26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Now that all members of Cabinet’s Defence and Foreign Affairs Committee are back in Australia for the first time since the beginning of September, will he be able, as he has often stated that he hoped, to present his promised triennial defence review before the House rises? I point out that the last triennial review was given by Sir Robert Menzies over 4 years ago, and that the right honourable gentleman himself defined the purpose of the pending review on 15th August as:
Not least, will he give an indication of the role which Australian companies will henceforth be allowed to play in research and production for the defence Services?
– I rhink perhaps I should begin by pointing out to the Leader of the Opposition that the 3-year programme of which he speaks, and indeed of which most members generally speak, is not a 3-year programme which has begun at the beginning of a period of 3 years and which runs through to the third year. It is in fact a rolling programme. There is a 3-year programme and when one year passes there are 2 years left and there is a consideration of the following year. This is the way in which this matter has always been treated. So I am not quite sure of the triennial review to which he has referred. I think that we indicated last night in this House the general matter of what Australia is going to do up until the end of 1971, which is indeed a period of 3 years, and also pointed out the irresponsibility of endeavouring to make finite statements of what would be done in the far future. I believe that this matter has been generally covered in this House. But I would add this: I understand that my colleague the Minister for Defence is engaged in endeavouring to make a close study of how we can provide more of our defence requirements from Australian sources, in order to save overseas exchange and in order to make us more self-sufficient in the event of interruptions to sea lanes or matters of that kind. No doubt this study will eventually be announced by the Minister for Defence.
– Before the House rises?
– Not necessarily.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry a question with reference to his statements over the last few months regarding the preservation of our fishing grounds and the Great Barrier Reef. Can he inform me when we can expect the introduction of legislation to deal with this serious problem?
– I am aware of the very great interest that the honourable member has in this field. He has consistently made personal representations to me to have something done to protect the natural living species of our continental shelf. I am pleased to be able to inform him thatI hope to make tomorrow a second reading speech on a measure relating to this matter. The enactment of this new legislation dealing with natural living species on the continental shelf will mean that such things as giant clams and our Great Barrier Reef, even though they may be outside the exclusive 12-mile fishing zone over which we exercise protection at the moment, will also be protected. This legislation will be in conformity with the international Convention on the Continental Shelf and should ensure the preservation of the valuable species such as we have on the Great Barrier Reef.
-I ask the Minister for the Interior: Is it a fact that there is no avenue of appeal to a court of superior jurisdiction for a police sergeant who, after 20 years of unblemished service, was today dismissed on the order of the Minister following a secret inquiry into charges made by the Commissioner of Police and the receipt of a report furnished to the Minister by the magistrate who presided over that inquiry? If there is no avenue of appeal, will the Minister consider tabling all the papers in this matter, including the minutes of evidence, reports to the Minister from the Commissioner of Police and the report from the magistrate? Alternatively, will’ the Minister consider making all these documents available to members of this Parliament who are Queen’s Counsel and who have some regard for the due processes of law and the administration of justice? Will1 the Minister permit me to say here, from my place in this House, that I believe that there has been in this case a grave miscarriage of justice.
– I am able to tell the honourable gentleman that there is no court of appeal available to the detective sergeant whom I unfortunately had to dismiss from the Police Force of the Australian Capital Territory this morning. The detective sergeant was charged with disgraceful conduct in that he was allegedly associated with gambling schools at the Corin Dam. There were two charges laid against him. I shall read the charges to the honourable member. The first charge was one of disgraceful conduct in that he was knowingly concerned in an attempt to organise unlawful gaming at the camp at Corin Dam in the Australian Capital Territory. The second charge was one of disgraceful conduct in that he was improperly connected with unlawful gaming and betting at Corin Dam. The situation is that he was found guilty on the first charge and not guilty on the second. I should make it clear to the House that in the hearing I protected the detective sergeant’s position as much as I could, in the hope that he would have been proven innocent, by holding the hearing in camera. He was able to use counsel al the hearing. In the event he was found guilty. As his responsibility in the police force included the control of illegal gaming. I had no real alternative but to dismiss him from the police force. I will have a look al the substance of the matter raised in the other part of the honourable member’s question, in which he asked me to table the documents or allow him to see them, and I will let him know my decision in due course.
– I ask the Attorney-General a question. Is he aware that all newspaper coverage of parliamentary proceedings from the Press gallery is now organised on a syndicated basis known as AAP, which I understand is owned by the proprietors of all major Australian newspapers except the Australian’? Does this mean that a common lead and viewpoint will thereby be circulated to the public throughout Australia and that the presentation of differing points of view will be restricted? Does the Attorney-General not consider that this is dangerous as the interpretation of parliamentary debates and actions is placed in the hands of a single organisation which could, if wrongly used, be a danger to the impartial reporting of the country’s affairs? Does this syndication offend the Trade Practices Act in any way?
– I am not in possession of any information that would enable me to verify the facts given by the honourable member. Honourable members will be aware that the Trade Practices Act draws a clear distinction between the supply of goods and services and the supply of pure services. Agreements relating to the former must be registered but agreements relating to pure services do not have to be registered, although what is done under them may constitute an examinable practice. There does not seem to be anything in the information contained in the honourable member’s question to suggest that the trade practices law has been infringed. So far as the balance of the honourable member’s question is concerned, it does not appear that there would be any breach of the privileges of this House unless the procedure, if it does exist, led to reporting that was inaccurate. The mere fact of uniformity would not appear to be any breach of privilege.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. On 6th June, by way of a question, I drew the attention of the Minister to the fact that there were approximately 150,000 dead weight tons of foreign owned tankers operating on the Austalian coast and that since J 963 only three replacement tankers have been built in Australian shipyards for coastal operations. In reply the Minister informed me that two oil companies would be placing orders for tankers with Australian shipyards before the end of the year. As only 6 weeks remain before the end of the year and as tenders have not yet been invited, can the Minister say when tenders are to be called and orders placed for the tankers referred to by him in reply to my question on 6th June last?
– It is true that permits have been given for foreign owned tankers to operate on the Australian coast. As honourable members will be aware, in the past 6 months there has been a substantial change in the nature of the product that it is necessary to carry round the Australian coast. There are two particular types of cargo, the crude and the refined product, each of which has a slightly different need. At a time when it has been difficult to assess what the long term need will be, each of the operators of tankers around the Australian coast has been making a reassessment. It is essential from the point of view of the Australian users of fuel., motor spirit and so on that the freight rats charged on the movement of both the crude and the refined product should be as low as possible. For this reason, it is necessary that the tankers be of the size most suited to the nature of the cargo to be shipped to the ports to which the products are to be carried. The assessment has taken into account each of these factors. Since the honourable gentleman last directed a question to me, discussions have taken place wilh the operators of the vessels for which permits have been given. They are still not in a position to place their order finally, but it is expected that before too long the undertaking which they have given to build in Australia the replacement tankers will be carried out. However, ] bring to the attention of the honourable member the necessity for all products carried around the Australian coast to be carried at the minimum freight rate necessary to ensure adequate and efficient cartage. 1 think it is essential, in working out the type of tanker that is to be built, that this should be taken into account. It is certainly in the long term interest of the Australian public that this should be so.
– My question to the Postmaster-General is in anticipation of a statement that he said recently he would make regarding the many representations that have been made objecting to the high cost to rural telephone subscribers when converting from manual to automatic service. Will the Postmaster-General give urgent consideration to making whatever relief is given, retrospective over a period so that it will encompass those rural telephone subscribers who have been adversely affected by the high cost of the progressive policy of the Postmaster-General’s Department to convert from manual to automatic telephone services?
– In answer to a question by the honourable member for Wimmera last week I indicated that decisions had been taken in relation to matters of substance in this area but that certain matters of detail were still receiving consideration. I cannot at this stage make any other comment than was given in answer to that question. I will make a statement to the Parliament and the question of retrospectivity will be dealt with when the statement is made.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for External Affairs. In view of his speech last Monday to the Royal Institute of Public Administration and his subsequent denial that any of his criticism was directed specifically at any present Minister, I ask: Do all present Ministers, including the Prime Minister, give clear, prompt and firm decisions? Do all present Ministers work with and not shelter behind the Public Service? Are all present Ministers free of the charge of involving public servants too deeply in their ministerial or constituency affairs? Has any present Minister fallen flat on his face in a public place? Does the Minister hold that the present Ministry is free of all the faults which he has noticed in his 40 years experience with the Public Service and the Parliament? If so, can he give the House an idea of what previous Ministers and what incidents were the basis for his comments?
– I wish to assure the honourable gentleman that I am very proud to be associated with the Ministry with which I am now working and that I am very proud to be associated with my colleagues in it. So far as the Prime Minister is concerned, not only have I given him my utmost loyalty from the commencement but, I am very glad to say, I have found it possible to work in the closest cooperation and in a constructive partnership with him. 1 think that he feels towards me in the same way as that. I am very glad that the honourable member raised this question because it gives me an opportunity to make some clarification. The address to which he referred was delivered to what might rightly be called a learned society, an institute devoted to public administration. The address itself was constructed in what I thought was a thoughtful and perhaps academic way. It has been misinterpreted, ff the honourable gentleman will react the address as it was delivered - and I will have much pleasure in furnishing him with a copy of it - he will find that these references to Ministers, which have been taken out of context, were only incidental to the main theme.
The main theme concerned the place of the public servant in the whole structure of government. The two points that were being stressed were the independence of the public servant and the distinctive role of the public servant, and the fact that the public servant, as distinct from the politician, had continuity of service. I was saying that these things were in The custody of the public servant himself and that it was very important that the public servant and the whole of the Public Service should preserve their independence and should take advantage of this opportunity presented by their continuity of service. Among the illustrations I gave was a reference to some of the attempts that are sometimes made to break down that independence or to impair the continuity of service. All the references to Ministers except one were in general terms and could not by any fair mind be interpreted as applying to a particular Minister of this Government or any previous government. They were in general terms and were drawn from a long experience. 1 think the House will realise that my association with matters of government goes back over a long period of years in various activities - as a journalist, as a university lecturer in this field, as a public servant, as a research student working on the history of administration, as a parliamentarian and as a Minister. Drawing on a very long period of experience covering many governments of many political complexions I made some general references to Ministers. The only particular reference I made - I did not name the Minister - was a specific reference to the fact that I had seen a particular department brought to a state of confusion because a particular Minister had not observed the sort of rules which I was suggesting that Ministers should observe. That particular Minister was not on this side of politics and was not a member of this Government. There is another point I should like to clear up with your permission, Mr Speaker. Statements that have been made in the Press about the displeasure of my colleagues are quite false because although several of them have expressed agreement with what I have said, none has expressed disagreement.
– by leave- Yesterday the Leader of the Opposition stated that the address given by the Minister for External Affairs, which has just been the subject of a question, was discussed in Cabinet in a critical way. It is unusual to make any reference in this House to what happens in Cabinet but because the Minister is under attack in respect, of this matter I want to make it perfectly clear that at no stage was the matter brought up in Cabinet in a critical or other way. It is perfectly untrue to say that it was.
– by leave - I accept the statement made by the Prime Minister because I later learned that in fact this matter was not raised in Cabinet; it was raised by the right honourable gentleman with the Minister for External Affairs, according to my information. I am told that the Prime Minister got in touch with the Minister for External Affairs.
-Order! Honourable members will cease interjecting.
– It was thereafter that the Minister for External Affairs issued a memorandum to the Press.
– Has the
Minister for Social Services invited to Australia Mr Bruce Legge, Q.C., Chairman of the Toronto Workers Compensation Board? If he has. when will Mr Legge be visiting Australia, for what purpose and for how long?
– I am glad to say that following upon information given to me by the honourable member himself, who saw Mr Bruce Legge, Q.C., in Toronto, I was able to issue an invitation to this gentleman to visit Australia. I believe this will be of great value. Mr Legge is an expert on rehabilitation and, as the House would know, my Department is at present endeavouring to find ways and means of further improving the very excellent Commonwealth rehabilitation service. The House may not know that amendments to the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act will make some reference to this expanded rehabilitation service. In these circumstances it was a very valuable suggestion on the part of the honourable memher that this extremely distinguished man should be asked to visit Australia on the occasion of his visit to New Zealand in May of next year. I am not certain how long Mr Legge will remain in Australia if he is able to accept our invitation, but he will be a very welcome guest and, in the best sense of the term, will be a very useful guest in enabling us to improve our Commonwealth rehabilitation service which at present is doing excellent work.
– I address a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to a recent statement that $6.8m will be available to the sugar industry for the 1967 and 1968 sugar seasons as compensation for (he devaluation of sterling. I ask: Is it the intention of the Government that this money should be paid back to the grower and the miller in amounts of approximately $43 1,000 for the 1967 No. I pool and $6.3m for the 1968 crop, or is there some justification for holding some of this money to amortise the Commonwealth loan which is due for repayment after the 1 970 season?
– An arrangement has been made to pay a certain amount of money to the Queensland Sugar Board. I cannot recall the exact figure. 1 cannot say whether the figure that the honourable member mentioned is correct, but it is of approximately that order. This money will be paid to the Sugar Board as compensation for losses due to sterling devaluation. A small amount - approximately $400,000 - will be deducted as against a loan that was given to the industry and repayment of which will commence in 1970. This is only a small amount but because of the arrangements that were made originally there was some duplication in payments and to avoid duplication or any anomaly this amount will be used to pay off the loan which was given to the industry.
– Can the Prime Minister give reasons why, first of all, the High Commissioner for Australia in London should report to the Prime Minister’s Department rather than to the Department of External Affairs the same as do all our other fiftyfour diplomatic representatives around the world? Secondly, why does our senior Department of External Affairs officer in Australia House rank fifth, or thereabouts, in the hierarchy there? Thirdly, why should it cost well over $4m per annum to run Australia House - four times as much as for the Embassy in Washington and one-third of the cost of running all our overseas embassies? Fourthly, why should the purely administrative duties of the High Commissioner, as distinct from his diplomatic duties, not be hived off to a consul-general or some such officer as in New York? Finally, for good measure, why should the sovereign States of Australia be spending on agentsgeneral in London money that is more urgently needed for schools and hospitals?
– Mr Speaker, I rise to order. I submit that the first part of the honourable gentleman’s question is out of order in that it is in the same terms as question No. 2 at the top of the notice paper, which I placed there for the Prime Minister on 13th March last.
-I think that the question is in order. Whilst there is a similarity between the two questions, I think that the question without notice is allowable.
– In answer to the first part of the honourable member’s question, which was disputed by the Leader of the Opposition, I would say that these reasons are very largely historical in that the first post that Australia ever had overseas - the only post Australia had overseas at one stage - was the post in the United Kingdom. The reasons for this are largely historical. The honourable member asked why the senior
External Affairs officer at that post ranks No. 5. If indeed that is where he rates, I believe it is a matter which should be looked at. Indeed, it is being looked at by the Minister for External Affairs and myself at the moment because I believe we need an External Affairs officer in the United Kingdom ranking much higher than that particular ranking in order to have the entree to his counterparts in the diplomatic service in the United Kingdom. 1 do not have the figures on the cost of running the High Commission but I will obtain them for the honourable member. I think we should bear in mind that there are more immigrants from the United Kingdom than from any other area and therefore the immigration officers in that country are much larger in number than in any other country; that we still have very great trade links with the United Kingdom, both for selling and for capital purposes; and that there are perhaps reasons which are sui generis to our representation in London. But 1 will let the honourable member have a more detailed explanation in writing. The last part of the honourable member’s question was: Why do the sovereign States of Australia maintain Agents-General in London? This is not directly within my own province. It is probably something which should be asked of the various Premiers of the sovereign States. But one must assume that they regard this activity as being more worthy of expenditure than some of the matters which they say they want more money for.
– I direct a question to the Minister forthe Interior. Are positions as journalists with the News and Information Bureau advertised in the same manner as with other departments? If so. how and where are they advertised? If these positions are not advertised, how are they filled? How many positions have been filled in the last 12 months without calling for applications?
– I cannot answer for other departments as to how they go about advertising for reporters or people of the calibre of those in the News and Information Bureau. I am not able to give the honourable member the detailed figures he seeks regarding how many positions have been filled other than to say that at different times officers have been added following acceptance by the Public Service Board of the need for additional staff. 1 will supply the honourable member with the details he has requested.
– Are the positions advertised?
– Yes, they are advertised.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Is it a fact that in past years subscriptions to ambulance funds have been allowable deductions for income tax purposes in the same way as subscriptions to hospital benefit funds? Is it also a fact that this year for the first time these deductions were refused? Will the Treasurer consider having these subscriptions once again made deductible items for income tax purposes, thus assisting the subscribers and the ambulance services?
– The honourable gentleman would know that 1 have no influence at all upon the Commissioner of Taxation, in his administration of the relevant Act. He is completely independent of the influence of the Minister concerned; Parliament has vested administration of the Act in the Commissioner. I am very glad to be able to say this.I did not know that it had been the custom in the past to permit for income tax purposes the deduction of subscriptions to the funds which the honourable gentleman mentioned. Nor did I know that this year there has been a change in that policy. However,I will make inquiries from the Commissioner of Taxation and request him to address a letter about the matter to the honourable member.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. As the Minister himself is an ex-airman he will be aware of the insignia worn by members ofair crews and that some members are granted only a single wing. Will the Minister consider granting full wings to all qualified technical crew members, a practice which I believe is now being accepted in most overseas countries?
– I have heard of exairmen complaining at times of flying with the left winga little low. I have not heard them complain of a state of permanent imbalance caused by having only one wing. The existing practice in the Royal Australian Air Force is to award double wings to a pilot and a single wing to other air crew members. This follows the British practice. In view of the statement by the honourable gentleman that the practice of awarding double wings to members of air crews is creeping in in other parts of the world I will have a look at the situation. However, I think there is some merit in preserving a very fine tradition.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to the proposed dairy farms consolidation scheme. In view of the Minister’s statement in this House yesterday that not all Stale governments had yet responded to the Commonwealth’s proposal for the implementation of this important scheme, can further efforts be made with a view to implementing the scheme before the end of the current financial year?
– It was my hope and intention to have legislation introduced to enable an amalgamation of small dairy farms to take place. The implementation of this scheme will require the co-operation of the State governments, and negotiations have been taking place over the last 9 months to formulate a scheme which will be acceptable to all States. Because of different land laws and a duplication of partial schemes that might be operating in the States the Commonwealth had to arrive at something that was acceptable to all States. Officers of my Department did negotiate and they arrived at conclusions which we believed would be acceptable to the various State governments.
The Prime Minister wrote to the State Premiers on 30th September and submitted to them these proposals, which I believe are very generous. Up to this point of time we have had only two replies from State governments. If we do not hear from the others I will certainly ask the Prime Minister if he would mind writing to them again to find out what their intentions are. I am anxious for this scheme to become operative. I have had between 50 and 100 letters from interested dairy farmers who want to participate in this scheme. Such a scheme would enable the small dairy farmer who is anxious to leave his property, in order to retire or to take up some other occupation, to obtain a reasonable price for that property. Another advantage is that amalgamations could take place, units of larger size being more viable. The third advantage is that it may allow certain farmers to indulge in other forms of production than dairying. One of the Government’s objectives is to reduce, if possible, dairy production in areas which are not truly dairying areas.
I am quite sure the honourable member for Cowper is conscious of the great advantages this scheme could bring to farmers in his area, and indeed to farmers in other areas of Australia. It is a pity that we have not been getting more spontaneous response from the State governments. However, I believe that after they examine our second proposals we will get their co-operation. I am pleased to say that at a meeting recently of the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation there was unanimous agreement of all the representatives that this scheme had great virtues and that it is one with which we should press forward as quickly as possible.
– My question is addressed to either the Minister for Defence or the Minister for Labour and National Service, whoever is the more appropriate. Has notice of termination of employment been given recently to a rather substantial number of members of the Australian work force at the United States naval communications base in Western Australia? Have a number of others been demoted? If this is so, is it correct that the positions left vacant by those dismissed and demoted will be filled by American navy personnel? What is the reason for the reduction of the Australian work force and is it likely to be reduced still further? Finally, does Article 5 of the agreement between the Australian and American Governments regarding maximum use of Australian resources have any effect in the field of employment?
– I have no detailed information on the matter raised by the honourable gentleman, but I will have an examination made and give him an answer to his question. The particular Article which he mentions refers to material only, lt does not refer to the use of Australian or American labour.
– I direct this question to the Minister for External Affairs. Has the United Nations taken any steps to make sure that the people of West Irian will in fact be able to determine their political future when the plebiscite on this matter is held in that country next year? If not, will the right honourable gentleman instruct Australia’s representative at the United Nations immediately to take all possible steps to endeavour to ensure that the people of West Irian are fully informed of the issues at stake and are able to cast their votes without any fear of reprisals?
– This is a responsibility which devolves upon the Secretary-General of the United Nations under the terms upon which the administration of West New Guinea was transferred from the Netherlands to Indonesia. The Secretary-General has recently appointed an officer of the United Nations Secretariat who has been in West New Guinea in consultation with the Indonesian Administration, and I think we can have reasonable confidence that the Secretary-General will carry out his responsibilities for seeing that the people of West New Guinea have a free choice.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. What plans has the Government to assist with the construction of a nuclear power station in Victoria in the near future? Considering the availability of hydro-electric power in that State, the large quantities of natural gas from the Gippsland and Bass Strait fields which could be used for power generation, and also the urgent need in other States for power for decentralised industries, why has Victoria been chosen as the State in which a nuclear power station will be constructed?
– The matter to which the honourable member refers is one of policy and is a matter on which the Government has not made any decision. If a decision is made it will be announced at a later stage. The honourable member spoke of the availability in Victoria of hydro-electric power and the possibility of generating power with natural gas. I point out to him that in normal circumstances it is more expensive to generate power with natural gas than with the other conventional fuels such as coal and fuel oil. There is not an availability of hydro-electric power in Victoria but, as I have pointed out, it is a matter of policy, on which the Government has not come to any decision, as to where any nuclear power station should be built.
– Will the Treasurer examine the impact of the present tax structure and system of concessional dedications on those family units where the age and/or number of children actually prevents or should prevent the wife and mother from supplementing family income by obtaining full-time or part-time employment? If such examination reveals that the social objectives of the tax system are not being achieved, will the Treasurer at the time of the preparation of the next Budget give consideration to making appropriate changes in the tax structure?
– I will have an analysis made along the lines recommended by the honourable gentleman, and if I find that there is a likelihood of injustices or anomalies being created, I will make certain that the recommendation or advice I receive from my Department is presented to Cabinet in the context of the next Budget discussions.
-I present the following paper:
Audit Act - Supplementary Report of the Auditor-General upon, other accounts, for year 1967-68.
Ordered to be printed.
– For the information of honourable members I present the following paper:
Conventions and recommendations adopted by International Labour Conference at its 49th, 1965 session, and move:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr Whitlam) adjourned.
– Last Thursday the honourable member for East Sydney (Mr Devine) raised several matters relating to an air accident at Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory. As these matters were raised during a debate on Grievance Day I did not have the opportunity to reply to them. On Friday I issued a Press statement regarding the charges. 1 now present a copy of that statement to the House.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, I present the report relating to the following proposed works:
Para-medical Building and Occupational Therapy Day Centre, Hollywood Repatriation General Hospital. Western Australia.
Ordered that the report be printed.
-I wish to inform the House that I have received a letter from the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) resigning his position as a member of the Council of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) - by leave - agreed to:
That., in accordance with the provisions of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Act 1964-66, this House appoints Mr Bonnett to be a member of the Council of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies from this day to and including 2nd November 1970 in place of the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth), resigned.
Discharge of Motions
Motion (by Mr Snedden) - by leave - proposed:
That the following Orders of the Day, Government Business, be discharged:
No. 23- Fisheries Bill 1968- Second reading - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the Bill be now read a second time’.
No. 25 - Vietnam - Statement by President of the United States of America - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the House take note of the Paper’.
No. 26 - International Affairs - Ministerial Statement. 26 March 1968, and Papers - Motion lo take note of Papers - Resumption of debate upon the motion, ‘That the House take note of the Papers’.
No. 27 - Commonwealth Drought Assistance - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, ‘That the House take note of the Paper’.
No. 28 - Australian Motor Vehicle Industry Protection - Malpractices in connection with importation of motor vehicles from Japan - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, ‘That the House take note of the Paper’.
No. 29 - National Water Resources Development Programme - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, ‘That the House take note of the Paper’.
No. 30 - Northern Territory Legislative Council - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, ‘That the House take note of the Paper’.
No. 31 - International Monetary Fund - Special Drawing Rights - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the House take note of the Paper’.
No. 35 - Education - New Measures Announced in Budget - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, ‘That the House take note of the Paper’.
No. 38 - Aboriginal Policy - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the House take note of the Paper’.
No. 39 - Television Service for Cairns and Surrounding Areas - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, ‘That the House take note of the Paper’.
No. 42 - Broadcasting Stations - Ownership and Control - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, ‘That the House take note of the Paper’. jio. 43 - Raw Colton Bounty - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, “That the House take note of the Paper’.
No. 45 - Conciliation and Arbitration Commission - Appointments - Ministerial Statement - Motion to take note of Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the House take note of the Paper’.
– First of all 1 draw attention to the fact that some of these items of business, particularly the ones relating to foreign affairs, have been on the notice paper for S, 6 and more months. Very few occasions have been available to the Parliament to have what might be called a full scale debate on such subjects. On the other hand, item 24, which is being left on the notice paper, which relates to the bombing halt in Vietnam, and which was discussed about a fortnight ago, has been listed for only a very short time. At one stage during the last 12 or 13 years it became customary for us to have what might be called full scale debates in the Parliament on matters such as these. It is very important that such debates be held, particularly on foreign affairs. Neither that subject or any other is a matter just for the Ministry, those who occupy the front benches on either side of the Parliament or those members who happen to get an opportunity for the time being to take part in a debate. It is very important that the Parliament as a whole be able to discuss these matters. It is not a question even of repetition. Each one of us here speaks for and on behalf of anything from 40,000 to 80,000 or more voters. It is important that their point of view be put.
I regret that at this time of the year we are rushing through the programme and that we are clearing the notice paper in this way. Instead of doing this we should before the end of the sessional period discuss a subject such as international affairs. A good way in which to end the year’s activities would be for the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) to make another statement on international affairs and to permit us to have a full scale debate upon it. Another item relates to a ministerial statement on Aboriginal policy. I recall that when this statement was made we were given to understand that a reasonable time for discussion would be allowed. No discussion has taken place. We now have several Bills relating to Aboriginal affairs before us and we will discuss them this afternoon unless we can hold them up, as I hope they will be held up, until people have had time to look at the problems and discuss them reasonably. But the fact is that we should have had a full scale debate on Aboriginal policy, with all the attention of the House turned upon it. Instead this item is being scrubbed from the notice paper, and that is not good enough. I place on record my disappointment at very few opportunities having been given to honourable members to debate effectively large areas of public policy.
– I want to protest about the adoption of this procedure of simply wiping items from the notice paper in the dying stages of a sessional period. It has become habitual to take no notice of what happens in the Parliament. Anything that happens here is just dismissed as not being important. The items that are being wiped off have all at some time been so important that it has been essential for discussions to be held on them. Some have gone past the stage at which it may have been possible to have a useful discussion. One item relates to malpractices in connection with the importation of motor vehicles from Japan. A statement was made and everything was settled. But that does not alter the fact that honourable members are being denied an opportunity to express their views as to what should be done in the future or what was done in the past. Is it right that we should be deprived of a proper opportunity to express some views on behalf of the people we represent? A ministerial statement was made on the national water resources development programme. This is a most fertile area for discussion and many views could be expressed on it. These views should be expressed. They should be put into Hansard so that the people who frame legislation and the departmental officers who have the task of getting material together for future consideration will have some guidance from the House.
But 1 go a little further than simply protesting at this action to clear the notice paper so that the Ministry can get rid of the Parliament as soon as it possibly can, instead of rising for next week and then sitting again for another 2 or 3 weeks. One or two items have not been wiped off and
I ask the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) to give us an assurance that these wilt be debated. One matter relates to frequency modulation broadcasting and another to the annual report of the Tariff Board.
-Order! The honourable member’s remarks are outside the terms of the motion before the House. The House is dealing with the discharge of items from the notice paper.
– The fact that the Leader of the House has not discharged the items relating to frequency modulation broadcasting and the annual report of the Tariff Board leads me to ask him why he has not discharged them if he has no intention of allowing us to debate them. These matters are of prime importance to many people and cause considerable controversy throughout the community. I will not go into the reasons why we should have frequency modulation broadcasting or why the annual report of the Tariff Board should be debated. I ask the Leader of the House to give us an opportunity to debate them. He should continue the session until we have had such an opportunity.
