speaker and to be notified by him to each member by telegram or letter.

page 2471


The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:

Papua and New Guinea (Question No. 114.)

Mr Stewart:

asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -

What sums have been repatriated from the Territory of Papua and New Guinea to (a) Australia and (b) other countries in each of the last five years?

Mr Barnes:
Minister for Territories · MCPHERSON, QUEENSLAND · CP

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

Owing mainly to the fact that Papua and New Guinea is part of the Australian monetary system it is not possible to determine the sums that have been repatriated from Papua and New Guinea to Australia or to other countries without very complex statistical investigations. These investigations are under way but will not be completed for some considerable time. The difficulties faced are much the same as would be involved in determining the sums repatriated from say New South Wales to other States and other countries.

Universities: Fees (Question No. 148.)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:

  1. What fees were payable for each degree course in each university in 1957?
  2. By what amount and percentage had the fees been increased for those courses in those universities in 1962 and 1967?
Mr Swartz:

– The Minister for Education and Science has supplied the following information:

The information is shown in the following tables and is based on the subjects normally studied in a full-time course completed in minimum time at pass standard, unless otherwise indicated. All compulsory charges levied by the university for the courses are included. Part 2 of the question is assumed to refer to the cumulative increases up to 1962 and up to 1967.

Law Reform Legislation (Question No. 166)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:

What progress has been made:

since his predecessor’s answer to me on 30th August 1966 (Hansard, page 571) towards introducing the new Acts Interpretation Act suggested by his predecessor on 13th May 1964, the new Cheques Act recommended by the Bills of Exchange Act Review Committee on 1st May 1964, the new Designs Act promised by the Governor-General on 4th August 1954 and the uniform criminal code for the Territories being drafted by the Co-ordinating Committee set up by the Law Council of Australia,

since his predecessor’s answer to me on 13th September 1966 (page 831) towards designing the new Federal Superior Court for which Cabinet gave authority in December 1962, and

since his predecessor’s answer to me on 27th October 1966 (page 2369) towards extending legal aid in Federal courts and under Federal laws.

Mr Bowen:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. The preparation of a new Acts Interpretation Act is a highly technical project and work on it is proceeding; I am making every effort to have the proposed new Cheques Bill introduced in the next sittings of Parliament; further consideration will be given to a review of the Designs Act when the new Copyright Bill has been passed by this Parliament; the Co-ordinating Committee in respect of the uniform criminal code for the Territories set up by the Law Council of Australia has continued its work. Since 30th August 1966 papers have been completed on acts injurious to the public in general, provocation, self-defence, and defence of property. Papers on stealing and related matters, forgery, and offences connected with trade are awaiting final settlement by the Committee. The Executive of the Law Council met on 29th April and conferred with me. It has asked the New South Wales Sub-committee to endeavour to complete the preparation of its paper by the end of May and has asked the Co-ordinating Committee to meet if possible during June. When the recommendations of the Co-ordinating Committee have been received, much work will remain to be done. I shall have to give consideration to the proposed changes to existing law and there will need to be appropriate consultation with local interests before the drafting of the necessary legislation is commenced. The drafting will be a considerable task in itself.
  2. A statement on this matter was made to the House on 18th May 1967.
  3. 1 conferred recently with the Law Council of Australia. I am not yet in a position to make a statement.

Rural Finance (Question No. 187)

Mr Ian Allan:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

  1. Mas his attention been drawn to the success of the system of supervised credit operated by the Farmers’ Home Administration in the United States of America? 2.Is so, can be indicate any reasons why a similar system would not operate with equal success in limited areas in this country?
  2. Is it a fact that no banking institution in Australia provides, or can provide without government guarantee, a comparable service to primary producers?
Mr McMahon:

– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:

The Farmers’ Home Administration is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, authorised by law to make loans only to farmers who are unable to obtain adequate credit from other sources on reasonable terms. The supervision of credit extended by the F.H.A. is understood to be strict, backed with technical advice and to involve close surveillance of all expenditure by borrowers, including consumption expenditure.

There is no institution in Australia which provides precisely the same facilities as the F.H.A. Nor is the requirement for rural credit necessarily the same in Australia as in the United States. In Australia the Commonwealth Development Bank holds a broadly comparable position as a ‘residual’ lender, and its rural specialists provide advice and some elements of supervision to borrowers.

The provision of ‘special purpose’ credit to the rural sector in Australia comparable to much of that provided by the F.H.A., is constitutionally the responsibility of the State governments. There is, in each State, a State-owned or State-controlled bank or corporation active in rural lending and each of them acts as agent for its State government in providing ‘special purpose’ credit to the rural sector. In exceptional circumstances, the Commonwealth has also provided funds to assist the States to provide special credit facilities to primary producers; the recent drought is an example.

Commonwealth Territories: Abortion (Question No. 193)

Mr Hayden:

asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:

  1. Is abortion permitted in some circumstances in the Australian Capital Territory or any of the Territories or dependencies administered by the Government?
  2. If so, will he outline circumstances?
  3. Is he able to supply similar information with respect to each of the States?
Mr Bowen:

– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:

In respect of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, it is an offence to unlawfully administer any drug or noxious thing or unlawfully use any instrument or other means with intent to procure a miscarriage.

In a leading case in England concerning a prosecution under a similar provision, where the miscarriage was procured by a qualified member of the medical profession, the jury was in effect directed that the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the act was not done in good faith for the purpose only of preserving the life of the mother or saving her from becoming a physical or mental wreck.

The position in each of the States and the other Territories depends upon laws for the administration of which I am not responsible.

Financial Assistance for Western Australia (Question No. 233)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

  1. Did he tell the honourable member for Moore on 23rd February 1967 (Hansard, page 108) that, when he had been able to study the facts, be would give him a considered reply to his question without notice concerning requests by the Western Australian Government for Commonwealth financial assistance for further development projects?
  2. Did he tell the honourable member on 4th April 1.967 (page 896) that information of the type requested is regarded by the Commonwealth Government as confidential between itself and the State Government concerned, unless it is mutually agreed to make the information public, and that as no such agreement had been made in this case the information could not be made available?
  3. Has he asked the Premier whether he agrees to make the information public; if so, when did he ask him?
Mr Harold Holt:

– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:

  1. Yes.
  2. Yes.
  3. No. As I said in answer to question 164. Hansard 4th May 1967 pages 1837-8, when a Premier writes to me he is entitled to expect that his correspondence will be treated in confidence, just as I expect that my letters to Premiers will be treated in the same way. If this were not so, the present harmonious way of conducting business between the Commonwealth and State Governments would break down.

Church of England in Australia: Territorial Ordinances (Question No. 249)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

What progress has been made in introducing territorial ordinances to supplement the Church of England in Australia Constitution Act passed by all the States in 1960 and 1961 since his predecessor’s replies on 13th August 1963 (Hansard, page 66) and 16th March 1965 (page 39).

Mr Harold Holt:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The Ordinance for the Australian Capital Territory has been made and has been notified in the Gazette this week. In addition to the provisions relating to the Constitution of the Church of England in Australia that were originally requested, the Ordinance includes provisions with respect to the use by a congregation of the Church of England and also by congregations of other Churches of land, buildings and other property in the Territory that are held in trust for the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn. The request for these additional provisions was received only after the draft Ordinance with respect to the Constitution of the Church of England in Australia had been printed. [ understand that the draft Ordinance for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea has been approved by the Primate and has been under consideration by the Bishop of New Guinea. It will be submitted to the House of Assembly of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea as soon as possible After advice that he has approved the draft is received.

So far as the Northern Territory is concerned, I understand that conditional approval was given at the last meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England in Australia for the establishment of a new Diocese of the Northern Territory. By arrangement with the Church authorities, the preparation of an Ordinance for the Northern Territory has been postponed until the new Diocese has been established and has decided the legislative provision that will be required to enable it to hold and deal with trust property.

