26th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr CONNOR presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the Government implement Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by providing increased social service and housing benefits for the aged, the invalid, the widowed and their dependants.
Petition received and read.
Similar petitions were presented by Mi Dobie, Mr Irwin, Mr Costa and Mr Curtin.
Petitions severally received.
– Is the Minister for Health aware that in both international and Australian research there is growing evidence that cyclamate acids, which are being used more and more as a substitute for sugar in soft drinks and food, are a likely health hazard, that they are suspected of causing depigmentation of the skin, chronic damage to stomach tissues, and bone disease, and that young children may be the most susceptible group? Will the Minister take steps to accelerate the inquiry into cyclamatic acids and, if necessary, take positive action to ban their use if there is the slightest risk of their being a health hazard?
– As the honourable gentleman will be aware, this matter is being considered by the National Health and Medical Research Council. I shall see what can be done to speed up its consideration of the subject’.
– Will the Prime Minister make to the House a statement giving the facts concerning the published decision of the Monash University Labor Club to raise funds to help the Vietcong in the war in South Vietnam and in the killing of our own Australian soldiers? Is this Labor Club an authorised body of the
Australian Labor Party? What action can be taken against those responsible for such a traitorous act - assisting our enemies to destroy us? Will the Prime Minister make it possible for his statement to be debated so that the Opposition can state clearly its attitude to the Labor Club’s action?
– I am not able to say with any authority what relationship the Labor Clubs at the universities bear to the Australian Labor Party. But 1 can say that this Government condemns the decision that the honourable gentleman has mentioned. 1 can assure the House that we shall do everything in our power to prevent effect being given to that decision and to prevent any material aid from being conveyed to the Communist National Liberation Front for South Vietnam. The Government recognises that the situation in Vietnam is highly complex and is a matter for widespread discussion. We have never sought to prevent discussion or to repress dissent from the Government’s policies. My colleague, the Minister for Defence, expressed himself in pungent terms on this very matter three weeks ago. What he said then is, in essence, the Government’s view today.
But we have not regarded this decision of the students as representative of Australian student opinion, and I personally have not wished to magnify this matter out of its proper proportion, because if this were done not only might a false picture be given both inside and outside this country, but the very objectives of those who are seeking to attract prominence to themselves in this fashion would be served. Ordinarily one recognises the fact that on the extreme fringes of university opinion excesses are to be expected, but we are disposed to take a more serious view of the matter in current circumstances for two important reasons. One is that there is undoubtedly in Australia today a campaign of psychological warfare directed against the Government’s policies in Vietnam, and I am seeking information on the various aspects of this campaign. I would like to see how the student activities mentioned by the honourable member phase in, if they do, with any organised campaign of the kind to which I have referred. The second consideration, which weighs most heavily with this Government, is that young Australians are serving in Vietnam and giving effect to the policies of a government democratically appointed from a democratically elected Parliament, a government which enjoys a record majority in this place which it attracted because of the policies it has been pursuing in relation to Vietnam. We want these young men to know that they have the full backing of this Government and, I believe, of the overwhelming majority of the Australian people who, whatever their views on Vietnam, would condemn action by fellow Australians designed to assist those who are in military conflict with the young men of this country. So my colleague, the AttorneyGeneral, at the request of the Cabinet, has been studying the legal aspects of this matter, and it may be necessary for him or for me or for some other appropriate Minister to make a more detailed statement later on.
I think it would be fitting for me to remind the House and the country of the origins of the so-called National Liberation Front. We have previously said that it is not national in any true sense, nor does it propose to liberate in any true sense as we understand that term. The plan to form a liberation front in South Vietnam was formulated at a congress of the North Vietnam Communist Party in September 1960. The National Liberation Front is a creature of the North Vietnamese Communist Party and does not constitute an organisation of internal revolt independent of Hanoi. It is an instrument of external aggression and subversion and, together with the regular forces of North Vietnam, is directed from Hanoi. That being the character of the organisation, any Australian who would knowingly give material aid to this body, and do so at the hazard of Australian lives, deserves the utter condemnation of this Parliament, and from this Government should expect appropriate action both to prevent material aid going forward and to deal appropriately with these activities wherever they are engaged in.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question supplementary to that asked by the honourable member for Bennelong. I ask it particularly in view of the reply of the right honourable gentleman that he did not have authoritative information about that part of the honourable member’s ques tion which related to the Australian Labor Party. Has the Prime Minister’s attention been drawn to the fact that yesterday at about 2 o’clock, after a meeting of my Parliamentary executive, a Press statement was released in which the executive pointed out that the Labor Clubs, so named, at the Monash, Melbourne and Australian National Universities are not connected with the Australian Labor Party and have never been connected with that Party, and further that the executive disagreed with the decisions and attitudes of the clubs? Has his attention also been drawn to the fact that at its meeting this morning the parliamentary Party as a whole passed a resolution the terms of which were released at about 11 o’clock this morning?
– The honourable gentleman asks whether 1 know of statements made by his Party’s executive and whether I am privy to the proceedings of the Party’s caucus.
– It was a public statement, a Press statement after each meeting.
– Well, it has not come to my notice. I am sure that the Parliament will welcome the statements by the Leader of the Opposition that the Labor Clubs have no connection with the Australian Labor Party. I am not clear whether such statements have previously been made by the Leader of an Australian Labor Party. If they have not, the Party has taken a long time to dissociate itself from groups which, on the face of it anyhow, are working in support of the Party. I put this quite bluntly to the honourable gentleman: I frankly do not see all that much difference in principle between what these young students are proposing to do and the terms that came out of the Adelaide conference in which the Leader of the Opposition joined in decisions to serve an ultimatum on the allies of Australia in Vietnam under threat of withdrawal of Australian troops if that ultimatum were not observed.
– I ask the Treasurer a question. Is it a fact, as reported in the Queensland Press during the recent recess and attributed to the Queensland Minister for Education, that Queensland spends less per capita on education than does any other
State? Is the reason for this that the Commonwealth Government denies Queensland the same amount of money for education by way of loans and grants as it provides to the other States?
– The honourable gentleman should know that at the last Premiers Conference and meeting of the Australian Loan Council a greater amount of money was made available to the States in terms of percentage increases than we have made available for many years. The States were treated with generosity. If the honourable gentleman had listened to my Budget speech last night he would know that so far as education is concerned the Commonwealth’s contribution this year will increase to SI 94m. That is an increase of 35% compared with the contribution last year. If the honourable gentleman had chosen this morning to read the newspapers he would have seen that almost every newspaper in the country has praised the Commonwealth Government for the attitude it has taken.
– This is an allocation to all States.
– Queensland gets its share in the same way as every other State. All States get their proper share. I remind the honourable gentleman that only a few years ago the Commonwealth Government increased Queensland’s revenue grant by a special allocation of $2m a year. Over the period of the grants agreement that increase, compounded, adds up to about $27m more than under arrangements applying to other States. I will check the figures and let the honourable member know the exact amount. I remind him of one other factor so that he may see everything in perspective: When this Government took over from the Chifley Government the amount that was allocated by the Commonwealth for education was comparatively only thousands.
– I ask the Minister for National Development a question about the request for a cessation of work in South Australia on the Chowilla Dam. Is the Minister aware that no State or country has a better record of exploiting its meagre water resources than has South Australia?
Can he assure the people of South Australia that sufficient supplies of water will be made available to them until such time as the Chowilla Dam is completed?
– As I am sure the honourable member would know, under the River Murray Waters Act tha South Australian Government is entitled to a share of water which, I think, speaking from memory, is 1,254,000 acre feet per annum, and this it will receive whenever there is adequate water in the river. The River Murray Waters Act states that in periods of restriction the water available shall be shared in the proportions of five to New South Wales, five to Victoria and three to South Australia. In other words, South Australia gets three-thirteenths of the available water in the River Murray at Albury. I point out to the honourable member that with the completion of some of the Snowy Mountains Authority works, there will be a considerable diversion of water inland. This eventually will reach about two million acre feet per annum additional water which will go into the headwaters of the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers. This will tend to reduce the number of periods of restriction.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Health regarding the refusal of doctors to co-operate with the Government in the pensioner medical service. This lack of co-operation affects 41,000 pensioners who were brought into the scheme when the means test was amended last April. Will the Minister inform the House how the matter now stands? Does he think the action by the doctors is strike action? If so, will he see that the doctors are penalised in the same way as were Post Office employees when they went on strike for one day?
– The honourable gentleman will be aware that the pensioner medical service, ever since its inception, has been based on an agreement between the Government and the Australian Medical Association. When, earlier this year, I made my second reading speech on the National Health Bill which was designed to confer the benefits of the pensioner medical service on a new group of pensioners, I informed the House that the
Australian Medical Association had advised me that it was necessary that the question of the admission of any new group of pensioners be determined by the federal assembly of the organisation.
The honourable gentleman has asked where things stand. The federal assembly of the Association met in May and decided to defer a decision, pending an examination of questions of principle that were involved. I, of course, immediately sought a meeting with the federal executive and out of the discussions emerged a number of points. The first was that the Association had deferred a decision on the admission of the new pensioners, not refused to admit them as the honourable gentleman alleged when he asked his question. Secondly, the Association made it clear that the level of fees paid by the Government is not the reason for the deferral of a decision. What the Association is worried about are questions of principle which it believes to be important.
It is also clear that the Association has not yet formulated a policy based on those questions of principle. It has advised me that it expects to do so in the near future. For my part, I have told the Association that the Government would be willing and ready to examine any proposals it may have in respect of the long term future of the scheme but that in the meantime the Government believes the Association should treat the question of the admission of the additional pensioners as a separate question. The present position is that discussions with the Association are continuing. When they are completed the Government will consider its position. I assure the House that it is the objective of the Government to have these pensioners admitted to the service as speedily as possible.
– I address my question to the Minister for the Army, who will be aware that the Minister for Immigration last week announced that the Benalla migrant centre will not be required by his Department after 8th December of this year and that the Army is considering taking over the establishment. Is the Minister for the Army in a position to make a definite statement on the future use by his Department of the establishment at Benalla?
– -I can tell the honourable member that, because of the increased use of accommodation and training centres by the Army in Victoria, the Army will have a use for the Benalla centre when it is no longer required by the Department of Immigration. We have not yet worked out in precise terms the use to which it will be put, but it is likely to be used for Citizen Military Forces and cadet camps. When further information is available I will provide it to the honourable member.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question and preface it by reminding him that he announced a little while ago that he and the Attorney-General will be examining the position of certain university students who proposed to give aid to the National Liberation Front. In view of the Government’s basic proposition that Australian forces in Vietnam are not fighting the South Vietnamese but the North Vietnamese and China, will he, with the Attorney-General, also examine whether those people who sold $7m worth of tallow and steel to North Vietnam and $500m worth of wheat to China should be brought within the scope of any action that is proposed?
– The honourable member for Yarra quite consciously has misrepresented and distorted the position. I have tried to make it clear that the examination my colleague will make is wider in its scope than the position of what I would view as a handful of university students. Certainly the overwhelming body of students in the universities and colleges concerned rejected the action that was proposed by the Labor Clubs there. As to our general position in Vietnam, the honourable gentleman knows that we are not at war with China and that there is no declared state of war between Australia and North Vietnam. What we are doing is to aid the Government and people of South Vietnam to resist aggression proceeding from North Vietnam and directed by the Communist Government in Hanoi. We are doing this in association with our allies to make the people of South
Vietnam secure and, importantly, to help maintain the security of South East Asia generally. I believe that the position is well understood by the Australian people. They rejected the alternative offered by the Party to which the honourable gentleman gives his support and of which he is a senior member. In those circumstances I do not know why the honourable gentleman tries to draw some parallel between the position of people inside Australia who propose to give material aid and the other instances that he has mentioned. He knows very well that exports to North Vietnam are prohibited by the decision of this Government.
(Mr Wentworth having directed a question to the Prime Minister) -
– What is the number of the question?
– Question No. 426.
– Question No. 43 1 also relates to this matter.
– In addition, questions Nos 364 to 369 inclusive refer to this subject.
– Order! A question on the notice paper and the question asked by the honourable member are basically the same. Consequently, the question is disallowed.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question. I refer to two British charter airlines, Caledonian and Lloyd International, which want to fly relatives of British migrants to Australia for holidays and to fly migrants back to Great Britain for holidays. A fare of $500 has been mentioned. Will the Minister explain why these British charter lines have been refused the opportunity to provide this service?
– This subject was raised also by the honourable member for Bonython just prior to coming into the House and I indicated to him that some investigations are being made into the matter at the moment. It is a fact that applications were received from two British charter operators for permission to provide a series of charter services for this purpose between Europe - particularly Britain - and Australia. The original applications for charter licences were not approved. In circumstances such as these it is normal for full investigations to be made.
Fairly regularly we have applications from charter operators in a variety of countries, and even from within Australia, to operate charter services, sometimes in direct competition with the international airlines, including our own international operator Qantas Airways Ltd. We considered this matter because of our desire to see an extension of travel to Australia, both for group purposes and for tourist purposes. Australia, through Qantas and through our own departmental representatives at discussions with the International Air Transport Association, has continually pressed for a reduction in fares. During last year we were successful in obtaining agreement to a reduction in fares for groups of this type. At the present time it is possible to carry people on a charter basis through the regular airlines at a rate down to 70% of the economy fare. In addition to this special arrangements are made for groups of people under the age of twenty-six years. So to some degree the persons referred to by the honourable member are covered by the existing arrangements which are quite legal within the terms which are agreed to by all countries in IATA and to which we subscribe very strongly.
We have to consider this matter from a variety of points, one of which is the protection and liquidity of our own international operator as well as the integrity of the other international operators who have rights to operate here, who operate on a regular basis to a regular time table and who provide a standard of operational safety which we insist on being the highest. Such a standard cannot be maintained in some circumstances by some charter operators.
In view of all the circumstances and as a refusal had been given in a number of other cases the decision was made at the time not to approve these two applications. However, we are continuing to look at this aspect to see whether, in addition to the success we had last year in reducing these particular charter or group rates, there is any other way in which they can be reduced further. It is our objective to encourage as many people as possible to use international air travel, for this purpose or for any other purpose.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has his Government two civil airport policies: One for cities with limited trade and small populations and the other for Newcastle which is our third largest trading port in New South Wales? Has the Minister finally determined that Hexham is out for airport purposes for upwards of twenty years? Did he suggest that other areas south of the city might be suitable for that purpose? If so, will he say whether the Government will provide finance for the development of any such suitable area? Did the Minister recently visit the Shortland electorate and tell members of the Liberal Party that a site at Redhead might be suitable? If so. who was his adviser and was the statement a political one designed to embarrass the honourable member for Shortland. As I represent 30,000 Newcastle city electors and 32,000 lakeside electors, will the Minister tell the House why he and other Ministers have consistently shut me out of negotiations on an airport for Newcastle? Finally, when can I expect an answer to my telegram of a few weeks ago concerning what the Minister has in mind for Redhead?
Mt SWARTZ- Perhaps I should deal first with the latter part of the question. I did write to the honourable member, as he is aware, before I visited Newcastle about a fortnight ago advising that 1 would be there and indicating that I would be inspecting Williamtown and some other airports in the vicinity. This followed a meeting between representatives of the Royal Australian Air Force, my own Department and the local authorities in Newcastle when the difficulties of developing Hexham under the existing circumstances of the Williamtown RAAF Base were pointed out quite clearly. I visited the site and 1 confirmed that in a discussion with the City Council. I also met the honourable member for Hunter at Cessnock. We had a look at the area there. He assured me that this would be the best locality for an airport for the district. The proposals which were made by the honourable member and also by the local authorities there of course are naturally being examined at the present time.
It is a fact also that the local branch of the Liberal Party wrote to me and asked whether its representatives could see me when I was there. I saw them and they raised the matter regarding the Redhead and Pelican areas at which I had looked previously. The Council also raised as an alternative to Hexham another site in, 1 think, the Wallsend area. I have asked it to submit details regarding this site for consideration and examination. However, the problem is still the same regarding air space. The difficulties of civil operation from Hexham rule ii out at the present time. We have agreed with the Royal Australian Air Force on an extension of time for the use of the Williamtown base for civil operations. We hope that as a result of this agreement a better service will be provided there before very long. When I receive advice from the City Council in Newcastle regarding the alternative site we will examine the situation and contact the Council again at that time. The question of ownership is one which we will have to discuss further after some particular site has been selected as suitable outside of the controlled area. I do not doubt that under these circumstances we would have to discuss the question of local ownership.
– The honourable member for Hunter was mentioned by the Minister for Civil Aviation. I claim that I was misquoted and I wish to explain.
– I suggest that the honourable member resume his seat at the present time and that when question time is finished he will be able to make a personal explanation.
– My question also is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation and it refers to the cross-charter agreement that recently terminated between AnsettANA and Trans-Australia Airlines. Is it true the Viscount aircraft that were returned from Ansett-ANA to TAA were lacking in maintenance and restoration, firstly, in breach of the terms of the general agreement between the two parties and, secondly, in comparison with the DC6B aircraft that were returned by TAA to Ansett-ANA?
- Mr Speaker, I did see a report fairly recently in relation to the cross-charter arrangement made about two or three years ago which, as the honourable member said, terminated at the end of last year. The arrangement was for three Viscount aircraft to be leased to AnsettANA by TAA and two DC6B aircraft to be leased to TAA from Ansett-ANA. When the cross-charter arrangement terminated the aircraft were handed back and I can give a very definite assurance there were no maintenance problems whatsoever with either group of aircraft. I might mention that one of the Viscount aircraft, as honourable members are aware, was lost in Botany Bay, so only two of those were returned. Some work was done - and this may have been the basis of the report that appeared - because of some change in the layout of the flight deck. When the aircraft were returned both TAA and Ansett-ANA had to spend a certain amount of money converting the flight decks to their altered configuration. That was the only Change made at the time, and the maintenance on both sides was up to the standards required.
– Does the Prime Minister recall my considerable correspondence with him since Sth July regarding the fifteen ships trapped in the Suez Canal and the representations I have made asking the Government to try to help solve this problem, especially on behalf of the fruit growers, who have 379,000 cases of apples and pears from four Australian States on four of the ships, including 200,000 cases from Tasmania? Has the Prime Minister any more to report regarding the negotiations over insurance that I understand are being carried out by the Australian Apple and Pear Board? If insurance negotiations fail and the growers suffer loss, will the Federal Government compensate the apple and pear growers for losses sustained under these unusual, unfortunate and unique circumstances?
– The Minister for External Affairs will answer this question.
– As the honourable member for Wilmot has reminded us. he has been in correspondence with the Government on this subject over recent weeks. The position is that there is fruit consigned from Australia to England in three out of four ships that are trapped in the Suez Canal as a result of the conflict in the Middle East. None of these ships is either owned or registered in Australia and none of them has aboard now any Australian crew members. Therefore, any negotiations with the Government of the United Arab Republic concerning the freeing of the ships would necessarily be done either by the owners or by the country of registration. We have no standing even to make representations regarding the conditions on board these ships because there are no Australians on board. The clearance of the Suez Canal and the shipping in it is something that is inextricably linked with the general termination of hostilities and negotiation of a settlement in the Middle East. So far as it can, the Government is keeping the matter under constant review and will certainly not spare any effort to ensure that Australian interests are observed.
On the question of compensation for those who may have suffered loss as a result of this unforeseen and unavoidable action, so far as the Australian Government is concerned I think that is a question that would involve both points of law and points of policy and would need the attention both of the Attorney-General and o£ the Government.
– Mr Speaker, I claim that during question time-
-Order! Does the honourable member claim that he has been misrepresented?
– Yes. In answer to a question asked by the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Griffiths) the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) stated that I said that Cessnock was a better site for an airport than Hexham. I am afraid that I have been misquoted by the Minister. What I did say to the Minister was that if Hexham was not to be developed I considered that Cessnock was an excellent alternative. 1 might add that both myself and the Cessnock Council were very grateful-
-Order! The honourable member may not debate the matter.
– I present the following paper:
Statement for the year 1966-67 of Heads of Expenditure and the amounts charged thereto pursuant to section 36a of the Audit Act 1901-1966 (Advance to the Treasurer).
That the statement be taken into consideration in Committee of the whole House at the next sitting.
– by leave - I informed the House on 11th May last that the Government was examining the question of life insurance and other matters affecting the fighting Services and that the decisions reached would be announced in the Budget. Honourable members will recall the suggestions which have been made that a government sponsored life insurance scheme should be introduced. Generally this proposal has been advanced in the context of the benefits available to servicemen arising from war service and has frequently been associated with claims that there are double standards in assessing compensation - that is, a superior standard in common law and an inferior one for war service.
There are difficulties, of course, in comparing repatriation benefits, which provide pensions and a wide range of other assistance, with lump sum awards, but I suggest that such comparisons as have been made are not supported by an adequate survey of the facts. I have had some calculations made of the present capital values of repatriation pensions and allowances. The amounts are substantial. They range up to about $15,000 for a married general rate war pensioner without children whose disability does not in fact preclude him from working though it may well reduce his earning capacity and prospects. For a married pensioner without children who is totally and permanently incapacitated, the amounts range beyond $50,000. I should emphasise, Sir, that these calculations take no account whatever of the repatriation benefits payable in respect of children, non-cash benefits such as medical and hospital treatment, which could represent a considerable sum over the life of the beneficiary, or of the increases in rates and values of benefits certain to occur over the beneficiary’s lifetime.
A case in which a serviceman who was injured, rendered quadriplegic, and was awarded $82,000- actually $81,055- at common law has been referred to on many occasions as indicating in itself a need to review the level of repatriation benefits. That award included over $11,000 for loss of wages and hospital and medical expenses incurred prior to the court’s award. As the soldier injured in Vietnam is kept on full pay and provided with all medical treatment by the Army until repatriation benefits commence, the amount for comparison with repatriation benefits would be $70,000. At a conservative estimate, the present value of repatriation benefits, if payable in this case, would have exceeded $70,000. The Government has carefully reviewed the benefits provided under repatriation arrangements, which include a comprehensive system of compensatory pensions, medical treatment and related benefits, and a wide range of other assistance. We have concluded that the arrangements are working effectively and that they make appropriate provision for those who suffer incapacity due to war service and for the dependants of those whose deaths are caused by war service.
