26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Lucock) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
-I inform the House of the death, on 24th November, of Mr William Frederick Edmonds who was a member of this House for the Division of Herbert from 1946 to 1958. On behalf of the House I have forwarded a message of sympathy to his widow and family. As a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased I invite honourable members to rise in their places. (Honourable members having stood in their places)
-I thank the House.
Mr DOBIE presented a petition from certain electors of New South Wales showing that they are completely opposed to the establishment of an airport on Towra Point, and call for the abandonment of any plans which exist for this purpose.
The petitioners pray that the members will instruct the Department of Civil Aviation to look elsewhere and outside the metropolitan area for a suitable location for their new airport requirements.
Petition received and read.
Mr JAMES presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth showing that whereas (a) the Commonwealth Parliament has a clear mandate to act for the advancement of the Aboriginal people and (b) Aboriginals require a sound economic basis to rise from their present position of poverty, and (c) the granting of special land rights would provide such a basis, and (d) common justice and international standards require recognition of traditional1 ownership rights of indigenous people, the petitioners pray that the House of Representatives make legal provision for-
Petition received and read.
Mr BRYANT presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth showing that whereas (a) the Commonwealth Parliament has a clear mandate to act for the advancement of the Aboriginal people and (b) Aboriginals require a sound economic basis to rise from their present position of poverty, and (c) the granting of special land rights would provide such a basis, and (d) common justice and international standards require recognition of traditional ownership rights of indigenous people, the petitioners pray that the House of Representatives make legal provision for:
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether it is a fact that students studying for their first tertiary degree are granted deferment of military service on the understanding that they complete the degree course before their twenty-sixth birthday. Is it a fact also that there are quite a few students studying medicine who have previously studied for a science degree or some other degree and who therefore will not be able to complete the course in medicine until after their twenty-sixth birthday, and so will be called up for military service? As a good deal of time and money is spent by students and in teaching students who would eventually become doctors who are very badly needed both in the Army and elsewhere, does the Minister consider it reasonable to terminate the studies of these students by calling them up for military service? Will he look at the cases of this kind that have been brought (o his notice and see whether an extension of deferment can be granted to those concerned?
– There are, I think, about 100 cases in which circumstances of this kind have arisen. I am at present looking at the matter to see what change will have to be made in the regulations and what other action will be involved in meeting these cases. We are aware of the problem and understand it full well, and we will overcome it insofar as we can do so.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Navy. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to recent newspaper comments critical of the introduction of trade group pay for sailors in the Royal Australian Navy? Does he share the concern so expressed or would he say that once the teething troubles have been overcome the overall long term benefits will become more apparent?
– As I said in the House some time ago when discussing this question-
– On a point of order: I submit that this question is out of order, Mr Acting Speaker, because it anticipates debate on an order of the day. The resumption of debate on a ministerial statement on the revised pay structure of the armed Services is set down as an order of the day.
– My understanding of this is twofold-
– I heard the suggested reply.
-Order! The Chair is quite capable of making a decision on its own, and I think I have been here long enough to give evidence of that to the House. My understanding of the Standing Orders is that the notice paper is to be used for guidance and should not be used to restrict in any way an answer to a question which is seeking information. To that degree I rule that the question is in order.
– As I said in the House previously, the change to the group pay system has meant an increase of $3im in the amount of money going to the sailors. Indeed, to illustrate the flexibility of the system, I said that the amount rose from an estimate of $2im in May to $3im now because we were able to increase the sailors’ pay as civilian wages rose. I also pointed out that no sailor would receive less under this system. I do not think it is sufficient to leave the matter there. The Navy traditionally has had common pay for a long while, and the traditions of the Navy are very valuable to the Service. Sailors live closely confined together and they know what one another is receiving. So a change like this is very important. When we made the change the Australian Naval Board was well aware that it would present problems. We knew that it would present anomalies. We knew that some particular categories of sailors would be aligned with civilian awards which had not gone up. In other words, we knew there would always be someone out of step. As I have said, we knew that there would be anomalies. We have been able to iron out many of these anomalies since the introduction of this system and we are working steadily towards ironing out other problems.
– I rise to order. The Minister obviously is dealing with a question of which he had notice. He should make a statement on the matter after question time.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– As an illustration of this, we are working on the rank margins, which have not been altered for 9 years. I repeat that we knew we would have problems when we changed over from the common pay to the group pay system, but it was our considered opinion that the problems would be far greater if we did not change over. This change will now give us the opportunity to move in step with civilian pay and to pay for skills which are being well paid for in the civilian field. I assure the House that the change was necessary; indeed, it was inevitable. In the long term it will prove to be beneficial to the Service.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Does the Royal Style and Titles Act of the United Kingdom Parliament amend that section of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act which declares that sovereignty in Australia is vested in the succession of the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland? In other words, is there in reality such a person as the Queen of Australia, or is Her Majesty the Queen of Australia by virtue of the sovereignty of the Crown of Great Britain and Ireland over Australia? If there is such a title as ‘Queen of Australia’ as distinct from ‘Queen of the United Kingdom’, has any consideration been given to altering the title ‘Governor-General’, which presupposes the sovereignty of one country over another, to ‘Regent’ which is the normal title of a representative of a monarch during the absence of that monarch from a country?
– If the honourable member would like to supply his statement in writing T will see whether there is anything I can convey to him. In any event, I do not think that I should express legal opinions during question time.
– I address to the Treasurer a question which concerns the various pressures on European currencies and the recent move by the International Monetary Fund to establish special drawing rights. Does the Treasurer see special drawing rights as being a method of weakening the importance of gold as a basis of those currencies? Will the introduction of special drawing rights facilitate the stabilisation of currencies and reduce the devious actions of speculators in gold? Finally, can the formation of special drawing rights be expected to lead eventually to the complete demonetisation of gold, with the neutralisation of such speculators, in the hope of establishing more stable currencies?
– As regards the first question asked by the honourable gentleman, my opinion, which is shared in international monetary circles, is that special drawing rights will be a worthwhile supplement to gold as part of the international monetary system. It will be many years - much further ahead than we can possibly envisage - before special drawing rights will have an impact on gold in the international monetary system. As to whether special drawing rights will reduce speculation in gold, no-one can adequately understand the mind of the speculator. If speculators feel that they can save themselves from loss or make a few dollars without a great deal1 of effort of course they will speculate. I do not think the creation of special drawing rights will remove completely the problem of speculation.
As for the third matter raised by the honourable member I should say that in using special drawing rights there is no intention of minimising the importance of gold. As far ahead as we can think, gold will play an important part in the world monetary structure. Some of the world’s great economists and financiers are now examining the position of gold to see whether we could solve our problems by allowing gold to play an even more important part in international finance in the years ahead.
– Does the PostmasterGeneral’ recall that on three or four occasions in the last few years I have asked him to issue a commemorative postage stamp honouring the memory of John Curtin, who gave such magnificent leadership to Australia during World War II? Does the Minister also recall that he has given me a definite promise that such a stamp will be issued? What stage has been reached in the preparation of the stamp? It is now almost 2 years since the Minister told me in answer to a question that the issue could not be implemented in the near future. When will the stamp be issued?
– The honourable member has been quite persistent about this matter. I have indicated in the House that a series of postage stamps depicting Prime Ministers of Australia will be issued. If memory serves me correctly, the first in the series will be issued next year. We will commence with the first Prime Minister of Australia, not with Mr Curtin or any of the later Prime Ministers. The stamps will form a series. They may not be issued all at once or even in successive years. We may issue perhaps four different stamps to begin with, and more stamps 2 or 3 years later, fitting into the general programme of stamp production. Eventually the series will cover all Prime Ministers of Australia.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Industry seen Press reports published yesterday and today regarding proposals from a joint lamb committee for immediate action to restrict imports of New Zealand lamb? Has the committee submitted a copy of its report to the Government? In view of the widespread publicity concerning this matter and the findings of the committee what action does the Government propose to take regarding imports of New Zealand lamb? Has there been any response from producers to the Government’s offer to establish an industry panel to keep the import and price positions under review?
– I have seen a newspaper report about this matter but I have not seen the report of the committee referred to. Members of the committee conferred with me one day last week. I told them that neither I nor the Government would be indifferent to damage imposed upon Australian lamb producers because of importations of New Zealand lamb. But 1 also made it clear to the committee that there was no evidence whatever that the importation of lamb to the extent that it has come in has had any deleterious effect on prices. The total importation of New Zealand lamb up to date this year is the equivalent of about one-half of 1% of our total production. That quantity of lamb could not conceivably reduce market prices here.
Undoubtedly, lamb prices in the saleyards have been extraordinarily low in recent months. But a study of this situation by those who are most competent to form an opinion shows that lamb yardings have been much heavier this year than in previous years. This explains the lower prices that have prevailed. The industry has expressed its concern. ! have told representatives of this industry that, as has been clone for many other industries, I would establish a panel composed of representatives from the industry and a competent member from the Department of Trade and Industry. This panel will be furnished with all the information already available and all’ that comes to hand subsequently so that both the indus- try and the Government would be fully aware of the circumstances. I have told the industry that, while we would not take any steps at this stage to prevent the importation of New Zealand lamb under the terms of the trade agreement with that country, prompt and completely adequate steps will be taken, if and when necessary, to protect the Australian industry from real damage.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral a question. As honourable members were given the reports of committees appointed by Attorneys-General Spicer, O’sullivan and Barwick on the existing and suggested bankruptcy, copyright, trade marks and patents legislation in each case before amending legislation was introduced, and as they have already received the report on bills of exchange submitted by the committee appointed by Treasurer Holt, will the Minister table the two reports of the patents committee appointed by his predecessor and chaired by himself and when received, the reports of the two committees he himself has appointed to consider the Judiciary Act and administrative appeal functions for the Commonwealth Superior Court? I also ask him whether he will appoint a committee to consider those features of the pending Patents Bill which have caused him to defer the introduction of this Bill still further.
– The first report which the Leader of the Opposition has requested me to table was one obtained by my predecessor in relation to patents. I will have a look at that report. Generally speaking, reports of this kind which are obtained by Ministers to assist them in administration are not tabled in the House. I do not want to give any assurance that I will table that report, and I will not give any assurance that I will table the reports on the Judiciary Act or on administrative tribunals, either. If it is thought that there would be value in tabling them to give the information, I will consider the matter to see whether I will depart from the general principle of not tabling these reports.
The introduction of the Patents Bill has been deferred because various people wish to make further representations to the Government. The Institute of Patent Attorneys wishes to take the matter up with us again. The Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia indicated to me as recently as this morning that it would like to make representations to the Government. I think the matter is at a stage at which there will not be any advantage in having a technical committee. A previous technical committee included, apart from myself as chairman, the President of the Institute of Patent Attorneys, the President of the Australian Manufacturers, Patents. Industrial Designs, Copyrights and Trade Marks Association, a barrister from Melbourne experienced in patent law, the Commissioner of Patents, and an experienced officer of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. 1 doubt whether from that point of view there would be advantage in appointing another committee to go over the ground again. On the other hand, on the assessment of the practical operation of the Bill, should it come into force, the Government is prepared to look again at representations from the Institute, which has experience in this field, and from industry itself.
– I ask a question of the Treasurer. Following the decision of the French Government not to devalue its franc but rather to take measures which will aid French exports and the decision of the West German Government not to revalue the Deutsche mark, and in view of the implications to be drawn from the continuing rise in gold stocks in the United States of America and the import deposit scheme newly adopted by the Socialist Government of the United Kingdom, is the Treasurer able to inform the House whether any reassessment has been made by him and his departmental officers regarding the likely effect of these factors on Australia’s balance of payments during the current financial year?
– 1 think it is loo early yet for anyone to come to a firm conclusion as to the likely impact of these decisions upon Australia’s balance of payments. I want to illustrate by reference to the three countries the honourable gentleman has mentioned. So far as our balance of payments in total is concerned, I think I can put it this way: First of all, looking at our trade and then subse quently looking at our financial relations I mention that Germany has a surplus of approximately 8,000 million Deutsche marks in its balance of payments, and it has taken two steps. It has reduced the border taxes on imports and increased the border taxes on exports. In other words, this is a partial revaluation in order to permit some correction of Germany’s balance of trade on balance of trade account. Germany has taken other actions which should be conducive to increased trade with that country.
In the case of France, last night or sometime yesterday the tax on salaries was removed and value added taxes of between 1% and 5% were imposed, depending upon the extent of the value added taxes at the moment. This will, I think, have an impact in a reverse direction. In other words, it will work against imports and in favour of exports. But 1 do not think that France can take severely restrictive action on such matters as wool because, after all, wool manufactures are a substantial part of French exports.
In the United Kingdom duties have been imposed upon imports, and there has also been instituted the requirement to have a deposit of 50% of the value of the imports. But what is critically important for us is that raw materials, foodstuffs and partially processed foodstuffs are not subject to the tax. So, looked at as regards our trade balance, we do not think at the moment - and we cannot look ahead very far here - that the factors mentioned will have an adverse impact upon Australia’s trade relations.
Insofar as official capital and private capital for that matter are concerned, we did not think we could borrow substantially on the United Kingdom market on official account. Under the Australian agreement with the United Kingdom on sterling balances the United Kingdom is required to consult with us in the event of further restrictions on capital flows. So we do not expect any severe reaction here. We never expected loans from the French Government - there is an embargo on them - and despite the fact that some people thought there might be opportunities to get into this market I never thought it would be practicable, and it is more remote than ever at tho present time.
As regards Germany, I believe that market is still open to us. Our own people are in Germany at the present time exploring this market. As 1 have said to the House previously, we hope to be able to enter this market again in the new year on terms roughly comparable to those which we obtained for recent loans. All in all, when we look at today’s figures, we see that wool is sustaining its value. We cannot see a very heavy impact upon the trading or movement of capital here. At least for the moment it might look mildly favourable to Australia. I could not go further than that and use an adjective other than ‘mildly’. As to the middle term and the long term, no-one can tell what the speculators are likely to do. This is the danger that does face both the international trade and the international financial market at the moment.
– In view of the unlikelihood of a military victory in Vietnam and the possibilities of peace, how can the Minister for the Army justify the use of Australian troops in operations that result in such a needless loss of life which is still a feature of the daily news? Will the Minister for the Army issue an instruction for the Australian Force to be withdrawn to a non-contact area - if there is one available - and instruct the Australian Command to adopt a holding position?
- Mr Acting Speaker, clearly the answer to the latter part of the question asked by the honourable gentleman is a most dogmatic no. Of course I would not contemplate issuing any instruction of this type. Let me go further and say to the House, and particularly to the honourable gentleman, that the performance of Australian troops in Vietnam in the past and at this time has been and still is a matter of record. That record surely should be well known to the honourable gentleman, because we have been performing in a particularly meritorious way.
I remind the honourable gentleman of the record that we have established in the Phuoc Tuy province for which Australia has a tactical area of responsibility. When we arrived in the province the enemy had every freedom of movement and action throughout that area. Since that time, we have drastically curtailed enemy activity. This performance is continuing. There is no doubt that any relocation or removal of Australian troops in the province at this time would lead to a resurgence of Vietcong activity. This is not part of our plan.
– As there is now a very real possibility of homes being built to the south of Tullamarine Airport on land which ultimately will be subjected to severe noise disturbance, I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether he has anything further to report on this problem. Does the intergovernment committee which is studying this problem realise the need for an urgent solution? Does the Minister regard my suggestions - namely, the rezoning of the land for industrial use and its purchase by the Commonwealth Government; or rezoning and making compensation payments to the developing company; or rezoning and making a low interest loan to the company until it can sell the land for purposes other than housing - as reasonable solutions to this problem? Finally, is the Government taking into account the future interests of the people of Melbourne and the grave limitations which could be placed on the use of Australia’s No. 1 airport in years to come if houses are built in this area?
– I can add little to the information that I provided to the House just a couple of days ago in response to a question except to say that the joint CommonwealthState committee did meet on Monday to commence its business session. It will continue meeting for some time. Practically all matters that have been outlined by the honourable member are among the matters which will be considered by the committee. Indeed, the correspondence that he has sent to me in the past will be referred to that committee for its consideration. I expect that, as soon as the committee has completed its deliberations, it will submit a report to the Commonwealth and the State and make certain recommendations. At that point in time, the matter will be considered by both governments.
– 1 preface my question by saying that some time ago I asked the Minister for Labour and National Service about the application of apprenticeship living away from home allowances to apprentices from the Geelong area. In view of the fact that a number of boys are seeking apprenticeships and it is estimated that at least 200 will not be able to be placed in the Geelong area, has the Minister at this stage made any decision on living away from home allowances?
-I am happy to inform the honourable member who together with others including the Victorian Minister of Labour and Industry raised this question some time ago, that the Government has approved an extension of the country apprenticeship scheme so that lads living in Geelong, Wollongong and Newcastle who cannot be accommodated in apprenticeships at those centres will be enabled and assisted to take up any surplus apprenticeships which are unfilled in Sydney and Melbourne. I hope that this will apply quickly to those immediately concerned.
– I address a question to the Deputy Prime Minister. In a recent speech in this House the Minister five times stated that we were at war with a clearly defined enemy. How, therefore, can he justify the action of the Government in allowing Polish ships and/or Russian ships whichhave delivered arms and equipment to that enemy at Haiphong to call at Australian ports to pick up backloading at cut rates? Does the Minister not consider that this is a gross betrayal of the Australian troops who have been ordered into the front line by the Government in order to protect Australia’s security? Does he know that as a result the troops feel like punching much more important people than an inoffensive postie who is conscripted into a union and not allowed to be a conscientious objector in the case of a strike? Finally, does the Minister know that shipping agents for these Polish ships, who make money out of this nefarious trade, justify their questionable business activity by the failure of the Government to stop this trade?
– The honourable gentleman raises a far-reaching issue of policy. I point out to him that not only Polish ships but also ships with British flags and other shipping call at the port of Haiphong. I am not prepared to attempt to answer a question requiring a discussion of so farreaching a policy.
– I refer the Minister for Trade and Industry to the Joint Coal Board’s criticism that Australian coal is being exported too cheaply and that the price should rise substantially in future contracts. Will the right honourable gentleman act to see that these sources of criticism are remedied?
– The issue which the honourable gentleman raises does not come within the policy ambit of my Department.
– -Can the Prime Minister give me any information about the stage reached in negotiations with the New South Wales Government regarding the proposed Tumut to Canberra road, the early construction of this vital road link being of urgent importance to both the people of Tumut and the residents of Canberra? Further, does the Prime Minister know that Dame Zara Holt has given her consent to and has expressed her keen appreciation of the proposal to call the road the Harold Holt Highway?
– I am afraid that I cannot give the honourable member any information as to what stage the negotiations have reached in this matter, but I will ascertain what stage they have reached and let him have a written answer to what he has asked.
– The Treasurer would be aware that last financial year Australia had a deficit on current account of $ 1,058m. Is he aware that the Chamber of Manufactures has asked for a curb on imports? Would he agree that due to our present trading position the indications are that there will be a deficit on current account this year of $l,200m? Does the Treasurer expect to have this year a capital inflow from overseas similar to the capital inflow of $ 1,100m in the last financial year? Is the present accelerated rate of foreign capital inflow due alone to the financial difficulties of
France and Britain and is it therefore unlikely to continue? Does the Treasurer see any problems confronting Australia arising from international monetary instability which should be dealt with now? Does he think that any benefit can come from discussions with the Japanese financial authorities, seeking to ascertain Japan’s attitude to international monetary policy?
- Mr Acting Speaker, 1 think you will realise that the honourable gentleman asked far too many questions for me to be able to give a categorical answer. There were probably eight questions, and I doubt whether many honourable members would be able to remember eight questions asked in the way that the honourable gentleman asked his.
– You have had enough time.
– I have had none.
-Order! The honourable member has asked his question.
– rf I may, I will deal with the question of capital inflow. I am always amazed that the Australian Labor Party seems to fail to understand the importance of capital inflow to Australia. If that capital inflow were suddenly cut off or if it were reduced substantially we would have less command of overseas resources in order to carry out our development projects. It would of necessity mean that we would have to reduce the migrant inflow into this country. A matter that ought to concern every trade unionist and every person with a trade union background is that it would of necessity mean that in time the standards of living of the workers would have to be reduced. What capital inflow does mean is that we have a substantial increase in the resources we can command overseas. In other words, it is a supplement to the local savings that we can make. The figures show that approximately 80% of our imports, or a little less, comprise plant and equipment, materials required by manufacturers or materials required for our development.
– Answer my question.
– You did not ask one; you asked eight. I am answering the whole lot of them. If you had had the good sense to give me a little notice of eight different questions, you would have been given a categorical answer to each one. 1 refer now to what happened last year and the forecasts for this year. Last year, but for the effect of devaluation, we would have had a surplus in our balance of payments. The residue of the money was used to develop this country, to keep up our standards of living and to help us to go ahead with our great national development projects. I think the honourable gentleman’s estimate of the deficit on current account for this year will prove to be substantially wrong.
– Over-estimated and substantially over-estimated. For the first four months of this year, which are the worst trading and financial months in a year, we had a deficit of only Sim.
– That is not on current account.
– That is on total account. That is a remarkably good performance. Again I point out to the honourable gentleman that the deficit on current account is a true reflection of the investments that are taking place in Australia in plant and equipment, in producer materials, in sustaining standards of living and in helping us to keep a growth rate in excess of 5i% in this year.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Services and is supplementary to a question asked by the honourable member for Sturt on Tuesday. The Minister referred to the absence of any Government control over the increase of rents for occupants of aged persons homes when pensions are increased. What arrangements can be made in the case of a pensioner or aged person who is unwilling or unable to pay the increased charges mentioned and seeks ‘to leave the home and to have a refund of all or some part of his original donation?
– This is a matter which is in the command of the individual organisation. Practices differ between individual organisations. It is true that in certain organisations a refund is made as a matter of grace. But in no case is a refund claimable as a matter of right, lt is also true that in certain organisations there is a scale of refunds depending on the time that the unit concerned has been occupied.
However, I want to put this into proportion by reminding the House that most of the accommodation under the Government’s Aged Persons Homes Act is not given to people who have made donations but is given entirely without donation. Honourable members will be able to refer to the monthly returns that I am giving them to see the approvals in each month. These have been dissected on my instructions to show the amount of donations in each case. On looking through these returns honourable members will find that donations of the character mentioned by the honourable member are now a comparatively small proportion of the amount put into aged persons homes by authorities other than the Government. They will find in general something like three times as much comes by way of genuine charitable donations. This is what the Government hopes and intends.
But I point out to the House that the units which are constructed because of donations can in subsequent time become available without donation. I also point out that in many places this is done. In the places where it is not done the funds collected are used for non-profit purposes and for the expansion of this very excellent scheme.
– My question to the Minister for the Interior refers to the recently announced increases in premiums for third party insurance in the Australian Capital Territory. May 1 by way of preface say that in August 1962, in response to a similar question, the then Minister for the Interior said:
This is a very serious problem, to which the Government has been giving a great deal of thought For some time. I am not in a position at this moment to tell the honourable member wlm stage our consideration has reached, but I hope that we will have something more encouraging to put forward than the present tendency to nave an annual increase in these rates.
I now ask the Minister for the Interior the question asked his predecessor 6 years ago: “Will he consider recommending to the Government that it take the initiative in calling a convention of Stale representatives to discuss the whole problem of third party insurance?
– I will have a look at the suggestion made by the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory and give him a considered reply.
Debate resumed from 9 October 1968 (vide page 1728), on motion by Mr Snedden:
That the House take note of the following statement:
Tariff Board- Annual Report 1967-68- Ministerial Statement, 9 October 1968.
– The Opposition welcomes this opportunity, even though it is a little belated, to debate the report of the Tariff Board and the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) when the report was presented. At the same time, we regret that the debate will not be allowed to continue this year so that the obvious divergence of views among Government supporters may be properly examined, and so that manufacturers and others interested in the tariff position and the attitude of Government supporters to tariff policy - including of course, the great majority of the Australian work force - may be made aware of the position. We regret that Government supporters will not have an opportunity to join in the debate and put their views, but we believe it is important that something be said about the position of the Tariff Board before the Parliament rises.
Something is very much amiss in the making of tariffs in Australia. There is a crisis in the affairs of the Tariff Board, if not in manufacturing industry in Australia - and I emphasise the words ‘if nol in manufacturing industry in Australia’. In the debate last week on the motion expressing want of confidence in the Government I spoke for about 25 minutes on this subject. No speaker on the Government side chose to deal in full - or in part, really - with what J said. The only substantial answer that the Prime Minister sought to make was one in which he may welt have misled the House. 1 had said that there was a considerable amount of disquiet among manufacturers about what was happening, and the Prime Minister chose to say that there was not. I refer the House to Hansard of 19th November, in which, at page 2986, this statement of the Prime Minister appears:
I point out that I have received today two telegrams from the Associated Chambers of Manufactures. These are the people who were supposed - according to the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) - to have been so upset.
I had said that they had been upset, and the Prime Minister was setting out to show to the House that they had not been. The Prime Minister continued:
Let us see whether, in fact, what the honourable member for Yarra said was happening is happening. The telegram reads:
This telegram confirms firmest and most sincere expression of loyalty and support from the Federal President and Members of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia. Australian industry recognises your Government has diligently pursued important aims of economic growth and national and social development.
Would honourable members have expected that telegram, having listened to the speech of the honourable member for Yarra?
As I understand it that telegram had another sentence in it which was not read by the Prime Minister. It stated:
Please be assured of our continuing support although there may be at limes some matters on which we do not entirely agree.
The Prime Minister had another telegram that he did not read at all. He said that he had two telegrams. Why did he not read the second one?
– Is there anything sinister in that?
– There would be if it had been sent by university students. 1 am sure that the honourable member would think it was highly sinister. The other telegram stated:
Please be assured of our co-operation despite the fact that there might arise from time to time a divergence of views on some issues.
I submit that the Prime Minister was not telling the House all he knew about this matter. If the right honourable gentleman will mislead the House on something which, according to the honourable member for Boothby, (Mr McLeay) is not sinister what would he do if it was sinister? I would like the Prime Minister to give the House an assurance that he will not mislead it again as much as he did when he referred to those telegrams, because the position is far worse than those telegrams indicated.
How did those telegrams come about? I spoke in the House in the middle of the afternoon and the Prime Minister arrived here at 8 o’clock with the telegrams. Did somebody here in Canberra get in touch with the Associated Chambers of Manufactures in Victoria and New South Wales and suggest that they might send a telegram, or were they listening to me and did they spontaneously send off these two telegrams to the Prime Minister? This is the only occasion on which the Prime Minister chose to comment on the case I had made out whenI said that there was something seriously amiss in the making of tariffs in Australia. That is not the end of it. These same gentlemen from the Associated Chambers of Manufactures who are supposed to have sent that telegram to the right honourable gentleman have issued a Press release dated 26th November 1968. I will read some of that Press release.
– What about the annual report of the Tariff Board?
– As a matter of urgency the right honourable gentleman asks: ‘What about the annual report of the Tariff Board?’ The Tariff Board has made a report that has caused the Associated Chambers of Manufactures to make this Press release. I will deal with that in a few minutes. The right honourable gentleman may have read my speech on the want of confidence motion last week; if he did he will have had the opportunity of knowing in advance what I said about the report. This is what the Associated Chambers of Manufactures, which are supposed to have sent those two telegrams to the Prime Minister a couple of days before, said on 26th November in the Press release:
As a matter of urgency the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia raises its voice on behalf of more than 22,000 manufacturers in this country. The Tariff Board’s Annual Report for 1967-68 has far-reaching implications for our future resources.
That is what it has to do with the annual report of the Tariff Board. The Press release continues:
The central issue is that the Tariff Board - by what purport to be mere technical and procedural changes - has gone far to take the initiative in Tariff making power from the hands of the Government, where it traditionally and properly belongs.
That is what it has to do with the Annual Report of the Tariff Board. The statement continues:
The specific criteria outlined by the Board - referred to as its ‘points of reference’ - give two major grounds for concern. Firstly, they lack published conceptual support (see Para. 38 of the Board’s Report) and must therefore be regarded as little more than technically pretentious.
Moreover, the very rigidity of the points of reference carries some undesirable implications. Australian industry in the ‘medium cost’ category today may be rendered ‘high cost’ tomorrow by a fortuitous currency devaluation in a competitive country. Should the industrial fabric of a nation bent on development be placed at hazard by such a factor - a factor moreover having nothing whatever to do with questions of technical efficiency ot the industry’s competitive relationships with the rest of the world?
Secondly, the Board’s 1967-68 philosophy (see particularly paras. 44 and 45)-
I referred to them in detail last week - also puts it virtually beyond question that any industry faced with competition from the emerging nations of the world must eventually be subject to a Board recommendation which, if accepted, will lead to the fairly prompt demise of the industry concerned. To think or say otherwise is to show a profound ignorance of the commercial facts of international industrial economics - particularly those related to international labour cost divergencies.
That is what it has to do with the report of the Tariff Board. The Press release from the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia continues:
Finally, the whole process of industrial development rests on one primary and vital factor. This factor is management’s confidence that the overall policy framework within which it operates will not be subjected to fundamental change.
Industry’s confidence in this matter has now - by the tabling of the Tariff Board’s Annual Report - given way to a growing disquiet. In the national interest the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia urges that the Parliament by its deliberation and decisions removes this disquiet.
That is what it has to do with the report of the Tariff Board. This document, signed by the Federal President of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures and by the Presidents of the New South Wales, Victorian, South Australian, Queensland, Western Australian and Tasmanian Chambers - they must have overlooked sending to the Prime Minister the telegrams which he is supposed to have received last week - states that there is growing disquiet and that the organisation wants Parliament to take action to put an end to that disquiet.
Where does the disquiet come from? The Tariff Board is like a ship at sea without a compass, lt seems to be sailing full steam ahead on a collision course with Australian industry that has protection of 50% or more. The Board has said in paragraphs 44 and 45 of its report that when it finds that an Australian industry has or needs protection of 50% or more it will recommend that the industry not get that protection. If the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) and some of his supporters do not wish this to happen why do they allow the Tariff Board to go ahead and make its inquiries and recommendations, if when they are made they are to be rejected? What is the purpose of it all? What is the purpose of the exercise? What is the purpose of the 50% and over search and destroy mission, if the Government is to say afterwards that it rejects the Board’s report because to implement it will endanger Australian industry?
There is no argument from this side of the House that we want efficient and economic industry in Australia. There is no argument from this side of the House that we think every application for a tariff should be granted. There is no argument from this side that we want to retain inefficient and uneconomic industry except in very special circumstances. In some circumstances I think an inefficient and uneconomic industry should be maintained, such as where it can be related to defence or regional employment where there would be a great deal of unemployment or difficulty if the industry died.
– Where it might come good.
– Where it might come good. I do not want anyone to try to divert the course of this debate by suggesting that I or anyone else on this side of the House has changed course. I have said for some time that we want to equip the Tariff Board thoroughly to do its job to find out whether Australian industry is economic or efficient. I have said that this is the kind of industry we want and I have said that there must be a lot of changes if this is to come about. I say that again. But I do say that I will not accept as a principle that because an industry needs a tariff of 50% or more it is necessarily inefficient or uneconomic.
Appendix 4 of the Board’s report contains a table which I cannot reconcile with other industrial statistics that are available. I do not know how the Tariff Board arrives at some of its categorisation in that table. The table shows that in the case of nine or ten significant industries in Australia a significant portion of those industries is in the 50% or over class. Those industries have a total value of production of $ 1,250m each year. Do the Minister and the Government intend to bring an end to this sector of industry? If so, how long will it take? If not, why authorise the Tariff Board to go on this search and destroy mission? It is not only that the Associated Chambers of Manufacturers are much concerned about the Tariff Board: the Tariff Board is much concerned about itself. When the Prime Minister was bringing his telegrams into the House the other night I noticed that he did not bring one from the Chairman of the Board. He might have done that had it not been for the speech that Mr Rattigan made at Monash University a couple of nights ago. I reviewed the history of the relationship of the Board to the Government the other day, pointing out that the Board had said in its reports that the general framework of its work had been that which was laid down for it in 1932 and that for varying circumstances the Board has had - . . little effect on the development of Australian industries between the late 1930s and the early 1960s.
Things have not been very happy since I960. In opening the Parliament in 1962 the Governor-General said that there was to be a complete survey of tariffs. We were led to understand that the Vernon Committee made that survey but we know that practically every word of the Vernon Committee’s report has been thrown out of the House. The Committee’s survey had no real effect on the situation.
Then we found, as I mentioned to the House the other day, that the Chairman of the Board in his address at Monash University the other night summed up what he thought were the main effects of the tariff revision procedures and the ad hoc operation of the Board. Listen to the four points which he made. He said that the tariff revision procedures and the ad hoc operation of the Board tended to allow a creeping increase in the level and width of protection; were likely to produce a protection structure which was complex and inconsistent; discouraged the development of criteria which would enable the Board to carry out its functions properly; and tended to limit the Board’s scope to exercise its judgment fully. And the Minister for Trade and Industry wants to know what my remarks have to do with the Board! In the same lecture Mr Rattigan said that several changes in the traditional approach of the Board were necessary to achieve the Board’s ends. They include a systematic, not haphazard, method of sequence of reviewing tariff protection. So the Chairman of the Board says by implication and as straight as you can make it - he is a diplomatic chap - that the work of the Board in the past has been haphazard and lacking in system. He says that the Board wants terms of reference which will enable it to exercise its judgment and to recommend fully on all relevant issues arising from its inquiries. That is why I say the Board is a ship at sea without a compass. It is sailing full steam ahead towards that section of Australian industry that has a tariff protection rate of 50% or over. Is the Government to take over the wheel? Is it to provide some sort of compass? Or is it happy to allow the Board to sail towards that section of Australian industry?
The Chairman of the Tariff Board said that he wants a comprehensive statistical framework for tariff analysis. This means that he does not have it now. One has only to look at the table in appendix 4 to realise, however valuable that table might be in some respects, that the Board does not have a comprehensive statistical framework, because the categories listed in that table do not fit in with those in other tables provided by the Commonwealth Statistician. The table indicates that 27% of Australian manufacturing industry is in the category that receives 50% or more than 50% protection. One can make a rough guess that about 30% of those employed in industry are employed in industry in that category. But one cannot compare this table with other tables provided by the Commonwealth Statistician, because it does not fit in with other categories.
The Tariff Board, according to the Chairman, also wants operating criteria which will ensure consistency between the Board’s separate recommendations and which will also ensure that those recommendations reflect the objective of tariff making to which he referred. Finally, the Board wants to adopt methods of dealing with abnormal pricing in international trade in cases where this causes, or threatens, the disruption of economic Australian production. The argument that an industry is inefficient just because the product it manufactures can be imported into Australia more cheaply, and that therefore, relying on the principle of comparative costs, we should not have that industry, presupposes perfect competition. But international prices are not fixed like that. International prices may be affected by dumping. They are not perfectly competitive. We cannot allow our industry to be subjected to competition at international prices. We want an answer from the Minister on these vital matters without much delay.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) said very little about the essence of the controversial issues raised in the Tariff Board’s report. I want to deal with them, but in a proper setting. There are some features of our tariff system which are barely understood but which everyone should know. It is important that it be recognised that Australia is, so far as I can discover, the only industrialised country which relies on the tariff almost exclusively to provide protection for its industries. In other countries, a whole range of devices such as quantitative restrictions, variable levies and currency control is used to supplement the protection provided by tariffs. The European Common Market countries use such devices ruthlessly to prevent importation if they want to. The United States of America uses a variety of devices to back up its tariff policy. The Japanese use such devices. Even Britain uses them sometimes against our own products. For example, it has a quota on our butter.
Honourable members will have noted the coincidence that the countries I have named as using these means of supplementing the tariff are some of the most prosperous countries in the world, but I do not wish to draw attention to whatever lesson that contains. The point is that practically every other country uses some other form of trade controls to back up its tariff. We are the only country that relies almost entirely on tariffs for protection of its industries. This means that we are more susceptible than any other country to being subjected to a sudden flood of imports which our industries could not survive. The situation we face is that if a producing country overseas strikes an economic recession, or if an economic recession should hit one of its customer countries, the very last thing the producer wants to do is to close down production facilities. In these circumstances most producers would choose to ride out the storm and go on selling goods even at a loss for a time. When this happens Australia, relying only on tariff protection, is the most open country in the world to which the overseas producer can turn to dispose of his goods. Our tariff is the only obstruction.
We will never have stable Australian industries in these circumstances, unless we show a willingness to protect our industries against such incidents as these which have occurred in such important fields as textiles, engineering products and chemical products, and in many others. Above all, given the circumstances which prevail in trade in primary products, a sudden rush of low offers from a desperate seller could threaten the stability of our primary industries if it were not known that we, as a government, will not allow our primary industries to be subjected to a flood of butter or cheese from the Common Market countries, for example, or of American grain on occasions, as could happen, or to a flood of New Zealand lamb or green peas or beans. Even with the will to protect Australian industries against this kind of damaging import competition, which can arise overnight in international trade from causes over which we have no control, the Government has found the Tariff Board system completely inadequate because of the time it requires to investigate and report on a situation confronting an industry. I understand that for the Tariff Board to take less than a year to handle a reference to it is rather exceptional. For it to take 18 months is not exceptional. There are instances in which it has taken up to 3 years. So to rely on that system alone is quite inadequate.
In recent years we have found the need to supplement the traditional Tariff Board system by instituting a system of temporary protection to deal with urgent cases where an industry is threatened with serious damage during the time the Tariff Board would normally take to consider a request for a review of protection. This system, administered through a special advisory authority, has been found to be a necessary part of our attempt to provide protection through the tariff alone. The issues under debate with reference to the Tariff Board cannot be viewed in isolation. The Tariff Board machinery deals with long term protection needs and the Special Advisory Authority is there for short term or urgent needs. Both these institutions are imperative to our policies.
I have no doubt that if there were not a proper policy of protecting Australian industry we could not continue our migration policy or employ a rapidly growing work force within Australia. Our population would be stagnant or diminishing, with the population moving to countries which do protect their work force. We would not have such a high level of investment. We would not have a growing contribution to exports by Australian manufacturers. We would not have steady growth in the home market - which is, after all, the best market for both the Australian farmer and the manufacturer.
I know of no better way to judge a policy than by looking at its results. Look at the record over the past 6 years. I choose 6 years because this is the period for which statistics are available following the removal of import licensing - the period when we have been virtually relying on the tariff alone. Total employment has gone up by 642,000; factory employment by 164,000; the number of factories by 4,700; exports of manufactures by $272m; and real gross national product by over $3,500m. I do not hesitate to say that the course we have followed has been good for Australia in the light of these results.
Tariffs have played a large part in the growth and development of Australia, but I am the first to admit that tariffs, in the broadest terms, can increase costs. We can have cheap motor cars by not having a motor vehicle industry. We can have cheap sugar by not having a sugar industry. We can get cheap butter by not having a dairy industry. And the same applies to chemicals, footwear, television and a multitude of other items. Of course we can get these products cheaper from somewhere in the world if we have no industry at all. But I am bound to go on and say that if we are to seek lower costs simply for the sake of lower costs we must examine what this means in other fields. If seeking lower costs completely dominates our thinking, lower wages would be the most obvious area to turn to, with unemployment and a slower rate of development.
There has been much talk lately about the effect of tariffs on costs. We ought to get this into perspective. There are many things that affect costs other than tariffs. The pressures of our development are reflected throughout our economy. Wages are forced up and this results in a great increase in over-award payments. Transport costs, both internally and for our overseas trade, interest rates, particularly the high rates on hire purchase, cost of land and buildings, and other tertiary costs, are all important elements of the cost of production in primary and secondary industry. What increases costs in Australia is not the tariff, taken alone, but the very great pressures we put on our limited resources of all kinds by the recent pace of our development.
Since the war we have had dramatic investment and growth in Australia and this has created intensive competition for labour, materials and so on. These are the pressures that have contributed greatly to the cost increases we have had. For example, over the past 15 years we have had to spend very many thousands of millions of dollars on the assimilation of migrants. As a community we have had to spend S 17,000m on new buildings. We have had $7,000m of foreign capital inflow coming on to the market and competing for resources. We have had a total capital expenditure of someting like S57,000m. Over $ 1,500m has been spent on investment in the steel, alumina and oil refinery industries alone.
I have never denied that tariffs affect costs, but 1 believe they are a minor influence compared with the cost pressures created by this sort of development. In fact, a while back I had some work done on the direct effect of the tariff on wool growers’ costs. It was found that the net direct additional cost of the tariff and subsidies on items used by wool growers amounted to approximately 0.85c per lb of wool produced. But this additional cost is almost completely offset by the assistance which the Government gives the wool industry for promotion and research, which amounts to 0.75c per lb of wool produced.
So the wool grower’s particular protest about the effects of the tariff is not a problem of the direct effect of the tariff on the cost of things he uses but is rather aimed at the whole spectrum of tariff protection of Australian industry. To find relief from his problem through this course would involve an attack on tariff protection involving the whole community. To solve the problem would involve not only dismantling the tariff with all the consequences this would have for employment but also the dismantling of a whole series of related policies of development and growth. This is surely a course no Government could contemplate.
