26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. S. Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Defence. Is the site for the Omega navigation station still under discussion between the United States and the Australian governments? Will the Minister confirm or deny reports that the site is to be near the Forth River between Ulverstone and Devonport in Tasmania?
– As I think I have pointed out to the House before, there is no proposal before the Australian Government at the moment for the establishment of an Omega station. A group of United States experts has been in Australia discussing the matter with our own technical people, but at the moment there is no proposal and therefore no site has been submitted or even discussed.
– I should like to ask the Minister for National Development a question. Has he seen a growing number of reports which allege that a lack of uranium ore resources in Australia could well prove a deterrent to the introduction of nuclear power stations? Can the Minister state what the Government is doing to encourage the search for uranium in Australia? Does he feel that we have reasonable reserves of uranium for a future nuclear power programme, whenever and whatever that may be?
– I can certainly assure the honourable member that a shortage of uranium is not delaying the introduction of nuclear power into Australia. In fact, if a decision were made to proceed with a nuclear power plant, it would be a number of years before the fuel for it was required. Nevertheless the fact remains that at the present moment we have considerable reserves of uranium, either proved or probable. A power plant of the type that is now being looked at - that is, a Candu 500 megawatt power plant - over the life of the plant of 25 years would require about 1,500 tons of U308 uranium oxide. We already have this amount stockpiled at Lucas Heights. In fact, since the change in the policy on uranium exploitation and exportation made 2 years ago, there has been 3 quite considerable increase in the known reserves of uranium in Australia. This increase has been of the order of 10,000 tons, at least half of which would be economically exploitable at a cost of $10 per lb or less. Not only do we have sufficient reserves in Australia to fuel about ten nuclear power plants over their entire life, but we also have very good prospects. It has been of note that recently there has been a quite considerable increase in the interest in the search for uranium. At the last count, I found that the list of companies searching for uranium now covered about sixteen major companies, including major Australian companies. Some companies have great prospects. In one case quite a considerable body of low grade uranium ore has been discovered in South Australia, and there are some interesting prospects in other parts of the country. I repeat that at the present moment there is certainly no possibility of a possible nuclear power programme in Australia being held up because of a lack of uranium.
– I ask the Minister for Air a question. When does the honourable gentleman expect that Royal Australian Air Force air and ground crews will return to the United States of America to resume their training on the Fill, or does he regard the return of these crews as being hypothetical?
– As yet we have not got a time-table. When we have that time-table for the delivery of the aircraft we will know when the crews will be returning to the United States.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Has his attention been drawn to reports of a recent statement by Professor Quenton, Chairman of a United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation working party for a seminar on the performing arts, to the effect that Australian ballet, opera, theatre and music were pretty badly off compared with the performing arts in other countries? If so, does he propose to give any further assistance in this sphere in Australia?
– Yes, my attention has been drawn to the report to which the honourable member refers. I think it is very often very difficult and quite misleading to make comparisons which are not comparing like with like. It is difficult to compare like with unlike. I think the professor to whom the honourable member referred specifically mentioned Canada and the Canada Council, and what the Canada Council was doing. I understand that in fact the Government of Canada is providing, according to the reports, some $5m for arts in general in Canada whereas the Australian Government this year is providing $1.5m. But the $1.5m provided by the Australian Government is for the performing arts alone and it leaves out of consideration altogether assistance which is given by State governments to various fields and assistance which is given to the Australian Broadcasting Commission or to other fields of endeavour such as that. Also I understand that the Canadian figure includes bursaries and scholarships and all kinds of grants in that way. I think, bearing in mind the difference in population and circumstances, that there is not such an adverse comparison as was sought to be drawn by the professor making the statement. However, the question of additional assistance will of course be considered in the context of the Budget.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: When will the present dried fruits stabilisation scheme expire? Will the scheme be renewed? Can the Minister inform the House of the- proposed terms of the new agreement? Is the Government prepared to consider the establishment of a statutory scheme?
– At the present time negotiations are in progress between the Government and the Australian Dried Vine Fruits Association for the formulation of a further stabilisation scheme for the next 5 years. These negotiations have been going on for a couple of months. In fact, representatives of the Australian Dried Vine Fruits Association were in Canberra last week and discussed some of the final matters relating to the negotiations. I hope that an announcement will be made shortly about the details of the scheme. The formulation of a statutory marketing body has been raised by sections of the industry over a period of time. It has been discussed by the Australian Agricultural Council but I think the honourable member is probably aware that the Council did not support the establishment at this stage of a statutory marketing authority for dried vine fruits.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry a question. Did France recently sell to China 800,000 tons of wheat?
– I am informed that there was recently a sale of about 800,000 tons of French wheat to China. China purchases wheat from Australia, Canada, France and Argentina. This is a competitive market. At present Australia is, I think, the biggest seller of wheat to China. We face the quite difficult problem of selling in competition with other sellers yet at the same time operating within the spirit of the International Grains Arrangement or the so-called world wheat agreement. That we have done this is greatly to the credit of the Australian Wheat Board. I do not think that we can set out so to undercut every other competitor that we capture the whole market. If we did this it would lead to a throat cutting competitive price situation which would not be in the interest of our wheat industry or of any other wheat industry. We must maintain our competition within reasonable bounds.
– Has the Attorney-General any statement to make about a report that the Maxwell Newton organisation had been warned about a recent police raid and that certain documents sought by the police were found to be missing from the files and replaced by fictitious documents incriminating innocent officers and Ministers?
– I have not heard such a report, nor have I any information which would suggest that if such a report existed it was true.
_ Mr ANDREW JONES - Has the attention of the Minister for External Affairs been drawn to a series of articles which appeared in the national Press this morning concerning Mr Adam Malik’s supposed allegations that subversive activities concerning West Irian are being conducted on our side of the Papuan border? If these reports are not correct will the Minister take steps to advise the Indonesian Government accordingly? If the reports are correct what action can his Department take?
– I have noted the remarks which have been attributed to Mr Malik in a Press interview which he gave in Djakarta. West Irianese who have crossed the border and are waiting to have their applications for permissive residence in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea considered are living in a camp at a place called Yaku near Vanimo. In some instances West Irianese have lived at Administration stations or have been found accommodation near where they have crossed the border. In no case have West Irianese waiting to have their applications considered been engaged in training in military weapons or sabotage. There have been reports of the existence of a camp at Kwari, said to have been established by the West Irianese. These reports are being investigated by the Administration. The Government is awaiting the completion of those investigations before commenting on the reports. I stress that within the knowledge of the Administration there are no cases where West Irianese who have crossed the border as refugees have been given training in the use of military weapons and sabotage.
– I ask the Minister for Defence a question. Is it a fact that there is a great deal of discontent among all serving members of the three armed forces in Australia? Is it true that certain junior officers in the Navy now find themselves receiving less remuneration each year than they would have received if they had remained petty officers? Has this situation been brought about because of a rise in the salaries of petty officers and because junior officers who were petty officers have not received a rise? Is it also a fact that serving men, particularly non-commissioned officers, privates and equivalent ranks in the Navy and the Air Force, find that the recent salary increases have been of no value to them at all because they are obliged to pay all their salary increases, or almost all, into the retirement benefit fund, which is a compulsory obligation on them?
– As has been made clear in the House from time to time, particularly by my colleague the Minister for the Navy, there are some difficulties about recent adjustments in service pay scales. These have arisen from the fact that sailors on skilled classifications now receive salaries which have penetrated the lower end of the administrative pay scales of officers. This is a difficult problem. I have had discussions only this morning - not for the first time, I may say - with the Secretary of my Department, who is closely associated with the secretaries of the service departments. These matters are being dealt with now and are being treated as urgent. I hope that we will be able to produce some relief for the problem which admittedly exists.
– I address my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Is he in a position to inform the House whether a decision has been made, following the receipt of the report of the Devaluation Reporting Committee, concerning solid pack apples? Could he also comment on the progress being made in regard to the devaluation compensation for fresh fruit? I shall return the compliment of the honourable member for Wilmot by mentioning that he would also be interested in the answer to this question.
– I am aware of the honourable member’s interest in this matter and also of the interest of the honourable member for Wilmot, who asked a question on this subject last week. I was fortunate to be able to visit one of these solid pack canning premises with the honourable member for Franklin. I am aware of the importance of an early decision to help the canners determine what their prices shall be for low grade fruit this year. The Government has received the report of the Devaluation Reporting Committee on canned fruit and has made a decision. The Government has agreed to pay compensation for exports to the United Kingdom for all fruit sold up to the end of 1968 at the rate of 58c per carton of half a dozen A10 size. Devaluation compensation for 1969 will be on the same basis as that for other rural industries. As to fresh fruit, the policy that has been stated is that before we can determine a rate of compensation a fair sample will have to be sold on the British market. These sales are in progress and I hope it will not be long before such a rate can be struck.