So far as personal life insurance is concerned, 1 have previously informed the House of advice received from the life offices that they will insure a permanent serviceman or national serviceman at normal premiums up to the date he is actually posted for service overseas in a battle zone or combat area. As stated by the former Prime Minister in 30th November 1965 there is, however, no uniformity of practice regarding the type of policy which may be obtained or the maximum sum which may be insured for. Some companies will issue only endowment insurance contracts under which the sum insured is payable at the end of a fixed term of years or on prior death; other companies have no restrictions on these aspects.
During World War II it was customary for war clauses to be inserted in new policies issued during the continuance of that conflict. Frequently, however, the limitations imposed by such clauses could be reduced or removed by payment of an extra premium at a rate varying with the risks involved. During the 1950s, similar conditions applied in the case of servicemen who were under notice of posting to Korea or Malaya, and the position is substantially the same today in the case of servicemen proceeding to South Vietnam. The matter of life insurance for servicemen has been examined on several occasions and each time the Government of the day has concluded that having regard to Australian conditions adequate prevision was made under legislation to meet the immediate and future needs of dependants of personnel killed on active service. After further close examination, we are satisfied that this conclusion remains valid today and we have therefore decided against the introduction of a government sponsored life insurance scheme.
The Government has decided, however, as I announced in the Budget Speech, to seek an amendment of the legislation governing defence forces retirement benefits to admit to the benefits of the scheme certain categories of servicemen who are now excluded because they enlisted for periods of less than six years. This extension of the scheme will give cover to national servicemen, who are enlisted for two years. If any of these servicemen now to be covered is discharged through invalidity or dies, he or his widow and children will receive the same pensions or other benefits as permanent members of the forces. On norma] discharge, these servicemen will receive a refund of contributions. As I pointed out in the Budget Speech, servicemen are, in addition, covered by the repatriation legislation while serving in special areas such as Vietnam. Thus, for example, a married private soldier totally and permanently incapacitated as a result of war service will receive a pension of $3 1.50 per week under the defence forces retirement benefits legislation, together with a basic tax free pension of $34.55 per week under the repatriation legislation. In addition, of course, further repatriation benefits are provided in respect of children and by way of medical and hospital treatment. The details of the extension of the defence forces retirement benefits scheme are now being settled and the legislation will be introduced as early as possible.
I present the following paper:
Defence Forces Retirement Benefits - Ministerial Statement, 16 August 1967- and move:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr Barnard) adjourned.
– For the information of honourable members I present papers relating to the Second Ministerial Meeting of the Asian and Pacific Council which was held in Bangkok from 5th July 1967, and I ask for leave to make a brief statement on the same subject.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Last month in Bangkok I represented Australia at the Second Ministerial Meeting of the Asian and Pacific Council. The papers which I have tabled are: the joint communique, which was signed by the ten Ministers who were present; a copy of the statement I made on behalf of Australia at the public opening session; and a precis of a statement I made in closed session during the debate. The reason why I give only a precis of the third of these documents is that I do not feel at liberty to publish part of the confidential records of the Council, but at the same time I thought that the Parliament was entitled to have an outline of the subjects on which ( spoke.
In the spirit of ASPAC each nation expresses its views fully in the way that it thinks best without necessarily seeking to commit other nations to its views. Where, as the result of discussion and consultation, we reach a consensus that consensus is expressed in the communique.
Discussion on all matters of regional interest are an essential part of the intention with which ASPAC was formed. It provides a process of continuous consultation. It also provides the opportunity for cooperation in all matters of common interest, both inside the various regional and global organisations to which all members belong and within the framework of ASPAC itself.
ASPAC already includes nine members, namely Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, New Zealand and Australia, and one observer nation, Laos. It is our hope that, as the usefulness of the council is appreciated, other nations of the region will feel disposed to join in our discussions. Because of that hope we have hitherto avoided taking up rigid positions on matters under discussion-
I should like to emphasise that ASPAC is an outward-looking organisation which is not directed against any State or group of States. It is a free association of likeminded countries who believe that through close co-operation they can contribute to the well-being of the nations in the broadest sense. It is an association of equal partners and, from our own point of view, it is particularly encouraging that so many countries of Asia have shown that they want Australia to be their full partner in these discussions.
I had the honour of being elected vicechairman of the session in Bangkok and, later in the meeting, it was decided that the next meeting of the council would be held in Canberra. One consequence of this decision is that, throughout the next twelve months, the Standing Committee of ASPAC, which acts as the means of consultation between Ministerial meetings, will be meeting regularly in Canberra under my chairmanship. Thus, pending the holding of the third Ministerial meeting here in Canberra next July this city has become the diplomatic hub of an important Asian organisation.
Mr FAIRBAIRN (Farrer - Minister for
National Development) - by leave - In 1962 the River Murray Commission investigated a proposal to construct a dam on the Murray at Chowilla with a capacity of approximately 5m acre feet. Their investigations showed that without this dam all States bordering the Murray would be subject to water restrictions in drought periods but that the construction of Chowilla would result in a very considerable reduction in the frequency and severity of these restrictions. The estimated cost of the dam was $28m and the Commonwealth Government and the Governments of New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria, which all would be contributing equally to the cost, gave their approval to proceed with the project.
After detailed site investigations the design of the dam was completed by the constructing authority - the South Australian Government - and tenders were called in October 1966. The estimated cost at that time was $43m. On receipt of tenders in April 1967 it became apparent to the Commission that the actual cost of the dam would be in the vicinity of $70m. In view of this greatly increased cost the Commission decided to reassess the benefits to be gained from Chowilla, taking into account the changes in basic data and operating procedures that had occurred since 1962. Major alterations in data or procedure which were considered in this study included: (a) A requirement to maintain certain minimum flows at Mildura to reduce the saline content of the river to an acceptable level for irrigation. (b) The evaporation loss from Chowilla was now estimated as much greater than assumed in 1962. (c) The capacity of the Blowering Dam on the Murrumbidgee River system had been increased from 0.8m to1. 3m acre feet.
Very complete studies were carried out using a newly developed computer programme which gives a month by month simulation of the river system for the last fifty years. The studies showed that benefits equivalent to that received from the proposed dam could be derived from a smaller storage at Chowilla or possibly some other site in the Murray basin.
In these circumstances the River Murray Commission at its meeting on Friday, 11 tt August resolved that:
Having regard to the changed relationship between costs and benefits of the Chowilla project since it was previously assessed in 1962 the River Murray Commission recommends to contracting Governments that the project be deferred pending further investigations. Further, in view of the fact that the South Australian constructing authority is holding tenders for this work, it be asked not to accept any tender currently held and arrange to reduce all expenditure on the Chowilla project to a minimum as rapidly as possible.
The Commission is pursuing urgently its studies to provide the best solution to the problem of River Murray regulation. These will include further consideration of a storage at Chowilla in conjunction with other potential storages in the River basin.
In conclusion I should mention that the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) received representations by telephone on this matter from Mr Dunstan, Premier of South Australia, on Monday, 14th August. He then asked Mr Dunstan to set out his views in writing and assured him that they would he thoroughly considered when received. 1 present the following paper;
Chowilla Dam Project - Ministerial Statement, 16 August 1967- and move:
That the House take note of the paper.
– by leave - I should like to ask the Minister for National Development a couple of questions which I feel are important not only for the purpose of any resumed debate on this matter but also for the purpose of debate on the Budget or Estimates. Honourable members would be assisted in considering this matter if the Minister could say how much money has already been spent on this project, which the House approved in October 1963, and how much of that expenditure, as far as can be estimated now, would be rendered superfluous or redundant by the alternative schemes which the Minister has outlined. As regards the alternative schemes, is it proposed to introduce legislation to amend the Act which both Houses unanimously passed in October 1963?
– by leave - As 1 understand the situation, according to the South Australian constructing authority the amount expended on the site at present is about $5m. Obviously if the dam is not to be built that $Sm would be very largely a loss, although undoubtedly there would be some recompense from the sale of equipment.
– Who would meet that loss?
– The four parties to the agreement. If on the other hand the decision is, as appears possible - I would not say likely - that a dam, perhaps slightly smaller, is to be built on the Chowilla site, I would anticipate that nearly all of the $5m would be represented in work which was required in any case because it was mainly spent in site preparation of the foundations. As regards the introduction of other legislation, it would be my understanding that this would be required, but I am afraid that in the absence of a decision by the River Murray Commission and without technical knowledge On this matter I would not like to state so definitely.
– by leave- The Minister for National Development stated that Mr Dunstan, Premier of South Australia, had made representations to the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) concerning this matter. Will the Minister agree that Government supporters representing South Australian electorates also have made strong representations on this subject?
Mr FAIRBAIRN (Farrer- Minister for National Development) - by leave - This is so. I referred to the representations made by the Premier of South Australia because it was a Premier to Prime Minister approach and the Prime Minister wanted this fact recorded. I acknowledge that representations have been made to me and to the Prime Minister by representatives of South Australian electorates. There has also been a great deal of interest shown from Victoria.
Debate (on motion by Mr Whitlam) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Fairbairn, and read a first time.
Mr FAIRBAIRN (Farrer- Minister for
National Development) [3.40] - I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill concerns financial grants to the States over this and the succeeding two financial years to accelerate the measurement of the flow of rivers and the investigation and measurement of underground water resources. Honourable members will know that, as a result of a recommendation by the Australian Water Resources Council, the Commonwealth and State Governments three years ago adopted an accelerated programme of surface and underground water investigations. The aim of the programme is to achieve a comprehensive basic network of stream gauging stations and to improve knowledge of underground water resources. Besides implementing its own accelerated programme in the Northern Territory, the Commonwealth has been assisting State programmes by making available, under the States Grants (Water Resources) Act 1964, grants totalling as much as $2.75m over the three year period 1964-65 to 1966-67. This three year period ended on 30th June last and, accordingly, the States have prepared programmes of proposed works for the next three years. These programmes have been endorsed by the Water Resources Council, with a recommendation that the Governments take action for their implementation.
In deciding three years ago to collaborate with the States in the accelerated programme of water resources assessment, the Commonwealth Government accepted the need for a ten year programme of construction of stream gauging stations in order to establish at least a basic network, and also accepted the need for an accelerated programme of underground water investigations. Thus, when the Government was considering the forthcoming three year period, the only question requiring decision was the extent of Commonwealth assistance and we have decided to increase our contribution by a significant margin.
Before I proceed to give the Government’s proposals in detail and to outline the provisions of the Bill, I think it would be helpful if I were to review briefly progress made so far under the programme. During the three-year period of the State Grants (Water Resources) Act 1964, programmes submitted by the States for stream gauging activities have provided for the improvement of 163 existing stations and the construction of 368 new stations, and annual expenditure has increased from less than $lm in 1962-63 to $1.8m in 1966-67. Of the latter figure the Commonwealth has provided over one third. Total expenditure in the three year period was approximately $4.9m. There are now about 1,600 stations in operation.
In the period 1962-63 to 1966-67 annual expenditure on underground water assessment has increased from approximately $lm to about $2. 2m. Of the latter figure, the Commonwealth has provided $350,000. Activities on a large range of projects in most areas of all States have been stimulated. Total expenditure in the three-year period was approximately $5.8m. Progress with the work of underground water assessment has been such that in the light of new knowledge the Water Resources Council has asked for preparation of a new underground water map of Australia to replace that published with the ‘Review of Australia’s Water Resources, 1963’.
The success of the overall programme is exemplified by the fact that in the year just completed, the States undertook programmes considerably in excess of requirements to attract the full Commonwealth subsidy. This was particularly so in the case of underground water. The Governments involved have reason to be well satisfied with the progress made so far. However it was apparent to the Water Resources Council that, if the objectives of the programme as envisaged three years ago were to be achieved, a further expansion of effort was needed; and this is reflected in the programmes planned by the States for this and the next two years.
The surface water programmes total $6.6m, which is an increase of $1.8m on the programmes for the period just completed and $800,000 more than the estimates given in the original ten year programmes which were based on costs in 1962-63. Apart from a general increase in the cost of materials and labour which has occurred since the original estimates were made, the State authorities are experiencing a rise in the unit cost of establishing and operating each stream gauging station as these activities extend into the more remote areas and involve the more difficult streams. The underground water programmes also total $6.6m which is an increase of $1.6m on the programmes covered by the 1964 Act.
The Government now proposes to make available a total of S4.5m by way of grants to the States, to enable the planned programmes to be achieved in the next three years. I might say, and it gives me some pleasure to do so, that this figure represents an increase of 60% over the level of Commonwealth aid in the past three years. In making this increased contribution, the Commonwealth contemplates that the States will increase their own contributions in order that the objectives endorsed by the Water Resources Council may be achieved. The current legislation does not of course cover the Northern Territory. Arrangements are being made by my colleague, the Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes), for a continuation of the accelerated programme of water resources measurement in the Northern Territory.
The distribution of Commonwealth funds over the three years is set out in the schedules of the Bill, but for the convenience of members I give the figures briefly now. For surface water the totals are: 1967-68 - $770,500; 1968-69 - $830,900; 1969-70 - $926,000. For underground water the totals are $625,100, $663,350 and $684,150, respectively.
I turn now to the Bill itself, the provisions of which are similar to the 1964 Act which it is designed to follow. Provision for grants in respect of expenditure by the States on stream gauging is contained in clause 4. Commonwealth grants will be provided, in accordance with the details specified in the First Schedule, to assist the States to attain the programme of expenditure necessary for the establishment of the basic network of gauging stations by 1974. In respect of each State, the Commonwealth grant will be the amount by which the expenditure exceeds the base year figure, until the base expenditure is doubled, after which the grant is on a dollar for dollar basis up to the ceiling set out in the schedule.
Financial assistance for underground water investigation and measurement is provided for in clause 5 of the Bill. In this case the Commonwealth pays two-thirds and the State one-third of the expenditure over and above the base amount up to the maximum shown in the Second Schedule. The Commonwealth totals have been allocated between the States on the basis of the States’ own proposed programmes of water resources assessment for this and the next two years.
The Bill also contains a number of machinery provisions of the kind normally incorporated in measures of financial assistance to the States. These include provision for approval of the proposed programmes by the Minister, provision for the making of advance payments to the States, and provision for submission of progress reports. The provision of works to conserve and use our water resources must be preceded by thorough investigation of the resources involved, so that adequate basic data for rational development are available. The programme of water resources assessment which all governments are undertaking has been devised with this end in view. I have much pleasure in commending the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Luchetti) adjourned.
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, it is expedient that the following proposed work be curried out without having been referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works: Construction of three additional equipment floors and one plant and amenities floor to the Haymarket Telephone Exchange, Sydney.
In October 1956 the Public Works Committee reported favourably on the proposal to erect a six-storey telephone exchange building in Haymarket, Sydney, and recommended that provision be made to strengthen the foundations and frames to take additional future floors. The building was constructed accordingly. Additional accommodation is now required urgently and it is proposed to complete the building by the addition of three equipment floors and one floor accommodating air conditioning and other plant and amenities at an estimated cost of $820,000. The design of the extensions will follow closely that of the existing building.
– As the Minister for Works (Mr Kelly) said, in 1956 the Public Works Committee reported on the original building and recommended to the Government that it should strengthen the foundations to enable the work now proposed to be undertaken when necessary. The recommendation now is that the further floors be added. In the circumstances, little will be gained by the Committee undertaking a further study of the proposal and it supports the motion.
– I think that the motion should be supported and the work undertaken as a matter of urgency because of the difficulties that could arise in the telephone system in Sydney if the work is not carried out speedily. I am given to understand that the work will provide for 15,000 new metropolitan telephone lines, for 3,000 new automatic telex services, for 20,000 trunk and junction channels and for 4,000 trunk switching inlets. I have spoken in the House previously about the inadequacy of the plans of the Postal Department to make telephones available in the city of Sydney and the extravagance involved in emergency measures that may become necessary in the future because of the lack of foresight. Anything that is done now to provide new services is to be commended.
One feature that should weigh favourably with the House is that this new installation will allow a greater subscriber trunk dialling service, known as STD, in the centre of Sydney. Sydney has not been fairly served with STD by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in the past. I have here a letter from the Department, dated 4th July last, which says that STD in Sydney is available to 11.5% of subscribers, in Canberra to 100%, in Melbourne to 50.6%, in Adelaide to 8.2% - a little worse than Sydney - in Brisbane to 78% and in Perth to 88.6%. It is shocking that Sydney, the premier city of Australia, should have been allowed to lag behind in this way.
This is not fair treatment. It is quite evident from the statistics provided to the House by the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) earlier in the year that Sydney has not had a fair go. The shortage of lines in Sydney, which is revealed by the number of deferred applications, is quite out of proportion with the position in Brisbane, a town favoured by the Postmaster-General, and in Melbourne, a town favoured by his Department. It is ridiculous that Sydney should have STD access for only 11.5% of subscribers whereas Melbourne has access for 50.6%, Brisbane 78% and Perth 88.6%. This is not a fair position. It shows that the Postmaster-General’s Department has not provided as well for the future in Sydney as it has in certain other capital cities. 1 ask the Postmaster-General for a specific statement as to what he intends to do in the course of the next few years to provide more STD channels for Sydney subscribers and how he proposes during the next two years to narrow the unfortunate and unfair gap that exists between Sydney and Melbourne and between Sydney and Brisbane. The Postmaster-General is in the House. This is an important matter. No doubt he will have the figures at his fingertips and will be in a position to make a statement to the House in a moment. 1 content myself at this juncture by commending the motion to the House. The proposed work may be an inadequate means of closing the present gap and giving Sydney a fair go, but at least it is a step in the right direction and perhaps we should be thankful for the small mercies - they are small mercies - that Sydney receives from the Postmaster-General’s Department.
– I feel bound, for two reasons, to support the proposition put by the Minister for Works (Mr Kelly). I am a member of the Public Works Committee and I recognise the significance of the points that have been made by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth). It is obvious that the Postmaster-General’s Department recognises the urgent need for this work to be done at the Haymarket telephone exchange. I may be accused of extravagance and exaggeration if I say that the Public Works Committee in 1956 should have recommended that this work be done then. However, the Committee acted wisely in recommending that the foundations be strengthened to enable the extra floors to be added after the building had been completed. However, the Postmaster-General’s Department may have erred by being too cautious in not seeking to have this work done in 19S6.
The information given by the honourable member for Mackellar is quite correct. However, he omitted to say that the 11.5% in Sydney covers 62,000 services. He pointed out that the proposed work will enable another 20,000 services to be provided. Easy calculation shows that this will mean an increase of only 4%. Even when the work is finished, only 15% of subscribers in Sydney will have access to STD services. 1 have waxed long on the need for the Pitt Street exchange and 1 know that the Minister for Works and the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) are trying to speed up the construction of this building. But unquestionably what the honourable member for Mackellar said is true. The telephone system in Sydney is a long way from meeting requirements. The PostmasterGeneral has made statements on the position in Sydney, but we cannot get away from the fact that a lot of mileage has yet to be made up in the Sydney metropolitan area. I commend the Minister for Works for recommending that the proposed work be carried out without having been referred to the Public Works Committee and I hope that the work will be undertaken quickly. I understand that tenders can be called by November and that the work may even be concluded by June next year. I sincerely hope that this project will come to fruition as planned by the Department and that we will see some effort made to make up the leeway. Perhaps a reflection of the action by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) in the last few days for a reconstruction of the Postmaster-General’s Department, together with efforts by the Minister for Works and the PostmasterGeneral collectively will result in a new era in which we can overtake or at least reduce the leeway in the standard of service in Sydney and also in the availability of services in Sydney, particularly in the telecommunications field.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 10 May (vide page 1929), on motion by Mr Hulme:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill, which was introduced in the latter stages of the last sessional period, is to amend the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1905-1966 to deal with pirate radio stations which could be established beyond Australian territorial waters but close enough to broadcast programmes to Australian audiences. There have been a few attempts to establish pirate radio stations near our shores. Two recent attempts have come to our notice; one was off the coast near Sydney and the other off the Gold Coast of Queensland. The one off the coast of New South Wales was planned to transmit programmes from three miles outside the Sydney Heads. It was reported that the Sydney university students who planned this station gained the technical information needed for its construction from the Postmaster-General’s Department. One of the students wrote to the Department saying that he was writing an essay on British pirate radio stations and needed technical information. The PostmasterGeneral’s Department was good enough to supply the information which was required to build the transmitter.
It is surprising how these pirate radio stations have been named after the gentle sex. Pirate broadcasting commenced off the Dutch coast in 1962 when Radio Veronica started beaming to Dutch audiences. Veronica came to a sad end when the ship was seized by the Dutch Government. Radio Caroline had two ships, one operating off the Essex coast and the other off the Isle of Man. I do not know whether she was able to seduce the Isle of Man, but this station seems to have been quite a problem to the British Government. We have not had much experience of pirate radio stations operating near Australia. The first one which was planned by the group of students to which I have referred was christened Radio Gloria. She was not much of a lady because, according to Press reports, she came on the air with a ninety second raspberry and then lapsed into silence. The report did not say whether the raspberry was directed against the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) who had indicated that he intended to jam the station. It is possible that the station operators had some foreknowledge of the proposed increased postal charges which were announced at about the same time as the Wireless Telegraphy Bill. The PostmasterGeneral may be able to inform the House why these stations are named after ladies. After all, we usually name our atmospheric disturbances after members of the fair sex. Hurricanes have been named Dora, Elsie and Gloria. We never seem to be able to find out why.
Apparently this legislation is directed more towards the syndicate planning to operate a pirate radio station off the Queensland coast. The ‘Australian’ of 6th March 1967 carried the following item:
A spokesman for the syndicate, Mr J. K. McCarthy, said: ‘We will not be breaking any law of the Commonwealth Constitution in transmitting from international waters.
If Mr Hulme is convinced the station will be illegal, why isn’t he planning court action instead of trying to jam us out of existence?’