Vietnam: Prisoners of Australian Forces (Question No. 250)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:

  1. How many prisoners have been captured by the Australian forces in Vietnam?
  2. What procedure is adopted for handing these prisoners to South Vietnamese troops?
  3. Are Australian troops present at the initial interrogation?
  4. What guarantees are there that prisoners captured by the Australian troops are protected under the terms of the Geneva Convention?
  5. What checks, as distinct from verbal assurances, have Australian military forces made in Vietnam to ensure that prisoners captured by them are properly treated?
Mr Fairhall:
Minister for Defence · PATERSON, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:

  1. Twenty-seven prisoners of war have been captured by Australian forces in Vietnam. This figure is exclusive of other persons detained temporarily and categorised as returnees, civil defendants, doubtful cases and innocent civilians.
  2. Prisoners of war are taken by Australian escorts to the South Vietnamese Army prisoner of war compound at Long Binh, near Saigon.
  3. Yes.
  4. Representatives of the International Red Cross inspect regularly the Australian system for handling prisoners of war. Records of all prisoners of war are maintained from the time of capture and are available to Red Cross representatives.
  5. An Australian officer visits regularly the prisoners of war held at Long Binh and makes a physical check of identity. The medical condition of the prisoners is also checked.

Values of Canberra Leases (Question No. 251)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:

What were the average unimproved values as assessed at 1924 and the average values bid at auction for the following Canberra business and residential leases which were allocated at auction in 1924 and subsequently reappraised in 1944 and 1964, viz.: (i) 12 business sites in the City; (ii) 16 business sites in Griffith; (iii) 11 business sites in Kingston; (iv) S3 residential sites in Kingston; (v) 4 residential sites in Forrest, and (vi) 14 residential sites in Red Hill?

Mr Anthony:
Minister for the Interior · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

Repatriation Benefits (Question No. 263)

Mr Stewart:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:

What are the conditions of eligibility for repatriation and war service homes benefit and taxation exemption for all service personnel serving on operational duty within a prescribed special area?

Mr Fairhall:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

To qualify for repatriation eligibility, war service homes benefits and taxation exemption Service personnel serving within a prescribed special area must be allotted for special service within that area. A condition of allotment is that the personnel must be exposed to potential risk by reason of the fact that there is a continuing danger from activities of hostile forces or dissident elements. There is no minimum qualifying period of service.

Vietnam: Campaign Medals (Question No. 264)

Mr Stewart:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:

What period of time has to be spent in the prescribed special area by a member of each of the arms of the services to be eligible for the fa) Campaign medal issued by the Vietnamese Government and (b) Vietnam Medal.

Mr Fairhall:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Qualifying service by our Service personnel for the campaign medal issued by the Vietnamese Government is six months continuous service with the Australian Forces in direct support of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces. Service terminated before six months because of death, or evacuation due to wounds or injury, also qualifies a serviceman for the award.
  2. The qualifying service for the Vietnam Medal is common to all three Services and is as follows:

    1. one day’s service on the posted or attached strength of a unit in Vietnam.
    2. twenty eight days service on ships or craft employed in operations on inland waters or off the coast of Vietnam.
    3. one operational sortie over Vietnam or Vietnamese waters by aircrew on the posted strength of a unit allocated for direct support of operations in Vietnam.
    4. thirty days service either continuous or aggregated by personnel required to visit the operational area.
    5. in regard to (ii) and (iv) service of less than the prescribed period also qualifies for the medal if the serviceman concerned has been awarded an honour or decoration or has been mentioned in despatches, or if the qualifying period has not been completed because of death, or evacuation due to wounds or other disability caused by service.

Civil Aviation (Question No. 268)

Mr Charles Jones:

asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:

How many near misses between commercial aircraft operated by major airlines and privately owned light aircraft have occurred in each State during the last twelve months?

Mr Swartz:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

I am not sure whether you intended your question to refer strictly to privately owned light aircraft, which excludes aircraft operated by aero clubs, charter organisations, etc., or whether you wished to include all light aircraft. I believe the latter to be the case and my inquiries therefore have been directed on that assumption.

For the purpose of my enquiries I have regarded a near miss between aircraft as one when it was necessary for one or both pilots to take violent evasive action to avoid a collision. My inquiries have revealed that no such occasion was reported in Australia during the year ended 30th April 1967.

However, reports were received concerning occasions when the relative positions of airline and’ light aircraft were in reasonably close proximity but not so close that violent evasive action was necessary. The number of these reports, by Slates, is as follows:

No such reports were received from Western Australia, Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania or the Australian Capital Territory.

The circumstances of these latter incidents vary very widely. In no case was the safety of the aircraft in serious jeopardy and, in the cases where it was necessary, the pilots took some evading action in the way that is expected of them when, through normal vigilance in visual conditions, they observed other aircraft.

It is clear from the investigations I have made that none of these incidents involved near misses and that only some deviation from the initial flight path was deemed necessary by the pilots concerned in order to ensure adequate separation. The circumstances of these incidents are not uncommon in the normal conduct of flying in visual conditions in which safety is dependent on the acceptance by all pilots to the’see and be seen’ concept.

Civil Aviation: Night Landing Aids (Question No. 269)

Mr Charles Jones:

asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:

  1. Which airports used by the major commercial airlines are not equipped with visual glideslopes for night landing operations?
  2. Are these landing aids of great value to pilots at night time?
  3. If so, why have these aids not been installed at these airports in order to give the necessary assistance when landing after dark?
Mr Swartz:

– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:

  1. At this time the following airports have VASIS installations’.

A visual glideslope installation is not an I.C.A.O. requirement for domestic night operations. The relevant I.C.A.O. standards are intended to relate primarily to international jet operations and, in Australia, my Department is pursuing a policy of giving priority in installation of these glideslopes on al) runways used by regular public transport jet aircraft. Extension of jet services to additional airports will not be approved until all relevant runways are provided with either instrument landing system or visual glideslopes.

  1. Visual glideslopes are of great assistance to pilots at night time when there is a lack of extraneous lighting in the approach area. This factor among others has been taken into account in the planning of future installations.
  2. Priority must naturally be given to the glideslope guidance required by regular public transport jet operations. My Department plans, however, to extend the provision of glideslope guidance at other airports where there are regular public transport operations. It will be appreciated that in establishing this programme, it is necessary to weigh the relative merits of these facilities with all the other facilities and services which are required. In any event the Australian VASIS programme is already among the most advanced in world aviation.

Civil Aviation: Radio Communication (Question No. 270)

Mr Charles Jones:

asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:

  1. How many air routes in Australia which are traversed by the major commercial airlines are out of VHF radio communication?
  2. Which are these air routes, for what distance are they out of VHF radio communication, and what are the reasons for such breaks in communication?
Mr Swartz:

– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:

  1. The air routes traversed by the major commercial airlines have VHF communication available over the greater part, if not all, of each route. Considering the geography of Australia, this is a remarkable technical achievement. Outside of the United States of America no other country in the world has such an extensive network of VHF facilities.
  2. The routes where breaks of VHF communication occur are:

    1. Cairns-Port Moresby where one break of 170 nautical miles occurs.
    2. Brisbane-Port Moresby where one break of 170 nautical miles occurs.
    3. Brisbane - Longreach - Mount Isa - Darwin where two breaks occur, one of 100 nautical miles between Brisbane and Longreach and one of 190 nautical miles between Mount Isa and Darwin.
    4. Adelaide-Perth where three breaks occur, two of 80 nautical miles each, and one of 140 nautical miles.
    5. Adelaide-Alice Springs-Darwin where three breaks occur, one of 30 nautical miles and one of SO nautical miles between Adelaide and Alice Springs, and one of 60 nautical miles between Alice Springs and Darwin. (0 Perth - Meekatharra - Broome - Wyndham - Darwin, where five breaks, the longest of which is 120 nautical miles and the shortest 40 nautical miles, occur.
    6. Perth - Geraldton - Carnarvon - Port Hedland - Broome - Wyndham - Darwin where three breaks occur, one of 100 nautical miles and the other two of 40 nautical miles each.

These details are related to the modern aircraft used by the major airlines and the flights being conducted at minimum altitude of 10,000 feet. As most such flights are conducted at greater altitudes, the breaks of coverage are generally less than those detailed.

The breaks in VHF communication coverage are due to VHF radio being propagated on a line of sight’ basis. The only way to eliminate the breaks is to provide additional ground transmitting and receiver stations and this is being done where this is practical. It is not practical, for example, where the routes involve overwater flights, such as those to Port Moresby. It is important to note, however, that where these breaks occur, HF radio communication is always available.

Telephone Services (Question No. 275)

Mr Webb:

asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:

In country areas where telephone signposts are erected will he arrange for a disc to be placed on each sign showing the distance from such public telephone?