– I ask the Minister for Defence a question. Has he seen reports that mobile tracking gear called ‘interim defence communication satellite system’ has been in Australia for 18 months? If so, can the honourable gentleman tell the House the function of this system and where it is installed? Is the system under American or Australian control?
– This is the story which has appeared in the Press from time to time. The first report of it, I think, occurred in February of this year. It was followed by reports in other newspapers. Again it outcropped in the last week when somebody thought that he had discovered something new. In fact, there is nothing new about this proposal. For the last 18 months there has been operating in Australia under the control of the interim defence communications satellite programme a portable communications station of the kind to which the honourable gentleman refers. It is installed at North West Cape. It forms part of the normal communications facility between North West Cape and continental United States for the communications organisation, and supplements the very high frequency communication channels which have always been a part of the North West Cape project.
– I address my question to the Treasurer. As all the indicators one reads show the Australian economy to be very nearly fully employed, could he inform me of the present position and the measures taken to keep the balance of payments position and price levels under control? Will he also consider having a document prepared, giving some analysis of these economic maters?
– I am glad to be able to answer the first question asked by the honourable gentleman in this House. I am sure that he will play a very notable part in this Parliament. As to the question, I say specifically that the country is now what I would regard as fully employed. It does not matter at which indicators one looks. If one looks at the most sensitive indicator of all, employment in its various aspects, or at other indicators such as increases in civilian employment, housing, motor vehicles, the building and construction industry and the demand in the community, one finds that the economy is virtually fully employed and we do not want to give any additional stimulus to growth, lt was pointed out that at the time of the last Budget we were worried about cost inflation, due mainly to the fact that arbitration awards had exceeded capacity to pay. In other words, they were greater than productivity.
I would point out that consequently, in the Budget, we took action to ensure that the rate of increase in Commonwealth expenditure was reduced, and we permitted the States to increase their expenditure to a limited extent. As to what we are doing I have pointed out that we are operating at the margins in the monetary field in order to try to ensure that demand inflation does not add to cost inflation. We are engaged in open market operations, selling bonds on the market. There have been slight movements at the short end of Government securities. Government expenditure on the Commonwealth side has been kept as low as we can practically keep it. If one looks at the recent indicators, whether in regard to housing, the building and construction industry or the other indicators that we have, even on a seasonally adjusted basis one will see that the rate of increase is greater than that which we think is desirable at the present time. But we believe that by fringe operations we can keep the economy under control. At to the last part of the honourable gentleman’s question, I think it would be wise if I prepared a full statement for him, indicating not only the present trends but what the Government is doing in order to ensure that this very happy position of full employment with pretty high efficiency is maintained.
– Is the Treasurer aware that following the resignation of a highly placed judge in the United States of America, owing to allegations of improper conduct, the United States Government is publicising the incomes and sources of income of highly placed public servants and public representatives of that country? Will the right honourable gentleman take action to have publicised in the annual report of the Commissioner of Taxation the incomes and sources of income of all public representatives in Australia?
– Providentially, since 1949, a year which must be memorable to honourable members opposite as well as honourable members on this side of the chamber, we have not had any indication that members of the judiciary or people holding high public offices in this country are in fact obtaining emoluments from extra-government sources. I hope that that position will continue.
– I rise to order, Mr Speaker. It is against the Standing Orders and all parliamentary practice for honourable members to make reflections on the judiciary. The right honourable gentleman has referred to the fact that since 1949 there has been no suggestion of misconduct by Australian judges which is comparable to that alleged about Supreme Court judges in the United States of America. By emphasising the year 1949, the only inference can be that there were such allegations prior to 1949. In fact, there have not been any in the history of federation.
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition should not debate the question which was asked. There is no substance in the point of order. I cannot see the relevance of the point of order.
– To put balm on the injured feelings of the Leader of the Opposition, I should say that I base my statement on my own personal experience and memory. The Leader of the Opposition can defend whoever he wants to. I come back to the question asked by the honourable member for Scullin. The honourable gentleman should know - and I think it is proper, too - that under the laws of the Commonwealth strict security limitations are imposed upon the Commissioner of Taxation. Under the law, he is not in a position to disclose the details requested by the honourable gentleman. This was the position when a Labor Government was in power; it took no action to amend the provisions of the income tax law. Nonetheless, I will have a look at the law itself. If I feel that there is any evidence to sustain the kind of argument the honourable gentleman has put he can rest assured that I will discuss the matter fully with the Prime Minister.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. As the Australian Wheat Growers Federation has made a number of recommendations to the Commonwealth and State Governments to restrict wheat deliveries from the 1969-70 harvest to 357 million bushels and has asked that the amount received be distributed on a State quota basis, I ask: In the event of one State not fulfilling its quota will the unfulfilled portion be allocated to those States which have a surplus? If the answer is in the negative, what action will be taken to ensure that the wheat industry receives the maximum benefit offered by the Commonwealth?
– The delivery quota scheme was arrived at by the industry and the State and Commonwealth governments. In accepting this proposition, certain criteria were laid down. It is my understanding that the Australian Wheat Growers Federation put forward as a criterion that quotas were not to be transferable between farms or States and that if one State was deficient in meeting its quota that deficiency would not be made up by another State but would be credited to the quota given to that State for the following year’s crop. I should imagine that any alteration in the proposals which have been recommended would have to be fully discussed by the Federation and the Commonwealth and State governments as all three parties are involved in the present proposals.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I ask the right honourable gentleman whether he is aware of the extreme concern which is being expressed by professional engineers within the Commonwealth Public Service at the delays by the Public Service Board in bearing claims for increases in salaries. Is he aware that no case has been decided on professional engineers’ claims since 1962 and that they feel that because they received a good judgment on that occasion they are being discriminated against by not having their claims heard at the present time? Is the Prime Minister aware that within the Post Office engineers grade II in charge of fourth grade technicians are receiving lower salaries than those persons under their charge?
– I am not aware of the details to which the honourable member refers in the last part of his question. I think the best thing I can do is consult with the Chairman of the Public Service Board who is responsible for the holding of discussions with various sections of the Public Service, or the arranging for tribunals to hear claims, and see what the present situation is. I will let the honourable member know by letter.
– My question is directed to you, Mr Speaker. A number of members of the House feel that the opening prayers each day would mean more to them if they were able to repeat the Lord’s Prayer with you. I ask whether we may have your permission to do this and thus add to the personal and corporate commitment of the House.
– This is a matter, of course, for the individual member to decide for himself. Personally, I would be very pleased if honourable members joined me in the Lord’s Prayer, but I emphasise that this is a matter for decision by the individual members.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. The week before last I asked the Treasurer about the schedules which he said he had prepared showing the rising incidence of taxation on middle income earners and showing the severity of the Australian schedules compared with those of other countries, particularly Britain and the United States. I asked him whether he would make these comparative schedules available to honourable members. In reply he told me that the documents are annexures to a Cabinet document and he would make inquiries to see whether they could be made available. I ask him if he has yet decided that he will make these annexures available to honourable members, particularly as the rest of the document, omitting the tables, has been published by Mr Max Newton.
– One can always rely upon the Leader of the Opposition to ask the question one is anxious to have asked in the House. Answering the last part of the question first, the simple fact is that no part of the article published in ‘Incentive’ is correct - not one single part. The article is headed ‘Secret Annexure to Cabinet Submission on Taxation Reform by the Treasury’. There was no annexure to the Cabinet submission. It was not headed ‘Secret’ although it was in fact a classified document. Not one single paragraph of the document that I now have in front of me was in fact taken from the Cabinet document because there is no coincidence between any one of the paragraphs and the paragraphs of the Cabinet document itself. The facts are: On 15th April I received a letter from the Acting Supplements Editor of West Australian Newspapers Ltd asking mc if I would have a discussion with one of its representatives to discuss taxation incidence in Australia compared with other countries. I wrote back on 22nd April and informed him that I would be only too happy to do so. I then instructed the Department of the Treasury to prepare a document for this purpose, which it did, and I would have it made available immediately the representative of West Australian Newspapers Ltd came to Canberra. It was unclassified. The representative did not come so the document was not given to him. Every single quotation that appears in Incentive’ was in fact taken from that document and not from the Cabinet submission. The word ‘secret’ is incorrect; the title is incorrect, and no single paragraph of it was, I repeat, taken from the Cabinet document. The simple fact is that the document published in ‘Incentive’ is not classified, and I would have made it available to any member who cared to ask me for it. The document is factual and I made it available to some, although not many, representatives of the Press when they asked me for the particulars. I thank the honourable gentleman for giving me the opportunity of answering this question.