The report went on to say that this pirate station was being backed by sixteen prominent Gold Coast businessmen and that it would broadcast from a ship anchored seven miles off the Surfers Paradise coast. We have not heard any more of the station recently - at least I have not heard of it - so perhaps it has gone out of existence or the idea has been dropped. The PostmasterGeneral was faced with the problem of how his Department could legally deal with these pirates. There is a deal of information from the United Kingdom and some European countries which have been faced with the problem of pirate radio stations. As I have mentioned already, the Dutch Government was the first one to be faced with this problem. That was in 1962. Although Mere was some doubts about the legality of the move, the ship was seized by the Dutch Government.
Another station was operated by Lord Sutch from a fort in the Thames. The venture ended with one person being drowned and another marooned at the fort, if I remember the reports correctly. In 1964 Radio Caroline and two others were started near the British coast. According to reports Radio Caroline said that it cost £Stg275,000 per year to run its two ships and that advertising revenue amounted to £Stg750,000. These stations were so suc cessful in Britain because of advertising. As is well known, cigarette advertising is banned on television and radio in Britain because of its harmful effects on teenagers. The pirate radio stations were able to broadcast cigarette advertising in a big way. Because the stations were catering for the young, the cigarette companies were providing quite an amount of the revenue for advertising which had an appeal to the teenager. The pirate stations here would not have that source of revenue to the same extent because we have no ban on cigarette advertising, either on television or on radio. In fact the Government encourages our teenagers to smoke by allowing glamorous advertisements, particularly on television, in which we often see lovely looking girls in bikinis advertising not only their wares but also different brands of cigarettes.
Despite the recommendations of the National Health and Medical Research Council regarding the banning of the advertising of cigarettes on television and radio the Postmaster-General so far has evaded his responsibilities in this direction. It is well known that the Government collects a lot in excise from the sale of cigarettes and that this is a source of revenue which is most important to the Government. Apparently it is more important than the health of our young people. The cigarette companies do not need pirate radio stations here to advertise their cancer causing goods because the Government enables them to advertise on commercial television and radio.
In January 1964 Britain and ten European countries, signed an agreement to outlaw broadcasts transmitted from outside national territory. Britain is now internationally committed to the ending of pirate radio stations. The agreement is known as the European Agreement for the Prevention of Broadcasts Transmitted from Stations outside National Territories. We in Australia are fortunate that the same problem does not arise because we are not close enough to other countries to be worried by other pirate radio stations. The only ones that we are concerned with are pirate radio stations which may be established here. It is important to remember that these stations can be a real danger to shipping because their transmissions can be on the same wave length as a ship to shore radio. In this way ships can be endangered. The safety of life at sea and navigation makes this legislation most important, provided that it is armed with sufficient teeth to do its job. Of course, we are not opposing the legislation but we will propose certain amendments to it.
I now wish to refer to a publication entitled ‘Legal Aspects of Pirate Broadcasting - A Dutch Approach’ by a Professor of International Law at the University of Leyden. He had this to say:
The very nature of radio and television broadcasting requires its regulation by governmental authority. Unlike Press and film, the use of which is - in principle - available to everyone, the limited number of broadcasting frequencies available makes it impossible to establish an unlimited number of broadcasting stations. Hence the need for ‘traffic control’. Without such control, the indiscriminate use of the available wave lengths, disregarding the legitimate interests of existing broadcasting stations and the needs of sea and air wireless communication and of radio navigation, would lead to chaos in the ether and harmful interferences with other radio stations, and might even endanger human life.
That gives some indication as to why it is important to have this legislation.
The Postmaster-General pointed out that Australia is a signatory to the International Telecommunication Convention and the associated radio regulations. One regulation specifically prohibits the establishment and use of broadcasting stations on ships. Another regulation lays down that no transmitter may be established or operated without an authorisation from the government in question. This Bill seems to meet the provision of the Convention and the regulations. It makes it an offence to establish or maintain a transmitter on a ship for an unauthorised purpose. It also makes it an offence to assist in unauthorised broadcasts or to render service for the operation of the ship and transmissions. It goes on and extends the jurisdiction of the courts in the States and Territories in order to cover these offences.
In the final paragraph of his second reading speech the Minister said that the Bill was less comprehensive than the legislation which it was found necessary to introduce in Great Britain. That is true enough. This legislation does not go as far as the British legislation. The United Kingdom legislation, for example, provides that a person is guilty of an offence if he advertises or invites another to advertise on a pirate radio station. The publishing of any advertisement relating to a station from which broadcasts are made or are to be made or the times at which a broadcast is to be made is an offence. We on this side of the House propose to introduce an amendment which will provide that a person shall not enter into any contract, agreement or arrangement for advertising knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that it was done in connection with an unauthorised broadcast. That would bring the legislation somewhat into line with the United Kingdom legislation. These stations could not operate if it were not for advertisements. So I think it is very important that we should give consideration to this amendment which would deal with the source of revenue of these stations.
The pirate stations in the United Kingdom were making a fortune. They appealed to the teenager. There were no talks on these stations, no weather reports and no news - just pop music which was served up by disc jockeys who were teenagers or near teenagers themselves. They talked the same language as their audience. With the records that were used free of copyright and with the low advertising rates the pirates were doing very well indeed. Radio London, for example, is said to have made a profit of £500,000 sterling a year. Many manufacturers have found the pirates a useful media for advertising their products. Maxwell House, Horlicks, the International Publishing Corporation and cigarette companies have made use of these stations.
It is interesting to note that in the report of the debates in- the House of Commons the main debate seemed to centre around the question of advertisements. The Tories seemed anxious to save the advertisers from any punishment as a result of supporting these stations by advertising on them. Here, of course, the Government has looked after those who would be advertisers, if a pirate station were ever established, by not providing any penalty for illegal advertising on these stations. The Minister himself has indicated that there are weaknesses in the Bill. This is one of them. I hope that he will have another look at this matter and perhaps have some second thoughts about it during the course of this debate. lt is true that there may be some difficulty regarding international advertisers, as happened in London, but an advertiser located in Australia could easily be caught. In the House of Commons debate the point was raised that the Gillette company possibly could get away with illegal advertising because the parent company was located in the United States of America whereas the Wilkinson Sword company would be effectively prevented from advertising its razor blades because it was a British company. But that does not alter the fact that we should follow the British Act and treat advertising on a pirate radio station as an offence. The British Act also makes it an offence if a newspaper publishes any advertisement relating to a station from which broadcasts are made. For example, the publishing of a programme of an illegal station is banned. We do not go that far. If we were faced with that situation we could do something about it. It would be an intolerable situation if a newspaper were allowed to publish advertisements or programmes on behalf of some pirate radio station which in fact was committing an illegal act. As I have said, this happened in the United Kingdom and action had to be taken in a Bill to make this practice an offence. Incidentally, I understand that the legislation which was passed last year came into effect only yesterday.
In the debate in the House of Commons the Tories used the argument that the Government was interfering with the freedom of the Press. They were quite prepared to allow the Press to defeat the will of Parliament. The British Act makes it quite clear that anybody in the country who gives assistance to pirate stations is liable to conviction under the Act The Opposition will propose an amendment the terms of which have been circulated. I shall deal with this question of illegal advertising on pirate radio stations when that amendment is debated in the Committee stage.
A further amendment that we will propose provides that there should be a higher penalty for the main offender and a lesser penalty for an offender who may be an accessory. The Minister has all of the offences jumbled up together in the BilL Everyone, whether he be the main offender or somebody who may have supplied that person with some gear, would suffer the same penalty. In our amendments we also provide for trial by jury, but I shall not deal with that matter at the present time. It will be better dealt with when we are discussing the amendments. Possibly the Minister has had an opportunity during the recess to study these amendments. He might be prepared to indicate that some of them are acceptable to the Government. I sincerely hope that they are acceptable because I cannot see anything in them that would do anything but assist in making this legislation much better for the purpose for which it is being introduced.
– The House is indebted to the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb) for his interesting and informative dissertation. 1 propose to deal with other aspects of this measure which we do not oppose fundamentally but in respect of which we think certain amendments ought to be accepted by the Government. One of the main points that I want to stress is the unique nature of this legislation. It illustrates some of the difficulties and limitations arising from our present limited Commonwealth Constitution. Our Constitution has been described as having been drafted by 1890 parliamentarians using as a model legislation of the United States of America of the 1780s. The Australian Constitution has been altered less than that of possibly any other country of similar advanced economic circumstances. In point of fact, our Constitution was drafted and adopted during a period when many of the modern means of communication were unknown. We live today in an age of revolution in communication; we live in an age when there is instant intercommunication between the whole of the human race. Our Constitution was never intended to deal with the present situation; it was framed before television, before radio, before earth satellites, before space exploration, before the complete change in the dissemination of information, before the changes in reading habits and in communications generally that have resulted from the scientific revolution of the last fifty years. As <a matter of fact, it is generally agreed among constitutional lawyers that our Constitution had to be strained to the limit - and good sense had to be used in the process by the High Court Bench - to enable even the existing legislation on wireless telegraphy to stand up to the assaults of the various people who had vested interests in subverting it. The chaos which exists today in certain parts of the world is typical of the failure of the human race to get together and act in concert.
Even this legislation is delightfully vague in its drafting. It might well have been patterned on that of the United Kingdom. I refer in particular to the preamble to the Bill, which describes it as a Bill for an Act to deal with broadcasting from ships in waters adjacent to the territory of Australia. To where do the territorial limits extend? It is true that the PostmasterGeneral has cited the provisions of an international convention on telecommunications, but we are coming to the point where there almost needs to be some ceding of national powers to an international body to deal with situations such as will arise in the implementation of this legislation. At present there is only the threat of pirate stations operating substantially off the Australian coast. Nevertheless the Government has chosen to be prompt and vigilant in introducing legislation that is pretty stern and sharp in the penalties that it provides - much sterner as to penalties than the comparable legislation in the United Kingdom.
It is worth examining the differences between this Bill and the English Act. For instance, our proposed legislation deals solely with broadcasting from ships. It does not deal with broadcasting from aircraft and it certainly does not deal with broadcasting from other stations that could be constructed - and I cite the work that is going on in the Bass Strait today - off the coastal waters of Australia and outside the territorial limits. In other respects, too, the United Kingdom legislation is infinitely more precise than this Bill. For instance, it does not try to cast a very wide net and so leave itself open to the legal challenges that would undoubtedly occur at a later stage. The United Kingdom legislation is precise in its definitions. The prohibition on operation in the case of the United Kingdom legislation relates to stations on any ship or aircraft within United Kingdom territorial limits. There is a further prohibition on United Kingdom ships or aircraft that are elsewhere, and I think that that is quite a reasonable approach. There is also a prohibition on operation from ships or aircraft that are within certain United Kingdom waters. The United Kingdom legislation also attacks the problem from another viewpoint entirely; it applies to citizens of the United Kingdom who are operating broadcasting stations on nonUnited Kingdom ships or aircraft on or over the high seas or from objects on the high seas. These are a much better approach and a much fairer definition.
I fully support the strictures of the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb). Here we have a situation under our Bill where a party to a crime - you might say, in a certain sense the principal in the crime - is exonerated, and the accessories through whom the crime is to be perpetrated are made the principals in the crime. There is no justification for the Government to bypass the terms of the English legislation. I quote clause 6 (2) of the Marine, etc., Broadcasting (Offences) Bill, which was passed in 1966 by the United Kingdom Legislature, as follows:
Where an offence under this Act which has been committed by a body corporate is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to be attributable to any neglect on the part of, a director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate, or any person who was purporting to act in any such capacity, he, as well as the body corporate, shall be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against accordingly.
The English Act goes on to provide that proceedings may be instituted at any time within two years of the commission of the offence. No time limit is prescribed in this Bill. Presumably the law of the State in which a prosecution is instituted will apply. In addition to that, the penalties provided are very stringent indeed and far exceed those in the United Kingdom legislation. In particular, there is a sweeping provision whereby an offending person may be fined very heavily or committed to a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years. That provision is loose in its terms. How the prosecution shall be instituted is virtually at the discretion of the Commonwealth. Section 9 of the Act in its present form provides:
Proceedings for any offence against this Act may be instituted in any Court of Summary Jurisdiction, and any person proceeded against under this section may be dealt with summarily or may be committed for trial.
We will be moving an amendment to provide that the accused person will at least have some discretion as to whether or not he will be tried by a magistrate, because if this provision is applied in its present form we will have the outrageous situation where power is conferred on a stipendiary magistrate, a police magistrate or a bench of magistrates to commit a man to prison for five years. In most States of Australia I think the limit in summary jurisdiction is two years’ imprisonment, and in many cases it is even less than that. I would like to hear from the Minister the justification for giving a magistrate in a summary jurisdiction the extreme power to impose such a savage, penalty. The alternative to this, of course, is the badge of freedom known as the jury system. This is something that has been fought for and won over the centuries. It is something which at present certain bureaucratic thinkers desire to circumvent. We hear arguments advanced that in certain civil actions the right of trial by jury should be abolished. In the matter before us a person has no right whatever to elect whether or not he will stand his trial before a jury of his fellow men. After all, a jury is a cross section of public opinion and in the final analysis it is from the jury that we get a true expression. There must be unanimity amongst those twelve men, and every man who is up for trial for his liberty is entitled to that elementary protection.
The Minister in his second reading speech referred to problems arising from the present situation. He referred particularly to the radio frequency spectrum being public property. He also said that the public was entitled to an assurance that appropriate control was being exercised. Certainly, the Opposition would agree with these most laudable sentiments. However, is that any justification for an attempt to hand out a penalty to the extent that is envisaged? Let us have a look at the penalties that are provided for in the English legislation. There, the penalty in a case that is covered by summary jurisdiction is a fine of £100 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding three months, or both. In the case of a conviction on indictment the penalty is a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years or a fine or both. What justification does this Government have for asking that a five year penalty be imposed by a magistrate in summary jurisdiction, in contra distinction to the English legislation? Undoubtedly in England there are pirate radio stations which are a humbug and a menace. The House of Commons after mature consideration has decided on penalties which are considered to be fair and reasonable in all the circumstances. I do, not propose to address myself further to the Bill at this stage. However, I will deliver my further observations during the Committee stages.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I refer to clauses 4 and 6 of the Bill, which read:
After section 6 of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - “ 6a. - (1.) Except as authorized by or under this Act, a person shall not, on a ship outside Australia but in waters adjacent to Australia -
in or in connexion with the navigation, working, operation or maintenance of a ship used, or to be used, in or in connexion with the making of unauthorized broadcasts;
Penalty: One thousand dollars or imprisonment for a term not exceeding Five years.”.
I seek leave to move four amendments.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
In clause 4 -
After sub-section (1.) of proposed section 6a insert the following penalty: “ Penalty: One thousand dollars or imprisonment for a term not exceeding Five years.”.
At the end of sub-section (2.) of proposed section 6a add the following paragraph:
enter into any contract agreement or arrangement for advertising, knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such advertising is to be done in or in connection with an unauthorised broadcast.”.
In sub-section (3.) of proposed section 6a omit the penalty, insert the following penalty: “ Penalty: Five hundred dollars or imprisonment for a term not exceeding One year.’.”.
In clause 6 -
Omit the clause, insert the following clause: “ 6. Section 9 of the Principal Act is amended -
by inserting in sub-section (1.), after the words ‘ Court of Summary Jurisdiction ‘, the words ‘having jurisdiction with respect to the offence; and
by omitting all words after’ section’ in subsection (1.) and inserting in their stead the words ‘maybe committed for trial or, “with his consent, dealt with summarily’.”.
At the outset I draw attention to the first amendment. The Opposition does not oppose the Government’s amendment in clause 6. After sub-section (1.) of proposed section 6a, the Opposition wants the words Penalty: One thousand dollars or imprisonment for a term not exceeding Five years’ inserted. This proposed section deals with the principal offender. He is the person who has established, maintained or used the station or appliance for the purpose of transmitting or broadcasting programmes. The penalty in this case may be considered in that regard.
Our amendment of sub-section (2.) directs attention to the fact that the people con cerned are secondary offenders and that although they may be culpable as accessories they should not suffer the same penalty as the principal offenders. Proposed sub-section (2.) (a) states that a person shall not: sell or otherwise supply to another person any goods knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, that the goods are for use -
Paragraph (c) states that a person shall not: do any act or thing in or in connexion with the navigation, working, operation or maintenance of any ship which the person knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is used, or is to be used, in or in connexion with the making of unauthorised broadcasts.
Finally, paragraph (d) provides that a person shall not: transport any goods to a ship which the person knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is used, or is to be used, in or in connexion with the making of unauthorised broadcasts.
For instance, the person concerned may only have been providing provisions for the ship without giving any thought to the fact that he was committing an offence. Some offences committed under proposed section 6a, sub-section (2.), could be quite minor ones compared to that of the main offender. Such offences would not warrant the threat of a $1,000 fine or five years imprisonment. The Opposition is not opposing what the Government seeks to do in sub-section (2.). However, we are opposed to the same penalty being applied to the secondary offender as is applied to the main offender. We think that there should be a different penalty. I shall refer to this shortly.
I want to draw attention to our second amendment which relates to new paragraph (e). We want this to follow paragraph (d) in clause 4 of the Bill. Our amendment is designed to provide that a person shall not: enter into any contract agreement or arrangement for advertising, knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such advertisingis to be done in or in connexion with an unauthorised broadcast. [ mentioned this matter a while ago. I again point out that these illegal stations could not operate if it were not for advertisements. However, there is not a penalty in this Bill for those who may supply the advertisements. In the United Kingdom most of the advertisements appeal to the teenager. I pointed out earlier that these stations do not broadcast talks or weather reports. They are interested only in the teenagers. Of course advertisements are actually making this form of broadcasting available. I think the lack of penalty for advertisers is a weakness in the Bill. It is one of the weaknesses to which the Minister referred in his second reading speech. I repeat that the British Act makes it an offence for a newspaper to publish advertisements relating to a pirate station from which broadcasts are made. The publishing of programmes is barred and the British Act makes it quite clear that anyone in the country giving assistance to pirate stations is guilty of an offence. In this legislation we should do likewise. I still do not think that the offence in the case of a secondary offender is as serious as that of the major offender.
As I said earlier, I do not think that a secondary offender should be subject to a $1,000 fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years. Our third amendment seeks to omit the penalty and to insert Penalty: Five hundred dollars or imprisonment for a term not exceeding One year’. This means that a lesser penalty would apply to what could be construed as the lesser offence. We say that the penalties that appear in the Act at present are far too severe to meet all cases. The penalty for the secondary offender should not be as severe as that for the principal offender. The. honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) pointed out that the British legislation lays down different penalties. He pointed out that on summary conviction a person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to a fine not exceeding £100, or both. Upon conviction on indictment, the penalty in Britain is imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or a fine, or both. In comparison, the penalty provided for in this Bill is very severe, particularly for those who commit the secondary offence. That is why we suggest that something should be done about the matter. The penalty appropriate to a particular case is decided by the court. We in this Parliament are responsible only for setting the upper limit to the penalty. In our opinion, the upper limit for the worst kind of offence covered by proposed new section 6a (1) of the principal Act should be higher than the upper limit for the secondary offences dealt with in proposed new section 6a (2).
I turn now to another provision in the Bill and to our proposed amendment, which was mentioned at the second reading stage by the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor). We propose an amendment to section 9 (1) of the Act which, in conjunction with that proposed to be inserted by this Bill, will have the effect of making the sub-section read:
Proceedings for any offence against this Act may be instituted in any Court of Summary Jurisdiction having jurisdiction wilh respect to the offence, and any person proceeded against under this section may be committed for trial or, with his consent, dealt with summarily.
At present no option is given to the individual charged. This Act relates to very serious offences as well as to secondary offences. Let us consider the position of a person charged with a serious offence for which he may be fined $1,000 or be imprisoned for a term not exceeding five years. As was mentioned in a debate in another place during the last sessional period, the thread that runs through all our laws is the principle that when a citizen is charged with a serious offence he has the right to trial by jury. Section 9 of the Act affects a person who may have committed an offence which, at the option of the prosecution, may render him liable to imprisonment for five years on conviction by a jury. But, without the person charged having any say in the matter, the court can deal with him without a jury. In other words, he may be dealt with in summary jurisdiction before a magistrate and, on conviction, may be imprisoned with or without hard labour for any period specified in the Act.
The serious feature of this situation is that a person charged may be proceeded against without being accorded the right of trial by jury despite the fact that he is charged with a major offence. The Crimes Act contains a provision that in most instances specifies that a person may be dealt with summarily only with his consent. Similar provision does not exist in this Act. The amendment that we propose will make this kind of provision. As the Act stands, a person charged with a serious crime could be summarily tried. He may be innocent of the crime and he may say: ‘I am not concerned about whether the punishment on conviction is imprisonment for six months or for five years. What I am concerned about is proving that I am innocent. I consider that if I am to do this I should have the right to trial by jury.’ The proper principle for us to adhere to is that a man charged with a serious offence is entitled to trial by jury. We want to ensure that an)’ person in such a situation has that right and we appeal to the Minister to look at the matter from that standpoint.
– Mr Chairman, I want to make only one short reference to my second reading speech. At the end of it, I stated:
The Bill is much less comprehensive than the legislation which it has been found necessary to introduce, for example, in Britain in order to deal with the pirate radio problem in Europe. Nevertheless, it is expected that the Bill will be adequate to deal with the situations which are likely to arise in the Australian environment. However, the matter will be kept under close study, and if, perchance, this legislation is found to be deficient the Government will bc prepared to consider more comprehensive provisions.
I suggest to the Committee that this afternoon the Opposition is endeavouring to pick one or two bits and pieces out of the comprehensive United Kingdom legislation and have them incorporated in the measure now before us, in order, perhaps, to give it the appearance of greater comprehensiveness. The honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb) mentioned attempts to establish pirate radio stations in Australia. He said that two such attempts had been made. In fact, there were three. The students of a university in Sydney - offhand, I am not certain which one - attempted to establish a pirate radio station beyond the three-mile limit off the coast outside Sydney. They did not get very far with their efforts. A group of university students in Adelaide endeavoured to do something similar off the South Australian coast. On that occasion an Opposition member in another place wrote to me suggesting that those concerned were only university students and that I should give them a fair go and let them have an opportunity for a week or so to conduct a pirate radio station. I insisted that we should not put them in any better position than anybody else in the community. Overall, the establishment of a pirate radio station is a very serious matter. The third attempt was in fact not finally made, though I believe that the preparations for it had been more extensive than in the two previous instances. On that occasion the proposal was made after the allocation of a licence for a station on the Gold Coast in Queensland. It is perhaps fair to say that it was made by a dissident group to express its feelings following the allocation of the licence rather than for any other particular purpose.