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

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

In most cases the distances between signposts and their associated public telephones are so short that an indicator would not be justified. However, I have asked that the matter be looked into and that an indication of the distance be added to any signpost where it would appear desirable.

Eyre Highway (Question No. 276)

Mr Webb:

asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:

  1. To what distance has the Eyre Highway been completed east of Norseman, and when will it be completed to the Western Australian border?
  2. Can he say whether the South Australian Government has made funds available for the sealing of the highway to Ceduna?
  3. If so, when will that section be completed?
  4. Has the South Australian Government asked for Commonwealth financial assistance to seal the highway from Ceduna1 to the Western Australian border?
  5. If so, is the Commonwealth prepared to assist financially?
  6. Is it a fact that this national road system is urgently needed for the development of Australia and for boosting tourist traffic?
  7. Upon completion of the road will the Commonwealth Government also benefit from increased fuel tax collections?
Mr Freeth:
Minister for Shipping and Transport · FORREST, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:

  1. I understand that the Western Australian Government proposes to have the Eyre Highway sealed to a point 277 miles east of Norseman by June 1967, and the remaining 175 miles to the border by 1969-70. 2 and 3. I understand the South Australian Government is planning to complete the sealing of the highway to Ceduna by 1967-68.
  2. The South Australian Government has sought a special financial grant beyond that provided under the Commonwealth Aid Roads arrangements, to assist with the construction of a sealed road to the Western Australian border. 5 to 7. The case submitted by the South Australian Government is under examination in the course of which questions such as the effect of an improved road in the development of tourist traffic and fuel tax collections are receiving consideration.

Civil Aviation: DC9 Aircraft (Question No. 277)

Mir Webb asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:

  1. ls the DC9 aircraft suitable for use on direct flights between (a) Perth and Melbourne and (b) Perth and Sydney?
  2. If so, will he discuss with the airlines the use of this aircraft on these flights?
  3. If this aircraft is unsuitable, will he state why?
Mr Swartz:

– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1 and 2. The DC9 aircraft is not suitable for direct flights between Melbourne/Perth and Sydney/Perth.

  1. This aircraft was primarily designed for short haul operations with a range of approximately 600 nautical miles with full payload and normal fuel reserves. The direct flights quoted above are over 1,600 nautical miles.

Australian Capital Territory Police Force (Question No. 282)

Mr James:

asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:

  1. What is the approximate cost of training a police constable without previous experience from the time of being accepted into the service until he has completed the usual twelve months probationary period?
  2. How many years police service is it necessary for an officer to have before he is considered proficient in all phases of police duties, such as licensing, traffic control, station duties, serving of summonses, execution of warrants, attending fatal accidents, court procedure and evidence and attendance, in magistrates’ and coroners’ courts and in the Supreme Court?
  3. Has the Australian Capital Territory Police Force had any difficulty in obtaining efficient recruits in the last twelve months or two years?
Mr Anthony:

– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:

  1. Each recruit to the Australian Capital Territory Police Force is given an initial intensive training course of 11 weeks, and a refresher course of a further one. week prior to conclusion of his 12 months probationary period. During the remainder of his probationary period he is employed on general police duties during which he is of course receiving on-the-job training. Tha cost of training each recruit during the 12 months probation is approximately $3,400 of which $3,100 is for his salary and allowances, and $300 for salary and allowances of training staff and training equipment during the 12 weeks intensive training.
  2. It is considered by Australian Police Authorities that a period of six years Police service is necessary for a Policeman to reach the stage where he might be regarded as proficient in general police duties. This is the measure operating in the Australian Capital Territory and in most States in establishing a standard for progression to the rank of Constable 1st Class. However, it is pointed out that by reason of special aptitude for a particular class of police work and the necessity to use available strength to the best advantage, all Policemen may not necessarily gain experience during their service in every facet of Police work.
  3. No.

Commonwealth Aid Roads Act (Question No. 284)

Mr Charles Jones:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

  1. What municipal, shire or other local authorities received payments last year under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act?
  2. What amounts did each authority receive?
Mr McMahon:

– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:

As the States are not required to allocate to local authorities any prescribed proportion of Commonwealth Aid Roads grants, I do not have figures showing the extent to which roads grants by the States to their local authorities are financed from Commonwealth Aid Road moneys as distinct from the States’ own resources. The honourable member might like to know that in 1963-64 - the latest year for which detailed figures are published - local authority expenditure on roads (excluding loan expenditure) was Si 53.6m while State Government grants to local authorities for roads purposes were $44.5m.

Voyager’ Royal Commission (Question No. 286)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

  1. Has his attention been drawn to the assertion by Vice-Admiral Hickling in ‘One Minute of Time’ that two professionally qualified witnesses were interviewed in the chambers of counsel assisting the ‘Voyager’ Royal Commissioner and were told that they would be called to give evidence but, in fact, were not so called?
  2. If so, will he state the names and qualifications of those witnesses, the nature of the evidence they would have been able to give, and the reason for not calling them?
Mr Harold Holt:

– In answer to the honourable member’s question I direct his attention to my statement to the House on this subject recorded in Hansard for18th May 1967.

Age Pensions: Relationship to Basic and Average Wages (Question No. 290)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Minister for Social

Services, upon notice:

What percentage of (a) the average wage and (b) the Commonwealth basic wage did the age pension represent in each of the last twenty years?

Mr Sinclair:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The information requested by the honourable member is set out in the table hereunder. Two interpretations have been given to the term’average wage’ viz. the average weekly earnings per employed male unit and the weighted average minimum weekly rates of wages (adult males) as published quarterly by the Commonwealth Statistician.

Supplementary assistance, introduced in 1958, is payable to standard rate pensioners in certain circumstances. The following table shows the age pension plus supplementary assistance as a percentage of the average wage and the Commonwealth basic wage in each of the last nine years.

In addition to supplementary asssitance, additional pension in respect of children in excess of one in a pensioner’s care was introduced in1956 and guardian’s allowance for an unmarried pensioner with one or more children was introduced in 1965.

Means Test for Age Pensions (Question No. 291)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:

  1. Can he state in which English speaking countries and what members of the European Economic Community is a means test applied to applicants for age pensions?
  2. If so, what are the details of the test in each country?
Mr Sinclair:

– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:

  1. The latest available information on the position in the English speaking countries of Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, Irish Republic and the United States of America is as follows:

Australia: The annual rate of the age pension, payable at age 65 (men) or 60 (women), is reduced by the amount of means as assessed in excess of $520 if the claimant is single or $442 if he is married.

Means as assessed comprise the annual rate of income plus a property component equal to $2 for each complete $20 of the value of property over $400. Certain income and property are disregarded.

United Kingdom: There is no means test, as such, for National Insurance Retirement Pension but retirement from work, other than occasional work, is necessary from age 65 to 69 years (men) or 60 to 64 years (women) before eligibility can be established. During those years the pension is reduced by 6d for each1s of earnings between£5 and £6 a week and by1s for each1s thereafter. A claimant or pensioner aged at least 70 years (men) or 65 years (women) is deemed to have retired.

Supplementary pension, payable according to a person’s needs, is reduced by earnings over£2 a week and also by other income (excluding Retirement Pension and certain other statutory benefits) over£1 a week. Other income includes a property component of1s a week for each complete £25 of property between£300 and £800 and 2s 6d for each complete £25 thereafter.

New Zealand: The Age Benefit payable at age 60 years is reduced by income in excess of£4 a week for both single people and married couples. At age 65 both men and women qualify for superannuation benefit which is payable free of the means test. A person cannot receive an Age Benefit and Superannuation Benefit at the same time.

Canada: Old Age Assistance, the maximum rate of which is$900 a year, is payable, subject to a means test, to people over 65 years of age but under old age pension age (at present 68 years) under Federal-Provincial cost sharing agreements. The means test provides for a ceiling on income, inclusive of assistance, of$1,140 a year for a single person or$1,980 a year for a married couple. Income includes, inter alia, 5 per cent of the value of any real property (including the home) plus the net income it yields or could reasonably be expected to yield. In addition, one sixtieth of the value of personal property over $1,000 (single person) or $2,000 (married couple) is taken into account as income in determining each monthly payment.

The Old Age Pension, currently payable at age 68, is a contributory pension free of any means test and is provided by the Federal Government.

