26th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr SCHOLES presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the well-being of the aged, the infirm, the widowed, the deserted wives and dependent children, and the service pensioner be improved to parity with the national general living standard of the Australian people.
A similar petition was presented by Mr Lee.
Mr KEVIN CAIRNS presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth requesting the Government to prohibit the advertising of cigarettes on broadcasting and television stations and to require that a suitable warning of the health hazard of cigarette smoking be displayed on cigarette packets and wherever cigarettes are advertised.
Petition received and read.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I ask: Will he recall Parliament next week to hear a full explanation by the Minister for Air on the grave charge that the Government has supplied inaccurate and misleading information to the Parliament?
– When I came to the House this morning and checked on the progress of business and the business still awaiting attention by the Parliament and also having given a good deal of thought to the question as to how we should deal with the matter to which the honourable gentleman has referred, I discussed with the Leader of the House the desirability of having the House meet for at least one day next week. At that point of time the Leader of the House told me that the Opposition was seeking a meeting and indeed it was going to press for this in the House this morning. I contacted the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the absence of his Leader and told him that so far as we were concerned we were entirely willing to wind up the business of the session, so far as it relates to the legislation before the Parliament, in a tidy fashion and at the same time we could discuss in a parliamentary environment the outcome of my discussions with my colleague. I have already told the House that I hope to have discussions with him on Monday of next week. The House could meet on Wednesday. From what I learned from the Leader of the House I would hope that the business could be disposed of in that one day. I hope that, in that disposal, the House could deal finally with the matter to which the honourable gentleman has referred.
– The Minister for Works will be aware of the many difficulties associated with the wide differences in building codes used throughout the various States and Territories of the Commonwealth. Could the Minister inform the House as to whether progress is being made by the Interstate Standing Committee on Uniform Building Regulations to overcome some of these difficulties?
– The honourable member for Bennelong of course would be well aware of the problems posed to the building industry by the very large number and complexity of building codes in use throughout Australia. The matter is concerning the whole industry and the Department of Works also. There is a committee, as the honourable member for Bennelong suggested, which is headed by Mr Isaacs, the officer in charge of the Commonwealth Experimental Building Station, Sydney, who is guiding the difficult process through which these people are now moving. There is no doubt about the necessity for some unification. There is no doubt also that introducing this unification is very difficult. Not only does there have to be a consensus between the local authorities and the States but also there has to be as much uniformity as is possible between the various States and the Commonwealth. I can only assure the honourable member for Bennelong, that, difficult though the assignment may be, the Government is well aware that there is a very great need for uniformity. If more uniformity could be achieved, I am certain cheaper buildings would be erected.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Navy in his capacity as Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities. Has the Minister received representations from the Cairns Chamber of Commerce complaining about a recent ‘Four Corners’ programme which contained an exaggerated account of the damage being done to the Great Barrier Reef? Has the Minister any information as to the damage that such adverse and untrue publicity has done to the tourist industry? Can the Minister make a statement which will remove any doubt that the Great Barrier Reef is still one of the tourist wonders of the world and that the area surrounding the beautiful city of Cairns is still the best place in Australia to visit to view the splendours of the Great Barrier Reef?
– I would agree with almost everything that the honourable gentleman has said, particularly about Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef. I have received a letter of protest from the Cairns Chamber of Commerce concerning a recent ‘Four Corners’ programme on the Great Barrier Reef. I saw the programme. My view is that it was an exaggerated and distorted view of the damage being done to the Reef. Unhappily the knockers of Australia’s tourist industry are a great worry. I would rate, not only the Great Barrier Reef itself, but also the magnificent islands which are situated in the Whitsunday Passage, as being among the most beautiful in the world. This sort of publicity by one of our own television stations is, to me, appalling. I repeat that in my view it is exaggerated. We have some evidence that this sort of knocking of our tourist wonders is already doing damage to our tourist potential abroad and it is to be deplored.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for National Development, refers to copper mining at Mount Gunson in the northern part of South Australia. Was the Premier of South Aus tralia correct in stating that the Commonwealth Government had not done the right thing in the circumstances in demanding $10,000 for a feasibility study of the supply of water and electricity for this project? Is it not the responsibility of the State to supply water and electricity for developmental projects of this type?
– I am afraid that I do not have a great knowledge of this project. It comes more directly within the province of my colleague, the Minister for Supply. The company involved in this project was eager to use some of the water that was going through to the Woomera area. It is perfectly true, as the honourable member says, that it is within the jurisdiction and the responsibility of the State to provide water and electricity for developmental projects, be they mining or other projects. In this instance, my colleague, the Minister for Supply, has arranged for a feasibility study to be undertaken. I believe that the company concerned is quite happy to have such a study and to make some contribution towards its cost. What will happen when the study is completed, of course, depends on the result of the study.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. On 24th October last the Leader of the Opposition asked the Treasurer a question relating to the proposed new Victorian stamp duty on incomes. The Treasurer said that the matter was listed for early discussion by Cabinet. I now ask him whether he will, before the rising of the House, present a statement on this important matter and allow for an adequate discussion of the implications involved in it?
– Honourable members will appreciate that, due to the course of events in the House during the last week, it has not been practicable for Cabinet to deal with this subject. As soon as it has, a public statement will be made.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. It again refers to the urgent problem of decentralisation and the activities of the Commonwealth and State Committee on Decentralisation. Has the
Prime Minister anything to add to his answer to me on 19th September on the activities of this Committee or any of its sub-committees?
– I have given some more attention to this matter since the honourable gentleman spoke to me. It will be evident from some of the announcements made yesterday that in a practical way we are achieving a degree of decentralisation by encouraging important projects, both those of a governmental character and those that are so spectacularly proceeding from private enterprise around Australia at this time. I have looked at the work of the Committee mentioned by the honourable member to see whether in some way the work could be speeded up. This work involves six State governments, not just the Commonwealth Government, and most of the information is in the possession of the State governments. I have even considered the possibility of bringing in a consultant body from outside the ranks of government and assigning a task to it. I have some reservations about this course, because such a body would necessarily deal with the Commonwealth and State governments and this may not be an appropriate way to handle the matter. I merely mention that to show the honourable gentleman that I am well aware of his anxiety and indeed that of other honourable members, including the honourable member for Macquarie. We have nothing to lose and we have much to gain by bringing the deliberations of this Committee to a point where we can bite on whatever recommendations flow from its considerations.
– Will the Prime Minister explain to the House what procedures are followed in processing answers to questions upon notice? Will he also inform the House whether he or, to his knowledge, any other Ministers of his Government have ever altered the information supplied to them by their various departmental officers or tampered with it in any way?
– The honourable gentleman can usually be relied on to give a sinister twist to whatever he puts forward by way of a search for information in this House.
– Now give us the answer.
– Yes, 1 shall give the honourable member the answer. He put his question in his way and I shall put the answer in my way. I do not claim to be an authority on the way in which other Ministers deal with the questions that go to them on notice. My understanding of the usual practice is that such a question would pass through the machinery of the relevant department. A draft reply based on information available to the department would be prepared and that draft reply would then go to the Minister concerned, who would look at the text. The honourable gentleman asks: Would he tamper with it? If the honourable member imagines that a Minister who receives drafts from his department on a host of matters does not himself exercise some responsibility as to the text, he fails to realise the role of the Minister, who has to accept responsibility for what he states.
In practice, of course, a Minister cannot himself pursue all the detail through. He looks to his department for the information, and the language of the reply is language that carries his initials and has his authority. The reply then comes to the Clerk of the House and appears in Hansard as a result. All that I would add as to the procedure is that in the case of my own Department and, I believe, also of the departments administered by other Ministers who hold senior portfolios and to whom are addressed questions that involve the supply by other departments of part of the information required, those other departments feed in the information that they have to the principal department that has to supply the answer. All that material is then used to prepare the draft answer that goes to the Minister concerned. This is the practice as I understand it and I think that this is what happens in the case of my colleagues also.
– My question, which is addressed to the Prime Minister, refers to an article published in the ‘Australian and
New Zealand Journal of Sociology’ which was contributed by Dr E. Lancaster Jones, a Fellow of the Australian National University, and which dealt with the social standing of each of Melbourne’s, suburbs. As the findings of Dr Jones have given a great deal of offence to a great many people, including certain religious groups - some of these matters were mentioned by my friend and colleague, the honourable member for Lalor, speaking on behalf of his angry constituents in the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House last night - and as the Government is currently being blamed for this research, I ask the right honourable gentleman: Can he say whether this research was carried out at the Government’s request or whether it was an independent undertaking of the gentleman concerned?
– A Dorothy Dix question.
– The honourable gentleman had indicated, not to me, but to the Party, his concern on this matter, and therefore I have taken the trouble to get such information as I could so that it would be in as precise a form as honourable gentlemen would require it to be given in this place. Dr Lancaster Jones, I am informed, is a Fellow in Sociology in the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University. His article is regarded in academic circles as an important and serious contribution to the study of social stratification in Australia. A similar study on Sydney was published by Mr A. A. Congalton in 1961, and last year Dr Jones published a shorter study of a similar sort on Canberra. Studies of this type, I am informed, are common overseas. The article appears to be the result of a continuing research programme on social stratification being undertaken by the Department of Sociology.
– My Speaker, I rise to order. This is a blatant disregard of question time which is set aside for questions without notice. This clearly is a question on notice.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– Mr Speaker, 1 rise to order. It is clear to everyone that the Standing Orders provide for questions to be asked without notice, but the Prime Minister, in proceeding to answer this ques tion, stated that he had in fact had notice of this question and that his Department
-Order! The honourable member for Yarra will resume his seat. As I have said, there is no substance in that point of order.
– What I said, as will be recalled, was that the honourable gentleman had raised this matter, expressing his concern at a misleading impression that had been gained by some people as to the source of the study and that I therefore had made it my business to have the information available should the matter be raised in this place. I conclude by saying that no special grant has been provided for this research from the Australian Research Grants Committee and the research, therefore, can be fairly described as an independent undertaking by Dr Lancaster Jones. It was not a programme which had been initiated in any way at the request of this Government.
– I refer the Minister for the Army to his answer to my question No. 632 on the notice paper in which he indicated that in 1966-67 the Australian Regular Army accepted only 2,911 males of 11,484 volunteers and only 362 females of 1,688 volunteers. Will the Minister consult with his colleague, the Minister for Health, who has a dual capacity in representing the Minister for Education and Science in this chamber, to ascertain what steps should be taken to uplift the health and educational standards of the average Australian youth and whether increased assistance to the National Fitness Council and educational authorities could alleviate the position?
-The main purport of the honourable member’s question is really outside the responsibility of my own Department, but I shall certainly make sure it is brought to the notice of my colleagues.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. In view, of an article in a newspaper published today headed ‘ “ China Bogy Theory False “ says Expert’, will the right honourable gentleman forward to the Vice-Chancellor of the Melbourne University for presentation to the professor who expounded the views in the article, firstly, a copy of MaoTsetung’s ‘Blueprint for World Conquest’ taken to Moscow by Chou En-lai in 1953; secondly, Marshal Lin Piao’s expansion of this document in a 30,000 word article in the ‘Peking Review’ of September last year; and, thirdly, copies of speeches made in America by the Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Nai Thanom Khoman, the Foreign Minister of Thailand, in the hope that the professor will cease his brainwashing, and concentrate on true education? Is this the same professor whose views on Asia at the beginning of World War II were so sadly astray?
– I should have thought that a professor who was offering views to a university on matters of this kind would have had available to him the sources to which the honourable member has referred and would have made some use of the material in those sources in arriving at and expressing a judgment of his own. Whether it would be appropriate for me in the circumstances to take the action the honourable member requests is a matter to which I would need to give some thought. I do not know where the process would begin and end if I were to try to provide this kind of service for all those, whether they be in the field of academics or of journalism, who publish views which, in the judgment of this Government at any rate, are hopelessly wrong.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I refer to the Government’s blatant vote-catching announcement of financial grants for the Ord and Emerald schemes. Can the Prime Minister explain why his Government consistently discriminates against New South Wales, which State also needs financial assistance to carry out programmes of water conservation, road construction, housing and education and the eastern suburbs railway? Is he aware that there are electors in New South Wales who exercise the franchise?
– It does not altogether surprise me that the honourable member should talk about blatant political vote-catching action because the Opposition, as I understand its view, has come out emphatically in favour of providing finance for the Ord scheme and for the Nogoa projects, and it has done this without having available to it the authoritative information necessary for making a judgment. Why do the members of the Opposition do this? If it is not for sheer political purposes I would be very hard put to find the explanation. This Government has behaved in relation to both these projects in a responsible way. It has accepted the jibes of honourable members opposite and of other critics around Australia who have argued that we have not moved quickly enough on these matters. We have been told that adequate information was available on which we could have acted. Well, we have waited until we considered that we could, on the basis of information within our possession, take a responsible decision.
To show just how absurd the criticism can become, I have today looked through two newspapers published by the same management. In one we are attacked on the ground that our decision is not justified economically, while in the other the editorial says that what we are now doing we should have done long ago. We cannot win in these matters. Had we not taken action honourable members opposite would have been attacking us throughout the Senate election campaign for our lack of initiative in development matters. We took that kind of criticism in the Capricornia by-election campaign because although it could have suited us politically to make at that time the announcement that we made a few days ago, we did not then feel satisfied, on the information available, that we could take a responsible decision. We had not at that time been able to give the matter the consideration it needed; we have now given it that consideration and arrived at our decision.
As to the Ord scheme, I read somewhere that the Leader of the Opposition had stated that in August I denied any knowledge of sorghum growing in the Ord area. Well, I would like to consult the records before I deal with that allegation, but I did make it clear yesterday in this House that when
I was in Western Australia with my colleague, the Minister for National Development, we conferred with the Western Australian Government and we were told of the hopes that Government had of the Ord after studying recent developments there. We replied that when we received our own latest information covering the season up to the end of October we would consider the matter further and then deal with it. This is precisely what happened.
Let me now deal with the second part of the honourable member’s question concerning our alleged neglect of New South Wales. One would have thought that a few illustrations would have convinced even the honourable gentleman that New South Wales has bad a very generous deal from this Government. For example, the Snowy Mountains scheme, involving an outlay of hundreds of millions of dollars, has been of very real benefit to New South Wales. Only about a week ago it was announced that we would increase the amount made available to New South Wales for flood mitigation work on the northern rivers. At present the Blowering Dam project is proceeding. The Commonwealth has provided financial assistance for coal loading plants at Newcastle. One could go on reciting a variety of such matters. There is, for example, Commonwealth expenditure on airport development in New South Wales. Compare how favourably New South Wales has been treated in this regard with the treatment received by other States. I could go on indefinitely on this theme. I have enough respect for the ability of the Premier of New South Wales to believe that he will see to it that New South Wales gets a fair deal out of whatever the Commonwealth is able to dispense.
– In the absence of the Postmaster-General I seek the assistance of the Minister for Defence. Will he confirm with his colleague that surface parcel mail for delivery to Australian troops in Vietnam in time for Christmas closed on 18th October and that the closing date for packets, letters and Christmas cards sent by surface mail is 24th November? Will he establish with his colleague whether more recent special arrangements have been made to service the troops in the field with mails closing nearer to the festive season?
– I am not aware of the precise arrangements made regarding Christmas mails for the troops in Vietnam but from personal experience I can say that the mail service is now giving every satisfaction. I will consult both the PostmasterGeneral and the Minister for the Army on this important matter.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Earlier this year the Government promised an estimated $50m for a new comprehensive beef roads scheme principally for Queensland and Western Australia, and the sum of $4.5m was allocated in the Budget for this financial year, which is now almost half over. But as no roads have been mentioned, the allocation is meaningless, as is the promise. Does this $50m beef roads scheme really exist? Is it the Government’s intention to honour its promises to the people of Queensland and Western Australia? If so, when will the Government announce the roads involved and the amounts to be given to Queensland and Western Australia to enable them to proceed with the roads as soon as possible?
– The honourable gentleman’s question is timely because I propose to seek an opportunity after question time to make a statement about beef roads.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question arising out of the answer he gave to the honourable member for Hindmarsh. Was his answer given on 13th May 1966 to my question on notice seeking details of passenger lists for VIP flights identical with the draft reply forwarded to him by the Department of Air? If not, in what way did he alter the Department’s suggested reply before initialling it?
– I will examine the honourable gentleman’s question. I will not tie myself to what happened that length of time ago. To the best of my recollection the reply was not amended by me - certainly not in substance. I shall check whether texts are available to enable me to ascertain this. I remind the House that this privilege which is open to honourable members of securing information from Ministers has time and again been ruled in this place to be a matter for the decision of the Minister who is concerned. He answers a question or does not answer it according to his judgment. But when he does not answer it the Parliament has its remedies in relation to him.
– Is this a threat?
– -Of course it is not a threat. I think honourable gentlemen opposite are becoming a little political on this matter.
– Can the Minister for National Development say whether the reason why the State of New South Wales was not accorded a grant for the purpose of water conservation works similar to that accorded yesterday for the State of Queensland was the fact that the Government of New South Wales has not yet nominated a single particular project which meets the terms of the original offer made by the Commonwealth, namely, that such a project should lie outside the normal programme of State works and should offer a means of mitigating the effects of periodic droughts?
– The Government of New South Wales, in common with all State Governments, has made representations to the Commonwealth in regard to this national water resources programme, but we did not feel, in the time available to us to study these requests, that we could yet come to a decision. We were enabled to do so in the case of the Nogoa scheme because this was a scheme which had been before the Government for a considerable period. As a result of this consideration there had been a number of improvements and alterations in the scheme with the result that the final project put forward by the Queensland Government was acceptable to the Commonwealth Government. However, I point out to the honourable member that this pre-empts only $20m of a total of $50m which the Commonwealth Government has promised. We will now have an opportunity to make a further close consideration and study of the proposals brought forward by the other States.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question. In view of the millions of dollars about to be spent on the Ord River project, why not include the flying service to Lord Howe Island?
– I can assure the honourable member that I appreciate very much the announcement by the Government in relation to the Ord River and also the developmental project in Queensland. I am sure that the whole House fully supports the action which has been taken. I should inform the House also that at present there is a satisfactory air service provided to Lord Howe Island by a flying boat and that this service will continue for some time into the future. The problem to which the honourable member has referred and which he has raised in the past relates to some point of time several years into the future, and it is being examined. One of the difficulties is to provide airport facilities. This matter is being discussed between the Commonwealth and State authorities. There are difficulties also associated with obtaining a type of aircraft which can operate to the island. Perhaps at that time some. STOL type of aircraft will become available which will not require long runways which are now needed but which cannot be built on the island. The matter is in hand and discussions between the Commonwealth and the State are progressing.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. May I remind the right honourable gentleman that when he was presenting his Budget this year he observed that it was designed, among other things, to achieve a stimuluation of retail sales and greater capital investment within the private sector. I ask him: In what respect have these two aims been met?
– In addition to the matter mentioned by the honourable gentleman, that is, the necessity to stimulate retail sales, I said also that we wanted fo stimulate private capital investment in fixed plant and equipment and also in building and construction in the non-housing section of the economy. Each of those assumptions on which the Budget was based has turned out to be better than we expected. In other words, in terms of fixed capital investment in plant and equipment, there has been a very substantial rise in the last recorded quarter. The same thing happened in the case of building construction in the nonhousing field. Retail sales have also shown a substantial jump. This is characteristic of the picture of the whole Australian economy. Not only has civilian employment risen by more than 8,000 in the period under review but seasonal or adjusted employment is( much better than that figure would suggest. For all those reasons the Government is entitled to claim that the objectives it set’ itself in the Budget have been more than achieved. My expectation is that this trend of events will continue in the months to come.
– I address my question- to the Minister for Defence. Upon what military advice was the decision taken to send a squadron of Centurion tanks to Vietnam when it has been found almost impossible to use them even on exercises in Australia? Upon what occasions has heavy armour been found to be effective in guerrilla warfare in jungle country? Does he agree with the statement that was made by the Minister for the Army in the House that the tanks will be useful for pursuing Vietcong through minefields?
– It was on the best military advice available to the Government and as a result of the experience of the United States Army in Vietnam that the Government decided to send a squadron of tanks to Vietnam. The honourable gentleman can be his own expert in defence; I would not like to follow him.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Will he acknowledge the work and the recommendations of Government members’ committees in assisting Cabinet to arrive at its decision in regard to the Ord River scheme and the Nogoa River scheme? I refer to the Food and Agriculture Committee and the National Development Committee, members of which visited these areas and reported thereon to the Cabinet.
Has the prestige and status of Government members’ committees risen in the past 2 years?
– I gladly acknowledge with appreciation the assistance that the Government has received from the committees to which the honourable gentleman has referred, and, indeed, from the committees of Government members generally. I know that there are members’ committees inside the Opposition and I have no doubt that they give valuable assistance to the Leader of the Opposition and his executive. But I can speak with some knowledge of the work of the committees on the Government side. In relation to the matters in respect of which decisions have recently been announced, the Government was considerably assisted by the Food and Agriculture Committee, to which the honourable member for Macarthur has devoted so much time and energy, and by the National Development Committee, of which the honourable member for Riverina is a very able and energetic chairman. Earlier the honourable member for Mackellar did a service to the Parliament when he and his colleagues on the Rail Standardisation Committee were able to influence - I think usefully - the course of events in that field. The list could be developed indefinitely. I believe that the functioning of these committees is a very valuable aspect of the work of Parliament and I can assure the honourable gentleman that the views that are received by us from these committees are fully weighed and frequently influence the course of Government decision.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. Arc Citizen Military Forces members paid for all parades on which they appear or are they expected to attend some parades, such as those on which examinations are held, without pay? Are CMF members issued with all items of equipment and clothing or are some items, such as giggle hats, paid for by members? Will the Minister rectify these causes of complaint?
– I will look in detail into the series of questions asked by the honourable member. However, in broad terms, all members of the Citizen
Military Forces are provided with the equipment that is necessary for the training which they undertake. For normal weekly parades members of the CMF do not always have a full issue of equipment in their own depot. When they go to their annual camp they draw on large reserves of equipment which are necessary for those occasions. It has been found that by and large the system does work well and satisfactorily, at the same time making economic use of available equipment There have at times been shortages of certain specific items of equipment. Whenever this has been brought to my notice I have taken action to put the matter right. So far as the question of payment for parades is concerned, there is an upper limit to which members can be paid. However, the unit commander, the formation commander and the general officer commanding the command have authority to authorise payment for a greater number than the normal number of parades. This is especially so in the case of specialist units, and specialist courses for potential officers and non-commissioned Officers. I will look at the detail of the honourable member’s question and let him have a precise reply.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday next at 2.30 p.m.
– by leave - Honourable members will recall that in a statement to this House on 7th September this year I announced certain decisions the Commonwealth Government had taken on Aboriginals following the referendum in May and later discussions with the States. I referred to the changes to the Constitution brought about by the referendum and to the Government’s view that the prime function of the Commonwealth in Aboriginal affairs in the future should be to have a policy coordinating role in matters of common interest to the Commonwealth, its Territories and the Australian States. I also announced that the machinery to perform this function would be provided by an office of Aboriginal affairs to be established within the Prime Minister’s Department. This arrangement was designed to bring it under my own central administration. By this means, we would have an effective channel of communication not only between the States and the Commonwealth on Aboriginal matters through the Premiers and myself, but between the Commonwealth Government, the Aboriginals themselves and organisations representing them.
I now wish to announce a further stage in the Government’s proposals in this matter. The Government wishes to have continually available to it the best advice on Aboriginal affairs it can get on a national level, and it has therefore decided that the new office should serve a Council for Aboriginal Affairs, which will have two particular functions: (a) It will advise the Government in the formulation of national policies for the Aboriginal citizens of Australia, (b) It will consult with Commonwealth departments and authorities whose activities have a bearing on Aboriginal welfare. It will also act as the Commonwealth agency for ensuring co-operation between Commonwealth and State authorities at the official level. It will, like the Office, be within my jurisdiction as Prime Minister and associated with the Prime Minister’s Department in Canberra. The new Council will consist of a Chairman and two members. The Chairman will not be a full-time appointment but, at least during the early years of the Council’s work, he will devote a large proportion of his time to its affairs. One of the other members will be the Executive Member who will be the Director of the Office serving the Council. The third member will be chosen for his direct knowledge and understanding of the Aboriginal people. The Council will draw upon the knowledge and experience of anthropologists and other academic specialists as well as State and Commonwealth officials working in the field. It will also call into counsel members of Aboriginal communities and others concerned with their welfare and advancement. The council will concentrate at the outset on fully establishing the new Office of Aboriginal Affairs and, in consultation with other departments and with the States, but also will move as soon as possible to the formulation of proposals for Commonwealth policies in relation to Aboriginals.
I repeat here, however, what I said in September, that while the Commonwealth Parliament is now in a position, to make special laws, the Commonwealth does not seek to intrude unnecessarily in this field or into areas of activity currently being dealt with by the States. The Government believes that detailed administration to be most effective should be on a State or regional basis. I would add that since I made my first announcement in September of the Government’s intentions as a consequence of the Referendum result, we have had many constructive suggestions and and much useful advice from representative people. This has been of considerable value to the Government and has helped us materially in this further development of our policy.
I am confident that both the Council for Aboriginal Affairs and the new Office will provide a powerful reinforcement for the continuing efforts that the Commonwealth Government, the Australian States and the Northern Territory are making for the advancement of Australian Aboriginals.
I now come to the question of the person to be appointed as the first Chairman of the new Council for Aboriginal Affairs. This is an important appointment to which, naturally, the Government has given a great deal of thought so that a person of strong quality and competence would be chosen. I am glad to report that following a series of discussions with Dr H. C. Coombs about his future, Dr Coombs will be taking up the position of Chairman.
Dr Coombs some time ago indicated to the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) and to me that, after 18 years as Governor of the Reserve Bank, he felt the stage was approaching at which he ought to step down. He also indicated that thereafter, if the Government wished, he would be prepared to assume other appropriate responsibilities. While the Government would be well content for Dr Coombs to continue as Governor of the Bank, it felt that it should respect his judgment in this matter.
In the light of this, discussion took place with Dr Coombs concerning the application of his abilities and experience in the field of Aboriginal affairs, and I am happy to report that we found him responsive and quite enthusiastic in this direction. He expressed to us a strong sentiment to assist in what he regarded as an important sphere of Commonwealth endeavour; hence the appointment that I have just announced. I may add that it has also been decided to appoint Dr Coombs as Chairman of the Council for the Arts, about which I made a statement yesterday. This is a field of activity in which he has already done most valuable work as Chairman of the Elizabethan Theatre Trust.
Dr Coombs has accepted certain commitments as Governor of the Reserve Bank during the first part of 1968 and he will not formally retire from that post until these have been fulfilled. The expectation is that this will occur about June of next year. He will nevertheless start immediately on his new tasks and effective arrangements will be made to relieve him of certain of his responsibilities in the Bank for this purpose. Perhaps I should state that Dr Coombs has stipulated that while he remains Governor of the Bank there should be no additional remuneration paid to him in respect of either of his posts with the Council for Aboriginal Affairs or the Council for the Arts.
At this point, although Dr Coombs will still remain Governor for some considerable time, I would like personally and on behalf of the Government to pay the highest tribute to him for his distinguished service to Australia as Governor of the Bank - service that has brought him international renown in high financial circles, where he has enhanced Australia’s national prestige, and in many other major fields of endeavour.
Normally, arrangements relating to the Governor and the successor to the Governor of the Bank would be announced by my colleague, the Treasurer, but in view of the association that I have had in making this announcement to the House, he has gladly permitted me to supply this additional detail. I now come to the arrangements in relation to the Reserve Bank that arise as a result of the impending retirement of Dr Coombs. I am authorised by my colleague, the Treasurer, to say that Mr J. G. Phillips, the present Deputy Governor, will be appointed to succeed Dr Coombs. Knowing the admirable work that Mr Phillips has done over many years as an economist and central banker, the Government has great confidence in his ability to carry out the responsibilities of Governor of the Reserve Bank and Chairman of the Reserve Bank Board.
– I ask for leave to make a statement.
– I do not deny leave to the honourable member, but the Prime Minister of Laos is waiting to have discussions with me. Perhaps I could make my short statement on beef roads and then the House could deal with these matters as it wishes.
Mr HAROLD HOLT (Higgins- Prime
Minister) - by leave - I am pleased to announce to honourable members in relation to the future programme of beef road development in the north that the Premiers of Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia have accepted a Commonwealth offer to provide, over the 7 year period from 1st July 1967, non-repayable grants totalling $50m for the further development of beef roads in northern Australia. Of the total amount, $39. 5m will be made available to the State of Queensland, $9. 5m to the State of Western Australia and $lm to the State of South Australia.
The programme to be undertaken in Queensland will provide for the construction of selected roads in the Channel Country and the Gilbert, Burdekin, Fitzroy, Mitchell, Cape York and Gulf regions. In Western Australia the programme will cover selected road works in the Kimberley region and in South Australia permanent work on the Birdsville Track. The overall programme in each State will be capable of some variation if this is desirable. Each State will be the constructing authority for its road and will be solely responsible for necessary maintenance.
Honourable members will recall that the Commonwealth in collaboration with the appropriate State governments, has been continuously associatd with beef road development in the north since 1961. The Commonwealth has spent$10.4m since 1961 on its own initial beef roads programme in the Northern Territory, linked with the developments in the States, and has begun work on a further programme estimated to cost $14.3m. As well, the Commonwealth has provided by way of grants and loans to the States, $28. 9m, in a programme which has triggered off an expansion of private investment in the beef industry. This in turn will result in greater beef production, in increased prosperity in the north and in greater export earnings for Australia as a whole. The further programme that I now announce is evidence of the Commonwealth’s desire to foster the further development of the beef industry and the north generally. I am confident that the next 7 years will see tremendous benefits from this programme, not only to the north, but to the nation as a whole.
– by leave- Mr Speaker, I am grateful for the courtesy that the House has extended to me by allowing me to make a short statement. I am grateful to the Government also for having taken some action in the field of Aboriginal affairs. I believe that in this matter I speak on behalf of the Federal Council for Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, of which I am Senior VicePresident. The appointment of Dr Coombs, who is probably one of Australia’s most outstanding public servants, as Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs, will, I believe, give much gratification to those people who, for a long time, have wanted something done for the Aboriginals. Dr Coombs and the Government can rest assured that the Federal Council will place all its resources at the disposal of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs. Indeed, the Federal Council is at present busy preparing submissions on various matters. To the extent that the Council for Aboriginal Affairs has been formed and the Chairman appointed, those who are concerned with Aboriginal affairs and the advancement of the Aboriginal people are pleased with the announcement that the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) has made today.
However, I hope that the Government will do more than act just as a policy coordinating body or merely establish the new Council. The Commonwealth has the resources to do something. The States have the history in this matter; but they have a history of neglect. There is no evidence that they have ever shown any capacity to solve the many problems of the Aboriginal people. I believe that the people of Australia, at the referendum held in May, voted for definite Commonwealth action and for the application by the Commonwealth of some of its tremendous resources to the problems of, for example, housing, health and education that beset the Aboriginal people. Therefore, Mr Speaker, I hope that the Government will not rest on the action that it has taken so far. The first problem to be tackled is that of housing. Literally thousands of Aboriginal families live in conditions of deep neglect and disgrace. I hops that there will be an immediate attack on the housing problems of the Aboriginal people of Australia. This will require the expenditure of a great deal of money - probably some millions of dollars initially. This is a field in which the needs are visible and in which it is easy to ascertain what the first requirements are. So we on this side of the Parliament express the hope that the Commonwealth will act as more than a co-ordinating body and will in fact act as an initiating body. I see that I have taken just 3i minutes, Mr Speaker, and that is not bad.
– by leave - I congratulate the Government on the step that it is taking. Two decisions that it has made show how much importance it has placed on the result of the referendum held in May. The first was the decision to put Aboriginal affairs under the personal control of the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt). The second was the decision to put in charge of the programme a man of the prestige and background of Dr Coombs. These two decisions show that the Government is really in earnest in its approach to this subject. May I just say that I hope that the Aboriginals themselves will be involved as soon as possible, and to the greatest possible extent, in the decisions being made about their own future. I know the difficulties that exist. I know that the Aboriginals themselves are not finding it easy to get organisations to represent them. I know the divisions that are at present occurring in relation to this matter. May I just suggest to the House that the most important Aboriginals and the most numerous, in this context, are those in the far north of Australia.
– Mr Speaker, I ask for leave to make a short statement.
-Is it on the same subject?
– Yes. I seek your guidance as to whether I would be in order. The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) in the course of his statement on the appointment of the Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs-
-Order! The honourable member has not yet received leave to make a statement.
– I understand that the honourable gentleman wants to ask a couple of questions.
– I want to raise several matters by making a short statement. The Prime Minister, in the course of his statement
-Order! The honourable gentleman has not yet been given leave to make a statement.
– It will take only a couple of minutes.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt), in the course of his statement on the appointment of Dr Coombs as Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs, mentioned that that gentleman will also be chairman of the proposed Australian Council lor the Arts. To my knowledge, this is the first time that this has been announced publicly. I want to raise a couple of points in relation to this .situation. I wish in no way to detract from the qualities of Dr Coombs as a central banker and public servant and one of Australia’s most able public administrators. What I want to do is to bring to the Government’s attention the tremendous amount of criticism that is being voiced concerning the way in which the affairs of the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust have been handled and the concern of people involved in arts and letters-^-
– That proves nothing.
– It does prove something. People who are involved in arts and letters have been aggrieved for a long time at the neglect of this field, and they have been expressing criticism of the way in which the Elizabethan Theatre Trust has dominated, as a sort of ruthless ogre, the affairs of arts and letters in this country. Those people have criticised the lack of qualifications of Dr Coombs for a top position in this field. We have the Government now moving into this field without having any public inquiry into the state of arts and letters in the community. One would have thought that such au inquiry would have been the starting point. The Government apparently relies on one person only to prepare recommendations for it in this field. I would like to raise certain questions as to his qualifications in this sphere. These questions should be put before the Parliament. The Government is virtually just establishing a body that will be manipulated by the same old brigade that has been running the Elizabethan Theatre Trust for too long. In addition, it is obvious that the Government’s propositions in this field are related only to the performing arts. These are only one segment of the field of arts and letters in the Australian community.
– I said that my remarks would be short, and I shall conclude with my next point. The other point that I wish to make is that the people who are involved in arts and letters in this community want to know how the proposed Australian Council for the Arts will be endowed and how it will be administered. I hope that before the Parliament rises for the recess we shall have a clear and full outline of just what is involved in the Government’s policy in this field. Its policy proposals here are very important. The establishment of the Council for the Arts is a monumental step forward if in fact it represents some positive changes. But I have a terrible suspicion that unless we get details before the Parliament rises for the recess, all that will happen is that the same old system will operate through a body under. a different name and (hat that will be the only way in which the new system will differ from the old. I would like to know what endowment the Council for the Arts will have - what funds it will have to operate on. lt is not too late even at this stage for a public inquiry to be held into all facets of arts and letters in Australia today, not just the performing arts, and for the Government to act on the findings of such an inquiry. Finally, 1 ask it to confer with people in the field of arts and letters before it finalises the appointments of those persons who will administer the proposed Australian Council for the Arts.
– by leaveMr Speaker, the Government’s decision to undertake a $50m beef roads programme in northern Australia, which has just been announced by the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt), is without question one of the most important decisions taken by this Government, for it has now accepted the principle of long-term planning in beef roads development. The right honourable gentleman in his opening remarks stated that he was pleased to announce to honourable members that the Premiers of Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia had accepted an offer of non-repayable grants totalling $50m. Why would they not be pleased? Non-repayable grants mean one thing only, and that is that they are grants. They are not interest bearing loans. I am pleased to note that the Premiers of Western Australia and Queensland have refused to accept the Government’s original offer of interest bearing matching loans. Within 24 hours the House has seen $98m made available to northern Australia. This is the second example within 24 hours of the most blatant electioneering that has ever been seen on the eve of a Senate election.
– Mr Speaker, I rise to order. The comment by the honourable member for Dawson that this is blatant electioneering is offensive to me as a member and I ask that it be withdrawn.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– Yesterday we saw $6 8m made available for water purposes and now $50m is being made available for beef roads in Queensland and Western Australia. This follows the same procedure that the Government has adopted in respect of every decision on northern Australia. It is the result of political adversity and its electioneering promises. In the Prime Minister’s statement no specific roads are mentioned. He refers to areas and districts. It is gratifying that the areas he has mentioned are, in fact, those areas in Queensland, in particular, which have the highest potential for beef cattle production, but why did he not mention the specific roads? Does he want me to mention them for him? Everyone in Queensland knows what they should be. One of the most important roads in the Channel country is the Windorah to Currawilla road. The Premier of Queensland has publicly stated this. Another important road in the Fitzroy Basin is the Mount Flora to Dingo road. It must be in this scheme so why was it not announced? The road from Mareeba to Laura in Cape York Peninsula is another most important road. These roads are of extreme and paramount importance to Queensland. Perhaps the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) will indicate whether they are in the proposed programme.
Similarly with the Kimberleys, the upgrading of the roads from Derby to Halls Creek to Wyndham and from Derby to Gibb River to Kununurra are most important. The roads to be constructed should be stipulated. Why the delay in announcing this programme? A decision must have been taken early in the year because the Minister for National Development then announced the provision of $50m for beef roads. Why has the decision waited until the dying days of the Parliament and until the eve of a Senate election? This is blatant electioneering of the worse type. I said yesterday that it will not convince the people of Queensland or Western Australia of the sincerity of this Government with respect to beef roads. The tragic part is that the delay has caused contractors to lose money. For instance, one of the contractors on the Mount Flora to Dingo road has lost $10,000 because of the delay. He will now have to move his plant back from central Queensland to the Dingo to Bombandy road. This has been a waste of money simply because the Government has delayed the decision until the eve of a Senate election.
I am grateful to see that the Government has accepted the principle that it cannot continue with beef road construction or water conservation with an ad hoc policy of year by year development. There must be long-term planning and it is an amazing victory for the Australian Labor Party that the Government has accepted the principle of long-term planning for the development of beef roads.
– by leave - The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) has charged the Government with blatant electioneering. What happened, of course, as the honourable member knows very well, was that an announcement was made by the Commonwealth Government that $S0m would be available over a 7 year period for additional beef road works in Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia. It has always been accepted that this money would be available. There has never been any doubt about it. The honourable member for Dawson asked: Why the delay? The delay has been brought about because it has been necessary to have negotiations with the State governments. It was anticipated that there would be some matching funds available from the State governments, but the Queensland Government, in particular, has had some difficulty in meeting this requirement because of a long-term commitment ahead of it to which it has allocated funds. It does not wish to make a matching grant, although it will be spending some of the Commonwealth aid roads funds and other funds in the area concerned. The Queensland Government has gone ahead, as has the Western Australian Government, in the knowledge that the money would be available. They have proceeded to spend money and there has been no delay.
The honourable member for Dawson is anxious to have a list of the roads that will be covered. I will be making a statement when I can do so, but I am not certain how soon this will be. There will be further discussions between State and Federal authorities in selecting the actual roads. The situation is close to finality and as soon as the programme of roads can be produced I will produce it.
– I present the following report:
Official report of Australian Parliamentary Delegation to the Philippines and Indonesia in July 1967.
I seek leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I simply wish to pay a tribute to members of the delegation, in particular to the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) who served as deputy leader of the delegation. I pay a tribute to his outstanding loyalty and co-operation which he gave to me and to the delegation during the visit. In this tribute I join the other members of the delegation - the honourable member for Henty (Mr Fox), the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett), the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) and Senators Scott and Dittmer. I know that I would be fulfilling their wishes in saying to the Government that they appreciated the opportunity of visiting these countries. We found it extremely valuable in gaining a greater knowledge of them. We would also like to think that we left behind us in those countries a greater knowledge of Australia and Australians. Speaking personally, it was a great pleasure and, indeed, an honour for me to lead such a team of Australians abroad.
– by leave - 1 join with the Minister for the Navy (Mr Chipp) in his statement about the delegation to Indonesia and the Philippines. 1 found it most informative and instructive. I believe that trips to Asian countries to our near north should be continued in the winter recess. They give members a wonderful knowledge of the countries they visit and of the people they see, and they leave behind, as the Minister said, a better understanding of Australia. I thank the Minister for his kind comments about myself and other members of the delegation. The Minister will agree, I am sure, that all of us in the delegation travelled as Australians and not as members of the Liberal Party, the Country Party, or the Labor Party. We were all loyal to each other and loyal to Australia. I am very gratified to have been a member of the delegation and to have worked in harmony with the Minister for the Navy, who proved to be capable, reliable and loyal.
– I present the following report of the Public Accounts Committee:
Ninety-fourth Report- Department of Immigration.
I seek leave, Mr Speaker, to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Your Committee’s inquiry into the Department of Immigration was made, not because the Department has been the subject of criticism by the AuditorGeneral, but because of the significance of immigration as an important element of population growth in an expanding Australian economy and because, in the discharge of their responsibilities, many members of the Parliament find themselves engaged frequently with the Department of Immigration on behalf of migrants and organisations concerned with migration problems in their constituencies. An additional factor was the significant increase in the level of expenditure by the Department over the years. Your Committee believes that this Report which, in dealing with the accounts of the Department also of necessity traverses much of the Department’s detailed administration, will prove to be a useful source of information for members of the Parliament and the public.
In the course of its inquiry, your Committee was impressed with the general level of efficiency found to exist in the operations of the Department. Nevertheless, there are certain matters arising from our inquiry to which your Committee would invite attention. The conclusions and findings relating to the extensive coverage of the public inquiry conducted by your Committee are located in chapters 22 and 23 of the Report.
With regard to the aliens register maintained by the Department, the Committee is of the opinion that the present form is inadequate and that in the interests of efficiency and protection against loss, the register should be converted to an appropriate mechanised system with minimum delay. The failure to make regular inspections of overseas posts by officers of the Department of Immigration, disclosed by evidence, is not satisfactory and your Committee believes that an effective system of inspections should be established in the interests of departmental efficiency. Recommendations have been made in respect of the control of the use of subscriber trunk dialling telephone facilities, interdepartmental payments, internal audit work, qualifications for auditors, and compliance with Treasury regulation 77 (2) (b) which deals with advances for travelling expenses.
Your Committee’s inspections during this inquiry included both old and modern accommodation provided for migrants by Commonwealth Hostels Limited in Queensland and New South Wales, as well as the holding centres controlled by the Department in Benalla and Bonegilla, Victoria. Your Committee recommends that the holding centres at Benalla and Bonegilla should be closed as soon as possible. We felt that this action could well have received earlier scrutiny within the Department. The announcement by the Minister for Immigration on 10th August 1967, that the Benalla centre will be closed by 8th December 1967, has been noted with some satisfaction.
With regard to subsidies paid to Commonwealth Hostels Limited, your Committee believes that arrears should not be permitted to accumulate in subsidy payments made by the Department of Immigration in respect of accommodation provided by the company for migrants and that the existing arrangement under which Commonwealth Hostels Limited is subsidised, and which does not include a maintenance component, should be examined critically by the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Labour and National Service and the Department of Immigration.
In respect of the administrative costs of the Department, your Committee noted that extra duty payments made had increased from $72,122 in 1959-60 to $221,655 in 1966-67, and we were informed that the Department does not make a practice of applying to the Public Service Board for additional positions as soon as a need begins to emerge. Whilst your Committee would commend the Department for this conservative approach to the question of staffing, it would make the comment that, unless carefully controlled, overtime can result in a diminution in the quantity and quality of output per man hour worked, and at the same time can create a sense of false values as to the work output that can be reasonably expected from the officers concerned and, perhaps more importantly, from officers who replace them on promotion or transfer.
Recognising the role of immigration in the development of the Australian population and economic expansion, your Committee trusts that managerial skills, including automatic data processing, will be applied wherever practicable within the Department, in order that the highest level of administrative efficiency can be maintained.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - Last night there was some discussion in the House as to whether certain notes that had been prepared in the Treasury and which had then been taken to the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) as Leader of the House, had or had not been delivered to the Opposition. I have found that in fact the document had been delivered by Mr Grigg, as Secretary to the Minister, to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) as the leader of this side of the House. How the notes subsequently went astray is, I think, immaterial, but. I did wish to indicate that Mr Grigg fully discharged whatever responsibilities attached to him, and what happened to the document after that does not, I think, matter.
– I appreciate the honourable member’s statement.
– I seek leave, Mr Speaker, to explain a matter of a personal nature.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I claim to have been grossly misrepresented in another place by speeches made by Senators Tangney and Cant last Friday, 27th October, and published in the ‘West Australian’ on Saturday, 28th October. The speeches purported to relate to my conduct as chairman of homes for the aged known as Swan Cottage Homes Incorporated. They were a repetition of similar charges made by the same people on earlier occasions and are obviously based on the complaints of a few disgruntled tenants.
Mr Speaker, I do not propose to waste the time of the House by replying to the charges in detail. Suffice it to say that my work for the homes is entirely voluntary and I am proud of it. There is nothing in the conduct of the homes which would justify any reasonable criticism; indeed, they provide a model of what a retirement village should be.
– I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The honourable member has claimed that he has been misrepresented, but he has not given any evidence up to date of the way in which he has been misrepresented.
-I think the honourable member is entitled to explain where he has been misrepresented. In the opinion of the Chair the statement he is making is relevant to the two cases of misrepresentation to which he has directed attention.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. If the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) wants to be associated with the charges made in the other place I simply say that I challenge his intelligence.
– I do not know what the charges are.
– They have been published in the newspapers to which I have referred. Our designs and methods have been gladly shared and used by other charitable bodies and churches. All our procedures regarding housing elderly people have been endorsed by the Department of Social Services. That is a distinct answer to one of the charges that have been made. Out of almost 400 old people residing in the homes, there is a very small percentage of dissatisfied people - perhaps 2%. Honourable members are sufficiently aware of human nature to know that if the number of dissidents is so small, there cannot be very much wrong with the homes.
The charges made, as published in the Press, are indignantly repudiated by myself and the splendid group of men and women who are members of my board of management. We are satisfied that we enjoy the goodwill of the great majority of the residents and we are encouraged by the oftexpressed gratitude of the Western Australian community.
If the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) wants me to deal in more detail with the charges that have been made let me indicate to him that I will release my answer to the Press.
-Order! The honourable member has made his personal explanation.
– I move:
The proposal is to extend the main runway from 6,850 ft to 8,000 ft in length and to extend the parallel taxiway to the new end of the runway. It is also proposed to extend the existing terminal building at ground floor level by the addition of airline offices and a passenger concourse. A public area in which refreshments will be served is planned at first floor level. Extensions will also be made to the aircraft apron. The estimated cost of these works is $1,780,000.
The Committee has reported favourably upon the proposal and upon the concurrence of this House in this resolution the. work can proceed in accordance with the Committee’s recommendations.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
These works, which are estimated to cost $3,150,000, are a further stage in the development of the area. They include: Site preparation associated with future domestic terminals; provision of road connections to Cooks River bridge; additional car parking space; and extensions to the elevated road serving the terminal building. In reporting favourably on the proposal the Committee also recommended that for operational reasons there is a need for an early decision to be taken on the construction of domestic terminal buildings and aprons. My colleague, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz), has noted the remarks of the Committee concerning the movement of domestic operators to the north west building area. Upon the concurrence of this House in this resolution the work can proceed in accordance with the Committee’s recommendations.
– As a member of the Public Works Committee I would like to pass a few remarks about the proposed work referred to by the Minister for Works (Mr Kelly). It became quite clear during the course of the public hearings and on inspection of the site that this work was a necessary part of the urgent development required at Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport, and the Committee has recommended the construction of the works outlined. In view of the fact that some 430,000 yards of sand filling is required for this work the Committee considered it appropriate to inspect foreshore damage to Botany Bay attributed to previous dredging for a similar purpose. The Committee noted the damage and became appreciative of the concern of local residents and authorities. The Committee also was made aware of the works being caried out to forestall and repair the current damage. The Committee has noted with satisfaction that the Department of Works has in its estimates for this work provided for the 430,000 yards of sand to be trucked from reasonably local sources as an alternative to dredging, if necessary. In its 1965 report on the development of the north-west terminal area the Committee called for a decision by the Government to proceed with the construction of the domestic terminals concurrently with the international terminals. During its inquiry the Committee noted that its request had so far been ignored.
A number of other pertinent matters are dealt with in the report. These are of particular interest to those associated with the development of civil aviation in this country and particularly the development of international airports. Whilst departmental officers and contractors strive to maintain a respectable situation in regard to the programme at Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport - a programme which is al least 7 years behind its day of need - an even more pressing problem sits on the Government’s doorstep awaiting a decision. This is the question of which airport is to handle the Boeing 747 jumbo jet to be used by Qantas and other international operators by 1971, which is just 3 years from now. The economics of this aircraft and the airport facilities required are such that the Government might well have to consider having only one landing terminal on the eastern seaboard.