It seemed to me and to the Government desirable that we should endeavour to prevent future attempts by any organisation or group of people to implement this sort of undertaking in the future. I believe that the Opposition agrees with me about the seriousness of the attempts to establish pirate radio stations. This sort of endeavour is undesirable, firstly, because of the international obligations and treaties that we have entered into and, secondly, because normal reception from licensed stations can be interrupted by pirate radio stations. This second aspect may be minor in the total context but it is tremendously important from the standpoint of the Australian people. I think I indicated in my second reading speech that the radio spectrum is public property and that unless proper control is exercised matters could speedily get completely out of hand.
I believe, Mr Chairman, that in considering this measure we must bear in mind that Australia is not the United Kingdom. Geographically, Australia is separated by hundreds and even thousands of miles from other countries. Great Britain is not in such a situation. Therefore, perhaps, the extreme measures that are seen to b? necessary there are not seen to be required in Australia. This is the reason why we moved quietly into this field to make the provision that has been proposed rather than to attempt to adopt the much more complicated and much more comprehensive provisions that the British Government recently had inserted in the United Kingdom legislation. Nevertheless, I give an undertaking that if proposals for the establishment of pirate radio stations rear their ugly head in the future and we come to believe that we have not sufficient power to deal with them we shall not hesitate to introduce more comprehensive legislation.
This brings me directly to the amendments proposed by the honourable member for Stirling. He seeks to alter clause 4, which proposes the insertion of a new section 6a in the Act. The honourable member seeks to add after sub-section (I.) of the proposed new section a provision for a penalty of $1,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years. He also seeks to add at the end of sub-section (2.) an additional paragraph (e) in the terms set out in his amendment. He then proposes to alter the penalty which is set out at the end of the proposed new section and to substitute in its place a lesser penalty. He says that the major offence is that involved in contravening sub-section (1.). Perhaps he has not appreciated that it is more likely that the attempt would be made not by using an Australian ship but by using a ship registered in a foreign country, and of course if that ship remained outside the three-mile limit there would be nothing that the Australian Government could do to apprehend the ship or the persons associated with it. Therefore the penalty which he would impose would not have great significance in relation to the total operation.
It may be that in Australia we will have to give more attention to sub-section (2.) of this proposed new section, which would cover, if I may use a broad term, all the servicing operations connected with the ship, the programmes or the actual station. I think that we as a Parliament will have to look not so much to the ship itself, which would be perhaps a foreign ship, as to the persons in Australia who render the types of services envisaged in this sub-section. For this reason we as a Government believe that it is better that there be a very substantial penalty applying in both cases, and therefore the amendments moved by the honourable member in relation to penalties are not acceptable to the Government.
Then T come to the paragraph (e) which the honourable member seeks to add to sub-section (2.) and which deals with contracts, agreements, or arrangements in relation to advertising. As I said, I appreciate that these stations do not exist with out advertising, but I believe that the honourable member is again picking out something from the English Act which is only very minor, and I can see no virtue in including this additional paragraph at this time, especially having regard to the fact that there is no imminent problem associated with the possible introduction of pirate stations.
This leads me to the final amendment moved by the honourable member for Stirling. 1 sec no reason why this should be accepted. The existing provision has been in the Act for very many years, and I think it is unnecessary to alter this Bill merely by the acceptance of the honourable member’s final amendment.
– If I may paraphrase the Minister’s comment, he would say that any firm which chooses for its own commercial advantage to enter into a contract with an illegal firm, individual or organisation for the purpose of making an illegal broadcast off the coast of Australia will be quite immune from the penalties and sanctions of this legislation, but accessories to or after the fact will be made principals in the first degree and subject to the penalties. The instigating parties, the principals in the statutory offence, are to escape scot-free. I leave the Minister to make his own assessment of the morality of the situation.
That the amendments be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Hulme) - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from 1 1 May (vide page 2042). on motion by Mr McMahon:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition appreciates the importance of this measure to the people of South Australia. Accordingly it will facilitate the passage of the Bill. The resolution of the South Australian Government to provide sources of fuel and power is to be commended. The discovery in Australia of natural gas has made available to this country a new source of fuel. This is an interesting and encouraging development. With it come opportunities for expansion of our industrial potential. The fruits of this breakthrough in fuel and power supply will be enjoyed by all of our people.
In passing this Bill the Parliament will approve of financial help being given to South Australia for the construction of a pipeline to carry natural gas from Gidgealpa-Moomba to Adelaide. The total cost of the project will be$35m. The Commonwealth will lend to South Australia $15m and the South Australian Government proposes to set up a semi-governmental body to construct and operate the pipeline. Under the terms of the agreement South Australia is to raise $20m. Approval to borrow this amount was given by the Australian Loan Council at a recent meeting.
As 1 have said, the total cost of the project is estimated to be $35m. Upon South Australia rests the responsibility to make the operation of this pipeline a feasible proposition. The agreement provides that South Australia will accept responsibility for financing any short fall in semigovernmental borrowings below the figure of $20m. I reiterate that the$1 5m being provided by the Commonwealth is not in the form of a grant to South Australia; it is a loan. The loan will be repaid in half-yearly instalments over a period of eight years, the first instalment falling due on 15th December 1972 and the last on 15th June 1980.
I have given a broad outline of the financial arrangements associated with the pipeline as agreed upon between the Commonwealth and South Australia. Honourable members will appreciate that to find the funds needed to construct the pipeline will impose upon South Australia, at least temporarily, a great burden. The legislation is the outcome of an approach made by the South Australian Government to the Commonwealth seeking financial assistance to bring natural gas to the centre of the State. South Australia has given a high priority to its fuel demands. This is not evidenced only by recent developments; the whole history of South Australia, including the development of the Leigh Creek coalfields and other projects, demonstrates the spirit of the people of South Australia in meeting these responsibilities. As I have said, the financial assistance to be provided by the Commonwealth will not be in the form of a grant. It will be a loan to be repaid by the people of South Australia.
One of the outstanding omissions in the broad field of carriage of natural gas in Australia has been the lack of national leadership. One cannot be too scathing in condemning the Commonwealth Government for its failure to give leadership to the States. I ask honourable members to contemplate the scene as each State of the Commonwealth brings natural gas into the market in the service of the people of that State. There is no plan of resources development on a national basis at present. Our first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, spoke of Australia as one people with one flag and one destiny, yet this is not so in economic matters. Separate control in policy persists in economic matters, and the wise use of our national resources has been overlooked by the Commonwealth Government. It is left to the separate States to devise their own schemes for the use and delivery of their energy. This, of course, is also conditioned by the conduct of the successful oil company which has been able to find natural gas in South Australia.
The South Australian Government has acted in this matter because of the lack of national leadership. It was left to South Australia to take the initiative. One of the most serious problems hampering the unified development of Australia in the early days was the break in railway gauge. That was a problem in the broad matter of transport. Today we have this new source of energy and it is going to be left to individual States, with the pressure of the successful oil company, to determine where pipelines will be constructed. So we will have pipelines being built in each State to meet immediate needs and not for the overall good of the people and not to find further avenues of service, where gas can be taken to communities requiring it. This has been made clear by deputations to the State Government of Victoria and deputations to this National Government from representatives of communities throughout Australia which are asking that gas be taken to those areas in the cause of decentralisation and to bring a new service to the people there. One might add that in this respect the National Capital should not be overlooked in the delivery of gas. This facility should not be denied to the people of this area.
This lack of co-ordination is likely to be perpetuated under this Government in the construction of pipelines to distribute natural gas. Each State having its own pipeline system, its own size of pipeline and its own determination to take gas directly to the most lucrative market, indicates that the pipeline system in Australia will be dictated not on the broad basis of serving the nation - serving the continent - but on the basis of what is best within the confines of the State boundaries. One might well ask what is to come of the various fields. What is going to happen to the Mereenie field in Central Australia? Where will the gas be taken from that field? Is there any plan, or is there any order, in the mind of the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) regarding this matter? Quite obviously there is none.
Over the years the Australian Labor Party has advocated a national fuel and energy policy and has asked that one be formulated to deal with this matter. 1 put it to the House that before it is too late the Commonwealth Government should intervene and take positive steps to deal with this all important subject in respect of which there have been difficulties already. Problems related to the present position have been brought into bold relief by the top executive of the Australian Gas Light Company, Mr Pettingell, who has spoken out strongly against the distribution of gas from the Bass Strait, Barracouta and Marlin fields. This gentleman could provide one of the main distributing agencies for natural gas in Australia but, despite the organisation that he represents, apparently no action is being taken by the Commonwealth to meet the fuel needs of the major city of the Commonwealth - Sydney. This is just being left to chance. So I refer to this matter, not that it is directly related to the Bill before the House but because it does relate, in the broad sense, to the overall problem of the distribution of natural gas in Australia at present. Current problems must be corrected. One cannot be content with the situation wherein gas is left to the whims of those who find it or to the various States. Surely co-ordination is long overdue. There should be comprehensive legislation and a comprehensive code to cover the wide aspects of marketing this new source of fuel and heat for industry. The Labor Party has given thought to this and has made recommendations which could apply to South Australia, the State we are now considering.
We support this measure because we believe that action is required. Parliament should not hold up provision being made to enable the people of “South Australia to obtain this necessary source of energy. We believe that an overall national plan is long overdue. The Labor Party submits, therefore, that a national fuel and energy policy be formulated, enacted and administered by a Federal ministry of fuel and power so that, in co-operation with the States, natural gas and its derivatives will be used for the welfare of the nation as a whole as well as for the States and localities. The needs of localities must be taken into consideration. Such a policy would be to use and distribute, from a national viewpoint and on an integrated basis, all the agencies of fuel - coal, oil, natural gas and other sources of heat and energy. It would plan long term production patterns. It would avoid overproduction, uneconomic competition and uneconomic development and it would minimise imports. In commenting on uneconomic distribution I point out that the present system, with each State entering into the field in its own little way and each concerning itself with its most immediate and most lucrative market, must eventually and inevitably create an uneconomic situation when we are trying to bridge the gap and to link the sources of fuel between the States on a national basis. The Australian Labor Party says that a national pipeline commission should be established to act as an interstate common carrier of natural gas, crude oil or hydrocarbons in any form. These are responsible and sensible suggestions that are made by the Labor Party in the interests of the people of Australia.
The Australian taxpayer has been called upon to make considerable contributions to the search for natural gas and flow oil. Some $60m has been spent. It is true that the oil companies have spent some $250m but they have created assets of over $K)0m for oil and have found natural” gas assets worth over $500m. These figures no doubt have been substantially increased by recent discoveries. I put it to the House that this
National Parliament has a responsibility to bring order to the jigsaw of development of our resources, to ensure that development is wisely planned, that our gas supplies are taken to market in an orderly manner and that the community generally, and not only the communities in the capital cities and big towns, benefits and derives happiness from this new source of power that has been found in our country. These resources belong to the people of Australia, and I ask the Parliament, in passing this Bill, to look to the future and devise plans so that a national pattern will emerge and the nation will have leadership from the Parliament in this field.
– 1 have always been interested in the advent of natural gas to Australia and 1 have been especially interested in the Gidgealpa- Moomba field since exploratory work began in 1963. 1 believe that the discovery of natural gas will make a great impact ‘on South Australia and will be of particular significance to the Spencer Gulf area, in which 1 live. It is interesting to note that the exploratory work leading to the discovery of the GidgealpaMoomba field was done under the Government of Sir Thomas Playford. Natural gas has opened up a new era of national development. It is encouraging to be able to support a Bill that demonstrates the interests of the Commonwealth Government in such projects throughout Australia, lt is particularly gratifying to me, as a South Australian, to see that the need for this development in the Slate has been recognised in this tangible way. This is an indication that the Commonwealth recognises the necessity to assist in the future development of South Australia.
Much has been said in the Spencer Gulf area about the proposed route of the pipeline from Gidgealpa to Adelaide. I have listened to several competent experts who have said that the logical way is to follow the western route along the railway line to Port Augusta and Port Pirie and thence to Adelaide, with branches to Whyalla and Wallaroo. They maintain that this will avoid the need to provide access roads to serve the more rugged eastern route, which is planned to follow a more direct path to Adelaide over undeveloped rough terrain in the north and through predominantly agricultural land lower down. It is the opinion of economic geologists that it is desirable to transport gas to the nearest seaboard and, with the industrial complex in the northern section of the Spencer Gulf area, this would seem to be the sensible way to bring the gas to Adelaide, if it is to be used to the best advantage of the State and to make some worthwhile contribution to decentralisation. It has been proved in America and Canada that industries will go where natural gas is available, lt is unreasonable to believe that the opposite would occur. Many people in the northern part of the State have voiced their opinions on this subject and have asked the State Labor Government to conduct detailed surveys of the two proposals before making a decision. Public meetings have been held in an attempt to influence the Slate Government not to ignore this area. The State Liberal-Country League Opposition has been persistent in its requests for more details concerning the two routes and has advocated that more consideration bw given to the northern industrial cities. Despite this, the Government has decided to adopt the eastern route. In my opinion, this will lead to greater development in the metropolitan area at the expense of decentralisation. Even though the western route may be slightly more expensive in the initial singes, it would provide for more development in the future. I believe, therefore, that the policy now being adopted by the State Government is shortsighted.
I have heard many comments outside the House by honourable members and by other people who are concerned more directly with the distribution of natural gas. They display concern about the national approach to this problem. I believe that an interstate coordinating committee should be established to look into the question of standardisation of pipeline schemes throughout the Commonwealth. lt could formulate a plan for a national grid system into which State resources could be channelled. This would cuter for all industrial and potentially industrial centres throughout the country and would be a great step forward in national development. It would ensure that the maximum benefit would be derived from natural gas in Australia. For example, a pipeline network could start from the MereeniePalm Valley fields in the Northern Territory. This is the largest source currently discov ered. The pipeline could go to Oodnadatta, follow the railway line south to Port Augusta and Adelaide and pick up a feeder line from the Gidgealpa-Moomba field en route. Smaller branch delivery pipelines could be introduced to serve Whyalla, Port Pirie and Broken Hill. I might say at this stage that proximity to a railway line would be a distinct advantage, particularly through outback Central Australia .and the north of South Australia. A trunk pipeline could be directly along the railway to Ballarat in Victoria and thence through major centres to Melbourne. This could be continued in a similar manner through New South Wales to Newcastle, with a possible link to Queensland. This system has been discussed by engineers and seems to be a feasible suggestion that is worthy of serious consideration.
The Commonwealth Government has shown that it will give sympathetic consideration to requests by States for aid in building gas. pipelines that will assist decentralisation. This would seem to leave the way open for a further request from the South Australian Government for assistance in the provision of a branch line to serve the northern part of the State. As yet no such approach has been made and 1 hope that it will not be long before a case is prepared and presented so that this important area will be provided with the stimulus necessary to promote further industrial expansion. The Bill provides for approval by the Australian Loan Council of borrowings up to $20m guaranteed by the Commonwealth, to be expended on the pipeline during the period ending 30th June 1972. This is in addition to the South Australian semigovernmental programme. Further to this, the Bill provides for bridging finance by way of Commonwealth loan during the construction period up to a maximum of S15m, as it is needed to complete this project iri accordance with the construction timetable. The Commonwealth’s assistance to -the State Government has enabled South Australia to take the lead in the field of natural gas distribution, in Australia. I have very much pleasure in supporting the Bill.
– As my colleague, the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) said, the Opposition naturally supports the Bill and expresses its extreme gratification at the initiative of the South Australian Government. The discovery of natural gas in Australia must in the long term be of major importance and benefit to the Commonwealth. In the short term it undoubtedly poses constitutional, legal and economic problems in its exploitation and use. These problems are associated with Federal and/or State ownership, the granting of licences, the payment of royalties, the period and area of licences, the rights of renewal, the sale price of natural gas and legislation for its transmission by intrastate and interstate pipelines. Further problems relate to the regulation of uneconomic competition with existing sources of heat and energy and the development of an integrated petrochemical industry with natural gas as an exclusive feedstock.
In addition to the inexperience and ineptitude of the Federal and certain of the State governments in dealing with these matters there is also, as the honourable member for Macquarie has already mentioned, the overriding handicap of the lack of a national fuel policy and the absence also of the portfolio that every advanced industrialised country has, namely, a Ministry of Fuel and Power. There is the further problem of the major scale of finances required for the cost of constructing transmission and reticulating pipelines. There is, of course, the besetting and age old problem of interstate parochial rivalries to which I shall refer Shortly.
In the spate of publicity which has been associated with the various discoveries of natural gas there have been some over optimistic projections of its use and benefits by certain sections of the metropolitan Press with a penchant for dramatic predictions. It can be broadly accepted that the existing discoveries of natural gas are, in total, adequate to meet Australia’s needs for at least a generation and even much further into the foreseeable future. This I want to stress particularly: it would appear that the Federal Government in respect of the Continental Shelf and in the Northern Territory at the Mereenie field has sovereignty over approximately 50% of all proven resources. The honourable member for Grey (Mr Jessop) - I regret that he has had occasion to leave the chamber - made passing reference to the need for a general linking of the pipelines between the various proven fields. In that regard the Opposition has been giving considerable attention to the matter and has evolved something which the Government is both incapable of formulating and is unwilling to formulate, namely, a national fuel policy.
We believe that a national fuel and energy policy should be enacted and administered by a Federal Ministry of Fuel and Power and under this Ministry in cooperation with the States natural gas and its derivatives should be used for the welfare of the nation as a whole, as well as for the States and localities. Such a policy would be to use and distribute, from a national viewpoint and on an integrated basis’, coal, fuel oil, natural gas and all other Australian sources of heat and energy. We would plan for the long term production pattern to avoid over production, uneconomic competition and uneconomic development and, above all, to minimise imports of petroleum crudes. In addition we would provide for the planned distribution by pipeline, sea, air, road or power grid of the various types of fuel and energy available. In particular we would define a policy for the use of Australian oil and natural gas along these lines. We would of course review the period, the area and the royalties of petroleum production permits for the Continental Shelf and in the Commonwealth Territories to conform to current overseas standards.
A national pipelines commission would naturally be established to act as an interstate carrier of natural gas, crude oil or hydrocarbons in any form and, as the honourable member for Grey broadly adumbrated, such a natural gas ring pipeline would connect the Mereenie, Gidgealpa, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sale, Sydney, Brisbane, Roma and Gilmore areas.
In addition to that, separate developments would be required for the natural gas pipeline from Barrow Island to Perth and the cost of the system would be provided by the revenues derived. There is no need for me to expatiate on the need for decentralisation to which this Government has paid lip service, but if ever decentralisation is to be accomplished in Australia it will not be done merely by providing adequate supplies of water but will be brought about also by the provision of adequate cheap, economic and readily available sources of heat, power and energy. A ring main of this type could be tapped at various points and would undoubtedly provide something which would really give an impetus to the true development of inland Australia.
The development of the GidgealpaAdelaide pipelines is to be welcomed. It is unique in this respect, that free of the besetting difficulties of interstate rivalries the South Australian Government has been prepared to act within its own boundaries. South Australia had a considerable initial advantage in that it has not had to capture a market from competitive fuels. Because of the limitations in the heat content of the brown coal it has been possible for the South Australian Government to utilise the calorific content of its natural gas resources for the generation of electricity. That, on present standards at least, is something that could not be attempted in the black coal States. Possibly it could not be attempted in Victoria either where there are adequate and higher calorific value brown coal deposits. To put the matter in perspective, I believe it should be realised that much of the talk of adequate markets is largely limited by the overseas experience. The situation in the United States is a case in point. After thirty years of reticulation, natural gas still does not provide more than 30% to 35% of the heat and energy needs of that vast industrial giant. In Canada, after some fifteen years of development of natural gas production and reticulation, it has captured between 15% and 18% of the total energy market. Domestic supplies would represent only 2% of the potential total market.
The true potential market in Australia definitely lies in the huge industrial complex extending along the eastern coast of New South Wales from Newcastle to Sydney and through to Wollongong. Within that area, it has been estimated, over 50% of the ultimate potential for the consumption of natural gas will be found. The estimate has been further made that 75% of the ultimate usage of natural gas will be for industry. In the steel industry it is doubtful at this stage, with its present technology, whether anything can be done in the reduction of iron ores by the use of natural gas. It is equally quite certain in the case of coal that the generation of power in the thermal power stations now supplied by black coal could be supplemented by natural gas. Nevertheless there are other fields in which a very substantial market can be provided. Again, perhaps just to temper the enthusiasm of some of the more perfervid advocates of natural gas reticulation in an early stage, I mention that in the city of Brisbane it was only because of the ability to associate the main from the Moonie field with the petrochemical industry which was established there by one of the petrol companies that it could be made economically viable.
The cost of reticulation of natural gas by pipeline is a major limiting factor. In that regard the figures are particularly interesting. In the case of the Gippsland supplies from Sale to Melbourne, the figures which I quote are those for a pipeline capable of providing 1 million cubic feet of natural gas per day - the pipeline would cost $S0,000 per mile. That can be multiplied by a possible potential of 100m cubic feet for a start for the City of Melbourne. In the case of Sydney the figures jumped up astronomically to $220,000 per mile for a similar pipeline of one million cubic feet capacity per day. In the case of Adelaide, the figure for Gidgealpa was $363,000 per mile on a similar basis. For Brisbane it was $400,000 and for Perth $733,000.