Supplementary Pension guarantees an old age pensioner an income of$30 a month in addition to his pension. The Supplementary Pension is payable subject to a means test under which the maximum rate is reduced by$1 for each $2 of taxable income over the rate of Old Age Pension.

Canada and Quebec Pension Plan payments are contributory pensions, free of a means test, currently payable at age 68 subject to retirement. At age 70 a person is deemed to have retired.

In respect of Old Age Pensions and Canada and Quebec Pension Plan payments, the qualifying age is reducing by one year annually until 1970 when it will be 65 years.

South Africa: The Old Age Pension, payable at age 65 years (men) or 60 years (women) is reduced by the amount of income, including pension, over 528 rands a year (Whites), 162 rands a year (Coloured), 132 rands a year (Indian), or 24-48 rands a year (Bantu). The maximum pension payable to Whites is 336 rands a year.

Irish Republic: The Non-Contributory Old Age Pension is payable subject to a meanstest to people aged at least 70 years who do not qualify for the contributory pension. The Non-Contributory Pension is reduced where the yearly means of the pensioner exceed £26 5s. No pension is payable where they are £156 15s or more. Means consist of yearly incomepl us 5 per cent of the value of investments, capital or property not personally used between£25 and£375 and 10 per cent of the balance, together with the yearly value of property personally used or enjoyed.

Where the claimant is the older of a married couple living together, both of whom are over the age of 60 years, cash income upto a limit of £165 a year may be disregarded in assessing his pension. If over 70 the younger spouse receives a pension subject to the means test outlined in the previous paragraph.

There is no means test on the Contributory Pension which is payable at age 70 years to people who were insured before age 60 years. This scheme, which commenced operating in 1953, also requires a specified number of contributions to be paid.

United States of America: The Old Age Benefit, payable at age 65 years, is reduced by half of the beneficiary’s earnings between$1,500 and $2,700 a year and by all earnings thereafter while he is under 72 years of age; on reaching that age he is deemed to have retired. Reduced benefit may be granted at age 62.

Eligibility for, and the rate of, Old Age Benefit, depend on contributions which are earnings related.

Old-Age Assistance is provided for the needy aged (including recipients of Old Age Benefit) on a Federal-State cost-sharing basis and is paid subject to a means test. There are differences as well as similarities between the schemes which reflect, among other things, economic conditions in the individual States. The rates of assistance and the means tests are not uniform. In about 30 States the amount of assistance paid is a claim against the recipient’s estate.

Note: All rates shown are in the currency of the country concerned.

  1. In all European Economic Community countries the rate of pension depends upon payment of a specified number of contributions or completion of specified periods of employment. In all these countries except the Netherlands the claimant’s previous earnings also affect the rate of pension.

There is no means test, as such, applicable to old age pensions in any of the European Economic Community countries but in some retirement is a qualification. The details are as follows:

Belgium: Substantial retirement is necessary before the pension is payable. Pensionable age is 65 years for men and 60 years for women.

Italy: The pension is reduced by one-third if the claimant has not retired. Pensionable age is 60 years for men and 55 years for women.

Germany (Federal Republic) and Luxembourg: Retirement is necessary where the pension is claimed before age 65 years. In Germany the normal pensionable age is 65 years. In Luxembourg it is 65 years but wage earners with 40 years’ insurance may receive the pension at age 62 years.

Industrial Accidents (Question No. 298)

Mr Luchetti:

asked the Minister for

Labour and National Service, upon notice:

  1. How many industrial accidents occurred in each State in the last ten years?
  2. How many of these were recorded in each industry classification?
  3. In how many cases were legal proceedings instituted to obtain compensation and what were the results?
Mr Bury:

– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:

  1. Industrial accident statistics are collected in each State and are based on workers’ compensation claims. In only one State, New South Wales, have the statistics been compiled for as long as ten years. The basis of collection differs from State to State, not only by reason of differences in compensation law but in other respects such as the minimum period of disability necessary for a case to be counted statistically.

For instance, in some States only cases causing one week disability or more are counted, while others use one day or a three-day minimum. Discussions aimed at bringing about greater uniformity have been proceeding between the Commonwealth and State Departments concerned for some years, and some progress has been made. However, it is still impossible to provide figures for every State which are either comprehensive or comparable as between States.

  1. The statistics published for each State are recorded in industry classifications, but the classifications used are those used in the respective State workers’ compensation systems and differ somewhat as between States.
  2. Information on legal proceedings in connection with compensation claims are only available from the State workers’ compensation authorities.

Pay-roll Tax Export Rebates (Question No. 305)

Mr Barnard:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

  1. Do figures which he released on 30th April 1967 show that there has been little change in the value of pay-roll tax export rebates to exporters in the past three years?
  2. Has the number of firms receiving these rebates fallen sharply?
  3. If so, do these results indicate that the scheme haslost effectiveness as a stimulus for exports?
  4. Can he suggest how the pay-roll tax incentives might be revised to make them more effective as export boosters?
  5. Can be suggest other incentives to stimulate exports?
Mr McMahon:

– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:

  1. No. The figures released in my Press statement on 30th April 1967 related only to rebate claims made up to 31st March 1967. They did not purport to show what might eventually be the total value of claims in respect of exports in any particular year. 2 and 3. No. The number offirms earning payroll tax rebates has not declined in the past three years. At 31st March 1967, that is, nine months after the end of the 1965-66 export year, 1,099 claims totalling $12.6m in respect of 1965-66 exports had been allowed or were on hand awaiting processing. This was the greatest number and value of claims in respect of any year of export received in the nine-month period after the end of the export year. By way of comparison 845 claims valued at $8.1m were received by 31st March 1965 in respect of 1963-64 exports and 1,049 claims valued at $9.1m were received by 31st March 1966 in respect of 1964-65 exports. In the twenty-one months following the end of the 1964-65 export year, that is, in the period to 31st March 1967, 1,645 claims valued at $14.2m were received in respect of 1964-65 exports. A year earlier, that is, up to the end of March 1966, 1,496 claims valued at $ 12.3m had been received in respect of 1963-64 exports.

The Pay-roil Tax Assessment Act allows claims for rebates to be made for three years after the end of the year of export. Accordingly, claims are still being received in respect of exports in 1963-64, 1964-6S and 1965-66. Although it is not possible at this stage to say what the total value of rebates will be for any of those years, the figures mentioned herein suggest that there has been a steady growth in hath the number and value of claims in recent years. 4 and 5. The existing provisions relating to payroll tax rebates arc duc to expire on 30th June 1968 but, as already indicated, it is proposed that export incentives be continued beyond that date. What form they should take beyond that date is al present being considered by the Government.

Electronic Data Processing Systems (Question No. 307)

Mr Barnard:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:

  1. Did the Cabinet in February 1961 approve the introduction of total and integrated electronic data processing systems to expedite management of the armed forces? 2 Did the Cabinet ‘hen impose time and coslimits on the project? If so, what were these limits?

    1. Was it anticipated that the systems would be in operation by July 1965?
    2. Did the Auditor-General’s report for 1964-65 state that the total delay, compared with the feasibility study timing, was estimated by the Department of Defence at over three years?
    3. Did the 1965-66 report of the AuditorGeneral state that, by comparison with previous schedules, further delays were expected?
    4. What are the present time estimates for the completion and installation of these computer systems?
    5. Can he provide details of all progressive cost estimates for the defence computer complex?
    6. Did the 1965-66 report of the AuditorGeneral also state that delays would mean a consequential increase in the estimated total cost of the defence computer installations?
    7. Did the original feasibility study suggest that the capital expenditure to introduce the systems over a period of six years would be $4 million?
    1. Was it anticipated then that these costs could be recouped by tangible benefits within two years after the introduction of the final system?
    2. Has his attention been drawn to a report in the Canberra Times of 3 May 1967 that the Department’s estimate of the total cost of the project to 30 June 1966, including feasibility study, equipment, building and wages, would be $15.7m?
    3. Does this figure agree with official estimates?
    4. Has his attention also been drawn to an estimate published by the computer trade magazine Data Trend in the October 1966 issue that the total cost would be around $35m?