The aircraft is understood to require up to 14,000 feet of runway for takeoff. To accommodate this in Sydney would require the addition of some 5,500 feet to the Botany Bay runway - about 1 mile more. It. will have taken more than 3 years to complete the current 3,000 ft extension - certainly with a variety of associated works which may not be re-occuring in any extension proposal. However, the quantity of material and size of the area would be infinitely greater than the current works and it is difficult to foresee a completion date less than 3 years from now. Unless a decision to proceed with this extension to 14,000 feet is given by the Government this side of Christmas there is very little possibility of the airport being ready for jumbo jets by 1971 when Qantas and other international operators will wish to land these aircraft in this country.
– I was most interested in the remarks of the honourable member for St George (Mr Bosman) and I was glad to have had the benefit of the honourable member’s experience in this matter. The House should be grateful to him for having raised this matter. Some time ago in this House and elsewhere the Government gave an unequivocal pledge that Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport would remain the premier international airport in Australia. I have no doubt that the Government means to stand by that pledge because anything that violated that pledge would be evidence of very bad faith and one must not associate that with this Government
The remarks of the honourable member for St George were to the point. Unless a decision is made now - I do not mean in 6 months time but now - to proceed with the extension of the runway, the Government may have difficulty in standing by its pledge. There are some people - I am not one of them - who believe that underground Victorian influences are at work in the Government aiming at creating a position where bad faith will be inevitable.
– Order! In his statement the Minister did not refer to Victoria or Tullamarine Airport. The honourable member should confine his remarks to the subject of the Ministers statement.
– I turn to the matter of sand fill. This is a matter of major importance and is tied up with the necessity of immediately extending the runway to cater for Jumbo jets. In the past there has been erosion in Botany Bay because the sand fill has been taken from the south rather than the north of the runway extension. Because it has been taken from this area, quite mistakenly, conditions have been produced in which the beaches have been inclined to fall in, resulting in damage to the foreshore. If, on the other hand, the fill - a large amount of fill is required for these works - were taken from the northern side, there would be no erosion because the new runway extension itself would form a breakwater on one side and deep water on the northern side is highly desirable for the development of Botany Bay as a major port.
Here is an instance where tens of millions of dollars can be saved by a proper coordination of State and Federal works. I have been disappointed so far to find that there has not been this full co-ordination. What we want now is an immediate decision to make the northern shore of Botany Bay the major container port for the Sydney area and, at the same time, we want to dredge the sand for the runway extension which has to be started immediately in order to keep the Government’s pledge. The Government does not want to break its word, of course, that Kingsford-Smith would remain the main airport. We have to start this dredging immediately and the sand has to come from the place from which we want to remove it, namely, the place which will give a deep water basin for the main container port for the Sydney area on the northern snores of Botany Bay.
Here are programmes which can be coordinated. Surely there is a place now for immediate and decisive consultation between the Governments of New South Wales and the Commonwealth so that this scheme, which will be of benefit to both, can be put in hand immediately. I remind the Government - it may not have realised this - that unless it does this immediately it will be placed in a position in a few years time where it will have to break its pledged word that Kingsford-Smith aerodrome would remain the premier international airport for Australia. That is the Government’s pledged word and I do not want to see the Government, through a sin of omission or perhaps without realising what is happening, because it did not take the necessary decision here and now and implement the necessary works here and now, put in that terrible position of having to break its pledged word because it could not have the Kingsford-Smith runway completed in time to receive the Jumbo jets. If the. Government is not to be forsworn - I do not think it means to be forsworn - it has to start this work immediately. Otherwise it cannot be finished in time for the Jumbo jets. Since the Jumbo jets, which I understand Qantas Airways Ltd has ordered and about which I believe there is to be some announcement made in the very near future, are going to be here in 1971 we must have this runway ready for them. In order to do so we must start the work now to prevent the Government being placed in 1971 in a position where it would have to break its pledged word.
– May I first of all make my point clear about this idea of there being a conspiracy in Cabinet to build up Tullamarine at the cost of Mascot?
– -Order! I remind the House of the ruling which I gave only a few minutes ago. The debate must be confined to the Minister’s report which has nothing to do with Tullamarine. The report is specific and I shall allow the debate to continue only within the limits of matters covered in the report.
– I thank you for your ruling, Sir. Speaking to the Minister’s report, may I say first of all that as the member for Barton I and my constituents certainly appreciate the work of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works coming along and having a very close look at the erosion damage in our electorate. It was very encouraging to us to see such a body of experts from both sides of the House come to look at this damage. We know that action will be taken as a result of this and that the very best efforts on the Government side will be brought forward to repair this damage. We commend the suggestion that sand should be taken from outside Botany Bay instead of from the Bay and perhaps adding to the damage that has already been done. My constituents were very much afraid that if further sand had been taken from Botany Bay the damage to the foreshores would be far greater than it is now. We commend what is proposed and look torward to the early completion of the domestic and international terminals at Mascot. 1 agree with remarks made by the honourable member for St George (Mr Bosman).
We in this area who are fairly close to this project feel that it is essential tor the development at Mascot that the domestic and international terminals should be finished at the same time as the runway extensions. We hope that the Government will take note of the recommendations made by the Public Works Committee and enable this work to be done.
– We need roads so that we can get there.
– The road so that we can get there is being undertaken at the moment. One hears all sorts of conflicting reports on this, but as a very ardent advo cate of the development of Mascot I suggest that if the Government of New South Wales does not take notice of the honourable members from New South Wales who are ceaslessly on its back in order to get this road finished-
– You all slumbered for many years. You were all asleep like Rip van Winkle and did nothing.
– If we slept on this Mascot job as much as the honourable member has slept in this House it would not have been so far advanced as it is now. My reason for entering the debate was to commend the Public Works report and the Minister for Works (Mr Kelly) on what is being done and to say that we hope trie suggestions made by the honourable member for St George and the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) will be adopted. I should like to say also on behalf of my constituents that we appreciate what has been done. We are certainly very grateful that the sand to be used for the runway extensions is not to be taken from Botany Bay.
– There are just a couple of points that I propose to touch on briefly. The first one relates to the maintenance of Sydney airport as the premier international airport in Australia. It has been stated from time to time by the Government, and I have repeated it on several occasions, that geography and traffic density decide these matters. The Government has a belief that because of the geography and in view of our anticipation of the traffic and of the number of international operators whom we know have agreement to operate through Sydney, Sydney will be in the future still the No. 1 international airport in Australia. That does not mean to say, of course, that other international airports are not being developed in all States, including even Queensland, where the anticipated traffic will increase considerably in future.
The question of runway lengths has been raised again during this debate. My only comment at this stage is that the figures quoted today were not in accordance with the technical information that we have. I hope to be in a position before very long to be able to make some announcement on this matter. On the subject of the programme for the domestic terminals in Sydney, the comments of the Public Works Committee have been noted as requested by the Minister for Works (Mr Kelly). I can assure the House that a considerable amount of planning has already been done in relation to this. The very motion which is before the House is to enable some of the early preparatory work to be done in relation to this programme. However, its future development is related to the development of the airport as a whole.
I refer next to parallel runways, a development which also is related to the question of domestic terminals. These also have been taken into consideration as suggested in the motion. The last point raised was on the question of the sand that is required for the further extensions of the runway into Botany Bay. I know that the Department of Works, in association with the State authorities in New South Wales, has done a considerable amount of work on this already. I believe that it has been working for about 12 months in this field on the technical side and that investigations have been conducted in hydrological laboratories overseas as well as in conjunction with the State authorities. It appears that everything possible is being done to avoid any problem that could arise when the requirement for sand filling is considered in relation to the further extensions of the runway into Botany Bay.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration of Senate’s amendments.
Section 16 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (1.) and inserting in its stead the following sub-section: (1.) The Senior Commissioner and the other Commissioners shall be paid salaries at such rates as the Governor-General determines.’.
Senate’s amendment No. 1 -
Leave out the clause.
Section 21 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (1.) and inserting in its stead the following sub-section: (1.) A Conciliator shall be paid salary at such rate as the Governor-General determines.’.
Senate’s amendment No. 2 -
Leave out the clause.
After Part III. of the Principal Act, the following Part is inserted:
Part IIIa. - THE FLIGHT CREW OFFICERS INDUSTRIAL TRIBUNAL 88l. The person constituting the Tribunal shall be paid -
Senate’s amendment No. 3:
In paragraph (a) of proposed new section 88i… leave out ‘as the Governor-General determines’, insert ‘as is prescribed’.
Senate’s amendment No. 4:
In paragraph (b) of proposed new section 88i… leave out ‘as the Minister determines’, insert ‘as are prescribed’.
A Bill for an Act to amend the Conciliation am! Arbitration Act 1904-1966 in relation to Industrial Matters affecting Flight Crew Officers and in relation to certain Salaries, and to alter the Titleof the Act.
Senate’s amendment No. 5:
Leave out ‘and in relation to certain Salaries’.
– I move:
The amendments made in the Senate are unfortunate. In the first place, the Senate’s insistence that the salaries of the Senior Commissioner, commissioners and conciliators should continue to be specified by Act of Parliament means that the Government will be prevented from making adjustments to their salary before Parliament next meets. The Government has had these salaries under review and, while the final decision has not yet been reached, it is clear that they must be increased. There are two consequences for which the Opposition must carry the responsibility. The first is that the commissioners and conciliators will be deprived of the salary adjustments to which they are entitled for another 4 months or so. The second is that my task of finding suitable people to fill present vacancies in the ranks of the commissioners will be the more difficult.
The amendments made to the proposed new section 88l also make for a degree of inflexbility which adds quite unnecessarily to the problem of appointing not merely the Tribunal but anyone else to discharge the Tribunal’s responsibility for short periods. As the Government sees it, the provisions in the Bill originally introduced were in keeping with long standing practice and they involved no new principle.
– I am pleased that the Government has accepted the amendments that have been made by the Senate. We on this side of the House support the Senate’s amendment to clause 5, which refers to section 16 of the Principal Act. As was pointed out by speakers in another place, the salaries of the Senior Commissioner and Commissioners have been fixed by Parliament since 1944 or 1947 - I am not certain of the date. The Bill originally provided that they should be fixed in the future by the GovernorGeneral - in other words the Executive Council. The Parliament would have no authority in regard to such determination. Even if these salaries were to be fixed by regulation we would have some authority because the Parliament would be able to disallow the regulation.
We also support the amendment to clause 6, which the Government has also accepted. This means that section 21 of the principal Act will remain as it now stands. We feel that the amendment proposed in the Bill was wrong in principle. The conciliation and arbitration system must be completely independent. As was suggested during the course of the debate in another place, the decision of the Senior Commissioner, a conciliation commissioner or a conciliator could be influenced if he knew that his salary was to be fixed by the GovernorGeneral, acting on the advice of the Executive Council. I am not saying that this would be so, but it is possible.
This legislation affects only a small body of people and there is no relationship between these people and the Public Service field generally. As was also pointed out in another place, had the Bill been approved in its original form, it could have affected the independence of the judiciary. Of course, their salaries should be beyond the control of the Executive Council. In this respect we should not differentiate between the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the Commissioners as they are performing the same judicial functions in their own fields. The responsible people who hold these positions are not employees in the real sense of the word and are not subject to control or direction. They make their decisions independently. Therefore, we support the amendment. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) suggested that the Government will be prevented from making adjustments to salaries until Parliament next meets. That is not correct, of course. There is nothing to prevent the Minister announcing that he proposes to increase these salaries and whatever decision is reached at the next session of Parliament could be made retrospective. That would be quite a simple procedure.
We also support the amendment to the proposed new section 88l. I do not want to deal with it at great length, but the same principles apply in this provision as apply in the other provisions. The intention was to proceed by determination of the Governor-General. The idea was that the salary would be a figure that would satisfy the person appointed. The amendment by the Senate, which is being accepted by the Government, will avoid this. It means that whatever salary is arrived at will be paid to the person who is appointed, irrespective of whom that person may be. The matter will be determined now by prescription and not by the Executive Council. It is important that the determination should not be made by the Executive Council. Whatever amount is arrived at as an adequate amount should be paid to the person occupying the position, no matter whom that person may be. I support the amendments and congratulate the other place on having proposed them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Until a determination by the Governor-General of the rate of salary payable to a person who, immediately before the commencement of this section, held an office referred to in section 16 or section 19 of the Principal Act takes effect, salary is payable to that person, while he continues to hold that office, at the rate fixed by the Principal Act.
– As an amendment consequential on the omission of clauses 5 and 6 1 move:
Omit clause 9.
The purpose of clause 9 of the Bill was to provide for the continuance of the present statutory salaries of the Commissioners and Conciliators for the period between the date of Royal Assent to the Bill and the making of the first determination of salaries by the Governor-General in pursuance of the provisions that were to be inserted by clauses 5 and 6 of the Bill. As clauses 5 and 6 of the Bill have now been omitted, the salaries concerned will remain at all times fixed directly by the Act and clause 9 is no longer necessary.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
Sitting suspended from 12.30 to 3 p.m.
Bill presented by Mr Bowen, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time. The main purpose of this Bill is to make substantial changes in the procedures for obtaining patents in respect of inventions. One of the fundamental principles of our patent system is that an application for a patent is submitted to a thorough examination in the Patent Office, and a patent is granted only if the application is found to satisfy the requirements of the Patents Act. The Bill retains this principle, but introduces two quite new procedures which will substantially modify the present procedures before the Patent Office. The Bill has largely resulted from the recommendations of a small committee set up by my predecessor and of which I was chairman. That committee included representatives of the Bar, the Institute of Patent Attorneys and industry.
The Bill deals with a highly technical subject and the provisions of the Bill are technical provisions. Rather than burden the House with a precise technical description of the provisions of the Bill, I have circu lated a memorandum explaining them in detail and I shall seek leave of the House at the end of this speech to have that memorandum incorporated in Hansard. Under the present system, every application and complete specification is submitted to the examination process. It is proposed in this Bill to introduce a system which has become known as ‘deferred examination’ but which would more accurately be described as a system of examination on request. It is intended that an application and complete specification will be examined only if a specific request for it to be examined is made by the applicant within a certain time. If the applicant does not request examination of his application within the time allowed the application will lapse. In the second place, it is proposed that account should be taken of the work performed in other selected patent offices in the examination of equivalent applications.
Many honourable members will be familiar with the delays experienced by applicants in having their applications dealt with by the Patent Office. The mounting arrears of work in that office have been a matter of concern for some years. Despite the best efforts of the Commissioner of Patents in attempting to recruit and to retain staff, and in keeping a close watch on the efficiency of operations in the Patent Office, it has not proved possible to keep up with the very considerable and continuing increase in the number of applications for patents. Let me give some figures by way of illustration of the problems confronting the Patent Office. The number of complete specifications lodged is an index of the amount of work required to be performed by the Patent Office, there being no examination of an application unless and until the complete specification is lodged in respect of that application. There were 3,360 complete specifications lodged in 1939, 4.723 lodged in 1950, 13,245 lodged in 1966 and it is estimated that approximately 14,000 will be lodged in the current year. Arrears of unexamined applications rose from 12,456 at the end of 1960 to 36,954 at the end of 1966. The arrears now stand at approximately 41,500 applications. This figure represents some 4 years of work by the present examination staff of the Patent Office.
The Australian Patent Office is not alone in its difficulties. Practically all examining patent offices are labouring under arrears of work which are continuing to grow. The growth in the number of patent applications which has created the present situation in Australia is a worldwide growth. This growth has come, not only from the increase in the number of inventions for which patents are sought, but also from the practice of seeking protection for the same invention in more countries than before. This is the result of increasing trade and of increasing transfers of technology between countries. The very great increase in patent applications in Australia is a measure of the growing industrial development in this country. I think it is no exaggeration to say that the patent system, both in Australia and elsewhere, is in danger of breaking down under its own weight. This prospect has caused a great deal of concern, both on the national and the international level. I think it has come to be generally accepted that the ultimate solution lies iri some kind of international co-operation which would avoid both the problems faced by an applicant who must now file a separate application in each country in which he wishes to seek protection for his invention and the duplication of work which arises as a result of a number of patent offices all performing much the same process of examination in respect of applications for the same invention.
Only last month, Australia was represented at a meeting of a committee of experts in Geneva which was engaged in the preparation of a draft patent cooperation treaty. The proposals considered by that committee would have provided for an international patent application valid in all countries participating in the scheme, and which would be subject to an internationally agreed standard of examination. The discussions in that committee showed that there is still a long way to go before a scheme of this kind acceptable to most patent-issuing countries is produced. In the meantime, it is necessary to seek at least partial solutions to these problems at the national level. The system of deferred examination is one which is being tried in a number of countries. It was first adopted in Holland in 1964. Legislation was enacted this year in the Federal Republic of Germany to introduce deferred examination in the Germany patent system. There is a patent reform bill before the United States Congress which would permit the introduction of deferred examination in the United States of America. A system of deferred examination is provided for in the draft patent law that has been prepared for a European Common Market patent system. Thus, in proposing to introduce deferred examination, we are drawing to a large extent on the thinking and experience of other countries.
The provisions for deferred examination are mainly contained in clause 10 of the Bill. The detail of these provisions is explained in the memorandum which I have circulated. I draw attention only to two features of the scheme. In the first place, it is proposed that an applicant should generally have 5 years from the date of lodging his complete specification to make up his mind whether he wishes to proceed with the application. The figure of 5 years is something of a compromise between two conflicting considerations. On the one hand, the commercial value of an invention may not become apparent for a considerable time after the application for a patent has been made. This suggests that there should be a relatively long period allowed to an applicant to decide whether he wishes to proceed with his application. On the other hand, it is in the interests of third parties that the patent position in a particular field should be clarified as quickly as possible. Five years has been chosen as effecting a reasonable compromise between these two conflicting considerations.
In the second place, a number of provisions have been included to protect the interests of third parties. These are contained in proposed new section 47b and in clauses 16 and 18 of the Bill. The effect of them is explained more fully in the explanatory memorandum. When the system of deferred examination was first mooted in Australia, one very strong objection to it that was made by representatives of Australian industry was that it would transfer the burden of considering whether a patent would result from a pending application from the Patent Office, which is specially equipped for this task, to industry generally. This would place a serious burden on those enterprises not large enough to have their own patent departments. Furthermore, there might be wasteful duplication of work, where a number of enterprises each separately made investigations to determine whether the invention claimed in a pending application was novel. The provisions to which I have referred will, I hope, solve most of these difficulties.
I turn now to the second of the two changes in procedure which will be made by the Bill. This change will be made by clause 14 of the Bill, which introduces a procedure of modified examination. This procedure is designed to make as much use as possible of work which is done by other patent offices in respect of applications that are equivalent to applications lodged in Australia. I have already indicated that most of the increase in the number of applications lodged in the Patent Office has resulted from protection being sought in Australia for inventions made overseas. By way of example some 86% of all complete specifications lodged in 1966 originated from overseas. Some 68% of all complete specifications originated in the United Kingdom or the United States of America and equivalent applications would have been lodged in those countries in respect of many other foreign applications in Australia. I would emphasise that these figures are only approximate. They are sufficiently accurate, however, to show that the great bulk of the work done in the Patent Office to some extent at least duplicates work which is done in Patent Offices in other countries in respect of equivalent applications in those countries. Many of these applications relate to inventions for which protection will be sought in several countries. In both the United Kingdom and the United States of America the requirements for a patent specification are so like our own that a specification which satisfies those requirements would satisfy the requirements of the Australian law. Although the scope of the search made by examiners in those countries is different in some respects to the scope of the search made by the Australian examiner, there is much duplication of work in the examination of equivalent applications. In some classes of inventions in which very few, if any, inventions originate in Australia practically all of the documents that would be seen by the Australian examiner in the course of his search also would be available to the examiner in the United Kingdom or in the United States of America.
Given these facts, it has seemed desirable to make as much use as possible of the results of examination elsewhere of applications that are equivalent to applications lodged in Australia. Clause 14 of the Bill therefore proposes the introduction of a system of modified examination. An applicant may elect to have his application in the Australian Patent Office dealt with on the basis of the specification of a patent which has been granted in a prescribed country, provided that certain conditions are fulfilled. It is contemplated that the United Kingdom and the United States of America will be prescribed for this purpose. In order to avail himself of the modified examination procedure, the applicant must amend his Australian specification to make it the same, except as to matters of form; as the specification of a patent granted in the United Kingdom or in the United States of America in respect of the equivalent application. But he will not be able to avail himself of this procedure if the changes which would be required could not have been made to the Australian specification if it had proceeded here in the ordinary way. This limitation is necessary to ensure that a foreign applicant does not have, by virtue of the modified examination procedure, greater freedom of amendment of his specification than would an Australian applicant who would not be able to take advantage of the modified examination procedure. It is thought that it will still be necessary for the Australian examiner to make some of the search that he would make if he were conducting a full examination. The extent of the search required will vary according to a number of circumstances. It is not possible to provide in the Bill for all of the contingencies that will arise and accordingly it is provided in sub-sections (3.) and (4.) of proposed new section 52b that the extent of the search to be made by the examiner under modified examination should be prescribed by regulation. In thus taking advantage of work that has been performed in other offices we are anticipating the outcome of international moves in the patent field. Australia will continue to participate in efforts to promote international co-operation on these matters. It is not expected that the changes in procedure which I have described will by themselves enable the Patent Office to cope with the continuing increase in the number of applications for patents. Consequently, until such time as an acceptable international scheme is devised, it will still be necessary to continue our endeavours to recruit more examiners and to improve the administrative efficiency of the Patent Office.
I turn now to a number of other changes which will be made by the Bill. In 196S Russia became a party to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. Very few applications now are received in Australia in respect of Russian inventions, but I think we can expect that there will be a substantial increase in the number of applications originating from Russia in the future. Most inventors in Russia apply for the grant of an inventor’s certificate and not of a patent. An inventor’s certificate entitles the holder of it to royalties if his invention is used; unlike the grant of a patent, it does not give him a monopoly right The inventor’s certificate system is also in force in other East European countries which are also members of the Paris Convention. The Paris Convention was amended at a conference in Stockholm earlier this year to require member countries of the Convention to recognise an application for an inventor’s certificate as giving rise to the same right of priority under the Convention as an application for a patent. It is not clear that, under the Patents Act as it now stands, an application for an inventor’s certificate in a Convention country would give rise to a right of priority under the Act. Cosequently it is proposed, in clauses 29, 30, 31 and 33 of the Bill, to amend the relevant sections of the Act to make it clear that the priority required to be given by the Convention may be claimed in Australia in respect of an application for an inventor’s certificate in a Convention country. Although sections 64 and 65 of the Patents Act enable a patent to be granted to a person other than the applicant in certain circumstances, the Act does not provide for that person to be substituted for the applicant in proceedings before the Patent Office in relation to the application. Clause 6 of the Bill will remedy this deficiency by allowing the Commissioner to direct that an application is to proceed in the name of the person who would be entitled to a patent granted in respect of that application.
Section 97 of the present Act provides for the restoration of patents which have lapsed for non-payment of renewal fees. Only the patentee - that is, the person whose name appears on the Register - is entitled to apply for restoration. It has happened that a patent has been assigned and has subsequently lapsed before the name of the assignee can be entered on the Register. The previous owner of the patent, having assigned his rights, may have no further interest in the matter and so does not apply for restoration. Clause 25 of the Bill provides that a person who would be entitled to a patent which has lapsed may apply for restoration.
I have been concerned that a strong and vigorous patent system should be maintained in Australia. The constant need to recruit and train large numbers of examiners of patents each year and to concentrate on the task of preventing the arrears of work from growing too rapidly has meant that attention could not be given to a number of other much needed changes in the Patent Office. The Office is a repository of vast amounts of technical information. Until some attention can be given to classifying that information it cannot be made readily available to industry, nor can it be used effectively for extending the scope of the search made by an examiner and thus increasing the value of patents granted by making it more likely that a patent will be held to be valid if it is challenged. Thus I see the measures I have proposed as tending to be of advantage to industry and to the strengthening of the patent system.
The changes that are proposed by this Bill are of considerable interest to Patent Attorneys, to industry and to other sections of the community. I have already had discussions with some of the interested groups on these matters, but so that they may have the opportunity to study fully what is proposed it is intended that this Bill should be allowed to lie over until the next session of the Parliament. This will give those who are interested in it time to study its provisions in detail and to make such representations to me as they may wish to make in respect of it. I commend the Bill to the House. Before concluding, I seek leave to have the memorandum, which I have circulated, incorporated in Hansard.
– There being no objection, leave is granted. I take this opportunity to repeat that in accordance with practice the incorporation of material in Hansard is subject to the approval of the Chair. This is because several considerations arise in respect of the nature of the material involved as well as possible technical difficulties.
The purpose of this statement is to explain more fully the nature of the principal amendments to be made to the Patents Act by the Patents Bill 1967 in respect of the new procedures to be adopted and the technical reasons for these amendments. It is proposed to describe these amendments under headings relevant to the changes to be introduced.
Examination on Request: Sections 47 and 48 of the Patents Act provide for the examination by an Examiner of Patents of every application and complete specification. It is intended that this procedure shall be superseded by a procedure under which an application and complete specification would not bc examined unless the applicant had specifically requested that it should be examined and had paid the prescribed fee. The intention behind this change is that the Patent Office should examine only those applications for inventions which are considered by the applicants to be of sufficient significance to justify their proceeding with them. As has been explained in the second reading speech, it has, been considered that an applicant should be allowed 5 years in which to decide whether he wishes to proceed with his application. If he does not request examination within the time prescribed, his application will lapse.
During the period an application is pending before the Patent Office, persons interested in the field to which the invention relates will be left in a state of uncertainty as to the scope of the patent rights, if any, which will follow from that application. In order to allow such persons to have the patent position clarified at an earlier date, the Bill contains a provision, proposed new section 47b, entitling any person to require the Commissioner to direct an applicant to request examination of his application. Moreover, there may be circumstances where one application before the Patent Office cannot proceed until the fate of another application has been determined. Such a case may occur when the Examiner, as a result of his search, reports that the invention claimed in a claim of the complete specification under examination is the subject of a claim of earlier priority date in another application. The first application cannot proceed until it is known whether a patent will be granted on the second application. There may also be circumstances in which it would be in the public interest to have the fate of an application determined. Accordingly, the Bill empowers the Commissioner to direct an applicant to request the examination of his application in defined circumstances - see proposed new section 47a.
In any case where an applicant is directed, by the Commissioner to request the examination of his application, he must do so within 3 months of the date of being directed to do so, or his application will lapse - proposed new section 47c. In any event, the request for examination must be lodged before the expiration of the 5-year period.
The scheme of deferred examination is to apply to applications pending at the date on which the scheme comes into operation. In the case of such an application, the applicant will have 5 years from the date of lodgment of the complete specification or 2 years from the date on which the new scheme comes into operation, whichever is the later, to request examination.
Under the present Act, annual renewal fees are payable in order to keep a patent in force. It is proposed - new section 47d - that a ‘continuation fee’ should be payable in respect of a pending application to keep it alive during the 5 year period or until the applicant requests examination. The details of the fees payable, and the times when they are to be paid, is to be dealt with in the regulations. It is contemplated that the continuation fee will be payable annually from the expiration of the second year after lodgment of the complete specification. Failure to pay a continuation fee within the prescribed time will result in the application lapsing.
Provision is made in proposed new section 47b for the restoration of a lapsed application. The procedure there set out is substantially parallel to the procedure set out in section 97 and section 98 of the principal Act for the restoration of a lapsed patent. It is considered that an applicant whose application has lapsed should be entitled, if he can show that his failure to pay a continuation fee was unintentional or that he intended to request examination within the prescribed time as the case may be, should have the opportunity, if he can make out an adequate case, to have his application restored. The proposed new section contains provisions which will enable the rights of third parties who may have availed themselves of an invention during the period that an application has lapsed to be protected.
Having provided a special procedure for the restoration of a lapsed application, it was considered inappropriate that the Commissioner should be able, under the general power conferred on him by section 160 of the principal Act to extend times, to extend the time specified for the making of a request for examination. Accordingly, clause 37 of the Bill provides that section 160 of the Act does not apply to the time specified for making a request for examination.
It has been thought necessary to include further safeguards to prevent third parties from being unduly prejudiced by the existence for relatively long periods of pending applications before the Patent Office. There are two kinds of provisions made. In the first place, clause 18 of the Bill proposes the insertion of new section 57 entitling a person who is aware of matters which would affect the validity of a claim of the complete specification of a pending application to have placed on the Patent Office file relating to that application particulars of the matters which would affect the validity of that claim. These matters are to be notified to the applicant by the Commissioner and they are to be open to public inspection. This provision will enable the results of a search made by one person to be made available to any others who are interested in the fate of the application.
In the second place, protection is to be given to persons who act on the basis that a claim of a complete specification of a pending application is not a valid claim. Section 54c of the principal Act entitles a patentee to claim damages for infringing acts occurring before the date of grant of his patent but after the date on which his complete specification was made open to public inspection. Clause 16 of the Bill would add a new subsection (2.) to section 54c to provide that a patentee is not entitled to damages or to an account of profits in respect of an act done during the time his application is pending if that act would not have been, at the time it was done, an infringement of a valid claim. A claim may be invalid because it includes both matter which is not novel and matter which is novel. As the law now stands, if that claim is amended during examination to restrict it to the matter which is novel and a person has, before the date of the amendment, used the matter which is novel, the patentee may be awarded damages for infringement if his original specification was framed in good faith and with reasonable skill and care. This does not cause any real difficulties where there is only a short period of time between the date on which a specification becomes open to public inspection and the date on which a patent is granted. But it is not uncommon, and indeed it is legitimate practice, for draftsmen of specifications to frame wide claims and then to consider what the final form of the claims should be in the light of the Examiner’s report on novelty. The provision contained in clause 16 of the Bill is intended to provide third parties with some safeguards against kite-flying claims of this kind which would, under the system of deferred examination, be pending for a number of years in the Patent Office.
Furthermore, to provide some incentive for an applicant to amend his claims to overcome any invalidity brought to his notice as a result of matter notified to the Commissioner under proposed new section 57 of the Act, clause 36 of the Bill proposes the insertion of a new section 159c which provides a procedure by means of which a person, who has notified matter to the Commissioner under proposed new section 57c and who has availed himself of subject matter which is not included within a valid claim of the complete specification before the applicant has amended his specification, may apply to the Commissioner for the grant of a licence if what he has done would amount to an infringement of the amended claim. It is hoped that these provisions will prevent any undue prejudice to third parties from the introduction of the system of examination on request.
The provisions now contained in sections 47 and 48 of the Act have, with one exception, been combined in new section 48. The exception is the report now provided for by sub-section (2.) of section 47 of the Act. Under that subsection, the Examiner is required to report whether the priority date of a claim indicated by the applicant is the priority date of that claim as determined by the Act. Consequent upon the proposals for modified examination, and following representations by the Institute of Patent Attorneys, the requirement in subsection (2.) of section 44 of the Act, thai an applicant is to indicate the priority date of the claims or his complete specfication, is to be omitted.
There is to be one modification of the Examiners report on novelty. Subsection (5.) of proposed new section 48 will require the Examiner, in reporting on novelty, to take into account any matters notified to the Commissioner under proposed new section 57.
Section 54 of the Act provides that an applicant has 21 months from the date on which the first report of the Examiner on the application and complete specification is sent to him to put his application in order for acceptance. Many applicants take the greater part or the whole of this period. The present regulations provide that if the application is put in order for acceptance within 18 months of the date of the first report no fees are payable. Fees are payable however, in respect of the last 3 months of the 21 month period. In a system of deferred examination, it is regarded as of some importance that once examination has commenced the whole process leading to acceptance or refusal of the application should proceed as rapidly as possible. Clause 15 of the Bill accordingly amends section 54 to provide that the time for acceptance is 6 months after the date on which the first report is sent to the applicant. Nevertheless, it provides for extensions of time to be granted by the Commissioner up to a total period of 21 months. The net result is that, while the applicant will still have 21 months in which to put his application in order, he will, if he takes more than 6 months, have to apply for and pay the prescribed fees for extensions of time to be granted by the Commissioner.
The introduction of the system of examination on request has made necessary some consequential amendments to sections 50 and 50a of the Principal Act. These are contained in clauses 1.1 and 12 of the Bill. These sections of the. Principal Act are concerned with what are known as cognate applications. The amendment made by clause 11 of the Bill is intended to make it clear that, where several applications are cognated under the provisions of section 50 and a single complete specification lodged, one request for examination applies to all of those applications. The amendment made by clause 12 of the Bill is intended to produce the result that where it is found that the several applications cannot proceed with one complete specification and separate complete specifications are lodged, the original request for examination applies to each of the new complete specifications.
Modified Examination: The principal provisions relating to modified examination are contained in clause 14 of the Bill. Modified examination is to apply only in the case of a Convention application. A Convention application is an application which claims priority based on an application lodged within the preceding 12 months in a member country of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and which claims a priority in accordance with the provisions of that Convention.
An applicant who has lodged a Convention application in Australia may, when requesting examination of his application, request that it be dealt with according to the scheme of modified examination. He may make this request only where a patent has been granted in a prescribed Convention country in respect of an application made in that country that constitutes the basic application to his Australian application or is itself an application derived from the basic application. For the purposes of the Act, the basic application is the first application for the invention lodged in a Convention country and on which the claim to priority in Australia is based. As stated in my Second Reading Speech, it is contemplated that the countries which will be prescribed for the purposes of new section 52a will be the United Kingdom and the United States of America. An applicant may request modified examination if his Convention application in Australia is based on an application in the United Kingdom or in the United States of America or, if his basic application was lodged in another country, for example, Germany, there has been an application in the United Kingdom or in the United States of America based on that German application.
The United Kingdom and the United States of America have been chosen because they are countries from which a large number of applications in Australia are received. Even where applications in Australia originate from other countries it is more than likely that there will be equivalent applications lodged in those two countries. Moreover, the. relevant requirements of the patent law in those countries are close enough to our own so that a specification which has been examined by either the British or the American Patent Office may be expected to satisfy the requirements of our law. 1 think we can reasonably assume that a specification which proves acceptable to one of those Patent Offices would prove acceptable to the Australian Patent Office in respect of the requirements set out in section 40 of the Patents Act. This is the section which requires the complete specification to give a full description of the invention and to contain a claim or claims clearly defining the scope of the monopoly ought.
The search conducted by the Examiner in the British or American Patent Office would not, however, necessarily coincide to a sufficient extent with the search which would be conducted by the Australian Examiner. There are differences between the searches conducted in the United Kingdom and in the United States of America, and each of them is different in significant respects from the Australian search. In the United Kingdom, the Examiner searches only through prior British specifications. Tn the United States of America, the Examiner does what is commonly called a world search’. Thus the search conducted in the United States is more likely to have covered most of the ground which would be covered by an Australian search. But even so, there are two differences which must be taken into account. The search in the United States Patent Office would not necessarily cover the search that the Australian Examiner makes in respect of pending applications. In order to ensure that an application lodged in Australia by an Australian applicant in respect of the same, invention is cited against an application lodged from overseas in respect of which modified examination is requested, it will be necessary for the Australian Examiner to make a search through pending Australian applications. Also, because Australian law provides that the complete specification accompanying an application is open to public inspection within 18 months after lodgment in the Australian Patent Office, and there is no equivalent provision in either the United States or the United Kingdom patent law, there will be a ‘novelty gap’ in the search in those countries compared with the search in the Australian Patent Office. It is highly desirable that this gap should be plugged-up by a search in the Australian office. A search through applications lodged within the ‘period of 5 years prior to priority date of the claim being searched should be sufficient for this purpose.
Although the inclusion of some search in the course of modified examination will mean that we would not reap so great a benefit from modified examination as if we took the British or American patent specification without further examination, it seems to me highly desirable that there should be at least the limited search I have described in order to ensure that the standards of our Act are complied with.
An applicant will not be able to request modified examination until he has obtained the specification of the patent granted in respect of the equivalent application in the United Kingdom or the United States of America. Because there are substantial delays in examination in those countries, and more particularly in the United States of America, there will be a number of cases where an Australian applicant will be unable, because of the 5 year limit, to avail himself of modified examination. But it must be remembered that the 5 year period runs from the lodgment of the complete specification in Australia; this would normally be up to 12 months after the lodgment of the specification of the basic application. Consequently, in many cases, an applicant would not be required to request examination in Australia until 6 years after lodgment of his United Kingdom or United States application.
It has already been indicated that, in order to proceed under modified examination, the applicant must bring his Australian specification into conformity, except as to matters of form, with the specification of the United Kingdom or United States patent. If he cannot do so within the limits of amendment set out in section 49 of the Act, as proposed to be substituted by clause 10 of the Bill (which are the same limits of amendment as are to be observed by an applicant who proceeds under full examination) he will be unable to proceed under modified examination.
The matters to be reported on by the Examiner under modified examination are set out in subsection (!:) of new section 52b. The Examiner will not be required to report whether the application is in respect of one invention only, or whether the complete specification complies with the requirements of section 40 of the Act. In respect of these matters, it is proposed to accept the examination’ of the United Kingdom or United
States Patent Office without further examination in Australia. I have already indicated that some search is necessary or desirable under the modified examination scheme. In order to provide flexibility in the extent of the search which may be made, it is provided in sub-sections (3.) and (4.) of new section 52b that the search prescribed in relation to full examination may be excluded or modified by the regulations.
Where the Examiner reports adversely, the applicant will have an opportunity to amend to meet the objections. He may not, however, amend his complete specification except by excluding a claim or claims and making consequential amendments to other claims. The purpose of this limitation is to ensure that no amendments are made which would require a substantial reconsideration of the complete specification in terms of section 40 of the Act. If the objections raised by the Examiner are such as to require more extensive amendment, the applicant must either abandon his application or elect to proceed under full examination.
The decision to introduce the scheme of modified examination has made necessary some consequential amendments to the Act. Neither the United Kingdom nor the United States law provides for an applicant to indicate the priority dates of his claims. Consequently, as already noted, the provision in section 44(2) of the Australian Act for tin’s to be done is to be omitted. This omission has resulted in a number of other consequential amendments.
It has also been decided to omit the requirement in present section 49 that any amendments lodged following an adverse report of the Examiner must be limited to those which remove the grounds of the Examiner’s objection. Not only is this amendment consequential upon the inclusion of provisions for modified examination, it is also one which has been sought by the Institute of Patent Attorneys. The effect will be that an applicant will, following an adverse report of the Examiner under full examination, have the same freedom to amend his complete specification as he would have if he applied for leave to amend under section 77 of the Act.
Debate (on motion by Mr Connor) adjourned.
– I present the fifth report’ of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - agreed to.
-I have received advice from the Leader of the Government in the Senate that he has appointed Senator Cotton to be a member of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory.
Consideration resumed from 1 November (vide page 2593).
Clause 19 (Exploration for Petroleum).
– I point out to the Committee that this is an overriding clause. It says that a person shall not explore for petroleum except in pursuance of a permit. This clause is of consequence because it confers monopoly rights on the holders of permits. At present, practically the whole of the Australian coastline is covered by exploration permits which will be recognised under this legislation. This clause, therefore, means in effect that nobody except the people at present holding permits, or their assigns, will be able to explore offshore for petroleum for at least 6 years. If honourable members will look at the map that is available, they will see that the whole of the Australian coastline is now hypothecated with the exception of a small area off New South Wales, a small area off the south of Western Australia and a small area off the east of Arnhem Land in the Gulf of Carpentaria. These areas are bounded by rocks unlikely to be metalliferous and therefore unlikely to be attractive. I do not propose an amendment at this stage, but 1 point out the crucial importance of the clause. It virtually ties up the Australian offshore areas.
– I support the justifiable remarks of the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentwortb). The Australian nation seems to be going back to its early colonial days, the days of the squatters when the whole countryside was taken over by the land takers. In this instance it is not the land takers but the oil squatters. They have taken over the whole of the continental shelf and the areas off the coast of Australia. This is not good enough. The legislation shows that the Commonwealth is merely a paper tiger. In effect it has no power. It has surrendered that to the States and Bolte can reign supreme in Australia.
– Both the last two speeches were irrelevant and should never have been made. They show the lengths to which those people who are determined that the legislation will not be passed will go to oppose it. They will do anything. No other clause is more applicable to the Bill than this is. How could anyone ever be allowed to explore for oil without a permit?
– I go along with the remarks of the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth). As he has pointed out, all the areas where it is relatively easy to drill for oil have already been taken. When I spoke the other night I said that very little interest has been shown in New South Wales, where the continental shelf is narrow and the water is very deep. But where it is likely that oil will be discovered, the areas have been taken. People who think that oil will be found there easily have already taken out permits. I said then that this is bad. We all want to see more Australian equity in these permits. I want companies to come to Australia; I am not opposed to foreign enterprise coming here and putting money into Australian projects. However, I am opposed to those people who come here, take out permits, lay them aside for a period, make a token gesture of searching for oil and then leave, so that they can come back again if somebody else finds oil near their area. I think the outlook for this country will be bad unless we have a greater Australian equity in the permits. I know that all we can do is say whether we agree with the Government in arriving at the agreement with the States. I know that it is really out of order to try to amend the legislation at this stage, because we must say either that we agree or disagree with the legislation as it is.
– The honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) said he was disappointed that all the areas bad been taken up. I say thank goodness they have been taken up because this shows interest in exploration in these areas.
– I meant they had been taken up by the wrong people.
– Not by the wrong people. Unfortunately, some Australian companies that have taken up areas, because of their lack of technical ability and financial resources, have been unable to carry out the necessary work and therefore have had to give up some areas. 1 would be the first to say that 1 would like to see a greater Australian participation in exploration in the offshore areas. But do not let us decry the fact that these areas have been taken up, because under this Bill they will all be subject to certain requirements and to surrender after 6 years. Thank goodness for that provision. This means that exploration will proceed in the offshore areas. Nothing could be worse for us than to have these areas lying vacant. We want to see exploration and we hope for discovery. The Bill will help to ensure that this happens, because it will give security of tenure. We all hope that there will be an increasing Australian equity in the permits and we are doing our best to ensure that areas will be available for Australian companies.
– I cannot agree with the Minister when he says that it is good to have all the areas taken up. It is true that large areas have been taken up, but they have been taken up by single companies. This is one of the few occasions on which I can agree with the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), but I agree with him when he questions the merit of such large areas being taken up. 1 would like to know how much money has been expended since the leases were granted. Petroleum exploration companies have held leases in Australia and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea for many years and very little has been done, except for some slight exploration work. I would like an inquiry to be held into the amount of exploration work, seismic surveys and other testing that has been done to determine the quantity of oil or gas that is available in these areas. I would like to see a requirement in force that a certain amount of work must be done within a certain period. If it is not done, the lease should be surrendered.
– That is exactly what this legislation will do. It requires the designated authority to set’ work requirements. We tried on one occasion to set a financial figure, but having tried as hard as we could to do so, we decided that this would be quite impossible. There are three methods of exploration and each has a completely different cost. These are aeromagnetic, seismic and drilling surveys, and we could not possibly set a figure that would be applicable to work requirements in drilling and suitable for requirements in aeromagnetic surveys. The honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen) mentioned the fact that there are in Australia and New Guinea many large areas that have been held for a long time. This is where we see the great advantage of this legislation, which does not follow the pattern of legislation in the States. I can cite an example in Western Australia, where one company has held a very large area since 1952 and still holds exactly the same area. The advantage of this legislation is that a company will not be able to hold the same area after 6 years, but will have to surrender half of it, and it will have a work requirement fitted to that principle. Is it better to have a percentage of the resources discovered and producing petroleum or is it better to hold 100% of the petroleum under the ground and under the sea without even knowing where it is or getting any use from it?
– The Minister and the Government have only themselves to blame for the situation that has arisen which is due, in particular, to the rejection of the amendment which was proposed by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) to the motion for the second reading of this measure. One of the matters that we on this side particularly wanted to refer to a select committee of the House was the extent to which unreasonably large areas of the continental shelf have been granted, resulting in the delaying or impeding of expeditious action to meet the petroleum consumption needs of Australia. There is the whole matter in a nutshell. If one examines the tectonic map of Australia and the surrounding continental shelf, one is amazed at the extent to which the continental shelf is distributed. I have here a list of offshore petroleum titles that was supplied to me by courtesy of the Minister. It shows that there is only one title holder in New South Wales - Shell Development Australia Pty Ltd, which holds title to 4,910 square miles. The total area of the continental shelf is 1 million square miles. Looking at the areas as a whole, we find that already 739,000 square miles have been alienated in one form or another. The onus is on the Minister to prove that the areas are reasonably large. We have heard absolutely nothing from him on this point. The working conditions that may be imposed will be wholly within the discretion of the designated authority. No pattern, standard or code has to be observed in relation to any exploration permit that may be granted.
One of the main problems that I see - I shall deal with it again in more detail - is the absence of any court of appeal. In the respective States, there are mining Acts, which make definite provision for mining wardens courts in which it is possible for these matters to be properly examined. As this legislation now stands, the whole thing is at the caprice of the designated authority or his delegate. We on this side of the Parliament object most strongly to that. Our attitude is precisely the opposite of that of the Minister. It is only by the granting of lesser areas so that there will be some concentration of effort and then, those areas having been proved, making adjoining areas available by tender or otherwise, that further exploitation and development can take place. The whole system that has been adopted by the Government works in the opposite way. Indeed, one of its worst features is that in this legislation the Government is seeking to validate alienations of areas that have been made illegally by the six States.
– Why does not the honourable member read the Agreement?
– I repeat that these alienations have been made illegally, despite what the honourable member may say.
– Does the honourable member suggest that the areas in question should be confiscated?
– In many instances, they ought to be reviewed and the Commonwealth ought to be examining what work has been done on them and considering whether the permits should be continued in whole or in part. The Minister has not at any stage of these proceedings given honourable members any indication of what machinery is available for that purpose. In particular, I want -him to tell me how the Commonwealth, other than by relying on sketchy reports made from time to time, can supervise the activities of these companies which are spread over an area of 739,000 square miles. Has such a large area anywhere throughout the world been alienated so freely? Let the Minister answer that question. We are one people, one nation, in possession of a whole continent. We have a coastline of 12,000 miles. It is the longest coastline held by one nation anywhere in the world. Vast sweeps of the continental shelf adjacent to it have been alienated illegally and unconstitutionally, and this Government proposes to give its imprimatur to this situation.
– Mr Chairman, the debate on this clause brings into the open the difference between the Minister and myself in this regard. 1 am not worried about the fact of the alienations. What I am worried about is their immensity and the fact that the work to be done will not be commensurate with the areas held. I do not suggest for one moment that if an area is being explored it should not be alienated. But the Minister perhaps has lost his sense of proportion and does not realise how much money is involved in even the most superficial examination of an area of the kind that we are talking about in relation to these offshore oil exploration permits. The situation that I see in this will lead to an amendment that I hope later to put before the Committee. At the present stage, let me just say that there is no provision in the Bill setting out the minimum of the working conditions or providing for the publication of the working conditions. So what is done will be done in a hole and corner way and nobody will ever know what is done. Looking at the past and at what is proposed - I am speaking not of production licences but of exploration permits - the sums proposed to be spent amount to probably not more than 1% of what is needed. A block held under permit for exploration, as a worthwhile exploration project, certainly needs not less than $lm spent on it over 6 years. If a permit is to be given for a gigantic area . of 400 blocks, there should be a requirement for the expenditure of not less than $400m over 6 years if the fair thing is to be done. If companies are not prepard to come up to this scale of expenditure, they should reduce the size of their permit areas and let somebody else in.
– Did the honourable member give a figure of $400m?
– I did, and I meant it. We are giving away these immense areas. In this matter, we in this place seem to have lost all sense of proportion. A block has an area of 25 square miles. The permit holder has to go over it perhaps with marine seismic surveys or aeromagnetic surveys. The first hole put down on the block will cost something like $lm.
– Half that.
– It will cost something Like $lm, though the figure varies. It may be a quarter of a million dollars or it may be $2m. The sum of $lm is not bad for 50 days drilling for the first exploration hole. A block of 25 square miles is in itself a big area. If we look at a block of this size on the map we see that we have lost our sense of proportion. We are giving away immense areas which cannot possibly be explored with the kind of money that the companies can put up. I do not believe that any company is going to put up this kind of money. Therefore, a company is not entitled to monopolise a big area and keep other people out. I make this reservation, that in the first couple of years while the framework is being laid down and the major basins are being determined, there may be a reason for giving a company a big area and saying: ‘Look, over this big area you will have to spend a little bit*. However, when we come down to monopoly for exploration - and I have looked at what is happening in other parts of the world - a company should be required, over the 6 years that it holds a block, to spend not less than Sim. If it holds a permit area of 400 blocks, in order to retain it a company should be required to spend $400m. No company is going to do this, so the companies should concentrate on smaller areas and leave other exploration permits open for other people. They should not act like a dog in the manger. This is a Bill to allow big companies to act like a dog in the manger with exploration permits and prevent other companies coming in and producing oil.