Dr J. F. CAIRNS (Yarra) [3.29.1-1 join with the honourable members for Wills (Mr Bryant) and McMillan (Mr Buchanan). There seems to me to be a lack of logic in what the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) has done. He has selected a number of items and has asked the House to give permission for them to be withdrawn from the Notice Paper, but he has left a number of other items on the Notice Paper. I think thai some of the matters proposed to be discharged from the notice paper should be debated, even at this time of the year. I do not think that anyone should suggest that this House has said the last word on Vietnam and that it should not be necessary to have as full a debate on it here as occurred in another place. Members in another place were able to say much more about the situation than the members of this House have been able to say.
That is one of the items that is proposed to be withdrawn and which 1 think should be debated. Secondly, as the honourable member for McMillan said, other items will be left on the notice paper. Does this mean that the Leader of the House and the
Government intend to give the House an opportunity to debate these other items? The House should certainly have that opportunity. The Tariff Board report mentioned by the honourable member for McMill’an should be debated. Whenever the matter has been dealt with in this House, as it was yesterday, the responsible Ministers have been absent and have deliberately avoided making comments.
-Order! I think that the honourable member is going outside the motion.
– lt seems obvious that they should do so. It is very relevant at this point to know whether they intend to do so.
– I want to object to the discharge of order of the day 27 under Government business from the notice paper. This order refers to a ministerial statement on Commonwealth drought assistance. I would like to know why it is proposed to discharge this matter and why order of the day 46 is to be left on. 1 point out that the question of Commonwealth drought assistance is by no means completely determined at tha moment while we have continuing in the south coast area of New South Wales and the Monaro an unprecedented drought which has now reached the stage where it looks as though we will have to face up to the possibility of completely unstocking the area of all the dry cattle and possibly a lot of the milking stock.
-Order! 1 have pointed out before that this is not a matter for debate or making a speech appropriate to the second reading stage of a bill. The question before the House relates to the discharge of matters from the notice paper.
– I am asking why order of the day 46 should be discharged from the notice paper at this point of time.
-The honourable member is not entitled to debate the importance of the Bills listed on the notice paper.
– May I give my reasons for wanting to have this matter retained?
– You can give your reasons but you cannot debate the reasons for the matters being on the business paper.
– The basic reason is that the drought on the south coast is reaching such crisis proportions that the matter of Commonwealth drought assistance needs the attention and debate of this House. I would like to move, if it would be in order, an amendment to the effect that this item remain on the notice paper for debate.
– If the honourable member wants to move an amendment he will have to put it in writing.
– I will do that.
– The honourable member for Eden-Monaro has moved that order of the day 27, Commonwealth Drought Assistance, be omitted from the motion. The question now proposed is that the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question.
– The honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Munro) has difficulties about the drought on the south coast of New South Wales. He has received much more sympathy from this side of the House than be has received from his own side, lt will be very interesting to see whether the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Jeff Bate) supports the amendment he has moved. It is notorious that resolutions have been passed in the electorate of Eden-Monaro that the honourable member for that electorate should call upon the honourable member for Macarthur to withdraw the statements that that honourable gentleman has made about the drought situation on the far south coast of New South Wales.
-Order! I think the motion before the Chair is a fairly simple one. It is a question whether order 27 should be omitted from the matters proposed to be discharged from the notice paper. Honourable members may not debate the pros and cons of what the honourable member for Eden-Monaro said or what any other honourable member said in relation to a previous statement. Remarks should be confined to the discharging of matters from the notice paper.
– I will not pursue that line, nor will I recount the history of the disputes between Liberal Ministers, New South Wales and Commonwealth, on the subject.
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition is definitely out of order.
– I will put arguments which will show that the honourable member for Eden-Monaro can very quickly have a debate on this matter and achieve an effective conclusion to it. Tomorrow morning, in general business, I will be introducing a Bill. After it has been seconded, it is altogether likely that a Minister will move that the debate on it be adjourned. Thereupon order of the day 1 in general business, relating to the National Water Conservation and Constructing Authority, will come up for debate. This matter was debated on 4th April last. The honourable member for Eden-Monaro has secured the continuation of that debate. Accordingly, if he collaborates in having a vote on the question which will come on tomorrow, in which he will have the opportunity of continuing his remarks, we shall succeed in having the Snowy Mountains Authority, whose capital is in his electorate, transformed into a national water conservation and constructing authority, to deal with all these matters of drought.
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition is now going beyond the bounds of the motion.
– The honourable member for Eden-Monaro wishes to retain order of the day 27, government business, which is a ministerial statement on Commonwealth drought assistance. It is proposed to leave on the notice paper order of the day 46, government business, which is a later ministerial statement on the same subject. The matter which will remain is more up to date and relevant to the present situation. The matter which is to be taken off the notice paper has in fact already been implemented. The matter which will remain on the notice paper can be extended and, in our view, should be extended. It is current; it is urgent. In addition, the honourable member may continue the debate on the matter listed under general business tomorrow and give his support to it.
The other matters which it is proposed to remove from the notice paper are in practically all cases matters which have, since being placed on the notice paper, become the subject of a Bill, which will become the subject of a Bill, which are the subject of litigation - I refer to the motor industry matter - or on which the Government has changed its mind, as in the case of the Fisheries Bill. I have agreed to the removal from the notice paper of all matters referred to in the motion because they have been superseded by legislation, will be superseded by legislation or would be out of order because there is current litigation. I will support the amendment proposed by the honourable member for Eden-Monaro because he should not be allowed to escape from responsibility for drought in his area on any pretext of Government convenience.
It is quite clear that the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) will have an opportunity to debate Chowilla Dam, which the South Australian legislature has called on all South Australian members of Parliament to support. In the view of my Party, matters on the notice paper not the subject of the motion are still current and still urgent. They should be debated. With the sole exception of the statement about drought relief, since there should be no doubt in this matter, the other matters are no longer relevant. We have had an opportunity to debate them. I certainly yield to no one in the assertion of Parliament’s rights to debate Government policy. I lament that there are so few opportunities to debate ministerial statements. However, those that are to be removed from the notice paper have in fact been superseded. So I shall support the motion but I shall give to the honourable member for Eden-Monaro that support on drought relief which has been denied him by his colleagues.
– It is an ordinary process in this House to go through the notice paper at about this stage of the sessional period to see what items have been overtaken by the passage of events. The normal method by which this is done is for the Leader of the House to consult the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, those two members having the management functions in the House, and to go through the notice paper to see which matters may be removed. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has correctly submitted that all the matters which are proposed to be removed - 1 would be glad if the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Munro) would listen to this point-
-Is the Leader of the House now speaking to the amendment?
– That is right. Discussions did take place with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and it was agreed that certain orders of the day should be removed from the notice paper. The blue sheet which honourable members have before them will disclose that it was intended to remove from the notice paper a further four items that were not referred to in my motion. This is because certain proposals were submitted to me by the Leader of the Opposition. Having regard to representations made by the honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney) and the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) about order of the day 37 it is not proposed to remove it from the notice paper. It was agreed that two or three other items should remain on the notice paper.
The purpose of removing items from the notice paper is to contract the notice paper so that it contains only current issues. The matter to which the honourable member for Eden-Monaro has referred is a statement about drought relief made on 27th March this year by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon). A subsequent statement about drought relief was made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) on 26th September. In other words, the statement of 26th September had overtaken the statement of 27th March. The removal from the notice paper of order of the day 27 - the statement of 27th March - does not in any way detract from the capacity of this House to debate the subject if and when time for a debate can be made available. I understand very well the motives of the honourable member for EdenMonaro. He feels very seriously concerned about a circumstance in which he finds people in his electorate placed. Having become concerned he unfortunately, I think, came to the conclusion that the removal of order of the day 27 from the notice paper would diminish his capacity to deal with the matter. Unfortunately what he did conscientiously and sincerely has been taken up by the Leader of the Opposition for political purposes. I will not have any part in allowing the Leader of the Opposition to take advantage politically of the sincerely held belief of the honourable member for Eden-Monaro. I have made it clear why order of the day 27 is being removed from the notice paper. The Leader of the Opposition has pointed out that he agreed to its removal, but now he sees a scintilla of political advantage in retaining it. After such a drubbing yesterday no wonder he wants to find something on which to attack the Government.
-Order! The Minister is now getting a little wide of the motion.
– The Government will not support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Eden-Monaro for the reasons I have given. As 1 have now made it clear that there will bc no incapacity on the part of the honourable member to debate this subject, if and when time for such a debate is available, and as he has demonstrated the sincerity and strength of his belief, I hope that he will withdraw his amendment.
– 1 agree with the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) except, probably, with respect to order of the day 26 on the Notice Paper, which deals with international affairs, lt could be said that the ministerial statement which is the subject of order of the day 26 was made some time ago, but the retention of this item on the notice paper will allow honourable members to engage in a wide ranging debate on international affairs. Order of the day 24 will remain on the Notice Paper, but that item relates only to Vietnam. If another ministerial statement is made the ensuing debate will be restricted. The complaint of the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) was that if some of these items are removed from the notice paper any debate on the subject of international affairs will be restricted to Ministers and Opposition members occupying the front bench. Back bench supporters will not have an opportunity to participate in the debate. It is high time the House paid some respect to back bench supporters. We should have fewer pre-arranged restricted debates. This is the House of Representatives, the voice of the people, and the 124 elected representatives of the people should be heard. No government, whether of Liberal-Country Party persuasion or Labor Party persuasion, should be an elite government. I support the arguments advanced by the honourable member for Wills. It is wrong in principle to remove from the notice paper order of the day 26 dealing with international affairs. This is the only item which would allow honourable members lo discuss international affairs generally. Order of the day 24 relating to a bombing halt in Vietnam, the subject of a ministerial statement on 5th November, will remain on the notice paper. The other item relating to Vietnam - order of the day 25, the subject of a ministerial statement made on 2nd April - is to be removed from the notice paper.
I am concerned about international affairs. All of us in this chamber should be concerned with happenings in the international realm. If order of the day 26 is removed from the notice paper we will not be able to discuss international affairs. If the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) makes another statement about international affairs the ensuing debate will be restricted because only a few members from each side of the House will be able to participate. Does the Government seriously claim that it gives back bench supporters an opportunity to participate in these debates?
– I should like to make two comments. First, I should like to refer to the speech made by the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren). He said that by removing items from the notice paper we will not be able to debate them. Does he not know that they cannot be debated unless the Government brings them forward? The Government will not allow the Opposition to take the business of the House out of its hands. The honourable member cannot debate any matter unless the Government first calls it on. Secondly, I am interested in one of the matters that it is proposed to delete from the notice paper - the item relating to the Chowilla Dam. I had secured the adjournment of the debate on this matter. 1 do not oppose its erasure because when the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) next makes a statement about the Chowilla Dam I will have the opportunity of speaking on it. In any event, I will not have the opportunity of speaking on the subject unless the Government brings it forward. After all, the Government is in charge of the business of the House and it would resist any attempt by the Opposition to take the business of the House out of its hands.
– Mr Speaker, I rise to order. The honourable member for Mallee is out of order–
– He has finished speaking.
– My point of order was that he was out of order because he was not speaking to the amendment.
– Order! I call the honourable member for Corio.
– I am concerned that order of the day 28, which relates to protection for the Australian motor vehicle industry, is to be removed from the notice paper. This matter is of continuing concern. The debate on the ministerial statement was adjourned on the understanding that it would be brought on again. The motor vehicle industry is in no better position now than it was when the statement was made, and I believe that honourable members should have an opportunity to debate it. If this item is deleted from the notice paper, then the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) should make an urgent statement on the matter in this House so that the situation can be debated. The motor vehicle industry is of vital importance to employment in Australia. I hope that the Government will see fit to take members of the House into its confidence.
– Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of procedure. At the moment we are debating the amendment which I moved and which was seconded. I want to withdraw that amendment on the basis that the Leader of the House has assured me–
– Mr Speaker, I rise to a point of order. During this debate it has been obvious that the Leader of the House has been standing over honourable members opposite.
– Order! There is no substance to the point of order. Do 1 understand that the honourable member for Eden-Monaro wishes to withdraw his amendment?
– Yes, Sir, I wish to withdraw it on the simple ground that the Leader of the House has now given an assurance–
– Order! The honourable member may seek leave to withdraw his amendment. He may not debate the reasons for withdrawing it.
– May I not give my reasons for withdrawing the amendment?
– No. The honourable member has gone to water, anyhow.
– Mr Speaker, may J suggest that while the Standing Orders may not permit the honourable member to give his reasons for withdrawing his amendment, the honourable member–
– Order! I would suggest to the Leader of the House that the honourable member for Eden-Monaro should seek leave to make a statement.
– Would he be given leave to make a statement?
– No. He has wasted too much of the time of the House already.
– Order! Do I understand that the honourable member for EdenMonaro wishes to withdraw his amendment?
– Yes, Mr Speaker. 1 seek leave to make a brief statement giving my reasons for seeking to withdraw my amendment.
– Is leave granted?
– What are you scared of?
– Order! Leave is not granted.
– Why not give him leave?
– We will give him leave if we are given leave to debate his reasons for withdrawing his amendment.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, the way things worked out. Let me explain the situation and honourable members will understand. Just now 1 said that I would raise no objection to order of the day 33, relating to the Chowilla Dam, being erased from the notice paper. I have since been told by the honourable member for Angas that it is still on the notice paper. My explanation is that I did not know it would remain on the notice paper before–
-Order! The honourable member has not been misrepresented. He will resume his seat.
– MayI make a personal explanation, Mr Speaker? lt has been alleged–
-Order! Is the honourable member rising to a point of order or is he seeking leave to make a personal explanation?
– A personal explanation.
-Order! The honourable member for Eden-Monaro has sought leave to withdraw his amendment. Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Amendment - by leave - withdrawn.
-Order! Does the honourable member for Eden-Monaro claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. Mr Speaker. I have been misrepresented by the honourable member for Wills who, when he took a facetious point of: order, suggested that I was being stood over by the Leader of the House and that I had gone to water in respect of my amendment. This is completely untrue. The Leader of the House explained clearly that orders of the day, 36 and 46 were staying on the notice paper and that the removal of order of the day 27 was only the removal of business from a previous session. The other matters remain completely intact, as was previously agreed to by the Leader of the Opposition and members of the Opposition who are now seeking to make political capital–
-Order! The honourable member is now going beyond a personal explanation.
– Mr Speaker, I rise to a point of order. The honourable member for Eden-Monaro referred to order of the day 46. He knew that it was staying on the notice paper and therefore his personal explanation was out of order.
-Order! There is no substance to the point of order.
– I rise to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– I do. The honourable member for Eden-Monaro said that I took a point of order facetiously. I did nothing of the sort. It was quite obvious to the House, and to anybody observing what took place, that he did exactly as he was told.
-Order! The honourable member for Wills will resume his seat.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 22 October (vide page 2160), on motion by Mr Nixon:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-Order! Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering the six Bills as suggested by the Leader of the House? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
– The Opposition has no objection to these six Bills being debated together. The Bills all arise out of administrative changes and do not involve any increases in customs duties or excise duties. In introducing the Customs Bill (No. 2) 1968 the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) told the House that this change in legislation was necessary because of some developments that had taken place. The developments he had in mind were the containerisation of sea and air cargo, the use of jet aircraft, the speed of modern transport facilities and computerised collective accounting systems. These factors have made it necessary for the Department of Customs and Excise and other departments to change their methods of checking to ensure that public revenue is not lost and to meet the convenience of those who are importing and otherwise dealing in goods. The Minister for the Interior said that the main purpose of the Bill was to provide for the introduction of new streamlined procedures. He said that the present system has three main elements, namely, detailed supervision by an officer of all operations, maintenance of independent records by the Department, which are in some respects similar to the importers’ bookkeeping records, and the obligation on business enterprises to present individual customs entries and/ or specific requests for approval for each operation.
In the past a fairly detailed check was made by departmental officers, the Department kept its own records and business organisations were required to present individual Customs entries in respect to particular items on which duty had to be paid. This amounted to a very detailed and complicated system. For quite a long time many who have observed the system in operation have felt that it could be considerably simplified. This was even before some of the modern developments that the Minister referred to came into operation, lt has been clearly demonstrated for quite a number of years in similar fields that supervision can properly be maintained by spot checks and the use of statistical techniques and that it is not necessary to use the old policing system of endeavouring to supervise every particular transaction to determine whether certain obligations are being avoided.
The Minister has informed the House that a new system of control, known as commodity control, is to be implemented. This requires a planned checking by officers of normal commercial records and accounts maintained by those engaged in the business. Apparently the Department will not maintain its own independent records from now on but will check the ordinary commerical records and accounts maintained by those engaged in the business. There will also be planned random checks of associated physical operation. Apparently it is proposed to abandon the full-time, detailed supervision by officers of all operations and the maintenance of unnecessary independent records. The House and everyone affected will welcome this change, which has apparently come into existence only as a result of containerisation, increased speed of operation, computerised activities and so forth. But it seems to me that a change may have been possible even before these developments took place.
The proposed changes appear to have some relationship to an inquiry by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, although that factor is not apparent from what the Minister or anyone else has said. It would be strange if the Committee’s inquiry was not a causal factor. It appears that the Public Accounts Committee put forward five principles for commodity control. This legislation seems to follow fairly closely those five principles. I understand that the principles developed by the Public Accounts Committee were, firstly, that all excisable commodities be controlled in the same way, regardless of their origin or situation. Presumably the fact that these articles are crossing international frontiers docs not create a different situation. The Committee also said that the Department did not believe that it was necessary for its records of the activities of a particular organisation to be maintained, as distinct from the licencees records, providing the latter were satisfactory. Apparently the Department believed that the full-time attendance of excise officers at each factory was not necessary, even though the presence of an excise officer acted as a deterrent to any irregular practice. It seems that this view has influenced the situation.
The Committee expressed as a third principle of the system that licencees should be required to furnish to the Department an operational return at specified intervals, subject to the size of the enterprise. Existing legislation already required various factories to render returns, but the Department proposed to seek a return of activities in a preceding period, which would be compared with the transactions revealed in the company’s own books, to ensure accuracy. The fourth principle, which was stated to be embodied in the three principles I have mentioned, was that of random checks. The
Department hoped to adopt the technique of random checks of random samplings in the manner of an auditor in ordinary audit operations. The last of the five principles of commodity control related to procedures adopted in respect of the under-bond removal of excisable products. So, the inquiry conducted by (he Public Accounts Committee seems to have had some considerable influence on the adoption of these changes. I think that those are the main points 1 wish to make about the Customs Bill (No. 2) 1968, which is the first of the six Bills that the House is debating. The Opposition supports this legislation.
The second Bill under consideration is the Excise Bill (No. 2) 1968. This legislation is necessary because of the procedural changes that we have already seen in the Customs Bill. The House was told that this legislation will permit the full application of commodity control methods in the excise area and will allow the acceptance of the normal commercial records kept by persons producing or dealing in excisable goods as an accounting medium for those goods instead of prescribing in legislation that separate forms of records shall be kept for departmental purposes. Other features of the Bill relate to the commodity control system.
The provisions of this legislation will mean a more simplified arrangement for the removal of excisable goods, subject to the control of Customs, from one place to another by permitting a collector of Customs to dispense with currently used prescribed documents known as entries where, for example, a commercial document adequately records such a transaction. There are a number of other features of the Bill which deal with certain excise transactions, such as the calling up of refunds or drawbacks of excise duty incorrectly paid. The Bill also provides for duty free treatment for certain ships’ and aircraft’s stores, and permits a manufacturer duty free access to small samples of excisable goods for purposes such as quality control. The Opposition has no objection to this Bill.
The third Bill is the Distillation Bill (No. 2) 1968. Perhaps the main clause of this Bill is clause 5, which extends the existing incorporation of parts of the Excise Act by including Parts V and VI of the Excise Act. Those parts of the Excise Act relate to excise supervision and control of factories and excisable goods, the payment of duty, and records to be kept by manufacturers. The provisions relating to stills have been redrafted to state more precisely the circumstances in which it is unlawful for a person to have, for example, possession, custody or control of a still. The Bill provides a fine of $1,000 for such a breach. Proposed section 73a (2.) provides:
A distiller or vigneron shall not, without permission, have any still in his possession or custody or under his control elsewhere than at his distillery or at the premises to which his vignerons licence relates . . .
The penalty provided for a breach of this provision is $1,000. The Opposition supports this Bill.
The fourth Bill is the Beer Excise Act Repeal Bill 1968. This Bill will not make beer any cheaper; it will not make it any easier to obtain; it will not change the flavour of beer or anything of that sort. It merely relates to the control over beer that may remain on brewery premises in respect of which a licence is cancelled prior to the provisions of this Bill becoming operative. Apparently the Public Accounts Committee was interested in this matter. It seems that that Committee drew attention to the fact that vessels containing beer could be of 54-gallon, 36-gallon, 27-galIon or 18-gallon capacity - although I have seen beer in smaller containers than those. The Beer Excise Act provided an allowance, for duty purposes, of 2 gallons in respect of the largest container, and 1 gallon in respect of the three smallest containers. It was stated that this was a traditional allowance, the origin of which was not clear. One view as to its origin was that it was derived from the days when beer was brewed mainly in wooden containers, and the allowance was made for the brewing and sedimentation. Another idea was that it originated in the days when wooden vessels varied in capacity.
The Act stated that this allowance would be permitted while the use of wooden vessels continued. Of course wooden casks are pretty rare these days, having been replaced almost completely by steel containers. The traditional allowance, with a margin of 2 gallons and 1 gallon depending on the size of the container, is now to be altered and the full duty will be imposed and collected on the full quantity that the new metal cask contains. This Bill registers another of the changes that have taken place in the way in which beer is brewed and transported. The Opposition supports the Bill.
The next Bill is the Canned Fruit Excise Act Repeal Bill 1968. The purpose of this Bill is to repeal the Canned Fruit Excise Act 1963 and the Canned Fruit Excise Act 1968 for the same reasons that applied in the case of the Beer Excise Act Repeal Bill. The Opposition supports this Bill as well.
The fifth Bill is the Sales Tax Assessment Bill (No. 5) 1968. This Bill will enable Australia to accede to the European Convention of Customs Treatment of Pallets used in International Transport which was signed in Geneva in December I960. The Bill deals with the collection of sales tax on pallets. As the law stands at the moment the collection of this sales tax would be in contravention of the Convention, which states that no sales tax is payable on pallets used in international transport. The Opposition supports this measure.
In my view there is no necessity to go beyond the particular technical requirements of these Bills in this debate. It may be possible to extend the debate, but it does not appear to me that this is an appropriate occasion for that kind of exercise. Therefore I have nothing more to say. As I have indicated, the Opposition supports the Bills.
– It is not my purpose to cover the ground which the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) has already covered. 1 will confine my contribution to this debate to the Customs Bill (No. 2) 1968 and the Excise Bill (No. 2) 1968. Each of these pieces of legislation was introduced in the Senate on 19th September last, and the first reading of each of them was made in this chamber on 17th October. So honourable members on both sides of the House have had an opportunity to study the legislation and to realise its possible repercussions.
At the outset I should say that the Department of Customs and Excise is charged with the collection of customs and excise for the Commonwealth. These two basic functions are of considerable importance but different in activity so far as the Department is concerned. Each function assists the Government, and in particular the Treasury, in the collection of revenue in accordance with Government policy. Customs duty as such is imposed on goods imported into Australia, thereby protecting Australian manufacturers in terms of Government policy. The term ‘customs’ could be said to have originated in the Domesday Book, in which ft was laid down that it was the ‘custom’ to pay levies to the King. Excise is quite different, lt is a duty imposed on commodities manufactured or produced in Australia itself. The origin of the term goes back also a very long way. In 1643 in the British Long Parliament it was stipulated that an impost would be charged on goods manufactured in the country for the benefit of the King. In the original legislation in 1643 an impost was placed on spirits, beer, ale and cider.
As the House can readily see, the Department of Customs and Excise has two main functions, although it has other functions as well. One of its main functions is the protection of revenue in terms of Government policy. The customs tariff has 500 items which are subdivided into about 3,500 items in all. This gives an indication of the ramifications of the customs side of this Commonwealth Department. As I have said, it is used predominantly as an instrument to protect local manufacturing and producing industries. At the same time it produces substantial revenue for the Commonwealth. In the Budget of 1968-69 it has been estimated that some $330m will be received into revenue from the customs side of this Department. The excise side of the Department is quite different, lt is purely a revenue producing instrument for the Government, and this year some $900m will be received by the Treasury from this side of the Department of Customs and Excise, even though excise is imposed on about twenty-one items only.
Prior to federation each State had the right to impose its own customs and excise duties. At the time of federation these powers were transferred to the Commonwealth and the Department, which was then known as the Department of Trade and Customs, was established. Over the years it has been split into two departments, the one about which we are now talking being known as the Department of Customs and Excise. The Department in Australia has had a longer history than any other Commonwealth Department and, as 1 have said, its traditions go right back into antiquity. Some of the procedures and methods used by the Department go back well beyond the establishment of the Commonwealth of Australia. The methods originally used for control date back to those earlier times of which I have spoken, but many of them were quite good methods for those days and have remained good methods until even recent tims. Reviews have been continually carried out by the Department. In recent years, of course, with the advent of much heavier production and more activity in industry and commerce, other methods have had to be adopted by the Department.
Until 1959 very few major changes in methods of control were adopted by the Department, but all manufacturing industries and all people connected with commerce in Australia and elsewhere were turning to advanced methods of administration and control, so that the Department of Customs and Excise also had to do a lot about its own control methods and administration. As 1 have said, the initial investigation of commodity control commenced in about 1959 and the report that followed was considered by the conference of collectors in 1964. I found it interesting to read the report submitted to the collectors. In 1959 the Department had introduced the method of commodity control mentioned by the honourable member for Yarra, lt was introduced in the petroleum industry because it was a difficult industry to handle, particularly from the point of view of the admission of petroleum into Australia. The Department evaluated the success of the use of this method in the petroleum industry and found it an efficient means of protecting the revenue accruing to the Commonwealth from that industry. Most of the information regarding commodity control can be found in the evidence that was taken from the Department by the Public Accounts Committee during 1965. The report submitted to this Parliament by that Committee in 1966 is very illuminating.
– Hear, hear!
– The Minister for the Interior says ‘hear, hear’. He was one of the members of the Public Accounts Committee which took evidence about commodity control from the Department of Customs and Excise between May and November 1965. The Committee submitted 1,300 questions to the Department and to representatives of industry, and as a result it presented a report to this Parliament in March 1966. The evidence collected by the Committee ran to 261 pages. Many of the questions were pertinent to the debate we are now conducting. One of the questions of real importance to the Department’s commodity control procedures is to bc found at page 33 of the Minutes of Evidence of the Public Accounts Committee on which the Committee based its 80th report. The answer was given by Mr Keogh. He said in reply to question 84:
The principles of commodity control require a degree of specialisation. But we consider that it is only in the formative years of a particular commodity. As the principles on which we are working, and which 1 can outline for you in a moment, become uniform in the various situations, they will allow a wider rotation of officers, for example, between customs and excise than occurs at the moment. If your system and principles for handling excisable tobacco and cigarettes are the same as those for imported tobacco, you have a common achievement there. If you turn from that sort of commodity to. say, a purely imported commodity, such as timber, then your officers, knowing the principles involved, can diversify their attention. This is particularly important in the smaller State* where the quantity of work on any one commodity is nol sufficient to keep an officer occupied full time. Perhaps I should also say at this stage that we are not introducing anything magical in what we term this system of commodity control. The sorts of things we are doing are no more than what modern audit practice carries out in the Public Service and in industry.
At this point I want to congratulate Mr Keogh on that off the cuff answer lo the question that was put to him. To my mind it sums up many of the things that the commodity control procedure endeavours to do so far as the Department is concerned on the one hand, and so far as industry is concerned on the other. As a result of this and other evidence taken by the Public Accounts Committee, the Committee presented to the Parliament its 80lh report, of which I would like to mention one or two small paragraphs. On pace 29 the Committee said, amongst other things:
We were informed that the commodity control system, which has been successfully established in the petroleum products industry, is capable of extension to other products.
This is just what the Department is now doing, lt is extending its commodity control system to other products. The Department reported to the Public Accounts Committee that there were so many primary pieces of legislation involved in customs control that efforts had been made to minimise the amount of legislation covering the Department’s control procedures. It said that each of the numerous pieces of legislation covers a different commodity whereas in fact the fundamentals are the same so far as control of the goods is concerned. So the Department, in good sense, approached the Attorney-General’s Department, and between them they have produced for presentation to this House the 4 or 5 pieces of legislation which are now before us. This was a step towards consolidating many of the Acts that have governed the activities of the Department of Customs and Excise over many years. As a result of the hearing of the Public Accounts Committee, the Committee, on page 45 of its report, finally stated:
In respect of the broader aspects of excise control which have been exercising the minds of senior departmental officers, we would reiterate that a sufficient period would appear to have elapsed to allow the Department to determine its final policy in respect of the commodity control system, and we trust that a more decisive attitude will govern future thinking within the Department.
