26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr JAMES presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth praying that this House take any action necessary to assist the campaign for a lasting peaceful settlement in Vietnam.
Petition received and read.
– I address a question to the Minister for Defence. Is he aware that 120 employees at the Government Aircraft Factory at Fishermen’s Bend are to be dismissed immediately and that ISO more are to be dismissed at the end of the year? Has the Government in mind a programme of work to be carried on after the completion of the Mirage project? If not, does the Government believe in the gradual attrition of the aircraft industry? Does a redundancy agreement exist in respect of workers in the industry? Finally, will compensatory or severance payments be made to the employees who are dismissed?
– Yes, I am aware that retrenchment is unfortunately necessary in the Government Aircraft Factory at Fishermen’s Bend as we enter the closing stages of work on the Mirage aircraft. One of the unhappy circumstances of the Australian aircraft industry is that there has never been an adequate work load to keep it operating at a steady level. As a consequence, when a new project comes up it is necessary to recruit workers, and when the project is completed it is necessary to retrench them. This not a situation which Ls new to the aircraft industry, either here or in any other part of the world. I draw attention to the fact that even the United Kingdom, whose need for both civil and military aircraft is vastly greater than ours, has run into uncertainty about future employment levels in the aircraft industry. There is not, at the moment, a definite forward work load for the three units of the Australian aircraft industry. The need for future aircraft is under constant consideration, but I think it must be well understood from the debate of the last few days on this matter that there is not an unlimited need or an unlimited capacity to pay for new military aircraft. With the Macchi programme well in production and the Mirage programme tapering off these retrenchments are absolutely unavoidable. We do not walk away from that fact. As to the generality of the conditions of retrenchment, I shall refer the matter to my colleague, the Minister for Supply, in another place.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for National Development. Has sub-artesian water at shallow depths been discovered in any drought affected areas, apart from the Riverina? What progress has been made recently with regard to desalination?
– J am not aware of any recent major discoveries of water underground, with the exception of the one in the Northern Territory which I mentioned in the House last week; but there has been a very considerable stepping up of the programme in recent years, particularly under the National Water Resources Council, which has increased the expenditure by both the Commonwealth and the States on the mapping and development of underground water. We will be publishing, I believe next year, a further map of underground water resources in Australia. I think that basically this will show not new discoveries but rather a further delineation of those underground water resources which were previously known. One hears repeatedly of breakthroughs in regard to desalination, but I am a little sceptical of some of these so-called breakthroughs. Nevertheless, there is a mounting interest in Australia in desalination. There are now a dozen or perhaps more plants operating in Australia. The honourable member would know that one was recently installed in his State on Daydream Island, in the Whitsunday group. These plants are proving satisfactory, but there is a need to compare the cost of producing fresh water by this method with the cost of providing it by other means. Nevertheless, a considerable amount of work is being done by both the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and universities. I understand that some of the State authorities also will soon be doing some work on this matter.
– ls the Prime Minister aware that Sir Edward Warren announced to the Japan-Australia Business Cooperation Committee that be was confident that the long awaited double taxation agreement between Australia and Japan would be settled by the end of this year? Is this the manner in which the present Government makes known to the Parliament and the nation, while Parliament is sitting, and of course to members of the Government parties, its intentions in regard to legislative proposals of vital importance to the economy of Australia? Has this Government departed from the procedures of the Menzies and Holt governments whereby such announcements were first made in Parliament if Parliament was sitting?
-Order! The honourable member is now giving information. I direct him to ask his question.
– Is the object of the announcement to the Japanese an attempt to commit the Parliament to the endorsement of a double taxation agreement between Australia and Japan before such agreement receives any consideration by this Parliament?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is no. Of course this is not a method by which the Government makes any announcement. Nor has it in fact been a Government announcement. Apparently what has happened - I have not read whatever source it is that the honourable member refers to - is that some individual has stated that he is confident that something will happen by the end of the year. It is open to any individual to state this at any time about any matter. It is absolutely without question that any matters involving double taxation agreements or other matters of policy are announced by the Government in the House and must be debated by the House and agreed to by the House before they can come into operation. There can be no basis for the suggestion in the honourable member’s question.
– In directing my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service, I ask him whether his attention has been drawn to an article claiming that natives from New Guinea are being paid at the rate of $6 a week to work on the ship ‘Delos’, which is operated by the Austral ian- West Pacific Line. If his attention has been drawn to this article, will he discuss the matter with the Minister for External Territories with a view to ensuring that exploitation of native labour will not become the order of the day in areas under Australia’s control?
– I did see a snippet in one of the Melbourne newspapers reporting a statement by, I think, a Mr Malabubu, who is a seaman from New Guinea. The reference was to a Swedish ship, so my initial reaction was that this is not an Australian award and does not concern my Department. As it is, I am compelled to devote considerable administrative effort from time to time to the checking of furphies and misreports, in newspapers and other sources, of matters that do directly concern my Department. ( am sure that the Minister for External Territories heard the honourable member’s question and will no doubt look into it. J am not sure of the position of the law or his authority over such a matter, but I do know in another context apart from this issue that it is desirable to increase the employment opportunities on ships for the natives of Papua and New Guinea. If there were more suitable seagoing opportunities, the employment prospects of those people would be improved.
– 1 ask the Prime -Minister a question. The right honourable gentleman may or may not have bad an opportunity to read the newspapers today, so I hand him pictures and articles from this morning’s Melbourne ‘Age’ and ‘Sun’ showing youngsters sitting on the floor and in corridors during school lessons. I emphasise the critical position of education in Victoria and in other States - I speak as a fellow Australian and not as a fellow Victorian - arising from the shortage of accommodation, equipment and teaching staff.
-Order! The honourable member’s preface is far too long. He must ask his question.
– I point to a report which shows that 15,000 Victorian children are receiving primary schooling in classes so overcrowded that adequate teaching is impossible and that the situation is much the same in secondary schools.
-Order! The honourable member will ask his question.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he, like me, believes that tens of thousands of our children are not receiving a fair go. Will he disregard the arguments of State and Commonwealth responsibilities and personally examine the means by which his Government can, with financial assistance, bring about an end to this sorry situation?
– I thank the honourable member for the Press cuttings that he has given to me. I could from the same sources - indeed, I will if he would like me to do so - give him Press cuttings showing schools in Victoria that are models for schools throughout Australia. There are, of course, still a number of overcrowded schools in the State of Victoria. I gather that, though he was seeking to speak to me as an Austraiian and not as a Victorian, the question is based solely on Victorian newspaper reports and a Victorian school, so I will confine myself to that. May I add that the number of such schools and the number of oversize classes has been reduced, particularly over the last few years, as a result of the greatly increased interest and financial contributions that have been made by the Commonwealth Government to education in so many ways.
– I ask the Minister for National Development a question. Recently, in answer to a question in which I advocated pipelining as the best means of conserving water, the Minister said that the subject would be brought before the next meeting of the Australian Water Resources Council. Has a meeting of the Council been held? Was the subject of pipelining discussed? If so, what was the result?
– Yes. As I promised I brought the matter raised by the honourable member before the Australian Water Resources Council for general discussion. There was a long and quite fruitful discussion on the matter. Some State authorities pointed out that although pipelining undoubtedly was possible in certain circumstances, they had to be careful to relate the cost of pipelining to the amount of water saved. For example, the Queensland representative pointed out that when the Emerald Dam was being investigated pipelining was considered but for the 35 miles or so over which the water would flow from the dam to the farms it would cost an extra $15m and would result in a saving of only about 5,000 acre feet per annum. In that case, the cost of pipelining was almost as high as the cost of the dam itself and would have been uneconomic. The Victorian representative said that, because of the high rate of water loss, Victoria was investigating carefully the pipelining of channels, but again costs in many areas appeared to be excessive. He pointed out that in one area to carry out a full programme of pipelining would cost at least $200m and would result in only a very small saving of water. For a much lower cost another dam could be built which would provide far more water than would be saved by pipelining.
– I wish to ask the Minister for National Development a question. When will the Government announce a decision in respect of irrigation projects submitted by the Tasmanian Government some months ago, notably the Poatina irrigation scheme to irrigate 10,000 acres in the north of the island? That proposal is now before the Commonwealth for the second time. Did the Commonwealth promise to spend $50m over 5 years on irrigation and conservation schemes in the States? I ask the pertinent question: How does a State government qualify for such assistance?
– The Commonwealth Government did promise to spend not less than $50m over the next 5 years. That promise was made 18 months ago. The Commonwealth has already committed $23. 6m for this purpose and is investigating carefully other State projects. I hope to be in a position in the not too distant future to make further announcements of Commonwealth grants under this scheme.
– Now that Paris has been selected as the site for peace talks, will the Prime Minister tell the House whether Australia agreed with the selection? As this selection of site is being regarded by France as a triumph for Charles de Gaulle and his foreign policies, notwithstanding that there is much violence and uprising in France itself, does the Government regard the selection of Paris with favour? In fact, will the battleground be transferred from Saigon to Paris?
– Answering the first part of the question, yes, Australia did agree to Paris as the site for the initial contacts between the North Vietnamese and the United States. Indeed, during all of the discussions that have been going on as to sites which might be selected for the initial contacts the Government has been kept constantly informed of the one or two sites suggested by North Vietnam and of the 15 or 16 suggested by the United States, and has been asked for its views in each case. We have indicated that while we would not wish to press the matter to any point which would militate against initial contacts being held, it was our view that it was preferable for any contacts to be made in a site which was neutral, which was seen to be neutral and which . had the other requirements of freedom of reporting and of communication and so on, which the United States required. Paris appears to us to meet these requirements. I do not know who is suggesting that this could be a triumph for the foreign policies of Charles de Gaulle, but I find it very difficult to see any basis for such a suggestion. He happens to be the President of a country of which Paris is the capital, and Paris as a capital presents the requirements for initial contacts between the countries involved.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior a question without notice. He will remember that 8 days ago he told me that the Government was considering the proposal put forward by the MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs to resume or detach portion of Wave Hill Station for the occupation and benefit of the Gurindji people. I ask the honourable gentleman whether, pending the Government’s decision, he has taken or is contemplating steps to reinstate Mr J. W. Jeffrey in the Public Service, as he was recently dismissed from his job as welfare officer at Wave Hill for advocating the very measures which have since been advocated by the Minister’s own colleague?
– At this point of time I am not taking any decisions on such a matter. I shall have a look at the substance of the question and give the Leader of the Opposition a considered reply.
– My question which is directed to the Treasurer relates to the availability of gold for industrial purposes in Australia. The right honourable gentleman knows that gold is used for a vast range of useful and ornamental items, from false teeth to wedding rings. By way of explanation, I quote a few lines from an urgent telegram that I received this morning. It reads:
Reference gold marketing for Australian industry. Statement of policy and establishment of marketing procedure many weeks overdue. We have been unable to purchase gold from Reserve Bank or its agents since March 14th. Many employees in this and dependent industries must be stood down next week if supplies not made available.
It is signed by a firm that uses gold industrially. What is the position regarding the availability of gold in Australia for industrial purposes?
– I have not very much knowledge of the use of gold for the first purpose mentioned by the honourable gentleman, and I have very limited knowledge of its use for wedding rings. Nonetheless, the answer to the question posed by the honourable gentleman is that, as a result of the arrangements recently made with the International Monetary Fund, gold will not now be purchased or sold by the Reserve Bank other than for reserve currency purposes, and then it will be purchased or sold at the rate of S35 per ounce. The Government has agreed that all gold produced domestically will first of all be delivered to the Reserve Bank, which will then forward it to the Gold Producers Association of Australia. That association will be able to sell it at the market rate, which this morning was something of the order of S39.50 per fine ounce. The Government has given its approval to the Reserve Bank. The facts are known to the Gold Producers Association. As I understand it, the domestic arrangement made for the sale of gold to industrial users is that the Gold Producers Association will be able to sell to them at the going rate. If it is found that the gold producers are exploiting the market and charging above commercial rates, approval will be given by the Reserve Bank for the importation of gold by authorised sellers. The gold producers of this country have found that their profit margins have fallen off in recent years and we have had to pay them subsidies to keep them in production. Therefore, we think it is entirely appropriate that they should be able to get the fair market price for their commodity.
– I ask the Minister for Health a question. In the last Budget it was proposed to supply hearing aids to pensioners, on hire from the Commonwealth Acoustics Laboratories. Inquiries from pensioners in New South Wales have brought this matter to my notice, and I know that they are anxiously awaiting the supply of these valuable aids. Can the Minister say when this scheme is likely to commence in New South Wales?
– It will commence in New South Wales on 20th May.
– I ask the Minister for National Development whether his attention has been invited to the claim by Alcoa of Australia Pty Ltd that it has developed a new process for the desalination of water which is considerably cheaper than existing processes. As one of the requirements of this new process is that the water must be pre-heated, will the Minister consider and investigate the application of this new system for desalinating the heavily mineralised hot water from artesian bores, and the possibility of its Tendering this water fit for domestic and stock purposes?
– 1 have seen the report referred to by the honourable member but I have not yet been able to get many details. I shall treat the question as being on notice and shall give the honourable member a reply when I have obtained full details.
– 1 ask the Prime Minister a question concerning the education matters referred to earlier by the honourable member for Bendigo. In answer to that question the Prime Minister stated that the inadequacies in education in schools in Victoria and elsewhere mentioned by the honourable member were being removed. I now ask the Prime Minister whether he is satisfied with the rate at which they are being removed. If not, will he take special steps before the coming Budget to see whether they can be removed at a more rapid rate?
– I am gratified that in the question asked by the honourable member there was no suggestion that, in fact, improvements were not taking place, and that the question was merely based on whether the improvements were being made sufficiently quickly. I think it is admitted on all sides that these improvements are taking place and this is an indication of what has already been done. The honourable member himself will know that the Commonwealth Government has enabled such accelerated improvements, but that it still remains within the province of the States to take the initial elements required for improvement. I think I should take this opportunity to say that the Government of the State of Victoria is devoting to the improvement of education a very great proportion indeed of its State Budget, and that this has enabled, together with the Commonwealth assistance, the improvements to which I have referred. In regard to the other matters raised by the honourable member, there must always be room for discussion as to whether deficiencies in any area - and there is a large number of areas, of course, which could not be described as perfect, and probably never could be - should be overcome more quickly, less quickly, or whatever it might be.
– 1 ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether he can explain the delays that take place from the time a potential national serviceman is balloted into the Army and when he is called up for his medical examination. As the delay does cause considerable inconvenience in many instances, is it possible to speed up the medical examination, thus eliminating anxiety and the inability of a lad to plan his future.
– There are two national service ballots annually, each ballot being geared towards providing the Army intakes for the succeeding half year. The aim is to speed up the whole process so that all concerned can be advised as quickly as possible exactly where they stand, but in practice we are not able to include those selected by ballot and found suitable in the Army intake immediately following that ballot. This being so. it is desirable to give a medical examination reasonably close to the time that a person is called up. As honourable members are aware, a certain measure of frustration has arisen through people being passed as medically fit by the agents of my Department and then being rejected on medical grounds upon entering, or after a short period of service with the Army. Fitness does change from, time to time. The general idea is to carry out a medical examination as near as possible to the actual dale of the call-up so that once men have given notice to their employers and arranged to go into the Army there will be a minimum chance of the Army taking a different view medically from the view of the doctors of my Department. That is not to say that there will not be some cases in which individuals will bc delayed and perhaps frustrated for reasons peculiar to themselves.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister in the absence of the Minister for Primary Industry. I ask: When will Parliament be acquainted with the proposals of the dairy industry reconstruction scheme? I ask this question because of a number of queries - some speculative but mostly seeking information - that I, and I air sure other honourable members, have received about this scheme. Is the Commonwealth’s objective merely to provide funds for the States to administer the scheme and if this is so is it possible that the scheme will be administered differently in each State?
– The Minister for the Interior will answer the honourable member’s question.
– The position is that the dairy industry reconstruction scheme is presently before the State governments for consideration. The State governments have to consider it in detail. 1 think that the scheme will then be brought back to the Australian Agricultural Council at its meeting in July following which some conclusions may be reached by this Government.
– My question is addressed to the acting Minister for Trade and Industry and it refers to the statement continually used by interested parties that Australia has a favourable balance of trade with Japan. Is it a fact that the balance of trade between Australia and Japan is actually well in Japan’s favour if the sum is done using the all important population figures of the respective countries? Does this calculation not show that we buy about five times as much per head from Japan as Japan buys from us? Has the Minister taken the opportunity to point this out to our Japanese visitors?
– lt is true that Australia has a favourable balance of trade with Japan. However, it is also true as the honourable member has suggested that whereas Australia, per head of its population, buys $26 worth of Japanese goods a year, Japan, per capita, buys only about $6 worth of Australian goods, lt is also true that there has been a considerably greater increase in Japanese exports to Australia during recent years than in Australian exports to Japan. In the present 12 months period it looks as though the rate of increase in Japanese exports to Australia will be approximately twice the rate of increase in Australian exports to Japan. At the same time 1 think it is also true to say that Australia and Japan are complementary to a considerable degree in many of the goods and materials which each seeks to buy from the other. Many of the exports from Australia are in those areas where the Japanese themselves are deficient - either in the infrastructures supplying manufacturing and secondary industry or in the foodstuffs and the fibres to feed and clothe Japan’s population. Nonetheless 1 think there is greater opportunity in the future for Japanese businessmen, perhaps, to concentrate to, a greater extent than they have done in the past on that area of Australian purchases which are either without duty or are in the non-productive area. At this stage approximately 46% of Japanese exports to Australia are among the 24% of Australian goods covered by a tariff. It would seem that great opportunities lie for Japanese exporters to Australia to expand their share of that part of the remaining 76% of Australian purchases from overseas countries.
– 1 ask the Minister for Health a question supplementary to the question asked him by the honourable member for Banks. Can the Minister indicate the commencement dates in each of the other States of the scheme to make available hearing aids free to pensioners?
– The scheme started in Adelaide and Newcastle about a month ago because the laboratories there were ready. In relation to all other States, the scheme will commence on the date I gave to the honourable member for Banks - the 20th May.
– I address a question to the Postmaster-General relating to the introduction of coloured television. Can he inform the House, first, when Australia can expect coloured television? Secondly, if, in fact, it is not coming to Australia in the near future is it because the major commercial operators are not geared for coloured television? Thirdly, has any money been allocated by the Commonwealth Government to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to bring Australian television up to requirements for coloured television?
– I have made comments in the House previously in relation to coloured television and I have informed the House that much technical investigation is necessary before the Broadcasting Control Board would be able to offer advice or make recommendations to the Government. It must be understood that coloured television is virtually in its infancy, even in those countries where it has been introduced and which conducted experimental work over a long period. Only this morning I noticed a report that only 24,000 coloured television sets have been sold in England as against IS million black and white sets. This is a clear indication that coloured television has not yet advanced to the point where it is essential for introduction here. An officer of the Control Board will be going overseas this year to undertake technical studies in relation to coloured television. When I last commented on this matter I indicated that at least 18 months notice would be given before its introduction to enable industry to be prepared.
– The Prime Minister will probably remember that his predecessor raised with him a question about education in his then capacity as Minister for Educaton and Science last May after the honourable member for Bonython had asked his predecessor whether he would consider the establishment of a national inquiry into all aspects of education. His predecessor replied that he would consult the Minister for Education and Science and subsequently a written reply was received which included the passage
The Australian Government does not see the justification for it to sponsor what the honourable member has called a national inquiry into all aspects of education including both State and nongovernment schools.
Can the right honourable gentleman indicate whether that still represents the Government’s view?
– I am credited by the Leader of the Opposition with remembering a question which was asked of me last May by the late Prime Minister. I do not remember the precise details, but I believe that the Leader of the Opposition has said enough for me to gather what it is that he wants me to answer and that is this: Does it appear to the Government that a national inquiry into all forms of education, primary, secondary and tertiary, is called for? Although my recollection is not perhaps as sharp as it should be I do couple with this recollection statements made by the Leader of the Opposition at the time that all State Premiers supported such an inquiry. Whether such statements were made on television or in Parliament, I cannot remember. Perhaps the Leader of the Opposition cannot remember. If he cannot I will look them up and give him the references to which I refer, because it is important to note that all State Premiers do not favour such an inquiry into all forms of education and indeed, as records of Premiers’ Conferences show, they have some doubts about the matter. As of mis stage I see no reason that has been presented to change the answer which was given previously.
– My question is directed to the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry. Will we have made available to us a comprehensive report of the proceedings of the talks at present taking place between Japanese and Australian businessmen so that members of this House may have some authentic information, rather than have to depend on snippets from newspapers more interested in creating controversy than in reporting facts?
– As I understand the honourable member’s question, he is referring to the talks between the Australia and Japan business co-operation committee delegates who have just completed their deliberations in Canberra. These discussions were in camera and consequently reports were provided only to the delegates who attended. The opening ceremony at which my colleague the Minister for National Development and myself spoke, together with Sir Edward Warren, the President of the Australia-Japan business co-operation committee meeting and Mr Adachi. the President of the JapanAustralia business co-operation committee meeting, was of course open. Reports of these proceedings are freely available for honourable members to peruse. As the other proceedings were confidential, I cannot be of assistance in providing a report.
– I refer the Prime Minister to his announcement in this House yesterday that the Minister for Primary
Industry would replace the Minister for Trade and Industry at the international sugar talks. I ask the Prime Minister: What is the reason for this abrupt and expensive switch in Australian representation? Is the Deputy Prime Minister’s hasty return intended to prevent the Treasurer from acting as Prime Minister during the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington later this month?
– The reason why the Minister for Primary Industry will be taking over from the Minister for Trade and Industry at the Geneva talks is that the Minister for Trade and Industry is to return to Australia on 22nd May. The talks are to continue beyond that date. It is necessary for a Minister to be there to replace the Minister for Trade and Industry and the Minister for Primary Industry is the Minister who will replace him.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Health and is supplementary to a question asked by the honourable member for Riverina yesterday. I ask the Minister: In view of the tremendous economic loss that would be occasioned, to Australia by the introduction of foot and mouth disease into this country and the tremendous difficulty of eradicating the disease, and in view of the present day speed of travel and the increased number of travellers, would the Minister review the precautions now taken in regard to people coming from countries known to have foot and mouth disease, with the object of making those precautions more effective?
– I agree entirely with the honourable member’s analysis of the importance of doing everything within our power to keep a disease such as foot and mouth disease out of this country. Our procedures for preventing the outbreak of this disease are under continuous review and I do not think it is necessary to take any special action in this regard. I remind the honourable member that the quarantine precautions we take are among the strictest in the world, and they have obviously been effective: I also believe we need to keep some sort of balance between taking adequate precautions on the one hand and
Imposing unnecessary and aggravating restrictions on the other. I believe’ at present we have a good balance in this respect.
Ministerial Statement Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce- Minister for Immigration) - by leave - I wish to inform the House that the Secretary-General of the United Nations is being informed that Australia is prepared to make available a further contingent of police to serve with the United Nations force in Cyprus. Australia has already provided four contingents of police for periods of 12 months service in Cyprus. The group which is currently in Cyprus consists of fifty police, thirty-seven of whom will conclude their tour of duty on 26th May and the remaining thirteen at the end of June. They will be replaced by the new contingent in the same manner, thereby providing a measure of continuity.
The Australian contingents have included members from the Commonwealth Police Force, the Northern Territory and from each State. There has been active cooperation between the Commonwealth and State governments in bringing these groups together. The Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) has begun the necessary negotiations with State governments to form the new contingent. This Australian contingent, like its predecessors, will work in close cooperation with the military personnel of the United Nations Force, which has been indispensable in maintaining peace and order. It works in liaison also with Cyprus and Turkish Cypriot police elements in the conduct of joint patrols, in maintaining police posts in sensitive areas and in the. investigation of incidents. In all this work the Australian contingents have built for themselves a high reputation which has earned for them the respect of the people of Cyprus, their Government authorities and officials of the United Nations.
The Australian Government has agreed to meet the cost of salaries and allowances and transport to and from Cyprus for members of its police contingent. In addition it has so far contributed $US1, 037,000 towards the cost of the United Nations Force in Cyprus.
– by leave - The Opposition notes with satisfaction the fact that the Government proposes to continue Australia’s participation in the United Nations police activities in Cyprus. We believe this is a very proper and useful exercise by the United Nations. It prompts us to ask once again the question whether we have not failed on several occasions to use the United Nations in the best manner possible. I believe that throughout the world many of the disputes which, if left unattended, could lead to world conflict could very usefully be dealt with by the United Nations in the same way as the United Nations moved into Cyprus. We all know that in Cyprus there was a most explosive situation. At one stage it appeared that it could be solved only by war. As a consequence of what has happened war has been averted. It is to the credit of the United Nations and, may I add to those who assisted the United Nations, that it was possible to resolve by peaceful means the very difficult situation that obtained there. The Opposition is pleased to note that Australia will continue to lend its support to the exercise.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Snedden, and read a first time.