The Bill will help to limit oil exploration in Australia although it will give us something over the short term. The mess of pottage is here. I have no doubt, if the
Bill is passed, that there will ‘be a splurge about somebody coming in with $3 Om, $40m or $100m. That will sound big, but it is really only peanuts. It is the kind of garnishing put on to make this kind of intolerable Bill acceptable. What we want is exploration, and we want it quickly. If a company is prepared to spend an adequate amount on its permit area then it should have the permit area. I have to qualify what I have said, because there have been commitments entered into and even though these may have been entered into illegally I feel there is a case for honouring them. I am not proposing to suggest we dishonour our past commitments.
– Surely not ‘illegally’?
– Yes. Arrangements were made illegally by the States. ‘Illegal’ is the correct word. They were made without legal basis. I still feel, however, that we should honour them. I am therefore not proposing that we should invalidate these commitments. What 1 am proposing is something a great deal, more favourable to the companies concerned, namely, that we should not give them an automatic right of renewal unless they have spent an adequate amount in the 6 years of their permit. I do not see how anybody could object to this. It meets all the obligations which we have undertaken to the States in respect of these overseas companies. It gives them a free go for 6 years. If they can turn up things in 6 years, good luck to them. But at the end of this period let other people come in, not only into worthless areas which they will be able to discard after 6 years but into good areas that have some prospects. Do not let us try to give a monopoly of the whole of the Australian offshore oil in good areas to people whose financial interest it is to produce only a limited quantity of oil.
I do not want to blame the overseas companies. They and their directors have a duty to maximise their profits. That is what they are there for and if the directors of the companies acted in any other way they would be false to their trust. They have to maximise their profits. With the over-production of oil in the world at the moment the big overseas companies do not want large extra quantities of oil put on the world market. It is not proved; but it is probable that in Australia we have off shore oilfields which will be capable not only of supplying our local demands but the demands of the Far East in competition with the oil which is owned elsewhere by these companies and of which there is a surplus at present. It is to their advantage that Australian exploration should not proceed too quickly. They want to let it proceed to a certain extent. They want to do as much as will enable them to hold their leases and to keep other people out. Do not let us, as a Government, be entirely neglectful of the interests of Australia. Our interests are to get as much oil as possible, and to get it quickly.
– Oddly enough, I find myself in accord with the sentiments expressed by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth).
– I am not surprised. This is so outrageous it is silly.
– I am glad to hear that there are differences of opinion on the Government side of the chamber. Sometimes, of course, honourable members try to make a lot of capital out of what can be called ‘honest differences of opinion’ between people in the same monolithic party, but I am glad to see that there are some honest doubts about this particular matter. I draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that the second part of the amendment I moved on behalf of the Australian Labor Party the other evening was concerned with the very point that the honourable member for Mackellar has raised in relation to the leasing of the very big areas. Of course, the bigger the area the more exclusive the field is made, and the number of people who can come into it is limited. Basically what we are doing is giving people areas which are too big to control. As the honourable member suggested, because the areas are too big to control they are developed not in the national interest of Australia but in the interest of the firms which take out the licences.
The other evening when I raised the point that the Australian practice as envisaged in this legislation contrasts with what is done in the North Sea area, I was met with the rather astonishing interjection from the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) that there are 500 million people in that area.
– They use more petrol.
– The point I am coming to is that in the North Sea there are smaller areas for development. I find it hard to see the concatenation that because there are more people you should have smaller leasehold areas. I would suggest that the leasehold area has to do with the prospects of obtaining oil.
– No, it is the amount of oil.
– But nobody knows the amount of oil and therefore nobody knows whether the big area rather than the small area should be the criterion. I would suggest it would be easier to find the honourable member in 3 square miles of bushland than in 1,000 square miles.
– No, that is where you are wrong.
– Order! The honourable member for McMillan will cease interjecting.
– As my colleague, the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor), pointed out the other evening, we respect and maintain the rights of those who have already ventured into this field. However, we say that it is our belief - and I think the honourable member for Mackellar agrees with us - that they have done so illegally. They have been given rights, in the name of a State, which the State was not competent to give. Nevertheless we acknowledge that considerable sums have been expended and that these people should not be left high and dry. However, we believe - and I think my colleague the honourable member for Cunningham who is in charge of this Bill on this side of the House will propose later by way of an amendment - that there should be a limit to the number of blocks that can be allocated. Bear in mind that each block covers an area of 25 to 30 square miles and as many as 400 of these blocks may be taken up in a single section by a single operator. This would cover an area of up to 10,000 square miles, something like a quarter of trie area of Tasmania or an eighth of the area of Victoria. In our view this is far too much for anybody to be able to handle sensibly.
We propose to move later that there should be a maximum not of 400 blocks but of 40. I am not too sure that we did not even think the maximum ought to be 4 rather than 40. At any rate we are firmly of the opinion that it should be a great deal below the 400 that is fixed now as the limit. Give land-takers - under the sea land-takers in this case - the right to take and they will take all they can get, particularly when they can take it on the generous terms that are available in this case.
Until now there have been only very limited areas where the Commonwealth of Australia could be said to have territorial control of everything above and below. We had the Northern Territory and we had the few hundred square miles of the Australian Capital Territory. I submit that what we have now in terms of the Convention on the Continental Shelf is something like a million square miles. All I suggest is that if some divining authority - not divine authority - came along and said that if a hole were drilled immediately below where I am now standing a gusher of oil would result, the Commonwealth would have full and exclusive right, if it wanted to exercise it, to bore the hole. The Commonwealth could not bore such a hole in New South Wales or in any other State, because it would be in State territory. But the Commonwealth can now bore holes in any of the 1 million square miles of the continental shelf.
How does the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan) justify a proposition that 100 square miles, or 4 graticular blocks, is not an adequate area? After all if we are talking about farming, we might suggest that 20,000 acres was quite sufficient.
– But you have grass all over a farm. You do not have structures all over it.
– But you cannot farm on your next door neighbour’s property. All I am suggesting here is that the proposal limits the number of people who can own properties. The Government is curtailing the number of people who may avail themselves of the opportunity to engage in this activity, because the larger the area the more difficult the access and the more difficult the farming - if you like to regard this activity - as undersea farming. If the honourable member or anybody else on behalf of . the Government can justify the contention that it is a good thing that 92,000 square miles should be given to one firm, 57,000 to another, even as little as 2,600 to another, 49,000 to somebody else, and 123,000 and 140,000 to two other operators in Western Australian waters, then I will be very surprised. I certainly have not yet been convinced. How can anybody adjudicate upon an area under the sea twice the size of Victoria? How can anybody justify the granting of these large areas as a sensible basis of tenancy? I have not been convinced about it, nor have any of my colleagues. If it costs a million dollars to bore a hole - and I accept the technical knowledge of the honourable member for McMillan in this field-
– It costs more than that.
– Fair enough; it costs more than that, and surely this limits the field of those who can engage in the enterprise. Why limit it any further by making available such vast areas that when somebody else wants to go in there are no suitable areas left? I suggest that the experience in the North Sea has been that the smaller areas were the better. After all, this matter in Australia is being adjudicated at present by the oil companies which have already raped the fuel situation in Victoria by substituting an imported fuel for local fuel, in other words imported crude oil for coal which is indigenous. Here we have a great new untapped source of indigenous fuel - at least indigenous in terms of the territorial rights of Australia - and the Government is prepared to hand it over to land-takers without any check. The Parliament ought to be the check, and we are providing what check we can by moving amendments of the kind I have referred to.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I would like to try to give some explanation in answer to the questions that have been asked by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) and no doubt by manyother people throughout Australia. The situation is that the potential exploration area offshore, in the 1 million square miles that the honourable member has mentioned, has virtually been taken up already, before this legislation comes into effect. The permit areas that he has quoted of upwards of 50,000 square miles are the areas that have already been granted by the States. The honourable member used the word ‘illegal’ in referring to these grants because he knew there had been no determination made of the ownership of the areas outside the territorial 3-mile limit, or of the question as to who should administer these areas. But I would ask this question: Has not this exercise by the States been eminently worthwhile from the point of view of Australia’s interests? Has not the whole economy of the nation been changed because of the discoveries already made in the areas that have been taken up under high risk conditions by the companies who have been carrying out the search?
One of the factors that attracted them to commence their explorations was the very size of the areas they have been able to explore. Now we have reached the stage at which the nation is contemplating legislation in the various Parliaments which will bring together the legal systems of the Commonwealth and of the States. We are contemplating a very definite limitation of the size of areas to be covered by exploration permits. I hope the honourable member for Melbourne Ports is listening, because this is a serious answer to what I understood to be a serious question on his part, and I hope to be able to convince him, the Parliament and the people.
If an oil exploration company takes up a marine area of 10,000 square mites the honourable member contends that this is an unreasonably large area for a preliminary examination. I say preliminary because there is a series of well denned steps which are taken to determine whether an area has any potentiality. Almost certainly the first operation is an aeromagnetic cover, and this may be completed within a week or so over an area of 10,000 square miles. It is not, by oil exploration standards, a very expensive manoeuvre, but it gives a broad definition of the contours of the basement rock within the area. It shows whether there are broad outlines of conditions which might make it possible to expect the existence of the trap conditions necessary for the accumulation of deposits of oil or gas. When the aeromagnetic survey has been conducted and opinions and interpretations have been obtained on it, the next phase is a marine seismic operation. An explosive device is towed behind a ship and the percussion waves of the explosion are interpreted electronically as they are transmitted through the various rock layers beneath the bed of the ocean. This is a highly technical process but it may be completed at sea very much more rapidly under favourable weather conditions than on land, where obstructions of all kinds exist. It is easier and cheaper to do it at sea. So having completed those two methods it can generally be stated with a fair degree of accuracy whether trap conditions exist which would make it possible for worthwhile accumulations of oil and gas to exist in the area.
After this has taken place and it is suspected that large structures worth drilling are to be found in the area the marine seismic is then carried out on a highly reduced scale to make a total examination of particular areas with a view to finding a drilling target. Up to this point the possible expenditure over the area of the size I have mentioned might be of the order of $250,000. In my estimation that would be a reasonable figure to take as a point of argument in a reasonably accessible area. But when it comes to drilling one of these targets it is a different matter. The economics change dramatically. Then expenditure of between $2m and $4m on one hole would not be out of the ordinary.
So what the legislation has done has been to limit the maximum size of the area; of the exploration permit that may be granted to a company. I have already pointed out that a reasonable assessment of its potential can be made within the financial resources of most companies, including Australian exploration companies, but when it comes to drilling holes in the area to search for oil a larger and rather different proportion of finance is required. So the very wise precaution has been taken in this legislation of providing that after this initial period - this period of geophysical assessment of the area - has been undertaken, within 6 years half of the area must be surrendered to enable other people to have a go at it so that people cannot just sit on areas and prevent them being exploited to the full extent of their potential. When this surrender at the end of 6 years at the latest takes place, half the area remains to the company that originally carried out the exercise. Then it must move on to the next phase of its expenditure. Nothing more worthwhile can be determined without drilling and if it is to fulfil the functions of its shareholders and justify the expenditure it has already made of $250,000; if it is to fulfil its reason for existence it must proceed to the drilling phase. In other words, the finance must be found to drill a well. Then there is another period of 5 years during which this next phase of examination of the area must take place before another half of that half is surrendered. So at the end of 1 1 years 25% of that area or 2,500 square miles remains, and so it goes on, with 5 yearly surrenders.
I believe that the whole of this picture is reasonable, sensible and absolutely in keeping with the financial possibilities of Australian as well as overseas companies and that it means that there will be a reasonably good examination of the petroleum potential of the area, which has been described as fantastically large because it is 10,000 square miles. This is not a very large area by land standards of authorities to prospect that have already been granted in Australia. Admittedly some of them are much too large in my estimation. Nevertheless, phenomenally good jobs have been done by overseas and Australian companies in partnership. I think of the Surat Basin, for instance, where authorities to prospect of this magnitude are not out of this world and where they have been rather thoroughly examined, at least seismically, if not by a concentrated drilling programme.
I have maintained that the contention that these blocks are too large is not true. It is not in keeping with the facts. While it is true that the blocks in the North Sea may be smaller - 100 square miles - it is also true that in that area overseas companies as well as British companies may hold multitudes of permits. It may be possible for Esso or Shell to hold 10, 12 or more of these areas. So once again we sec that the whole thing is on a different scale of magnitude. In the North Sea you have one area in close proximity to a market of 500 million people. The whole point, as the shadow Treasurer should realise from first principles, is that if you have a market of that magnitude the economics of spending money on a cheap fuel source are different from exploring in the wide open spaces of Austraia where the assessment of your product meets a whole new economic structure, a whole series of burdens of charges of transportation when a discovery has been made. So I maintain that this legislation provides for a fair, reasonable and equitable distribution of the exploration areas.
– Replying to the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay): So far, so good. But the honourable member did not put all of the facts before the Committee. He based his argument on the statement that the maximum area of any permit would be 400 blocks - a matter of a measly 10,000 square miles. Let me remind the Committee of what the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) said in his second reading speech. He said:
Clauses 20 to 27 set out in some detail the procedure which will govern the application for, and granting of, areas of permits. The maximum area of any permit will be 400 blocks, that is, about 10,000 square miles. This is somewhat smaller than many of the offshore titles currently in existence, but is regarded as a reasonable size and one which should give companies ample opportunity to explore efficiently. Moreover-
This is the key: the!e will be no statutory limitation placed on the number of permits which may be granted to any individual company.
What is the answer to that?
– They have to do the same job of work on each one.
– That is not the point. They can mop up as many areas as they like. We take the opposite view: Why should there not be a concentration of effort? One of the main things is to secure the corings from borings and to determine where the oil is located and then to give the successful companies the reasonable fruits of their labour. As the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) has said, we would be the last ever to cancel existing permits but as a government we certainly would review, revise and reduce them.
This is the other point I would make, and it has not been touched upon in this debate by the Minister for National Development or any other Government supporter. Where else in the world are exploration areas of similar size to these made available? Let the Minister answer that question. He has staff to advise him. Is it in the United States, Canada or any other oil bearing country?
Where else in the world is there any aggregation of holdings similar to these? Where else can companies hold 200,000 square miles? That is what the Opposition and the people of Australia want to know. This legislation seems to be the culmination of the Government’s policy ever since it came to office of allowing into Australia unlimited - not qualified - entry of overseas capital. In this legislation the evil is being compounded. Not only is the amount unlimited but also the area. In that regard I refer to the comment made in the publication ‘Growth’ published by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia. Just as an interesting sidelight, the major Australian companies, including Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, are members of that committee. This comment was made by Mr V. D. Gibson. He stated: at first, all were dazzled by the spectacular achievements-
Of unlimited entry of capital into Australia in the post-war period: and the few critics of the policy were regarded as politically irresponsible - almost as disloyal.
I heard a comment of that nature today from the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan). He continued:
But then attention was drawn to the plight of Canada which, seemingly overnight, discovered that 74% of its petroleum industry and 57% of its mining industry . . . was in foreign, particularly American hands, and that the remission of interest, dividends and profits was a crushing burden on its balance of payments.
One of the things which we want to know and which the Government and the Minister are not prepared to tell us is the exact percentage of overseas capital distributed among the different firms which are holding exploration permits at the present time. Our information is that it is of the order of 90% . We want to know and the people of Australia are entitled to know. That is the way in which the whole of this situation will be judged.
The alienation of this land reminds me in some respects of early cinematograph nlms from the United States in which there was a western land race. Everyone would line up and the land officer would fire a gun or give a signal and off they would all race in their covered wagons to see what they could grab for themselves and stake out. Much the same position arises in Australia and this is one of the reasons for objecting so strongly to the delegation of authority to the designated authority. There is no supervision whatever and matter will be purely discretionary. Let us consider State legislation. If a person wants to enter into someone’s land he makes an application to the warden of the mining court. He states the area that he wants and his application and objections to it are considered. But what remedy is there for any company under this legislation? There will be plenty of companies which will want to go in and acquire areas for exploration, but what remedy will they have if they are refused a permit, that is, if there is land left for which they can apply. There is no remedy whatever. Yet remedies do exist in common law. In many cases mandamus will lie in the States and there is provision for appeal, but there is nothing of that sort here.
There is a whole province of law and administrative experience to draw on, but the Government closes its eyes to it, quite deliberately. The Minister at the table, as I pointed out last night, is in charge of coal mining and is familiar with the coal mining acts and regulations and ancillary legislation. He knows full well of the operations and ramifications of State coal mining law and its effect on the mining companies in all the States of Australia. There is no reason why some tribunal should not be set up to adjudicate on these matters. It is all very well to call for applications and then to give arbitrary and complete powers to the designated authority. But that is typical of this Government. In recent years it has grown slack and quite complacent. More and more it has allowed the civil service to run the country. It wants the credit and the political kudos, but it is not prepared to get down to facts and do its administrative homework. It is not prepared to delve into matters as deeply as it should. We say that as the matter stands it is a terrific givaway of a vast valuable national asset.
It was only today that the Government was acclaimed in the Press for making available over a period of some 10 years an amount of $98m for developmental purposes. If the figures cited by the honourable member for Mackallar (Mr Wentworth) are correct, all that money will be obtained from one square mile in Bass Strait. This could be one of the evils flowing from these major holdings. No-one is averse to the Esso-BHP group having the fruits of its labour, but already it has stated that from five wells drilled by the group it has sufficient natural gas to supply the whole of Sydney and Melbourne. Let us consider the aggregate area that it has as against its total holding. Its total holding is of the order of 35,000 plus 8,000, plus 2,000 square miles - a matter of 45,000 square miles. It is quite probable that on 200 or 300 square miles of that area it has already sufficient natural gas to supply Sydney and Melbourne.
– And the whole world.
– All right. Take it a stage further. Consider what happens to the remainder of the area held by that group. Is the group to be allowed to sit on it? Even with the surrender provisions of the Bill it becomes quite fantastic. But not only that we already have a situation where another company, Woodside (Lakes Entrance) Oil Co. N.L., has found oil and gas and has been told in no uncertain terms that for 7 years development by that company will not be wanted. That was the broadside delivered by the Government of Victoria to that company. The major company, to which again I give due credit for its initiative and work it has done, by virtue of its discoveries and because it was first in the field, already has a monopoly.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I honestly feel that we have had a fairly good and wide ranging debate on this clause. I should like an opportunity to reply to a couple of remarks which were made, but it is quite obvious that if we are to cover the remainder of the Bill we must move on. At the same time I appreciate that there has been full and frank discussion. The discussion, which has ranged very wide, highlights the difference between the Government and the Opposition. In referring to the Government I acknowledge that some Government supporters do not go along with the present plan. The Opposition claimed that too large an area is being given. Let us face the fact that even before this legislation, as an honourable member has said, vast areas had been allocated. I do not think that the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) or the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) believed that we should go in and confiscate these areas.
The honourable member for Mackellar suggested that we should give them a right to an area for 6 years, but our proposal is to give them 6 years, after which we will take half the area. The honourable member for Mackellar I feel wants to take the lot after 6 years.
– That is not true.
– I am sorry, but that is the impression I gained from what the honourable member said. The fact is that these areas have been allocated. No Australian Government would confiscate these areas, and even if it did it is my belief that if areas which had been confiscated from the companies at present holding them became available and reasonable work requirements were set, we would not find a great many companies able to take advantage of them. Very few Australian companies would be able to take up these areas. Of course they would pick up the areas if there were no work requirements, but would they take them and would they have the financial and technical ability, the knowledge and the knowhow to carry out the work requirements?
This is where this Bill is good. It does produce a situation in which it is necessary for people to go ahead and search for oil. I must say that about the only sentence in which I found myself in agreement with the honourable member for Mackellar was when he said our business is to get oil. I think we are inclined to forget that it is our business to get oil because wc are getting it. Here we have had an expenditure of $50m offshore by companies, most of which are overseas interests but some of which have an Australian content. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. We are stimulating a tremendous interest in Australian offshore areas. As I have mentioned already, we will by the end of the year have seven offshore rigs drilling in the offshore areas of Australia. This is a tremendous increase. These offshore rigs are very bard to get because there is such a demand for them. Six of these rigs will have come from overseas and one will be built locally. In addition, it will not be very long before we have two platforms drilling in the Gippsland area, too.
The present policy is working. Let us not have some pie in the sky which does not work. That is how I characterise the programme of the honourable member for Mackellar. This legislation provides for a limit of 400 blocks. The honourable member says that Sim. should be spent on every one of those 400 blocks in 6 years. That is a total of $400m. Is there any possibility of an Australian company putting up this sort of money? It means that no Australian company need apply.
– The expenditure in the whole of the world is not even that much.
– Yes. As I said, if we set work requirements of this sort, every rig operating in Australia would pull up its anchor and go overseas. The honourable member for Mackellar said that the companies would only have to spend that amount of money to be guaranteed a renewal of their lease. In other words, if they do not spend that amount they might not have their lease renewed. But who will spend money if there is no security of tenure? It is futile to say that this amount of money should be spent. We are doing everything that we can to encourage the discovery of oil offshore and this will only be achieved if we have reasonable work requirements plus surrender requirements which we know will make additional areas available. At the same time, companies that now have areas will have an opportunity of looking them over and deciding to retain certain portions of them.
The honourable member mentioned the availability to the public of the work requirements. I cannot give a complete guarantee that these will be available because there are some conditions under which a company can claim security and the designated authority will withhold the work requirements on a particular block. This is unlikely to happen. Otherwise these work requirements will be available for inspection by the public. We must press on so I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 20 to 23 - by leave - taken together.
– Mr Chairman, I must express my thanks, particularly to the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) and to a less extent to the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn), for what they have said because they have cleared the air for me. What they have said will be entirely in accordance with an amendment to clause 32 that I shall move when the occasion arises. Honourable members will have noticed that I have not yet moved an amendment. What I have been trying to do is to prepare the ground under which an amendment can be discussed. I am very grateful for the statements of the honourable member for Evans and the admissions of the Minister. The honourable member for Evans has saved me time by going through some of the elementary facts about offshore explorations. I will not have to repeat those to the House. Broadly speaking, I am in agreement with what he has said. It is elementary but it is true.
The honourable member is quite right when he says that firstly there is a wide ranging quick process under which only a relatively small amount is spent per block on the survey, initial seismic, and so on. He is quite right in saying that after this has been done a new order of magnitude is reached on smaller areas when drilling has to be undertaken. We are now dealing with clause 21, which prescribes the limit of 400 blocks. Honourable members will have noted that I have not suggested any amendment to clause 21 but I shall suggest that the prescriptive right to renewal should be dependent upon a minimum expenditure.
Let me agree, as indeed I did earlier in this debate, that there may be some case for giving these big permit areas at the start and for a short time, so that the process which the honourable member for Evans has taken us through can be applied in those blocks. But this, as he has said, is a quick process; it does not take long, and at the end of that time the company concerned should be in a position to do its discards. It is to be presumed, of course, that the company concerned will discard the least attractive area. Of course it will. This is the reason why it has made the survey. I am afraid that the honourable member for Evans was being entirely misleading - unin tentionally - I am sure - when he spoke of the chances in 6 years time of an Australian company - this is pie in the sky, if you like - coming in on these discard areas which a 6-year survey has shown to be worthless. My friend the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan) who is interjecting, seems to think that the process of initial exploration is just the opposite of effective.
– It is very chancy. It is extremely chancy.
– Order! This is a complex Bill and there are 157 clauses, I suggest that when a member is speaking there be no interjections. This will assist with the passage of this Bill.
– Thank you. It is very difficult when 1 have somebody sitting hi front of me mumbling like this. If the process of initial exploration, this quick process, is any good at all then the discarded areas will be a great deal less attractive than the retained areas. Therefore, in 6 years time - and 6 years is a- long time - the Australian companies will be asked to come in and take the leavings of the overseas companies. It may be that in these leavings there are some small gleanings - even some bonanzas by chance. But they will be leavings and it will be difficult to get the necessary money in Australia to spend on exploration of areas which the most competent companies in the world have discarded, having themselves had 6 years to explore them. I am afraid that what the honourable member for Evans said about the future chances of Australian companies is in point of fact quite misleading.
When we come to discuss clause 31 I will be talking at greater length about the illusory nature of the discard provisions. I shall refer to them briefly now. What the honourable member for Evans has put reinforces the case for the amendment of clause 32 that I shall move. If it be true that these big areas can be given for the initial survey - I have not questioned that - then they should be available for discard in much less than 6 years. If a- company wishes to retain large areas then it should expend on those areas amounts commensurate with the detailed costs of exploration which the honourable member for Evans has put before us. If a company is unable to expend that money then it should let somebody else have a go. But if it is able to expend that money then it should have first pick. But do not give it the chance to tie up all the good areas year after year after year to the exclusion of Australian companies? I know that we may have to recognise in the hands of these overseas companies initially rather more than we would like to do because we want to honour the commitments that have been made to them by the various States. I can understand the Government’s attitude in that regard. But, this Bill does far more than recognise those rights.
In clause 32 the Bill confers quite new rights and it is to these that I wish to address my attention when the debate on my first amendment comes up. Meanwhile, I express my thanks to the honourable member for Evans particularly. The Minister has now helped the argument. I agree with the Minister when he says that we want to get exploration done and we want to get producing done. If the holder of a lease is willing to make this exploration in the next 6 years then let him make it. I suggest nothing that would tie his hands in the next 6 years at all. I do not even suggest that we impose new working conditions in the next 6-year period. But if, as the honourable member for Evans has said, one drill hole will cost a couple of million dollars, how can we expect that a company shall have the prescriptive right to hold 50 square miles on the second phase of exploration? When we look at the figures the proposition is quite monstrous.
I just want the holders of these leases to have every opportunity for exploring them adequately. I want them to be able to apply as much funds as they are able to make available and to have exclusive rights in regard to the application of those funds. But insofar as those funds are inadequate for the proper exploration of their areas, let the areas be released and someone else have a go.
– I will only take up the time of the Committee for a moment because I know that we must press on. I ask the Minister: When he is referring to the ‘Gazette’ in clause 19, does he mean the State Government ‘Gazette’ or would he agree that the designated authority should be published both in the State Government ‘Gazette’ and the Commonwealth ‘Gazette’. I think such an arrangement would make it much easier for all concerned because the preceding clauses deal with the designated authority. I would like to see it not only in the State Gazette’ but also in the Commonwealth Government ‘Gazette’.
– In answer to the question put by the honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) the Bill says ‘the “Commonwealth Gazette”’. However, if it is put in the State ‘Gazette’ I understand it is deemed to be in the Commonwealth ‘Gazette’ as well.
– The honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) said that I was quite misleading in saying that the Australian companies would be able to take up discarded areas. I would point out that this is not just a question of leavings. Indeed, some of the important discoveries in Australia have been made by such organisations as the UnionKernAustralian Oil and Gas Corporation. This organisation found oil in an area which was once held by the Shell Company and was discarded by it because it was not, in its opinion, prospective. Different companies have different philosophies, concepts or interpretations of data and while one company may regard an area as unprospective another may be looking to that area for a particular series of circumstances.
The honourable member for Mackellar also said that the period of 6 years was too long in the first instance because it takes a relatively short time to obtain geophysical information. This is quite true. It takes a very short time to conceive a child, but it takes a long time for the child to be born and to be brought up to maturity. It is equally true that one can very quickly get information in the form of a text book, but it takes a long time to read, mark, learn, interpret and understand it. The interpretative process of going over the data which is obtained, admittedly relatively quickly in the seismic exploration programme at sea, is a long drawn out and a very complicated and expert one, and is by no means merely to be related to the time in the field.
Clauses agreed to.
Clauses 24 to 31 - by leave - taken together.
– I said previously that 1 wanted to speak to clause 31 of the Bill. These are the discard provisions. This clause provides that after 6 years a company shall discard half its area; and after another 5 years it will discard a further half and so on. This is particularly apposite in relation to the recent remarks made by the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay), lt is perfectly true, as he said, that oil is sometimes found in areas which have been discarded by other companies, but by and large the areas they discard are not as good as the areas they retain. Furthermore, in large areas of 10,000 square miles it is often possible to delineate some areas which have virtually no chance of producing oil. In regard to clause 31 let us -consider what happens with a permit of 400 blocks or 10,000 square miles. Let us suppose that the permit is taken out early next year, in 1968, in a few months’ time. In such circumstances the area would remain at 10,000 square miles until 1974; at 5,000 miles until 1980; at 2,500 miles till 1985; and by 1990- a fair time ahead - it will still be 1,250 square miles. In addition, there will be excise which will not be counted for computation purposes in producing areas in which oil may have been found. We are now talking about a period which is nearly 30 years ahead. During this time the companies will be able to take up any pools of oil they find. We hope that they find a lot of oil. In addition, the companies will be maintaining for exploration purposes the best of the area and as they obtain more information their judgment as to what is a good area and what is a bad area will be improved.
Oil pools are in area relatively small. A pool, of course, depends on the thickness of the producing sands. However, a pool of 10,000 square miles in area is quite a sizeable one. If the sand is thick it may even be a giant pool. In 1990 a company which has 10,900 square miles will be left with 1,250 square miles of the choicest area out of every permit. In addition it will have all of the oil pools which may have been found over the whole area before 1990. This simply is not good enough. I can well understand that for a couple of years and even for 6 years perhaps, that these giant permits should be maintained. I am even prepared to concede that the multiple permits which have been given under State law should be honoured. But I am not prepared to concede that these discard provisions are the best and fairest. I am not prepared to concede that they are good enough; they do not give Australians an entry into the industry. But the crux of the matter is not simply that one wants Australian ownership. This is important, but it is not the most important matter. The most important matter is that there should be producers in the Australian field who are not tied to overseas interests which stand to gain financially by limiting the production of oil from Australian sources.
I know that under the Bill the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) has power to step up production from a discovered pool, but he does not have the power to bring the pools into initial discovery. If companies do not choose to declare, make known or drill their fields because they have enough oil already they will be able to sit for years on all the best areas. There must be some good producing - areas in Australian hands, otherwise we shall be at the mercy of overseas companies to whose financial interest it would be to curtail oil production in Australia. Once the ring is broken it is all right. Under this legislation there will be no chance of breaking the ring. I wish to move my first definite amendment in relation to the next clause, so I will not detain the Committee longer by speaking on these particular clauses. I hope to move an amendment in relation to clause 32.
Clauses agreed to.
Clause 32. (1.) Where a permittee makes an application for the renewal of a permit, the Designated Authority -
– I move:
Clause 32, as it stands at the moment, provides quite new rights - something which I think is almost without precedent. It provides that the permitee may have his permit renewed, which is the normal thing, but if he has complied with unspecified conditions then he shall have his permit renewed. This confers a permanent right which does not exist, as far as I understand, in the State grants. It is new, unprecedented and semi-permanent. I am not questioning that there should be a right of renewal for any company which has spent an adequate amount on exploration, but an adequate amount must be spent. I am not satisfied to leave to some designated authority the right to set these work permits without a guiding code or a minimum. To me this does not seem to be reasonable.
Although the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) has given a new assurance that the particulars will be published, I point out that such a provision is not in the legislation. The relevant clauses, 76 and 94, provide for the publication not of this information but only of such information as the designated authority chooses. Although the assurance given- “by the Minister may be good, I do not believe it is sufficient to cover legislation which will operate for many years and which will come under the administration of people whom the Minister does not know. I refer to Ministers of the future. The provision in relation to publication is insufficient. The present position is that the permitee can have such renewal after 6 years as may be determined by the designating authority. But if he wants anything more than that - if he wants to have a prescriptive right to renewal - then he has to spend money. The absolute right to renewal by the permitee would accrue only if the permitee during the currency of the immediately expiring term of his permit had expended a sum, excluding any subventions from a State or the Commonwealth, in exploring and developing petroleum of not less than one million dollars per block, or such greater sum as may have been prescribed by the designated authority under such expiring permit, upon the whole number of blocks included in such expiring permit and upon blocks included in a production licence over an area or areas included in such expiring permit during such currency.
The provision is a fair one because it relates not only to exploration but to production. It will spur on the companies to produce. The amendment does not state that the companies shall spend the money in exploration. If they produce and spend the money in production that will satisfy the requirements. The amendment will not catch Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and its partners in Bass Strait and Gippsland because their plans for expenditure on exploration and production are already above the prescribed minimum. They will be free from the operation of the amendment. If any company intends to operate as well as BHP and its partners are operating in Gippsland, good luck to that company; let it have what it can get. These people are producing oil. But do not let such a company adopt a dog in the manger attitude and sit indefinitely on areas which it is not adequately exploring.
My friend, the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay), has said that it costs $2m to drill one offshore exploration hole. His figure may be a little high; it is a higher figure than the one I had in mind. But let me adopt his figure. On the basis of that figure, in order to maintain a right over 6 years, during that period a company would have to drill only one hole in SO square miles. I ask the Committee to have some sense of proportion in relation to this. Fifty square miles is a lot of territory. To ask for one hole in such an area in 6 years in order to have a right of renewal over that area is not asking too much.
If a company does not want to do that then it has three options. Firstly it can rely on its position as it was before the Bill was passed. .That is to say, it would have the right of renewal of so much of its permit as the Minister or the designated authority would allow. Secondly the company could discard some of its area before its lease expired. The effect of this would be that it would not have all the low cards in its hand to enable it to discard. If for example, it had 400 blocks, 10,000 square miles, and it felt it could spend only a certain amount, then in the fifth of sixth year of its first term it could voluntarily relinquish a portion of its area. Then it would be left with a smaller area and it would discard from a smaller area. This is an option open to it. Thirdly, it could spend the money and go ahead in that way.
The figures I have suggested are very modest figures, though they may seem big. The people taking the side of the oil companies refer to the expenditure of $400m and say that nobody spends more than tha! in the whole world. But the reason that the figure I have given seems big is that the exploration permits are gigantic, immense and quite unjustifiable. Let the company have its big permit for 6 years. During that time it can go ahead, makt its seismic survey and its first delineations, and it can see what the area is like. Then, before it comes to the halving process provided in section 31, let it discard those areas that it does not think are of any consequence. When it conies as a matter of right, its right, to require a renewal of the permit at the end of 6 years, it will not have all the low cards in its band and be able to discard without loss. I hope that honourable members see the point. The company is to be given its 6 years without interference If it finds oil as BHP. has done and if it develops oil, this clause will npt .catch it at all. If it spends an adequate amount on exploration, this clause will not catch it. But if it does not find oil and if it does not spend an adequate amount on exploration, let it leave the area for somebody else to come in. Do not let us fall for this dog in the manger policy that the companies are trying to force on us.
– I would like to say a few words on this point, although I have already said quite a lot on this legislation. The proposition of the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) is, to me, utterly fantastic and I think that some word to bring us back to reality is required. He suggested in his amendment that there should be a requirement that not less than $lm per block be expended on exploration permits granted around the Australian continental shelf. His reason for this suggestion is to ensure that companies - he means overseas companies by and large - do not sit on information and do nothing to disclose a discovery or to disclose information that could lead to a discovery. This is a paraphrase of his remarks. He also criticised the right of the designated authority, who is the Minister for Mines in each State or his counterpart in the Commonwealth, to determine the work requirement for the granting of a permit
Let us look for a moment at the figure he has proposed1 - expenditure of Sim on each block. If there are in round terms 1 million square miles of continental shelf around Australia and if only one-third of it - that is extremely conservative - were taken up as a potential area worthy of exploration for petroleum, we would have some 10,000 blocks around the Australian coast What the honourable member is seeking is for companies to come along and between them undertake an exploration programme costing $ 10,000m in the permit stage before discovery is made. That is 10,000 blocks with Sim expended on each over the period of 6 years.
– It would be worth while if oil were under the blocks.
– If, as the honourable member for McMillian interrupts, there were oil under those blocks and if the oil existed m dense .columns or in reservoirs such as the Middle East knows, there would not be much reason to boggle at a figure of $10,0O0m, although expending that sum in 6 years staggers the imagination. Even the practicality of it is questionable. Nonetheless, I think I have said enough to show that the honourable member is dealing in astronomies although we are dealing in petroleum exploration.
Let us consider whether it is possible under this legislation for companies to sit on these blocks and do nothing. If they succeed in pulling the wool over someone’s eyes, if they are able to defeat the rapidly acquired technique, technology and know how of our several Departments of Mines, our authorities in this field and those who work as consultants for them, if they are able through all the many reporting and disclosing processes that are required under this legislation to sit on information and not make it clear, they do so at very great peril. Section 131 provides for continuing penalties of $2,000 a day for every day that this process of non-disclosure persists. Section 34 make it quite clear that any kind of non-disclosure of a discovery is immediately subject to a penalty. Sections 115 and 118 refer to the non-disclosure of information at the request of the designated authority, who is the Minister, or his constituted Inspector of Mines. Even after reporting it, if an attempt is made to go slow and not to produce the field at its maximum efficient rate of flow, section 58 lays down similar penalties if the authority of the administration defied and the field is not produced at the rate he requires it to be.
So I maintain that an adequate work requirement is made possible because the very drafting of the Bill is tailored to meet the situation. Not every area around the coast is equally prospective. Some areas may not be worthy of the expenditure of a very large sum. Some areas in close proximity to known producing fields or to sections that are known to be highly prospective may certainly warrant a very large expenditure. But it would be absolute folly to suggest that a blanket expenditure of $lm on each block should be required and that investigation should be made of every block that exists off the coast of Australia. I can sympathise with the motivation of the honourable member for Mackellar. He wants to ensure that some of the malpractices that have not been unknown in the history of the exploration for oil are not continued here. He wants to see that a good job is done. He wants to see a continuous stepping up of the tempo of exploration around our coast. He wants to see information made available to the governments of Australia. He wants to see discoveries, when they are made, pursued to their maximum efficient potential. These aims are laudable and desirable. But I would reject out of hand, as I hope the Government will, the proposition he has put forward in this form, because as I said when I commenced to speak he deals with astronomies rather than with petroleum exploration.
- Mr Deputy Chairman, the Opposition has closely examined the amendment proposed by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth). Our first reaction to it was not exactly favourable, but, on examining its implications, we see its merit. We believe that it will do two things in particular. It will quickly strip of their holdings companies holding excessively large areas of the continental shelf and, at the same time, it will give due reward for, and will legalise, development to a satisfactory stage. In a broader sense, it will to some extent bring about a return, in terms of area, though not of surrender provisions, to the principles of the graticular system originally announced by the Minister in November 1965 and subsequently abandoned by the Government in a change of policy announced by him in February last. In his statement of November 1965, the Minister made some observations of very great significance and I would like to remind the Committee of them. He said:
Following a discovery of petroleum within a permit area, the permittee will be asked to nominate a graticular block . . .
He then went on to give the classic illustration of the group of nine blocks, with the right to select and retain four being given to the permittee. Here is the main point, and this is what was contemplated by the Government at that time. The Minister went on to say:
It will be noted that this arrangement will enable the permittee who discovers petroleum to secure as of right a licence for production over an area of 100 square miles or more, according to latitude.
After all, is not that a reasonable area? Is it not better for development to take place?
Does anyone suggest that if oil potentially exists in an area of 100 square miles there is any need for overseas companies to obtain title to areas off the Australian coast of the size of provinces or even principalities? 1 do not think that there is any need for this, and the Opposition does not think there is. A most laudable sentiment was expressed by the Minister in his statement of November 1965 when be said:
This arrangement we believe is fair to the permittee, while at the same time taking into account the national sentiment that the Australian people ns a whole should benefit appropriately from the development of our natural resources.
After all, is not that the nub of the whole problem, Mr Deputy Chairman? If a particular firm with an aggregation of holdings had a permit for an area of 190,000 sq miles and discovered oil at one spot, the operation of the expenditure principle enunciated in this amendment would still give it perhaps a hundred fold return on its original outlay. In that situation, would it not be well rewarded? What right would it have, then, to retain even half of the area of 190,000 sq miles, or 95,000 sq miles, despite the further successive relinquishments that would occur? The suggestion that it should have this right is ridiculous. The Minister, replying to the discussion on the previous clause, had an opportunity to tell us where exploration areas of the size being allowed here are to be found. There are none anywhere else. He knows it and the Committee knows it, but he is not prepared to say so. Let him contradict me if he can. The Opposition supports the amendment.
– Mr Deputy Chairman, I do not wish to speak at length on this matter, because it was discussed very fully in relation to an earlier clause and I have already expressed my views on it. Let me first answer the allegation by the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor). It is certainly true that the areas for which exploration permits are given in Australia at present are probably larger than those to be found anywhere else. But where else are there continental shelf areas of this magnitude owned by one country? Such large areas of continental shelf are not to be found in the United States of America and Europe. We want to see all of these large areas prospected. We do not want to have vast areas over which there is no prospecting. Throughout the world there is only a limited number of companies that have the ability, the knowhow and the finance to undertake the exploration that is required. We have tailored the Australian system to what we believe suits the needs of Australia. There is no recognised standard for offshore prospecting.
We have looked into the matter carefully. Officers of my Department and of every State Mines Department have been overseas to look at systems operating elsewhere and to see whether any of them would be suited to Australian needs and whether we could in some way improve our present system. As a result of these investigations and discussions with top mining officials, both here and overseas, we have adopted our present proposals. After all, if anyone wants to see our offshore oil resources developed, surely it is our top mining authorities and the Mines Ministers of the States. For the reasons that I have given, the Government does not see its way clear to accept this amendment, and I propose to move that the question be now put.
– May I have an opportunity to reply before that is done?
– No. I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
That the amendment (Mr Wenlworth’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock)
Majority .. ..31
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 33 and 34 - by leave - taken together.
– Clause 33 lays down that there may be conditions for the issue of an exploration permit, but it does not lay down what those conditions should be.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) agreed to.
That the question be now put.
Clauses agreed to.
Clause 35 (Directions by Designated Authority on discovery of petroleum).
– We are now beginning to consider the operational clauses of the Bill. Clause 35 deals with the right of the designated authority to order a company holding a lease to make an appraisal of the value of the field for which it has a permit. The only objection that could be raised to this is that the designated authority has absolute dictatorial power to order the permittee or licensee to do those things which the designated authority decides should be done to carry out an appraisal. This could mean that he could order any number of holes to be drilled quite contrary to the practice adopted by the particular company. I would stress that there are not very many companies that are capable of exploring our oil potential. There are not many people who really understand how properly to estimate an oil field. Those who have this knowledge have spent a lot of money and have gained, by hard and practical work, experience in the processes necessary to evaluate a field. Their number could be counted on the fingers of two hands, yet this afternoon honourable members have been speaking as though the opportunity to engage in oil exploration in Australia is open to the world and as though anybody can come here and make a fortune by cashing in on the generosity of our oil legislation. If the designated authority in his wisdom, or his lack of wisdom, decides to order a company to undertake certain processes and the company does not think he is right, there is no opportunity for the company to argue.
The sole purpose of the amendment that I had intended to move was that the company concerned should have some opportunity to bargain over whether the authority was correct in his assessment of what should be done in evaluating a field or whether the evaluation should be left in the hands of the people who have demonstrated that they have the knowledge, technique and interest to perform such an evaluation. The companies concerned have spent considerable sums in discovering oil and they are not likely to spoil the value of their work by skimping an evaluation, by making a silly guess or by going through unnecessary processes that could cost them money and not give them any more information than they could have obtained by using simple techniques with which they are familiar.
I draw the Committee’s attention to the deficiencies in this clause. The designated authority has dictatorial power to order management to do certain things, and we should enable the companies involved to have the opportunity to bargain. Clause 35 (1.) is in these terms:
Where petroleum is discovered in a permit area, the designated authority may, by instrument in writing served on the permittee, direct the’ permittee to do, within the period specified in the instrument, such things as the Designated Authority thinks necessary and specifies in the instrument to determine the chemical composition and physical properties of that petroleum-
That is quite all right, it simply refers to a physical examination of what is discovered. But then we come to the crux of it: and to determine the quantity of petroleum in the petroleum pool to which the discovery relates . . .
I am suggesting that it would be a good thing to include a provision that any direction given under this sub-section shall be based on sound technical and economic -practices. I do not think anyone would argue that this would cause the designated authority any difficulty in making decisions. I have spoken to certain people interested in this matter, and who possibly would be designated authorities, and they have said that this is not necessary. Surely nobody would suggest that any designated authority would ever think of requiring somebody to conduct processes that were not in accordance with sound technical and economic practices. But if this view is correct there is no harm in including in the Bill the provision I suggest. If it is suggested that there ls no reason why this provision should ever be called into operation, then there could be no objection whatsoever to its acceptance. I believe the Government would accept it if it were in a position to do so. Unfortunately it is not because it has evidently been out-manoeuvred by the States.
In the particular circumstances in which we are debating this Bill I do not propose to put the amendment and have the Committee vote on it. I have brought it forward, made my suggestion and indicated the necessity for it to bring the clause into proper alignment with the spirit of the Bill. As I say, I do not propose to put the matter to a vote, but I do appeal to the Government, and I do appeal to the people in the Department who are concerned with this aspect of the legislation. I suggest they should look very closely at my proposal and try to understand the viewpoint of a company that has come to Australia and has made a great contribution to Australian oil exploration. I suggest that at some time during the next year the States and the Commonwealth could get together and agree to incorporate this provision in an amending Bill.
– I want to spend just a couple of minutes in putting the honourable member’s mind at rest, and also to reassure industry representatives who might feel some reason for concern about this clause. It is possible, I suppose, to construe the words to mean that the designated authority or the Minister could make wholly unreasonable demands on an exploring company. In other words he could direct it to carry out a tremendous amount of highly expensive work. But I believe there must be some common sense ascribed to the framers of the Bill. After all, the designated authority is, to all intents and purposes, the government of the State concerned - a government intimately and vitally concerned with the sound technical and economic development of its resources. Only if a government suspected malpractice or at least a deliberate go-slow policy in exploration would it act under this clause. We must place a certain amount of reliance on the bona fides of an Australian government. What the clause really means is that if a government suspects that there has been a discovery which means the existence of a reservoir, and that it has not been properly evaluated, then the government can direct that steps be taken to see that a reasonable reservoir evaluation is made; that some kind of estimate of the potential, based on sound technical advice, is obtained.
– Then why not say so?
– The honourable member for McMillan asks: Why not say so? I should have thought that these words would be rather superfluous when they relate to the authority in question. If it was purely a private concern that we were referring to it would be a different thing, but we are talking about a government, and it is unthinkable that any responsible Australian government would direct a company to do anything that was not technically or economically, sound.
– I believe there is some substance in what the honourable member for McMillan (Mr.. Buchanan) has said. If he cares to put forward his suggestion in the form of ari amendment I will support it.
– We all understand that in the circumstances it would be useless to move an amendment to this Bill. We are in the crazy situation of having mirror legislation before us, and no amendment could possibly succeed. I thank the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) for a very sensible addition to what I said. I shall take the opportunity of saying something that I did not have time to say previously. What I have suggested is that there must be some bargaining point. If we have no bargaining point we will frighten away people who are eager to come to Australia and develop one of our natural resources. If we are putting some hurdle in their way let us remove it. All 1 am asking is that in the event of the designated authority giving some instruction to a licensee to carry out work which the licensee does not think is necessary or desirable according to his knowledge of oil production, the matter should be negotiated, and the only way I can suggest this may be done is that at some time in the future a tribunal should be appointed to adjudicate on such a matter and on any other problems that arise as between the Government and the licensees. The tribunal could consist of any number of members. There could be one or two scientists nominated by the oil companies and perhaps one or two scientists nominated by the Government. The tribunal could sit as an adjudicating body to decide matters in dispute.
– Is the honourable member moving an amendment?
– No, Sir. As I said before, I am merely bringing the amendment forward, commending it to the Government and suggesting that the Government bring it to the attention of the State governments next year.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 36 to 38 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Proposed new clause 38a.
– I move:
Honourable members will notice that the amendment differs slightly from the draft amendment which has been circulated to them. The words ‘two or more’ appear in place of the word ‘another’ in the second last line. This is just a correction of a misprint. I have also deleted what was originally the third paragraph of the amendment. This paragraph would have no effect now that the amendment I proposed earlier has not been accepted. The Act would not operate in respect of this proposed new section until 1974, so there would be ample time to amend it if necessary to allow for multiple permits in respect of old permittees. This is why I do not press that part of the amendment as originally circulated which I have now deleted.