There is at present much discussion about tariff matters. The Government is sometimes told to give more guidance to the Tariff Board, to be more specific about what it wants the Tariff Board to do. Sometimes the Government is told to give less guidance to the Tariff Board so as not to erode the Board’s independence. I can say unequivocally that I want to respect the Tariff Board’s independent status. Since I have been responsible for tariff matters the Tariff Board has been respected by me and by the Government.
Perhaps the best shorthand method of establishing the truth of this statement is to say that of the 402 Tariff Board reports which have been submitted in the last 10 years, only 9 have not been adopted by the Government. Some 19 have been amended in a minor way and 5 have been referred back to the Tariff Board. But I repeat that in 10 years, only 9 of over 400 Tariff Board reports have not been adopted by the Government. This record of respect for the advice given by the Tariff Board has been achieved with the Tariff Board working, as it has worked for over 40 years, on the basis of studying independently an industry’s need for protection and reaching its considered recommendations on that industry.
The Tariff Board’s recent decision to break new ground by classifying industries according to existing levels of protection, with all the implications that are contained in this, might be regarded as a departure from the traditional method of judging each industry’s need for protection and whether the industry is economic and efficient. Indeed, let us remember that it can be regarded as the determination of afar reaching, total, economic policy embracing all industries, both primary and secondary. This approach implies advice to the Government of: the outcome of the study of any industry, based not on the circumstances of that industry alone but on the basis of a policy judgment on what constitutes the best pattern of economic development for Australia.
The Tariff Board operates under an Act which has been little altered in 47 years. Under this Act, the Tariff Board may have authority to take the course it proposes, but it does not necessarily follow that the Government would react in the same way to its recommendations on particular industries if the Board does take this course. If the future of the entire structure of Australian primary and secondary industry with its scores of thousands of millions of dollars of investment, and the employment of almost 40% of the Australian work force, is to be materially affected by an advisory group, this would be a very great departure from the policies which successive governments on this side of the House have followed since 1949.
If the Government were to be powerfully influenced by recommendations on such critically important economic considerations, we would most certainly wish that advice to come from people of the highest standing and competence. We would, in that case, look to people with established reputations as economists or the men who have already achieved great eminence and leadership in their respective fields. When I say that the present members of the Board do not meet these criteria - and I am sure that they would not claim this themselves - I am in no way denigrating the members of the Board. In selecting members for the
Board the Government has never looked for great eminence in economics or in other fields. Indeed, the conditions, including the emoluments, of Board members are not aimed at attracting such people.
The Government chose not to accept the advice of the Vernon Committee of Economic Inquiry on the great issues of economic growth and development, even though that Committee had members of great eminence - men like Sir James Vernon, Sir John Crawford. Professor Karmel. Mr Kenneth Myer and Mr Dudley Molesworth. 1 cannot see the Government setting aside advice of a committee such as this and then substituting advice on these same issues from a Tariff Board whose members have been chosen, on an entirely different basis, to do an entirely different job. The role of the Tariff Board in the scheme of things is not to initiate policies on the broad issues of economic growth and development but to conduct a detailed inquiry into the full circumstances of an Australian industry and to report to the Government in a way which helps the Government to reach its decisions.
When the present Tariff Board annual report was tabled, the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) said:
He went on to say:
Those were the high policy declarations of the Prime Minister. The Government’s established tariff policy can be simply stated. We will give adequate protection, where necessary, to Australian industries which arc economic and efficient. We have an independent body, the Tariff Board, to advise the Government on the circumstances of individual industries. We expect the Tariff Board to tender its advice having full regard to the Government’s established policies. Indeed, if this advice docs not take into account the Government’s established policies, it is unlikely to be advice which we can expect to follow. I shall conclude, Mr Acting Speaker, by again quoting the Prime Minister who, in concluding his statement on this matter, said:
That is, the past policies– have served us well.
The Prime Minister added:
We have no intention of changing them.
– -The Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), made essentially two points. First of all his speech contained a justification of his policies on tariffs in the face of rather trenchant criticism from members of his own Party. Secondly - and this causes me a great deal of concern - he said that the recommendations of the Tariff Board based on its long and costly investigation of the tariff structure in Australia will be taken no notice of. This is the clear conclusion to be drawn from his speech. One might well wonder just why the Government maintains the Tariff Board when it so persistently adopts this sort of attitude and obviously conveys to the Australian public that the Tariff Board is a puppet that the Government wishes to operate and that when the right responses do not come forth the Board itself will be ignored completely or treated as though it does not exist and, indeed, be subjected to scorn.
However, I want to pass on to some observations that I wish to make about this current investigation. The first point is that tariff protection of our secondary industry has been an essential part of Australian economic development. Australia would not have achieved the diversity and vigour which our secondary industry displays without tariff protection. Indeed, in a free trade situation our primary industries would have expanded only marginally above their present levels and they certainly would not have carried the population which Australia now has and the growth of which has been a conscious objective of Government policy in the post war period. Neither, in such a free trade situation, could our primary industries have supported the industrial development which this nation has enjoyed since Federation; nor could they have created a gross national product to a level anywhere near that which Australia now enjoys. That is, there have been clear advantages for Australia in her economic and social development through tariffs.
This is not to say, however, that these benefits could not have been obtained more cheaply. At this stage I would point out that the Australian Labor Party is a protectionist party. That is, this Opposition believes in the need for effective tariff protection of Australian industries but not without some conditions. The conditions are that any tariff given should only be given where prices can be controlled, where working conditions are protected and where it is clear that there is efficiency in the methods of production. These are three crucial criteria upon which this Party is obligated to base its assessment of the justification or otherwise of a tariff. Let me repeat them - they bear signal significance. They are - 1. Price control. 2. Protection of working conditions. 3. Due efficiency in production. Perhaps I could work my way back to these important criteria. In the meantime let me pose some questions to honourable members. The questions are: Can tariffs be too high? Can there be a limit beyond which a tariff should not go? Are all applications for tariffs justified? The weight of informed evidence is that there are such limits and certainly not every industry which applies for this form of protection should expect a priori that its request should be granted. Perhaps Adam Smith exposed the weakness of the complete protectionists when he pointed out that it is possible to grow grapes in hot houses in Scotland and to produce good quality wine from those grapes but the cost of doing so could not be justified on economic or social grounds. This is an extreme example of course, but it serves the purpose well of showing the folly of being too blase in the grant of tariff protection.
Let us take the case of the Australian economy at present - a fully employed economy. In this sort of economic environment it would be morally wrong as well as economically unwise for a government to dispense tariffs without first demanding a stringent assessment not only of the performance of the applicant industry, its contribution to the economy, and the tariff cost socially and economically, but also the relationship of these things seen as part of the overall structure of the Australian economy. In a situation of a fully employed economy a tariff to expand output by an industry, or to set up a new industry, obviously must create inflationary pressures. In a fully employed economy this extra output or the output of the new industry can only be achieved by bidding resources away from established industry. If the resources bid away were producing more efficiently, as measured by the number of units of output per unit of input, than with the newly protected industry, then real living standards are set back for fewer goods are being produced with the same number of economic resources than before the tariff. In other words, the consumers are taxed to prop up a less efficient industry with the result that their living standards do not achieve the levels of which the economy is capable. The more tariffs are given in these circumstances the greater the adverse effect on national economic performance and personal living standards. Clearly then an ad hoc approach to tariff applications by industry ignores the overall result on the structure and performance of the national economy.
Quite apparently, the national method of applying a tariff policy is to relate it to the overall structure, needs and performance of the national economy. To do this we need a lot more information than is yet available on the economy and its industrial structure and it seems, therefore, that some positive good will come out of the current Tariff Board inquiry on industry if its research extracts this sort of information which must be basic to its considerations and which must influence the manner of its decisions. What must be appreciated is that the Tariff Board is a delicate economic nerve centre where decisions have far reaching effects in both the short and long terms of the performance of the economy. Crudely handled it can result in a serious misallocation of resources occurring within the economy and this would have gravely detrimental effects, especially on our long run economic achievements. Unfortunately, Tariff Board inquiries in the past have operated virtually in a vacuum and as these inquiries were not related to overall economic considerations there is no guarantee that in all, or even in most cases, the most effective allocation of resources resulted from the recommendations of the Board - and this is spite of the uniformly high calibre of the men manning the Board.
Undoubtedly, as I mentioned earlier, there can be advantages through the use of tariffs for a country aiming at building up the pattern and breadth of its secondary industry. Nonetheless there can be a point beyond which any further increase in tariffs causes cost increases which commence to exceed the benefits. Indeed, if the tariffs continue growing beyond this point benefits would diminish to zero while costs would accumulate. This trend would severely distort the economic structure, impair the efficiency of the economy, and cause a diminution of living standards for wage earners and consumers. This deals with one aspect of tariff effects. There is another aspect which requires equally as grave consideration, namely the failure of Tariff Board procedures to allow for periodic reviews of the performance of industries which have been granted tariffs.
Mostly, the infant industry argument is used by applicant industries when applying for a tariff or a tariff variation. Some industries, however, have been protected from well before the turn of the century, from when David Syme and Berry sang the praise of high protection in Victoria in the 1880s and 1890s. By now, such industries must be regarded surely as hard boiled babies. This underscores the need for the Tariff Board to periodically review the performance of protected industries - and the review must relate the industry concerned to the overall structure, performance and needs of the economy - to establish that the efficiency of the industry has nol deteriorated behind the tariff wall. In circumstances where inefficiency has developed behind the safety of protection the perpetuation of existing tariff levels institutionalises the inefficiency and this inefficiency means that the industry is not producing as much as it is capable of turning out. It also means that Australian consumers pay more than they should have to for Australian products. Equally, such inquiries are needed to establish whether an industry has improved its efficiency to a point where tariffs can be reduced or removed safely. To maintain tariff levels in a case where they can be reduced or removed is to protect excessive profits for the producer and impose an unnecessary cost burden on the consumer whose purchasing power is buying less than it should. There is an element of irresponsibility towards the economic affairs of this country for tariffs - which are so influential in determining the performance of the economy - to be granted by the Tariff Board without any system of accounting by the recipient industry periodically after the grant. If the result of the Board’s inquiry will help it to conduct such inquiries from time to time, and provided its right to carry out such investigations is not withdrawn by a higher authority, a valuable service will have been contributed, both socially and economically, to Australia’s development.
The foregoing, then, reveal two major considerations which justify the need for a broad and penetrating inquiry into tariff making procedures and the effect of tariffs on the national economy - namely, to ensure that economic resources are allocated as effectively and as efficiently as possible, and to establish the need for continued tariff protection of an industry, and the level of any continued protection, in the light of prevailing economic conditions. But the inquiry should not be restricted to these two points, and indeed it is not. lt is incredible that although tariffs have been granted by various procedures since federation no data are available to show what is called the effective rate of tariff as distinct from the nominal rate. The nominal rate is the rate of protection struck by the Government - for instance, 50% ad valorem. The effective rate is quite distinctly different. Let us take, for example, goods worth §100 with a 50% nominal rate of duty. The cost becomes SI 50. If the goods absorb $50 worth of raw material imported duty free and the remaining $50 is value added in local production then, in effect, protection is needed only on the value added. That is, effective protection is $50 on the $50 of value added, or 100% which is a significantly greater rate of protection than conceived by the nominal rate. In this case protection is higher than is justified. The reverse case is where a producer has to use locally produced raw materials which already bear a duty at a rate higher than the nominal tariff granted him. In this case the effective rate of tariff duty is less than the nominal rate and protection is less than is justified. In either event there is an important hidden component which completely distorts the economic effect of the nominal tariff rate.
It is highly desirable for the Board’s inquiry to seek this information. Without this information any future tariff making machinery, no matter how improved, will have a serious defect if it cannot identify the effective rates of tariff. Lack of this data could lead to the tariff making machinery being too generous on the one hand; and on the other it could cause tariffs to be less than what would be a desirable level. Perhaps the most surprising feature of our tariff making machinery is that protection is automatically available for some industries which do not exist at this time. Under the appropriate legislation by-law provision exists for automatic tariff coverage of some items enumerated under generic descriptions. For example, machinery not specifically mentioned elsewhere in the tariff carries a duty of 55% general and 27i% preferential. In 1964-65 - the last year in which imports of machinery were identified in separate categories - imports of machinery under the main residual tariff item on machinery were valued at $65m, and 70% of this amount was admitted under by-law. This reveals a rather startling gap in our tariff making system. Electrical equipment and manufactures of metal, leather, rubber and wool also are covered in this broad and very general manner.
How do we know whether the by-law coverage is needed? It could be too high, it could be too low, it might not even be needed; but it is readily available for industries which have not yet become established, and for those which have become established under its protective wing there has been no accountability for the need of protection which is a cost always born by the consumer. Certainly benefits may exceed costs, but really we do not know if this is so. Consequently this by-law system is one which needs to be scrapped for a more responsible arrangement which dovetails tariff making into the making and implementation of overall economic policy by the government of the day. Obviously this by-law procedure needs thorough scrutiny by the Tariff Board in its inquiry and it is to be hoped that subsequently the Government will act to remove this anomalous practice which cannot be justified when resort to the Special Advisory Authority for emergency tariffs is available.
It appears then that there is justification for a searching analysis of tariff making procedures, the need and effect of tariffs on particular industries, and the influence of tariffs on economic performance in the short term and in the long run. The great problems for Australia are that she has a large area to develop and she faces competition from some comparatively highly efficient countries on the world markets - world markets are important to her, as she exports about 25% of her total production - but her productive resources, especially labour, are limited, lt is dangerous for Australia then to spread herself too broadly in the economic sense, for then she would be spread too thinly. The more thinly the economy is spread the less balanced would be economic progress and the more vulnerable the economy would be to disequilibriating influences. Does anyone feel confident about the present situation of the world economy? If he does, he must be either a profound optimist or singularly uninformed on just how vulnerable the world economy has been in this decade and on how fortunate the Western world has been that major crises have been averted on several occasions. The significant point is that although the crises have been averted they have broken out again, and quite recently in a new area. In these circumstances we need a strong, healthy and vigorous economy which is not burdened by too much fat. In the absence of the sort of information which the Tariff Board now seeks it is not possible to state whether there is too much fat burdening the economy or not, but one can make an empirical guesstimate. My guesstimate is that there is too much fat in some areas of the economy - and some of it has been contributed to by tariffs being granted in an ad hoc way.
The Committee of Economic Inquiry, relying on calculations by Dr M. Corden, estimated that between 60% and 70% of Australian manufacturing industry was dependent to some degree on tariff protection. This is a surprisingly large degree of dependence. If the aim of economic policy is, as I believe it to be, to achieve a high rate of economic and population growth with full employment, increasing productivity, rising standards of living, external viability and stability of costs and prices, then that aim would be undermined by any tariff making to the extent that the tariff making builds into the economy the misallocation of economic resources and inefficiency of production. A further problem for a small economy like the Australian economy is that the easy grant of tariffs, possibly through faulty procedures which do not relate applicant industries to overall economic factors, may create monopolies and excessive or monopoly profits with, once again, inefficiency which is most usually attendant upon the development of monopolies.
Tariffs should be granted only after the most searching of inquiries related, 1 repeat - this cannot be stated too often - to the overall structure, needs and performance of the economy. External economies arising from the development of a complex of industrial skills through a linkage of industries are a positive gain from correctly based tariff making procedures. An ad hoc approach could unintentionally cause structural distortion to the economy and external diseconomies, any gains being due to fortuitous circumstances as much as to anything else. In view of the vulnerability of an economy geared to an ad hoc tariff system, as is ours, to the burden of excessive and available cost burdens, it seems that any inquiry which seeks to establish whether in fact our economic achievements can be obtained at less cost would be desirable. I trust this is the objective of the current Tariff Board inquiry.
I believe it is apparent from what 1 have said that the Opposition is justified in wishing to have some control over prices which are charged by protected industries. It is essential that protected industries should not be allowed to abuse their protection by charging prices, propped up by tariff barriers, which exploit consumers. Equally, from what 1 have said, there is a case for demanding due efficiency from protected industry. Tariffs should not be a buffer which protects indolence, rigidness and incompetence at the consumers’ expense. And, of course, tariffs should not go beyond the level of guaranteeing full employment, for then they generate inflationary pressures which reduce consumers’ real living standards. Perhaps I should point out at this stage that it is not only tariff protection which has the distorting effects on the economy which I have mentioned. Exactly the same criticisms can be levelled against extravagant price support programmes - these come in a variety of shapes and forms -for primary industry. Just as tariffs should be carefully balanced against our economic needs and capacity, so too should these price support schemes.
Free trade is out of the question for a developing economy such as ours, but so too are excessive tariff levels and price support programmes. Each of these forms of policy has made a generous contribution to the welfare of the country but each, carried beyond limits set by economic criteria, can cause grave impairment to the long run economic achievements of Australia and can leave our economy seriously vulnerable to sharp and extended external dis.equilibriating influences. A conscious objective of policy implementation in these two related fields of protection must be to guard against any such tendencies developing in the economy. Finally, it seems to me that the gravest deficiency in our tariff making system is that it operates in isolation from the other policy making and policy implementation machinery operated by the Government. This is, as I said, gravely wrong. The economy does not consist of a number of isolated factors which operate without bearing on or having a relationship to other factors. All factors have some bearing on and involve some degree of interrelationship with one another.
A sensitive and important economic influence such as the Tariff Board, whose decisions allocate economic resources to particular areas of the economy, whose determinations can have such far reaching influences on industrial efficiency, the pattern of economic development, personal living standards as well as long term economic trends, should be part of a dovetailed economic policy making and implementation system operated by the Government. While the Tariff Board lives on iti isolation, growth on the economic front will continue to be uneven for in such circumstances the advice of this body, which is an advisory body and not a policy implementing one, will tend to be unevenly related to the overall pattern of the economy at a time when other bodies are advising the Government, concurrently, on other aspects of the economy.
It also seems that the need for the Tariff Board is to develop more effective means of ascertaining what are or what may become economic and efficient ventures for which it recommends protection and assistance. To the extent that the Tariff Board inquiry fulfils these criteria it will be most valuable. In applying the advice of the Tariff Board the Government should take steps to ensure that companies to which protection is given follow price, production, export and dividend policies which are in the interests of economic and efficient development as well as of full employment and a stable and rapid rate of investment.
Order! The honourable member’s lime has expired.
– lt is difficult to make any comment on the speech of the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) without time for a careful assessment of it. Obviously it is of major importance and therefore I do not intend to refer to it in detail until I have had a chance to make this assessment. All I will say is that, if the Government intends to disregard the opinion of the Tariff Board on the need to examine closely existing rates of protection and get some order into our tariff making policy, I am seriously disturbed. Before discussing the Board’s report itself, 1 would like to make my own position on this issue quite clear and to do this I repeat what I said during the debate on the Budget. 1 said then:
Our tariff policy has been a vital factor in building up Australia’s industrial capacity and wisely applied I am sure that it can continue to aid Australia’s industrial development in the future, but over the years it seems that we have lost sight of the original guide lines laid down by the Tariff Board.
Perhaps it has been more succinctly put by Sir John Crawford in his recent Shann Memorial Lecture, when he said:
Tariffs will still play their part but now we can afford and need to be more discriminating.
Although in the early history of Australia the issue of tariff protection was a very live one - New South Wales largely representing the free traders and Victoria the protectionists - for many years the extent and degree of tariff protection received very little critical attention. However in the last few years there has b*een much greater awareness in all sections of the community of the effect of tariff protection and where our tariff policies were leading us. No longer is it a clear black and white argument between free trade and protection. The issues and economics involved have become a great deal more complicated and today we have a debate concerned largely with varying shades of grey. While there is basic agreement that certain Australian industries need protection, the details of the protection and the means by which the levels are established have come in for a more critical examination than in any period of our history.
For my part, I think the very widespread critical examination has come just in time. If it had come earlier we would not have been in the very difficult position we are facing today. But I feel we are still in time to prevent a really chaotic situation developing. The fact that many people are now becoming aware of the effect of previous tariff policy is due to the continuing efforts of such men as the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) in this place, Sir Leslie Melville, a former Chairman of the Board, and Dr M. W. Corden. It is my opinion that Australia will have cause to thank these men, provided that the dangers of which they warned are appreciated by the Government and action is taken to avoid them.
The report of the Tariff Board which wc are debating today is a most significant step towards recognising the problems involved, and once the problems are identified it follows that it should be possible to deal with them. There is no doubt in my mind that the ad hoc policies we have been following in recent years have created very real problems for the Australian economy by contributing substantially lo rising costs and diverting our scarce resources of manpower and capital into industries, some of which made little contribution to the national income. This has resulted in accentuating the cost problem faced by our export industries, particularly the unprotected primary industries, and by making some industries very attractive by reason of the high tariff protection provided, resulting in fragmentation of those industries and leading to still further requests for protection.
The experience of other advanced countries clearly shows us that, when much over 20% of the work force is engaged in secondary industry, it is unlikely that any more benefits are to be gained by increasing the proportion. Certainly increased production can be gained by further capital investment. 1 would like to quote from the Current Affairs Bulletin’ of September 1968, which said:
When machines are cheaper than labour, a reduction in the proportion employed in these industries can . . . accompany a substantial growth in the value of their production and thus in the gross national product. Additionally those displaced by the machine can be producing in other capacities, adding further to the gross national product.
As in the United States of America, Australia has approximately 60% of its work force engaged in the tertiary industries - that is, in offices, banks, shops, transport, schools and so on. Again I would like to quote from the ‘Current Affairs Bulletin’ of September 1968. It stated:
However, it is slowly being realised from experience in Australia, and other countries, that when personal incomes rise in a reasonably prosperous community, the demand for services tends to grow faster than they can be provided and that since many of these service industries are large labour users and their products cannot be exchanged internationally, no overall shortage of employment is likely.
So much for the argument that we hear so often, that unemployment must automatically follow any reduction in tariff protection.
The report of the Tariff Board makes it clear that two issues are facing us immediately. The first is to avoid the establishment of industries needing excessively high protection and for which there is no special over-riding requirement, such as defence purposes. The second is to encourage a close examination of existing rates of protection, particularly where they are high and where they have not been examined for some time. This, of course, is the purpose of the classification of industries in the Board’s report into high, medium and low rates of protection. Having previously congratulated the Board on its proposal to make the classification, I now congratulate it for having done so. I also congratulate the Government for having resisted considerable pressure directed towards suppressing such a classification.
Mr G. A. Rattigan, the Chairman of the Tariff Board, in a recent most important speech in Melbourne, pointed out that many of the industries in the high classification - that is, over 50% protection - were not in existence when the rates were established during the depression years. These industries initially obtained their protection under what Mr Rattigan referred to as dragnet items and many of them have not been the subject of a Tariff Board inquiry. I submit that this is not protection by design; it is protection by accident, and the higher the protection the worse the accident. No economy facing today’s tough industrial competition can hope to survive if a significant proportion of its production is based on high protection which has not merely remained uninvestigated for a long time but has never been investigated at all.
Now, probably for the first time in our history, we have an opportunity to make a full, thorough and critical assessment of our tariff system. However, to take the fullest advantage of the opportunity, the Government will have to make the necessary reference to the Board. In fact this action is absolutely vital, important and necessary.
– Why was not the assessment made before the classification was introduced?
– I doubt whether there was time. The Board itself referred to this matter in paragraph 44, in which it states:
In paragraph 46 the Board suggested that a further reference covering the remainder of Chapter 84 of the Tariff, which involves machinery and mechanical appliances will be necessary in the near future, followed by a reference covering manufactures of metals, a tremendously wide and important field. I trust that these references and any others needed will be made as soon as practicable. But making the references to the Board is only half the story. It is equally important that the Board have every possible facility and assistance it requires to carry out its work. Only under such conditions can it be expected to produce tariff reports and recommendations of the very high standard required in today’s complex and competitive world. I was particularly pleased at the reference to this matter in the Prime Minister’s statement after the Board’s annual report was tabled. The Prime Minister said:
The Government expects the Board to take all possible steps to improve the quality of its advice.
This is the clearest indication that the Government will see that the Board gets the highly qualified research staff in the numbers it requires. From the Board’s report it is quite clear that at present it lacks these facilities. Paragraph 23 of the Board’s report states, in part:
Further information on the value of Australian production is not available from the Bureau of Census and Statistics in a form which enables a detailed reconciliation to be made with the production classification used in the Tariff.
Again, in paragraph 59 the Board states:
These statistics are neither sufficiently comprehensive noi sufficiently representative to serve as a basis for examining general financial trends. 1 submit thai such limitations can no longer be tolerated when they apply to a body exercising such a tremendous influence and responsibility as the Tariff Board. Again, in the Prime Minister^ statement we find that the Government:
. should have available to it in the Board’; reports the fullest possible knowledge of all the elements relevant to each particular case.
I think that this at last shows the acceptance by the Government that it has a responsibility to the consumer as well as to the industry seeking protection. This surely should bc the key to our future Tariff policy. I am delighted that the Prime Minister spelt this out so clearly. When we look at Appendix 4 of the report we see just how important the effects of tariff protection are on the consumer. For example, it has been pointed out on a couple of occasions in this debate that the value of production which has a level of protection over 50% is approximately $l,250m. I remind the House of what 1 said a moment ago: A significant proportion of this has never been the subject of a tariff inquiry at all. Production receiving between 21% and 50% protection is worth approximately $2.500m. No wonder our costs have been rising and are continuing to rise at such an uncomfortably high rate. Unless something can be done to contain these rises in costs Australia will find it increasingly difficult to remain competitive in world markets, both in primary and secondary industry products.
It must not be forgotten that although primary industry will undoubtedly have to earn the major portion of our export income, secondary industry will have to play an increasing role in this field. Australia now has a wide industrial base and this is, of course, very desirable. However, economies of scale are now becoming extremely important. More and more industries will discover that they can get a satisfactory return on capital only if their production is increased substantially. As our industrial capacity is increased still further, as I am sure it will be. the companies concerned will find that the relatively small Australian domestic market will be unable to absorb their increased production. This will mean that more and more companies will have to leave the comfortable protection of the local market and face the harsh realities of world competition. It would be disastrous if we priced ourselves out of this market by unwise tariff protection.
– It is pretty close to it now.
– I agree with the honourable member for Moore, and a classic example of what I am getting at is the case of Comalco and the Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Ltd which was described in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ on 27th November 1968. Comalco makes very large quantities of salt in Western Australia. Salt is the main raw material for making caustic soda and chlorine. Chlorine is made and used by ICI for many products, principally PVC. The price received for the by-product caustic soda is a major factor in the economies of chlorine production. Caustic soda is used in large quantities for the refining of bauxite which is the raw material for aluminium. But ICI has now requested a restoration of 30% lo 40% tariff on caustic soda plus a port value which has recently been removed. The price paid by alumina manufacturers for caustic soda has an extremely important bearing on their ability to compete on world markets. If the Australian market cannot get caustic soda at prices comparable to their overseas competitors it will seriously prejudice the future prosperity and export earning potential of this industry.
If this sort of thing continues 1 believe that the whole future of Australia as a rapidly developing country would be endangered. We would be placing the solvency of this country in jeopardy and making the task of maintaining full employment extremely difficult, if not impossible. The Australian domestic market will not remain big enough to absorb our rapidly growing industrial production. We will have to export a constantly increasing percentage of our production at prices which other countries of the world can afford. Therefore as 1 have stressed before in this House, the tariff question involves ail sections of the Australian community. It affects the wage earner most of all1. Not only may the advantages of protection to a wage earner from an employment point of view be outweighed by the disadvantages to the same employee as a consumer. This must not be forgotten. The wage earners are our biggest consumers. Unwise tariff protection could put the wage earner out of a job altogether.
There is no doubt that in the future we will need to know precisely much more than we know at present just what are the levels of tariff protection.
The Tariff Board refers to this problem in detail. The problem involves an appreciation of the difference between nominal and effective rates of protection. In answer to the honourable member for Kooyong 1 think the essence of the problem here was time; they just did not have the time or access to the statistics that would have enabled a realistic appreciation to be made of the effective rates of protection.
– lt should be put on a properly acquired service basis.
– Yes. The Board lacks a research staff most of all.
– When are they going to get these sons of things?
– i hope my interpretation of the Prime Minister’s statement is that he indicates that these resources will be made available. It is obvious that quoting nominal rates of protection cannot provide sufficient information on which to base an informed and sensible opinion of the rate of protection afforded any product or industry. Take just a very simple example. Two products are both receiving 30% protection but one gets its raw materials free of duty while the raw material of the other industry has a tariff protection of .1.00% . It obviously makes little sense to speak of both industries as having 30% protection. As the Board points out, this is in fact the only thing it can do today because it does not have the resources available to it to get the information to determine effective rates of protection. The sooner we improve this inaccurate method of assessing protection the better, as effective rates of protection can only be determined after reviews are made. This is yet another cogent argument for making the necessary references as soon as possible to the Tariff Board.
During my Budget speech I said that I hoped we were about to enter a new era in our approach to the tariff question. The Tariff Board report and the Prime Minister’s statement on it give me great encouragement that my hopes will be fulfilled. If they are to be fulfilled, the present approach to its work by the Tariff Board must receive close and sympathetic attention from the Government. From the Prime Minister’s speech 1 gather that this will be clone, and indeed, it is essential if we are to get a rational and effective solution to the tariff problem.
Debate (on motion by Mr Uren) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 12.38 to 2.15 p.m.
– by leave - The Government has considered very thoroughly the policy for the provision of line plant for country telephone services, particularly as it applies to the upgrading of private sections of subscribers’ lines for connection to country automatic exchanges. Before I outline the decisions taken following consideration of this matter, perhaps I should recapitulate the policy as it has applied up to now.
The present policy was developed on a unit of construction’ basis. Each telephone applicant is allotted 96 units of construction, irrespective of the area concerned or the actual cost of the construction. Where no departmental line plant exists from the exchange in the direction of the applicant’s property and only one service is involved, the applicant’s allocation of 96 units enables new line plant (cable and/or poles and wires) to be provided for a distance of 60 chains along the public roadway. In cases where more than one service is required on the same route, each applicant’s entitlement of 96 units is aggregated in assessing the amount of line plant to be provided by the Post Office. Where an existing departmental route is being extended to provide services for new applicants, the private portions of any services along the route are replaced by departmental construction to the same point to which the route is being extended for the new applicants. This is done without cost to the subscribers.
In the belief that country subscribers want the better service offered by automatic exchanges, the Post Office is proceeding as quickly as possible with the replacement of manual exchanges. Present-day economics favour fewer exchanges of larger average size and recent improvements in transmission characteristics and equipment design make it possible to achieve this. Because it would be quite uneconomic to replace every small manual exchange by an individual automatic unit, country automatic exchanges are often established to replace one or more manual exchanges. The unsatisfactory condition of the majority of the private sections of lines constructed by subscribers makes it necessary for the subscribers to construct or upgrade their lines to departmental standards to obtain service to automatic exchanges. In these cases, all subscribers to be connected to a country automatic exchange are allotted 96 units of departmental construction irrespective of whether they are new applicants, existing local subscribers or existing subscribers being transferred from another exchange. This allotment is made to existing subscribers irrespective of any units expended by the Post Office in the provision of their original services.
The Government has decided that, basically, the existing policy shall be maintained - including the provisions relating to 60 chains of departmental line construction - notwithstanding general rises in material and labour costs and the fact that, overall, country telephone services are uneconomic, particularly in the smaller rural settlements. However, in order to ensure satisfactory telephone calls throughout a network being developed towards fully automatic operation, it is essential that low grade line construction already in the network be elimi nated progressively and that all new lines be of high quality construction. It is becoming increasingly important, therefore, that the construction of new lines and the upgrading of existing privately constructed lines for connection to automatic exchanges be to Post Office standards.
To assist country subscribers, the Government has decided to provide funds for the construction of lines beyond the distance the Post Office can go under present policy - on the basis that subscribers repay the amount involved. The lines may be constructed either by the Post Office, the subscriber or a contractor engaged by the subscriber. Interest will be payable by the subscriber at the long term bond rate current at the time funds are approved for the work. Repayments of the principal may be made in instalments when the amount is over $100. Minimum instalments will be $100 a year in addition to interest on the balance outstanding and the maximum period over which repayments may be spread will be 10 years. Where the cost is, say, $1,500, repayments would be $150 per annum plus interest for a 10-year period. In addition, subscribers will be relieved of the responsibility for carrying out maintenance on lines provided to departmental specifications under the new conditions, as maintenance will be undertaken by the Post Office at its own cost.
If the Post Office constructs the subscriber’s line, the subscriber will be required to pay back with interest the total amount incurred by the Post Office for the provision of the line. The value of any materials and labour supplied by the subscriber will be offset against the costs involved. If the subscriber constructs the line himself or engages a contractor other than the Post Office to do so, the Post Office will supply the funds if the cost quoted to the Post Office appears to be a reasonable estimate for the work involved. Funds provided by the Post Office will not cover material readily supplied by the subscriber from within his own resources, for example, poles, cross arms and the like and, so far as funds for labour are concerned, these will be restricted to labour engaged specifically for the purpose. This means that the subscriber’s own labour and that of any workers normally employed by him will be excluded.
It is expected that these arrangements will be in operation by 1st January 1969. At that time, applicants who had accepted terms and conditions under the arrangements now current but had not commenced or contracted for private construction would be requoted by the Post Office for service. In addition, the arrangement for the repayment by instalments and for maintenance will be available to any subscriber who, since 1st October 1968, had paid, or contracted to pay, for the construction of the private sections of his line to Post Office specifications.
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr Clyde Cameron) adjourned.
– I ask for leave to make a short statement on the statement made by the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme).
Mr ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Is leave granted?
Honourable members ; No.
– There being an objection, leave is not granted.
– by leave - It will be remembered that in June of last year I announced the Government’s decision to continue in existence in the national interest those elements of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority which are concerned with investigation, design, and scientific services so as to ensure the availability as consultants of the team of highly expert engineers which has been built up in these fields over the course of the Authority’s history. In October of this year I announced that there had been a continuing strong demand for these consultant services of the Snowy Mountains Authority. I observed that there is a firm future for the Authority in providing consultant services, particularly in the investigation and design of large dams, rock tunnels and other underground rock work, major hydro-electric power stations, major pumping plants incorporating heavy mechanical and electrical equip ment and major water pipelines, together with associated constructional advice in these fields.
The Government has now given further consideration to the institutional form and legal framework necessary to enable this work and role of the Authority to be continued as the task of constructing the Snowy Mountains scheme draws to its conclusion and after it is finished. It has been decided that there will be set up by Commonwealth legislation a statutory corporation which will be invested with the authority to provide these consultant services and to which selected existing specialist staff of the Authority may, if they so wish, transfer. It is our intention that this new authority shall be enabled to provide its consultant services as required, not only to the Commonwealth Government, but also to State governments and private firms within Australia and to overseas firms and governments who may seek its services. Because some of these fields, for example State governments and private firms in Australia, lie outside the scope of the Commonwealth’s constitutional powers, it will be necessary for the role of this corporation to receive authorisation and support by legislation in any State in which the Authority’s services are sought, and we shall now be entering upon negotiations with the States to seek fromthem legislation to this end. As 1 have previously made clear, the services of the new corporation will be made available on a normal commercial basis.
Pending the final establishment of a new corporation, the existing Snowy Mountains Authority will, of course, continue its consultant activity, in which it is very successful. In order to give proper sanction to this activity, which we have been advised may to some degree lie outside the present legal powers of the Authority, stop gap legislation will be introduced next session. This legislation will cover the activities of the Authority in its consultant role up to the time when this role is handed over to the new corporation I have mentioned. The arrangements to be made for the new corporation will include any legislation necessary to cover the transfer or preservation of the superannuation, long service leave, and other service rights of staff of the present Authority who join the new corporate body. I move:
– by leaveI should like to address my remarks briefly to the motion that the House take note of the paper. Let me say immediately that the Opposition is distressed and concerned at the failure of the national Government to maintain the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority with the same vigour, strength and character that marked its development of the mighty undertaking in the Snowy Mountains. It is interesting to note that the Authority now employs 149 fewer people than it did 12 months ago. The statement by the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) that it is intended to form a corporation to enable the Authority’s investigation and design sections to act as consultants with the States and to provide services outside Australia merits the approval of the Parliament, but it is distressing to think that this mighty organisation which has won world acclaim and is renowned for its outstanding services is being phased out.
The statements which we have heard repeatedly in this Parliament are no more or less than obituary notices for this Authority. The Minister has told us what is planned as between the corporation and the States. We have heard all this before. In recent times we have heard of the debate, argument and discussion between the Commonwealth and States, and of the ill-will which exists in many quarters. I should like to think that the Commonwealth Government had proposed some positive works, and that it had indicated to South Australia what is to become of the Chowilla project. If that project is not to proceed, then what is to be done in regard to an alternative project? It is some time since I asked a question on this subject in the House, but when I did I was unable to receive definite information. The Authority might well give consideration to the Darling River system. This Government should apply itself to this important work.
From time to time we have received numerous statements and reports. These reports in themselves achieve nothing. I only hope that in the future action will be taken to ensure that the Authority’s skilled and experienced staff will be given a greater opportunity to serve this nation. What we have heard today is another statement in a long list of documents presented to this
Parliament and statements made outside the Parliament. The Opposition welcomes the plans which will protect those engaged in the Authority, but it wants action and not words. I personally deplore the fact that we have not seen action.
– by leave - I express my appreciation to the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) for the proposal to establish a corporation which will employ part of the team of experts now employed by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. I point out to the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) that this is not simply a matter of words without meaning. I would prefer to make further comments after 1 have carefully studied the Minister’s statement. However, there is no doubt that the establishment of such a corporation will provide for the continued use of the skills of men employed by the Authority in the field of water conservation and allied civil engineering. Stop-gap legislation is to be introduced to make perfectly legitimate all the operations that the Authority has been performing outside the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme and which now involve over 200 men. This implies that the organisation will have the capacity to do this type of work in the future. I heard nothing in what the Minister said which would prevent the proposed corporation from performing very much the same kind of role as has the Snowy Mountains Authority. In other words, it will be able to investigate and design. I ask the Minister whether the corporation will be able to supervise such constructions.
This would mean that the future team will be able to do all that the existing team has done and is now doing. The Minister has stated - we can take it that this estimate, made earlier this year, is an informed one - that he could not see any possibility of an overall reduction in the level of Commonwealth expenditure on water conservation in Australia but rather that there would be an increase in such expenditure. As it is quite likely this means that no State will reduce its level of expenditure in this field, then the total expenditure in Australia on water conservation and allied civil engineering will at least stay at the present level but will probably increase. Therefore it can be expected that the number of people engaged in this field throughout Australia will be greater rather than less. As to the local impact of this proposal, obviously the construction people will have to be where the construction work is undertaken. We can now see that the Authority’s team will fit into the totality of water conservation and civil engineering works throughout Australia. As I understood the Minister’s statement, nothing will be done to limit this body’s expansion. Expansion will depend on demand for its services from Commonwealth, State and private sources. The services of the Authority in the past have been so effective as to ensure a high level of demand for these services in the future.
I would still appreciate from the Minister, if he can give it to me, some indication of the need to retain the present headquarters of the Authority, where something like $ 11.6m has been invested in buildings. I would like the Minister to indicate that the present headquarters will continue to be used, as they are of very considerable value to the people of Cooma and are linked closely with Cooma’s future. Quite apart from the material assets, the Authority’s skilled employees are the best technical tools that it has. Although the Government’s decision in this matter has been foreshadowed, the delay in announcing it has led to a good deal of indecision and personal distress amongst employees in the middle age group. They have had to decide whether to stay with the Authority or to seek employment elsewhere before they are left sitting on the shelf at an age when it is too late for them reasonably to move into another sphere of employment.
Having regard to what he has foreshadowed in his statement I hope that the Minister might now be able to say that the Authority is in a position to indicate its future staff requirements, at least to the point of ensuring that those who are now on the team are likely to be retained. Those who are unlikely to be on the future team because of prospects of work known to the Authority should be told of their position. 1 recognise that the team’s activities depend on demands for its services, but these demands are predictable for at least the next 2 years. On the basis of previous experience the demand for the team’s services looks like continuing. So I would hope that the Authority might now make a determination as to its staff requirements so that the individuals concerned may do some realistic planning for next year. It would be unfair to the highly skilled people working for the Authority not to give some indication in this direction so that they may set their minds at rest as regards their future. After all, these people are the greatest asset to the team. It is towards the retention of their skills that the Government’s decisions in this matter have been directed.