– 1 move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill has a companion Bill, the Extradition (Foreign States) Bill 1968, which I will immediately introduce, and for convenience this speech will encompass both Bills. The purpose of the Bills is to make amendments to overcome certain difficulties which have become apparent in practice since those Acts came into operation.
The first major amendment relates only to the Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Act 1966 and is concerned with the so-called speciality rule. This rule, which is a general principle in extradition, is that a person will be surrendered by one country to another for the purpose of being tried only for the offence in respect of which he was surrendered. The Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Act 1966 is based on the Scheme for the Rendition of Fugitive Offenders formulated at the London Conference of Commonwealth Law Ministers in April and May 1966 which I attended. That Scheme allows, as an exception to the speciality rule, that the person surrendered may be tried for a ‘lesser offence’ proved by the facts on which the surrender is based. Australia was the first country to introduce legislation based on the Scheme.
When we came to prepare our legislation, it. appeared that the term ‘lesser offence’ had no certain meaning. In some circumstances its meaning would be reasonably clear. For example, an offence of inflicting grievous bodily harm would be a lesser offence than murder, and both might be proved by the same facts. But in other cases it might not be so clear that one offence was a lesser offence than another. Consequently, we depart:d from the London Scheme and provided instead that a person surrendered to Australia might be tried for any other offence which could be proved by the facts on which his return was based. The relevant provision is in section 22 of the Act. Likewise, section 11 (3.) of the Act provides that the Attorney-General may issue a warrant for the return of a person to another Commonwealth country notwithstanding that he may there be dealt with for an offence of which he might be convicted upon proof of the facts on which the request for his return is based.
Although it was not thought that this departure from the Scheme would be of any significance, a recent request for the surrender of a fugitive to Australia from the United Kingdom has shown that this change could adversely affect a request for the surrender of a person to Australia. That country alone has followed Australia’s lead in introducing legislation based on the Scheme but, as regards the speciality rule, it follows the Scheme exactly. This means that our Act does not comply with what is required by the United Kingdom Act in respect of the law of a requesting country. In the recent case which I mentioned this difficulty was overcome by making a somewhat cumbersome and not altogether satisfactory ad hoc arrangement. It is likely that other Commonwealth countries will follow the Scheme and the United Kingdom example rather than the Australian example. lt is to overcome this difficulty that the proposed amendment in clause 7 of the Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Bill is introduced. This clause will amend section 22 of the Act so that Australian law will conform with the London Scheme. At the same time, section 1 1 (3.) of the Act will be amended by clause 5 of the Bill to provide that the Attorney-General may not issue a warrant for the return of a person to another Commonwealth country unless the law of that country conforms to the London Scheme.
The second major amendment is in both Bills and is concerned with the taking of evidence in Australia for use in proceedings in other countries when the surrender of a fugitive to Australia is sought. The circumstances of the recent case I have mentioned - and this is the only case we have had since the legislation was introduced - have shown that it is desirable to put beyond doubt the authority of a magistrate in Australia to take evidence on oath for the purposes of proceedings in another country for the extradition to Australia of a fugitive criminal. A provision for this purpose is contained in clause 8 of the Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Bill and in clause 5 of the Extradition (Foreign States) Bill. These provisions will have the advantage of ensuring that the documents leaving Australia in support of a request for extradition will be uniform irrespective of the State or Territory where the offence was committed.
There are some other amendments that would be made by the Bills. All references to Nauru in the two principal Acts would be omitted consequent upon Nauru becoming independent. The definition of extradition crime’ would be amended. As the Acts now stand, for a crime to be an extradition crime, the act or omission which constitutes the offence against the law of a requesting country must also constitute an offence against the law in that part of Australia in which the fugitive is found. It is thought that this definition may be too narrow. For example, the bribery of a British official in the United Kingdom is not an offence against the law in Australia, although equivalent acts would constitute an offence in Australia. It is proposed to amend the definition of extradition crime to avoid any such restrictive interpretation. I commend the Bills to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Connor) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Snedden, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
As I indicated when I introduced the immediately preceding Bill, the Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Bill, my speech in explanation of that Bill serves as explanation of this Bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr Connor) adjourned.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Customs Act 1901-1967 to the extent necessary in order to establish a Collectorate of Customs in the Northern Territory and to provide for increased flexibility in customs administrative arrangements relating to various Stales and Territories. Section 8 of the Customs Act provides that there shall be a Collector of Customs in each State who shall be the Chief Officer of Customs for the State. This section also contains a provision which enables portion of a State or Territory to be attached to another State for Customs administration purposes. Section 8a of the Customs Act provides that the Principal Officer of Customs in the Northern Territory may be vested with such powers and functions of a State Collector as the Comptroller may specify.
In recent years, as honourable members are aware, there has been a notable increase in commercial development and activity in the Territory. This has resulted in a considerable increase in customs responsibilities - to an extent that necessitates the establishment of a Collectorate of Customs for the Northern Territory. Clause 2 of the Bill amends section 8 of the Customs Act to provide for such a Collectorate. As the creation of a Collectorate removes the need for vesting specific powers in the Principal Officer of Customs in the Territory, this clause also repeals section 8a.
Clause 2 also inserts a new section 8a which provides that part of a State or Territory may be attached, for customs administration purposes, to another State or Territory. Hitherto the Act authorised attachment only to another State. A provision of this nature is required in order to permit the administrative flexibility necessary to enable the Department of Customs and Excise to make efficient use of its staff resources. Ports in the north and north west of Australia are generally remote from the main commercial and administrative centres of their States and may therefore be more conveniently administered, for customs purposes, from another State or Territory.
Clause 3 of the Bill introduces consequential amendments to other sections of the Act which refer to powers or functions of Collectors of Customs. In addition to the Customs Act there is other legislation administered by the Department of Customs and Excise which requires amendment because of the decision to establish a collectorate in the Northern Territory. I therefore intend to ask leave to introduce immediately five associated Bills to amend certain other legislation. These associated Bills are: the Excise Bill 1968, the Distillation Bill 1968, the Canned Fruit Excise Bill 1968, the Coal Excise Bill 1968, and the Beer Excise Bill 1968.I commend the Bill to honourable members.
– This Bill and the associated Bills which will be introduced shortly have been examined in detail in another place. The Opposition does not oppose them. 1 do not intend to cover the ground that has been covered in another place. I merely accede to the request of the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) that we co-operate in the passage of this legislation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Nixon) read a third time.
– I move:
This Bill is the first of the associated Bills mentioned in my speech on the Customs Bill 1968. It is a Bill to amend the Excise Act 1901-1966 to the extent necessary as a result of the Government’s decision to establish a collectorate of customs in the Northern Territory. It includes a provision, similar to that contained in the Customs Bill, to enable part of the State or Territory to be attached to an adjoining State or Territory for Excise administrative purposes. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
– The Opposition does not oppose this Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Nixon) read a third time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This is the second of the associated Bills mentioned in my speech on the Customs Bill 1968. It is a Bill to amend the Distillation Act 1901-1966 to the extent necessary as a result of the Government’s decision to establish a collectorate of customs in the Northern Territory. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
DrJ. F. CAIRNS (Yarra)- We do not oppose the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Nixon) read a third time.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This is the third of the associated Bills mentioned in my speech on the Customs Bill 1968. It is a Bill to amend the Canned Fruit Excise Act 1963-1966 to the extent necessary as a result of the Government’s decision to establish a collectorate of customs in the Northern Territory. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
– The Opposition accepts this Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Nixon) read a third time.
– I move:
This is the fourth of the associated Bills mentioned in my speech on the Customs Bill 1968. It is a Bill to amend the Coal Excise Act 1949-1966 to the extent necessary as a result of the Government’s decision to establish a collectorate of Customs in the Northern Territory. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
– The Opposition does not oppose the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Nixon) read a third time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This is the fifth of the associated Bills mentioned in my speech on the Customs Bill 1968. It is a Bill to amend the Beer Excise Act 1901-1966 to the extent necessary as a result of the Government’s decision to establish a collectorate of customs in the Northern Territory. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
– We do not oppose the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Nixon) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 7 May (vide page 1176), on the following paper presented by Mr Fairhall:
And on the motion by Mr Snedden:
That the House take note of the paper.
– The House is debating a statement made last Thursday night by the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall). This an annual event. A statement on defence is made by the appropriate Minister each year, giving honourable members, particularly members of the Opposition, an opportunity to state their attitude towards defence. In my view the attitude adopted on this occasion by members of the Opposition is pathetic and would be ludicrous if the matter were not so serious. Their approach to defence is not positive and gives no indication that they are aware of the dangers confronting this country. I am surprised that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has not yet taken part in the debate. In opening the debate for the Opposition the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) said that he resented the Minister’s statement because it was sketchy and vague. I do not agree with the honourable member’s description, but I will have more to say on that matter later.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition did not offer an alternative to the Government’s policy. All he did was state something which we already knew - the Labor Party opposition to the war in Vietnam, particularly the bombing of North Vietnam, and its belief that Australia should not have any part in operations in Vietnam.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition had unlimited time in which to state this case, but he spoke for only a short time, and almost the whole of his speech was directed to a criticism of the F111 aircraft and its cost. Then we heard from the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), who is the shadow Treasurer in the Labor Party. He sounded like a second-grade accountant. He spoke of defence as a matter of figures and money, not human lives. He had no regard for the country’s security. He asked: ‘Can we afford what we are spending?’
– Can we?
– Order! The honourable member for Wills has already spoken in the debate.
– The honourable member for Melbourne Ports suggested that we should be spending on defence millions of dollars less than we are now spending. He said that the choice is guns or butter, and he was all for butter. This gives some indication of Labor’s approach to the matter. He discussed the question of import costs to Australia; he made no mention of the kind of equipment that we were purchasing from other parts of the world. However, the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) let the cat out of the bag, as he always does. He said that our new world holds no danger of war. That is his idea. He contends that we in Asia - we are part of Asia - have nothing to be afraid of.
– What are we afraid of?
-Order! The honourable member for Wills has made his speech and will cease interjecting.
– The honourable member for Wills said that our only defence should be internal development. He criticised our expenditure on naval and air establishments as being unnecessary. Could anything be more pathetic, when at this moment we are actually engaged in war? Of course, no-one wants war. This Government would do everything in its power to avoid having to go to war, but a fact of life is that while human beings have been on this earth there has been war. Certainly, let us work for total disarmament. We should never give up hope of achieving complete peace, but until there is disarmament, total in every respect, it would be criminal not to be prepared in this country. The pratings of the pacifists annoy me, especially when they prate from a position of influence and power, and I believe that their statements constitute one of our greatest national dangers. They can destroy our national fibre and will to resist aggression which threatens our freedom and our way of life. Peace does not come from words; it comes from eternal vigilance - this is the motto of ex-servicemen’s organisations - and from a will to defend peace if necessary. To prate peace, to put us off our guard, has become a powerful weapon in the hands of an aggressor, and I have yet to learn of any country in the world that is loud in its demands for peace which is not at the same time armed to the teeth.
The statement of the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) was in my opinion an excellent recital of our present defence programme. It certainly disposed of the uninformed criticism of the Fill. The honourable gentlemen answered that criticism well, and he fully justified the Government’s attitude in this matter. The Minister dealt with several important aspects, including our agreement with restraint in the bombing of North Vietnam in the hope of a peaceful settlement, and he sensibly refrained from any provocative statement in relation to that matter. He dealt with the United Kingdom withdrawal from the East and the fivepower conference to be held in June. He dealt at some length with our relations with
New Zealand in defence matters. He spoke of the considerable increase in our forces and their equipment. He dealt with our imports of defence equipment and the research we have carried out, which we very often forget. He placed emphasis, very rightly, on the splendid job done by our forces, including the national servicemen, of whom he said all Australians should be proud. I endorse that, and emphasise it at the same time. These young men, who stand with the regular soldiers as part of our Army, have shown what can be done.
Though I appreciate that the Minister’s statement did not pretend to be the final word on our defence planning - in the circumstances one can understand this - I was disappointed that a more positive attitude was not announced in respect of many matters. As the Minister intimated at the beginning of his statement, the Government is aware, as every one of us is aware, of the vast changes that are taking place. However, in my opinion the Minister’s answers are much too tentative for the present time. He mentioned that history is being made in South East Asia. New independent nations have arisen. The British are moving out. The colonial era has gone. Communist China has nuclear capacity. Vietnam is still an unfinished job. The Minister certainly indicated that we live in a very dangerous world. In those circumstances, why mince words? The people must be told at once that they will have to face further increases in defence preparation and in defence expenditure. This is inevitable and should bc stated categorically, and it was not said in the Minister’s statement. Of course, the colonial era has gone. As a young nation we played our part magnificently. In our short history we have sent expeditionary forces to many parts of the world, though the day when we send expeditionary forces overseas has also gone. All our future effort and preparation must be directed to the protection of our own continent and, secondly, to joining with allies to preserve the independence and freedom of our neighbours in South East Asia.
The Minister for Defence spoke of the British withdrawal from east of Suez. Though details of the proposed withdrawal have not yet been completed - it will be discussed at the forthcoming five-power conference - this brings a major change to our defence preparation. Ever since this country was occupied by white men, more than 180 years ago, we have been linked with Britain, have depended on her and have been guided very largely by her. I am one of those who cast no blame on Britain for her decision to withdraw from this part of the world. Her contribution to world freedom is sometimes forgotten by many people. No country in the history of the world has contributed as much to the freedom of man as Great Britain has contributed. She has voluntarily given up the whole of her external assets for freedom of the world. She has now placed herself in the position where she must protect the 45 million or 50 million people in her own small islands, and this necessitates a tremendous change in all her policies. Britain just cannot afford to remain, and we must take some part where she has left off. At the same time, she has given her all in the interest of mankind. We cannot fill the vacuum completely when she leaves, but we must help substantially and realise that we have obligations in Malaysia, Singapore and other places of Commonwealth interest, lt is to be hoped that the five-power conference in June will clear the air for the future.
We must strengthen our relations with the United States of America and Japan. The United States is a very powerful country. Certain things have to be watched Last night an honourable member opposite mentioned that the Atlantic Ocean also must be taken into consideration. We need to strengthen our association and friendship with the United States which, through the Anzus treaty, is the greatest protection we have; we must continue to do everything within our power to maintain our friendship. It is disgusting to hear the criticism that is made sometimes of the great United States, but 1 thank God for what she has done and is doing for this part of the world and for this country. Japan, our erstwhile enemy, is now our best trade customer; it also is a very powerful country, with which we must develop our friendship in the interest of the defence of this part of the world. However, we must remember that we are concerned not only with the Pacific; Australia, with its extended coastline, must also recognise the significance of the Atlantic Ocean.
The Minister spoke of military integration with New Zealand. I am glad that he mentioned this matter and gave us so much detail concerning it. However, as I see it, it has to go further than that, and our two countries will have to assume a major role of responsibility in this particular area. I refer to Australia, New Zealand and the arc of islands surrounding them. This includes Papua and New Guinea and would even go as far as Fiji; indeed, we might have to talk in some way with General de Gaulle about New Caledonia. As New Zealand and Australia are the countries responsible for the preparation of the defence of this area, they must organise common naval, army and air bases. The integration will have to go deeper than that envisaged by present thinking, even to the point of the command structure itself. There must be integration of defence policies, on such matters as officer training, exercises and equipment. In these matters there must be the closest possible integration between New Zealand and ourselves. When we are dealing with the future of this part of the world, it is ridiculous to think that we should have any divergence of policy or machinery in relation to defence.
The Minister mentioned the present national service scheme, which has been highly successful in maintaining our Regular Army at its desired strength. However, I go further than that, for 1 believe that the Government must face up to certain matters in this regard. Total national service training is needed; this would involve the organising, building up and equipping of the Citizen Military Forces, lt is not good enough to continue with the present national service scheme. We must without delay build up our training capacity for officers and NCOs. No-one knows better than I do that these things cannot be done overnight. I have been through it, for I was the Minister for the Army when this scheme was established. But right now we should be organising the bases, especially for the training of officers and NCOs. This is an important matter.
– And the cadet corps, too.
– That is right. I have made a special note here that the cadet corps should be included. We want an announcement that this is to be done, and we must take steps immediately to prepare the organisation to take care of these matters. I know these things cannot be done in a hurry, but we must build the CMF to conform to the build-up in national service training. The. CMF must be fully equipped with the most modern weapons; this is essential. In other words, our home defence programme’ must be an urgent objective. This includes, also, more encouragement to school cadets. It is a great pity that tens of thousands of young lads who are reaching maturity in our high schools are crying out to join cadet movements, yet nothing is done and this matter is ignored. While I was the Minister for the Army I did all in my power to encourage school cadets, and to give them some prestige and that sort of thing.
The integration of the Services has been mentioned. While 1 agree that they should integrate as much as possible, and while I know that differing opinions are held on this matter, I believe that the three Services cannot be totally integrated under one Minister or one command. I believe there should be a great deal of integration - as much as possible, as I have said - but the three Services deal with three distinct types of operations and have a tight individual control, each with its own personality and image. If we are to get the highest efficiency from our Services, this must be maintained in every way.
– Canada has proceeded with integration of the Services.
– Canada is trying to integrate the Services, but it will not succeed in the way it expects. I believe that there must be closer integration in the establishment of, say, military hospitals. At present there is a great deficiency of medical men in our forces. This staggers me, for this activity was started a long time ago. In this country we should have proper military hospitals which wilt encourage the training of young doctors in what is called the speciality of military medicine. This is a speciality in aD big countries in the world, and we shall not get young doctors to train in this field unless these training facilities are available. Therefore, I plead that something be done urgently in this matter.
Emphasis may have to be given in future to naval and air power, but we must place emphasis also on building up the Army internally and having the Regular Army available, in proper shape and with proper reserves. These things are essential if the Army is to take its place in the dangerous situation that is developing in South East Asia. I know that differing opinions are held on these various matters, and I know that the Government cannot make an absolute statement at present. However, some of the subjects that I have mentioned today are matters upon which, regardless of the final statement of the Minister, the Government should make a pronouncement, setting out the objectives in our defence preparations.
– For the benefit of the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer), this is the twenty-fourth defence statement that has been made in this Parliament since he became a supporter of the Government in this place. On each occasion one of these statements has been made members of the Government have tried to instil into the people of Australia the thought that we are in danger of being attacked by someone from South East Asia, maybe one of our near neighbours. This was the general impression given by the honourable member, who was the Minister for the Army in this Parliament for a number of years. I do not think he has convinced members of the Australian Labor Party, and I am pretty sure that the general trend today with many people is that the old Com bogey is dying out. The Government is flogging a dead horse. The people of Australia are ultimately waking up to the fact that they are being misled by this Government. The honourable member for Bennelong said that we face danger from the countries to our north. I would like to know which of those countries endanger Australia at the present time. I call upon the honourable member, or any other honourable member, to stand up in this House and name a country that may invade Australia in the near future. Will it be Indonesia? We had a great deal of debate on Indonesia a few years ago. Although we were told that the Communists were taking over in Indonesia and that we should be prepared for them we did not send any troops there to stop the so-called downward thrust. Will the thrust be directed at Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan or Nationalist China? The Philippines and Japan are not concerned about any dangers that Communist China may pose; they do not even bother to have a national service training scheme.
Whilst some people are saying that we have to watch the downward thrust of the Communists, it is noticeable that members of the Australian Country Party seem to have little interest in this debate. Only one member of that Party, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) has spoken; the rest have been silent. The reason they have been silent is that if one visits ports such as Sydney, Melbourne and Newcastle one can see vast quantities of wool and wheat being exported to feed and clothe the people of the country that is supposed to be coming down to take over Australia. What a lot of nonsense it is. All that the Country Party is concerned about is the money that is received from this trading. If it is fair dinkum in its claim that China is endangering Australia then why is it trading with China?
I am sick and tired - and I am sure the majority of Australians feel the same way - of hearing Government supporters attack the ALP over incidents that happened when Labor was in government. The ALP took over at a time when Australia was in danger. A government led by Sir Robert Menzies capitulated and walked out, compelling Labor to take over the running of this country.
– That is not right.
– That is right as the honourable member well knows. The Government’s own supporters voted it out of power because they knew that it could not run the country, and they called in the ALP to take over. There is no doubt that results have proved that the Labor Government was a success. The honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Jeff Bate) last night spoke about the Labor Government cutting down on defence expenditure in 1948-49. I have never heard such stupid talk in all my life. This was just after a war and it is a natural thing for any government to cut down on defence expenditure after a war. I do not know what the honourable member does during the time when he is not sitting in this Parliament.
Another matter that the honourable member raised was in regard to Manus Island. I have beard this matter raised on a number of occasions in this House. He said that the L:bor Government would not allow the USA to establish a base on Manus Island. 1 think if we examine the facts we will find that Manus is a mandated territory which was handed over to Australia after World War I. One of the conditions imposed by the League of Nations was that we should not set up a permanent military base on the Island. A base was set up just prior to World War II and that was captured by the Japanese. Later it was recaptured by the US, which improved the installations and established a base for operations in the Pacific. At the end of the war the US offered to hand over this base to Australia on the condition that only the US and Australia be allowed to use it. This would have denied Great Britain the right to use it. I think that at that time the majority of Australians still looked to the mother country for help and could see no reason why she should not be allowed to use the Island. As Australia would not agree to the condition imposed and .could not afford to maintain the naval base itself the Americans sold the installations to China. I have said that to clear the records of Parliament and also in an endeavour to enlighten some of the narrow minded members who sit opposite me.
I know that at the present time we are greatly concerned with the defence of Australia. The ALP agrees that effective installations should be established all round Australia to protect us, but we do not agree with the Government’s policy. The Government does not believe in encouraging Australian industries to make the armaments that we require or in spending money on defence research. The Government believes in spending our money overseas - a policy that we oppose. We doubt whether Australia is getting value for the money that it is spending overseas. Australians have the know-how, the natural resources and the tradesmen who can do the job, but are we encouraging our workmen to build defence equipment of which we could be proud? Of course we are not. This Government does not believe in that. It looks only to one place for its defence equipment because it can get the equipment on credit, irrespective of whether it is good or bad. The real argument is whether we are getting value for our money.
As a result of a panic in 1963 the Government sent one of its Ministers to the United States to buy aircraft, irrespective of whether they could fly or were only on the drawing board. The result is that we are now left with the Fill. We were first told that the cost of twenty-four of these aircraft would be $126m but now the figure is in the vicinity of $300m. Estimates of the cost of these aircraft can be compared to mini-skirts - they keep going up. The Government can do nothing about the increasing cost and all that the Opposition can do is stare in amazement at the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) when he announces a new and higher figure. The General Dynamics Corporation provides us all with documents claiming that this is the most fantastic flying machine in the world. All this costs a lot of money and we are helping to pay for it. The Corporation is trying to prove to the world that the Fill is a good aircraft but operations in Vietnam show that although they certainly need runways to take off, they do not always need landing strips. More than 50% of these aircraft have been either shot down or lost because of trouble in flight. It should be noted in our parliamentary records that many people in the United States of America are interested in Australia’s purchase of the Fill aircraft because when witnesses were appearing before a Senate committee which in 1963 inquired into the costs of that aircraft they were asked about the conditions attaching to Australia’s purchases. Mr Gilpatric, who was then the United States Deputy Secretary of Defence, was questioned about the sort of contract Australia had made for the purchase of the plane. He was asked by Senator Mundt.
Are they going to buy planes willy-nilly? If your figures are off two million and the cost is seven and a half million dollars a piece, are- they going to buy them for ten million dollars? Have they no top limitation, or do they simply say ‘we will take two dozen planes at whatever price they are?
Mr Gilpatric replied:
That is the way the agreement reads.
There is no doubt that Australia’s representatives went to the United States with a blank cheque. They were told to buy the aircraft and that Australia would pay the bill no matter what the cost. Australia is going to buy twenty-four Fill aircraft to defend the entire Australian coastline. I doubt whether they could defend the privy in Martin Place. These aircraft will not be operational all the time. There must be periods when they will be grounded, yet we will have only twenty-four to defend our shores. Is this good value?
Other countries are building aircraft that are just as good as the Fill. Instead of our running to the United States for all our equipment we should either build it ourselves or we should visit the Scandinavian countries to examine what equipment they have and the way in which they spend their finance on defence. Sweden, which has a population of only 8 million, spends a great deal more on defence than does Australia, but dollar for dollar it gets better value than, any other country. At the time we negotiated to purchase the Fill aircraft the Swedes were building the SAAB Viggen aircraft which is similar to the Fill. They had this type of aircraft under design before the United States Air Force could get around to even thinking of such an aircraft. Sweden was far ahead of the United States at that time. Unfortunately I do not know what that aircraft would have cost but we might have got better value for our money had we gone to Sweden. We may have done better to have investigated the new swing wing type Mirage aircraft, because we have Mirage aircraft operating in Australia at present. We should be looking at the smaller nations to see whether we can learn from them and whether it would be better to take a leaf out of their books in planning our defence system.