Also, considerable competitive difficulties will be encountered by natural gas. It must break into markets held by existing forms of fuel and power. The latest figures published by the Joint Coal Board show that in 1954- 65 considerable inroads into the black and brown coal market had been made by petroleum products. The figures for usage in that year were: Black coal 37%, brown coal 12%, petroleum products 43%, hydroelectric power 7% and firewood 1%. In 1954-55 the relative figures were: Black coal 53%. brown coal (0%, petroleum products 30%, hydro-electric power 4% and firewood 3%. In other words, in a decade petroleum products have made inroads into the fuel and power market to the extent of 13%. There has been a drop of I4?i in the CASE of black and brown coal combined.
The Australian energy market is fragmented by geography. We face very great problems in terms of costs and reticulation.
But to return to the particular case of South Australia, we find that this State, because of its geography, has overcome the problems which beset the supply of natural gas to the State of New South Wales. Here we see an outstanding and outrageous - in fact, one might say a noisome - example of interstate parochial rivalry. One of the most remarkable features of the present situation regarding the supply of natural gas is the complete, utter and deliberate failure by the Commonwealth Government to exercise its sovereignty in respect of the continental shelf. In 1958, by proclamation, the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, asserted Australia’s right to the control of the waters of the continental shelf. In the terms of the International Convention on the Continental Shelf that meant all land under waters up to a depth of 200 metres. That includes the whole of Bass Strait. We have this astonishing and outrageous situation where the Esso-BHP group is conducting drilling operations in Bass Strait on Commonwealth territory and its operations are being regulated by the State of Victoria.
No-one objects to Victoria having its own supplies. Everyone in Australia will wish Victoria well in its industrial development. But I want particularly to refer this House to the interchange of correspondence between the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) and the Premier of Victoria. This correspondence is dated 16th, 21st and 23rd February last. It is attached to the ministerial statement on offshore petroleum which was tabled by the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) in this House on 28th February. The Prime Minister’s letter of 16th February to the Premier of Victoria stated:
We are agreed that Victoria should not be required to approve any transaction for the sale of natural gas interstate which would have the effect of putting Victoria at a disadvantage in relation to that interstate purchaser having regard to . . . the conditions of such sale and their relation to sales already effective in Victoria, and the effect of the cost of transmission to any such interstate market.
The Prime Minister stated further in the correspondence:
The effect of that combined correspondence would be to impose on the State of New South Wales a crushing price disadvantage compared to the price in Victoria in respect of any natural gas that it would attempt to procure from Commonwealth territory across the State of Victoria. It would place Victoria with its stinking governmental parochialism in the position of interposing itself to prevent these supplies coming to New South Wales at a proper price.
In other parts of the world, the established price of natural gas is of the order of He per therm. Sometimes it is a little more than that in respect of initial supplies. There is a primary charge, but averaging it as a whole it works out at lie per therm.
Sir Henry Bolte, for reasons best known to himself, and as yet not disclosed to the people of Australia or Victoria, chose to commit the State of Victoria to a contract under which natural gas is to be purchased at 3c per therm, and by the time transmission costs to Melbourne are added it would be 3.9c per therm at the city gate. Under the terms of this legislation Sir Henry Bolte, having decided the price structure in Victoria - for which he can answer to the people of Victoria - is given full right and licence to impose that condition on New South Wales. Was there ever a more disgraceful, pathetic and parochial attitude than this one? Is it any wonder that the Australian Gaslight Company has deliberately threatened in calculated and well chosen words that it will challenge the constitutional position? Here wc have the Prime Minister choosing to present New South Wales with a fait accompli. Victoria could go ahead as it liked on the basis of parochialism and decide a price structure that quite remarkably was related to certain other prices operating in Victoria in respect of fuel and power.
By more than a coincidence, the retail price of fuel oil in Victoria varies according to the locality between 3£c and 4J-c per therm. By a curious coincidence, the price of brown coal varies between 31c and 4c per therm. If Sir Henry wanted to protect his own brown coal industry from the impact of natural gas that was a matter for him. But at this time he is being given leave and licence to flout the Constitution.
If any honourable member in this House chooses to consult section 51 (i) of the Constitution he will see that the Commonwealth has full power to regulate interstate trade and commerce. What is the Government prepared to do about it? When will there be a discussion of the ministerial statement that was made by the Minister for National Development? We are waiting for that discussion. We will cut him to pieces on it. We will have every justification for doing it. This is a scandalous and outrageous state of affairs. We want to deal with big Australians, not with little parochial individuals who are prepared to put the interests of their own petty principality before those of the Australian people, lt is a disgrace and an outrage. Even the members of the Country Party in the recent Victorian State election chose to come out and lash the Victorian Government for what it was doing and to disagree with it in the most trenchant terms.
– What docs the honourable member know about it?
– The honourable member for Gippsland was one of them.
– Yes. He could well go back into the swamps whence he came. In conclusion, we want to see the assets of Australia conserved for the people of Australia; we want an end to parochialism; we want an end to a set-up of this description where the Government of New South Wales is mesmerised and is not prepared to act in the best interests of its own State. The Government of New South Wales has no pipeline policy, has no Pipelines Act in contemplation and is prepared to do nothing to challenge the Victorian Government because they are both of the same political group, but we will expose, for the information and benefit of the people of Australia, this scandal in relation to natural gas.
- Mr Speaker, I regret I did not hear the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) leading for the Opposition in this debate. However, I did hear the honourable member for Grey (Mr Jessop) and the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) and it is apparent that the feeling seems to be there is a great need for planning in the early stages of the development of our natural gas deposits. This Bill relates to a financial agreement between the Commonwealth Government and South Australia, with one specific purpose - assisting in the financing of capital works on the GidgealpaMoomba field in the north-east of South Australia. The total cost will be in the vicinity of $35m, but that is not the figure that the Commonwealth Government is involved in. There should be nothing very remarkable about that because this is just another incidence of the Commonwealth Government giving financial assistance to one of the States for works of a developmental nature. I speak now because I feel that this line is amongst the first of what could be many in this country in the future. We have already heard from the honourable member for Cunningham about our general fuel situation in this country. He started off with firewood. I think we can dismiss that because of the economics concerned. He then went on to the coal position. Undoubtedly, coal still enjoys a very great demand in Australia, but I feel it is most economically used close to its point of production because of the high cost of transport. Cost of transport seems to be one of the major factors that affect people in the country who are called on to use coal produced some distance away. There is still great room for improvement in hydro-electric schemes, but at the same time there is a distinct limit on what can be done with hydro-electricity in this continent of ours, the driest of all continents. This brings me to petroleum products. What a tremendous change there has been in the scene here over the past couple of decades in the usage of petroleum. One of the reasons has been the conversion of our rail system to diesel fuel. Farming operations have also become more and more mechanised, and largely the type of fuel used has changed over the last couple of decades, from kerosene and petrol to diesel fuel. I also want to refer here to oil heating because this I think is covered by the Bill. Oil heating has grown to such an extent in this country, both in city and country areas, that we can think of some coal gas undertakings that have been set up in provincial cities and towns under big borrowing programmes that are now beginning to run at a loss, and this is causing embarrassment to some local government organisations.
The extent of the use of petroleum products is a matter which greatly concerns me. lt is a rather alarming situation because of our vulnerability, and I feel we must look at it against that background. This dependence on oil calls for the development of large tanker fleets. We know of the efficiency of the modern submarine and the development of measures against submarine warfare. The tremendous demand for. oil as a fuel should cause us to turn our thoughts to the provision of alternative types of fuel to stand us in good stead in an emergency. I refer particularly to natural gas and petroleum products produced in Australia. Of concern also is the means of storing fuel. We must also consider the development of atomic power. We are making excellent progress in the development of our natural gas and petroleum resources. In the atomic field our activities to date have been creditworthy so far as they have gone, but we have to remember that in this country we have not reached the stage where we can generate atomic power. This is something that all of us in this country look forward to. Apart from some insignificant use made of if in Queensland, the development cf natural gas in Australia is in its infancy. We should be planning for the future development of our natural gas resources. Substantially, this is a matter for State administration, but the Commonwealth is constitutionally able to assist. The GidgealpaMoombaAdelaide line is probably the forerunner of many such lines to come, both within individual States and between States. The point I wish to make is that there is need now for formulation of a proper policy by the Commonwealth Government and the State Governments which will hold good for many years to come and lead to controlled development in the use of natural gas The need for this will be coming up soon with the Gippsland gas discoveries. We were told by the Minister for National Development that the Australian Gaslight Co. is likely to purchase gas from the Esso-BHP field at Barracouta and Martin. Undoubtedly, financial assistance will be called for at some time in the future. Different routes have been investigated from these places to Sydney; one nearer the coast going through Cooma and Goulburn and one further inland through Albury, Wagga and Cootamundra. The difference in the cost of the two routes is $10 1/2m. That sounds like a lot of money. The Minister for Air (Mr Howson) is at the table. I remind the House that this sum would probably be about the price of three lighter bombers. Although this is a large >um of money, I think we should not be bluffed by it.
I approve the Bill. The decision involved here is not very complicated, but in the absence of any assurances i would like to ask two questions: Firstly, is this Government, in co-operation with Slate governments, attempting to formulate a sensible policy for the construction of pipelines in the future, both within States and inter-state? Secondly, while the Government acknowledges that reasons of economy largely govern this particular problem, does the Government accept that the use of natural gas in the future can have a developmental role? In other words, will the long term economy be considered rather than the immediate short term return of capital outlay, and will the construction oi the pipeline mentioned in ‘he Bil! be the forerunner of a well planned and well controlled system of reticulation of gas in the future?
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– 1 support the Bill before the House. It is designed to obtain the approval of the Parliament to an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia for the provision of financial assistance to South Australia to finance the construction of a $35m pipeline to carry natural gas from the Gidgealpa-Moomba area in the north east of South Australia, a distance of some 480 miles. I believe the project is the first major venture of this type in Australia. The Treasurer (Mr McMahon), in his second reading speech, clearly indicated that the Commonwealth accepts the South Australian Government’s views on the technical and economic soundness of the proposals put before them by Mr Frank Walsh, the then Premier of South Australia, on behalf of his Government. The Bill provides for the pipeline to be financed as a result of Australian Loan Council approval of a South Australian request to borrow up to $20m between now and 1972. This is in addition to the normal South Australian semi-government loan programme.
The Bill also contains an agreement by the Commonwealth to provide, or loan, additional sums up to a maximum of S 15m during the construction period to bridge the gap between the $20m made available by Loan Council approval and the actual cost of the pipeline. I understand that the agreement between the parties also provides that in all the financial arrangements, no moneys will be spent until such time as the field at Moomba is further developed: This development, I believe, is proceeding. With all the drilling that has taken place up to the present, every hole has indicated the presence of natural gas. Unfortunately, some of the work that has been done has shown that the gas is not as plentiful in the lower regions as in the first and second holes that had been drilled prior to June of last year. However, T am pleased to i-ay that the No. 5 hole, as it is known, has reached the best expectations and in this instance it is considered that it will prove most successful. This means that the pipeline authority that has been set up by an Act of the South Australian Parliament can now proceed with the necessary arrangements that are to be made. With the satisfactory proving of the Moomba field, combined with the resources of the Gidgealpafield, the stage has been reached where the Bechtel Pacific Corporation, which is the consultant, may proceed with the development of the pipeline in its entirety.
The project is one of vital importance not only to South Australia but to the nation as a whole and as such it is awaited with great expectation by the people of South Australia. The scheme has been discussed at length in the Parliament of South Australia and other places. It has been the subject of considerable newspaper, television and radio comment and as far as I am aware the only minor criticism made against it has been in relation to the route of the pipeline. This criticism was repeated again this afternoon by the honourable member for Grey (Mr Jessop). Such criticism, I suggest with respect, has been made either as political propaganda or without knowledge of the facts. In this connection, in order to clear up any misconceptions, I propose to quote some remarks made by the former Premier of South Australia which should, I believe, completely answer the few misguided critics. I quote from page 3433 of the South Australian Hansard of 7 th March 1967, where Mr Walsh is reported to have said:
As a result of a report to the Government on the estimated quantities of gas in the Gidgealpa and Moomba fields, it was considered that a better than twenty year supply of natural gas was available. We requested the Bechtel organisation to investigate the possibility of using the shortest possible route for a pipeline to deliver gas economically to Adelaide which, after all, would be the biggest consumer. 1 have already indicated that, as a result of the case 1 presented to the Prime Minister last September,-
I emphasise the last part of the quotation: the financing of the scheme relied, in principle, on using the shortest and most direct route.
At page 2053 of the South Australian Hansard on 5th October 1966 Mr Walsh is also on record as saying on behalf of his Government:
If it is an economic proposition to deliver gus to Wallaroo, Port Pirie or Whyalla, gas will be sent there when the main trunk line is delivering gas to Adelaide. Also, if the people of Broken Hill determine that they need natural gas, a subsidiary line will be taken there. All these matters are associated with the economics of the proposition.
Whilst on this particular aspect it is interesting to note that during the debate on this matter in the South Australian Parliament a former Liberal Minister - I repeat, a Liberal Minister - who was the member for Burra, stated that when the MorganWhyalla water pipe line was to be duplicated, argument was then used to deviate the main pipeline so that it would serve Burra and Booborowie. This action was not taken but these towns were later accommodated by branch pipelines from the trunk main at a cost of less than the cost of one mile of the original or main pipeline. In other words, the people were eventually satisfied. All the people who wanted water were accommodated but the cost to the Government would have been much lower if they had put the line straight through instead of going to every nook and cranny. Even though this was a water pipe the same sort of situation would exist in regard to a gas line.
I commend the Bill to the House and at the same time pay a tribute to Mr Walsh and his Government for the manner in which they prepared and presented their case on this important project both to the State of South Australia and the Commonwealth.
– Although I support this Bill I do so with some reservations because it does not seem to me that the scheme has been properly considered. It may be that the scheme will turn out to be all right. However, I do not think that the necessary work has been done in order to guarantee this or in order to fit the scheme into the major development of natural gas in Australia. Honourable members will have read the reports which were set out in detail and presented in about November last year to the South Australian Parliament. Why do I say these things? Firstly, because although the scheme is economically sound, given its presuppositions, I doubt whether those presuppositions which depend on a projection for twenty years ahead will, in point of fact, be carried. If honourable members will look at Table 3 of the report which was presented to the South Australian Parliament they will see that the future economics of this line depend very largely upon using the gas for base load electricity in the South Australian network. This is probably a correct assumption over the short term. However, a gas pipeline has got to serve over a long term. Looking ahead, one would say that this will probably saddle South Australia with dear electricity in the future if the dependence upon the electric generation base load market is to be maintained. I say this because it seems to me almost inevitable that in the span of twenty years the cost of generating power from sources other than natural gas will fall drastically.
I am not moved so much by the feeling that natural gas should not be wasted on base load electricity because it is, shall we say, in short supply in Australia. The reason why I am not moved by this consideration is that I believe that the discoveries of natural gas will be considerably greater than is at present thought possible. This is not a certainty, of course, but I think it is highly probable that our supplies of natural gas will not be limited in the foreseeable future. At present we have a very large natural gas field in Bass Strait with probable extensions to both the north east and the west. This is a major field capable of supplying Sydney and Melbourne for some time. We have the Gidgealpa and Moomba fields about which we are talking now. It is unlikely that they have total re serves of less than li trillion cubic feet of gas, and they probably have a great deal more. About 600 or 700 miles to the northwest of the Gidgealpa field there is the much bigger Mereenie-Palm Valley field. Only a very pessimistic person would not say that this field had reserves of 4 or 5 trillion cubic feet of gas, and probably much more. These reserves are not already proved, but it would be extremely bad luck if they did not turn out to be as large as I have suggested. At Gilmore and elsewhere in central Queensland we have other big shows. These, though not entirely proved, are highly promising. The Roma field has been a sporadic producer and somewhat disappointing, but the central Queensland fields have a great deal of promise. Detached from these by the trans-Australian. span, we have the fields of the Western Australian axis extending from Barrow Island almost certainly down to Perth and probably a good deal further to the north. These fields are not of interest to the east coast because they are too distant, but they will be of great significance to the west coast.
I would like honourable members to think for a little of the eastern part of Australia. This is not because I think the west is unimportant or has only small reserves. I believe that the west is important and that it has big reserves of natural gas. But it is so distant that the fields there can be regarded almost as a separate system when development is considered. Here I find myself in some measure of agreement with the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor). I am glad that he has now taken a view that I have been stating for some time. I believe that in the eastern part of Australia we should be legislating for the construction of a large diameter ring main to reticulate gas from the various sources in the cast and reduce dependence on one source and to distribute the gas to the points where it is needed. Here, a very simple principle can be adduced: The cost of a gas main varies almost exactly as its diameter, up to a diameter of 36 inches of thereabouts. A 36-inch diameter pipe line will cost something like twice as much as an 18-inch diameter line to lay, but the volume of gas that can be carried varies not as the diameter but as the square of the diameter.
Again, this is merely an approximation. Those who want to go into the subject more exactly will think of the Panhandle formula and things of that character. I do not want to weary the House with details. The volume of gas carried will vary as the square of the diameter. So, if we have the market - I emphasise that - a main of large diameter is much cheaper to build than one with a small diameter. The main of 18 inches diameter about which we are talking is a comparatively small one. Perhaps its construction is not fully economic as it is at present to be located. However, I suppose that we have to start somewhere.
What is being done now constitutes an experiment. It is, I think, a proposal that has some uneconomic features but it may be worthwhile ‘ for us to consider it as a first pilot scheme, even if it has to be scrapped and discarded as uneconomic in the next ten years. If this happens, it will not be because the figures given to us are wrong but because the projections of power costs probably are based wrongly and because it would be more economic to build now the sections of line that could be integrated into a scheme of large diameter mains. I am sorry that the Commonwealth Government has not taken an overall view of this matter and has not perhaps suggested that it will finance part of a large diameter main in excess of South Australia’s present requirements so that such a main could be integrated into a general scheme of large diameter mains. The big markets for natural gas lie, of course, in the large cities of Sydney and Melbourne. These are the markets that primarily should be developed. The Gidgealpa field lies almost on a straight line drawn between Mereenie and Sydney, passing not very far south of the Gilmore field. A pipe line from Gidgealpa to Sydney could perhaps be deviated to pass near Broken Hill. The availability of natural gas supplies at that centre could change and immensely improve the whole of its mineral economics.
I have said that it will be uneconomic in the future to use natural gas for the generation of electricity to meet base loads, but it will probably not be uneconomic to use natural gas for peak load generation. In New York, for example, because of the smoke nuisance the power stations that were situated in the centre of the city have been converted to natural gas, which does not cause the same degree of air pollution and smoke nuisance. The Pyrmont power station in Sydney is uneconomic now as a base load station, but it could be conveniently converted to a peak load station operating on natural gas. This would enable it to generate electricity to meet peak loads cheaply without polluting the air in the centre of Sydney. This is the sort of thing that can be done. Because of the lower cost of distributing large volumes of natural gas, it might be economic to undertake this sort of development. These things have not been properly examined.
Let me take another example. It is probable that with a large diameter pipeline and with the big market available gas could be transported from Mereenie to Sydney at something like He a therm. It could be produced at Mereenie at less than lc a therm. This would bring the cost at the Sydney gate to something like 2ic a therm, or perhaps up to 3c a therm. This compares with the delivery price of about 3c - it varies a little because of the decreasing costs of later years - of gas which is being brought from the offshore wells in Gippsland.
There is, I think, a possibility here of developing a gas distribution system which would link Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and perhaps Brisbane, together with industrial centres like Newcastle, Wollongong, Geelong, Port Pirie and Whyalla in an economical network, but this kind of possibility does not as yet appear to have been considered. 1 believe there is a good case to be made out for a more considered and careful Government evaluation of the whole gas position. It is essential that this be done on a national and not a parochial basis. The present proposition which the House is asked to approve and which I shall, subject to the reservations I have made, be voting for, is dependent upon the fact that we give to a State like South Australia special preference. Let rae remind honourable members of something which was put before them last night in the Budget papers relating to Commonwealth payments to or for the States. Let us look at what happened last year, comparing New South Wales with South Australia. New South Wales received in grants and loans $167 per head, but South Australia in grants and loans received $217 per head, or §50 per head more than New South Wales. If New South Wales had been treated on the same basis as South Australia it would have received an extra $200m. New South Wales can no longer alford to carry the other States in the way it has done in the past and is being asked to do in the future. Here we see another $35m being spent in South Australia which is additional to the amounts that I have already mentioned.
– Why not?
– Why should New South Wales be supporting South Australia? Why should not New South Wales be treated on the same basis as South Australia? We in New South Wales can no longer afford this kind of thing. I heard the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) say how South Australia had done so much with water distribution. So it has. This is perfectly true, and it has done it because from year to year it has had this extra money, while New South Wales, because it has been starved of money, has not been able to do this kind of thing. In my own electorate in New South Wales there is a shortage of water distribution facilities - and this is in the middle of Sydney - because we have been subscribing money which has been spent in South Australia and other places. All right, this is fair; we want to have some kind of development. But do not think for one moment that this kind of preference can be indefinitely sustained.
Let me put this to the House: New South Wales has a population almost exactly four times Chat of South Australia. South Australia is getting a special grant of SI 5m and a special allocation to raise $20m - $35m altogether - for a gas pipeline. On this basis New South Wales is entitled to a special gram of $60m and to a special loan of $80m. We need the gas. lt is as necessary to bring the gas into Sydney and Melbourne as it is to bring it to Adelaide and Port Pirie. Why should we not be treated on the same per capita basis as South Australia? When New South Wales requires this pipeline - and $140m would bring a pipeline through from Mereenie - I hope the necessary money will be available on the same basis as it has been made available to South Australia. This is fair and reasonable.
It does not seem to me that there is any reason why we should not be developing Gidgealpa first and using up the deposits there, a comparatively short pipeline being needed for the purpose, and then later extending the line from Gidgealpa into Mereenie and Palm Valley so that the gas would then be available at the same price lo Adelaide and other parts of South Australia. Surely there is no need to build the whole line to Mereenie at the moment when you have the Mereenie reserves which can be brought in after 10 or IS years when the Gidgealpa reserves have been exhausted.