– -by leave - The honourable member for EdenMonaro (Mr Munro) has implied that the advisory body will be able to do all of the things that the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority formerly did. Such a claim is clearly absurd. The honourable member asked the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) whether this body will be able to supervise projects. If the honourable member or the Minister thinks that the Snowy Mountains Authority did no more than advise in relation to projects and supervise projects he knows very little about the work of the Authority. If this body is to supervise construction work or to advise on work, why did the Minister not say so. If Queensland or some other Slate asks the Snowy Mountains Authority to investigate a particular project will this body to which the Minister has referred have power to set the standards for tenders, to select the suitable tenders, to make adjustments or modifications to tenders and to make important decisions relating to standards of construction? I will be very surprised if this small advisory body, with the emphasis on planning, has anything like those responsibilities. If it is to have those responsibilities the Minister should have said so explicitly.
It does not matter what this Government says in its attempts to convince the public regarding the future of the Snowy Mountains Authority or the functions of a statutory organisation formed from a nucleus of the Snowy Mountains Authority. The cold facts are that this year the Government took the deliberate and calculated step of disintegrating this world famous construction authority. In its place the Government has substituted a toothless, clawless advisory commission. This commission has no budget. It has no authority to initiate work. It will be completely dependent on work handed to it by other authorities or acquired from other authorities. There will be no scope for imagination or skill. Having regard to the importance to Australia of water, surely there was every reason to retain a CommonwealthState construction authority for the systematic development of water resources. Many times before I have said that the deliberate destruction of the Snowy Mountains Authority will stand as a monument to this Government’s folly. This is an act by which future generations will judge the Government.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
– by leave - On 4th November the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) asked me a question relating to the enlistment of Maltese in the Royal Australian Air Force. He referred to the case of a lad 18 years of age who allegedly had been denied the right to enlist in the RAAF although he had come to Australia 10 years before Malta became an independent country. Subsequently the right honourable gentleman was good enough to supply me wilh copies of documents on which his question was based. These consisted of a newspaper article and a statutory declaration by the lad concerned. I think it is important to state clearly and emphatically that no ground exists for suggesting that the applicant in this case was rejected because he was of Maltese nationality. People bom in Malta are eligible to enlist in the RAAF if they satisfy other requirements such as age, medical fitness and education. In this case the lad failed to measure up to the required educational standard. He was advised to carry out further studies and to reapply in 12 months time. The statutory declaration and the newspaper article contain several incorrect statements, but I consider it of prime importance that the principal point of eligibility of people of Maltese nationality to enlist in the RAAF should be put beyond doubt.
Debate resumed from 21 November (vide page 3138), on motion by Mr Anthony:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– There being no objection, that course will be adopted.
– The Opposition welcomes these two Bills. The principal purpose of the Continental Shelf (Living Natural Resources) Bill is to enable a greater degree of protection to be given to the living sedentary organisms of the continental shelves of Australia and the external Territories. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) said in his second reading speech that the Bill will enable the introduction of measures to conserve the living resources of the Great Barrier Reef beyond territorial limits. This is the first issue 1 wish to take up with the Minister, because this statement by him is ambiguous. The islands, and the reefs of the Great Barrier Reef have always been regarded as being under the control of the sovereign State of Queensland. I fail to see how one can argue that this Bill will conserve the resources outside the territorial limits. If we are talking about the 3-mile territorial sea limit, fair enough. If we are talking about the territorial limits of Australia, which include the sovereign States, this implies that the Great Barrier Reef and its land masses do not lie within territorial limits. As far back as 1859 or 1860, Queensland successfully made application for sovereign rights over all the reefs and islands of the reef. It has always been the impression, certainly of that State, that Queensland has complete territorial control over the reefs and islands outside the 3-mile territorial limits.
Although the Opposition welcomes this Bill, one wonders why the Government did not introduce it many years earlier. The Minister stated in his second reading speech that the 1958 international Convention on the Continental Shelf gives
Australia entitlement to pass this legislation. The Convention came into force in 1964. Therefore, one can ask: Why has it taken 4 years to bring in this most important legislation? I wish to question another statement in the Minister’s second reading speech. I think anyone operating internationally or domestically in the area of the continental shelves would question his definition of the continental shelf of a coastal country. It leaves one with doubt as to its meaning. He referred to the sea bed beyond the territorial limits to where the depth of the sea above is 200 metres. That is fair enough. He then referred to the sea bed even beyond that limit to where the depth of the sea above admits of the exploitation of the natural resources. This is what the Opposition wants to clarify. Just what does this mean? What depth of sea? How far out from the continental shelf usually referred to does this limit go?
In this age nations which use advanced methods in exploration for minerals are developing their techniques at such a rate that a depth of 300 or 400 metres is no longer considered a depth at which resources cannot be exploited by the use of submarine or deep sea drilling techniques. This is a very important point which I have no doubt that the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) will want to explore also in respect of certain aspects of these Bills. Just what is the definition of continental shelf when the sea above it exceeds 200 metres in depth? It would seem that the Continental Shelf (Living Natural Resources) Bill provides for complete Commonwealth control over the sea bed and the subsoil of the sea bed in any area which, in the Minister’s words, ‘admits of the exploitation of the natural resources’. If the legislation means that, should Australia consider that it is capable of exploiting the sea bed at a depth of 300 or 400 metres, it will have control over that area, that is very good. But I think some very grave reservations will be expressed by lawyers experienced in international law about the definition of ‘continental shelf.
The next point I wish to make relates to the Minister’s statement about the continental shelf of the external Territories. It would seem that there is again some uncertainty about the definition of the continental shelf of the external Territories. It is highly possible that nobody in Australia or anywhere else knows just where the boundaries of these continental shelves are. I have very grave doubts whether we in Australia have sufficient hydrological information to be able to say precisely where the boundaries of the continental shelf are and particularly where the boundaries of the areas where the sea is of a certain depth are, or whether these areas admit of exploitation. This refers not only to the sea bed on the Australian coastline but also to the sea bed on the coastline of the external Territories. It would seem from a reading of the Bill and the Minister’s second reading speech that there is great need for uniformity in the legislation in Australia relating to the coastline, adjacent waters, the continental shelf, the territorial sea and the 12-mile limit. I humbly submit that when we pass more legislation we create more complex problems for ourselves. From a reading of the literature on this subject, it seems to me that international lawyers are worse than economists in coming to agreement about things, because they give contrasting answers. Two lawyers can go to tremendous lengths to prove their common point and yet come up with diametrically opposed conclusions. But who is to judge? I suppose one has to be a judge to judge. But even the judges disagree, as can be seen from many cases involving international law.
First of all, let us have a look at the situation in Australia. We have the 3-mile territorial limit. Professor O’Connell, who would be one of the top authorities on international law in Australia, recently wrote a very learned article. As I interpret it, he expressed some doubt about whether Queensland or any other sovereign State has the right to control waters within the 3-mile limit. In other words, he seems to me to infer that the Federal Government has some right to claim what has always been recognised as the sovereign right of the States - control over waters within the 3-mile territorial limits and, of course, the islands and reefs which lie in these waters. Here, again, there is a very serious problem that will have to be solved in the future. Then we come to the continental shelf. Who owns the continental shelf? Who owns the continental shelf below the waters within the 3-mile limit? Here again we are given all kinds of different answers by highly respected international and even Australian lawyers. Then we have the great complexities regarding the submerged reefs, the low elevation reefs, and the inland seas, and all these matters in themselves are creating more and more problems in relation to definition. The complex legislation regarding exploration leases has illustrated this fact. This is another chapter in the Government’s legislation which I believe will only add to the complexities of the definition of who owns these areas.
It would seem to me that we would have some semblance of uniformity in our laws if it were possible and practicable for the Commonwealth to make strong claims to assert jurisdiction over all these areas - the waters and the land masses adjacent to the Australian coastline below the low water mark. If the Commonwealth were able to do that we would have a uniform Federal law. But the States have differing laws. The Federal Government is trying to co-operate with the States in order to get the best possible deal for itself and for Australia, but often it is thwarted by State jealousies. I raise these points because they are all very relevant to the Bill.
One of the most important chapters in the Bill is the section which gives ability to police, patrol and enforce the provisions of the Bill. How can any State enforce the relevant provisions of this Bill which relate to the taking of sedentary fish or organisms off the sea bed within the 3-mile limit? 1 believe that there has to be cooperation and complementary legislation between the Federal Government and the States governments concerned. But I think it would be far better if we bad one set of uniform laws throughout Australia which provided for the control of the continental shelf as regards exploration and mining. We could have one set of laws, which embraced the whole of the continental shelf, relating to sedentary fish outside the 3- mile limit and also within the 3-mile limit. Then I think it would be possible for the layman and for people interested in fishing and other activities in these areas to understand the legal side of the question.
I have referred to the sovereign powers of the States, which they jealously guard, within the 3-mile territorial limits, as well as over the land masses or the islands and reefs which are situated hundreds of miles from the coastline. I do not know what the longest distance would be from the Queensland mainland coastline to the Great Barrier Reef, but I would think it is well over 200 miles. If one looks at the Queensland coastline and the red line on the map which comes down to the west of the outer reef, in some sections the reef would be over 200 miles from the mainland. So here again I fail to see how the State of Queensland could possibly hope ever to enforce these laws in its own right. Of course, we know that Queensland will not do this because there is the question of the Commonwealth having to assume responsibility, through complementary legislation, in order to police what is happening or what may happen on State territories. I repeat that it would be far better if the Commonwealth were to assert its complete control over all the areas below the low water mark.
There is one clause in the Bill to which we will move an amendment at the Committee stage. The clause deals with the removal of sedentary species which are dead. I am sure that the Minister for Primary Industry is well aware of the great controversy that occurred in north Queensland regarding the Ellison Reef. The case dealt specifically with this question of the removal of sedentary organisms which are classified as being dead. In other words, within the definition in the clause, what are dead coral reefs? The Opposition is opposed to the inclusion of this clause in the Bill. We think that it is the thin edge of the wedge. There is no limit when one begins to try to define what is dead and what is not dead and when one deals with the other biological activities. The whole basis of the case concerning the Ellison Reef was to debunk the idea of the existence of such a thing as a dead reef. There is no such thing as a dead reef.
Experts from the University of Queensland and other eminent biologists have shown that a coral reef does not die. In fact, it is viable. It is a vital part of the overall reef. The algae which breed or grow in the so-called dead part of the reef provide a very important source of what is termed pasture for living organisms. Marine biologists have made it very clear that if one mines so-called dead coral one disturbs the fine ecological balance which has been built up and which is the whole basis for the growth of coral in the Great arrier Reef.
I would be surprised if any honourable member who knows much about the Great Barrier Reef agreed to the inclusion in the Bill of this clause which allows the mining or removal of coral from the Great Barrier Reef. In fact, 1 do not know why the clause was inserted in the Bill, because the Queensland Government has given an assurance that under no circumstances will it allow the mining of coral from the Barrier Reef. Of course, it could be argued in a very specious sort of way that this clause does not apply to coral; that it applies to a star fish, a sole, a plaice or a clam that is dead. We could not object to such a definition because, after ali, the clause does not explicitly refer to a dead coral reef. It refers to organisms which are dead. But these organisms which are dead, or which are supposed to be dead, could include coral reefs.
So 1 give notice that at the Committee stage we will move an amendment to this clause, because it is most important. I appeal to honourable members who know the biology, or what is known as the biology, of the Great Barrier Reef to consider the danger of allowing any mining on the reef based on the ground that the coral is dead. As has been explained time and again by Professor Burden Jones, Dr Endean and others on the research staff of the Townsville University, once mining by mechanical means is allowed on the Barrier Reef the ecological balance of nature is disturbed and before long there is growth of a poisonous weed - which is now becoming more prevalent in the area. Fish poisoning has been related scientifically to the mass deprivation of sections of the Great Barrier Reef.
The alga, which is a very important source of food, is disturbed. Inroads are made and the currents within the Reef itself are changed. It will be like a cancer. The balance of the ecology is fine. One of the finest biological balances that one can have is in the construction of living corals on the Great Barrier Reef. Once the balance is disturbed the rot sets in in that area. It is even being staled now by some members of the research team in Townsville that the starfish - this crown of thorns - has increased in intensity because of the disturbance of the ecological balance by man. Whether it is true or not, I do not know.
All I can do is quote what the marine biologists have staled. I think that everybody will agree that there are men who are dedicated to trying to do the best thing that they can not only to preserve but also to extend the Great Barrier Reef.
I wish to say a few words with respect to the need for research in these areas as the Minister dealt at some length with the Great Barrier Reef. Some years ago in the Senate, Senator Murphy asked a question of the present Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) about the establishment of biological research on the Great Barrier Reef. The present Prime Minister who at that time represented the Government in the Senate in matters concerning the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation replied that any proposal for biological research could not be given high priority in relation to other studies of Australian fauna and flora. In other words he rated it as a very low priority. Within 4 years of that statement being made, we have this legislation before the House. We know also how very much out of date the present Prime Minister was 4 years ago with respect to his knowledge of the importance of the Great Barrier Reef.
All the works that I have read on this subject point to the fact that the Great Barrier Reef could become one of the world’s finest centres for marine biology research, fundamental and applied. I think that this Parliament ought to give as much support as it can to the modern biology division established at the University of Townsville, which is endeavouring to further research in these fields. When we look at the subject we see that there is very little that we do know despite the fact that man has been sailing and working in and out of the Great Barrier Reef for a long time. We know little about the biological structure of the Barrier Reef itself. However, it is known that it is very easy to destroy the Reef. That is one thing that has been established. The Reef is different from granite, basalt or sand. It is a very easy thing to set in motion the forces which would destroy living coral. The whole of the Reef itself is based on coral.
No need exists for me to talk about the tourist potential of the Great Barrier Reef. I am sure that this is known and appreciated by a majority of Australians now. No doubt exists that the Great Barrier Reef is one of the finest tourist centres of the world. It is unique in the sense that no other area . in the world remotely resembles it regarding its concentration, intensity and extent. Here again, the Government must give thought to the problems of developing these areas, lt is obvious to all that here is one of the greatest potential export income earners that Australia has. Yet this Government refuses to recognise tourism as an industry. Those people concerned with the tourist industry who want to develop power and industry on many of the islands of the Great Barrier Reef are refused point blank long term finance from the Commonwealth Development Bank. One of the reasons for refusing this finance is that tourism is not an industry. Well, this view has to change. Those who know the Reef and know the potential of the Reef for tourism find it very difficult to understand why the Development Bank, which is an agency of the Commonwealth Government, refuses to provide long term finance.
– It cannot within its terms.
– Why does the Commonwealth Government refuse to provide long term finance for the development of these islands?
– The Bank cannot do that unless it changes its terms.
– Here is one of the knockers from the Liberal Party. The honourable member-
– I am not knocking it. I have asked the Bank to do the same thing. But this is not within its constitution.
– Wei I , it should change its constitution.
– Exactly. We are working on that.
– Here we have a Liberal member who says: ‘We cannot do it because it is against the constitution of the Bank’.
– We are working on a change.
– The honourable member has the right to introduce into this Parliament, after giving notice of motion, a Bill to change the constitution of the Development Bank in order to include this provision. Why does he not do that?
– He would not know that.
– Of course he would not. I think that I have made the main points of my speech in respect of the continental shelf itself and the complexity of the legislation concerning it. That is the main point that I wanted to make. We hope that the lawyers who, no doubt, will take part in this debate will show a little more consistency in their arguments than the interpretations of the laws do in trying to fathom just who owns what with respect to the waters of the continental shelf, the sea bed, under the sea bed, inside and outside territorial seas and, more importantly with respect to the Bill now before the Parliament, just what the definition is of the continental shelf. It is absolutely no good telling us on the one hand that it relates to an area where the depth of water above it is 200 metres and then, on the other hand, saying that it includes any area that admits itself to exploitation. Both areas, particularly the second one, can be extremely difficult to define.
In the Committee, as 1 said before, I will move an amendment relating to the Great Barrier Reef itself and the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria during the consideration of the Fisheries Bill 1968. I will move another amendment during the consideration of the Continental Shelf (Living Natural Resources) Bill 1968 to exclude the provision that allows the Minister or the Government to approve the removal of what are called dead organisms. This is the thin edge of the wedge. It gives the green light for exploitative companies to mine what is called dead coral for use as limestone, which is exactly what the Ellison Reef case is about. 1 can see no reason why this Government should take the initiative by introducing legislation which will lead to the destruction of major portions of the Great Barrier Reef.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) made, what I call with respect, a very thoughtful speech. I am sorry that he spoilt it towards the end with his soft impeachment of lawyers and his cry of the heart asking them whether they could settle what was meant by the continental shelf because in expressing that plaintive cry the honourable gentleman, whether he knows it or not, unerringly goes to the very centre of the problem which is represented by the doctrine of the continental shelf and by the Geneva Convention of 1958 on the Continental Shelf. 1 will be directing my mind to some of those considerations in a moment, but may 1 say to the honourable gentleman that I found a great deal in his speech with which / would readily agree. It was - I say this without any impertinence at all - a very thoughtful speech. But I would clash with him, if I may, on his reference to the sovereign States. The description of the States of Australia as being sovereign has always struck me as being a silly political bromide, if that is not an untidy collection of terms. The States of Australia are not and never have been sovereign. The State Parliaments in Australia can determine the manner and form in which legislation can be changed in the future. Queensland is a classic illustration. In that State the upper House has been abolished and it cannot be put back unless certain procedures are gone through. It is not a simple case of amending an Act of Parliament which abolished the upper House. So to describe the States as sovereign is to talk about something which is quite meaningless.
If I may come to the beginning of the doctrine of the continental shelf, my research indicates that as a term it was first used by a geographer in about 1898 and it first got some legal definition in 1942 when England and Venezuela concluded an agreement regarding the Gulf of Paria. But it was not until the post-war world that the doctrine really started totake on meaningful purpose, and that was with the Truman proclamation in 1945. The United Slates of America declared its sovereignty over the continental shelf around the United States of America. Hard on the heels of the Truman proclamation came proclamations by other countries. Chile, in 1947, issued a proclamation proclaiming sovereignty over the whole of the continental shelf of whatever depth. The paradox about the Chilean proclamation is to be found in the fact that Chile has virtually no continental shelf to speak of. In 1949 Saudi Arabia issued a proclamation involving seven of the sheiks in the Trucial States. In 1950 Pakistan made a proclamation. In 1950 the United Kingdom nominally enlarged the territory of Barbados, the Bahamas, British Honduras, Jamaica and the Falkland Islands. We came, in these years, to a virtual plethora of proclamations. And, of course, Australia joined in in 1953.
It was plain to the observer of those years that, in relation to the continental shelf as it exists around continents,the world, particularly the coastal states, was being led into an era of utter confusion and chaos. Indeed, in 1951 no less a person than Lord Asquith, who was the arbitrator in the case of Petroleum Development Ltd v Sheik of Abu Dhabi, referred to the doctrine of the continental shelf. This has pertinence, as I will show later, to the way in which the confusion we thought existed in 1951 has re-emerged today. In his award Lord Asquint said:
Neither the practice ofnations nor the pronouncements of learned jurists give any certain or consistent answer to many - perhaps most- of these questions. 1 am of opinion that there are in this field so many ragged ends and unfilled blanks, so much that is merely tentative and exploratory, that in no form can the doctrine–
That is the doctrine of the continental shelf- claim as yet to have assumed hitherto the hard lineaments or the definitive status of an established rule of International Law.
What I want to put to the House today is that we are going back - we are lurching back - towards the confusion that faced Lord Asquith in 1951 and which he spelt out so plainly in his award. Many would have thought that the Geneva Convention of 1958 would have settled the matter of the Convention on the Continental Shelf and that the doctrine would have been settled. Article 1 of the Convention recites:
For the purpose of these articles, the term continental shelf is used as referring (a) to the seabed and subsoil of the submarine areas adjacent to the coast but outside the area of the territorial sea. to a depth of 200 metres or, beyond that limit, to where the depth of the superjacent waters admits of the exploitation of the natural resources of the said area; (b) to the seabed and subsoil of similar submarine areas . adjacent to the coasts of islands.
In the early 1950s the International Law Commission argued in favour of a geographical concept regarding the continental shelf. It turned its back on the concept of exploitability being the delimiting or determining factor in regard to the continental shelf. In 1958, when this convention was drawn up, the whole world would have thought that the prospect of drilling in water in excess of 200 metres was fanciful, indeed remote. But today it is simply not so. I submit that the world today, in terms of the continental shelf and in terms of exploiting minerals in the sea is on the threshold of a new form of colonialism which could well be as meaningful and as dangerous as any other form of colonialism that has gone before. There is a very grave risk of the thesis of Jules Verne coming true. The convention on the continental shelf is, in my submission, utterly inadequate to face up to the prospect of what is coming.
I will be referring later to some of the difficulties, some of the prospects, that are open to nations that have the technological capacity to exploit the continental shelf, to exploit any water out from what is regarded as the conventional continental shelf, and to work in waters in excess of 200 metres. In his second reading speech the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) spoke about giving sovereign rights to this country. I do not quite understand, and never have understood, the term ‘sovereign rights’, lt has a rather quaint nuance of meaning when we come to apply the term to the Convention on the Continental Shelf. What sort of sovereignty is it? Is it sovereignty in terms of authority or sovereignty in terms of ownership, or is it a coalescence of the two ideas of imperium and dominium? I do not know: The Minister did not say. These are some of the vague notions that grip the world today in respect of the Convention on the Continental Shelf.
I have referred already to article 1 of the Convention. I want to put to the House this proposition concerning article 1: The honourable member for Dawson has adverted to the fact that it is impossible to define the continental shelf. Indeed, in terms of article 1, this is perfectly true. We cannot define it. It is not a case of geography or of geology. The ultimate criterion today is that of exploitability and techniques are on the advance. Let us take the case of the United States of America, which is pre-eminent in this field. Let us assume that in 10 years time the United States of America develops a capacity to exploit at 5,000 metres. In terms of article 1 of the Convention, the United States of America would be able to say in respect of its own borders: ‘Our continental shelf runs out to 5,000 metres’. But does that mean that that also applies to Australia or is the determining factor to be that the nation itself must have developed a capacity to exploit? This is one illustration.
– Why can’t you leave it alone? ‘Exploit’ is a bad word.
– It is not my word, lt is the word that is used in the Convention on the Continental Shelf. But we are dealing with a very serious matter; we are not dealing with a flippant matter that might trouble your mind.
– I am not being flippant.
– Why don’t you become a Trappist monk and give us all a break. This is a very serious feature of the interpretation of Article 1. It is all very fine in one respect when we come to deal with coastal states. But what of countries that have no coast, that are landlocked? Are they at liberty to exploit? These are some of the imponderable problems that arise. I have referred to the technological advances that have been made. May I spell them out a little more expicity?
– By the time you are finished you will have us as confused as you are.
– In 1961 the United States drilled the Mohole - what a pity it is the honourable member could not get into it - in the Pacific Ocean west of Mexico 183 metres into the seabed where the sea was 3,566 feet deep.
– You sound like a blow hole.
– Here is the honourable member for Yarra who poses as the new authority on tariffs. He has never read the Convention on the Continental Shelf but he sits there making comments. To explore his mind is like walking through a junk yard.
In 1965 six wells were sunk in the Atlantic near Florida in water over 1,000 feet deep. This again makes nonsense of
Article 1 of the Convention. In 1968, at the fourth meeting of the American Branch of the International Law Association, Mr Armstead, a lawyer retained by the Texaco Corporation, had this to say:
We do not have to wait for a relatively long period of time for the actual development of resources beyond the shelf.
In 1968 more than 140 oil platforms are drilling for oil in oceans around the world. The 200 metre mark is being passed in many instances. Within 3 or 5 years the 500 metre mark will be passed. In 10 years conceivably the 2,000 metre mark will be commonplace.
The technique is one thing. But what of the deposits? I will give three brief illustrations to show the enormous deposits that do exist. The first to which I refer the House is contained in a speech made by Mr Wiggins, the United States representative at the United Nations on 6th November of this year, when speaking to a resolution concerning uses of the seabed. He said:
Placer deposits of gold, iron and titanium in the form of ilmenite, diamonds and other industrial minerals may be present in the depths near the mouths of major rivers. Petroleum may be present in some of the sedimentary deposits extending beyond the continental shelf, as well as in small ocean basins such as the Gulf of Mexico, and even possible on some parts of the ocean floor. Manganese nodules have been found extensively on the floors of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and these contain higher admixtures of other important elements, notably cobalt, nickel, copper, and similar nodules found in shallower waters. Phosphorites are found on various parts of the continental shelf, the continental slope, and submarine banks. Recently in the depths of the Red Sea metal-bearing muds have been found, rich in copper and zinc.
A distinguished Australian authority in this field, Professor Daniel O’Connell of the University of Adelaide, referred to this subject in an article published in volume 42 of the ‘Australian Law Journal’ at page 49. In the article, which is entitled Problems of Australian Coastal Jurisdiction’, the Professor observed:
It is estimated that 50,000 billion tons of minerals are either dissolved in the sea. deposited on the sea-bed or contained in the strata of the continental shelves.
He went on to give an illustration of the enormous deposits of minerals and said, amongst other things:
In all the oceans there is an estimated 2,000 billion tons of magnesium, 700 billion tons of boron, 100 billion tons of bromine (amounting to ninety-nine per cent of the world’s resources of bromine), 20 billion tons of uranium, 15 billion tons of manganese, 10 billion tons of gold and 500 million tons of silver, 5 billion tons of arsenic, 3 billion tons of nickel, 3 billion tons of vanadium. 80 million tons of chromium and an uncalculated quantity of copper.
This dreary recitation of figures is impressive and I hope it will bring the House and those interested in this subject to the realisation that, if the development of a technological capacity to exploit these minerals is left to the stronger nations, there could well be new perils created in international relationships.
The last reference 1 want to make to the extent of deposits on the ocean bed and on the continental shelf 1 cite from the Geotimes’ of December 1967, in which this short paragraph appears:
American oceanographers have been exploring manganese-nodule deposits lying about 2,500 feet deep on the continental shelf off the southeast coast. A 3-week survey was made in October at the northern end of Blake Plateau, a submerged area 75 to 120 miles off the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina and Florida. The trip was made aboard the oceanographic research vessel, Discoverer’, of the US Coast and Geodetic Survey.
It is against this sort of background that there has happily been some thought given in some places to the inadequacy of the Convention on the Continental Shelf and I am glad to say that this very point has been discussed at the United Nations. A number of resolutions have been introduced. One was sponsored originally by Malta last year and it has now been joined by Mauritius and Tanzania. A second resolution was sponsored by Cyprus and another by a host of countries, including Australia. I should like honourable members to have an opportunity to read the resolutions and get an idea of what is involved. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate the three resolutions in Hansard.
Agenda item 26
Examination of the question of the reservation exclusively for peaceful purposes of the sea-bed and the ocean floor, and the subsoil thereof, underlying the high seas beyond the limits of present national jurisdiction, and the use of their resources in the interests of mankind: Report of the adhoc committee to study the peaceful uses of the seabed and the ocean floor beyond the limits of national jurisdiction
Malta. Mauritius and United Republic of Tanzania: draft resolution
The General Assembly,
Recalling its resolution 2340 (XXII) of 10 December 1967 on the ‘Examination of the question of the reservation exclusively for peaceful purposes of the sea-bed and the ocean floor, and the subsoil thereof, underlying the high seas beyond the limits of present national jurisdiction, and the use of their resources in the interests of mankind’,
Noting with appreciation the report of the Ad Hoc Committee to study the peaceful uses of the sea-bed and the ocean floor beyond the limits of national jurisdiction,
Recognising that there exists an area of the sea-bed and ocean floor and the subsoil thereof which lies beyond the limits of national jurisdiction and which requires further definition,
Noting that developing technology is making this area accessible and exploitable for scientific, economic, military and other purposes,
Believing that the exploration, exploitation and use of this area should be undertaken for the benefit of mankind as a whole, irrespective of the geographical location of Slates or their level of economic development or technological capability without, at the sametime, infringing upon the freedom of the high seas,
Appeals to all States to refrain from any action which may impair the extent of the area beyond limits of national jurisdiction, before the area and its juridical status are more precisely defined;
Commends to States the following principles with respect to the area, and the subsoil, which lies beyond the limits of national jurisdiction:
Requests the Committee established under resolution (XXI II), to take into account the above principles in its work and to study and recommend such additional principles and norms as may be desirable for the regulation of activities in this area;
Requests further the Committee to report on the progress of its work to the General Assembly at its twenty-fourth session.
Agenda item 26
Examination of the question of the reservation exclusively for peaceful purposes of the sea-bed and the ocean floor, and the subsoil thereof, underlying the high seas beyond the limits of present national jurisdiction, and the use of their resources in the interests of mankind: Report of the Ad Hoc Committee to study the peaceful uses of the seabed and the ocean floor beyond the limits of national jurisdiction
Cyprus: draft resolution
The General Assembly,
Recalling the item entitled ‘Examination of the reservation for peaceful purposes of the sea-bed and the ocean floor, and the subsoil thereof, underlying the high seas beyond the limits of present national jurisdiction, and the use of their resources in the interests of mankind’,
Recognising the need for defining with all possible speed the boundaries of the area of the sea-bed and the ocean floor, and the subsoil thereof which lie beyond the limits of present national jurisdiction,
Anxious to prevent a race to occupy various areas of the sea-bed pending the adoption of an international regime for these areas.
Agenda item 26
Examination of the question of (he reservation exclusively for peaceful purposes of the sea-bed and the ocean floor, and the subsoil thereof, underlying the high seas beyond the limits of present national jurisdiction, and the use of their resources in the interests of mankind: report of the ad hoc committee to study the peaceful uses of the sea-bed and the ocean floor beyond the limits of national jurisdiction
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada. Ceylon, Chile, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, El Salvador, Finland, France, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Libya, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Sudan, Sweden, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Arab Republic, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and United States of America: draft resolution
The General Assembly,
Recognising that it is in the common interest of all nations that the exploration and exploitation of the resources of the sea-bed and the ocean floor, and the subsoil thereof, should be conducted in such a manner as to avoid infringement of the other interests and established rights of nations with respect to the uses of the sea,
Mindful of the threat to the marine environment presented by pollution and other hazardous and harmful effects which might result from exploration and exploitation of the areas under consideration,
Desiring to promote effective measures of prevention and control of such pollution and to allay the serious damage which might be caused to the marine environment and, in particular, to the living marine resources which constitute one of mankind’s most valuable food resources,
Recognising the complex problem of ensuring effective co-ordination in the wide field of environmental pollution and in the more specific area of prevention and control of marine pollution,
Noting, with satisfaction, the measures being undertaken by the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation to prevent and control pollution of the sea by preparing new draft conventions and other instruments for that purpose,
Recalling, in this regard, the progress achieved towards such concerted action by intergovernmental bodies and the establishment by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and its Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation of a Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution,
Recalling further the competence and continuing valuable contributions of the other competent inter-governmental organisations concerned,
The last point concerning international relations to which I want to refer is the urgent need to have something in the form of an international convention regarding weapons of war being placed on the ocean bed. I have in mind a treaty similar to that relating to outer space, which provides that no celestial body shall be used for the purpose of installing any military equipment. Nothing in the Convention on the Continental Shelf provides for this and there is clear need for such a provision.
The last matter I want to refer to concerns the issue of territorial waters which was also referred to by the honourable member for Dawson. Provision is made in the Australian Constitution for this Parliament to legislate with respect to fisheries in waters beyond territorial limits. The assumption is, and I suppose it always has been, that the States of Australia, when federation came about, had a 3-mile limit - a 3-mile territorial sea. This was plainly the assumption at the time of federation. This fact is to be confirmed by a reading of the convention debates.
I have reached the conclusion that this assumption is not well founded. I think a proper reading of Keyn’s case in 1876 supports this opinion. In this case the major issue was whether or not an English court had jurisdiction to try the captain of a German ship for having negligently run down someone within the 3-mile limit off the port of Dover. On that occasion thirteen judges sat in the Court of Crown Cases Reserved. It was held that the court did not have jurisdiction and that the realm of England finished at the low water mark. I think that is a proper reading of Keyn’s case. But regrettably it has been obscured over the years and there has developed in municipal law - I leave aside the question of international law - the idea that the States have control over a 3-mile belt of water. I submit that this is not the case.
I would further submit that if the United Kingdom in 1876 did not have authority with respect to the 3-mile belt of water, the
States or the colonies of Australia certainly did not have any authority. But over the years there has grown up this notion that the States of Australia do have control with respect to the 3-mile limit. I submit that this is an entirely erroneous concept. I would say that the territories of the States finish at the low water mark. I am fortified in this view by the conclusion reached by the Canadian Supreme Court in an advisory opinion handed down in November last year that the territory of the provinces of Canada finished at the low water mark. This is important because, as I was reminded by the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett) only this morning, there are many islands off the coast of Queensland in particular that are 40 or 50 miles out. If we take the conventional approach to territorial authority with respect to these islands the area between the coast and the islands is made up first by a 3-mile belt of water supposedly under the control of the States; then through a belt of water under the control of the Commonwealth; then by what would be regarded as waters open to. any person to travel across: then again into a belt of water owned and operated and under the control of the Commonwealth; and then into a belt of water owned by the States.
One only has to put those simple facts to reach the conclusion that this is a matter of great complexity and complete confusion. So I say with respect to the proposition that the States’ territory finishes at the low water mark that this at least has the advantage of simplifying what appears at the moment to be an incredibly confused and complex state of affairs. When we come to deal with the convention concerning the continental shelf or any other convention dealing with oceans and the seas we realise that it is the Commonwealth that has the international personality. I am not a centralist; I never have been; but I think there is a powerful case to be made out for saying that the Commonwealth should have complete control with respect to all waters around Australia, as was held by the Supreme Court of the United States of America in the case of United States v. Louisiana. This case was reported in the United States report 339. This report stated:
As we pointed out in United States v. California, the issue in this class of litigation does not turn on title or ownership in the conventional sense.
California, like the thirteen original colonies, never acquired ownership in the marginal sea. The claim to our 3-mile belt was first asserted by the national government. Protection and control of the area are indeed functions of the national external sovereignty. The marginal sea is a national, not a state concern. National interests, national responsibilities, national concerns are involved. The problems of commerce, national defence, relations with other powers, war and peace focus there. National rights must therefore be paramount in that area.
I believe that this is not only a good law; I think it is good sense. This good sense becomes palpably clear when we come to deal with conventions of the complexity of the one we have been dealing with this afternoon. No doubt in the years to come some move will be made to ensure that the Commonwealth does have power in this vital field. But I think what may act as the exciter or the catalyst will be the tremendous surge of events on the international sea. There will be the emergence of what 1 have described as the new colonialism; the risk of a new colonialism with respect to the oceans and the sea beds. These are baffling and perplexing problems. They must be faced and they must be solved. If they are not solved, then to that extent mankind will be put in fresh and further peril.
– I would like to congratulate the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) on his contribution to this debate. Ideologically we may be worlds apart, but when it comes to a sincere attempt to analyse and dissect the difficulties of the law of the continental shelf and the laws of the sea as a whole and its resources I give him full credit for what he has done. I congratulate him on the presentation of the result of his lucubrations. Nevertheless, the honourable member is endowed with a measure of overexuberance. He has perhaps overstated the case in respect of certain of these matters.
My approach is this: The convention on the continental shelf was drawn up in 1958. It is very hard to get international agreement on any matter, and I think that to have sixty nations as signatories to any agreement is an outstanding achievement. I consider that Article 1 of the Convention on the Continental Shelf fairly covers the difficulties that the honourable member saw in relation to the definition of the continental shelf. 1 think Article 1 is worth stating, lt is expressed in the following terms:
For the purpose of these articles, the term continental shelf is used as referring (a) to the seabed and subsoil of the submarine areas adjacent to the coast but outside the area of the territorial sea, to a depth of 200 metres or, beyond that limit, to where the depth of the superjacent waters admits of the exploitation of the natural resources of the said areas; (b) to the seabed and subsoil of similar submarine areas adjacent to the coasts of islands.
To me it is quite important that the parties to the Convention had in contemplation exploitation of the continental shelf in certain cases well beyond the 200 metre limit - they did not define this limit. But the area of continental shelf within the 200 metres depth in the case of a nation such as Australia is a huge one. I would say that no nation in the world today has an easier means of asserting its domination over a vast area of continental shelf than has Australia. As I have often said in this House we are one people of a common cultural heritage, a common language and a common law and we are in possession of a whole continent. 1 do not believe there has ever before in recorded history been a similar situation. In these circumstances I believe we could lead the world on the matter of law relating to the continental shelf. As for international law, this is indecisive and depends, of course, on the consent of countries that are to enter into agreement. But in that regard I think the wise words of Professor Tarlo, head of the Faculty of Law of the University of Queensland, are worth quoting. Speaking of the closure of the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria and the question of international law, he said:
International law is not like the internal laws of a state, lt is in a less stable form. Tt is being formed and developed all the time and much of what passes for international law is in fact based on unilateral action which is approved only negatively by other countries which appear to acquiesce. It is subject to dynamic change.
My criticism of the Government is this: We have not used our tactical geographic and strategic advantage as we should have done. We have not led in asserting our very definite rights. We have in the process Jagged far behind certain other countries. The Government, to put it very charitably, has been overly timid. Even the Minister for
Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) - 1 will refer later to the concluding paragraphs of his speech - still has some hesitancy about laying a straightout claim to full control of the Great Barrier Reef. I believe in the old adage that he shall take who hath the power and he shall keep who can. If ever there was a crystal clear case for a definite statement as to our territorial rights we have one here in respect of the Great Barrier Reef.
Another matter which was raised by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) and also the honourable member for Moreton related to the difficulties of definition and of determining just how far the continental shelf extends. Here the Government is perhaps responsible for some looseness of interpretation, because it has chosen in this legislation on the living natural resources of the continental shelf to repeal the Pearl Fisheries Acts. Those Acts were of very wide scope as to definitions. Referring to O’Connell on ‘International Law’, I find this passage concerning the Pearl Fisheries Act of 1952:
The area of ‘proclaimed waters’ under the Act . . overlaps the continental shelf in certain places, and on the Queensland and New Guinea coasts extends far beyond it, and even to the Equator.
If one examines the history associated with the final enactment of the Pearl Fisheries Act of 1952 one sees today a repetition of the neglect, the inefficiency and the incompetence of the governments of earlier days before we bad a Commonwealth at all. Pearl fisheries commenced, according to O’Connell, in 1851, and there was no legislation on the matter - although the Western Australian Parliament of the day had made an abortive attempt to legislate - until an enactment of the Imperial Parliament which conferred on the Federal Council of Australasia powers to legislate for fisheries in Australian waters beyond territorial limits. Prior to that time no Australian colony had had the power to legislate extraterritorially. The Federal Council of Australasia, did in fact legislate, but again in a rather vague fashion, and for 60 years, right through from 1885 when that Council legislated - and the legislation was specifically preserved by the Constitution and not repealed until 1952 - the conservation and licensing laws, such as they were, of Western Australia and Queensland operated in respect of British and foreign vessels within territorial waters, and the measures of the Federal Council of Australasia operated outside such waters in respect of British vessels only.
Of course the right of the Commonwealth to legislate was specifically conferred by the Statute of Westminster in the 1930s. But the point 1 want to make is that associated with the Pearl Fisheries Act of 1952 was a proclamation in 1953 by the then Prime Minister which bore a reasonable similarity to the international convention to which we are now a signatory. There were special reasons for it. One of the difficulties encountered was that in the earliest days Malayan and Indonesian divers had come into Australian waters and had, over the years, helped themselves to pearl shell. In the 1930s the Japanese appeared on the scene and it was found that they took, in a particular year, one and a half times as much pearl shell as could be estimated to represent a reasonable maximum seasonal harvest. By 1953 the Japanese were taking 1,100 tons of pearl shell a year from the Arafura Sea against an Australian catch, if I may use that term, of 170 tons, and as they would not come to the party something had to be done. There had to be a positive assertion of Australian national sovereignty. It was for this reason, with due respect to the honourable member for Moreton, and not because ot the gaggle of proclamations on the continental shelf which appeared in other parts of the world, that the proclamation was issued.
I come now to the other aspects of this legislation. I want to comment particularly on the more general aspects of the marine wealth of the world. We are now entering a new phase in human history. The wealth beneath the seas, I believe, is even greater than that on the land, and new methods of exploiting it which have been developed within the last generation could never have been conceived by our forefathers. One of the activities which we in Australia certainly need to foster is some form of marine biological research. In this respect the Government has been dilatory. It has procrastinated and has been very timid in its approach. Probably we would not have got so far with the continental shelf problem if it had not been for the possibility of discovering oil there. Here also it was advice from overseas as to the availability of oil in the young sands of the continental shelf that first prompted Australian action.
There is a definite shortage of protein in the world today. One of the most available sources of protein for human nutrition is fish. Approximately 3% of the world’s area is now under cultivation. At the most 8% of the world’s area is suitable for some form of conventional arable farming. Onethird of the world’s population is undernourished or starving. There is no even distribution of available farming lands. The intensively populated nations are turning to the sea to remedy their protein deficiency. The Opposition is concerned to ensure that there is no extermination of the species. We all know what happened in regard to the Japanese whaling activities. Another instance which may not be familiar to honourable members was the extermination of the passenger pigeon in the United States. Fantastic swarms of these birds migrating were a feature of the American landscape 100 years ago. The last of these birds died 3 years ago. The swarms were 200 miles long, 50 miles wide and of a depth which no-one could estimate. The whole history of mankind has been one of exploitation or extermination. It has been said that forests precede man and deserts follow him. We do not want, in relation to marine resources and the wealth of the sea, a repetition of what happened in the rape of the land.