So from 1965 until the present time the Attorney-General’s Department and the Department of Customs and Excise have, as a result of their own thinking and the thinking of the Public Accounts Committee, brought to us the legislation which we are considering today. In other words, there were pressures within the Department itself from departmental officers and there were pressures from the outside as well - from manufacturers, producers and the Parliament, to streamline the procedures of the Department. So much so that in 1966-67 the then Minister for Customs and Excise, Senator Anderson, said that the decision had been made to implement this new system known as ‘commodity control’.
The Department has told honourable members on this side of the House, and no doubt honourable members on the other side of the House as well, that commodity control commenced in the warehouse, in the draw back system and in the excise areas. So the Bills now before us contain not only these amendments, but also other amendments, most of which are related to commodity control. The Customs Bill (No. 2) 1968 will enable commodity control to be covered by legislation in four main areas, namely, the manufacture of excisable goods, under bond storage of excisable and imported goods, under bond movement of excisable and imported goods, and export of goods under draw back. In the old traditional method of control it was necessary for the Department to maintain day to day records of the operations of licensees and manufacturers. Therefore, it is obvious to all honourable members that there was a duplication of recording by producers, licensees, manufacturers and the Department. In many instances the Department also had to carry out a continuous, physical oversight of the operations of a company, the movement of goods into or from a company and the storage of goods in the stores of the company itself. Thus a company, in many cases, had to give prior notice to officers of the Department of any of these individual transactions. Obviously it was necessary for the company to await an officer from the Department to arrive at the factory or distillery to observe or carry out an oversight of these operations, and this was a slow and tedious process.
The Department had to carry out detailed checking of alf1 documents with the licensee, the producer and the manufacturer. So for all these years records were maintained and supervision was exercised over the receipt of most of the information to which I have referred. In fact, the position can be summarised in a few words by saying that the Department supervised the maintenance of day to day records of the company, the licensee and the Department itself. It maintained a continuous, physical oversight of production itself. As I said earlier, a company had to give prior notice to the Department when it was to make a change in its production procedures. These methods of control, as shown by the Department and by the Public Accounts Committee, are obsolete and inadequate. So this new method of commodity control’ is to be introduced, simply because of the increased volume of transactions, the scope and speed of modern transport, the demands of commerce which require rapid movement of goods and the availability of goods to suppliers and customers.
The present law is quite restrictive so far as discretion is concerned, and these Bills will allow departmental officers to use their discretion. At the same time there was difficulty in providing adequate staff to carry out these long and tedious operations. By contrast, commodity control follows the principles of audit practice, that is, there will be a spot check of the operations of companies, particularly those that are in good standing with the Department. Officers will no longer bc engaged in routine attendance. They no longer will keep detailed records. Where the volume of business is high the Department will approve of the activities of the company or licensee on a continuous basis. This applies particularly to the beer producing companies. Periodic accounts will be available, if necessary, because the new legislation will insist that a company should keep these accounts and that they should be open to check by departmental officers. Departmental officers will carry out random, selective examination of the paper work and the accounts kept by a company. These random checks will vary because of the knowledge of departmental officers regarding the reliability of the companies concerned. In other words, spot checks may be made daily or weekly, depending on the reliability of the company. So it is obvious that the Department has been preparing for a change, and 1 am told that it now has a mobile, flexible, better qualified work force that can be deployed where the risk is obvious.
Commodity control has many advantages for merchants, too. I have not heard from any of them, even though this legislation was introduced into the Senate for debate on 19lh September 1968. There is no need for merchants to time their operations to suit departmental officers. There will be periodic returns from the merchants or manufacturers in lieu of individual entries. Obviously this will result in a reduction of paper work, and it should result in the lowering of operational costs. I am told, too, that the Department will have savings in staff and particularly in salaries, although there will be no dismissal of staff because of redundancy. It will be more economic and efficient to deploy staff to the various operations than is the case at present. There is now a standardisation of control procedures over a wide range of activities covered by the Department. It must be better for industry and commerce to have knowledge of the fact that officers now trained by the Department have some indication of what goes on in industry and commerce. In other words, these officers will not bc just checkers or clerks. They will be specialists.
Commodity control was implemented in the canned fruit area in 1963, after it had been tried out in the petroleum industry in 1959. Feasibility studies in the canned fruit area then indicated that commodity control procedures would give benefits to industry and would provide more effective control within the Department. I am told on good authority that the Department will save 300 positions within the Department itself. Savings in salary will be approximately $700,000 a year. As I said earlier, all the employees who may be taken from the various jobs within the old traditional control method will be absorbed in the Department. There is no question in my mind that the Department has carried out a really good operation, and the introduction of commodity control into the customs and excise field should be welcomed by all members of this Parliament.
There is very little I can add on the subject of procedures with which Excise Bill (No. 2) 1968 is concerned, except to say that it seems to me that there will be smaller operators on commodity control in the excise field than there will be in the customs field. In other words, there could be one-man businesses and it may be difficult for them to keep the records to which I referred earlier. I also said earlier that the excise contributes $900m to the Treasury and of this amount over $340m comes from the excise on beer. In fact, last year, the excise on beer contributed to the Federal Treasury $338,956,000. To my mind this is a considerable contribution to the Treasury.
One point I would like to make is that last year also there was sold or consumed 18.5 million gallons of wine, of which only 40% was fortified and over 60%, or 11 million gallons, was exempt from Commonwealth excise. In other words, there was no tax on 11 million gallons of wine produced or consumed last year. I cannot understand why the beer drinker - the little man - has to pay excise on his beer to the extent of over 14c a pint and the fellow who drinks table wine pays no tax, provided, of course, that the table wine is not fortified. It is my reasoning that generally the beer drinker is the little man who cannot afford to drink wine. On the other hand, the man who drinks wine is usually - but not always - more affluent than the man who drinks beer. Therefore. 1 think there is a good case for the Government, as a matter of policy, to impose some form of excise on the 1 1 million gallons of unfortified wine (hat are consumed. I think the rate of excise on wine at the moment is about 40c a gallon. I believe it is technically possible for the Government to impose an excise duty on the wine consumed in Australia. As T have said, it is usually the little people who drink beer and the more affluent people who drink wine. The excise on beer is SI. 1 3 75 a gallon, or more than 14c a pint, and the contribution to the revenue of the Commonwealth last year was almost $339m.
My other point concerns the possibility of control of the adulteration of beer. Some articles in various newspapers in Melbourne recently have dealt with the possibility of the adulteration of beer and the difficulties of customs officers in checking the practice. The newspapers said that the practice of pulling water in beer is perhaps more prevalent in Victoria than in any other State. This claim is possibly clue to the fact that investigators from some of the newspapers have made checks in various hotels and found a water content in the beer. It is difficult lc gauge the extent of the practice of adulterating beer. I believe that this legislation, al least, or perhaps future legislation, should tighten the control and eliminate this practice. I am sure that the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) has seen the newspaper reports to which I refer. I am sure also that some breweries have been in touch with him about this matter. Adding water to beer has two major and obvious effects. First of all, the gallonage is increased above that supplied by the brewery. Secondly, the payment of Commonwealth excise is avoided. Both the consumer and the Commonwealth Treasury are penalised. 1 believe that this practice should be checked by the Department.
Also, the law should be strengthened to ensure that the Department makes regular checks on the hotelier himself. I am told - I have not read past legislation - that the adulteration of beer in a hotel is not the fault of the hotelier: it is the fault of the person who carried the beer from the brewery to the hotel, or the fault of the brewery itself. I believe that there should 247 1 1 / 68 - H - j 108) be a responsibility on the part of the licensee to check the strength of beer received from the brewery and to make sure that all beer sold over the counter in hotels is unadulterated and suitable for human consumption. I support these Bills and 1 commend the Department and its officers on the tremendous work that they have done since 1959 in making sure that this legislation meets the needs of the Parliament and the people of Australia.
Mr CLEAVER (Swan) 4.46- -The series of Bills being debated together has been listed on the notice paper for some time. We have been anxious to discuss them because inherent in them are some principles, the importance of which I wish to underline as strongly as possible. The honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns), speaking for the Opposition, correctly pointed out that these Bills in the main are administrative measures. But 1 would impress on honourable members the fact that legislative foundation for the proposed procedures is necessary, lt is for this reason that these Bills have come before us. This legislation indicates the traditional background to the collection of customs and excise down the years.
I listened carefully to the honourable member for Yarra. I had felt that his remarks seemed to indicate that the Public Accounts Committeee report to which my colleague, the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn), has referred in some detail, and the conclusions set out in that report, had not been studied by the honourable member for Yarra. He expressed the thought that perhaps the Committee’s investigations in the excise field may have had some impact in respect to the legislation that we are now considering. I want to bring out the point that, us a member of the Committee, I am quite convinced that what we had to say early in 1966 as a result of our investigations in the preceding year must surely have added some strength to the thinking of some senior officers of the Department of Customs and Excise. But I shall deal with that in some detail later.
The Bills covered by this debate result from a number of Government decisions with very wide ramifications indeed. These measures are concerned with the administrative field. Many of us are interested in seeing that government administration keeps pace with private enterprise. Indeed, we would like to see it ahead of private enterprise, as it often is. If this is to be achieved, it is important that we do not allow long delays. 1 want to refer in a moment or two to the fact that what is being done has not been achieved overnight. As a matter of fact, some people say that it took about 7 years from the initial experience to bring to fruition the broadly based application of commodity control, as we see it on this occasion. The example in the distillation and excise legislation that is before the House at the moment should be recognised, 1 suggest, as a preliminary move towards a single excise Act. One would hope that steady progress towards such a desirable objective might result. It is generally recognised in the Department now - and I think the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) has given expression to this in his second reading speech - that one excise Act will be far more acceptable than a whole series of Acts that have to be reconciled.
In the course of my review of the activities of the Department of Customs and Excise, it will be my intention to show that these decisions certainly were not taken hurriedly. Indeed, conservatism was possibly a little too pronounced, and the significant advantages that will flow from these decisions from day to day might have been available some years earlier. From my point of view - and I note with interest also from the point of view of my colleague from Balaclava - commodity control is the core of this legislation. That is not to discount the value of the adjustment of anomalies and other desirable changes that became necessary after the long passage of years, but commodity control is the core of the legislation. The purpose of it is to institute new streamlined customs and excise procedures.
May I suggest to the House that because this Department has such a close operating relationship with industry and commerce it is somewhat surprising that the transformation effected by the modernisation of procedures and methods in private enterprise did not find a ready counterpart in the established systems of the Commonwealth Department of Customs and Excise. I remember in an earlier speech, not on this aspect but related to the Department, I paid tribute to what was done in 1956 through the enterprise of the Minister of that day and with the co-operation of the leaders of the Department. A work simplification programme was instituted then and from top to bottom in the Department of Customs and Excise there was a planned review of all the documentation and the numerous forms that were in use at the time and the multiplicity of copies of documents that had been required down through the years. This work simplification programme was reported to the House by the Minister of the day when it was brought to fruition, and we noted with approval that this had been done. Some honourable members who took part in the debate said: ‘This is the hallmark of efficiency throughout the Publ’ic Service. This is the sort of review that should be undertaken from time to time in every Commonwealth department.’ So, whilst I will be more emphatic, as the Parliament’s Committee was more emphatic, about delays, 1 do not discount that some officers in the Department and some Ministers throughout the year have said: ‘Let us review what we are doing. Let us cut off with a very sharp pair of scissors any unnecessary administration.’
In the excise field alone, a study of prefederation and post-federation history reveals that tradition has probably played too significant a part in the operations of the Department. My colleague from Balaclava referred to the Eightieth Report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts. If we turn to Appendix No. 2 of that report we see that it provides an interesting brief history of customs and excise collections in the Australian Colonies before federation and afterwards. It shows that in 1891 Dr H. N. P. Wollaston, who was then the Chief Clerk in the Department of Trade and Customs in Victoria, was invited to investigate the current procedures in Western Australia. According to that history, his visit to Western Australia in 1891 revolutionised the procedures in that State. Because so many changes were then instituted, it is possible that the traditional pattern for excise collections commenced from that time and many of the methods then established remained substantially unaltered until now when a system of commodity control is to be generally implemented.
Changes and updating of methods has been long overdue and this is confirmed, I suggest to the House, by the number of amendments that correct anomalies and delete Long-standing requirements contained in this series of Bills. But as I have said the core of the legislation now before us is the general introduction of the system of commodity control. Without doubt the decision to introduce this system was accelerated by the Parliament’s own Committee of Public Accounts. As I have said, in 1965 the Committee decided not to look at the whole of this Department with all its wide ramifications but to concentrate upon that section which dealt with the collection of excise. In this financial year I note from the Estimates passed by the Parliament that excise revenue alone is estimated to reach $900m. It is therefore apparent that the interest taken by the Parliament’s Committee was fully justified. In the contact with industry in the collection of no less than $900m, if tradition had become the general pattern and if methods had not been regularly reviewed, there would be every opportunity to needle industry, to require too much from industry and to interfere too much in normal operations perhaps or on the other hand, as did eventuate, the officers of the Department might do too much within the industries themselves - providing too much assistance and too much documentation and thus relieving industry of a burden and a responsibility that it could well carry.
Paragraph 218 of the Committee’s report refers to the Department being steeped in tradition. There is reference here to the retention of such terms as ‘jerquer’ for an officer performing interna] audit functions, collectors’ for the chief officers in each State branch of the administration and comptroller’ for the officer who is in effect the director-general of the Department. There was an assertion in evidence that the excise officer had become a traditional figure in the wine and spirit industries. I want to avoid repetition, so I merely point out in passing that my colleague from Balaclava said that back in 1958 a proposal was brought forward within the Department that a new system be introduced in relation to petroleum installations, so that officers of the Department need not be stationed at the installations constantly, that their time might be better employed back in the Department and that their visits to the petroleum installations might be sporadic and in the form of checks or audit visits. In 1959 that preliminary recommendation was brought into effect. The Committee of which I was pleased to be a member took evidence in Western Australia, South Australia, Melbourne and Sydney. In some of those States we were able to visit petroleum installations to take evidence and to inspect the work relating to the collection of excise. We were pleased to find that what had been done in 1959 had brought the results that were expected. The removal of the excise officer placed a responsibility upon the officers in the petroleum establishments to perform a task along the lines required by the Commonwealth Department. They became responsible for the returns that were necessary in the past and, of course, continued to be required.
The report of the Committee, after dealing with this traditional aspect and the introduction in 1959 of these control measures within the petroleum industry, suggested in paragraph 219 that this tempo of work simplification review to which we have paid our just tribute, as we pay our tribute to the introduction of the new system of commodity control, began to falter. From 1962, when there was a review within the Department amongst senior officers to determine whether commodity control might be extended into other sections of the Department’s operations, we note that, according to the evidence that was received by the Parliament’s Committee, there was conference after conference, reference after reference and discussion after discussion amongst the senior officers and those connected with the collection of excise in that section of the Department. At the time when we took evidence in 1965 it seemed pertinent for the Committee, on behalf of the Parliament, to say:
Your Committee is conscious of the fact that the Department has a substantial responsiblity in formulating any alternative procedures and that the procedures currently employed in respect of various excisable commodities have proved over many years to bc adequate. We are also conscious, however, that although the proposals concerning the extension of a system of commodity control were implemented in the petroleum products industry some 7 years ago, the Department had, at the time of our hearing, only recently extended the system to an additional industry and then only on a trial basis.
It was in this context that, recognising the value of the initial experiment and appreciating the conservatism and delay in further consideration of its value, the Committee’s report came out strongly, as my friend from Balaclava revealed, by saying that we trusted that a more decisive attitude would govern future thinking within the Department and that the final policy in respect of the commodity control system would be implemented more rapidly. ft is in this context that I certainly support the legislation that is before the House. The legislation gives legal authority for the system of commodity control to cover warehousing, shipping, airlines, and general customs and excise fields. By way of summary let me put it this way: The commodity control system requires private enterprise to keep its own records and, on declaration, to certify its own liability for the payment of duty and customs. Random audits and checks will still occur. The old system, by way of comparison, was based on the strict physical control of goods by officers, coupled with the keeping of official departmental records. Merchants were required to give prior notice of their intention to carry out certain operations, and licensed manufacturers were required to keep records as prescribed by the regulations. These records were in addition to their normal commercial records.
Under the new system which is now to be applied in such a general way this commodity control approach will be based on the accepted principles of modern day audit practice. The Department’s control is, in the main, exercised through the merchant’s own record system, supported by planned random checks of his accounts and operations. In conclusion, I think it is pertinent for us to raise the question: ‘What has been the reaction of the industries that may be affected?’ In the minutes of evidence of the investigation of the Public Accounts Committee one can find on page 181 a question which the Chairman addressed to a senior officer of the Department. It was put in this form: How do these representatives of the various private enterprise concerns interpret the change? Do they interpret the system as a gesture of confidence in the industry on the part of the Department, placing the onus on that industry to declare its activities? The answer by the senior officer was:
Yes, I think it would be true to say broadly that they regard the change as a gesture of confidence. I think, too, there is a feeling in this particular company that all this is happening, that we are modernising methods and that what we have been doing for so long has become out of date.
The Public Accounts Committee was keen - this is quite paramount, 1 believe, on reading the report - to know why decisions took so long to be implemented.
In the minutes of evidence to which I have referred, at page 223 a more senior officer of the Department was asked whether he could suggest reasons why it took from January 1958, when the ComptrollerGeneral agreed in principle to the oil committee’s recommendations, to September 1959 to gain the approval of his Minister for the implementation of the scheme. I refer to this matter to show that quite soundly and justifiably the Committee, on behalf of the Parliament, asked why there should be a delay. We reported later, in the report to which I have made reference, to the effect that there had been some 5, 6 or 7 years delay before a decision was made that commodity control had passed through all the trials and checking and had earned the right to be looked upon as a system with many advantages for general application.
The Committee exercised in this investigation ils right and prerogative to ask: ‘Why such a delay?’ Having raised those points, I. am delighted to find that this series of Bills will implement so much of what the Parliament’s own Committee recommended. We pay tribute again to what has happened at so many points. We hope that the process of review which we have tried to underline might be applied to a further extent in this Department which handles such a substantial amount of revenue. I mentioned the figure of S900m under the heading of excise. I think that the Department will handle a total of S 1,230m in this financial year. It is in this context that administrative changes of this kind have such wide ramifications. I support the measure and trust that we will see further steps of the kind not only in this Department but in all departments of Commonwealth administration in the future.
– I wish to deal only with item 5 of Government business on the notice paper, which relates to the Canned Fruit Excise Act Repeal Bill. J support all the Bills that are being considered at the moment, but I wish to deal with this one only. The Bill proposes to incorporate the Canned Fruit Excise Act in the main Excise Act. The benefits requested by the industry are to be retained. The canned fruit industry makes a particularly valuable contribution to decentralisation. Fruit growers are, with few exceptions, small growers who produce mainly a variety of products. The processing of these products must generally, by its very nature, take place adjacent to the areas where they are grown.
Horticulture, which includes, besides fruit growing, the growing of vegetables, citrus fruits and wine grapes, brings about the most concentrated type of rural settlement. The Leeton cannery in the Riverina, in my electorate, being the most inland fruit processing cannery in Australia, suffers more than any other cannery from the added costs of freight and materials. Nearly all the materials brought to the cannery bear these additional costs and, likewise, the produce from the cannery has a correspondingly lower net return. No rural industry makes a greater contribution to decentralisation than does the fruit growing industry by its initial production and by the processing of its products in the area where they are grown. We can see great examples of this at Mildura in Victoria, at Renmark and Berri in South Australia and at Leeton and Griffith in my own electorate. The canned fruit industry and, consequently, its suppliers are going through a very difficult period. The industry deserves all the governmental consideration that it can obtain to tide it over its present problems. The industry very largely comprises small producers. Therefore, it has human problems as well as economic problems.
– I would briefly take up where the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Armstrong) left off. The area of which he spoke, being a comparatively new irrigation area, is rather similar to some of the areas that I shall mention. For instance, the Riverland cannery in my area is such a new and up to date establishment that its debt structure is different from that of many canneries in other parts of Australia, particularly Victoria. So any trouble in the canning industry is reflected in the debt structure of the modern factory. I would support the views expressed by the honourable member for Riverina. A factory such as the Riverland cannery is in very real difficulties by virtue of its debt structure and the outgoing each year to service that structure. 1 realise that this is not a debate on the canned fruit industry but one of the Bills before the House is a Bill to repeal the Canned Fruit Excise Act. The problems confronting the canned fruit industry started not with devaluation, as was the case with so many industries, but with the Kennedy Round agreements under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Certain of Australia’s canned fruits were unduly hit by the Kennedy Round. 1 trust that the Leeton factory and other factories in the electorate of the honourable member for Riverina were not as badly hit as was the Riverland factory in South Australia. In this area we primarily can peaches. The canned peach industry was hit so hard by the Kennedy Round that we immediately lost 50% of our competitive advantage in United Kingdom markets. So in addition to the problems referred to by the honourable member I would point specifically to the problems of debt structure in new factories and the problems associated with specific fruits, such as peaches, which were hit at the time of the Kennedy Round. I will not comment further on the canned fruit industry.
– You will be out of order if von do.
– I agree with your ruling, Mr Deputy Speaker. However, 1 would point out that we are debating six Bills concurrently. The honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn) dealt primarily with the Customs Bill (No. 2) and the Excise Bill (No. 2). I intend to refer particularly to the Distillation Bill (No. 2) but before doing so I would like to refer to some of the points raised by the honourable member for Balaclava. Although I realise that he was, quite rightly, talking about industries in his electorate, some of his remarks would not apply to commodity control as exercised in a small family winery in the Barossa Valley. For instance, nobody in that area would agree with the honourable member’s contention that there will be less paper work in a small family unit in which records and methods of audit have not been as extensive as they might have been. I assure the honourable member that commodity control in these areas has meant considerably more book work for the small winery. The honourable member rightly referred to the great increase in efficiency that commodity control brings.
The Distillation Act is a rather unspectacular piece of technical legislation but it is essential to the proper functioning of government. 1 give credit to the Department of Customs and Excise for its reorganisation of industries in relation to the application of commodity control. For example, the day to day keeping of records of wineries and refineries by an excise official is an outmoded concept. Rightly the Government has come to grips with the problem, resulting in a saving of §700,000 a year in respect of the wages of excise officials supervising the daily production of factories in order to protect the excise revenue. This is an excellent idea. I notice that there is no possibility of redundancy. Although on the one hand there is a saving and an increase in efficiency, nevertheless any redundant staff can be absorbed within the Department quite functionally, efficiently and quickly. So there is no problem there.
I would like to deal with the remarks made by the honourable member for Balaclava in respect of the Excise Bill (No. 2), because this Bill directly affects my electorate. I would suggest that some of his basic thoughts may have been astray. He suggested that a form of sales tax should be applied to table wines. No nation has applied an excise duty to pure juice that has no alternative sales outlet. Historically I think it is true to say that where possible no country taxes wines as the direct product of the grape. But possibly the important thing is not to worry about this notion but to look at the basic ingredients of brandy and wine and to realise that they are entirely the product of the vineyard - entirely the by-product of the grape. If you compare the basic ingredients of beer with that of wine, and bear in mind the total excise earnings each year of S900m, you surely find that different considerations apply. The honourable member will be aware that beer is fundamentally a product of barley, water and sugar, with other things playing their part. I accept the honourable member’s submission that beer is the basic drink of many hard working characters, including members of Parliament, and that on the face of it there is some burden on the ordinary metropolitan consumer of beer by virtue of the high proportion of excise paid on that commodity. But beer is a manufacturing process primarily, using barley and water.
– I rise to order. In what way is this argument relevant to the legislation now before us?
– Other honourable members have discussed this subject. [ feel that I must allow some latitude to the honourable member for Angas to reply to the honourable member for Balaclava who raised this matter in his speech. I do not think the honourable member for Yarra was in the chamber at the time.
– What you suggest, Mr Deputy Speaker, is true. All I am doing is debating the merits of an excise on wine and an excise on beer. If my remarks are putting the honourable member’s nose out of joint I apologise, and I will try to be as brief as possible.
– It will be refreshing if you do.
– At least it will be a change from the honourable member’s speech, which was perambulatory. If I may, I should like to come back to the point of the problem.
– You may if you try hard.
– -Wil,1 you kindly retain the semblance of sense that you have in your make-up?
-Order! The honourable member for Angas will address the Chair and the honourable member for Yarra will cease interjecting, because it is disorderly.
– The honourable member for Angas has a strange and natural rudeness-
– Order! The honourable member for Yarra will cease interjecting.
-I raise a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I was saying that the honourable member for Angas has a strange sort of rudeness which–
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order. The Chair will take note of what the honourable member has said. The honourable member for Angas will address the Chair and will keep his remarks to the Bill’. He may make passing reference to those subjects which have been discussed earlier, but they must be passing references only.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I will do as you suggest. I was about to refer to the alternative alcoholic drinks and the excise payable on them. The barley producer is not greatly affected in terms of the excise that is applicable to beer but it is worth pointing out to the House - I trust that the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) will support me in this - that the situation is quite different in respect of vineyards. If a man has 10 acres of vines which are producing 2 tons of grapes per acre he will produce a total of 20 tons. Thirty-five gallons of brandy can be produced from each ton. The vineyard would produce 700 gallons of brandy per annum and the amount payable in excise on that production would be $5,600. Let us look at the position on an irrigated farm. This would concern the electorate of the honourable member for Mallee as well as my own electorate. Without going right through the arithmetic, with an average yield of 10 tons an acre, the excise payable on the production of a 10-acre vineyard would be $28,000. I think I will leave the argument at that point. The honourable member for Balaclava overlooked the fact that there is a heavy impost on a small farmer who has only about 10 acres of vines.
Clause 7 of the Distillation Bill (No. 2) 1968 appears to be simple, as it simply repeals section 15 of the principal Act. There is a story behind this; it relates to the licensing laws of South Australia and to a royal commission on licensing in that State about 2 years ago. At that time a South Australian, Mr Condor Laucke, now a senator in another place, wrote to me about a problem associated with the State legislation. At that stage it was suggested that certain bodies, co-operatives in particular, should be licensed to sell at the factory door lesser quantities than 2 gallons of wine. Unfortunately at that time section 15 of the Act did not permit licences to be issued to wineries unless there was a minimum sale at factory door of 2 gallons of wine. To cut an involved story short, and to reduce a complete file down to the bare essentials, at that stage I approached the Minister for Customs and Excise and he promised that when the Distillation Act was being amended he would take appropriate action. I take this opportunity to point out that the action has been taken. I congratulate the appropriate department for the presentation of these Bills, which will achieve increased efficiency and increased economies, and I thank the Minister for notifying me of the amendment to repeal section 15 of the Distillation Act. I support the Bills.
- Mr Deputy Speaker–
– Order!Icall the honourable member for Mallee and I want to remind him that these Bills are administrative Bills only and I hope that he will address himself to that aspect.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, you have taken the words right out of my mouth. What I intended to say, had you given me the opportunity, was that the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) on two occasions suggested that I might speak and support him but that, while 1 always support anything that is in the best interests of the primary producer, on this occasion the Bills were restrictive and would not enable me to give full scope to my great advocacy of the interests of primary industry.
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.
Consideration resumed from 22 October (vide page 2161), on motion by Mr Nixon:
That the Bill be now read a second lime.
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.
Consideration resumed from 22nd October (vide page 2162), on motion by Mr Nixon:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
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.
Consideration resumed from 22nd October (vide page 2162), on motion by Mr Nixon:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
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.
Consideration resumed from 22 October (vide page 2162), on motion by Mr Nixon: That the Bill be now read a second time. 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.
(No. 5) 1968
Consideration resumed from 22 October (vide page 2162), on motion by Mr Nixon:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
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 November (vide page 2646), on motion by Mr Bury:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill seeks to overcome a number of anomalies which have arisen since the Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Act was enacted in November of last year. The Opposition does not oppose the proposed amendments to the Act. It believes that where anomalies are found they should be tidied up as quickly as possible. Two of the proposed three amendments concern payments to the Association of Employers of Waterside Labour by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. But one aspect that the Opposition feels is of importance is that redundancy should not be allowed to create any problems or threaten peace on the waterfront. Therefore, if there are any doubts, now is the time to eliminate them.