These appear to me to be reasonable propositions if we look at the matter from a national point of view. All I want to suggest at this moment, is that it is high time we had a concerted scheme to develop on a national basis, without regard to State boundaries, the natural gas resources of Australia. They should not be distorted and diverted in accordance with accident. Let the gas go where it can t>e best used in accordance with the economics of the situation, and let us remember that if we build a big pipeline it will be much cheaper to transport the gas than if we build a small one, provided we have the market, and it is in the big centres of the eastern States that the market really exists.
– We are debating this evening a Bill the purpose of which is to grant approval to an agreement between the Commonwealth and South Australia for the prevision of financial assistance to South Australia towards the construction of a pipeline to carry natural gas from Gidgealpa-Moomba to Adelaide. I am pleased to support this legislation because I feel, contrary to the views of my colleague, the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), that the Government has viewed the request of South Australia on a national basis. If it is good enough to develop a national natural gas policy it is good enough also to have a national approach when it comes to the allocation of grant moneys and loan moneys and in this respect the Commonwealth Government has pursued a constant policy of looking to the development of Australia as a nation.
Gidgealpa is approximately 50 miles south-west of the erstwhile town of Innamincka. It is approximately 500 miles north of Adelaide in the north eastern corner of South Australia. The South Australian Labor Government estimates the cost of the pipeline to carry natural gas from Gidgealpa to Adelaide at $35m. The Commonwealth Government has demonstrated a ready willingness to help South Australia to overcome a difficult financing problem. Firstly, it supported the South Australian Government’s application to the Australian Loan Council for permission to borrow from normal sources S20m for the purposes of a semi-governmental instrumentality now set up by the Parliament of South Australia to construct and operate the pipeline. This approval was given by the Loan Council at its meeting in February. So during the period ending 30th June 1972 South Australia may raise this amount in addition to its normal semi-governmental borrowing programme. Secondly, the Commonwealth Government has, subject to the approval of the legislation now under discussion, agreed to lend South Australia - I .emphasise that it is a loan - during the construction period up to $15m, subject to the terms and conditions of the agreement to be approved by this Bill. The Commonwealth has been very happy to assist in making possible the introduction of natural gas to Adelaide, thereby giving South Australia a basic fuel from an indigenous source.
Whilst helping in the mobilisation of funds necessary to build the pipeline the Government has properly left to South Australia the responsibility of assessing the economic feasibility of the project. An assessment of economic feasibility must take account of many factors. It must give consideration to the present and future location of population as well as to the present and future location of industries using heat and energy. An economic assessment of alternative means of providing heat and energy must be taken into account. Furthermore, the existence of and the ability to build and maintain business confidence must be taken into account.
It is relevant to point out that in its proposals the Commonwealth has agreed to make available, by way of loan, $15m, upon the condition that the South Australian Government will do two things. The first is that it will find the short fall on any loan raising under the approval given by the Loan Council to raise a semi-govern mental loan. Secondly, the Commonwealth has left to South Australia the responsibility of meeting any increase in the cost of construction of the pipeline over and above that now estimated. These undertakings are important for it must be assumed that the South Australian Government has satisfied itself as to the availability of the semigovernmental loan and, more importantly, as to the accuracy of the estimates placed before it. It is the South Australian Government which has undertaken the responsibility for deciding whether present reserves are adequate. It is the South Australian Government which has undertaken the responsibility of determining whether the natural gas can be transmitted economically from the well head to Adelaide. It is the South Australian Government which has the responsibility of determining whether the price of natural gas to the consumer makes it an economically alternative fuel. Reserves are generally regarded as adequate if sufficient for 20 to 25 years at the rate of demand estimated and likely of attainment 5 years after inauguration of the pipeline. The making of such an assessment in relation to Gidgealpa and Moomba is the responsibility of the South Australian Labor Government.
One wonders whether the South Australian Labor Government has taken into account the views of many experts that there must be an alternative source of supply for a natural gas system if it is to be economically satisfactory. The size of the market determines the volume to be transported. The volume to be transported influences the cost of transmission over any given distance, lt is normal practice to use the largest diameter pipe that will not make charges of transmission too heavy. A large diameter pipeline gives low transport costs per unit. Higher installation costs are relatively less than the rise in transmission costs with a smaller diameter pipeline, although the capital cost will naturally be much higher. The larger the pipe diameter selected, the better the economies in the future but the more burdensome the costs of servicing the debt in the initial stages. The cost in respect of this pipeline must also be determined in the light of possible future discoveries of natural gas and their location and the availability to the main centres of demand. It is the South Australian Government which must shoulder the responsibilities for these decisions.
If the allocation of resources to pipeline construction is to be beneficial to the community making the allocation- that is, the South Australian community - th” whole proposal must be economically viable. Natural gas is a technically efficient resource which could help to restore the competitive position of South Australian industry - a position which has been destroyed by the present State Labor Government. For natural gas to be an economically alternative fuel its cost to the consumer must be competitive with other fuels which it would displace. Indications are that prices of other fuels will remain competitive. The sale of gas will therefore involve hard selling on its merits, merits which it undoubtedly has, but it must be competitively priced. The pricing policy adopted will be vital in the establishment of this new fuel, which primarily will be competing with heat producing fuels rather than those productive of motive power.
The South Australian Government has a responsibility to make decisions which will influence the consumer price of natural gas. It, too, must weigh the advantages of being able to claim that Adelaide is one of the first Australian cities to have natural gas against those which would be derived from seeing other cities go through the adjustment necessary in making the full use of natural gas at prices which could be lower than those of the consumer price contemplated for Adelaide. The delivery of natural gas to Adelaide will not of itself cure the economic ills which have stemmed from the maladministration of the South Australian economy by the present State Labor Government.
There was a time when South Australian members in this House could proudly boast that the most significant economic indicators pointed to a sound and buoyant economy in their State. Rates of unemployment in South Australia were among the lowest; these rates are now among the highest. The rate of migrant inflow into South Australia was formerly much higher than it is today. Costs of production in South Australia were lower than in other
States, thus giving South Australian manufacturers entry into the large eastern markets at competitive prices.
We have heard much about a national fuel and power authority from the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) - a proposal which is supported by many members - and an appraisal of the national resources of Australia, particularly in relation to natural gas, but it is marvellous how electorally -acceptable concepts are used to camouflage the Australian Labor Party’s real aspirations. The Premier of South Australia recently threw off the sheep’s clothing so that the public could see the true colours of the ALP in its centralist aspirations.
The Commonwealth, in relation to the proposal now before the House, has made it clear - and the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) emphasised this in his second reading speech - that the Commonwealth has accepted the views of South Australia as to the technical soundness of the proposal and as to the contribution that it is expected to make to the development of the State’s economy generally. It is with very great pleasure that I support this proposal - the allocation of these funds, the support that the Commonwealth has given to South Australia in its application to the Loan Council and the provision of this loan to enable the construction of the pipeline. But I must emphasise the importance of this House realising that the Commonwealth has done this accepting the technical advice and appraisal made of the details of the proposition by the South Australian Labor Government. It is the South Australian Government that has had the responsibility of making decisions which could make a pipe dream come true. If it has erred, a nightmare could haunt South Australia (or many years to come. It is to be hoped that the pipe dream comes true because cf a correct and intelligent assessment of the technical details available to the State Labor Government in South Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Deputy of the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Howson) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 20 April (vide page 1561), on motion by Mr Bowen:
That the Bill bc now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not oppose this Bill. We do censure the Government for its belated approach to the matter. We consider that the Commonwealth has been tardy and reluctant to regularise the position. In point of fact, it is only because of a decision of the Victorian Court of Criminal Appeal which threw some doubt on the validity of the imposition of certain minimum sentences for Commonwealth offences tried within Victorian courts that this legislation ever originated. The Commonwealth criminal law, considered collectively, has been imposed on six quite distinct State criminal codes, which have been evolved in the six sovereign States of Australia from the days of their respective foundation. It is not strictly a code, but the Commonwealth criminal legislation has been superimposed on those State measures.
The situation, as outlined by the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) in his second reading speech, illustrates the diversity of the State criminal codes and, of course, underlies the need for a national criminal code so that there can be some universality as regards the penalties and fines that are to be imposed on those who commit a breach of the Queen’s peace in the respective States. There is an old Latin proverb which states: ‘As many men as there are so many opinions will there be.’ That is undoubtedly true when one examines the respective laws in relation to crimes in each of the States. The present pattern is unjust and it is irregular. We have a common tongue in Australia, a common culture and a common historical tradition, but we vary violently in the terms of eur criminal legislation. We take pride in the probity of the judiciary. We take pride in the presumption of innocence of the accused, which has been well established. We take pride in the rules of evidence and their eminent fairness. We take pride in the jury system. But we need the good sense of the judge and juries to offset the tremendous variations which oCCur within Australian criminal legislation.
The Attorney-General, in his speech, pointed out the variations in the approach of the different States to the imposition of minimum sentences by the respective courts when considering the major sentences to be imposed. In point of fact it is only in Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales that minimum sentences are imposed, and even there the terms differ, lt could be said, to generalise, that the general minimum is fixed at six months imprisonment. The right to a minimum term being imposed is, of course, discretionary and depends upon the nature of the offence, the antecedents, and the probability of the prisoner responding to punishment. The Bill, therefore, is to provide, not merely for the position in the three States 1 have mentioned, but also for future legislation in the other States if and when they choose to legislate for minimum sentences.
It can be truly said that in Australia we lock up our social problems and, in the main, we do not solve them. We turn the average prisoner out of gaol with limited funds and without a job. Despite the various rehabilitation services for prisoners in the respective States the average man leaves our penal system with a pretty strong anti-social complex.
I want to pay my tribute to the work of the late Clarrie Martin, the former AttorneyGeneral of New South Wales, who did a lot of refurbishing and cleaning out of the attics of the criminal law of a State that had a hangover from the days of the convicts when flagellation was the order of the day, even for minor offences. He did much to mitigate the severity of at least some of the worst of our criminal legislation. He was responsible for the introduction in New South Wales of the parole system, and that system has in the main worked particularly well. Nevertheless, in Australia today t<he length of a sentence imposed on a criminal is very much an accident of geography. The penalty that will be imposed on bun depends on a draw from a legal lucky dip. He wm be given a long term or a Short term according to where the offence wai committed. The Parole Board has done a very good service. It has discharged a difficult function. The daily Press is eager to seize on any imagined irregularity and Press criticism has acted as a deterrent to the release on parole of men who would undoubtedly benefit by any leniency that was extended to them. I have heard in my constituency criticism from many migrants from Europe as to the severity of our criminal code. They contrast, to our disadvantage, the sentences that are imposed, the terms and generally the monumental severity that is contained in our criminal law.
One matter I want to raise with the Attorney-General relates to the preparation of a criminal code. 1 refer to a cutting from the ‘Canberra Times’ of some three months ago. It referred to a criminal code being ready soon for the Australian Capital Territory and other Commonwealth Territories. Reference was made to a Mr Zelling, President of the Law Council of Australia, which was preparing the draft of the code. He said that sections of the code were being drafted by the various State councils of the Law Council of Australia and he forecast that, contained in one Act of Parliament, the code would replace a large body of laws, mostly inherited from the New South Wales legal system of 1911 and would also include matters not covered in existing Federal legislation but contained in the judge-made common law. Mr Zelling said that three States, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania, had criminal codes and the Federal code would owe something ito these and to the code introduced in England last year, but it would contain advances on all of them. A lot of work remains to be done in this field.
I conclude by repeating the criticism that the Opposition makes of the Government’s tardiness. When we look deeply into the antecedents of some of our crimes legislation we can almost hear the swish of the lash and the scream of the person being flagellated. Our laws still are of monumental Severity. We have failed broadly to adopt the principles of modern penology and, in the words of the late Clarrie Martin when he was Attorney-General of New South Wales, the custom in the colonial days was to build strong solid goals and impressive court houses and to leave the people to starve in their own economic devices.
– I am happy to take part in this debate as a member of the Opposition and I am somewhat disappointed that honourable members on the Government side have decided not to contribute to the debate.
– This is the Government’s Bill.
– The honourable member for Mallee said that this is a Government Bill, but honourable members on the Government side could put forward many points in this debate if they were interested in this grievous social problem, in the reformation of convicted persons and in crime prevention generally throughout the Commonwealth. I do not have the figures for the respective States, but we need only read the daily newspapers to be reminded of the serious crimes that are being committed throughout Australia today. In his second reading speech the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) said that in Western Australia a court is required to fix a minimum term if the sentence is imprisonment for not less than one year. If it imposes a sentence of less than one year, it may fix a minimum term. So, if the sentence is less than one year, the judge has an option to fix the minimum term. The Attorney went on to say in his speech:
The Commonwealth has therefore had to consider the merits of the minimum sentencing system that I have described and to make a decision whether such a system should be applied to Commonwealth offenders by Commonwealth legislation.
We all know from the second reading speech of the Attorney-General that this Bill was introduced because of a decision of the Victorian Supreme Court that judges had no right to fix minimum sentences for offenders who had committed Commonwealth offences.
This legislation differs from State legislation in that the Attorney-General has the sole right to recommend the release of a prisoner convicted of a Commonwealth offence. The Attorney-General said in his second reading speech that in the States this right is given to parole officers. I have always understood - the Attorney may correct me if I am wrong - that parole officers do not have the sole right; they make a recommendation to the Minister in the State Parliament. 1 am assured of that by the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor), who had years of experience in the New South Wales Parliament. But in this legislation the Attorney-General has the sole right to release from gaol a person who has been convicted of a Commonwealth offence. The integrity of the Attorney-General is, in the opinion of most Opposition members, beyond suspicion. But when we remember what has happened in other democratic countries we should at all times ensure that legislation protects from unjust criticism the member of Parliament who is elected by popular vote. A person who has the sole right to recommend the release of prisoners should be protected from unjust criticism and from suggestions of corruption. There* fore, the legislation should not give the Attorney-General the sole right to recommend the release of a prisoner.
I strongly incline to the view that the time has come in Australia and in countries like Australia when a person should not be sentenced to a fixed term of imprisonment. When a person is found guilty of an offence the judge or magistrate should say to him: ‘You are sentenced to imprisonment’. A prisoner’s release should depend upon his conduct in gaol. If the prison authorities recommend to a magistrate that he be released, the magistrate should then hear evidence from prison officials and from people in the community who would be prepared to employ the prisoner before making a decision on when he should be parolled. If a system of that kind were introduced into our society it would remove suspicion from public men such as the Attorney-General and parole officers. A court would hear in public evidence of the prisoner’s conduct and also evidence of the economic circumstances of his wife or next of kin and the willingness of a person to employ him if the court, in response to his application, were to release him.
Honourable members should know that many professional criminals misbehave violently during the first three months they are in gaol. They do so to remove any possibility of their getting a remission. They have told me personally that it takes a load off their minds. They know that they will not have to kotow to warders or succumb to an approach by warders to become a pimp against other prisoners, in return for which they would earn a remission. I believe that the suggestion I have made to the House should be given serious thought by the Attorney-General and the officers who advise him from time to time. We have only to look at some of the recent Press statements about parole laws which now exist in some States. It is the view of many people that they have become farcical. Often the influence of wealth, position in society or sectarianism plays a part in getting a prisoner’s early release from gaol. But the public is never told of the circumstances. The release is effected by a report from a parole officer to a responsible Minister. Without the public knowing anything about it an incorrigible criminal is released from prison and often he commits a crime on his way home from prison. There are many instances of such happenings; I can cite dozens of them. But let us consider what the ‘Sunday Mirror’ said about this matter on 25th June this year.
– The honourable member could get a better authority than that, surely.
– It would be all right if the newspaper were praising the honourable member; he would be throwing his chest out. The article, under the heading ‘Parole laws boosting crime’, stated:
Prisoners gaoled for up to seven years lor serious crimes have been released after only a month behind bars.
Angry police say the early releases are an encouragement to crime.
I do not intend to read the whole article. It refers to certain cases and states:
Judge Prior said judges regarded the no-parole period merely as a pointer to prison authorities.
Recent cases of early releases include:
On February 20, Judge Newton sentenced Frederick Leendirt Van Herp to seven years for armed assault, armed robbery and possession of an unlicensed pistol.
The judge set the no-parole period at a monthand Van Herp was released at the end of March, a month after sentencing.
He was released after serving one month of a seven years sentence. That is shocking. This occurred under the present set up in New South Wales in which there is a Liberal Party Government. I ask the AttorneyGeneral what satisfaction the aggrieved person would derive from that. Would you, Mr Deputy Speaker, or you, Mr AttorneyGeneral, like to see a person parolled from prison after serving only one month of seven years term for a serious crime committed against you or your next of kin? Yet the article states the judge set the noparole period at a month and Van Herp was released one month after he was sentenced. The report continues:
In February, Judge Newton gave Ronald Charles O’sullivan four years on five charges of breaking, entering and stealing, and set the noparole period at one month.
O’sullivan was released at the end of March.
Other cases also are mentioned. The article states:
John Michael Bunyan was sentenced to four years in February on four charges of breaking, entering and stealing and two charges of car stealing and the no-parole period was set al one month.
He was released at the end of March.
Shocking. Is it any wonder that serious crime in Australia has reached its present high peak when parliaments, which are supposed to be made up of responsible people who will protect our citizens from serious crime, allow this sort of thing to go on?
– it has nothing to do with the Commonwealth Government.
– It has something to do with the legislation now before the Parliament. The Press report continued:
Peter John Lynch was sentenced to four years on two charges of stealing and the no-parole period was set at one month.
He was released in a month.
In two other cases, housebreakers were given heavy sentences with the no-parole period fixed at nine months.
The honourable member for Perth says that this has nothing to do with the Commonwealth legislation. I suggest that the measure which we are now debating follows a pattern which is the same as or is similar to legislation now existing in the States. In respect of the legislation now presented by the Attorney-General it is to be expected that the same principle of early paroles will follow, paroles which will be at the sole discretion of the Attorney-General. Despite what I have said I commend parts of the Bill. If a person breaches his parole and is found in another State or in a Territory he can be imprisoned in that State or Territory. That is a very sensible provision. It obviates incurring the expense of sending an escort a officer to the Northern Territory, New Guinea, Norfolk Island, Cocos Island or other Territories under the control of the Commonwealth to bring back the offender.
The Attorney-General has said in his second reading speech that he will still have the benefit of the views of the relevant State parole authorities’. It is well that the Attorney-General should have the benefit of views of the relevant State parole authorities. But let us consider what has appeared in several newspaper articles. The first one to which I refer appeared in the Melbourne Herald’ of 18th January 1967. In a lengthy report Mr Beggs stated that he could no longer bear the burden caused by the overloading of his work as a parole officer attached to the Victorian parole branch. The report reads:
Convicted murderer Ronald Ryan could have been steered away from crime if the Victorian parole system had been sound, it was claimed today.
The claim was made by one of Ryan’s former parole officers, Mr Neil Beggs, now living in Perth.
The report goes on to say that under the present set up in Victoria the parole officers branch is shockingly understaffed and the officials are overloaded with work. In these circumstances, how does the AttorneyGeneral expect to get assistance from State parole boards which he says will provide him with information? I am not going to suggest that the Attorney-General is dishonest, but I am going to suggest that he will not get this assistance because the State parole officers would not have the same interest in Commonwealth prisoners as they would have in prisoners from their own States.
There is no suggestion in the Bill or in the Attorney-General’s second reading speech that any compensation will be given to the respective States for the use of parole officers whom the AttorneyGeneral claims he will be able to use under this Bill. As we all know, it is the hope of reward that sweetens labour. Due to the absence of such a statement in the Minister’s second reading speech it can only be taken that no such compensation will be given to the respective States for the assistance provided by parole officers who are called upon to make reports on the intended release or conduct of prisoners serving sentences for Commonwealth crimes. The vigorous approach which is made by parole officers in the States will not be forthcoming for the Attorney-General. Had the AttorneyGeneral given proper consideration to this legislation he would have set up a parole board of his own in the Australian Capital Territory which could have ascertained from the respective States and Territories the background of prisoners serving sentences for Commonwealth crimes. As I said at the outset, it is a pity that more interest was not shown in this legislation by honourable members in this House. The AttorneyGeneral in his second reading speech said:
A parole order is to be automatically terminated If a person on parole is sentenced to a further term of imprisonment in respect of some other offence.
My long experience in the police and criminal courts has been that if a magistrate thought that a person had the finance with which to pay a fine he would impose a fine. Hence under this Bill the wealthy escape having their parole order automatically terminated if a fine is imposed. If you are wealthy and you have oodles of dough - if 1 may use the vernacular - and a fine is imposed on you, you do not suffer the automatic suspension of your parole order. At the present time the drug racket has reached large proportions in Australia. It is customary for heavy fines to be imposed for this offence. This matter is causing concern to the authorities.
Let me cite the case of a person who comes out of gaol after being sentenced for a Commonwealth crime. He could get involved in the drug racket whilst he was on parole. To my mind this is a very serious offence. A magistrate or a judge could impose a fine on him for the wrongful possession of heroin or cocaine and if he paid the fine his parole order would not be automatically terminated. I want to know why the Attorney-General, who is recognised as one of the leading lawyers in this country, did not insert after the words ‘A parole order is to be automatically terminated if a person on parole is sentenced’ the words ‘or if a fine of not less than $100 is imposed upon him.’ Then a wealthy man would not escape the automatic termination of his parole order. I hope that the Attorney-General will be able to tell the Parliament, particulary myself, why he has not included in this legislation the provision that if a person is fined he automatically terminates his parole order. I do not think that the legislation goes far enough in this regard.
Paroling prisoners is a great problem. I am inclined to the view of a learned member of the judiciary, Mr Justice Barry of the Victorian Supreme Court, who, according to the Melbourne ‘Age’ of 29th January 1965, at a prison after care council national conference at Hobart suggested the establishment of an Australian institute for criminal and penal science. I think that this is long overdue. The Australian community and the Australian Parliament will have to give more consideration to the paroling and after-care of prisoners. During the parliamentary recess I was amazed to learn from a reliable source that of approximately 112 violent criminals at the Morisset criminal mental asylum 50% are from foreign countries. We are proud of the good types of new Australians who arrive here but this is an astonishing figure. I do not know whether this is the result of Jack of prisoner after-care or the early upbringing of these people in the countries from which they came. In fact, the person who attempted to assassinate the former Leader of the Opposition is an inmate of that asylum.