I do not think that a company should hold multiple permits. I make an exception in the case of permits issued by the States because we should honour what the States have done. But 1 do not think we should necessarily honour the extension of these multiple permits. However, let the future take care of itself because in the 6 years that elapse there will be ample opportunity to amend the Act if required. I suggest that as from 31st December 1968 - that is 12 months or so from now - no new multiple permits be issued and that with the exception of permits granted before that date, no multiple permits be held. The Committee will see that I have defined hold’ and ‘related interest’ fairly concisely. I hope that my definitions will cover the case,
I will not labour the point. I simply say that these giant permits of 400 blocks should not be held in large multiples except in the case of permits already issued by the States and in the case of initial exploration, which, as the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) has said, can be made fairly quickly and certainly would not take as long as 6 years to complete. I suggest that no company, whether Australian or overseas, should hold these multiple permits. If honourable members will consider the possibility of prescriptive rights I think something might be done, although I am disappointed that my earlier amendment was not carried. It is not necessary for me to go further into the principles of this matter. They have already been referred to. The principle of multiple permits ad nauseam is bad, with the exceptions I have noted.
– The Opposition, while favouring the first paragraph of the amendment, is by no means happy with the second. We full agree that there should be a limitation on the number of exploration permits held but we do not propose to give blanket approval to everything which the States have done. Within reasonable limits we would be prepared to give approval but to accept exploration permits held by certain companies and referred to in prior debate would be a contradiction of the criticism already advanced by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) earlier in the debate. We cannot accept the amendment. We can accept the first paragraph but not the second.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Clauses 39 to 41 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 42. (1.) Where an application for a primary licence has been made and, before or after the grant of the primary licence, the applicant makes an application for a secondary licence, the Designated Authority shall determine a rate at which royalty is to be payable in respect of petroleum recovered, whether under the primary licence or under the secondary licence, being a rate that is not less than eleven per centum nor more that twelve and one-half per centum of the value at the wellhead of that petroleum. (2.) The Designated Authority shall not, under the last preceding sub-section, determine the rate at which royalty is to be payable unless he has given to the applicant an opportunity to confer with him concerning that rate.
– I move:
In his second reading speech the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) referred to royalties being paid in the United States in respect of natural gas. As the legislation is drafted petroleum includes oil whether in solid, liquid or gaseous form. Consequently we feel we are quite generous in not going further than that.In the case of oil, royalties payable in other parts of the world are fantastically in excess of even 162/3%. Most companies holding exploration permits granted by the States are themselves of American origin or are dominated by American interests and are under American control. They are accustomed to paying 162/3% and it is rather ludicrous to suggest that we should ask for less. A great deal was made by the Minister of the total take, as it was termed. It was suggested that to the 10% royalty must be added the 424% or 8s 6d in the £1 company tax, but I remind the Committee that that company tax applies to any company conducting business in Australia, irrespective of the nature of the business, with a few notable exceptions. The fundamental principle is that any public company in Australia operating at a profit shall pay 421/2%. To say that to this must be added the 10% royalty is misleading the Committee and the people of Australia. We feel that the 10% basic royalty is a low one. We attacked the override royalty of 1%. We think that was bad having regard to the graticular policy on relinquishment, which was, of all things, evolved by the Bureau of Mineral Resources and is being adopted by the Government and accepted by the various States, which have been conferring since 1964.
Following pressure from offshore interests associated with the Gippsland shelf development - that pressure was very real - a rather sticky deal was made. Originally the royalty on the 10% basis was to be shared fiftyfifty between the Commonwealth and the States. Following pressure from Esso-BHP, in negotiations about December last - this was before the attack by South Australia and Tasmania - the Commonwealth backed down and agreed to take only 4%. With the abandonment of the graticular relinquishment principle an override of an extra 1 % was . to be paid, bringing the total royalty to 11%. In other words, the share of the loot then became for the respective States 7% royalty and 4% only for the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth has had the worst of both worlds in the deal. We feel that a fair and reasonable thing would be 15% for the primary royalty - I shall give it that name and 16)% for the overriding royalty. We believe that in view of the generosity of the Government in the areas in which h has been given there is no reason why Australia should not get its fair share of the royalty. Above all let us remember that in terms of natural gas figures have already been produced in a prior debate showing that the drilling for natural gas has been phenomenally successful and that twelve times as much natural gas has been produced per foot of drilling as in the United States.
We do not see any justification for the principle adopted with respect to royalty. The reasons for it - I suggest they are not reasons in justification but are reasons for better or worse - were simply these: Having struck a bonanza off the Gippsland coast the Esso-BHP group kicked, and kicked hard, exerting extreme pressure on the Government to abandon the principle which had been adopted. Under that principle a gift of at least $ 1,000m has already been made.
– A gift of at least $ 1,000m and possibly h will be considerably more. That being so, we believe that with American companies, and the Esso company is a subsidiary of an American parent corporation, there is no earthly reason why the company which pays a royalty of 16)% in its own country should not be prepared to do likewise here and not look on us with a good deal of contempt for being prepared to sell out the birthright of Australia for less. We believe that we are. being quite modest in the amendment that I have moved.
Mr FAIRBAIRN (Farrer- Minister for the Government does not accept this amendment. I cannot think, of anything that would stultify the search for oil to such an. extent as to require companies to pay royalties to this extent. The honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) has suggested that we are not getting our fair share out of the proceeds of this bonanza, as he likes to call it. There is no doubt that we do have great opportunities for oil discovery, but if one looks at the figures and compares them with figures for other parts of the world, looking not only at the royalty but at the enormous return which accrues to governments by way of taxation, I think it will be agreed that what we are doing is reasonable.
– But the taxation applies generally. The 42±% is not confined to oil companies but applies to every public company.
– All I can say is that one of the major mining companies associated with the drilling for oil has assessed that 52% of the profits from oil drilling in the offshore oil areas of Australia would revert to governments. This would be the governments’ take. I do not know whether that figure is correct; my Department believes that the figure is higher than we could sustain. The honourable member for Cunningham apparently does not realise that there are two different ways in which royalties and taxation return to governments. There is what I would call the Western World type where it is normal to have a royalty, which in most cases are not very high. Then there is the Eastern type where there are not the normal taxes for companies to pay and royalties are very much higher to make up for the lack of taxation. If honourable members examine the royalties in the Western World they will see, as I have mentioned on an earlier occasion, that Australia is proposing the normal standard.
Canada has an offshore royalty of 5% for the first 5 years and thereafter 10%. In Italy the royalty is 8% for oil and 5% for gas. In Nigeria it is 10% to the 10 fathom line and 6% in the outer areas. In Norway it is 10% and in the United Kingdom it is 12i%. I should point out that in the United Kingdom it is 124% for 40 years. In Australia it is a royalty of 10% plus, if necessary, overrides for 21 years, with a right of alteration of this after 21 years by the governments concerned. In the United States it is .’6f%, but in this case it goes even longer tb in the 40 years - it goes for the life of the mine. Again there are reasons why the United States has been able to obtain a larger royalty; one reason is the enormous market which it has right on its doorstep. We have always had to look at our legislation in Australia with a view to encouraging the search for oil. The Western Australian Government some time ago made an agreement under which it charged an even lower royalty than 10%. This was because it felt that it had to do this in order to encourage companies to come in to Australia. So for a certain period a lower royalty was charged there. The general standard in Australia has for some time been 10%. We believe that this is a fair and reasonable rate when associated with the very many other returns which accrue to the Commonwealth Government through taxation. We believe it is fair to charge that amount and to leave with the States a reasonable share of the royalty.
– The Minister for National Development is right in his remarks regarding taxation accruing to the Commonwealth in respect of oil and gas locally consumed, but he is not necessarily right in respect of oil or gas which, as is less likely, is exported because in that situation a subsidiary company can alter prices in such a way as to show its profits to some extent outside the country of origin. So he is not right in that regard. I think also that he has not pointed out to the Committee that this provision relates to the override and not to the basic royalty. It relates particularly when a secondary licence is taken out and does not relate so much to the primary licence. I would feel that the better way of dealing with this is the one I have suggested and with regard to which I shall move an amendment later. I still believe that it would be unwise to increase the royalty, particularly on gas. It would, I think, be preferable to deal otherwise with the override provisions. I cannot support this amendment but I shall, I think, be doing something which, if it is accepted, would satisfy what is in the minds of honourable members opposite.
– On the question of income tax the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) has just referred to the possibility that a subsidiary company in Australia would rearrange its affairs so as to prevent itself from being subjected to tax here by the prices it charged and the arrangements it made with its overseas parent. If it did that, section 136 of the Income Tax Assessment Act would permit the Commissioner of Taxation to assess the company on a percentage of turnover, which would be much less attractive for the company. I thought I should interpose that comment, also pointing out that any dividends remitted would attract a withholding tax and also excise.
– First 1 want to protest at the method by which honourable members are called upon to speak in this debate. I rose immediately after the Minister but was not called. Three honourable members from one side of the chamber were called but only one from the other side. I rise in order to draw attention to the Minister’s statement that because of the taxation payable it is inadvisable to increase the amount of royalties on oil secured as a result of the operations of oil companies off the coast of Australia. The Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) mentioned the withholding tax. As honourable members are aware, the Esso company is an American, company. As that nation operates a double taxation agreement with Australia, I want to know whether - after the payment of company tax and royalty, which will be equally payable by Australian and overseas companies - the taxation on the declared dividends will operate in accordance with the principles of the double taxation agreement. If that happens, the shareholders in nonAustralian companies will pay a 15% withholding tax and the Australian investor in the Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd will pay the ordinary tax of between 20% and 66%. In other words on a dividend of $lm, the taxation payable by the United States company to Australia would be $150,000, but the BHP shareholders could ‘ pay up to $600,000 in taxation to the Australian Government. This means that the bigger the share of the continental shelf, with its reservoirs of gas and oil, that is in the control of overseas companies with headquarters in countries that have a double taxation agreement with Australia, the less, relatively, the Australian Government will receive in taxation on dividends. This will promote overseas investment, and overseas companies will control more and more of the continental shelf and more and more of Australia’s offshore gas and oil. For this reason, if for no other reason, this amendment and other similar amendments should be included in this legislation in order that overeas investors will contribute relatively as much to the Australian Government in the form of taxation as the shareholders within this country contribute. 1 suggest’ that there should be a careful examination of the amounts of company taxation, royalties and dividend taxation that will ultimately come to the Australian Government from, on the one hand, overseas companies and their shareholders and, on the other hand, Australian domiciled companies and their shareholders. If, as I say, the withholding tax in the case, of the United States of America is 15%, then the amount’ of taxation that will be received by the Australian Government as a result of the operation of overseas oil companies will not be nearly as great as the amount of taxation coming from those people who are associated with locally based companies such us BHP. I would like the Minister to correct me on that point if 1 am wrong.
– I support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor). For the purpose of considering what is a just royalty it is very important to take into consideration factors other than those that have been referred to in the Committee up to this stage. These include subsidy given by the taxpayers of Australia, taxation concessions, areas of lease, the measure of monopoly afforded to the companies, the price that the consumers will be obliged to pay for the products and - another important matter - the measure of co-operation given to these companies by the Bureau of Mineral Resources. I would like to pay tribute to the Bureau for its outstanding service in the development of our petroleum industry.
It must be remembered that Australia has been more than generous in these matters. These are not only my words, of course. These words are supported by statements made by the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt), the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) and the Minister for National Develpment (Mr Fairbairn). On many occasions these gentlemen, representing the Government, have expressed the view that the oil companies have been extremely well treated. These expressions are found in documents issued in their names. Numerous similar statements have been made and I will refer but to a few of them. These statements speak for themselves.
We have been discussing the question of taxation and how it affects this legislation. In a statement issued on 27th January of this year dealing with the question of royalty, the Treasurer referred to the vanous aspects of assistance given by the Commonwealth Government. He also referred to the claims of the oil companies that the take’ was in excess of what it should be and that it was greater than in certain other countries. I make these comments in reply to statements made earlier by the Minister and the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) in particular. The Treasurer said:
In the case of the tax figures included in the calculation of the quoted Australian percentage, on the other hand, there seems no doubt that the. figures are substantially overstated. This is because the figures take no account of the special deductions allowable under our income tax ‘aw which are designed to free the proceeds from the sale of petroleum and its products from’ income tax until all allowable capital expenditure has been fully recouped.
That, indeed, is a substantial contribution. Nor can it be divorced from the question of what royalties should be paid. This was one of the compelling arguments used by the Treasurer. Reply to the claims of the oil industry at the beginning of this year, he said:
Although it is evident that the taxation figures included in the calculations operate to overstate, and probably seriously to overstate, tce relative weight of Australian income tax, it would bc a pointless exercise to attempt a thorough-going comparison. …
At a later stage he said:
So far as Australia is concerned, the important point is that oil and gas producers (as well as other producers of mining products) are favourably treated, as compared with other types of taxpaying industrial enterprises, by reason of the special taxation deductions to which I have referred. . . .
So the Treasurer, speaking on behalf of the Government, expressed the view that the companies are very well treated indeed. He continued:
The only comparison that can be made of any real meaning is between rates of royalty.
Later on he said:
For instance, the Commonwealth Government has given special stimulus and assistance to oil search, this assistance being given at times when the risks are highest.
He pointed out that $59.6m had already been made available to these companies. Furthermore, he said the importance of the matter was emphasised by this amount. He went on:
The standard royalty rate of 10% in the proposed joint offshore legislation-
These are the words of the Treasurer and they ought to be heeded - is relatively low on international standards. For instance, it compares with rates of 16)% and 12i% generally applicable in offshore areas in the United States and the United Kingdom respectively. The rate of 10% is even more favourable when regard is had to the generous treatment, relative to other countries, afforded under th: proposed legislation in the matter of sizes of exploration and production areas.
These are the words of the Treasurer. Surely they cannot be cast to one side. Furthermore, the Minister for National Development has made it clear that the Commonwealth Government has been generous in this matter.
I asked the Minister a question on notice in regard to a number of matters concerning the payment of royalty. In his answer, the Minister said:
Royalty is the payment made by the concessionaire . . . imposed in many forms; the payment may be made as a percentage of the profits . . .
In his answer the Minister has set out the amounts of royalty paid by various countries. For example, the rate for the Netherlands is 16% and for Iran it is I2i%. These are indicative of the amounts paid. In the Neutral Zone, Middle East, there is a royalty rate of 20% and in the United States of America it is 12.5%. This confirms the Treasurer’s statement. As to incentives given in other countries, in his reply to me the Minister for National Development said:
There are very few instances of cash incentives ro companies searching for petroleum. Actually, the position is the reverse in the so-called oil exporting countries and, in general, the companies have to come up with more and more attractive proposals to obtain the rights from Governments to search for and develop petroleum reserves, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa.
Therefore, it is not a question of governments giving incentives to oil companies; it is a question of oil companies coming along and offering a premium for the right to search for oil. Of course, these facts are overlooked by the Minister who has a very convenient and short memory in this when he fails to remember. Further on in his answer to me, the Minister for National Development said: lt is my understanding that the only Governments who have been providing direct financial assistance to companies in the search for petroleum are the Australian and South African Governments.
I put it to the Committee that we have been generous to oil companies and that they in turn have a responsibility to pay to the taxpayers a reasonable sum for their rights to exploit the Australian market. We should examine the interests involved in this legislation. I specifically refer to the offshore search in Bass Strait. In a statement of drilling operations and subsidies paid for geophysical search I- find that Esso had a subsidy limit of $297,055 and during 1965-66 a subsidy payment of $108,000 was made. Again in regard to geophysical operations I find that Esso had $1,017,934 as a subsidy limit in 1966 and for offshore geophysical work this company was entitled to $366,743. Surely the companies that have been treated so generously by the Australian taxpayers in turn ought to pay something back to the Australian taxpayers and the people of this nation in keeping with what they have already received in helping them to promote the very successful search for oil.
– I want to make a few remarks because I. feel that the comments that have just been made by the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) are, shall I say, rather unAustralian in some ways. 1 believe that his comments go back on a long standing agreement that has been in existence between Australian governments and this industry since the inception of this industry. The history of oil exploration in Australia ought to be rehearsed once again. It is not many years ago - we can measure them virtually on one hand - since the time when the people of Australia believed that there would be no commercial oil discovered in this continent. Sir Edgeworth David and many great geologists who pioneered the geology and. development of exploration with their own work in this country held views that did not encourage Australians generally to expect that here would be any discovery of commercial oil in this country. This, situation led to several things. It led to the governments saying to themselves: ‘If only we could find this tremendously valuable commodity in our borders this would change the national economy.’ I can remember, and I am sure that most Australians can remember, the way in which we looked at this country as having this one great deficiency, a lack of oil. Just as minerals have been pouring out in abundance in the last few years, the search for oil has begun to bring success. To encourage companies with know-how and capital to sink their money in the exploration business in Australia, our governments did two things. Firstly, they provided large areas to enable a very big incentive in terms of acreage which meant a lot in overseas countries, to attract explorers here. Secondly, the governments set a ruling rate of 10% as the government royalty. This has applied throughout Australia with the exception of one or two cases of lower amounts because of particularly difficult situations. These two things were augmented later by the Federal Government in granting an incentive in the form of a subsidy payment both for the preliminary geophysical and geological examination and later for the drilling process.
This country has searched for overseas companies which were prepared to come here and take the enormous risks in oil exploration. I believe that the rewards that are coming now at long last after a long, gruelling, expensive process of investigation are a just due for the kind of risks that these companies have taken. I simply say that as far as I am concerned I congratulate the companies that have made the great discoveries. They are making a great nation in the process. They are going to build up our national economy. I am one Australian who is not going back on the ruling rate of royalty that has applied for a long time.
– It needs to be stressed in debating this clause and the question of royalties that a surprising amount of information has been available to oil companies from the Bureau of Mineral Resources. The Bureau has done a fantastic job in this regard. One of the matters that has caused amazement to these overseas companies is the ready availability of this information which would be treasured and made available only with very great discretion in their native lands. That was the initial advantage that the oil search companies in Australia had. In addition to that, no reference has been made to the tax concessions which are made on expenditure in oil search and on calls in respect of shares in oil search companies. Today there is a process generally known as tax minimising. Oil companies are international organisations. They are incestuous in their relations with one another. They are quite unscrupulous when it comes to really developing an area and particularly in shuffling around their assets from one company to another.
On the question of depreciation allowances alone we have yet to learn what deal, if any, has been made with the Commissioner of Taxation. As the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) pointed out, the Government is groping its way in this regard. Offshore drilling, according to the Minister, is something quite new in Australia. Excessive depreciation allowances undoubtedly will be claimed. That matter also will be litigated if necessary. Let us take one of the major forms of tax minimising which undoubtedy will occur. That will concern the use of the oil drilling rigs. The common practice is for an American principal company, in dealing with its Australian subsidiary, to make charges for licence fees and the use of equipment over which it has patent rights or not even patent rights but a particular technique that could be applied in the search for oil. What is the position in cases such as this? If we accepted the words of the Minister full company tax would be paid on every gallon of crude oil produced and on every cubic foot of natural gas supplied. But there will be nothing of the sort. Some qf- the best accountancy brains in the world will be available and will be used by the companies to minimise taxation payments to the utmost. .
Need I remind the Minister that in another field, in the case of some iron ore companies, quite a bit of fiddling is going on with regard to the prices being charged? Need I remind the House of the protracted litigation between the Commissioner of Taxation and the Shell Company of Australia Limited? Need I remind the Minister of the various reports and investigations of the Tariff Board and various committees of inquiry and the extreme difficulty in establishing the landed price of crude oil in Australia? What a lovely racket has gone on in that connection over the years. A company operating in the Persian Gulf, owned by an American principal of course, sells oil at a suitable, inflated price to an Australian company. In that way the profit on the ultimate price of the petrol and other derivatives, when extracted, is minimised. Does the Minister say that people of this type will not be out to diddle this Government for everything they can? They will, to begin with.
Again the Minister has failed to give an answer as to the percentage of foreign capital invested in the companies that hold these permits and production licences. He has not stated the percentage, and obviously he does not intend to do so. How is the value of production to be determined? In that regard it is very interesting to read clause 9 of the associated Bill on royalties, the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) (Royalty) Bill. That clause is worth quoting. It reads:
For the purposes of this Act, the value at the well-head of any petroleum is such amount as is agreed between the permittee or licensee and the Designated Authority-
A gentleman’s agreement - or, in default of agreement within such period as the Designated Authority allows, is such amount as is determined by the Designated Authority as being that value.
What criteria is the designated authority intending to apply? Will it be the present landed cost of crude oil in Australia?
– I doubt it too. It will be a lower figure. What is to be the calculated price of natural gas supplied? Let the Minister inform us on that if he can. Australia is ‘being asked to sign a blank cheque for the whole of this legislation. The royalty charges that are to be imposed are too low.
They are utterly unreasonable. The Government is bending over backwards. It is overimpressed by major monopolies. An old adage is that the English dearly love a lord. This Government dearly loves overseas oil monopolies. It is starry eyed about them and bends over backwards to act as a sycophant. They respect’ one thing only. That is strength and the ability of a national government to act in the name of the people and to extract the maximum that it can from them. That will not be done under the terms of this legislation.
Let us take the example of the oil now being produced at Barrow Island. Already shipments of it have gone to Singapore. What is the benefit of that to Australia? The oil is refined in Singapore and then sent elsewhere. It is true that a production royalty will be payable. But in broad terms what benefit will flow to the Australian economy? The benefit will be minimal. In some cases, I have no doubt, crude oil, when shipped, will go abroad. It is true, in the case of Victoria, that oil will be refined in the mainland refinery. In the case of the smaller States the oil may be shipped abroad. The Government is unsophisticated, slovenly and inept; it has not taken proper and adequate steps to protect the best interests of the Australian economy and the Australian community. Ninety per cent of the ultimate profit from Australian oil and gas will go overseas. That is something that’ goes to the eternal discredit of the Government.
– I would like to say a few words on this question of royalties. I thought that when the matter was raised some indication would be given of the rapacity of which some people can be capable. Ned Kelly rides again once money is mentioned. Everyone seems to forget that offshore oil costs a lot of money to find and then develop. It is more expensive to develop these deposits out here than it is to do so in the areas of known deposits and in the places where there is a lot of population. Rigs have been brought out here at great expense. Our operating costs are higher than the operating costs in some other places. I have a summary setting out the petroleum legislation conditions for offshore areas of 25 countries. As I go through the conditions in those countries I note that 10% and 12i% are the normal royalties paid all over the world today. In the United Kingdom, which has been spoken about so very much, 124% is the rate paid. I might add that although the areas are much smaller - admittedly the North Sea is a little smaller than our offshore areas - 50% of the area may be operated for 40 years and the royalty is payable at 124% fixed for the whole time. There is one exception to the 10% to 121% pattern over these 25 countries, the list of which I have before me, and that is the Canadian-American offshore area where 16)% is the figure being paid. The legislation in Canada provides for a minimum of 124% but because of the particular circumstances and the fact that oil and a market are available and the industry wilt stand a charge of 16)%, the Government, the equivalent of a Labor administration here, is greedy enough to squeeze the utmost out of the industry.
One of the things that has been very apparent in the last few years is the many suggestions that have been made to try to get every ounce that it is possible to squeeze out of the oil prospect in Australia. Nothing could be more calculated to drive the oil companies away or to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. The Government fixed, I believe, a very fair rate. I point put that in general practice in the 25 countries, the list of which I have in my hand, the normal percentage is 10% to 124% and 1 think we are quite right to follow this.
– by leave - The Government has approved a proposal by Qantas Airways Ltd that it be authorised to order four Boeing 747 Jumbo jets for delivery in 1971 and to take options on a further two of these aircraft to meet possible requirements beyond 1972. This approval is subject to the completion of satisfactory arrangements for financing the purchase of the aircraft. Approval has also been granted for Qantas to pay further, deposits to retain delivery positions which it has obtained for six United States supersonic transports, the Boeing 2707. These payments, totalling $US600,000, are to be made on the clear understanding that neither the Government nor the company is committed in any way to the purchase of these aircraft at this stage. Deposits to secure delivery positions for four Concorde supersonic transports were made in 1963.
Qantas has been aware for some time that overseas airlines will be introducing Boeing 747 aircraft on its routes prior to moving into the supersonic era in the mid 1970s, and it is obviously essential for the company to have comparable equipment if it is to compete effectively with them on the air routes to and from Australia. The company will, in any event, need additional aircraft as traffic increases during the next few years. In considering this matter, the Government has reviewed its general policy on international aviation, particularly the role it contemplates for Qantas in the future. It has readily concluded that the national interest is best served by continuing to encourage the operation of fast, frequent air services to and from Australia with modern, comfortable aircraft and by the further development of Qantas as a major operator of such services.
In this respect, I need only mention the important part tourism is playing in the nation’s economic growth, contributing substantial sums in foreign exchange expenditure by tourists on accommodation, transportation and purchase of consumer goods. Rapid air services, with reasonable fares, are essential for growth in this industry and the airlines are looking to the jumbo jets to provide a healthy stimulus in this way. It is most desirable that Australia be in a position to participate in the worldwide expansion of tourism expected to eventuate from this next generation of jet aircraft. The Government has therefore accepted the Qantas proposition that it should plan on the introduction of Boeing 747s on its services as soon as possible, and the latter half of 1971 is the earliest this can be achieved.
The Boeing 747 is about three times the size of the large Boeing 707s now operated by Qantas, carrying over 300 passengers together with up to 27 tons of freight and mail, it will provide a greater degree of comfort for passengers and its operating economies will help the airlines to combat the effect of rising cost levels in other directions. The cost of purchasing four aircraft with associated spares and equipment will be $A123m, and another $A12m will be involved in providing special hangars and buildings necessary for the maintenance and operation of this large aircraft.
As I have indicated, the purchase of the aircraft will be subject to satisfactory arrangements for their financing. If, as is usual, these involve overseas borrowings by the Commonwealth for the purpose, appropriate legislation will be introduced when required. The airport requirements of the Boeing 747 have not yet been finally determined, but the technical advisers of my Department have concluded that a runway length of about 12,500 feet will be needed for economic operations over long stage flights. The detailed airport requirements, including estimates of cost, will be reported on by the Department of Civil Aviation and the Department of Works and will then be examined by the Government as precise proposals are developed.
Consideration resumed (vide page 2674).
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Connor’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 25
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 6.32 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 26th October (vide page 2362), on motion by Mr Hasluck:
That the House take note of the following paper: Vietnam - Ministerial Statement, 26th October 1967.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Lender of the Opposition speaking without limitation of time.
– I am resuming the debate on a statement made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) last Thursday night. After he made the statement it was suggested by the Government that the Opposition resume the debate last Tuesday night. I supported the suggestion. When the House met last Tuesday this matter was listed for debate. Later in the day it was decided that the Government would put off the debate until tonight. That night the Opposition moved that the debate proceed. Every member of the Government voted against that motion.
– The honourable member was not even here.
– I was here.
– Did the honourable member vote?
– No, because I was paired with the Prime Minister. I raise this simply to demonstrate that the Government can have a debate on any subject whenever it likes, and I need to reassert it because we sometimes hear the puerile suggestion from the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) and his colleagues, that the Opposition is avoiding debates on Vietnam. Since I have been Leader of the Opposition, there have been five ministerial statements on Vietnam and I have led the Opposition reply to each of those statements. Outside Parliament I have spoken on this subject in every State. I have spoken on it outside the House more often than the Prime Minister or any of his Ministers. I have spoken on it in the House more often than the Prime Minister or any of his Ministers. In fact, it is well known that the Prime Minister will refuse to discuss this or any other relevant issue outside the Parliament. He must be fortified. He is very brave, outspoken, assertive and demonstrative; he struts his stuff, he declares his position in this place before a captive audience and the baying, braying clack behind him. He will never debate this at any university, on any television station or in any public forum at all. If he were to say some of the things which he says in this House outside the House he would be howled down. No self-respecting audience in Australia would tolerate the unsupported assertions that come from the right honourable gentleman in this House. He has the numbers here.
The statement by the Minister for External Affairs is far less extensive in general scope and far more intensive on one particular matter than we have ever had after any of his overseas journeys. The Minister said:
While overseas, in Washington, in Ottawa and at the United Nations headquarters, I was able to discuss many other aspects of . current affairs with which Australia is closely concerned.
He did not deal with any of them except Vietnam, and he dealt with Vietnam principally in the context of the military situation there. The Prime Minister would make one of his usual excessive protests and disclaimers if I suggested that his Minister’s unusual lack of universality on this occasion was in some way connected with the Government’s tactics in the forthcoming Senate election. I do suggest that the Government’s growing tendency to see the South East Asian situation, and indeed the world situation, exclusively in terms of the military situation in Vietnam is a dangerous delusion. The Minister dealt with only one of the subjects which he discussed abroad. He dealt with only one aspect of that subject.
– Because it was important.
– We can hear from the church militant later. ‘Give us war in our time, O Lord!’ The Minister dealt with only one aspect of the subject on which he spoke. On that one aspect itself he gave only one side of the discussions and put only one view of the many differing views he must surely have heard. The view that the Minuter put about the course of the war and the effect of the bombing of North Vietnam is essentially the view of the American Service chiefs. He gave no indication that the United States Administration itself is divided on many aspects of the war, its tactics and its strategy, and, in particular, about both the morality and the utility of the bombing of North Vietnam.
The Minister referred to his meeting with U Thant. One can only conjecture whether the Secretary-General of the United Nations was included in the Minister’s references to ‘placards hoisted in- the name of peace encouraging the continuation of the war’. Or did the Secretary-General refrain from repeating to the Minister the views expressed in his speech to the Friends World Conference at Greensboro, North Carolina, on 30th July? He stated this view:
I regard the continuation of the war in Vietnam as being totally unnecessary. If the task of diplomacy is only to realise the objectives which are explicit or implicit in the public statements of objectives on both sides, I believe an honourable peace could be brought about in Vietnam.
The Minister spoke at the United Nations Assembly. Where in his speech are references to those who also spoke? Where are the speeches supporting his views on the bombing? He mentioned his visit to Ottawa for discussions with the Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs, Mr Paul Martin. The only purpose these discussions have so far served apparently is to allow the Prime Minister to make, as he did last week, references to Mr Martin’s extensive use of VIP planes. Did Mr Martin repeat to the Minister what he told the United Nations Assembly on 29th September? He said:
There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that the first step towards negotiations would involve the question of the bombing of North Vietnam. It seems clear that all attempts to bring about talks between the two sides are doomed to failure unless the bombing is stopped. It ts a matter of first priority if we are to start the process of de-escalation and to open the door to the conference room.
Will anyone suggest that the United States has a closer ally anywhere in the world, or has had a closer ally at any time in the last three decades, than Canada whose Secretary of State for External Affairs I. have just quoted?
The Minister mentioned his meeting with the United States Secretary for Defence, Mr McNamara. One tries in vain to reconcile the Minister’s claims of the military effectiveness of the bombing with the evidence given by Mr McNamara before the Senate Sub-Committee on Defence Preparedness. All critics of the bombing are dismissed by the Minister with sublime impudence. He says:
They either want Hanoi to succeed or more probably they do not think that it is important enough that we should stop them from winning. They either favour Hanoi or more likely they misread or cannot recognise the great issues of peace and security that are at stake in Asia.
Who are the people thus categorised and chastised as treasonable or blind by the Australian Minister for External Affairs? For him, the leaders of the Western European nations, the leaders of the noncombatant Asian countries, or the leaders of the Commonwealth countries except our own Prime Minister, half the members of the United States Senate, the majority of the members of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations, thePope and the Archbishop of Canterbury ‘either want Hanoi to win or they misread or cannot recognise the great issues of peace and security that are at stake in Asia’. All of these have refused publicly to endorse the bombing of North Vietnam. Most of them have publicly condemned it or have expressed serious doubts about it.
Between 21st September and 13thOcto- ber, 109 speeches were made in the general debate which opened the United Nations present General Assembly. Ninety-six dealt at some length with Vietnam. Forty-four countries urged a return to the Geneva agreements. Forty-five urged the stopping of the bombing. Sixty-seven out of the ninety-six came in one or both of these categories. A further twenty-three expressed strong concern that the fighting should be stopped. Included among the countries urging a halt to the bombing were Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Finland, Norway, Cambodia, Indonesia, India, Ceylon and Canada.
Monsieur Couve de Murville, the French Foreign Minister, said:
Only a decisive initiative from the United States is capable of creating a new fact which is lacking without which one can foresee only the sterile and indefinite pursuit of fighting. Could thisnew and decisive fact be, as many have said, the unconditional suspension, and unlimited in time, of the bombing of North Vietnam? No-one would be more in favour of this than France andfirst because it would put an end to the suffering of so many Vietnamese.
Mr Adam Malik, Foreign Minister of Indonesia, said:
If a peaceful settlement at the conference table is to be reached promptly, the first step must be the immediate and unconditional end of the bombing of North Vietnam, in order to promote conditions conducive to mutual agreement and settlement.
Mr Luns, the Netherlands Foreign Minister, said:
Towards the end of last August, the Lower House of the Netherlands Parliament adopted a motion calling for a cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam in order to increase the possibility of peace negotiations.
Mr Swaran Singh, Indian Minister of Defence, said:
The first essential step for this purpose in our considered view is the unconditional ending of the bombing of North Vietnam and we are confident that if this is done it will lead to a cessation of all hostile activities through Vietnam and a Geneva-type meeting to which all necessary parties, including the National Liberation Front, should be invited.
Last Thursday, on the same day that the Minister dismissed out of hand in this Parliament the possibility or advisability of a bombing pause, the Prime Minister of New Zealand,Mr Holyoake, told the New Zealand House of Representatives:
A further pause in the bombing of North Vietnam should be considered provided the initiative came from the South Vietnamese Government . . there is an obligation on us to try everything to end this war short of abandoning South Vietnam and welshing on our treaty and humanitarian obligations.
Among Australians, the Primate of Australia, Archbishop Strong - ‘Somebody called Bishop Strong’, as the Prime Minister’s predecessor referred to him - has condemned escalation of the war, of which bombing is the most conspicuous and dangerous example. The National President of the Returned Services League, Sir Arthur Lee, has said:
Increasingly, world opinion questions the bombing of North Vietnam. We believe that every possible avenue to find a satisfactory alternative to the bombing should be explored.
The Secretary of the Department of the Army, Mr Bruce White, said a year ago that the bombing of the North was unlikely to have a lasting effect on the war in the South. If we examine the national and international Press, we find that in Australia such blind and treasonable papers as the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ and the Melbourne ‘Age’, and in the United States friends of Hanoi like the ‘New York Times’, the ‘Wall Street Journal’, ‘Life’ magazine and the ‘New Yorker’, have called for an end to the bombing. So, at home and abroad, there is this rising chorus from those whom the Minister deems blind or treasonable.
– Ate they right or wrong?
– Work it out for yourself.
– I do not think he cares whether they are right or wrong. To this Christian minister, the honourable member for Evans, peace is a dirty word. In effect, the Minister for External Affairs has considered the bombing of North Vietnam in one of its aspects alone - the military aspect. There are at least four aspects. Consideration of all four leads to the same conclusion - that the bombing should be stopped. There are the moral aspect, the military aspect, the diplomatic aspect and the political aspect. All these are related; none can be considered alone, and all point to the same conclusion.
It is true that in war ordinary morality and ordinary humanity, along with truth, are among the first great casualties, lt is, of course, soft to be unduly concerned about moral issues. But in fact the hardliners on the Government side may defeat their military and political purposes by continuing to ignore them. The world will not ignore the appalling fact that more bombs have been dropped in the past 2i years on North Vietnam than have been dropped on the whole of Europe since the invention of the aeroplane. We cannot expect Asians to be altogether indifferent to the fact that the most powerful nation in the world, a European nation, is expending this incredible effort on a very small Asian nation. Perhaps there is no moral question involved in this at all, but it cannot long continue without becoming involved in the most explosive political question of our age - the growing gap between the ‘have’ nations, all but one of whom are European, and the ‘have-not’ nations, none of whom is European.
On the narrow military question of the bombing, the Minister continues to maintain that the policy is effective. He says that it helps to provide a shield of improved security. He says that the bombing makes it more difficult for Hanoi. More specifically, the Minister for the Army continues to maintain that bombing is justified if only because it reduces infiltration. Even if these statements were true, the real question is whether the gains and advantages are sufficient to outweigh the disadvantages of the bombing. Mr McNamara told the Senate Sub-Committee on 26th August that the amount of military equipment coming into North Vietnam was probably only about 550 tons a day, almost all of which came on the overland route from China’. The amount passing to South Vietnam, he said, was under 100 tons a day. Much of this has to be carried on human backs along a variety of jungle roads that bombs cannot block for more than a few hours. Clearly, as the London ‘Economist’, a journal which gives general support to the war, said on 9th September: The bomber is too imprecise a weapon to stop more than a percentage of traffic as diffuse as this’. In 1965 the Americans estimated that a total of 145,000 Vietcong combat troops and guerillas were fighting in South Vietnam. Today they estimate nearly 300,000, and infiltration from the North is estimated to have risen from 4,500 a month to 9,000 a month. If, as the Minister claims, enemy losses have doubled, so has the enemy. So have allied losses. Such are the great military gains we have achieved from the present policy.
The Minister puts a military argument in favour of the bombing and misrepresents the diplomatic arguments against the bombing. He said:
Those who link a cessation of bombing with a hope of negotiating . . . argue that bombing can be used as an instrument to negotiate, lt will be used as an instrument not. by doing it but by not doing it.
– 1 read that in a Communist paper this week.
– I was quoting the Minister for External Affairs.
– There is one born every minute.
– But they do not last very long. The Australian Minister for External Affairs thus turns the real argument completely on its head. Those who oppose the bombing do not say that stopping it will automatically bring about negotiations. We say that unless the bombing stops, there cannot be and will not be any negotiations. The Minister says: ‘Surely those who say that bombing should cease in order to bring about talks ought to be able to point to some indication that the cessation will in fact lead to a process of peaceful settlement.’ Mr McNamara has said: ‘Hanoi cannot be bombed to the negotiating table’.
– Would you bring our boys back?
– The ex-Minister for the Army introduced conscription to protect us from the Indonesians. I repeat that Mr McNamara has said: ‘Hanoi cannot be bombed to the negotiating table’. There are only two possible arguments in favour of the bombing; firstly, that it is proving highly, clearly and directly valuable militarily, and secondly, that it will bring about negotiations. The Minister affirms but certainly does not prove the first; he does not and could not attempt either to affirm or prove the second. All the evidence we have shows that the military effect of the bombing is marginal. We know that it has not brought about negotiations and, as Mr McNamara has said, will not bring about negotiations. By the only two worthwhile positive tests against which we could measure the success of the bombing and by which we could justify the bombing, it fails. Yet JA that the Minister offers in favour of continuing it is that there is no proof that changing the policy would bring about negotiations. The Minister’s proposition should be rephrased to read: ‘Surely those who say that bombing should continue in order to bring about talks ought to be able to point to some indication that the continuation will in fact lead to a process of peaceful settlement*. After all, the Minister himself says that the war can only be brought to an end by bringing about talks’. He says the aim of the war is neither to destroy North Vietnam nor to replace the Communist regime there. He says: ‘The only solution is a political solution’. He says of North Vietnam: ‘Our purpose is not to destroy them or impose a rule on them by force, but to move towards a negotiated settlement’. Yet he brings no evidence whatsoever to show that the bombing is achieving, or can ever achieve, these aims.
The Minister makes great play of the remarkable fact that Hanoi, and those who want Hanoi to win, want the bombing to stop. In his view this is an automatic justification for not stopping the bombing. In fact, his emphasis is completely misplaced. North Vietnam’s allies - those who want North Vietnam to win - support her resistance to the bombing. America’s allies and friends, with very few exceptions, of which Australia is the most significant, do not support her in the bombing of North Vietnam. Most of them oppose it. That is, all North Vietnam’s allies and friends support and succour her in her resistance to the bombing, but hardly any of America’s allies support her persistence in the bombing. The honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), who is interjecting, gets his reading from the Rhodesian newspapers. ls it not clear, then, in the perspective of world-wide diplomacy, that the continuation of the bombing represents a grave and continuing source of weakness in America’s international stance? Stopping the bombing would overnight change this situation. It would change the nature and direction of the pressure being put upon the combatants by their respective allies and friends. While the bombing continues, North Vietnam is encouraged to resist; America is pressured to desist. If the bombing stopped, the pressure would be on North Vietnam to negotiate. Pressure from Hanoi’s friends may succeed where her enemies’ bombs have clearly failed. That pressure will never be applied while the bombing continues.
It is true that statements from Hanoi and from her principal ally- which is Russia and not China - are conflicting about whether cessation of the bombing would in fact be a means to bring about negotiations, though all agree there will never be negotiations while the bombing continues. But as Senator Robert Kennedy told Congress on 2nd March:
Let us accept the public declaration of Mr Kosygin and Mr Podgorny, which in this respect are identical to the counsel offered us by U Thant. Let us halt the bombing and bombardment of the North as a step towards negotiated peace. Let us place on the Soviet Union and on North Vietnam the obligation to demonstrate the sincerity of their declarations by coming to the conference table. If their statements and our hopes are founded on reality, discussions may begin. If not, we will have proven to ourselves and our friends around the world that we are willing to take the initiative for peace, that it is our adversary, not America, that bars the way.
– That has happened six times.
– But not since he spoke. As long as the bombing continues we will have no chance of putting North Vietnam or Russia or China to the test. We will not know if they are sincere and the world will not believe that we are sincere. From this latest statement by the Minister and from all the preceding statements by the Prime Minister, it is clear that Australia’s influence will not be used to bring about an end to the bombing. And that means it will not be used to bring about negotiations or to convert this war into a holding war, or to bring about the armistice, amnesty and asylum that are needed in South Vietnam, or to do any of the things necessary to prevent the United States from being isolated and ultimately becoming isolationist.
The Australian Government does not want to use its influence and indeed now denies that it has any influence. The Prime Minister says: ‘We are not a major power’. One is forced to answer this pathetic plea by asking what power among the United States’ allies in Vietnam is a greater power, a more significant power than Australia.
It is our commitment itself, not our size as a power, that gives us influence on the course of events in Vietnam, and the possession of that influence carries with it an inescapable responsibility to use it. The Prime Minister’s plea of lack of influence is in fact an excuse for lack of initiative. The Treasurer, standing like Ruth amid alien corn, says: ‘Where you go, we go*.
– Order! The honourable member for Moreton will cease interjecting.
– This sort of conduct is tolerated in Rhodesia, as the honourable gentleman knows. One wonders what would happen if this week or next week the President of the United States were to suspend the bombing. What would happen to all the arguments not only against total cessation but against even a bombing pause, which the Minister used last week and which the Prime Minister used last month and has used repeatedly whenever either cessation or pause has been suggested? Presumably all the absolute impossibilities of last week would then become the complete possibilities of next week.
The Australian Government not only opposes but fears a cessation of bombing, not because it fears loss of men but because it fears loss of face, because once more its authority, its credentials as the fount of all wisdom on external affairs in this country, would be called into question. To score a political point the Australian Government would have thousands of Americans and Vietnamese die. Bombing is said to save our soldiers’ lives. In fact, it continues the hostilities which puts their lives at risk. The whole question of the proper influence we should exert with our great ally, the United States, is crucial to the positions taken respectively by the Government and the Opposition. In efforts the United States might make to end the bombing, we support her. The Government discourages such efforts and throws its influence against them. In steps the United States might make to de-escalate the war or convert it into a holding operation, behind cover of which South Vietnam can be developed and democratised, we would support her. The Government discourages such a policy. In efforts the United States might make to bring about negotiations to end the war, we support her. The Government has never encouraged peace moves, and can scarcely disguise its relief when they fail. It intensifies a war to which it sees no end and to which it will not help to put an end.
People like the Prime Minister and the Treasurer do the United States no credit and give the United States no credit. The Americans are the most powerful, generous and outspoken people in the world. Is the Canadian alliance less strong, less permanent, because of the attitude of its Government towards this war, and particularly towards the present methods of waging it? The Government believes that the security of Australia and the stability of our region depend solely on the military presence of British or American armed forces. We believe that our security and the stability of this region depend on a far wider, far more meaningful American involvement. Among the many reasons why the war should be brought to an end, there are two that stand out as being of pre-eminent importance to Australia. No country has more to lose than we from a return to isolationism, military, economic, diplomatic or psychological isolationism, in the United States. No country has more to fear from a growth of instability in this, the most turbulent and deprived region of the world. A continuation of the war in Vietnam threatens both.
A continuation of the war threatens an American return to isolationism and the Australian Government’s propaganda approach to the war ultimately encourages it. For internal political purposes, the Government wants the debate on Vietnam to be conducted on the level of a choice between escalation of the war or total American withdrawal. Those who wish to change the conduct of the war and those who wish our influence to be used to bring it to an end, are accused of issuing ‘an ultimatum’ to America. There is no quicker way of bringing about American disillusionment with the war and with her alliances than by attempting to impose this fallacious and futile choice upon the American Government or people. Only last month, Mr Richard Nixon, former Vice President and possible candidate for the presidency next year, warned:
One of the legacies of Vietnam almost certainly will be a deep reluctance on the part of the United States to become involved once again in a similar intervention on a similar basis. The war has imposed severe strains oh ‘ the United
States, not only militarily and economically, bot socially and politically as well. Bitter dissension has torn the fabric of American intellectual life. Whatever the outcome of the war, the tear may be a long - time mending. If another friendly country should be faced with an externally supported Communist insurrection, there is serious question whether the American public or the American Congress would now support a unilateral American intervention, ‘ even at the request of the host Government.
The Government of Australia presumably does not recognise this risk. The required effort of imaginative forward thinking is beyond its powers. Is it the role of a good ally to use our influence only to secure ever greater military involvement, ever greater sacrifice, ever greater destruction? Is it the role of a wise ally to place all hopes on a short term military involvement’ likely to lead in the long run to disillusion and total withdrawal?
The Government places all its hopes on American military might. A better, surer hope lies in the field where America is truly invincible, in the use of her matchless skills and resources in reducing hunger and poverty in the underdeveloped world. If there is to be real progress in this most important of all the tasks facing us in the last third of the twentieth century, it will need the co-operation with America of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Europe, Japan and Australasia. Vietnam has rendered impossible the necessary cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union. It reduces the willingness of America’s European allies to co-operate in this. It undermines the determination of the American people to contribute to this task. The United States Congress will not increase American developmental aid as long as America is preoccupied with the struggle in Vietnam. The fighting troops and the civilians of South and North Vietnam are not the only victims of this war. Insofar as the war is delaying and disrupting a world development programme, millions of human beings in Asia, Africa and Latin America also suffer.
It is not true that it is impossible to create democratic conditions in the face of Communist subversion. The Government would have us believe that the only way of ‘ meeting Communist subversion is by military means. Military means are principally appropriate in the context of Communist aggression, but it is subversion, not aggression, which is the most real threat in South East Asia. The Government would have us believe that meeting this threat by means other than military forces is too difficult and that it would not produce worthwhile results. Singapore is the outstanding proof to the contrary. If we had been asked 10 years ago which community in South East Asia was likely to go Communist first, we would all have said Singapore. Today, if we were asked which state in South East Asia was least likely to go Communist, we would say Singapore. Under its democratic socialist government, every person in Singapore has the chance of a decent education, decent housing and decent employment. The population sees that participation in the revolution of rising expectations is actually being achieved. The great cities of Asia, Manila, Djakarta, Bangkok, Rangoon, the cities of India and Saigon itself, provide a realistic base from which to begin the non-Communist revolution that is needed and that is possible in Asia. We should be helping build the defences, the economies and the societies of Asia, as Great Britain has done in Malaysia and Singapore. The Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kwan Yew, has counselled ‘patience and prudence’. The bombing of North Vietnam shows neither patience nor prudence, in his expressed view.
In his speech, the Minister for External Affairs pays tribute to the civil reconstruction work being done in South Vietnam itself. We can all point with just pride to the work being done both by the Army and Australian civilians in Phuoc Tuy Province. It would appear then that it is not, after all, impossible for this work to go on in a war situation. Indeed, the operations of our troops in their assigned province largely comprises a holding operation. Why cannot so successful an enterprise be repeated and expanded over the whole of South Vietnam? But our civil aid, useful though it is, is altogether inadequate. When the Australian Council for Overseas Aid mission to South Vietnam, which had gone to South Vietnam at the request of the Australian Government, returned last year with recommendations for eight modest aid projects to be undertaken by the Government at a cost of $208,000, this figure, equalling the cost of maintaining our armed forces in Vietnam for two days, was deemed too costly and beyond Australia’s resources. Yet the best way in which Australia can make any direct impact on Vietnam is through civil aid. Given the particular needs and problems of Vietnam, the aid could, for instance, take the form of maintaining a really significant number of medical teams. We have three at the moment. Indeed, the cost of our military operations would be sufficient to sustain more than 100. There are other fields where aid is desperately needed and where we are in a position to provide such aid. Agricultural advisers can show the Vietnamese how to improve the livestock and the orchards which abound in the province we protect. They can set up abattoirs and packing sheds. Many people in the area rely on fishing; and fishery advisers from Australia can help them and improve their techniques, open new fishing grounds and operate canneries. The area has luxuriant forests, and Australian experts can survey* the timber resources and establish saw mills. Unless civilian aid is made available in South Vietnam on a great scale and at great speed, the situation will deteriorate again and the military sacrifices will have been in vain.