Whilst the Opposition supports this legislation, it hopes that there will be promptness in working out some system of informing men when they are required for employment. At the present time some men are told before they finish work that they will be required at a particular time on the next day. But on many occasions they are not given this information before their shift terminates. The result is that these men have to telephone their employers either late at night or early in the morning - sometimes between 5.15 a.m. and 5.45 a.m. This is causing some dissatisfaction amongst the men on the waterfront. They believe that if they are permanent employees they should be treated as permanent employees and should not be required to leave their homes at night or early in the morning to make a telephone call to their employers. The men believe that some system should be worked out whereby they can be advised in advance whether they will be required. Surely this is not. asking too much. The Authority should know when a ship will be coming into port. Surely it can make radio contact with a ship to find out when it will reach the port and what labour will be required. If this cannot be done, I feel a special allowance should be given to the men to overcome the inconvenience they suffer.
– What does the honourable member suggest?
– I have just suggested that the waterfront authorities should be able to overcome this problem. lt is not an insurmountable problem. The Waterside Workers Federation is prepared lo confer with the employers to work out a satisfactory system so that this problem can be overcome as expeditiously as possible. The other matter to which I wish to refer is permanent employment in the stevedoring industry at the port of Newcastle. Honourable members are no doubt aware that Newcastle is the largest bulk handling port in Australia today. Unfortunately, permanency has not been introduced so far. I believe that it is in the process of being introduced and that negotiations are being carried out. 1 hope that permanency will be introduced at a very early date. I hope that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury), the unions concerned and the employers will be able to reach agreement at an early date. I understand that the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd is the cause of some of the problems associated with this port. The stevedoring industry is an industry of its own. The conference which was responsible for the introduction of permanency at other ports should be able lo work out some system whereby there can be a speedy transfer from casual to permanent employment at the port of Newcastle. I discussed this matter on Monday of this week with officials of the Newcastle Branch of the WWF. They assured me that they are anxious for permanency to be introduced as early as possible.
I am always relucant to support any proposition whereby men will be displaced as a result of the introduction of new methods of production or handling. New methods of handling cargo are being introduced on the wharves throughout Australia. This is progress. Redundancy will result from the introduction of containerisation in a few months time. Construction of container terminals at Fremantle, Melbourne and Sydney are well under way. In fact, a Government supporter asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) in this House only last week whether he would be available at an early date to attend the opening the new container terminal at Fremantle. If the introduction of containerisation is so close, I believe that honourable members should be advised of what redundancy will occur. As I said earlier, I am completely opposed to any retrenchment of labour as a result of new methods unless adequate compensation is offered and paid to those retrenched. As far as I am concerned, the redundancy payments that this Bill guarantees are completely inadequate. The introductory remarks in the annual report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority for the year ended 30th June 1967, are as follows:
The aggregate number of regular waterside workers registered at the end of the year was 19,249, a decrease of 1,104 in the 12 months period, lt is expected that the number of waterside workers will fall substantially at some point of lime after cellular container ships enter the Australian trade, lt is not possible to give an accurate estimate of the extent of such decline. The National Stevedoring Industry Conference proposals include provisions for meeting a redundancy situation.
Those remarks confirm my statement that redundancy is just around the corner. But even though redundancy is just around the corner the Stevedoring Industry Authority is conducting a recruitment campaign for port labour. What is the sense in doing that? The Authority’s report states that when container ships start to operate along the coast redundancy will occur, yet at the same time the Authority is building up the labour force. Is this fair to those men on the waterfront who know that their jobs are in jeopardy? They will not be adequately compensated for their loss of employment and yet the Authority is endeavouring to recruit labour.
– There is something sinister about it.
– That is correct. The trade union movement is very concerned, too. So much so that the interstate executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions last week carried a resolution to the effect that there must be no further recruitment to the stevedoring industry unless by agreement with the ACTU and the Waterside Workers Federation. Should the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority continue with its recruiting programme without the agreement of the ACTU the Executive reserves the right to consider whether it should, under the terms of the previous resolution, declare that workers should not accept such jobs.
On behalf of the workers in the waterfront industry 1 make the plea that this campaign of labour recruitment be discontinued and suggest that the Authority should seek to find the best way in which the present labour force can be employed. Men are being transported from the port of Newcastle to Sydney. In this way employment is being provided for these men; otherwise they would have to exist on the appearance money of $3.10 per day. These are the sort of things that should be examined by this Government. If additional recruitment is introduced in the port of Sydney, the waterside workers at the port of Newcastle will receive less work.
As I have already said, the trade union movement as a whole is greatly concerned about the present state of affairs. It is time that the Minister made a clear statement to the effect that the recruiting programme will cease and that the Government will find other ways in which to meet the problems which exist in our ports. Is it possible for men to work additional hours so that work can be provided for them? If need he. men could be brought from other ports and employed on a casual basis in those ports where there is a shortage of labour. This is one of the issues to which the Government has to find an answer.
With the recruitment of labour, for how long will these men hold their jobs? Will they be retained as permanent employees? When the Government talks about redundancy, it is obvious that it is not the intention of the Government to retain these men in permanent employment. The Government is using these men as a convenience. It will bring them in only for a short period, perhaps for 1 year or 2 years. I am not in a position to say how long the Government proposes to retain these men in the employment of the Stevedoring Industry Authority. This will create additional problems. I have seen this sort of thing occur in industry, particularly in the shipbuilding industry. That is a fluctuating industry. As different types of ships have to be fitted out, it is sometimes necessary to bring in electricians, sheet metal workers and other people in allied trades. 1 can see a Government supporter at the back of the chamber who knows quite a deal about this particular industry: he knows the situations that arise when casual labour is brought in to finish off the fitting out of a ship.
– lt is difficult to plan.
– I know it is difficult to plan. I have spoken to the unions concerned in this sort of thing. The point I am making - the honourable member for Kooyong knows this full well - is that, even though the men realise that the work is only temporary, when an industry brings in men and a ship is fitted out the men are told: ‘We no longer have any work for you.’ What is the result? The result is industrial trouble. The men on the job immediately say: ‘You are not going to lay off any of our fellow workers. You brought them in. lt is your responsibility to find employment for them.’ The upshot of this is that overtime embargoes are imposed, there are strikes, unions arc taken to court, and on many occasions penal clauses are used against them. I repeat that when the time comes to dispose of men who have been brought in on a temporary basis industrial unrest is immediately created. This will be the situation if the Government continues its recruitment programme on the waterfront. In any case this problem will1 arise with the men already employed in the industry when redundancy occurs.
J cannot imagine for one second that any group of workers will stand by and agree to the displacement of their workmates, particularly when their compensation is so inadequate. 1 ask the Minister and the Stevedoring Industry Authority to discontinue the recruitment programme and thus minimise the degree of industrial trouble that will1 inevitably flow as a result of redundancy. Earlier I said that there should not be any laying off of men and that natural wastage should be accepted as the means of reducing the labour force. In the Australian Stevedoring industry Authority report of 30th June 1967 the following statement appears at page 37:
The overall net decrease in the number of regular waterside workers, that is those on Part A of the registers, totalled 1,104. The gain of 233 men from new registrations and re-registrations was more than offset by a loss to the industry of 1,217 men, of whom 833 left voluntarily or because of ill-health, 223 were deregistered for disciplinary reasons and 161 died, and also by the transfer of 120 men to the irregular classification.
If the stevedoring industry can lose 1,217 men in one year for the reasons I have outlined, surely the position should be closely examined to ensure that men will not bc displaced.
We know that containerisation is being introduced for one purpose - as a more economic form of transporting goods from one port to another. If the industry as a whole will derive financial benefit from the introduction of containerisation, it must be prepared to accept some of the disadvantages and losses resulting therefrom. A capital1 outlay is required to build the ships, the containers and the ports, and to re-build ports. In the same way, the cost of maintaining surplus labour for two or three years should be one of the financial commitments for which the industry should accept some responsibility. I am quite opposed to men being laid off as a result of this new and improved method of stevedoring.
Let me refer to the question of redundancy and the paltry amount that is being offered as compensation. Honourable members should have a look at what other countries are doing in this field. When I say that the amount is paltry, I have in mind the astronomical payments that are made to redundant workers on the waterfront in the United States. These small amounts that are offered here do not compensate a worker in any way whatsoever. These men went on to the waterfront with one object in mind - that it was to be a job for life. Now, as a result of new methods, they find they will be displaced. On behalf of the waterside workers 1 make a strong plea to the Government not to proceed with its plans for redundancy and not to lay men off but rather to allow natural wastage in the industry to reduce the labour force over a period of years. 1 know that it will cost money. But, at the same time, there will be a tremendous saving to industry and commerce as a result of the introduction of containerisation.
The same can be said about the recruitment of additional labour. Once again I draw the Minister’s attention to the hazards associated with additional recruitment. What will be the result if the Government proceeds with its redundancy plans? If the Government does not proceed with its redundancy plans but allows the natural wastage to operate as I have suggested, then it can go ahead and recruit all the labour it wants. But if it is the intention of industry to dispose of the surplus labour which will be in existence when containerisation becomes operative, then by all means let it discontinue the recruitment campaign.
The Opposition accepts the amendments and supports them. It believes that because there are anomalies, particularly in the changeover relating to levies, it is essential that this legislation be passed. We support the legislation, but at the same time we hope that when the problems associated with redundancy do arise, considerate legislation will be introduced equally promptly in this place and that it likewise will be supported by Government as well as Opposition members.
– It is almost trite to say that this amending Bill deals with one of the most important industries in Australia today. Australia is a trading nation of some consequence, and practically everything that comes into it or goes out of it moves via the waterfront.
This Bill, which provides for the control of activities on the waterfront, will have a fundamental effect on the social and economic pattern and behaviour of the nation. As the economy of Australia grows even more in the future we will depend more and more on trade and shipping, and therefore the stevedoring industry will become even more important. One thing that is sometimes forgotten by our friends on the other side of the House when discussing this question is that costs in the stevedoring industry are shared by the whole community. They are not met by a few shipowners or a few importers: they are shared by the community at large, and increases in costs on the waterfront have an important effect on the standards of living of working mcn in the community who can ill afford to pay the extra lc or 2c or 5c on individual consumer items the prices of which arc increased because of increased costs in the stevedoring industry. lt is for this reason that I rise today to make some criticisms of the industry. This gives me no pleasure whatsoever, lt causes me a great deal of disquiet to say what I have to say about the industry at the present time. I shall deal first with one point made by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) about shortages of labour at ports. J have a great deal of sympathy with the honourable member in regard to this matter, and I know that his sentiments are shared by the decent men on the waterfront who entertain fears about increased labour being brought to the waterfront and subsequently having to bc put off. Bui the honourable member did not give us any solution to the stark factual problem facing the Sydney waterfront today, where I am informed that the labour force is 1,000 men short. 1 believe the Melbourne waterfront is also about 1,000 men short. This means that there are ships in Sydney Harbour and in Port Phillip Bay lying idle for days on end because there are not enough waterside workers to unload and reload them. It has been put to the Waterside Workers Federation that temporary labour should be recruited, and the Federation has said: in no circumstances will we permit the recruitment of additional labour’.
That is the first point I want to make tonight. Here we have an extraordinarily important industry affecting the economy jnd the welfare of this nation, being virtually dictated to by a trade union. 1 do not imagine that the honourable member for Newcastle, who is known for his responsible attitude towards matters of national significance, would agree that this is a good thing for the nation, but it is a stark fact. The employers have said: “Let us recruit on a temporary basis 1,000 new workers for the Sydney waterfront, even if only for 6 months. Let us have them there to get rid of this surplus of shipping. After the 6 months they will bc dismissed. The permanent rights of the present waterside workers who are members of the union will not be affected in any way whatsoever.’ But the union has said: ‘No, you must not recruit one more man.’ They are holding this threat over the stevedoring industry.
The honourable member for Newcastle suggests quite properly that the Australian stevedoring industry authority or some other responsible body should get over the problem by adopting a method which, superficially, appears to be sound. He suggests that when there is a surplus of labour at one port - I think he gave as an example the port of Newcastle - we could take the surplus men to some adjacent port - in that case Sydney - to overcome a shortage there. I do not know whether the honourable member for Newcastle knows it, but this in fact was suggested some time ago to the Federation, and the Federation placed such outrageous conditions on the transfer of such labour that it became completely uneconomic and impracticable to follow that course. 1 have not in my mind the details of the actual conditions, but 1 remember that the demands for travelling allowances, daily living away allowances, return fares and so on were quite extraordinary. They made the scheme quit( impossible. One tends, therefore, to doubt the bona fides of the Federation in this matter. I can well understand the inbuilt fear of members of the Federation that if too many men are admitted to the industry their jobs will be threatened. But surely in the light of the guarantees given to them that the temporary employees would be the first to be dismissed, their refusal 10 co-operate calls for some sort of investigation.
Sitting suspended from 5. 57 to 8 p.m.
– This Bill is an amending Bill to the stevedoring industry legislation. The amendments contained in the Bill apply specifically to a scheme known as the Woodward scheme which has been introduced on the Australian waterfront. Before the suspension of the sitting I said that it gives me no great pleasure tonight to criticise this scheme which deals with a vital section of the Australian economy. I shall briefly trace the history that led up to the introduction of the Woodward scheme. In the years before 1965 chaos reigned on the Australian waterfront. In 1965, 1.2 million man hours were lost through waterfront stoppages. The industry had in fact reached the stage of crisis. If the honourable member for Kingsford Smith (Mr Curtin), who is trying to interject, will restrain himself he will find that at no stage during my speech will I be critical only of the waterside workers. I will be equally critical of the employers and in fact of my own Government for the situation that has developed on the Australian waterfront. The 1965 legislation, notwithstanding the bitter, vigorous opposition from the Opposition, was, in my view, one of the most courageous pieces of industrial legislation ever brought down in this House. It had a salutary effect on the waterfront situation. 1 remind the House that at the time of the introduction of the 1965 legislation, the Minister then in charge of the Bill, the present Treasurer (Mr McMahon), called for improved efficiency on the part of employers. As soon as the 1965 legislation became law the Australian Council of Trade Unions appealed to the Government, through the then Prime Minister, to establish a national conference comprised of all parties in the industry, including the Waterside Workers Federation, to see whether the problems besetting the industry could be resolved around the conference table. Mr A. E. Woodward, Q.C., was appointed to chair the conference. His charter was to bring the parties together, but it was at no time intended - in fact, it was spelled out specifically to Mr Woodward - that any scheme would evolve which resulted in increased costs on the waterfront without a relative increase in efficiency, so that freight rates, including stevedoring costs, might not be expected to rise without an equi valent increase in throughput. The conference is now history. The parties discussed matters at length and eventually a package deal covering a wide range of subjects was approved and accepted by this Government. Amongst other things, perhaps the most significant part of the package deal was that permanent employment should be a feature of waterside employment; that permanent assigning of waterside workers to individual stevedores should be arranged for the first time; and that a residual pool of men to meet day to day peaks should be established. There is no need for me to stress the obvious advantages that should flow to both employer and employee from a closer and permanent relationship.
Time does not permit me to traverse all the gains made by waterside workers out of the Woodward agreement and since it was signed. Suffice it to say that regular registered waterside workers now contribute to a pension fund on a ratio of 40% as against a 60% contribution by the employer. If a waterside worker becomes redundant he receives $50 for each year of service. I would like honourable members to note the weekly wage of waterside workers at the present time. For an ordinary day shift, whether a waterside worker is required to work or not, he receives a weekly wage of $53. That is on ordinary time. Penalty rates of 50% above that rate are payable for the shift from 3.30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Penalty rates of 100% apply to the shift from midnight to 7.30 a.m. Sunday work still attracts a rate of two and a half times the ordinary rate.
– Not enough.
– The honourable member for Kingsford-Smith says that it is not enough. I ask the honourable gentleman, who belongs to a Party which allegedly represents the workers, whether the wage rate which is paid to a waterside worker for unskilled or, at best, semi-skilled labour - and I know that through you, Mr Speaker, I am addressing an honourable member who was skilled in his own trade - is unfair when compared with the wage rate paid to the rest of the work pool. 1 shall briefly quote what the average wages of waterside workers were before permanency was introduced - before the Woodward scheme came down - and what they are at the present time. In Port Kembla, for example, before permanency a waterside worker who worked 23.7 hours a week - and I suggest that he would not be over-straining himself to work 23.7 hours a week - received $60. Today a waterside worker at Port Kembla, working 28.4 hours a week, receives $75.87. To take this matter to the ridiculous stage, I am sure that the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith, who is one of the hardest working members of this Parliament, would work a minimum of 56 hours a week, which is double the number of hours which a waterside worker at Port Kembla works. The honourable member for KingsfordSmith is being paid at an hourly rate which is less than that paid to a waterside worker at Port Kembla. When honourable members opposite say that waterside workers are not being paid enough, 1 think that these matters should be looked at in perspective, lt can be said that as a result of the Woodward scheme, the Australian waterside workers today receive a fair or more than a fair remuneration for their labour. When one examines rates paid in industry generally one finds that waterside workers, to say the least, are not ungenerously treated.
The package deal to which I have referred was entered into only last year and was expected and understood to run for 5 years. Today, 12 months after the scheme commenced in Sydney, 10 months after it commenced in Melbourne, 9 months after it commenced in Port Kembla, 8 months after it commenced in Adelaide and Fremantle and 2 months after it commenced in Brisbane there are very serious rumblings on the Australian waterfront, and great dissatisfaction is being expressed both by waterside workers and employers. It does not give me any pleasure to say that I am not persuaded that the Woodward scheme is working either for the decent man on the waterfront, the decent union official, the employer, or this nation which depends so heavily on the waterfront for its social and economic welfare. I go further. As I see it - and I sincerely hope that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) will reply to my statement and tell me that I am wrong - the net results of Mr Woodward’s scheme are that there have been substantial monetary gains for some waterside workers but there has been no improved efficiency on the Australian waterfront.
Perhaps one of the most worrying features is that there has been a classic reduction in the number of Australian owned stevedoring companies on the Australian waterfront. We are stampeding towards a situation in which the stevedoring operations of this country are being controlled by overseas shipping companies, mainly from the United Kingdom. If any honourable member opposite believes that that is a good thing for Australia, let him get up and say so. I believe that another result of the Woodward scheme is that costs on the Australian waterfront have risen. Because the costs of handling cargo - both the loading and unloading of cargo - have risen, it means that the costs which face the working man, which the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith champions, have risen accordingly. The number of stoppages on the waterfront is approaching the number which occurred in the year of chaos - 1965. This is soon after permanency was introduced.
May I very briefly quote from the monthly reports of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority in regard to stoppages on the waterfront? In the port of Sydney, in 2 years before permanency was introduced, 14,000 man-hours were lost. In the 12 months since permanency was introduced in the port of Sydney, 139,000 manhours have been lost notwithstanding permanency and notwithstanding increased benefits to waterside workers. In the port of Melbourne, only 64,500 man-hours were lost in the 2 years before permanency. By contrast, in the 9 months since January, when permanency was introduced in Melbourne, 225,000 man-hours have been lost. In every port of the country where permanency has been introduced, the same sad, sorry story can be told. The same sort of thing has happened at Port Kembla, Adelaide and Fremantle. lt might be argued that these stoppages were caused by campaigns for wage increases. But the Waterside Workers Federation had entered into an agreement - a so called package deal. Why should time be lost when the way was open to it to go to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to present a case, as it ultimately did? This gives me, for one, no cause to accept with confidence the proposition that relations on the waterfront are different today from what they have always been, lt seems to me that this Government showed a rare act of courage in 1965 in introducing sanity and stability to the waterfront. Because it has adopted Mr Woodward’s report, the waterfront has now drifted back into the chaos which prevailed in 1965. It was only in mid 1967 that all the organisations represented at the National Stevedoring Industry Conference, including the Federation, endorsed the package deal. The Government gave its blessing in July 1967. The package deal was to have a life of 5 years. Yet today, after the scheme has run for less than li years of its 5-year life, the Federation has decided that many of the major items must be rewritten. It is asking for more wages and for the retention and development of the equalisation of wages by the iniquitous points system.
May I pause here to illustrate one aspect of the Woodward report which is causing great concern to decent men on the waterfront and to the employers. I refer here to the points system for the equalisation of wages, which was never intended when the scheme was introduced. The Federation has asked for this system and has been granted it by weak-kneed employers though it is outside the recommendations in the report. Some specialised gangs were earning more money than others. The gangs that were not earning as much money sought the aid of the union and the union said: ‘We must have equalisation of wages’. So the employers then gave the less efficient and less reliable gangs weekend or Sunday work. This means that they received the same amount of money although they worked less time. This has led to a ridiculous situation on the Australian waterfront in which honest, sincere waterside workers who work harder, better, more efficiently and for longer hours, receive the same pay as, or even less than, the loafers and no-hopers who, because they complained and the union backed them up, work for fewer hours. One wonders why there is dissension on the Australian waterfront! One wonders why the decent men on the waterfront are complaining! There is a whole list of additional things that the union now wants written into the package deal. The watersiders in the ports of Sydney and Melbourne, in which half of the waterside work force is employed, are supporting the Federal Council of the union.
There are three features of the Woodward scheme that have caused me, and I think any honourable member who has taken any interest in the waterfront, tremendous concern. First of all 1 marvelled at the naivete of Mr Woodward in accepting, and I sometimes marvel at the naivete of the Government in accepting, the complete absence of any guarantee by the Federation of better rates of handling cargo. On the information available to me, it seems that in ports where pemanency has been introduced rates of work and throughput of important cargoes such as wool, wheat, timber and general cargoes are at best no better than they were in pre-permanency days. This is notwithstanding the millions of dollars that have been spent on technological improvements on wharf and ship facilities.
I wish to cite an incident that must disturb any thinking member of this House. A few days ago, wool - which interests many honourable members - was being loaded at the port of Newcastle. In a shift, the gang concerned loaded only 240 bales of wool. In desperation, the employer said that on the next shift they could load the wool in their own time and that when they had filled a certain quota they could go home. I repeat that in a full shift the gang had loaded 240 bales of wool. In the next day, the same gang, working the same ship with the same equipment, loaded 480 bales in half the time, and the men then went home. I do not blame the men, the union or, necessarily, the employers. I am blaming the system. But for making a deal such as this, the employers have a lot to answer for to the community. They allow this sort of thing to go on without supervision on a cost-plus basis, and they pass the costs on to the community.
Another disturbing feature of the Woodward scheme is that the foreman, who, before the scheme commenced, had immediate control over, and power to discipline, the labour under his charge, is not now allowed to discharge men. The foreman no longer has the right to fire or discipline.
– Hear, hear!
– I note that the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith said: ‘Hear, hear!’ I am informed that some men who are troublemakers constantly flaunt this power in the face of the foremen, whose position has been almost completely eroded. How a responsible member of the Parliament can applaud this confounds me. Does the honourable member want chaos or efficiency on the waterfront?
The third disturbing feature of the Woodward scheme is that when employers exercise firm but fair discipline, they are now open to having their ships isolated. And several of them have had the sad experience of having this happen. The honourable member for Kingsford-Smith knows very well what that means. If an employer does the right thing and supervises his labour, the union - honourable members will pardon the colloquialism, I am sure - decides to ‘knock him off and hold all his ships to ransom. Employers who are prepared to comment are asking where this scheme is leading us. I have closely followed events on the Australian waterfront for about 8 years. Many people on the waterfront, as I have moved around, have said: How much more is to be given away?’ Many have told me that in 1965 the Waterside Workers Federation was under control but that in 1968 it controls the waterfront. Perhaps the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith thinks that also is a good thing. But if he puts to me the proposition that it is well that an industry so vital to the economy and wellbeing of Australia should be controlled in this way by a trade union, 1 must beg to disagree with him violently and vigorously. My information is that time and time again employers have acceded to constantly recurring demands on the job which are without merit. The more the employers concede, the more is demanded. Yet they have received little, if anything, in return.
I am dismayed by the way in which the Woodward scheme has worked out. 1 believe that when a scheme does not work out it is not worth persevering with. 1 believe that, for the sake of the men on the waterfront and the industry itself, a further examination must be made of conditions in the industry. Should all labour be returned to the control of the Australian Stevedoring Authority for rostering and allocation? Should the Authority have the discretion as to which men and how many men will be assigned permanently to individual stevedoring companies? Will some brake b; applied on the overseas owned stevedoring companies to prevent them strangling the two remaining Australian owned stevedoring companies in Australia? Should power to dismiss men be restored to foremen? Should the stevedoring company be able to exercise positive control of the labour on the job and if additional power is required should the Authority be authorised to prosecute stevedoring companies that fail to control labour properly? 1 know that this implies a return of discipline to the Authority, but I would rather have that any day than the kind of situation we have at the moment.
As 1 said, it gives me no pleasure at all to be compelled to speak in this way about the situation on the waterfront. If 1 am wrong in any way, even in emphasis, I would be delighted to have the Minister correct me before the debate is concluded. If 1 am not wrong, 1 ask the Minister and the Government to re-examine conditions in this vital industry before ve ure held to ransom and find chaos reigning again on the Australian waterfront.
Debate (on motion by Mr Connor) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Fairhall, and read a first time.
1.8.25 J- 1 move:
That the Bill be now read ;i second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to enable the Commonwealth to acquire, by compulsory process if that should be necessary, any part of the lands at Holsworthy. New South Wales, described in the Bill, which are currently used for military training and which the Commonwealth may wish to retain for Army training purposes, and to provide a buffer zone of 1-mile radius round the Atomic Energy Commission’s reactor at Lucas Heights, which borders the Holsworthy area.
Honourable members will bc aware that, over the past 60 years, Holsworthy - on the outskirts of Sydney - has become virtually the hub of Australia’s military training organisation. The area at Holsworthy comprises about 80 square miles. 27 of which are Commonwealth owned - having been acquired between 1912 and 1957. The balance of 53 square miles is State Crown Land, which the Army has used under tenure granted by the New South Wales government from time to time. In addition, an area to the south of about 32 square miles, known as the ,n,t/……. Creek’ area, has been used for training under the authority of a proclamation made under section 69 of the Defence Act.
Presently, the major portion of the Australian Army Field Force is located at Holsworthy, and the strength of units in the general area is now about 7,000. In addition, the area is used by about 8,000 CMF personnel in the Sydney area. Its accessibility for CMF training is of enormous importance, as is also its proximity to the amenities of city life for the dependants of servicemen who live in the district.
Over the years of Army occupation, very considerable expenditure has been incurred in developing depot and training establishments, the entire concept of the whole Holsworthy complex having been based on the assumption that St:te Crown Lands, which have been used for so long and for a purpose so important, would continue to be available. Ali told, the Army’s capital investment in Holsworthy is of the order of $65m. The bulk of these improvements is on Commonwealth-owned land, but on the rest are extensive ranges and facilities for training and exercises.
For the pf.st 15 years, efforts have been made by the Commonwealth to obtain a more secure tenure of the State Crown Lands, without success. Additionally, proposals for acquisition were first taken up with the New South Wales Government in 1954 and since there have been numerous discussions wilh the State authorities.
In February of last year, the State Government - in full knowledge of the importance of our continued occupancy of the area, but without any prior discussion wilh us - caused a notice to be published in the New South Wales Government Gazette reserving ‘for public recreation’ the greater part of the State lands on which the Army carries out its training.
The effect of this gazettal is to prevent the Commonwealth from acquiring the land under the Commonwealth Lands Acquisi tion Act, section 6 (ii) of which Act prohibits the Commonwealth from acquiring land reserved for public recreation. It is, nevertheless, clear that the State Government contemplates the use of a considerable part of the area for residential and industrial purposes, having pressed us to provide some 1500 acres of the Commonwealthowned land to permit industrial development, and 2,300 acres more for residential purposes.
However, despite this unilateral State action, the Commonwealth has continued to seek an accommodation with the State. In August last, accompanied by my Ministerial colleagues, the Attorney-General end the Minister for the Army, and officials, we met the State Ministers concerned, but failed to reach agreement as to the relative priorities of need. Later by arrangement with the State Ministers, there were further discussions between Commonwealth and State officials, but again the Statu remained obdurate.
The Commonwealth has sought to go as far as it possibly can in finding some sensible accommodation with State wishes.
We have agreed to provide access for road and rail links across the area. We have agreed that an area suitable for residential development, known as the ‘Little Forest’, will not be acquired, although it forms part of the lands covered by this Bill, although we asked that the Army should be allowed to use this area until the State actually needed the land for development. We also informed the State that the Commonwealth would be prepared to transfer part of the Commonwealth lands to the State (o allow for some residential development.
Looking into the future, the Commonwealth accepts that - at some unspecified date - it may be possible or desirable for the Commonwealth to make other arrangements, and we submitted to the Slate that, if permitted to acquire any of the land for defence purposes, we would undertake to make it available to the Slate at present-day values when no longer required for Commonwealth purposes. On the other hand, it is completely essential that termination of occupancy of the land for military training purposes must be at the Commonwealth’s discretion.