We know that soon there will be a five power conference involving certain countries north of Australia. I do not think we can expect much from the United Kingdom which has stated that it will be withdrawing its forces from east of Suez. Of course this Government has looked to the United Kingdom for the defence of Australia for many years. Australia has been a parasite on the United Kingdom. We should not have to depend on any other nation. We ought to be able to stand on our own feet.
We cannot expect much from Malaysia and Singapore, because their economic situation is not good. We all recall what Mr Lee Kuan Lew said about the effects on Singapore’s economy of the British withdrawal from South East Asia. When Malaysia was in trouble we had to go to her aid, so we cannot expect much help from her in defending this region. New Zealand has some economic trouble so would not be able to contribute to the defence of the region. I am more and more convinced that we have to stand on our own feet in securing Australia’s defence.
Every member of the Australian Labor Party is opposed to conscription and to sending kids to Vietnam. However, the Labor Party is not opposed to national service training which does not hurt anybody. I was a conscript of a Labor government but at that time I was aware of the situation that existed. However, I do not think the average young fellow today is as concerned as were we at that time because after all in 1941 Australia was in danger. Nobody can convince me or a big section of our community that Australia is in danger today. The Opposition has stated openly its opposition to conscription and it will oppose the legislation relating to conscription when it is debated in the Parliament. As I said, national service training does not hurt anybody and we should be doing something about national service training, but if it is a case of one in it ought to be a case of all in. Nobody should be exempt. Everybody should be doing something for the defence of Australia. The Government should sit down and plan for the defence of Australia and it should tell the Australian people exactly what it intends to do. We should know what our Service chiefs think of the situation, not what Cabinet thinks. It is not for us as members of Parliament to work out the best way to defend Australia, it is for those men who are being paid to do it. When they make recommendations we should abide by them because they are supposed to be the experts. We know that certain members of the Royal Australian Air Force were not happy about the decision to purchase the Fill aircraft. I do not think anyone could be really happy about the Fill until such time as it has been proven in combat or even under normal flying conditions. The
Australian Labor Party believes that Australia should have an effective Air Force, an adequate Army and a Navy well equipped to protect our shores.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The honourable member for East Sydney (Mr Devine) challenged members on the Government side to name some countries in this part of the world that were hostile to Australia. Of course, if we could do that with accuracy half our problems would be solved. It is precisely because this is an unstable area that it is impossible to specify exactly where our dangers lie and what our defence requirements will be. This is one of the greatest difficulties facing the Government. I regard a debate on defence as a debate on the most important subject to come before the Parliament. All our other policies depend on maintaining our independence and freedom. National development, social services and education certainly are all important, but we must remember that we can expand and improve our efforts in these and other fields only if we remain free to do so. Therefore defence is the central policy around which all the others are built and we must not forget it.
There has been a good deal of criticism of the statement made by the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) because, it is alleged, it did not provide enough information and, in particular, that it lacked a new 3- year plan. I agree that the statement leaves our future outlook uncertain, but we must consider the circumstances under which the Minister made the statement. As I understand it, defence policy is the result of firm commitments made between allies and is not the result of a series of decisions made in isolation by one country alone. Therefore 1 sympathise with the Minister in the position in which he found himself. In the first place, the United Kingdom, with which we have a longer and closer association than with any other nation, over the last 2 years has made a series of contradictory statements on its intentions in South East Asia. The situation now is totally different to that envisaged when the original withdrawal announcement was made. It was believed then that sea and air power would remain and also a capability for rapid deployment of mobile ground forces. Now all this has changed. 1 personally believe that it is doubtful whether the Royal Air Force will have the resources and aircraft to move relatively large numbers of troops long distances. This decision by the United Kingdom Government has affected other nations such as Singapore and Malaysia. Since there has not yet been sufficient time to consult our other allies on these problems, perhaps it was unrealistic to have expected more specific proposals at this time. On the other hand there is a clear need for such proposals to be put forward as soon as possible. I believe that the essence of the Minister’s statement is to be found in his words:
These three means by which Australia can contribute to regional defence are not mutually exclusive. Our eventual defence policy could well contain elements of all three. I certainly would have liked the Government’s intentions given in a little more detail. It is extremely difficult to debate this complex subject on the information before us. Here again I appreciate the difficulty of informing the Parliament, on the one hand, and maintaining security, on the other. Commitment of garrison forces, I believe, could be dangerous for Australia. If our contribution to these forces is sufficiently strong to be of real significance it could, for example, adversely affect our ability to deploy other forces in an emergency. Therefore there is a great temptation to reject this as part of our defence policy. However, if Malaysia or Singapore should ask us to supply some garrison forces - and I believe that the initiative in this matter should come from those countries - then even with the dangers inherent in supplying the forces we would have to think very seriously before refusing such a request. We have reiterated constantly our interest in our neighbours and our belief that they must be allowed to develop free from the threat of attack by other countries and free from subversion from within. If, despite requests from these countries, we Insist on withdrawing to our own shores, our friends in South East Asia can be forgiven for regarding our interest with some scepticism. From the tone of the Minister’s statement I gather that we will welcome cooperation with other countries in the region. Although the nature and the extent of the co-operation is uncertain at this stage, what is certain is that there will be increased co-operation between Australia and New Zealand. There would appear to me to be excellent opportunities to make fuller use of Australia’s greatly increased industrial and .technological capacities. Reference has been made already to the several types of aircraft common to the air forces of both countries. In this context I should like to urge, if it has not been done already, that the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation CA31 project for a supersonic advanced training and ground support aircraft should receive close attention. From all accounts this aircraft would be relatively inexpensive by today’s standards for supersonic aircraft. A joint order by both Australia and New Zealand would result not only in a lesser unit price for the aircraft but would guarantee continuity of work for the highly skilled engineers and tradesmen of Australia’s aircraft industry. 1 was particularly interested in the Minister’s reference to plans for a Joint Service College and an Australian Service Staff College. Here surely are means of contributing to the training of officers for friendly countries, as well as making us independent for our own needs. In fact, the Minister’s comments concerning defence administration, in addition to the examples already quoted, contain welcome evidence of the fresh thinking in the fields of joint planning and intelligence. I believe that there has been very little recognition so far in this debate of the progressive moves made by the Government and I congratulate the Minister on his contribution to these advances.
Like the Minister, I agree that basically the forces that we . have are in good shape, but it is probably impossible for Australia herself to provide for all eventualities. However there is the particular problem of protecting the 40% of our trade which goes by way of the Indian Ocean. With the apparent abandonment of United Kingdom plans for staging aerodromes in the area, a fully equipped aircraft carrier would seem to be the best solution. Although an aircraft carrier capable of taking, for example, Phantom type aircraft needs to be about 55,000 tons and would cost a great deal of money, plus the cost of the aircraft, it is difficult to see how else we can attempt to deal with this particular problem.
– What about the Seychelles?
– 1 agree that we should have staging aerodromes, by all means. 1 thought that this step had been largely forgotten. This emphasises the point that it is important that we make the best possible use of our limited resources and it is vital to have the best equipment available. In this respect we have made remarkable progress in recent years, but with the acquisition of the much maligned F111C we are taking the biggest step so far towards making Australia a significant power. We have had constant criticism from the Opposition that Australia lacks an independent foreign policy. What the Opposition fails to realise is that a foreign policy remains credible only if the country has the military power to sustain it. Without such power the policy itself becomes ineffective and meaningless. For example, if one of our allies were attacked and appealed to us and all we could do was to throw our hands in the air in horror and say: ‘We deplore that this has happened and we are very sorry indeed for you, but we cannot do anything about if, what sort of foreign policy would that represent? Now, with the advent of the F111C aircraft, Australia will in fact possess a weapons system capable of lending substantial support to our foreign policy. So I am forced to ask: What does the Opposition want? Does it want Australia to be capable of retaliation in support of our allies, if they come under attack, or in the event - which we all sincerely hope will never occur - of an attack made on Australia itself? If so they must put forward suggestions for alternative equipment to that which the Government has ordered. Does the Opposition, in fact, have no plans for Australia’s action in such circumstances? If so its protestations in favour of an independent foreign policy arc exposed as mere political hypocrisy and lacking in sincerity and substance.
Although the F111C is enormously expensive, I believe that its cost must be judged in relation to its capabilities and the cost and capabilities of other weapons available. There is just no other aircraft, despite what the honourable member for East Sydney said a moment ago, or indeed combination of other aircraft types with the capacity of the F111C. As the honourable member for Fawkner (Mr Howson) pointed out last night, perhaps the Phantom comes closest in performance, but the difference is the extraordinary technical advance achieved by the F111C. when we compare the two. The Fill can carry more than double the load and it has a 60% greater range. I think the honourable member for Fawkner (Mr Howson) also mentioned that we would need to provide a fleet of air tankers to confer an equivalent range on any other type of aircraft. The cost of such provision would certainly be prohibitive. As far as Australia is concerned I believe that the greatest attribute of the F111C. aircraft is the flexibility of operation permitted by a combination of an undercarriage fitted with very large section tyres, a variable geometry wing and a self-contained instrument landing system. With a take-off run of less than 3,000 feet, the Fill in an emergency can use 60% of airstrips in Australia compared with 22% which could be used by the Phantom which needs a runway length of 5,000 feet. Another example of the suitability of the Fill aircraft to Australian conditions is that only 13 airports out of 649 in Australia are equipped with an instrument landing system. Under instrument flying conditions the Fill is freed from the restriction of operating from only this limited number of aerodromes. Therefore I support the decision to buy the Fill although the loss of three of these aircraft in Vietnam, two at least from unexplained causes, must be causing grave concern. However, Australia will have the incalculable advantage of buying aircraft which have been flown under operational conditions.
I regard the statement made by the Minister for Defence as an interim one. I believe that the fundamental decisions regarding Australia’s future defence policy have yet to be decided. In common with many other honourable members, I trust that these decisions will not be too long delayed. We shall have to make up our minds just how we are to tackle the tremendous problems of defending a huge and relatively isolated country with a small population. We shall have to make up our minds soon because I believe it would be a grave mistake to imagine that time is on our side.
– My distrust of the attitude of the Liberal and Country Parties towards defence goes back to 1939-40 when I found how inadequate were our defences at the commencement of the 1939-45 war, even though the Government had had years of warning that Germany was on the march and Japan was also ready to attack when the time was right. When the Japanese moved down to the doorstep of Port Moresby I saw young lads under 20 years of age, who bad had only 6 weeks in the Citizen Military Forces and who were still in field service uniform, sent to New Guinea to take part in the battle for the Kokoda Trail and the defence of Port Moresby. They were sent to recapture the island of New Guinea. Prior to their enlistment they had been clerks, shop assistants, labourers and factory workers. Many of them had never handled a rifle in their lives prior to being sent to New Guinea. They had perhaps fired 50 rounds of ammunition in their 6 weeks initial training. It took a Labor Government, with the help of the United States of America, to pull Australia out of the mess into which it had been allowed to fall by the United Australia Party Government prior to 1939.
After the War the Australian Labor Party undertook reconstruction. Thousands of young men and women were discharged from the Army and had to be re-established in industry. There are honourable members on both sides of the House who were able to learn trades and professions and improve their education through the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme. An Australian Labor Party Government was responsible for that scheme. There was full employment in Australia for the first time and years of plenty were ahead. Then came the 1949 elections and the Liberal-Country Party Government was elected to office. My distrust of the defence policies of the Liberal-Country Party Government heightened when 1 read and heard the policy speech for the 1951 election delivered by the then Prime Minister, Mr Menzies.
He said :
There is a very grim danger of another Great War. … We solemnly believe that the state of the world is such that we cannot give ourselves more than three years in which to get ready to defend ourselves.
Similar statements have been made time and time again since 1951 by Ministers for Defence, Ministers for Supply and by Prime Ministers. In a statement on defence made in the House on 10th November 1964, Sir Robert Menzies as reported at page 2715 of Hansard said: lt is very much to be feared that if Indonesia provoked a war, the only people in Indonesia who would get advantage from it would be the Communists, ever-ready to thrive on disorder and defeat.
So in 1951 the Prime Minister warned about war; in 1964 he warned about war. We frequently hear such warnings from members on the Government side.
I understand the honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) is to follow me in this debate. Lf he does not rattle his sabre and talk about the downward thrust of Communism then I am a bad judge. There has always been a need to improve Australia’s defence requirements and to modernise our arms and equipment. We are a small nation of 12 million people with a large coastline to protect. We need to look continuously at our defence requirements. We always seem to be unprepared. In 1964, at the time of the confrontation of Malaysia by Indonesia, a defence statement was made by the then Prime Minister, to the effect that Indonesia was the country to beware of. We were not ready to defend ourselves at that time. The defence statement made in 1964 by Sir Robert Menzies suggested the purchase of new equipment for the Army, Navy and Air Force. We were not ready at that time, just as we are not ready now for the British withdrawal from our near north. We have never been ready for the replacement of the Canberra bomber. On 29th September 1955 Sir Philip McBride, the then Minister for Defence, said, as reported at page 1138 of Hansard:
In this connection, to establish the replacement types of aircraft required, a mission representative of the Department of Air, the Department of Defence Production, and the aircraft industry, recently visited the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and the recommendations of this mission are now under consideration.
The Canberra bomber came into operation in 1953. in 1960 the then Minister for Air, now, 1 understand, the- President of the Liberal Party of New South Wales, made a statement about what was the most important problem the Air Force faced, the replacement of the Canberra bomber. He was honest enough to say that the task would be difficult as no suitable aircraft appeared to be available at that time. In 1961 the disastrous election for Sir Robert Menzies and the Liberal Party took place. The Labor Party came within one seat of gaining office. One reason for the closeness of that election was that the people were dissatisfied with our defence preparedness. Another reason was that 200,000 people were unemployed throughout Australia. In 1963, a matter of 18 months or so after the 1961 election, an announcement of an early election was made. The Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, came into the House on 24th October, about 6 weeks before the election, and made a defence statement. That statement dealt mostly with the replacement of the Canberra bombers. I propose to quote rather extensively from what Sir Robert Menzies said at that time because I do not want to misrepresent him, nor do I want to misrepresent our present Minister for Defence who made his statement on this subject last Thursday night. There are blatant contradictions between the speech made by Sir Robert Menzies in 1963 and the one made by our present Minister for Defence last Thursday which 1 propose to point out. On 24th October 1963, as reported at page 2249 of Hansard, Sir Robert Menzies said:
We sent the evaluation team overseas and in due course received its reports. It was clear that, subject to problems of the time-table and of payment and of interim provision to supplement if necessary the Canberra force, the evaluation team regarded what was then called the TFX in the United States as the most modern and complete answer to our requirements.
I then decided to ask the Minister for Defence (Mr Townley) to undertake the very onerous task of going to the United States to examine these problems more closely on a government level.
A little later Sir Robert said:
I am happy to tell the House that his mission has been most remarkably successful; so successful that I have found it necessary to advise the United Kingdom Government that we propose to go ahead with the arrangement he has negotiated.
Later he said:
As a result of these negotiations, the following most favourable arrangements have been made with the United Slates: The Government of Australia has agreed to purchase from the United States two squadrons of FI IIA aircraft. which used to be called the TFX. By special arrangements with the United Slates of America, the aircraft will be available to Australia at the same time as deliveries are made to the United States armed forces, which will be from 1967 onwards. 1 emphasise that date because of rumours that made it a couple of years later. Financial arrangements are entirely satisfactory to Australia.
In a most favourable package deal, if I may use that phrase, the United States has agreed to supply the aircraft on the basis of a purchase price that includes I year’s initial spare parts including engines, ground handling equipment, training aids, and the initial and operational training of crews, which would be carried out in the United States.
A further important and valuable consideration is that the United States has agreed to integration of the Royal Australian Air Force and the United States armed forces logistic pattern so that Australia will be able to draw future requirements of spare parts and equipment from American stocks and therefore secure the advantage of much lower prices than would be the case if Australia itself had to procure independently the full range of stores.
Further on he said:
The F11IA programme embarked upon by the United States is the largest programme, both in numbers and in cost, of any aircraft since World War II. It is, in other words, the last word. Twenty-two prototype and development aircraft are scheduled for delivery to the United Slates in 1965 and we are told that we will secure our first deliveries in 1967.
In 1964, as will be seen from a speech from which 1 quoted earlier, Sir Robert Menzies apparently had some doubts about the delivery date of the Fill and whether the late Mr Townley had been misled in his mission to the United States in 1963. Sir Robert said:
The twenty-four FI IIA aircraft which have been ordered from the United States will add powerfully to the deterrent and strike capability of the RAAF. The Government is confident that the Ft IIA aircraft, which Ls expected to fly before the end of this year, will amply fulfil its promise as an outstanding military aircraft.
The present Minister for Defence has said exactly the same thing. The document that we received from the General Dynamics Corporation has said this, but the performance of the aircraft in Vietnam so far has certainly not been to our satisfaction. Recently when I asked the Minister for Defence whether he had reason to believe that the Fill was not the greatest thing with wings since angels he said that I was laughing at the fact that the American Fill had failed in Vietnam. I was doing no such thing; I was worried because Australia was prepared to pay and was about to pay $US300m for twenty-four aircraft which the Minister had described as the greatest things with wings since angels but of which, in the time they had flown, three. had been lost by the Americans within days of entering service. The fly away price of these aircraft is now $5.9m each. If the Minister says that I was laughing at that sort of thing he has a peculiar sense of humour.
I was shocked and dismayed that in 1963, and from 1963 onwards, we should have put so much reliance on an aircraft which, under stress at a time of war, when it was most urgently required and had an opportunity to prove its capabilities was not able to do so. I wish that I had more time to speak because I wanted to make a comparison between what Sir Robert Menzies said in 1963 and again in 1964 and the speech that was made by the Minister for Defence in this place a few nights ago in presenting his defence statement. I should like to quote from the defence statement to show one thing. Sir Robert- Menzies said in 1963 that the RAAF mission had said that the TFX aircraft, as it was then known, was the most suitable aircraft for Australian requirements, but on Thursday evening the Minister for Defence said:
In June 1963 a RAAF mission was sent overseas. In August 1963 the mission reported a detailed evaluation of five aircraft, including the British TSR2 and the TFX- now the Fill- and concluded that of all the aircraft evaluated, it was clear that the TFX should meet the Air Staff requirement in almost every respect and, if considered in isolation, should be the logical choice of aircraft with which to replace the Canberra. However, in view of the production time scale for the Fill aircraft, then known to the RAAF mission, and a deteriorating strategic situation, it turned to the purchase of another type, the RA5C.
The Minister went on to say:
The Government of the day took the view that the urgency for trie replacement of the Canberra was not such as to deny procurement of the aircraft best suited to our needs.
In 1955 Sir Philip McBride said that it was the most important and most urgent task confronting the Air Force. In 1960 the then Minister for Air said that it was the most important task confronting the Air Force. The RAAF mission in 1963, taking notice of a deteriorating strategic situation, recommended certain aircraft. Fortunately we have not required the B47 bombers that we could have had in the intervening years since 1964 when Sir Robert Menzies said that Indonesia was about to attack us. The present Minister for Defence said that we will get them between July and December of this year. I should like to know from the Minister whether he is prepared to accept the twenty-four Fill bombers from America before the bugs have been ironed out, or whatever might be required, in view of the loss of the three aircraft which crashed in Vietnam. I should like to know how much has so far been paid to the United States of America for these aircraft in accordance with the agreement announced by Sir Robert Menzies in 1963. How much interest has been received by the Government on the amount that has been paid so far? Why is it that the price was so vague in 1963 when the late Athol Townley went over on a special mission? Why is it that then we thought we would get the bombers for $US125m and now they will cost $US300m or more? Even now the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) cannot give a precise statement, except to say that the fly away price of the aircraft has a ceiling of $5.95m and even that ceiling is likely to rise.
I would like the Minister for Defence or the Minister for the Army or anyone on the other side to tell us whether Australian auditors have ever had an opportunity to see where any of the costs being charged against us are going in the General Dynamics factory. I would also like to know whether the United States Government has auditors in the General Dynamics factory to see where the money is being spent and whether it is being spent in the correct direction. I would like someone on the other side to answer the query that was raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) about auditing and about the willy-nilly price. These are only a few of the questions I would like answered. These are only a few of the defence matters T would like to raise, but in 20 minutes I cannot cover all the ground.
I conclude by saying to the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess), who is regarded as a back bench rebel and an expert on defence, that if he cares to study the Government’s defence statements since 1951 he will see that they contain a series of contradictions, of mis-statements, of changes of attitude, of a complete disregard for the advice of the military advisers and a deliberate withholding of information from the Parliament and the people.
– The honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) was most illogical in his own speech but accused others of not being logical. He started by criticising the Government for not having a proper defence policy and not being ready. Then he criticised me for the suggestions I have made in the past that the main danger to Australia was the downward thrust of Communism. He said this did not exist. He went on to ask about the deteriorating strategic situation; but this could not possibly be developing unless there was a downward thrust of Communism. So I do not think he quite knows where he is. what he is doing or what he is saying.
I want to refer to the statement of the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) and especially to the first sentence of the statement because it is the most important in the whole statement. The Minister said:
Perhaps nowhere more dramatically than in our own sphere nf interest in South East Asia are we in the crip of history in the making.
Personally, 1 would have cut out the word perhaps’ and- 1 would have added ‘in South’ East Asia and southern Africa’. I would also have added ‘nowhere more dramatically than within the sphere of our private interests are we subjected to the poison darts, many unseen and unrecognised, propelled from the blow pipes of the psychological warfare experts and of the political partisans who may bc patriotic idealists but who are suffering very often from introversion and from myopia’. The darts are also propelled from the blow pipes of powerful Press propagandists and’ professorial pundits who like to be known as the. brains trust.
Today one of our best informed and world recognised writers on Asia, Mr Denis Warner, had an article published in the Press. He visited America for a few days, met a few people and returned to us, a new recruit in the artillery of the psychological warfare experts. His article appears in the Sydney Morning Herald’ today under the headline:
WASHINGTON PASSES ITS DIEN BIEN PHU
Major Attacks Abandoned
When Washington talks now of peace with honour it means peace on the best terms available.
I have had a very high regard for Mr Warner’s reporting in the past and I think he is quite a good friend of mine. He undoubtedly believes it is his duty to put this view, but when it is a private opinion and when his country is at war and what he publishes is likely to bring comfort to the enemy, to raise the enemy’s morale and to act to the detriment of his own country and countrymen, 1 question the propriety of publishing such opinions. Among the noise of battle and the sorrow and tears of the bereaved, one seems to hear the justified and heart broken cry of Caesar long ago: ‘Et tu Brute!’ Yet this and many other kinds of articles are written and acts done from a personal sense of duty. To mc it is a distorted sense of duty, because in war. as in many other battles of life one should stop to consider priorities.
We should read the thought for today on the desk calendars in every honourable member’s room. It reads:
Wednesday May 8lh VE Day (1945)
The conditions of conquest are easy. We have but to tail awhile, endure awhile, believe always and never turn back.
I would rather put it in the words used so often by the late Sir Winston Churchill, who quoted the following passage from the poem of Arthur Hugh Ciough:
Say not the struggle naught availeth,
The labour and the wounds are vain, The enemy Faints not, no.r faileth,
And as things have been, things remain. If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars: lt may bc, in you smoke concealed, Your .comrades chasee’en now the fliers,
And but for you. possess the field.
How many people unthinkingly are joining in this psychological warfare on the side of the enemy? It is hard, I know, when we have an undeclared war and the Crimes Act does not operate. I know everybody fell sorry for the four so-called war correspondents - I do not think they were accredited pressmen - who were - killed the other day and for their relatives and friends. Yet they went into a position in no-man’s-land where they should not have been. They should never have been allowed to go there and they should not have had a choice. How many battles in history in the past have been lost because some mind broke under the strain, because someone became bomb happy and said ‘All is lost; sauve qui petit’. Many of these battles could have been won. So today let us remind ourselves that in the defence programme of this country we not only must consider the Services but we must also consider the psychological warfare that is having a very great effect on all too many people. As Mao Tse-tung has said: ‘Minds are destroyed more easily than bodies’. For this reason the poisoned darts of propaganda are being shot at us. They must be met with the same courage, the same bravery, the same resolution and the same pertinacity as our troops are showing as they fight on the other battle front which always seems more dangerous but is far less insidious. I refer to South Vietnam. Wars today are lost even more on the home front than in the battle line, so we cannot ignore this section of Australia’s defence. As we have been reminded by honourable members opposite, in the late 1930s Australia gambled on defence. But I remind honourable members opposite that the Labor Party was as much responsible for that gamble, which almost cost us everything, as were members of the Government of the day.