There is still a strong case for the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria to be declared territorial waters, but the Government is not prepared to implement it. A similar, even more unanswerable, case can be made in relation to the waters of the Great Barrier Reef. There is a definite need for Australia to state its case to the world - to assert its sovereignty, to assert its right of dominion. We should be making an immediate claim to these waters. We should effectively police them. In that regard I am reluctant to remind honourable members of the strictures of Rear Admiral Crabb. We should be prepared to back up our action when it is challenged. The Minister for Primary Industry has repeatedly said: ‘If we went too far we would find ourselves in the International Court’. Let us go there if we have to, but we would get more respect from the people who are now poaching in our waters if we were to assert our sovereign rights than we will by adopting a low posture, by grovelling for political or trading expediency.
The Act does not define ‘sedentary species’. That is the essence of this Bill. I refer to article 2 of the Convention, which states:
The natura) resources-
That is, those over which we as the adjoining sovereign state have sovereign rights - referred to in these articles consist of the mineral and other non-living resources of the seabed and subsoil together with living organisms belonging to sedentary species, that is to say, organisms which, at the harvestable stage, either are immobile on or under the seabed or are unable to move except in constant physical contact with the seabed or the subsoil.
Clause 7 of the Bill provides that sedentary species shall be such species as are defined by proclamation. I think this matter should be taken further.
I was alarmed during his second reading speech to note that the Minister, when naming the species that would be covered, omitted lobsters and crabs. Both of these species are certainly most valuable today. In his publication The Law of the Sea and Australian Off-shore Areas’, R. D. Lumb draws this distinction:
Besides the mineral resources there are the marine species of fish which dwell on or burrow into the sea-bed. The characterization of these marine species as sedentary by the Convention is based on a physical and biological relationship to the sea-bed: immobility on the sea-bed (at the harvestable stage) or mobility consisting of constant physical contact with the bed. Involved here are difficult questions of classification. Marine biologists and scientists classify under various headings the marine animals which dwell in the depths of the ocean. The classification is into the nectonic species, i.e. the bottom fish which could not come within the definition because they do not depend for their locomotion on constant physical contact with the sea-bed, and the benthonic species, which do depend for their physical existence on contact with the sea-bed. The benthonic species-
This is the species which the Opposition says should be fully covered - are classified into the sessile group, which merely sit on the bottom or only move a few feet during their lifetime (e.g. oysters, coral), the creeping group such as crabs and lobsters, and the burrowing group such as the beche-de-mer. The definition of sedentary fisheries in the Convention is applicable to many but not all animals within the benthonic species. There are some species which both move on the sea-bed and swim in the waters above, while there are others which do both at the same time (e.g. the shrimp). The Convention would seem to subject to sovereign rights of exploitation only those species which exclusively depend for their movement on constant physical contact with the sea-bed. Whether certain forms of Crustacea come within the definition is a matter for more particular analysis.
My purpose in reading that passage is to emphasise that in controlling foreign fishing vessels, which will undoubtedly come to our waters, the wider the definition is the better it will be. Clause 15 provides for offences such as unlicensed fishing, unlicensed employment of divers and unlicensed use of boats. If foreign vessels are to be stopped and inspected then the broader the definition is the better it will be. If these people use equipment which is capable of collecting any of these species, a wider definition will give greater power to control them. Power is what we need at this time, not for the purpose of adopting a dog in the manger attitude and of denying to other nations which need protein their share of the marine resources, but above all to conserve food.
It is regrettable that other marine nations know much more about our continental shelf and our marine resources than we do. I scarcely need to remind honourable members of the recent visit to Australian waters of a Russian marine research vessel which carried a full crew of scientists who were carrying out research work around the Australian coast. There is no need to remind honourable members of the new and improved methods, not of fishing but of harvesting Australian resources. Not only are there in existence fast vessels with such elementary improvements as freezing chambers; but there are vessels which have radar for locating schools of fish, and depth sounding devices. Recently there was a report of some form of suction pump which could literally draw in the sea itself and filter out all marine organisms within it. Whether that story is apocryphal remains to be seen. There has been a study of the electronic control of schools of fish to herd them into particular spots so that they can be more readily caught. I agree with the honourable member for Moreton when he says that the day is undoubtedly coming when every form of marine life and every resource of the continental shelf will be fully exploited. For that reason we need to be fully prepared. We need to have the utmost power that we possibly can. I do not think that this Government has done more than come to the party very slowly and very reluctantly. It certainly has not thought out very clearly what it should do. It is timid and apprehensive. Above all, forgetting the resources of the continental shelf, it is not prepared even to exercise its powers under the other international convention on fisheries and the conservation of the living resources of the sea to which it is a signatory.
– No, it has not been assented to by enough nations to be in force.
– I know.
– Well, how do you carry it out?
– All nations are coming here. The Russians are here. The Japanese have been careful to avoid the convention.
– You have suggested that we should carry out conservation before the convention is in force.
– We should do our best in that regard. We should be prepared to stand up to the countries that are coming here and assiduously avoiding becoming signatories to the convention. We should apply the machinery provided in the convention. We should put it to these countries that if they are not prepared to come to the party there is only one thing for us to do and that is to act as though the convention operates.
I do not want to say much more on this matter. In the Committee stage the honourable member for Dawson will move the amendments that he has foreshadowed. 1 strongly criticise the Government for its remissness, reluctance and general slothfulness. It has foreseen difficulties that do not exist. If we are ever to mean anything as a nation we must stand on our own feet and assert our rights to the limit. Doing this we will get more respect and have more success than we are ever likely to have under this Government and its ineptitude.
[4.7J - This Bill, which relates to the resources of the continental shelf, is another in the long line of examples of the Government’s concern with matters pertaining to our resources in the sea and to the law of the sea. Australia’s position may be put briefly. Australia, being an island continent, must always rely for the carriage of its trade in ships and aircraft. Insofar as this interest is an Australian interest it requires Australia to keep territorial waters throughout the world as narrow as possible. It requires Australia, for example, to resist, as it has resisted, the closing by Indonesia of the Indonesian Archipelago and the closing of the Sulu Sea by the Philippines because these are traditional passageways for ships. Up to the present they have been part of the high seas. It is in Australia’s interest that the passages from the Pacific Ocean to the China Sea and from the China Sea to the Indian Ocean should not be closed or claimed to be national territory. Therefore one of our policies is to keep claims to off-shore interests in the sea narrow.
Australia is a country whose continental shelf is one-third as large again as the continent and probably has in it minerals and other resources as fine as the resources on the mainland. Up to the present the sea covering the continental shelf has been a mental and technological hazard to development of the continental shelf. We have not felt that we could exploit the wealth thai lies on the sea bed or under the sea bed ofl the coast. We were prepared to remove the overburden on the land to get at the coal beneath but were not prepared to go through the water to get at the wealth on the sea bed. But technological advances in recent years have been of such a nature that we can now do this. Technology has advanced so far that exploration of the sea bed in other parts of the world is being carried out at great depth. We have seen, for example, in Australia the discoveries of oil in Bass Strait. Enormous wealth is there. This interest of Australia is in conflict with the other interest. This interest would be to extend our territorial claims - even our sovereignty - as widely away from the mainland as we could consistent with international law.
It is a question of balancing - very often it is a somewhat delicate balance - the conflict of these interests. On the one hand we have interests of trade, external affairs and defence leading to the narrow claim. On the other hand we have the enormous wealth of our continental shelf leading us to try to expand our interests as far as possible.
This is a matter which the Government has had under the closest consideration, lt has in fact been tending to extend Australia’s interests over the resources of the sea to a remarkable degree in recent years. In 1953 we issued a proclamation claiming sovereign rights over the whole of the continental shelf. This was before the nations of the world generally recognised that you could validly make this claim, lt was before it was agreed or conventionally accepted that you could make such a claim. We made the claim because we had a particular interest in pearl shell at that time. We were having trouble with ships of certain nations that were coming down here and taking pearl shell off the coast of Australia. We proclaimed our interest out to a depth of 200 metres. In 1953 we claimed sovereign rights on the sea bed.
By 1958 international law had advanced towards this point. Sir Kenneth Bailey, who was then Solicitor-General of Australia, and an officer who is now a deputy secretary of my Department, attended a convention and took an extremely active part not only in the negotiation of a convention on the continental shelf but also in the drafting of it. The definition in this Bill of living resources was largely the work of the Australian representatives at the convention in 1958. That Convention permitted a country to make a claim to the living resources on the sea bed out to a depth of 200 metres or to the limit of exploitability At that time - 1958- it was thought that 200 metres was about the limit to which you were ever likely to be able to exploit but as things have turned out the depth is somewhat greater now. In California exploration is going on at 1,500 feet through the water and this is not being done for fun. The people engaged in this work say that if they strike oil they will be bringing it up and using it. They are not working for fun. This is the technical advance, and international law is attempting to keep pace with it.
I regret that I was not able to be in the House to hear the honourable member for Dawson, but I understand that he criticised the fact that the definition of living resources extended to a depth of 200 metres or to the limit of exploitability, whichever was further. He thought that this was too uncertain, that we should be definite. Does he mean that we should close off our rights at 200 metres? This would give Australia control over something less than the Bill gives it. Does the honourable member mean that we should apply a figure of 300 metres? If so this would be a grave breach of the Convention we signed in 1958. What does he mean by saying that we should be definite in this way? This definition is the agreed definition by the nations of the world which have signed this Convention. I believe that the correct thing to do is to adopt it, because it gives to Australia the greatest coverage that we can get.
I come now to the provisions of the Continental Shelf (Living Natural Resources) Bill. It is clear that they apply the principles which were established in the 1958 Convention. The Bill provides for the extension of Australian control to cover the living resources of the sea bed. Before we published the 1953 proclamation the Government passed the Pearl Fisheries Act 1952. This Act covered the exploitation of four organisms on the sea bed - pearl shell, trochus, green snail and beche-de-mer. It has become plain that if we are to protect sufficiently the sedentary organisms in the waters off our coast we must extend our control beyond those four organisms. Therefore, we have introduced this Bill to widen our control to cover various species of living organisms that exist in contact with the sea bed. I have summarised the situation. Broadly, we have adopted the definition in the Convention. This will extend Commonwealth control to cover living coral and clams, for example. There have been occasions when fishermen from Taiwan have taken clams from the Great Barrier Reef. This Bill will make it an offence to take them. It was not an offence before.
I understand that the honourable member for Dawson suggested that we ought not to be troubling ourselves with this legislation, because the Great Barrier Reef belongs to Queensland. Perhaps I am stating it round the wrong way, as I did not hear his speech. Of course, the reef in certain parts is exposed at all tides. In ether parts it is not. Where the reef is under water at high tide, technically it forms part of the continental shelf and therefore is under Commonwealth control and not under Queensland’s control. We are legislating under the external affairs power, and therefore it would be quite wrong to say that this matter ought to be left to Queensland.
– I did not say anything of the sort.
– 1 was not here when the honourable member for Dawson made his speech. If I have put his argument wrongly, I apologise. My understanding is that he suggested that the Queensland Parliament is the authority that should legislate in respect of the Great Barrier Reef.
– I said that the Federal Government should have control over all the islands off Queensland.
– That is the other way round. I withdraw what I have said about the view expressed by the honourable member. He has foreshadowed an amendment designed, I think, to extend the provisions of this Bill beyond living organisms to dead matter such as minerals. I understand that would be the effect of the honourable member’s amendment. Without spending time on it at this stage, I might say that some different considerations apply to dead matter. Dead matter includes dead coral and minerals. Without doubt there are, quite apart from oil, other valuable minerals offshore. The Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) is the Minister who is concerned with minerals under the sea bed. He is presently preparing proposals related to these.
These proposals not only will take a different course but also will involve a degree of consultation with the coastal State concerned. For example, in the case of Queensland it would be a matter for consultation - some consultation has already taken place - with the Queensland Government on how to deal with this, because an off-shore mining operation needs a base on shore. Such a base would be subject to State controls of various kinds. I will not go into the various considerations which persuaded the Federal Government and the State governments, in dealing with one asset of this non-living type below the sea bed, namely, oil, to have joint legislation, lt may be that joint legislation will be the way to deal with this and other minerals. Whether or not that is so. different considerations apply.
I suggest that it would be undesirable to seek to amend this Bill and to extend its application from living to non-living organisms. I have mentioned what the Government is doing at this stage to carry out the Convention and to extend Australia’s control to cover the sea bed to where the depth of the sea is 200 metres, or to the limits of exploitability. May I point out that Australia has in fact arranged for control of the sea bed up to the 3-mile limit, and within the last 12 months has also extended control of fishing out to the 12-mile limit. It is simply not true to say, as the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) said, that the Federal Government has not been active in this matter. The living resources of the sea bed out to the uttermost limits presently allowed by international law will be covered by this Bill. By means of the Fisheries Act, we have extended control over free flowing fish in the sea above the sea bed to 12 miles, the limit allowed under current international law.
Let me say further that we are presently having discussions about what is to happen in relation to the deep-sea bed. Some nations are claiming that the deepsea bed should be under international control. It is thought that the extreme depths beyond the limits of the continental shelf may become exploitable and that there might be some conflict between expansion of the continental shelf and rights in the deep-sea bed. A committee of thirty-five states was appointed by the Convention on the Continental Shelf to look into the control of the deep-sea bed beyond the coastal state boundaries of the continental shelf. Australia was a member of this committee. One of the matters under consideration was control of the deep sea to ensure that tt would be used only for peaceful purposes. Secondly, it was suggested that the deepsea resources be used for the benefit of underdeveloped countries. Some worthwhile progress towards this end has been made. Australia, acting as a member of the committee, has been not unfavourably disposed towards this general conception relating to the deep-sea bed, but it has always been conscious of the necessity to safeguard its national interest in relation to the limits out to the edge of the continental shelf.
The committee has in fact reported to the General Assembly of the United Nations, a committee of which is considering the report. The committee’s charter ran for only 1 year and it is now functus officio. It is thought that another committee might be appointed by the General Assembly and given terms of reference to enable it to examine additional matters referred to it by the United Nations regarding the area beyond the coastal limits of the continental shelf. Australia is presently taking an interest in this proposed committee with a view to becoming a member if possible. This would enable Australia not only to advance the interests of underdeveloped countries but also to safeguard our interests in whatever course this committee takes in dealing with the sea bed beyond the coastal boundaries. I suggest that the Government has been extremely active in this field. It is really a travesty of the facts to suggest that it has been timid and has not been active.
I understand that the honourable member for Dawson made the suggestion, as he has done previously - and again I am subject to correction because 1 did not have the pleasure of listening to his speech - that wc close the Gulf of Carpentaria and that we extend the limits of Australia’s boundary to include the Great Barrier Reef. I think that the honourable member has heard my views on this previously. Under existing international conventions there is difficulty in closing the Gulf. As I have said before, the existing international conventions permit the closing of a gulf where the jaws of the gulf, at the narrowest point, are not more than 24 miles across or where one can island hop in hops of not more than 24 miles at a time. I am over-simplifying the position, but broadly that is the existing law. The Gulf of Carpentaria, at its narrowest point is, as I understand it, 320 nautical miles across. This presents us wilh very grave difficulties.
Normally Australia, in its international dealings, has been one of the responsible nations of the world. It has tended to obey, observe and respect international law. It is possible for a country simply to set international law at naught, allow itself to be dragged to the International Court and not worry about it. In fact, a country can get away with it if it has a strong enough navy to set others at defiance. This has not generally been Australia’s approach. I believe that Australia’s interests can be safeguarded adequately in the present situation, particularly with the extremely fast pace of development in international law, without adopting a defiant attitude such as the one I have mentioned and taking a course of action which would put us outside the pale of international law.
So far as the Great Barrier Reef is concerned, there are very great difficulties in our claiming it. There is the problem that if we claimed the Reef at the present time that would put us in difficulty with our protests against Indonesia’s closing of the islands - the archipelago principle - and also against the Philippines closing of the Sulu Sea. These difficulties have to be weighed and balanced, but I can assure the honourable member for Dawson, and indeed all honourable members, that the Government has taken a very close interest in these matters. We have obtained opinions on these matters from lawyers who have a world reputation in the field of international law. These opinions are very lengthy. Consideration of them will take my undivided attention over a period of time. This attention will be given to them. But until that is done I do not propose to say anything more definitive in relation to these matters, other than what I have said in previous debates and what I have repeated this afternoon. It is ridiculous to suggest that the Government is not looking after Australia’s interests in these matters. I agree that this is something of a turning point in Australia’s approach to the law of the sea. We have treated these matters in this way, by going to the trouble to get opinions to add to the considerable expertise within our own resources in the Department.
I regret that I was not able to be present to listen to the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), because from the reports I have received he gave an excellent speech on this Bill this afternoon. I understand that one suggestion he made was that there should be an organisation set up to carry out legal research into the law of the sea. 1 want to say to the House and to the honourable member for Moreton that the Government also has this particular project under consideration at the present time.
It is considering the setting up of an organisation which will be devoted to the study of the law of the sea with particular reference to Australia. I am not able to make any announcement now, because there are still details to be worked out, but I hope to be in a position to make an announcement on this matter in the not too distant future. I might say that the honourable member for Moreton has put his finger on something which I believe is necessary and which we are hoping to bring into operation in the near future. For these reasons I support the Bill and foreshadow opposition to the amendment which has been outlined by the honourable member for Dawson.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I refer to clause 12 of the Bill which reads, in part: (1.) The appropriate Minister may, by notice published in the Gazette- (0 prohibit the removal of sedentary organisms of a specified kind from the Australian continental shelf, or the continental shelf of a Territory, being a Territory specified in the notice, unless the organisms are dead.
We do not disagree with the general provisions in clause 12, but we are concerned about the reference to organisms of a specified kind. We would have no opposition to the clause if it referred to a specific dead organism; for example, to a dead star fish, or to a dead organism which is a fish, or to a dead free swimming fish. But we oppose to the hilt the reference to organisms of a specified kind because it could include dead coral. This question was the subject of a very protracted court case in Queensland recently in which a lot of money was spent by scientists and other people who have an intimate knowledge of the living organisms of the Great Barrier Reef and who know the structure of the Reef well, from practical experience, in order to prove firstly, that there is no such thing as a dead piece of coral, in the sense of its being dead while still attached to the Reef itself, and secondly, the inability to define whether such coral is dead.
It was shown quite clearly by the biologists that this so-called dead coral could be the heart of the coral reef itself as distinct from the perimeter of the reef, which is the area which contains a fascinating array of colours and so forth. This so-called dead coral is the living source of food for the algae. It is one of the most important sources of food for animal life in the sea. Biologists were successful in making it quite clear to the State Government that if the so-called dead cora] were removed irreparable harm could be done to that particular part of the Reef. It would be like a cancer. Once it is cut movement starts. Before we knew where we were the starfish - the fish that feeds on the live coral - could be spreading and leading to the destruction of the source of algae itself. As everybody knows, it is very easy to disturb the ecological balance in a living coral reef. Once that ecological balance is disturbed, the whole reef can be subject to destruction. This is very important-
– Did the court agree that it was dead coral?
– The Queensland Government indirectly accepted evidence - this was the evidence in the case heard in the wardens court - to the degree that it refused an application to proceed to mine dead coral.
– Is it regarded as living coral?
– 1 will quote one of the top authorities in Australia. I refer to Professor C. Burdon-Jones, Professor of Marine Biology and Head of the School of Biological Science at the University of Townsville. He states:
In the reefs ecosystem, there is no evidence that removal of so-called ‘dead’ coral material for agricultural purposes, or cement manufacture will not affect the health and continued existence of the living corals.
There is plenty of evidence that the removal of large masses of coral will inevitably affect the water current and scour patterns in the area, and materially alter the load of silt transported lo other reef areas from that being disturbed by mining operations. We know very little of the movements of water around the reefs, but we know a great deal about the lethal effects of heavy deposits of silt on marine organisms.
Progressive piecemeal disruption of the balance of the ecosystems of individual reefs could result in a steady inassessable and irreversible deterioration which may ultimately lead to complete extinction of the major component elements and a consequent degeneration of the reef system as a whole.
That is the opinion of one of the most important marine biologists that we have in Australia and certainly one who possibly knows the most about the marine biology of the Great Barrier Reef. That is his job. He states clearly and consisely the dangers of mining and removing dead coral.
I do not know whether in fact the Attorney-General or the Government includes this in the clause to which I have referred. They do not say that specifically. The clause prohibits the removal of sedentary organisms unless those organisms are dead. If the Attorney-General gives this House an assurance that the clause does not include the coral, we will accept it. But if he does not give us this assurance and if he says that it can include dead coral, I can assure the Attorney-General that there will be plenty of opposition and plenty of trouble in the northern areas of Australia because the Ellison Reef case was a major case in which on the evidence the dangers from mining this so-called dead coral were determined quite clearly. This coral was to be mined simply to make a fast dollar. That is all its amounts to. Plenty of other areas of limestone are located adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef or to the coastal areas of Queensland. Plenty of evidence exists to show where these limestone deposits are. Because it was easy to mine limestone in big quantities from the dead reefs, it is quite clear what the applicant mining company wanted. I am very pleased to see that the Queensland Government did not go ahead with that application.
I cannot quote Senator Wright in person here but I quote from the speech that Professor Burdon-Jones made. Professor Burdon-Jones said:
Senator R. C. Wright, Minister in Charge of Tourism, told the Senate in Canberra on Wednesday, 1 1th September that ‘We will be emphatic’–
I assume that ‘We’ means the Commonwealth Government:
This is the important thing and this is the thing that I want to make clear to the Attorney-General if 1 can get his attention for a minute because I want his view on this:
I know that this is a generalised statement.
– That is correct.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral to be more specific. Can the dead organisms be defined as the so-called dead coral?
– If they can, this is a bone of contention that is worrying many people especially those in Queensland.
– I have studied the amendment that has been moved as well as the clause that it affects. I also am very concerned about the definition of organisms that are dead or organisms of a specific kind. I would appreciate it greatly if the Attorney-General could explain this matter more fully.
– A couple of matters have been raised by the honourable member for Dawson in support of this amendment to which perhaps I should reply to. He referred to a statement by the MinisterinCharge of Tourist Activities (Senator Wright) regarding the intention of the Government to ensure the protection and conservation of that great national asset, the Great Barrier Reef. This is the intention of the Government. But the present Bill is not the only vehicle by which it intends to do so. That is the trouble. The amendment would seek to introduce that notion as it affects non-living matter into the present Bill which is directed at a different matter, that is, living organisms which can move only in contact with the sea bed or which are attached to it. The Bill is directed to two things. First, I refer to the question of the taking of living organisms and secondly to the question of conservation and protection.
The question of the protection and conservation of the Great Barrier Reef insofar as it may be interfered with by mining operations or the removal of dead coral’ is a matter that the Government intends to deal with in a separate Bill. This is the legislation, as mentioned by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) in his second reading speech, that is presently being considered and prepared by the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn). Just as he had the responsibility for dealing with mining for oil1, so he will be dealing with mining operations which may affect the Great Barrier Reef and indeed other assets under the sea around Australia. I suggest that his legislation will protect the so-called dead coral and that it is not appropriate to endeavour to do this by eliminating the words mentioned in the current legislation. The other legislation will operate in conjunction with the present Bill, if it is passed. 1 would say that particular attention is being paid in the legislation being prepared by the Minister for National Development to the Great Barrier Reef and that general attention is being paid to the question of mining on the continental shelf, other than mining for oil1, in other parts of Australia. Whether there will be two separate Bills, one dealing with the Great Barrier Reef and one dealing with mining other than for oil generally on the continental shelf around Australia, may be said not to be finally determined. These matters are being considered and I suggest that this will take care of the kinds of things about which the honourable member for Dawson rightly has expressed concern.
– Although I appreciate the elucidation of the Attorney-General I am still not satisfied. Although at some future time a Bill may be introduced to prevent the removal of dead coral, nevertheless it would seem that this Bill makes provision whereby, if the Minister so desires, the removal of dead coral may be permitted. Although some subsequent legislation may be introduced, this is not satisfactory. I think that this legislation should have been made more specific and that it should have been made clear that this provision does not apply to the removal of dead coral but is confined to more specific kinds of dead sedentary organisms. In view of the fact that the Minister has made it quite clear - this is the point that the honourable member for
Herbert (Mr Bonnett) questioned - that it does include dead coral, however they may be defined, we must oppose the legislation because there is no other legislation that would safeguard the removal of dead organisms, specifically dead coral.
[4.47J- Surely if the living coral is protected in this Bill and if the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) is correct in saying that the continued survival of the dead coral is essential in the ecology of the reef for the growth and survival of the living coral then it must be protected in this Bill. Apparently it is the same as with an oyster. The shell of the oyster may be regarded as dead but it is essential for the survival of the oyster. If the honourable member’s argument is correct and the survival of the living coral is dependent on the retention of the dead coral, then it should be protected under the provisions of the Bill and there should be no need for the amendment.
– To the extent to which it would be necessary to affect live coral in order to touch the dead coral the situation is protected, but it is not directly protected. As I understand him, the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) has suggested that if the words that he proposes should be omitted are, in fact, left in the Bill they will facilitate the removal of dead coral. I want to clarify the position. This is not so. The Bill does not facilitate any mining operations. These remain subject to any practical or legal difficulties which exist at the present time. This is not, therefore, a Bill which facilitates mining operations simply by the inclusion of these words in clause 12. The reason why they are contained in clause 12 really relates to the structure of the Bill. Clause 5 defines sedentary organism’ by reference to clause 7. Then clause 7 provides for a declaration by the Governor-General only of marine organisms that are part of the living natural resources of the continental shelf. Clause 12 (I.) (f) relates to the removal of sedentary organisms, ft is really a protective mechanism in the Bill in respect of living organisms. I suggest it is inappropriate to remove those particular words referred to in the proposed amendment.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Dr Patterson’s amendment) stand part of the Bill.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Hon. W. C. Haworth)
Majority . . 32
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Bowen) - by leave - read a third time’
Debate resumed from 21 November (vide page 3139), on motion by Mr Anthony:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I refer to clause 3, which reads in part: (2.) Section 4 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting from the definition of ‘the Minister’ the words ‘Commonwealth, includes the Minister of State for Territories;’ and inserting in their stead the words Commonwealth (other than the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands), includes the Minister of State for External Territories;’.
The reasonsfor the amendment have been given time and again by myself and other Opposition members. However, I wish to comment on remarks that the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) has made about the continental shelf. We all agree with his view that Australia is one of the most responsible nations, that it abides by international law. He went on to say thatthis is one of the reasons, if not the principal reason, why Australia cannot lay claim to the waters of the Great Barrier Reef and the Gulf of Carpentaria. However, the AttorneyGeneraltold us in effect that Australia had taken unilateral action in 1953 by claiming sovereign rights over the continental shelf. There was no international law or convention on which that action could be based. The Australian Government took the initiative - it is to be congratulated for doing so - and claimed sovereign rights over the continental shelf several years before the Convention on the Continental Shelf came into force.
This seems to me to be rather strange logic. The Government on the one hand says that it cannot lay claim to the waters of the Great Barrier Reef and the Gulf of Carpentaria because such action would not be consistent with international law. But on the other hand it has already done this and has set a precedent. It has already claimed sovereign rights to the whole of the continental shelf. This is inconsistent and, despite anything that the Attorney-General may say, it is a change of heart. In his second reading speech the Minister for Primary Industry said that Australia is now looking very closely at the position relating to the Great Barrier Reef to determine whether Australia can take control of those waters. The Attorney-General and the Minister for Primary Industry have said in the Par liament that I and other Opposition members were irresponsible for even daring to suggest that Australia should consider claiming that it had control of the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Great Barrier Reef. However, Professor Tarlo, who is a learned lawyer from the Faculty of Law of the University of Queensland, has made it very clear that he does not agree with the dogmatic statement of the Attorney-General and the Minister for Primary Industry. In his view Australia could and should take the initiative and lay claim to the waters of the Great Barrier Reef. He believes that the international law is very dynamic.
I raise this point because there seems to me to be a serious inconsistency here. There may be other reasons for not taking this action. The Attorney-General has said that, if we take the initiative, we will prejudice our protest against Indonesia’s action in drawing a picture frame or a rectangle around its islands. That may be so, but I still think that the Government should take the initiative, especially in relation to the Great Barrier Reef. We have a far stronger case in relation to the Great Barrier Reef than we have in relation to the Gulf of Carpentaria, and I admit that this is just my layman’s reading of the situation. My view arises from the history of Queensland’s control of the islands and the outer reef, the drawing of the boundary of Queensland and the traditional belief held, even if legally wrong, by the majority of Queenslanders and Australians that the waters of the Great Barrier Reef are in fact Australian waters.
The Attorney-General gave another analogy. He said that drilling operations are proceeding off the Califfornian coast at 1,500 feet, which is about 500 metres. He said that the Americans were not there for fun and that they certainly meant to exploit this area. I submit to the Attorney-General that the Russians, the Japanese and the Formosans who are operating in the Barrier Reef waters and the Gulf of Carpentaria today are not there for fun either. They are fair dinkum. They are out there to gel as much as they can while the going is good. It is for this reason that I have moved the amendment. If this Government took the action of laying claims of sovereign rights to the waters of the Great Barrier Reef in particular and then did everything possible to negotiate for the Gulf or Carpentaria with the same objective, such action would be applauded throughout the length and breadth of Australia.
– This amendment is not acceptable to the Government. The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) referred to some earlier statements in his argument that we should claim to control the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria and also claim to control the waters of the Great Barrier Reef. He suggested that there had been some inconsistency. This is not so. The only difficulty, as he will see if he reads this matter rather critically, is that one cannot just take a broad swipe. If the honourable member looks at what 1 said - and I am not concerned at the moment with what the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) said - he will see that I said in the present state of international law one could not close the Gulf of Carpentaria. 1 also said that we were keeping our options open because this was a field where the law in relation to control of resources of the sea in the area and so on was developing and that there may be other ways of dealing with this. There may even be changes in the law which would enable us to take a different attitude. The same situation would apply to the Great Barrier Reef. We seek to keep our options open.
The law is not flexible, as the honourable member for Dawson said, so much as developing. We cannot just do what we like. We have to take it as it is. But we may be able to assist in the development of the law provided we are prepared to take an active part in the working out of conventions and so on. This is the course that a law abiding country takes. This action is taken rather than a unilateral act setting everyone at defiance. The former attitude is the one that I put previously. 1 think it was the proper one for the Government to adopt. It is the course that has always been followed by Australia.
The honourable member suggested that there is some inconsistency between what I say in this regard and what was done in 1953. If this is an inconsistency, it is only an apparent one. I believe that it is not really an inconsistency. In 1953 when the proclamation was made not only had the law been developing towards enabling countries to claim the continental shelf but the law was very near to the final point of development. This was shown by the Convention agreed to by the various countries in 1958.
If there were a similar development coming to fruition in relation to the closing of gulfs which have mouths of, say, 320 nautical miles, I would lake a different view. But that does not happen to be the position in this field. Therefore there is no real inconsistency in the two positions. The Government is watching the position in the Gulf of Carpentaria. It is watching in particular the development of the law and the control of fishing there. As I have pointed out, various opinions have been obtained outside the Attorney-General’s Department on this very matter and consideration is being given to them. I would add something that I have mentioned before: It does not help the interests of Australia for the Opposition continually to try to force the Government to state a position in a field such as this where the law is developing. This is because immediately the Government has to state a position on the Gulf of Carpentaria the statement may be used in evidence against it. Yet the honourable member for Dawson and the Australian Labor Party continually bring this matter forward. 1 realise that there may be thought to be some political advantage in doing so. But, really, the interests of Australia are, as they well know, being very carefully safeguarded and considered. Members of the Opposition do not help the matter by continually forcing a public statement as to the law. Indeed, for political advantage they are damaging Australia’s interests. This is developing and we are out towards the frontier of that development. But I oppose the amendment proposed by the honourable member lor Dawson.
– The Attorney-General suggests that we are in some way damaging Australia’s interests. Let me put the reverse proposition to the House that had it not been for the constant prodding and probing, the agitation and criticism from the Opposition even this legislation would not have come forward on the amendment to the Fisheries Act. As to hiding our light under a bushel, what has been the record of the Government? Will it procrastinate to the same point as it did in the case of the Pearl Fisheries Act where it was not until the Japanese would not enter into any negotiations for control of pearling or take a fixed or reasonable amount of annual crop of pearl shell that the Government finally and reluctantly took the only course open to it, namely, a proclamation.
I give credit to the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, for having more fortitude and a greater sense of what was due to Australia than the present leadership. At least he was prepared to get in and literally hammer down the opposition and say what had to be done. It was not until the situation arose where the Japanese were taking 1,100 Ions of pearl shell a year from the Arafura Sea and Australia was taking 170 tons that the Government finally acted. But act it did. The Government acted unilaterally. In the case now before us similar action should be taken.
The Attorney-General is confusing the whole issue. The Fisheries Act is an Act to regulate the fisheries in certain Australian waters. All the amendments moved by the honourable member for Dawson seek to achieve is to include the internal waters of the Great Barrier Reef and the Gulf of Carpentaria within territorial waters for the purposes of fishing. What are the facts relating to the Gulf of Carpentaria? If there is any place where full Australian sovereignty could be exercisable it is within this area. The Attorney-General made no reference to the Doctrine of Historic Bays. If there is any historic bay in Australia it is that gulf. lt was the first point of contact of Australia bv the Portuguese explorers. Also, it was the first part of Australia that appeared on any map. The whole of the waters embraced within the amendments moved by the honourable member for Dawson are continental shelf waters.
The Gulf of Carpentaria is a relatively shallow bay. At no point does its depth exceed about 70 fathoms. For considerable distances out from land the depth is no more than 3, 4, or 5 fathoms. In the whole of the area it would be impossible for any trawler to cast its net without picking up some of the sedentary species that were referred to in the legislation we have just dealt with.
In the whole of this matter we need to apply the international convention on fisheries because we are dealing with mavericks; we are dealing with nations that are not prepared to become signatories to this convention. We have to act as though the convention applied to them. If these nations are not prepared to come along, negotiate and enter into a reasonable arrangement with us. all we can do is apply the convention as fully as we can. If these nations arc not prepared to enter into an arrangement we need to alter the law as has been outlined in these amendments. We have to do this for very obvious reasons. What would be the position if Australian fishing vessels appeared in the Sea of Japan? How long would it be before they were chased out? What would be the position if Australian fishing vessels started to fish in the Bay of Peter the Great? What short shrift would they get there? Why should we tolerate the present situation where these people can come in at will? lt is not that we want to deny them the right to a fair catch, lt is simply that we want the right to supervise our own territorial waters. That is all we are seeking. We want the right to know who is coming in, what is the nature of their business, whether they have a licence to come in, how much they take. We want to ensure that what they take does not exceed fair and reasonable limits. We want to conserve the marine life that exists in these waters. Is that unfair or unreasonable? Will that damage Australia’s interests? There is only one interest that this Government has: It is afraid of Japanese retaliation. The Japanese, I repeat, have this Government buffaloed.
– The honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) has treated the arguments of the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) in a very cavalier fashion. The Attorney-General put the position, 1 thought, with great simplicity. He said that the Government is keeping its options open. International law is not static, lt is developing, it is organic, lt may well be that in 10 or 15 years lime international law will have reached the point at which the proposition propounded this afternoon by the Opposition will be completely possible, and it may be open to the Australian government of the day to have the Gulf of Carpentaria regarded as entirely Australian waters. But in the meantime all the Geneva Conventions and all the other conventions that touch or concern the Gulf of Carpentaria in any shape or form simply add up to this: Australia has no right whatsoever to shut off the Gulf of Carpentaria.
I want to put this to honourable members opposite: What would Australia’s position be. as a signatory to all these conventions, if in a week’s time the ‘Van Gogh’ turned up in the Gulf of Carpentaria accompanied by a couple of Russian cruisers just after we had made a unilateral declaration that these were Australian waters? As far as international law is concerned we would have no justification whatever for preventing the ‘Van Gogh’ and the cruisers from entering the Gulf of Carpentaria, provided they were sailing on the high seas. We certainly would have every justification for preventing them from coming into territorial waters. But as to the Opposition’s proposal at the present time, the shot simply is not on. I think the Opposition should pay some regard to the Attorney-General’s appeal to acknowledge the difficulty and the delicacy of seeking to advance international law in this field. I hope that on reflection both honourable members on the other side who spoke on this will realise that any proposal to seal off the Gulf of Carpentaria and simply to declare it Australian waters and prevent any other nation’s vessels from coming in is without sound foundation, and that any such action could in certain circumstances give offence to many nations.
That the amendment (Dr Patterson’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman- Hon. W. C. Haworth)
Majority . . . . 29
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Bowen) - by leave - read a third time.
– I move:
The proposal includes the erection of a fully air conditioned, four-storey paramedical building, a single storey day centre for occupational therapy and a small structure to house the chiller plant needed to supply chilled water to the air handling plant in the para-medical building, and to meet the future foreseen requirements of the hospital complex. The estimated cost of the proposal is $950,000. The Committee has reported favourably on the proposal, and upon the concurrence of the House in this resolution detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the Committee’s recommendations.
– This report is one of five to be dealt with this afternoon. I support this report in its entirety. The report on the Hollywood hospital project was originally presented by the Committee to this House on 20th November. The report on the Gove hospital was presented on 21st November; the report on the Cairns television station was presented on 12th November, the report on Tullamarine Airport was presented on 7th November; and the report on the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport was presented on 15th October. I want to refer to those dates again later.
This year the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works has submitted twenty reports to this Parliament following upon 56 meetings, 14 of which were in the Budget session. In 1954 the Committee presented one report to the Parliament after 32 meetings. Ten years later, in 1964, the
Committee presented five reports after 38 meetings. 1 repeat that this year the Committee has presented twenty reports after 56 meetings. The total value of works recommended made by the Committee is about $97m. The largest single project examined was the extension to the runway at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport, the cost of which was about $23m. I mention this in order to pay tribute to the staff of the Public Works Committee, which is a very small one consisting of Mr Adamson, Mr Murdoch and Mrs Thompson. A tremendous strain has been thrown upon these people; they have worked long hours and long days. I want to place on record the appreciation of the Committee for what they have achieved in getting the reports ready to be presented to Parliament.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to this House: Construction of television transmitting station, Mt Bellenden Ker (Cairns), Queensland.
The proposal involves the construction of a 3-mile long access cableway up the side of the mountain, the erection of the transmitter buildings, the supply of electrical power and a short access roadway to the foot of the cableway. The estimated cost of the proposal is $l.lm. In reporting favourably on the proposal, the Committee recommended, in items 5 and 6, that sharing arrangements with commercial operators be negotiated at an earlier stage.
The Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) has advised that because of the high cost involved in the establishment of the proposed station, a number of alternative arrangements were considered, including siting at Mt Bartle Frere and, at the request of the commercial licensee, a chain of multiple translater stations. Meaningful negotiations were not thought to be possible until a resolution of these had been obtained and the necessary approvals were forthcoming. Nevertheless, in the event that television planning is again protracted at a future site, the views of the
Committee will be borne in mind. In addition the Postmaster-General advised that the Post Office will also give consideration to the Committee’s recommendation concerning the establishment of a formula for the sharing of costs by commercial operators. Upon the concurrence of this House in this resolution, detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, it is expendient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to this House: New hospital complex - Stage I, Gove, Northern Territory.
The proposal involves the construction of five buildings on a 19i acre site in the Gove township, comprising administration block, services block, a three-storey nursing unit, a two-storey nurses home accommodating fifty-three nurses, and a bulk store. Eight staff residences will also be erected. Construction will be phased to provide accommodation of 10 temporary beds by the end of 1969 and the full capacity of 64 beds by mid-1971. The estimated cost of the proposal is $5m.
In reporting favourably on the proposal, the Committee recommended that attention be given to the possibility of nursing staff living outside the hospital environment. The Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) has noted this recommendation and has advised that there are sound reasons for housing female staff in quarters within the hospital grounds at an isolated township such as Gove, as recognised by the committee in paragraph 23 on page 6 of its report. However, the Minister has indicated that due attention will be given to the Committee’s recommendation in the planning of future hospitals. Upon the concurrence of the House in this resolution, detailed planning may proceed in accordance with the recommendation of the Committee.
– I must admit that ! did not read the report.
– Ha, Ha!