The House will also be aware that the Lucas Heights reactor of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission stands on the boundary of the Holsworthy land, lt is necessary, for protective purposes, to prevent development of the land in a circle with a radius of 1 mile from the reactor. Here, happily, the State has been more understanding but, as yet, we have no final agreement which would ensure this essential provision, so that in this Bill we have sought to protect the position of the Army, with respect to the use of the Holsworthy training complex, and at the same time to provide public safety and protect the investment of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. In neither case can we risk any peremptory demand to vacate all State lands.
Notwithstanding the passage of the Bill, we will continue to seek mutually acceptable terms for occupancy with the State and the Bill before the House does not, by its terms, acquire the lands referred to in its schedules. It merely enables acquisition action to be taken under the Lands Acquisition Act - action that could be taken without this Bill but for the recreation reserve proclamation to which I have referred. When the Bill is enacted as law, we will resume our discussion with the State, in the hope that we can come to a sensible accommodation. As the leases over the State lands in question expire on 31st December next there is, however, a degree of urgency in the matter.
By way of explanation I would point out that, for convenience, the first schedule to the Bill uses the description appearing in the State proclamation of reservation for recreation purposes. This includes the Little Forest area, but I repeat that the Commonwealth does not intend to acquire that area which the State wants for its own development except that part of it lying within the l-mile radius buffer zone surrounding the Lucas Heights reactor to which I have referred. I commend the Bill to the House.
– Before I move that the debate be adjourned, with the indulgence of the House, I ask the Minister whether, in view of the very large area of land referred to in the schedules to the Bill and the many references to particular areas, it would be possible for maps to be made available to honourable members. I am aware of most of the area myself, having represented it or having the ambition to do so, but 1 can assure the House that it will be very difficult to debate this matter without the assistance of maps. Furthermore, 1 am certain that many honourable members would want to consult with some of the local government bodies in the area to obtain their opinion about it.
– I take readily the suggestions made by the Leader of the Opposition. I will have suitable maps prepared and circulated in the morning.
Debate (on motion by Mr Whitlam) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Swartz, and read a first time.
Mr SWARTZ (Darling Downs - Minister for Civil Aviation [8.33] - 1 move:
Thai the Bill be now read a second lime.
This is a Bill for an Act to introduce charges payable by air service passengers for the use of facilities provided by the Commonwealth at certain Commonwealth aerodromes. On a number of occasions, reference has been made to the widening gap between the amount that it costs the Commonwealth annually to provide facilities for the civil aviation industry, and the amount of revenue received from the industry for the use of these facilities, and last year the Government announced its intention to introduce a passenger service charge to help towards reducing progressively this gap between costs and revenues, thereby lowering the burden on the general taxpayers who would otherwise have to meet the unrecovered costs. The Government deferred introduction of the charges in 1967-68, but it now proposes that this additional source of revenue from the users of aviation facilities should be availed of as soon as possible. In 1 967-68, the total cost of maintaining, operating and administering aerodromes and air navigation facilities was almost $60m, including interest, depreciation and superannuation charges. Revenue derived by the Department of Civil Aviation from the users of these facilities amounted to approximately $12. 5m, while another $8. 5m was paid by the domestic operators in aviation fuel excise. It will be seen that, although the proportion of costs being recovered is increasing each year, the deficit in monetary terms is still substantial.
The Bill imposes charges on certain air passengers who use or enjoy the benefit of facilities provided by the Commonwealth al a number of Commonwealth aerodromes, such as runways and taxiways used by the aircraft which carry the passengers, and the terminal buildings, roadways and other improvements established to enable them to embark on and disembark from these aircraft. The proposed charges are estimated to bring in revenue of about 54.5m annually, a small sum compared with the unrecovered costs mentioned earlier and the total cost of $34m incurred in 1967-68 in operating and maintaining the particular aerodromes where charges will apply. In drawing up the scheme of charges, the Government gave a lot of thought to whether they should be applicable at all Commonwealth aerodromes, and concluded that it would he appropriate to restrict them to the busier airports. It has been decided, therefore, that no charges will be levied for embarkation or disembarkation at any Commonwealth aerodrome where, in the most recent completed year, passenger movements were fewer than 35,000. For the present, this means that, in addition to Canberra and the six State capital cities, passenger charges will be payable only at Cairns, Coolangatta, Mackay, Rockhampton and Townsville in Queensland; Dubbo, Tamworth and Wagga in New South Wales; Devonport, Launceston and Wynyard in Tasmania; Alice Springs and Darwin in the Northern Territory; Kingscote and Port Lincoln in South Australia; and at Lae and Port Moresby in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I will refer later to concessions which will be granted for internal travel within the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. The reference I have made here to Lae and Port Moresby is only to travel between the mainland and those two airports.
At first sight, some provisions of the Bill may appear to be complicated, but this is largely due to the involved nature of the domestic airline network and the journeys which some passengers make, and the
Government’s belief that travellers should not be penalised financially under the proposed scheme of charges simply because the airline system is organised in a particular way. In itself, the proposed scheme of charges has been kept as simple and as free from anomalies as possible. In simple terms, a domestic passenger will pay a charge of 50c, if he or she embarks on a journey which commences at one of the specified Commonwealth aerodromes. Similarly, a charge of 50c will be payable for disembarkation at one of these aerodromes at the end of a journey. No charge will be payable for embarkation or disembarkation at a non-Commonwealth aerodrome, and additional charges will not be incurred if the aircraft on which the passenger is travelling lands at one or more intermediate Commonwealth aerodromes while proceeding to his destination, or if the passenger transfers between flights at a Commonwealth aerodrome in the course of a single journey. The charge for the return part of a journey will, in general, be the same as that for the forward part of the journey.
Some examples of charges applicable to particular journeys may make these arrangements clear:
From Canberra to Sydney, the charge will be $1.
From Canberra to Brisbane via Sydney, the charge will be SI.
The charge for a journey CanberraSydneyCanberra will be $2.
From Canberra to Cooma, which has not a Commonwealth airport, the charge will be 50c.
From Canberra to Gladstone, a nonCommonwealth airport, via Sydney and Brisbane, the charge will be 50c.
These arc merely illustrations of the charges which will be introduced, lt will be noted that the charge payable is not dependent on the distance flown, as it is related solely to embarkation or disembarkation at a Commonwealth aerodrome. Although no additional charge is payable when a passenger disembarks and re-embarks at a Commonwealth aerodrome while transferring from one flight to another, this concession applies only if the passenger makes a booking for the complete journey before commencing the journey. It is considered that serious practical difficulties would arise if the scheme were made any more liberal in this respect.
The charges for children under 15 years of age and full-time students of primary and secondary schools under 19 years of age are to be 50% of the adult rates. Passengers on commuter services and on charter services operated by the airlines will be charged on a similar basis to airline passengers. For the time being, passengers on other charter flights will be exempt.
International passengers will be charged $2 on departure from Australia but will be exempt from a charge on arrival in this country. No charge will be applicable to embarkation or disembarkation on a domestic flight on which the international passenger travels to or from the point of departure or arrival in Australia, provided the bookings for all travel are made at the one time. The charge for children under 12 years of age travelling on international services wil’l be 50% of the adult rate.
The charges for the use of aerodromes on domestic journeys will, in normal circumstances, be payable by the passengers when they make their reservations with the operators. As this procedure will not always be convenient where international journeys are concerned, arrangements will be made so that passengers can pay at the airport before departing for overseas. It is intended that the operators will1 be responsible for all collections, whatever method is used. Detailed instructions will, of course, be issued to the operators explaining the practical application of the charging scheme and these should help in avoiding delays to passengers when they are making their reservations or checking in at airport traffic counters.
The Government realises that the standard charges will be more significant in relation to journeys for which the airline fare is low, and, as a result, some passengers will feel they are being required to bear a disproportionate burden. This is not so, of course, because the charges are imposed for the use of the aerodrome facilities at the commencement and end of a journey, and the benefits so enjoyed are simitar whether the journey is a short one or a long one. It would not be reasonable, therefore, to have different charges in such cases, but the decision to apply charges only at the busiest airports will minimise, if not elimi nate completely, the instances where they might seem high in comparison with the air fare.
This leads me to the general1 question of concessions and exemptions, about which the Government has received numerous representations. As indicated above, the charges have been halved for children and students who normally pay half fare. Similarly, no charges will be imposed for infants who are carried by the airlines free of charge, or for employees of the carriers travelling on duty. Military personnel travelling on aircraft operated or chartered by defence authorities will also be exempt from the charges. The Government has concluded that exemptions should not be extended to any other general1 class of passengers.
Consideration has also been given to the claims of particular areas where requests for special treatment have been made. In addition to the general exemption for aerodromes having fewer passenger movements than the annual level mentioned earlier, it has been decided not to apply the charges in respect of embarkation or disembarkation on flights within the Territories of Papua and New Guinea, between those Territories and West Irian or the British Solomon Isl’ands Protectorate, between Australia and Cocos Islands or Norfolk Island, and between the latter island and New Zealand. While recognising the extent to which some other places and areas depend on the speed and convenience of air transport, the Government does not feel it would be appropriate to exempt them from the proposed charges.
In reaching these decisions, the Government has had to be mindful of the effect of too generous an approach on concessions and exemptions. Clearly, any shortfall in revenue brought about by reduced charges for some travellers would have to be met by the general taxpayer or by increasing the charges payable by other passengers, and, in the light of the costly facilities provided at Commonwealth expense, the proposed charges are quite modest.
The Bill contains appropriate provisions regarding the procedures for payment of the charges, credit arrangements, the adjustment of charges already paid when the passenger changes his journey after embarkation, and the making of regulations, and there is no need to discuss these at this time. With the co-operation of all concerned, the charging scheme should create a minimum of inconvenience to passengers and the operators. 1 commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr Charles Jones) adjourned.
– by leave - Honourable members will recall the answer i gave in reply to a question in the House on 9th October 1968 concerning the 46 foot trimaran . , 1 ,../. Taru’ which left Botany Bay on 18th August 1968 for New Zealand via Lord Howe Island. The vessel was manned by ils owner Mr W. Shute, his wife and three children and Miss Dianna McNeil, Miss Valerie Quirk and Mrs Sally Scales. The New South Wales Regional Controller of the Department of Shipping and Transport yesterday received a message from the master of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands ship ‘Moana Raoi’ saying that a capsized trimaran hail been sighted. The master of the ‘Moana R:,oi’ was unable to recover or right the trimaran but was able to establish the identity of the vessel as the ‘Waka Taru*. The master said that to the best of his ability a thorough search had been made inside the craft. There was no sign of the missing crew but there were a number of lifejackets on board and a liferaft which had inflated inside the hull.
An underwater search was not possible, but a mast and sails were seen to be hanging below the boat which appeared to have been capsized for a considerable time. The Moana Raoi’ made a search of the area until sundown yesterday without result. The Waka Taru’ was left in a sinking condition. At this stage the Air Sea Rescue Organisation has not recommended the resumption of the air search from Australia hut vessels in the area have been alerted.
Debate resumed (vide page 3052).
– 1 had not intended to participate in this debate but after hearing the contribution made by the honourable member for Higinbotham (Mr Chipp) I am impelled to do so for personal reasons and because of my special obligations to my constituents, particularly the 700 of them who are members of the Waterside Workers Federation. In my case my resentment of the honourable member’s remarks is very deep because both my father and grandfather worked on the waterfront at Wollongong and literally killed themselves with hard work. The reputation of the honourable member as a union baiter and union hater is known even to the men working at Port Kembla, whom the honourable member chose as guinea pigs to illustrate his dissertation. His contribution to this discussion will do nothing to improve industrial relations on the waterfront. I fear that it was calculated to do precisely the opposite.
Throughout history there has been turbulence on the waterfront because of the nature of the industry - its uncertainty and the impossibility to schedule the arrival or departure of ships because of vagaries of weather, variations in the availability of cargoes and all the other factors involved. To this day there is a heritage of hate. If the honourable member were to apply himself to reading any of the monthly editions of a publication known as “Harbour Coal and Shipping’ he would see the literal hatred that is there and the provocation from the employers and their spokesmen. To this day that publication is sent gratuitously to every member of the New South Wales Parliament and, I think, to most members of the Commonwealth Parliament.
My knowledge of Port Kembla harbour would not be exceeded by anybody in this House, or, I believe, in New South Wales. I have seen that harbour grow from the days of the bull system when men lined up before a foreman contractor who was in charge of a particular gang and who chose men as though they were chattel slaves from the Roman slave market. The men would go along to the post office at 5 o’clock and would line up dumbly. There would be a call. The foreman would select the men. He would choose some and reject others. This was the nature of their original employment. By the late 1930s we actually got a roster system where men were employed on rotation. This was the end of the bull system and men had an even chance of securing employment. A little later we reached the stage where appearance money was rightly paid. The basis of appearance money was that if men chose to make themselves available for working a ship if, when and as it arrived at the port they were entitled to a small daily pittance. They were registered and under discipline and in return they took their chances.
We now have the Woodward report, and 1 give great credit to the goodwill1 and intentions of the man who presented it. There is a chance for us to have an era of peace on the waterfront, but we have individuals like the honourable member for Higinbotham throwing a dead cat into the ring. The waterfront, of course, has always been a political cockshy. Let us have a look at the other side of the picture. Let us consider the working conditions at Port Kembla where there are 700 men on the roster, 130 of whom are due to be declared redundant. Daily, to meet the short fal’l of employment in Sydney, 100 or more of these men travel to Sydney to work in the hope that somehow wastage will ultimately correct the situation. I have discussed this matter with the Minister who has given me his answer. He said that the finding is that the men are redundant.
Let us consider this other side of the picture. In the main, on the basis of seniority, these are young men. They are men with families, with houses and, generally, with heavy financial commitments. They are prepared to give up their lives to this industry but their serverance pay will be limited and their chances of local employment will be equally limited. What are these men to do? What has this Government attempted in the way of a redundancy Act, of which there is a model example in Britain? What prospects have these men of retraining for the industry? It is alt very well to talk about their transferring to another port; they will not be able to do it.
The men in Port Kembla work in pretty vile conditions. I live on the crown of a hill in Wollongong 4 mites from Port Kembla, and I know that 3 miles out to sea there is a navigation hazard because of the westerly wind whipping up iron ore from the ore dumps. Navigation visibility is reduced to an absolute minimum. About 4 months ago the Senate Select Committee on
Air Pollution visited the area. One of the prime examples of industrial air pollution that 1 showed the Committee was the Port Kembla waterfront, which adjoins a sulphuric acid plant at a fertiliser industry. This, in itself, is a positive menace to health. There have been many times when the men have had to cease work because of the nature of the fumes that have crept over there. The Committee was shown examples of actual erosion of chrome plating on motor vehicles which have been parked there daily. Special consideration is given to the men because of these conditions. For 13 days each year, because the Port Kembla outer harbour is an artificial harbour, there is one certainty and that is that ships will not be able to enter the harbour because of the surge of the ground swell1. So there are 13 days lost each year for a start.
I would invite the honourable member for Higinbotham to go to Port Kembla and to get right down into the hold of a sulphur ship or a superphosphate ship, to come out choking, and then to address this House in fine rhetorical terms as to the amount of work that is being done there. As to the general efficiency of the industry, let us consider the port of Sydney where at my last count there were 129 wharves only 25 of which have rail links and rail communications. It is notorious that Sydney is one of the most inefficient ports in the world, the reason being that it was designed and its transit sheds and wharfage were built in the days of the sailing ships. In many cases it is quite a feat if a lorry can discharge two loads at some of these wharves because of the narrowness of the entrances and the poorness of the handling facilities. I regret to say that Sydney is still a hook and trolley port. Port Kembla is primarily a bulk cargo port. I suggest to the honourable member for Higinbotham that he might well get right back into his shell.
Throughout the waterfront there are decent, honest men. I know them, and I know them for what they are. 1 know the contempt in which they hold the honourable member. There is a special case for these men, and in my opinion the Government would be well advised to go slowly. There is great apprehension on the waterfront today because of the advent of containerisation, which will have a very serious impact, and the Government is going the right way about getting a first class industrial upheaval. 1 urge the Government to take it quietly and, to let wastage take its course. If, in the fullness of time, there is some measure of redundancy it can be corrected; but contributions such as that from the honourable member for Higinbotham will do nothing to correct the situation.
– 1 intend to refer to reports of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority and specifically to the report of what the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) said at the time of the introduction of the new scheme. On that occasion the Minister said:
This whole episode has surely disposed once and Tor all and in the clearest possible way of the old notion that used to be so freely canvassed that industrial trouble was inseparable from the stevedoring industry. There is absolutely no reason why the peace of the last 18 months should not continue indefinitely.
That statement in itself carried a vital message for the nation. The report of the Minister’s statement continued:
The introduction of the new labour arrangements gave ail concerned the opportunity to develop a highly efficient stevedoring industry geared to meet Australia’s requirements. The Government would be concerned, particularly during the trial period, to satisfy itself that everything possible was being done to produce this result.
The Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, said Mr Bury, would be asked to watch closely and report to him at regular intervals on the efficiency aspect and also the costs of the new arrangements. Reductions in costs should flow from the better industrial relationships that had begun to appear 2 years ago, faster turn round of vessels and so on. Certainly the Government would scrutinise closely any proposals in future for variations in freight rates.
These words were said at a time of high hopes. It is 51 weeks today since permanency was first introduced on the Sydney waterfront, but in that time we have seen a deterioration in the position.
I should like now to refer to some loading rates mentioned in the report of the Stevedoring Industry Authority. The figures relate to cargo handling rates in respect of general overseas cargo and are shown as tons per net gang hour. In 1960-61 the loading rate was 18.76; in 1961-62 it was 19.82; and in 1962-63 it was 18.91. Then we saw a downward trend to 17.29 in 1963-64; 16.23 in 1964-65; 16.42 in 1965- 66; and in 1966-67, the last year for which official figures are available, the loading rate was 17.98 - an upward climb at a time when the Woodward inquiry was in full swing and hopes were high. In recent times we have seen vast improvements in the method of handling cargo. We have seen the increased use of palletised cargo and containers, the improved methods of handling pre-slung steel, and the Skandia type vessels using flats. The nation should be able to look hopefully to a far greater improvement than these increases indicate. Tonight we heard an emotional speech by the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor)-
– A true speech.
– Certainly. I give the honourable member for Cunningham credit for his loyalty to his beginnings. He saw his father working hard under the old system. But I believe that conditions have changed considerably. We no longer tolerate the old bull system, which was referred to by the honourable member for Cunningham. I do not believe that a person who speaks against the present system should be condemned as a labour hater or a union hater. That is not so. He may be well and truly concerned with the welfare of the nation as a whole. There were high hopes that the Woodward inquiry would solve the differences on the waterfront. 1 believe that unless something is done very quickly we will look back upon the Woodward inquiry as having been a dismal failure. This is something that nobody wants to see come about, especially no honourable member in this House.
Earlier tonight the honourable member lor Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) mentioned the problems associated with notifying the men that they are required for work. What he failed to mention was that only today a situation arose in Sydney in which the Waterside Workers Federation ordered that each shift worked today be cut by 1 hour in an effort to force the employers into paying an amount of $40 so that every waterside worker can have a telephone installed in his own home. A couple of years ago we saw this type of niggling occur. It is happening again. I believe that these matters should be thrashed out in the industrial courts or during compulsory conferences. I do not believe that any of us can condone a situation whereby ships are being held up by a move such as this. Some honourable members may stand up and champion the cause of the Waterside Workers Federation but they should remember that a lot of other trade unionists who live in their electorates receive the backlash of the condonation of acts which may not be described as completely responsible. I refer to such people as those who work with their hands in factories producing materials for export overseas. Whether they like it or not, every member of the WWF and every other union in Australia, white collar or blue collar workers, have an important part to play in the development of this nation. We are all cogs in the wheel of development.
I have great sympathy for the individual who has spent 30 or 40 years on the waterfront and whose employment is soon to come to an end. Figures have been produced tonight which indicate that about 1.200 waterside workers have left the industry in recent times. This is a natural decrease and is something which has been advocated tonight. As much as people may believe that containerisation will cause huge redundancy problems, overall 1 do not think - and even the employers have used this subject as a lever - that it will be quite as drastic as many people fear. There are many examples of fears of redundancy in other industries that one can give. The mining industry is one such industry. But even in industries which cannot exactly be compared - such as industries where computers are being installed - fears of redundancy have proved to be overstated. Although it may have taken a long time in many instances, the job opportunities have increased. I do not think that every ship coming to Australia in the future will be a container vessel. Although pressure is being brought to bear by those who have an interest in only the container type of vessel, as a nation which is so dependent upon shipping we will have the conventional and Skandia type of vessel’s plying our coast for many years to come.
We have seen peace on the waterfront. I think I should refer to some figures regarding man hours lost. As I mentioned Sydney earlier when giving some figures, I again refer to that port. In 1964, 220,000 man hours were lost. In 1965, which was the year that the Government announced the setting up of the Woodward inquiry, 347,000 man hours were lost. But in 1966 we saw a dramatic fall to 4,684 man hours lost. In the following year, 9,600 man hours were lost. Al’ready this year the figure is well up over 140,000 man hours lost. In fact, that figure was reached at the end of September, which is almost 2 months ago. Surely this must give each and every one of us reason for concern. I should imagine that the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Curtin), who is a genuine, staunch and constant defender of waterside labour, would not condone a situation where men are out of work so often.
– 1 blame the masters.
– The honourable member blames the bosses. I fear that the honourable member for KingsfordSmith has a closed mind on this matter. If he were really looking he would see that there is trouble on both sides. But there are occasions when the employer is so keen to get a ship turned round that he will concede almost anything. Normally a union would not make certain requests but the employers are so weak and unprepared to stand up for themselves that the unions demand and receive what they want. And who can blame them for doing so? Following the Woodward inquiry we have also seen instances where the union had agreed to specialists being used in the port of Sydney and to the right of the employer to transfer a midnight shift gang, one night a week, to an evening shift and where three 8 hour shifts a day were to be worked. Already these things have gone by the board, although they were introduced with such high hopes. 1 do not blame any trade union official for continually attempting to win better conditions for his men.
Many times we have seen people who, not knowing better, have looked at the trouble on the waterfront and wiped it all off as a Communist conspiracy. 1 do not agree with that - far from it. The waterfront is basically a place where men arc men and in any big gathering of men are those who wish to lead. And if a man can prove his worth by leading the men and getting better conditions for them he almost certainly will do so. I make a genuine plea tonight to employers and employees to stop and examine what they are doing. Unfortunately in Australia there are not very many stevedoring companies which have a large content of Australian ownership. In the long run this nation suffers because of decisions that are made without any concern for the end result. The small companies are forever struggling but the big ones can overcome their problems. If costs continue to rise Australia will find itself outpriced on the world’s markets, and this will affect everyone. This is one thing we must never forget.
The situation exists in Queensland where cargo to be loaded at Brisbane for transportation to Darwin is often left on the wharf. The trouble on the waterfront in Darwin is due to a combination of two things - the action of unruly waterside workers and the attitude of employees who are not prepared to stand on their own two feet and dig their toes in. No-one can blame the wharf labourer for playing up if an employer is too weak to stand on his own two feet. A man has respect for another only if he is really prepared to stand up to trouble. Every 2 or 3 months a few thousand tons of general cargo is left on the wharves in Brisbane because of the slow turn-round of ships on the coastal run to Darwin. This sort of situation affects not only the man who wears a white collar who is sometimes referred to as the ‘big boss’ but also the ordinary trade unionist. The average waterside worker is a decent man. The vast majority of waterside workers are striving for a better deal for their families and a better chance in life than they have had previously. The waterside worker wants the opportunity to work, and it is up to this country to give him that opportunity. It is up to him in return to do a fair day’s work. When one compares the figures which have been quoted this evening with the figures of not too many years ago, and when one considers the mechanical aids which have been introduced, one sees that we are not doing as well as we could.
Mr HANSEN (Wide Bay) [9.131-1 have been tempted to come into this debate because I believe that this measure is objective and is aimed, as was the Woodward inquiry, at bringing about peace and harmony on the waterfront. For a number of years waterside workers have worked on a casual basis and have always been aware of the need to stand up for their rights, because they have been required to work for avaricious employers and under foremen who did not credit to either themselves or their employers. The speeches made by the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) and the honourable member for Higinbotham (Mr Chipp) do nothing to further the cause of peace and harmony on the waterfront, because in essence they were provocative and inflammatory. Both honourable members sought to cause a division between the employers and the employees. The bosses’ tactic of saying that one man is a good fellow and another is not goes back a long way. lt gets back to the incident which the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) spoke about earlier. When I was a boy I saw this happen on the waterfront. The bosses would say to one man: ‘I will take you’, and to another man: ‘I will not have you.’ This is the sort of thing that we had hoped this legislation and earlier legislation would do away with.
The idea of crediting the Waterside Workers’ Federation with the total number of lost hours on the waterfront is ridiculous. If honourable members want to quote hours lost, they should also quote the time lost because of the refusal to work with faulty gear supplied by the employer. They should read also reports of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority in which the employers were held responsible for time lost because of faulty gear and the refusal to agree to conditions which reduced the margin of safety. It must be borne in mind that members of the Waterside Workers’ Federation have to work with danger and that they are well aware of this. These men are so aware of the need for safety within their industry that they even go so far as to impose penalties on members of the Federation who do not obey safety rules. It is a misstatement to say that the only fault on the part of the employers is that they agree to certain conditions to get the work done. One only has to look at the number of disputes which are caused through the default of the employers to learn that this is so. When calculating lost time we must also take into consideration man hours lost because of wet weather and the like. 1 know that much has been done to improve conditions on the waterfront. Even though there are very few members of the Waterside Workers Federation within my electorate, in years gone by 1 have worked with many waterside workers and I know their worth. I know that any pay which they lose is a hardship for them, because they are living on a minimum wage. The honourable member for Higinbotham spoke about the wages paid to unskilled men, and he tried to draw a comment from the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Curtin) by saying that these men were receiving so much, that the average wage was so much and that the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith, as a tradesman, would receive only so much. These men are required to present themselves for work when it is available, despite the vagaries associated with the arrival of ships and so forth. They are prevented from taking employment elsewhere, except in the B class ports, and then only for certain times of the year. The high wages which have been spoken about are not general in most ports in Australia. I was provoked into rising to speak in this debate by the two provocative speeches made by Government supporters.
– I want to say a few words on this subject. My experience over the years has been that at all times employers have been to blame for the trouble on the waterfront. This stems from their adoption of the cost plus system and the pin-pricking tactics that they employ to stretch the job out and so make more profit. The general wharf labourer is a married man with a family. There are many of them in my electorate. These men are above reproach and are willing and able to work at all times. They will give a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. But the employer with his pin-pricking tactics, and with the spurious Press behind him, tries to play the waterside worker down as far as possible.
As a long term trade unionist, having been for 50 years a member of the Sydney branch of the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society of Australia, I would like to tell the House, and I would particularly like to impress it on the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) and all other Ministers, that the fundamental principle of the trade union movement is that at all times all avenues of negotiation must be explored before any consideration is given to the word ‘strike’. It is sickening to listen to the young member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) talking about his experiences around the waterfront. He has a lot to learn, but he is employing the usual Liberal Party and Australian Country Party tactics of playing down the waterside worker, quietly discrediting him and his family in the interests of the policy of the Party to which he belongs.
– The honourable member is talking rubbish.
– We have just heard the honourable member, lt would make one ill in the stomach to listen to the remarks of the honourable member and those of the honourable member for Higinbotham (Mr Chipp). For how many years has the honourable member for Higinbotham been a member of a trade union? When does the honourable member for Griffith intend to join a trade union so that he can gain some experience which would fit him to talk in this House about the trade union movement? I want to express my resentment at the remarks of these gentlemen. They will never be fit to wipe the boots of the average trade unionist, who is an honest family man endeavouring to provide a decent living for his family and a decent education for his children.
– I wish to make a personal explanation, Mr Deputy Speaker.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The point is that 1 have not discredited the waterside workers. 1 have great respect for waterside workers.
-Order! What the honourable member is putting is merely a matter of debate.
– I thank the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) for his support of this Bill. However, the subsequent debate has wandered very far from the clauses of the Bill and the changes that it makes in the existing legislation. First of all I wau: to remind the House that the present permanent employment arrangements in this industry are the result of an agreement between the employers, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Waterside Workers Federation, the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority and the Department of Labour and National Service. The agreement is set out in the April 1967 report of the National Stevedoring Industry Conference.
This Conference is still very actively engaged in dealing with problems involved in introducing permanent employment into additional ports, including the port of Newcastle, which the honourable member for Newcastle naturally featured very prominently in his speech. It is also competent - and this is important - for any of the parties involved in the stevedoring industry, either the employers, the Federation or the Government, to raise questions concerning recruitment or redundancy or any other problem that may arise. In fact this is the forum established for that purpose. lt is the right place in which to hammer out differences and it has in fact been used extensively by all the parties for this purpose. They have hammered out agreements in bargaining across the table although they have had a great deal of gratuitous help and hindrance from other parties outside the Conference.