– What about the slaughter of Australian cattle?
-Order! The honourable member for Maribyrnong must cease interjecting.
– I think I heard the honourable gentleman refer to the slaughter of some Australian cattle. That occurred several years ago. I believe what is said about the security in this area now, and if anybody believes in the security which the Government asserts to obtain in our province now, the proposals which I have made are feasible, they are proper and they are overdue. However, it is clear that while the war lasts only half-hearted efforts will be made in this direction in Vietnam itself and throughout Asia. It is now 24 years since the first large scale military commitment in Vietnam. The Minister now finds himself able to assert that ‘we are winning the war’. It is not the first time he has made such assertions. We do not know and we can only hope that his assertions on this occasion are better founded than on previous occasions. His colleagues talk of a war of 25 years. Is that how long the Government believes that Australia will have to wait for an end to hostilities in South Vietnam? The most important sentence in his speech is the question he poses: ‘What do we mean by winning the war?’ This raised a spark of hope that at last the Parliament and the people would bc given clear definition of the Government’s war aims. In fact, he did not really answer his own question. He said that our war aims did not include the destruction of North Vietnam and the removal of the Communist regime of Ho Chi Minh. But he said nothing further in a positive way about what our aims are or should be.
What should be our objectives in South Vietnam? They must be to create conditions in which democracy can have a chance to work in that country. What relevance has the bombing of North Vietnam to the creation of democracy in South Vietnam? What relevance has the escalation of the war to the creation of democracy in South Vietnam? How would it help to create democracy in South Vietnam or to permit democracy to survive in South East Asia if China were to become directly involved in this conflict? The Government has determined to create the illusion that there are only two choices in Vietnam; either total war or total withdrawal. It falsely claims that there can be only either a military solution to the situation in South Vietnam or a complete dissolution of the allied effort in that country. Thus it ignores the central need to find a political solution and to use whatever influence it has to pursue a political solution through diplomatic means.
The Minister did on this occasion spare us his quarterly lecture about Chinese aggression. In fact, China does not rate a mention. Nor does SEATO. Yet during the election campaign we will doubtless be treated to television commercial serials from his Party showing little arrows emanating from China and enveloping Australia. Where the assertions of the Minister can be measured against verifiable facts, we see that his assertions are false. He says that the bombing slows down the infiltration of men and supplies into the South. The US Secretary for Defence says that no level of bombing short of complete obliteration can keep the North Vietnamese from supplying and reinforcing their troops in the South, either at the current level or at a much higher level of bombing. Whom are we likely to believe? Our Minister justifies the bombing on the grounds that it may shorten the war. Mr McNamara has said that the bombing will not bring North Vietnam to its knees. Upon whom are we more likely to rely? The Minister would have us believe that there is no criticism of the bombing or of the general military policy in Vietnam, apart from those who want Hanoi to win, or those who do not understand the issues. Whose prestige stands higher; that of the Australian Minister for External Affairs or that of the world leaders I have named as opponents or critics of the bombing?
The fact of the matter is the Minister’s speech is typical of the Government’s whole approach towards the Vietnam issue for the last 3 years. I do not refer to its blatant political purposes. I refer to the fact that ever since the commitment was first made, the Government has conducted its argument by a series of assertions and affirmations unsupported by evidence. To question them is tantamount to treason. A government whose credit is high can get away with this. This Government is no longer in a position to do so. lt is a Government without credit and without credibility. It shows neither veracity nor capacity from the top to the bottom. I believe that the people of this country no longer trust, nor should they longer trust, a government whose suppression and evasion match its arrogance among the Ministers here and those kept out of the country. The last few days have shown that a government which cannot be trusted in little matters is unlikely to be trusted in great ones.
– Mr Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) sought unlimited time in order to present the views of the Australian Labor Party on the Vietnam issue. He read nineteen foolscap pages. He read them beautifully. Occasionally he indulged in a little preening, like a veteran Old Vic Shakespearian. But he read it all. Is there any man sitting behind him who knows the leadership that his leader has given him on the issue of Vietnam, Australia’s participation in Vietnam, the policy to be adopted with relation to our troops In Vietnam, or our American alliance? Was there one word in nearly 50 minutes of declamation by the honourable gentleman opposite as to where he stands on these issues? This is what the country is waiting to hear. Does the honourable gentleman support Australia’s participation in Vietnam? That is a simple question. Does he support it? Does he believe that we should be in Vietnam? I invite him to say so. He will not say so. Does he believe that Austraiian troops should be in Vietnam? I invite him to say so. If his Party were elected to office would it draw back .Australian troops from Vietnam unless the United States obeyed the requirements of the Adelaide Conference decisions? He has not mentioned a word about that tonight.
Honourable members could go right through this speech and riot find one line or one word as to where the Australian Labor Party stands on these great issues. And this is the alternative Australian government - the government which would have to sit with our allies in discussion and negotiations on the future of Vietnam. We have waited ever since the honourable gentleman was elected to the leadership of his Party to find out where he stands on these matters. I have said many hard things about the predecessor to the honourable gentleman. But at least he was an honest-minded Leader of the Labor Party. He told us where he stood and where his Party stood. The country knew where it would stand if it elected him to office. I defy any Australian to say clearly where Australia would stand on this great issue if the Leader of the Opposition were elected tq govern this country.
These are vital matters because if honourable gentlemen opposite were to take office these would be the hard realities they would have to face. What would the Labor Party do about Australian troops in Vietnam? Would it reinforce them? Would it withdraw them? Would it demand conditions of our allies which’ our allies might well find insupportable? Would it sit in on a Manila-type summit conference with the sort of policy that the former’ Leader df the Opposition had? The honourable gentleman has so often chided me, on Vietnam, with being all the way with L.B.J. Is he all the way with A.A.C. when it comes to Labor Party policy on Vietnam? If he is not with his former leader, where is he? His former leader believes, as does the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns), that the policy of the Labor Party now is where it was when we stood against that party at the last general election. Those two members of the Labor Party do not run away from these issues, and I give them credit, as honest-minded men, for standing up for their convictions. What conviction has the honourable gentleman put forward tonight, that in any way can be tested, as to where a future Labor Government would stand on these great issues?
These are not just trivial matters of debate. The Leader of the Opposition has been very clever in debate. He has dodged every harsh issue that has been presented to him just as he did when Prime Minister Ky came to this country. The honourable gentleman’s Party was opposed to the visit of Prime Minister Ky. His then Leader said that he was going to march in demonstrations against this visit, and he did so. But where was the present Leader of the Opposition? He was having a damn good holiday somewhere, well out of the line of fire, and no-one knew where he stood. So he came back as Leader of the Opposition. He had given the public to understand that when he came into office as Leader there would be a dramatic change in the attitude of the Labor Party to our position in Vietnam. He was the moderate man. He did not go along with his former Leader. But after the Adelaide Conference where has he gone? Did not this Conference decide - and I ask for confirmation from the honourable member for Yarra - that the Labor Party was where it was at the time of the last election? Of course it did, and the honourable member for Yarra said so, as did the President of the Victorian Branch of the Labor Party and the former Leader of the Labor Party. But where does Labor stand under the present Leader of the Opposition? I invite honourable members to follow through the 19 pages of carefully prepared and studiously avoided references and try to find out where the Labor Party stands on these great issues. This is not good enough for the Australian people. We have never shirked the issue in two World Wars, in Korea and in Vietnam.
– What do you mean by we’?
– When I say ‘we’, 1 mean the Australian people. I have the honour tonight, as Leader of a Government elected with the greatest majority in the history of this country, to speak for the Australian people. The Leader of the Opposition tried to confuse the issue for us by quoting Lee Kuan Yew, the Prime Minister of Singapore. Has he overlooked the statements that Lee Kuan Yew has been making recently about the mincing machine and about what would happen to Singapore and other South East Asian countries if America withdrew from Vietnam? The Leader of the Opposition made a cheap sneer at my colleague, the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay), and quoted a number of eminent clergymen. I do not like quoting clergymen on matters of this sort because 1 believe that we, as the elected representatives of the people, have to take the decisions on these matters. But when the honourable gentleman purports to give the view of eminent clergymen, why does not he quote the view of Archbishop Loane of Sydney? Why does he not quote the view expressed publicly and which appeared in more than one newspaper, of Cardinal Gilroy on his return to Australia? Both these gentlemen spoke of the importance of this resistance to Communism in South Vietnam. I am not going to quote them extensively tonight but the quotations are here if anyone want to check them.
The Leader of the Opposition took a long time to read a mass of material. I am not seeking half the time he took and I do not want an extension of time. But I can say a great deal about where the honourable gentleman stands, or more correctly, fails to stand. Consistent with his norma processes of deception or at least evasion, the honourable gentleman tried to convey the impression to us, not once but repeatedly, that the Secretary of Defence in the United States of America is somehow out of sorts with bis colleagues in the Administration on the question of bombing. A great deal can be said for and against the bombing. But the view held by the United States Administration and the view held by this Government and other allied governments has been that bombing serves valuable military purposes; that it helps, to raise the morale of the South Vietnamese who do not feel themselves abandoned in .his struggle; that it helps to prevent the flow of men and materials to the South; and that it helps to save allied lives which otherwise would be endangered if this flow of materials and men were not impeded in this way. That does not mean that we are not able to look, as the occasion arises, at some move for a suspension or pause in the bombing if it is genuinely felt that this would serve some purpose in attracting the North Vietnamese to peace negotiations. We have never taken a hard and fast line on these issues.
The honourable gentleman, from the comfort of this place, slanders us repeatedly as men who have no wish for peace. I reject that and throw it in his teeth. We want peace as much as anyone in this country. We want peace for Australia because there are great things that we can do with our country, given a situation of peace. How can any man knowing the view., of other leaders in South East Asia, and knowing the view so recently and so movingly put to us by the leader of a country that is currently under invasion and aggression by the forces of North Vietnam, talk in the way that the honourable gentleman has talked to us tonight? If the Australian people are to look for leadership and guidance from the present Leader of the Opposition they will look in vain. He will be the artful dodger as long as he can go on dodging, until he has to face up to this issue directly. We ask him to face up to it. Would he pull Australian troops out of South Vietnam? Would he endanger our alliance with the United States? We argued last November that Australia was in Vietnam for the same reasons that it had been in two world wars and in Korea. We said that we recognised that we were not merely defending a country against aggression and defending the way of life we believe in but also that we were giving strength to our own alliance with the United States, a country which, above all others, can help to keep Australia secure in our alliance under ANZUS. The honourable gentleman has made no mention of these matters tonight. Is he reckless or regardless of the effect it would have on our alliance with the United States if we were to pull our troops out of Vietnam, as the Adelaide Conference proposed? That alliance was vital to us before the British decision to withdraw east of Suez. It is even more important for us today now that we know there is a time schedule on the British presence in this area and certainly as a land force in the Asian area. These are vital matters for the people of this country. The people are not to be fobbed off by a long speech that covers up with a smoke screen of words the basic points that are involved in these proposals that we have to face. I would like to hear the honourable gentleman at some time - and he has not yet done so in his long period of leadership - face up to these matters.
Mr McNamara, at the conclusion of his statement before the Preparedness Investigating Sub-Committee of the Senate Armed Services Committee, on 25th August 1967, said:
In conclusion I would like to restate my view that the present objectives of our bombing in the north were- soundly conceived and are being effectively pursued. They are consistent with our overall purposes in Vietnam and with our efforts to confine the conflict. We arc constantly exploring ways of improving our efforts to insulate South Vietnam from outside attack and support. Further refinements in our air campaign may help. I am convinced, however, that the final decision in this conflict will not come until we and our allies prove to North Vietnam she cannot win in the south. The tragic and long drawn-out character of that conflict in the south makes very tempting the prospect of replacing it with some new kind of air campaign against the north.
He was talking against those who were then advocating a very much more intensive bombing campaign; he was not critical of the campaign being conducted. He was giving his explanation as to why he was resisting more intensive bombing. He continued:
However tempting, such an alternative seems to me completely illusory. To pursue this objective would not only be futile but would involve risks to our personnel and to our nation that I am unable to recommend.
Later on he continued:
The bombing of North Vietnam has always been considered a supplement to, and not a substitute for, an effective counter-insurgency campaign in South Vietnam. These were our objectives when our bombing programme was initiated in February of 196S. They remain our objectives today.
Our bombing campaign has been aimed at elected targets of military significance, primarily the routes of infiltration. It has been carefully tailored to accomplish its basic objectives and thus to achieve the limited purposes toward which ali our activities in Vietnam are directed.
Having said that, I hope that the House will not hear this distortion again from the honourable gentleman who has tried to present some picture of either disloyalty or disagreement between the United States Secretary of Defence, his President and other senior members of the Administration. The honourable gentleman began his speech by twitting the Government for the fact that it had not gone on with the debate on Tuesday night. He said that a move came from honourable gentlemen opposite. It is interesting to recall that the vote was put and the motion to go on with the discussion on Vietnam attracted twenty-two votes from the Opposition and was resisted by fifty-three votes from this side of the House.
– How many were absent from each side?
– A lot were missing from each side because nobody expected the debate to come on at that time. It resulted from a move made by the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) - I stand subject to correction on this - without consultation with his leader.
– I correct the Prime Minister forthwith.
– Does the honourable member correct me? Did he approve of the motion?
– Although the Opposition could only amass twenty-two votes for that particular motion I am glad to hear there is this identity of view and purpose between the honourable member for Yarra and the Leader of the Opposition. At least they could come together on the statement that the Leader of the Opposition has made, because he has carefully avoided every issue on which there was any possibility of conflict between any member of his Party and any other member of his Party. He has left unresolved for the people of this nation where the Australian Labor Party stands on the issue of Vietnam. He has not told us whether or not Australian troops should be there. He has not told us whether or not, if elected to Government, he would carry out the Adelaide decisions.
On television, on an earlier occasion, I think he did go so far as to say that this would be the policy of his Party. Why has he not reasserted it here in the national Parliament? He is the one who is always demanding that the Government come and debate against him, yet when the Government debates against him in this Parliament he will not face the issues that the public are anxiously expecting to hear resolved.
The plain fact of the matter is that today the Australian Labor Party stands, despite the facelift and despite the glamorous new leadership, where it stood at the last general election. It still stands for a troops-out policy in Vietnam. It still stands against our participation in Vietnam. As long as that is the policy honestly presented by the Australian Labor Party then the Australian people will have no truck with it. It is because the Australian people will have no truck with it that the honourable gentleman spent SO minutes tonight setting up a smoke screen to obscure the fact that he is not prepared to tei] the people of Australia where the Australian Labour Party stands on this matter.
Motion (by Mr Clyde Cameron) proposed:
That the Prime Minister be granted an extension of time.
-Order! The Prime Minister’s time had not expired.
– I press the motion.
-Order! An honourable member may conclude his speech within his allotment of time. I call the honourable member for Bass.
– The House has listened to a very disappointing speech from the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt). (Honourable members on the Government side interjecting.)
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. I would remind honourable members on both sides of the House that this is an important debate and all interjections are out of order. The Chair has been very lenient tonight in spite of the interjections from both sides. I suggest that the House now come to order.
– I said that the House had listened to a very disappointing speech from the Prime Minister on what we concede is a very important statement made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) last week. I would have thought that the Prime Minister would have taken the opportunity to give to the people of this country a review of its involvement in the war in Vietnam. But for 10 minutes the right honourable gentleman made no reference to the Vietnam war. He was more concerned with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). We can understand the attitude of the Prime Minister. He has every reason to fear the Leader of the Opposition. The right honourable gentleman has had two opportunities this year, in two byelections, to test the feeling of the people and to let them make their assessment of the relative leadership of both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.
What the people of this country wanted to hear tonight was a statement from the Prime Minister on Vietnam. To what extent will Australia be involved in the conflict? What are the possibilities of further intensification of hostilities in Vietnam? What is the attitude of the Prime Minister and his Government to the bombing of North Vietnam? He and his party stand alone on this issue. With the United States of America, they have opposed all the statements on the bombing that have been made by foreign ministers in the General Assembly of the United Nations in recent months. Yet the Prime Minister devoted only a very small portion of his speech to the bombing of North Vietnam. This was a very important statement from the right honourable gentleman. The Australian people are concerned about the length of the war in Vietnam. But what did the right honourable gentleman have to say about its duration and the period for which Australia will be committed to the war? The right honourable gentleman said nothing about this. His pessimism, I believe, is shared by many honourable members on the Government side.
The Opposition is gravely concerned about the course of the Vietnam war and about certain assumptions made by the
Minister for External Affairs in his speech. He said:
A careful assessment of the facts leads to the clear conclusion that the military situation in South. Vietnam is moving steadily in our favour.
It has long been maintained that the socalled forces have turned the corner in South Vietnam. I should like to list a series of quotations in an effort to put the Minister’s statement that the war is clearly being won into proper perspective. 1 quote the United States Secretary of State, Mr Dean Rusk, who on 13th February 1963 said:
The momentum of the Communist drive has been stopped.
Some months later on 7th October 1963 a White House statement was issued. It said:
Secretary McNamara and General Taylor report their judgment that the major part of the United States military task could be completed by the end of 1965, although there may be a continuing requirement, for a limited number of United States training personnel.
In 1964 the United States Secretary for Defence, Mr McNamara, said that the United States personnel would be returning from Vietnam by the end of the year. After visiting South Vietnam in 1965 he said on 30th November
The most vita] impression 1 am bringing back is that we have stopped losing the war.
On 13th July of this year General Westmoreland, the American Commander, said:
During the past year, tremendous progress has been made … we have pushed the enemy farther and farther back into the jungles.
This statement was followed on 2 1st July by Mr McNamara, who said:
Since last October substantial progress has been made in the political, economic and military area.
I have listed these quotations to show the statement by the Minister for External Affairs, that the war is being won, in its proper perspective. Quite clearly, the Administrations of Australia and the United States have been activated by a blind faith that everything is going well in the Vietnam war. There have been repeated statements expressing optimism about the course of the war, but repeatedly the facts have belied these, statements. Quite plainly we are not losing the war; quite plainly we are not winning the war.
The progress made by the American -forces and the supporters of America in
South Vietnam has been almost imperceptible. The Minister for External Affairs listed some gains that have been made in the mileage of roads opened to free access and the extent of country that has been wrested from Vietcong control. Even if we accept the right honourable gentleman’s claim, it can only be concluded that the war is in a position of stalemate. Quite obviously the Americans will not lose the war. But how can they win it? That is the question that the Opposition puts to the Government in this debate. Unless the whole of North and South Vietnam is obliterated, the only way the Americans can win the war is by a war of attrition which could last for 20 years. Certainly the massive American build up and the huge fire power that America has concentrated in South Vietnam have prevented the loss of the war. How can the Americans go forward and win a positive victory in Vietnam? This is the pertinent question at the moment.
At the moment it seems to the Australian Labor Party that the only solution for the Americans is to feed more and more men into the mincing machine in Vietnam. Labor rejects this as a positive solution to the agony of Vietnam. I want to try to put this sort of military, strategy into proper perspective. It has been conceded by all authorities who have studied the Vietnam war that the number of North Vietnamese main force soldiers operating in South Vietnam is no more than 55,000. I refer to a study , called ‘Military Balance, 1967-68’, which was issued by the Institute for Strategic Studies in London. It assesses the total strength of the North Vietnamese Army as 410,000. In addition there is a regionally organised Army militia of about 500,000. In other words, North Vietnam has committed about one-sixteenth of its available strength to the war in South Vietnam. This is a chilling appreciation of the North Vietnamese effort. North Vietnam has been able to commit some 55,000 of the estimated total of 295,000 Communist regular and irregular forces in South Vietnam. This total force has effectively tied down some 1.2 million allied troops. Quite obviously North . Vietnam has committed only a fraction of the forces it can’ put to the war in South Vietnam. -
The Minister claims an interesting rate of defection from the Vietcong regular forces in South Vietnam. Similar claims have been made about the decrease in Vietcong strength over the past 4 years. There has been little evidence that these desertions, even if proved, have weakened the effectiveness of the Vietcong effort. Certainly Communist forces have suffered fearful casualties in attempting to defeat the American regular units, particularly in the area south of the demilitarised zone where the Marines are fighting. But there is no sign that these casualties have affected the efforts of the North Vietnamese regular troops. Given the American policy of limited warfare - it must be conceded that the Americans in many ways have sought to limit military operations - a military solution to the war in Vietnam is illogical. Certainly there have been defections from the Vietcong, but the Minister neglected to tell the House that there have been very heavy desertions from the South Vietnamese forces.
It is conceivable that the North Vietnamese could infiltrate another 100,000 troops into South Vietnam if they were required. Quite obviously North Vietnam is putting in only enough troops to maintain the war at the present level. It has proved that it can successfully match any escalation of the American forces in Vietnam. There can be no doubt that it will successfully match the escalation of the allied forces under way at the moment. I believe that, short of the obliteration of both North and South Vietnam, there is no military solution to the war in Vietnam. The grinding war of attrition will never produce a successful solution. In addition to committing more troops to South Vietnam, there are many ways in which North Vietnam could still intensify the war. Quite obviously a heavy build up of Russian missiles is being made at the moment. Experience has proved that American air and military bases are extremely vulnerable to missile and mortar attack. So far United States naval forces are able to bombard the coast of North Vietnam with impunity. This cannot be guaranteed for ever. Quite obviously, North Vietnam will build retaliatory missile sites to check this naval bombardment and allied naval forces will suffer. This is extremely important because an Australian destroyer is operating off the coast of North Vietnam. Sir, the Opposition maintains that the bombing of North Vietnam has proved a futile exercise. If we eliminate humanitarian objectives - and the Opposition is not prepared to do this - any impartial observer must agree that the bombing has failed in its objectives of checking the infiltration of men and material from North Vietnam into South Vietnam.
In this depressing situation, the Australian Labor Party asserts without fear and without equivocation its policy on Vietnam. In this House, earlier in the week, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) asked members of the Labor Party to stand up and be counted on this issue. The Prime Minister repeated the challenge tonight. We accept their challenge, and I state our policy in the simplest terms that I know. We want to end this fearful war and we will use every initiative at our command to achieve a negotiated peace so that all foreign forces can be withdrawn from South Vietnam. We join with the overwhelming volume of responsible opinion which holds that the bombing of North Vietnam must cease immediately. We maintain that the National Liberation Front must be recognised as a major party in any negotiated settlement. We cannot countenance a political settlement of the war that ignores the National Liberation Front, which certainly has a large Communist component but also has strongly nationalist and non-Communist element’s. The Labor Party refuses to ignore an organisation which controls at least onethird of South Vietnam and which quite obviously has the support of many millions of South Vietnamese people. We point to the very heavy vote commanded by the peace candidate in the recent presidential elections in South Vietnam.
The Labor Party insists that the scope of the war be scaled down so that some measure of normal economic life can be restored to South Vietnam. We insist that napalm, phosphorus bombs and similar weapons of war be withdrawn from the conflict so that thousands of innocent people are not shrivelled to death in agony. This is our declared policy. The Government has asked us to stand up and be counted, and we do this unhesitatingly. This is our policy and these are the conditions on which we insist if the Australian commitment in Vietnam is to be maintained. We consider that if these great humanitarian objectives are not met we shall have no alternative but to insist on the withdrawal of Australian troops from Vietnam.
I state this policy at a time when the whole of world opinion is turning in our direction, Sir. The Government claims that we are denying the American alliance by our insistence on these conditions. This is a complete untruth. It is the Molt-McEwen Government that has failed to keep in step with world opinion and with a mounting body of opinion in the United States of Ai « ‘ica. Honourable members opposite claim that we are anti-American and that because of our attitude we want to rescind the American alliance. How can the Government claim that we are anti- American when the policy that we have stated is in harmony with so much contemporary world opinion? Does the Australian Government contend that Senator Robert Kennedy and Senator Edward Kennedy are. anti-American because they express opinions on the Vietnam war that are similar to. ours? Does it claim that Senator Fulbright, Senator Mansfield and Senator McGovern are anti-. American because they are highly critical of the policy of the Johnson administration on Vietnam? Does the Australian Government claim that extreme right wing Republicans such as Senator Percy and Governor Romney are anti-American because they question the wisdom of the Johnson policy on Vietnam? The Australian Government is the most extreme in the world in its attitude to Vietnam. There is in America a huge volume of opinion that is opposed to this war and to the stated objectives of the American Government. A radical reassessment of opinion towards the Vietnam war is under way in America at present. Every nation in Europe condemns this war; on the evidence, there is a huge volume of public opinion in the United States of America that opposes this war. Only the Australian Government has failed to keep in touch with the mounting antagonism to the war.
Obviously, we cannot win a military victory in Vietnam unless we obliterate the whole country. The arguments advanced by the Minister for External Affairs to support the claim that a military victory can be won are false. The United States cannot win a limited military victory on the terms on which it has entered the war in Vietnam.
Every mistake has been made in Vietnam; we do not want the Americans to withdraw unconditionally, because this would be the greatest tragedy that had occurred in that anguished area. We want a solution that recognises every faction in Vietnam. The basis for negotiations has been established. There is in South Vietnam a legitimate and constitutional authority elected by 35% of the eligible voters. This opens the path for a negotiated settlement between the constitutionally elected Government of South Vietnam and the National Liberation Front. This is the only way in which a reasonable settlement can be negotiated in South Vietnam.
In conclusion, Sir, I assert the policy of the Australian Labor Party that only the par ties to the conflict in South Vietnam can achieve a negotiated settlement. We have been asked to stand up and be counted. We have tried to state our policy without any gloss or equivocation. We are not ashamed of our policy. We believe that it is in accord with enlightened opinion in America and Europe. America has become increasingly isolated in world policy because of its attitude to Vietnam. Our former Leader, Arthur Calwell, has stated that the Australian Labor Party does not want to see the great United States of America humiliated in Asia. We reassert this attitude, but we call on the United States, which has contributed so much towards human advancement and human culture, to adjust its attitudes to this war. The United States of America has never failed to promote the cause of human progress and human advancement. But it stands in very real danger of condemnation for its recalcitrant attitude on Vietnam. The Australian Labor Party does not want to interfere in any way with our alliance with America. We acknowledge our very great debt to the United States and we acknowledge the great part that that country has played in the development of mankind. While there are very powerful elements in America that are critical of the policy of the United States administration, the Australian Labor Party asserts its right to join with opinion from both the Democratic and the Republican Parties which is opposed to the war in Vietnam. We believe that time is on our side; we think that a great reassessment of the war in Vietnam is going on in the United States at this moment.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, if 1 may give this debate a different aspect, let me say that as a farmer 1 have on occasions had the job of trying to sort out the seeds and grain from the mass of hay and straw. I have listened closely tonight to the words of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) and never have I had a greater problem in trying to discover a few grains amidst the mass of straw that I have had this evening. I have noted the only positive points that honourable gentlemen opposite have made, and I shall deal with them presently. Let us first get our responsibilities in perspective. At this point of time, we on this side of the Parliament constitute the Government of this country. We have been put here to govern and, as problems arise, we decide our attitude to them. We then come into the Parliament and state our attitude, explaining it fully, and we compose our policies to conform with our stated attitude. We have done this time and again in respect of the subject that we are discussing tonight - the war in Vietnam. But, in the nature of things, there is another party - an opposition party. Its purpose is to criticise our attitude. But it has a duty to do more than that. As it aspires to displace us and to become the government of the country, it has a duty to state to the people what its attitude would be if it were to become the government. It would be utterly wrong for an opposition party to trick the people into voting it into office without its allowing the people to know what its essential policies were. But that is what the Labor Opposition is attempting at present. I believe that this approach is more true of the political Opposition than of the Australian Labor Party as a wider organisation. However, this is the present position of the political Labor Party, as a political opposition.
On this occasion, as on many others, one finds it difficult to sort out the words uttered by those who have been authorised to speak on this issue for the alternative government and to discover any identifiable points that have been made. What would be the attitude of the Labor Party if it were to assume the responsibility of government? Until that Party is prepared to state where it stands, what it would do and what its attitude would be to the great issues confronting the allies, it not only should not come to government but it never will come to government. The sooner members opposite learn this the better. We do not want the Australian public tricked or deluded into electing a government that has no policy at all. As a Government, we have many responsibilities to ourselves, to our friends, to our traditional allies and to the poorer people around the world. We have spoken of these responsibilities many times. But there is no greater responsibility that any national government has than that its own nation should survive.
What we have seen in the last year, for the first time in any of our lives, is the picture of Australia without British allies in a position and without power to come massively to our aid if we were under threat. We have negotiated, as a government, an alliance with the most powerful country in the world which is pledged to come to our aid if we are under threat. That is the policy of this Government. The No. 1 point of policy of this Government is that the Australian nation should survive through its own efforts and with the sure aid of allies. I find nothing in the Labor Party’s mouthings that indicate a consciousness on its part that it should formulate policies and make arrangements designed to ensure that the country should survive if under threat. Would any honest person say that in the light of all history we can for the first time since the dawn of time feel that never again shall a country like this be threatened? It is almost 2 years to the day since the attempted revolution in Indonesia. Six generals were murdered in an attempt by Communists directed from China to seize power in Indonesia, our nearest neighbour. Had that attempt succeeded we would have been living for the last 2 years under the shadow of a nation of 100 million people - our next-door neighbours - subjected to the influence and direction of China, the greatest aggressive Communist power today. Whether or not members opposite think that might or might not have happened, it is sufficient evidence that no thinking, honest person can say that Australia can feel safe for ever after, that we need no friends, that we need no strength and that we need no positive policies. We have them, and we need them.
This Government recognises, formulates and openly states its policies and says where it stands. We do not ask the Opposition to agree with us. The very term ‘Opposition’ indicates that we do not expect members opposite to agree. We are not trying to sell them the idea that our views are right. What the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt), myself and others are saying is: ‘If you do not like our policy, then tell us what your policy is. Let the people judge.’
We cannot discover what is the Opposition’s policy. When the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was speaking he was challenged to state his Party’s policy. He said that he would accept the challenge and state the policy. To put a stop to the bombing of North Vietnam was one of the few positive statements he made. The only other positive statement that could be described as a policy was that the Labor Party could not countenance a settlement which ignored the National Liberation Front. In short, if peace could be achieved without the approval of the National Liberation Front, the Labor Party does not want peace. That is what his words meant. There is an awful lot of silence from the Opposition side when these things are exposed.
Let me turn now to the bombing of North Vietnam. If we were in the situation of North Vietnam and were in trouble in the military sense and unable to defeat our enemy, or suppress him, or contain him, what would be our greatest hope? If we look to guerrilla tactics we can meet our enemy. If we look to mortar bombing, we can meet him. If we look to sustaining our supply lines, we can contrive to do it. There is only one thing to which it is patently evident that North Vietnam has no answer, and is not matching, and that is bombing. Bombing cannot be prevented by counterbombing. How then is it to be prevented? By infiltrating the minds of the enemy - Australia, America and our other allies - and trying to persuade them that it is essential for them to surrender their superiority in the only area in which they have unquestioned superiority.
I should like to think that the suggestion that we should stop the bombing is not made with a consciousness of the seriousness of the situation. I am sure there are many members opposite who have been suckered into this - who have been influenced by the emotional feelings that all of us have. Bombing, with its terrible consequences, is not related to our memories of Vietnam only. Did members opposite ever suggest that the 1 ,000 ton bombing raids on Hamburg and Berlin should cease? Those raids were to the same effect. No, those who suggest that we should cease the bombing have had their minds captivated by the enemy. This is the simple truth. Propagandists have captured their minds although, I am sure that most of them are unaware of it. I doubt whether that could be said for 100% of the members opposite. However, it is for us to expose the situation.
We will support policies that will bring about a lasting peace. Members opposite have challenged us to say how long we will sustain the military effort - how long we will stand. What they are asking us really to say is how long it will be before we pull out if we are not successful. That is the real question. They ask: ‘Will you undertake, in the Parliament, that if you are not successful in a year, or 3 years, you will withdraw from your American alliance?’ That is the question put to us by the alternative government. What a terrifying question to be put. If we were to answer that question it would be the end of any estimate of us as. true and reliable allies.
We have put our hand to the plough to try to help to preserve the freedom of a small country, just as we would hope and pray that others would come to our aid to preserve our freedom if we became the victims of violent aggression. It is a point of principle. It is a point of self-interest. It is one of the few occasions where high principle and self-interest completely reconcile, for we are doing a worthy thing in helping a small free people to preserve their freedom and to establish an example to others in the world that aggression is not going to pay off. In the course of standing up to that high principle we are, at the same time, automatically establishing our entitlement to others to come to our aid if we should be subject to aggression.
This is the policy of the Government. Does any voice in the Labor Party say those are bad objectives? Do members opposite suggest that so that we may avoid some of our men dying and avoid having our own minds tormented by bombing, it would be better that we should bring our troops home, break the American alliance and leave the South Vietnamese to the mercy of the North Vietnamese, if there is any such word as ‘mercy’ in the North Vietnamese language? This is not where we stand. This is no novel attitude on the part of Australia.
We went to Belgium, we went to Korea, we went to Greece. What was the difference in principle between what we did then and what we are doing now? Were we wrong then? There was a powerful enemy attempting, in the first of the examples I have given, to overrun a small country. The Kaiser or his Chancellor said: ‘Why should the British come into defend Belgium simply because of a treaty which is, after all, only a scrap of paper?’ There was a principle involved. The British went in and we went in, and we won. Similarly when the British announced that if Greece were attacked by the Hitlerites Britain would stand by that country, we went there also and we won. And now Belgium is free and Greece is free. I have never heard any thinking Australians say that we were wrong.
When the Communists attempted to overrun South Korea, the Americans, thank God, went to defend that country, and we were the first people to stand beside the Americans there. And we won and South Korea is free. There has been no case in which success has not attended proper and powerful action taken in accordance with these high principles. Never have we sought to conquer, to smash, to take the other person’s country. What we have sought to do is to prove that the aggressor cannot win, that the aggressor shall not overrun free people - just as we would shed every drop of our blood to ensure that we, as a small but free people, were not overrun. We are large in acres but small in people, and we need friends. This is why we are there and why we will remain there. We will remain there not until North Vietnam is smashed to pulp but until the North Vietnamese reach the point that all human beings in such a position must reach; when they know that the suffering they have deliberately involved themselves in is quite futile and that they have no hope of success. Then they will turn and talk. This is why we went there, why we have remained there and why we shall remain there.
This Government bases its policies on principle and on self-interest. To those who are not very concerned about high principles but are more concerned to take political advantage I say that we have here a wonderful country. Every day brings some new indication that it is perhaps the most desirable land in the world. There is nothing in recorded history to deny the proposition that when a nation becomes an evidently rich and desirable one other people cast covetous eyes on it and seek to take it over. This has happened throughout history and I am not prepared to believe that it will never happen to us. I want our record of principle to remain clean. I want our country to be strong. I want our friends to feel that in us they have true, worthy, steadfast allies who will stand by them and who will expect them to stand by Australia if our country should ever be in need Of their assistance.
– I am in the perhaps unenviable position tonight of coming in this debate between the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) and the Treasurer (Mr McMahon). It is time somebody came between them, and that seems to be my responsibility tonight. But I also find myself in the position of coming between two Ministers who have never been to Vietnam. For a long time we have heard the cry from the Government benches: ‘If you have not been to Vietnam you do not know anything about it and, you have no right to talk about it’. Here we have two Ministers who have not been to Vietnam. Yet we heard the Minister for Trade and Industry telling us that what we are dealing with or trying to deal with in Vietnam is exactly the same as what we were trying to deal with in the case of Japan or of Germany. This demonstrates the Minister’s wholly inadequate knowledge of what is happening in Vietnam.
There are very few other countries that hold the view that what has happened in Vietnam is the same as what happened in Germany or Japan. That view which is taken by the Minister for Trade is shared by only a few leaders of other countries. None of the leaders of the western European countries shares this view. Only recently our Australian Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) chided the leaders of western European countries for not taking this view of the conflict in Vietnam and for not taking part in it. The proposition on which the whole of the speech of the Minister for Trade and Industry is based is one that is questioned by most world leaders today and is accepted by only the American Administration and two or three small countries in the South East Asian area, most of which are not democracies and most of which have no significance in the struggle.
The Minister for Trade and Industry has come forward with a most unfortunate assertion, that those who disagree with him have minds that have been captured by the enemy - most of them, not all of them-
– On the bombing.
– He left a few out. The Minister said ‘on the bombing”?
– Has the mind of U Thant been captured by the enemy? Has that of the Pope been captured by the enemy? Has the mind of the Prime Minister of Canada been captured by the enemy, or the mind of President Saragat of Italy? Have the minds of the Kennedys been captured by the enemy, or those of Fulbright and Mansfield or in fact, of half of the American Senate? Have the minds of the members of the American Foreign Affairs Committee been captured by the enemy? Is it not time that honourable members opposite came up with something else? When they cannot defend their own viewpoint all they can manage to do is to allege disloyalty and tell us that our minds have been captured by the enemy. Is it not time they tried to debate this subject on its merits? I would like to debate it on its merits for a little while.
The Labor Party has taken a consistent stand on this matter for 10 years. We believe that what is being done in South East Asia is not succeeding and cannot succeed. We believe the history of the war in Vietnam has proved this to the hilt. We believe that unless the Government has enough intelligence and sense to change its policy it will destroy any influence that it has or that the United States has. We believe the war should be brought to an end and we will use whatever influence we can to have negotiations instituted. Perhaps they will not succeed. Perhaps the cessation of the bombing of the North will not bring success, but we will exercise whatever influence we can to this end inside the American alliance, an alliance that we initiated in the face of opposition and criticism from members of the parties which now occupy the Government benches. The Australian Labor Party will put its view to the American Administration with a full sense of responsibility and with a full sense of our responsibility to the Australian people, but we will do it, and we will not be simply rubber stamps.
I want to change the emphasis that was established by the Minister for Trade and Industry and get back to debating the subject. I want to put aside this assertion of disloyalty upon which the Minister so self-righteously relied tonight and try to bring the debate back to the subject before us, so that the Treasurer, who is to follow me, may be impelled, for a change, to debate the subject that is before the House.
The Minister for External Affairs in making his statement spoke only of things favourable to his Government. He omitted or even distorted anything that was unfavourable. He gave again an explanation of the war, which the Minister for Trade and Industry has repeated, which has been found false or misleading by every historian and most experts who have written about Vietnam over the last 6 or 7 years. He has nothing to say, and no-one else on the other side who has spoken tonight had anything to say, about how the war could be brought to an end, about how the bombing and shelling, the dropping of napalm and the killing could possibly be brought to an end. We have surely reached the stage now at which it is accepted that countries do not fight wars to a finish. The philosophy involved in the statements of the Minister for Trade and Industry about what we did to Hamburg and so on was abandoned, I hope, 23 years ago. I hope we have learned the lesson that it was wrong to try to fight even the Second
World War to a finish. It would have been better to do something else. If negotiations had been carried out with the German Government the European countries today might be under altogether different control. Those who have studied the history of that war realise that Europe became Communist because the Government tried to fight the war to a finish. That is something for which the Government can answer.
The Minister for External Affairs has now established in Australia that process of selecting from the facts which has been described in the United States as the credibility gap and we have reached the position where you cannot rely on what this Government says, whether about VIP aircraft or Vietnam. The Minister’s main proposition is that we are steadily winning the war, but he does not provide convincing evidence that this is the case; he does not define what winning the war is and he has no awareness that there may be grave and dangerous consequences in winning the war as he sees it. The picture which emerges from the Minister’s speech and everything else that has been said by Government supporters is superficial and misleading; it is plainly Utopian. It is calculated to produce confidence in a situation that does not justify confidence. His speech will reinforce those feelings that the war can be left to the Government and to those few Australians who have been sent to Vietnam to risk their lives. The rest of us need never be touched by it. We are safe and justified in our lack of concern; in carrying on business as usual. We can leave it to others.
There is no justification for this optimism or confidence and none for the additional apathy which will be induced by the castles in the air so platitudinously built by the Minister in his speech. The war in Vietnam is dangerous and grave, and every day it becomes graver and more dangerous. To prove that we are winning the war the Minister quotes a few military statistics. I have often seen, hotly disputed, the statistics about Vietcong control or influence in earlier years, which the Minister now blandly accepts as a satisfactory basis from which to measure today’s achievements. On several occasions in past years I have seen official military estimates of areas controlled or influenced by government forces more favourable than are claimed now. What is the use of claiming, for instance, that 60,000 acres of jungle have been cleared if, despite the clearance, so many Vietcong still inhabit, in tunnels and dugouts, this lunarlike landscape of bomb craters and shell holes that a landed helicopter is given only about 15 seconds to be free of attack, and into which so-called cleared areas the American 1st Division does not enter except in battalion strength? What is the good of clearing areas if that is what you leave?
It is certainly true, as the Minister pointed out, that the full weight of the allied effort is just now being brought to bear. It is true also that, as a result, perhaps the main force tactics of the Vietcong have been made more difficult and in some places impossible, and so there are fewer of them. But this does not mean that the Vietcong are easier to defeat. Indeed, as has always been recognised, they may be more difficult to defeat. The Vietcong have been forced to reduce main force actions because of American fire power. While this may mean that they cannot win, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) pointed out, it certainly is doubtful whether it brings them closer to defeat.
In 1966 Mr Cabot Lodge stated vividly the best that the American Administration was hoping for when he said:
When we have beaten the Army of North Vietnam and the main force battalions of the Vietcong-
And when will that be? - we have simply won the opportunity to get at the heart of the matter, which is more than 150,000 terrorist guerillas highly organised throughout the country and looking exactly like civilians.
The relative strengths in South Vietnam of the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong may well be indicated by the last reported number of prisoners taken in South Vietnamese territory during the past year - 8,700 Vietcong and 400 North Vietnamese. It is against the southerners that the war has still to be fought. What seems to have happened is that the war has reverted to an earlier stage and one which depends more than ever upon the South Vietnamese Government forces and upon the so-called revolutionary development programme. The military statistics upon which the Minister for External Affairs relies have no relevance to this kind of war. The Vietcong merge back into the people and are indistinguishable from them. This makes more difficult, not easier, the winning of the war.
This change in the nature of the war should call to mind the basic propositions upon which the American intervention was made. Eisenhower assured Diem of assistance only if he carried out fundamental political and economic reforms. Kennedy emphasised: ‘In the final analysis it is their war. The people of Vietnam are the only ones who can win it’. Johnson said: The contest in which South Vietnam is now engaged is first and foremost a contest to be won by the Government and the people of the country themselves’. This is not a parallel with German aggression or Japanese aggression and has nothing to do with the kind of case which the Minister put before the House. Was the Minister told any of this in Washington? If so, why is he not telling us? Why do other people from the other side of the House not discuss this thing and what is happening in Vietnam? The Minister shows little awareness of these circumstances, but to mention them, which he has never done, would be to contradict the chosen interpretation of the war - an act of military aggression forced upon the South Vietnamese people; an act to which they as a people are opposed. Until that kind of judgment is checked and re-assessed, which is what is happening in America, real progress will not be made in South Vietnam.
As 1 have stated, this change in the nature of the war makes more important the South Vietnamese Government forces and their so-called revolutionary development programme. But these things the Minister dismisses in a sentence or two. He merely glances at the revolutionary development programme. He states that there is no evidence whatever for its value or effectiveness, except to say that there are persistent enemy efforts to disrupt it and that it takes a substantial proportion of the South Vietnamese forces to protect it. If it is so important why does it need so much protection? What is this? It is the first time in history that a revolution is being protected by the army of a counterrevolutionary government. The Minister gives no hint that he knows anything about the state of affairs of the South Vietnamese
Government forces other than his quite general and platitudinous statements.
There have been hundreds of reports like that which appeared in ‘News Week’ of 9th October 1967, which stated:
All across the shell-pocked face of South Vietnam these days a distressing fact is evident: An uncomfortably large number of South Vietnamese fighting men have virtually opted out of the war, leaving the field to their big American brothers. In each of the past 3 months US combat deaths have exceeded those of the South Vietnamese. Total American casualties now regularly outrun the South Vietnamese draft call, and in August alone the US drafted more men than South Vietnam in the previous 6 months. The South Vietnamese Army, in short, is sick. Like the society which created it, it is riddled with factionalism, nepotism, corruption, inefficiency, incompetence and cowardice.
This is the kind of matter to which Government supporters will have to address their minds much more closely. They will have to ask themselves whether this is true and, if it is, why is it so. There is a tremendous amount of evidence of this which the Government ignores completely. The Minister gives no evidence to support his view of the matter except generalised statements. Hence it is fair to conclude that the Minister’s view of the war is superficial, optimistic and misleading.
What does winning the war mean to the Minister? Simply a cessation of hostilities, to be brought about as a result of this continued escalation. In a situation such as this winning the war may simply mean the commencement of a war with China; the commencement of World War III. The Minister shows no consideration of this possibility. What are the consequences of winning the war? Of course, we can be sure that what I have just said will be the consequence of carrying the war still further. But the Minister shows himself quite unwilling even to consider this possibility. His failure convicts him of irresponsibility and blindness - the very attitude that has always brought about those wars which could have been prevented.
The position that has been put to the House is that the Australian Labor Party has a special responsibility in this war, a responsibility to bring it to an end. Policy considered in this atmosphere is not as a rule considered in what might be the best way to bring that war to an end. Policy is generally considered here as an election exercise. Everyone knows that what we are doing here tonight is being done because of the coming Senate election. We are not trying to work out, any of us, the best way to conduct affairs in Vietnam. The Government is trying to win a Senate election and so it brought on this debate this evening for this purpose. Does anyone opposite deny that? Is the Government’s Vietnam policy perfect? This war has continued for 20 years. We have become involved in a land war in Asia. More and more Australians are being relentlessly drawn in. No-one can see an end to it. Is the Government so supremely satisfied with its Vietnam policy7 This House is not a place where we can consider whether we can improve policy for progress and security in South East Asia. Everyone knows why we discuss foreign policy in this House.
The Government believes that if its supporters can shout long enough about Communism in China and can create in Australia an inner fear of the future the people will be afraid to change the Government and will continue to support even the most extreme action - even the use of nuclear weapons in Vietnam. The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) yesterday refused to say what his attitude really was to the use of nuclear weapons. The Government is not concerned with foreign policy to win progress in South East Asia but only to win elections in Australia. In doing this the Government seeks to throw all the responsibility for policy upon the Opposition - the Labor Party. But it is not the Labor Party that has involved Australia in land war in Asia. It is not the Labor Party that has tied Australia to an escalation which will draw thousands more young Australians into Asian jungles. It is not the Labor Party that has tied Australia to a cause which can be paid for in Australia only by education chaos, sacrifices of development and by ill health and lack of security for many Australians. It is not the Labor Party that has tied Australia to a policy which may bring the use of nuclear weapons in Vietnam and which may bring World War III. It is not the Labor Party that has done these things. It is the Government.
The Government has the responsibility to explain to the Australian people how it is going to get Australia out of the situation.
But nothing that has happened in Vietnam can justify this impasse and this prospect. It is not the responsibility alone of the Labor Party to get us out of this neverending war; it is the responsibility of the Government to do so. The Labor Party has put forward a policy which may help to end the war. We have put forward that policy with a proper sense of responsibility to the Australian people and to the people in Vietnam and South East Asia. The Government cannot accept its responsibility to offer something better than more bombs, more napalm and more killing. That is all that the Government has offered in the war in Vietnam since it became associated with it. But the Government has a responsibility to do more than this; it has a responsibility to say something constructive about it. It has a responsibility to say how this war in Vietnam can be brought to an end. Australia waits for the Government to give a lead away from nuclear bombs and from World War III. Its failure to do so and Labor’s attempt to achieve that end remains the issue on this subject which the Australian people will consider in the next election.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I imagine that tonight we are debating what is the most crucial and important issue that faces the Australian people. Fundamentally it is the defence of our own country and the defence of all the countries of South East Asia and the South West Pacific. We hoped when we came here to be able to identify the attitude to the defence of these areas not only of ourselves but also of the Australian Labor Party. We wanted to find out where it stood. It was right that we should have done this because, as the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) has said, shortly the Senate is to face an election and before that election campaign commences and during the course of the campaign the Australian people ought to know where the Liberal and Country Party Government stands and where the Opposition stands. I am glad that the Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party has defined his position. Later I shall define ours. At the last gallup poll we found that twice as many Australians wanted the war to be won by the Allied Forces as wanted to follow the course that has been recommended by the Labor Party tonight.