    5. Is it anticipated that the total cost will reach this figure?
    6. Can he give a firm estimate of when the present project will be completed and a reliable indication of what the total cost will be?
    7. What functions are the overall computer systems expected to perform?
    8. Has there been any significant delay by successful tenderers in the provision of equipment?
    9. If there have been delays, are they will affecting the computer programme?
    10. Has the E.D.P. Centre experienced difficulty in obtaining staff and what is the present starring position?
    11. Is there any reason for doubting the wisdom of proceeding with the scheme on the original integrated basis? If so, what are the reasons tor this doubt?
Mr Fairhall:

– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:

  1. Approval was given in February 1961. for the introduction of electronic data processing into the Australian Armed Services. The technical means for implementing this were stated to be systems to record, process and analyse all types of administrative and accounting information by means nf electronic computers and associated equipment. The approval followed an inter-departmental feasibility study which concluded that introduction of electronic data processing systems into the Services was practical, efficient, and economic. Centralised and integrated electronic data processing systems offered the most advantages for the Services in both peace and war conditions.

This approval was for the provision of three Electronic Data Processing Centres; one for each Service Department.

Subsequently, in October 1963, approval was given for the permanent establishment of the Defence E.D.P. Centre, and for the construction of the second E.D.P. building in Canberra. The need for a permanent Defence Centre had been forecast in the feasibility study and in the original proposals put to the Government.

  1. The original approval was on the basis of an estimated total cost for four computer systems, collection and communication equipment, and electronic data processing buildings of $8.892m and that maintenance, running costs and salaries would be $6.568m over a six year introductory period; also on the understanding that the prior proving of E.D.P. systems before introduction into a Service was essential.
  2. The Minister for Defence announced, on 19th March 1961, that the Service systems should all be installed by 1966.
  3. The Auditor-General’s report did state that the total delay compared with the original feasibility study was estimated by the Department of Defence at over three years.
  4. The Auditor-General’s report for 1965-66 stated that the Department of Defence had advised that, by comparison with previous schedules, further delays were expected.
  5. Following a critical re-appraisal of progress and proposed systems development during the latter half of 1964, the Department of Defence, in conjunction with the Service Departments, adopted a changed approach to introduction of E.D.P. systems into the Armed Services. The emphasis on the introduction of complete systems before useful work was obtained was modified in favour of implementation of economic and productive applications within the framework of an integrated system approach wherever this was possible. In addition, a policy of concurrent development of all Services initial systems was adopted instead of the previous serial approach. As a result of this new approach, each of the Serviceswil, by July 1967, have substantial applications in operation. The first computer, for proving and training, was installed in October 1962, the RAAF computer in May 1964, the Army computer in November 1966, and the Navy computer in January 1967. (See also answer to Question15.)
  6. Progressive cost estimates for the Defence computer complex have been as follows:
  1. The report of the Auditor-General for 1965-66 stated that advice from Department of Defence was that further delays would mean a consequential increase in estimated total cost. (The cost increase referred to by the Auditor-General relates to the ‘other costs’ caused by the extension in the estimated time to complete the project.)
  2. The figure for capital cost given in the original feasibility study report was £4m, i.e. $8m, but excluded building costs on the assumption that buildings would be hired for theEDP Centres.
  3. It was indicated in the feasibility study that the cost would be recouped by tangible benefits in the form of savings in staff positions, peak load capacity, floor space and overheads, and a measure of efficiency increase within two years after introduction of the final system. The feasibility study also noted, on evidence from overseas experience, that the intangible benefits would in all probability ultimately outweigh the tangible benefits.
  4. Yes.
  5. Yes.
  6. Yes.
  7. No.
  8. The present project, as described in answers to Questions 6 and 16, is expected to be completed by July 1969. There is a need to provide increased computer capacity, but the extra capacity required and the cost have not yet been assessed.
  9. Following the review at the end of1964, the computer systems are now expected to perform the following functions:

R.A.A.F. initial EDP system:

  1. Material (Supply and Technical Services) including:

    1. Cataloguing
    2. Stock records and stock control
    3. Assessment of spares
    4. Provisioning review of assets and forecast of requirements
  2. Procurement (local and overseas)
  3. Service Personnel and Pay including:

    1. Service personnel administration (current status and history of members of R.A.A.F., manning, training and statistical data)
    2. Service pay and allowances, including allotments, DFRB, married quarters allowance and advices of changes of entitlement.

Navy initial EDP system:

  1. Supply:

    1. Cataloguing
    2. Stock control
    3. Stores accounting for Shore Establishments
    4. Accumulation of usage data
    5. Stocktaking listing and comparison
    6. Ships allowances of stores
    7. Assessment and provisioning
  2. Technical Services:

    1. PERT analysis for ship refit
    2. Dockyard job costing
  3. Service Personnel:
  4. Service personnel administration (current status and history of members of Navy, advancement of ratings, manning and statistical information).

Army initial EDP system:

  1. Stock control and provisioning (interim system):
  2. Records and slock position

    1. Information for manual provisioning
    2. Recording of usage information
  3. Service Pay and Allowances similar to R.A.A.F.
  4. Supply and Technical Services:
  5. Extension of interim system to provide higher degree of automatic operation

    1. Cataloguing
    2. Equipment entitlements
    3. Equipment history.
  6. Service Personnel.

A system incorporating the Pay system and extension of personnel records to give status and history of members of ARA, manning, and training and statistical data.

  1. Finance.

Maintenance of records of expenditure against authorisation.

  1. There have not been any significant delays in the provision of computer equipment by successful tenderers. However, computer equipment alone is only a part of the total requirement for success of a project. There are many other facilities that are also required such as buildings, power conversion units, air-conditioning, and manufacturers software systems before the computer can operate. There have been significant delays from time to time in the provision of most of these other facilities.
  2. The delays which have occurred are irrecoverable.
  3. Considerable difficulty has been experienced in the past in recruiting suitable staff due to the rapid growth of E.D.P. enterprises within Australia. From 1960 to 1964 the Defence Department E.D.P. Centre did not exceed 70% of the establishment necessary for the project and staff turnover averaged 30% of appointments. The situation was particularly difficult in 1964 when there was a nett loss during that year of sixteen experienced programmers. It has also been difficult to recruit, in the past, suitable staff for operating computers and for data preparation. The Department of Defence has had training schemes in operation since the beginning of the project for all levels of staff and has trained 268 programmers and 137 computer operators. Courses of a years duration for Programmersintraining were formalised in the Commonwealth Public Service in 1965 and these have helped to recruit additional staff. In 1966, in anticipation of the installation of the Navy and Army computers, a major training commitment for computer operators was undertaken and some 30 operators have so far been trained.

Tlie present situation is that, although there is a continuing shortage of programming staff within the Commonwealth in general, the level of staffing of the Defence E.D.P. Centre- compares favourably. The Centre now has a full establishment at the Programmer Class 11 and Programmer Class 10 grades and one vacancy only at the Programmer Class 9 grade. The more serious shortages are in the Programmer Class 8 and Programmer Class 6 grades averaging 20% and 50% of establishment respectively. However, the Programmer Class 5 grade is currently 13 % over establishment. In addition, recent advertisements of vacant positions have disclosed a considerable interest from persons seeking positions with the Defence E.D.P. Centre.

The present situation is better than it has been for some time since the E.D.P. Centre is short of 16% only of its programmer establishment. The Defence E.D.P. Centre staff is composed, as to 29%, of personnel with 3 to 6 years experience and, as to 38%, of personnel with 6 years experience and over. For computer operators, the E.D.P. Centre will be seeking to continue training courses at a high level with the objective of training another thirty trainees by the end of this year.

  1. There is no reason for doubting the wisdom of proceeding with the scheme on an integrated basis. At the time the scheme was proposed, the best evidence available from both local and overseas sources lead to the conclusion that it could be achieved as a six year project and was, ultimately, the most economical approach for Services E.D.P. systems. In July 1964 it was realised from the experience then gained that the time required to introduce integrated systems had been underestimated because experience of the complexity of inter-related program structures and the extent of administrative training needed in the field had not been available at the time of the feasibility study. However, the very close inter-relations between all aspects of Service administration functions militate against having disconnected and self-contained E.D.P. systems except in a few specialised areas. A way was therefore sought within the project, and implemented early in 1965, to allow productive applications to be developed within and whilst ultimately achieving the integrated system concept.