The war in Vietnam is winnable, despite the plaintive pleadings of the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), who visited Moscow for a few days, was feted there, and returned to Australia saying: T do not fear Red China. There is nothing to fear from the Communists. Mao is mad.’ I would have expected the right honourable gentleman to remember the first principle which he was taught in 1914 as an officer of the Richmond Regiment of the Citizen Military Forces. He would have been told never to underrate the enemy. In their speeches in this debate honourable members opposite have told us that there is nothing to fear. What would have happened if the attempted coup in Indonesia on 30 September 1965, backed by Peking, had come off? The Communists would be in control of the entire land bridge between Australia and South East Asia. What is happening today? So many people seem to have forgotten the lessons of history or perhaps they have not read contemporary history. Australians and Americans such as senators Fulbright, Kennedy, Wayne Morse, Mike Mansfield, Gruening and others are advocating that we should offer to form a coalition government with the National Liberation Front. Have these people forgotten how long the peace conference in Korea lasted? Have they forgotten that it was no real peace but only the longest armistice in history? Have they forgotten’ the farce of Panmunjon? The war still goes on there. Have they forgotten that the Marshall mission to China described the Communists as just agrarian reformers? They forced the Nationalist Chinese to form a coalition government, which led to the Communist victory. The coalition governments formed in Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Rumania and Bulgaria all resulted in a Communist takeover.
Do we ever read captured Vietcong documents which leave no room for doubt as to the reasons for and the expectations of the Tet offensive and the more recent fighting in South Vietnam? A Vietcong officer captured towards the end of last year had in his possession a note book containing instructions given to him at a training camp in North Vietnam in September 1967. The notes set out clearly that the objective was to be ‘a coalition government’ because the military leaders knew, as they still know, that they cannot win a military victory over South Vietnam, America and their allies: For those who support the idea of a coalition government with the National Liberation Front the sentence which I propose to read from the Vietcong officers’ notebook should be learned by heart. It reads:
A coalition government will be advantageous to our revolutionary goals.
The notebook goes on to record that the National Liberation Front is to be ‘the core’ of the coalition. The government would begin with a ‘non-revolutionary’ president and a number of other similar members, but the National Liberation Front sets out how it would retain a strict control over farmers and workers. The real power would remain, according to the notebook, ‘in our hands’, and eventually the National Liberation Front would take over.
Do people who advocate a coalition government never read these things? Do they not understand that we are fighting on two fronts - South East Asia and southern Africa, where the Communists would try to create the chaos that exists north of the Zambesi? Do they not realise that if the Suez Canal ever re-opens it will be under Russian domination and that the only safe trade route to Europe from Australia - the only safe line of communication - will be via the Cape? Therefore it is in Australia’s interests to see that our Navy has sufficient strength and capacity at least to protect our ships on that trade route. Are we still to use the very restricted maps of the past or will we use the large maps? Do we realise that with Britain’s withdrawal from east of Suez we not only have greater responsibilities to our near neighbours but also greater problems for our own country?
In his statement the Minister for Defence said:
In these circumstances. Australia must make its response in its own present and long term interests.
In these circumstances I agree with the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess), the honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) and other honourable members who have said that we must take, to the limit of our capability, the steps necessary and vital to Australia to provide against eventualities. I do not propose to deal with the technical aspects of the FI 1 1 aircraft. I am no more fitted to do so than is the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) who spoke at such length on the subject. Australian experts agree, notwithstanding the ribald remarks of the honourable member for Lang, that there is great danger to Australia in the present international situation and that the Communist downward thrust in South East Asia is the first objection on the road to world conquest. If we allow chaos to be created in southern Africa and do not guarantee the security of South East Asia, the next area to fall into the lap of the Communists will be South America. Then the Communists will be well on their way to world conquest.
That is why these two fronts are so important and why it is so urgent that we assist in regional co-operation and the development and raising of standards of living in these areas. We should help to create in these areas a pattern that other countries will want to follow rather than endure the chaos that exists in central and northern Africa. Experts agree that the declared intention of the Communists is to overrun South East Asia and Indonesia, thus bringing them right to our front door if they are not stopped in South East Asia. Experts agree also that if the Suez Canal is re-opened it will come under Russian domination, thus making the trade route via the Cape vitally important to Australia. Bearing these things in mind the entire southern African area becomes of great strategic importance to us. Why do we send a delegation to Mauritius, Madagascar, Tanzania and Kenya, ignoring South Africa and the southern region of Africa, particularly Malawi, whose leader makes more sense than most African leaders? He has stated clearly that he is prepared to work with South Africa even though he does not agree with South Africa’s internal policy. I hope that Australia’s attitude towards southern Africa will change. This area, coupled with South East Asia, is of vital strategic importance to us.
I believe that we must base our defence on missiles, our Navy and our Air Force. They must have the greatest possible strike power and range capability so that we may help our allies and they can give us the time needed in case of emergency to mobilise our forces, as was given by the AIF in Malaya during the last war. Secondly we must have a Regular Army plus sufficient national service trainees to fulfil our treaty obligations. Finally, we need Citizen Military Forces, as the honourable member for Batman said, of five divisions, fully organised and properly equipped, capable of reasonably swift mobilisation, with adequate numbers of trained professional officers and NCOs, with the advantage of all-arms training. For the Government to provide less than this in the present circumstances would mean that the Government and those who support it would be recreant to the security of our country and to the trust that our people have reposed in us. Further, we would be deluding the people about what they have to face in the future. Australians, as I have known them, have never failed to rise to the occasion once they have understood the necessity for certain action, and I am sure that they will not fail if the Government states the facts clearly so that the people will know exactly what the situation is and will not be led astray by professional organisers of demonstrations, like the honourable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns). The honourable member started a demonstration the other day in Post Office Place in Melbourne, then left it, while his poor little dupes who remained were arrested and fined. Such people are not helping the coustry. It is our duty to inform the public, of the facts so that we will not make the mistakes that were made at the end of the 1930s, so that we will be prepared to take on the extra responsibilities as Britain withdraws from east of Suez, and so that, within the limits of our capabilities, we will be ready to face up to any emergency that arises. Then we can expect allies to come and help us, but we cannot expect them to help us if we do not go and help them.
– It is well to recollect, when we are discussing defence, as indeed when we consider many other matters which are responsibilities of ours, that the problem is not only one of acquiring adequate- equipment; there is also the matter of paying for that equipment - and that is the rub. An important consideration that has. not received enough attention during this debate is the way the Government proposes to meet the .payment on the amount of military hardware, as . the jargon has it, which this country will be acquiring in the next couple of years. Frankly, as I see the situation, the Government is running into serious difficulties in financing its defence programme, and that is the line I want to develop in the 20 minutes available to me in this debate. I say that the Government is running into problems. Perhaps there are members on the other side of the House who have some caution about accepting this statement from me, feeling perhaps that it is biased, and for their benefit I commence by drawing attention to the publication ‘Business Indicators’ of the
Australia and New Zealand Bank Ltd for March 1968, the second paragraph of which states:
The months ahead could be trying for the national economy, as it absorbs the impacts of defence spending, the harsh British Budget, and U.S. adjustments to her balance of payments.
Therefore, we shall have in the near future some quite pressing problems in financing the defence arrangements of this country. The Government has been tinkering and fiddling about with the economy, and it has also bad a certain amount of good luck in the past 12 months or so, in its endeavours to finance its defence commitments. It has been running a deficit Budget. Its statutory reserve deposits are .down to an all-time record low of 8.4%. This indicates that it is letting money out a little more easily. Its internal and external loans are at a very high level - certainly higher than last year. There is a very high level of capital inflow. All of these things will help the Government to finance its various commitments, but in spite of all these things it finds that it is not receiving enough finance to meet the cost of its equipment programmes. In spite of ils deficit financing, its tinkering and fiddling and good luck, overseas loans, capital inflow and so on, it has still been required to apply pressure on the private sector, ‘ requiring some’ forfeiture from that sector of investment so that the- defence programme can be financed. Gross private fixed investment as a percentage of the gross national product went down from 17.6% in 1965-66 to- 16:2% in 1966-67. I shall indicate later that defence expenditure- increased in the same- period. It is true that in the months just passed there has been a pick-up in gross private fixed investments, but this presents a paradox for 1 the Government, because on the one hand it needs a viable private sector of the- economy, to provide the finance to meet its defence commit- - ments, and on the other hand it needs to drain off a fair section of the finance avail- - able in the private sector so that it can in fact maintain this enlarged programme of defence commitments. So if it allows the build-up and the improvement to take place in the private sector of -the economy, which is in fact- now taking place, this could easily ‘ result in serious ‘ inflationary pressures over the next few years as the private sector competes against the public sector for resources. However one looks at it, the Government has serious problems on its hands.
Some results of these are quite obvious. The Government will call for more sacrifice from private business, which will have to surrender investment funds, and from the consumer, who will have to cut consumption, over the next couple of years. How else can the Government finance its commitments or obligations? I should like to discuss three possibilities which suggest themselves to my mind for providing this extra finance or added investment arrangements to pay for these defence commitments. The first one, which I regret the Government is not prepared to act on, is to improve the efficiency of the cost effectiveness of expenditure. This would mean, in the case , of public expenditure for defence, a thorough investigation and a continuing surveillance of that expenditure to ensure that waste, duplication, extravagance, unnecessary commitments, and so on were eliminated. That is, economically and strategically we must maximise the advantages of our investment. It would mean standardisation and integration of services wherever this is possible, in the interests of better efficiency and performance. All this means that investment - money if you like it that way - will do more than it did before.
The second approach which the Government could consider - and I think this is one that will be receiving serious deliberation on the part of the Government - is that a greater amount of saving be required from the public to finance the increased investment. In any economy, investment has to be backed by an equivalent amount of savings. If it is not, then in the short term you will eat up your capital resources, and in the long term you will hopelessly dislocate the economy. Savings, in the economic sense, take in more than the local savings bank account; they take in taxation income and other sources of income. In other words, stating it less delicately, the public will be called upon to surrender some of its income as increased tax in one form or another, to fund public investment programmes, of which a substantial portion is represented by defence obligations. The result of this is that consumption levels must be lower than they would otherwise be. If the increased public expenditure goes on defence purchases, then material living standards must obviously be set back, because the multiplier-accelerator effect in the defence field is much less than it is in the other fields of the economy. I am not arguing that because of the factors I have mentioned defence expenditure increases are not justified. I am merely stating a blunt economic fact, and people have to judge, when they are called upon to surrender more of their living and welfare standards to non-regenerating government investment, whether the investment is being made wisely and efficiently and whether long term and short term advantages justify it. In other words, one is asked to make a value judgment: Is one better off, to surrender a part of one’s living standards to obtain some extra or better defence?
A third method which could be considered by the Government, but certainly not one that I would recommend, would be for the Government to move in on the” economy and introduce economic controls and regulations. The extent of those controls and regulations would depend on the need of the Government for more investment for the public and/ or private sectors. Certainly living and welfare standards, not to mention personal freedoms, must be cut back if this sort of thing is done to raise more defence expenditure. In a peacetime economy, free of immediate external threat, as ours is, such controls and regulations solely for defence needs would be intolerable.
The fact is that over the past few years the Government has given some consideration to at least some of the things that I have mentioned. They seem the most obvious fields in which the Government could act. Since 1964-65 - that is, in the past 4 years, including this year - the rate of increase of defence expenditure has risen from an average of about 0.1% of the gross national product a year to about 0.6%. Over the same period government expenditure has increased by 37%, whereas the gross national product has increased by only 23.7%; that is, the increase in government expenditure exceeded the increase of the gross national product. This is further evidence of the point that I mentioned earlier. It is fundamental and obvious that if government expenditure races ahead of the rale of growth of the overall economy then some other sector must be starved. If the public sector is taking up a greater proportion of investment, the private sector must be cut back. Even if the Government takes any of the economic action that I have mentioned and increases savings through taxation or by regulating the economy, sacrifices must still be required from the private sector of the economy. Statements that are made from time to time clearly indicate that the Government concedes this point. The Treasurer, when speaking to the Australian Society of Accountants on 6th March this year said:
Over recent years, there has been a problem of accommodating a large increase in government expenditure, especially defence expenditure. . . .
In effect the rate of increase in consumer spending was slowed down to make room for other demands on resources.
The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) underlined the .same point by saying:
In broad, although not altogether accurate terms, one can say that the resources which would have gone into further raising the standard of living in the last three years have had to be diverted to defence.
He made several other points which underscore the effect on the private sector of the community - private enterprise and the consumer - which is generally called upon to make economic sacrifices sp that the Government can carry out its defence policies. In fact, consumer spending is clear evidence of this. It has fallen from 64% of the gross national product in 1963-64, before the defence build-up took place, to 59.3% in the last financial year. This means that in an expanding economy, with greater wealth being created all the time through technological development and so on, the people in the community - the consumers - are not being allowed to participate in that increased wealth. In other words, their welfare standards and living standards - there is a difference between the two - are being held down in order that we may meet the cost of our defence commitment.
Another aspect of these problems is the fact that much of our defence expenditure is going overseas, while we are making sacrifices to meet expenditure in the community. According to the Treasury $321m will be going out of the economy this year to overseas sources to pay for military hardware. That is, over 30% of our expenditure on war and defence will be allocated in this way. This is equal to 11% of our forecasted export earnings, or 39% of our forecasted net capital inflow. Whichever way this is looked at, a large amount of these two resources will be used to pay this bill. If $321m is taken out of the economy to pay debts overseas, the effect known as the reverse multiplier is introduced. The multiplier is the amount of new investment put into the economy. It generates extra activity, and the Australian economy employs it twice over before it runs out. If you take it out of the country, the process is reversed. It is equivalent to taking $600m out of the country, and the loss to this country, in economic terms, is considerable. All these, are serious problems, none of which has been answered by the Government; none of them has been discussed by responsible Ministers.
My concern is that this will continue and that the strains on our external balance of payments will continue. More money is going out - probably more than 400m next year - and the bill for defence will increase. In spite of this we have no clear expression from- the Government how it will act to meet these costs. 1 mentioned before that one thing we need to -do is to improve the efficiency of our capital investment in defence. We need some sort of permanent committee, which I should like to see drawn from this Parliament. The committee should have expert backing; 1 think the current general term, though unattractive, is ‘think tank’. The committee should be able to draw upon such resources when it conducts its investigations and inquiries whether there is wasteful duplication that can be cut down and whether the best use is being made of the money available. The committee could inquire whether standardisation can be achieved advantageously and whether integration should take place. These are the types of matters with which it could deal.
It seems amazing to me that, according to the last defence report, the Royal Australian Air Force - a small unit on world standards - has nine different types of aircraft, including the FI 1 1, the Macchi and the Orion. In addition to these are the several types of aircraft in or coming into the VIP Bight.
This seems to be a clear case of the need for standardisation. We need this type of committee to survey expenditures; possibly it could minimise some of the startling cost spirals such as those which have characterised the purchase of the F111C. aircraft. Indeed, it seems strange that we are buying twenty-four of these most expensive aircraft for the Air Force of Australia. Twenty-four is not many aircraft, and it would not take much to sustain a substantial loss among twenty-four in ohe bombing raid. The purchase of these aircraft represents a tremendous amount of capital investment, and one might well ask whether these aircraft will make the best contribution to our defence arrangements in terms of the commitments that we can foresee.
The Auditor-General’s report of August last, so far as it concerns the Navy, clearly substantiates the need for some sort of continuing committee to investigate what is going on in the defence Services. I am always amazed at the shocking inefficiency that seems to exist in the Department of the Navy. To substantiate what I say I need only quote the following significant words at page 213 of the Auditor-General’s report: the reasons for extraordinary increases . . inadequacies in the follow-up of delivery . . seemingly high charges levied. . . .
He goes on in the same vein in regard to the complaints he makes and for which he seeks explanations. Why do these things occur? Obviously there is glaring inefficiency on the part of the administrators of the defence departments in the discharge of their responsibilities. We have five Ministers and five departments for the defence Services. What shocking duplication there is, all the way down from the top to the girls who aTe making the cups of tea.
I had a quick look through the Budget papers that were published in August last year, and 1 have roughly estimated that about $16m is spent each year on administrative expenses and services in the five Service departments. Surely if some of this duplication were cut out it would reduce the cost of operating these Services. After all, we are only a small country with a small defence force compared with the larger nations in the world. I am absolutely amazed that we should need five Service Ministers and five Service departments to meet our comparatively small obligations in the defence field. I understand that the Orion aircraft, which are for anti-submarine patrols, will be based at Edinburgh Field in South Australia. I am sure that this arrangement will be handy for the protection of penguins and possibly it wilt be known as the ‘Penguin Patrol’. It seems to me it would be better to establish these aircraft somewhere towards the north of Australia. If a committee were established to keep an eye on wasteful expenditure it could perhaps have a look at the reason for decisions such as this. I suspect that often they are made more on political grounds than strategic grounds because there will be a boost to the local economy.
There is also a likelihood of increased taxation because of our defence commitments. In a statement to the Associated Chambers of Manufactures earlier this year the Minister for Labour and National Service said ‘the community should realise that for the time being at least thoughts of increasing their personal standard of living must be subordinate to the needs of the nation’. The Minister has clearly trumpeted a warning that taxation increases arc in the offing. In one of his business letters Mr Maxwell-Newton, who I think is well known to members of the Government, suggested, on the subject of controls in the economy, that the context of the Minister’s statement clearly indicates the possibility that wages will have to be controlled; that there wilt have to be some form of wage freeze. I suspect that something like this may be in the wind because the Minister has consistently criticised Arbitration Court decisions favouring the workers. That is the economic picture and it is not a very happy one. We will have problems in the future in financing our defence commitments. I believe that the Government should give a clear indication of how it proposes to do this.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I rise to take part in this defence debate conscious of the fact that, there has been constant criticism of the most vital policies of the Government. In view of my own background and my long association with aviation, I feel that I should endeavour to put the record straight in relation to the aircraft built by the General Dynamics Cor.poration in the United States of America and known as the Fill. In my opinion it will prove to be a superb aircraft for the operational requirements of the Royal Australian Air Force. I believe in the aircraft completely. I challenge the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly), who is at the Table, to invite the responsible and very serious-minded honourable member for Bass (Mr Barnard), who is the defence spokesman for the Australian Labor Party, to rise in his place in this Parliament and to state that had the ALP won the general election in 1961 it would not have purchased the FI 1 1 but that another plan would have been adopted. I believe that had the Labor Party been in Government since 1961 it would not have altered the previous plan because there is hot at the present time, and there will, riot ‘ be in the . foreseeable future, an alternative aircraft in the world.
I would therefore like to deal with the problems that have arisen as a result of the incidents in South East Asia involving three Fill aircraft. These have been referred to in this debate by some of my own colleagues as 50% of the aircraft operating in South Vietnam. This immediately creates in the mind’s eye the thought that half of a battle force has been lost. In other words, it creates an atmosphere or an impression which is wrong. What we do have in fact is information that three aircraft have been lost; we do not know the reason for their losses but we do have substantial grounds for assuming in the first place that the losses are more likely . to be due to pilot error than to any structural failure in the aircraft. I point out that at least 90% of all aircraft accidents of every description throughout the history of aviation have been due to the human element and less than 10% have been due to the aircraft itself.
These latest incidents in South East Asia have brought the total of all Fill accidents to seven. There have been 2 accidents in United States Air Force tests, 1 in the United States Navy test, 1 in a civilian test, and 3 in South East Asia under operational conditions, and in a combat environment, as it is called. I hope that honourable members will forgive me if I get somewhat technical but I am trying to illustrate the position in its proper perspective in order to indicate that these aircraft losses do not represent the fearsome situation that has been put to the House. In its test programme this aeroplane has set an extraordinarily good record for safety. Far fewer Fi 1 1 aircraft have been lost than the United States Air Force has experienced with previous programmes. To illustrate this point I would like to compare this aircraft in the first 5,000 flying hours of its test programme with other aircraft of recent times. During the first 5,000 flying hours of its test programme the FI 1 1 had 3 accidents, the FI 00 Super Sabre had 7, the FI 01 Voodoo had 11, the F102 Delta Dagger had 9, the FI 04 Star Fighter- the aircraft that created so many problems for the German Luftwaffe in Europe recently - had 14, the FI 05 Thunder Chief had 5, the F106 Delta Dart had 7 and the F4 Phantom II, which has been operating for some time in Indo-China, had 6. In relative terms therefore it is quite wrong to pose the situation that has been put before Parliament in an attempt to destroy public confidence and the confidence of honourable members in this aircraft.
It is vital that the Government should be completely frank with the people .of Australia and this frankness must be- in general terms. The Government must ‘ be ready to discuss aspects of the aircraft’s development and performance which are not classified. Let me deal firstly with the price, which has been a target for criticism by honourable members opposite. The cost is apparently going to rise, although the critics have admitted that the basic price of $5.95m quoted to Australia and the United Kingdom has not changed. It is essential for people to understand that the special equipment demanded by Australia and the United Kingdom at the time of the order had the effect of increasing the cost relating to the overall programme of development of the aircraft. This was the position as long ago as October 1967.
There had been some concern that the aircraft would turn out to be so expensive that the Air Force would hesitate to use it in fighter sweeps near the ground where the risk of loss is high. This concern is unwarranted.- Cost is determined by the characteristics designed into the aircraft. In modern terms it is not possible to have a low flying, fast, all weather aircraft which is worthwhile and yet is cheap. It would be most inconsistent, indeed utterly absurd if we were to say that now that we have what we want we are not going to use it in the manner and for the purpose originally intended because it costs too much.
Mr Frank Davis, the President of the Fort Worth division of General Dynamics, said, in reference to the cost problem of the Fill, that his company’s first bid in 1962 for twenty-three research and development aeroplanes was $478. 9m. The contract as negotiated in 1964 was for $476. 9m so the actual figure was $2m less than the estimate submitted. This could hardly be fairly described, or honestly described, as price escalation. General Dynamics first bid in 1965 on a production contract for 431 Fill aircraft was $1,889 billion. The contract, as negotiated in 1966 - 2 years ago - was for $1,653 billion. I point out that this was $236m less than the estimate. This hardly could be honestly or fairly described as price escalation. Late in 1967, when there was a demand for an additional 62 aircraft; the contract was renegotiated to provide for 493 aircraft at a cost of $1,821 billion. These 493 aircraft included 24 FU IB aircraft, 331 Tactical Air Command F111A aircraft, 64 FBI IIA aircraft for Strategic Air Command, 24 F111C. strike aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force and 50 strike reconnaissance aircraft for the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom. The latter part of this order has been cancelled, as honourable gentlemen know. Indications are that General Dynamics is committed on this 4- year buying process for an average price of about $3. 7m per aircraft with the last 62 aircraft costing approximately $2.7m each. These figures, of course, do not include spare parts and equipment furnished by governments.
The research, development, test and evaluation contract, as I have indicated, covered 23 aircraft and was estimated at $478.9m in 1962 but when finally negotiated in 1964’ the total was $476.9m. Thus with spare parts and aero-space ground support equipment, but not including the engines for which the Government contracts separately, the research contract probably would run to about $1.2 billion. I am sure that honourable members will understand, when they consider the enormity of these figures ‘ and the all embracing programme of research and development, that it becomes intellectually the gravest and most dishonest thing for people to be hypercritical during a process which is being developed. Surely it is reasonable to assume that people cannot gaze into a crystal ball in 1964 and make statements which are going to be absolutely correct about events which will occur in 1966 and 1967.
Many of the critics in the United States have indulged in the futile process of alleging that had the Boeing Company secured the contract instead of General Dynamics there would have been a better result in terms of cost and production. This argument is quite futile because we can never know what success the Boeing Company would have had. After all, both aircraft manufacturers have tremendous complexes, are highly reputable and have a very distinguished record over a long period of time. I should like to say something about the criticism that the production schedules have been delayed. In admitting this, I would indicate that it is in the best, interests of everybody that there should be schedule delays if only to make sure that all problems are properly solved. Surely this is an indication that care is being, given to the project. The critics of the FI 1 1 have been so. frantic in their attempts, to destroy the public confidence in the aircraft that most of them are quite unaware of the ridiculous aspects of their criticism. On the one hand they have complained bitterly about delays in the schedules of productions; on the other hand they have criticised the authorities for putting the aircraft into .operational use prematurely.