According to the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 13th March 1965, Mr Justice Mcclemens of the New South . Wales Supreme Court suggested that there should be halfway houses for released prisoners. He suggested that Bass Hill could become the first halfway house for released prisoners. This is a great social problem. If one studies the criminal records of many of our professional criminals one finds that they are in and out of gaol most of their lives. To my mind some of these criminals should never be allowed out and some should be shown greater kindness and tolerance. I remember a boy aged seven years who lived near my home many years ago. I said to my wife: That boy will be in and out of goal all of his life’. Sure enough I was correct because when I was driving from Newcastle to Canberra a few years ago I called in at the Berrima gaol and this young man was serving three years’ imprisonment there. Like all professional criminals he said to me: ‘No more when I get out’. He was out only twelve months and then he went back again. He was not paroled out under a system whereby a degree of protection and proper guidance could be shown to him. He is now aged twenty-three years. He never had a chance. He was made a criminal by our society and then we punished him for being a criminal. This was one of the many tragic cases that occur in our society. As Clarence Darrow said, we create criminals and then we punish them for being criminals.
I would like some thought given to the establishment of a body such as the one I mentioned earlier. After the judiciary has said to a person: ‘You are sentenced to imprisonment’, the question of parole or release should be in the hands of a magistrate sitting in an open and public court. This would remove any suspicion from the responsible Ministers and AttorneysGeneral. We support the Bill. I think the day will come when some system like this will be put on the statute book by members of Parliament. One of the greatest criminal lawyers and judges in the United States of America, Judge Leibowitz, arrived in Australia a day or so ago. Judge Leibowitz is referred to in that very good book, ‘Courtroom’, by Quentin Reynolds. He is one of the great criminal lawyers and is recognised as one of America’s greatest judges. Judge Leibowitz said that prison reform and after-care of prisoners is a great problem and that our society is not doing sufficient to meet it.
Homosexuality in prisons is rampant, irrespective of what any honourable member might be told or any report he may read from the prison authorities. I know prisoners who have gone to gaol for crimes of theft and after serving two or three sentences finish up incorrigible homosexuals. I think the authorities administering the penal systems in our country should consider adopting the system that the Swedish Government has now adopted of allowing wives and fiancees to spend some time with their partners or future partners in the prisons. Whilst it may be offensive to many people for this privilege - if it can be termed a privilege - to be extended to prisoners, if it is going to prevent the prisoners from becoming incorrigible homosexuals it would be a sensible, practicable, commonsense and realistic move. I hope that the Attorney-General, among the multifarious duties that he has to perform as the Attorney-General for the Common wealth, will give greater consideration to penal reform, after care of prisoners and paroles along the lines that I have suggested. I think the onus of releasing prisoners should be transferred from the Attorney-General to an open magistrate’s court where the prisoner can apply for a release, where the public will know what evidence is tendered before the magistrate and the magistrate will decide whether the man should be paroled.
– in reply - In closing this second reading debate may I deal first with some of the remarks of the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor). He spoke of the need for a national criminal code and drew attention to differences in penalties that prisoners may suffer in different States. He described the position as something of a legal lottery. I think there is a good deal to be said for having uniformity in criminal law throughout Australia, but, unfortunately, the Constitution allocates the criminal law to the States, arid each State has its own idea as to what its criminal law should be; it does not rest within the power of the Commonwealth Parliament to tell the States what their criminal law should be.
I think that probably the furthest we can go is to look at the criminal law in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, which is the direct responsibility of the Government, in order to see that it may be taken as a model. Reference was made by the honourable member for Cunningham to the fact that a criminal code for the Australian Capital Territory was in course of preparation, and he mentioned the work being done on this by the Law Council of Australia. It is true that the Law Council of Australia has appointed a committee in each State to work on separate sections of a criminal code for the Australian Capital Territory, and over and above these State committees there is a Law Council co-ordinating committee to put the pieces of the Bill together. The stage that this has reached may be put in this way: I attended a meeting of the executive of the Law Council of Australia in May of this year, at which this was one of the topics discussed, and a programme was then laid down under which the last of the work being done by the State committees was to be brought to the coordinating committee of the Law Council by the end of July. I have been watching with interest to see what progress was made in carrying out this programme, because when the co-ordinating committee has dealt with the matter it will then come to my Department and we will carry the work on from there towards getting an up to date criminal code for the Australian Capital Territory. Unfortunately, there are outstanding pieces of this work still to be completed by State committees, and the co-ordinating committee has not quite completed its work. However, a great deal of progress has been made, and I and my Department are keeping an eye on this matter so that we can undertake the final work in producing a criminal code for the Australian Capital Territory as soon as the Law Council’s work is completed.
The honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) spoke of the decision as to the release of prisoners on parole, after the minimum period that is provided in the Bill, being a matter resting with the Attorney-General. This is not quite accurate. The Bill provides that this matter rests with the Governor-General. Certainly it is correct that the Bill says that this is to be carried out on the advice of the AttorneyGeneral. The Bill provides for parole officers, including State parole officers, where the prisoner is in a State, to advise on this matter. The honourable member for Hunter suggested this should be a procedure conducted in open court. While the honourable member puts forward a view which may be argued one way or the other, the fact is that for a very long time releases on parole have commonly been made by the Governor-General, or in the States by the Governor, on the advice of the appropriate Minister. Therefore, to follow the honourable member’s suggestion would involve a change in a very long-standing practice. I should like to consider very carefully whether one should have anything approaching a court hearing in the case of parole. This seems to be a procedure that is not entirely appropriate to this particular matter any more than it is to remission of sentence, which again is a matter left to the Executive.
The honourable member for Hunter also discussed some of the disadvantages of having a parole system and the possibility of an ex-prisoner committing an offence on the way home after he gets out of gaol. It is a general criticism of any parole system that this type of (bing can occur. I do not think that the debate on this Bill is the proper occasion on which to debate whether or not the parole system is advisable. Indeed, I should think all reasonable men would agree that, properly applied, it is a most valuable and useful system. Another reference was made by the honourable member for Hunter to a newspaper report that referred to a number of cases in New South Wales where, as I understood him to say, a parole period as short as one month was fixed by the court in pursuance of its power to fix a minimum period of parole and then there had followed an actual release of the prisoner on parole after the expiry of that short period. I am in some difficulty in understanding how this could happen in view of the fact that New South Wales law provides that the court may not fix a minimum period of less than six months. I have not had the benefit of reading this particular newspaper report. However, I do not feel that there will be much danger of this occurring under the Bill which is presently before the House. Insofar as this Bill picks up the New South Wales law and as I mentioned in my second reading speech, the court will not be enabled to fix a lesser period than six months. It would have to be a fairly short period of sentence where a minimum period as short as that was fixed.
Another question was raised as to the probability of the Commonwealth getting assistance from State parole officers. Reference was made to the fact that some of these officers are overworked. According to the honourable member for Hunter the solution for this is that we should set up a Commonwealth parole board. I can assure the honourable member that this has been considered. However, it was felt that the volume of cases that officers would have to deal with was not of sufficient number to justify the creation of a separate board. At present the Commonwealth is obtaining assistance and advice from State parole officers because the vast majority of Commonwealth prisoners are incarcerated in State prisons. I have no reason to doubt that we will continue to get this assistance under the Act. Indeed, I have put this scheme to the Attorneys-General of the various States at a meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General. They have expressed their general approval of it.
Finally, I think that the honourable member for Hunter referred to the question of automatic revocation of parole. He drew attention to the fact that automatic revocation of parole where the prisoner commits another offence operates only where he is sentenced to imprisonment. The honourable member said that automatic revocation does not operate if the prisoner is sentenced to a fine. This is true. Of course, if a prisoner is fined his parole may be revoked because he has broken the provision for good behaviour. The distinction is that before there was to be automatic revocation it was thought that a person should have committed a pretty serious offence. The line was drawn at the position where this was evidenced by the fact that a sentence of imprisonment was imposed. In other words, it would not be a matter of a parking offence and a $5 or $10 fine.
– A fine of a few hundred dollars can be more serious than a fortnight’s imprisonment.
– One can argue about a line. All 1 am saying is that parole may be revoked if there is a breach of good behaviour. However, it was thought there ought to be an automatic revocation if the person concerned is going back to prison because he is sentenced on another offence.
I wish to refer to another matter which I feel should be raised. It has been found since the second reading speech was presented that the present provisions of this Bill which is before the House are defective in a number of technical respects in the application of different laws relating to the imposition of minimum sentences, particularly in regard to cumulative sentences. The provisions of the Victorian and New South Wales laws where cumulative sentences apply for State offences operate in quite a different way from each other. The provisions of this Act technically need slight redrafting, lt had been hoped to have some of the amendments drafted in time to put them before the House this evening. However, this has proved impracticable. What I suggest to the House is that the amendments are not of sufficient importance to delay the
Bill. If the amendments are dealt with here the Bill might not get through this House before the Budget debate begins and it might then be considered as of not sufficient importance to be dealt with before the end of the session. I suggest that we should proceed to put the second reading to a vote and then pass on to the third reading. I foreshadow that some amendments will be put forward by the Government in another place. I would not do this if I felt that the amendments . in question needed to come before this House. Perhaps I might develop this in a little more detail in two of the respects in which amendments should be made.
Clause 3 of the Bill will not quite effectively pick up the State law in the matter I have referred to. In the first place, (his clause contemplates that a separate minimum term may be fixed in respect of each term of imprisonment to which an offender is sentenced. The rest of the Bill has been drafted on this assumption. Certain State laws provide that in circumstances which they define a minimum term is to be fixed in respect of aggregate periods of imprisonment and not in respect of each term of imprisonment which an offender is required to serve. It has proved not to be possible to accommodate the position in the State law within the framework of the Bill. What I propose, broadly, is that the proper course in the case of a Federal offender is that a separate minimum term should be fixed in respect of each term of imprisonment which the offender is required to serve in cases where it is proper to fix a minimum term. This will involve an amendment to that effect in clause 3.
The second matter I would refer to relates to clause 3, sub-clause 4. It was intended to pick up the State laws relating to the order in which sentences would be served in a case where a Federal offender is sentenced to a number of terms of imprisonment in respect of a number of offences including offences against State and Feder.il law. The minimum term is fixed in respect of one or more of these terms of imprisonment and the court orders that the terms of imprisonment are to be cumulative. Broadly speaking the intention was to pick up the relevant State law by this Bill but differences as between the various State laws as we have considered them further make it difficult to frame a single provision which will achieve a satisfactory result in all cases. It would not be proper for Commonwealth legislation to provide for the order in which terms of imprisonment for State offences are to be served. It appears therefore that the only satisfactory way to deal with this matter is to provide in this Bill for the order of serving Federal sentences in cases where a minimum term has been fixed in respect of one or more of these offences and leave it entirely to State law to provide for the order in which State sentences are to be served, in cases where persons are under sentences for both Federal and State offences. These are somewhat technical matters. I feel the House will appreciate some of the difficulties involved in drafting. However, I put it to the House that we can proceed with this Bill notwithstanding that, and that these technical amendments will then be presented in another place.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Bowen) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 6th April (vide page 1001), on motion by Mr Freeth:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, this measure was introduced by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Freeth) on 6th April. After he had made his second reading speech, the debate was adjourned, on the motion of the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Jones), and the resumption of the debate was made an order of the day for the next day of sitting. The House rose for the winter recess on 19th May without the debate having been resumed, and it is now being continued during the Budget sessional period. This is a most complicated measure which will amend an extremely complicated Act containing 425 sections. With the attached Schedules, the Act comprises 368 pages.
The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1960, which replaces the 1948 Convention, contains fourteen articles and has annexed to it many regulations grouped into eight chapters and dealing with a variety of matters such as the construction of ships, life saving appliances, fire protection, radio, navigation, carriage of grain and carriage of dangerous goods. A new chapter deals with safety on nuclear ships. The Bill contains forty-six clauses and, together with the Schedule, consists of 143 pages.
The Opposition, after consultations with the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the maritime unions, proposed several amendments to this measure. These were submitted to the Minister by a deputation from the Opposition that approached him to see whether he would agree to our submissions. He indicated that he was examining our proposed amendments and was favourably inclined towards some of them but considered that ,j.hey should be left until another amending measure was introduced next year.
On 2 1st July, he wrote me a letter setting out his views on proposals made by the Opposition’s Transport Committee. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate it in Hansard.
I refer to your tetter of 29 May and our earlier discussions regarding proposals by the Opposition Transport Committee for amendments of the Navigation Bill 1967.
The Committee’s proposals can be grouped broadly into two categories - firstly, those dealing with amendments of the Bill at present before the House and with other sections of the Navigation Act 1912-1966 and, secondly, those relating to the regulations adopted or in the process of being adopted by the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organisation following the International Conference on the Safety of Life at Sea, 1960. The documents entitled Annex I, II, III and IV, forwarded with your letter, fall in the latter category, being proposed amendments to the regulations produced by the International Conference, which deal specifically with fire fighting arrangements on ships to which the Convention applies. It is expected these will be adopted by the Assembly of the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organisation in October this year and will then become part of the regulations under the Convention.
The attached schedule, which lists the amendments suggested by the Opposition Transport Committee, together with the views of my Department on them, is forwarded for your information. In connection with the suggestions that relate to provisions of the Bill or the Navigation Act, I would like to point out thai the Bill at present before the House was intended to cover only amendments of the Act necessary to incorporate the provisions of the Safety of Life at Sea Convention, with the addition of three or four other matters for which amendments were required as a matter of urgency. I am aware that a number of other amendments of the Navigation Act arc desirable, and I hope that the amending legislation to give effect to them will be introduced during next year. Because of this approach 1 feel that virtually all of the amendments which the Opposition have suggested would be more appropriately considered for inclusion in a Bill dealing with general amendments rather than the present one which is designed principally to give effect to an international convention.
You will note from the attached schedule that my Department, whilst not being in complete agreement with the form of your proposals, recommends that ( accept, at least in part, your suggestions in relation to some seven or eight items. Due to the desirability of retaining imperial validity of our certificates of competency, your suggestion regarding section 17 of the Act can be accepted only insofar as it relates to certificates of competency as second mate of a foreign-going ship second class engineer and lower grades, including all coastal certificates. I shall therefore arrange for this proposal to be given effect to in the regulations, as it does not require an amendment of the Bill as drafted at present. 1 agree that certain references to ‘ship’s carpenters’ could be omitted, in the interests of precision, from section 39 and also the Second Schedule of the’ Act, but as the present form does not impose any disadvantage on the people concerned I do not consider it sufficiently urgent to warrant inclusion in the existing Bill. A somewhat similar position exists in relation to your suggestions regarding reports of character and references to the Marine Council. Whilst I do not agree entirely with what you propose, I consider there is some merit in certain of the suggestions, and these will be examined in conjunction wilh the proposed general amendments of the Act.
Your proposal for the retention of the provisions of section 200 of the Act is already provided for by the extension of the provisions of section 190a (4.) to include under that section the type of certificate previously covered by section 200. For this reason section 200 becomes redundant and is being repealed. ( agree in part with your contentions in relation to section 219b and my officers are at present endeavouring to arrive at a more suitable formula for calculation of the maximum rate of the additional fine for overloading of ships. Provided a suitable formula can be arrived at, I shall consider the inclusion of altered provisions in respect of overloading in a subsequent amendment of the Act.
The amendments the Opposition Transport Committee has suggested in relation to the Regulations under the International Convention have also been considered in detail; however, an alteration to the text of these Regulations can be effected only in accordance wilh the procedure laid down in Article IX of the Convention, i.e., by unanimous agree ment between the signatory countries to the Convention or by a two-thirds majority at meetings of both the Council and the Assembly of the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organisation. It may be possible, however, to apply some of the points you have raised in relation to Convention requirements to Australian Ships only, where such would not involve the adoption of lesser standards than are contained in me Convention. Of course you appreciate we cannot Jo this in respect of ships other than our own. Some of your other proposals which appear to variant consideration at the international ici el will be brought to the attention of the Inter- Government Maritime Consultative Organisation at -the appropriate time. 1 understand the Parliamentary Draftsman is preparing some amendments of the Navigation Bill 1967 for you and, should you decide to go ahead with any of them, I would he happy to discuss your proposed amendments with )iw in due course.
I direct attention particularly to the second paragraph, in which the Minister pointed out that it was expected that certain proposals made by the Committee would be adopted by the Assembly of the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation in October of this year and would then become part of the regulations under the Convention. As honourable members will see, the Minister, in the third paragraph’ of his letter, stated that this Bill was intended to cover only amendments of the Act necessary to incorporate the provisions of the Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, with the addition of three or tour matters for which amendments were required as a matter of urgency. He added that legislation to give effect to a number of other desirable amendments would he introduced next year and stated thai because of this approach he considered that tually all of the amendments suggested by the Opposition would be more appropriately considered for inclusion in a Bill dealing with general amendments rather than in the present one. which is designe.1 principally to give effect to an international convention.
The Minister then stated, in the next paragraph of his letter that his Department recommended that he accept, at Iea it in part, our suggestions in relation to seven or eight items. In the sixth paragraph of his letter, he stated that he agreed that certain references to ships carpenters could be omitted, in the interests of precision from section 39 and also the Second Schedule of the Act. However, he suggested that this would be better left to a subsequent measure dealing with general amendments of the Act. The Minister, in the eighth paragraph of his letter, agreed in part with our contentions in relation to section 219b of the Act and stated that his officers were endeavouring to arrive at a more suitable formula for calculation of the maximum rate of the additional fine for the overloading of ships.
The ninth paragraph of the Minister’s letter is very important. In it, he stated that the amendments suggested by the Opposition’s Transport Committee in relation to the regulations under the International Convention had also been considered in detail but that an alteration to the text of these regulations could be effected only in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article IX of the Convention - that is, by unanimous agreement between the signatory countries or by a twothirds majority at meetings of both the Council and the Assembly of the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation: He added that it might be possible to apply some of the points that we have raised in relation to convention requirements to Australian ships only but that this could not be done in respect of ships other than our own. The Minister went on to say that some of our other proposals, which appeared to warrant consideration at the international level, would be brought to the attention of the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation at the appropriate time. The Minister’s letter is a very important document. It has altered our attitude towards certain of our proposed amendments. We realise that the incorporation of the provisions of the Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea in the Navigation Act is urgently necessary and therefore we accept the assurances given by the Minister in his letter.
Introducing this Bill, the Minister directed attention to the fact that it amends the Navigation Act to give affect to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1960. He said that it ‘is therefore of particular importance to those concerned with ships and shipping in this country’. The fact that a new convention was adopted in 1960 to replace the 1948 Convention shows the urgency of this measure. It is regretted that the Government let so much time elapse before taking the necessary action to implement the provisions of the Convention, which as the Minister pointed out was prepared by that Conference on Safety of Life at Sea convened by the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation at London in 1960. Australia was represented at that Conference by officers of the Department of Shipping and Transport and the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. Forty-five countries were represented by delegates and several others were represented by observers. The final act was signed on 17th June 1960. The required number of ratificcations of the 1960 Convention - fifteen - was achieved on 26th May 1964 and the Convention came into effect on 26th May 1965. It has taken more than two years for this Government to act. It has an obligation to act much more quickly in these matters.
The Navigation Act has been on the statute book for about fifty-three years, and it has been amended fifteen times. Delays in implementing some of the amendments have occurred. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) on several occasions has directed attention by way of questions to these delays. Although the Act was amended in 1958 to ratify conventions of the International Labour Organisation, there was considerable delay in making the regulations necessary for the proclamation of the amendments. The Leader of the Opposition raised that matter on several occasions and was told that difficulty had been encountered in framing the regulations. He was still directing attention to the matter in 1964 - six years after the amendments were inserted in the Act.
It is interesting to quote the footnote to schedule 1 of the Act which reads:
Section 204 of the Navigation Act amends this schedule. By virtue of section 2 of that Act, Section 204 is to come into operation on a date to foe fixed by proclamation. No date had been’’ fixed at the date of publication of this reprint, namely 31st July 1965.
So seven years after that section of the Act had been amended it had not been proclaimed.
There have been thirty-one maritime conventions adopted by ILO, only eight of which have been ratified by this Government. The Government has also been slow to implement ILO recommendations. That regrettable lack of effort on the part of the Government shows its lack of interest in ILO conventions. This does not apply only to the maritime conventions; it applies also to other conventions such as those dealing with equal pay for work of equal value. An example of this unwarranted and unnecessary delay was the delay that occurred in the implementing of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea. These were drawn up in London in 1960. On 26th August 1965 an article appeared in the Sydney ‘Sun’ attacking the Government for sitting back on the new international laws for the prevention of collisions at sea. The article pointed out that the new regulations were to come into force in all the seas of the world from 1st September. The Minister said in reply:
Notices to shipowners and mariners have been prepared for some time and will be issued in the usual way.
Well, they were issued on 30th August, two days before the regulations were due to come into force. The excuse for the delay was also stated by the Minister in a Press statement of 26th August 1965 in which he said, among other things:
Before the Commonwealth Government could adopt the regulations it was necessary for the various State Governments to undertake to introduce various complementary legislation. Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania will have the legislation in force by 1st September. New South Wales expects its legislation to come into force on 3rd September or a little later, and South Australia will probably have its legislation completed within a few months.