The National Stevedoring Industry Conference has agreed that permanency should be introduced in the port of Newcastle. Discussions are now being held in Newcastle between the local stevedoring employers and the Waterside Workers Federation to secure agreement on shift hours, commencing and finishing times and all the other details which are important in the working of this port. The honourable member for Newcastle did stress redundancy, and of course the container age about which he spoke will bring vast changes on the waterfront. It becomes doubly important, therefore, that there be some forum in which the problems arising from these new arrangements, involving such extensive changes, may be continually and regularly the subject of discussion between the parties immediately concerned. As to redundancy, the arrangements so far made have emerged from a package deal. One cannot separate redundancy from the rest of the matters being dealt with and the working arrangements already agreed on by the Conference, because all these matters are interdependent.
The honourable member mentioned recruitment. I am afraid I could not accept his view that a person who was once recruited for this task, particularly at the present time, would necessarily expect to work in the job for the rest of his life. Recruitment arrangements have to be varied and adjusted according to the existing situation and future prospects. This is the general policy followed in the various ports. One does not want to have twice as many workers as are necessary for the amount of work that will be available, and vice versa. The decisions of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority on this aspect of waterfront activity may be reviewed at any time as the situation changes.
The Woodward Conference has had continually under review various matters relating to redundancy. At the moment recruitment is necessary - recruitment of people who understand when they are recruited that the job for them must of necessity be of a fairly temporary nature. When it is suggested that these people should be denied jobs just because there will be a change within a year or two and they will then be placed in other jobs elsewhere, all I can say is that this would constitute a great inconvenience and obstruction to trade and would take away opportunities for earning that would otherwise exist. The great advantage of the National Stevedoring Industry Conference is that these problems and others which may arise can be hammered out by the parties in a sensible spirit, in many cases after close study and a careful and objective assessment of the facts. This is much better than attacking particular problems on the spot in the very heated atmosphere that is engendered from time to time and from place to place within the industry.
The honourable member for Higinbotham directed attention to a number of matters which he believes cast doubt on the effectiveness of the Woodward Conference and its methods and the results so far achieved. Of course there are members of the Waterside Workers Federation, particularly in the port of Melbourne, who have similarly cast doubts, but from their own particular points of view, on the activities of the Conference. But despite those doubts, the majority of people on both sides of the industry - and all have an acute sense of responsibility in this regard - have so far decided to try to make the new scheme work, lt is a very radical change to remove from the waterfront (he evils of casual employment and introduce, wherever practicable, a system of permanent employment. The achievement of this aim would be a great step forward. It could be said that lately man hours have been lost and there has been trouble on the waterfront because people on both sides disagree and, for various reasons, they regard themselves as being adversely affected by the present arrangements. But 1 suggest that those people who criticise trenchantly should indicate their alternative.
One has to be practical about these matters. One does not suddenly change, in the space of a year or two, the whole landscape of an industry in which the traditional attitudes which have developed over the years probably have been unfortunate for those people concerned with the industry and for Australia. J should point out that the much improved turnround in ships which had been achieved up to a short time ugo is one of the main factors which has enabled a reduction to be made in freight rates. Only if the industry is efficient and profitable can the people engaged in the industry do better and earn more money. The people who are shipping goods will bc able to do so more efficiently and the whole nation will benefit from a reduction in costs. A harmonious situation can be reached if everyone pulls his weight. Although this might sound idealistic in view of the history of the Australian waterfront and what is liable to erupt on it at any time, a much better future can be had on the waterfront in the long run if all the parties co-operate.
I should emphasise that the Woodward scheme is an experiment. We introduced the Stevedoring Industry Bill for a 2-year period. We have gone ahead with it. If, in the end, the parties turn sour on it, we will have to think of something else. But at the present time I suggest to the House that there is no practical alternative. In many ways the scheme has brought benefits to both sides of the industry and, as I say, it is the only way in which to cope with the very complex and difficult problems which lie immediately ahead including containerisation and all the other cargo handling economy measures which are being introduced. 1 know that there is general support for the Bill now before the House, but on these other matters I utter the plea that the House should be patient and continue with the experiment which is the most favourable development on the waterfront for many years.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to bo moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Bury) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 7 November (vide page 2597), on motion by Mr Freeth:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 5) contains the third set of amendments which deal with the structure of taxation rather than with the rating of taxation. 1 do not know why these measures have not been introduced together rather than separately. It seems as though someone just thinks of an amendment and a Bill is introduced to deal with that amendment. I think that all amendments to the income tax legislation ought to be dealt with in one Bill at Budget time. However, that is beside the point. The purpose of the Bill is stated clearly in the explanatory memorandum to the Bill, as follows:
This Bill proposes amendments to the income tax law to provide deductions by equal annual instalments over a period of 10 years in respect of capital expenditure incurred on pipelines and other facilities, such as railways and roads, used primarily and principally for the transport of petroleum (which includes both crude oil and natural gas) produced in Australia or the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
Apparently there are already provisions in the Income Tax Assessment Act which allow for expenditure on petroleum pipelines and ancillary plant, which were under construction at 1st July 1968 and which were to be completed before 1st January 1970, to be written off over a 5-year period. Apparently in the future this expenditure is to be written off over a 10-year period. It seems to me that this is another instance in which the provisions of the Income Tax Assessment Act are being used to achieve economic objectives not directly related to taxation. In some respects it is a legitimate enough sort of a process to follow but, nevertheless, it is one which, if it is followed, ought to be clearly understood for what it is. It seems to me that in some respects it is not always so understood. Recently I read an article in the June 1968 issue of the publication entitled ‘Growth’, which is issued by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia. It contains an article entitled ‘Energy Development in Australia’ by Mr J. G. Trimmer, who is a Bachelor of Science (Economics) and a member of the planning and supply section of the Shell Co. of Australia Ltd. He said:
Australia is entering a new and exciting era of growth in which considerable thought needs to be given to such things as: the role of the Government, the effects of high cost energy upon growth and trade, the effects and desirability of imposing a cost discrimination between one indigenous energy and another. lt seems to me that the latter consideration which he mentioned is, in some respects, what is not being understood in framing this legislation. One of the difficulties in regard to the exploitation of what is described as natural gas seems to be the cost of transmitting gas from the point at which it is found to the point at which it will ultimately be used. It seems that Australia has a great abundance of natural gas, some of which is in areas quite remote from the capital cities, but there seems to be no great difficulty in building pipelines. The Australian Financial Review’ of 18th March 1968 contained a special supplement on natural gas. It referred to pipelines which have been built in Europe. It described them as ‘spectacular pipeline feats of recent years’. One is the trans-Alpine pipeline from Trieste on the Adriatic to Ingolstadt on the Danube in southern Germany. The article continued:
Although it is only 285 miles long, the importance of the line lies in its crossing mountains nearly a mile high, carrying 300,000 barrels a day through its 40-inch pipeline. lt is owned by a consortium of 13 oil companies.
The second pipeline is described as follows:
The Friendship pipeline, carrying oil 2,625 miles from the Tartar republic in Central Asia through Russia and the Comecom countries of Eastern Europe to the Swedt-Leuna petrochemical complex in East Germany.
The article commenced by stating:
Construction of pipelines is developing as a major ‘by-product’ industry of Australian oil and natural gas production, bringing new orders for steel and pipe makers and opportunities for Australians to learn new skills.
I was also interested to note, from statistics that are supplied by the Petroleum Information Bureau (Australia), just how extensive has been the construction of pipelines by oil companies in Australia in recent years. According to the latest statistics available, on the refining side of the petroleum industry in Australia there has been an expenditure on pipelines of $69,532,000 to 30th June 1967. As the Australian Financial Review’ points out, this gives some indication of the significance of this industry. It is for this sort of reason that I think one should occasionally take stock of the economic realities of the situation.
Of course, no-one needs to state the importance of the petroleum industry and the importance of energy production to Australia. I notice also that the ‘Australian Automobile Trade Journal’ for May 1968 contained an article on the mystery of petrol pricing. In a section headed ‘A Matter of Arithmetic’, it shows firstly that the average consumption of motor spirit per head of the Australian population is 156 gallons per annum. This represents 3 gallons every week for every person in Australia. The average annual consumption for every motor vehicle is 452.4 gallons. Calculated on the basis of 44c per gallon, the annual petroleum bill is about $200m. Most of our petroleum was imported previously. Now, fortunately, it seems that we have quite abundant supplies of this commodity. But, as usual, the movement of the commodity from its source to the place where it is needed is one of the besetting problems of the nation. 1 suppose that anyone who knows the early economic history of Australia would realise what a mess this country would be in today if we had left the development of railways in the hands of private enterprise. If this had been done the railways certainly would not; have been built where they were most needed.
– Private enterprise could not have handled the job.
– Exactly. I suggest that the same sort of approach should be made to the construction of pipelines. I mentioned this matter in a debate in the House the other evening. Here is an issue which the Americans, in accordance with their philosophy, would describe as being charged with public interest. In my view the movement of supplies of petroleum through pipelines from refineries to capital cities is not a matter that should be subject entirely to determination by private individuals.I think that if we learn this lesson soon rather than late, the nation will be saved considerable expense. After all, under the existing legislation the capital cost of a pipeline can be written off over a 5-year period, notwithstanding that a pipeline probably has a life of 100 years. For tax purposes, such an asset may now be written off the books at the slower rate that is projected in this legislation - that is, over 10 years. But the capital cost of the asset still remains the same. Because the capital cost will have been allowed as a tax deduction, in most instances to a company paying company tax at the rate of 45c in the dollar, as at present, virtually half the cost will have been provided from the public purse anyway by reason of the tax that will have been forgone. It is for this reason that I suggest that there is a good case for the pipeline system to be regarded as a public utility. Even if the system is not nationalised, at least the prices that it is able to charge should be regulated.
It seems to us on this side of the House that there is a case for the establishment in Australia of a body similar to that which exists in the United States of America and to empower such a body to regulate pipe line charges. At the moment I do not quite know how charges are to be fixed. But certainly they are not to be fixed by public decision; they are to be fixed by private decision. I think we have here an example of a matter about which the Government ought to have second thoughts. It should look at some of the practices that are being allowed to develop. It is true that tax concessions can be used systematically to encourage development in one direction or in another. Indeed, tax concessions can even be used to discourage development. This can be done by not allowing concessions in a certain direction but allowing them somewhere else. This is an example of how a systematic appraisal can be made. It also seems that the taxation system is being used to encourage certain kinds of concessions and that this is causing some confusion in accounting.
I again draw attention to the very interesting debate that has taken place in recent times about the audit firm Cooper Bros and the question of how this firm thinks the accounts of Broken Hill South Ltd and the Western Mining Corporation Ltd should be treated for book-keeping rather than for tax purposes. To take a pipeline as an example, this audit firm apparently recognises that even though one can write a pipeline off over 10 years, the pipeline will last a lot longer than 10 years and that profits will be understated–
– The pipeline will last longer than 10 years only if the reservoir lasts.
– That is a fair statement.
– It is a wasting asset.
– That may be, but it certainly would not waste at a rate at which its life would be ended in 5 or 10 years, as the existing tax system seems to indicate. The mere fact that the period over which the capital cost may be written off has been extended from 5 years to 10 years at least indicates that the reservoir is generally a lot more fruitful than was originally expected. I think that at the time the 5-year provision applied there had not been the discoveries that have now been revealed. This is fair enough. AllI am suggesting is that these propositions are arguable. And I think that occasionally we ought to argue them.
What I do not like about the way in which tax legislation is brought to the House is that generally it is brought at the end of a Budget session, although it relates really to a financial year that does not begin until 1st July of the following year, 7 or 8 months later. I cannot see why legislation of this kind cannot be left on the table of the House until the House resumes at the beginning of the next year. The House does not have much business at that time and these matters could then be more fully discussed. I always think it is a sad reflection on the Parliament that almost no-one wants to debate legislation that imposes taxes on individuals and companies and raises about $3,000m in aggregate. With these pipelines, for example, construction costing about $70m has already been undertaken and in the next 5 or 10 years expenditure on pipelines will amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. Surely such a matter is worthy of serious debate.
As I have said, accounting circles at least have debated the way that these matters should be treated. A dilemma is created because certain capital assets are allowed to be written off at a faster rate than the asset itself dwindles. I take the point of my colleague on the other side, the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay), that ultimately they are wasting assets. The point on which I differ with him is that I think they waste much more slowly than the period envisaged in the legislation and I think that is also the view of the accountants. They seem to think that the companies are storing up trouble for themselves in the future on taxation matters if at the moment they treat their accounts as the taxation system allows rather than as the accountants think they ought to be treated. T know that this is a rather involved argument.
– Surely it is a matter for management rather than for the accountants.
– It is not only a question for management; it is a question that demands closer consideration by the Government which in a sense is creating the problem to some extent by introducing legislation of the sort that we are discussing now. It concerns mainly the very important field of mining. As the honourable gentleman said, mining ventures are wasting assets. In my bookkeeping days a mine was described as a hole in the ground.
– It is the material that is around the hole that counts.
– Yes. Nowadays I am sure that accounting is a far different proposition. It would be an over-simplification to describe BHP as a hole in the ground. It is a very sophisticated and integrated industrial system that is likely to last forever. Its survival really is encouraged by the way that taxation deductions are drawn, but again that is not really the purpose of the exercise tonight. All I suggest is that there are arguments amongst accountants and the honourable member for Evans has suggested that these are questions for management. I think they are partly questions for management but they are questions of social and economic significance as well. It is my duty on behalf of the Opposition to make this point. To start with, I do not agree that the pipeline should be a private enterprise function. That is my own opinion, but, if it is to be given feather bedding or special treatment in the taxation field, the treatment it receives should be as realistic as possible. It seems to me that a 10-year write-off is certainly better than a 5-year write-off, but I still think it is unduly generous in terms of the life of the asset. That is especially so with natural gas, because I think more natural gas is there than will be used in 10 years.
The other difficulty is the point made by Mr Trimmer. Whether natural gas is used in Sydney seems to depend on the price that is charged in Victoria at the beginning of the pipeline that is used to transmit the gas to New South Wales. Ultimately Australia must face up to a consideration of the systematic use of its energy. If, as the honourable member for Evans said, these are wasting assets for the companies concerned, they are certainly wasting assets for the nation as a whole. If we have limited amounts of energy in total, surely we should ask occasionally whether it is right that oil and coal, for example, should be competitive. Should they not be co-operative rather than competitive? It seems to me that one factor that makes them competitive rather than co-operative is the way they are treated for taxation purpose. I do not think the Government has given sufficient consideration to this point in the past. 1 know that honourable members on the Government side have a Mining Committee and it has been responsible in some ways for some amendments that have been made to the income tax laws. But this problem should not always be examined merely from the point of view of taxation, lt should also be examined from the point of view of national development and national conservation. This is an important aspect and it has not been as fully considered as it should have been.
We do not offer any objection to the legislation We believe it is better for these assets to be written off over a 1 0-year period instead of a 5-year period, but nevertheless we draw attention to the need some day to place the pipelines under some sort of public control. I do not want to argue now about whether this should be done by direct ownership or indirectly by some federal regulatory body. But at least the matter is worthy of contemplation. Finally 1 remind the House of the point made by Mr Trimmer, who suggested that perhaps carelessly we are discriminating between one form of indigenous energy and another and that such discrimination may in the long run be detrimental to the proper conservation of the limited supplies of energy in the continent, of Australia.
Mr CONNOR (Cunningham) [9.58J- May 1 preface my contribution to this debate by quoting to the House from an editorial that appeared in the ‘Australian’ in 1966. It said that the finding of crude oil and natural gas would place strains on the economic and financial ability of the Government beyond anything experienced in Australia’s history. The editorial likened the construction of the oil pipelines and the other media of transport of crude oil and natural gas to the importance of the construction of the major Australian railway system during the latter half of the last century. This Government lacks a fuel policy; the Opposition has one. The Government lacks a national fuel policy, and the Opposition has for many years prepared one, publicised it, and will in due course implement it.
The measure itself, as the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) has said, is an improvement on the former legislation, lt will reduce the actual amount that can be claimed by way of depreciation by the various producing companies in respect of the transmission of oil or natural gas by pipelines and also by road or rail, provided that their primary or principal use is for the transport of crude oil or gas produced within Australia. The extension of the period from 5 years to 10 years in which depreciation may be claimed means that, in broad percentages, in the future depreciation in company tax returns will be at the rate of 10% instead of 20%. That is all to the good. But implicit in this measure is the acceptance of the construction of pipelines and other media of transport for crude oil and gas by private industry. That is where we join issue with the Government, lt is worth while to quote an article from the ‘Australian Financial Review’ of 17th March .1967 referring to a reply made by the Federal Treasurer (Mr McMahon) to the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham). The article reads:
The Federal Treasurer. Mr William McMahon, yesterday accused his oil company critics of concealing information vital for a comparison of the Australian Government ‘take’ of oil and ga3 production against other countries.
The Treasurer is reported to have said:
We pointed out that the oil companies had used a very technical method of estimating future returns and dividends in what is called a discounted cash flow technique.
But they had been at arcal care to conceal the two essential factors on which a judgment could be made.
J also pointed out that they-
The oil producing companies - had made no allowance whatsoever for special taxation concessions with regard to depreciation which in (his country are probably greater than in most other countries and compare favourably with the best.
To the extent that the rate of depreciation has been reduced, we do not oppose the legislation. We note that it is not applicable to the construction of harbours, rolling stock and ships. There, of course, the Government obviously had in mind the way in which its fingers were burned in litigation in respect of the construction of a major railway for the carriage of iron ore in Western Australia. The Government finally lost that protracted litigation and corrected the situation by legislation. Harbours, rolling stock and ships wm not be included within the ambit of this legislation.
The introduction of pipelines as a means of transport is a recent development. It originated in the United States, where it has had special application to the transport of pulverised coal in the form of a slurry mixed with water. In the main, of course, there is some anti-abrasive coating such as rubber or bitumen. Pipeline transport is also used for mineral ores. There is also another form of pipeline transport which has not been greatly publicised but which could provide a most valuable alternative to even the railway system. The goods to be transported are sealed in steel or other metal containers and then transported by hydraulic pressure through the pipeline system.
– This Bill deals with the transportation of only oil and gas.
– Yes. I am coming to the main points. In the United States there are some 700,000 miles of pipeline for the transmission of oil and gas. As a representative of a New South Wales constituency, I am particularly interested in the final arrangements for the SydneyMelbourne pipeline. Need 1 remind honourable members of the dog in the manger attitude of the Victorian Government. Its attitude is a most parochial and unAustralian one. As the result of a celebrated interchange of correspondence 2 years ago between the former Prime Minister and the Premier of Victoria it was agreed that natural gas would he sold to other States on terms not less favourable than those on which it would be available to Victoria. This transaction has been bitterly and correctly attacked in the Victorian Parliament by the Labor Opposition. The Opposition has had the major support of the public in so doing.
The statistics quoted by a Liberal Party economist in an address to a Melbourne branch of the Liberal Party, which was fully publicised, shows that natural gas can be produced and made available at the city gate valve for approximately 7ic per thousand cubic feet. The Victorian Govern- ment has been foolish enough, for reasons best known to itself, to agree to the purchase of that gas at a broad average price of 30c per thousand cubic feet. Is it to be suggested that these pipelines if and when constructed, will carry gas that has been sold to New South Wales at such a figure? Who is to determine the price? For instance, we have in the ring today the redoubtable manager of the Australian Gas Light Co.. Mr Pettingell, who is stoutly determined to secure some concession. The Government is standing disinterestedly on the sideline and is not prepared to give a lead and. frankly, is not capable of so doing.
We maintain that any pipeline for the transmission of petrol or petrol products, whether in a solid, liquid or gaseous state, ought to be under national control. We believe that the Interstate Commission should be revived and that it should have the function of being responsible for the distribution interstate of natural gas and oil. We say that it is only through an impartial and statutory body that it will be possible to determine the relative proportions of the market for the various fuels which are competing in Australia today. The Government has certainly failed to rationalise, much less to control, the competition between the various types of fuels. In the main it has been a wholly uneconomic type of competition. Let us take the case of the brown coal industry in Victoria, where public money to the tune of some Si, 200m has been invested. The capital equipment in this industry will become progressively redundant if the Victorian Government carries out its present policy, aided and abetted by the Federal Government. In New South Wales, the major black coal producing State of Australia, the capital invested in power generation would be of the order of S2,500m.
What is the Government’s answer to the impact of natura] gas? How is it to be introduced? How is it to be phased in? To what extent is the black coal industry to be replaced? At the moment, and while an excessive price is sought for it and obtained, it will not be possible for natural gas to supersede black coal for the main industrial purposes. In the steel industry in particular, apart from some minor processes, undoubtedly hard coking coal would still be required, lt is possible that in such industrial purposes as annealing, natural gas would be of use. Certainly it would have a ready sale and be in great demand for ordinary domestic heating, refrigerating and similar purposes. But with the present pricing, the people who need it most will not be able to get it.
It will be very interesting to hear what spur lines are to be made available and to which country towns and provincial cities they will be made available. The Government has not furmulated a policy on these aspects. It will be very interesting to hear from the Government - 1 doubt whether we will - whether there will be any uniformity in pricing. 1 well remember from my experience in the New South Wales Parliament that a uniform tariff was introduced for bulk supplies of electricity practically throughout the whole of New South Wales, ls this Government prepared to do the same thing? I doubt it.
As regards a national fuel policy, which is very relevant to the subject matter of this Bill, the Labor Party claims that a national fuel and energy policy must provide for the maximum ownership and control of fuel and energy and its source and distribution by the people of Australia through their governments, both Federal and State. Ownership should be entirely Australian. There is nothing in this measure which would in any way preclude foreign capital from coming in, building the pipelines and providing a further drain on foreign exchange. We consider that minimum price and maximum availability should override considerations of sectional profit advantage. A Federal Labor government would fully implement such a policy by asserting and fully using its sovereign powers, which this Government is not prepared to do, in respect of all territories and areas both on land and under sea under its control. Here again, to illustrate the altitude of the Victorian Government, I refer to a report that appeared in the ‘Australian’ of 25th May this year dealing with the evidence given by the Victorian Solicitor-General, Mr Murray, before the Senator Select Committee on Off-Shore Petroleum Resources. The report read:
But he warned the Commonwealth against trying to assume control of oil and gas deposits on the continental shelf beyond the State’s 3-mile limit. He also posed the question of how the Commonwealth would get its oil or gas ashore from outside the 3-mile limit.
Yesterday, Mr Murray said for the Commonwealth to assume control of off-shore deposits outside the 3-mile State limit would involve a breach of faith.
Can you imagine a worse dog in the manger attitude than that expressed by a responsible spokesman for a sovereign State? The matter of the pricing of natural gas supplies in New South Wales has yet to be determined. It is only by the establishment of a national ministry for fuel and energy, which every comparable democracy has today, that this Government can even commence to come to grips with the problem. Such a ministry would establish a federal fuel and energy policy, with full powers to implement that policy and for planning and co-ordinating fuel and energy development and transmission. There is a necessity to ascertain by intensive exploration and research the exact location and availability of the various forms of fuel and energy in this nation and to ensure their availability to the various States without discrimination at the lowest economic price and with guaranteed continuity of supply. The most outstanding phenomenon of the relative percentages of the fuel market in recent years has been the continued turn from black and brown coal to petroleum in its various forms. There is no doubt that in certain fields that trend will continue. But equally importantly, for some years black coal will still be predominant as the major source of heat and energy. It may be of interest to honourable members to know that quite recently in the United States the country’s biggest thermal power station using black coal was established close to the Colorado River where there would be no problems of industrial air pollution and where there would be adequate supplies of cooling water. The cost of the energy produced in that power station is still far ahead of anything produced by natural gas or even atomic power.
What is the main feature that we see in the utilisation of natural gas? There should be a ring main system established by a Commonwealth authority, linking Mereenie, Gidgealpa, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sale, Sydney, Brisbane, Roma and the Gilmore areas.
Equally there is a strong case for the establishment of a natural gas pipeline from Barrow Island to Perth. I know that the Minister for Air (Mr Freeth) and some of his colleagues will ridicule this suggestion. We could not expect otherwise. But it will come to fruition in the fullness of time when they have passed into the limbo of political history.
There is another aspect of the transport of crude oil and natural gas which is of major importance today. I refer to the recent conference presided over by the Comptroller-General of Customs, Mr Carmody. In one corner are the various contending factions, such as Esso-BHP, which will have a virtual monopoly of crude oil and natural gas production from 1970 to 1980. In the ring against them are the major international oil companies which have the retailing and refining plant. The battle is on. It is a battle behind closed doors because the companies have over the years, by their method of pricing imports of crude oil from overseas, left themselves very little room in which to manoeuvre. One of the very few ways in which they can endeavour to break down the $2.19 a barrel which the Esso-BHP group is claiming under the policy statement on indigenous crude oil prices made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) is by attacking the 9c a barrel transport cost allowed under the Esso-BHP formula in respect of transmission of crude oil.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! I have allowed the honourable member a good deal of leniency but I must ask him now to relate his remarks to the Bill. The scope of the Bill is fairly limited. It does not permit of a wide ranging discussion on oil policy. The Bill is designed to authorise tax deductions on a special basis.
– And for the transmission of oil and natural gas by pipeline.
– Some of the honourable member’s remarks are rather wide of the Bill I ask him to relate his remarks to the Bill.
– In my introductory remarks I stressed that the Bill provides for certain deductions for depreciation in respect of oil or natural gas carried by pipeline, road or rail. Prior to your comments, Sir, I was attempting to link my remarks with that point because in due course in this debate the question will arise as to whether crude oil should be transmitted interstate wholly by pipeline instead of by tanker. This is a matter of the utmost importance. It is a matter on which there will undoubtedly be a major conflict when the parties again meet on 9th December. The battle is there and the battle will be fought bitterly by two of the biggest groups of adversaries who have ever entered the ring in Australia. The only room for manoeuvre that they will have is the claim by some of them that the cost of transmission of crude oil by ship is as much as 49c a barrel, and they will be claiming a concession on the import price of their crude accordingly. It is a major factor, because they cannot bring in other considerations such as the true landed cost of their crude from overseas.
There is no doubt that this Government is not merely apathetic; it is over-generous. In fact, it is outrageous in the approaches that it has made to the whole of this problem. The Minister for Mines in New South Wales, the Honourable W. Fife, said that natural gas would not be coming into New South Wales at some of the prices that are operating in Victoria today. He said: ‘We do not want to see it and we intend to fight this issue to the limit’. We will be fighting it for the next 12 months because the controversy will continue during the whole of that period and it will be one of the major issues at the next Federal election.
– This Bill, associated ‘as it is with allowable income tax deductions, applies to capital gains as related to pipelines. Proposed sub-section (1a.) of section 123a of the principal Act states:
Subject to this section, this Division also applies to capital expenditure Incurred by a taxpayer on, or by way of contribution to capital expenditure of another person on, a railway, road, pipeline or other facility constructed or acquired for use . . .
This is typical of the way in which the Income Tax Assessment Act is being used for all sorts of purposes which do not necessarily have anything to do with the actual collection of income tax. For instance, taxation concessions are used as an economic incentive. Depreciation allowances are available when new equipment is purchased; so a capital gain is achieved. The Act is used to encourage people to invest in life assurance and in oil exploration. While my heart bleeds for the oil companies - I appreciate the necessity to succour them in their distress - I think there are other fields in which we ought to apply the same system.
A short while ago I had in my possession an income tax return form, but I have been relieved of it. An examination of this form indicates that the more wives a person has the less income tax he pays; the more children he has the less tax he pays; the higher his salary the lower the rates he has to pay, because the deductions are based on a sliding scale. The higher a person’s salary is the greater is the deduction for any particular allowable item.
-Order! I point out to the honourable member for Wills that we are not discussing salaries in this Bill.
– I am not discussing salaries; I am discussing income tax. I have the Act before me and the Bill. I have read from the Bill and I can quote from the speech of the Minister for Air and Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr Freeth). I am indicating how the income tax system operates. Deductions, which are in fact capital gains, are allowed. They can add to a person’s standard of living in many ways. Our whole income tax system is of great advantage to people associated with big business and of great disadvantage to people operating as private citizens.
I want to refer to an anomaly that will be created by this amending legislation, which relates to oil pipelines and to roads. The proposed new sub-section refers to a taxation deduction in respect of contributions to capital expenditure of another person on a railway, road, pipeline or other facility. Section 72(1.) (a) of the principal Act states that rates which are assessed annually shall be allowable deductions. I want to suggest that we are creating an anomaly between this section of the Act and the proposed new sub-section. In Victoria there is a system of constructing what are known as private streets. This is an inheritance of medieval times. What is a private street? Can any street be private when it is used publicly by everybody? Can a private street become a capital gain? In this Bill we are interpreting a capital gain as a pipeline or road constructed by a pipeline company. Expenditure on a pipeline or road is a tax deduction in these circumstances, but in Victoria the cost of a street constructed by a local authority and charged against an abutting land owner is not a tax deduction.