I should like to give the’ House some facts which have been made public in Service technical journals. The first research and development Fill aircraft flew on 21st December 1964. If’ honourable members bear that date in mind and think of the references made by. the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) they will realise that he was being .less than fair in his criticism of the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies. Secondly, all 23 research and development aircraft were delivered within 17 to 23 days of contract delivery dates. If there were some delays which developed thereafter it is fair to point out, on behalf of the aircraft manufacturer, that development changes are incorporated in all aircraft and that changes which have come about because of invention and innovation subsequent to the first design of the aircraft - changes which are going to enhance either the performance of the aircraft or the safety of the pilot - are virtually mandatory and must be included in all aircraft of the type. The sensible thing to do is to ground the aircraft and have them modified as quickly as possible. It is true that these changes could cause some delay. Then there is the customer to be considered: From time to time he asks for changes in the original specifications. This is a common practice, but it causes some delay. The Parliament should understand that numerous contracts ate involved in this enormous process. In fact some twenty major firms are contributing to the manufacture of the Fill aircraft. When one considers the techniques that are available to the enemy to strike at industrial processes that are vital to the programme which . is going to give defence to a great country such as the United States of America one can understand how remarkable it is that the schedules of production of this aircraft have been maintained and have not been interfered with more than they have been.
I have already referred to the accidents which occurred during the first 5,000 flying hours of the Fill. As I. indicated, by comparison with the more modern types - the F100, F101, F102, F104, F105, F106 and the F4’ Phantom - the record of the Fill is exceptionally, good. This is the truth and it creates a completely false and untrue picture to say that 50% of the Fill battle force in Vietnam has been lost and that we should lose confidence in the aircraft. This is the most unutterable nonsense. I hope that some of the information that I have put before the Parliament will reassure honourable members and sustain their confidence in this splendid aircraft which will be the backbone of Australia’s defence for the next two decades. In conclusion I should like to refer to the people who are part of the main backbone of Australia’s defence. Australia’s future defence will depend largely on the young gentlemen who will be flying in the RAAF. They should not be confronted with alarm and despondency.
We should indicate confidence in their courage and integrity and we should show respect for their ability rather than make a series of critical comments which could tend to diminish their confidence in themselves.
– Should we not make comments about our opinion of the Fill?
– I realise that we are a democratic country and I am not suggesting that people should be completely inhibited or that they should be prevented from making comments. That would be most undemocratic, but I believe that certain intellectual rules can be applied. I believe that honourable gentlemen ought to consider carefully what they have to say and its impact on the morale of the fighting services. When all is said and done, in the long run, for the next 20 years it will be upon these very people that Australia’s survival will depend.
Reference has been made to a friend of mine, Group Captain Sam Dallywater, in not quite the most happy manner. He was referred to as a certain Group Captain Dallywater who is representing the Royal Austraiian Air Force in the United States of America. In view of that particular reference, I would like to make it clear to the Parliament that whatever Group Captain Dallywater decides will be good enough for me. It was good enough for many Australians during World War II and has been since then. I have complete confidence in men of his calibre and also in men of the calibre of Air Vice-Marshal Townsend. I believe that Australia is well and properly served by those gentlemen. I am confident that we can have nobody better.
Sitting suspended form 5.51 to 8 p.m.
– Running through many of the speeches made in the defence debate in the last day or so was the theme of change in Australia’s strategic circumstances and the need to reappraise the situation and to indicate the direction of our defence policy in the future. One could sense the general awareness and acceptance that new and important factors are coming into play in South East Asia. Examples of this are the British withdrawal from Malaysia and Singapore and the contact that has been made with Hanoi in relation to the war in Vietnam.
I well remember the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) making great play, as he thought, of the suggestion that the Government was surprised by the withdrawal of the British forces from Malaysia. It is quite interesting to read to the House an article which appeared in the ‘Australian’ of Saturday, 12th November 1966. The headlines in this article - and I blush to mention it - were: ‘Fairhall upsets UK diplomats, Britain is pulling right out of Asia, he says’. The article went on to state:
The Defence Minister, Mr Fairhall, has shocked British diplomats in Canberra by saying that Britain will soon withdraw all her forces from South East Asia.
There is nothing known to be about this matter that is not known by the Cabinet. Therefore, it is quite clear that the Government has known about this for a long time and has been working in anticipation cf a complete withdrawal of British forces from South East Asia. We do not have to discard the fundamental principles that have guided our defence programme in the last decade. The strong and close ties with the United States of America will always be of prime necessity to this country. Mutual defence arrangements with countries of South East Asia are of tremendous importance. We will continue in our pursuit of regional security in its broadest meaning in South East Asia. But of course some of our broad objectives will be sought against an environment different from that which we have known in the past.
During the course of the debate some mixed views were expressed. Some of these views showed a little confusion and some showed a little old-fashioned thinking. But I suppose we should not be surprised at that. The general tenor of the debate clearly mirrored our uncertainty of the future. The honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) pointed out that forecasting in the defence field was anything but a precise science. He can underline those words. At the moment we are on the eve of contact between the United States and North Vietnam. This is only a contact. We ar; not to know at this point of time how this contact will develop. It might not develop at all. but we certainly hope it will. We hope the contact will result in a meaningful overture of peace before too long. But the war in Vietnam will come to a close sooner or later. Who knows when that will be in precise terms? No one can see clearly what the situation is going to be in Vietnam. The war could move throughout the whole South East Asian area and into the western Pacific. This is the kind of situation we face. On the whole, I think it was refreshing to find there was agreement during the debate on the uncertainties of the present situation and the importance and complexity of the issues. All honourable members suggest it would be unwise to take binding decisions at the moment as to the sort of course we should follow and the sort of programme we should pursue. I was at some pains to point out that the forthcoming five-power talks in Malaysia in June are very relevant. Of course, the course of events in Vietnam is also important.
When we engage in planning we have to contemplate the kind of situation which is likely to occur in 5 years, 10 years or perhaps longer. I believe that in this atmosphere of uncertainty there is just no wisdom at all in proceeding with a 3-year plan which looks forward to a 5-year or a 10-year term about which there can be little certainty in anyone’s thinking. This is the prime reason behind the delay in the announcement of a following 3-year programme to succeed that which will conclude in June next. Nevertheless it would be .wrong to assume that the intervening year, 1968-69, is going to be a wasted year. The fact is that there is a tremendous job of assimilation of the equipment now coming forward under the last 3-year plan. We still know the direction of a considerable amount of our defence responsibilities. But there, is an area of uncertainty throughout South East Asia. Until we can see our way through the five-power talks and assess the results, 1 think it would be imprudent to establish a 3-year programme.
Looking into the future, there has been some talk, and quite rightly so, about the amount of our resources we can reasonably devote to defence. There has been some suggestion that the Treasury is clamping down on the amount of money which will be available for defence spending. 1 do not recall anything that has been said inside or outside the Parliament by the Government which indicates that there is to be any clamping down on what the Government considers essential to our defence. What there has been is a right and proper warning to the people of this country that the burden of defence has risen enormously, as it has in the last few years, as it must rise again next year, and as it may well continue to rise. But there is a right and proper time to consider how much of the resources of this country will be devoted to defence, as indeed, to the other, responsibilities of government. These things cannot be dealt with on an ad hoc basis. They will be dealt with at the right and proper time. This will be at Budget time.
Emphasis during the defence debate has been on the need to have the defence forces well rounded and self reliant. ‘Australia now providesthe logistic support for her own forces which in earlier Wars was furnished by major allies. From: the strategic and technical angles, we have vastly improved the air transport facilities for our forces. ‘We have an excellent helicopter support. Our engineering capability and our repair and maintenance, facilities have also been improved. This is all very costly in men and equipment. But it does reflect Australia’s growth and technological development.It makes our forces more acceptable as part of a. larger. allied force and givesthem the capability . to operate independently in situations where this may be necessary, I : well understand that there should be demands from both sides of the House for more of this and more of that. There are those who. believe, for example, that we ought to concentrate on the Navy. Such people argue that; there is uncertainty in the Indian Ocean area and that this country has a long coastline. There are those who believe that we ought to rely more on garrison forces at home ready for quick deployment into any theatre. There arc those who believe that the Air Force ought to be strengthened in all of its branches. The truth is that we must have a little more of each of these things. But merely to demand more of everything does not amount to a policy. If someone likes to sit down and tot up the kind of budget allocation we would have for defence if we integrated alt the demands that were made for the three arms of theforces, and satisfied those demands I think we would have a formidable total indeed. It certainly would swamp the Budget. Nevertheless, 1 have talked about the expansion of the capabilities of the three arms of our defence Services and of that section which is administered by the Department of Supply at home. The Government will certainly be working to expand all of these capabilities.
It is rather intriguing to see the number of members who speak in debates, of this nature who . compare the performance of this country with that of Sweden. I have an enormous respect for Sweden.I know something of its engineering capabilities, and I know what the Swedish people have done in the development of their country. I know of their achievements in the fields of social services and education. They are comparing a country of 3 million square miles at the end of a line of communication with a nation of 173,000 square miles. We have a population of nearly 12 million; their population is7½ million. I venture to suggest that if we had our 12 million people in an area of 173,000 square miles we would have a vastly smaller problem in developing port facilities and in providng roads, telephone - systems, broadcasting facilities and all the other things that make a tremendous demand on national development. lt is freely understood that national development underlies whatever we do in the field of defence. In 1966-67, the last year for which I have figures, Sweden spent approximately $US1 , 000m on defence compared with our defence budget for this year of $A 1,1 18m. This represents 1 6% of our total national Budget and about 4.5% of the estimated gross national product.
If we compare Sweden’s expenditure with ours, it will be seen that we are devoting about the same percentage of our gross national product to defence. What this plainly indicates, if figures indicate anything, is that productivity in this country is lower than in Sweden. So 1 hope we might turn our attention to the need to do in the field of industry what the Swedish people have been able to do. The Swedish armed forces are intended to be primarily defensive; they are not meant to be used outside the country. There is, therefore no need for such expensive items as longrange missiles, aircraft carriers, strategic bombers and heavy land-based armour. In addition, we must understand that from an industrial point of view Sweden stands in the midst of one of the world’s great markets, but it does not stand on the traditional invasion routes nor is it near any of the traditional battlefields. The fact is not since 1810 has Sweden been engaged in serious warfare. It is not reasonable to try to compare what Sweden has done in the defence field with what we in this country are obliged to do. Ours is a big country, far away from our friends. We are living in one of the most disturbed areas of the world. These circumstances impose tremendous responsibilities and burdens upon us.
The Fill has come in for a good deal of comment and criticism during the last day or two - and quite rightly so because we day not want to avoid debate. The honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) was good enough to pay tribute to this aircraft. He pointed out that the Fill would be superior to anything that we are likely to encounter. Whilst I appreciate the reference to the aircraft his remarks do seem to indicate that his thinking is a little behind the times. The Fill is npt a fighter to be engaged in dog-fights; it is a strike reconnaissance aircraft with a tremendous penetrating capacity. One does not overlook the fact that this aircraft as Colonel A. P. Butterfield the United States Air Force liaison officer on this project is reported to have said to the Royal Aeronautical Society here in Canberra a little while ago has truly been assassinated by its critics.
We all are aware of the criticism of this aircraft. That criticism began in 1963, because it was in that year that two aircraft, the TFX in America and the TSR2 iri England, matured as the only aircraft likely to fulfil the needs of the Air Staff. That happened to be before an election and the Australian Labor Party was quite happy to get on the bandwagon and use this criticism as a theme for that election. This is all very legitimate. We are used to criticism of this kind. It is the very coinage of politics. But amalgamated with that was the kind of criticism which grew up in the United States about a variety of things - whether or not the contract should have been awarded to the General Dynamics Corporation and whether or not Robert McNamara’s policy of a single aircraft for the needs of the Navy and the Air Force was a good one. Al] these criticisms were imported into Australia, whether they had relevance or not, and were heaped on to this unfortunate aeroplane, so much so that criticism of it has been allowed to obscure our need for it and the aircraft itself.
Much has been said about the price of the Fill. I came back to a passage which appeared in the Melbourne ‘Age’ of 18th November 1963 in which the Minister for Defence at that time, the late Mr Athol Townley, stressed ‘that the cost of £A56m he had announced last week for Australia’s twenty-four TFX bombers had only been an estimate’. That has been completely lost sight of by the critics, but certainly not by the Government. The complaint is made that we have not been able to put down a final price for the aircraft as yet. I would be interested if somebody would tell me how we could possibly put down a final price for a product which is still in the course of research and development when the contract says that we shall pay for that research and development. I want to know how it is possible to indi:ate a price for this aircraft’ which is based on cost of delivery when the aircraft has not yet been delivered. We put in some provisos about escalation of costs. Provision was made over and above the ceiling price of $US5.95m for the fly-away aircraft for an escalation in labour and material costs during the course of production. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition rose in his place and said that this was something new, that he had never heard of it before. All I can say is that for a man who presumes to be an expert on this subject he has not been listening very carefully because on two occasions in quite major speeches to the House - on 12th May 1966 and again a year later on 9th May 1967 - my colleague the honourable member for Fawkner (Mr Howson) made two quite long statements on the Fill in which he mentioned quite precisely this proviso to which I have referred.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that the comparison ! made between’ a Boeing 727 and the Fill was absolutely incredible. I suppose it was, but not in the way that he tried to imply. Here we havea Boeing 727, a civil aircraft of quite normal performance, costing $5. 14m. We are asked to pay only $5.95m for a most sophisticated aircraft of greater weight, of enormously greater speed, of tremendously greater performance all round in terms or load and range, and facing the technical problems of variable geometry. So much of what is built into this aircraft was not within human knowledge when the project was entered into. To all these things we have to add the navigation systems, the fire control systems, the terrain-following radar, electronic counter measures and all the rest of the gadgetry which cannot be talked about because it is on the secret list The honourable gentleman said that it was wrong to compare $5.95m for this highly competent, sophisticated package of military hardware with an ordinary civil aircraft. If anyone is wrong about the comparison it is the honourable gentleman.
My good friend the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham) this afternoon dealt very thoroughly, and I thought competently, with the comparison between the performance of this aircraft in flight and that of military aircraft of the last or succeeding generation. I do not propose to go over that. The losses of the F111s are regrettable, but it is a great shame to find that a man even like the honourable member for Warringah (Mr St John) should have joined the ranks of the critics because he is a legal man who, if I understand rightly, is accustomed to testing his evidence. He has taken references out of a newspaper, quoted from another newspaper, to condemn this aircraft. I invite the honourable gentleman to start checking his evidence. I understand his quite right and proper concern about the state of this aircraft when we receive delivery of it. May I point out that the United States of America has a vastly bigger stake in the performance of this aircraft than we have. It is highly unlikely that that country will let it go into service with a known fault. But the kind of flying that has been done and is being done is still very much in the early stages of development.
We delayed delivery for a year so that we would have some of the bugs out of it at American expense. The House may rest assured that when we get our aircraft delivery will not be taken until they have been thoroughly inspected and thoroughly tested and we are satisfied that there are no mechanical faults within them. The debate has opened a good range of new fields for thinking in terms of defence. We understand clearly that new responsibilities are coming up. They will impose new burdens upon us. The House has accepted them, as I understand from the debate in the last few days. I sincerely hope that the Australian people will understand that the Government has these matters well in hand and we will follow a course that we best perceive to be in the national interest.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
Universities (Financial Assistance) Bill 1968. Northern Territory Representation Bill 1968. Defence (Re-establishment) Bill 1968.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Bury, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Mr Speaker, the purpose of the Bill is to amend the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act 1943-1967 by inserting a new section, section 6a, in relation to an award as to long service leave for certain classes of seamen. The amendment becomes necessary in the light of an application to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission by the Seamen’s Union of Australia for an award providing for long service leave to be granted on the basis of service as a seaman in the maritime industry rather than, as is usual, on the basis of service with the one employer. The terms of the proposed award have been the subject of discussions between the union and shipowners. These discussions have resulted in a conditional agreement on a draft of an award which is currently before the Commission.
One of the shipowners involved is the Austraiian National Line. As the law stands at present, the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission could not join the Line as a respondent to the proposed award. This comes about as a result of the provisions of section 41a of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Sub-section (I.) of that section permits the Commission to make an award that is not in accord with a law of the Commonwealth but it may not make an award that is not in accord with certain Acts, one of which is the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act. This Act applies to employees of the Australian National Line, including seamen. The terms of the draft award agreed to between the shipowners, including the Australian National Line, and the Seamen’s Union are clearly not in accord with provisions of the Act. Therefore, without enabling legislation the Commission will not be able to join the Australian National Line as a party to the award.
This would be an undesirable state of affairs in relation to a major operator in the Australian maritime industry. Moreover, the terms of the proposed award seem more suited to the employment of seamen than those of the Act. The Bill, therefore, will insert a provision in the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act to the effect that that Act will not affect an award made by or an agreement filed with the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in relation to long service leave for seamen included in a prescribed class of seaman. However, it would be unreasonable for seamen to whom such an award or agreement might apply to be able to secure both long service leave and furlough in respect to the same period of service and so an appropriate provision to cover this is included in the Bill.
Mr Speaker, honourable members will note that the amendment proposes that the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act will not affect an award made as to ‘seamen included in a prescribed class of seamen’ and that the terra ‘seamen’ has the same meaning as in Division 2 of Part 111 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1967. At present, it is not contemplated that an industry long service leave award will be made as to all classes of seamen included in the definition of a seaman in Division 2 of Part III of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. However, it may well be that, in the future, the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission will be asked to make awards as to other classes of seamen and similar to that now before it. Such awards would also involve the Australian National Line. In that event, the same problem as now arises in relation to section 41a of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act could arise again and legislation would be required each time an award was sought as to a particular class of seaman. Thus the Bill now before the House avoids this by reference to ‘a prescribed class of seamen’. This will enable classes of seamen to be prescribed as the need to do so arises.
One further point about the Bill requires brief explanation, lt will be noted that it provides that sub-section (2.) of section 41a of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act will not apply to an award to which the Bill refers. That sub-section applies to awards of the Commission relating to employees of the Commonwealth certain sections of the Public Service Arbitration Act relating to the tabling in Parliament of determinations of the Public Service Arbitrator, lt is not considered necessary that those provisions should apply to an award binding a business enterprise such as the Australian National Line. Mr Speaker, I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Sinclair, and read a first time.
– I move:
For some time representations have been made by honourable members on both sides of the House showing their concern at the limitation of the liability of the Commonwealth Railways as a result of the inclusion in the Commonwealth Railways Act of sections 78, 79 and 8.1. For some time it appeared that there were some legal difficulties in removing these sections, but it has now been found possible to introduce this Bill, the purpose of which is to remove certain privileges of the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner and his employees in respect of legal actions.
Section 78 provides that actions against the Commissioner, or against any person for anything done under the Act, must be commenced within six months of the occurrence of the cause of action. Section 79 requires that persons, before bringing such actions, must give notice of the occurrence of the cause of action, and that a month’s notice of intention shall be given before commencing the action. Section 81 provides for limitations on the damages or compensation that may. be awarded against the Commissioner in actions arising out of personal injury - to $4,000 in case of death or permanent disablement,, and $2,000 in the case of temporary disablement.
The Bill repeals these sections and thus removes both the limit of damages for personal injury and the limitations now imposed on the time of commencement of an action, together with the provisions for notice. The general ‘ effect will be to place the Commonwealth Railways in the same position as ordinary individuals and corporations, as the law of the relevant State or Territory on these matters will now take the place of these provisions. Clause 7 of the Bill will ensure that the benefit of the repeal extends to actions in respect of causes of action that had arisen before the date of the repeal, other than actions in which judgment was given before that date. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Charles Jones) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 1 May (vide page 993), on motion by Mr Fairbairn:
That the Bill be now read a second time. -
– The Opposition welcomes this Bill. After years of delays and after repeated requests by the Queensland Government dating from 1949 when the Burdekin scheme was first put to the Commonwealth this Government has finally yielded to mounting pressures from the Queensland Government and everybody concerned about water conservation in Australia and has agreed to accept responsibility in the matter so far as Queensland is concerned. Queensland has by far the greatest proportion of Australia’s surface water supplies. It is well known that the decision in respect of the Maraboon Dam, like that in respect of the Ord River scheme, was not taken willingly by the Commonwealth. It is well known that the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) and some of his colleagues in the Cabinet have for years been bitterly opposed to the Commonwealth’s expenditure of money in this way. Some honourable members opposite would rather see Federal funds spent in areas other than the north. Some months ago we read that the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly), who is now Minister for the Navy,’ was emphatically opposed to water conservation schemes in the north. He described them as a waste of money. However, we know that as regards national development the views of the Minister for the Navy are not regarded highly. The attitude of some members of the Liberal Party towards water conservation schemes was illustrated last night by the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) who said: . must we throw away $100m on useless dams in Queensland and Western Australia, and then claim that we do not have money foi defence? Must we’ have an’ inefficient economy, with flaccid industries, through a tariff policy thai results in feather bedding? I suggest that much is to be saved.
Over the years I have listened to many well formulated statements made by the honourable member for Bradfield, but I suggest that the statement he made last night was irresponsible. It is obvious that other Liberal Party members; who are attempting to interject, oppose the expenditure of money on the Maraboon Dam and no doubt also on the Ord River scheme. I would have assumed that Government backbenchers have a say in the Government’s decisions. Apparently they do not.
As I have indicated, the Opposition agrees that there is a need to spend more money on water conservation but we do not applaud the Government’s apparent refusal to organise and to plan a system of priorities which could be discussed and debated. If the Commonwealth is to make available funds for water conservation, this Parliament and the people of Australia are entitled to know the order of priority of the various schemes. In the past the Commonwealth has made grants to the States for such projects as development of the brigalow lands, a comprehensive scheme of water reticulation by pipeline in Western Australia, the Ord River project, beef roads, flood mitigation in New South Wales and the Blowering Dam and the Chowilla Dum. But in respect of only two of those projects - development of brigalow lands and the comprehensive water scheme in Western Australia - has the Government published a report that may be analysed and debated. This is wrong. If we are to spend large amounts of money on ‘development projects we should do so only within a system of clearly defined priorities determined within clearly defined criteria. It ~ is essential that this Parliament and the taxpayers have some idea of the relative priorities of beef roads and irrigation schemes.
The Ord River scheme and the Nogoa Dam project were announced on the eve of the last general election. To do that is, of course, the prerogative of the Government. But I would suggest that the governments of Queensland and Western Australia got a bigger surprise when the decisions were made than did many people in this Parliament. We want to know more about Commonwealth priorities in the matter of development. As the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) has said, Queensland gives the Nogoa River project No. 1 priority. I ask the Minister: Does the Commonwealth agree that the Nogoa River scheme should, have No. 1 priority? I suggest that the Commonwealth docs not have the faintest idea about priorities because it has not made any serious or comprehensive investigations of other irrigation projects in Queensland.
There can be no doubt that the Nogoa scheme will bring tremendous benefits to the very drought prone area of central Queensland. But there are other areas in Queensland that must be given some priority - even equal priority with the Nogoa scheme - in the matter of water conservation. lt will be interesting to see how the Government determines priority when the next grant is made. Will it be simply a matter of the Queensland Government stating which scheme in its view has second priority? Will there be a comprehensive investigation not only of the scheme nominated by the Queensland Government but also of alternative projects? Such an investigation is essential if Federal funds for development purposes are to be spent in the most advantageous manner.
The Opposition supports the Nogoa project. The Commonwealth has decided to make a grant of S20m for this scheme. However, it is important to remember that the Federal Government and the State Government have different objectives and different criteria in determining priorities. The Commonwealth criterion in development always was and, I assume, still is that export income or balance of payments is given a very high rating and the development of a particular region or area in Australia is also given a rating. However, the principal criterion is the ability of the project to earn additional export income, and there can be no question that the Nogoa River project will earn additional export income. It will enable the production of crops which can be sold on the export market. It is surrounded by an in-built cattle industry. It is surrounded by one of the most drought-susceptible areas in Australia. Its soils are capable of growing most crops that can be grown in the sub-tropics, particularly coarse grain, for which there is a world demand at the present time and will be in the foreseeable future. However, the main point 1 am making is that the Federal Government has a responsibility to implement some type of plan with respect to development priorities.
The ad hoc, unco-ordinated approach’ that we have seen over the years is to be deplored. Without qualification, every decision in the field of development in northern Australia has been the result of political adversity or a political promise on the eve of an election. Honourable members can go through them all and see that this has been so. from the original Ord River grant in 1958 to the great splurge of development from 1961 to 1963. Then, after the Menzies Government was returned with a record majority, development stopped for several years, and there was an upsurge again in the last 2 years. Every decision can be directly correlated with politics and in the field of national development this is quite wrong. Priorities should be decided upon particularly in the field of water development. An allocation of $50m over 5 years is so absurd that even the former Minister for Primary Industry condemned it. An expenditure of S50m over the next 5 years for water conservation in the world’s driest continent is too absurd for words.