So we find that in some of the States legislation was not to come into force until after the new regulations were to be the rule in all the seas of the world, that is after 1st September 1965. Why should there be such a delay in Australia in taking advantage of these regulations? The answer seems to be contained in the reply of the Minister on 22nd September 1965 to a question from the Leader of the Opposition, and also, of course, in the Press statement from which I have already quoted. The Minister said that it was necessary for the State Governments to undertake to introduce complementary legislation before the Commonwealth Government could adopt the International Regulations for the Prevention of
Collisions at Sea 1960. The State Ministers were advised in February 1961 at a meeting of the Australian Transport Advisory Council that the Commonwealth accepted the convention and was taking action to ratify it, and according to the Minister’s answer of 5th May letters were sent to the Premiers. This is the answer to the question which the Leader of the Opposition asked the Minister on 22nd September 1965. The Minister said on 5th May 1961 that letters were sent from the Prime Ministers Department to the State Premier’s Department forwarding copies of a publication obtained from England incorporating the final act of the 1960 convention. Correspondence was still passing to and fro between the Commonwealth and the States and five years later the States were still being reminded of their international obligations. This delay could have meant that Australians who travelled in Australian waters were deprived of the additional security provided by the international regulations for the prevention of collisions at sea. The Minister concluded his answer by saying:
In any case, however, the British High Commissioner has advised that a new order made under the British Merchant Shipping Act 1894 applies the new International Collision regulations to all Australian States except Queensland.
Incidentally, I understand that the Act that he refers to was amended in 1958. If the advice then given by the British High Commissioner was accurate, it means that ships which are engaged in intrastate trade only are still registered and still operate under this British Act. I asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport a question on 4th May 1966. The question and answer appear on page 1497 of Hansard. I asked:
Because of the limitation of power over shipping in the Australian Constitution is there the possibility of orders being made under (he Imperial Merchant Shipping Act 1894 applying shipping regulations to Australian States? if so, does this emphasise the need for an amendment of the Constitution giving the Commonwealth Parliament more extensive power over shipping? Would more extensive powers place the Commonwealth in a better position to implement shipping conventions, treaties and agreements? If so, will the Government initiate the necessary legislation for the purpose of amending the Constitution?
The Minister replied:
It is impossible to answer this question without expression of opinion on questions of law. The Government does not contemplate seeking any amendment of the Constitution in relation to matters referred to in these questions.
The reply, of course, was non-committal but in our view the question was most important because it appears that ships engaged in intrastate trade only are still registered and still operate under a British Act, the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894, which was amended by the United Kingdom Parliament in 1958, but the amendment does not make it clear whether it applies to British ships registered in the States and the Minister will not express an opinion on that question. Can this Parliament pass laws concerning these intrastate ships? The Minister does not seem to think so. Can the State Parliaments pass laws concerning these British ships? It is not clear whether they can or not. I think the Minister should answer these questions. The House is entitled to know where it stands on these matters. If the States cannot pass these laws it would appear that the only Government that can do so is the United Kingdom Government. Surely this reveals the importance of the question I asked.
The Australian Parliament should have the same power over all Australian shipping as the Canadian Parliament and the US Congress, have over shipping in their countries. If the States cannot pass these laws, why was it necessary for the States to take action on this regulation that the Minister referred to - that is if the British order applied to them? One would have thought that the Australian Government would have made some attempt to apply this convention to all Australian ships and Australian waters under its external powers. If the present procedure is to continue, what is the legal position as between British and State laws in the international waters of the States? Obviously the Australian Navigation Act should be applicable not only to the Commonwealth and its Territories, but also to the States. There should not be any divided legislative power over navigation in Australia. His Honour Mr Justice Spicer in the marine inquiry into the sinking of the dredge ‘W. D. Atlas’ in May 1966 referred to the complicated position that exists in Australia because of the division of powers between the Commonwealth and the States. I direct attention to page 4587 of the report of that Inquiry in which he said:
A perusal of this document serves to emphasise the complexities of these provisions, particularly in relation to a vessel whose owners may have to pay regard not only to the Navigation Act and Australian State Acts but also to the Merchant Shipping Act. In Australia the position is complicated by the limited nature of the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament in relation to shipping and navigation. When doubts arise as to the applicability of the Navigation Act regard must be paid to State Acts themselves not uniform in character. Navigation and shipping does seem to be a field in which uniform legislation, if not a common code, applicable to all aspects of navigation and shipping in Australian waters is desirable. Whether this be achieved by methods such as have been employed in relation to tha Companies Acts, by reference under section 51 (37) of the Constitution or otherwise is for others to determine. I merely indicate a need for some action in the direction I have indicated.
It was pointed out that doubts could arise as to the applicability of the Commonwealth Navigation Act and that these doubts should be eliminated. The judge suggested that navigation and shipping are a field in which uniform legislation applicable to all aspects of navigation and shipping in Australian waters is desirable. In his report Mr Justice Spicer referred to various factors concerning the loss of the ‘W. D. Atlas’ with the tragic loss of thirteen lives. He pointed out that considerable difficulties had been experienced with the vessel’s steering. The vessel had not been in dry dock for 15 months. No inspection had been made of the hull prior to the vessel’s departure from Whyalla. Marine growth on it had affected its rate of speed. The judge said that, taking into account that it was overdue for its annual survey, considerable care was called for before it and its crew were committed to the perils of the sea. His Honour said that there were serious failures to exercise a degree of care which was warranted in the circumstances.
It was pointed out by the judge that the average speed of the vessel was less than 5 knots and that for a substantial part of the journey it was between 3 and 4 knots. There was a 37 tons tumbler assembly aloft which should have been removed from the vessel. His Honour was critical ot the company for not having had it removed. A further matter considered by the judge was that on its departure from Whyalla W. D. Atlas’ was loaded to its summer load line with equipment, spare gear, etc., which was all dead weight for the vessel. This left the vessel with a freeboard of only 1 ft 9 in. The judge said that this loading appeared to him to have been dictated by economic considerations without sufficient attention being paid to questions of buoyancy and stability.
The judge referred to the evidence of the four survivors. One thing that emerged was that the only lifeboat that could be used was not properly secured to the davits. It could not be properly launched. There had been no muster or lifeboat drill throughout the voyage. The judge made an important suggestion on the matter of legislation requiring single deck vessels with low freeboard to be fitted with rails and stanchions instead of bulwarks when undertaking voyages in the open sea to enable water to be freed from the deck quickly. At the present time certain vessels, including dredges and pilot steamers, are exempted from certain provisions of the Navigation Act and regulations. It is our view that regulations are necessary to cover dredges and other vessels with low freeboard. His Honour said that there could be no sound reason why the Act and regulations could not apply at least to dredges undertaking deep sea voyages. He said that the loss of the ‘W.D. Atlas’ was contributed to by the acts or omissions of the responsible officers of the operating company in permitting the vessel to sail unaccompanied by a tug. All of those comments by the judge reveal weaknesses in the Navigation Act and surely indicate that there is a strong case for uniform legislation - a case equally as strong as that which applies in the field of civil aviation.
I referred earlier to the delay in implementing international conventions, lt is interesting to note that the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea 1960, which we are now discussing, was applied in the United Kingdom in 1965. As of 26th May 1965 the 1948 convention was replaced by that of 1960. Mr Justice Spicer refers to this matter in Appendix B of the report of the Court of Marine Inquiry at page 4620. I would like to quote from his remarks because this is very important. He said:
While the United Kingdom and Australia were both signatories to the same (i.e. the 1948) Convention, the Australian Government could issue a safety-equipment certificate to a British ship registered in the United - Kingdom, and such a certificate had effect as if issued under s. 8 of the M.S. (Safety Convention) Act 1949: see s. 13 (9) of that Act. That right ceased, on the 26th May 1965, when the United Kingdom and Australia became bound by different Conventions. Thereafter, and at 10th May <S>66. and still, such a -certificate could not be issued by the Australian Government.
This shows how important it is that we should not delay in getting these conventions ratified and included in our Navigation Act. We are still discussing these matters. It is not the fault of the Opposition because we were prepared to deal with this Legislation earlier. We shall expedite its passage by not moving the amendments we prepared. We will leave them to a later date. Australian travellers in ships cruising in Australian waters have been deprived of the benefit and protection of the Convention, although that benefit and protection have been extended to (he people of (fie United Kingdom for more than two and a half years. What reasonable excuse is there for such an unwarranted delay in implementing this Convention?
The Department of Shipping and Transport is also culpable for its delay in amending regulations governing the carriage of grain, the Navigation (Compact Regulations, and the Navigation (Examination of Masters and Mates) Regulations, which I believe were recently amended. Let us consider the grain regulations. The Minister explained the position to the Leader of the Opposition in 1959 and again in t%3. He said:
Amendments to the Navigation (Grain) Regulations have not been made but are included in Mie amendments to give effect to the Safety nl Life at Sea Convention 1960 which is twins dialled and will shortly be made.
I know there is some disagreement as to whether the Navigation (Grain) Regulation 1960 is as safe as was the Navigation (Grain) Regulation 1948. There is a difference of opinion between some of the signatories to this Convention. The maritime unions in Australia think that the 1948 regulation provides greater safety than the present one. I understand that in the United States of America the Government applies the 1948 regulation to its own ships. But being in the international field, wc are bound by the International Convention. The question of which one is best will have to be decided elsewhere. I understand Hut this is one of the matters to be considered by the international body at a later date.
Similar delays have occurred in implementing the other regulations that I have mentioned.
The delay by the Department of Shipping and Transport in implementing international conventions is in sharp contrast with the speed shown by the Department of Civil Aviation. High Court decisions in 1965 relating to civil aviation made it fairly clear that the international powers of the Department of Shipping and Transport were much greater than had been thought. It appears that the Department could have acted much more quickly in regard to navigation regulations which have been delayed for years. Some of them will not apply to Australian ships and ships in Australian waters until this present legislation is proclaimed. 1 now want to refer to the registration in Australia of Australian-owned overseas trading vessels. The Commonwealth ‘Year Book’ for 1966 shows, at page 449, that only seven Australian-owned ships operating as overseas trading vessels are on the Australian register. All the other Australian-owned ships trading overseas are registered overseas. This is to be deplored. The Commonwealth Government should encourage the registration in Australia of all Australian-owned ships. The registration of ships in Australia would mean that they could acquire a national character. All Commonwealth countries except Australia have such legislation. Most of these countries require the same qualifications as the United Kingdom requires, namely, that a ship must be owned by a British subject or subjects or a body corporate having its principal place of business in Her Majesty’s dominions. India requires that a proportion of shares shall be held by Indian citizens. Persons qualified to own Australian ships should be Australian citizens, and bodies corporate should have their principal place of business where the Commonwealth of Australia has jurisdiction. Registration would then apply to the Mandated Territory of New Guinea. It is suggested that vessels owned in New Guinea are denied the protection of any country. They trade to or in Indonesian waters and should enjoy protection. An extension of the overseas qualifications would protect them.
We require legislation giving Australian ships that qualify a national character. Many ships prefer overseas registration. They like to operate under flags of convenience. There are advantages, such as cheap labour, in so doing. Vessels on the Sitmar Line have been placed under flags of convenience so that the company will not have to pay Australian wages. In fact, the Australian Government is subsidising this Line by using its ships as migrant ships. If the Government were genuine it would withdraw this Line’s licence to bring migrants to this country. The Minister could impose terms that would prevent ships coming to this country under a flag of convenience and breaking rules that apply to Australian ships. No migrants are brought to this country in ships flying the Australian flag.
This Government has been responsible for the loss of all those ships that used to trade on our coast, flying the Australian flag. I mention the ‘Manoora’, ‘Manunda’, Kanimbla’, ‘Westralia’ and ‘Wanganella*. The sale of the last two Australian coastal passenger ships, - the ‘Kanimbla’ and Manoora’ - marked the decline of the Australian shipping industry during 1961. In all, twelve ships of 46.816 tons were sold overseas that year, while only three ships of 20,141 tons entered the service. In 1960 eleven coastal ships were sold overseas and were replaced with three. In 1959 thirteen ships were sold, and these were replaced with three. The greatest tragedy of the ships sold in 1961 was that most of them were not old. In fact, three were less than fifteen years old. They were the ‘Baroota’, which was nine years old; the ‘Borda’, ten years old; and the ‘Cronulla’, thirteen years old. Of course, as honourable members know, the working life of a ship is twenty-five years. Somebody should write a book about the rise, decline and disappearance of the fine fleet of Australian passenger ships built between the two wars to serve the coastal trade. It would make a fascinating story.
The ‘Manoora’ was sold to Indonesia. Four ships - ‘Wanganella’, ‘River Norman’, River Glenelg* and ‘Kaponga’ - were sold and registered in Hong Kong for operation in and out of Australian ports. They operated under flags of convenience. Too many foreign ships are granted permits to operate on our coast, to the detriment of our coastal ships. When permits are granted does the Minister ask whether the ships granted the permits comply with section 287 of the Act? This states:
A ship shall not engage in the coasting trade which is receiving, or which under any arrangement is to receive, or which in the immediately preceding twelve months has been receiving, directly or indirectly, any subsidy or bonus from any Government other than that of a Commonwealth country.
I ask the Minister whether that section of the Act is applied to the ships that get permits to operate on our coast. We know these days that most foreign governments now subside their ships. If they are subsidised by a foreign government they are not supposed to be granted permits to trade on our coast. In September 1965 the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Freeth) the following question:
What tankers hold licences to engage in the coasting trade?
What unlicensed tankers have held the permits to engage in the coasting trade in the last year?
On what conditions were the licences and permits granted?
Where are the tankers registered?
Who operates them?
On which tankers are seamen paid wages at Australian rates?
The answer revealed that there were twelve tankers which held licences to engage in the coasting trade and that the crews were being paid Australian rates of wages. All were registered in Australia. It also revealed, though, that seventy-five tankers held permits to engage in the coastal trade during the 12 months to 31 July 1965 and that the crews were not paid Australian rates of wages.
The use of the flag of convenience is to be deplored. We find British ships manned by cheap labour in the list of ships that was provided by the Minister. The port of registry of most of these ships is in the United Kingdom. Most of these shipping lines are showing huge profits at the expense of Australia and they do it by manning their ships with cheap labour from Hong Kong and India. There are advantages to be gained by having our own registry of ships. The twelve tankers registered have a quicker turn round because the masters are exempt from having to be piloted in.
Ships that are not on our register have to wait to fulfil certain requirements while our registered tankers sail straight in. They can operate more quickly under our flag than under a flag from another country.
As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) pointed out in 1965 when the matter of flags of convenience was considered at the International Labour Organisation in 1958 the representatives of the Australian Government, the employers’ representative and the representative of the workers joined in condemning the practice. In fact, the recommendations were brought in by the then Australian Government representative. The Government often speaks with its tongue in its cheek when supporting proposals for reform at the International Labour Organisation and condones breaches of such proposals when administering its departments. I have quoted an obvious case of this.
Tugs do not require to be licensed to engage in the coasting trade, and foreign tugs engage in this trade to the detriment of Australian tugs. Our tugs should be protected from unfair competition. Overseas cargo is carried in barges along the coast, the craft being towed. This is now the case in New Zealand and we can expect such a development here operated by Hong Kong tugs to the disadvantage of our coastal trade. Any vessel operating for reward between Australian ports should be required to pay Australian wages when she is licensed or on permit. There is a similar provision in the New Zealand Shipping and Seamen’s Act.
The policy of this Government of permitting British ships with Indian crews to carry coastal passengers has destroyed the Australian coastal passenger fleet. When it is suggested that Australia should have her own overseas shipping line, there is an immediate cry from the Government that the cost would be prohibitive. The Government says that the cost of building and servicing vessels in Australia and of manning them with Australian crews would add such an enormous burden to the operation of the ships that our ability to trade overseas would suffer dire consequences. Arguments such as this ignore many relevant factors.
Vessels of all trading nations ply to our coast. They come from England, the United States, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Holland, France, Russia, Canada, Japan, India and Greece, and most of them are subsidised by their governments. Ability to compete is determined by a number of factors which include efficiency of operation and government policy. Many governments have decided that the operation of a nationally owned fleet is fundamental to independence and defence. In many cases, governments own a majority of the shares in shipping companies. This policy is based on the need to preserve and develop trade by retaining a measure of control over freight rates and so prevent another country from forcing a nation’s shipping out of competitive markets because of high freight rates. The need to move troops in an emergency is an important reason why we should have our own fleet of ships.
Many newly emerged countries have acquired their own international fleets. India is one example. Newly independent African countries have done the same. The United States has realised the importance of a nationally owned fleet. It is part owner of the President Line and is heavily subsidising shipping in the national interest. The United States Federal Martime Board has pointed out that, of S26 ships operating in foreign trade at the beginning of 1960, 305 were subsidised. Canada has a subsidy plan and so has Japan. The subsidies help to keep freight rates down so that these countries are able to compete with other countries. New Zealand has its own shipping line operating in international trade. All the countries I have mentioned subsidise their fleets so that they will have an efficient overseas shipping line. Australia, the tenth trading nation of the world, must rely on ships from other countries. This is a scandalous state of affairs.
We are prepared to expedite the passage of this legislation, because we are eager to have the international convention adopted in our Navigation Act. We do not oppose this Bill, which seeks to implement the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea. We accept the assurance of the Minister that he will bring down an amending Bill. We ask him to give careful consideration to the submissions of the maritime unions, in regard to the amendments to both the Navigation Act and the international convention. We realise that the convention can be amended only with the agreement of other countries. However, we ask the Minister to consider the views that we have submitted to him and may submit to him in the future in regard to certain regulations which, not requiring international agreement, can be applied to any ships registered in Australia.
Debate (on motion by Mr Lynch) adjourned. moose adjourned at 10.23 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
Aboriginals: Wages (Question No. 226)
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
In the past, Aboriginals have been engaged by my Department in the Northern Territory under terms and conditions of employment that were determined by agreement between the Department and the Northern Territory Administration, having regard to the terms and conditions of the Wards’ Employment Ordinance. As at 30th June 1967, three Aboriginals were employed by the Department in the Northern Territory.
However, in accordance with Government policy, approval has been given with effect from 6th July 1967 to the introduction of normal employment arrangements in relation to Aboriginals employed in the Department. As from that dale, employment opportunities will be available in the Northern Territory for three Aboriginals at full award rates of pay and under all the other terms and conditions of the relevant industrial award or determination.
Qantas Empire Airways Ltd employs one Aboriginal in the Northern Territory as an apprentice ground engineer. Trans-Australia Airlines also employ one Aboriginal in the Northern Territory. In both cases these employees are paid under the appropriate industrial awards.
asked the Minister for Terri tories, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Three part-Aboriginal students are receiving assistance to attend tertiary educational institutions in other parts of Australia under the PartAboriginal Education Scheme. 4. (a) Assistance is given to Aboriginal students to undertake education in other parts of Australia. For example, the Administration is currently paying the secondary school fees for a student at a residential college in Brisbane. In this case, return air fares to the Territory are paid each year and a clothing allowance is provided. Aboriginal children with special needs - deaf and dumb or spastic children needing medical attention - are frequently sent to southern States for specialised treatment and the Administration meets the cost of fares, clothing and maintenance in these cases.
At present fifteen children are enrolled in boarding schools under this scheme and thirty are accommodated in foster homes. Of this total of forty-five, thirteen are at primary level and thirty-two are at secondary level, including seven at Intermediate or Leaving Certificate level in 1967. It is of note that since the Part-Aboriginal Education Scheme commenced in the early fifties, 122 children have been assisted under the scheme, and from those who have completed their education, sixteen have entered the nursing profession, seven have been apprenticed, and a number of others has entered the armed forces. All but seventeen of the group have remained in southern States. The Administration is currently maintaining one student . at a tertiary institution under the scheme, and in addition has provided initial fares and clothing allowances for two other tertiary students.
Assistance for education to matriculation standard is given the non-Aboriginal children living away from home, as follows:
Students at tertiary level receive one return tourist class air fare per annum from their place of study to their home in the Territory. The students are required to make a contribution of $10 towards the cost of the fare.
Assistance under this scheme is equally available for Aboriginal and part-Aboriginal children.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
How many outstanding applications for telephone installations are there in the electoral divisions of (a) Petrie, (b) Dawson, (c) Kennedy, (d) Leichhardt and (e) Herbert?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The term ‘outstanding applications has been taken to refer to applications which cannot be satisfied pending major extensions of plant. At 28th May, the position for each of the electoral divisions concerned was as follows:
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
What are the criteria for determining priorities for automatic telephone services in the electoral division of Dawson?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The priority system of dealing with telephone applications provides for requests to be graded in order of their importance in the public interest, preference being extended to those regarded as most essential from that standpoint. There are three main groups in the system, namely:
Group 1 - Essential public interest services.
Group 2 - Normal business services and those involving serious illness requiring ready access to medical attention.
Group 3 - Normal residence services.
The date of lodgment of the application determines its order of priority in each group. The system is laid down for uniform observance throughout the Commonwealth and I am informed that it is being adhered to in respect of applications lodged in the electoral division of Dawson.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
Why is there a delay of 12 months in some instances in installing telephone services when the amount of work by the Department involves only a few hours or a few days?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
If exchange equipment and line plant are available, the Department aims at completing telephone installations within 3 months of the payment of the advance fees. In the great majority of cases, this is achieved and, in fact, many are completed within a week or two. Where installations depend on the provision of additional exchange equipment and/or new line plant, however, delays in excess of 3 months are sometimes unavoidable. In these circumstances the practice is to not ask the applicant for advance payment until it can be foreseen that the service will be provided within 3 months. Although the situation referred to in your question would be most unusual, it could occur in rural areas where an applicant is required to erect a section of the line and the departmental work has been deferred awaiting completion of the private construction.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
Is a shortage of cable the principal reason for the long delays being experienced in supplying telephone facilities in the electoral division of Dawson?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Yes. At the end of May last there were thirty-three deferred applications for service throughout the electorate and, of these, twenty-eight had been deferred because of lack of cable in the area of the applicants’ premises. Additional cables are planned and most of the deferred applications will be met progressively during the 1967-68 financial year.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
Will the Minister supply in respect of each of the years from 1959-60 to the latest year for which figures are available (a) estimates of public authority expenditure on education as a percentage of the gross national product, (b) estimates of private expenditure on education as a percentage of the gross national product, (c) estimates of total expenditure on education as a percentage of the gross national product, and (d) figures of expenditure by each State government on education?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is contained in the following two tables:
asked the Minister for Works, upon notice:
What payments have been made by his Department or on its authorisation in each State and Territory in each of the last five years?
– My answer is contained in the attached statement:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 August 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1967/19670816_reps_26_hor56/>.