I would like to make two other comments. The first one is that we took great care in the Treasury to ensure that there was not coincidence between the phraseology of the paragraphs in the Cabinet document and what I intended to make available to the ‘West Australian’. With my staff, I have gone through it verbatim to see that that aim was achieved, and in fact it has been. As to the honourable gentleman’s question about the diagrams, if he wished, and if he were diligent, he could have found better diagrams in the most recent editions of one of the journals published in Victoria by the Australian Institute of Public Affairs. They are well known publications and quite easily obtained. I will obtain a copy of that journal and let the Leader of the Opposition have it if he wants me to. The Institute has been able to obtain this information independently and without any help, so far as I know, from any official body. This information may be easily obtained because it is publicly available. These publications have diagrams which, if he is capable of understanding them, might be of some use to the Leader of the Opposition.
– Would the Minister for the Interior be prepared to have the models in the Parliamentary Library arranged to demonstrate what a modern, tall Parliament house, such as the one in Kuala Lumpur, would look like on both the sites that were proposed for the new and permanent parliament house? The present flat blobs used to represent the parliament house obviously support only one theory. Will he also consider having sketches drawn, on the same scale and perspective, to show the view from both sites at, say, the 100-foot level?
– I cannot really see the point in the question asked by the honourable member. This House has had a debate on the subject, and our colleagues in another place have had a debate on it. I would be happy to provide the honourable member with any sketch designs he would like to see for his own information, for whatever use or purpose they may be. But let me say that the designs we used in the Library were, as the honourable member rightly describes them, just plastic blobs or something of that sort. As I understand it there was no difference between the ones used on the Camp Hill model and the ones used on the Capital Hill model. They were not meant to be representative of any future parliament building. They were put there simply for the purpose of illustrating the alternative sites of Camp Hill and Capital Hill.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Services. I refer to promises made by the Prime Minister to review social service pensions in the forthcoming Budget. Will the Minister also undertake to review the inadequate unemployment and sickness social service payments, which have not been reviewed since the emergency measures that were introduced in February 1962?
– As the honourable member is well aware, this is a question of policy, but I can give him my assurance that the review has already been put in hand.
– My question is directed to the Minister for External Affairs. Has he seen reports of criticism by the United Nations representative appointed to supervise the act of free choice in West Irian that insufficient assistance was made available to him to supervise the act of free choice properly? If this criticism is soundly based will the Australian Government make representations to the United Nations with a view to remedying this situation?
– Yes, I have seen Press comments to the effect that Mr Ortiz-Sanz has suggested that the size of his office in
West Irian be increased and that more funds be placed at his disposal. The 1962 agreement specifies:
Such additional staff as the United Nations representative might feel necessary will be determined by the Secretary-General after consultations with the Government of Indonesia.
The agreement further specifies that Indonesia and the Netherlands are to share equally the costs of maintaining the United Nations office in West Irian so that, in the first instance, these complaints should be a matter for discussion between the Governments of Indonesia and the Netherlands and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral yet considered the implications of the authoritative address by Sir Percy Spender at a Barrier Reef symposium in Sydney recently which he attended? Will he act on the suggestion of Sir Percy that a friendly suit be commenced between the Commonwealth and a State to define the complete Commonwealth sovereignty over the Australian continental shelf flowing from the exploded doctrine of State sovereignty over territorial seas and Australia’s accession to the Geneva Convention? Does he appreciate the effect of recent relevant judgments on the Commonwealth off-shore oil legislation and State legislation on fisheries in territorial waters?
– 1 am aware of the paper presented by Sir Percy Spender. Indeed, I was present and listened to it. But the points which it raised, with one exception which I will mention in a moment, were all taken under consideration by the Commonwealth Government at a stage prior to its entering into negotiations with the States for a joint off-shore agreement. Most of these arguments are fairly well known and were fully considered. The only exception is that on 20th Febuary this year the International Court of Justice handed down a judgment relating to the continental shelf. This judgment - and I am over-simplifying it - suggested that instead of having sovereign rights over the continental shelf, which are not obtained unless they are exercised, the continental shelf should be considered as a prolongation of the terri torial land domain of the coastal State. This is a lengthy judgment - a majority judgment - and it is under study at present. However, the honourable member should be aware that this is a most controversial area between the States and the Commonwealth. So far as off-shore oil is concerned it was considered to be in the interests of Australia that instead of having years of litigation over it, as has occurred elsewhere, we should reach an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States dealing with off-shore oil exploration and should pool our joint powers, whatever they might be, without going to court for a decision. This is a course which has been adopted and which has brought stability to the grant of licences and a confidence in overseas investors which otherwise would not have been present.
– I address a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. When can the Australian dried vine fruits industry expect a payment from the fund created by the stabilisation legislation? Have all claims submitted up to date by the Australian dried vine fruits industry for devaluation compensation been paid?
– Regarding the final payments for the 1967 crop, which is probably the crop in which the honourable member is interested, the final accounting for stabilisation purposes of that crop, for sultanas and raisins, is virtually complete. It is clear that a bounty will be payable in respect of both of those varieties. Certain provisions of the Dried Vine Fruits Stabilisation Act prescribe the procedures that must be carried out before payment from the fund can be made to the industry. These provisions must be complied with and that is the reason for the delay, but I can assure the honourable member that this matter is almost complete and there will be no undue delay. The second part of the honourable member’s question related to devaluation claims. In respect of the 1967 season an amount of $204,000 has been paid to the industry, of which $29,000 was paid for raisins and $174,000 for sultanas. An amount of $14,000 has been paid on the 1968 crop and further payments will be made as claims are submitted by the Board.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the Minister claim that he has been misrepresented?
– Sir, I have been misrepresented. The Australian Broadcasting Commission reported that I had said yesterday that the Indonesian Government had been asked to send a representative to act as a liaison officer with the Administration of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea in relation to border incidents. I have the transcript of the Press conference that I gave and the words I used, which were correctly reported everywhere except by the ABC, were:
We have suggested to the Indonesian Government and they have agreed that the Administration up there should have a liaison officer go to Djajapura to have direct contact with the West Irianese Administration about these border matters and it is probable that one of the Administration officers will go there shortly.
– (Murray - Minister for Trade and Industry) - by leave - 1 wish to inform the House that the Government intends to introduce legislation in the next session to permit it to pay a bounty to Australian book manufacturers, pending an inquiry and report by the Tariff Board on the question of long term measures of assistance to the industry. This decision was taken because increasing numbers of books are being printed for Australian publishers in overseas countries. The loss of business to Australian printers has caused serious damage to the domestic book printing and binding industry. Employment has fallen significantly and the Government is convinced on the evidence that this trend will continue unless immediate action is taken.
The Government, therefore, proposes to provide short term assistance to the industry pending investigation and report by the Tariff Board. This would be done by payment of a bounty to the manufacturer on Ml books of Australian production to the extent of 25% of the invoiced price. This level of assistance is designed to permit Australian manufacturers to hold sales at approximately the 1967-68 level. Should this level of sales be exceeded the Government would review the continuation of the assistance granted to the industry. The cost of this assistance is estimated at Sl.7m to the end of the 1969- 70 financial year - that is, 13 months. Assistance would be given only to those books which are registerable for transmission through the Post Office as books.
Normally when an industry faces such disruptive competition from imports it would be referred to the Special Advisory Authority for consideration of temporary protection, pending report by the Tariff Board. The Special Advisory Authority is not empowered to recommend bounties. However it is a long standing practice, which the Government re-affirms, that there should be no tariff or licensing restrictions which would impede the free flow of books into Australia. The Government, therefore, has taken the decision to introduce this interim bounty after an extensive investigation into the position of the industry, and after careful consideration of alternative methods of assistance.
The bounty will be administered by the Minister for Customs and Excise and will be payable as from 1st June 1969. Enabling legislation will be introduced in the next session of Parliament. An advisory body comprising representatives of publishers, book manufacturers and Government departments will be appointed to maintain a constant review of the situation until the report of the Board is tabled. The reference to the Tariff Board will be made immediately, and will extend to the whole of the printing industry, lt is believed that these measures will help to maintain the Australian book printing industry until the Tariff Board has completed its investigations.
– -by leaveThe Opposition is pleased that action has now been taken on this matter and that it will be by way of a bounty. We agree that there should be no tariff or licensing restrictions which would impede the free flow of books into Australia. On behalf of the Opposition I am satisfied that if this problem is to be dealt with it is desirable to deal with it by bounty, and if action is necessary beyond the period that is envisaged by this temporary assistance 1 think it would still be advisable to give such assistance by way of bounty. This course of action will prevent the use of tariff or licensing restrictions which may impede the free flow of books into Australia. It will avoid the resistance that might come from the Australian paper manufacturers and it will avoid the necessity for an increase in the price of Australian books. I think it is desirable from a community point of view that the publication of Australian books should be subsidised. This is precisely what this assistance will do.
Having said that, and whilst I approve in principle of what the Government has done, it is very obvious that too much time has been taken in the procedure. It has been a long drawn out procedure, and I do not think people can conduct business this way. The Government is imposing on business standards that are inappropriate to the business world. It was first brought to the knowledge of this House in 1966 that Australian book publishers would be in difficulties as a result of books being published in South East Asia - in Hong Kong -where costs, because of very low wages, and cheap paper imported without tariff, were far below anything that was possible in Australia, even with the most modern equipment. It was obvious in 1966 that this problem would arise. In 1967 it was clear that the problem had arisen and that the Australian book publishers were in difficulties. In 1968 the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) asked the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) a question about this, and he pointed out that the Minister made this statement in a letter to him:
There is no indication that publishers have been taking advantage of low overseas quotations.