Australian Railways Union Election (Question No. 310)


asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:

  1. Is the Commonwealth electoral office conducting a court controlled ballot of the election of officers in the Victorian Branch of the Australian Railways Union?
  2. Has bis attention been drawn to a claim made by a person on Monday, 8lh May 1967, that he was in possession of a list of nominees for various contested positions in this ballot?
  3. Is it a fact that the list of nominations was not made available to the officers of the union concerned till 5 p.m. Tuesday, 9th May?
  4. Is it a fact that the officers conducting the election did not make the names available to any person not employed by the Commonwealth Electoral Office prior to 5 p.m. on 8th May?
  5. Has his attention been drawn to claims being made by the person conducting an alleged ‘how to vote’ ticket which in fact could not have existed at the time the claims were made as at the time stated the union had no knowledge of the list of nominees in the election?
  6. Would disclosures such as those claimed by this person constitute a serious breach of the Act and a break-down of the system generally?
  7. If so will he make a full investigation of the position and if necessary initiate a new and properly supervised call of nominations for this ballot?
  8. Will he take action to see that any breaches such as that which may have been involved in this claim are stopped forthwith?
Mr Bury:

– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:

  1. No. The ballot for the election of officers in the Victorian Branch of the Australian Railways Union is being conducted by an officer of the Registry appointed by the Industrial Registrar as provided by section 170 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
  2. Yes. 3, 4 and 5. Nominations for the election closed on 3rd May and the list of nominations were available from the officer conducting the ballot from 5th May. Copies of the list were provided by that officer, upon request, from that date. 6, 7 and 8. No breach of the Act in respect of the conduct of the ballot has occurred.

Papua and New Guinea: Fluoridation of Water Supplies (Question No. 312)

Mr Cross:

asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice:

  1. What localities with reticulated water supplies in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea have a natural fluoride level in excess of one part per million of fluorine?
  2. Does any locality in the Territory have artificial fluoridation of its water supply system?
Mr Barnes:

– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:

  1. None.
  2. Yes, one. Port Moresby.

Vietnam (Question No. 314)

Or J. F. Cairns asked the Minister for

Defence, upon notice:

How many Australian casualties have been suffered to this date in the war in Vietnam?

What are the details?

Mr Fairhall:

– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:

  1. As at16th May 1967, total Australian casualties in Vietnam from all causes amounted to 642.

Pharmaceutical Benefits : Phenacetin (Question No. 316)

Dr J F Cairns:

ns asked the Acting Minister for Health, upon notice -

  1. Have preparations containing phenacetin been removed from the pharmaceutical benefits list?
  2. What drugs are to be used to replace phenacetin?
  3. Is it a fact that the new formulations will be the same except that paracetamol replaces phenacetin?
  4. Will the amount of paracetamol in these preparations be 300 milligrams?
  5. Does the British Pharmacopoeia recommend a dose for paracetamol of 500 milligrams to 1 gram?
  6. Do preparations on the market, e.g., Panadol and Panadeine contain 500 milligrams for adult formulations, and 120-300 milligrams for paediatric formulations?
  7. Does this mean that the new combinations will contain a subclinical dose of paracetamol?
  8. Can he say whether the United States Food and Drug Administration has rejected a preparation containing less than 500 milligrams of paracetamol on the grounds that it would not be effective?
  9. Does this mean that the Commonwealth will pay up to $2.19 per prescription (Item No. 1835) for preparations that are not effective?
Mr Swartz:

– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows; 1, 2 and 3. Compound preparations containing phenacetin will be removed from the list of pharmaceutical benefits with effect from 1st June 1967, and will be replaced by similar compound preparations in which paracetamol is substituted for phenacetin. As at present, ready prepared compounds will be available only to pensioners, and mixtures and other preparations compounded by the chemist will be available to the general public. In addition, paracetamol will be available for prescribing in any desired dosage in mixtures and powders.

  1. Not in all instances. In some preparations the amount of paracetamol is less than 300 mg. but in such cases this substance is not the ingredient of major potency.
  2. The recommendation applies only to paracetamol taken alone. The British Pharmacopoeia doesnot recommend any particular amount of paracetamol in compound preparations.
  3. Yes. Panadol 500 mg. tablets are available to pensioners as a pharmaceutical benefit.
  4. The dosage (that is, the number of tablets to be taken at the one time) whether of paracetamol alone or where the substance is contained in compound preparations is entirely a matter for the judgment of the prescriber. I should mention that Paracetamol 500 mg. tablets are available to pensioners as a pharmaceutical benefit.
  5. I am not aware of such a decision.
  6. No.

Civil Aviation (Question No.318)

Mr Peters:

asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:

  1. Was the timetable recently issued by TransAustralia Airlines which includes a flight (No. 492) from Melbourne at 9 a.m. to Sydney and which shows the next succeeding flight (No. 416) to Sydney as leaving Melbourne at11.30 a.m. suggested or approved by his Department?
  2. Does this arrangement of flights satisfactorily cater for passengers who arrive at Melbourne at 9.15 a.m. from Hobart and Launceston (flight No. 598) and who arrive at 9.20 a.m. from Adelaide (flight No. 431) and are anxious to proceed to Sydney by T.A.A. as early as possible?
  3. Does the 11.30 a.m. flight (No. 416) provide ample time for passengers travelling through or from Melbourne to Sydney to complete customs and other arrangements to enable them to take the 12.30 p.m. flight overseas?
Mr Swartz:

– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:

  1. The timetable referred to was approved by my Department after consultation with the airline.
  2. Passengers who arrive in Melbourne at 9.15 a.m. from Hobart and Launceston on TAA aircraft make immediate connections to TAA flights to Adelaide, Perth and Canberra but any Sydney passengers would have a wait over in Melbourne. Passengers for Sydney from Tasmania can make virtually immediate connections on later flights - for example TAA Flight 446 from Hobart at 10.10 a.’m. with a 35 minute connection to a Sydney flight and TAA Flight 448 from Launceston al 11.15 a.m. with a 20 minute connection to a Sydney flight.

With regard to passengers from Adelaide with a Sydney destination they can take the direct TAA Flight No. 527 which departs for Sydney at 7.05 a.m. This is five minutes before TAA Flight No. 431 departs for Melbourne.

  1. The 11.30 a.m. TAA Flight 416 does not arrive in Sydney until after the 12.30 p.m. overseas flight has departed. TAA passengers from Melbourne wishing to connect to the overseas flight at 12.30 p.m. need to depart Melbourne at 9 a.m. on Flight 492.

I might point out that of the ninety-seven scheduled overseas departures from Sydney during the week 15th of May to 21st May inclusive there are only two flights scheduled to depart at 12.30 p.m.

Canberra Leases (Question No 319)

Mr J R Fraser:

er asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:

  1. What publicly elected, or partly elected bodies, and what representative organisations or associations, have made representations to him alleging misuse of leases in Canberra?
  2. From whom has he received representations suggesting or requesting that the questions of alleged misuse of leases and of leasing and re-development should be referred to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Australian Capital Territory for investigation and report?
  3. Does he maintain that there is no. need for such reference?
  4. Who are the holders of a lease on Block 3, Section 19, Forrest?
  5. Was this block one of two offered for auction as guest house sites on 18th August 1965?
  6. Was it a condition of sale of the site that it must be used for the purpose of a guest house only?
  7. Was it expressly provided in the conditions of sale that use of the word ‘motel’ in the proprietary name or in advertising would not be permitted?
  8. Has there been, and is there continuing to be, any breach of this condition?
  9. Does his department from time to time release for auction sites specifically for motels as well as sites for guest houses?
  10. What definitions does the department apply to the words ‘motel’ and ‘guest house’?
  11. Were three motel sites released at auction on 27th January 1965 and did these remotely located sites bring premiums of $55,000, $64,000 and $84,000?
  12. Was the premium paid for the centrally situated site at Block 3, Section 19, in National Circuit, Forrest, $27,500?
  13. In respect of three motel sites released in January 1965 at Gungahlin, Deakin and Narrabundah, were land rentals for the first twenty years fixed at, respectively, $3,000, $2,500 and $2,700 a year?
  14. Were the building covenants on these leases, respectively, set at $200,000, $120,000 and $120,000?
  15. Was the building covenant on the guest house site on Block 3, Section 19, Forrest, set at $50,000?
  16. Was annual land rental on this block set at $8807
  17. Did his Department on 20th August 1963 release a site on Block 2, Section 23, Barton, specifically for the purpose of a guest house ‘to accommodate permanent guests only’?
  18. Was this condition omitted in respect of the lease granted as a guest house site on Block 3, Section 19, Forrest; if so, why?
  19. Is business on Block 3, Section 19, Forrest, conducted by a company known as Forrest Motor Lodge Pty Ltd?
  20. Has this company been enabled to operate as a motel on a site leased for the purpose of a guest house?
  21. Does the company, in fact, operate as a motel, providing all the facilities and services usually provided by motels?
  22. Can he say whether the company advertises the Forrest Motor Lodge as a motel?
  23. Does an official publication of the Canberra Tourist Bureau (an agency of his Department) list Forrest Motor Lodge under the heading Motels’ and not under the heading ‘Guest Houses’?
  24. Can he say who are the shareholders of Forrest Motor Lodge Pty Ltd?
  25. If so, is the Sinclair Pastoral Co. Pty Ltd a substantial shareholder of this company?
  26. Can he also say who are the directors and who are the shareholders of Sinclair Pastoral Co. Pty Ltd?
Mr Anthony:

– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:

  1. From time to time representations have been made to me and to my Department alleging misuse of leases in Canberra. In every instance the complaint has been investigated promptly and thoroughly having regard both to the nature of the complaint and the legal rights and obligations of the crown lessee the subject of the complaint, and advice has been given as to whether or not any breach of lease conditions has been established. Where investigations indicate that lease conditions are being breached appropriate action is taken to require the lessee to conform with the conditions of the lease where this is warranted.

    1. recent weeks action has been taken to strengthen the City Area Leases Ordinance to provide more effective means of prosecuting legal proceedings for misuse of residential leases.

As to bodies or organisations that have made representations alleging misuse of leases in Canberra, the most recent is the Canberra Chamber of Commerce who stated publicly that they would produce evidence of some fifteen cases of alleged misuse of leases in the Fyshwick industrial area. The Secretary of my Department arranged to meet members of the Chamber to receive details of the alleged breaches but he has now received a letter from the Chamber stating that it would not detail the offences under the City Area Leases Ordinance which it says arc available to it. However, my department has advised that, if and when the Chamber does cite specific cases they will be investigated, and has accepted the invitation to discuss the broad question even though the discussion would be more fruitful if specific cases were cited.

The Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council carried a resolution on the misuse of residential leases in 1962 and subsequently the City Area Leases Ordinance was amended to provide more effective means of enforcing compliance with the conditions of leases, both business and residential.

A resolution passed by the Council on 14th March 1966 regarding the enforcement of lease conditions was rescinded by another resolution of the Council a week later. A number of other motions brought before the Council on this subject have lapsed for want of a seconder.

The A.C.T. Hotel-Motel group ‘has made representations about alleged misuse of residential leases by persons providing casual overnight accommodation for tourists. My Department has experienced difficulty in taking effective legal action against some such lessees and I have already stated that legislative amendments are being introduced to remove limitations which have caused difficulty in the past in the prosecution of breaches of residential leases.

The Dickson Traders Association has made representations alleging misuse of business leases in that area, but following study of the lease purposes and investigations there was no evidence that breaches were, in fact, being committed.

Some years ago representations alleging misuse of business leases were received from the A.C.T. Builders Supply Merchants Association, but again no substantial breaches were established.

No other representations from publicly or partly elected bodies or representative organisations or associations can be readily recalled.

  1. From the honourable member himself, and from Dr E. D. L. Killen as Chairman of the A.C.T. Hotel-Motel Group.
  2. Yes.
  3. Forrest Motor Lodge Pty Ltd.
  4. Yes.
  5. Yes.
  6. Yes.
  7. The department is aware that the word motel’ has been used in advertising. The attention of the lessee has been drawn to this matter and an undertaking has been given that the word will not be used in future.
  8. Yes.
  9. Leases for most motels state that ‘motel purposes’ means the reception and accommodation of travellers and includes the provision of restaurant services for travellers, guests and members of the public. The definition also contains a provision designed to prevent use of such premises as licensed hotels.

The term ‘guest house’ has not been defined by the department, (t would be deemed to bear the most embracive of the meanings ascribed in authoritative dictionaries.

  1. Yes.
  2. Yes.
  3. Yes.
  4. Yes.
  5. Yes.
  6. Yes.
  7. Yes, except that 20th August 1963 was the date on which applications for the lease of the site closed.
  8. The lease was not offered on this condition because it was not intended that the lessee should be obliged to accommodate permanent guests only.
  9. Yes.
  10. The present use being made of the site is considered to be consistent with the purpose of the lease.
  11. Yes. The facilities and services provided are understood to be consistent with those available at motels and better class guest houses.
  12. See answer to 8.
  13. Yes, it did in one issue. This has now been corrected. 24 and 25. The Sinclair Pastoral Co. Pty Ltd does have a minor shareholding interest in Forrest Motor Lodge Pty Ltd, and the information sought is available on search of the Australian Capital Territory Companies ‘Register.
  14. No. The Company is not registered in the Australian Capital Territory.

National Health Survey (Question No. 353)

Mr Cross:

asked the Acting Minister for

Health, upon notice:

Has his department, either by itself, or in cooperation with the Health Departments of the States, considered conducting a large-scale national health survey along similar lines to those of the United States of America and a number of other countries?

Mr Swartz:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The National Health and Medical Research Council, with the co-operation of the Australian College of General Practitioners, has already conducted a comprehensive survey of morbidity in Australia. Part 1 of the report giving the results of this National Morbidity Survey has been published, and I will forward a copy to the honourable member. Part 2 of the report, which will analyse the results of the survey, is at present being prepared.

The Bureau of Census and Statistics has also concluded inquiries regarding the incidence of illness which were made when conducting its

Work Force Survey. The responses to these inquiries are at present being collated and analysed.

I should mention, too, that the National Health and Medical Research Council conducts surveys in relation to specific diseases when, in the opinion of the experts who comprise the Council, such surveys are necessary or desirable.

With regard to the economic aspects of health, the Commonwealth Department of Health already has available to it, from records associated with the National Health Scheme, information concerning trends in the frequency of medical attendances, periods of hospitalisation, numbers of prescriptions dispensed, and similar matters. This information covers most of the Australian population, and relates to the great majority of medical services, hospital treatment and medicines provided in Australia.

Local Government Rates

Mr Harold Holt:

– On 1st March 1967, the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen) asked me without notice a question concerning the Government’s position as regards payment of local government rates. I undertook then to provide the honourable member with a fully detailed statement setting out the circumstances in which these payments are made, the reasons for such payments and the general policy followed by the Commonwealth at this time.

Although Section 114 of the Constitution exempts Commonwealth property from municipal rating the Commonwealth has, over the years, agreed to pay as an act of grace the equivalent of rates in the following circumstances:

  1. Housing for employees - the amount equivalent to the rates assessed is paid to the local governing body by the Commonwealth on bouses erected on Commonwealth property and used solely for domestic purposes; no payment is made when the residence forms part of a building used for official purposes;
  2. Leased Commonwealth Property - if the lessee or tenant pays to the Commonwealth either as a separate amount or within his rental, the equivalent of rates, the Commonwealth pays that equivalent to the rating authority;
  3. War Service Homes - payment of rates in these cases are not ex gratia; provision is made in every mortgage or contract of sale for the borrower or purchaser to be responsible for the payment of rates on his War

Service home; in the event of default the Director of War Service Homes pays rates to the extent provided for in the special rating agreement entered into with rating authorities; however, the Director does not pay rates on vacant land of which he is the registered proprietor;

  1. Properties acquired by the Commonwealth - payment is made to the municipal authority where the Commonwealth acquires land on which are erected residential or business premises and the buildings are occupied by persons other than the Commonwealth;
  2. Commonwealth instrumentalities - a Commonwealth instrumentality engaged in commercial enterprise in competition with private firms or organisations and either owning property or leasing property from the Commonwealth, pays an amount equivalent to the rates assessed on the property to the local government body;
  3. Construction of roads, footpaths, kerbing or guttering on land abutting Commonwealth property - an amount equal to the sum which would have been payable to the local authority under the appropriate State legislation had the land been privately owned, is paid by the Commonwealth subject to the reasonableness of the charge made by the local authority. No contribution is made for repairs or maintenance.