– I do not read all the reports that come through this Parliament, but I read probably as many as most honourable members. I remind the House of a report lodged 5 years ago which most honourable members have not read and which all have ignored. I refer to a report presented to this Parliament on behalf of the Aboriginals at Yirrkala. They presented a petition to the Parliament in 1963, praying that no arrangements be entered into with any company which would destroy the livelihood and independence of the Yirrkala people. No-one can say that what has happened at Gove will not do that. Late in 1963 the Select Committee on the Grievances of Yirrkala Aboriginals lodged its report. Honourable members may ascertain the recommendations of the Committee simply by pressing the button in front of them and reading and digesting the report that will as a consequence be delivered to them. They should then ask themselves: What are the responsibilities of a member of Parliament? The Committee recommended:
Did the Public Works Committee consider that recommendation? The Committee further recommended:
I wonder if that was done. The Committee further recommended:
These are matters that should be considered. The Committee further recommended:
The operation at Gove was one of some sadness, lt was obvious that the people were not consulted. Although the people who initiated the enterprise had considered the interests of the people of Yirrkala with, I suppose, proper integrity, members of the Committee from both sides of the House were convinced that those interests had not been served. Paragraph 79 of the Committee’s report reads:
Your Committee accepts this challenge and accordingly recommends:
That for the next ten years there shall be a Standing Committee of the House of Representatives to examine from time to time the conditions of the Yirrkala people and the carrying out of this Committee’s recommendations.
That report was presented shortly before the elections in 1963. The honourable member for McPherson (Mr Barnes) was then sitting on the back benches. He signed the report as a member of the Committee. He subsequently became Minister for Territories and is now Minister for External Territories. Although former members of the Committee and other honourable members have approached him on many occasions nothing has been done to implement even the simple recommendation that there be continuing scrutiny of the problem by a committee of this Parliament. How much attention did the Public Works Committee pay to that recommendation? I know that members of the Public Works Committee would do what they saw to be their duty, but how much consideration has been given to the report on the situation at Yirrkala?
Yirrkala is a long way from Canberra. lt is difficult to visit. Earlier this year I went to Darwin with the intention of going to Gove but was prevented from doing so by certain circumstances. It is a very difficult place to visit. I point out to scoffers in the House that we are now prepared to spend $5m on a hospital at Gove. There must be a remarkable set of people at Gove to warrant such expenditure. I am all for it. For a long time the closest medical assistance was 400 miles away in Darwin. When we consulted people about this matter we were told that sick people could be taken out by air. After all, if you are dying in the middle of the night-
– Let us tell you what happened.
– Read the report of the Public Works Committee and you will understand the situation. The hospital will be there soon.
– I am sorry that it is impossible to clarify the simple question of human needs to honourable members opposite. We have been in occupancy of the place for 30 or 40 years. For 10 or 15 years we have known what conditions are like. There has been a population there of 600 people. At no stage in the past has anybody suggested spending $5m on their total needs - housing, sewerage, health, education and the like. It would be worth while honourable members opposite taking a trip to some of these settlements to see what you do for black Australians. Compare their lot with the standards which you adopt for white Australians and aluminium companies. This is my point. What I say has nothing to do with whether the Public Works Committee did its job. lt is a matter of standards and priorities. While it was simply a matter of black Australians living there you did not give a darn. But for an aluminium company and other people going to the area to make money you have millions of dollars to burn. I am confident that the victims in this case will be the people of Yirrkala, no matter how good was the report of the Public Works Committee, which I undertake to read. I probably read as many reports as anybody else. I try to keep up with the things that come before this Parliament. The report on the Yirrkala Aboriginals has been before the Parliament for 5 years. Go away and study it.
– After that Yarra bank speech by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) I would like to point out that the all-party Public Works Committee includes in its membership the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James), the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Fulton), the honourable member for Dalley (Mr O’Connor) and Senator Dittmer - all members of the Australian Labor Party. The points raised by the honourable member for Wills all were covered completely in the Committee’s investigations. The Committee took particular notice of the facilities to be made available to Aboriginal inhabitants of this part of the Northern Territory. I might say that the Aboriginal inhabitants of this part of the Territory will be far better off in the matter of hospital care than about 80% of the white population of the rest of Australia. As regards sacred places, the sworn evidence was that at all times there was consultation between the leaders of the tribes, representatives of the Administration and representatives of the company. So there is no chance that the sacred places of the natives will be in any way used or violated. Every care is to be taken to see that nobody except bona fide employees of the company enters the area. There has been co-operation.
As honourable members know, Yirrkala is a mission that has been operated successfully for some considerable time. The mission has been looking forward to this project. As an indication of the co-operation that has existed in respect of this project I point out that the company provided the mission free of charge with its best earth moving equipment so that a large area of land could be cleared to be made a productive area in which the natives could grow fruit and vegetables to sell to the people who were coming to work for the mining company.
– Do not try to make the company look like a charitable organisation. People are being swept aside, and you know it.
– I am trying to tell the honourable member what went on, firstly with the permission of the natives, for whom he seems so concerned, and secondly with the permission of the mission. The honourable member does not want any Aboriginal to improve his station in life. If this happens the honourable member will have nothing to moan about. He is terrified lest somebody give the Aboriginals some advantage and so stop him from jumping up and making stupid speeches like he made this afternoon.
Debate (on motion by Dr J. F. Cairns) adjourned.
– by leave - Honourable members will recall that the Commonwealth has already announced to this Parliament that it has offered to assist, in cases of personal hardship and distress, bush fire victims in the State of New South Wales. We have this afternoon been shocked and saddened b* the news which has come through of what appears to be a major fire disaster in New South Wales. Accordingly I wish to inform the House that we now stand ready to consider any request the New South Wales Government should make to the Commonwealth for financial or other assistance in this disaster. I will ask the Premier to let me know immediately if he requires any assistance from the Army, Navy or Air Force or any other Commonwealth department and we will do our best in conjunction with him to deal with what appears to be quite a serious situation.
– Could the Prime Minister give details of what prompted this statement? We have no information.
– The information which 1 have came through to me fairly late this afternoon, lt is that in the lower Blue Mountains area fires have been raging which have destroyed at least 100 homes. Fires have destroyed homes in the North Shore area of Sydney, and there are reports, which 1 cannot, authenticate but which appear to be fairly accurate, that in places such as Pymble, for example, there are quite bad fires raging. This does seem to be quite a serious situation.
– Is it true that a maternity hospital at Hornsby is in danger?
– I do not know that.
– by leave - I am told that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) expressed the sympathy of the Government and, I expect, of the House for those who in the bush fires, particularly in the Blue Mountains area, have lost their possessions and apparently, in many cases, their lives. I would like to say that we on this side of the chamber appreciate the opportunity of associating the whole House with these sentiments. We never know what will happen in this country. It is so vast and we are subject to such extraordinary variations of climate. We were debating these very matters yesterday, not realising that they would become so much more grave so suddenly. I thank the House for giving me the opportunity to associate my Party with the expression of sympathy that the Prime Minister has made.
New Hospital Complex, Gove, Northern Territory
– It is only because of the apparent misunderstanding by the honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney) and others of the remarks made by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) that I want to say something in the debate on this project. First of all, the most significant point that the honourable member for Wills made was that it was a strange contrast that the Public Works Committee should be recommending the expenditure of $5m on a hospital at Gove now that a great aluminium company has begun its operations there, when for decades no hospital provision was made at that location for the Aboriginal people who live there. He said that nothing like S5m has ever been spent on the Aboriginal people generally in the Northern Territory.
– That is not true.
– There was no hospital there before.
– The Aboriginals have had the same service as any white person. They have had an aerial medical service.
– Surely the honourable member for Perth realises that there is a difference between an aerial medical service to fly Aboriginal people to Darwin for attention and the provision of a hospital costing S5m.
– The honourable member said that they had no service.
– I said that they had no hospital service. I would have thought that was obvious. That is what we are talking about. The report of the Public Works Committee has to do with the building of a hospital at Gove, and I should have thought that that is what we are talking about. When I say the Aboriginals had no service there before I mean that they had no hospital service there before. The honourable member for Wills contrasted the spending of S5m on a hospital now that an aluminium company has moved there with the hospital services that were provided for the Aboriginal people for decades before.
It is a strange contrast. I should have thought that the position needed no emphasis, although it does seem to have taken a while for the point to get across. I do not know whether the honourable member for Perth meant it or not or whether he just felt annoyed when he said that he believed the honourable member for Wills wants the Aboriginal people to be kept in want and in distress so that he can complain about it.
-I remind the honourable member for Yarra that the subject matter before the House at the moment is the Gove hospital complex in the Northern Territory. A motion has been moved for the approval of the work. While there is a certain relationship between this and the Aboriginals in the area, I would not want this debate to develop into a full scale debate relating to the Aboriginals in the Gove area. I think that sufficient has been said to illustrate the relationship between the Aboriginals and the report presented by the Committee.
– I do not intend to emphasise any more what I thought was an arrogant and insulting remark by the honourable member for Perth. If he were at all decent, he would withdraw it. I have read the report of the Public Works Committee on the hospital to be built at Gove. As far as I can discover no mention of the Aboriginal people is made in it. The MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) has emphasised that the Aboriginal people ought to be consulted in these matters. Did the Committee consult any members of the Aboriginal race at Gove? If it did, that is not indicated in the report. If it did consult them, the fact should be mentioned in the report. If it did not consult them, it should have done so.
– I for one am pleased that a $5m sixty-four-bed hospital is to be built at Gove. The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) said that no-one had consulted the Aboriginal people about what they wanted regarding the town that is to be built there for the mining company. That is completely wrong. The Administrator has been out there over twenty times, and I have been out there half a dozen times, discussing the areas that these people want kept for themselves, their sacred places, their beaches, the areas they want to live on and develop. They have indicated various hills, trees and so on that they have asked the mining company to leave for them. The company has endeavoured to do this to the best of its ability, though in one instance it did unknowingly knock over a tree.
To say that the Aboriginals in the area have not had a medical service and have not had a hospital is quite wrong. They have had a hospital staffed by nursing sisters. The honourable member for Wills has insulted the staff of the mission and the staff of the hospital. The nursing sisters staffing the hospital there have been doing a very good job. This mining company will produce an income for the people in this area. There have even been discussions suggesting that they will be able to invest in the company and have a financial interest in it. They will have interests running parallel with the new town and the mine. The Government is making every effort to bring them into the scene so that they will benefit from it. The way members of the Opposition have been talking, one would think that the Government was trying to run the Aboriginals out of the country and give them nothing. That is completely wrong. The honourable member for Wills has misrepresented the case in this House today.
– Mr Acting Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I thought I had made myself clear. I did not know whether the Aboriginals had been consulted on this occasion or not. I made it clear that I had not read the report. I asked to be advised whether they had been consulted. I based my remarks on a previous report of the committee on the grievances of the Yirrkala Aboriginals which said that the Aboriginals had not been consulted on an earlier occasion. I am sorry that the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) misrepresented my remarks. I know the area fairly well. I did not want to insult anybody.
-I think the honourable member for Wills has made his personal explanation.
– I am just trying to make it clear to the honourable gentleman that I did not say the things that he has attributed to me.
– Unfortunately I did not hear the remarks made by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). But I did hear the interpretation given to his remarks by the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns). As I understood the interpretation by the honourable member for Yarra, one of the points which the honourable member for Wills put was that we started to think of providing hospital facilities at Gove only when the European population arrived there; that for all these years we could not have cared less about the Aboriginals who were there, but that as soon as a big company which had a European work force came along we produced a hospital there, ls that a fair interpretation?
– More or less.
– I should like to make it clear that this sort of remark, which is a complete travesty of the approach made by my Department and by other Government authorities in the Northern Territory, serves no useful purpose at all. It is well known that the provision of medical’ and hospital services in the Northern Territory makes absolutely no distinction based on ethnic origin. I have never heard that disputed, but the implication in the remarks of the honourable member for Wills is that he disputes it. The reason why this sort of hospital has not previously been provided at Gove is the same reason why hospitals have not been provided in a number of other centres in the Northern Territory: The total population - whether of Europeans or Aboriginal’s - did not justify the establishment of a hospital. This area in the Northern Territory is no different from any other area. Major hospitals have been established in Darwin. Tennant Creek, Katherine and Alice Springs, because they are major centres of population. The rest of the health services radiate from these hospitals.
This development at Gove has raised the concentration of population - both European and Aboriginal - to the point at which it is an economic and reasonable operation to provide a hospital’ in the area. lt has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Europeans are in the area. In fact, despite the build up of the European population on Groote Eylandt we have not established, nor do we intend to establish, this sort of a hospital there, for the same reasons which I have given. The European and the Aboriginal population will’ be served by the very efficient aerial medical service, the resident sisters and nurses, and the doctors who visit both on a routine and emergency basis. The European and Aboriginal population on Groote Eylandt will be treated in the same way as the European and Aboriginal population in any other part of the Territory has been treated. This is a well known fact. I have never heard it questioned previously. I repeat that I believe the honourable member for Wills does himself and this country a great disservice-
– Yes, he does, on every occasion when he unjustifiably suggests, without evidence, that in some way we are discriminating against Aboriginals.
Sirring suspended from 5.59 to K p.m.
Mr BOSMAN (St George) [8.0J- Mr Acting Speaker, if I had been given the call prior to the suspension of the sitting, 1 would have endeavoured to make just one point in reply to some claims made by the Opposition in regard to the attitude of the Commonwealth. Some Opposition members stated that the Commonwealth would nol have built this hospital complex at Gove except for the fact that a private enterprise group was going in there. All I want to say to the Opposition is this: The cost factor for this hospital complex if it had been built in an area such as Sydney or Brisbane would have been S3. 15m. The cost of construction at Gove under this present arrangement represents 158% of that figure. At one stage when the Commonwealth thought it might go it alone the cost involved had climbed up to 238% of that figure. I calculate that would work out at $8m. I invite the attention of the House to paragraph 44 of the report of the Public Works Committee, which reads:
We noted that it has been possible to reduce the cost to the Commonwealth of the hospital facilities al Gove to reasonable limits because of the arrangements made for it to be constructed as part of the contract for the Company’s building works. In this connection, it is worth recording the comment of an official witness at the public hearing that it would be prohibitive for the Commonwealth to build these facilitiesat Gove if acting in isolation.
I offer that quotation to the Opposition as an indication of the value of the fact that private enterprise is going in there and that we will be able to get this hospital complex at a reasonable price.
– Mr Acting Speaker, the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) accused the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) of malice, of stupidity and of giving Australia a bad name and claimed that the Aboriginal people had always had the same health services as other people. The Northern Territory report for 1966-1967 shows that there are hospitals at Darwin, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Katherine. There is an outpatients clinic at Batchelor. Infant health clinics are located at Darwin, Alice Springs. Tennant Creek and Katherine. In fact, these clinics are located in each police district. There are 10 in the Darwin district, 2 in the Alice Springs district, 1 in the Tennant Creek district and 7 in the whole of the Katherine district including perhaps 1 which is located in the Arnhem Land area which is a part of the Katherine district. It is impossible from the statistics of population to gauge how many of the Aboriginal people are catered for here because the population figures obviously are only for Europeans. But there are 5,000 people in Arnhem Land with one health clinic or none, and with no hospital. On a population basis alone, it is patently clear that they are not equally catered for. If the people of Arnhem Land were getting equal opportunity of access to hospitals,I would suggest that it would be much cheaper to have had a small hospital, half the size of the present one, built years ago rather than flying patients over 400 miles to Darwin. We have no proof other than what is in this report, which has given these figures.
I think that it was quite false for the Minister to assume and state that equal facilities were available. The objections that were raised by the Yirrkala people to the mining some years ago have not been met. The promises that were made at that time to give them equal opportunity have not been met. It seems that these people will not be given the opportunity to undergo nursing training at the new hospital because no trainees will be there at all. I can see no logical reason why at least some of the trainees from Darwin could not spend part of their training at a smaller district hospital like Gove. I have no complaint with the report of the Committee as such. But I feel that the record should be set straight and that the pioneering work of the honourable member for Wills in the interests of these people, which has been frustrated, should not be condemned and smeared in the way in which it has in this debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Maintenance Bases for Domestic Aircraft, Melbourne (Tullamarine) Airport
– Is it the wish of the House to take the subject matter of the two motions together as suggested by the Minister for Civil Aviation?
– I can see nothing wrong with this procedure provided that the Minister for Civil Aviation-
– In the strict sense, this is not a matter for debate. The only matter before the House is whether the House agrees or disagrees with the suggestion.
– I want some clarification of this. I merely want the Minister to tell us what is proposed in respect of the two matters and then we will debate them together.I am not prepared to debate them together if we find out what is happening to one and then, after that debate, find out what is happening with respect to the other, which is Notice No. 5.
– The proposal is to have a debate on the two matters together. The motion relating to Melbourne (Tullamarine) Airport will be moved now and the motion relating to Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport will be moved after.
– Oh, no. I will not agree to that.
– The debate on the two subjects will be held together.
– Take them separately.
-I take it that the House does not agree to the proposal?
– We will deal with them separately.
– Mr Acting Speaker, may I raise a point of procedure? I do not think that the Minister appreciates the position. What the honourable member for Perth put to the Minister was that, if the Minister gave an account of what was going to happen at Melbourne (Tullamarine) Airport and followed that by making a statement on what was going to happen at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport, the discussion on those cognate matters could continue. The Minister could move two separate motions with regard to those matters. This was clear. It was acceptable to the Opposition and to members on this side of the House. I cannot understand why the Minister has any reservations about speaking on both subjects in his opening address.
– That is exactly what I said. I sought the indulgence of the House on a point of procedure. I said that I would move the motion relating to Notice No. 4 and that the House then could take advantage of the opportunity to speak on both subjects together, that is, refer to the Melbourne and also to the Sydney proposals. At the conclusion of the debate the motion in relation to the Sydney airport would be put. From the point of view of procedure, that is the only way in which it can possibly be done.
– I crave your indulgence, Mr Acting Speaker. So far we have had three motions moved dealing with three separate reports. Each one has been read separately. We knew what we would be talking about. All I want and all that honourable members here want is for the Minister for Civil Aviation to-
– Speak for yourself.
-Order! If two or three members did not speak at the one time it might be easier for us to understand what is being said.
– I do not want him to tell me what 1 am to do.
– It has been suggested that the Minister cannot propose both motions together. We want the Minister to report on both projects so that we can know what we are debating. If he reports on only one project we will be debating the other in a completely blind fashion.
– My intention would be to refer to the subject matter of both reports but to deal with them separately. I would deal with the Melbourne project first and then with the Sydney project. However, for procedural reasons, I cannot propose both motions together.
– I should like to clarify the Opposition’s position and to ascertain that we are doing what we believe should be done. I take it that during the debate we will be at liberty to refer to the report dealing with the north-south runway at Sydney Airport and to refer to the Melbourne Airport also. When the debate is concluded the two reports will be submitted for adoption by separate motions.
– One project will be submitted now and the other will be submitted later.
– I appreciate that the Minister has said that he can submit only one at a time. However, in the debate, we can discuss both projects? There will not be a further debate on the north-south runway.
– That is right.
-Is it the wish of the House to debate the subject matter of both motions together, as suggested by the Minister? Separate motions will then be put concerning both projects. There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
– I move:
The proposal involves the construction of hangars, stores, workshops, internal roads, car parks, and associated aprons and taxiways for both Trans- Australia Airlines and Ansett-ANA. as the first stage in the transfer of line maintenance facilities from the Essendon Airport. The estimated cost of the proposal is $llm. The Committee has recommended the construction of the works referred to in this motion. Upon the concurrence of the House in this resolution, detailed planning of the works can proceed.
I want now to refer in a little more detail to some of the matters that have been raised in the report of the Committee on this project. The greater part of the report is concerned with a detailed description of the facilities which it is proposed to erect at Tullamarine for both Ansett-ANA and TAA for the day to day maintenance of their aircraft. The report does, however, contain some criticism of the project and these criticisms can be dealt with conveniently under three major headings: First, the proposed financial arrangements; secondly, the noise nuisance problem for residents in the vicinity of Tullamarine; and, thirdly, the alleged lack of direction and co-ordination of the overall development programme for Tullamarine.
Dealing first with recommendations 2 and 3 of the Committee’s report relating to the financing of the project, the Committee has stated that it does not necessarily agree with the principles underlying the decision, but that it realises the Government had little alternative. The facts of the matter are that the Government would have been required to finance the move of TAA from Essendon to Tullamarine in one of several ways. A loan would have had to be made to the National Airlines Commission, equity capital would have had to be injected into its structure, or the present method of Commonwealth construction and leasing would have had to be adopted.
In relation to recommendation 5 of the report, in the case of Ansett-ANA the financing of a $5m project on Commonwealth land would present difficulties. Since 1957, when Ansett took over Australian National Airways Pty Ltd, the airline has been committed to an extensive borrowing programme to bring its aircraft and other facilities on to a par with that operated by the competitive government airline. Normal commercial practice would have precluded the company seeking additional capital from shareholders to finance this project involving, as it does, the abandonment of existing facilities at Essendon, and the construction of new facilities which do not generate additional revenue and profits. It must be recognised that the Essendon facilities are on Commonwealth land and on vacation revert to the Commonwealth, and the facilities at Tullamarine replace these.
The difficulty was overcome by the Commonwealth providing the necessary maintenance base facilities, excluding equipment, and recouping its expenditure by means of commercial rentals. Both airlines are financing the purchase of associated equipment and the provision of terminal and cargo facilities. This approach, whilst representing some departure from general policy in relation to the provision of facilities at airports, is in line with the overall Government policy in relation to ensuring whereever possible that the two major domestic airlines are treated on a comparable basis. It is pleasing to note too that this action agrees with recommendation 14 of the Committee, which expressed grave concern at any possibility of the domestic airlines being prevented from commencing regular operations from Tullamarine due to the absence of line maintenance facilities.
The Committee has again shown ils considerable interest in noise around airports. At a recent Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation in Buenos Aires, I introduced discussion of the problem and, as a result, this body is establishing facilities to study aircraft noise on an international basis, and to recommend action to relieve the situation. Despite the obvious fact that there will always be some aircraft noise itareas close to the boundaries of important airports, there are a large number of people who are quite prepared to acquire or build houses and reside in such areas.
Recommendations 6 and 7 of the report deal with noise at Tullamarine. To ensure that potential residents in the area recently subdivided on the southern side of Tullamarine are well informed on the future development of this airport, a large plan of the airport has been erected by the Department of Civil Aviation in a position clearly visible to the public. The Committee has concluded that those people who reside in areas formerly zoned for rural purposes will be subject to a degree of noise nuisance. The record of the Public Works Committee 1963 hearing states:
Sufficient land has been acquired to provide buffer areas between the high noise areas of the airport and the general community. In this regard we have worked with and received the full co-operation of the State planning authorities and the combination of noise buffer areas within the airport and land zoning outside the boundaries will ensure that the airport is a good neighbour to the community.
The House will note, of course, the clear reference to the need for land zoning.
I refer now to recommendation No. 8 which deals with future noise abatement. The Committee further refers to the need for noise abatement measures at Tullamarine. In this respect a committee has been set up with representation from State planning authorities and the Department of Civil Aviation to consider the action that is required to safeguard residential areas in the environs of Tullamarine Airport - or Melbourne Airport as it is called - from undue noise interference and at the same time to preserve the safe operational aspects of the airport. The first meeting of this committee took place on Wednesday, 13th November. The committee has requested the Victorian Minister for Local Government to withhold any further rezoning action until such time as the committee has considered the present zoning boundaries.
Dealing now with recommendations 1 1 and 12, which relate to the subject of planning, I refer to the direction and coordination of the overall development programme for Tullamarine. First, the runways were certainly not finished too early. The eastwest runway has been used for training since August 1967, almost immediately after it was completed. This training of Boeing 727 and DC9 air crews had previously been carried out at Avalon where there is a capacity problem brought about by the intense training flights of the Qantas
Boeing 707s. If Tullamarine had not been available for this type of training an overall training problem would have resulted.
It is also relevant that the Boeing 747 was first mooted some 2 years after the general plan for Tullamarine had been conceived. This aircraft is approximately twice the size and capacity of the largest aircraft flown prior to that time and while any amendments to the terminal were relatively minor they certainly caused some delays. At all airports throughout the world alterations and amendments are being considered to cater for the Boeing 747 and it is believed we are as far ahead as any country is at this time.
I deal finally with recommendations 13 and 14 which relate to liming. The Committee has made reference lo the tightness of timing of this project and forecasts its concern if the airlines should be unable to operate from Tullamarine because of the lack of these maintenance facilities. 1 certainly share the view of the Committee, and can assure this House that my Department and the Department of Works will make every effort to ensure a properly coordinated commencement of operations at Tullamarine. In this context, I must express my gratitude to the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Public Works and the members of his Committee for the assistance which he and they have given on this most complex project.
The second matter relates lo Sydney Airport. I want to cover a number of points raised in the Committee’s report, especially those relating to the extension of the runway. At various times, and as recently as October of this year, I have indicated that the northsouth runway at Sydney will be extended to 13.000 feet and that it should be completed by March 1972. The cost of this project will be about S25m, which figure includes additional facilities for an instrument landing system, additional work to existing pavements and the restoration of the foreshore along Lady Robinson’s Beach.
Recommendations 1 and 17 deal specifically with runway widths The recommended width of 200 feet for the extension is in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organisations recommendations of December 1967. I deal now with recommendation 2, which refers to the instrument landing system. Although engineering problems will preclude the installation of an instrument landing system for aircraft landing into the north until the extension is nearing completion, a VASIS - that is a visual and slope indicator system - installation will be brought into use at the 9,100 feet mark and will facilitate landings into the north by jet aircraft.
Recommendations 3 and 16 deal with the beach restoration. As the report states at paragraph 56, the Commonwealth has undertaken to participate in the restoration of the foreshore of Lady Robinson’s Beach after completion of the dredging and reclamation and $477,000 has been contributed already towards the cost of remedial work. Recommendation 16 also refers to sand accretion. The Commonwealth has undertaken to investigate the drainage problem caused by the accretion of sand in the north-eastern corner of Botany Bay. Recommendations 4, 5, 6 and 7 relate to the endorsement of expenditure of $23m. The Committee has endorsed all these works as being necessary, and adds also that they should be commenced without delay. We will be pushing on as quickly as possible but there are some difficulties being experience in the definition of dredging areas where sand is to be taken.
I come to recommendations 8 and 9 which relate to planning. The proposal was put to the Government and to the Committee as soon as there was sufficient information to predict the runway length required with reasonable assurance. The critical aircraft, the Boeing 747, has in fact not yet flown and the runway length forecast for its operation has increased substantially since the aircraft was first proposed in 1966. A similar problem has been experienced with planning for the supersonic aircraft. In arriving at the length of 13,000 feet at this time, it was necessary to include an allowance of 700 feet to guard against the manufacturer’s performance estimate for the Boeing 747 being optimistic. The 13,000 feet was thus determined on the following basis:
I refer briefly to recommendation 10, which deals with noise. The Department of Civil Aviation has regarded the aircraft noise problem very seriously since the introduction of jet aircraft in 1959 and procedures were introduced at the outset of jet operations, and have been reviewed from time to time, with the idea of achieving the best possible situation for communities around the airport, with due regard for the safety of flight operations. A comprehensive investigation regarding the noise problem has been proceeding at Sydney Airport for some time, and is now in its final stages, for the purpose of determining what additional measures should be taken, even including the relocation of navigational aids. The Government has actively participated with overseas administrations and has been instrumental through the machinery of the International Civil Aviation Organisation in trying to expedite the development of guidance material which will enable the introduction of noise standards on a world-wide basis. Recommendation 11 relates to staffing for the noise problem. The need for specialist staff has been recognised in the Department of Civil Aviation and appropriate action has been taken to provide this staff, some of whom have already been appointed.
Recommendation 12 deals with the 16/34 preferred runway. As far as safety considerations will allow, it is the intention to continue to use runway 16 - that is, to the south - as the preferred runway for takeoffs and it will no doubt be used more extensively in this role with the completion of the current runway extension programme in the next 2 to 3 months. The bay area will also be used for approaches to land into the north, whenever weather conditions allow. Recommendations 13 and 15 refer to a second airport - that is, a decentralised international airport. Traffic studies by my Department have indicated the probable need for an additional airport in the Sydney area by about 1985. Present indications are that this new airport would not be a decentralised international airport only, but rather an additional domestic and international airport for the growing needs of Sydney. There are currently under consideration a number of sites which have potential to be developed for this purpose.
Finally I refer to recommendation 14, which deals with the domestic terminals. The Committee’s conclusions have been noted regarding new domestic passenger terminals and will be considered in the planning for this large project which is associated with the building of a parallel runway. Expenditure of about $3. 5m has already been approved for reclamation and other work for the new domestic terminal area.
I conclude by referring again to the splendid work of the members of the Committee. This has already been mentioned by the Chairman of the Committee. I thank them for the intense work they have done, for the interest they have shown in these projects and for the very useful contribution that they have made.
– The Opposition is delighted to find that the Government has at last made up its mind as to what to do about the extension of the north-south runway at the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. For too long the Government has dithered around. Its dithering has been so costly that we now find that the completion of the Sydney Airport will be at least 6 months behind the time when the Boeing 747 will be ready and available to fly into Sydney under the control of Qantas Airways Ltd. We can add an additional 6 months to that or probably even 9 months because Pan-Am will have its Boeing 747 available for Sydney 9 months prior to Qantas having its first Boeing 747. But even at this late stage we are delighted that the Government has finally made up its mind.
We are very critical of the decisions of this Government because if honourable members will cast their minds back just a few short years they will’ recall that members of the Opposition were severely critical at that stage of the Government’s decision not to proceed with the extension to at least 13.000 feet of the runway at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. At that time the dredging machinery was on hand. There was no need to have continued with the stone walling of the southern end of the runway which was then extended to 9,100 feet. The stone walling of the end of the runway will now be carried out at considerable cost. This is not a minor part of the expenditure as far as the cost and reclamation of the extension of the runways are concerned. It is one of the major costs. Members of the Australian Labor Party have continually pressed the Government by way of question in this place and by way of statements in this place and outside the Parliament. There was considerable pressure brought to bear on the Government by members of the Sydney City Council, members of the State Parliament and by the Premier himself together with the Minister for Transport. The Government allowed the dredges to be removed from Botany Bay. lt allowed the stone pitching to continue. The result was that a lot of unnecessary work was undertaken. We are confident that if that dredge had remained the new extensions would have been completed much more cheaply than will now be the case. But additional dredging equipment wil’l have to be brought to Botany Bay. I understand that the dredges that were used previously were brought from Holland and elsewhere overseas. Where are the dredges to be obtained on this occasion? Will the dredges be readily available to enable this work to be carried out as expeditiously as everyone would require it to be?
This Government has something to answer for. Explanations are due to the people of New South Wales and to the Government of New South Wales as to why this work has been delayed so seriously for such a long time. The Minister for Civil Aviation made a statement that he has made on numerous occasions. I do not know whether it is the old Goebbels technique - if you make a statement often enough you finally believe it yourself to be true. The Minister made this oft repeated statement that at all airports throughout the world alterations and modifications are being considered to cater for B747 aircraft and it is believed that Australia is far ahead of any country at this stage. All I want to do is to refer to evidence that was submitted by the Airline Pilots Federation of Australia in 1965. If other airports are behind what is already being provided in Australia, the evidence does not disclose it. The submission reveals that the runway length at London is at present 11,000 feet; Bangkok, 10,000 feet; Nadi, 10,500 feet; New York, 14,600 feet; Tahiti, 11,200 feet; Mexico City, 11,480 feet; Vancouver, 10,500 feet; Cairo, 10,877 feet; Melbourne (Avalon), 10,000 feet; Acapulco, 10,171 feet; Singapore, 9,200 feet; Rome, 12,795 feet; Honolulu; 12,400 feet; Kuala Lumpur, 11,400 feet; Karachi, 10,500 feet and 1 do not want to go through all of these airports - Teheran, 13,123 feet; Ankara, 12,310 feet; Frankfurt, 12,798 feet; and even Manila which is in the Philippines, 10,500 feet. What is the position here in Sydney? The longest runway that is available - it is not even available at the moment because additional work is being carried out on it - is the north-south runway which has a length of 9,100 feet. So if we are ahead of other countries in the world they are certainly going bad.
Another matter about which I would like some explanation from the Minister before the debate concludes tonight concerns the reasons for the delay in relation to this extension. A report in the ‘Australian’ of 28th February 1967 concerning an inspection made of Sydney Airport by the then Minister for Works, now the Minister for the Navy (Mr Kelly) stated:
Sydney airport would need an even longer runway for super jets, the new Federal Minister for Works, Mr Kelly, said yesterday.
After inspecting the present extension into Botany Bay yesterday he said he did not know how much the new work would cost.
The Anglo-French Concorde and the 1,800 mile per hour Boeing will start flying into Sydney in the early 1970s.
He went on to say that a senior airline official said in Sydney last night that supersonic jets for the city airport would probably need a runway from 11,000 to 13,000 feet.
What 1 want to know is where the then Minister for Works got his information. It is pretty obvious that the new broom was sweeping clean. We should bear in mind that the honourable gentleman had only just been appointed Minister for Works and apparently had let the cat out of the bag. Someone had found out in the Department and apparently the Minister was not to know at that stage that the Department of Civil Aviation was not supposed to know what the requirements were. But the new broom, as 1 say, swept clean. The Minister let the cat out of the bag when he said that the length of runway really required was 10,000 feet. I directed a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation on 1st March 1967. I was following up a statement made by the then Minister for Works and the Minister for Civil Aviation said, in reply:
On my last visit to the United Kingdom and France I had discussions with the manufacturers of the first supersonic transport aircraft which we expect will be operating in this country. At that time the manufacturers were unable to give any accurate estimates of runway requirements from the point of view of loading and length. The situation has not changed since then. We cannot obtain any accurate assessments from the British-French project or from the American project until such time as the prototypes have been completed and are flying.
I met these people in August last year. They did not have any hesitation in telling me what the runway requirements were. Some 6 months earlier than that, the Minister was not in possession of the information. Yet the information was available to me when I met the directors of the British Aircraft Corporation. They told me what the requirements were and said that the information had been released some considerable time before. So it is pretty obvious that the then Minister for Works had received authentic information from someone in one of the government departments. If I can obtain information I would like to know why the Minister for Civil Aviation cannot obtain the same information.
The Public Works Committee likewise is not satisfied with the way that the Department of Civil Aviation has been handling this matter. It is pretty obvious that the Committee, whilst it is critical of the Government, is covering up to some degree for the Department of Civil Aviation. For example paragraph 71 of its report states:
There is no doubt that a 13,000 ft runway, when available, will meet the needs of 747 operations but it is equally evident that because of the ‘wait and see’ policy-
This ‘wait and see’ policy is what I am complaining about- there will be a period when these aircraft will not be able to operate out of Sydney without a range or weight penalty.
What is the basis of the Minister’s statement that we are ahead of many other countries and that Boeing 747s will be able to operate in and out of Sydney when they are placed in service? The Public Works Committee does not adopt this view. It says that these aircraft will be able to operate only with a substantial range or weight penalty. The Committee says in its report:
The Committee do nol suggest that the Government should make speculative decisions on projects of this nature, but in this instance there was clearly scope for a considered judgment to be made much earlier on the information then available.
I emphasise the words ‘on the information then available’. It is obvious that the present Minister for the Navy, when he was Minister for Works, had this information at his disposal and let the cat out of the bag. At paragraph 73, the Committee went on to say:
The Committee believe that if the Government intends to provide facilities commensurate with the needs of modern civil aviation, then clearly it has a responsibility to plan wilh more energy and imagination than has been shown in this instance.
We on this side of the House are severely critical of what the Government has done in this matter and of the way it has dithered around without being prepared to make decisions. The aircraft companies are naturally very keen on selling their aircraft and making information available to governments charged with the responsibility for providing airport facilities. What is the use of building a 747 or a Concorde if there are not available airports of a standard that will enable those aircraft to operate at full capacity? lt is of no use to build these aircraft if they can be flown only from the airport adjacent to the factory in which they are built. Qantas Airways Ltd should not be interested in buying the 747 or the Concorde unless there are in Australia airport facilities that will enable those aircraft to operate efficiently. It is the responsibility of the Government to provide these facilities, and we believe the Government has some extensive explaining to do with regard to this matter.
Then I turn to the matter of these runway extensions. Once again the Public Works Committee is critical of the delay on the part of the Government, lt says that the extended runway at the Sydney Airport will be available at the earliest in March or April 1972, and that is on condition that weather conditions are satisfactory in the meantime. We have been lucky for some time now. We have not had any easterly gales. As one who lives on the coast I know the damage that is caused when an easterly gale blows up. I have seen the damage caused around Newcastle. We have all read of the damage caused to Sydney beaches by these winds. We have seen the damage caused to Lady Robinson’s Beach fronting Brighton-le-Sands. When we experience these easterly gales, much of the work that has been done already on the runway extension will go for naught. The material being used for the runway will finish up where it came from - in Botany Bay.
It appears that we will have this runway completed by the projected date provided the elements are kind and provided everything else is OK. But we will still be 6 months behind the date on which Qantas expects delivery of the aircraft and 15 months behind the date when Pan American World Airways proposes to commence operating the aircraft. We will be various periods of time behind the other airlines which are to obtain their 747s between the time that Panam gets its first aircraft and Qantas takes dleivery of its first aircraft. I think we will be very fortunate if the runway is completed even then.
As to the Boeing SST, fortunately for the Government but unfortunately for the company, experiments with the swing wing design have proved it a failure and Boeing has had to revert to a fixed wing aircraft. The details of this aircraft are available. If I, as a backbencher or an Opposition member of the Parliament, could get this information from Boeing when I visited its aircraft factory in January, surely additional information should be available to members of the Government which is responsible for providing the facilities for these aircraft. If the Boeing company had not found that the swing wing version would be a failure, and if it had got on with the job as originally designed, in the way that the British and French did with the Concorde, we would have had the responsibility for providing proper runways for the SST much earlier than we will now have to provide them. All these are matters that the Government will have to explain to honourable members.
Now 1 will deal with some other aspects of the report. 1 am concerned that nothing is being done as yet to provide domestic airport facilities adjacent to the international facilities that are being provided. 1 would like the Minister to tell me whether Ansett Transport Industries Ltd proposes to proceed with the construction of its domestic facilities alongside the international terminal, or whether all the money available to that company is to be put into the Tullamarine project, where the Government has had to make available to that company substantial sums of money on a long term loan at a low rate of interest. it appears that most of the money that is available for civil aviation is being poured into the Tullamarine airport development.
If ever a city has had a raw deal from this Government in respect of airport development it is Sydney. We are constantly told that Sydney Airport is to be the No. 1 international airport; yet it will be completed after everything has been completed at Tullamarine. I congratulate the Government on what it is doing at Tullamarine but I am most critical of what it is not doing at Sydney Airport. I want some clear assurance that the domestic terminal at Sydney will be built alongside the international terminal. 1 want to know why Trans-Australia Airlines is spending $300,000 on improvements to its existing terminal and why Ansett-ANA, according to announcements that have been made, will spend 5500,000 on improvements to its existing terminal. Why was this money not used in providing a new domestic terminal alongside the new international terminal that is in course of construction?
I think the Government is doing a good job with the international terminal, but why can the same kind of facilities not be provided in the same location for domestic airline users? Why will the people who come in by international airlines have to travel 2 miles to the domestic terminal? If we arc to plan an airport why not plan the whole of it in one go? Why not have a plan showing the runways laid out in certain directions and of a specified length, and showing terminals of a certain standard at specific locations? Then why not go ahead with the whole job instead of doing it in higgledy-piggledy fashion, a bit at a time? Why not get on with the job? Instead of spreading the available money over Melbourne and Sydney, decide which will have the main airport and then spend the available money in the one place.
One thing that concerns me greatly is what appears to be the undue influence exerted on the Department of Civil Aviation by Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. Just consider a few of the things that have happened in the past. Honourable members will recall the discussion as to whether our airline operators should purchase the Caravelle, as recommended by TAA, or the Electra, as recommended by Ansett-ANA. Everyone knows that there is no comparison between the two and that we bought the wrong one. When considering the growth rate of air travel and airlines in Australia, whom does the Government heed? Certainly not its own airline, TAA; it takes more notice of Ansett-ANA. As to the development of terminals, who provides the money? On the other hand, who is holding up the development of the domestic terminal at Sydney? My guess is that Ansett-ANA is responsible. I look to the Government to make up its mind and do something pretty quickly. It has been rumoured that we will get a decision within 3 or 4 years. So far as I am concerned, 3 or 4 years is not soon enough. A decision to proceed with the construction of the domestic air terminal should be made now so that people can move from international to local aircraft as readily as they do at present. They should not have to face a 2-mile bus journey between one terminal and the other. There are several other matters that I should like to refer to. [Extension of time granted.]
I am pleased that the Public Works Committee has drawn attention of the Government lo the need to do something about the noise nuisance associated with the use of modern aircraft. What will be the result of breaking the sound barrier - of sonic booms - when the SSTs come into operation? I congratulate the members of the Committee upon bringing this matter to the attention of the Government with the result that a committee has been appointed to investigate the matter.