There was evidence of this in 1967, and in 1968 the industry was active. Representatives of the industry came to Canberra. In reply to the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition the Minister said:
I can say there has never been any claim that this has been a time wasting exercise.
The Minister outlined the procedure that had been adopted. I take it from what he has said that a panel has been studying the industry. Well, the procedure has taken a long time. The industry will welcome the assistance that has been given to it, but what will happen now? The Minister has told us that this is short term assistance. There is to be a Tariff Board inquiry. He has told us also that there has already been an extensive investigation by the panel and by the Department. What does the Government need to know before it can adopt a permanent policy on this matter? The matter is now to go to the Tariff Board. We know that the Board’s inquiries take a long time. The position of the industry is still very much in doubt. Great uncertainty remains.
I am satisfied that there should be more expedition in these procedures than the Government has allowed to exist in this case. The same thing happens in many other cases. I think it is possible, either through the Tariff Board or by other forms of inquiry, to ascertain the facts much more quickly than has been done in this case and much more quickly than is done as a rule, and to come to a decision much more quickly. It is almost as though the method of delay is an end in itself to see how things turn out - to avoid any changes. This is not appropriate for the requirements of business where the future needs to be predicted with reasonable certainty. It is increasingly difficult in sectors of Australian industry today to make a reasonable prediction of the future because of the dilatoriness of government procedures. The Minister has told us that the Special Advisory Authority has no power to introduce bounties. This is so, but I cannot see why at this stage consideration should not be given to empowering the Special Advisory Authority to recommend bounties.
While the announced action is welcome, although it is overdue, I am not happy about the uncertainty that still remains. I know that even now the book publishing industry will find it impossible reasonably to predict the future. This is not an industry that can quickly change its capita] structure or its employment structure. It is an industry in which there is skill. If that skill is to be maintained there must be years of training. It is not an industry that can be left in the condition of uncertainty that it has been in for several years. Although the assistance is given in the form of a bounty the industry remains in a condition of uncertainty.
– For the information of honourable members and at the request of the Joint Parliamentary Committee of Foreign Affairs I present a report of the Committee relating to the Middle East situation.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Motion (by Mr Freeth) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Dr J. F. Cairns) adjourned.
Mr FREETH (Forrest- Minister for
External Affairs) - For the information of honourable members I present the report of the Australian Delegation to the Twentythird Regular Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Ordered that the report be printed.
That the House take note of the paper.
It is envisaged that copies of the report will be circulated to honourable members as soon as the report is printed, which 1 expect will be in the course of the winter recess of the Parliament.
Debate (on motion by Mr Whitlain) adjourned.
Report of Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory
– I present the report of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory on the question whether breath analysing equipment should be introduced into the Australian Capital Territory to assist in detecting and preventing persons driving motor vehicles while their ability to do so is impaired by the consumption of alcohol. Mr Speaker, I ask for leave to make a short statement in connection with the report.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
- Mr Speaker, in its report the Committee makes the following principal recommendations:
That compulsory breath analysis tests conducted by breathalyzer machines should be introduced into the Australian Capital Territory for persons suspected of driving motor vehicles whilst their ability to do so is impaired by the consumption of alcohol.
That a person required to undergo a compulsory breath analysis test should have the right to undergo an alternative blood test.
That a new offence be created of driving a motor vehicle whilst having a bloodalcohol level in excess of 0.05%.
That penalties for the new offence should be graduated according to the level of blood-alcohol, with relatively light sentences being prescribed for levels between 0.05% and 0.08% and much more severe penalties for persons having blood-alcohol levels between 0.08% and 0.15%.
That a breathalyzer reading in excess of 0.15% should be conclusive evidence that a person has been driving under the influence of alcohol.
That random testing of drivers of motor vehicles should not be permitted at this stage but that if the proposed legislation proves inadequate to deal with the problem of drinking drivers, random tests should then be considered.
That refusal to undergo a breath analysis test or the alternative blood test should constitute an offence of the same magnitude as driving under the influence of alcohol.
That breath tests should be conducted by officers of a breath analysis section formed within the ACT Police Force, and that such tests should be conducted at a police station or other central point, and not by the roadside.
Mr Speaker, the Committee recommends also that a survey of blood-alcohol levels of drivers should be conducted on a voluntary basis before the introduction of the compulsory legislation, that a survey of the causes of road accidents, including the classes of vehicles involved, be undertaken, and urges that the Commonwealth should undertake an intensive campaign to educate the young and old alike of the dangers involved in combining drinking and driving. 1 add only that in my opinion every recommendation made by the Committee is soundly based on the evidence.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I have received a letter from the honourable member for Bass (Mr Barnard) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The Government’s incompetence in handling the F111 affair.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places).
– This is the first occasion in this session on which the House has had the chance to debate the F111 programme. In the past 2 years I have initiated repeated urgency debates on the handling of this programme by the Government. In the Budget session of 1967 during the debate on the defence estimates I told this House that the Australian Labor Party wanted the F111 purchase to be cancelled. I repeated this insistence on several occasions during the 1968 sessions. Now this assertion of the Labor Party that the F111 was not suitable for Australian defence, that its purchase was a wasteful allocation of scarce resources which would leave this country with an orphan aircraft, has been proved correct.
Initially, the Labor Party and a small group of senior newspaper correspondents were the only voices calling for the cancellation of the F111 contract. These lone pleas have grown into a clamour of protests against this unfortunate purchase. Australia’s association with the F111 aircraft may be accurately summarised as a purchase of twenty four wild blue wonders.’ It has proved an exercise in high flying which can only prove disastrous to this country. its defence, and its economic strength. The F111 programme was last debated at some length in this House during an urgency debate initiated by the Opposition on 26th March. Honourable gentlemen will recall an
Opposition urgency debate on the first visit of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) to the United States of America. We raised crucial issues which we felt the Prime Minister should take up with the new President and the senior members of his Cabinet
During this debate, I stressed to the House the importance of the F111 contract and the need for the Prime Minister to obtain assurances from the new United States Secretary for Defence on the future of the project. I emphasised the indifferent performance of the F111 in Vietnam, the sequence of crashes which had occurred, and the fatigue deficiencies revealed by structural testing. I pointed out that demands for the scrapping of the F111 had gained increasing support, not only in this Parliament but in Australia’s responsible Press. Further, increasing pressure in the United States had called for the termination of the whole project. The naval version had been abolished, the bomber version had been sharply cut back, the reconnaissance version had been deferred. On that occasion I said:
The responsibility falls on the Prime Minister during his American visit to find out just where Australia stands with the F111.
I emphasise that this was before the Prime Minister’s first visit to America this year. In that debate I was followed by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) who made the classic statement that heads of government did not discuss defence contracts, that this was left to Ministers and specialists in the field. In other words, it would be completely wrong for the Australian Prime Minister to ask embarrassing questions about a contract expected to cost this country $300m and which could prove a complete waste. The attitude of the Prime Minister changed dramatically in the period between his first American visit and the second earlier this month. Honourable gentlemen will recall that the Prime Minister reported to this House on 15th May on his discussions with President Nixon and senior officials of the United States Government. Before the right honourable gentleman went to America there was a remarkable volume of Press speculation about the F111. It was widely reported that the Prime Minister was going to force the hand of the United States Government and demand compliance with stringent conditions before Australia took delivery of the planes. It was very strongly rumoured that the order would be cancelled, and there are reasonable grounds for assuming that these stories flowed from authoritative sources. There was no suggestion at this time that it was beyond the duty of a Prime Minister to haggle over the terms of a defence contract.
The culmination of this burst of speculation was the Prime Minister’s statement in America that Australia was ‘odds on’ to get the Fill. This was very appropriately put by the right honourable gentleman in the parlance of the turf. The most monumental gamble in the history of Australian public finance has been the Fill purchase. The Prime Minister amplified his statement to this House on 15th May. He gave some account of his discussions with the Secretary of Defence, Mr Laird, and the Chief ot Staff of the United States Air Force, General McConnell. He said that the Fill order had been slashed to 493 aircraft including 141 F l 11 A’s comparable to Australia’s FI 1 1C’s
This highlighted the remarkable fact that Australia will posses about one sixth of the world’s total arsenal of Fill fighterbomber aircraft - an absurdity, bearing in mind Australia’s strategic requirements.
The Prime Minister said the American Air Force regarded the Fill as an exceptionally good aircraft which would be in service at least until 1980 and probably much longer. He went on to say that the United States Air Force expected to test the wing-carry-through-box to 8,000 hours and that this testing would be completed by July. However, Australia wanted this testing to be carried through to 16,000 hours, according to the original contractual agreement. According to American reports, it would be possible for the testing to 16,000 hours insisted on by this Government to be completed by September. Australia could then take delivery of the Fill.