Payments are also made for any services rendered by a rating authority, such as the supply of water, sewerage, electricity or the collection of garbage.

It will be seen that in general the Commonwealth makes payments where the property is let, either to employees or others, or is used in a commercial-type undertaking. Where however the property is held for governmental purposes, or held vacant for possible governmental purposes in the future, no rates are paid unless they are for services such as the supply of water, or are for the construction of roads, etc., abutting the property which will enhance its value.

This is. 1 suggest, a very fair approach in the context of the constitutional exemption. In considering suggestions for changing the present policy, and in particular comparing the position in Australia with the position in the United Kingdom, it must me remembered that the functions of the central government in the United Kingdom are, in Australia, divided between the Commonwealth and the States. It is also important to remember that local government authorities are constituted and function under State laws. Other factors which have contributed to the present position and which would need to be considered jointly with the States before any changes could be introduced, include the financial assistance granted by the Commonwealth to the States and by the States to local authorities, the exemption of local authorities from Sales Tax and certain State taxes, the variation from State to State in the scale of rates charged by and the services provided by local authorities, and the act of grace payments equivalent to rates made in certain circumstances by the States as well as the Commonwealth.

Public Service

Mr Harold Holt:

– On 15th March, the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) asked me a question without notice about the employment of physically handicapped ex-servicemen and others in the Commonwealth Public Service. I said that I would study the matter and give the honourable member a detailed reply.

This question is almost identical with one the honourable member asked of my predecessor on 19th November 1965, and the situation outlined in his answer given on 7th December 1965 (Hansard, page 3733) remains unchanged.

However, I would also like to point out that former National Service personnel who have served in Vietnam will, in relation to appointments to the Commonwealth Service, receive the same treatment as other former members of the Permanent Forces.


Mr McMahon:

– On 11th April the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) asked in a question without notice whether I would give personal consideration to bona fide cases of cane and dairy farmers who have been refused credit by the banks, and whether I would make available informations on conditions of borrowing, rates of interest and the allocation by areas of loans from the trading banks Farm Development Loan Funds.

As 1 have been informing honourable members and others who have made representations to me on this subject, at recent discussions with the Governor of the Reserve Bank the general managers of the major trading banks have indicated that they appreciate the importance which the Government attaches to the farm development loan arrangements. The general managers have repeated an earlier assurance that they were taking all possible steps to ensure that the arrangements were fully understood by their branch managers. The general managers have given a further assurance that they will review carefully any cases brought to their attention in which a customer feels that his application may not have received fair consideration. Individuals who feel that an application they have made for a farm development loan deserves further consideration should inform the head office of the bank concerned of all the facts.

Arrangements regarding loans from the trading banks Farm Development Loan Funds were set out fully in my statement to the House on 31st March 1966, an extract from which follows:

Loans from the Farm Development Loan Fund will be made by the trading banks to rural producers, particularly smaller producers. Those whose main activity is outside rural production, and public companies, will not generally be eligible.

Loans so made will be designed to supplement those available from the trading banks on overdraft and from Term Loan Funds and will represent a net addition to bank lending to the rural sector. They will be at fixed term for a period related to the nature of the particular project being financed. It is expected that the periods will range up to fifteen years, with longer periods possible in special cases. The loans will be subject to fixed periodical repayments. Conditions for servicing the loans will be related to circumstances in the rural sector and to the requirements of farm programmes for which they are made. Where the project financed takes some time to yield increased income the first repayment may be delayed appropriately.

Loans from the Farm Development Loan Fund will be directed predominantly to development purposes which will raise productivity in rural industries. These purposes will include development projects for the mitigation of future droughts or to promote recovery from the present drought. Purchases of property may be financed if the purchase will result in a substantial increase in productive efficiency.

It will, of course, be for the trading banks themselves to determine whether to make loans in particular cases. However, the trading banks have indicated that, in examining applications for these loans, they will stand prepared in appropriate cases to relax normal security standards. They will look for good prospects for the success of the venture and capability and integrity in the borrower. Generally in the administration of the Farm Development Loan Fund they will also give special consideration to the needs of creditworthy younger men with appropriate experience who have been unable to build up adequate resources.

With regard to rates of interest, loans from the Farm Development Loan Fund will be made within the range of preferential overdraft rates normally applicable to rural customers, with the majority of loans being towards the lower end of this range.

I should perhaps emphasise that the Farm Development Loan Fund will constitute accounts of the trading banks whose administration will be a matter for the trading banks. It follows that applications by primary producers for loans from the Farm Development Loan Fund should be made direct to the trading banks.

A classification by States of balances of loans outstanding from the trading banks Farm Development Loan Funds is available only in respect of loans outstanding on 11th January 1967, when the total stood at $9. 3m. This amount was distributed among the States as follows:

By 12th April 1967 almost $22m had been committed in loan approvals to rural borrowers since the inception of the Farm Development Loan Funds twelve months earlier.

Snowy Mountains Authority

Mr Harold Holt:

– On 18 th April the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) asked me for details about projects nominated by the Victorian Government to be undertaken by the Snowy Mountains Authority in Victoria. I said that I would treat the question as being on notice and give him a reply.

As announced in his recent election policy speech, the Premier of Victoria has suggested two projects which could be undertaken by the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority. The projects nominated are the Buffalo Dam and the Melbourne underground railway. These projects were nominated in February 1967, in the case of the Buffalo Dam and in April 1967, in the case of the underground railway.

The suggestions of work available for the Authority and the question of the future of the Authority are at present under active consideration by the Government. As this stage, however, I am unable to give the honourable member an answer as to when the decision will be taken on the Premier’s proposals.


Mr Harold Holt:

– On 20th April, in reply to a question without notice from the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns), I undertook to get some information on the imprisonment of the Yugoslav writer, Mihailo Mihajlov, and the suggestion that the Australian Government should make a formal protest about the matter.

While the gaoling of Mr Mihajlov was a regrettable step in the light of recent relaxations in the political and economic life of Yugoslavia, it is an internal domestic matter for the Yugoslav Government. Consequently, it would be improper for the Australian Government through its Embassy in Belgrade to take any formal action of the kind suggested by the honourable member.


Mr Harold Holt:

– On 3rd May, the honourable member for Bonython (Mr Nicholls) asked without notice if I would consider the establishment of a national inquiry into all aspects of education. In reply I said that I would consult with my colleague, the Minister for Education and Science and then reply to the honourable member.

The Australian Government is engaged in a number of measures of direct assistance to education in the States including assistance to both government and nongovernment schools. These measures have been well received by the Australian people. In some areas of education, standing expert groups have been appointed to advise the Australian Government on particular measures of assistance. However, the Australian Government does not see the justification for it to sponsor what the honourable member has called a national inquiry into all aspects of education, including both State and non-government schools.

Long Service Leave

Mr Harold Holt:

– On 4th May, the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr E. James Harrison) asked me a question without notice concerning amendments to the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act and asked me if a Bill to amend the Act would be introduced before the end of the Autumn sittings of Parliament. In reply I said I would investigate the matter and advise him of the position.

The particular proposal in which the honourable member is interested is linked with a number of other proposals for amendment of the legislation arising out of a comprehensive review of the Act. All these amendments will be incorporated in a single Bill but, while it had earlier been hoped to introduce the Bill during the current sittings, this will not now be possible. However, the work is well advanced, and it is anticipated that the amending legislation will be introduced during the Budget sittings.

Australia Day

Mr Harold Holt:

– On 4th May, the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen) asked me without notice who is responsible for the declaration of the observance of Australia Day as a public holiday and whether I would give support to his proposal that Australia Day be celebrated on 26th January irrespective of the day of the week on which it falls in any year.

Suggestions of this nature have been made in the past but there are practical difficulties. First, the declaration of Australia Day as a public holiday rests in the States with the State government concerned and with the Commonwealth Government only in the Territories.

Secondly, there is no doubt that a Monday holiday has a far greater appeal from an employee’s point of view than any other day of the week, while for employers, especially in manufacturing industries, a Monday holiday involves less dislocation and inconvenience than would any other day.

Finally, the celebration of Australia Day on the Monday following 26th January is uniform in all States. Some years ago the question of celebrating Australia Day on the actual date was considered at a Premiers Conference and while at the time some States were in favour of the idea, no agreement was reached and the existing practice has continued.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 May 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.