The Nogoa Dam is a project which the people of central Queensland have been advocating for many years. It is to be an earth and rock filling dam on the Nogoa River, capable of irrigating up to 80,000 acres. It will store a little over 1 million acre-feet of water, to be reticulated by gravity. The soils in the area are still to be tested, but on the best data available in the surrounding areas, and by analogy, it can be confidently stated that the soils are good. Of the. area of about 80,000 acres the brigalow soils would constitute about half. About 17,000 acres are made up of alluvial clays. The brown and red sandy soils which are highly suitable for lucerne growing make up about 11,000 acres, and the cracking clays, which could cause some problems, about 5,000 acres. Most of the soils, as has been shown by laboratory tests, are low in total nitrogen. They are slightly acid to alkaline, as would be expected. As depth increases there is an increase in the percentage of lime. Phosphorus is generally low, as is characteristic of most soils in those areas, and the potassium supplies are also low. This means that for successful irrigation farming there will have to be considerable use of phosphorus, and sound agricultural practices will have to be followed with respect to the accumulation of nitrogen.
As regards the land use of the area, it would seem that the best crops, based on present prices, would be sorghum, both grain and fodder, wheat, yellow maize, cotton and lucerne. Of course, great benefit to the surrounding cattle industry will result from the irrigation project, not only by supplementary feeding but also by enabling a consistent supply of fodder to be diverted to those areas which suffer from severe nutritional distress in those months of the year when moisture is limited. As regards the methodology, it is not possible to comment at the present time, because the assumptions made in the reports upon which the Commonwealth Government is supposed to have made its decision have not been published. However, there are a number of methods by which the evaluation process can take place. The ideal method by which any Government makes a decision is maximisation of welfare, which takes into account not only economic principles but also intangible principles, such as politics. Why a government spends so much money in ari area is a matter for that government, but surely the decision should at least be based on sound premises with respect to the hard core of agriculture - if it is a matter, involving agriculture, lt is a salient requirement that in any irrigation project it is essential that the hard core of agriculture be sound. If it is not sound the scheme must fail, irrespective of what decision is taken with respect to water, because if farmers cannot make a profit from agriculture, no amount of water will save them. They must be able to make a profit, whether it be from dairy farming, sorghum production, or cotton, based on the prices obtainable for the product. Bear in mind that the essential factor is that the hard core of a project must be sound’.
The return on capital is another measure. The internal rate of interest is another measure. The time for return on the investment is a measure commonly used in America. The one most used in Australia now is the benefit cost analysis, which is being used in effect to maximise the excess of the present value of benefits over the present value of costs, this maximisation, of course, being subject to the total capital investment for the project. Again, we cannot comment on the methodology because we do not know what assumptions have been made with respect to the rate of interest or to the time 6f the project. With most development projects, a period of either 50 or 100 years is taken for discounting purposes. I . had previously mentioned the great difficulty in judging any . decision on benefit cost analyses.
As I have said, the use of benefit cost analysis to pass final judgment on a project is wrong unless that project is so highly economic under certain variable assumptions that there can be no question. The correct use of benefit cost analysis is the comparison or measurement of alternatives of like projects, where like assumptions can be used. It is then up to the Government to decide which of those projects it will adopt, based on accepted economic and accounting principles, and then to make adjustments for its own political criteria which are qualitative criteria, outside the normal economic and accounting considerations.
The point at issue, so far as we can make out from the Minister for National Development, is that only two projects in Queensland are being considered - the Nogoa and the Burnett-Kolan projects. Since 1949 the Queensland Government has consistently put up projects for evaluation and Commonwealth assistance. We started with the Burdekin scheme which, when put to the Commonwealth, was knocked in no uncertain terms by Sir Arthur Fadden. Of course, that has been made clear many times before.
– That is quite wrong, of course.
– It is not. If I were to read to the honourable member the views of the Queensland Premier at the time, I could prove conclusively to him what the former Leader of the Australian Country Party said on 17th November 1949 in his policy speech at Boonah. He asserted that, if elected, the Government would not put the Burdekin plans in a pigeon hole but would go ahead immediately to build the Burdekin Dam.
– Sir Arthur Fadden explained that in this House. It is recorded in Hansard.
– On a point of order. Do these remarks have much to do with the Bill under consideration, Mr Speaker?
-Order! I think they are pertinent to the Bill. There is no substance to the point of order.
– My point is that certain alternatives should be analysed to determine priorities, and to say that the Queensland Government has not submitted priorities and projects is wrong. I shall go through some of the projects which the Queensland Government either submitted or has had on its plate for analysis over the years The Nathan Gorge project has a catchment area of 9,000 square miles and a possible storage capacity of 2,500,000 acre feet. This proposal was put to the Commonwealth in 1963 with the view to obtaining assistance. The Gap scheme on the Fitzroy Basin is perhaps the biggest scheme in Queensland other than the Burdekin project. It has a catchment area of -52,500 square miles; that is a tremendous area. A wall 150 feet high could impound between 3,500,000 and 4,500,000 acre feet of water, and a 200-foot wall could impound as much as 10,000,000 acre feet.
The small but vital proposed Dee River Dam embraces a catchment area of 230 square miles, and would impound 150,000 acre feet of water. The Mimosa Creek catchment area of 3,500 square miles could impound more than 1,000,000 acre feet. In the Upper Herbert River area in the northern part of the State the proposal is for a dam on the Wild River and the Millstream. This envisages the storage of 370,000 acre feet which would irrigate up to 40,000 acres annually. The Herbert River scheme that has been submitted embraces the diversion of the waters of the Herbert River into the Burdekin River, after being used for the generation of hydro-electricity. The mighty Burdekin is without doubt one of the greatest schemes for this country in the future, for it will have a storage capacity of 6.5 million acre feet - the biggest in Australia - and an annual yield of about 2,000,000 acre feet per annum, which could irrigate at least 400,000 acres annually. Then there are the Bowen and Broken River projects, in addition to the Eungella Dam project. They are all projects which have, to some degree, been investigated by the Queensland Government, and they are all good water conservation projects. However, their economic viability would have to be evaluated in order to arrive at a definite priority.
Dealing now with the Gulf river systems, the Gilbert River and Mitchell River areas, because of the surrounding commandability of soils, offer distinct possibilities; but because ot the terrain most of the Gulf rivers suffer from a dearth of good dam sites. All this illustrates that many schemes are available in Queensland, and these can be coupled with those in the Northern Territory. For instance, there is the Daly River, the Fitzroy River in the Kimberleys, and the Gascoyne River in the west Kimberleys.
These are only some of the rivers that are available in the north of Western Australia and which, coupled with the Queensland system, warrant investigation if we are to proceed with the national water conservation scheme that has been decreed by the Government. All these schemes have to be placed in perspective.
The Nogoa scheme is only part of the Burdekin-Fitzroy complex. But, from a national viewpoint, priorities for Federal funds have to be established throughout Australia, and not just between projects in a State.
In addition to surface water priorities have to be allocated for’ the tapping of underground water. We have heard much about discoveries and the extent of artesian and subartesian basins, especially in the aquifers in the Alice Springs district and western Queensland. Underground water also is important, and it demands investigation so that priorities can be investigated.
Another aspect of probable Federal intervention in future is the pollution of streams and lakes, which for generations have been used for getting rid of industrial and muni,cipal wastes that are diverted and flushed into them. This practice leads to a rise inthe bio-chemical oxygen demand level. The dropping of oxygen, content kills fish and plant life, and, after anaerobic microbes, kill the remaining living organisms, the water becomes septic and toxic. Desalination is another area in which Federal activity must be intensified. I .understand that a Bill dealing with salinity on the River Murray is on the’ notice paper and may be debated tonight. Criteria should be established for a more sensible ‘and commonsense approach to priorities for single purpose or multi-purpose dams’, underground water - artesian and sub-artesian - water pollution prevention, desalination and salinity reduction in Queensland and throughout the rest of Australia.
The one other field of endeavour which I did not mention regarding the determination of priorities for water conservation relates to drought losses. I submit that the highest priorities are in the proven and established areas where losses are the greatest. If honourable members confine their thinking to the area around the Nogoa River they will in fact be viewing the region in Australia that has suffered the greatest cumulative losses in drought over the years. I am referring to the area comprising the Burnett, Fitzroy, Pioneer, Burdekin and Herbert Rivers. This .area is relatively highly intensified for beef cattle production and, taking into account agriculture production, it has suffered the .greatest cumulative loss in production over the years as a result of droughts. It is nonsense to suggest as some economists do that water, conservation would npt alleviate drought in areas suitable for water reticulation. I do npt mean areas in far western Queensland where it is not feasible, for example, to undertake large scale or small scale water conservation projects. I am speaking of areas where water reticulation is close enough to water stock or supplement agriculture. I have not mentioned water conservation projects in’ the other States but they are just as important in terms of’ priorities. For example, the Darling River area in northern New South Wales suffered staggering losses last year through drought. All irrigation projects, potential irrigation projects or potential water conservation projects for agriculture of power must be given, some order of priority.
I believe, it is essential that proper regional planning be implemented for the determination .of priorities. . It is not sufficient to consider a project like the Nogoa scheme on its individual merits. There must be overall’ regional planning on the principles that have been successfully followed in the United States of America. Although the combination of Queensland’s water and land resources offers very great scope to this nation for permanent and concentrated development, Queensland is the ‘Cinderella’ State as far as water conservation projects are concerned. Out of a total irrigated area of 2.S million acres in Australia, 2.2 million acres are located in Victoria and New South Wales. Queensland has no more than 300,000 acres of irrigated land compared with over 2 million acres ‘ in New South Wales and Victoria, principally concentrated around the Murray River complex. The rights and wrongs of this apparent imbalance depend on the particular criteria adopted, but if our development criterion is related to action required to increase the basic wealth of the nation by producing under irrigation those commodities which cao be sold overseas and earn export income, then there can be little argument that the untapped, cheap northern water and land resources offer a vast scope for development.
Of all the major primary products in Australia, the one with the greatest future as an export earner is beef. Given the marriage of Queensland’s undeveloped land and water resources, the potential for beef production within a long period of years would be limited only by the rate of reproduction of the breeding animal. Cattle and sheep, in association with fodder crops, grain sorghum, maize, premium grade wheat and cotton, are the enterprises in this part of Australia on which future large scale and small scale water conservation could be based because these- are the products which have a sound long term future,- particularly when the proximity, of Queensland and other northern areas to the growing markets of Asia is taken into consideration.
As I said earlier, the Nogoa scheme is located in a complex area. If we are to go ahead with the development of water conservation in Queensland it is essential that proper planning be undertaken, not only for water conservation but for other enterprises associated with water conservation, such as power and minerals, in the areas in which the projects are located. Queensland possesses almost ideal conditions for the implementation of sound and imaginative long term water conservation programmes. The very large but concentrated areas embracing the Burnett, Fitzroy, Pioneer, Burdekin. and Herbert Rivers contain immensely rich undeveloped tracts of soils which are commandable. The area is contiguous to ports and railways and it has the benefit of a highly - organised sugar industry. It also has the benefit of an inbuilt labour force and a surrounding cattle industry.
It is an area, however, which is ravished by droughts of immense magnitude. It is faced with annual losses in production as a result of the marked seasonal effects of rainfall so that although there is the paradox of millions of acre feet of water running to the sea each year from the watersheds, it runs only during a few months of the year. For the rest of the year many if not all these rivers are dry and we see severe nutritional distress in the pastures: This results in a drop in the cattle production curve in the latter part of the year until the rains come again. These losses in areas which could be assisted by water conservation add up to very large sums of national income and export income.
Knowledge of the vast land and water resources of the Fitzroy and Burdekin basins can lead to only one conclusion - that it will one day become one of the richest and most densely populated areas in Australia outside of the metropolitan areas. Not only has it water and good soil but also it has tremendous mineral reserves, as is being shown now with coal. The greatest known deposits of good coal in Australia today are in this area. There is also tremendous potential for the tourist industry off the coast of the region that we are now examining. All of these things are in the region in which the Nogoa project is located. My point is that if the Commonwealth is going to develop this area - and water conservation is the first step - all of the other points are valid because they should all be brought together in one comprehensive plan. The catchment area encompassed by the Burdekin and Fitzroy basins exceeds the total area of Victoria and presents one of the greatest challenges of our future, particularly when we take into account its soils, water, minerals and other benefits associated with a built-in infra-structure. Also in this region is the great brigalow scheme - areas 1, 2 and 3. Other areas of brigalow development are in the Belyando and Suttor regions south of Collinsville.
This region should be developed in accordance with a fully co-ordinated programme and not by the piecemeal and uncoordinated .approaches which are characteristic of present developments highly flavoured by political decisions on the eve of elections or immediately following elections. This type of approach to national development must -inevitably lead to the wasteful use of resources. If we are going to develop our water resources then- we must have some semblance of priorities. It is about time -the Government published a few reports to let not only the Parliament but the people know about the economic content of projects in relation to other projects and other fields of development. The only two reports that have been published relating to national development projects were those concerning the brigalow scheme and the comprehensive water scheme in Western Australia. Surely if we are to spend almost $70m on the Ord River and on the Nogoa we ought to have a report on those projects to study and debate instead of having to rely on local knowledge of an area or on learning facts from newspaper articles.
The Opposition believes that the Nogoa project is good and that it will provide immense benefits, both direct and indirect, to central Queensland. Let us remember that water is one of the best permanent means of decentralisation. To appreciate this, one need only study the irrigation schemes at Mildura, Renmark, Leeton and Griffith and recognise the viability of those areas. Water conservation is one of the best methods of ensuring decentralisation and of creating permanent development with permanent population in areas outside of the metropolitan areas. Development, from a properly co-ordinated viewpoint, should take into account and maximise the advantages of all federal agencies concerned in development and should not take into account the uncoordinated approach to development as is exemplified by the use of only one particular agency. We have, for example, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, the Bureau of Mineral Resources, the Snowy Mountains Authority, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation as well as various State agencies all concerned with development and water conservation. Technicians from these bodies should be welded into one particular organisation to undertake investigational work. This is, of course, done by world agencies such as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development which initiates team work in investigating particular projects. I suggest that greater use should be made of federal agencies by co-ordinating their work in determining priorities for water conservation projects. This Parliament could be supplied with a list of development projects and honourable members could compare them and debate them instead of dealing with one particular project and not having the faintest idea what the next project would be until, perhaps, an election was due.
– Tonight is the climax of almost 20 years of hopes and aspirations of the people of the central highlands of Queensland, particularly those based at Emerald. In making my submissions to the House I attempt to do so on the basis of stressing the national importance of the approval of the grant made available by the Commonwealth Government for the building of the Maraboon Dam. It is not just a matter of establishing a dam on the Nogoa River and then developing a number of farms in the vicinity. The impact of the approval goes far beyond that. We have come through, perhaps, the worst drought in the history of this nation. What rather amazes me is the very short memory of those persons in high places who scream to high heaven that this must never happen again and that we must rake steps to ensure that the impact of any future drought will be reduced to an absolute minimum. I see no evidence of anything very material being done in this direction. The Maraboon Dam represents the first step in the creation of a vast granary in this particular part of the world.
Perhaps the severest effects of the drought, which is only partly over, were felt in the central and north western parts of Queensland. The losses there are incalculable and there are some third generation graziers in those areas who will never recover from the effects of the drought. However, with the establishment of the dam I should think that within about 10 years vast quantities of fodder will be available for storage in strategic places for use in lessening the impacts of future droughts. This matter has been spoken of and promulgated and the time has come for some specific planning to bring the idea to fruition. Tied up with all of this is the matter of transport, and tied up with transport is the question of transport costs. There is a move in Queensland at the moment - a move that I am proud to say has been pioneered by the Australian Country Party in Queensland - eventually to submit to the governments of the Commonwealth and the State for consideration and approval a tapering system of freights. In other words, the further one is from the seaboard the lower become the freight rates. This would be a substantial and realistic contribution to a genuine attempt at decentralisation.
Already in the Nogoa area are many farms which are flourishing and producing a number of grains, principally the coarse grains, sorghum, safflower and similar crops. It is the constant cry of farmers in that area that their efforts are being reduced to the barest profit margin by the high freights which persist there. With the establishment of the Maraboon Dam all kinds of things will happen and this is the point that I am trying to make in my contribution to the debate. The Dam itself will fire off a chain reaction of development. It has been visualised, by people who give realistic and practical consideration to these matters, that there will be a converging on the central highlands of beef cattle from the Gulf country, probably from parts of the Northern Territory and from some of the south western areas of Queensland. The establishment of numerous farms in this area undoubtedly will lead eventually to intensive feeding and probably we may see, and almost inevitably will see, lot feeding in the area.
Already there is development of the brigalow area and in this regard I would like to state that certain difficulties have existed, particularly in regard to drought. Many of the settlers who went into the area, particularly No. 2 area, started well behind scratch financially and otherwise. One difficulty that was greater than any other was the matter of sucker infestation. Certain areas have not reacted to either chemical treatment or burning off and the only answer is deep ploughing. The deep ploughing of these areas requires massive equipment, the purchase of which is quite beyond the capacity of any of the settlers. I have mentioned in this House before that they are living under almost primitive conditions. Not a penny is being wasted. In many cases they have a large galvanised iron shed. One half is devoted to storing their equipment and the other half is devoted to living quarters for their wives and families. They are not wasting money. They are living very frugally. It would appear to me that a possible solution to this problem is the establishment of a Commonwealth equipment pool. Something of a similar nature existed some years ago. I do not know whether such a proposition could be examined and some sort of consultation take place between the State and Federal Governments to assist these people. It does not matter how much water and irrigation become available as a result of the establishment of the Maraboon Dam, this question of reinfestation of sucker growth could become an insoluble problem.
In the Gulf country at the moment there is much more intensive thinking in regard to pasture improvement. Admittedly the pasture improvement in these areas is on a much vaster scale than in the more settled areas. But it is not beyond possibility that we will see a tremendous increase both in the quality of the beef produced in this part, of the country and in the numbers. It is visualised, further, that some of these cattle will be brought down the Lynd, eventually into the central highlands and possibly to the coast. Tied up with the propositions of bringing cattle into the central highlands and into the Maraboon Dam area from both the north and the south eastern part of Queensland, and possibly the Northern Territory, is the matter of transport. When we think of transport these days we think in terms of beef roads. I believe that the Government should give serious consideration to the reclassification of the Capricorn Highway as a beef road. Unless it is reclassified I cannot see, at least in the foreseeable future, the necessary money being made available by the State Government, which simply does not have the resources, to bring this desperately bad road up to a reasonable standard - let alone a standard whereby cattle can be transported by road into the coastal areas and, more particularly, into the central highland areas. The same consideration applies, to a much lesser extent, to what was once known as the ‘Clermont defence road’. I believe that this could be a main arterial road for the transport of beef into this area.
I mentioned that there are many considerations tied up with the establishment of the Maraboon Dam and that almost all of them are of national importance. I am hoping that my address will not be regarded as parochial because I believe that the Government, in making what was a most generous grant of $20m to the Queensland Government so that the dam might be proceeded with, had in mind, as the previous speaker, the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) mentioned, the very important matters of overseas credit and our export trade. 1 would like to mention one particular aspect in relation to developing the area and that is coal mining which has been referred to already. I am thinking more precisely of the Blair Athol deposits of black coal for which there is an extremely limited market. It would appear, from certain take-over moves that have been made recently, that there is new hope that the Blair Athol area will be developed fully. I would like honourable members of this House to have the opportunity pf seeing these tremendous deposits - probably one of the most significant deposits of black coal in the world. The pathetic aspect of these tremendous deposits remaining dormant is that where there was once a flourishing town now there is only a handful of men working in the mine: It would appear that there is a new hope for the revival of that area, but it is dependent upon . sufficient water being available to supply the sort of plant that would be established. The works would require huge quantities of water. I believe that this water could be made available from, the Maraboon Dam. There again we have another tremendous benefit which could result from the establishment of that dam.
I would like to take the opportunity of paying tribute to. the many people who have been associated with the presentation of the case for. the dam and their tenacity in their belief that the dam should be built. I. refer firstly to the State Government. This brings me to the point of again refuting the statement made by the honourable member for Dawson, which, has been made so often in . this House. It reflects rather a shabby attitude. The honourable member said that the grant was made for purely political purposes and that the timing of the introduction of the grant was used for political purposes. The grant was introduced prior to the Senate election. We all know-even those of us who are rather immature in politics- that a matter as parochial as “this is not as vital in a Senate election as it would be in the byelection for Capricornia. Where could there be a more classic example of a candidate who could have been assisted by the introduction of this scheme than the Liberal candidate for Capricornia? Mr Frank. Ruddwas the chairman of a local research bureau which fought most vigorously for Government approval of the construction of the dam. Would it not have assisted him if approval had been given prior to the by-election in Capricornia? The claim that the grant was made as purely a political manoeuvre is ridiculous.
I refer again to the people who have contributed so greatly and so tenaciously to the eventual approval of the dam. It was a- fine example of community team work. First of all the local authority had the case. One has to have a starting point somewhere. Then the people concerned combined their efforts in order to convince the Queensland Government. Believe me, they had many discouragements. Eventually they had the opportunity of taking their case personally to the Minister for National Development. They asked the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) to go out and he was able to examine the case on the spot. Eventually the Government Parties’ National Development Committee visited the area. Finally the Government was so firmly convinced that the project was worthy of consideration that approval was granted. I am absolutely convinced that the Government will never regret what will prove to be a most remunerative investment. This will be an investment that will benefit not only my electorate in the central highlands; it will be an investment in the interest of the whole nation.
This brings me to another point. I would be’ very reluctant to cast any reflections on the tremendous contribution made in a limited’ capacity from time to time by the economists of this nation. But I believe that they have established a trend of thought which is rather dangerous to any pioneering developmental projects which get very far away from the mere privileged and more developed areas of this nation. I refer to the attitude of intensive develop-‘ ment rather than extensive development. At a time when the people are crying to high heaven for extensive development this Government has accepted the principle of intensive development. In other words, it has accepted the principle that it should make the developed areas bigger and more substantial and converge all of the activities around the already large provincial and metropolitan areas. It declines to take a punt on a project which is even slightly doubtful. People begin to think that the pioneering spirit of this nation is dead and a thing of the past and that there is a risk that the great rural vitality of this nation may wither and die. However, this fear was readily dispelled when approval was given for the building of the Maraboon Dam at Nogoa and for further development on the Ord area. At the same time approval was given for an even greater network of beef roads.
Much more still needs to be done in northern Australia because we started a long way behind scratch. Even though we appreciate the grant of S20m for the construction of the Maraboon Dam, we do not want to lose sight of the fact that the people of northern Australia have built upa great deal of credit in the national coffers and we believe we have the right to draw on this now. I believe there is a new climate and atmosphere in Canberra in regard to northern development. I think there is a realisation that the vast rural areas of this nation need to be closely examined, and that where a case for development exists development projects should be pursued and pressed.
Finally, 1 want to express tremendous appreciation to the Minister and the Federal Government on behalf of the many people in the settled highlands not only of Emerald itself but also of Claremont, Blackwater and other areas whose morale has been boosted to high heaven by this scheme.. These people will live to see this great nation derive benefits from what will be a most remarkable investment.
– The honourable “member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) has made clear the value and limitations of the Marraboon Dam scheme. While it is a start to cope with the devastating recurring droughts of centra] and northern Queensland east of the Great Dividing Range, it is a hasty, halting, halfbaked scheme.
– It is hasty because it has not arisen from energetic study of the whole of the needs of the northern and drought-prone regions but from a sudden change of heart induced from an increased absolute majority of the Australian Labor Party in the Capricornia by-election, following the Australian Country Party’s landslide loss of the electorate of Dawson in an earlier by-election! It is halting because it arises from a once-for-all decision presented to this Parliament in response to a request from Queensland.
Whenever questions are put to the Government as to their intentions in national planning, the Government has a few stock answers which are predictable and characteristic of a reactionary plan-fearing regime. My colleague from the electorate adjoining my own has objected to the secrecy of the evidence on which the Government’s decisions are made. The Government’s stock answers go something like this: This is primarily a State matter and any initiative must come from the States. Have honourable members heard this before? A second answer is: This is a matter for private initiative and governments should merely create the climate to encourage private investment. Have honourable members heard that anywhere before? . I am giving honourable members the excuses that are being made by this Government for not introducing planning and for not discussing the reasons for its attitude. These are the answers we get when we ask the Government for their plans of development and ask for the reasons. Another stock answer is: This is a matter of policy and the Government’s intention will be stated at the appropriate time. Another answer is: lt is not possible to say when studies will be completed but when they are a statement will be made to the House.
– What is wrong with that?