– Surrender is a good word. But let me first of all say something about the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). Today, in a very heady atmosphere, this narcissian figure stood up in the dining room and made a speech. It was the most hawkish of the hawkish speeches I have beard. In fact, I did not know at that moment whether he was playing to the gallery, playing to the fact that there was a Prince in the audience and the Prime Minister of a country in South East Asia, or whether he was acting as he so frequently can act, as a common humbug and a hypocrite.
– Mr Speaker, I rise to order.
-Order! A point of order has been raised. The House will come to order.
– lt is regrettable, Mr Speaker, that you were being interrupted in calling the House to order when the Minister used the term ‘hypocrite’. I ask that he withdraw it.
– I withdraw the word hypocrite’.
– Is ‘humbug’ in order?
-Order! ‘Humbug’ is not unparliamentary. There is no substance in the point of order.
– Tonight this very same gentleman came into this House and I expected again, as I said, this narcissian figure to stand up and deliver much the same sort of oration. In fact I complimented him on it when he was walking out of the dining room today. I do not drink, but I must have felt a little drunk because of the heady nature of the luncheon. Nevertheless, I expected him to come here and state clearly and precisely where the Labor Party stood. Frankly, I believed that he would say that it stood right on the side of the Government.
But no; on every one of the issues he raised he fitted into the policy of the ALP conference which met in August of the year. He raised three or four issues. First he asked who supports the allies in South Vietnam. He came to the conclusion that no-one did. He asked who supported the bombing. Again, no-one did. He suggested that we were in fact creating a policy that would mean isolationism in the United States and, consequently, the United States withdrawal from this area with all that it meant to Australia and South East Asia. In substance he created the impression that what he was doing was, as I said, following a line identical with that taken by the ALP Conference in August of this year, that is, -i policy of scuttle, of deserting our allies and abandoning South East Asia, withdrawing this country into isolationism and leaving us to fight our battles on our own. Could any sensible person draw any other conclusion from what the honourable gentleman said? I defy anyone to do so, including honourable members opposite.
Then we had the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard). He asked to be told how this war was going on. It is true that he defined where the Labor Party stood. I shall tell honourable members opposite what we think is happening and I shall quote two people whom I respect as objective, as men who can give an impression judged from their own experience and from their own knowledge, men whose knowledge is second to none. I take the very critical period from May 1965. I identify that period because it was the time when the Hue rebels, the generals in the Hue area, were brought under the control of the military directive. It was also the time when the Buddhists were brought under central government control. Until that time there had been a continual degeneration in South Vietnam. The danger of defeat was not so much immediate but it was not far off until the United States, in its wisdom and magnificence, decided to supplement the Forces that it had there. We, too, gave help. Conditions have now changed. Let us look at them.
My colleague the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) mentioned that there was a psychological war and that we have a responsibility to the Australian people to prove to them that not only have we the material power to continue and to succeed but we have also the courage, the will and the guts to do so. When I went to see President Johnson not only did he express his appreciation of what our Prime Minister was doing, but he said to me in clear and emphatic terms: ‘No matter what happens, we are going on and it will be to success with peace for the people of South Vietnam.
Let me refer to what has happened since May 1965. At that time we did not have very good supply installations or a strong infrastructure. Now if honourable members examine the photographs or get a briefing as I did when coming through Honolulu they will realise that a strong infrastructure, with supply ships, intercommunication and transport links between the United States and Da Nang, Saigon and other ports has been completed. I saw this magnificent build up which gives us every opportunity not only to mobilise but also to move our forces rapidly to whatever point we wish. I quickly mention to honourable members a few ways in which that strength .has been built up. A year ago - 18 months ago to be precise - there was but one port in the whole of South Vietnam and now there are six. Each port is capable of carrying an immense amount of traffic - at least an amount of traffic capable of sustaining the defence effort that is being made there. I mention, too, that 18 months ago there were only three airports, each of them small. Now there are eight airports. I think that if honourable members were to visit any one of these airports they would see facilities that are unequalled in most other parts of the world. Certainly they are unequalled in Australia. That is a clear illustration of the infrastructure that has been built up. This means that we are able to increase the pressure. It means that instead of the initiative being controlled from the north it is now controlled from the south. It means in fact that the picture, far from being one of defeat is the opposite.
Let me take honourable members through the four corps areas to see what has happened. First I Corps Area. I mention this because this was the challenge of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The I Corps Area is closest to the demilitarised zone. Here we find that the North Vietnamese are capable of launching an attack by one to three divisions. Every time they have launched a large scale attack over the last 18 months they have been clobbered. They have not had a single large scale victory in this area in the last 18 months. Over 45,000 North Vietnamese and Vietcong have been recorded as killed and 60% of the population is now under the control of the central Government of Saigon compared with 35% only 18 months ago. What is just as important, the road link - the commercial link between the demilitarised zone and the II Corps Area, 235 miles away - is now clear for commercial and military traffic.
I now come to the II Corps Area, which is in the central highlands. Here honourable members will find another remarkable story. Whilst it has been pointed out by the United States Military Command that the North Vietnamese and Vietcong can launch attacks of, say, a few thousand troops, those attacks are poorly coordinated and directed. There has not been one regimental or divisional attack in this area during the last year. Not one. So here again is evidence of progress in this field. Ninety per cent of the important roadways have been opened since 1965 and the enemy losses there are ten times those of the Americans, ourselves, the South Koreans and the other free world forces.
In the III Corps Area around Saigon the picture is different. Here the Vietcong infrastructure does remain sound and the enemy is able to carry out guerrilla operations, banditry and harassing operations. The important fact to rember here is what my colleague referred to the other night as the Chieu Hoi ralliers, or those who leave the Communist cause to come over to the cause of the free countries. The numbers of these have increased by 24 times. Over 60% of the national priority areas are under central Government control.
The last area that I refer to is the IV Corps Area, which is an area mainly defended by the South Vietnamese - the Army of the Republic of South Vietnam. 1 believe that the picture here is one that should lead to confidence among the Australia people. In 1965 only 40% of the population was under the Saigon Government control. Today 60% is under that control. Today Vietcong initiated action has fallen by 70%. During August there were 169 battalion-size or large operations and 56,000 smaller operations carried out on the initiative of the ARVN - the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. The initiative has changed. Instead of the Vietcong being in control we now find that the ARVN has the initiative and is in control.
– Is the Minister telling the truth?
– The honourable member for Hindmarsh has used the word ‘lies’ and has used other unpleasant phrases. If there ever is a man who has a creditibility gap, there he sits. And the other one sits almost directly behind him.
We are not in this conflict for the sake of fighting a war alone. I want to stress the objectives that we are attempting to achieve. Before I do so, Mr Speaker, I want to mention what is in fact happening. This is the challenge that was made by the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns). I would like to quote from a report of General Harold Johnson, the Chief of Staff of the United States armed forces. General Johnson was asked the following question- are we now winning the war in Vietnam, or fighting along in a stalemate that could last for a long time?
He gave the following answer:
We are very definitely winning in Vietnam, and I say that for this reason: There has been a marked turnabout in most areas of the country in the last year - really in the course of the last year and a half.
My colleague the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) made this statement in this House last week:
The war is by no means over but it is not at a stalemate. The immense build up in strength and logistic preparation give today a capacity to increase pressure at all points. We must not do as the Leader of the Opposition has done and succumb to the temptation to allow ourselves to be brainwashed into thinking that this is an interminable war, that we are hogged down in morass, that there is no sign of success and that we might as well cut the painter, abandon the South Vietnamese and retire to the happy isolation of Australia.
I have mentioned our objectives in South Vietnam. They are these: We all want peace, security, progress and prosperity in the whole of South Vietnam, but this is predicated, firstly, on the establishment of representative parliamentary government and, secondly, on an assurance that the national development programmes, or the revolution ary development programmes, as they are called, have a chance of success. Since the Constituent Assembly drew up the Constitution for South Vietnam, a President and a Vice-President and upper and lower houses have been elected. Now there is a representative organisation. Reports indicate that 5,900,000 people registered for the elections and 84% of them voted. One of our great objectives has in fact been achieved. Alongside constitutional change we also find that there has been marked success in the development of the revolutionary development programme. Those who care to read what was said by General Johnson in an article which appeared in the ‘US News and World Review’ will find that he gives a pleasing picture of the way in which rice production has improved and that soon, it is hoped, rice will be in sufficient supply and that rice prices might even fall.
So here we find our objectives on their way to achievement. We must not permit the Australian people to be brainwashed as the Opposition has been. We must convince them of the justice of our cause and that we will fight on until victory is assured. Before I conclude I would like to refer to one other matter. The Government initiated this debate tonight to clarify the differences that exist between the Australian Labor Party and ourselves. That was our objective. We have no hesitation in saying where we stand. I repeat what was said by my colleague the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen). We want to protect the independence of South Vietnam. We want to participate in the treaty obligations of SEATO and ANZUS in the defence of this area. We want to defend ourselves because our security is involved in South Vietnam. What is just as precious to us as the ANZUS treaty is our relationship with the United States. If we were to walk out on the Americans, could we expect them when our hour of trial had come, automatically to come to help this country? We have shown an earnest of our intentions. We have now built up our Army to 5,000 and our total forces to 8,000 in this area. But what of the Labor Party? Here we do identify the issue.
At least it can be said to the credit of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) that he fully endorsed the findings and the decisions of the Australian Labor
Party Conference in Adelaide in August of this year. This is a policy of desertion of our allies and ratting on our friends. It is a policy of returning to isolationism and being compelled, if ever the need arises to defend ourselves alone. The Deputy Leader of the Labor Party said that we should give up the bombing. My colleague, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) has said in effect: Could anyone in conscience and decency give up the bombing knowing that it would mean that they had their privileged sanctuary to the North; that all the supplies coming in were not being bombed out of existence, and that their military installations were being brought back to full production? This could only mean that our own forces would suffer in a way that they had not suffered before.
The other point I wish to mention is recognition of the National Liberation Front; in other words, to recognise them as the valid government of this area. To do this would give the impression that we did not care whether Communism succeeded in the whole of South East Asia or whether, in fact, Communists dominate the northern approaches to this country. On these two policies the Government and the Opposition will be judged. It will mean either that the people are for our independence or for the Opposition’s policy of isolation and desertion of our friends when they are in their most desperate need.
– The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) has, like all of the Government speakers on this important question tonight, devoted almost all of his time to the military aspects of the war. We on this side do not accept his assessment of the war situation in South Vietnam. Indeed, he followed almost word for word in some ways the statements already made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck). I believe that the process of winning the war in Vietnam is a very slow one. The situation is that the United States of America has committed such enormous resources of men and material that it cannot be dislodged nor can it be defeated on the battlefield. That is an entirely different situation from winning the war. From time to time during the war we have had reports such as: “The tide has been turned’, The end is closer’, and ‘We are now winning’. I put it to honourable members that the war situ ation is closer to being a stalemate than the Government speakers have recognised tonight. The figures that have been quoted have dealt with the cost to the enemy - the cost of the war to the Vietcong. These figures have dealt with Vietnamese statistics but have not been related to American statistics at all.
In reply to the point made by the Treasurer, I would like to quote from the ‘Canberra Times’ of 18th October 1967. It refers to the following statement by John T. Wheeler:
So far Ibis year American battle dead are more than double those suffered by the Vietnamese regulars, who have become increasingly less active on the battlefield. The gap appears to be growing.
I now turn to the statement by the Minister for External Affairs. It is very proper, of course, for a survey of external affairs to be made at the end of a parliamentary session. However, members on this side of the House regret that the assessment the Minister for External Affairs made was so restricted in scope. No mention was made of other issues of great importance to Australia. One thinks of Suez and the situation in Malaysia, Indonesia and so on. The statement was restricted to Vietnam. I think we could all be pardoned for suggesting that the restriction of this statement to Vietnam at this time was for political reasons.
The statement was a military one rather than a diplomatic one. One would think that it was a statement made by the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall), who will shortly be making his own statement, rather than by the Minister for External Affairs. No mention was made of the’ role of the Australian forces in the field or of advice given by our competent External Affairs Department representatives in Saigon. The information came from Washington - from North America. No information was given, except in the shortest possible way, about land reform or the pacification programmes in Vietnam. Only a few paragraphs in a very lengthy document were devoted to these aspects. This indicates and strongly underlines, I submit, that while there are some military successes to be claimed, the successes to be claimed in the field of pacification and land reform and the like are modest indeed.
Then, of course, there is the smear in the statement that all the critics of the Vietnam war support the enemy. I think the Government is very foolish in this respect because it does not take into account, when it does this, that it smears a whole range of Australian people who in good conscience have opposed the war in Vietnam. The Government does not take into account that these people have a Christian conscience and that they oppose the war because of all the suffering that is inflicted on innocent men, women and children. The comparison, of course, has been made with two world wars in Europe. This shows that the Minister for External Affairs does not really understand the war situation in that Vietnam is one country artificially divided and inhabitated by people who are fanatically and aggressively nationalistic. The Minister gives what purports to be a military assessment of the situation but makes no similar analysis of the political situation of South Vietnam. This at a time when he was ready to depart from Australia to attend the inauguration of the new president and when the development of a popular government in Saigon - if it develops - must surely be of great long-term importance to the development of that country and to ending the war.
I feel we ought to lay down some of the areas in which the Labor Party would like to see developments in Vietnam. It is appropriate at this time when a President and a Parliament have just taken office. We have the opportunity of dealing with a new executive and a Parliament. I would like to quote from a statement made by General Thieu within the last couple of days concerning his Government and its problems. The ‘Courier Mail* of 1st November, states:
President Thieu and Vice-President Ky already face a crisis.
They have promised the war-weary Vietnamese to strive for peace.
Their difficult job will be to stamp out corruption in Government, military and police circles, and to inspire the people to pride in South Vietnam.
A wide section of the country is still antiGovernment.
It will require quick action by Thieu and Ky if these people are to be won over.
No mention of any of these things has been made in the statement on this very involved situation. The coming into office of a President and Parliament in South Vietnam is very important from a number of points of view. It opens up new opportunities. It terminates a period of unconstitutional government that commenced with the assassination of President Ngo Dinh Diem. In other words there is a new start.
I believe that it is proper at this time to spell out some of the things that we as Australians, and the Australian Labor Party, would like to see happen in South Vietnam. I would hope that there develops in that country a broadly based and strong executive. There is a great need for a broadly based and strong executive to get away from the small military junta that has governed the people of South Vietnam for the past several years. There needs to be a strong and broadly based executive because South Vietnam is a very much divided country. It is divided religiously and is divided into various sects and provinces with various areas of difference among the people. There is a great danger of fragmentation in the new Assemblies as they undertake their work. There is a need for honest province chiefs. We know that of recent times some of them have been on trial. South Vietnam is divided into what seems to me to be an extraordinarily large number of provinces. Each of the province chiefs is virtually king of his own domain and can determine how effective any programme may be that originates from Saigon or through assistance given by the United States, ourselves or anyone else, lt seems to me that the most effective way to build democracy in South Vietnam is to start with local government in the secured areas. The task is to establish an honest, capable and loyal administration at village level and to bring the rule of law to the rice paddy. This is not easy. The French were never able to do it. The Diem Government failed. The Vietcong and the National Liberation Front inherit the prestige of the Vietminh as an independence movement. The task of building a free society must be undertaken while the war is being fought. It is an insurgency war. It is as part of the winning of that war that these political and social reforms must take place. No mention is made of any of these things in the statement made by the Minister for External Affairs.
Now I come to the war itself. Before one can determine the most satisfactory way to end the war, the war must be understood. Because of the long history of search for national identity the Vietnamese are a fiercely nationalistic people. The presence of a Communist element in the National Liberation Front should not blind us to the movement for national independence. The attitude of the Australian Government has been one of the blind leading the blind. The Government has never understood this war. First of all, it said the war was brought about by Chinese aggression. The war started in 1946, 3 years before the Government of the Peoples Republic of China won through in that county and certainly before that Government occupied the southern portions of China close to the Indo-China border. The war still continues at a time when much of China’s energies are turned inward upon herself. She has very great problems of division that we know exist in that country. The Government’s second proposition was that the war had been caused by aggression from the north. We were told that it was all motivated by Hanoi. I am not suggesting that there is no motivation by Hanoi. But cessation of that motivation would not mean the end of the war. Even if the Government of North Vietnam completely discontinued its interest and involvement in the war, the war could still continue unless the necessary reforms are carried out in South Vietnam.
The Australian Government has been opposed to negotiations. We recall the previous Prime Minister stating that he did not care whether he was the last Prime Minister in the world to stand out against negotiations - he would stand out. Shortly after that the President of the United States, in his Johns Hopkins University speech at Baltimore, spoke out in support of negotiations. Australia went all the way with LBJ. This Government has been opposed always to negotiations with the National Liberation Front. It has always seemed amazing to me that the Government can say that it is not going to negotiate with them when these are the people who are in no small measure conducting the war. Now we come to the situation where the Government is opposing any gesture towards de-escalation by discontinuing the bombing of North Vietnam.
Can we win this war? What does it involve? I believe that the present period is one of military stalemate. To win the war in military terms would mean increasing the American involvement to something of the order of 1 million men, which would be an enormous escalation of the war. Of course that would mean running the risk of involving China. Unless attempts are made to end the war at this stage, with the American elections coming up one can imagine the sort of pressures to which this Government would be reacting. The situation could be reached where somebody decides to invade the panhandle and carry the war on the ground to North Vietnam. So we have a duty and a responsibility to endeavour to end the war by negotiations at this stage. That is the Australian Labor Party’s point of view. We support the initiative taken by General Thieu this week and quoted in the ‘Courier-Mail’ of 1st November. The report stated:
General Thieu immediately after his inauguration, declared he wanted a peace conference now with North Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh. 1 am not suggesting it is simple to bring this about, but I want to suggest some matters that we should be debating in order to bring about this situation instead of considering how we can escalate the war. First of all, the Australian Labor Party believes that the cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam is the first step towards de-escalation. That does not mean that we are asking the Americans or our own people in South Vietnam to stop the bombing of people who are fighting them in South Vietnam - to cease the bombing at the point of infiltration across the border. We are asking that the United States cease the bombing of North Vietnam at this point of time as a step towards the negotiation table. The argument used against such a step is this: How can you trust them? What happens if you do de-escalate in this way? It is not only the North Vietnamese who are involved. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in recent times has been gaining a reputation for greater responsibility in international affairs. The USSR, according to the British Prime Minister, Mr Harold Wilson, has said that the first step towards the ending of the war by negotiations would be to crease bombing North Vietnam. Within the last 2 days the Soviet Prime Minister has repeated this statement.
I quote from the ‘Australian’ of Wednesday 1st November, which states:
The Soviet Prime Minister, Mr Kosygin, hinted yesterday that a peace conference on Vietnam might be possible if the United States stopped bombing North Vietnam. Mr Kosygin’s hint coincided with what Soviet diplomats have been saying privately for months - that the basic conditions for talks are an end to the bombing and American acceptance of the NLF as an equal partner in negotiations.
I shall suggest some of the things that I believe should be done. They are all consistent with the ALP’s policy and attitude which is that we ought to explore these matters. First of all, we should establish a practice of inflicting minimum military damage on innocent people. One could give dozens of examples - and I do not want to introduce emotionalism into my speech - which no doubt distress us all, of men, women, children and mothers with babies, caught up, torn apart and killed in the ruthless war that is being conducted by both sides. I think -we all recognise that. The next proposition is to announce an allied intention to de-escalate step by step in response to properly established de-escalation by North Vietnam. In other words, we de-escalate the bombing and we indicate that we are prepared step by step to de-escalate the war in response to a properly established de-escalation programme by North Vietnam. Then we negotiate on the basis of the Geneva Agreements of 1954. Both sides have always agreed and still maintain that they are anxious to get back to the basis of the Geneva Agreements of 1954. We should continue and expand the International Control Commission. I do not know whether you, Mr Speaker, noticed recently an interesting report that at the time of an American raid on Hanoi anti-aircraft guns were silenced in order that an International Control Commission aeroplane might land at the aerodrome involved. Both sides still respect and still recognise the International Control Commission. This statement is an indication that the North Vietnamese too recognise that eventually this war must be settled by negotiation. The agreement that is reached should guarantee the boundaries of all the countries of Indo-China. Then we should undertake a massive programme of economic aid over a long period of separation between North Vietnam and South Vietnam and possibly at the end of 10 or 15 years conduct a plebiscite in all parts of the country to determine the future of Vietnam.
It may be said that it is all very well to spell this out, that this is an idealistic approach to a very difficult situation. But we must consider the alternatives. The war is not being won; it has reached a position of stalemate. To win the war one must escalate. One must be put hi a position that could involve the invasion of North Vietnam, the bringing of the Chinese into the situation and the dropping of the atomic bomb. This is the story of winning the war, of going all the way to win it in a comparatively short time. If the present situation continues, the war will drag on for years, if not decades. Whatever one might like to think, much of the situation in Vietnam involves a change in the Vietcong infrastructure. They are adjusting to the new circumstances. The comments being made by American Service personnel and our own Service personnel today are almost exactly the same as statements that were made by the French over the whole period of their unhappy association with Vietnam. The third possibility at this point is to make some effort to bring the parties to the negotiating table. This is Labor’s policy.
The last point I think I should try to answer is the charge that is continually made that Labor will throw away the American alliance, that it will do away with the American protective umbrella over Australia. Labor believes in the American alliance, lt has been pointed out earlier in the debate tonight that Labor established the American alliance in those dark days of the Second World War in 1942 when the people who sit on the Government side of the House judged patriotism by the British alliance rather than the American alliance. John Curtin and the Labor Government at that time were much criticised, of course. The real friends of the United States of America want de-escalation. They want the parties to the war brought to the negotiating table as soon as they may. Our wish for an Australian initiative to end the war is not inconsistent with an American alliance. We can still maintain good relations and develop better relations with the United States of America while showing some independent Australian initiative in many of these matters. I can recall that Australia with India took the Indonesian situation to the United Nations back in 1947 and in 1949. This was a substantial factor in reaching the solution to the war between the Dutch and the Indonesians. So the Labor Party want to retain an American presence in South East Asia. The Labor Party believes in the American alliance more specifically as it is most effectively expressed in the ANZUS Treaty. The Labor Party believes that the greatest possible contribution that it can make to the continuation of the American alliance and the wellbeing of the people of the United States, of this country and of all South East Asia is to bring the war to an end.
– The honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) seems to have given us a magnificent catalogue of the action we might take to abandon the aims that took us into the Vietnam conflict and to walk away from our friends and neighbours in South East Asia. There can be no doubt that there will always be argument about the question of Vietnam, because the forces contending there are involved in the great ideological conflict of our times. If we overlook the fact that the background of Vietnam is an ideological background, we will certainly be wrong in most of the conclusions we draw from it. The Government on any number of occasions has stated and then re-stated its conviction that in decency and in prudence we were obliged to come in at the request of the Government of South Vietnam and lend a hand to preserve the values that we ourselves treasure so much for the people of that country. This is not only aggression against the people of South Vietnam; it is aggression against the whole of South East Asia.
It is quite a fascinating situation when, though there are no American forces on the countryside of North Vietnam, America is held to be the aggressor. Opposition members talk calmly about the infiltration and the number of North Vietnamese regiments that have come down the Ho Chi Minh trail. Yet they still regard this as a war of American aggression. 1 do not begin to understand them. We are told that the majority of the people in South Vietnam really support the Communist Party. Is it not odd that the minority of people in South Vietnam must submit to terrorist campaigns to be persuaded that they should join the majority? The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and other honourable members opposite have contributed a long list of people who are against the war in Vietnam. The interesting feature that is common to all these people is that they feel themselves not to be involved. I would sooner go to those people who are in this sphere of interest - our sphere of interest. 1 would sooner listen to what they say.
Lee Kuan Yew, that shrewd statesman and politician from Singapore, is reported to have said in America a few days ago that Malaysia and Singapore will go through the Communist mincing machine in 2 or 3 years if the United States withdraws from Vietnam. Here surely is the right kind of summing up of the situation. One need look only at the statements made by Thanat Khoman and the Government of Thailand to realise that the remarks of Lee Kuan Yew are repeated in that quarter. Only today we had a most powerful plea in the precincts of this House from a gallant statesman who is fighting for the rights of his small so-called neutral country, Laos, the neutrality of which has allegedly been guaranteed. It was a heart rending plea for the freedom of small nations to live at peace, in security and to develop their own systems in the way they want. An interesting point is that all the honourable gentlemen from the other side who have spoken in this debate tonight listened to that plea from a man who lives in this area. North Vietnamese Communist guerrillas - 40,000 of them- are committing aggression in his country at this moment. Through this so-called neutral country the Ho Chi Minh trail runs. Here is a man who ought to know what he is talking about. As far as I am concerned, I will take the word of Prince Souvanna Phouma, of Thanat Khoman and of Lee Kuan Yew against the word of those people who are said to be against the war.
The fact of the matter is that this war would not have begun in the first place if the Communist Government of North Vietnam, despite the declarations of Geneva in 1954, had not moved to take over the country and the people of South Vietnam and add them to the new Communist imperialism building in Asia. There is not the slightest doubt about that fact. It emerges from the evidence of the International Control Commission itself that when the Vietminh were defeated there were left behind in South Vietnam any number of Communist cadres, who greased and packed away their weapons, who built the great weapon pits, arsenals and tunnel complexes from which our soldiers are only now winkling the enemy. All of this was advance preparation so that South Vietnam would fall under the control of North Vietnam. The North Vietnamese came within an ounce of success because in 1965 the situation was desperate. Had it not been for the escalation, if that term is preferred, of the United States military assistance to the Government and people of South Vietnam, we would have had a fait accompli and the people of South Vietnam would today be under Communist rule. Then, they would no doubt suffer the kind of mass murder, the kind of executions, that went on - when the Vietminh cleansed North Vietnam. By ‘cleansed’ I mean removed - ‘liquidated’ is really the word - the people who oppose the Communist philosophy.
At present, the fact is that Hanoi’s hope of a quick takeover has completely disappeared. The war is going badly for Ho Chi Minh. In this kind of war, it is not easy to find those yardsticks by which one can measure success or failure. This is a war of movement. It is not a war of position. It is not a war in which one can count up the yards gained, the towns liberated or the area cleared. The troops may clear an area today; it may be reinfested with Vietcong tomorrow. This is the essence of the revolutionary kind of war in which we are involved in Vietnam. I believe that we have a good deal to learn about this kind of war. Supply difficulties for the Vietcong in South Vietnam are everywhere in evidence. Recruits are becoming more and more scarce; hence the appearance, as evidenced by prisoners who have been captured by our forces, of mere boys and women who are now going into the Vietcong forces in South Vietnam. The rate of desertions from the Vietcong is increasing. The damage to North Vietnam from bombing is serious. The morale of the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong is certainly declining, according to the first hand observational evidence of prisoners and those who give themselves up under the South Vietnamese Chieu Hoi programme.
I have little confidence that there will be early negotiation, I am sorry to say. Sir. I believe that there are very good reasons why Hanoi is not prepared to negotiate. Those reasons deserve a little better understanding. A number of options are open to the Communists of North Vietnam. They may hope to win militarily, though I believe that that hope is now dead. They still might win psychologically by default of the free world forces. I would like to say something about that in a moment. Or, in the final analysis, they may get a fall back position and negotiate in the hope of securing favourable terms that will leave their structure virtually intact. The Leader of the Opposition said that it would be a mistake to see the situation in Vietnam only in a military context. How true that is. The kind of revolutionary war that is being fought in Vietnam at present is both military and political and also a psychological war. This fact we ought to remember.
The protracted revolutionary war in which we are involved is the very essence of Communist military strategy. It sets out to exploit our lack of experience and to involve us in some continuing misunderstanding of what protracted revolutionary war is all about. Something has been said tonight about the number of troops that might have to be brought in to finish the war. There is a classic formula which is subscribed to by every military historian who has studied revolutionary guerilla war and which sets the proportion at ten to one, because of the very nature of this war and the kind of terrain in which it is being fought. Have no doubt about it: the Vietcong in South Vietnam are not a ragged bunch of revolutionaries. They are regarded as the most skilled and experienced guerilla fighters that the world has ever known, and they are fighting over terrain and under weather conditions that aid them greatly and in a situation in which subsistence is readily available to them. These circumstances make them a very formidable team indeed, and one that is ideally suited to carry on this kind of operation.
But we are coping with the situation in South Vietnam. We have a differential of only five to one; yet the war is being won by our side. The Communists can slip into neutral Laos and neutral Cambodia. This is not a right that has been given to them, but a right that they have seized. Those countries are regarded by us as neutral. If we are to extend this neutral area into North Vietnam itself by a cessation of bombing, this will give the Government of North Vietnam the finest and quickest kind of victory that it could hope for. An end to bombing would simply create another strong sanctuary for the Communists of North Vietnam.
This evening, there has been a lot of thunder on the Opposition side of the House about the fact that bombing will never stop the war. As far as I know, Mr Speaker, the idea that bombing was designed to stop the war was invented on the other side of the House. Nobody in any position of responsibility or knowledge claims that bombing will stop the war. The bombing was designed to be supplementary to the war in South Vietnam, not a substitute for it. Honourable members opposite may read, if they like, the whole of the testimony given by Robert McNamara before the House committee in the United States of America. If they do, they will find that he put down the aims of the bombing as being, firstly, to bolster the morale of the South Vietnamese; secondly, to slow down and impede the infiltration of men and supplies into South Vietnam; and, thirdly, to show the Government of North Vietnam that there was a big and continuing price to be paid for continued aggression. As Robert McNamara said before the House committee: ‘Those were our aims when we began the bombing. They are still our aims today.’ If honourable members opposite can make anything more than that out of the statements made by Robert McNamara before the committee, they are welcome to do so.
A good deal has been said about the contribution that the United States is supposed to make to peace negotiations by stopping the bombing unconditionally. A little while ago, the honourable member for Brisbane talked about the support that was being given to the North Vietnamese by the Soviet Union. It is a fact that if it were not for the support being given to the North Vietnamese by the Soviet Union and China, the war would long since have been over. It seems that the Soviet Union is prepared to prosecute the war in Vietnam to the last North Vietnamese. Would it not be a reasonable proposition for the Soviet Union to offer to stop supplying arms to the North Vietnamese in return for the cessation of American bombing? Why has the initiative always to come from the United States? Why have the Americans to strip themselves of one military advantage after another when in fact the entire war could be stopped at any moment at the behest of Ho Chi Minh and the Government of North Vietnam? These are questions of the kind to which we must devote our attention, Sir.
The Opposition describes this as an interminable and unwinnable war. In view of the fact that the United States did not enter it until 1965, the involvement of the free world forces being therefore scarcely 2 years old, can this truly be said to be an interminable war? Does the evidence quoted by me and by my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck), show that the war is unwinnable? The cry that the war is interminable and unwinnable may be a very nice slogan for anyone who wants to excite the emotions of people whose minds he hopes to condition. I shall not use the word ‘brainwash*. But this cry is based on a very poor assessment of the war in Vietnam at present. We know that this is a difficult kind of war to win. Indeed, this is our first experience of a protracted revolutionary war. Our enemy is vastly experienced. The technique was invented in China, I think, twenty-five centuries ago. It was used by the Vietminh and they are vastly experienced in it. Our experience has grown - with much success, as one sees by the results. The whole aim of this revolutionary process is to tire out the free world forces and to create an air of confusion and frustration so that they will want to terminate the conflict and go home.
I turn now to the power of propaganda. 1 mentioned a few moments ago that this is not only a military and political war but also a phychological one. I believe that as the options of the North Vietnamese tend to run out - they have lost the possibility of a military victory - we are seeing an upsurge of psychological effort all round the world which has been inspired by the forces of
Communism throughout the world and which has been carefully co-ordinated so that, on the same day, in Europe, America and Australia there are demonstrations against the involvement of the allies in this war. Happily, Sir, some counter demonstrations are beginning to come from those people who do not want war and who want the things that Hanoi will not agree to without a war. These people want peace in Vietnam and the security of the people of South Vietnam.
It is interesting to. have people like Professor McAuley point out that the university students who have been doing a little demonstrating in this country are not doing it spontaneously and because of their love of peace and security, but are doing it because they are being carefully manipulated. I do not accuse everybody who goes into a protest campaign against the war of being a Communist - not a bit of it - but there are people who, out of the goodness of their heart and out of their ordinary human compassion, can be persuaded to lend their support, powerful or otherwise, to a campaign of this kind. They are being very carefully nurtured, carefully brought along and carefully involved. One does not have the time to go into all the details, but the people of Australia need to be warned against this kind of development. It is very interesting to note the comment by Ho Chi Minh himself. I quote from his own book ‘Against United States Aggression for National Salvation”, published by the Foreign Language Publishing House of North Vietnam. In answer to the question:
Can any hope be placed on the activities of a minority group called liberal in the United States?
Ho Chi Minh replied:
We hold that the protest movement in the United States against the ‘dirty war* gives an active support to our cause.
We have had also the statement of the Minister for Defence of North Vietnam who admits that the greatest aid and comfort comes out of the evidence around the world that there are people who are prepared to join these anti-war movements, but that the aid and support is going to the people of North Vietnam. All of this gives support to the statement of the Minister for External Affairs last week when he pointed out that the banners and the processions which aim to provide peace are, in fact, achieving precisely the reverse.
While ever the Government of North Vietnam has the feeling that there is a hope of having this campaign expanded and more pressure put upon the governments of the free world to cease their military activities in Vietnam the less inclination will there be on the part of the Government of North Vietnam to come to the conference table. I have only a minute or two left, but one thing remains to be said. Nobody wants to see this war going on interminably. We all hope for an early end to it. It will, of course, be a negotiated settlement, but we will need to be tremendously careful, and nowhere more careful than when we come to the time of negotiation, because, as I have pointed out, having lost the military initiative, knowing that North Vietnam cannot win the war by psychology, the ultimate fall back position of the North Vietnamese is liable to be at the point of negotiation, when the effort will be made to keep the political infrastructure of South Vietnam intact, to leave the Vietcong in South Vietnam - unidentified, but still armed - and to promote a coalition government with the National Liberation Front. The National Liberation Front is the very body which, only in the last few months, did everything possible to prevent the people of South Vietnam from electing any kind of government for themselves, yet ultimately the National Liberation Front hopes to share a place in the government. This will be the prelude to tremendous pressure to have the forces of the free world leave South East Asia. When that is on, the stage may well be set in a year, or three or five, for a resumption of the war. In other words, if we are not extraordinarily careful about this kind of situation, we will have won the peace but we may well have lost the war and lost the freedom of South Vietnam by degrees.
- Mr Speaker-
Motion (by Mr Snedden) agreed to:
That the question be now put.
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. 3. Aston)Order! The House will come to order and the honourable member for Wills will cease interjecting. It is normal courtesy, when the Speaker is on his feet in the House, for silence to be observed.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Bill 1967.
Seamen’s Compensation Bill 1967.
Defence (Re-establishment) Bill 1967.
Superannuation (Pension Increases) Bill 1967.
Defence Forces Retirement Benefits (Pension Increases) Bill 1967.
Parliamentary Retiring Allowances (Increases) Bill 1967.
Banking Bill 1967.
Consideration resumed (vide page 2675).
Clause 43. (1.) Where an application for the grant of a licence has been made under section 40 of this Act and the applicant has furnished any further information required by the Designated Authority under sub-section (2.) of section 41 of this Act, the Designated Authority, by instrument in writing served on the applicant -
shall inform the applicant that he is prepared to grant to him a licence in respect of the blocks specified in the application; and
may inform the applicant that the applicant will be required to lodge a security for compliance with the conditions to which the licence, if granted, will from time to time be subject and with the provisions of this Part and of the regulations. (2.) An instrument under the last preceding subsection shall -
contain a summary of the conditions subject to which the licence is to be granted;
if the instrument relates to an application for a secondary licence - specify the rate of royalty determined by the Designated Authority in pursuance of sub-section (1.) of the last preceding section; and
contain a statement to the effect that the application will lapse -
if the applicant does not make a request under sub-section (1.) of the next succeeding section in respect of the grant of the licence; or
in a case where the Designated Authority informs the applicant that he will be required to lodge a security as mentioned in paragraph (b) of the last preceding sub-section - if the applicant does not lodge that security with the Designated Authority.
– I move:
At the end of sub-clause (1.) add the following paragraph:
At the end of the clause add the following sub-clause: (3.) No licence shall be granted to any applicant who is the holder of a production licence or licences in respect of an area or areas exceeding in aggregate forty graticular sections.’.
We have heard much tonight about physical aggression against Australia, but in the course of the debate on the petroleum offshore legislation we have heard even more about economic aggression against Australia. It has been correctly said that other nations cannot understand how a people sitting on unimaginable resources can be so slow in developing them, so free in giving away control of them, and so haphazard in disposing of them that the maximum benefit is not brought to Australia. We have been presiding at the obsequies of the greatest asset that Australia has or is ever likely to possess. In this particular case we ask the Government to accept a dose of its own medicine, because some of the staunchest financial supporters of the Government have been, for a very considerable time, sounding a note of warning as to the percentage control of overseas investment in Australian industry and advocating at least a 50% holding by Australia.In this particular case we are suggesting that there should be a 50% beneficial holding in respect of the financial ownership of a licence, that it should be vested in bona fide residents of Australia within 12 months after the date of granting of such production licence, and that such ownership should continue. In other words, we have accepted the repeated assurances of the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) and some of the Government supporters that some of the technology and some of the knowhow which is necessary to develop offshore oil exploration and production has been in the hands of overseas interests. Where oil is discovered we say that we are prepared to give even a further 12 months breathing period beyond the date of the grant of the production licence in which a 50% Australian equity shall be made available.
The Jeremiahs will suggest that such money is not available in Australia, but as a matter of fact 90% of Australian development is financed by internal savings and, for what it is worth and no doubt it has some points of merit, the Government has recently enacted legislation for an Australian Resources Development Bank in which also we will be interested. Throughout this debate I have challenged the Minister, and he has yet to reply and inform me, as to the exact percentage holding of foreign capital in the various companies which hold exploration permits and production licences in respect of Australian offshore areas. As a matter of fact, the position is that it is at least 90%. Virtually 100% of oil refining is controlled by overseas capital. We have a policy of development in Australia today advocated by this Government, but it is a policy which is controlled by overseas board rooms. It is a policy which gives no real consideration to the true needs of Australia.
Let us have a look, as an example, at the position in the Republic of India. Even that country, with its pathetic need for developmental capita], and with an income per capita only a fraction of the income in Australia, insists upon a 51% Indian holding in any company operating within its borders. Yet the Australian Government is not prepared to impose any controls whatever of that kind. Licences and permits are to be handed out indiscriminately, without any thought for the future. We need now, as never before, to stand on our own feet as a nation. Our former trading relations with Britain are very tenuous. We are having tremendous problems with the United States. Already there is a protectionist bloc most active in the United States Congress and notes of protest have been sent from Australia. Our only potential market is Japan, and there will be limitations in that market. It will be a case of reciprocal trade, and a trade that will be, in the main, very much to our detriment. In a situation like that we find that Australia’s greatest import is crude oil, and even the discoveries which have been made up to date will not supply more than 10 or 12% of our oil require ments. There is a lot more oil available to us, and I have no doubt that when this legislation is passed there will be some immediate announcements by some of the major companies as to their true position, and I believe it is for this reason that the Bill is being rammed through in the closing hours of this sessional period.
We are paying today at least $A260m for imports of crude oil, but that money ought to be kept in this country because from now on we will find ourselves within one orbit only. It will be the post-war version, an economic version, of the Greater South East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere, which will be under Japanese domination and control. We will find ourselves again an economic satellite of a small, densely populated island. We will be the source of its raw materials and the market for its finished products, particularly capital goods. This is a position I am not prepared to countenance or to accept, nor should it be accepted by any other decent Australian. Certainly it should not be accepted by the national Government. We see a sorry procession of gifts of Australia’s national assets made by this Government. These include iron ore, aluminium, copper, nickel, and last and greatest of all, oil. We find, turning to another field, that some of our agricultural wealth is being given away by exceedingly generous land titles.
Last week we heard the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) expressing his concern at Australia’s trading future. He is off hotfoot, despite the fact that a Senate election campaign is commencing, to Geneva to discuss Australia’s trading position in the context of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. We have had evidence of a wool crisis in New Zealand. It is true that the wool involved in that case is crossbred wool. We know, however, that wool can no longer be relied upon as a staple fibre to bring us in the tremendous income that we have had from it in the past. We know that with the United Kingdom closed out of the European Common Market she will have no alternative but to be a suppliant and continue to knock at the door. In the meantime we are being led into a fool’s paradise by this Government.
If the Government has any sincerity or any honesty at all, or any regard for the true needs of Australia, it will accept my first amendment As to the second amendment, which is being discussed conjointly, it proposes:
No licence shall be granted to any applicant who is the holder of a production licence or licences in respect of an area or areas exceeding in aggregate forty graticular sections.
On reflection I feel that we have been exceedingly generous. However, we believe there should be some limit placed on the area made available, and even forty graticular sections could, in the circumstances, be a very generous allowance, and even an extravagant one. The Minister said in his second reading speech, and I have quoted this repeatedly during the Committee debate, that no limit is to be placed on the number of permits that are to be granted to any applicant. What a situation! What will people in other parts of the world think of Australia? What will they think of this Government and its consciousness of the needs of Australia and particularly the need to protect one of our most valuable national assets? We hear the pathetic plea, the tale in extenuation, that we must at all times develop our oil resources. We are doing precisely the reverse, we are giving them away, and, worse still we are giving them to people who in many cases will lock them up because of the oil glut that exists throughout the world. Our oil will be left where it is, completely tied up, and I give credit to the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) in this regard, because he has repeatedly pointed that out. We strongly urge the acceptance of the amendments I have moved.
– I support the amendments. It is essential that we provide in this legislation for the benefits derived from the natural gas found beneath our continental shelf to be available to the greatest possible number of people in the Commonwealth. An amendment which the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) will propose to clause 56 on page 37 of the Bill will provide for the sale of petroleum products in States other than an adjoining State to the State in which the product is produced. I believe this is a reasonable amendment.
I sometimes wonder whether this debate should ever have taken place in this Parliament. It seems to me that all we are doing is confirming the States’ rights in this matter.
The honourable member for Cunningham has moved two amendments and I understand that it has been decided to discuss all these matters together so that the business can be disposed of as speedily as possible. One of the amendments to clause 43 provides:
No licence shall be granted to any applicant who is the holder of a production licence or licences in respect of an area or areas exceeding in aggregate forty graticular sections.
I thought this matter would have been resolved, but unfortunately the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) has changed his attitude towards the graticular system. It appears to me that this is a basic matter in considering areas and in considering what is to become of petroleum products won from the continental shelf. The proposal of the honourable member highlights the national aspect of this matter. Australia must assert its position. The Australian content, as was mentioned b discussion of a previous clause, is of vital importance. I understand the honourable member for Mackellar will deal more specifically with that question in a later amendment. In any event it is imperative that our resources on the continental shelf be developed in an orderly way and in the interests of the whole of the people of Australia. They must not be developed for monopolies alone. Public interest should be the dominating feature. Therefore I support the amendments moved by the honourable member for Cunningham and I hope that the House will have second thoughts on this matter.
– Although I sympathise very much with some of the sentiments expressed by the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor), I believe these two amendments go a little too far in certain respects. They would have been desirable, I think, if they had been brought in earlier in the piece, but in their present form I am afraid they may do something to slow down or impede existing plans. They are quite different from any of the amendments which I have suggested, none of which would have any effect on immediate plans. Although I think a lot of the things said are correct, there may be some unfortunate implications if these two amendments were accepted.
That the amendments (Mr Connor’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 34
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 44 to 55 - by leave - taken together.
– I seek leave to move two amendments together.
– Order! There being no objection, leave is granted.
– My first amendment proposes to insert a new clause in the Bill and the second refers to clause 47, which reads in part: (1.) Where-
a permit is surrendered, cancelled or determined as to a block -
In this sub-section, “ Australian company “ means a company in which:
The two amendments operate together. They are meant to restore, at least after 1973, the graticular arrangements which were originally envisaged; in other words, that override should not be permitted in new arrangements after 1973 although it would be permitted as a renewal of arrangements which were made before 1973. I have been very careful in drawing these amendments to avoid anything which would in any way impede arrangements for oil production which are now in hand. It will be seen that what I have in mind does not impede any of those arrangements whatever.
I was unable to support the amendments moved by the Opposition to clause 43 because I felt that they might impede existing arrangements and therefore slow down immediate production. It will be seen that although the amendments I have just moved do not go as far as those suggested by the Opposition, they go in the same direction. They provide that there shall be no secondary licences - no overrides - granted after 1973 and the released graticules can be bid for only by Australian companies which are appropriately defined. I think I have made my point clear. I do not at this stage propose to speak at length unless any matters need clarification.
Sitting suspended from 1130 p.m. to 12 midnight
Friday, 3 November 1967
– The honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) has just told us that he would like to see an amendment under which the override applying to the four blocks that come under a secondary licence would cease to be a condition of arrangements made after 1973. In recommending this he said that it would not interfere with any of the arrangements that people now have. This, of course, is quite true. The people who now have licences and who are working under the conditions as they now exist would not be affected if by some extraordinary chance this amendment were accepted. But let me explain to the Committee what the effect of this would be.
Five blocks out of the nine would be licensed by somebody who at some future date proposes to come into Australia and do exploration work. I believe that for generations to come somebody will be coming to Australia to do this work, but they would come with a threat hanging over them that they would have to give up four of the nine blocks. The honourable member for Mackellar does not say on what conditions the four blocks would be surrendered. I presume that we would go back to the old barter system or something like that. After spending perhaps millions of dollars to discover the location of oil, whoever held the four blocks would be asked to give them away or, rather, would have the four blocks taken from them. The only people who would be allowed to take up the four blocks would be Australians or an Australian company. I cannot think of anything more likely to deter people from coming to Australia to look for oil.
– Having listened to the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan) I am a little puzzled by the way in which his heart bleeds for the overseas oil companies. If they can come to Australia and get exploration permits they are getting a very ^ fair thing. Let me emphasise a point which perhaps has not occurred to the honourable member. If this provision were accepted the holders of existing permits would be spurred on to accelerate their programmes because if they had discovered oil before 1973 they would have rights which they would not have if they discovered oil after 1973. So far as existing holders of permits were concerned, and let me remind honourable members that the whole of the productive area around Australia is already taken up by these holders, in the period between now and 1973 by amendment it is designed to make them accelerate their exploration programmes so that they shall find oil before 1973 rather than after 1973. Perhaps this has not struck the honourable member for McMillan with the force that it should have. I emphasise to the Committee again that if we look ahead after 1973, the concessions being made in these exploration permits are so lucrative and so attractive that once oil starts to be discovered in those areas there will be no dearth of takers.
Clauses agreed to.
A licence may be granted subject to such conditions as the Designated Authority thinks fit and specifies in the licence.
– I move:
At the end of the clause add the following sub-clause: (2.) The Minister of State for the Territories may at any time add to any such licence, at the request of any person, corporation or statutory body not residing or functioning in the State adjoining the adjacent area, a condition setting the minimum proportion of the output of petroleum which must be offered for sale in any State other than such adjoining State.’
The text of the original clause 56 is as follows:
A licence may be granted subject to such conditions as the Designated Authority thinks fit and specifies in the licence.
The purpose of this amendment is to restore some basis of sanity, equity and fair play as between the Premier of Victoria and the consuming public of New South Wales. During the course of the second reading debate and also during the debate in Committee we have raised repeatedly the need for some protection against the obvious intention of the Premier of Victoria to do everything that he possibly can to impose upon the industries and consuming public of New South Wales a price structure of his own choosing, and literally to jockey himself into a position where he will be able to control the supply of natural gas to New South Wales. Apparently the Commonwealth Government is quite complacent about this.
The purpose of this amendment is quite simple. The continental shelf is under Commonwealth control; the Commonwealth has sovereign rights to explore and exploit it. At the point of production - and there is not the slightest doubt that production will come from the Esso-BHP wells - the gas is the property of the Commonwealth of Australia. It is for that reason that I have specified in the amendment that at the point of production, meaning on the continental shelf, a fixed proportion may be set aside - it is optional for the Minister - for sale in another State. No-one wants to suggest that the sovereign State of Victoria should be deprived of supplies of natural gas proper for its needs now or in the foreseeable future. But it has gone much beyond that stage. An official spokesman for Esso-BHP is reported in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 14th August last as having said:
There is no question of our reticulating gas in the areas.
He was referring to Sydney, Newcastle and Port Kembla. He said that his company would conduct feasibility studies as to whether it could wholesale gas at the city gate in Sydney. Of course, associated with that would be a supply to the Newcastle and Wollongong areas. But what is of the utmost importance is that the spokesman for the Esso-BHP group is also reported as having said:
The only natural gas is our own and there is sufficient to supply Sydney and Melbourne.