However, in reported statements in the past week, the Minister for Defence has insisted that Australia would not be satisfied that the plane had been thoroughly tested until late this year or early next year. This remarkable divergence can only mean that the Americans want to deliver the Fill as soon as possible and the Government wants to defer the delivery as long as possible. Was there ever a Government more reluctant to acquire what it has described as the most advanced aerial weapons system in the world’? To bring the Fill saga further up to date, I would like to refer to striking developments in the past fortnight.
On 24th May the Canberra correspondent of the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’ wrote that cancellation of Australia’s Fill programme was virtually certain. He said further that this decision had been conveyed to the upper echelons of the United States Administration. This report came from a journalist noted neither for kiteflying nor over-indulgent reporting of the Opposition viewpoint. This story which it can safely be assumed was inspired from official sources was preceded by the fourteenth crash of an Fill during the United States test programme. There have been fourteen crashes - approximately one every 2 months since 1967. This pattern of events prompted the questioning of the Prime Minister, the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) and the Minister for Air (Mr Erwin) by the Opposition in this House yesterday.
This questioning elicited some significant information from a Government invariably reticent on the future of the Fill. The Prime Minister described the ‘Daily Telegraph’ story as conjecture. He denied that the United States Government had been informed of cancellation. He did not deny that the Government was virtually certain to cancel the order. The Minister for Defence, usually the super-salesman for the aircraft, lacked his usual buoyancy when questioned about his favourite plane. He said rather sombrely that all aspects of the Fill programme were under review; if the plane failed to meet test requirements the Government would reserve its decision. The contribution of the Minister for Air was to assure the House that Australia would not accept delivery of $300m worth of merchandise until it was airworthy. Three months ago the Fill was a flawless plane, a thing of beauty to the Minister for Air. All honourable members will recall the statement made by the Minister when he assumed his position of responsibility. He said: ‘From all that I know about the plane, I think it is a beautiful plane.’ The Minister had not done his homework, and he still has not done it. On his own words, he now has doubts about its airworthiness.
In summary, the three senior Ministers handling the Fill are in an extremely chastened frame of mind about the programme. The events of the past 2 years have shattered many illusions. Clearly the Government has started a softening-up process to prepare the electorate for the probable cancelling of the plane. This process comes at a time when the Fill has become almost a forgotten plane in the United States. The Navy which killed its version of the Fill, is developing a new swing wing supersonic aircraft, the FMA. The Air Force, which will take delivery of only a fraction of the Fills initially ordered, is also developing a supersonic fighter, the FI 5. In addition, research and development for a new supersonic bomber, the advanced manned strategic aircraft, is under way.
It is reported that the United States Air Force wants 240 of these new aircraft at an estimated price of $50m each. It is not beyond the bounds of probability that this Government on its record with the Fill would be capable of committing Australia to this advanced aircraft at th£ privilege price of $50m a plane.
How does the Fill fit into the defence structure with these vast research and development projects under way? The former United States Secretary of Defence, Mr Clifford, has said that the Fill was best suited for a deep interdiction mission. He said that for close support and other fighterattack missions it was less suitable than other aircraft. Accordingly, he recommended the reduction in the Fill programme and an increase in the number of Phantom F4s and A7 aircraft.
If America has less use for deep interdiction than the close support role, it is impossible to see the viability of the Fill for Australia’s defences. It is ironical that the Phantom aircraft which was rejected by Australia should now be found more effective in the close support role and with a useful life at least equal to the potential life of the Fill. The United States envisages a limited role for the Fill. For the bulk of its defence roles it will rely on other aircraft at present in service until the F14A, the F15 and the advanced manned strategic aircraft are developed over the next 10 years. With all its great virtues it is likely that the Fill will prove an anomaly, a blind alley off the mainroad of military aircraft development, lt becomes more and more apparent each day that the Australian Government has painted itself into a corner in its commitment to the Fill programme.
The stage has been reached where the problems of pulling out rival the problems of going on. By pulling out the Government faces severe capital losses and the intangible of a severe morale blow to the Royal Australian Air Force which has suffered a long drought in its re-equipment programme. By persevering with the project the Government commits itself to an orphan aircraft of a limited nature, whose final cost is still uncertain and with grave problems in obtaining spares and maintaining the planes. The Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence yesterday dodged the question of the cost of cancellation to Australia. At the very least it would involve the writing off of a substantial part of the development of Amberley base for Fill operation.
This assumes that the American Government would allow the transfer of Australian payments for the Fill - now totalling SI 55m - to the purchase of another plane. It would be much more likely that some penalty payments would be involved. Added to this is the loss involved in capital spending, ground support and training equipment at Amberly. and the cost of flying crews to the United States and maintaining them during training. This makes it quite obvious that cancellation would involve considerable wastage of resources. Certainly a figure of at least $50m would be involved. Waste of this order is unforgivable at a time when scarce resources are being squeezed to provide for competing social needs.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– This is the ninth occasion on which we have had a substantive debate on the FI 1 1. But, of course, the atmosphere has been created for this debate by a spate of conjecture in the Press to which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) has referred. Having some knowledge of the origin of the matter which triggered off the first of these items, I can tell the honourable gentleman that it certainly did not come from an authoritative source. It was followed by a little further press speculation to which the honourable gentleman now adds his quota. Of course, there are a couple of by-elections in the air, and we are coming up to a general election. Honourable members opposite say: There might be a vote in an argument of this kind, so do not let us lose the opportunity.’ The Australian Labor Party wants to have another piece of the Fill. This is the ninth occasion on which the Opposition has come to debate the Fill with a completely broad brush approach. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has been retailing what he said in the past. Of course, if one refers to every aspect of this project one will be able to come back sooner or later and say: ‘I told you so but you would not listen to what I had to say.’ Again we have a broad brush approach with loose charges that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is unable to sustain in any specific way. These charges can only be made by people who carry no responsibility for the project itself.
The Government is charged with incompetence on this occasion. That is a broad enough charge. I remind the House that this charge of incompetence is made by a party which in recent times has shown a good deal of incompetence in handling its own relatively minor domestic affairs. But I will let that pass. Any charge of incompetence in connection with the Fill project spills over considerably beyond the confines of this Parliament and this Government. It is a charge which must go back to the United States Government, to the United States Air Force and to one of the most experienced aircraft producers in the world, a company which has a long record of production of highly successful military aircraft to its credit. They are all suffering the same kind of difficulties that we are suffering with the Fill project. Indeed, if one examines the matter carefully one will see that the problems which face the Government today with this project - and they are admitted - are not problems of our own making. I will have something more to say about that in a moment.
This is the eighth occasion on which the Opposition has come up with nothing new in a debate of this nature. But as I pointed out earlier, trouble is newsworthy and as the Opposition believes that there may be a vote in it at the next general elections it is determined that no opportunity shall be missed. Of course there are troubles with the Fill aircraft, but few of them are of our making. Let us get this matter into perspective. No-one, even with the benefit of hindsight, could challenge the concept of the Government in 1963 that it was better to buy an aircraft with a full life in front of it than one which was approaching obsolescence, particularly in view of the problems we had at that rime. Can anybody overlook or forget the fact that this aircraft was contracted for in an atmosphere of confrontation? Could anybody on the other side of the House give the people of Australia a guarantee that nowhere within the life of this aircraft would we run into a situation involving that kind of risk again? It is quite clear that no such guarantee could be given. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that the Fill aircraft is not suitable for close support. It was never thought of as a close support aircraft. Clearly that shows his ignorance of Air Force matters in general.
Let me go a stage further and say that this aircraft was bought by the Government on the recommendation of Australia’s most experienced technical advisers, the Royal Australian Air Force. To the best of my knowledge there has never been a challenge to Australia’s selection of military aircraft. Indeed, wherever one goes throughout the world in aircraft manufacturing circles it is plainly brought home that the air forces of the world and the aircraft manufacturers of the world have the greatest respect for Australia’s technical advice. Any manufacturer will confirm that if the RAAF is to use an aircraft this is a tremendous aid to selling that aircraft in other markets. That indicates how highly the judgment of the RAAF is respected throughout the world. Nobody with any objective judgment will suggest that there was any way of avoiding the kind of contract Australia went into with Robert McNamara in 1963. Here was a great developmental project in which we were looking forward to perhaps two generations of technological development. Does anybody suggest that a precise price can be put on that kind of thing? One has only to look at the developmental programme of aircraft such as the Concorde and the Galaxie C C5A to understand what can happen when an attempt is made to produce something outstanding in the technological field.