– The only thing wrong is that we never get a straight answer. We still do not know the stages at which these decisions are made. We do not know th? evidence on which these priorities are allocated. In fact, for all we know there could be no priorities. Apparently, the Government waits for Queensland to submit some priorities and then decides whether it will or will not accept them. No-one knows why. Another answer given is: This could not be brought forward earlier bsc-.use preliminary studies have not been completed. This is the type of propaganda we hear in answer to our questions. We are not given the facts. Sooner or later there must come a time when the facts are available and when they can be given. The honourable member for Dawson has objected to the fact that these details are not available. If they are available then the House should be allowed to hear them.
The only aim of such stonewalling tactics that I can conceive is to block criticism which could put the Government in danger. The aim of water conservation is not just to make a profit. We know the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority does make a profit but it did not do. so for its first decade or two. The profit the Authority makes is from the sale of electric power. But this is not its main value to this country. The country has recovered the cost in increased revenue from the rural production made possible in the Murray basin by diversion and control of water from the Snowy River. This profit does not show on the balance sheets of the Snowy scheme. It should be shown on a national balance sheet compiled by the Department of National Development and based on the estimates of the effects of their projects over 50 years or so. In New Zealand, for instance, it has been found over 40 years that in some areas there is more profit to be made from planting timber than from planting crops or raising livestock. It has been found that such long range projects are not practical propositions for unaided private enterprise.
It is obvious to anyone who can see past the elections after next, and past next year’s dividend cheques .or his own retirement allowance, that similar considerations apply to many industries which at present are preserved by our reactionary government for the use of short range private investors. The sloth and reluctance of the Government to develop anything which pays off later than the election after next is bound up with the greed motive which activates their great and powerful friends in industry, the man who pays the piper and calls the tune until the public outcry forces some positive progressive step like the one we are discussing. Then the hasty, halting and half baked step forward is taken. The issues which would allow informed criticism are kept under wraps. The issues involved in what other projects should have priority are hidden in clouds of speculation, or perhaps they are gathering dust in the pigeon holes of the Queensland irrigation authority to which they have been referred back by this Government. I hope that the prediction made by the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) when he says that this step forward will start a chain reaction is correct. Unfortunately, I fear that the chain has a missing link. It seems to lack the link of understanding between the people who will populate the irrigated areas and the people who will sway the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) when he makes up his next Budget.
In view of the Government’s record of inaction in the north until electoral pressures are felt, it would seem that the best hope that the honourable member for Kennedy will be able to entertain for a new spurt in development will be to lose his seat to the Labor Party. He accused the honourable member for Dawson of stating that the scheme had been introduced purely for political purposes. The honourable member for Dawson did not say that; he said that the timing of the announcement and the precipitancy of the decision was opportunistic. The announcement before the Capricornia by-election of the Nogoa . scheme, which the honourable member for Kennedy suggested would have been a trump card for the Liberal Party, could hardly have been brought forward for the simple reason that the Government was considering the Ord River scheme first and would have found it necessary to announce that scheme first.
– Rot! They were announced together.
– They could have been announced together, but the findings on the Ord River scheme were generally much further advanced and had been discussed far more than the Nogoa scheme at that stage and the Government would have had to bring the Ord River scheme forward first. But the Government stalled for a long time and then made some statement to the effect that the Ord scheme could not be proceeded with. I suggest that this is the main reason why the Government did not have its trump card ready for the Capricornia by-election. Water is not the only thing that can be classed as the lifeblood of this nation. Many other things can be classed as lifeblood. I refer particularly to the lack of people in the north. Only 4% to 5% of our population lives in the northern half of this continent. But water is very close to being the lifeblood of this nation and while we let it bleed out into the ocean we are inhibiting the development of population in these areas.
The honourable member for Kennedy spoke of the potential of black coal. The development of coal deposits in central Queensland is dependent not only on water, as he stated, but also on far-seeing initiative of the kind which is sadly lacking in the Department which was set up specifically to show this initiative. I refer to the Department of National Development, whose whole approach has been to foster a climate for private enterprise. Part of this climate, no doubt, involves the impounding of water; but part of the climate is created by giving taxation concessions, by making double taxation agreements and by granting freight concessions. While the honourable member for Kennedy is talking of the tapered freight scheme for people in outback areas of Queensland as a means of encouraging decentralisation - a scheme which the Queensland Government has suddenly rushed into after seeing it work successfully in New South Wales - and while he is commending the Queensland Government for this, he is ignoring the fact that far greater concessions are being given in other ways. Concessions are being made not to the people who are settling the outback or who are increasing the population there, not to Australians who are going to develop our resources which would then be owned by us, and not so that we can improve our standards of living or our balance of payments; the concessions are being given to overseas monopolies which have come into Australia and have exploited our mineral resources because we have failed to exploit them. But our failure has been brought about by the Department of National Development which has shown no initiative in regard to anything that offers a profit.
– Such as?
– The honourable member for the Northern Territory asks me to state examples. To mention only one example, our aluminium deposits are the biggest in the world.
– In the Northern Territory?
– In the north of Australia. We are referring to the Maraboon Dam and I am comparing the development of water by this Government, under protest and under pressure, with its lack of development of mineral resources which it is selling out cheaply to foreigners.
– Like the Reece Government in Tasmania is doing to Japan?
– The Reece Government in Tasmania is struggling because it is starved of funds by a Commonwealth Government which does not care about the problems of State governments, no matter of what political colour those State governments might be.
– They are starved of something else.
– lt seems that most interjectors are interested in topics other than the one we are discussing, which is the Maraboon Dam and the responsibility of the Department of National Development to work in the best interest of this nation by allotting priorities to the resources which should be developed. The priorities which have been established were decided by a Labor government when it was in power, but they were vigorously opposed by friends of the reactionary Government that we have today. Those people vigorously opposed the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme and said that it was a waste of money. They vigorously opposed the Bell Bay aluminium scheme, which was entirely-
– An election stunt.
– It was entirely the result of enterprise displayed by the same Tasmanian Government, working in conjunction with the same Federal Government which is now doing nothing in regard to mineral development. The PostmasterGeneral has said that this was an election stunt. This reminds me of the remark made by the honourable member for Kennedy in which he accused the honourable member for Dawson of saying that this dam was an election stunt. Anything can be called an election stunt if it helps to win an election, but I suggest that sometimes these stunts are not in the interests of the Australian people. If these projects are in the interests of Australians then it is time that we saw a few more stunts coming from the Department of National Development.
– One of the reasons why the -Bell Bay enterprise was sold was that it was so successful.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Clark)Order! I suggest that we should have one speaker at a time.
– I have been asked to give some examples of how private enterprise has been invited by the Department of -National Development to enter places where governments have a right to develop pro’jects in order to induce people to go to the north of this . continent. I have mentioned the aluminium, project at Bell Bay. If this project had not been developed by a Labor Government, it would npt have been begun by private enterprise. It would not have been developed by. an anti-Labor government, and Australia today would not have had an aluminium industry at Gladstone, Weipa, in the Northern Territory or in any State of the Commonwealth.
– THe Bell ‘ Bay project was carried out by an anti-Labor Government.
– The Common-‘ wealth Government at that, time was notantiLabor, but this Commonwealth Government is. The project was undertaken because Australia needed aluminium and because the Government could not get it easily by appealing to private enterprise. Labor federal governments are not averseto asking private enterprise to help them out.
– As. long as they do not make a profit.
– All those hilarious gentlemen opposite who seem to think 1 am joking had better look at the history of their country. Who was it established Commonwealth Oil Refineries Ltd? I do not hear any interjections -now. COR would not have been formed had Labor not been in office. Who was it commenced the production of vaccines in this country because no drug firm would bring fresh vaccines to Australia?
-Order! The honourable member should confine his remarks to the Bill. - . . .
– I introduced these sidelines because they all have a bearing on the broad policy of development and on the policy of segregating public enterprise for such matters as dams, roads, airports and harbours from private enterprise for such matters as mineral development. This is a false division. Because it is a false division, I am pointing out that Government initiative is called for in many Other industries. If Government initiative is not forthcoming, the initiative will not come from private enterprise. When we look for a scheme of national priorities and a plan of national development, it is of no use looking to private enterprise to give us the plan. It is no good creating climates . for private enterprise to come in. It is no good giving tax concessions and freight concessions and hoping that private enterprise will do the right thing. The only people that they will do right by are their shareholders, their dividend collectors. Thatis what their managers are paid to do. Therefore, it behoves the Government not only to look for priorities in water con=: servation and’ to give freight concession’s to. encourage decentralisation; it should also look for priorities in industry.
This is not necessarily the policy of a Socialist government. However, Socialist governments seem to be the only ones that practice it. We have seen this happen in Italy at times when the Government there was hardly Socialist. Sometimes this policy is implemented by dictatorships, and they are the-opposite of Socialism. But in general Labor governments and people with Labor sympathies implement these ideas. When we start to organise water conservation, we must have governments that are willing to look far beyond their private interests, their pockets, their profits and their superannuation. This Government is guilty of neglecting this broad vision. It is guilty of sweeping under the carpet as much as it can of public enterprise, irrespective of whether it enhances national development. The Government hides the issues from the light of day. lt fails to publish them and to discuss them, because it knows that it is vulnerable and fears that it will be shown up. lt fears that it will have to spend a little more on national development, and that will be so much Jess for its great and powerful friends to collect in dividends. I think I have covered the subject.
– The honourable member has covered a few other subjects, too.
– I have covered a few others too, but they are all bound up with the central problem of the responsibility of the Government to take the initiative in opening up the country. We need a lot more than this halting, nasty and halfbaked concept.
– It is always a great pleasure to speak in the electrical atmosphere of debate at this hour of the night, and I hope to put a little dash into the dams, as the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) did. I did not quite see the relevance of vaccines, Bell Bay and so forth, but this no doubt was my fault. I speak also with some sorrow, because I cannot support the Government in all respects on this matter. No matter where I sit, I appear to be the only member of the Opposition on this Bill. I am sorry, too, for the point of view of my friends from Queensland, whom I hold in the highest esteem, because neither can I agree with them on this occasion. I understand their viewpoint, but I must put the national interest first, the more so because there has been no effective criticism from the Opposition. This is to be expected, because the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), who is the spokesman for the Opposition on this matter, himself comes from Queensland, and from north Queensland, and has been infected, despite his great knowledge of this matter, by the geography of his situation.
The honourable member did me the honour to quote some words that I used in a debate last night. I would now like to give him the second barrel. There seems to be a kind of obsession about the nature of national development. There seem to be many people who hold the view fashionable at this time - fashions vary from time to time - that the only form of national development that one is capable of conceiving is the conservation of water. It may well be that there are other priorities. In the situation in which Australia is at present placed, facing great perils from abroad, it would be wrong if, from the viewpoint of my own conscience, I were not to say that those priorities are most important which most* clearly conduce to the national strength and welfare. If we come to priorities in national development, it may well be that education and science are more important even than the conservation of water. It may be that if we as a nation had the efficiency, say, of a small country such as Sweden or had been able to acquire the know-how that Japan has at relatively little cost - I mean relative to the- cost of acquiring know-how that has beset our endeavours - national development would go ahead much faster than it would through the conservation of water.
I give this merely as an example because there is the obsession that the only form of national development is the conserving of water. This may not be so. Indeed, what we need is to tauten our industrial muscles in the fields of both primary and secondary industries. Too many primary industries, like dairying, are a burden to carry. Too many secondary industries that are not economic and efficient have been established. 1 do not believe that a nation beset as we are by perils can very much longer continue along these easy paths that may well lead to destruction.
I propose to deal specifically with the matter of the Nogoa Dam, but before I do so I should like to read a few apposite words from unholy writ. I refer, of course, to the Vernon report that was. regarded by the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, as the work of the devil but which was indeed the work of some very intelligent men. In chapter 3, paragraph 8, dealing with the criteria that should be applied to developmental works, not exclusively the Nogoa Dam, the Vernon Committee reported:
When private capital is employed in developing resources, the project concerned . is normally the subject of commercial feasibility studies, frequently detailed and extensive, before the investment is made. The appropriate -counterpart, as regards public investment, is the cost-benefit analysis which seeks to determine the justification, or otherwise, of the proposed investment in the light of its cost and benefit to the -economy.
I will be fair. I will read on and give a really fair summary of the’, report. It continues:
We draw particular attention to. the value of cost-benefit analysis as a guide in the examination of development proposals involving large expenditures of public money. Unfortunately, ‘ little use appears to have been made to date in Australia of such analysis. . . . lt is our opinion that such an analysis should be incorporated in the initial study of all major resource-development projects. . . Projects may be embarked on for reasons of their social desirability, or for defence purposes, including such long-term defence purposes as are thought by some to be served by settling Australia’s empty space*’, or for reasons of ‘State sentiment’.
Thus, economic analysis, and cost-benefit analysis in particular, cannot be the sole determinant of public investment decisions. The role of analysis is to point out clearly, in financial terms, the costs and benefits involved and to bring these- into public discussion before major development decisions are taken.
I emphasise the words ‘bring these into public discussion’. This is not just a matter for the department to know about. The Parliament and the public should know about these cost-benefit studies. Although this is not the sole factor it is a vital factor and should be known to the public. I will read further from the report of the Vernon Committee. I am sorry to weary the House with this reading from unholy writ, but it seems to make sense to me and has a wide application. I am concerned not only with the Nogoa Dam but with other public works of a like nature. In paragraph 67 of chapter 3 the Committee reported:
In our visits to the States, we were impressed by three difficulties associated with planning and carrying out major development projects in the the States. First, the funds available to the Slates under the ordinary State loan programmes are clearly insufficient to cover major non-routine projects. This applies particularly to the lessdeveloped States. Secondly, the States do not have adequate staff with the necessary skills for investigations and feasibility studies. Thirdly, there is some tendency to deal with major projects on an ad hoc basis, without sufficient regard to their economic prospects and to the benefits expected from particular projects in relation to alternative ones.
These difficulties affect the Commonwealth as well as the States, in view of both the Commonwealth’s interest in the whole question of national development and its increasing financial involvement in particular projects. We feel that the difficulties might be largely overcome if an independent Special Projects Commission were created with power to investigate proposals for major development projects. The Commission would need a skilled staff to carry out costbenefit analyses, which we consider a necessary basic step in project planning. The Commission should investigate projects at the request of the Commonwealth or Stale Governments, or on its own initiative. Finally, and most important, the Commission should be required to report to the Commonwealth Parliament oh its activities each year, giving details of investigations requested, those completed and the stage reached with those uncompleted.
There are some other principles embodied in that report which I believe should be applied in all cases of this kind. There may be considerations other than economic ones, such as considerations of defence. My mind goes back vividly to a time when I had the honour to command an infantry platoon in Greece. The Hurricanes which gave us air cover were shot out of the sky. Before I left Sydney on that occasion there were some people going about proclaiming that the best defence for Australia was slum clearance in Sydney. I assure you, Sir, that slum clearance in Sydney at a time when we had no Hurricanes would have been of no assistance to us. I suggest that a score of Emerald Dams across the north of Australia glittering as they might be, would be of no more use to the troops in the field than slum clearance in Sydney. If honourable members are thinking of defence considerations, this is all I have to say about that. I know that King Richard III offered his kingdom in return for a horse when he was hard pressed. There have been other historic occasions.
The Bill consists of two and a half pages of print. One can see how meagre is the second reading speech. The copy from which the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) read runs to five and a half pages of, I think, quarto size, with the type double spaced. This is the sole explanation which this Parliament has before it so that it may, with a full knowledge of all the facts, vote $20m of public money. That sum is to be matched, of course, by $20m from Queensland, plus a further amount of $8.m-
– Well, the Bill says so, plus a further $8m to be provided by the State for irrigation purposes. This makes a total of $48m.
– The honourable member is quite wrong. The total is $28m.
– No. The State is to match the Commonwealth’s grant.
– Let us not quarrel about a mere $20m. This is typical of the whole exercise. I am indebted to. my friend, the Minister, for his information. A few million dollars - even a few tens of millions - are neither here nor there. My arithmetic is not good, but then the arithmetic of the Government appears to be worse.
– At least we know what we are doing.
– 1 have a pretty clear idea of what the Government is doing. Perhaps my calculation of the cost per farm is wrong because I have calculated it as $300,000. It may be only half that amount - only $150,000. In his second reading speech the Minister said:
The irrigated area will comprise 130 farms, each with an irrigable area of 450 acres.
They are not very big farms and there are not many of them. By dividing the number of farms into the cost of the dam I got an average cost per farm of $300,000, but I will not quibble about this; the cost may be $150,000 per farm. Whatever the cost, this is a very considerable investment. We arc not told the basis for all this. The Commonwealth’s grant is not repayable. It is money from home. As for the money put into the scheme by the State, we do not know anything about it. We do not know whether any rates are recoverable. We are not told about rates being charged. This we can only imagine. We might expect some details of anticipated production. We have to be satisfied with the following generality from the persuasive second reading speech:
The area has good transport connections to most parts of Queensland, and is in the centre of a large and important pastoral area . . .
The Minister states that the area will grow lucerne, cotton, sorghum and wheat. Now we know all about the scheme - precisely what it will cost and the value of its produce. Let me deal with the various products that may be grown in the area. Let us take cotton. The present domestic consumption of cotton is 100,000 bales a year. We have reached a stage where the present cotton growing areas of Australia can produce 100,000 bales a year. We do not need to produce more for local consumption. How then do you get future expansion to absorb cotton that is grown in the various projects such as the Emerald project and in the Ord project? There are only two possibilities: Firstly, you can expand the cotton manufacturing industry, despite the fact that the
Tariff Board has constantly said that protection of the cotton textile industry should be lowered rather than increased. However, you could increase protection. After all, economic efficiency does not matter very much. Secondly, you can export the stuff. Well, the prospects for export are not frightfully good. World consumption of cotton has been stationary since 1960.
Cotton has been hit harder by synthetics than wool has. For example, I wear singlets made of synthetics rather than cotton or woollen ones. The price of cotton today is 20c per lb compared to the price of 30c to 35c in the late 1950s. The cotton situation has been very similar to that of wool. Of course there is American price support for cotton, America being perhaps the largest cotton grower in the world. There is at present a subsidy of 40%. I say no more about cotton except that the prospects for it do not look very glittering - not quite as glittering as emerald. There are other crops that can be grown in the area, such as lucerne and sorghum for cattle feed. Unlike the honourable members in the corner, I am merely a city slicker from Sydney who has no right to talk about these matters.
– You look like a city slicker.
– That is right, and apparently I have no right to express a view on a rural matter of this kind. However, 1 am told that the factory farming of cattle, pigs and poultry can be efficient and profitable. It so happens that the United States of America satisfies the best market for this kind of animal feed, that is Japan. The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) has not been exactly making friends in Japan. In any event, apart from these personal matters, it seems that America is a far more important market for Japanese products than Australia is. There seems to be every reason, therefore, to suppose that America rather than Australia, will continue to provide cattle feed for Japan. I do not know very much about these things, but the prospect for Australian producers appears to me somewhat less than rosy.
As regards cotton, I should have said earlier that if we continue on our present course, in 2 or 3 years’ time the export surplus could be, say, 30,000 bales, costing the taxpayer about $10m. When the Emerald and the Ord pour out their cornucopia of cotton, the cost could rise to $30m or $40m. Indeed, we would have a cost equivalent to about half that of our dairy industry - and our dairy industry is a big enough necklace to carry without emeralds as well.
How does it come about that we are confronted with this proposition? A promise was made, apparently - I do not know whether there is any significance in this - before a recent Senate election, and so we are landed with it, and it is part of a Commonwealth programme of water conservation for selected works. I like the word programme; the programme for the Commonwealth requires it to spend $50m over 5 years. If this scheme costs $20m and then we have the Ord scheme for something like another $70m, that makes about $10Om
– The Ord is not included in the national water resources development programme.
– The Minister in his second reading speech referred to the Nogoa scheme as a part of this programme, but perhaps the Ord is not.
– The Nogoa is, but the Ord is not.
– I should think that is rather a technical difference. Even the $20m makes rather a big hole in $50m spent over 5 years, so I find it difficult to see that the Nogoa scheme is part of this programme - and I put the word ‘programme’ in inverted commas. As to the cost benefit study of the Nogoa project, it is rather ironical the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), who led the debate for the Opposition, may be the very man who did this type of analysis for the Nogoa scheme, though I do not know whether he did it or not. Let me come back then to studies made in regard to Nogoa. First of all, the Minister in his second reading speech said this about studies of the particular scheme:
Some considerable time before the national water resources development programme was announced the Commonwealth had been involved with the Queensland Government in studies of the merits of this project, and in 1966 the Queensland Government requested financial assistance for it.
So apparently the Government or the Minister’s Department had been studying the Nogoa scheme for some considerable time, and therefore presumably knew all about it. It must have some written reports on the matter, but they have not been tabled here tonight. Further support for the belief that there are such reports is derived from a document entitled ‘Supplement to the Treasury Information Bulletin - Investment Analysis - July 1966’, which contains this reference on page 23 under the heading Australian Experience’:
Indicative of the very recent development of official interest in the techniques of benefit-cost analysis in Australia is the fact that the four benefit-cost studies published by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics all fall between the dates December 1963 and August 1965. These are not, of .course, the only benefit-cost evaluations to have been undertaken by Commonwealth Government departments: others are as yet unpublished. . .
A little T induces the reader to look down at the bottom of the page where the print is very small indeed; one needs to have eyes like mine to read it. There it says:
Amongst these unpublished studies is one, also by -the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, entitled- curiously enough -
Emerald Irrigation Project, Queensland: An Economic Evaluation (May 1965)’.
It seems then that the matter has been studied for some years, and that a cost benefit study has been done by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics but it is unpublished, or, as the ‘Supplement to the Treasury Information Bulletin’ advises us, is incomplete or was prepared purely for internal purposes. Presumably then this study by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics was prepared purely for internal purposes. However, this is not the only study that has been made. I am indebted to the Sydney ‘Bulletin’ of 4th May 1968 for publishing this information on page 24:
Cotton is usually spoken of as the main income-earner in both the Ord and Emerald schemes. But the Government is now in the middle of a major appraisal of the economic viability of cotton growing in Australia. . . .
New legislation is required this year if assistance to cottongrowers is to continue, and the growers must know before they prepare ground for the 1969 crop. July is the deadline for an announcement of future cotton policy.
So, the Government knows a great deal about this. The Minister said they had been studying it for a very considerable time. The ‘Supplement to the Treasury Information Bulletin’ makes it quite clear that there is an unpublished study of the Emerald project, and the ‘Bulletin’ refers to the fact that the Government, or the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, is looking at the economics of cotton growing. Where are these documents? All we have is the Minister’s second reading speech, which is contained in 5i miserable pages. Parliament is invited to vote - let me be kind - $20m on the basis of 5i pages of information. I have said that this Parliament is a rubber stamp. All that is needed is that this Bill become law. All that is required is that this House pass the Bill. Never mind what it is all about. Never mind the reports that are in the Government’s possession. Never mind whether it is economic or not. All we are asked to do is to pass the Bill.
– I find myself somewhat in agreement with some of the things mentioned by the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner). For instance, I agree that the information made available to the House by the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) was scanty indeed. If members had not done some homework - I am fraid that I cannot put the honourable member for Bradfield in this category - they would not know very much about why the Government is making available $20m to the Queensland Government for a particular scheme, and why it believes that this is necessary. In future more information should be made available to the House. I acknowledge that some of the investigations and correspondence between the State and the Commonwealth could be confidential, but at least some of the economics of the scheme should have been disclosed in the Minister’s second reading speech. I understand that when this matter was discussed in the Queensland Parliament maps and other details giving particulars of the area were circulated to honourable members.
I refer to the Queensland Minister for Conservation, Mr Richter, concerning the economics of the scheme. He has claimed that the Queensland Government estimates that the farmers in the irrigation area, when the scheme is fully developed, will pay Sim a year to the Commonwealth by way of income tax. This means that, with a surplus of $173,000 a year from direct revenue and operation and maintenance costs, the Commonwealth will within a generation receive full repayment for the scheme. This contains a certain amount of common sense, but I have no way in which to check the figures that have been given by the Queensland Minister for Conservation. I believe that his Department has worked closely with representatives of Commonwealth departments, and I pay a tribute to the people who were responsible for this scheme and the compilation of the case to support it. I have in mind Dr Harvey of the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Mr Haigh from the Irrigation and Water Supply Commission. I pay tribute, also, to the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), who, first in his role as a public servant and later as a member of this House, has consistently advocated that the Commonwealth should contribute to irrigation projects in the state of Queensland. He has pointed out consistently how the Commonwealth has contributed to irrigation projects in the southern States and in Western Australia but had neglected to make any contribution to Queensland. I compliment also my colleague the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) who, by winning the by-election for that electorate, gave the Government an extra push to make the decision in favour of this part of central Queensland. It has been said that there were political motives behind it; the whole history of this scheme is political. It was announced in a pre-election speech that $50m would be made available over a period of 5 years for water conservation projects in the various States. This scheme, together with the Ord River scheme, was announced on the eve of the Senate election. It had been said that, if the Government wanted to be political about it, it could have made the announcement on the eve of the Capricornia by-election. The fact is that there are people on the Government benches who were quite confident that the Government could win in Capricornia. They were supported by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) and other members who sat on the back benches on the other side - people who are not there tonight, although they consistently got up and, by personal character assassination, tried to malign the Australian Labor Party candidate for Capricornia. Of course, they got their answer. They thought that they could win without doing anything for the people of Queensland. On the other hand, the Australian Labour Party, by putting forward a policy that included and emphasised the development of central Queensland and the northern parts of Australia, won the seat with an increased majority.