It is time that someone came into the ring to hold the scales between the rival parochial States. There is not an interstate commission, as provided in the Commonwealth Constitution. This is one case where we do think that the Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes), who is to be, willy-nilly, the designated authority in control of this Act, should come in and have the power to insert a clause where necessary to ensure that supplies of natural gas are available. I have already stated the reasons for the activity or the policy of Sir Henry Bolte. They are quite simple. Firstly, he wants to protect his own State’s investment in the brown coal industry. This is done by the price structure he has devised. Of course, whilst you may swear by the book that a contract has not been entered into, letters of intent have in fact been exchanged and they provide for natural gas to be supplied to Victoria at a price, at the Melbourne city gate, of about 3.9c per therm. If to that is added the cost of transmission to Sydney - of course, the transmitting point of origin would be in the Sale area - it simply means that the areas of Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong, which represent about 50% of the potential market for natural gas in Australia, would have to pay a price in excess of that which is being paid in Victoria, which has 30% to 35% of the potential Australian market. Because of the price structure designed by the Premier of Victoria, contrary to the advice of the Electricity Commission of Victoria and the Gas and Fuel Corporation of Victoria, the only protection that New South Wales had would be its sheer purchasing capacity. There is not the slightest doubt that in the open market a price can be negotiated directly between New South Wales and the producing company. The basis of the contract would be at the well head, right outside the control of Victoria. If Victoria attempted to interfere with the transaction on the grounds that a pipeline ran across its terrain, this would lead to litigation. In such a case undoubtedly the purchasing organisation in New South Wales, whoever it might be, would win. Incidentally, the price paid would be lower than that which Victoria has been forced to pay. In turn, this would be reflected undoubtedly by some renegotiation of the agreement in the case of Victoria. So, out of the whole business could come only good, although it could cause the Premier of Victoria frustration and humiliation. After all, this is a federation and members of this Parliament should take a national viewpoint, but I see a lot of little State.righters around. The Government is studded with them.
In considering the prospects of finding natural gas or oil on the continental shelf off the coast of New South Wales, we can examine statistics which show that the only holder of a permit for exploration off the New South Wales coast is the Shell Co. This company has a permit for an area of some 4,800 square miles. This is fractional compared with the holdings in the other States. As a matter of fact, the continental shelf off the New South Wales coast is very skimpy indeed. The situation is worse than crazy - I hesitate to use another word to describe it - when we see the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) entering into an exchange of correspondence, which was tabled last February in this House, whereby he, of all people, undertook to ensure that in any sale of gas interstate, Victoria would not be placed at a price disadvantage as compared with another State. The dagger was aimed at the heart of New South Wales industries. It is a putrid, pathetic and paltry business. This amendment is drafted to correct this situation and if there are any big Australians in the ranks of the Government, they will come in and support the amendment.
– At some time or other in this Committee consideration it is necessary for the National Parliament clearly to define national responsibility and to declare unequivo cally where the Commonwealth stands in relation to this legislation. It is true that the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) on other occasions went on record as saying that the Commonwealth was supreme. He expressed himself in these terms:
I think I should correct an impression that appears to have arisen in some quarters that the Commonwealth has somehow abandoned its constitutional authority and responsibility in connection with offshore petroleum. Any such impression is quite erroneous. When the question of constitutional authority over offshore petroleum first came up as a result of moves to explore Australia’s offshore areas, the States asserted that jurisdiction over these offshore resources rested with them. The Commonwealth on the other hand held firmly to the view that jurisdiction rested with it. Moreover, some oil companies indicated that they would not be happy about the legal effectiveness of titles granted to them unless these had Commonwealth legislative support.
That is precisely what is asked for in the amendment moved by the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor). The honourable member has asked that a reasonable percentage of petroleum won from the continental shelf should be offered for sale in any State other than an adjoining State. It is an expression of the integrity of the Commonwealth of Australia that one State shall not dominate other States and that the products won from the continental shelf, whether they be petroleum products or fish products, should be made available to the people of other States of the Commonwealth. This has caused considerable concern throughout Australia and it is little wonder that in New South Wales there is an outcry against the conduct of the Commonwealth Government, which the people of Sydney declare to be a Melbourne dominated Government. Jumbo jets and like matters were referred to earlier this evening. I shall not proceed along those lines. There is a feeling in responsible quarters in the metropolitan area of Sydney and elsewhere that the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt), the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), allied with the Premier of Victoria, are dictating a pattern of economic affairs and financial matters to the detriment of other States.
A recent report in the ‘Australian’ states:
Victoria may stop natural gas for New South Wales.
Unless more natural gas is discovered in the Bass Strait the Victorian Government may prevent offshore natural gas being piped to New South Wales.
What is the position? Surely section 92 of the Constitution should prevail in a matter of this kind. Nowhere in the legislation is there to be found a purposeful and strong assertion as to the Commonwealth’s position. Certain letters were exchanged between the Premier of Victoria and the Prime Minister. In the course of one letter the Premier had this to say: 1 want to assure you that I regard it as implicit in the agreement we reached on the subject that your Government will be fully informed Of any negotiations which are entered into with the producers for sales to another State and that you will be acquainted of the details of any agreement arising therefrom before it is finalised.
The Commonwealth will be advised. It is not stated that there will be a direction from the Commonwealth or that this matter will be discussed and worked out. The Premier of Victoria will tell the Commonwealth of Australia what Victoria intends to do. Consequently the amendment proposed by the honourable member for Cunningham becomes all the more imperative. The Prime Minister’s letter to Sir Henry Bolte makes the position quite clear: The Premier of Victoria and the State Government are supreme in this matter. Among other things the Prime Minister’s letter stated:
It is, of course, understood that the Commonwealth, when informed and acquainted with the matters you mention, will have full opportunity to discuss with you the terms of any proposed transaction.
Discussion is not good enough. Positive decision has to be made on the matter. It is little wonder that the ‘Australian’ of 19th May last reported that Mr W. W. Pettingell, general manager of the Australian Gas Light Co, had told Esso Standard Oil the previous night that his company would not be pressured into an agreement to buy natural gas. Here is an expression of monopoly control, because the legislation now being passed through the Parliament is without teeth. As I said when speaking on another matter tonight, this legislation seems to me to be no more than a facade. It is a paper tiger. It does not reflect any realism. It does not protect the interests of the States or the Commonwealth. Consequently, the amendment is necessary.
If anyone needs . further proof of the weakness of the legislation or requires the need for the amendment to be emphasised, reference to clause 26 of the Agreement will establish the position. It states:
The Government acknowledges that this Agreement is not intended to create legal relationships justiciable in a Court of Law. but declare that the Agreement shall be construed and given effect to by the parties in all respects according to the true meaning and spirit thereof.
This is a brotherly love arrangement. Already there are areas of discontent and feelings of extreme dissatisfaction. Yet the Commonwealth Government has failed dismally to meet the situation. All sorts of estimates of the reserves of natural gas have been given. The Melbourne ‘Age’ of 16th March last estimated that the supply would last for 300 years. But this valuable source of energy, which can stimulate development, has been withheld by one State from another. The Minister must be aware of the extensive dissatisfaction in civic circles in his own electorate in the city of Wagga Wagga, in Albury and in other communities which are not being assured of a supply of natural gas. Those people who believe in decentralised industry are of the opinion that here is an opportunity to stimulate production by bringing a cheap fuel to country centres. But the legislation does not ensure even that natural gas will go to a market of tremendous significance in another State.
This attitude cannot be too strongly condemned. It is condemned in an article in the Bank of New South Wales ‘Review’, which drew attention to section 92 of the Constitution and emphasised the importance of natural gas. No doubt the Minister would have seen a letter from the Town Clerk of Wagga Wagga which was published in the Press under the heading ‘Gas protest meeting’. The article in the Bank of New South Wales ‘Review’ certainly expressed the business point of view. We have a responsibility to try to reconcile all these conflicting and contending points of view and to pass legislation which will be valid, which will stand a test in the courts and which will bring economic justice to all sections of the community.
– This is an amendment that should commend itself to the Committee and I do not intend to speak at length on it. It is a reasonable amendment. This power should not be given up entirely by the Commonwealth. Clause 56 in its present form speaks only for the designated authority. It is important that the Minister for Territories should also have some say in this matter. I want to remind the Committee of only one other point. It relates to the terms of the letter of 16th October, which is published as an annexure to the Agreement. I am a little puzzled as to the meaning of the word ‘discriminate’ in the final sentence of the letter. There is a good case to be made out for the principle that gas at the gates of capital cities should be the same price in all instances. This means that at the well head the price would be greater for one city than for another.
For example, the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd sells steel in all capital cities at the same price, regardless of the cost of transport. This is not a principle that can be applied to one thing and not to another. If it is good enough to apply this principle to steel, so that steel manufactured in New South Wales is sold at the same price in both Sydney and Melbourne, even though the cost of transport to Melbourne may be four or five times the cost of transport to the market in Sydney, this would perhaps be a reasonable principle to apply also to natural gas so that the price at the city gate for Sydney would be the same as the price at the city gate for Melbourne. This seems to me to be a reasonable principle to apply, but I am almost, though not absolutely, certain that the Premier of Victoria, when he comes to decide the meaning of the word ‘discriminate’ in the letter of 16th October, will not adopt the interpretation that I have put on the matter. Any other interpretation would be unfair to New South Wales, which has borne the burden in regard to steel ever since about 1922 or 1923 when the uniform price principle was adopted by BHP. It seems to me that the principle applied to steel would not be a bad principle to apply to natural gas. I may have been a little out of order in mentioning this aspect, Mr Chairman, for it is not directly germane to the amendment before the Committee, though it has some relation to it. I believe that the amendment should commend itself to honourable members, and I support it.
– Mr Chairman, at the risk of being thought a little too verbose tonight, I would like to say that so many things being said by Opposition members and also by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) are so ludicrous that somebody ought to emphasise that fact. The honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) has said that in Bass Strait there is a supply of natural gas that will last for 300 years. This is just some newspaper man’s dream. I have talked to Victorian Government authorities and I know that the extent of the resources is still being proved. However, this evening we do not want to go into that sort of thing. What I rose to say is that if steel is sold at the same price in all the capital cities, the honourable member for Mackellar, if he thinks that this is proper, should have argued that we ought to have one price for everything throughout Australia. This would be marvellous. It would be wonderful. We would have instant decentralisation. Our telephone calls would cost the same everywhere. There is such a thing as a differential in costs between one place and another. Surely anyone who has taken any interest in the natural gas resources that have been discovered would know that the well head, not the city gate, is the negotiating point. It is quite ludicrous to make a comparison between the oil industry and the steel industry, which happens to lend itself to a policy of averaging transport costs. The oil industry is based on entirely different conditions. The principle that the honourable member for Mackellar has advanced is completely opposed to practice all over the world.
That the amendment (Mr Connor’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The first of my amendments refers to clause 94, which reads:
The Designated Authority shall cause such particulars as he thinks fit of -
The second refers to clause 115, which reads: (1.) Where the Designated Authority, or an inspector, in respect of an adjacent area has reason to believe that a person is capable of giving information or producing documents relating to petroleum exploration operations, operations for the recovery of petroleum or operations connected with the construction or operation of a pipeline in that adjacent area, he may, by instrument in writing served on that person, require that person -
The third amendment refers to clause 118, which reads in part: (2.) The Designated Authority or a Minister may, at any time after the relevant day:
where a permit or licence is not in force in respect of the block but:
where the report, return, other document, core, cutting or sample was furnished to the Designated Authority during the period during which a permit or licence was in force in respect of the block and:
a report, return, other document, core, cutting or sample referred to in sub-section (1.) of this section was furnished to the Designated Authority:
the permittee, licensee or holder of the special prospecting authority or access authority or, if the permit, licence, special prospecting authority or access authority has ceased to be in force, the person who was the holder of the permit, licence, special prospecting authority or access authority -
Cb) make publicly known any particulars of, or permit any person (not being a Minister referred to in the last preceding paragraph) to inspect, any core, cutting or sample so referred to.
In clause 118, omit sub-clauses (2.) to (6.), insert the following sub-clauses: (2.) The Designated Authority or a Minister or a Minister of State of a State to whom information or material has been made available under the preceding sub-section may -
The first amendment relates to the publication of particulars. If honourable members look at the Bill, they will see that after clause 76 and after clause 94 provision is made for the publication not of full particulars but of some extracts of particulars. The Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) did give us an assurance earlier in the debate that the working conditions of the permit would, in general, be published in full. This would relate not only to the amount to be spent but also to the term of the lease, the relinquishment provisions and so on. He gave that assurance in good faith, and I have no doubt that as long as he is the Minister he will endeavour to see that the provisions are carried out.
But I remind him that he will not be the Minister in charge because the designated authority will not be responsible to him. The designated authority will be a State Minister whom he cannot control. I do not think the Commonwealth will have power to issue a direction to the designated authority. Therefore, I would prefer that these provisions be put into the Bill. Unless this is done there is the possibility in the States of all sorts of hole in corner, undercover arrangements being made with the oil companies. We should be able to know what are the conditions of the exploration permits.
I should like to draw the Committee’s attention to a rather peculiar lapse in the drafting in clause 94, which we have under discussion at the moment. If honourable members look at paragraph (a) they will sec that it speaks of the grant, and the grant of the renewal, of a permit, licence or pipeline licence. If they look at paragraph (b), they will see that it speaks of the variation of a licence or pipeline licence. The vital words ‘exploration permit’ are left out of this paragraph. The Minister may be able to tell me why this is so. There may be some good reason for it, but I am unable at the present moment to see why the phrasing in paragraph (b) should not cover the same complete range that is covered by the phrasing in paragraph (a).
This is a matter of some consequence because it involves an error in drafting and, it seems to me, an error in drafting that would open the door to all kinds of shenanigans by designated authorities in the States who would be able to make, with companies, under-the-counter variations of agreements, and would not be under any obligation to publish anything about them. The Minister may be able to explain to me why the vital word ‘permit’ which occurs in item (a) of clause 94 has been left out of item (b). I shall await the Minister’s explanation of that peculiar omission.
The second amendment I shall defer for a moment, and pass on to my amendment to clause 118. I think the provision for the holding of this basic information as secret - and I am not speaking of techniques and such things at this time - for the tremendous periods of time which are provided, is quite unjustifiable. If honourable members will look at the definition of ‘relevant date’ as occurring at various times in the legislation they will see what I mean. This provision has two bad consequences. Firstly, it will deny to other oil explorers the geological information which they need and are entitled to get. Secondly, it will pave the way to all sorts of possibilities of corruption within the Department itself. When valuable information of this character is held for lengthy periods within a department, known to the department but not to the public, inevitably there will be a possibility of corruption within the department.
– Would not this apply to the oil companies themselves?
– The oil companies can do their own policing as they see fit. That is their business. I am talking about the possibility of corruption inside Commonwealth and State departments. We pray every morning in this Parliament: ‘Lead us not into temptation’. I think we would be very unwise to introduce the occasions of temptation into a department by providing that this information be kept nominally secret for these great lengths of time. The principle is bad and I hope the House will reject it.
Finally, let me go back to my amendment to clause 115. Here the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan) and I are on the same side. I think that here there is a case to be made out for companies. The companies have made a valid point when they say they have secret techniques which are known only to them and which they should not be asked to divulge to third parties. These techniques do exist, and if companies are under the impression that they will have to divulge them to third parties they simply will not bring the techniques to Australia, and search for oil will be slowed down because the modern techniques will not be available. Therefore the honourable member for McMillan and I have put in parallel amendments. I think mine is a little clearer but it goes a little further. The wording is very much the same. I shall be happy with either his amendment or mine.
While I do not believe for one moment that the two amendments moved by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) will be carried, I think that for the sake of setting at rest the minds of some people who have expressed some doubts about clause 115 of the Bill it should be made clear that the intention here is that no company should be forced to divulge its own opinions, theories or conclusions which come in terms of the application of its techniques or of its subjective appraisal of technical opinion.
Opinion is, of course, the thing which is required. Where interpretation is sought, this would be the natural kind of interpretation made of technical opinion such as seismic interpretation. But, in the first place, if these opinions or theories are supplied to Government departments they are always kept in retentis. They are never published when the technical data are made public. They always remain sacrosanct within the Government departments and are held to be secret. I think that while the amendment will not be carried at this point it would be helpful to the companies to know that the intention of the legislation is not to intrude upon what might be called the expertise, know-how, opinions, theories or conclusions that are arrived at from the information concerned.
– Mr Chairman, I am rather intrigued. I have listened to this debate for many hours. I am fascinated by the tremendous interest that the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) has for the interest of the oil companies.
– That is his job.
– Never in my life have I heard anybody in this Parliament devote so much attention to watching the interests of these fabulously wealthy foreign owned oil companies as has the honourable member for Evans who has just spoken in this debate. It does not seem to matter what the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) puts up. The honourable member for Evans can be relied upon to stand in his place and oppose it—-
– I am supporting it. What is wrong with the honourable member.
– I was about to—
– The honourable member cannot understand what we are talking about.
– If the honourable member for Evans would try to contain himself, calm down and notget so excited, sensitive and almost—-
– I am only trying to save the honourable member from making a goat of himself.
– I was about to say - except on this occasion. The honourable member came in too quickly. On this occasion, the only reason why the honourable member has differed from his usual practice is that the honourable member for Mackellar has moved an amendment that favours the oil companies. If this was not the case, the honourable member for Evans would be opposing the amendment. I would like to know where people stand in this matter particularly where a person has to choose between the interests of his own country and the interests of some foreign owned company that is out to exploit the oil resources of his country. This is where a person’s first loyalty ought to lie.
I want to ask a question. I ask it very seriously. It will be a purely hypothetical question but, in a moment, I intend to name a person who has taken part and voted in the divisions on this Bill and who has a pecuniary interest in the decisions of the Parliament relating to this matter. Is a person who has wide interests in oil shares entitled to participate in the votes of this Parliament in a way that affects him in respect of a pecuniary interest that he has? I want to know whether he is entitled to vote. If he is not entitled to vote, I intend to challenge the right of one of the members present to vote respecting this Bill.
– Mr Chairman, regarding clause 115, 1 really believe that the wording that I forecast in my possible amendment would be a much more satisfactory way of arriving at a conclusion on this matter. But, as I said before in connection with clause 35, what I am really asking is that the officers concerned with the Bill take note of the amendment that I foreshadowed and sometime next year assist the Minister for National Development to bring this matter forward for consideration by all the State Ministers. Perhaps we should now arrange to have an orderly meeting of State Ministers for Mines so that all the odd matters that may crop up from time to time may be discussed. The Agreement may be amended only with the full co-operation of all States. Such a meeting as I have suggested could be held early next year to discuss the particular point I have raised and others that have been referred to.
I do not think I need say more on this matter. It seems to me quite wrong that a company having special proprietary techniques - having its own tools of trade; something that it has acquired at great trouble to itself and which it wishes to keep secret from anybody else - should be asked to disclose information on work it has been doing when it would be quite happy to give the normal information to the parties concerned.
In this untidy manner in which we are concluding the debate on the Bill I would like to refer to clause 58, to which I had forecast an amendment that a new subclause (5.) be added reading:
Any direction given under this section shall be based on sound technical and economic practices.
The wording of that proposed amendment is the same as that of the amendment I proposed to clause 35. Clause 58 empowers the designated authority to issue directions regarding the recovery of petroleum. If petroleum is not being recovered, the designated authority may require a licensee to recover it. If the petroleum is being recovered, the designated authority may direct the company concerned to increase or reduce the rate of recovery. Somewhere along the line there seems to have been a little misunderstanding about the matter of recovery or proration. In many parts of the world it has been found necessary to adjust the rate at which oil found in large quantities is put on the market. There is a lot of difference between this proration and the meaning of clause 58 as far as recovery is concerned. The dictatorial powers that have been given to the designated authority in clauses 35 and 58 mean that he has absolute right to interfere with the management of an oil company. He has the right to direct the company as to how it shall run its business. I do not think this was ever intended by the legislation. I do not think it was ever intended that at some future date the designated authority might be so silly as to give a direction completely at variance with the normal practice which a company was in the habit of following to ensure that it got the maximum return from the field which it had gone to a lot of trouble to discover. I cannot imagine that, having spent millions of dollars in finding oil, companies would do anything to jeopardise their chances of economic production. Yet they are placed in a position where the designated authority could instruct them so to increase the rate of recovery that they could do irreparable damage to the field.
Will the Minister, when replying to the various questions that have been raised, inform us how a company stands in a case like that? The Bill contains many provisions which provide a penalty if a company does not do certain things. It seems strange that clause 58 gives the designated authority an absolute dictatorial right to interfere with a company’s management of its business. What happens if a company does not do what is required of it? Clause 35 makes no provision for a penalty. I would very much like to have the Minister’s comment.
At some point along the line there must be some form of appeal, some way in which the oil company and the Government can get together. The designated authority may say: ‘This is what you will do,’ but the people who are conducting these operations as their means of livelihood may say: ‘That is not the practical way to do it,’ and they may want to argue. How can they? The designated authority has a dictatorial right. I am asking for some basis of negotiation, some point at which they can bargain and come to an agreement. I suggested earlier that a tribunal should be set up - not on a permanent basis - to which the parties could appeal in difficult cases and get a decision. According to the clause as it stands, if the directions given were such that an oil field was damaged, not only the company but also Australia would suffer an enormous loss.
Various members of the Opposition have said tonight that we seem to be looking after the interests of the oil companies. I assure the Committee that nothing is further from my mind. I am interested only in having these organisations come to Australia, bringing with them their know-how and their finance, and develop what looks like becoming a rather interesting addition to our very many mineral discoveries. However they are nowhere near as large as the honourable member for Cunningham has been trying to make out. Do honourable members realise that in Bass Strait - and everyone is talking about the bonanza that Esso-BHP have struck there - 5 out of 13 holes drilled have been dry? A company does not make money digging dry holes at $2m a hole. The more dry holes we drill, the fewer organisations will come to Australia. We must make conditions as attractive as we can. My only concern is to get legislation which will make Australia an attractive market for the people in the world who understand the business of getting oil, not people like honourable members opposite.
(12.58 a.m.] - I shall reply very briefly because I do not want to deal with all the ramifications of the various clauses, but I want to set the mind of the oil industry at rest so far as I can in relation to the disclosure of information. All the States take the view that the resources of the continental shelf belong to the nation and to the Crown, and that governments are entitled to be fully informed concerning exploration and exploitation activities. However, it is not the intention of the Commonwealth Government to require the submission of reports prepared by company officers for the consideration of their boards in determining company policy. What is required is, for example, the result of exploration and exploitation operations, including the interpretation and information relevant to quantities, qualities, sale price, etc., of petroleum products. To my mind this would exclude techniques.
The honourable member said - and I completely agree with his interpretation - that at the present time there is an agreement between the States and the Commonwealth. No amendment could be moved to the agreement because it would make it null and void. I have previously given the assurance and I now repeat it that Mines Ministers will be meeting from time to time as required and will be discussing these matters. If at any stage representations are made within the House by honourable members or outside the House by representatives of the industry and they appear to have merit, I can see no reason why the agreement of the States could not be obtained to an amendment. After all, this vast legislation has been produced with the goodwill and co-operation of the States. I am sure that the same relationship could operate again, or it could even be tha: amendments would be agreed upon more easily than this legislation, provided that the Mines Ministers believed them to be necessary.
I am sorry that the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) attacked my colleague the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay). No-one has worked harder than the honourable member for Evans to understand this Bill and I think we owe him a debt. It is a mammoth Bill. Many honourable members have grappled with it. The honourable member for Evans, who is Chairman of the Government Members Mining Committee, has accomplished a considerable task in understanding fully the application of this legislation. He was sneered at because he is associated with drilling for oil. What a pity it is that more people in Australia have not done the same. We have listened for hours to members of the Opposition saying that there is too much overseas interest and not enough Australian interest in the oil industry. The honourable member for Evans and the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham) have been associated with projects which have tried to find oil for Australian companies. Rather than sneer at them we ought to thank them.
– I wish to commentbriefly on the final remarks of the Minister because they seem to me to be very important. It may well be that later on we can amend this legislation. Personally, I do not think so. I think it will be found to be almost impossibl to get unanimous agreement between the State and Commonwealth governments on matters of substance. Perhaps on matters of detail some changes may be agreed, but I do not think that on matters of substance changes will be unanimously agreed. Generally there will be one recalcitrant State. Under the terms of the agreement a recalcitrant State is given power analogous to the right of veto in the Security Council - a kind of paralysing veto. I will put it in rhyme:
If seven men with seven Acts
Debated half a year
Do you suppose’ the Caucus said
They’d get amendments clear?”
I doubt it’ said the Minister
And shed a bitter tear.
I present my rhyme with apologies to the Walrus and the Carpenter. I am not putting the Minister quite in the category of the Carpenter. Perhaps he will understand what I mean. I did not get a reply from the Minister on the very interesting little point I raised as to why the word ‘permit’ was omitted from clause 94(b).
– I will see that the honourable member receives a reply.
– I am worried about this Bill. I do not think that in its present form with its present framework it does justice to our natural resources. I do not think it is designed to give us the maximum results. Now it is virtually out of the hands of this House, unless the Senate sees fit to amend it.
– Perhaps I could reply to the last point raised by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth). There would be no need to report the variation in relation to a permit because in the case he mentioned there is now power to vary the permit.
Remainder of Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Fairbairn) - by leave - read a third time.
Motion (by Mr Fairbairn) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Orders of the Day Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 for the resumption of the debate on the Second Reading of the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) (Royalty) Bill 1967, the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) (Exploration Permit Fees) Bill 1967, the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) (Production Licence Fees) Bill 1967, the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) (Pipeline Licence Fees) Bill 1967, the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) (Registration Fees) Bill 1967 and the Petroleum (Ashmore and Carrier Islands) Bill 1967 being called on and read together and a motion being moved that the Bills be now passed.
Consideration resumed from 18th October (vide pages 1960 and 1961), on motions by Mr Fairbairn:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Bills (on motion by Mr Fairbairn) passed.
Statement taken as a whole.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:
That the Committee agrees with the 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.
– This is a purely formal matter and the Opposition offers no objection.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) agreed to:
That the amendments be taken into consideration by the Committee of the whole forthwith.
Consideration of Senate’s amendments.
Clause 8. (1.) Section 8 of the Principal Act is amended:
Senate’s amendment No. 1 -
After paragraph (a) of sub-clause (1.) insert the following paragraph: (ab) by omitting paragraph (b) of subsection (1.);’.
Senate’s amendment No. 2 -
In proposed sub-section (3.), after ‘due to’ insert retrenchment or’.
Senate’s amendment No. 3 -
After proposed sub-section (6.) insert the following sub-section: “(7.) Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, in the case of a Commonwealth employee who is eligible for the grant of a benefit under this section and whose period of service is not less than 12 years, the period of leave that may be granted, or the period in respect of which a payment equivalent to salary may be authorised, is not less than 4 months”.’.
Senate’s amendment No. 4 -
Leave out sub-clause (2.).
– I move:
That the amendments be disagreed to.
Very briefly, the amendments which have been returned from the other place make substantial alterations to the Bill which had been passed in this House and submitted to the Senate. Because amendments of this sort should not be made without a careful study of all policy implications, and as this would involve consultation with various Commonwealth agencies, and in some cases with staff associations, the Government cannot accept the first amendment.
In relation to the second amendment, this also is not acceptable because several of the provisions affected were part of an agreement in the Joint Council, which includes representatives of staff associations. So for those reasons ‘the Government cannot accept the amendments.
– We oppose the motion. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) implied that the amendments were made without any thought or recognition of the facts. The facts are very simple. There are four amendments, but only three have any consequence. The fourth amendment is consequential upon the other three amendments. The amendments are designed to safeguard the rights of retrenched workers. The Bill has been discussed in the House. The matters in the amendments have been considered for the last couple of weeks. I do not think it is necessary to canvass them now. The Opposition opposes the motion and supports the amendments which were moved in another place.
That the amendments be disagreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 34
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
That Mr Snedden, Mr Malcolm Fraser and Mr Swartz be appointed a committee to draw up reasons for the House of Representatives disagreeing to the amendments of the Senate.
– On behalf of the committee I present the reasons for the House of Representatives disagreeing to the amendments of the Senate. (Thereupon the Clerk read the reasons as follows):
Motion (by Mr Swartz) proposed:
That the committee’s reasons be adopted.
– I candidly raise some objections to this procedure. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz), looking over his shoulder, tells us that two gentlemen are to form a committee. He has no sooner done that than a document purporting to be the result of the deliberations of that committee appears before us.
– Does not the honourable member like efficiency?
– I can take a joke but, with all respect to the Minister, I do not believe that the Parliament is a joke. I suggest that no honourable member - at least, no honourable member on this side of the House - believes that the committee has deliberated seriously. I therefore move:
That the reasons be resubmitted to the committee and the result of the deliberations of the committee be presented to the House of Representatives on Wednesday, 8th November.
– Order! A motion is already before the House. Another motion cannot be moved at this stage.
– I can understand the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) taking this point because it is some time since this procedure was necessary. But the fact is that this procedure has been followed previously in precisely the way in which it has been followed tonight; namely, that a motion is moved for the formation of a committee and then the committee presents its reasons, having discussed the matter at an earlier point of time. That is the fact in this instance.
– When did the members of the committee discuss it?
– Earlier this evening there was consultation by the Ministers concerned. This procedure in precisely this form, is as old as this Parliament. The honourable gentleman leaves it rather late in the development of our parliamentary system and practices to take this objection, when so many other people who in the past have sat in the chair in which he is now sitting have failed to do so.
Mr CREAN (Melbourne Ports) - by leave - The Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) has suggested that this procedure has been adopted in the past. I should like him to indicate, after consultation on the records if necessary, when this procedure was last followed. I am not one who believes that because a procedure has been followed once it is necessarily correct. I do not mind fiction becoming fact if everybody seriously acknowledges it. But I do not think any honourable member on the Government side of the House can really recollect when this procedure was last adopted.
– I can.
– I hope that the Minister for Labour and National Service will stand up and indicate when this procedure was last adopted. I will give him leave to do that, if necessary. I suggest that occasionally the matter of the relations between the two Houses of the Parliament becomes important. Nobody denies that, except in respect of certain Bills, the Senate’s powers are identical with those of the House of Representatives. As I understand the position, the only Bills in respect of which the Senate’s powers are not identical with those of the House of Representatives are money Bills. The Bill with which we are dealing is not a money Bill. It deals with industrial relations affecting public employees. I, on behalf of my Party, will not allow somebody to look over his shoulder and say that a committee has been appointed and has made a decision, or allow something which obviously would have taken at least some minutes to prepare to be accepted as the real decision of the committee. All I am suggesting to the Minister is that the result of the deliberations be left until Wednesday. Let us then consider the proprieties, if I may so term them, of the action which is proposed and consider other occasions on which this course has been adopted. I remind the House that we forced the sitting next Wednesday. I submit, with respect, that the motion that I moved earlier should be accepted, namely:
That the reasons be resubmitted to the committee and the result of the deliberations of the committee be presented to the House of Representatives on Wednesday, 8th November.
– Mr Speaker, may I remind the House-
– Order! Does the honourable member wish to make a statement by leave?
– I am speaking to the motion. I remind the House that about March last on the Aged Persons Homes Bill a committee such as this was set up and it did in fact interpose a reasonable period of delay before its recommendation was put to the House. In this instance the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) has suggested that the committee can meet prior to its appointment in the House. In saying that the honourable gentleman was in error. It cannot meet until it has been appointed in the House.
– It is not a standing committee.
– That is so. The proprieties ought to be observed. There is a proper procedure to be adopted in all these matters. After all, Parliament is a court. It is the highest court in the nation. It is a court which governs its own procedures. In this instance there is a contempt of the highest court of Australia, namely, the Parliament.
-Order! The question is:
That the motion be agreed to.
– Before the motion is put, may I ask precisely what is the motion?
-The question is: That the committee’s reasons be adopted’.
– Mr Speaker-
-Order! The honourable member has no right to speak at this stage unless he has leave.
– All I want to know is precisely what is the committee.
-Order! Is leave granted?
– I suggest that before I reply to whether leave is given I have the indulgence of the Chair for a moment to know the purpose for which the honourable member is seeking leave.
– Perhaps I am dull. I think anybody is entitled to be dull at this hour after the second day of the second week of this form of procedure. Here we are dealing with what purports to be a committee’s recommendation. All I am asking, and I am sure that I am not the only one who is not clear on this, is what is the committee. It is not a standing committee.
– The committee is the committee on behalf of which the Minister for Civil Aviation presented its reasons for the House of Representatives disagreeing with the amendments of the Senate.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) agreed to:
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 31st October (vide page 24S1), on motion by Mr Bowen:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Mr CONNOR (Cunningham) [1.29 a.m.J - The Opposition does not oppose this Bill. However, it wishes to draw particular attention to the dilatory behaviour of the Government. On 22nd September 1964 the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), who was then Deputy Leader of the Opposition, when speaking on the AppropriationBill, asked the Government when it would set up a committee for the purpose of drafting and subsequently introducing a new Designs Bill. He pointed out that such a committee had been promised by the Government as far back as 1954. That was 10 years before this request and it is 131/2 years from the present time. On 17th November 1964, a question on notice, which was No. 608, was asked by my Leader and the reply was that no committee had then been appointed. Again on 13th October 1965 he asked a similar question on notice, which was No. 1202, and the reply again was that no committee had been appointed. Last year a similar question on notice, which was No. 1861, was asked and the reply was that the. Government was far too busy on the new copyright and patent measures and would not have time at that juncture to attend to this matter. Today, at long last, the Patents Bill has been introduced. It has been suspended like Mahomet’s coffin, between heaven and earth.
We stress particularly the need for a new Copyright Bill to be introduced. We do not object to the proposed amendment to the Designs Act 1906- 66 but we think that there will be very considerable difficulty of proof, even with the amendment as drafted, because there is certainly an escape hatch on the question of proof. Clause 30(1.) of the Bill provides that an offence is committed when a person:
to which the design or any fraudulent or obvious imitation of it has been applied in infringement of the copyright in the design; or
I leave the question of how proof will be given to the fertile imagination of the prosecutor on behalf of the Crown.
(1.33a.m.] - Regarding the suggested delay in introducing a comprehensive Designs Bill may I point out to the House that this is a subject which is closely related to copyright. The relevant committee has made its report on copyright, which has been considerd over quite a period of time. It would be very difficult to deal with designs on a broad basis until the copyright Bill has been passed by the House. I think that this was the explanation given as far back as when Sir Garfield Barwick was AttorneyGeneral, and it is still operative.
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 24 October (vide page 2162), on motion by Mr Anthony:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I must express strong objection to having to lead on behalf of the Opposition, at 1.35 in the morning, on a most important Bill. This Bill is most important because it concerns the extension of Australia’s exclusive fishing rights from 3 miles to 12 miles. At 1.35 a.m. most sensible people are in bed. But now the Parliament is starting to debate an important Bill. This is serious, because I and many others have been up since 6 o’clock yesterday morning. This means that I have been out of bed for about 191/2 hours. I have had 7 hours sleep since the Parliament met on Tuesday, and doubtless this applies to every honourable member.
– Everyone is in the same boat.
-I am not saying that they are not. I am simply saying that this type of procedure makes this place seem like a political circus. Who gets around at this hour? I suppose only night owls, drunks, perverts, deadbeats and the like get around at this hour of night. I take exception to this most important legislation being brought forward at this time.
The principal objective of the Bill is to supplement the Fisheries Act 1952-1966 in order to give Australia exclusive rights over fisheries within the limit of 12 miles. Under the existing legislation Australia controls fisheries in proclaimed waters beyond the 3-mile limit but has no control over foreign fishermen or foreign boats whose operators are based outside Australia. The Bill will make it illegal for foreign fishermen or foreign boats to operate within the 12-milt limit unless they are specially licensed under the Act. The first point the Opposition would like to make is that this legislation does not go far enough. Although the legislation does to a degree seek to control foreign fishermen and foreign fishing boats within the 12-mile limit, it does not do so in what are known as the internal waters.
In the last few weeks we have had glaring examples of the exploitation of northern Australian waters by foreign fishing enterprises. This must be halted without delay, as most of the best fishing grounds are apparently within reasonable proximity of land. Foreign vessels operate within proximity of the Australian coast and certainly in the inland waters, particularly in the Gulf of Carpentaria. In other words, the Opposition argues that the proposal to extend Australia’s exclusive rights from 3 to 12 miles does not go far enough and is too lenient in regard to the control of foreign fishermen and foreign vessels. The Bill gives Japanese and other interests a free go still with respect to some of Australia’s most important potential fishing grounds located in large bays such as the Gulf of Carpentaria. In fact, nothing in the Bill would prevent foreign fishing vessels from legally entering such waterways as St Vincent Gulf. Spencer Gulf, Exmouth Gulf, Van Diemen Gulf, Shark Bay. As Australia is unique in that it is an island continent. It is a sitting duck for foreign interests to enter its waters. Australia has no neighbours with whom it could collaborate to form an agreement whereby a specific case could be put to the international authorities with respect to the control of these waters. The Labor Party believes that all waters, not only those located within 12 miles of the coast but all internal waters contained within the Australian coast in the form of bays and gulfs should be within the exclusive control of Australian governments, Federal or State. The Gulf of Carpentaria would be included. The Federal Government, we believe, should stop pussy-footing around and lay unequivocal claims to those waters so that the natural resources of Australia come under the sole control of the Australian Government and the Australian people.
During the debate on the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Bill during the last 2 days statements have been made that practically all the 1 million square miles of the continental shelf are leased to interests which are largely foreign controlled. The leasing of that area to foreign controlled interests is a paradox when the House is now debating a Bill that intends to exclude, except under licence, foreign fishermen and foreign boats from within the 12-mile limit. Under these waters is the continental shelf, and this is almost entirely under foreign control so far as oil and gas leases are concerned. The main argument is that it is essential that full claims be put forward by the Government to the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria and similar gulfs and bays so that the country can claim them either as historic bays or under whatever rights of the Geneva Convention may apply. A major world precedent for putting forward such a claim, if the argument is that the Gulf of Carpentaria is too big, is Hudson Bay. At its widest point it is approximately 900 miles wide and from its heads is about 400 or 500 miles deep. It is, I understand, under the exclusive control of the Canadian Government under an historic title. The Canadian Government has exclusive rights to the waters of Hudson Bay.
As I said before, in recent months there has been increasing activity by foreign vessels and foreign fishermen in our northern waters. One example is a company called the South Sea Fishing Co. Pty Ltd, which is reported to be a joint AustralianJapanese company. I ask the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) or the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen): Has this company been registered in Australia and has a licence been issued for it to operate in Australian waters? The mother ship is operating in the Gulf of Carpentaria. I forget the name of it; it has been reported in the Press on several occasions. It is reported that prawns are being transferred from Australian ships operating within the 3-mile limit to the Japanese mother ship operating without a licence outside the 3-mile limit. The Department of Primary Industry may have issued a licence to this ship, but I do not think it has. If Australian ships are pulling alongside Japanese ships manned by Japanese, they are committing a breach of a very strong Australian quarantine law. This is said to be happening in the Gulf of Carpentaria and it is a serious matter.
I ask the Minister to say whether a licence has been issued to the company to operate in the Gulf of Carpentaria and other waters. Is it correct that Australian trawlers are catching prawns in Australian proclaimed waters, sailing out of these waters and transferring the prawns to the Japanese mother ships, and so infringing health regulations? The income tax laws also come into consideration when prawns caught in Australian waters are sold or disposed of in some way to a foreign-owned company. Obviously, someone is not paying the tax that he should. Surely a person cannot take Australian assets out of this country without returning some amount in the form of tax to the country. These claims are being consistently made at Karumba, which is the main fishing town on the Gulf of Carpentaria, and they should be investigated. The Australian fishermen are very upset and a lot of ill feeling is being generated in the area. The fishermen in this part of Australia are compelled to man their ships with Australian crews, pay award wages and furnish statistics relating to their catches to the appropriate department. In addition, they pay tax on their taxable income for the year. They must maintain freezing works on the coast and these must be staffed, award wages paid and various regulations observed. Is it fair that this company, the South Sea Fishing Co. Pty Ltd, which is reported to be a joint Australian and Japanese company, should be able to operate in these waters and obtain privileges that are denied to the Australian fishermen? It is time that this allegation was investigated. It is important to ascertain whether this is a joint Australian and Japanese company and whether it is operating illegally in Australian waters.
Some countries have proclaimed fishing rights beyond the 3-mile limit, extending them to the 12-mile limit, as this Bill purports to do. The United Kingdom has claimed rights to within a limit of 12 miles under a proclamation made on 30th September 1964. The United States of America has claimed rights within a similar limit under a proclamation made in 1966. South
Africa, New Zealand, Canada and Brazil all have claimed rights within 12-mile limits under proclamations duly made by the governments of those countries. By means of this Bill, we in Australia are adopting the same practice of proclaiming a 12-mile limit. Some countries, however, have laid claim to exclusive rights extending beyond 12 miles offshore. Argentina, Chile and Peru have laid claim to rights extending to a limit of 200 miles, as have Ecuador and Costa Rica. Korea has a variable limit - however that works - extending from 20 to 200 miles.
Certain countries have claimed as territorial seas waters beyond the 3-mile limit, with complete jurisdiction over fishing in those waters. Some of these countries are Ceylon, which has claimed rights up to a limit of 6 miles; Communist China, which has claimed rights up to a limit of 12 miles; Ghana, which has claimed rights up to a limit of 12 miles; and Guinea, which has claimed rights up to a limit of 130 miles. Those countries have claimed waters up to those limits as territorial seas, as distinct from claiming fishing rights. It follows that within those waters they have complete jurisdiction over fishing rights. How Argentina, for example, can lay claim to exclusive control over the waters up to 200 miles from its shores is something that I do not know. Perhaps the Minister for Primary Industry or the Attorney-General will be able to tell me. It seems to be stretching matters a bit far for Chile and Peru also to claim rights over the waters extending 200 miles offshore. If those countries have the right to lay claim to waters up to those limits and to lease rights in those waters, surely we have the right to claim control of the waters in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Exmouth Gulf, Shark Bay, Spencer Gulf, St Vincent Gulf and other internal waters, as they are described, as distinct from waters where the indentation of the coastline is not great enough to form similar bays. The curvature of the coastline of the Great Australian Bight is so slight that surely no-one would argue that the Bight is a bay.
The Opposition’s principal concern can be expressed simply in this way: Suppose that a rectangular picture frame was placed round Australia, each side of the frame being 12 miles thick. We claim that Australia should have exclusive rights over and control of fishing by both Australian and foreign fishing vessels within the limits enclosed by that picture frame. Within the waters so enclosed, Australia should have complete jurisdiction. So far as I can make out, under the terms of this Bill, neither the Federal Government nor the State governments will have exclusive control over the waters or the marine life in Australian bays which are more than 24 miles across the mouth - that is, where the centre of the mouth is more than 12 miles from the shore on either side. However, some authorities quoted in the literature on the subject have suggested that Australia has definite claims over certain inland waters under the historic bay principle. Professor A. H. Charteris gives as his authority letters from the Secretary of the Department of the Navy, dated 26th April 1936. The United Nations Memorandum Concerning Historic Bays states that Australia claims fifteen “bays on its littoral. Those claimed are Van Diemen Gulf, Buckingham Bay and Blue Mud Bay, in our northern waters; Coffin Bay, Streaky Bay, Spencer Gulf and Investigator Strait, in South Australian waters; Exmouth Gulf, Roebuck Bay and Shark Bay in Western Australian waters; Broad Sound, Upstart Bay, Moreton Bay and Harvey Bay in Queensland waters; and Oyster Bay and Storm Bay in Tasmanian waters. The historic bay principle is important to Australia, but it is an exception to the 1958 Geneva Convention, paragraph 6 of Article “7 of which states:
The foregoing provisions shall not apply to the -so called historic bays, or in any case where the straight-base line system .provided for in Article 4 is applied.
Apparently the historic bay system is a principle of convenience simply to lay claims to areas of water where the mouths of bays are greater than a prescribed mathematical measurement of 24 miles. A rule, called the semi-circular rule, apparently has been accepted by the Geneva Convention as providing a clearer definition of a bay. According to the Convention, a bay must have a degree of penetration and not just be a curvature of the coast as I described the Great Australian Bight. The depth of the penetration must be greater than the radius of a semi-circle, the diameter of which is based on the distance between the entrance points for a maximum of 24 miles. It seems to be a clear intention of Article 7 of the Geneva Convention that there must be some degree of indentation before waters can be classified as a bay.
Let us examine the position. The proposal we are considering is important because it has international ramifications. Firstly, let us consider the 3 mile rule. This means that there is no question of the validity of Australian control over bays the width of which is equal to or less than 6 miles - that is, 3 miles from the base line. If it is 6 miles wide, obviously it is exclusively Australian waters. If it is 24 miles wide, under the Convention it still can be recognised as Australian waters but some countries, including Japan, do not recognise this rule. If it is over 24 miles in width the only claim recognised by international law is the claim on historic grounds. Many of our own gulfs are more than 24 miles wide and the only way they can be recognised as Australian waters is by applying the historic principle. It would seem that with respect to historic titles, the exercise of sovereign rights by the particular nation and acquiescence by other nations are necessary to establish the claims. As I have said before, it is essential that the Australian nation has exclusive control over the waters adjacent to its coast and over the waters of its gulfs and bays. Obviously the Gulf of Carpentaria would not qualify under the mathematical measurement because its mouth is greater than 24 miles wide. It does not matter how the base line is drawn because the distance exceeds 24 miles. It could be drawn 24 miles into the Gulf and still some waters would be cut off. But this is begging the question. The important thing is to be able to get exclusive rights to the waters in, for instance, the Gulf of Carpentaria, and what I say of the Gulf of Carpentaria is applicable also to St Vincent Gulf, Spencer Gulf, Exmouth Gulf, and so on. It is quite possible to go from the mouth of St Vincent Gulf as far as the 24-mile line and then Australian control could start. The point that the Opposition is making is that we have not got exclusive control over shipping registered outside Australia while in our inland waters.
Japan voted against the Geneva Convention and did not become a signatory to the resolution relating to the exclusion of shrimp and sole from the natural resources of the continental shelf, and the inclusion of mother of pearl shell, the pearl oyster, beche-de-mer, trochus, green snail and the sacred chank of India and China. In other words, the effect is that we have no control over any fish swimming in those waters, but we do have control over the fish attached to the sea bed. That this foreign exploitation is causing a problem is illustrated by the fact that in yesterday’s Courier Mail’ the following article appeared:
Reports made on foreign fishing.
Reports from Cairns police and from the Harbour Master (Captain J. W. Barnes) are being sent to Brisbane about the arrival in Barrier Reef waters off Cairns of foreign fishing parties.
The fishermen, said to be Nationalist Chinese from Formosa, have been sighted several times in the past few days.
Parties of Chinese fishermen have landed on Green Island, 20 miles off Cairns, seeking water.
No water is available for removal from the Island.
Cairns Chief of Police (Inspector Gunn) has expressed strong concern at the landings, on an island frequented by mainlanders where no quarantine or customs control is exercised.
That is illegal entry. The report continues:
Inspector Gunn has sent a full report to Brisbane.
He said he hoped very much the State authorities would recognise the risks involved in a possible build-up of such aliens visiting an island not subject to normal clearance.
Here again we come up against the problem which I have been stating. Who has control over these waters? The article continues:
Inspector Gunn - said he had learned that the Commonwealth held no control on Barrier Reef islands outside territorial limits which were claimed as a State protectorate.
For this reason, neither quarantine nor Customs departments had any say in the present circumstances.
Uncleared visitors from Asiatic ports present a recognisable risk from a quarantine as well as a customs enforcement aspect,’ Inspector Gunn said.
We are very concerned about the risk of epidemic infection which is the main purpose of quarantine control on international shipping.
That illustrates just how serious this matter is. It also illustrates just how ineffective are our laws relating to quarantine and illegal entry into Australia. To give a rather exaggerated but nevertheless valid example, I point out that if a person wanted to bring a cat into Australia from New Guinea, as lots of the Australians who have pets up there do, the cat would have to be sent to England and would have to remain there for 6 months. After that period it could possibly enter Australia. That shows how stringent our requirements are, yet in yester day’s ‘Courier Mail’ it is inferred that illegal entry is taking place in the north where foreign fishing vessels are operating. In so doing, they are breaking our laws relating to quarantine and the illegal entry of aliens.