The price which was put down on the Fill aircraft in the early stages, as we have said in this House on numerous occasions, was a highly qualified estimate of what the price might be. The Government understood very well that the price would escalate under the research and development project. Does the Leader of the Opposition regard as incompetence the fact that the Government was able to negotiate a ceiling price of $5.9ra with the United States Government when the price of that aircraft to the United States Government is considerably more than that figure? Is that a failure on the part of the Government to protect the best interests of the country? The Deputy Leader of the Opposition talks about the cost of the next generation of aircraft. On his own statement the cost of the next generation of aircraft is anticipated to be something like S50m a copy. Yet he has the hide to complain that this is an expensive aircraft with the performance that we might reasonably anticipate from it.
The Fill aircraft would be flying in Australia today except for a fatigue problem which was first discovered in about September of last year. Is that grounds for a charge of incompetence against the Government? This; is a technological problem. We did not cause it. We did not will it. It is being suffered by the United States as well as Australia. The same kind of technical problem has been suffered from time to time with other aircraft. Anybody who has been in the field of new and advanced aircraft will confirm that. Has anybody forgotten what happened to the first British passenger jet aircraft, the Comet? It suffered the same difficulties. Can a charge of incompetence be laid against the Government because it is unwilling to accept the Fill aircraft until it has been fully proven and has demanded that it be subject to a series of stringent tests? Defects having been discovered, is it incompetence on the part of the Government for it to set out to protect its investment in the aircraft and the lives of the gallant and competent young Australian flyers who will be flying the aircraft in due course?
A series of tests of the aircraft is now being conducted and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition seeks to make political capital out of this. He said that the Government was unwilling to take delivery of the aircraft until the tests are concluded; that the United States had informed us that the tests would be finished in July but that the Australian Government was insisting that the tests continue beyond that time. He also referred to test hours. If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had studied the project and its background, as a hopeful Minister for Defence in some other government might be assumed to have done, he would understand that the mere quoting of any number of test hours is of itself insufficient definition. Whether the tests go on for 4,000, 6,000 or 10,000 hours depends entirely upon the spectrum of fatigue tests applied to the aircraft. The United States Air Force can put its aircraft into service at a much lower number of test hours because if trouble occurs they are only a few hours away from the factory of origin and competent assistance. If we were to bring our aircraft back to Australia and to take that kind of risk and we were wrong, who would be standing up in the House within 5 minutes complaining about the Government’s incompetence? It would be the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. So, Australia insists that before the aircraft are brought back here we are assured as a result of very rigid tests that we can look forward with confidence to the full and complete trouble free life of the aircraft.
Does the Opposition really think that the Government takes its decisions lightly, knowing as we do that when there is a problem or a delay it gives rise to a whole chain of consequential difficulties? Australia has a contract with the United States. We do not sign a contract one day and then decide that if we cannot get the merchandise within a week we will walk out of the contract. We have a solemn obligation to the United States to meet our commitments and we will go on with the contract until it is proven to our satisfaction that the equipment we thought we would get is unavailable. We have made our reservations all along the line with the United States. We have negotiated with the United States authorities and we have had their agreement that if there are modifications to be made to our aircraft they will fall within our ceiling price. This is a generous concession. We have reserved our decision that if there was to be a redesigning of parts of this aircraft and they had to be incorporated, they will still fall under our cost ceiling, and the United States understands these things very well. We have a problem with this aircraft. We are obliged to find out whether this problem is solvable, but the demand that the order for the aircraft be cancelled is a very dramatic and courageous demand on the part of the Opposition. But unfortunately that kind of gesture is reserved for the people who carry no responsibility. Cancellation is a last resort for a government. Let me point out that the decisions which have been taken ou this aircraft during the progress of the project have been taken responsibly on the facts as we knew them at the time. The honourable member, of course, wants to judge these decisions, not in the light of the circumstances at the time but in the light of the circumstances as at this moment. In other words, he imports the wisdom of hindsight. One does not have to be smart to be wise after the event, and the honourable member, giving him his due, had something reported in the Press only a few days ago and he admitted he was talking with the wisdom of hindsight. That is a very great concession from the honourable member, I assure you.
Yesterday the Opposition was dredging the record for what I had said about this aircraft in the last few years. I make no apology whatsoever for having expressed my confidence iti United States technology. The United States Government does no less, and governments all round the world have done no less, than express their confidence in American technology. In the last week we have had a most dramatic example of the technological competence of the United States, particularly in the aerospace industry. If these problems appear unsoluble, we have never said that we will not change our view. We have always said that we will not incorporate into the Royal Australian Air Force an aircraft which is unreliable, which is not air worthy and which will not perform the tasks we set before it. If there are changes in the United States - and they are masters of their own affairs - and if there are changes in their programme which adversely affect our situation then, of course, we will reserve our decision and, of course, we will take the right to change our views.
The honourable member talks about there being only 500 aircraft. As far as I recall 500 aircraft is a hell of a lot of aircraft in the military field. The honourable member also talks about ours being orphans. The spare parts, the maintenance and the rest of the things which back the 500 American aircraft will equally back ours when the time comes that we need them. I have expressed in the past not only my own confidence about these aircraft, I have expressed the confidence of the technical experts who advise the Government. In the situation which faces us at the moment where judgments have to be made; once again I would be seeking the objective judgment of those who are expert in this matter. I do not know what course will lie ahead, but the House may take it as read that we will preserve the best interests of this country and the interests of the people who have to fly this aircraft in Australia’s defence. It is not black and white. It is not that we have to take the aircraft or that we have to reject it. There are, no doubt, options. These we will pursue, and for that reason, of course, we are examining this matter in depth at this stage. But I reject the charge of the Opposition as unproven that there has been incompetence in the Government handling of this great project. On the contrary it has been handled with due care and due concern all through and it will continue to be dealt with in that way.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
- Mr Deputy Speaker-
– Now we will hear the experts.
– I do not say I am an expert, but it is marvellous that one can always get expert advice. I do not think the previous speaker, the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) is an expert because if ever a Minister has misled the Australian Parliament and the Australian public he has done so. I say this because over a period whenever the Opposition has raised this important matter of the Fill aircraft the Minister has always stood in this Parliament and defended the Government’s attitude and the Government’s purchase of this aircraft. But 1 think we have to look at the history of this aircraft to understand exactly whether it is the type of aircraft that is required by Australia. I feel that we also have to consider whether the Minister has been fair dinkum with the Parliament and whether he has told us the full facts concerning the purchase .of these aircraft. There is no doubt in my mind, and in the minds of the majority of the Australian people, that he has misled us. We do not know the full facts and the only way we can obtain them is by reading articles about this matter which have been written overseas where people, in my opinion, give more detailed reports on it.
As far as the aircraft is concerned, there is no doubt in the minds of the Opposition and the Australian people that this aircraft was bought after 3 days of negotiations by a former Minister just prior to an election purely as an election gimmick. As a result of this gimmick the Australian Government and the Australian people have been left holding the bag. I have heard interjections about the TSR2 aircraft. I think that if any honourable members opposite read anything about this particular aircraft they would realise that it is unfortunate that the Government of the day in the United Kingdom did not go on with the production of it. If we look around the world today we find that other countries have copied the plans of the TSR2 and are now putting similar aircraft into operation, particularly some of the major European countries. So I do not think this aircraft should be condemned. What we are mainly condemning is the Fill. First of all, when the aircraft were to be built we were told by the Minister that there were to be 1,700 of them built for the United States Air Force. Today the figure is down to below 400, and we know that only 76 of the modified version which the American Air Force is now developing will be built. In other words, our version of the Fill is already obsolete.
Because of the bungle with the FI 1 1 the American Government has decided that it will have to keep the B58 in operation instead of phasing it out. It will also have to keep the B52 because the Fill will not do what the American armed forces required it to do. Yet the Minister has the audacity to stand up here in the Parliament and say what a wonderful aircraft this is. We know it is full of bugs and the bugs have to be ironed out. I do not know if we are to get the ‘Flick man’ to iron them out, but I think the best way to iron them out is to scrap the aircraft. I also want to say that when the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), who took over in January of last year, was asked a question on television in reference to the Fill he gave the impression that he was not too happy about the aircraft. But he also stated on the same television programme that we could not get out of purchasing them. Why could we not get out of purchasing them? We know that the United Kingdom Government got out of its contract because it had an escape clause in the contract. I doubt whether the reason given on that occasion, that the United Kingdom Government did not have the money, was correct.
There is no doubt in my mind that the United Kingdom Government knew that these aircraft were not what they were said to be and that it wanted to get out of the contract. It cost that Government $250m, I think, to get out of the purchase, but it would have been up for over $ 1,020m if it had carried on with its contract. At least it got out. This Government has stated that it cannot get out of the contract. I have my doubts on that. I think it could scrap the contract tomorrow quite easily by telling the Americans that this is not the aircraft it was originally planned to be. When we signed the contract to buy the aircraft we were going to buy a plane that was to be virtually impregnable, a flying fortress. Fully armed it should have weighed no more than 70,000 lb. It should have been able to fly at 1,650 miles an hour, make tight turns and dive to low on-the-deck altitudes below enemy radar and dash at these low levels for 400 miles before climbing again. It can do none of these things. These aircraft cannot do what the Minister said they could. They will weigh 90,000 lb fully armed, which is 20,000 lb above the weight originally planned. This means that something must have been wrong with the structure of the aircraft. Extra modifications had to be made, and as a result of these modifications the aircraft is now 20,000 lb heavier than was anticipated. It is so heavy it cannot fly above 14,000 feet when fully armed.