We know that the Country Party candidate on that occasion lost his deposit. It must say that, from my personal knowledge of him, one could not have had a more widely experienced and capable candidate but that, if anything was against him, perhaps it was his age. The Country Party could not have found a better candidate than Mr Shiel to contest that by-election; but as I said, he lost his deposit.
The Minister in his second reading speech emphasised that this scheme was requested by the Queensland Government, which had put forward two schemes for which reports had been completed. They were the Emerald project and the Kolan project near the Burdekin. The Minister for National Development said that the Queensland Government requested that the Emerald project be given first priority. Later in his speech he said:
As I have mentioned, the Queensland Government then again submitted this project as its number one choice for inclusion in the national water resources development programme.
I wonder when they made this statement. I recall that less than 12 months ago members of the Bundaberg and District Irrigation Committee, who were well known to the then Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Adermann, approached the then Premier of Queensland, the Right Honourable Frank Nicklin, and the Minister for Conservation, Mr Richter, because they were worried that the Government might be placing other schemes on a higher priority than the Kolan scheme. They were given assurances that the Queensland Government had no priorities in regard to either of these schemes. I recall that about 12 months ago the Treasurer, after visiting the Emerald area, landed at the Brisbane airport and in an interview emphasised that there was a certain risk about this area because the principal crop was cotton.
The honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) paid a tribute to the people and the local authorities in the Emerald area who prepared this case. I also should like to pay a compliment to the Bundaberg and District Irrigation Committee, which consisted of representatives from local councils, the cane growers executive and the district sugar mills, who contributed $20,000 from their own funds towards the preparation of a case. They realised the value of water and how it could be used. These people have invested in the area between the Kolan and Burnett rivers. In the general Bundaberg area more than £15m has been spent since 1952 on improving the six sugar mills. These people have spent their own money. This is a perfect example of self help. They realise the value of water and they can see the need to stabilise the industry. Their case is based on assistance to an established industry in. an established area, where two pilot farms have been operating. The results from the pilot farms have been encouraging. I understand that one of them produced 888 lb of cotton to the acre in the first year and 1,432 lb in the second year. The second farm produced 924 lb of raw cotton an acre in its first year. The Kolan scheme has been based on an established industry in which a terrific amount of capital has been invested. I admit that it is based on the sugar industry. It might be said that this industry is in a precarious position now and we might be asked why should we worry about assisting in the growing of more sugar. The Monduran Dam on the Kolan River would have a storage capacity of 450,000 acre feet and would supply water to 56 farms near the river and a further 9 farms in the Abbotsford area. It would also supply, through irrigation works which would account for the greater part of the cost of the project, 156 farms in the Gin Gin area, 167 farms in the Bingera Mill area and 12 farms in the Fairymead area. The total assigned area is 26,700 acres. For those who do not understand the sugar industry I point out that an assignment is the area in which cane is permitted to be grown.
In the years 1964 and 1965, the lost production through drought amounted to $18,790,000. That was the loss below mill peaks and does not take into account probable excess production. The greatest loss was in 1965. The growers in this area are placed in the position where they are either growing too much in good years or not growing enough in bad years. Growers have an obligation to the Queensland Government to produce a certain tonnage of cane and if this is not achieved the industry falls behind and if one area does not achieve its tonnage the assignment may be given to another area. While it may be argued that the sugar industry is in a bad position at the moment, 1 confidently believe that within 7 years - the estimated time for the scheme to reach full production - it will be prosperous to the degree where it will be considering further expansion. However, in the meantime, many cane fanners may walk off their farms and leave them to the banks.
Not only can cane be grown in this area. In recent years the farmers have turned to the growing of beans for canners in the southern States. In fact, beans are being trucked from Bundaberg as far south as Geelong to canneries. These beans are being grown on contract. The Bundaberg and District Irrigation Committee is disappointed in the Queensland Government because it was led to believe that the farmers did not have any priorities. This has been settled once and for all by the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn).
The area of central Queensland where the Maraboon Dam is located is one of the most productive areas in the State. It contains 33% of the State’s sheep and 34% of the beef cattle. In considering the cost of the scheme, we should bear in mind the losses that can be caused by drought. The losses during the 1965-66 drought are estimated by the Queensland Government to have amounted to $27m. Cattle and sheep losses were estimated at $14,700,000. It can be seen therefore that the losses in one year through drought exceed the amount of the Commonwealth’s grant for this scheme. We welcome this scheme because it is a breakthrough in grants to the Queensland Government for water conservation. The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) has consistently and persistently advocated such grants and has pointed out that while other States were getting this form of assistance Queensland was missing out. Now Queensland is to get something. Even though assistance has not been provided for the Kolan scheme, nevertheless as a Queenslander I am pleased to see that a start has been made in the provision of assistance to Queensland.
I listened with interest to the honourable member for Kennedy discussing the development of grain growing and the use of intensive farming to restrict sucker regrowth in the brigalow areas. This can be very expensive, particularly when machinery has to be purchased to work the large areas that have been cleared. I recall that prior to the 1939-45 war - I do not think that the honourable member for Kennedy is much older than I am - grain crops-
– He does not look it.
– The honourable member for Hughes probably learned this, too, as he went to school in Brisbane. He probably learned that grain was grown in Queensland only on the Darling Downs. Immediately after World War II when there was a rationing of food and ships were being rushed from Australia to the United Kingdom to provide food for those people who had faced up to the brunt of the battle for so long, the Queensland Government developed the Peak Downs scheme. This scheme worked for a number of years and it proved that grain sorghum could be produced in that area. Eventually the original holding was divided into smaller holdings, many of which now produce more cattle than the whole area had produced previously.
Previously many large holdings were held by overseas landlords who lived in the United Kingdom or perhaps on the Riviera, soaking up the sunshine, while their properties were being worked with a minimum of effort and were producing just enough to keep these people going. Fortunately, with the foresight of successive Labor Governments in Queensland, these areas were retained . as leasehold land. It is now being broken up into smaller holdings so that Australians with little capital can be given the opportunity to establish farms. As I have said, the Peak
Downs scheme, whatever its faults and whatever criticism may have been levelled at it, did prove once and for all that grain could be grown in these areas. We now see that grain sorghum and wheat are being prescribed as the crops that should be grown there.
I support the proposed grant. However, like the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner), I wish the Parliament was given more information about such projects. Honourable members could then speak with much more confidence. The figures that I. have quoted which show a return of $1m a year in income tax to the Commonwealth Government from the people who will be living in this area are figures that were used by the Queensland Minister when he recommended the scheme to the Commonwealth Government. I hope that he is right and that the people who are to settle in this area will draw much benefit from the scheme. I particularly welcome the Commonwealth Government’s participation in water conservation in Queensland.
– I support this Bill. It appears that the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen) also welcomes the proposed scheme. I was glad to hear him say this because it would appear that he is a little lonely on his side of the House in being so explicit about his support. While other honourable members have supported the proposal they have accused it of being hasty, ill-conceived and not considered on a national basis. If it is possible to embarrass the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) I think he must have been a little embarrassed by the rather extravagant compliments paid to him by the honourable member for Wide Bay for his regional advocacy of this particular scheme and of water conservation in Queensland generally. The honourable member for Dawson spent most of his time condemning the idea of regional assessments and advocating only national assessments. He had a point, and I will come to it later.
The honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) demonstrated that it is not only from the Opposition that criticism, either constructive or destructive, comes in this Parliament. I certainly agree with him that kings and other autocrats sometimes make snap judgments about priorities in particular cases, as did the king he mentioned who at one time would readily have traded his kingdom for a horse. I certainly think that the honourable member is not prepared to trade his seat for a rubber stamp. His comments raise the question of how to go about offering constructive criticism. While he mentioned, as did the honourable member for Dawson, that better cost analyses and the consideration of national priorities was the best way of looking at national development he did not relate it to the present situation. He complained about the brevity of the second reading speech of the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) but, for a change, I should like to compliment the Minister on its brevity. I do not think it is necessary to reiterate everything that has been said before, and I cannot let the opportunity pass without saying that the speech of the honourable member for Dawson this evening was virtually the reiteration of a whole succession of speeches that we have heard from him on water conservation. It is almost as though he believes that repetition in itself carries conviction, and I do not believe that it does.
The honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) seemed to oppose, the Bill, although he did not say so explicitly. Like other members of the Opposition he raised the question of political priorities. However, I do not think anyone has successfully defined what is meant by ‘before an election’. Is it a couple of months before, 6 months before or 18 months before? At what stage do we reach ‘after the last election’ ? I think it was the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) who suggested that if there were to be a deciding element in picking the appropriate political time for announcing this decision it would have been immediately before the Capricornia by-election. The suggestion of political priorities is an old ploy in political debating and I hope it is discredited. It is wrong to say that because a decision is announced before an election the decision is based only on possible forthcoming benefits in that election. The opposite suggestion, of course, is that if nothing is announced and the Government deliberately shuts down and makes no decision on some matter in order to avoid this kind of accusation, it. would automatically be open to the charge that it has nothing to offer to the country. Obviously in theory, according to the Opposition, the Government cannot win. Professionally, of course, the Opposition does not want us to win.
If we look at what is being done in respect of water conservation we will see a pattern of development of which the present project is a part. I should refer to what the honourable member for Capricornia said about timber development and private production. I think he has been examining timber development in Australia and is unaware of world timber development. Private enterprise has contributed substantially to the world production of timber, although not to a great extent in forestry operations in Australia. In this country it has contributed by the manufacture of timber products. The honourable member seemed to trot out a peculiar attitude to profits. It was not in any way extraordinary but it was peculiar to his own Party. He does not seem to like profits. Honourable members will recall that a few years ago when foreign investors in northern Australia were experiencing trouble and a couple of their enterprises were going broke in the process there seemed to be no concern about this by Opposition members. That situation was almost welcomed by the Labor Party throughout Australia. However, as soon as some of the foreign investors started to make a profit the Labor Party began to yell. In expressing this kind of attitude the honourable member seems to be somewhat behind the Russians. I should like to read from a paper prepared by a professor of economics at the Kharkov State University, Dr E. G. Liberman on The Role of Profits in the Industrial Incentive System of the USSR’. In bis first paragraph Dr Liberman said:
The essence of the economic reform recently introduced in the USSR is the way in which it harmonises centralised planning with autonomous accounting, leaving the greatest possible scope for initiative, responsibility and material incentives in undertakings and other basic links in the chain of production.
A little later he said:
What was radically new about the decisions of the September 1965 Plenary Meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was that they recognised the decisive role of profits as a yardstick of efficiency and a source of incentive to the producer.
A little later he qualified this by saying that they are not going to let any capital out of their hands - at least not yet. This paper is one of the many pieces of evidence we have from this Socialist country of countless people becoming educated and turning from Socialism towards more democratic processes. The latter half of his paper consists of an apologia for the first half. In other words, it is a justification of his apparent departure from Socialist thinking. Of course, it is a big departure and a fundamental one, but it is something that the honourable member for Capricornia apparently has not caught up with yet. The last paragraph may be of interest to him because the doctor said:
Much still remains to be done towards perfecting the actual machinery of planning and economic incentives. The undeniable success already achieved and the opportunities that have been opened up for further improvement of the whole economic system provide irrefutable proof of the Soviet Union’s rapid advance not only as regards practical achievements in all branches of the economy but also in the field of economic research and its application to the most vital problems of modern life.
The Soviet Union is beginning to take substantial steps to recognise the advantages of proper accounting and of enabling a profit to be made. That is something that the honourable member for Capricornia should take into account.
The honourable member for Dawson in his rather rambling speech, once again failed to relate what he wants done. The honourable member said that better cost analyses and better and more national planning should be used. The honourable member failed to relate this to what is being done. The honourable member should know what is being done. Perhaps he does not, but I give him the benefit of the doubt on this, if not the benefit of the cost. The Government is establishing a water conservation programme both for the present and the future. Already it is well under way. As the Minister for National Development has indicated previously in connection with expenditure levels, it cannot be imagined for a moment that the present overall Commonwealth level of expenditure would diminish in the foreseeable future. In my view, all that can be foreseen is that the expenditure necessarily will increase to meet our expanding needs as a nation. We have at the moment the expenditure on the Snowy Mountains scheme, which is for water conservation as well as for hydro-electric generation. We have special grants and loans directed to fill in the gaps in the States’ programmes, as in the case of the Ord River programme. We have this plan for assisting the States, which envisages the expenditure of at least $50m over 5 years. I do not think any maximum has been placed on that amount. We have the operations of the Australian Water Resources Council in estimating and evaluating resources and providing figures for the pattern of water resources throughout Australia. This particular Bill is concerned with a step in this process.
It is possible to argue at any stage that a particular programme can be improved in some way, but not one honourable member opposite has tried to advance any kind of proposal for improving what is being done now. There is a rather shallow professionalism in their failure to acknowledge what is being done. Perhaps this is to be expected from the honourable member for Dawson. Referring to the utilisation benefit cost analyses, the honourable member said, on 4th April, as recorded in Hansard: 1 admit that 1 have used these techniques which may not be correct in a strict analysis. 1 have been guilty of using benefit cost techniques to establish the economic justification for particular projects, such as the brigalow and beef roads in isolation.
That is a fair enough admission. At this stage the honourable member should at least explain what he now does with benefit cost analyses. Perhaps the honourable member should explain further the statement .that I quoted. In establishing priorities of any sort, it is obviously necessary to take into account as wide a field of reference as possible. There is no doubt that this particular scheme has been envisaged for a long time. The research on it in Queensland dates back to 1949. The more recent consideration of it was greatly assisted, as the honourable member for Wide Bay pointed out, by the Queensland authorities and all those who advocated this particular development.
At no time can we reasonably expect to have a perfect all-round plan to accomplish anything. It would be ridiculous to imagine that some benefit would be gained automatically from putting together, as the honourable member for Dawson suggested, the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, which we now know is to be retained as a national engineering consultative authority, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and the other bodies that the honourable member said should be joined in one conglomeration. I do not think anybody could fairly expect that that would produce anything. I believe that most probably it would act against any immediate improvement, but perhaps that is arguable. These organisations are quite capable of consulting one another and already do so. To lump them together in one organisation is in line with the general monopolistic thinking of people who advocate Socialist policies, but it would reduce in those organisations the pride in and autonomy of operation which is the stuff that produces results.
Our planning methods are always capable of improvement but we should never expect to take decisions as though every factor had been minutely examined and taken into account. However, it would not be practicable to disregard local advocacy. I believe that the Commonwealth is producing the machinery and has demonstrated that it already has in motion much of the machinery for evaluating propositions put to it. In addition, it conducts its own investigations. I have nothing against people who are advocates of their own regional point of view, so long as we have the machinery and the capability to evaluate the strength of that advocacy. I am not referring to political strength, but to the intrinsic value of the advocacy. 1 believe that the Commonwealth is developing this capability which it already possesses, but like everything else, it is capable of improvement.
I have no hesitation in supporting this Bill. As a member of the Government Members National Development Committee I inspected the site in June of last year. I was particularly impressed by the proposals put to us by the local people and by officers of the Queensland Public Service, particularly in respect of the agricultural potential of the area. I have great pleasure in supporting the Bill which takes its place in a proud, successful and developing programme of national water conservation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Fairbairn) read a third time.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
-I rise to raise a matter, which has been discussed with me by the Geelong Chamber of Commerce and Manufactures. This organisation has indicated that it considers that the serious delays to mails between Geelong and Melbourne are having a detrimental effect on commerce in its area. It is claimed by the Chamber that these delays are up to 2 and 3 days. The mails travel a distance of 45 miles between Geelong and Melbourne.
I have had experience of some delays in mail which has been posted in Melbourne prior to the week-end - probably on Thursday or Friday - and is not delivered till Monday. Industry and commerce operating outside the capital cities have a fairly severe disadvantage in regard to communications. Because of this I think the complaint made by the Chamber is a reasonable one. It is absolutely necessary that the most expeditious deliveries of mail be made. If mails are not speedy or if they are partially unreliable then important information is not always to hand when it should be. Shortly after I became a member of this Parliament a stockbroker in Geelong made regular complaints to me about his inability to obtain reports quickly from the Melbourne Stock Exchange. These complaints have fallen off recently. I do not know whether he has given up trying or whether he is getting better service. However,I believe the Postmaster-General’s Department has initiated inquiries into the complaints which have been made.
I make a plea to the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) that he or his Department look into the delivery of mail into and out of provincial cities. I ask him to examine especially the delivery of mail to do with business and commerce and to see whether it is possible for some system to be devised whereby delivery is made by the next day at the latest. It was claimed by the Secretary of the Geelong Chamber of Commerce and Manufactures that on one occasion mails posted in London within 24 hours of mails posted in Melbourne to Geelong were delivered at almost the same time in the Geelong area. This could well be an isolated case. I imagine it is. But there is ample evidence that serious delays have been occurring. I ask the Postmaster-General to take note of this and ask that some form of reorganisation be carried out to ensure that delivery of mail on which business and commerce depend so much will be reliable and as speedy as is humanly possible.
– I will not keep the House more than a few minutes in answer to the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) who has raised a matter which has been brought to my attention by the Geelong Chamber of Commerce and Manufactures. I understand the original complaint was that it took 4 days for mail to arrive to and from Melbourne. I would like to inform the honourable member that investigations have taken place and that ample tests of mails throughout Victoria have been made. In fact it has been found that there is no justification for the Geelong complaint and that in general terms mails throughout Victoria are being delivered on time and without delay.
A senior postal assistant did, in fact, see the President of the Chamber of Commerce and Manufactures. Notwithstanding the statement which appeared in the local newspaper and which was brought to the notice of the honourable member, the President merely indicated that some members had complained of delays in the delivery of mail that had been posted in Sydney and Melbourne. When he was asked to produce some evidence of the delays, he could not produce any. The honourable member has referred to the Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce and Manufactures.
Apparently the President did not consult the Secretary. Anyhow, no proof of the complaints could be given to the officers of the Postal Department. All that I can suggest is that there is only one way in which we can be given some proof, and that is by the production of the mail envelopes. On many occasions on which apparently there has been a delay I have requested that the envelopes be kept and made available to us. If that is done, we then do our best to make a check. I suggest to the honourable member that in future, when he receives complaints of this nature, it might not be a bad idea for him to try to find some proof of the complaints that are made, rather than merely to accept them at their face value.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.7 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
The specific incident of the Nui Dat interrogation, to which the book made a hearsay reference, was not known to me at the time. Why this was so when some information was in the hands of my advisers is an internal matter which I shall resolve with the officers concerned. However, I accept of course, that responsibility is mine and I do not for one moment attempt to avoid that responsibility in any way.’
asked the Minister for ‘the Army, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
If a CMF officer should be killed as a result of hostile action his widow would be entitled to the normal Repatriation Pension.
Where death or disability occurred in circumstances which were not the result of action by hostile forces, the case would be dealt with under the normal conditions applicable to soldiers serving in Australia or in overseas areas not prescribed as Special Areas for the purpose of the Repatriation Act. In summary -
Where illness or injury, however it arose, required medical treatment, the normal Army medical treatment and grant of sick leave would apply to the individual concerned before his period of full-time duty is terminated.
Official Overseas Visits by Parliamentarians (Question No. 163)
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Will he bring up to date the information regarding official overseas visits by Parliamentarians which he supplied on 11 May 1967 in answer to Question No. 143 (Hansard, 11 May 1967, pages 2122-2128)?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is:
Information supplied to me indicates that up to 1 May 1968 the following Senators and Members have been members of official Parliamentary delegations abroad or have travelled overseas officially since the reply was given to Question 2128). Visits by Ministers on Parliamentary, rather No. 143 (Hansard, 11 May 1967, pages 2122- than Ministerial, business have been included.
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
What percentage of (a) age, (b) invalid and (c) widow pensioners in each State received part pensions during (i) this year and (if) each of the previous 10 years?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The table below shows the estimated proportion of age, invalid and widow pensioners receiving part pensions at 30th June for each of the past 10 years.
The fall in the proportion of pensioners receiving part pensions at 30th June 1961 as compared with previous years followed the introduction of the merged means test in March of that year. Similarly, the fall reflected by the 30th June 1967 figures followed the liberalisation of the means test in April 1967.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
What is the best estimated value at current export prices of the estimated mineral reserves of (a) bauxite at Weipa and Gove, (b) coal at
Moura and Blackwater, (c) manganese at Groote Eylandt and (d) iron ore at Pilbara?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The accepted definition of ore is material which is mineable at a profit at present prices and conditions of technology or future prices and technology which can be reasonably estimated or forecast. However, the assessment of ore reserves is a complex matter, as they are a function of many factors, including tonnage and grades, amenability or otherwise to low cost mining and concentrating methods; geographic location relative to transport facilities and ports, power and water supplies; size of local and overseas markets; prices, etc. These factors are changing’ constantly and are affected by technological developments in a wide range of fields. Estimates of ore reserves are neither irreducible minima (because a deposit on being opened up may prove to be smaller or of lower grade than the estimate) nor are they attempts at estimates of the total quantity of ore in a deposit. In decreasing order of precision, the names given to the categories of ore reserves are measured or proved, indicated or probable, inferred or possible.
It follows from the definitions that a change in ore reserves can eventuate from a change in price level, or an improvement in technology, without any mining or further testing being done. A recent example is the Savage River iron ore deposit which, 20 years ago, would not have been considered iron ore at all. It also follows that a mine can have approximately constant ore reserves year after year, in spite of mining the orebody because only sufficient new openings are made to prove additional reserves equal to the quantity mined.
The following details, with the above precautionary notes, are presented for the honourable member’s information:
CO Weipa - proved ore reserves are only about SOO million tons, but as much as 2,000 million tons may eventually be proved to be commercial grade bauxite. The current average value for exports of bauxite cannot be derived from export statistics as quantity figures are no longer published, (ii) There are no up-to-date published figures on reserves or values for Gove bauxite available. <b) Coal
Measured reserves for the- MouraKianga field are about 70 million tons, indicated reserves 250 million tons and inferred reserves 1380 million tons. These reserves contain both strong coking and soft coking coal.
Measured and indicated reserves at Blackwater are estimated at 303 million tons.
The average value of exports of black coal from Queensland, derived from export statistics, was $8.70 per ton during 1966-67.
Reserves of manganese at Groote Eylandt are reported in the press as in excess of 50 million tons but there has been nothing published as to the grade and/or variability of grade of this ore. There are no published figures for exports specifically from Groote Eylandt but the 1966-67 Overseas Trade Bulletin shows that 99,717 tons of manganese ore valued at $2.7m were shipped from the Northern Territory for overseas destinations in that financial year.
Measured and indicated iron ore reserves at Pilbara - grade of 50% iron content or over are estimated to exceed 2,000 million tons, and about 13,000 million tons inferred. Average export value derived from export statistics, was $US8.48 per ton in 1966-67.
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
Will he supply the following information as at the date of the last census:
How many women were in the Australian work force?
What was the total work force?
By what percentage had the female work force increased since (i) 1954 and (ii) 1961?
What was the percentage of married women in the work force?
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
– On 2nd April 1968, in reply to a question without notice by the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Griffiths) about housing finance I undertook to make further inquiries concerning certain aspects of his question. I identify these aspects of his question as being:
The answers to these questions are:
The classes of leaders which have been approved by the Minister for Housing under the Act are banks, life offices, co-operative building and housing societies, friendly societies, trustee companies and mortgage management companies. Within these classes the corporation approves particular lenders and amongst the banks so approved some have a financial interest in finance companies. The corporation depends to a large extent on an approved lender’s sound judgment in both appraising the creditworthiness of a borrower and the property to be secured and also for the continued efficient servicing of the loan until repaid. Consequently the corporation looks for a measure of skill and capacity in mortgage lending business coupled with a sound financial structure before accepting any organisation as an approved lender. In the context of the question it is relevant to mention that trading banks and savings banks together constitute the main source of housing loans in Australia and that they lend for this purpose at rates of interest that do not exceed the maximum rate permitted on loans insurable with the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation, i.e. 7i% per annum. It is also relevant that loans that carry an interest rate in excess of 7i% are not insurable under any circumstances by the Housing Loan Insurance Corporation.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 May 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1968/19680508_reps_26_hor59/>.