Something has to be done. But who controls the waters between the 3-mile mark and the 12-mile mark? Is it the Commonwealth or the States? This is an important matter. It has always been my understanding that the States claim the right to control the waters up to the 3-mile limit. I think the framers of the Constitution referred to State territorial rights and implied that the State control extends to the 3-mile limit. Whether this would hold in international law I do not know. It appears that in most countries what would be equivalent to State jurisdiction in Australia finishes at the low water mark, and then the nation, corresponding to the Federal concept in Australia, comes into the picture and takes over control. This is a most important aspect of this Bill. Who is going to police these waters? Who will make certain that Japanese ships operate in waters that are available to them? Will it be the Australian Navy? The States, of course, have no navies. Or will there be some arrangement between the State governments and the Commonwealth Government? In the Act, if I remember rightly, there is a provision for officers to board ships, and these may be State officers or federal officers.
The next question I ask the Minister, or the Attorney-General, is this: If we extend the limit from 3 miles to 12 miles who then, under our Constitution, will have legal control over the area between the 3-mile limit and the 12-mile limit? Will it be State control or federal control? If the States have territorial rights over fishing activities as far as the 3-mile limit it seems to follow that they will then have control to the 12- mile limit. But this supposition may not be correct. This is, of course, a problem, and no doubt it is one which is recognised by the Minister for Primary Industry and by the State governments.
I do not wish to detain the House any longer. I have said before that this is an important Bill which has very important and very serious international ramifications concerning the 3-mile and 12-mile limits. I will move an amendment at the Committee stage. I repeat that I object to having to stand up in this House at twenty-five to two in the morning and start to talk on an important Bill.
– It took you long enough.
– The Minister says it took me long enough. That shows how important he thinks the Bill is. One would expect him, as a Minister, to show a little more interest in important matters.
– Don’t get niggley.
– What could you expect at ten past two in the morning? I have asked several questions which I hope the Minister for Primary Industry or the Attorney-General will answer because these matters are important, not only as they affect fishing rights but also as they affect Commonwealth and State relations.
– The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) has raised a number of legal points on which I wish to make some brief comments. As usual, in the course of his speech has had made a lot of cheap gibes at the Government. In his usual style he has accused the Government, using his kind of language, of pussyfooting around this legislation. He says we should include St Vincent Gulf, Shark Bay and the Gulf of Carpentaria and internal waters. This argument is all very well. When one listens to the honourable member for Dawson it sounds as though he has done a great deal of study. He has referred to the convention, to historic bays and to Professor Charteris. The only trouble is that his argument is entirely on a false foundation. I do suggest that if in the future the honourable member wishes to make his kind of cheap gibe about what the Government should do he should take some legal advice.
The honourable member wants us to include in this Bill internal waters. This would include St Vincent Gulf, Exmouth Gulf and Shark Bay. The fact is that these are now internal waters. They are the same as Sydney Harbour for purposes of law. If we consider this for a moment, we appreciate that these waters are covered by State law. The whole purpose of this Bill is to extend the power of the Commonwealth out from the base line, which is seaward of internal waters to a distance of 12 miles. It would be completely foreign to the whole purpose of the principal Act to start bringing internal waters in. These, I repeat, are governed by State law.
The honourable member talks about our having left a gap where foreign vessels can come in. We have not covered St Vincent Gulf or Shark Bay because these are now internal waters just as Sydney Harbour and Port Phillip Bay are internal waters. They are governed by State law. The subject of foreign vessels is covered. It is absolutely nonsensical criticism of the Government to say that it is pussyfooting around by not including these waters in the Bill. It is a complete misunderstanding of the position to say that they should be included in the Bill.
– Tell us about the Gulf of Carpentaria.
– Let me come to the Gulf of Carpentaria. We heard a lot about the Gulf of Carpentaria. The Gulf of Carpentaria is approximately 400 miles across-
– It is 340 miles.
– Well, if the honourable member-
– Well, the Minister is so accurate.
– The Minister said ‘approximately’.
– It is 340 miles.
– That is not my information.
– Does the Minister want me to give it to him, chapter and verse?
–Look, the honourable member has made his speech and at some length, if I may say so. Regarding the Gulf of Carpentaria I point out that, if we extend to the 12 mile limit from the base line - which the House knows is the low-water mark unless one is crossing the mouth of the bay - and extend it all the way around the Gulf, the rest of the area of the Gulf is the high seas. We can only affect that and claim the Gulf if we can bring it under an international convention. That is if it is 24 miles across or otherwise comes within the terms of the convention - and it does not - or if we can claim that it is a historic bay. The honourable member for Dawson referred to Hudson Bay. Whether or not Hudson Bay is a historic bay - I know that it is claimed to be an historic bay - the Gulf of Carpentaria is not a historic bay. The honourable member did not seriously suggest that it was. Therefore, we are not in a position to claim beyond the 12-mile limit around the edge of the Gulf. So to talk at such length about fishing going on in what is the high seas areas in the Gulf of Carpentaria is to waste the time of the House. There is one further matter to which I refer. If the honourable member for Dawson desires to have the benefit of a discussion on these bays and where they stand, I point out that a statement was made in this House on Tuesday of this week dealing with the matter. This report is in Hansard I suggest that the honourable member might refer to that.
-I do not want to detain the House at this late hour. Within 2) hours the fish will be biting on the Great Barrier Reef. 1 would sooner be there than here. But I feel that I must say something about this Bill because I had a talk with the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) concerning it. It was only a short talk, but I learnt a good bit from the Minister regarding the legal aspects of this Bill. The Bill extends the limits in which Australia has exclusive rights over fisheries from 3 to 12 miles. This proposal would be acceptable by everybody in Australia, particularly our fishermen. As the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) said, the Bill may not go far enough. 1 would like to say a good deal about this Bill if the hour were not so late. The action taken under this Bill is in line with action taken by many other countries. I think the Government should look carefully at the position of Queensland in relation to the Barrier Reef. The Barrier Reef is 12, 18, 20 and up to 30 miles from the coast, lt is an area that should come under the control of the Commonwealth because it is really a breakwater to the east coast of Queensland. The Barrier Reef acts as a buffer against the monsoons that sweep in from the Pacific Ocean. It breaks the high seas before they get to the Queensland coast.
I wonder how this legislation will be policed, because even the existing 3-mile limit has not been policed. How will the 12- mile limit be policed if the Government could not police the 3-mile limit. Many fishing vessels come down the Queensland coast from the north. They trade all along the coast, pulling in to replenish their supplies of water. There is not a large population on the parts of the coast visited by these ships, although there are plenty of Aboriginals there who mix with the crews. There are some whiles prospecting in the area. They have seen these vessels. I have seen as many as six foreign vessels fishing within the 3-mile limit north of Cairns to Charlotte Bay. But as soon as a boat comes into sight they are off. They have good diesel engines and they get away as quick as lightning. They fish on the coast, replenishing supplies of water and firewood from the mainland. If the 12-mile limit is made law, how will it be policed? Will it be a Commonwealth matter or a State matter? The State Government does not have the finance to police this limit. It does not have the ships to do the work, except the old Belvedere’ which plies among the Torres Strait Islands and which could not catch even a rowing boat.
I am concerned about this matter because a fair amount of fishing is done off the Queensland coast by mother ships as well as dories that bring the catch to the mother ship. This fishing is being done by other than Australian interests and is having an adverse effect on the Australian fishing industry. The 12-mile limit would not take in the Barrier Reef. Most of the fish caught by ships operating out of Townsville and Cairns and serving the Brisbane market would be caught outside the Barrier Reef. All around the reef are to be found reef fish such as red emperor and coral trout, the best fish in the sea.
– What about barramundi?
– Barramundi does not compete, and some day I will prove it to the Minister. The fish will be biting now in Cairns harbour, and I would like to be there. If the Government passes this law 1 hope that it will be policed. If the Commonwealth Government claims that policing the law is not a part of its responsibility, will it make sure that the State Government has sufficient ships and personnel to police the area 12 miles off the coast? Even that will be a help.
Like the honourable member for Dawson, I think the area should extend outside the Barrier Reef. There has been a lot of talk on the radio and much has appeared in the Press about the Japanese fishing vessel which pulled into Green Island to take on water. The newspapers and the radio stations were screaming about quarantine regulations. I saw the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) about this matter and he told me that there was no danger because this was only an isolated case. The Japanese had not mixed with the people. They had called in for water and had taken it back to the mother ship.
I know that they are on the coast around Oyster Bay digging up clam shells and taking birds eggs, and possibly birds. There has been a lot of talk - it has been substantiated by people with scientific knowledge - about the Reef being destroyed by various things. The Reef is being destroyed more by the people who are digging the clam shells and tramping all over it, destroying the bird life and the eggs on the islands, than possibly by the starfish and the crown of thorns, as it is called.
I again appeal to the Minister. If the Commonwealth Government will not take action to police the area, will it assist the Queensland Government to do so in order that the fishermen may retain their fishing rights along the whole of the north Queensland coast, particularly in the region of the Torres Strait islands? I know that matters relating to the Torres Strait islands raise legal questions. I mentioned to the AttorneyGeneral the two islands of Saibui and Bougui which are in my electorate and only 35 miles from the New Guinea coast. Those two islands are on the other side of the trade route so I do not know how the legal difficulties will be overcome.
I ask the Minister to consider placing the Barrier Reef under the control of some authority, if not Australian then United Nations, so that its wonders can be preserved as a tourist attraction and the whole Queensland coast protected.
laid great stress on the time at which this debate is taking place. Mr Acting Deputy Speaker, if you look at the list of speakers on this Bill which has been on your desk for 3 days now you will notice that he was the only member of the Opposition who was to put in an appearance; but at a quarter to two in the morning 3 or 4 members of the Opposition felt a sudden inspiration to make a speech and sought the call. There would have been time for another 5 speakers if the honourable member for Dawson had said in 2 minutes what it took him three-quarters of an hour to say.
– I want to talk about Maroubra.
– Why not? 1 will talk about Coogee. I welcome the introduction of this legislation. I feel for the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Fulton) in the problem he has raised. It is one thing to pass a bill through the Parliament to extend the limit but it is another thing to decide how to police the extended area. I do not think we have in Australia at the present time the facilities to police the very things that the Bill provides. According to clauses 7, 8 and 9, inspectors or authorised persons can do certain things by way of inspection but a pretty big organisation will be needed to do those things.
The fishing industry in Australia is growing rapidly, as well it might, but Australia, an island continent with a tremendous fishing potential, imports a huge quantity of fish. This is a drain on our overseas reserves. We should be developing our own industry. Honourable members who have been in this House for some time will remember the legislation that was passed at the time of the sale of the Nor’-West Whaling Company. This government enterprise was sold to private enterprise. A study of the annual report of the enterprise which sets out the trust account shows that research is proceeding on fishing grounds around many parts of Australia. It is conducted to an extent that would probably attract the envy of most of the world. Tuna is caught around the coast; off Tasmania the blue fins, yellow fins off Queensland, and striped blue fins off South Australia. The prawning possibilities in the Gulf of Carpentaria are tremendous.
I suppose that the whaling industry technically is not within the ambit of this Bill because whales are not fish. Whalers from other countries ruined the whaling industry off the Australian coast by the indiscriminate taking of whales. Australia observed the international convention and we were the sufferers. Now that this legislation is to extend the territorial limit to 12 miles we have the capacity to control offshore fishing, lt is in our best interests to do something about it. The Government should now be thinking of setting up a coastguard or fisheries patrol. I believe that can be done only by the Commonwealth Government. I think a nation of our size and strength requires such a service. I do not want to make firm suggestions. Countries operate in different ways. We have plenty of experts in the Department of Primary Industry and the Department of the Navy who could do the work necessary to advise the Government on the type of organisation we need.
We would need quite a few ships to cover the vast fishing grounds of Australia. It is not of much use laying down laws for people to obey if you do not have the means to ensure that the laws are observed. We do not need great offensive ships. We need small vessels for inspection and search activities. In view of the development all around the coast this legislation could properly be policed only by a type of coastguard service. Our population is scattered and there are great areas with a small population. A service could be set up to operate for purposes other than policing the fishing grounds. We are reaching the stage when we will need to have customs officers and immigration officers on the move all the time. With the passage of this Bill 1 hope the Government will examine the real problem of the need for a service such as I have suggested.
– I was interested to hear the reference by the honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney) - ex-Minister for the Navy - to the need for a coastguard service. I agree with his suggestion. I also support this measure to extend the territorial limit from 3 miles to 12 miles. This move has been necessary for a long time. As the honourable member for Perth said: What is the purpose of introducing these measure if we do not police them? Who is to be responsible for policing this legislation? I put that question to the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) who is representing the Minister for Primary Industry in this debate. Will the Royal Australian Navy be responsible for this?
The type of vessels which come readily to mind to do this work are the patrol vessels now being constructed for the Royal Australian Navy. Will they be used to patrol Australian coastal and territorial waters? These vessels would be admirably suited for this work if they had more speed. The maximum speed of the vessels will be 24 knots and I do not think this would be adequate to do the job. The honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Fulton) said that fishermen have said on many occasions that as soon as they got close to these foreign fishing vessels - mostly Japanese - which operate within the 3-mile limit, they took off like V2s. Our fishermen cannot get near them because they operate in very fast vessels. If Australian patrols are to catch up with these foreign vessels they will have to be able to move around quickly. We want vessels that will not only match those used by foreigners but will be a little faster. I do not think that the 20 patrol vessels being constructed for the Royal Australian Navy will be fast enough for this purpose.
I have already asked the question: Who is to be responsible for policing this legislation? Perhaps it is to be a State responsibility. The States accepted responsibility for policing fisheries within the 3-mile limit. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) said in his second reading speech:
The Bill now before the House would exclude foreign vessels and foreign fishermen from operating within the new 12 miles exclusive fishing zone of Australia and the external Territories unless the vessels and fishermen are licensed under the Act.
A few years ago I had occasion to make inquiries about a Commonwealth fishing licence. I was told that that licence would not be issued unless the person seeking it already held a licence from the Government of the State in which he operated. Otherwise the requirements to obtain a Commonwealth fishing licence are not nearly as restrictive as those applying to State licences. The requirements of the Commonwealth regarding the vessel and type of fishing equipment are nowhere near as restrictive as those of the States. The Commonwealth has left a certain amount of responsibility with the States. Is the principle still to prevail that a fisherman must hold a State fishing licence before he can obtain a Commonwealth licence? I ask for clarification on this point. Perhaps the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) will be able to clarify it if the Minister for the Interior cannot do so.
Quarantine laws must also be considered. A case comes to mind immediately. A little over a week ago there was an incident involving the landing at Weipa of a Japanese fisherman. He was covered with spots and was a smallpox suspect. He was landed at Weipa near an Aboriginal settlement. A doctor was flown from Brisbane to see him. Fortunately the doctor found that he was suffering not from smallpox but some other ailment.
The Attorney-General has said that it is impossible to include the area of the Gulf of Carpentaria in this legislation as proposed in the foreshadowed amendment of the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). I suppose the Attorney-General recalls an incident in which the ‘Larrakeyah’ was involved. Whether or not the three Japanese luggers concerned in that incident and taken into custody were in Australian waters or outside the 3-mile limit depended only on a difference in the bearing. It seems that there is no dispute in such cases only if there is a fast gunboat handy and it blows the fishing vessel concerned out of the water. Then there are very few survivors to argue whether the vessel was in territorial waters or not. This seems to be the action which is taken by some Latin American countries and, indeed, by some other countries. I should like the Attorney-General to have another look at whether the Gulf of Carpentaria could not be included in this proposal. I also ask the Minister whether he can give me a definition of a foreign vessel and foreign fishermen. Is a vessel that is registered in Australia or in the Terirtory of Papua and New Guinea recognised as being a foreign vessel? If a vessel is registered in Papua and New Guinea, does that make it a foreign vessel if it continues to be manned by foreign seamen?
I note that two honourable senators from Queensland have asked questions conerning the South Sea Fishing Co. Pty Ltd and the vessel ‘Papuan Prince’. They have asked questions about the activities of this vessel and whether it is manned by a Japanese crew. In one instance the subject of hygiene was raised and in the other the names of the shareholders in the company were sought. As I understand it, the
Papuan Prince’ is the mother ship for prawning trawlers which operate in the Gulf of Carpentaria. I believe that some Australian owned prawning trawlers are supplying prawns to this mother ship. I have heard the rumour that it is a JapaneseAustralian joint venture and that a Government senator is interested in the project.
I have been interested in this matter from as far back as 196S. As recorded at page 321 of Hansard, on 25th March 1965 I asked the Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes) the following question:
Has a private investigation of the fishing potential of the Gulf of Papua been made recently Following such investigation, has an approach been made to the Department of Territories for permission for Japanese manned trawlers to operate from Port Moresby and fish in the Gulf of Papua? Has permission been granted for such trawlers to operate? What encouragement has been given to native papuans to establish a similar industry at Port Moresby?
The Minister, in his reply, stated:
Investigations of the fishing potential around the coast of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea have been made from time to time. I am not aware of any Japanese interests operating in the Gulf of Papua; but I do know of a’ local industry that is operating there, particularly for barramundi. I have no knowledge at all of any Japanese interests operating there.
That was in 1965. At that stage I understood that Japanese manned trawlers proposed to operate from Port Moresby. This seems to be the case. Because the vessel to which I have referred is registered at Port Moresby, does this mean that it is no longer to be regarded as a foreign vessel? If it does, are the owners liable to make returns, as has been suggested by the honourable member for Dawson? Will these Japanese fishermen have the meet Australian standards, particularly in relation to the hygienic handling and processing of their catch and conditions of employment, just as Australian prawners who are operating out from Karumba have to pay Australian wage rates and provide Australian working conditions for the people who are processing their catch? I should like to have these questions clarified. I thank the House for its indulgence.
– I shall be as brief as possible. A survey carried out in the Gulf of Carpentaria waters between 1963 and 1965 showed that there was a very real potential for. commercial prawn trawling in the south-east corner of this area. Soon after, in March 1966, commercial trawling on a pilot scale began. In a search mainly for the luscious and meaty Banana prawns - this is rather staggering - 70,300 lb of mixed variety was landed, lt was observed that the catch rates per hour were quite equal to catches in other parts of Australia. What I am trying to establish is the tremendous stimulation that has occurred over recent times in these particular waters. It is part of a general pattern appearing, as the honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney) mentioned a little while ago, in most of the waters around the continent. Later, in 1966, operations were concentrated on grounds which principally yielded the nocturnal varieties of prawns, the Tiger and Endeavour.
Now let us move to 1967 and observe the dramatic increase in yield as the industry became organised and as knowledge of the prawning grounds increased. Craig Mostyn and Co. has 15 trawlers supplying its processing plant at Karumba in the Gulf of Carpentaria and each of these is reported to be landing up to 5,000 lb of prawns a day, mostly of the Banana variety. Twentyfour persons are working long hours, heading, grading and freezing the prawns. On some future occasion I should like to indicate the difficulties under which the fishing industry in remote areas - not this particular firm - is operating. About 4,000 lb is processed daily and later transported overland by refrigerated vans. I believe, though I have not been able to verify this, that another fairly substantial company from South Australia ‘rs planning to establish itself in the Gulf and has in mind flying great quantities of prawns to the South Australian market.
So much for South Australian interests and interests which are remote from the northern parts of Australia. We move into a different sphere altogether. Honourable senators have observed that up to date the accent has been on Japanese activity in these waters. I propose to point out that other countries have their eyes on the fishing grounds surrounding this country of ours. We know that Dr J. Kizivetter, a Russian, writing* in ‘Pravda’ has indicated that, with the ever increasing demand for fish in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, a Russian fishing fleet will start intensive operations near Australia. He suggests that the Soviet penetration of the South Pacific is only beginning. Here I quote from his actual article that apparently appeared in Pravda’.
We are told that Italy last year placed a report before the Federal Government, offering to help in the development of our fishing industry. Dr L. Galiani, President of the Italian Trading Office, is reported to have stated:
We believe Australian waters have vast reserves of fish and this natural richness could be exploited. Australia could easily compete in the near future with other leading nations in the fishing industry.
His report mentions amongst other matters - now we start talking about varieties of fish: jack mackerel, striped tuna, bream and schnapper, available in quantity by bottom trawling the Great Australian Bight; the waters off Esperance Bay, rich in morwoi, flathead, bream and leatherjackets; barracouta in Bass Strait; the enormous potential for prawn trawling in the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria and so on. Then there are the Japanese, who are intensely and actively interested in the apparently vast potential of our fishing industry.
May 1 cite what this industry is worth and give honourable members some information. I know that they want to hear this. The total value of marine products exported in the 6 months to December last year was $9,166,000. This is the significant point: That figure was $186,000 less than the figure in the corresponding period of 1965. It is claimed that the decrease was due mainly to a 30% drop in the value of cray tails exported. However, it is still disturbing to see that decrease. We have the ingredients of a major fishing industry which should, and 1 believe will, before long develop an export trade to a value of between $15m and $20m a year.
Let us direct our attention again to the Gulf of Carpentaria and note the rather staggering evaluation that the Gulf exceeds 100,000 square miles in extent and that it has now been revealed that at least in some of that area prawns occur in vast quantities. If only one-quarter of that area were as productive as the grounds of the east coast of Queensland, the Gulf area alone would provide catches of about 35 million lb of prawns a year. So it can be seen that a vast and rich industry is offering on a national basis. A very valuable segment of this industry is already emerging in the prawn trawling activities in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Large companies are and will be taking advantage of this situation. From what I can learn, only these major companies have the resources required to operate on a large scale and with the efficiency that is demanded. My concern is that all of this could create a situation in which the small operator - the man who has spent a lifetime trying to earn a living in most difficult circumstances in these remote areas - could find himself squeezed out. I would hope that the State and Federal Governments, each in its own sphere, would give full consideration to protecting the interests and stimulating the prospects of these smaller men.
There is another important element in this situation, namely, the possibility of the Aboriginals sharing some of this prosperity. In the Gulf area there are whole communities of Aboriginals who are skilled in fishing and who have an intimate knowledge of the haunts of both fish and prawns in those waters. Already I have had a personal approach from the representatives of one of these groups - those living on Mornington Island. I am completely convinced that, if they could be included in any of the considerations of this matter, that could well mean the additional income to them which would provide better housing and improved conditions generally for them. This matter could will be examined by the federal council that the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) has indicated will soon be formed. Of course, this would be done in consultation with the excellent State Department of Aboriginal Affairs in Queensland. I conclude by saying that in all of this matter there is one certainty: We have in our Australian waters a great variety of fish, teaming millions of prawns and huge quantities of crayfish, crabs and lobsters - an Alladin’s cave of great wealth producing marine life which will increase our overseas earnings tremendously.
– I apologise for trespassing on the indulgence of the House at this stage, but I believe that certain things should be said. Firstly, this legislation is based on section 51 of the Commonwealth Constitution which gives the Commonwealth Parliament the power to legislate in respect of fisheries in Australian waters outside territorial waters. In other words, there is a very broad and general power. The real question at issue is how far that power extends. In this particular case the Government chooses to extend it beyond the 3-mile territorial limit in respect of which the States have both control of the waters and the title to the land underneath those waters. The Commonwealth now proposes to go another 12 miles beyond that. Let us look at the background and the real motive in doing that.
– The Commonwealth now proposes to go another 9 miles.
– That is so. The background is that today there are fishing poachers right around the main fishing spots of Australia and on the main fishing grounds. The Government has had many and bitter protests from professional fishermen and patriotic Australians who do not like to see poaching craft coming so near to the Australian littoral, but in point of fact what is being done by the Government is in the main a rather limited gesture. The people who are poaching and are doing so in a big way are the Japanese. Today, with modern fishing craft, it is not just a matter of a set line or a seine net; it is a matter of using depth sounding devices, radar and several other forms of electronic equipment. When the Japanese come in to fish they take out everything.
Internationa] law depends upon conventions. It depends upon the accession by instrument of a particular nation. The matter that we should be considering is to what extent we should accept the 12-mile limit. As I see the situation, when Captain Cook first came to take possession of the eastern coast of Australia in the name of King George III, his commission provided for him to draw a boundary out beyond Norfolk Island. The boundaries that were declared in respect of the subsequent States go hundreds of miles out to sea. That being so, we should be claiming a prescriptive right to lands far beyond those that are contemplated in the terms of the Bill. There is a saying: ‘Let he take who hath the power and he shall keep who can.’ In the final analysis all laws and all government depend upon force, and in the par- ticular case of Australian fisheries and poaching there is one final way that we can deal with the situation and that is with patrol craft. It was pathetic to hear the comment of the honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney), who is a former Minister for the Navy. Apparently our patrol craft are in a rather pathetic condition. It is quite ludricrous that earlier in this sitting we should have been discussing rights in respect of the exploration and exploitation of the continental shelf to a distance of hundreds of miles out to sea in terms of an international convention, yet in respect of fishing rights we are not prepared to act. This is for fear of treading on Japanese corns. The Japanese are at present our trading partners and that is the reason why nothing is done. I know precisely what the Government is up to.
In the case of the continental shelf there has even been a corridor drawn to the south of Tasmania. It extends for a distance of about 700 miles to the south east down to Macquarie Island. There are two standards of performance and these two standards should be brought a little closer together. I wish to refer particularly to the Gulf of Carpentaria. I happened to be at Darwin last June and I was talking to some very responsible Government servants there. Their sober assessment was that £30m worth of prawns and fish could be taken out of the Gulf of Carpentaria every year. The Gulf of Carpentaria historically is Australian waters. We should proclaim it as such and police it accordingly. We should legislate on that basis and if anyone comes in past the prescribed zone we should have patrol vessels ready to do the work.
– I want very briefly to support the motion. I am particularly interested in the fishing fleets which operate off the coast of New South Wales and produce a tremendous amount of fish and prawn products each year. This is a timely measure. It is one which accords with Australia’s desire to fulfil its obligations in the nation’s own interests but also having regard to and in accordance with international law. Whilst there is great justification for believing that we need to think of how we should police the additional rights which flow from this Bill, the fundamental thing is that by virtue of this legislation we are creating the power and the right to have jurisdiction over the area extending 12 miles from the Australian shore. This is a great step forward and one that will be welcomed not only by the fishing interests bus also by all who are in any way connected with this great industry. It is nothing new that problems of the sort that have been mentioned in this debate should arise around the Australian coastline because this has been the experience of many other countries. I have discussd this matter with people at government level and at industry level in several other countries and I have found that their problems are quite similar to those that we have heard mentioned in this debate. There is nothing new about fishing fleets of a nation operating well away from the particular sphere of activities of that nation. This has occurred in United Kingdom waters. United States waters, Canadian waters and we have had the problem here in what we regard as Australian waters.
However, this Bill will give us the basis to ensure that firstly we have the jurisdiction legally to deal with a serious problem when ships from other nations come in close to our shore to catch fish, prawns and the like. But we must realise that our own capacity has not yet been developed to deal with the broader aspect of fishing on the high seas or fishing at large, so to speak. Undoubtedly this will come. I believe that by virtue of the provision of a 12-mile limit we will find that our own fishing fleets will tend to make greater use of this right and accordingly the impact will be such that infiltration, if I can use that term, will tend to lessen. In the light of this development it would then be timely to deal with the question of any other policing that may become necessary.
New Zealand has carried out a certain amount of naval patrol. This was done as a result of discussions between the New Zealand Government and the Japanese Government. Undoubtedly similar action could be taken here in due course when we have established our rights in this particular regard. I feel that it is unnecessary to canvass aspects of the fishing industry which have been so well referred to by other honourable members in this debate. On behalf of the industry in northern New South Wales in particular. I want to thank the Government for this legislation. I commend the Bill before the House.
One aspect of this Bill which should be brought out is that we must now look at our capacity to enforce new rights. If we had two patrol vessels based at Darwin that were capable of travelling at 20 knots - and one would probably be out of service at any given time - and if an aircraft located a fishing fleet from some foreign country in the Gulf of Carpentaria, many miles away from Darwin, it would be several days before a patrol craft would be able to reach the foreign fishing fleet, or the position at which it was originally sighted. Therefore, I think it is about time that we gave consideration to increasing the numbers and class of patrol vessels around the Australian coast. The Vosper Thornycroft group in England turn out a gas turbine patrol boat that is capable of 57 knots - or 66 miles an hour - and these patrol boats have been sold to Germany, Denmark, Malaysia, Brunei, Libya, the West Indies and several other countries. We could use vessels of that kind in Australia. I suggest that while the Government is giving effect to this legislation it should give urgent attention to modernising our fleet of patrol vessels by buying vessels of this type and speed, which could do a better job on the long Australian coastline.
– I apologise to the House for the fact that, my maiden performance at this table has to be at this time at night. However, I must say that, over the past few weeks, the performance of members of the Australian Labor Party has brought this late sitting on themselves. They initiated debates when matters of greater moment were before the Parliament. I will not have a chance to cover all the points that have been raised by all the honourable members who have spoken on the Bill. I want to refer to some of the criticisms of the Government’s action and the statement that the Government has not gone far enough with the legislation.
Firstly I deal with the speech by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) who spoke for about 33 or 34 minutes and dwelt mostly on the problem of inland waters. That matter was dealt with very effectively in about 4 or 5 minutes by the Attorney-General (Mr
Bowen). The honourable member for Dawson raised the matter of the South Sea Fishing Co. Pty Ltd. Reference was also made to that company by the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen) also. I should like to give certain information to the House about the company. Its processing operations are carried out on a factory ship called the ‘Papuan Prince’, which was the name given by the honourable member for Wide Bay. The vessel was built in Japan but is registered now in New Guinea. It has a Japanese crew. The prawns processed by the company are caught by four prawn trawlers, three of which are owned and crewed by Queensland fishermen. The fourth trawler was built in Queensland but is crewed by Japanese. The prawn processing on the ‘Papuan Prince’ is subject to inspection by the Papuan Administration, which also inspects the frozen prawns before export and issues export certificates.
The company itself is a joint venture, as was suggested by the honourable member for Dawson and the honourable member for Wide Bay. The company has its head office in Madang, New Guinea.- The project is 51% Australian and the remaining 49% is held by a Japanese company. The company was set up in New Guinea to assist the development of the fishing industry, including the training of indigenes. The Papua-New Guinea Administration would not permit the company to operate in the Gulf of Papua because the Administration did not wish the company to compete with the local fishermen who were operating in the area. The company failed to catch economic quantities off Madang and moved its operations into the Gulf of Carpentaria. The four prawn trawlers working in conjunction with the ‘Papuan Prince’ are licensed under the Fisheries Act 1952-1966. As I said, the ‘Papuan Prince’ is a vessel registered and licensed in New Guinea.
The honourable member for Wide Bay also raised the question of the definition of a foreign vessel. A vessel that is registered in Papua and New Guinea is not recognised as being a foreign vessel. The honourable member for Dawson also raised the question. The problem of foreign vessels operating in Queensland or Australian waters was raised by many speakers, in particular the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Fulton). The particular case raised by the honourable member for Dawson referred to a Formosan boat that was reported on 31st October to be fishing clams in the Michaelmas and Upolu Cays, about 40 miles north east of Cairns. Both cays are dry at high water and the waters surrounding them are claimed by Queensland as territorial waters. Subsequently the vessel called at Green Island, seeking fresh water. That information was brought out by the honourable member for Leichhardt. It is understood that the Mayor of Cairns has been in touch with the Department of Defence in connection with that vessel. Those are the simple facts in relation to the matter.
The question of the general policing of the waters was raised by practically all the speakers. The first hope is that other fishing countries around the world will recognise the jurisdiction over the new exclusive fishing zone of Australia and that those countries will request their fishermen to play the game by Australia as Australia plays the game by other countries. Many countries now adopt the 12-mile limit. I am not sure of the legality of the question raised by the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor), but it does seem that the 12-mile limit is becoming the internationally accepted practice in respect of fishing rights, if not territorial rights. The countries that have claimed specific fishing limits of 12 miles are Albania, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark in respect of Greenland and the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Mauritania, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Kingdom the United States of America and Uruguay. A convention was almost accepted to define this as international law, but it was defeated.
The honourable members for Gwydir (Mr Ian Allan) and Perth (Mr Chaney) and several other honourable members mentioned the problem of policing. As I said previously, our main wish is that other countries will recognise Australia’s rights in respect of the 12-mile limit and honour our request. As for the physical problem of policing, we must first have a solid report of a known breach of the Australian law. However, there is a real physical problem in policing a coast line of 12,000 miles. This is a matter I must refer to my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony), who is unavoidably absent. He may take heed of the suggestions that have been made.
The honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen) referred to the issue of licences. Boats are usually registered by the States, which set down the standards for the boats and issue the licences in the first instance. The Commonwealth licence is complementary to the State licence. I have had practical experience of the problem raised by the honourable member for Wide Bay.
– Is a Commonwealth licence needed to go outside the 3-mile limit?
– I will treat that as a question on notice and get an answer. Other points that have been raised will need to be referred to the Minister for Primary Industry.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
I refer to clause 3, which reads in part:
Section 4 of the Principal Act is amended -
by omitting the definition of ‘Territory’ and inserting in its stead the following definitions: “Territory” means Territory of the Commonwealth and includes the Territory of Nauru; “the declared fishing zone” means -
the waters adjacent to Australia and having as their inner limits the baselines by reference to which the territorial limits of Australia are defined for the purposes of international law and as their outer limits lines seaward from those inner limits every point on each of which is distant twelve international nautical miles from the point on one of those baselines that is nearest to the first-mentioned point; and
the waters adjacent to each Territory not forming part of the Commonwealth and having as their inner limits the baselines by reference to which the territorial limits of that Territory are defined for the purposes of international law and as their outer limits lines seaward from those inner limits every point on each of which is distant twelve international nautical miles from the point on one of those baselines that is nearest to the first-mentioned point, but does not include any waters that are not proclaimed waters;’.
In paragraph (c), after paragraph (b) of the definition of ‘the declared fishing zone’ insert the following paragraph:
all areas . of Australian internal waters as defined for the purposes of international law embracing those bays which have been, or are now, claimed as historic bays including the Gulf of Carpentaria, St Vincent’s Gulf, Spencer Gulf, Exmoutb Gulf and Van Diemen’s Gulf,’.
The remarks of honourable members tonight about the exploitation of Australia’s internal waters by Japanese and other interests show how essential it is for us to have Commonwealth or State jurisdiction over our internal waters. The AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) got somewhat upset at what he called my gibes at the Government. If he condones the operations of foreign ships entering the 3-mile limit and landing crews on Australian soil without complying with our health regulations it is quite obvious that the Government could not care less about the operation of foreign ships and foreign fishermen in Australian waters. Does he condone the action of Australian ships catching prawns in proclaimed Australian waters, sailing outside of those waters and transferring the prawns to a Japanese mother ship? From what the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) said, it is apparent that this is happening. The Department of Primary Industry apparently has admitted or inferred that it is happening. Australian trawlers are catching prawns and transferring them to a Japanese ship manned by Japanese - and I do not care where this ship is registered. How does this activity affect the income tax position of the people concerned?
As the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen) said, something very mysterious is going on in the Gulf of Carpentaria with respect to this South Sea Fishing Company Pty Ltd. Why is this activity being condoned by the Government? This case should be investigated. Are the claims of the honourable member for Wide Bay and that of Australian fishermen in the Gulf of Carpentaria true that the Government is winking its eye at the operations of the Japanese fishermen because, as the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen) said a Government senator is interested in this foreign owned fishing vessel? This should be looked at, because it is a very serious allegation. It is strange that foreign shipping interests are operating quite freely in the
Gulf of Carpentaria and that nothing is being done about policing these ships which are working in conjunction with Australian ships which are in turn breaking laws by landing prawns on foreign ships. Is this a violation of our income tax laws? The Attorney-General got excited. Why? What is going on in the Gulf of Carpentaria?
– Something fishy.
– That is so, and it must be investigated. A foreign company operating in our waters and the Government’s weak excuse is that the ship is registered in New Guinea. This is a Japanese ship manned exclusively by Japanese and that Australian trawlers, catching prawns in Australian waters, are transferring prawns to a Japanese mother ship. Quite a few Australian laws seem to be infringed, including our income tax laws. There appears to be something very wrong with the operations of this company in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Why is this not being investigated? Is it because a Government senator is mixed up in it? This must be looked at without delay. Therefore. Mr Chairman, the amendment is in these terms:
All areas of Australian internal waters as defined Cor the purposes of international law embracing those bays which have been, or are now, claimed as historic bays including the Gulf of Carpentaria, St Vincent Gulf, Spencer Gulf, Exmouth Gulf and Van Dieman Gulf.
All that means is that an Australian government, State or Federal, has exclusive rights to control fishing in these internal waters, and particularly in the northern waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria and those areas in the vicinity of the Great Barrier Reef.
– The Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) answered the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) very effectively following his second reading speech. The amendment is completely unnecessary, as will appear tothe honourable member for Dawson if he takes the trouble to look at what the Attorney-General had to say. Therefore, the amendment is unacceptable.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Nixon) - by leave - read a third time.
– Yesterday the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) asked me a question relating to certain use of Department of Civil Aviation aircraft. I now table a statement which provides the information he requested.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) - by leave - agreed to -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Act 1964, this House elects Mr Beazley and Mr Wentworth to be members of the Council of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies and to continue as members for three years from this day.
American Servicemen in Australia
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I will speak very briefly and I do so on a subject which I believe to be important. I have spoken to several members who feel as I do about this subject and
I think this is the time and place to speak of it. I refer to the United States Information Service bulletin which has been sent to all members and received today, and which contains a statement by Mr Ed. Clark, the American Ambassador, to the effect that United States soldiers had spent $628,500 in Australia during October. This works out at an average of $280 per head, there having been 2,214 servicemen who took the opportunity to come to Australia. The point I want to make is that the American Ambassador does not have to justify to us the presence of American soldiers in this country by telling us how much money they are bringing to Australia. As a member of the Government Parties, let me say - and I am quite certain that many members of the Opposition will agree with this - that we are happy to have the American servicemen with us. We do not care whether or not they bring money into Australia. We welcome them. They are doing a good job. We know that in the long run this is to our benefit. I thank the House for its indulgence.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 3.21 a.m. (Friday).
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
What have been the date and nature and result of any consultations between the Commonwealth and Queensland on rectifying the boundary between Papua and Queensland, which was fixed by Britain in 1878 and which proceeds for some sixty miles within three miles of the Papuan coast.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: - The boundary referred to in the question is » line, described m Letters Patent of 1878 and confirmed in further Letters Patent of 1925, that serves the purpose of identifying islands forming part of the State of Queensland. Discussions took place with Queensland between 1903 and 1906 on the question whether certain islands in Torres Strait might cease to be part of the Stat: of Queensland and become part of the Territory of Papua. No action was taken. The matter was again discussed between the Commonwealth and Queensland in 1923-25. Regard was had to, among other things, the affinity of the people of the islands near Papua to the inhabitants of other islands in Torres Strait In the result, no change was made and in 1923 new Letters Patent were issued confirming the Letters Patent of 1878. In 1964-1967 the Commonwealth has had discussions with Queensland concerning the division of offshore petroleum rights and arrangements as between Queensland and the Territory have been agreed upon. These are reflected in the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Bill which is now before Parliament
asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answer to the honourable members questions:
Details of the values of Australian exports to Mainland China for the years 1957-58 to 1966-67 inclusive are contained in Appendix ‘A’. The table also shows the value of each item in each year expressed as a % of the total export value of each item, and the total value of these items in each year expressed as a % of total Australian exports.
These details were compiled from publications and preliminary tabulations provided by the Commonwealth Statistician.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
This offer was not made to the Premier of Western Australia because expert opinion in that State at that time was that there would be a greater risk involved in bringing ships’ garbage ashore for incineration than in dumping at sea in the favourable off-shore currents which occur in the Western Australia area. However, the Minister for Agriculture, Western Australia, has since raised the possibility of his State being included in the Commonwealth’s offer, in the light of recent expert opinion that has been received, that complete reliance should not be placed on ocean currents. This question is currently receiving consideration.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1, (a) The present personal staff to the Prime
Minister consists of eight persons. In addition, the Prime Minister has assistance from one First Assistant Secretary of the Department who is assisted by one Steno-Secretary.
The designation and numbers of personal staff employed for other Ministers are:
asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Commonwealth Properties (Question No. 591)
asked the Minister for the
Interior, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows: 1 and 2. As the former Prime Minister indicated on 5th May 1965 in answer to the honourable member’s previous question on this matter his reply related to reports resulting from particular inquiries initiated by the Commonwealth Government and not to reports made by bodies, such as the Australian Universities Commission, the Committee on Advanced Education and the Australian Research Grants Committee, which have been given a continuing responsibility for advising the Government. Since the former Prime Minister replied to the honourable member in 1965 the committee appointed to ascertain the needs of teaching hospitals has submitted a second report (7th May 1965), and a committee under the chairmanship of Professor Herbert Burton, appointed in November 1965 to investigate the need for a college of advanced education in the Australian Capital Territory, reported in June 1966.
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s, questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for the Navy upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
On earlier occasions I have referred to the problem of gold. The Fund Annual Report indicates that official gold holdings fell slightly in the course of 1966. I do not think there can be any doubt that thefixed price for gold has had a depressing effect on gold production and on the proportion of gold output which finds its way into official reserves. I must repeat what 1 have said before that the time is overdue for a Fund study of the many aspects of gold production and the contribution it makes to world monetary reserves.
It may be argued that the new facility (special drawing rights on IMF) will reduce the need for gold. I cannot see it that way myself. Behind the special drawing rights facility stands the Fund and behind the Fund stand gold subscriptions. I still maintain therefore that it would be wrong of us to neglect the contribution of gold, which I believe will remain the foundation of our international payments system for a long time ahead.’
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable members’ questions are as follows:
Members of the Reserve Bank Board are as follows:
Sir Richard Randall (as Secretary to the Treasury)
Sir William Anderson, C.B.E.
Sir William Gunn, K.B.E., C.M.G.
D. J. Hibberd, O.B.E.
Sir Theo Kelly, O.B.E.
Sir Leslie Melville, K.B.E.
W. W. Pettingell, C.B.E.
H. W. Rowden.
Sir William Anderson: N.K.S. Holdings Ltd, Ogden Industries Pty Ltd, Metalex Pty Ltd, Knox Schlapp Pty Ltd, William Latchford and Sons Pty Ltd, and Form Pty Ltd.
Sir William Gunn: Adelaide River Limited, Amagraze Limited and Group, Clausen Steamship Co. (Australia) Pty Ltd, Douglas Pastoral Co. Pty Ltd, Elsey Pastoral Pty Ltd, Grazcos Co-operative Limited, Gunn Rural Management Pty Ltd, Gunn Development Pty Ltd. Hodgson Downs Limited, Queensland Meat Producers’ Co-operative Assn Ltd, Rothmans of Pall Mall (Aust.) Ltd, The Elsey Station Limited, Tipperary Land Corporation, United Cattle Stations Pty Ltd, and Walter Reid and Co. Ltd.
Mr D. J. Hibberd: Conzinc Riotinto of Australia Limited, Comalco Industries Pty Limited and Group Companies, G. E. Crane Holdings Limited, G. E. Crane and Sons Limited, Model Dairy Industries Limited, Queensland Alumina Limited.
Sir Theo Kelly: Woolworths Limited, its subsidiaries and associated companies, and The Australian Mutual Provident Society.
Mr W. W. Pettingell: Manufacturers’ Mutual Insurance Ltd.
Mr H. W. Rowden: Felt and Textiles of Australia Ltd and subsidiaries, Felt and Textiles of New Zealand Ltd and subsidiaries, Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd and Australian Textile Export Corporation Ltd.
I think this question is best answered by inviting attention to section 23 of the Reserve Bank Act 1959-1966 relating to the disclosure of interest in contracts. Section 23(2) reads as follows: (2.) A disclosure under the last preceding sub-section shall be recorded in the minutes of the Board and, after the disclosure, the member of the Board -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Sir Roland Wilson, K.B.E. (Chairman)
C. H. Rushworth, C.M.O. (Deputy Chairman)
B. B. Callaghan (Managing Director)
C. R. Coulter (Deputy Managing Director)
Sir Richard Randall (as Secretary to the Treasury)
R. G. Baxter, C.B.E.
A. Burton Taylor
H. N. Giles, O.B.E.
Sir Reginald Groom
F. J. Horwood, O.B.E.
J. P. D. Lloyd.
Sir Roland Wilson: Qantas Empire Airways Ltd, and Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia & New Zealand Ltd.
G. H. Rushworth: Australian Finance & Investment Co. Ltd, National Mutual Life Association of Australasia Ltd, and Trustee Executor & Agency Co. Ltd.
R. G. Baxter: Raymond G. Baxter & Co., Commonwealth Hostels Ltd, and Papua A New Guinea Development Bank.
A. Burton Taylor: Email Ltd (and Group), B.X. Plastics (Aust.) Pty Ltd, Coramic Aust
Pty Ltd, Country T.V. Services Ltd, Demag Industrial Equipment Pty Ltd, Formica Plastics Pty Ltd, McDonald Industries Ltd, and Stabilisers Pty Ltd.
H. N. Giles: Elder Smith Goldsborough Mort Ltd, Babcock & Wilcox of Aust Pty Ltd, Elder’s Trustee and Executor Co Ltd, Lensworth Finance Ltd, P. & O. Co. of Aust. Pty Ltd, and Squatting Investment Co. Ltd.
Sir Reginald Groom: Groom Sanderson & Co., Brolite Industries Ltd, Consolidated Rutile Ltd, Besser Vibrapac Masonry (Qld) Ltd, English Electric Co. of Aust. Pty Ltd, Fire Fighting Enterprises Ltd, Mount Isa Mines Ltd, P. & O. Co. of Aust. Pty Ltd, Australian National Airlines Commission (Member) and Queensland Board of Advice - Elder Smith Goldsborough Mort Ltd.
F. J. Horwood: Australian Meat Board (Member) and Allanooka Plains Pty Ltd.
J. P. D. Lloyd: Cadbury Fry Pascall Aust. Pty Ltd, and Australian Mutual Provident Society - Branch Director (Tasmania).
1 think this question is best answered by inviting attention to section 24 of the Commonwealth Banks Act 1959-1966 relating to the disclosure of interest in contracts. Section 24 (4) reads as follows: (4.) After a member of the Board has, in pursuance of this section, disclosed the nature of his interest in a contract, the member -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
A similar difficulty exists as regards the sources of finance for roads expenditure by, on the one hand, State Governments and, on the other hand, local government bodies. Insufficient information is available at the present time to enable a dissection of final expenditure on roads as between the States and their authorities. The Commonwealth Statistician is undertaking further investigations on this matter but it may be some time before results of the work are available.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
What amounts were spent per head of population in each State from (a) State and (b) local government (i) tax revenues and (ii) loan funds on constructing and maintaining roads in 1950, 1955, 1960 and the last year for which figures are available?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
As indicated in the answer to Question No. 602, it is not possible at the present time to dissect final expenditure on roads as between the Slates and their authorities.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answer to the honourable member’s questions:
Details of whisky, brandy and rum imported in in the years 1965-66 and 1966-67 are contained in Appendix ‘A’.
These details were compiled from publications and preliminary tabulations provided by the Commonwealth Statistician.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answers to the honourable member’s questions:
Retiring Age for Pilots (Question No. 676)
asked the Minister for Civil
Aviation, upon notice:
What is the retiring age for pilots employed by each of the following companies:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Qantas Airways Ltd -50 years
Trans-Australia Airlines - 55 years
Ansett/ANA - 35 years
East-West Airlines - 55 years
Airlines of New South Wales - 55 years
MacRobertson Miller Airlines - 55 years.
asked the Minister represent ing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
What were the countries of origin, and what was the-
value of -
potato imports during each of the past 10 yean?
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Details of fresh or chilled onions and potatoes imported in the years 1957-58 to 1966-67 inclusive are contained in Appendix ‘A’.
These details were compiled from publications and preliminary tabulations provided by the Commonwealth Statistician.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
What amount of taxation reimbursement is to be granted to New South Wales for 1967-68?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
For a good many years the general revenue grants to the States which have been determined on the basis of the formulae incorporated in the States Grants legislation have been known as financial assistance grants’ and the term “taxation reimbursement’ has not been applicable to them.
It is currently estimated that the financial assistance grant payable to New South Wales in 1967-68 under the States Gran’s Act will bc $299.8m.
VIP Aircraft (Question No. 708)
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
What was the balance of payments deficit with the United Kingdom and the United States of America for each of the last ten years.
– The answer to the honourable members question is as follows:
The Commonwealth Statistican has advised that complete balance of payments statements covering international transactions between Australia and individual overseas countries are not available. There are available, however, estimates in which current transactions and certain identified capital transactions have been allocated on a regional basis with a reasonable degree of reliability. These are shown in the accompanying table for the period 1956-57 to 1965-66. Comparable current account estimates for 1966-67 will be published shortly, although information in respect of capital transactions for that year wilt not be available for some time. It should be noted that capital movements between Australia and tha U.S.A. are not available for publication separately and, in the table, the movements shown are between Australia and the U.S.A. and Canada.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 November 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1967/19671102_reps_26_hor57/>.