I refer now to the need to determine the site of a new airport for Sydney. The Minister for Civil Aviation has already stated that by 1985 the existing airport will have reached saturation point and that there should be a new airport in operation. That means that we should commence construction of a new airport in about 10 years time. When the decision was made to transfer Melbourne’s airport from Essendon to Tullamarine at least 10 years notice was given of where the new site was to be. The Government should make a concrete decision on this matter; it should make up its mind where the new airport will be. I hope that it will not be at Towra Point, where much the same noise problem would be experienced. If it means that the Royal Australian Air Force will have to get out of Richmond, then the Government should make up its mind now. I know that the Department of Civil Aviation is giving this matter serious consideration.
The road approach to the new airport is another matter which concerns me. It does not concern this Government directly, but indirectly the Government is responsible. We have seen the Victorian Government go ahead with a similar problem. We have seen the work under construction. The Victorian Government is doing a very good job. It is constructing a decent expressway. It is pushing it through - bulldozing it through, if you like - and it is clear that by the time Tullamarine is ready for use there will be an expressway direct to it. Just let us look at the higgledy-piggledy mess people have to put up with at the Kingsford-Smith Airport.
– Who approved the road setup in Sydney? It was the present Leader of the Opposition in New South Wales.
– According to my information, the present Leader of the Opposition did not agree to this. Your Party has been in office in New South Wales for almost 4 years, and it has not yet found the time to adjust this matter. If the Labor Party made any mistake why has not the Liberal Party corrected it? Tell me the answer. Work under way at the present moment includes the expressway that will be constructed between Dowling Street and Wentworth Avenue; from there it will go into the higgledy-piggledy mess of the local road system. The Government will carry out improvements to the existing road up to the vicinity of the Qantas administrative building. The inflow and discharge of the people working in that building will mix with airport traffic at times when they should not. This sort of planning is unsuitable. This will add congestion to congestion. The Department of Civil Aviation is responsible for the roadway from a point near to the Qantas administrative building. I hope that the Government does something positive and constructive and that it puts in a decent roadway. If it has to put in a high level roadway, then let it put one in. The suggestion that it might connect up through Botany, from where the road concludes at Wentworth Avenue, by overpasses or underpasses, with General Holmes Drive and around the back of the Airport means that there would be clear access and a very good approach to the new international and domestic air terminals.
We hope that something will be done very quickly to provide decent road access to and from Mascot in the manner I have suggested. A continuation of Wentworth Avenue by the use of overpasses and underpasses would not be something new. One only has to visit other countries or to look at the Sydney to Newcastle expressway to realise what can be done. The Government should provide the money to the State so that those improvements can be carried out. It is not a matter of saying that they can be carried out, they must be carried out. Otherwise people will spend almost as much time travelling from the Airport into the city as they do now. Only recently members of a committee, including myself, wanted to know how long it would take to get from the Airport into the city. The suggestion was made that we might meet at the Airport or somewhere nearby so as to avoid the congestion involved in travelling into the city. The Government should have an expressway which will solve the congestion problem.
Let me refer to airline maintenance depots for domestic airlines at the Melbourne (Tullamarine) Airport. This is a matter that concerns my friends in the Australian Country Party. Once again we are faced with the centralisation of industry in a capital city. Honourable members are aware that at Dubbo Airlines of New South Wales has set up a maintenance depot so as to get the industry out of Sydney. Here is an excellent opportunity for the Government to take out of Sydney or Melbourne, or any other capital city, an industry which will be easily accessible by air. The establishment of these depots will provide a new industry. I am surprised that members of the Country Party have done nothing about this. They are always talking about decentralisation but they never do anything about it. The Country Party has members on the Public Works Committee and it is supposed to be influential1 with the Government. It was able to force the Government to reduce some of the airport charges and to exclude certain airports from the charges. Why can it not do something about having industries established in the country?
Why could not these two maintenance depots be established in Dubbo or in some other country centre? After all the land is cheap and it is easy enough to build a runway. There would be no need to spend millions of dollars on extensions as was the case with Botany Bay. The land is available. All that is required is the construction of a proper runway. I am critical of the Government for agreeing to provide these maintenance depots in Melbourne and in Sydney. They should be taken out of the city areas and placed in the country. Here is an excellent opportunity for the Government to bring about some decentralisation of industry. The aircraft could be flown from the capital cities and the passengers could be transferred to another aircraft, even though T would not agree to this. If the Government wanted to save fuel and time that would be one way of doing it. We all know that aeroplanes have to have an overhaul1 survey after a certain number of flying hours. When that survey is due the aircraft could easily be flown from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane to one of these centres, exchanged for an aircraft already completed, and the same crew could fly out the overhauled aircraft. The Government has missed an excellent opportunity to create a decentralised industry.
No doubt it wil’l be said that if the industry is taken away from the city areas into a country centre there will be complaints by men employed in the industry. Were there any complaints by the people in the various Commonwealth departments who were transferred to Canberra from Sydney and Melbourne? Of course not. The Commonwealth met the cost of transporting their personal effects and it provided them with cheap money to purchase homes. Why could not the same thing be done if people were moved from city areas to country areas to work in the maintenance aircraft industry? I am disappointed with the Country Party. I am satisfied that it is not sincere and fair dinkum in its policy of decentralisation. It only uses it as a talking point, and it has no intention whatever of adopting a true policy of decentralisation.
– The first thing that astonished me - I am certain that it astonished the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) - was the statement made by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) that the Public Works Committee was acting as a cover-up for the Department of Civil Aviation. I would have thought that would bring a comment from the usually silent Minister for Civil Aviation. No member of the Committee, whether from the Liberal Party, the Country Party or the Australian Labor Party showed in respect of either of the submissions now before the House any inclination or desire to cover up for the Department of Civil Aviation or for the Government. The honourable member for Newcastle spoiled an opportunity to make a telling speech. He said that Sydney had been neglected because of the accent that had been placed on Melbourne.
– I did not say that.
– Those may not have been the honourable member’s exact words but that was the meaning of what he said. Earlier today I said that of all the hearings undertaken by the Committee during the year the hearing relating to runway extensions in Sydney involved the greatest expenditure - $23m. If that is a sign of neglect I would like to think that airports in my State were getting a little of the same kind of neglect.
The honourable member got on to the old argument of Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-ANA. He intimated that the Government had been pressured by Ansett-ANA to make decisions not in the best interests of civil aviation. He plucked from the fire the hoary old chestnut of the Caravelle versus the Electra. Anybody living in Newcastle, Sydney or Melbourne could get into a nice sort of argument about having the Caravelle on the run between those cities. Anybody living in Rockhampton or Perth - anywhere beyond the short haul routes - would realise that the Caravelle had a tremendously limited capability in Australia firstly with regard to range and secondly with regard to the airstrips it could have used. It is of no use somebody suddenly producing an aircraft that has a certain tyre pressure and needs a certain kind of airstrip and our saying: ‘Get it, even if we can’t use it’. You are not proving anything if you do that. I believe that the decision to buy Electras at least gave to people in the outlying parts of the country a chance to get reasonable transport. After all, these people still have some importance in the overall scheme of things.
The honourable member then sought to involve members of the Country Party in an argument about decentralisation. The submissions now before the House cannot be considered in terms of decentralisation. The first line maintenance facilities for aircraft must bc in a centre of operations. You would be in an impossible situation if you had your main maintenance facilities at places like Dubbo or Albury while your main centre of operations was Melbourne. One look at the situation will make you realise that it is all very well to have some maintenance facilities spread around the country if you are thinking of major overhauls, where an aircraft is out of commission for a month or so, but in the case of first line maintenance you have your needs for skilled personnel and other things and these must be provided at the centre of operations. This problem arose in relation to another inquiry that we had relating to a clothing factory. You can pay a lot of lip service to decentralisation but when you get down to cold facts you find that this is not an instance where you should invoke the assistance of the Country Party in following some phoney trail of decentralisation.
One of the things we did earlier tonight when we agreed to debate these two motions together was to stop me from making two speeches in the one evening, so in the time available to me I will cover only one aspect of these two reports and leave it to one of my colleagues to cover other aspects. I will not delay the House unnecessarily but nevertheless I will take what time I need to put across my points. The Public Works Committee has put in a good deal of solid effort. It has acted without thought of being divided on party lines. It has sought to reach the right conclusions after hearing all the evidence. Sometimes when there has been a doubt in our minds we have called expert evidence to clear up that doubt, which may have arisen during a rather lengthy hearing. I am reminded that in 1961 the Committee was having difficulty in getting co-operation from the Government after presenting its reports. In those days I think the Chairman of the Committee was the honourable member for Paterson (Mr Fairhall) who is now Minister for Defence. Under the Public Works Committee Act the Committee must present its reports to the Parliament. In its Twenty-sixth General Report the Committee said:
The Public Works Committee Act provides that a proposed public work which has been referred to the Committee shall not be commenced unless and until the House of Representatives, by resolution, declares that it is expedient to carry out the proposed work.
I put these matters on record for the benefit of honourable members who may in the future assist the Committee to do a more effective job of surveillance over the Government’s public works programme. The Committee’s report continued:
This is something that we had hoped the Government would adhere to but there has been the odd occasion when the Government has not seen fit to give an adequate explanation of its recommendations. In the case of Tullamarine we reported that the runway pavements would have been completed 2 years or more before they were required. This matter was not the subject of any correspondence between the Minister and the Committee, but a day or so after the tabling of the report the Minister for Civil Aviation, in reply to a question asked by the Leader of the Opposition, said that this was part of a planned development - that the runway system was needed for training purposes and therefore had been completed ahead of schedule.
This is a rather disturbing state of affairs in my opinion. None of the evidence which we heard pointed to this requirement. If one examines the 1963 reference to the Committee regarding Tullamarine, which was in respect of airfield pavements and additional aprons, and the 1965 reference which was in respect of building services and terminals it appears that it was intended from the outset that the construction of these various elements in the development of Tullamarine would be timed to be completed together so that in the process there would not be any wastage of capital funds. Clearly it was intended that the domestic and international airports would commence to function together. I point out that in the case of Tullamarine the development of the international and domestic airports is taking place side by side. In relation to the north-south runway extensions we have made the point that the development of the domestic terminals should take place as quickly as possible. It is equally obvious that this has not happened.
The pavements have been completed for 12 months. Apart from what I believe is occasional use for training purposes they have not been used operationally and will not be so used for another 12 months. International traffic will not use Tullamarine for another 12 months. But the Department of Civil Aviation has all the necessary facilities there, including a fire station and a duty pilot’s tower. As the Committee pointed out, we have a $12m complex which is used for an occasional training flight because of the lack of development of facilities for international traffic side by side with facilities for internal traffic. The Committee was most disturbed about this and reported accordingly.
The Minister tonight has given us chapter and verse for what the Government proposes to do in respect of our recommendations. For that 1 express my appreciation. But 1 do not retract one word of the Committee’s report, which resulted from a most intensive investigation of this development and the maintenance facilities. It was my intention, had I not been satisfied with that, to move an amendment to this resolution. But under the terms of the Public Works Committee Act one is limited in the action one can take. Section 15 of that Act says that in the situation we are in now, when the responsible Minister has moved a resolution that it is expedient to carry out a work, the House can declare either that it is expedient to carry out the work or that it is not expedient. The section goes on to say:
Provided that the House of Representatives may, instead of declaring affirmatively or negatively as aforesaid, resolve that the report of the Committee .shall, for reasons or purposes staled in the resolution, be remitted for their further consideration and report to the Committee; in which case the Committee shall consider the matter of the new reference, and report thereon accordingly.
I was quite prepared to move to that effect and, if necessary, to divide the House. As we pointed out, the construction of this whole project is lagging. I did not want to delay the work any more than was necessary. But had f felt at any stage that the Committee had been completely passed over and that its inquiry was considered to have been undertaken just to fill in a bit of time and then to present a report to Parliament. I would have been prepared to take such action. I might say that this will be my attitude on future occasions. As honourable members know, the Committee is an aH party combination. I would act not as a member representing the Committee but on my own behalf and would call on those who wished to do so to support me in the sort of action T have just mentioned.
Members of the Committee are deeply conscious of the tremendous problems that are present in the field of civil aviation today. As I said in an earlier debate on another matter, in the field of civil aviation there seems to be a tremendous urge to keep up with the Joneses. The moment the Government has one project approved. something else comes up to make necessary the expenditure of great sums of money, so that we can have bigger jets - not necessarily faster jets - to enable more people to travel from nation to nation. The more people we bring to Australia, the more facilities we need, and the cost is great. I do not think that the honourable member for Newcastle or any honourable member from Victoria could complain on that ground that there has been a serious lack of assistance by the Government for the development of the Mascot airport in Sydney. If we did not have to meet the overall expenditure on Tullamarine and Mascot, we could have provided better facilities all over Australia in some of the places that are lagging badly in aviation facilities.
As we said in the report, the method ot financing these maintenance facilities is a change from the normal method. We did not necessarily agree with it but we realised that the Government had no option other than agree to this proposition. I suppose every one of us in this House and everybody outside this House can be very wise after events. Wisdom after events occur is very simple to come by. All of us can see what should have been done 10 or 15 years ago, because we now have the experience of what has happened as a result of the decisions that have been made. Although the Public Works Committee has presented its reports on Tullamarine and the extensions to the north-south runway at Mascot to this Parliament, and although the Government has considered them and in each case a motion has been moved that it is expedient to carry out the work, I can state for myself and possibly for some of my colleagues that the interest of the Committee in these two projects will not be lessened just because an expediency motion is carried by this House. We will be extremely anxious to see whether the facts we established by a most intensive investigation in relation to the problems surrounding the two projects are looked at by the Government and to whether action is taken to ensure that the facilities that are planned are provided for the people and that the money that is expended in this bottomless pit of civil aviation is expended in the best possible fashion.
– The Department of Civil Aviation has more money than it knows what to do with.
– I do not think that is so. One of the big difficulties is that it has more problems than it has money to deal with. A lot of careful planning by the Government will be needed if the resources we have available in this field are to be used to their utmost advantage. As I said before, I came into this House yesterday and the day before determined to see that the Government paid some attention to the recommendations made by the Committee on these two references. The Committee does not expect the Government to accept without argument any recommendation it makes. We do demand, however, that when we come forward with a recommendation we get either an explanation of the reasons why it cannot be adopted or an explanation of the reasons why the Government has decided to carry it out. I believe that if such explanations are given the Public Works Committee can continue to function as a valuable adjunct to this Parliament and a body that is of benefit to Australia as a whole.
– Firstly I should like to state that 1 strongly support the action of the House of Representatives in appointing a committee, of which I am honoured to be a member, to conduct an inquiry into the noise nuisance caused by aircraft taking off and landing, and by the tuning of motors during running in and maintenance, at Australian airports. The function of this committee will be to sift evidence supplied by interested witnesses and to report its findings to this Parliament. As the member for Watson, which embraces the area in which the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport is situated, on Tuesday last I presented to the House a petition from the Botany Municipal Council on behalf of over 1,100 citizens of that municipality. That petition asked that the Commonwealth Government immediately give consideration to:
Being the member for this area and being inundated with many requests from the Botany Council, the Randwick Council, the Marrickville Council and the citizens affected in these areas, I point out to honourable members that it is worth while reading the points contained in the petition which I presented yesterday, because they are factual. In addition, I have received numerous complaints from the residents of Botany, Mascot, Pagewood, Kingsford, Matraville, Rosebery, Tempe and St Peters. Furthermore, some time ago I attended, by invitation, a meeting of mayoral and aldermanic representatives of the Rockdale, Randwick, Marrickville and Botany Councils. The meeting was concerned with the problem of noise nuisance at airports. As the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) would freely admit, I have forwarded to htm on many occasions letters protesting about this noise.
There is one salient point which I deem justifies criticism of the Government in regard to the extension of the north-south runway at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. The original length of the runway was 5,500 feet. Plans were set in train to extend it to 8,000 feet. A special dredge was brought to Australia from Europe at very great expense. Pilots and other aviation experts were adamant in their view that a runway of at least 10,000 feet in length was absolutely essentia] for the use of jet aircraft of the kind now using the airport. Now we find that the dredge will have to be brought back to Botany Bay, after being used by various authorities on the Australian coast, so that the runway can be extended to 13,000 feet. Surely such bungling deserves a trenchant reprimand of the Department of Civil Aviation advisers who in the first place planned for a runway of 8,000 feet.
I believe that airport authorities throughout the world will have to tell aircraft manufacturers that all future aircraft will have to be designed to be able to take off and land on existing runways. As every honourable member is aware, the building and extension of runways imposes a very burdensome cost on the taxpayers. I believe that it would be futile for any aircraft manufacturer in future to say: ‘We are going to build an aircraft that will need a runway of 15,000 feet or 16,000 feet’. Where is expenditure on the extension of runways going to finish? One has only to note expenditure on civil aviation in Australia during the last 15 years to ascertain the cost of civil aviation to the Australian taxpayer.
Only a couple of months ago I participated in a radio hook-up. I was speaking on behalf of the residents of the Watson electorate. Mr Healy, a member of the Liberal Party and the State member for the electorate of Wakefield was also engaged in the radio hook-up. We had a debate concerning noise nuisance at airports. I explained the problems, as 1 have done from time to time in correspondence with the Minister and in speeches in this House. Mr Healy almost went so far as to say: If you do not like it, move from the area’. That is a great attitude for anyone to adopt. It is like the old story: ‘I’m all right, Jack, but 1 dont care much about what happens to you’. I have also had numerous complaints from schools in the area.
To illustrate the point, last April or May I attended the J. J. Cahill High School at Mascot for the presentation of awards to the students. The New South Wales Director of Education during the course of his 15 minute address to the assembly had to suspend his speech on three occasions because of the noise of jet aircraft overhead. The same comment applies to the schools in the area. Lessons are interrupted by noise from jet aircraft. Church services are also interrupted on Sundays because of this noise. To understand the point I am making one only has to go to a dance in the St Peters Town Hall, which is on the other side of the airport runway. People cannot hear the orchestra playing when aeroplanes fly over St Peters Town Hall because the aircraft are no more than 200 or 300 feet above the building. That is no exaggeration. If honourable members opposite think it is they should go to the Town Hall one night and listen to the noise themselves.
There is always a danger with aircraft operating over built up areas. So far we have not had any serious accidents with aircraft approaching or taking off from airports, but a few years ago when a DC3 aircraft, which was supposed to be a modern aircraft at that time, was taking off from Mascot airport one of the engines cut out and the other engine gradually cut out. The aircraft had to land at Eastlakes, which is about li miles from the airport. In the course of landing the aircraft took two television aerials with it. It is a miracle that there was not a fatal tragedy on this rare occasion. It was only because of the skill of the pilot that the residents in the area and the twenty-seven people on board the aircraft are alive today. Recently we read in the Press of a Japanese airliner with 107 people on board making a forced landing 2 miles from San Francisco airport. The same thing could happen if an aircraft had to land in fog or if it was forced to land because of engine trouble. These matters must be taken into consideration. 1 believe that airports will have to be built further away from the cities - possibly 20 to 30 miles away. The present policy of the authorities is to construct airports away from the built up areas, firstly because of the noise nuisance factor and secondly because of the risk of a fatal accident occurring. One must also remember that the large aircraft operating today have to carry up to 30,000 gallons of fuel. If such an aircraft were to crash in the Botany area 1 suppose it would raze 4 to 5 acres of densely populated area. Finally I should like to quote an article from a British newspaper. The article is headed: ‘Scillies, to fight Concorde flight over islands’. It continues:
The 2,000 residents of the Isles of Scilly will be among the first people in Britain to hear the boom which the Concorde Anglo-French airliner makes as it flies supersonically.
Confirming that Concorde will fly over the Scillies, BAC said that it would probably be 12 months or more after the first flight before the route would be used. They said: The aircraft will be flying at high altitude at that stage of its flight, which means that there will be precious little noise*.
The people of the Scillies do not believe that statement, because they have had experience of noise from military aircraft which caused cracks in windows and walls. These are the things which I believe we can expect at Mascot Airport in the future, particularly when the Concorde and jumbo jets commence to operate.
– I will not be very long. I would not have entered the debate except that the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) pointed to this corner and made an attack upon the Australian Country Party. He said: What about decentralisation? Why shouldn’t something be done about it?’ One would think that we have not been doing anything about decentralisation. I want to say thank you to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) for placing decentralised buildings and equipment at Mildura in the Mallee electorate. I quote from an article titled DCA Personnel to train at Mildura’ in the ‘Sunraysia Daily’ of 20lh November 1968:
A $217,000 project for the Department of Civil Aviation has been completed at Mildura.
The project comprises a modern air conditioned brick building which cost $120,000 and $97,000 worth of equipment.
Because the equipment is the most modern of its type, DCA has decided all personnel of its flight service section in Victoria and Tasmania will in future do their advanced field training in Mildura.
This includes staff who will operate equipment at the new Tullamarine airport.
This shows what little knowledge the honourable member for Newcastle has about what is happening. These buildings have been completed and equipment installed. The Minister for Civil Aviation has done me the honour of inviting me to open this project officially on 17th December. This is true decentralisation and all of the co-operation of the Country Party is given to this undertaking.
We thank the Minister for his action in the decentralisation of not only the buildings and the equipment but also for those men from the Department of Civil Aviation who will be travelling to Mildura for training.
This is a great move in the right direction as far as decentralisation is concerned. It must be remembered that Mildura is 370 miles from the Melbourne (Tullamarine) Airport. If the honourable member for Newcastle had known that fact he probably would have said: lt is too far away’. The honourable member for Newcastle also made the point that the people who serviced the aircraft should be somewhere other than at the aerodrome. The Minister said to me when I discussed this matter with him that they need to be on the spot.
– The honourable member agreed?
– I agreed with that wholeheartedly. 1 say ‘thank you’ to the Minister. This is decentralisation first class.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I am afraid that I am not prepared to be as accommodating to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) as my colleagues have been. I firmly believe that what the Minister has said to us tonight is a detail of information that was available to the Committee right up to the time when it made its report. We were fully aware of all the information that he has put forward tonight. We have put forward our recommendations on the basis of all that information. It was included in our deliberations. I do not believe this is any variation of what has been put up repeatedly in making reference to the domestic terminal. I refer to page 1488 of Hansard of 30th September 1965. The Minister for Shipping and Transport at that time, the present Minister for Air (Mr Freeth), moved for approval of work concerning the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) airport. He said:
The Committee also recommended that there is a need to commence construction of the new domestic terminals concurrently wilh the international terminal, and that steps be taken to identify, as soon as possible, the site for the development of Sydney’s second major airport. These recommendations have been referred to my colleague the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) . . .
This was in 1.965.
In 1967, we find a statement by the present Minister for the Navy (Mr Kelly) who was then Minister for Works. He stated:
That was in 1967. We have still nothing on it. I sincerely believe that the Minister should have given us something like what I will now list. This is what I think ought to have been given to us tonight because I believe that the Department of Civil Aviation knows about it, the House knows about it and those associated with civil aviation know about it. The Minister should have said that the Government would:
On 15 th October 1968, after 10 weeks to 12 weeks of intensive deliberations, when all aspects of the reference had been thoroughly investigated, the Public Works Committee submitted this report to the House with a more than usual number of pertinent comments and recommendations. Despite the fact that the comments and recommendations were numerous, all of them could be divided into two distinct groups. The first was criticism of Department of Civil Aviation programming, organising and future planning of development at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport and the Sydney area, and its effect on this reference. The second was criticism of the Department of Civil Aviation for showing lack of concern and action on aviation noise abatement and the manner in which this problem would be exacerbated by this reference. Neither can it be said the Committee was parochial or provincial in its attitude for a contemporary report that we are discussing at the moment deals with additional developments at Melbourne (Tullamarine) Airport. The Committee also made pertinent complaints on identical subjects - that is, development and noise - on that project.
When a report from a joint statutory committee comes into the House for printing and contains such a number of critical recommendations members are entitled to believe that the Committee, being an instrument of the Parliament, will receive due respect and that, likewise, its recommendations will be the subject of some deliberation between the Ministers concerned - in this case the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) and the Minister for Civil Aviation - and the Cabinet, if necessary. Perhaps this action has taken place. If it has, I suggest that the results are negligible and show little regard for weeks and weeks of Committee work with the assistance of all the experts available and with the added advantage of a much wider and lengthier forum of discussion than that which often prevails either prior to Ministerial decision or even Cabinet approval.
Even with the question of aviation noise abatement, to which the Government now has given due and necessary recognition, one would be less than frank if one allowed the House and the community to reside in the illusion that it was this report that was the sole reason that prompted the Government to set up the committee of inquiry into aviation noise which was announced on Tuesday, even though such an attempt was made on Tuesday by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), no doubt in a vain endeavour to turn away the first thrust of the sword of defeat in his personal commitment to the pending electoral clash in the seat of St George. The honourable members for Barton (Mr Arthur), Maribyrnong (Mr Stokes), Lalor (Mr Lee), and Hughes (Mr Dobie) on this side of the House and the honourable member for Watson (Mr Cope) on the other side of the House have long been clamouring for action. In recent weeks they even have been joined by the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Curtin). Add to this the government members civil aviation committee, the municipalities of Rockdale and Botany in Sydney and the Keilor City Council in Melbourne, and it can be seen readily that the Public Works Committee is simply giving expression to the reasonable requirements of a substantial sector of the community, after it had heard a wide variety of evidence on the subject, bearing in mind that it was this Committee in its report in 1963 that warned the Government at the time of the pending rise of this threat concerning aviation noise. I submit that each and every one of the points that 1 made earlier carries a similar endorsement from the people and representative bodies.
Mr Deputy Speaker, I will advert to those specific points. I wish to deal firstly with:
When submitting the 1963 proposal to extend this runway into the Bay to the Public Works Committee, the Department of Civil Aviation gave two major reasons for the need. The first was to ease the heavy - that is, the international - traffic on the other east-west runway and the second was to lessen the noise nuisance in Botany and St George. With these points in mind, particularly the second ground, most people would have expected that the Department of Civil Aviation would have done all things expedient to achieve such a result. This is not so. All aircraft with rear mounted engines have to follow a specific Department of Civil Aviation plan when landing which is either identical or almost identical with that of the instrument landing system. Customs and habit soon come into the situation and, as a result, most of these flights use the instrument landing system.
International pilots with big loads and in strange territory look for an instrument landing system, particularly if the weather is not perfect, and certainly after dark. For years, and in reply to most complaints, the Department of Civil Aviation has allowed the noisy weary citizens to believe that, when the extension into the Bay is completed, maximum use will be made of it for departures and landings. Only last year did it become evident that the people were being allowed to delude themselves. There was to be no instrument landing system on the approach - I emphasise on the approach - over the Bay. Every time the weather deteriorated, every time a pilot was unsure, every time a scheduled jet was late arriving after 11 p.m., every landing of the rear engined jets and almost every night landing could not be over the Bay or over open space with no disturbance to the people. 1 ask you, Sir: How aloof from the people and how contemptuous of the feelings in the community can officialdom get? The House is told that it is intended to install the instrument landing system when this 13,000 foot runway is completed. This is an acknowledgment of the need and of the planners’ shortcomings. On the present schedule it will be 3i to 4 years before this runway is completed, despite what has been promised. Can we expect the people to tolerate this? The instrument landing system is required right now. The cost of from $200,000 to $250,000 is of no consequence in relation to the benefit it will bring to the people in the populated areas around the Airport. I seek the support of the House on behalf of these people.
My next point, which relates to the access over the Bay to runway 16/34, is self explanatory when it is considered with the comments I have just made. This is a demand that runway 16/34, with access over the Bay and egress in the same direction, be promulgated and enforced as the preferred runway at all times. It is essential that all airlines, all airport staff and all pilots develop a positive psychology and that at all times, within normal practicalities, the runway over the Bay be sought and used.
With respect to the time-table for construction, I invite honourable members who have the report before them to observe paragraphs 69 to 73 because they provide a very precise and concise appreciation of the situation. Qantas Airways Ltd will be flying 747s in August 1971 - 21 years from now. The Department of Works has stated that the contract will take 3 years to complete from the time it is let. This was indicated as being March of next year, but it will probably be June 1969. The Department of Works promised this current extension within 3t to 4 years from 1963. It is not completed yet. It is 2 years behind schedule. If we accept this schedule for the work from my Department of Works we will not see the 13,000-ft runway until late 1972 at the earliest. The schedule needs to be reassessed and, to use the parlance of the Committee, some energy and imagination in new engineering techniques needs to be applied to overcome the dilatory efforts of the Department of Civil Aviation.
Time will prevent me from elaborating on and supporting all my points, but 1 must refer to the alternative site for the Sydney Airport. I would hope that the quotations I have given from previous debates will indicate that this subject has been on the Government’s plate for many years now, but. still a decision has not been made. There has been an indication that Towra Point might be used as the alternative site. I say unequivocally that the Towra Point proposal must go by the board because this would be inflicting more on the people. A solution to this problem is years overdue and an unequivocal decision is necessary now. A similar situation prevails in respect of an investigation on the practicalities of a decentralised international airport. Unfortunately I do not have time to dilate on this matter or to provide additional facts. I should think that there would be many honourable members who would have some very fertile comments to make on the value of a decentralised international airport at a suitable location.
Another important point that 1 have made before relates to the commencement of the domestic terminals. I direct the attention of the House to paragraphs 84 to 86 of the report. The Committee dwelt solely on the operational problem and made no reference to existing domestic facilities, lack of amenities and downright inconvenience to international travellers who have to travel li miles to and from the domestic terminals. The recent extensions by TransAustralia Airlines and the proposed Ansett-ANA changes do little or nothing to alter conditions for the future as the traffic figures soar year after year. In 1965 the excuse was that there was no more money. However events and expenditure since have shown how fallacious this argument was and still is. As against a world record of achievement in most other phases of its activities one is at a loss to understand how the Department of Civil Aviation finds itself in such a mire with airport development. It is remarkable when we compare this situation with other accomplishments by the Government in the field of civil aviation. Almost 10 years after its own airline, Qantas, along with the world leaders, showed outstanding foresight and introduced Boeing jets into Australia’s international activities, we have not a respectable jet airport on the eastern seaboard. Sydney and Melbourne airports handle 5 million passengers annually between them. Sydney languishes 2( decades after the war and 12 years after the start of the jet age.
– You are biased.
– The honourable member for Kooyong suggests that I am biased, but I ask him to listen to me. Tullamarine was conceived in 1959 yet here it is 3 years behind schedule and still at least 15 months to go. If Melbourne people get it before 1970 they will be pleasantly surprised. While the Department and the Government plod around in frustration Brisbane gets very little, Adelaide gets another temporary terminal and will have to wait until 1980 before it gets a proper full blown terminal, and most country airports and cities like Wollongong and Newcastle get nothing. I plead with the Government to take civil aviation by the horns and project it into a positive profit earning industry not only for the airlines but for the taxpayers and the nation.
In conclusion 1 wish to advert to my opening remarks. The argument that the Public Works Committee has with the Department of Civil Aviation is based on two subjects - lack of action on aviation noise and criticism of development at the Kingsford-Smith Airport and at Tullamarine, and their relationship to these references. In respect of the first matter, that of aviation noise, after a long battle extending over 4 years the Department, and therefore the Government, has conceded that action is required. The Government has graciously acceded to the request for a committee of inquiry. This is a sensible beginning and, let me say, it is most appreciated. This is only a beginning in a conflict between the technologists and planners and the people - my constituents in St George and people in the electorates of Grayndler, Watson, Lalor, Maribyrnong and elsewhere.
And there can be only one outcome; the people must win if it takes 1 year or 10 years.
Finally, I know that many of my colleagues who have an interest, perhaps a responsibility, in relation to the runway extension into Botany Bay, may be reluctant to identify themselves with this issue; but even if 1 am the only one, I will1 say that the handling and planning of KingsfordSmith Airport is a disgrace to the Department of Civil Aviation and therefore a disgrace to successive Ministers for Civil Aviation and governments. The provincialism and politicking, mixed with downright bungling, could provide a plot for a very successful theatre act lampooning and burlesquing politics and Parliament. 1 believe that the Public Works Committee has made a notable contribution, free from inhibiting forces, in presenting to the Parliament in these reports an enlightened expose of the mess, with only 50% of the journey completed and, I suggest, 10 years to go. The Parliament should and will be grateful to the members of that Committee in due course.
– As the representative of the Lalor electorate, and because I am a member of the Government Members Civil Aviation Committee, I believe I should have a few words to say about the facilities that are to be provided at Tullamarine. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) and honourable members should know that the Keilor City Council and the people of that area are concerned about the effects of development south of Tullamarine in the vicinity of Sharps Road and the possibility of noise being a problem within the airport itself. Recently the mayor, three members of the council and the State member for the district, Mr Ginifer. travelled to Sydney to investigate airport problems that might be encountered at Tullamarine. T understand that they were met by my colleague, the honourable member for St George (Mr Bosman). He was able to explain many of the problems. I could not think of a more capable member for them to meet and with whom to discuss the problems.
The Council has written to me and I should like to mention what it said. It expressed its concern at the location chosen for aircraft maintenance bases in the southern portion of the Tullamarine jet port. It requested answers to certain questions. I will not read them all because they do not all deal with maintenance hangars. The Council asked:
Are there any strong reasons why the maintenance hangars are to be located as proposed?
That is, towards the south end of the airport. It also asked:
Is sufficient land still available in other areas of the jetport. particularly in a northerly direction, and, if so, can the maintenance bases be constructed in this area and, if not, why can’t they be so constructed?
I understand that these matters were raised with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works when it took evidence. I have looked into the problem myself. I have examined the map and I have been out to the area on a number of occasions. The only place for the hangars, apart from the present location, would be to the north end of the airport on a hill where there are a lot of trees and where the radar equipment is now established. I could not imagine that it would be possible to remove the hill. Nothing could be worse than maintenance hangars for aircraft being placed on the side of a hill. So I think that the right position has been chosen. However, we will have to watch developments as they occur around Tullamarine. Already drainage and sewerage connections have been made nearby. It would be impossible to make any alteration at this late stage of the parliamentary session. It is desirable to get on with the work immediately, so that it will be completed when Tullamarine is opened.
I support the recommendations made by the Public Works Committee in paragraphs 68 and 69 of its report. The Committee states that in due course the Government should investigate whether a noise insulated hall at Tullamarine should be built similar to the one at Hamburg. I understand that the one at Hamburg has not yet been fully tested, but the position there will be closely watched. If the facility in Germany is successful, it would be advisable at a later date to consider constructing at Tullamarine a hangar for testing aircraft. It should be fully insulated so that the noise will not reach the environs of the airport.
I should like to ask the Minister one question. Where will the pilots who fly the jet aircraft be trained when Tullamarine is fully operational? One reason for finishing the runway earlier than the buildings was to enable the pilots to be trained in this area, and I wonder where they will be trained when Tullamarine becomes operational.
I congratulate the State Government for the tremendous job it has done together with my colleague in the State Parliament, Mr Ken Wheeler, who overcame many difficulties in preparing for the construction of a freeway along Moonie Ponds Creek and out to Tullamarine. This will provide a splendid access to the city and will be used not only by traffic to Tullamarine but also by traffic coming down the Hume H ighway from the northern and north-western suburbs. I should like to make one brief comment on the financial arrangements. I notice that the Committee has been mildly critical of the financial arrangements. 1 can see nothing wrong and nothing unbusinesslike about borrowing money at 5.4% and lending the same money to the industry at 7i%. This seems to me to be good business.
– It is very good business, l t is a profit of 50%.
– It is good business for the Commonwealth. I would not mind borrowing money at 5.4% and lending it at 7£%. I would think that Ansett-ANA has also been given a good deal. No doubt it would have had to borrow at a higher rate than 7£% if this money had not been available. But it is good business for the Australian taxpayer when the Government can borrow money at 5.4% and lend it at 7i%. I support the motion. I hope that the buildings can be erected at an early date and in time to come into operation for the opening of Tullamarine.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Extension of North-South Runway, Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport
– On behalf of the Minister for the Navy (Mr Kelly), I move:
The proposal involves the extension of the existing north-south runway at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport to 13,000 feet and associated works to provide facilities for Boeing 747 aircraft. The 3,900-foot runway extension will be constructed further into Botany Bay. The estimated cost is $23m. The Committee endorsed the need for the works proposed and recommended that construction should commence without delay. Upon the concurrence of this House in this resolution, detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate:
Without amendment -
Judges’ Pensions Bill 1968.
Law Officers Bill 1968.
Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Bill 1968.
Live-stock Slaughter Levy Bill 1968.
Live-stock Slaughter Levy Collection Bill 1968.
Meat Research Bill 1968.
Meat Legislation Repeal Bill 1968.
Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Bill 1968.
Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 5) 1968.
Loan Bill (No. 2) 1968.
Service and Execution of Process Bill 1968.
Judiciary Bill 1968.
Lands Acquisition (Defence) Bill 1968.
Papua and New Guinea Bill (No. 2) 1968.
Without requests -
Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1968.
– I have received a message from the Senate intimating that it concurs in the resolution of the House of Representatives granting to the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory or any sub-committee thereof power to move from place to place when considering the matter referred to the Committee on 26th November.
Bill returned from the Senate with an amendment.
Consideration of Senate’s amendment.
Clause 9. (1.) Section 28 of the Principal Act is amended -
. . .
by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section: (5.) Nothing in this section shall be construed as derogating from the power to make regulations conferred by any law of the Territory that makes provision for the incorporation of. and otherwise in relation to, companies, but where regulations made in pursuance of such a law are inconsistent with Rules of Court made under this Act, the Rules of Court shall prevail, and the regulations shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be of no effect’.
Leave out paragraph (b), insert the following paragraph:
by omitting sub-sections (3.) and (4.) and inserting in their stead the following sub-sections: “(3.) All Rides of Court made under this section shall -
be notified in the Gazette:
lake effect from the date of notification or from a later date fixed by or in accordance with the Rules; and
be laid before each House of the Parliament within fifteen sitting days of that House after the making of the Rules. “(4.) If either House ofthe Parliament, in pursuance of a motion of which notice has been given within fifteen sitting days after any Rules of Court have been laid before that House, passes a resolution disallowing any rule, the rule so disallowed thereupon ceases to have effect. “(5.) Nothing in this section shall be construed as derogating from the power to make regulations conferred by any law of the Territory that makes provision for the incorporation of, and otherwise in relation to, companies, but where regulations made in pursuance of such a law are inconsistent with Rules of Court made under this Act, the Rules of Court shall prevail, and the regulations shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be of no effect.”.’.
The amendment provides for an alteration in the procedure for making or disallowance of the rules of court. In the Bill to amend the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Act which was passed by this House and sent to the other place, the rule making power of the court was widened to permit it to make not only rules relating to the practices and procedure of the court but also rules relating to company matters including the liquidation of companies. But we have adopted a uniform companies Act and it was desired to make rules corresponding with those in force in New South Wales in particular and that these rules as in New South Wales should be made by the judge. The Act did not provide for power in the judge to make these rules. The Bill as forwarded to the other place contained by amendment a power to make them.
One matter was considered by the other place. Where rules are made by the judge they are able, under the present Act, to be disallowed by the Attorney-General. It was thought that it was preferable that these rules should be capable of disallowance not as it were by the Executive but by the resolution of either House of the Parliament. In point of fact I may say that this provision for disallowance of rules by the Attorney-General had been in the present law since 1933. At that time Canberra was a much smaller community than it is now. No doubt this furnishes some explanation for the current provision. The opportunity had not been taken in this House to amend that although I had in mind that next year, if and when the Commonwealth Superior Court Bill is passed, there would be necessitated some further amendments of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Act.
I proposed and had in mind to take into consideration a number of matters including who should have power to make rules and whether it should not be vested in not fewer than three judges and what should be the power of disallowance. However, the other place by amendment has now provided that rules should be disallowed only by either House of Parliament.
This was a Government amendment made at a time when the Leader of the Opposition in the other place had foreshadowed moving this amendment and another amendment had we not ourselves offered it. The Government does not resist this. It had indeed been taking the matter under consideration. It would have been one of the matters considered next year. The Government is content to have this amendment made at this time and accordingly I recommend to the Committee the amendment to which the other place has agreed and which it has transmitted to us.
– The Australian Labor Party supports this amendment and sought it. A week ago the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) introduced the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Bill. Last Tuesday night I spoke to the Bill after my parliamentary executive had had an opportunity to consider it, but before the parliamentary party had been able to consider it as a whole. In saying that my party would not oppose the Bill in this House I forecast that it was likely that we would in the Senate move an amendment concerning the disallowance of the rules of court which the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court is empowered to make. This course was endorsed by my parliamentary party yesterday morning. Consequently it was announced in the Senate that we proposed to move an amendment in the Committee stage of the Bill. As the Attorney-General said, the rules of court made by the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court have, since 1933, been capable of disallowance by a notice by the Attorney-General in the ‘Gazette’. The more modern practice which has now been adopted in the amendment which the Attorney-General and 1 support came about in 1937 in the Judiciary Act concerning the rules of court made by the High Court.