In my view if a pipeline is a national development project, private streets, or roads constructed under similar systems, are also national development projects. I am taking a few minutes tonight to record my disappointment that we are not examining the whole system of income tax assessments. I repeat that in Victoria there is a system of private streets. The streets are constructed by a local authority and are charged against the abutting land owners in the same way as a person pays for an oil pipeline. The company that puts down the oil pipeline pays for it and the expenditure is deductible for taxation purposes. In much of the metropolitan area of Melbourne, and presumably in other areas, private streets are constructed by public authorities but the expenditure incurred is not deductible.
– The local authorities do not pay any tax, anyhow.
– I am trying to make this clear. The person who lives in the street pays for the street at so much a foot. One person well known in this House had to pay $3,600 for a street. But such payment is not tax deductible under section 72(1.) (a) of the principal Act, whereas under the amendment proposed to section 123a the cost of a road constructed by a pipeline authority would be deductible. In fact, in that part of the metropolitan area that I represent, Sim was spent last year on private streets. The people would pay upwards of $300,000 in income tax. In another area, in which I live, next year about $1.2m will be paid by private citizens for street construction, but they will not be able to claim as tax deductions the amount expended. They will be providing a public asset out of their private incomes and they will be paying tax on the amount they are obliged to expend. My point is that in the business area we are liberal in the extreme. The cost of pipelines and private roads will be deductible for these companies but the private citizen in the stone age State of Victoria will be paying for public roads and will not be able to claim the expenditure as a tax deduction. This surely is an anomaly which is being exaggerated by the Bill before us.
– In what has been rightly described as a reasonably small and narrow Bill which the Opposition indicated to begin with that it did not intend to oppose - indeed, in the words of the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), the Opposition welcomed the measure because it extended from 5 to 10 years the period over which the cost of a pipeline would be written off - we have heard a wide ranging discussion of the Australian Labor Party’s intentions and hopes with regard to a national fuel policy and the nationalisation of pipelines and, most significantly of all, its attitude to income taxation and Income tax deductions in respect of the mining industry.
Let us look at some of the statements that have been made. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports made, in my view, a specious analogy in stating that the railways in Australia would have failed if they had been left to private enterprise to develop. Any person who appreciates the size of Australia and the task of developing Australia could not possibly imagine that anyone in his right senses would like to put down railway lines over the entire area that is required for national development. But if the honourable member means by this that, when it comes to a specific mining project and the carriage of a product, whether it is ore, gas or oil, private enterprise is not able to operate efficiently and therefore it should be left to a nationalised entity (o carry out the operation, then I am afraid that be does not understand the facts. Indeed, if one examines the development that is occurring in Australia at the present moment one win appreciate that governments are unable to find the volume of capital required for the transportation of the products of mining. Today it is neces sary for those engaged in the mining industry to put in their own transmission system, such as the railway lines linking the iron ore deposits at Mount Goldsworthy, Mount Newman and Mount Tom Price with the coastal ports. These railway lines which are being laid in a highly efficient way in record time compare favourably with any similar system in the world. Whether it be the laying of railway lines or the construction of pipeline for oil and gas, private industry has to meet the cost of such work in Australia today.
The old argument comes up that these installations should be national property - great assets belonging to the people, lt is interesting to note that we hear this kind of argument only when significant success has been achieved by those who have pioneered in a field. There was no such argument about the pipeline linking Moonie with the coast because Moonie was a relatively small field and its economics were uncertain. There was no brouhaha then because it was understood at the time - and I was a member of this House then - that the profitability of the Moonie field was only marginal. Unhappily subsequent discoveries in the area have not lived up to the hopes that were originally expressed. But when it comes to a magnificent success which has changed the whole outlook of the nation - I refer to the Bass Strait discoveries - the Opposition rises with the cynical attitude of sneering at the profitability of the enterprise. The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) spoke of his heart bleeding and all the rest of it. But the situation is that Australia today is entering into a new era, an era which demands enormous quantities of capital - far more than the Government can provide. Only recently the Minister for Development in Western Australia described how $ 1,000m of private capital was to be expended on the development of just one area in that fast developing State. Such expenditure would far outstrip even the wildest imagination of a Socialist government in terms of capital input. The only way money can be obtained for the fast development of Australia is through private enterprise.
The speech of the honourable member for Wills was very significant in that he took time out to deplore the use of tax concessions. At first his remarks seemed to be irrelevant but later they became significant. He introduced his speech by referring to capital gains. Apparently he saw the word capital’ written somewhere in the Bill and thought immediately of capital gain. He did not go on to discuss capital gain taxation but to talk about other aspects of income tax. He deplored the use of tax concessions for economic incentives. He deplored the way in which concessions are granted by governments to those who are prepared to invest the enormous amounts of capital required to develop our national resources.
The question I want to pose to the Opposition arising out of the speech of the honourable member for Wills is: Are we listening tonight to an intention of the Opposition with regard to income lax legislation, and particularly to Division 10 of the Income Tax Act. section 77a regarding oil and gas mining, section 77aa regarding deductibility for expenditure of moneys paid by companies engaged in mineral exploration, or section 77c regarding one-third of the calls being deductible if the moneys are expended on exploration of mining interests? Are we listening tonight to a warning to the nation by the Opposition that if the time comes for it to move into a position of government - by the display that we have seen this week that is a very long way off - we will see the expression ‘capital gain’, which came to the lips of the honourable member for Wills so freely, brought into conjunction with a new attitude to income lax as a whole; a discontinuation of economic incentives to mining industries with regard to expenditure on the national development of Australia?
Of course, when we listened further to the honourable member for Wills discussing private roads - bringing in everything from water rights to the kitchen sink with regard to annually assessed rates being allowable deductions for income tax purposes - we found that he deplored the fact that the private citizen was unable to get this kind of benefit whereas the great capitalistic companies he referred to were. Unhappily for him the facts do not bear out even this argument because section 77c of the Income Tax Act makes specific provision for double deduction. Private individuals are able to claim one-third of the money that they subscribe to a mining company and if that money is utilised by the company for exploration purposes - it oan be expended in various ways in the mining fields - 100% of it is deductible in the hands of the company. So, there is just no substance to the suggestion that the private individual is cut out of this arrangement entirely.
I return to the point that although this Bill is a very narrow piece of legislation it does indicate that there has been a stepping up of the tempo of oil and gas discovery in Australia. This legislation arises out of a situation where the Government - certainly in generosity - at a time when the utmost in incentives was required and there was very little likelihood, according to the estimates of the average person and indeed of the average expert, of a great quantity of oil and gas being found in Australia, made it possible for those who were going to spend money putting in a pipeline to write off the expenditure over a 5-year period, so hazardous was their investment. But now things have changed and the situation has become different. Just as the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) was able to negotiate a new agreement with regard to incentives, so we have this complementary legislation relating to a lengthening of the period over which pipeline deductions are allowable. To suggest that all this is haphazard and that it is necessary because of the lack of a national fuel policy is to suggest that the Commonwealth Government could in a lordly way disregard the fact that Australia operates under a Federal system and that mining is the prerogative of the States. The Government is. in spite of the situation, bringing together the very necessary pieces of legislation that we have recently seen with regard to off-shore oil and gas. To say that there is no policy running through this would be right if what was meant was that we do not have a blueprint based on out of date Socialist doctrines. But if the Opposition suggests that there is no dynamic, progressive policy which is adapting itself to an exciting, changing Australia and giving the greatest possible benefit to the people of Australia, then I am afraid I cannot agree. I commend this Bill which the Opposition, for all its talk, also commends and I hope that it will pass with a minimum of delay.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Freeth) read a third time.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Gorton, and read a first time.
– I move:
Parliamentary allowances were last reviewed in 1964 when members’ allowances, including their electorate allowances, and ministerial and other office holders’ salaries and allowances were increased to take account of changes that had occurred since the 1959 review of parliamentary salaries by an independent committee. Since 1964 wages and salaries have increased generally. Average weekly earnings have increased by some 22%, and the allowances paid to members of State Parliaments have also been increased since those of the members of this Parliament were last reviewed. On some past occasions - in 1952, 1955 and 1959 - a committee of inquiry was established to review parliamentary salaries and allowances. On other occasions, most recently in 1964, Parliament itself dealt with these matters without an inquiry. In any case, Parliament is required by section 48 of the Constitution to decide the matter. On this occasion the Parliament will again be recommended to deal with the matter itself by bringing up to date the allowances and salaries which have remained unchanged since 1964.
During the 4 years which have passed since parliamentary salaries were last raised many increases and improvements in conditions have been made for persons employed outside Parliament, and the Government has decided to recommend an increase in salaries and allowances payable to Ministers, other office holders and members of Parliament. It is proposed that these increases will take effect as from 1st December 1968.
With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard a summary of the proposed changes in salaries and allowances.
Copies of the summary are, I believe, available to honourable members and to the Press.
Before deciding to recommend these increases the Government made a survey of salaries paid for positions of comparable responsibility, both in the Public Service and in other sectors of the community. We have particularly taken into account changes that have been made in payments to the Second Division of the Commonwealth Public Service. We have considered the fact that between the December quarter of 1964 and June quarter of 1968 average weekly earnings have risen, as I said, by some 22%, and we have taken into consideration both the fact that that period covers only 31/2 years of the 4-year period which has passed since the last parliamentary increase and also the fact that at least 3 years is likely to pass before there is any further review. There has always been criticism of rises in parliamentary salaries, and I suppose that there always will be. But if we are to attract people of the right calibre to enter Parliament they ought to be reasonably rewarded for what they do. As Sir Robert Menzies said 4 years ago:
The salaries of a member should be fixed at an amount which is not so low as to deter a man of good attainments and ability who has no private income from entering or remaining in Parliament. 1 believe this to be true.
The Government proposes also to introduce a Bill dealing with ministerial retiring allowances in order to make these allowances roughly in accord with the changes recommended for ministerial salaries themselves. My colleague the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) will be introducing such a Bill shortly, and I would hope that that Bill will be able to be debated concurrently with the two Bills which I am now bringing before the House. The Bill provides, amongst other things, for continuity in the payment of the allowances for the Chairman of Committees in the Senate and the Chairman of Committees in the House of Representatives. As 1 said, my colleague the Treasurer will be introducing separate legislation to increase the rate of contribution by Ministers for a ministerial retiring allowance fund. I. think that there is little more I can say. The document which has been presented to honourable members indicates the changes proposed in salaries for private members, in the allowances for private members and in the salaries and allowances for senior Ministers, junior Ministers and other office holders of the Parliament.
Debate (on motion byMr Whitlam) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Gorton, and read a first time.
When I spoke on the Parliamentary Allowances Bill 1968 and presented a document dealing with both parliamentary allowances and salaries and the proposed changes for salaries and allowances for Ministers and other office holders of the Parliament, I consider that I dealt with this Bill. 1 would suggest that the Bills be debated concurrently.
Debate (on motion by Mr Whitlam) adjourned.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate:
Without amendment -
Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Bill 1968.
Extradition (Foreign States) Bill 1968.
Northern Territory Supreme CourtBill 1968.
Overseas Telecommunications Bill (No. 2) 1968.
Spirits Bill 1968.
Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill 1968.
States Grants (Pre-school Teachers Colleges) Bill 1968.
Without requests -
Apple and Pear Export ChargesBill 1968.
Debate resumed from 7 November (vide page 2600), on motion by Mr Freeth:
That the Bill be now read a secondtime.
This is a Bill of the kind that is brought in each year towards the end of the Budget session. As the Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr Freeth) said in his second reading speech:
The purpose of this Bill is to obtain authority for any borrowing that it may be necessary to make from the Reserve Bank during 1968-69 to complete the financing of the Budget deficit. The Bill departs from the practice of seeking authority to borrow up to a specified upper limit. That practice has proved unsatisfactory. The difficulty with specifying an upper limit is that such a limit needs to be set high enough to ensure that whatever our receipts and expenditures and our borrowings for the year might turn out to be, it will be adequate to cover the final cash deficiency at the end of the year.
The Minister went on to note that in statement No. 4 attached to the Budget speech the ultimate outcome of the Budget had been adjusted in the two financial years 1966-67 and 1967-68, and I think he indicated that in this year there was to be an estimated deficit - that is the difference between projected revenue and projected expenditure - of $547m. in 1966-67 the deficiency had been $552m and in 1967-68 it had been $644m. Those deficiencies were financed from several sources - from borrowing overseas, mainly from the United States for defence purposes; by drawings from or repayments to the International Monetary Fund according to the circumstances of the year; by borrowing directly in Australia by the issue of new securities; by what are called ‘Treasury notes’: and finally, if there was still any deficiency, recourse was had directly to the Reserve Bank, which, of course, is the property of the Commonwealth anyway. In 1966-67 borrowings from the Reserve Bank were $165m. In 1967-68 they were $51m. At this stage of this financial year it is not possible, of course, to determine how much will need to be borrowed, if any, from the Reserve Bank.
I think the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) has indicated that already there has been considerable borrowing overseas. We have had a number of measures in recent times dealing with borrowings of Deutsche marks, of Swiss francs, of American dollars directly from the Export-Import Bank and sometimes from other financial institutions in the United States. Of course all of this shows, I suppose, how flexible are the devices that are available to this level of government. This contrasts somewhat with the difficulties that face State governments if they want to bridge the difference between their expected expenditure and their anticipated revenues. The States have not the same ability to create credit, if I may use that phrase, or to make up the difference, as the Commonwealth Government has via the Reserve Bank. This raises a lot of rather interesting possibilities and I am sorry that at this time of night one does not feel, perhaps, like going fully into the depths of this kind of issue. I would have preferred this measure to be debated at some other time, because I think it is worthy of wider debate than it is likely to get this evening. Nevertheless, I do want to direct attention to one or two aspects of the current situation, and particularly to one that concerns us at the moment so far as loan raisings are concerned.
We recently had a measure in this House which took away, in respect of future loan raisings, a tax concession that had applied to institutions or individuals in the community who subscribed to Commonwealth Government securities. They were entitled, according to their tax position, to a rebate of 10c for every $1 of taxable income that they received from Commonwealth bonds. As we all know, this had the effect of enabling Commonwealth loans to be floated at a lower interest rate than otherwise might have applied. It had the result also that in the case of funds borrowed for semigovernment and State government purposes - in which case there was no tax concession - the borrowing rate was something like i% higher than that which applied on Commonwealth securities. Around this tax concession there grew up the rather curious procedure that was described as ‘bond washing’ or ‘rebate washing’, which I think was the term applied in respect of Australian taxation.
We have previously pointed this out in the House. It had been going on to such an extent that it involved a loss last year of some $5m to S6m from Commonwealth revenue. The Minister assisting the Treasurer estimated that if the practice were, allowed to continue, the annual revenue loss to the Commonwealth would be as much as S30m. The change in this tax concession at least removes the possibility of this practice so far as new securities are concerned, but apparently the practice may still be indulged in with respect to existing bonds. I pointed out to the House at the time that it seemed to me that the practice could still be applied in respect of bonds to a value of about S6,000m. I have observed in a couple of articles since then in the ‘Financial Review’, by Mr David Love, that already the distinction is being made in the security market between what are called ‘old’ bonds and ‘new’ bonds, the old bonds apparently still being open to the practice of rebate washing. 1 would think the situation is so serious that it warrants some further action on the part of the Government, and I urge upon it the necessity to do something about removing opportunities for rebate washing in respect of what are called ‘old’ securities. I know that there are some difficulties attaching to what are regarded as contractual arrangements with these bonds, but it seems to me that what might be looked on as the sacredness of the contract has to some extent departed when the bond has been transferred from one holder to another in what is nothing less than a tax dodging device. In view of the volume of financial transactions in Australia - and in many ways we have one of the most advanced of the smaller economies - no Government can afford to relinquish control of the bond markets. It seems to me that in some respects responsibility is vacated by the existence of this device in the Australian law.
I think I pointed out in an earlier debate that one of the principal lessons of the recent inquiry in Great Britain, which was known as the Ratcliffe Committee, was the need to have what was called ‘debt management’ clearly in the hands of the Government. It seems to me that in Australia debt management is not in the hands of the Government at the present time, and I think that this is a serious omission so far as the overall regulation of monetary affairs in Australia is concerned. In a way, the particular measure that is before us is a kind of epitome of the whole financial transactions of the Government in a year. One judges the success or otherwise of the outcome of the Budget by how close one gets to the kind of estimate of deficit that was made at the beginning of the year. No longer does anybody think that a balanced budget is a sign of great financial prudence or that a deficit is a sign of financial squandering. No longer is that an arguable thesis in a modern economy. A budget deficit or surplus really determines whether or not so much of the initiative passes to the public hand as against the private hand in the economy. In a maximum economy it is necessary always to be able to exercise that control. This applies even to governments which do not claim by any sense of the imagination to be regarded as Socialist governments.
Nevertheless, there is more and more manipulation, benevolent direction or control of the economy via the monetary and fiscal mechanisms. At least the documentation which accompanies the Budget is much more sophisticated in nature than it was many years ago. I have been a member of this House for approximately 17 years and even in that time I have seen a considerable change in the way in which financial statements have been presented to the House. Now we have much more abundance of documentation and cross reference than was the case even in 1960. I think it is to the credit of the Treasurer and the Treasury that this sophisticated information is available to us. But equally I think that measures such as the kind which we are discussing at the present time ought not to be introduced at the fag end of a session. I think that they are the central part of any attempt to adjudicate whether the Government is successful or unsuccessful, well or ill, indicating the pace and the direction in which the economy is going. As we said yesterday, in some respects we believe that the pace and the direction in which the economy is going at the present time are not altogether satisfactory. I think that one of the reasons for this is the loss of control that has taken place in the economy by allowing manipulation outside of the proper levels of manipulation.
One of the features that disturbed me recently about this bond washing or rebate washing was that it could be done only with the collusion of people who, in my view, should behave better. I think it ill became some of the trading banks to enter into the practice if it allowed them some temporary gain. All I submit is that their responsibility for monetary affairs is greater than the short term gain that can be obtained by this rather reprehensible practice. I am sure that the Treasurer is keeping a watchful eye on this practice. I hope that some device will be introduced at the beginning of the next sessional period which will help to stamp out this practice. Bonds are changing hands for short periods, and 1 have suggested that tax concessions should be available only if bonds are held for a certain period. T know that it is not quite as easy as that. It seems to me that there is still a bit of a cat and mouse game going on between the operators as to how far they can go in continuing with this rather reprehensible practice. As I have said, I hope that some early remedial action will be taken to stamp it out. I will leave it at that at this late hour. I could have said more about this measure, but I do not want to transgress upon the good will of my colleagues at this time of night.
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 Freeth) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 7 November (vide page 2600), on motion by Mr Bowen:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition raises no objection to this measure, and supports it. The Opposition considers that its introduction has been unduly delayed. The measure will only bring the procedures for the service of process into line with those operating in the States.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Swartz) read a third time.
Motion (by Mr Swartz) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I wish to draw the attention of the House to a matter which concerns a number of my constituents in Bega and which concerns measures which have been taken there to fight the drought which is continuing in that area of Eden-Monaro and which has already reached completely unprecedented proportions. On 12th November 1968 the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Jeff Bate) addressed a series of questions to the Treasurer (Mr McMahon). The material question which affects the reputa tions and standings of those of my constituents with whom I am concerned is as follows:
Has the Eden-Monaro branch of the Australian Labor Party promoted a committee which has intruded into a perfectly sound system and which, being inexperienced in finance, transport and the purchase of hay, has been unable to supply high quality fodder to the satisfaction of all fanners?
The Treasurer answered that question in the following terms:
As to the fourth question asked by the honourable gentleman, I believe he would have seen the statement made by Mr Crawford, the Minister for Agriculture in New South Wales, who was highly critical of the Bega Valley Drought Relief Committee. I think everyone should realise that the Committee appears to have made a political gesture. I again have no reason for doubting that the statement made by the honourable member that this action was initiated by the Australian Labor Party in the electorate of Eden-Monaro is in fact accurate.
The Treasurer could have been basing his reply only on information that he had received from the honourable member for Macarthur, lt is simply not good enough for the honourable member to regard his question as simply an inquiry for information. The Treasurer, in making his answer, regarded what the honourable member had said as a statement, and to all intents and purposes it is a statement - a statement alleging that this Committee was promoted and initiated by the Australian Labor Party in Eden-Monaro.
The honourable member for Macarthur was present at the meeting at which the Committee was formed. He knows that it was not initiated or promoted by the Australian Labor Party. He knows that the Committee was established by people interested in helping farmers in the Bega Valley. These are people who wish to combine their efforts and the buying power of co-operatives in order to buy hay, and to obtain free hay and free agistment if possible. These people want to obtain fodder of one kind or another on the best possible basis. I do not know the political affiliations of all the members of the Committee. I do not think this matters. But it would be fair enough to say that at least a couple of them would normally support, or have in the past supported, the Labor Party. It would also be fair enough to say that at least three or four of them - possibly more - in the past have normally supported the
Liberal Party, either as financial members of that Party er by making financial contributions from time to time to support campaigns of the Party.
– ls the honourable member criticising the honourable member for Macarthur?
– I am stating the case. If the honourable member for Reid had been present a little earlier he would have heard what I have already said. If he listens now he will hear what I still have to say. The fact is that the honourable member for Macarthur cannot possibly say that this Committee is overloaded one way or the other with people representing any political party. I do not believe that he can seriously contest, although he has purported to do so, the motives expressed in the motion that set up the Committee - the intention to do whatever could be done to help drought stricken farmers. I want to make it perfectly clear to the honourable member for Macarthur that 1 am calling on him to withdraw those allegations. I want him to withdraw without any reservations the allegations that this Committee has been motivated or promoted by the Labor Party. I do not think it is any reasonable concession on bis part to have said, as he did in the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House on 14th November:
The Bega Valley Drought Relief Committee is not officially affiliated with any political party, but I believe that it has been used in a political sense by the Australian Labor Party.
I say this because the honourable member went on to instance a number of what he described as coincidences and a number of statements that had been made by members of that Committee. In fact, he went on to say that although there was no official affiliation there would appear to be a very strong sympathy or other motivation from the Labor Party. This is completely wrong. The only instance 1 know of in which a representative of the Labor Party actually approached a member of the Committee - and this was done on an individual basis and not as an approach to the Committee as a whole - was when the President of the Australian Labor Party Electorate Council in Eden-Monaro asked a member of the Committee for his support in a proposal to encourage five farmers to bring five starving cows to Canberra and to put them on the grass outside Parliament House. The member of the Committee rejected this political stunt out of hand and it was never put to the Committee itself. Honourable members know the result: The cows did not turn up. So the only political stunting that I know of has come from the Labor Party and not from the Bega Valley Drought Relief Committee.
Unfortunately the Labor Party in EdenMonaro has tried to cash in politically on the extraordinary difficulties of the farmers in that area. But the blame should be sheeted home to those who deserve it and not to the members of the Committee. I repeat that I could not be satisfied by more than a complete withdrawal by the honourable member for Macarthur of his allegations as to political motivations and the initiation or promotion of this Committee. The Committee had troubles, which I mentioned in the adjournment debate on 14th November before the honourable member for Macarthur spoke. I outlined the formation of the Committee and its present operation. The State Government has now agreed to transport gift hay into the valley without cost to the farmers. Further it has subsidised at the rate of an additional 10c a bale hay coming from Nimmitabel, lt has, in effect, taken over the transport of hay into the Bega Valley. Mr George Kent, the New South Wales Department of Agriculture officer in Bega, advised me this evening that the whole operation is now going as smooth as silk’, that there have been received some 644 or more orders for about 65,000 to 70,000 bales of hay, and that between 8,000 and 10,000 bales have so far been handled at the rate of up to 3,800 a day.
Although some farmers have actually been right down to their last bale - and these people are receiving special attention - hay reaches most of them before their last bale cuts out. Of course, bales are often bought as well as stored. There has been more agistment offered than has been taken up. It would appear at the moment that the saleyards, while values are holding fairly well, are providing an alternative preferred by most farmers to the alternative even of using free agistment.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Munro) has certainly stood up the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Jeff Bate) and demanded a withdrawal of his allegation, but of course the honourable member for Macarthur is not here. One might also expect the honourable member for EdenMonaro to be a little concerned with the Treasurer (Mr McMahon), who, when the honourable member for Macarthur made his allegation, said: ‘Yes, the honourable member is usually correct and I believe he is correct on this occasion.’ He went ahead and made his full score of political capital out of answering the question by assuming that this committee was being manipulated politically by the Australian Labor Party. Perhaps the honourable member for EdenMonaro will also demand some redress from the Treasurer, who gave the allegation the full authority of a senior minister.
– I will do my own demanding.
– Yes, and you will use your discretion, I am sure. It is strange to hear the honourable member talking about political capital being made out of the distress of farmers in a certain area, as though that is not what he is doing. If the Australian Labor Party speaks about this subject, it is making political capital. If the honourable member does so, he is being most conscientious and genuine. Anybody who knows anything of politics and anything of this House, as 1 am sure the honourable member for Higinbotham (Mr Chipp) does by now, will realise that this is a House in which politics feature fairly often. The honourable member for EdenMonaro has distinguished himself tonight by a political adventure. 1 want to speak about another matter. On 25th May 1967 the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry referred a matter to the Tariff Board. He asked the Tariff Board to inquire into whether single engined aeroplanes should be protected. On 21st June 1968, 13 months later, the Tariff Board reported and about 2i months afterwards the report found its way into the House. We discovered then that the Board had reported that the production of single engined aeroplanes in Australia should not be protected. I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) to refer the report back to the Tariff Board, because I think the Board has made a mistake. It has applied the principle that I have been talking about for several days and that is the principle that if some production in Australia needs protection of more than 50% it shall not get it. This is a specific case in which the Tariff Board has rejected the application and apparently the Minister for Trade and Industry is prepared to agree with the Board. But the 50% that the industry requires is arrived at only on the assumptions made by the Tariff Board.
The application mainly concerned an investigation into the production of the Airtruk by Transavia Corporation. I have here a model of the Airtruk. lt is a most efficient aircraft for its purpose and certainly one of the most efficient in the field on any standard. That is admitted by the Tariff Board and demonstrated in its report. The Airtruk is powered with an engine of 300 horsepower. It has an empty weight of 1,800 lb and a load of 1,940 lb. It can cruise at 90 knots. A comparison between this and other competing aircraft can be seen by an examination of the specifications of the Snow. The Snow has an engine of 600 horsepower, twice the horsepower of the Airtruk. and an empty weight of 3,500 lb or twice the weight of the Airtruk. The Snow carries 2,030 lb or only 90 lb more than the Airtruk carries with half the horsepower and half the empty weight. The best competitor available in this part of the world, and probably anywhere in the world, is the Cessna Agwagon, which has an engine of 300 horsepower, an empty weight of 1,955 lb, or 155 lb heavier than the Airtruk. and carries 1,790 lb as against the 1,940 lb carried by the Airtruk
Anyone who knows anything about aerodynamics will agree that the Airtruk is an extremely efficient and economic aircraft. Its design shows much imagination and it flies, which is something the Fill does not seem to do. The Tariff Board has investigated the matter and at page 9 of its report it said that is investigations showed that Transavia had used considerably ingenuity in introducing techniques which would reduce labour costs. The Board was satisfied that the Airtruk was of satisfactory quality and that it had performed efficiently in those areas of New South Wales and New
Zealand where it had been operated commercially. So there is no question about the efficiency of the industry. The Board has said that it is efficient. We on this side of the House have said that where an industry is efficient, even if it does require protection of more than 50%, it should not be refused that protection. But this argument about 50% is an argument that arises only as a result of the acceptance of the Tariff Board’s assumptions, which may be wrong. The circumstances since the report was made show that the assumptions are likely to be wrong.
The Board said that Transavia would require assistance equivalent to a bounty of $8,000 or $9,000 per aeroplane and that is a little more than 50% of the ad valorem value. But the company had applied only for a bounty of $310,460 on eighty-five aeroplanes, which is a much lower percentage. On the Tariff Board’s assumptions it is a percentage of only about 30%. If an industry such as this can be started with a bounty of 30% or 40%, that is a satisfactory position. At present aircraft have only 17i% protection and I am amazed that aircraft have ever been produced in Australia with such protection.