– The honourable member can argue on the matter but this is what I am saying. It has also been stated that the aircraft can fly at more than 1,450 miles per hour. But it cannot reach this because the engine and the compressors in the engine stait when it goes at speeds above even 1,200 miles per hour. This is the aircraft which the Minister is trying to praise in statements to the Australian people. We know that he has been to America, taking with him advisers from the Royal Australian Air Force and other people involved with the defence of Australia. They have come back and said what a wonderful aircraft it is and how it is to assist Australia’s defence. It is about time that some of the people who have made these statements were brought before the bar of the House and questioned on exactly how they arrived at these conclusions, because there is no doubt in my mind that they also have been misleading the people. They have made statements hi all the defence magazines throughout the country. They have provided a bit of propaganda for the Australian troops by saying what a wonderful aircraft this Government is to purchase. As I say, the Minister himself has been misleading. He has told us here that Australia intends to fulfil the contract, that there is no escape clause and that we cannot get out of it. The ‘United States News and World Report* of 2nd December 1968 stated:
Now that the price has been set, it will cost Australia about $300m–
The original estimated cost was $120m - one quarter of Australia’s defence budget for 1968-69 for twenty-four planes and equipment. To cancel, the Australian Government would have to pay a penalty of $200m.
The Minister should explain this. I do not think we can expect much from the Minister for Air (Mr Erwin), who is to follow me in this debate. But at least the Minister for Defence, who has been connected with this matter for many years, should be able to stand up in the Parliament and let us know whether we can cancel the order and get out of the contract. The general feeling amongst the Australian people is that there is to be a decision or statement made by the Minister to cancel our order for the aircraft. We all know that as time goes on the costs are continually rising because of modifications that have been made to the aircraft and because of the financial agreements. What we want to know is how much it is costing the Australian taxpayer every day, because every day more money will be taken out of the Treasury, or will have to be found somewhere, to buy this aircraft.
There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that this will not be the type of aircraft that is required. Even the Americans themselves, as I have stated previously, are already in the process of developing other aircraft because they maintain that the FI 1 1 will not meet their needs. If it will not meet their needs, will it meet Australia’s needs? I have my doubts on this, and I think the majority of the Australian people have their doubts. Mr Minister, I think personally you have made one of the greatest blunders in this Parliament.
– Order! I remind the honourable member that he should speak through the Chair and not directly to the Minister.
– Through you, Mr Deputy Speaker, I say that the Minister has made a great blunder on this occasion. He has been misleading the Australian public. I do not think that anybody could stand up in this Parliament and honestly say that he has confidence in the Fill. The new Secretary of Defence in America also has his doubts about the FI 1 1.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I do not know why we should be wasting time on all this twaddle. As my colleague the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) has said, this is the ninth or tenth occasion on which we have gone over the purchase of the Fill aircraft in a most thorough way. The honourable member for East Sydney (Mr Devine) made some comment about having to keep B52’s and B58’s because the Fill will not perform as expected. The Air Force Secretary in America, Mr Brown, has said in fact the aircraft would fly further and faster and would drop a heavier load of bombs with greater precision. It has done all these things by a factor of two. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) said that the order has been slashed to 493 aircraft. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), on his return from America, said that the existing order is ‘for 493 aircraft’. There could always be further orders placed and this, no doubt, will be covered by the United States Administration in due course. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition also made a comment to the effect that the Phantom is now found to be more useful in a close support role in Vietnam. Let me explain that the role of the F111C, as far as we are concerned, is not for close support. It is a strike aircraft, which is a completely different role. We recently heard that the Israeli air force has purchased SO Phantoms at a cost to the Israeli Government of approximately $50m. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition also asserted that the Fill will be an orphan aircraft. Once again let me repeat the words of the Prime Minister. He said:
The Chief of Staff was emphatic that the USAF regarded the Fill as an exceptionally good aircraft and that it would be in service at least until 1980 and probably much longer.
For the information of the House and for those who are very interested in the purchase of this aircraft, let me once again repeat the history. On 22nd May 1963 Sir Robert Menzies referred to the reequipment of the strike reconnaissance force of the Royal Australian Air Force. He stated:
We are giving close attention to the future as we must. There are, of course, great financial problems but there are vital questions as to the availability of suitable types to meet our requirements, having regard to our special geographic circumstances.
The Canberra bombers have been in service since 1953, a total of 16 years. No-one will deny that they are in need of replacement. The evaluation team that was sent overseas looked at five different aircraft. They made a very long, detailed and exacting assessment of what was available. The Air Staff requirement was for a strike force capable of penetrating enemy defence systems and delivering its weapon load accurately in all weather. The requirement called for supersonic speed performance at high and low levels, long range capability and highly sophisticated navigational weapons delivery. Of the five aircraft evaluated the Fill most clearly met the Air Staff requirement. The Government took the view that we should procure the aircraft which best suited our needs and for this reason the Fill was selected.
The urgency for the replacement of the Canberra was not such as to deny procurement of the aircraft best suited to our needs. We cannot afford to buy second rate aircraft. If we did we would be in a position similar to that in which we were placed with our Wirarways in 1940. I know only too well how we were situated then, as I flew against the enemy in Wirraways knowing only too well that a complete squadron had been blasted out of the air before the order had been given. The F111C aircraft are being obtained for the purpose of defending Australia for a period of up to 15 years.
I turn now to some of the technical aspects of the aircraft. In the development of all high performance aircraft problems are encountered in various areas. In this respect the Fill has been no exception. As with other sophisticated aircraft previously developed, these problems have been overcome by re-design and modification as necessary.
The House has heard that the Fill advances the technology of aircraft way beyond other existing types of military strike aircraft. The aircraft cannot therefore be other than controversial and I would suggest that some doubt would exist in technical minds as well as in the attitudes of the general public until the skill, persistence and experience of scientists and engineers overcome problems not previously met. This factor has no doubt contributed to the continuous speculation in the Press. The Opposition appears to take a morbid delight in using crashes of Fill aircraft as justification for cancelling the project. As has been stated ad nauseum, the performance of the Fill as far as accidents are concerned is most favourable when compared with the Century series of aircraft in the United States Air Force inventory and indeed the F4, which is the Phantom.
My colleague, the Minister for Defence, has on at least two occasions explained that fatigue testing is not a precise science. Indeed it is a most complex one. All aircraft are designed to meet a specified performance. Tests are devised to prove the design for the required strength, reliability and anticipated total life in service. So what we are looking for is that the tests which will be commencing in the United States in mid-June will, in fact, prove to us the reliability of the aircraft in terms of its wing carry-through box. It has been asked why the Americans are prepared to accept their aircraft at 8,000 hours of testing, whereas we are seeking a longer term. The position the United States Air Force is placed in is completely different from that of the Royal Australian Air Force, particularly if one has regard to the problems of production at General Dynamics where, if production were to stop until the full tests were completed, there would be considerable difficulties in restarting the production line.
Of considerable significance in this too, is the fact that the USAF has alongside it facilities for modifications should the need arise as a result of a requirement for subsequent modifications to the wing carrythrough box. These modifications could be achieved by the USAF with relatively little inconvenience. This is not our case. If we took delivery of the aircraft at this low level of testing and a failure subsequently occurred, it would present us with tremendous difficulties in modification. 1 have already stated that the RAAF expects to have the aircraft in service for at least 15 years. To achieve this, we must be assured that the wing carry-through box and the modifications, which have been carried out and will be tested during the forthcoming tests, will give us every confidence that the aircraft will meet our requirements. It is suggested that we might take delivery of the aircraft after 16,000 hours of testing has been completed by the United States Air Force. I might explain here that, in assessing the 16,000 hours of tests, one must take into acount the intensity of the test spectrum being used and in fact the 16,000 hours may mean, in certain circumstances, a confidence for a much lower real frying life. I would like to remind members that our aircraft are different from the Fill aircraft currently in service with the USAF in that they have longer wing spans and heavier undercarriage, which will necessarily modify the test spectrum and the length of the tests we require.
At this point we have incomplete information on the tests which the Americans intend to use. This is not as a result of any shortcoming on our part. The United States Air Force has not yet fully developed these tests. It is our intention to examine these tests very closely and, with this in mind, a composite team of scientists and a senior Service officer will go to the United States early next month to talk to the Americans on this and other aspects of the programme. I would suggest that our insistence on seeking an assurance that the period of test takes into account our operational spectrum is a proper course. It will give us every confidence that the wing carry-through box will have years of service with the RAAF. I repeat that this is an entirely reasonable and proper course on our part and one which is in the interests of the citizens of Australia. It certainly does not show any incompetence, either in the past or in the present handling of the FI 1 1 programme.