In the case of the High Court the rules of court had to be notified in the ‘Gazette’ and had to be laid before both Houses of Parliament and then, if IS days’ notice was given in either House, could be disallowed by that House. The same procedure has been forecast in respect of the Commonwealth Superior Court in the Bill which was introduced and the consideration of which will be resumed next year. It surely would have been anomalous that the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court should have a greater rule making power than the High Court itself had had for 31 years or than it was expected the Commonwealth Superior Court would have.
The Attorney-General in the case of the High Court or of the projected Commonwealth Superior Court would as the law officer of the Crown have the opportunity of moving for the disallowance of any rules of court by the usual process in either House of the Parliament - the House to which he belonged. But other honourable members on either side of the House would have no opportunity to move for the disallowance of rules of court of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court although they would have that power in respect of rules of court of the High Court itself or, it is expected, the Commonwealth Superior Court. Accordingly, on the whole basis of relativity and rationality it was proper thai the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court should be treated in the same way. lt is always important that delegated legislation should remain within the purview of members of the Parliament. During the present session honourable members have directed attention in the debate on the War Service Homes Bill to the fact that the provisions of the War Service Homes Act can be cut down by ministerial directions which cannot be disallowed by Parliament or even reviewed by Parliament. During the debate on the National Health Bill it was pointed out that important decisions under the national health scheme can be made by determinations notified in the ‘Gazette’ but not able to be disallowed or even reviewed by the Parliament. On many occasions over the years it has been pointed out that under the laws relating to the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory it is possible in some cases to make ordinances and in other cases to make regulations which cannot be disallowed or even reviewed by this Parliament. It is proper that ministerial directions, determinations and regulations - Territory regulations and even perhaps Territory ordinances - should be capable of review or disallowance by this Parliament.
The same should apply to rules of court. This has for long been the case with the High Court, lt is expected it will be the case with respect to the Commonwealth Superior Court. It is proper that it should apply to the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court. 1 forecast this amendment 2 nights ago. Since my Party ratified the suggestion we intended to move an amendment in the Committee stage of the Bill in the other place. But the Government accepted the suggestion and sponsored it in the other place. The Government’s amendment was carried there and it comes to this place. We support the amendment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed (vide page 3414).
– The manipulation and manoeuvring of the Government in connection wilh the discussion of this Tariff Board report are worth examining. The report was presented to this House by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) on 9th October, and in the closing hours of this sessional period of the Parliament a limited debate on it is allowed. At 12.35 p.m. today, after several speakers had taken part in the discussion, in response lo a request by the Government Whip, I moved the adjournment of the debate on the understanding that it would be resumed in the early part of the afternoon. It is now a little after 10 p.m., within an hour or so of the conclusion of the sessional period. I thought that at least another dozen speakers would contribute to this debate but in fact there will be only two or three more.
As you well know, Mr Acting Speaker, the Tariff Board in its report forecast some controversial changes. An open letter appeared in yesterday’s ‘Australian Financial Review’ and in today’s ‘Canberra Times’ in the form of a challenge to the Parliament. With the concurrence of the House I will have this open letter incorporated in Hansard.
AN OPEN LETTER TO PARLIAMENT
As a matter of urgency the Associated Chamber”! of Manufactures of Australia raises il3 voice on behalf of more than 22,000 Manufacturers in this country. The Tariff Board’s Annual Report for 1967-68 has far-reaching implications for our future resources.
The central issue is that the Tariff Board - by what purports to bc mere technical and procedural changes - has gone far to lake the initiative in tariff-making power from the hands of the Government, where it traditionally and properly belongs.
The specific criteria outlined by the Board - referred to as its ‘points of reference’ - give two major grounds for concern. Firstly, they lack published conceptual support (see Para. 38 of the Board’s Report) and must therefore bc regarded as little more than technically pretentious.
Moreover, the very rigidity of the points of reference carries some undesirable implication*. Australian industry in the “medium cost’ category today may be rendered ‘high cost’ tomorrow by a fortuitous currency devaluation in a competitive country. Should the industrial fabric of a Nation bent on development be placed at hazard by such a factor - a factor moreover having nothing whatever to do with questions of technical efficiency or the industry’s competitive relationships with the rest of the world?
Secondly, the Board’s 1967-68 philosophy (see particularly paras. 44 and 45) also puts it virtually beyond question that any industry faced with competition from the emerging Nations of the world must eventually be subject to a Board recommendation which, if accepted, will lead to the fairly prompt demise of the industry concerned. To think or say otherwise is to show a profound ignorance of the commercial facts of international industrial economics - particularly those related to the international labour cost divergencies.
This is not to say that we are not aware of the legitimate developmental aspirations of the emerging nations. ACMA acquiesced readily in the special preferences scheme for developing countries introduced by the Australian Government in 1965. It is, however, quite another matter to submit meekly to a doctrinaire scheme which - if accepted by Government - would lead to the rapid decline of quite substantial areas of industry on which the livelihood and careers of some hundreds of thousands of Australians depend.
Finally, the whole process of industrial development rests on one primary and vital factor. This factor is management’s confidence that the overall policy framework within which it operates will not be subjected to fundamental change.
Industry’s confidence in this matter has now - by the tabling of the Tariff Board’s Annual Report - given way to a growing disquiet. In the national interest, the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia urges that the Parliament by its deliberation and decisions removes this disquiet.
(The Australian Financial Review,
Wed., November 27, 1968)
This letter is an open challenge to all members of the Commonwealth Parliament to state clearly where they stand on the issues raised in the Tariff Board’s report. We on this side of the House also want to know where the Government stands on this report, and particularly on paragraph 44 of it, which states in part:
In the case of areas of production which are found to have little prospect of operating with an effective rate below 50%, the Board would not recommend protection sufficient to allow the industries concerned to compete for resources on the same terms as low cost industries.
Where does the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street) stand on this? Where does the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan) stand? I have no doubt that those two honourable gentlemen would agree with the Tariff Board. I have no doubt that the honourable member for Lalor (Mr Lee) would lend some support to the Board. We would like to know where the members of the Australian Country Party, whose leader is the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), stand on this issue. Where does the honourable member for Moore (Mr Maisey) stand on this? We know that there are divisions within the Liberal Party on the question of this Tariff Board report. We know that the urban interests hold certain views and we know that the rural interests have their own parochial concerns. We know that the members of the Country Party are not happy with the Government’s attitude to the Tariff Board report. In fact their leader, the Minister for Trade and Industry, who is responsible in this Government for tariff policy, is now without a friend. There is not one person in the Country Party who supports his policy. If there is, let that person get up and say: ‘I support the proposal put forward by the Minister for Trade and Industry’. We know that earlier today the Minister made a statement to this effect: After all, these men on the Tariff Board are not of very high standing when it comes to economic calibre’. He said: ‘After all, if we really want expert advice on what we should do we should seek expert economic advice. The Government has thrown the Tariff Board’s advice in the garbage tin.
What we on this side of the Parliament are concerned about is this: Why has the Government not laid down guide lines to show clearly in what areas the Tariff Board should make reports to the Government? The Government has not done this. It has allowed the Tariff Board, after lengthy deliberations, to prepare and submit a report, and then it has simply thrown the report into the waste paper basket. What confidence can the industrial and manufacturing sector of the community have in the Government? Why has the Associated Chambers of Manufactures published this open letter asking all members of Parliament to state clearly where they stand on the Tariff Board’s report? The Associated Chambers of Manufactures must be greatly concerned. Leaders of industry, who have to plan for the future, who have to invest money in modern equipment so that they can produce efficiently and compete on world markets, must be similarly concerned.
As I have said, the Minister for Trade and Industry has not a friend in his own Party. He has been described as a man standing with his feet apart and watching them drawing further and further apart, because he represents conflicting interests. Honourable members should read the speech that he made today. He is clearly walking a tightrope and the Government is divided.
This report was tabled on 9th October, and here we are with only a few minutes of this sitting left. We find that the number of people who have spoken in this debate can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The Associated Chambers of Manufactures would have amongst its members the employers of a very large section of the workers of Australia. We rely on them to assist in maintaining full employment. Now they are asking members of Parliament where they stand on this issue, and the Government, because of the divisions in its ranks, is manipulating and manoeuvring in the dying hours of this sessional period in an attempt to throttle discussion.
What concerns me is that international prices are not perfectly competitive. When one looks at the wage structure in a country such as Australia, one sees that international prices are not competitive. In a report of the Australian Knitting Industries Council the cost of labour in Australia is stated to be $1.05 an hour. In Japan, which buys our raw materials, the cost of labour is 36c an hour. Many honourable members opposite say that if Japan buys goods from us we should buy goods from her. In India the cost of labour is 15c an hour. In Formosa it is 11c an hour; in South Korea it is 9c an hour; and in Hong Kong it is 22c an hour. How can we compete internationally in such a situation? How can you deal with such an industry that needs protection at a rate of more than 50%? The Tariff Board states that any industry that needs a 50% rate of protection has to go. Twenty-seven per cent of Australian manufacturing industry comes into the category that needs protection at a rate of 50% or more. Thirty per cent of the work force employed in manufacturing industry comes within this category. I have spoken only about the wage cost per hour. No workers compensation and no holidays are awarded in the countries I mentioned earlier. Workers in those countries do not work under the same conditions as do our workers. These facts must be taken into consideration.
When dealing with the international price levels one has to consider internal subsidies. In 1960 I travelled round various factories in China. I asked what prices they charged on the world market and I was told: ‘World market prices’. When I asked whether, if they wished to drop the price by 10%, 15% or 20%, it could be done, the reply was: ‘Yes, if it is necessary. If it is part of government policy we certainly can do that.’ Communist countries can export goods to world markets and still give a 15% or 20% reduction. But Communist countries are not the only ones who can do this. Because of internal subsidies Japan can determine its own price level. West Germany is another such country. Many advanced capitalist societies can do the same as Communist societies are doing. When one talks about international price levels and says that industries have to be economic and efficient it should be borne in mind that many Australian industries are economic and efficient.
The matter has to be looked at broadly. Australian industries should be protected. I hope that the Government will give guidance to the Tariff Board. What planning has the Government done? When has the Government ever co-operated with manufacturing industry. When has the Government been prepared to sit down with manufacturing industry to discuss planning for the future of a particular industry in the best interest of the nation? When has the Government co-operated with the private sector? 1 state quite clearly that the Labor Party’s attitude is that we should maintain the development of secondary industry to strengthen and diversify the economy and to protect our balance of payments. Australia has had a disastrous balance of payments record. When the Scullin Government first adopted a tariff policy in the early 1930s it did so to protect our reserves of currency. In the 18 years since 1950 Australia has had a deficit on the current account of $7,269m. How has it paid for that? It has done so with an inflow of private investment from overseas. It has been selling a little bit of the farm every year. In 1963 the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) spoke about this. On the 2nd April of that year, when addressing a Country Party conference in Victoria, he said:
We in this room are mostly established farmers. If we earn enough annual income we live comfortably. If we do not we could still live comfortably by selling a bit of the farm every year, and that is pretty much the Australian situation - we are not earning enough and we are selling a bit of our heritage every year.
When the Government considers tariff policy it must keep in mind Australia’s balance of payments. If one looks at the deficit on current account in the last 4 years one finds that 4 years ago it was $776m; in the following year it was $888m; in the following year it was $657m, and last year it was $l,058m. Every year Australia has been in the red. It is going further into debt and selling a little more of the farm each year. Australia is not even considering any planning for manufacturing industry in an effort to produce goods within this country from Australian raw materials and using Australian labour. This is what we should be doing. We should be giving some confidence to Australian manufacturing industry. We have not been doing this; instead we have been leading them along from one tariff report to another.
The Labor Party believes tariffs are essential to attain this objective. It believes that the tariff should be used to protect efficient and economic industries. The Labor Party would not protect anything that was uneconomic or inefficient, except in very special circumstances involving defence or regional areas. We may protect certain industries that are necessary for defence purposes. Again, we may protect industries which are not economic or efficient at this stage but may be in the future. We emphatically reject the argument that because an industry requires 50% protection or more it is necessarily inefficient. In this connection I have referred to wage structures in other areas of the world. We have various industries in Australia that need more than 50% protection. The Labor Party believes in an independent and fully equipped Tariff Board as the Chairman of the Board has suggested. There should be a comprehensive and statistical framework for tariff analysis and also an operating criteria which will ensure consistency between the Board’s separate recommendations and which will reflect the objectives of tariff making. We should adopt a method of dealing with abnormal pricing in international trade in cases where this causes or threatens the disruption of the economy of Australian production.
We would want the Tariff Board to examine industries that have never been examined at all, or for some years. We believe that the Tariff Board should examine industries which are referred to it by the Minister. The Tariff Board would form part of the overall economic policy of the Labor Party. The Labor Party would seek the co-operation of industry, and it would plan in the interests of industry and the nation as a whole.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– It is perhaps rather ironical that I should find myself tonight following the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) in this discussion of the Tariff Board’s report. Perhaps in a sense it is also rather fortuituous because it affords me an opportunity to clear up one point which seems to be troubling the honourable member. I refer to the matter of where I stand in respect of this report. I hope that by the time 1 resume my seat there will not be much doubt in the honourable member’s mind on this matter.
May I commence my remarks with a saying coined by a man who, I believe, deserved a better fate than that meted out to him. I quote:
Some men see things as they are and say: Why?’. I dream things that never were and say: Why not?’.
Those were the words of Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy. They were apt words, for Bobby Kennedy dreamed of big things. The questions he pondered were the ultimate and most fundamental facing the beings of this planet. He thought of war and of peace; of the poor nations becoming poorer and the rich richer. He though of disease, ignorance, prejudice and tolerance. It is fitting that he should have entertained such thoughts for he aspired to the most powerful office in this world’s most powerful nation. Had he succeeded he could have helped his dreams to come true, and we could have wished that they might.
We in this country act on what appear to be little things. The annual report which we are discussing would appear to be a little thing. It might appear to be a slightly distasteful commercial thing - a thing that few really understand and sincerely care about. Yet in its own way the tariff is a big thing. It deserves carefully considered attention. It deserves the personal effort to acquire the necessary comprehension and it deserves the vision of things that never were and the question: Why not?
Not so long ago a survey was conducted into poverty in Australia, lt revealed a hard core of poverty on a scale that few would have even conceived possible. The results of the survey should have shocked our social conscience. This is precisely what tariffs are all about. They are about national wealth - how much wealth the nation can create and how much it can afford to distribute to pensioners, education, the underprivileged and the needy. Tariffs strongly influence the direction of men and capital into industries. The more highly protected industries blossom and attract men and capital to themselves at the expense of other industries. They also increase costs to those other industries. For instance, if we had a tariff on coal we would have dearer electricity and steel. Everything else would become dearer because electricity and steel are in everything. The same applies to textiles, chemicals and plastics. You name it and it applies, even if all the connections might be more difficult to picture in the case of some products. In all this there is the one big issue - only the one. All others become unimportant in comparison with it.
Some industries are suited to Australian conditions. If you protect them the men and capital which they attract will together make a valuable contribution to Australia. They will produce considerable wealth. Other industries are less suited to Australia. If you protect them the men and capital that they will attract will produce a lesser degree of wealth. To have as much wealth as possible is obviously a valuable objective for which to strive. Many things are possible with more wealth. The eradication of poverty is only one. This is why it is important to make sure that we protect those industries which are capable of creating the most wealth.
This is where the Tariff Board’s report comes into the picture. In this report we see an attempt to forge a measuring stick which will allow the Board to select the industries which can produce the greater amount of wealth. The attempt is hesitant and cautious. It is also far from complete. It is far from comprehensive but it is a beginning and, as I said, we should bid it welcome. The big issue in tariff making is not only to select industries which will individually produce the most wealth. The big issue is to protect those collections of industries which will jointly produce the most wealth. So far the Tariff Board does not appear to be looking at this more complicated segment of the problem.
The plain fact is that the protection of half a dozen industries on a separate basis may not be justified because none of them individually is suitable for Australia. Not one of these industries alone and in isolation could pass the test of being a worthwhile producer of wealth. However, the six industries looked at as an integrated whole could be eminently suitable and could pass all tests. Thus the quest for a well oriented tariff policy cannot rest on the sort of piecemeal inquiry tradition that we have been accustomed to. We have never had an integrated approach to protection based on the understanding of the relationship between various industries. These are the things that never were and I ask: Why not?
Essentially the answer lies in the fact that we have never paid serious attention to the intelligent allocation of our economic resources. This in turn is a reflection of many things. The most basic of them is that we have considerable natural endowments, the most recent being the newly discovered mineral resources, and we have literally shelved the more difficult political questions associated with intelligent resource allocation on the basis that we can well afford to live off the fat of the land. To put it bluntly there has been some tacit decision that we are wealthy enough and why should we rock the political boat in an endeavour to be wealthier still. This underlying consensus, which to me appears very real, ignores the fact that many things which are wrong could be made right if only more wealth could be created by the economy. It is in this context that I consider the recent discoveries of large scale mineral deposits in Australia to be a retrograde step. They have made rational economic management less of an urgent necessity both from the balance of payments angle and the national wealth or national income angle. Nevertheless it seems to me to be the height of folly for a man with a crippled leg, who has fortuitously found a horse to ride, to set aside the medical treatment which would make him well again.
As I mentioned earlier, this report is a very small step along a very long road. As a next step the Tariff Board must put vim into its efforts to look at the connections between industries and to protect or encourage industrial complexes which have promising features. In facing this next hurdle the Tariff Board would do well to look at, and benefit from, overseas experience. I will give the House an example. Southern Italy constitutes a partly underdeveloped region with certain similarities to Australia. It has been agreed that industrialisation should be promoted in this area, both as a means of providing jobs and as a means of securing the most wealth that is possible. To achieve these objectives, the European Economic Community Commission formed a body known as Italconsult to furnish it with competent advice. Ital-consult, therefore, was engaged in a task which is very similar to that of our own Tariff Board. What has emerged has been described in the following terms:
The essence of Italconsult’s scheme is that it has identified 31 industries in mechanical engineering - 8 of them principal industries, with 23 component suppliers and servicing industries - which together would constitute an interlocking whole. The decision to invest would be commercially sound for each of these industries only because, and precisely because, it would be assured that all the others would be there either in the role of customer or supplier. Each of these industries is to be fully capable of holding its own in the widest European market which is an essential part of the plan.
Sir, overseas experience indicates that economic management of this type or, if you like, investment management, is a very highly skilled operation. It is for this reason that I would lay major stress on the following extract from the speech made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) in this chamber on 9th October last. The Prime Minister said:
The Government expects the Board to take all possible steps to improve the quality of its advice.
This is a tremendously important sentence. It is a sentence the Tariff Board should really take to heart. It is a sentence that those responsible for the staffing of the Board and for the appointment of its members should also take to heart. It is abundantly clear that what this country and this Government need is the highest quality of advice obtainable. If the Board’s advice is deficient in quality, if it lacks the technical or intellectual calibre that we should expect of it, the Government would have to disregard and set aside such advice. This would be a waste of public money and just another exercise in futility. We get the sort of Government we deserve. If we are to expect the Tariff Board to improve the quality of its advice it is up to us to supply the means. It is also important for the Government to communicate to the Board its policy in these matters.
Some time ago there was, in this chamber, considerable debate about the Tariff Board’s paying heed to the Government’s policy. If this were interpreted as meaning that the Tariff Board should give, in individual cases, the sort of advice that the Government wants to hear rather than the type of advice warranted by the facts, then obviously it would be against the best interests of Australia for such an obligation to be laid on the Tariff Board. On the other hand, a Government policy that the Tariff Board should improve the quality of its advice must be heeded by the Board. There is nothing in any way improper in the Government’s expecting the Board to take policies of this sort fully into consideration. There is another aspect of Government policy mentioned in the speech by the Prime
Minister which the Tariff Board must bear in mind. The Prime Minister stated:
The Government will also afford adequate protection to industries of high importance from the standpoint of our strategic or other vital national interests.
A policy objective of this type also lays an obligation on the Government. The obligation on the Government is to list those industries which, in its own mind, rank high in terms of strategic and other vital national interests.
It is possible that here there could be scope for confusion. Quite a large number of industries have strategic importance. The degree of such importance will vary from industry to industry. It might be necessary for the Tariff Board to weigh, in some cases, the fact that an industry is a poor producer of wealth against the fact that it might offer this country some advantages from the standpoint of defence and defence preparedness. There is, I feel, an obligation in cases such as these for the Government to intervene by evidence at the appropriate inquiry. There is also an obligation on the Tariff Board to do a good deal more than merely justify given advice with a qualitative statement that the industry concerned has some strategic importance. The obligation on the Board is to measure, to quantify, and not simply to confine itself to an arbitrary opinion.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasise that the greater part of the costs of tariff policy are ultimately paid by exporting industries. The very least that the Government and the Tariff Board owe to these industries is an effort to ensure that where tariff protection must be granted it is granted in such a way that the greatest amount of wealth or national income will flow on from the action taken. For this to take place, tariff making in this country must graduate from the horse and buggy stage to a more rational scientific and sophisticated level. The Tariff Board must continue the work of equipping itself with the basic tools which would enable it to distinguish between the more worthwhile and the less worthwhile industries for Australia to have. The Tariff Board must also look dispassionately and objectively not only at what the level of protection should be in each case, but at the principles governing the method of protection that should be used in each individual instance.
In the time remaining I would like to make a few remarks about the attitude of my friends opposite to tariff making. Traditionally, the Labor Party has held a very simple view of tariffs. Tariffs protect factories, factories provide jobs; so without tariffs or with reduced tariffs there is a threat to jobs. While I have no desire to be offensive to Opposition members, I think they should know that this view is wrong. A scientific tariff policy offers no threat to employment even though it means reduced tariffs. The tariffs can be reduced by concentration on those areas of production in Australia which need the tariffs least. This is simply saying that we stress the efficient industries - those that are efficient within the Australian environment. With this sort of tariff policy, there may be a change in locations where workers work, but there will be no change in the amount of jobs available or in the growth in the number of jobs available. In fact, the greater the productivity achieved, the greater the national wealth produced and the greater the national income generated the higher living standards will be for all sections of the population, including industrial workers.
What surprises me most of all is the recent attitude of the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns). I have surveyed the Hansard records of his speeches since 1964. For years his speeches on tariffs made for generally sound and instructive reading. His training has made him an able and discerning observer, alive to the economic implications of tariffs. This is in direct contrast to his colleagues. But this year he has echoed the old, simple, medieval Labor view on tariffs. The honourable member, owing to his background, is in a privileged position. He owes it to himself and to his Party to inform those who have been less lucky than himself. His latest conversation smacks of Galileo adopting and promoting the view that the earth was flat and stood at the centre of the universe. He would serve the country and his Party better if he devoted more time to enlightenment and less time to his self-assumed position of guide and mentor to Melbourne’s teenage brigade.
Motion (by Mr Peters) proposed:
That the debate be now adjourned.
– A point of order, Mr Acting Speaker. When this debate was adjourned this afternoon-
-Order! There is no point of order, and there can be no point of order on the motion that the debate be adjourned. The question is: That the debate be now adjourned.
– A point of order. The Whips from both sides of the chamber came to an arrangement. They told me that they wanted to have the debate adjourned. I then took action in accordance with the wishes of the Whips from both sides of the chamber. I will discuss the matter tonight - all night if you like.
-Order! There is no point of order.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr Acting Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) agreed to:
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) agreed to:
That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:
The House do now adjourn.
- Mr Acting Speaker, I know that everybody is looking forward to the Christmas festivities that probably will follow when the House does adjourn. I rise tonight to pass a few remarks that I feel are important to the country and also to the Parliament. I want to refer to what I feel is a very important matter. I refer to the fact that recently the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) delivered the Sir Robert Garran Oration. Although I know that people probably have read a great deal of the comments that were made by the Minister in his speech on that occasion, I. feel that some of the points that he raised need mention again because I believe that they have a vast affect on the Parliament and, most probably, on the integrity of the Parliament.
I wish to mention what the Minister said on that occasion and to refer to some of the Ministers who sit in this Parliament. I know that the speech that the Minister for External Affairs made on this occasion was very controversial. Questions were asked. Probably he is to be admired for the speech that he made on this occasion. I think that it was outstanding and that it was appreciated by a great many members of the Parliament, especially by those who respect the institution of Parliament. One of the propositions that the Minister for External Affairs stated on that occasion was with reference to Ministers. He maintained that Ministers should not have any financial interest in matters over which Ministers have administrative control. This proposition was based not on the argument that it is impossible for a man to make an unbiassed decision when he stands to gain monetarily from that decision but on the need that the public have complete confidence in Ministers and that self-interest should not influence Ministers in their decisions.
I think that we all appreciate that any Minister who has any dealings or any financial connections with any companies in Australia at least should receive no monetary gain as a result of decisions that may be made by his department. I feel strongly on that point. A former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, insisted that Ministers who had financial interests in companies had to let the Cabinet know of those interests before any matter, financial or otherwise, concerning those companies was discussed. I feel that that is a right and proper thing for any Prime Minister to do on any occasion when matters concerning companies are being discussed. I also know that on 16th October of this year the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) asked the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) a question with reference to the shares which the Prime Minister held in a certain television company. In the course of his answer, the Prime Minister referred to the fact that he held shares in a television company. He maintained that he did not feel that it was improper for a Minister to hold shares or to invest money in shares in a company. The Prime Minister also stated that the shares that he held in the company mentioned represented only a small fraction of the total shareholding of that company. I still feel that a Minister who has dealings with companies on behalf of a government should not have any financial dealings whatsoever with those companies.
Over the past 6 months or 7 months a great deal of discussion has taken place in this Parliament concerning the oil leases that have been granted to Esso-BHP off the shores of Victoria. Whilst many questions have been asked in this Parliament about that matter, I do not think that anybody could say that they have been answered satisfactorily by the Government. It appears to me that some sort of stigma attaches to the whole deal. I am pretty sure that we have sold out these resources to overseas investors. I know that differences of opinion have arisen as to the amount of oil that is in these leases off Victoria. It has been stated by one big company concerned that the quantity of oil equals 1,200 million barrels. But experts disagree with this esti mate and say that between 3,000 million barrels and 5,000 million barrels of oil lie there. I also know that probably the company concerned would claim a holding of 1,200 barrels for the simple reason that it receives a bounty of SI per barrel for the oil that it is to produce. If it can get more than 1,200 million barrels of oil, its bounty can be decreased. We know also that an interdepartmental committee was set up to inquire into these leases before the agreement concerning them was actually signed by the Government and before the leases were granted to Esso-BHP.
What concerns me - and this is the main reason why I am standing up in the Parliament tonight - is this: On 26th July 1968 the Prime Minister himself held 150 shares registered in BHP. On the same date, 100 shares in that company were registered in the name of his wife. Also on 26th July 1968 100 shares in the name of the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) and 800 shares in the name of his wife were registered in that company. So, 1,150 shares were registered in that company on 26th July 1968 as belonging to those persons. No doubt exists in my mind that this was the period during which the negotiations were going on between the Government and the company concerned in relation to these leases. The Minister who was acting on behalf of the Government in those negotiations and the Minister who sits in this Parliament handling those matters is the Minister for National Development. Personally, I believe - and I feel that the Minister for External Affairs feels the same way, bearing in mind the speech that he delivered on the occasion of the Sir Robert Garran Oration - that no Minister should have any financial dealings whatsoever with any company with which his Department is to negotiate any business deal.
On this occasion the Minister responsible to this Parliament for these matters, his wife, the Prime Minister and his wife also registered shares in this company. Being a responsible Prime Minister and also a responsible Minister they are in the position to receive inside information. As a result of it, they invest their money in these companies. We know that, at the present time, the value of these shares has risen to over $20 per share. So, honourable members can see that a fair amount of money is involved. Inside information is available also as to exactly what is the wealth that will come out of these oil fields. If they had given the full details to the Australian people and had told everybody the exact amount of oil that was expected to be gained, then naturally in a period of time the shares would rise in value and would continue to rise and the people would realise that there would be a good return from them. Personally I believe it is degrading the integrity of this Parliament when responsible Ministers of the Crown take out shares in companies that are negotiating deals with the Government. I think there ought to be an inquiry into the whole of the dealings. There ought to be a further inquiry, or even a royal commission, into the negotiations between the company concerned and this Government. This would be of benefit to the Australian people. I do not want to see a shadow over this Parliament by any Minister who is responsible to the Parliament.
Order! I would suggest to the honourable member for East Sydney that there are steps that he can take if there are allegations that he desires to make. I point out to him that imputations against a Minister are contrary to the Standing Orders.
– I accept your decision, Mr Acting Speaker, but I am referring to the fact-
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Later I shall be concluding this session with the normal remarks which one makes at the conclusion of a session, but having heard what the honourable member for East Sydney (Mr Devine) has just said, I think it is not unreasonable for me to put before the Parliament certain facts. Yes, it is perfectly true that I had 150 shares in the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. One hundred of them were bought in 1965, as the records will show; 14 of them were issued as a bonus issue, or whatever they call it, but I cannot recall the date although it was probably in 1966; and 36 were bought to bring about the magnificent total of 150 shares well before I became Prime Minister or became interested in any way in this matter.
– At this time of goodwill I make a plea for the House to spare a thought for those who will have less Christmas cheer this year because of the system of priorities of this Government and the State governments. For example, there is in my electorate a blind pensioner who has three dependent children. He had a rise of $8 a fortnight due to the Federal increase in pensions and children’s allowances but he lost $5 a fortnight because the Queensland Government imposes a means test on this sort of rise. So his net increase in 2 years has been $3 a fortnight for himself and three teenage children who eat more than an adult.
– What sort of Government do you have in Queensland?
– It pays more than some State governments; it also takes away more.
– Is it a Liberal Government or a Country Party Government?
– A Country Party Government. We should also spare a thought for those prisoners of conscience who languish in the gaols of most nations including our own, because of their political convictions. My questions on notice indicate that the Vatican has condemned the failure of nations like ours to recognise the right of conscripts to object to a particular war. I wish to raise especially a question of civil liberties that has made Australia’s name turn rancid in the nostrils of those around the world who love personal freedoms. It concerns our first virtual political exile - the accomplished and prize winning journalist Wilfred Burchett. He has not broken any law. He has not traded with our alleged enemies as has this Government. He has not suppressed facts from his political opponents as this Government has done. He has not taken up arms or compelled others to do so as this Government has done. His sin is that he believes in collecting and distributing the facts as he sees them, while his political views are different from those of the Government.
The Soviet Union, which has occupied the Baltic States, Czechoslovakia and other countries by force, is allowed to send its diplomatic visitors here with the usual exchange of courtesies but Wilfred Burchett is not allowed a visa to visit his distinguished 96 year old father and his brothers in the land of his birth and nationality in this season of goodwill and bombing halts. He is refused an Australian passport but is allowed freely into the United Kingdom and Canada. How irresponsible those northern countries must seem to this Government, encouraging as they do such blatantly Socialist policies as freedom of travel across Berlin, across iron and bamboo curtains.
This man is morally entitled to the benefit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which provides, in article 3, for the right of life, liberty and security of person. Article 12 provides that no-one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence nor to attacks upon his personal honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks. What law can help Wilfred Burchett? Article 13 (1) states:
Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
Part (2) of Article 13 states:
Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and return to his country.
Wilfred Burchett wrote to a member of this Parliament - the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) - 4 days before the release of the duck feather king, Mr Hyland, telling him that Mr Hyland should be freed within about 4 days as a result of his, Wilfred Burchett’s, efforts. He was released as predicted in that letter, which the honourable member for Yarra has informed me he has with him.
If this Government has any vestige of the political tolerance and human concern which it claims to be fighting for it will rush to reverse its arbitrary and vindictive flouting of moral law. If not, it will have done more harm to our security in our dealings with uncommitted nations than 1,000 Burchetts could do in a lifetime.
– I should not like anyone in this House at this time on the last sitting day of this session to go away without really understanding how desperate is the continuing fight against drought on the south coast of New South Wales and in Eden-Monaro. I should like to appeal to all those who have so generously donated hay and made free agistment available not to forget that the situation is continuing to get worse without any rain. I do not want anyone here to go back to his electorate, particularly if his electorate is in the immediate inland of New South Wales where there is adequate grass and hay, with the impression that any of the desperation of the situation is some kind of political stunting. It is not; it is a very real and tragic situation. 1 do not want to say any more about the unfortunate and clumsy political stunting by the Australian Labor Party in that particular area, but it has not any substance at all. There are people in the area who genuinely hold political convictions, whether they are the convictions of the Australian Labor Party, the Liberal Party, the Australian Country Party or the Australian Democratic Labor Party. But there are others whose convictions cover the whole range of politics. They are all trying to do a job for themselves, if they are drought stricken farmers, and for others, if they are not.
At this season of the year, with Christmas coming towards us, I hope that the generosity that has maintained these free gifts of hay and other fodder will continue. I do not underestimate the value to the farmers of the hay that has been provided at reasonable rates or agistment that has been provided at commercial rates. This help is still desperately needed to build up cattle that are getting too weak to move. The cattle should be moved out of the area. Many farmers have been hanging on week after week hoping that the little rain we had a few weeks ago would lead to the breaking of the drought. But the drought has not broken and now that the first little flush has gone the farmers are running out of feed and water. So the massive movement of stock other than dairy production stock is accelerating and will soon reach the rate at which it stood before the last fall of rain.
I saw many farmers last Sunday and Monday. Some through a combination of circumstances were handling the drought very well, but others, through another combination of circumstances, were in a very bad way and their situation was getting worse. The ones who are really battling, by and largs, are the small farmers and they do not have the physical or mental energy to look around for the opportunities thai are available to them or even to take advantage oi the straight out forms of drought aid. They certainly cannot seek out free agistment or free hay. They take the hay when it arrives. But what they need more than anything else is sympathetic counselling. 1 appeal now mainly to the New South Wales Government for very urgent and favourable consideration to be given to the provision of help from extension officers. Men should go to the area and counsel the smaller farmers who are really battling. If enough trained extension officers are not available, the State Government should send as many as it can and supplement them with clerical officers who could be briefed for this occasion.
I found that some farmers felt that they just could not take advantage of the offer of free transport of non-production stock to free agistment where they could be fattened. One or two of these people, after a conversation lasting for an hour or so, said they would give the suggestion serious thought and some have taken advantage of it. But there is a limit to what any one person can do in giving advice to them. We need a team of 10 or 20 men to go there. This would have the dual effect of providing some objective and direct help to the farmers who could then make the right decisions at the right time. It would enable quite a lot of cattle to be taken out of the area before they become too weak to travel. To that extent the problem of moving hay into the area would be relieved. Although a large amount of free hay is coming into the area, it is virtually impossible to give all the cattle all the hay they need, though we have not reached that stage yet.
– Have you tried the drought lozenges made of sugar from north Queensland?
– The honourable member for Hunter fails to realise that we have an immediate problem and not a problem that can be dealt with at some time in the future. Help must be given now. If it is not, many of these farmers will go out of business. We have been shown the value of people on the spot. Now that the Department of Agriculture has taken over, what movement of hay there is is going smoothly. The bush fires about which we heard today again show that we need immediate help in these disasters. We do not want some centralised system that will send help to the distressed area long after it is needed. I do not have time to canvass in detail all the drought relief measures that are available. The point I make is that many farmers are not taking advantage of the help that is available to them, despite the publicity that has been given to the relief measures. Over the weekend I spoke to farmers who said quite frankly that they had not read a newspaper or listened to the radio for weeks. They are working 16, 18 and 20 hours a day and they do not have time for what we could call objective management in a situation that requires very fine and keen objective management. This is the field in which we need help now.
In the last few minutes available to me, I specially ask the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) that he consider the point I made today and that is that the Snowy Mountains Authority determine the establishment it needs for the future team, or whatever it is to be, so that its officers will know who is to remain with the Authority and who is not. If the men knew what was to happen to them in the future they could now plan for the next year. This applies especially to men in the middle age group. This planning can be done now on the basis of assumption. The Government has already given a sufficient indication of what it intends to do. It has shown that it has a very sound basis for the continuance of a team that has been most successful in water conservation and allied civil engineering works. But the men need to know where they are going and they should be told. Surely the individuals whose personal skills we need for the future can be advised now on an ‘as if basis.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I want to speak tonight on a subject that I raised in the House more than a year ago. The Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ reported today that the South Australian Government has introduced changes to the postal voting system. The changes will mean that in future postal votes must be in the hands of the returning officer at the time the polls close. I was rather surprised to see this matter mentioned. It was very hard for me to realise that in a democracy such as ours this system was still allowed to operate. But I suppose when we consider some of the anomalies, distortions and manipulations that can occur in our Federal elections, it is not really so surprising. On 28th September 1967, I made a rather lengthy and detailed speech on various aspects of postal voting. It is recorded at page 1503 of Hansard for that date. On 3rd October 1967 I asked the then Minister for the Interior a question. At that time I referred to an article in a Melbourne newspaper in which allegations were made that 6 people had committed 450 breaches of postal voting regulations during the elections for the Melbourne City Council.
– Is that all?
– The honourable member for Kingsford-Smith is on his way out. However, he has been here for so many years that he has had the opportunity to make some corrections. However, on perusing the records I find that the honourable member has never uttered a word on this subject in all the years he has been here. But when I drew this matter to the attention of the House during question time the then Minister for the Interior said of me:
This is what we were told then. But I dare suggest, now that more than a year has passed, that one must wonder how slow the machinery of justice turns.
I recall that in the last Federal election there was almost a near bashing in my own electorate. Also a rather excited party worker used his vehicle to run off the road a person who was working on postal votes because he considered that this person was outdoing him. In recent years in Queensland an alderman of the Brisbane City Council was prosecuted for interfering with postal votes. If a member or anyone else raises this matter, what is the usual official answer? It is that if the member or person provides specific cases they will be investigated. But like so many other things that go on it is difficult to produce evidence of what is happening. Yet we know that they are happening. I do not believe that we should continue to leave legislation as it is today with loopholes that allow people to manipulate democracy as they do.
Distasteful as it may be for me to admit, the dark cloud of interference with democracy hanging over the Australian nation is blackest and thickest over my own State of Queensland, which is known as the sunshine State. At this point I would like to read to the House some figures which indicate the relationship of the postal votes to the total number of votes cast in each State. In New South Wales the postal vote was 1.7% of the total vote; in South Australia, 2.2%; and we climb, climb, climb to Western Australia, 2.3%, Victoria 2.5%, Tasmania 3%, and Queensland, the pride of all, takes 3.7%. Mark my words, this matter is of great importance to individual members. In some cases the postal votes are equivalent to 5.9% of the total number of votes cast. In one instance approximately 6% of the total vote cast for a member is made up on postal votes. This in itself indicates the importance of postal votes.
There is no escaping the fact that we are responsible for leaving loopholes in the laws. We are the people who make and mould the laws. If loopholes are left in the laws people who get carried away with election fever are likely to resort to anything that goes. I do not suggest for a moment that we should make it difficult for the genuine postal voter. Overall in Australia 143,129 postal votes were cast in the 1966 Federal election. This represents 2 to 3 or 3 to 4 seats in this Parliament or 2.4% of all the votes cast. I believe that we must examine this matter most closely. If the Minister is not completely happy about some of the allegations, we should set up a committee to look at these things so that he can see for himself what is going on. Also, this matter should be brought before the Commonwealth Electoral Officer, who just over a year ago was so genuinely concerned, so that we, the Parliament, can act.
It is time that something was done. Early next year we will have another State election in Queensland. We can be certain that lists are being prepared now. People will be going through the rolls carefully, marking the name of every person who has had a postal vote in recent times so that they can call on that person and get the vote. Also, the machine will be set up for the Federal election that will follow shortly after the State election. I would like to suggest that we should appoint a number -of Commonwealth doctors, particularly in densely populated areas, to make random calls on people who make applications for postal votes. If this were done we would frighten away a lot of people who have political motives and encourage people to vote in a certain way. I can assure honourable members that many people are absolutely frightened because a party worker says: ‘You will receive your vote in the mail; do not open it or touch it until I come’. Ladies or gentlemen in their 80s or 90s are frightened to touch the papers because they do not understand the position.
I would also like to enter a plea that we liberalise and relax the laws a little in respect of persons who year in year out, regardless of whether their health is good or poor, continue to vote. One almost has to be unconscious, or even in the grave before the Commonwealth is gracious enough to say: ‘Well Mr Smith at 21 you got the right to vote and at 91 you do not have to vote any longer’. At the moment a person still has to vote no matter how infirm or sick he is. This, in itself, is another cause of concern to people. I make a plea to the Minister, who I am very pleased and happy to see here tonight, to look at this matter.
– The honourable member would abolish it?
– I would not. Anyway, I notice that the postal voting for the honourable member’s electorate is extremely high.
– Do not suggest anything.
– I am not making any suggestions. But the postal voting in the honourable member’s electorate is high. Perhaps he has a lot of elderly people in his electorate.
There are other suggestions that I made a year ago on this matter, but I push the point that the Government can rise or fall if postal votes are or are not collected carefully. I believe that in this country where we profess to cherish democratic ideals, we as citizens and as members of the Australian Parliament should do everything in our power to eliminate these things that can only cast a dark shadow upon those principles which are held closely by the great majority of the nation.