Transavia has produced further evidence since the Board made its report. The evidence shows that the Board’s assessments of the market as an average of fifteen a year in Australia and ten a year in New Zealand are a considerable underestimate. Since the Airtruk has been marketed in New Zealand, the indications are that no other aircraft have been purchased there. The company says that the Airtruks are being absorbed by New Zealand operators as rapidly as they can be manufactured, because operators have found the Airtruk to be the most profitable aircraft available. The Tariff Board’s conclusions regarding the large bounty required at an output of twenty-five a year are, according to the company, erroneous in view of the fact that the factory is now breaking even on current aircraft. So the bask assumption that the Tariff Board was prepared to make in a pessimistic way has been proved invalid in a few months of operation. The company says that, as regards the Australian market, a new marketing organisation is currently being established under new management and it expects further improvements as a result of this action.
This seems to be a case where the matter could quite reasonably be referred back to the Board. I would think that every honourable member would agree that something should be done to establish an aircraft industry in Australia. Perhaps some of the larger companies could be expected to do this. But when a company uses the ingenuity, initiative and enterprise that Transavia has, it deserves some support. I think the Board is being very pessimistic, very narrow and is very wrong in applying the fifty and over principle of tariff making. This principle is that if a company at any stage requires more than 50% protection it will not get it. The fifty and over principle applied to an efficient industry will not be accepted by the Opposition, and for several weeks I have been challening the Minister for Trade and Industry and others on the Government side to say whether the Government will apply this principle. This is a clear example of the principle having been applied and I ask the Minister to refer this report on single engined aeroplanes back to the Tariff Board so that it can take into account the evidence that has accumulated since the report was made.
Mfr SPEAKER-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– It gives me a great deal of pleasure to support the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) in his request that the matter of the production of single engined aircraft in Australia be referred back to the Tariff Board. As the honourable member for Yarra pointed out, the Airtruk aircraft has satisfied all the requirements laid down by the Department of Civil Aviation for an agricultural aircraft. It has also proved itself satisfactorily in the field. This is one of its greatest features. More of these aircraft are presently operating in New Zealand than in Australia. The company manufacturing the aircraft has taken upon itself to invest a considerable amount of its capital and to secure a loan from the Commonwealth Development Bank to establish an aircraft industry in Australia, knowing at the same time the history of aircraft production in Australia. Let us consider the recent tragic events concerning the company manufacturing the Victa aircraft. This company is now established in New Zealand and we are importing Victa aircraft manufactured there. Other honourable members and I have received a number of recommendations from people interested in light aircraft and the use of light aircraft, particularly from the aero clubs, about the reliability of the Victa aircraft compared with imported aircraft.
The company that manufactures the Airtruk has established a local industry at considerable cost to itself. It is requesting that the Commonwealth Government pay a total bounty of $300,000 on the first eighty-five aircraft produced and sold. After that it believes it will be able to stand on its own feet. I submit that this is not a great deal of money. I recall the history of the motor vehicle industry in Australia. In the pre-war years people were saying that we were not able to manufacture motor vehicles because our vehicles would not be able to compete with imported vehicles. This story has been given the lie to such an extent that overseas companies have invested in the Australian industry. A large section of the Australian economy now depends on the production of motor vehicles. It is pleasing to see a local firm interest itself in the manufacture of aircraft. Overseas companies which manufacture aircraft have indicated that they will establish themselves in Australia when they believe the time is right. The Airtruk aircraft has been manufactured for the specific purpose of agricultural seeding and spraying. It made its first flight in April 1965, the prototype received its certificate of airworthiness in June 1966, and the first production model was delivered in December 1966. Forty-two people are employed in the Seven Hills factory where the aircraft is manufactured.
When people purchase a motor vehicle they like to know about the availability of parts. Similarly, when people purchase aircraft they want to know whether spare parts will be available at short notice. Transavia Corporation, makers of the Airtruk. said that at the output level of one Airtruk every 4 weeks the local content averaged approximately 80% and that this would still be about 74% by the time the 85th aircraft was being produced. It said that this decline in the percentage of local content presupposed a substantially increased rate of output; it would result from the decline in local costs of labour and overheads while the costs of the imported parts and components in each aeroplane remained relatively constant. By giving assistance to establish continuity of production of a local aircraft by a local company the Government would be doing much to set up an industry of which we could be proud, having regard to the vast distances in Australia and the manner in which light aircraft have been used to date. Although the aircraft are being manufactured for the specific purpose of agriculture, already designs and modifications are being prepared which will make them available for use as passenger aircraft. One of the best features of this aircraft is the short distance that it requires to take off, either loaded or unloaded, and its ability to land in all sorts of places.
– You could land it in here if you could get the roof off.
– That is right. 1 think the take-off distance is only 62 yards - less than the length of three cricket pitches. I saw two of these aircraft operating under working conditions at Tralee, which is not very far from Parliament House. I think that the other honourable members who were present were, like myself, most impressed with the way in which the aircraft handled.
The Board has arrived at certain conclusion on the assumption that the share of the market for this aircraft has been over-rated. It does not believe that there is a market for more than an average of ten Airtruks a year in New Zealand. But the indications are that this is the only type of agricultural aircraft which has been sold in recent times in New Zealand, so much so that Rex Aviation Ltd, distributors of the Cessna aircraft in Australia and New Zealand, has been forced to reimport from New Zealand a number of their Agwagon aircraft which have sold at a competitive price with the Airtruk. As far as can be ascertained, the aircraft which have been brought into Australia are being sold at several thousand dollars below the list price. Even the Tariff Board, in its report, indicated how difficult it is to know exactly the list price of these aircraft because of the different methods of leasing, sale and trade-in that are adopted. I suppose the position is very much the same as it is with refrigerators. You sec a refrigerator listed at a certain price with trade-in, and no matter where or at what you look it is very hard to know the actual price of the article.
Because of changed conditions since the report was presented on 22nd June and because of what has been further proved by the manufacturers, I have much pleasure in supporting the honourable member for Yarra in requesting that the Tariff Board conduct a second inquiry into this matter.
– It is not often that 1 rise to support the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns), but I support him and also the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen) in their request tonight that the Tariff Board take a second look at its recommendation with regard to single engined aircraft. It is obvious to anyone that agricultural aircraft play a major part in increasing primary production in Australia. Any reasonable thought about the future, therefore, would lead us to believe that there will be a growing demand for this and other types of light aircraft in this country and that as a result there will be a quite considerable increase in export earnings from primary production. We find also that the Government obtains a duty of 1% on the importation of aircraft. Surely some of the revenue derived from this duty could be spent lo assist local production to get off the ground for the variety of reasons which I hope to outline in the few minutes at my disposal. Almost al) of the other local manufacturers arc interested in military production in Australia and therefore are interested only in cost plus activities. There are no incentives in the aircraft manufacturing industry in Australia for productivity or efficiency. De Havilland is engaged mainly with an eye to military production, as is the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation. It is unusual to find in Australia any outlet for young aeronautical engineers. If Australia is to develop an efficient and enterprising aircraft industry this is where it must start. It must start in the market place in an industry that is subject to normal economic pressures. It must encourage enterprise. It must encourage our bright young graduates. It must get to grips with the problems of space confronting this nation and must gear its activities accordingly.
No manufacturer of light aircraft in the world - I have tried to get as much information as possible on this subject - develops a new model without direct or indirect assistance from his government. Cessnas and Pipers, which are aircraft competing against the aircraft under discussion, have been developed by manufacturers who enjoy considerable support from their governments. Here we have an Australian manufacturer trying to compete with Piper and Rex, both of which have major government contracts to help them to develop their products. De Havilland wants the tariff removed and it opposes the granting of bounty assistance, not so as to corner the market but to enable the company to sell what has proved to be a liability. I refer to the Beaver turbo aircraft, which is too sophisticated and too expensive for small1 agricultural operations in Australia even if it were suitable to our purposes. I believe that it is totally unsuitable for agricultural operations in Australia due to the vulnerability of the jet type engine. With this type of engine there is a danger of ingesting foreign bodies and therefore as a consequence there is a high maintenance and repair bid attendant upon its use. De Havilland has virtually adopted the attitude that it will not try to build an aircraft for the local market. Having grown fat on the cost plus system the company may not have technical and production capabilities of a sufficiently high order in this country. It certainly has grown fat on government contracts and it has not tried to correct the situation. 1 am concerned tonight that the light aircraft industry in Australia is being seriously neglected. The Government will pay a lot more money for defence aircraft work as a result of this neglect. The cost to the Government will make the S300.000 odd mentioned in this report look like peanuts. The report refers not only to the particular aircraft that has been mentioned tonight but could relate to rotary wing aircraft as well.
The enterprise of the Victa organisation has been mentioned. In addition to developing a light fixed wing aircraft, the young aeronautical engineers who were responsible for this development, two of whom I know personally, also developed a gyroplane in Australia. It has flown for about 10,000 hours and is most highly regarded by the Department of Civil Aviation, but has had no assistance to get off the ground as a commercial project. At present the young aeronautical engineers are trying to enter the field of commercialisation in order to give effect to their creation. Unhappily, the result could be that they, like the vast majority of graduates in aeronautical engineering from Australian universities, will have to make their way overseas to get jobs in which they can use fully their enterprise, initiative and inventiveness. Our young aircraft engineers are fast losing heart with regard to their future in Australia. The majority of them are now in foreign employment.
I have said that the de Havilland organisation grew fat on cost plus contracts. I would like several features looked into, either by the Public Accounts Committee or by some such responsible body. The first point to be inquired into is that, as 1 understand it, de Havilland ‘rents’, using the word in inverted commas, enormous facilities including great areas of factory space and amounts of equipment right down to such items as office chairs and work benches at what is really a very nominal figure, if the figures 1 have obtained are in any way accurate. If that is the true position, it warrants examination. I would also like to know to what extent the property and facilities are involved in manufactures of a private nature, in the production of aluminium boats, of which de Havilland is the largest manufacturer in Australia for commercial sale. 1 pose these questions: Is the de Havilland organisation using for the nautical purpose a large percentage of equipment which is installed for aircraft manufacture? Arc full and reasonable commercial lease and rental rates for such usage being paid? In other words, I believe that there is a situation inside the light aircraft manufacturing industry in Australia that needs examination.
I believe that the Government should have another look at this matter. It should override, or at least send back to the Tariff Board for a new scrutiny, the report that has been made to the Parliament. We should do something to encourage the commercial and technical initiative that is to be found in Australia, capable of developing an aircraft like the gyroplane to which I have referred. It has a stalling speed of 5 knots. lt can carry two people at almost stationary speeds - if that is not an Irishism - almost in a stationary condition while an examination is made, for example, of outcrops of mineralisation for the mining industry or the condition of wells, fences and so on for the rural industry. It could be used to assist many other activities in which in the future imported aircraft will be used unless, happily, we are able to bring about a change of direction in the trend through local manufacture of aircraft. 1 support what has been said by the two speakers from the Opposition on this subject.
– f support the proposition that the Tariff Board should reexamine the proposal with regard to the light aircraft industry. I believe that it is necessary to establish an aircraft manufacturing industry in Australia. The honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) waa critical of the de Havilland organisation. I have made an examination of the costs of imported aircraft and parts from the United States of America. In 1963-64 such imports totalled about $24m; last year the value of imported planes and parts from the United States had risen to about $90m. Australia imports aircraft and parts from other parts of the world. From the angle of the balance of trade, we have a deficit on the current account of about $7,00Om since 1950. lt is clear that Australia must have its own aircraft manufacturing industry. We were hesitant about establishing our own motor car industry 25 to 30 years ago. lt was not an economic proposition in those days. However I think we can say reasonably that in a country like Australia it is necessary to have a light aircraft industry. I support what was said by the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns). I know that the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen) last weekend took several colleagues out to examine the factor)’ in Sydney. They were impressed by tha enthusiasm and keenness of the company concerned. I think this matter is well worth examination by the Tariff Board.
I also want to refer to the matter that was mentioned by the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Munro) earlier this evening. He dissociated himself from the remarks made on 14th November by the honourable member for Macarthur (Ml
Jeff Bate) on the motion that the House adjourn. The honourable member for Macarthur attacked the Bega Valley Drought Relief Committee as being a front for the Australian Labor Party. I quote from pages 2932 and 2933 of Hansard where the honourable member is reported as having said: . . when it was thought that there might be a Federal general election this year the Bega Valley Drought Relief Committee suddenly appeared. The man who chaired the meeting at which the Committee was formed was heard over the Australian Broadcasting Commission radio station 2BA in Bega exhorting farmers to attend the meeting at the hotel. Mr Hills, the Leader of the Opposition in the New South Wales Parliament, the Labor candidate for the Federal seat of Eden-Monaro and the former President of the Federal and New South Wales organisations of the Australian Labor Party were present. This Committee is supposed to be non-political. The chairman of the meeting which formed the Committee exhorted the people over the Australian Broadcasting Commission radio programme to attend the meeting. Of course, the ABC is one of the Labor Party organs in this country. Some of the farmers attended the meeting. The person who moved the resolution on the basis of which the Committee was formed is a strong supporter of the ALP in Bega. A few days later he was seen talking not to members of the Government Parties but to Labor members of the New South Wales Legislative Council in Parliament House in Macquarie Street, Sydney.
Clearly, honourable members on this side of the House believe that there is a need for the Bega Valley Drought Relief Committee and, I say frankly, we do not want to make political capital out of it. I commend the attitude of the honourable member for Eden-Monaro. We must all be aware of the tragedy that the people of the South Coast of New South Wales have suffered as a result of the drought. Surely all honourable members in this House and all members of the State Parliament should strive to assist these people who have suffered so much. The honourable member for Macarthur was not the only member of the Liberal Party of Australia who jumped on the bandwagon in trying to make political capital out of the situation and who tried to beat the political drum by suggesting that the evil people in this scheme were members of the Labor Party. During question time on 12th November the honourable member for Macarthur asked a question. He commenced it by saying:
I ask the Treasurer a question about drought relief for the South Coast of New South Wales.
He concluded his question by saying:
Did private contractors cany one load on Thursday and three on Friday last week? Did the Sydney Morning Herald’ send to investigate the position a Mr Joe Glascott who was not seen by the co-operatives but went only to the ALP Committee, which was seeking political advantage and some publicity?
I quote part of what the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) said in answering that question, and this appears at page 2686 of Hansard, as follows: 1 believe he would have seen the statement made by Mr Crawford, the Minister for Agriculture in New South Wales, who was highly critical of the Bega Valley Drought Relief Committee. 1 think everyone should realise that the Committee appears to have made a political gesture. I again have no reason for doubting that the statement made by the honourable member that this action was initiated by the Australian Labor Party in the electorate of Eden-Monaro is in fact accurate.
So the Treasurer not only condoned the remarks made by the honourable member for Macarthur but also endorsed the remarks of Mr Crawford, a Liberal-Country Party Minister of the New South Wales Government. These three responsible people, all members of the Liberal and Country Parties, were trying to make political capital out of this drought relief. While members of the Labor Party were working in support of the people on the south coast in order to gain drought relief, they were trying to make political capital out of the matter.
The honourable member for Eden-Monaro is to be commended. But why does he disassociate himself from only the honourable member for Macarthur? He disassociates himself from the honourable member for Macarthur because he feels that the honourable member is not too responsible in politics anyway and may toe on the way out, whereas he wants to remain on the inside. Why does not he disassociate himself from the remarks made by the Treasurer, who is one of the senior members of his Party in New South Wales and who joined in this gutter type of politics with the honourable member for Macarthur in order to try to make political capital out of the people who were suffering on the south coast of New South Wales? Why does not he disassociate himself from the remarks made by the State Minister, Mr Crawford? Of course, he does not do that because he does not want to incur the criticism of his Party.
I believe that all honourable members should join with the Labor candidate for Eden-Monaro, Allan Fraser, who has given great service. In his maiden speech the present honourable member for EdenMonaro gave credit to Allan Fraser for what he had done. Surely Allan Fraser and he should be united on this issue and should be trying to work in the interests of the people, instead, the honourable member for Eden-Monaro is allowing members of his Party to try to make political capital out of the issue and to say that the Labor Party is trying to make political capital out of it. The Labor Party is trying to do a job for the people. Every member of this House should strive to do his best for these unfortunate farmers and other people on the south coast of New South Wales, who have experienced an unfortunate drought, which is practically unknown in the history of the area.
– I wish to speak tonight in support of an appeal that the New South Wales Branch of the Royal Life Saving Society launched recently to raise $200,000 to make its work in New South Wales effective. The Branch was established in Sydney 75 years ago. In the year in which it was established twentytwo awards for life saving were granted by the Society in that State. Last year 103,054 awards were granted in the State. This was a world record for any fife saving body on earth. Of this achievement the Society, which is a voluntary body, is justly proud.
It is also proud of, among other things, its pioneering role in lbc world when, less than a decade ago in Sydney, at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, twelve human guinea pigs drawn from the Society’s ranks proved that the then new mouth to mouth resuscitation was the safest and most reliable method of artificial resuscitation known. These dozen members allowed themselves to be given the drug pentathol. Then, under the supervision of a medical officer, Dr Bruce Clifton, they were injected with deadly curare, which paralysed them so that they could not breathe for themselves. Various methods of artificial resuscitation were applied during this brave experiment, and it was found that mouth to mouth or mouth to nose resuscitation - or the breath of life, as it is called-was the one safe and sure method, if applied during that precious 2 to 4 minutes after a person hai stopped breathing and appears dead and before the delicate brain cells are damaged irreparably. This could be called the point of no return.
Last year thirty-two people at the point of death were revived in New South Wales by mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. They were the lucky ones. But not so lucky were the hundreds who perished because no-one there at the time was trained to act without medical help and without panic in a matter of stark emergency. Terribly unlucky were 153 children under the age of 16 years who died in New South Wales last year by misadventure. This is seven more than the number of children in this age group who died on the roads in that State. It is important to realise - although it is not a pleasant realisation - that of the children who died on the roads, most were fatally injured before medical help arrived.
But it was a different story for the 153 who died by misadventure. Many could and should be alive today. These children died by strangulation, poison, gas, electrocution, drowning or with their heads in plastic bags. Of the 153 children who died last year in New South Wales by misadventure, 56 were drowned, although only 4 were drowned in the surf or the sea. A total of 52 children were drowned in still water, in metropolitan swimming pools, country dams, suburban creeks, irrigation canals, reservoirs and household baths. These children died ‘back of the beach’, which is where the work of the Royal Life Saving Society begins, as distinct from that of the Surf Life Saving Association, whose area is the surf beaches.
The Society has been charged with the proud responsibility of teaching children at the primary school level who are between the ages of 9 and 13, which is the danger area. More than 257,000 children in this age group attend State and denominational schools in New South Wales at the moment. To do this work the Society, because of a lack of funds, can afford only three instructors, Ron Firkin, Owen Selwood and Brian Chenhall. Each drives a station sedan, which is called a mobile unit, equipped with films, certificates, dummies, which are called manikins’, booklets and rope to cater for the entire primary school population. To do this work involves a special kind of dedication and a special brand of teaching.
Last year these three men alone taught more than 12,000 children water safety and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation at school. The dream or ideal is that each school should be revisited by the instructors every fourth year. But unfortunately this is impossible at present. At the moment statistics show that less than one out of every three children who should be taught these precious lessons can be taught.
Children will be children and they do not see the dangers that the adult eye can see. The trouble with most children is that they behave like children. Speak to a child of danger and you will stir his sense of adventure. Say to a child: ‘Do not do that’ and it will stir him to find out why he should not do it. Children have been strangled when playing on swings or playing cowboys and Indians, smothered in a sandpit when playing miners, electrocuted when playing behind television sets and in kitchens, collapsed and stopped breathing when playing sports, or suffocated when playing firemen. Children at play can turn on the gas, take poison or swallow objects, sometimes while a helpless parent watches stricken with panic. But children usually play together. If just one child knows how to act properly in an emergency until help arrives another child’s life may be saved.
The Society’s job, and that of its instructors, Ls to safeguard children by teaching them how to act. This instruction takes just 4 hours in every 4 years. That is all it takes. But it takes more than three instructors to cover the whole canvas of the State and the schools in the Australian Capital Territory and for the Society to cope with the cry from ever-awakening parents and teachers requesting that children be taught. The Society can teach all of the children at school in the age groups I have mentioned. But to do so it must at least double its instructional staff. It must provide into perpetuity the money necessary to fill the gap between those children who can be taught and the great majority who cannot be taught at present. This is why for the first time in its 75-year history the Society is asking for financial help from the New South Wales public. Never before has it asked the public for money. But it now pleads for help so that it can train all of the children, who have a right to be trained. Some say life is cheap, but we know that it is not. The protection of a child’s life can be bought for the cost of 4 hours training in every fourth year at primary school level. This is being done also by the life saving clubs and the Society. In my own electorate there is a life saving club at Brighton-Ie-Sands, another at Ramsgate and a third at Carrs Park. All three are members of the Royal Life Saving Society. They are joining with the Royal Life Saving Society in this campaign to teach this precious method of saving life. That is why I rise tonight to support the Royal Life Saving Society’s appeal and to ask every citizen in New South Wales to do the same.
– 1 realise that the hour is late, and it is not my intention to delay the House for more than a few minutes. But I do want to take the opportunity to support those honourable members who have already suggested that the Tariff Board’s report on the light aircraft industry ought to be referred back to it. I, too, have seen the Airtruk. I believe that the company has a very good product in this aircraft and that it is deserving of any support we can give it. The amount asked for is not much. I am concerned mainly with the principle involved rather than with the pursuit of a cause for any particular company. Not long ago Australia had three different companies manufacturing light aircraft. We lost one of them - I think it was the Victa organisation - to New Zealand. Because of lack of support, another company sold its designs, jigs, tools and dies to the United States, and I believe we have since been in the ridiculous position of purchasing back from the United States Australian designed aircraft.
If we wish to establish and maintain a light aircraft industry in Australia we ought to be prepared to make some sort of sacrifice towards this end. Quite a considerable number of young Australians are anxious to embark on a career in the light aircraft industry but our present policy is denying them the opportunity to do so. If we do not provide the opportunity for them to follow their wishes within an Australian light aircraft industry, we might find that in the future we shall lose not only our ideas but also our brains and skilled manpower to overseas companies. This is something we cannot afford.
It is my opinion that the Tariff Board is taking a very short sighted view in this instance. It might be able to justify its decision with figures, but I think that instead of looking at this as only a particular case we ought to be giving thought to the principle and should be looking at least 20 years ahead. Who knows but that an Australian light aircraft industry firmly established now could be a very vital factor in our ability to defend this country in 20 or more years? With those other honourable members who have already spoken on these lines, I hope that the Government will take another look at the position and will refer the case back to the Tariff Board for reconsideration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.8 a.m. (Thursday)
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
The recommendations of the 1967 Fisheries Development Conference on the matters listed by the honourable member are under constant review by the Commonwealth and State governments and by the Australian Fishing Industry Council.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The following answer is now supplied:
Companies currently mining specified minerals for export.
Thiess Peabody Mitsui Coal Pty Ltd
Utah Development Company
Thiess Holdings Lid
New South Wales -
Bellambi Coal Company Ltd
Clutha Development Pty Ltd
Coal and Allied Industries Ltd
Kembla Coal and Coke Pty Ltd
W. Miller and Company Pty Ltd
Commonwealth Aluminium Ltd
Western Australia -
Dampier Mining Company Ltd
Hamersley Iron Pty Ltd
Western Mining Corporation
Goldsworthy Mining Ltd
Northern Territory -
Frances-Creek Iron Mining Corporation Pty Ltd
Morgan Mining and Industrial Co. Pty Ltd
Western Australia -
Longreach Manganese Pty Ltd
Bell Bros Pty Ltd
Northern Territory -
Groote Eylandt Mining Company Pty Ltd
South Australia -
Waratah Gypsum Pty Ltd
South Australian Barytes Ltd
New South Wales - Royalty rates depend on the type of surface title and the date of granting of the lease. For new leases on Crownland the rate is 10 cents per ton.
Queensland - Commonwealth Aluminium Corporation Ltd, 5 cents per ton for bauxite processed at Bell Bay, or in Queensland, 10 cents per ton for bauxite sold for processing elsewhere.
Western Australia - The provisions for royalty rates are complicated. The principal provisions are:
Hamersley Iron Pty Ltd.
Western Mining Corporation Ltd
Northern Territory - l1/4% of ex-mine value except when on Aboriginal reserve when royalty is21/2% of ex-mine value.
Manganese Ore -
Western Australia - 15 cents per ton Northern Territory - Groote Eylandt Mining Co. Pty Ltd - 21/2% of the ex-mine value of the mineral.
South Australia-21/2% of gross sale revenue.
South Australia - 21/2% of the gross sale revenue.
Coal - Gladstone, Newcastle, Sydney, Port Kembla.
Bauxite - Weipa.
Iron Ore - Koolan Island, Dampier, Port Hedland, Geraldton, Darwin.
Manganese Ore - Groote Eylandt, Port Hedland, Geraldton.
Gypsum - Thevenard, Stenhouse Bay. Barite - Port Adelaide.
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The following answer is now supplied:
Accounting procedures do not allow for an accurate breakdown of expenditure for individual parties. However the costs would range from approximately $1,500 a month for a small magnetic survey party of say two men to $30,000 a month for a large land based seismic party of about thirty men. The cost of a contract marine seismic, magnetic and gravity survey is of the order of $180,000 a month. The estimated costs of geological mapping parties are approximately $5,000 a month.
asked the Minister for Edu cation and Science, upon notice:
Mr Malcolm Fraser: The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1 and 2. The annual quota of mature age scholarships in recent years has been set at 120. However, it became possible to grant substantially more of these awards for 1967 when changes in the structure of secondary education in New South Wales and South Australia led to reduced competition for open entrance scholarships. Some unused open entrance awards were made available to mature age applicants.
The number of applicants for mature ase scholarships first tenable in 1967 and 1968 and the number of these awards accepted are set out in the following table:
Competition for mature age awards has increased considerably in recent years and in recognition of this situation it has been decided to raise the annual quota to 250 awards beginning in 1969.
These awards will be available to students who have turned 25 years of age before 1st January 1969. Applicants may be selected for a mature age scholarship either on results obtained in State matriculation examinations, or if the applicant has undertaken university studies on his record in the course or courses attempted. Preference in selection will be given as in the past to students who have already completed successfully part of a university course but some awards will be set aside for applicants with outstanding matriculation results who wish to commence a university course in 1969.
raser asked the Minister representing the Minister for Housing, upon notice:
– The Minister for Housing has provided the following answers to the honourable member’s questions:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The following answer is supplied:
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
Will the Minister consider the introduction of legislation to allow retired persons the option of bequeathing to the Commonwealth any capital gains due to revaluation of their home sites in return for payment by the Commonwealth of any rise in rates due to revaluation after retirement during their lifetime?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
As indicated when replying to a recent question asked without notice, it has already been suggested to the Government that there should be some way in which payments, not only of rates but also of taxes and maintenance charges on a pensioner’s home, should be financed by loan and recovered from the pensioner’s estate after his death. This matter will be closely examined when the question of additional assistance for pensioner home-owners is under consideration.
External Aid (Question No. 962)
asked the Minister for
External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
The figures required, so far as they are available, are contained in the following tables:
All other statistics from IMF and IBRD: International Financial Statistics.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Is he able to state for each of thepast ten years the expenditure on overseas aid as a percentage of defence expenditure for (a) the United Kingdom, (b) the United States of America, (c) France, (d) Germany, and (e) Japan?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for the
Interior, upon notice:
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:
Commonwealth Centre, Melbourne (Question No. 869)
– The answer to the honourable members questions is as follows: 1 and 2. It has been the policy of the Government to develop progressively the Commonwealth Centre in Melbourne. The first stage development providing 134,700 square feet was completed in 1958 and a second stage providing 150,000 square feet was completed in 1966. Proposals are currently being developed for further office construction on the Commonwealth Centre site but have not yet reached the stage where it is possible to say just when the next stage of construction will be undertaken. The proposals, when formulated, will first have to be considered by the Government and the Parliamentary Public Works Committee, in accordance with the established procedure, and commencement of construction will depend to a large extent on the relative priorities of other major capital works projects and the availability of funds. It will inevitably be many years before the site is fully developed.
Security (Question No. 957)
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1, 2 and 3. My attention has been invited to a report which appeared in the newspaper referred to. It would not be appropriate for me to comment on the statements therein attributed to the Premier of Queensland. 4 and 5. I do no propose, by answering these questions, to depart from the practice of refusing to discuss the activities of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:
Will he give an assurance that it is not the practice of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation to employ students at Australian universities to report on the activities of other students and staff?
– I refer the honourable member to my answer to a question addressed to me by the honourable member for Denison (Mr Gibson) on 9th October 1968 recorded in Hansard, House of Representatives, at page 1720. I have nothing to add to that answer.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
The questions of extending the areas to which the zone allowance applies, and of the amounts of the concession, were both considered during the preparation of the latest Budget, but the only tax concessions which the Government felt able to accede to at that stage were those announced in the Budget Speech.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
Government accept them as being genuine requests?
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 November 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1968/19681120_reps_26_hor61_c1/>.