– During the time I have been Minister for the Interior I have received representations from many people, and many parties and organisations seeking amendments to the Electoral Act. I have put 15 or more suggested amendments in a paper and submitted it to the Government. One of the amendments that will be looked at deals with the matter that the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) has raised tonight and indeed has raised on several occasions in this House. The Government has now appointed a Cabinet committee to study the amendments that I have collected in this paper. The matter to which the honourable member referred will be looked at. I trust that all the matters will be dealt with in the next session of Parliament. (Quorum formed)
Mr GORTON (Higgins - Prime Minister) - by leave - Mr Acting Speaker, with the motion that has been moved we formally end this sitting of the Parliament and bring to a close another parliamentary year. Words of thanks and of seasonal wishes are a customary way of winding up any parliamentary year and I think members on both sides of the House would agree when I say that 1968 has been far from an ordinary, routine year. It has been a year of great changes in many respects and it has been a busy and demanding year for the Parliament and for all those associated with it. I believe that all of us here would like you, Mr Acting Speaker, to convey to the Speaker our appreciation and thanks for the way in which he has maintained the dignity of this House, maintained the discipline of this House and presided over the affairs of this House with the impartiality which is essential in a democratic system of government. At the same time, Sir, may I express our thanks for the way in which you and your deputies have attended to your duties in the House.
My warmest thanks go also to my own ministerial and Party colleagues and to our coalition partners. I am grateful also for the co-operation extended by the Opposition in relation to the affairs of the House. While there have frequently been strong differences of opinion, I believe that we have operated in an atmosphere based on respect for each other’s points of view. All of us are also indebted to the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) for his efficient management of the Government’s business. In this he has had the able assitance of the Chief Government Whip, Mr Dudley Erwin, the Deputy Whip, Mr Winton Turnbull - who, I understand, is in his twenty-third year in Parliament - and the Assistant Whip, Mr Kevin Cairns. In conveying thanks to the Whips, I would also like to mention Mr Gil Duthie and Mr Bert James and to thank them for the cooperation they have extended to us. The Leader of the House has also had the very able assistance of Mr Ian Grigg as Parliamentary Liaison Officer, who - unfortunately in some ways - is returning to other duties at the end of this sitting.
Mr Acting Speaker, we all have reason to be grateful to the Clerk of the House, the Deputy Clerk and their staff for the invaluable assistance they have given us during the year. They are called upon to perform a wide range of duties and I should like to place on record our appreciation of their many services to us all. I should also like to thank the Parliamentary Reporting Staff, who perform a most im. portant and often unenviable role. The last year or so has seen developments and improvements in the Parliamentary Library and its associated research services. I am sure that all honourable members will have had experience of the help provided by the Library staff, as indeed I have myself. Their efforts contribute to the promotion of well informed discussion and debate in this place.
There are many others who play a part in the effective working of this House. I mention the broadcasting staff, the typing staff, the telephonists, the refreshment room staff and the attendants in the House. All of them help us continually and keep the business of the Parliament running smoothly. For that I think we are all grateful. Last but by no means least I make mention of the members of the Press Gallery. While we might not always agree with what they write-
– 1 would except one or two of them.
– It depends on which side of the House we happen to be. While we may not always agree with what they write, they do play an essential role in reporting the Parliament, and a role of some public importance. I should like to end, Mr Acting
Speaker, by wishing all honourable members and those associated with this Parliament a pleasant and, I hope, a restful recess. Christmas is still some weeks away but I now extend to you all the season’s greetings and wish you a pleasant Christmas. As to the new year, I cannot wish it will bring to all those present what they may hope to attain in the new year, but at least I hope it will be a new year in which all on this side of the House will attain what they wish to, and one in which all on the other side will find satisfaction and some happiness.
– I endorse the remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and, mutatis mutandis, reciprocate his wishes. I believe that you, Mr Acting Speaker, have held your position longer than most people in the House have held their positions. Therefore, it is appropriate for me to compliment you on your endurance and your urbanity. I suppose you have been trained in other ways for such a role. We miss the Speaker himself. I would like to say in his absence that he has continued ‘the improvement to which I testified a year ago. Looking back over our remarks a year ago, we would never have expected the changes which have occurred in membership and role in this place. It is a reminder to us all of the mutability of human wishes, not least in this precarious occupation which we pursue. We have lost colleagues and friends in the meantime.
All of us depend on a very great number of men and women in performing our roles. This city owes its existence to the presence here of the Parliament. There are very many people in it whose lives depend entirely on our comings and goings. Members of Parliament do not have to be in the precincts of the building or of the chamber as long and as undeviatingly as many of the persons who serve the Parliament. Members may get some respite from the long hours or the duties; many of those who work in the building and in this chamber cannot do so. Accordingly we acknowledge with thanks their endurance and their urbanity and their competence. In the Opposition particularly we depend on the officers of the Parliament - those in the chamber and those outside it in the departments of the Parliament. We do not have departmental officers at our disposal. Those who serve us have no nicks in their ears, to quote one of the most memorable contributions that any member of this House has made for quite some time, although it was not made in the House. There are a great number of men and women who help us in our comings and goings, in our studies, in our libations and in generally sustaining us. To all these people at this time we wish, as we wish ourselves, some period of recreation and reinvigoration over the Christmas season. We do not know when we will re-assemble next year, but we will re-assemble in better heart and better vigour because of this interruption to our purely parliamentary duties. I particularly thank my colleagues. Above all I thank the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard), because it falls to him and to the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) to arrange our affairs to the best of their ability and within the limits of our unpredictability. We do our job better because of the way they very efficiently and untiringly go about their jobs. On behalf of my colleagues I support the remarks of the Prime Minister and the good wishes which he has extended.
– I join the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in offering my warm good wishes and Christmas felicitations to you, Sir, in your capacity as Acting Speaker and in your permanent capacity as Chairman of Committees. We sit under you with contentment, not always getting all we want but no doubt getting all we deserve. I convey through you to Mr Speaker the good wishes of myself and the members of my Party. I extend equally good Christmas cheer to the Deputy Chairmen of Committees, the Clerk of the House, the Deputy Clerk, and the Whips who do their jobs very well and keep us in order. I extend the thanks of the Australian Country Party to the members of the Hansard staff and of the Joint House Department. I do not forget - no doubt none of us forgets - the aid which we all have received from those who have served us personally in our offices or who have helped us in many other respects.
Having expressed the appreciation of my Party to all the office bearers connected with the Parliament and those who serve in the Parliament, I express my thanks and good wishes to you, Mr Prime Minister. You are now closing the first year of your Prime Ministership. None of us in this House knew you perhaps as well as your colleagues in another place, but we have come to know you. I have come to have a warm affection for you and a high regard for your leadership, and for this I and my Party thank you.
I have been absent on duty overseas a good deal this year and it has fallen to the lot of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) to stand in my place as Acting Leader of the Country Party, and to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) to stand in my place as Acting Minister for Trade and Industry. I take this opportunity to thank each of them for the job he has done during that period. To all the members of the Parliament I extend very best wishes and good cheer for Christmas. I hope that everyone enjoys good health and that we come back fit in the new year.
– Because I will not be sending Christmas cards to everybody I now wish everyone a merry Christmas. There is always one fellow who is left out in these Christmas greetings. In the 13 years I have been here I have heard mentioned the barmen, the people in the dining room, attendants and others. But the fellow who I believe does the greatest job I have ever seen done is Gordon Pike, the transport officer. I feel certain that if as we lesser fellows, not the tall poppies, leave the House tonight by the back door one were to say to Gordon Pike: ‘On Saturday week I want to catch the Trans-Siberian Express from Moscow to Omsk via Tomsk’ he would say: ‘Look, old boy, I have only got one seat on the 10 o’clock train. I will put you on the waiting list for the 2.30.’ I pay him a tribute at this time of the year. I can never understand why somebody has not snapped him up.
– I take this opportunity to thank all members of the House for the co-operation that I have received. I thank the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) especially for the cooperation that the Government has received in discharging the legislative duties of the House. I add my own testimony to what the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) said about the work carried out by all the Whips. All those who serve us ought to have best wishes for Christmas together with the rest of us. 1 draw the attention of the House to my personal appreciation of the services of Ian Grigg, whom the Prime Minister mentioned and who unfortunately will not be here next year. Perhaps in the early part of next year honourable members will have to put up with a less efficient system than they have had over the last two years while Ian Grigg has been here.
During the session I have been taking careful account of who ought to be given the award for the best interjection. I have come to the conclusion that Jim Cope almost made it. He fought back strongly tonight, but Lennie Devine gets the award for his interjection yesterday when he said: The cow is outside and the bull is in here’. That applies only to this session. I still think that Jim Cope’s interjection in December 1966 about the drunken driver is the best I have heard since I came here.
I repeat that I appreciate the cooperation that has come from this area of the chamber, particularly from the Clerks.
– I take this opportunity to associate myself with the remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), who was supported by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen). I particularly want to say how much my staff and I appreciated the opportunity of working with the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) on matters that affect every member of the Parliament. We are largely responsible for the conduct of the business of the House. We have been able to work together very effectively and harmoniously. 1 express not only my own appreciation and good wishes but also the good wishes of every member of the Opposition who has learnt to understand and to appreciate the very fine contribution that has been made by Mr Ian Grigg, who is the personal assistant to the Leader of the House and who, as the Prime Minister has already indicated, will not be with us next year. I have always found that Ian Grigg has been able to co-operate not only with the Minister but also with me, thus making my task much easier. I join with the Minister in expressing my gratitude to Ian for his very fine assistance.
I would like also to express my appreciation of the wonderful effort of my secretary, Mr Clem Lloyd, who has co-operated with Mr Grigg so successfully during the year. I support the remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) and wish all honourable members the very best for the coming festive season.
-I think the resilience of honourable members is amply demonstrated by the fact that after having sat since 10.30 a.m. yesterday we can still at 2 minutes past midnight exhibit a sense of humour. This attribute reminds me of the story of the man who addressed a business luncheon. He asked: ‘For how long may I speak?’ The president of the organisation concerned replied: ‘For as long as you like, but we’re leaving at 2 o’clock.’ Why Mr Speaker and Mr Deputy Speaker were ever so described is beyond me, because we are the poor bunnies who sit here listening to everybody else speak and say little ourselves except: ‘Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.’ Some might wish that he had expired 29 minutes earlier.
On behalf of Mr Speaker I thank the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the Leader of my Party and Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) for the kind and generous remarks they passed about Mr Speaker and myself. It is fitting that at the end of this session I should place on record my appreciation and, I am sure, that of Mr Speaker, of the job that has been done by those who work in this place. I refer to the Clerk and those who assist him. I particularly have in mind the Clerk, who not only has made a contribution to the workings of this Parliament but has also made a marked contribution in conferences and meetings of parliamentarians from other countries. The Whips, the Deputy Chairmen of Committees also make a very valuable contribution to this Parliament. I place on record my sincere appreciation of all those who have been mentioned and who serve in various and varied spheres of activity in this Parliament. It is well that at a time when the world is undergoing stress and strain we should be reminded that we in this country have the privilege of living under a system that has been given to us by the service and sacrifice of so many people over so many years of history. We sometimes take our good fortune for granted. It is well at these times to remind ourselves of the privilege which we enjoy and of our responsibilities.
I have enjoyed the opportunity to play my part in this Parliament. I thank everybody for their kind remarks. I will convey to Mr Speaker the remarks passed about him. If he were here I know that he would join with me in wishing each and every one of you the compliments of the season and a successful and enjoyable recess. I trust that you will all come back next year fit and ready to continue the work that lies ahead.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.4 a.m. (Friday), until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr Speaker and to be notified by him to each member by telegram or letter.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:
Under what Acts, other than the National Service Act 1968, is a person guilty of an offence if, after being served with a notice by a public servant, he refuses or fails to attend before a person and at a time and place specified in the notice to answer questions and furnish information?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Legislative provisions of the kind referred to are to be found in the following Acts. 1 have not attempted to check all Commonwealth legislation as I think the Acts I have set out sufficiently illustrate the fact that the provisions of the National Service Act 1968 referred to in the question are not without precedent. I have not included Acts which authorise a member of a Statutory Board to summon people to attend before the Board although public servants may be members of the Board:
Agricultural Tractors Bounty Act 1966
Audit Act 1901-1966
Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Act 1956-1966
Copper Bounty Act 1958-1966
Diesel Fuel Taxation (Administration) Act 1957-1966
Estate Duty Assessment Act 1914-1967
Gift Duty Assessment Act 1941-1967
Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1967
Nitrogenous Fertilizers Subsidy Act 1966
Pay-roll Tax Assessment Act 1941-1967
Phosphate Fertilizers Bounty Act 1963-1966
Pyrites Bounty Act 1960-1965
Raw Cotton Bounty Act 1963-1966
Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 1) 1930-1966
Sales Tax Procedure Act 1934-1966
Stevedoring Industry Charge Assessment Act 1947-1967
Sulphate of Ammonia Bounty Act 1962-1966
Sulphuric Acid Bounty Act 1954-1966
Tractor Bounty Act 1939-1966
Urea Bounty Act 1966
Vinyl Resin Bounty Act 1963-1966
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
What (a) administrative and (b) legislative action has been taken by (i) the Commonwealth, (if) the States and (iii) the Territories to improve the standards and practices of those using radioactive substances and irradiating apparatus since his answer to me on 21st September 1967 (Hansard, page 1265)?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Since 21st September 1967, no amendments to legislation relating to radiation control have been effected within the Commonwealth.
During the same period, the National Health and Medical Research Council and my Department have taken action to improve the standards and practices of those using radioactive substances and irradiating apparatus. Following consideration at the Sixty-fifth Session (27th October 1967) and the Sixty-sixth Session (31st May 1968) of the Council of reports made by the Radiation Health Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Council adopted three further Codes of Practice prepared with the object of minimising radiation hazards and made recommendations concerning their distribution, as follows:
The Council recommended that the States and the Commonwealth should adopt the principles contained in the ‘Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Materials’ - Safety Series No. 6, 1967 Edition, International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.), and further recommended that a set of notes entitled ‘Notes on Medical Procedure for Radiation Accidents and Radioactive Contamination’ be distributed, principally through the State Health Departments, to medical practitioners and to users of radioactive substances and/or irradiating apparatus.
Australian Territories: Pre-school Centres (Question No. 748)
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Pre-school centres have been established at the following places in the Northern Territory. The number of Aboriginal and ‘other’ children attending these Community Pre-School Centres as at 30th June 1968, are given below:
All the Centres listed in the table above are conducted by the Commonwealth Department of Education and Science. The two exceptions arc
The following Pre-school Centres for full-blood Aboriginal children arc operated by the Welfare Branch of the Northern Territory Administration. This information concerning them in this and subsequent answers has been made available by my colleague, the Minister for the Interior.
The educational system for Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory allows for children of a minimum age of 3 years to commence a 2 year pre-school course. In this course, English comprehension and number concept are emphasised. The Government’s policy is that Aboriginals should not suffer from any educational disadvantages because of remoteness from developed areas and economic factors which apply at this stage to many Aboriginal families. Many Aboriginal children have special problems in undertaking the curriculum set down for schools in the Territory. Teaching methods and curriculum in the special schools for Aboriginals are designed to meet the special needs of the students.
In the Northern Territory, the Commonwealth provides to each Centre under the control of the Department of Education and Science the following: Building and groundwork, the teaching and assistant staff, some equipment and consumable stores. The Pre-school Committees provide, maintain and replenish the bulk of equipment and employ and pay the wages of cleaners. In the case of the Peko Mine Pre-school no assistance is given, but with the Slow Learners Association the Commonwealth pays a subsidy equivalent to the salary of the teacher. The Commonwealth meets all costs for pre-schools conducted by the Northern Territory Administration. The Commonwealth subsidises salaries of qualified staff at Mission pre-schools, provides essentia) school supplies and provides capital assistance for the construction of school buildings.
The number of children of pre-school age living within reach of each centre operated by the Department of Education and Science in the Northern Territory is not known. Seven hundred and ten Aboriginal children of pre-school age live within reach of the pre-school centres operated by the Welfare branch of the Northern Territory Administration.
The number of children aged 3 and 4 years (i.e. of pre-school age) in the Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay are:
The number of Aboriginal children of pre-school age living in the Northern Territory is 999. The approximate total number of ‘other’ pre-school aged children in the Northern Territory as at 30th June 1968 was 2,350 (calculated on the basis of the 1966 Census).
The number and percentage of children receiving pre-school education in the Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay Territory is as follows:
66% of all three and four year old Aboriginal children.
*It should be noted that in the Australian Capital Territory departmental policy is to provide one year of preschool education for all children whose parents wish to avail themselves of this service.
In the Northern Territory there are:
asked the Minister for Air, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Royal Australian Air Force at present has three squadrons equipped with Mirage aircraft, two based at the RAAF Base at Williamtown and one at the RAAF Base Butterworth. As operational, technical and domestic Mirage facilities have been concentrated at these two bases, they are, under present conditions, the appropriate bases for location of Mirage squadrons. A fourth Mirage squadron could certainly be located at Williamtown, but the location of three squadrons there would place a heavier load on Williamtown resources. A more even distribution of quarters and servicing would be achieved by locating the other squadron at Butterworth.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1 and 2.
Apprenticeship Advisory Committee (Question No. 908)
asked the Minister for
Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Northern Territory Students: Training as Teachers (Question No. 910)
asked the Minister for
Education and Science, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
There is no teachers college in the Northern Territory, but opportunities for Northern Territory students to train as teachers are as follows:
Northern Territory students who receive their secondary education in Queensland are eligible to apply for the Northern Territory Administration’s Teacher-in-training positions and the Commonwealth pre-school teaching scholarships. As mentioned in 1 (b), they may also apply for Queensland teachers scholarships tenable at Queensland teachers colleges provided that they are prepared to fulfil the normal conditions of those scholarships.
Igam Barracks, Lae (Question No. 931)
asked the Minister for the
Army, upon notice:
– The answers to the honour able member’s questions are as follows:
Headquarters Lae Area
Detachment Papua and New Guinea 10 Movement Control Group
Lae Detachment Papua and New Guinea Construction Squadron 839 Signal Squadron 183 Independent Reconnaissance
Flight and Workshop Platoon
Papua and New Guinea Military Cadet School 853 Supply Depot Platoon
Lae Detachment Papua and New Guinea Workshop
Late Detachment Papua and New Guinea Provost Company
Headquarters 35 Cadet Battalion
Headquarters Papua and New Guinea Volunteer Rifles
One company of the Pacific Islands Regiment
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
Will he take action to introduce legislation to remove the apparent anomaly in section 5 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act under which it is an offence if an employer, in order to dissuade an employee from becoming an officer, delegate or member of a union, threatens to dismiss him, but it is not an offence if, instead of threatening an employee, he actually dismisses such an employee?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The apparent anomaly noted in section 5 of the Act does not seem lo have had an practical significance since it was inserted in the Act in 1920. If the honourable member could provide me with the details of any instance or instances where dismissal has occurred under the circumstances mentioned, I shall look into the question whether any amendment of the section might be necessary.
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has provided the following reply to the honourable member’s questions:
The answers to the honourable member’s questions have been supplied to him. A copy of the answers which include a comprehensive schedule is available to honourable members in the Library.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Has he information which would indicate the cost to the community of illnesses attributable to tobacco or alcohol consumption?
– My Department does not have any such information.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has provided the following answers to the honourable member’s questions:
assume the honourable member is referring to 200 coal wagons imported into Queensland during 1965.
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 Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
In what circumstances and in how many cases has each State in the last four financial years declassified a rural road as a highway, trunk road or main road and, after spending Commonwealth Aid Roads Grants on it, reclassified it as a highway, trunk road or main road?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Classification of roads is a State matter and information concerning such is not readily available to the Commonwealth.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
Prior to 1964, the carriage of coastal oil cargoes was usually undertaken by overseas tankers in conjunction with their overseas trading and I am unaware of which of these tankers, if any, would have been engaged on a charter basis for the coastal leg of their journey. Since 1964, when sa an interim measure, it was decided to permit the importation of overseas tankers for operation under Australian conditions pending the building of replacements in Australia, the following overseas tankers have been licensed to engage in the carriage of coastal oil products:
These ships are general purpose tankers and are employed between various ports according to the demand for their services. Although it can be assumed that they have been chartered by the Australian operators listed above, the Commonwealth has no specific knowledge of the charter details, if any.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1 (a). Road mileage statistics have not been developed to match the definition of rural roads in the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act 1964. 1 (b) and (c), 2 (a) and (b). The available information as at 30th June 1967, is as follows:
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
On what occasions and to what extent have units of the Australian forces trained or operated besides units of the Malaysian or Singapore forces?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Elements of the three Australian Services cooperated with Malayan forces during the Malayan Emergency of 1948 to 1960 in operations against Communist terrorists. These activities included some limited naval bombardment support, ground operations and bomber, fighter and ground support operations. The Australian Army subsequently continued operations in the Thai-Malay border area in conjunction with operations by Malaysian forces.
During the period of Indonesia’s confrontation of Malaysia the RAN undertook extensive patrolling activities with the Royal Malaysian Navy, units of the Australian Army were engaged in ground operations in Borneo and the Malayan Peninsula in conjunction with the Malaysian Army and Police Field Force and the RAAF provided fighter and air transport support for the Malaysian forces in those areas.
Our forces have trained with the Malaysian forces as necessary, Service personnel of Malaysia and Singapore have attended training courses at Australian Service establishments under the Government’s defence aid to Malaysia and Singapore programme and at the request of the Malaysian Government we have for some years provided officers on secondment to the three Malaysian Services.
Medical Personnel: Recognition of Qualifications (Question No. 913)
asked the Minister for
Health, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Provisions exist in the legislation of each State and the internal Territories for the recognition of qualifications obtained from recognised training institutions in the other States for the purpose of registration as medical practitioners, pharmacists and nurses. Registration in one State or Territory, however, is not of itself necessarily recognised as a qualification for registration in another State or Territory. Each State and Territory has separate registration requirements concerning overseas qualifications. Registration in a State or Territory on the basis of such qualifications will not enable that person to be registered in another State or Territory if that person’s basic overseas qualifications are not recognised in that State or Territory. The details of the registration requirements of each State and Territory are extensive and are contained in the various Acts and Ordinances as follows:
New South Wales - Medical Practitioners Act 1938-1967.
Victoria - Medical Act 1958 as amended.
Queensland- The Medical Acts 1939 to 1966.
South Australia - Medical Practitioners Act 1919-1966.
Western Australia - Medical Act 1894- 1966.
Tasmania- Medical Act 1959-1966.
Australian Capital Territory - Medical Practitioners Registration Ordinance 1930-1967.
Northern Territory - Medical Practitioners Registration Ordinance 1935-1967.
New South Wales - Pharmacy Act 1964.
Victoria - Medical Act 1958 as amended.
Queensland- The Pharmacy Acts 1917 to 1967.
South Australia - Pharmacy Act 1935- 1967.
Western Australia - Pharmacy Act 1964.
Tasmania- Pharmacy Act 1908-1965.
Australian Capital Territory - Pharmacy Ordinance 1931-1967.
Northern Territory - Pharmacy Ordinance 1936-1964.
New South Wales - Nurses Registration Act 1953-1967.
Victoria - Nurses Act 1958 as amended.
Queensland - The Nurses Act of 1964.
South Australia - Nurses Registration Act 1920-1966.
Western Australia - Nurses Registration Act 1921-1959.
Tasmania - Nurses Registration Act 1952- 1968.
Australian Capital Territory - Nurses Registration Ordinance 1933-1967.
Northern Territory - Nurses Registration Ordinance 1928-1967.
As regards the recognition of overseas medical qualifications, for a number of years now State and Territory medical practitioners registration authorities have been meeting at irregular intervals.
At the recent meeting held in June of this year, the question of a uniform attitude to overseas qualifications was again discussed. It was decided that problems associated with a uniform approach should be further considered by the several State and Territory Boards. The question has also been considered by conferences of Commonwealth and State Health Ministers. At the June 1968 meeting it was noted that the conference of presidents of the various Boards had the matter listed for consideration.
My colleague, the Minister for Immigration, is encouraging uniformity of registration requirements so far as overseas qualifications are concerned in respect of all professional groups and has discussed the problem in conference with appropriate State Ministers. In so far as the recognition of overseas professional qualifications is concerned the efforts of the Minister for Immigration have my full support. I have submitted the views of the Minister for Immigration to the State Ministers for Health. Efforts towards uniformity will be continued.
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
The attention of such organisations is periodically drawn to any failure but no penalties have been enforced. It would be a tremendous task to compile a list of all such failures over past years but following as Schedule ‘B’ is the list of organisations which were found to be not in compliance with the sub-section and which were so notified on 13th August 1968. The Industrial Registrar has no means of knowing whether or not all organisations observe the requirements of sub-section (5.). It can only be said that duplicates or butts required to be kept have, in recent years, always been produced when required for the purposes of conducting elections officially under section 170 of the Act.
COMMONWEALTH CONCILIATION AND ARBITRATION COMMISSION
The Airline Hostesses Association.
The Australasian Coal and Shale Employees Federation.
The Australasian Meat Industry Employees Federation.
Australasian Transport Officers Federation.
Australasian Airline Flight Engineers Association.
Australian Foreman Stevedores Association.
The Australian Dairy Farmers Industrial Federation.
Australian Commercial and Industrial Artists Association.
The Australian Rope and Cordage Workers Union.
The Amalgamated Engineering Union (Australian Section).
The Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society of Australia.
The Bread Carters Industrial Federation of Australia.
The Baking Trade Employees Federation of Australia (Tasmanian Branch).
The Building Workers Industrial Union.
The Ceramic Wall and Floor Tile Merchants of the Australian Capital Territory.
The Civil Aviation Employees Association of Australia.
The Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd.
Commonwealth Bank Officials Association.
Commonwealth Legal Professional Officers Association.
Commonwealth Medical Officers Association.
Flight Stewards Association of Australia.
The Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association.
Federated Fodder and Fuel Trades Industrial Union of Australia.
Federated Moulders (Metals) Union of Australia.
The Federated Mining Mechanics Association of Australasia.
The Federated Sheepskin Export Packers and Allied Trades Industrial Association of Australia.
Federated Shipwrights and Ship Constructors Association of Australia.
Federated Storemen and Packers Union of Australia.
The Health Inspectors Association of Australia.
The Hospital Employees Federation of Australia.
Industrial Life Assurance Agents Union.
The Manufacturing Grocers Employees Federation of Australia.
Metal Industries Association, Tasmania.
Motion Picture Exhibitors Association of New South Wales
North Australian Workers Union.
New South Wales Combined Colliery Proprietors Association.
The Operative Sailmakers Trade Society of New South Wales.
The Plumbers and Gasfitters Employees Union of Australia.
The Professional Musicians Union of Australia.
Salaried Pharmaceutical Chemists Association.
Seamen’s Union of Australia.
The Secretaries and Managers Association of Australia.
The Ship Joiners Society of Australia.
Slaters, Tilers, Shinglers and Roof Fixers Union of Australia.
The Stockowners Association of South Australia.
The Tasmanian Farmers, Stockowners and Orchardists Association.
The Union of Postal Clerks and Telegraphists.
The Waterside Workers Federation of Australia.
The Wool and Basil Workers Federation of Australia.
Woolclassers Association of Australia.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1. Yes. 2 and 3. Apart from the provision that not less than 40% of Commonwealth Aid Roads Grants must be spent on rural roads the percentage of the grants spent in the capital cities or elsewhere is a matter for the State governments concerned and the information requested is not readily available to the Commonwealth Government.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1 and 2. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works recommended that the Commonwealth should initiate discussions with the States with a view to establishing an agency responsible for the collection, evaluation and dissemination of hospital planning and design information. This matter was discussed at the Conference of Commonweatlh and State Health Ministers in June 1968. It was agreed that a meeting of appropriate Commonwealth and State officers should be convened to discuss the proposal in greater detail.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answers lo the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1 and 2. In Western Australia, the Termination of Pregnancy Act was passed, after several amendments, by the State Legislative Council during its last session. The Bill is to be considered by the Legislative Assembly in the Autumn 1969 session. lt will, if passed, legalise termination of pregnancy if two medical practitioners are, in good faith, of the opinion that continuance of the pregnancy would endanger the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or that there is a substantial risk that, if the child was born, it would suffer such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped. In South Australia it has been foreshadowed that a Bill to amend the laws on the subject of abortion is to be introduced. No information is available as to the extent of changes to be made or when it will be introduced. I am not aware of any changes contemplated in any existing laws on the subject in other States.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport,, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s qnestions are as follows:
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answers to the honour able member’s questions are as follows:
Commonwealth Roads Grants:
Brisbane (Question No. 974)
asked the Minister for
Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answers to the honour able member’s questions are as follows:
Australian Ports: Equipment, Services and Procedures (Question No. 975)
asked the Minister for
Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
What ministerial or official bodies have been established to standardise or co-ordinate equipment, services and procedures in Australian ports?
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
Under the Constitution, the administration, development and operation of ports, except in the Territories, is a function of the various State governments and for this purpose they have established port authorities and other instrumentalities.
The Australian Port Authorities’ Association comprises representatives from all port authorities in Australia and Papua-New Guinea, plus representatives from the Marine Board of Victoria and the Royal Australian Navy Hydrographer, together with the Nautical Adviser of the Department of Shipping and Transport who attends in the capacity of a technical expert. The object of the Association is to discuss problems of common interest and endeavour to promote uniform requirements throughout Australia.
Co-ordination of transport matters, including sea transport, is also achieved through the Australian Transport Advisory Council, comprising all State Ministers for Transport together with the Minister for the Interior and under the Chairmanship of the Minister for Shipping and Transport.
Port working committees on which the Department of Shipping and Transport is represented comprise:
The Federal Advisory Committee on Australian Waterfront Accident Prevention. This Committee also consists of representatives of Australian and overseas shipowners stevedoring companies, The Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, The Shipowners’ Accident Prevention Organisation, The Foreman Stevedores Association and the Waterside Workers’ Federation,
The Sea Transport Facilitation Committee. This Committee is organised by the Department of Customs and Excise and meets as required with the general aim of facilitating the rapid movement of ships and their passengers and cargoes through Australian ports. It is concerned with legal and administrative requirements and procedures which might in any way retard such movement unnecessarily. Other departments normally represented comprise the Departments of Customs and Excise, Trade and Industry, Health, Immigration and the Bureau of Census and Statistics. The Australian Chamber of Shipping is also represented and particular shipowner organisations can be represented as desired.
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
What is the estimated additional annual cost of paying (a) 20%, (b) 40%, (c) 60% and (d) 80% of the age pension to all persons who are qualified by residence to receive the pension but who for other reasons are receiving a smaller percentage of the pension?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The required details are not readily available from the records maintained by the Department of Social Services and could be extracted only after considerable additional work.
At 30th June 1968 11.87% of age pensioners were in receipt of a pension at less than the maximum rate. It is estimated that if the rate of pension was increased to the maximum rate in ail these cases, the additional cost would exceed$20m. To increase the rates to the percentages indicated in the question would, of course, cost less.
The cost of paying a percentage of the full rate to persons who at present receive no pension would, however, be considerably greater.
Aged Persons Homes Act: Grants in Northern Territory (Question No. 989)
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Selection of residents is a matter for the organisations which operate the homes and my Department has no information as to the number of applicants seeking admission.
At 30th June 1968 supplementary assistance was paid to eighty age pensioners in the Northern Territory.
Poverty in Australia (Question No. 1002)
asked the Minister for
Social Services, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
No information appears to be available in respect of the other States.
Aged Persons Homes Act: Grants to Local Governing Bodies (Question No. 1012)
asked the Minister for Social
Services, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Homes for the Aged (Question No.1015)
ns asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1 and 2. There is no requirement by the Commonwealth that residents of homes subsidised under the Aged Persons Homes Act make a donation or contribution in order to secure accommodation, lt is known, of course, that some organisations do receive donations from aged persons seeking accommodation and that such moneys are used, together with the Commonwealth grant, to help meet the capital cost of the home. Information supplied to my Department during a recent survey of subsidised homes indicated that approximately 35% of the accommodation had been established with the aid of donalions. Information on the current position in this regard is shown on the monthly information sheet on Aged Persons Homes, which is distributed to all honourable members. 3, 4 and 5. The following table shows the grants made to organisations in Victoria during 1966-67 and the number of aged persons for whom accommodation was provided:
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
The following extracts from the New South Wales’ Hansard refer to the matter:
Mr HILLS (Minister for Local Government):
Discussions are proceeding in connection with the establishment of a second airport at Botany Bay. It is proposed that it should be located on the Kurnell peninsula. A committee has been appointed by the Government under the chairmanship of an officer of my department, to investigate the matter, and the Maritime Services Board and the Minister for Lands have representatives on it.’ (another extract from page 5049)
This is not a new scheme. It has been talked about for twenty years.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition interjects that it is not a new scheme. The Government knows it, for in the 1940s a question was raised whether the airport at Mascot should be expanded to its present extent, or whether another should be developed at the place I have mentioned.’
Mr GRIFFITH (Cronulla):
As far as I knew, that was where the matter rested. Then to my utter astonishment on 14th October the Labor president of the shire, Councillor A. T. Gietzelt, read this presidential minute:
Development- Wanda Beach Reserve.
It is with great pleasure that I attach for the information of the Council a letter handed to me this morning by Mr Dalton, M.L.A., signed by Mr K. C. Compton, Minister for Lands, in which he refers to a conference he had with the Hon. P. D. Hills, M.L.A., Minister for Local Government and Highways regarding the Kurnell peninsula development project.’
Mr COMPTON (Minister for Lands):
I am speaking of the south-western corner. I intimated to the Committee that the boundary is 50 chains from the southwestern corner beyond which development within the Wanda Beach area currently cannot proceed. The extraction of sand from the north-eastern corner which is probably a mile and a half distant from the southwestern corner is unlikely to have any effect upon activities at an airport. It is not expected that the reduction of the elevation of the ground will have an adverse effect upon the approaches to the airport. Therefore I do not think I need elaborate.
Mr WADDY: Which airport?
Mr COMPTON: A projected airport.
Mr WADDY: The Department of Civil Aviation knows nothing about it.
Mr COMPTON: I am speaking of proposals that are being developed currently by an inter-departmental committee for the future development of the Botany Bay area around Quibray Bay . . . ‘
It is a fact that the Slate Authorities in New South Wales have always extended co-operation to the Department of Civil Aviation in the essential investigations which have been, and are being made, in a number of areas, to locate a site which would be suitable for development as a future additional airport to serve Sydney.
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Have any States yet implemented the systems of (a) indexing hospital records and (b) classifying mental disorders agreed upon at conferences in June and November 1965 respectively since his answer to me on 21st September 1967 (Hansard, page 1266)?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The current position in those States in respect of which information concerning the indexing of hospital records and classifying of mental disorders as available in my Department is as follows:
New South Wales - The larger public hospitals use one of three indices including the International Classification of Diseases prepared by World Health Organisation and recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council. Mental disorders would be classified according to the index in use atthe particular hospital.
Currently, action is being taken to institute the collection of morbidity statistics from all public hospitals in New South Wales, in co-operation with the Bureau of Census and Statistics, using the International Classification of Diseases index.
Victoria - Most public hospitals are using the I.C.D. index and it is expected that on the general introduction of the 8th Revised Edition of LCD. that all hospitals will do so.
Public hospitals have been asked to adopt the classification of mental diseases contained in the 8th Revised Edition of LCD. and it is understood that the mental hospitals under the control of the Mental Health Authority of Victoria are using the same indexing system.
South Australia - Mental disorders are classified in accordance with the 8th Revision of LCD.
Western Australia - All public hospitals have, since 1st January 1968, adopted theI.C.D. index. Early this year the Western Australian Mental Health Services Statistical System was revised to conform to National Health and Medical Research Council’s recommendations.
Tasmania - The introduction of the collection of data on hospital morbidity is expected to begin on 1st January 1969.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice: 1. (a) How many doctors participated in the Pensioner Medical Service in 1966-67 and in 1967-68?
How many doctors were employed (i) fulltime and (ii) part-time by mental hospitals in 1966-67 and in 1967-68?
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
This information is not available in my Department.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
What were the areas visited (a) before and
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
I have not kept a record of my visits as a private member. The visits that I have made since my appointment as a Minister, and of which I have a record, are as follows:
ns asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Do these paragraphs record many allegations and findings such as:
– The answers to the honour able member’s questions are as follows:
Paragraphs 11 to 20 begin on page 7 of Cmnd. 1755 and continue to page 10. 6. (a) to (f) These are North Vietnamese allegations which are recorded as such in paragraph 11 of the Report:
Paragraphs 9 (2) and 9 (3) contained conclusions of the Legal Committee. The Commission accepted these conclusions, and ‘Aggression from the North’, at Appendix A, page 30, not only refers to paragraph 9 (2) and 9 (3) but correctly cites paragraph 10 of the Commission’s findings as follows: “The Commission accepts the conclusions reached by the Legal Committee that there is sufficient evidence to show beyond reasonable doubt that the PAVN has violated Articles 10, 19, 24 and 27 in specific instances. The Polish Delegation dissents from these conclusions. On the basis of the fuller report, that is being prepared by the Legal Committee covering all the allegations and incidents, the Commission will take action as appropriate in each individual case.’
Readers are then referred to the full text of the ICC Report contained in a publication, ‘Special Report to the Co-Chairmen of the Geneva Conference on Indo-China’, issued by the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs of the Department of State on 2nd July 1962.
Fires in Commonwealth Establishments (Question No. 984)
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
The fires referred to were:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
If so, (a) what are the industries, (b) when was the subsidy granted in each instance and
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
I refer the honourable member to the answers provided to similar questions previously asked by him and which appear in Hansards of 30th October 1963 and 16th September 1965.
Information on Commonwealth payments to industry in recent years can be found in Item No. 10 of Statement No. 2 attached to my Budget Speech of 13th August 1968 and printed in Hansard on that day.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
Is he able to say which countries have (a) National and (b) Private shipping lines?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Precise details of the control of the Merchant Marine of all countries of the world are not readily available. In general terms, it can be taken that most maritime trading nations operate commercially with privately owned shipping. However, many of these nations also operate national shipping lines.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
Is he able to say whether there are any ships owned by Australian companiestrading:
If so, what is:
– The answers tot he honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1 and 2. From available information the vessels listed below are within the categories (a) and (b) set out in the first part of your question.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
Under the present arrangements by which the Commonwealth pays half the cost of any subsidies for the transport of fodder undertaken by the State Government of New South Wales in the drought-stricken areas of Eden-Monaro, in the event of a decision by the State Government to apply a subsidy of 40 cents per bushel on the transport of feed wheat or other grain, in addition to the freight subsidies already available on fodder, would the Commonwealth pay half of the cost of this additional subsidy?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Commonwealth has agreed to meet half the cost in this financial year of relief measures which the New South Wales Government may find it necessary to continue in the South Coast, Southern Tablelands and Cobar districts until the drought breaks. The relief measures for which the Commonwealth has agreed to contribute are those which have been applied in New South Wales drought areas during the past three years. They include the provision of loans for carry on purposes where credit is not available through normal commercial channels; rebates of freight on the transport of fodder and water to drought affected areas and the transport of starving stock out of drought areas; expenditure to provide relief work for those unemployed in rural areas as a result of drought; and miscellaneous expenditure in relation to the drought, such as cloud seeding.
In the case of rebates of freight on the transport of fodder to feed starving stock, the Commonwealth has agreed to meet half the cost of rebates of up to 75 per cent of the total transport cost by rail. Where rail transport is not available the Commonwealth will meet half the cost of rebates of similar proportions of road transport costs. However, the precise details of the subsidy arrangements to apply in any particular area are a matter for the State.
On this basis, the Commonwealth would be prepared to meet half the cost of rebates of up to 75 per cent of the transport cost of feed wheat or other grain to feed starving stock in the South Coast and Southern Tablelands area.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
How many tablets of each of the preparations listed in the answer to my question No. 952 would have to be taken daily to obtain the same amount of calcium?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The World Health Organisation has recommended an adult daily calcium allowance of 400- 500 milligrams. The number of tablets of each preparation required to administer 500 mg of elemental calcium are as follows:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
Will be consider recommending legislation to remove tax exemption from advertising of tobacco products and alcoholic drinks and to use resulting revenues in (a) advertising to young people the facts about the social and physiological significance of smoking and drinking; (b) alleviating hardship caused to any section of the tobacco or liquor industries by such legislation and (c) alleviating the burden on public revenue due to disease effects of tobacco or alcohol?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The primary purpose of the income tax law is to raise revenue for the Commonwealth. It is a well-established principle of the law that expenses which are incurred in gaining or producing assessable income or which are necessarily incurred in carrying on a business to produce such income, should be allowed as deductions for income tax purposes. It is not considered appropriate to depart from those principles for a purpose which is quite unrelated to the taxation of income.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 November 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1968/19681128_reps_26_hor61/>.