The Government repeatedly has explained the reasons for the choice of the aircraft and the financial arrangements. When the testing has progressed far enough we will be able better to evaluate the results as they affect our own special circumstances and decide our future course of action. This certainly cannot be construed as mismanagement. Indeed, we have shown proper caution.
– I have spoken before in the Parliament on the subject of the Fill aircraft. On the first occasion on 7th May 1968, among other things I had this to say:
May it not be better not only for us but for the United States itself, which has a reputation to maintain, to delay delivery and acceptance until, as it is said, the bugs are ironed out.
At that time delivery was said to be imminent - due to take place in a couple of months. I went on and said:
I believe that we are fully justified, morally, legally and as a matter of common sense, in stalling until we know whether this aircraft meets its specifications, whether it is the kind of aircraft that we ordered, whether it is in fact capable of fulfilling the role for which it was intended.
Subsequent events have, I think, borne out the wisdom of what I and many others were saying at that time. I spoke again on 9th October 1968, and I said:
In the light of what has transpired since I last spoke on this matter, I now state my belief that we should be fully justified in rejecting this aircraft entirely unless and until we know that it meets its specifications, that it is the kind of aircraft that we ordered, and that it is in fact capable of fulfilling the role for which it was intended. American governments and businessmen are hardheaded people. They will respect us more, and will not like us less, if, with good reason, we take this stand.
Finally I appealed to the Minister and to the Government to put the brakes on hard and to act very cautiously from that point on. I said that they had every reason to do so and that theirs would be a heavy responsibility if they failed to do what was necessary to protect Australia’s interest in this vital matter. Quite predictably, the next day the then Minister for Air, now the Minister for External Territories (Mr Freeth), indulged in a personal attack upon me to which I have never had any opportunity to reply. I shall not go into the details of it. I see that the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) is to conclude the debate today and, quite predictably, we shall have something similar no doubt, although I will say, judging from previous experience, that at least it will be said tongue in cheek without malice and with a sense of humour.
– You might be disappointed.
– We shall see. However I believe that the then Minister for Air, whether or not he ever apologises, will live to regret the day when he indulged in that talk and took up that attitude in respect of the Fill. We shall see. I believe that time once again is on our side.
– What side is that?
– The side of the critics of the Fill. May I say further that Press reports on 28th November 1968 carried the intelligence that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) had told a Party meeting that the Government was not having second thoughts about this matter. I wonder whether he can say the same quite truthfully today. May I say that, exercising my right as a member, I wrote twice to the Prime Minister towards the end of last year on this subject and never received any acknowledgment or any reply to my letters? I am not going to repeat at length what I have had to say before on this subject, nor am I going to traverse in detail what has happened since, because that has been done already by other speakers. Suffice it to say that this is obviously the plane that nobody wants. The United Kingdom did not want it, the United States Navy did not want it and the United States Air Force is certainly very disinclined to take any more than it has to take. It is regarded now as an interim aircraft, except for the deep interdiction role which is said to be the only role for which it is suited. We have yet to learn from any responsible Government spokesman just exactly what is the role for which we desire it and whether we are content to receive an aircraft which is said to be available only for the deep interdiction role.
The Government has reduced itself to a laughing stock over this matter. I place no reliance on what the cartoonists have depicted in their cartoons, but every responsible newspaper in Australia has been saying, and is saying, exactly what I am saying now, and it is futile for the Minister for Air (Mr Erwin) to dismiss it as twaddle. That is a sufficient indication of his capacity as Minister for Air. This Government has been apparently so long in office and so secure in its majority that it is not prepared ever to admit that it could have made a mistake about this or any other matter. But the game, I believe, is up at last. The moment of truth has finally arrived. If in fact the Daily Telegraph’ and the ‘Bulletin’, which are by no means unkind towards the Government, are now reporting that the Air Board is having second thoughts about the matter, I am prepared - I am sorry to have to say this - to place more credence in what Alan Reid has to say in the ‘Daily Telgraph than I can in any contradiction from a Minister that in fact the Government is having second thoughts. Reading between the lines, everything indicates that this is so, and it is high time too. T congratulate the Government upon it. lt is reported and not denied that the United States is now prepared to help and to allow us, if need be, to apply the money we have paid - some $180m - towards the purchase of another aeroplane. Indeed, well it may. It is only just and right that it should. The General Dynamics Corporation has much to answer for. It has led the United States Government and ourselves a sorry dance. And if ‘twere done when ‘twere done, then ‘twere best done quickly. Let us get out while we may. To persist any longer would be simply a display of foolish obstinancy. At worst it could be regarded, and I think rightly, as a gross betrayal of this country’s best interests in pursuit of a foolish consistency.
The Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) congratulated the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) on showing the wisdom of hindsight. Let us all at least show the wisdom of hindsight. I am not criticising the original decision or much of what has been said en route during the unhappy history since the contract was signed. But let us now show the wisdom of hindsight. Let us show at least the wisdom that is being shown by the United States Government in disentangling itself as best it can from what now appears to have been a gross error. I have had occasion to quote before, and I shall quote again, if I may, the words of Churchill when he said:
There is more respect to be won in the opinion of the world by a resolute and courageous liquidation of unsound positions than in the most stubborn pursuit of extravagant or unpromising objectives.
That is what the Government is pursuing now - extravagant and unpromising objectives in relation to the Fill. It would earn far more respect from the electorate and the Parliament if it would resolutely and courageously liquidate its unsound position and get us out of the contract on the best terms it oan negotiate.
I realise that this cannot be done overnight. I realise that such a matter would have to be discussed at length with the United States Government. But I appeal to the Government not to persist stubbornly in this course but to get out of it now. It should not imagine that it can postpone until after the election a decision that should be taken now, a decision that is costing us, according to a report in the newspapers the other day, some $9m a month for every month we delay the decision. That may or may not be a mis-statement. I have asked the Minister for Air to let us know how much per month, per week or per day we will lose if we persist with this purchase until, let us say, after the election. I hope in due course that I shall! have his answer and that the public will be aware of it. I would say to the Government through you, Mr Deputy Speaker, that if it imagines it can safely postpone until after the election a cancellation that should be effected now, it would be regarded as an exercise in political cynicism the like of which has seldom if ever before been seen in Australia’s history. I believe that the worm will turn at last, that the man in the street will utterly repudiate finally, if it chooses to act in that way, a government that could treat him so lightly or toy with his national security in so cavalier a fashion.
– Did the honourable member see the result of the gallup poll?
– My friend refers to the gallup poll. I say: Let us wait and see. I do not believe - I am not going to believe - that the Government will act in this way. There is every reason to believe it has reconsidered the matter. If it has, I congratulate it. But I ask the Government, if I may, through you, Mr Deputy Speaker, to remind itself of how much that money - whether it is $9m a month or some other figure - could buy and how it could provide some of the things Australia so desperately needs in the form of education, health services and one hundred and one other things for which the public and the States are crying out. I repeat that the Government will earn far more credit in getting out now on the best terms it can negotiate than in the stubborn pursuit of what can only be described as an extravagant and unpromising objective, the acceptance of the FI 1 1.
– It is very easy in a political existence to jump on the band waggon when some problem or trouble arises, and to posture as a hero or as one who knew all about it from the outset. This seems to me now to be typical of every attitude that is taken by the honourable member for Warringah (Mr St. John) and I do not respect it. To pick up a figure of $9m a month, which someone without any knowledge at all has used, and then to posture and tell us how much we could do in the provision of hospitals, education and other matters if we saved that mythical $9m a month is a pretty poor display, and I say no more about it.
The honourable member for East Sydney (Mr Devine), who just interjected, stated the case that the Opposition really wants to rest on and that is the allegation that the aircraft was bought as an election gimmick after 3 days of negotiation. That is the stand that the Opposition has taken right through the piece. As a member of the Government, accepting my full responsibility, I want to recount the circumstances in which this aircraft was chosen. The defence equipment to be purchased was, as is done with all new departures in defence equipment, decided upon only after the Defence Committee, comprising representatives of the Defence Services, the military and civilian services, the Department of External Affairs and the Prime Minister’s Department, had made a close and most penetrating assessment of our strategic circumstances at that point of time. This is the essential preliminary guide to the requirements of the equipment. Speed, hitting power, range, evasive characteristics and other characteristics of the aircraft, the estimates of time, whether a better aircraft than the one presently available was coming up and whether we could afford to wait were factors that were taken into account. The Government then requested the Chief of the Air Staff, the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, who himself had been Chief of the Air Staff, and no doubt all the relevant technical experts within the Government’s services to assess and compare whatever aircraft were available or were becoming available. After a most careful appraisal of several new types, the Government’s expert advisers made their report to the Government. Their estimate was that the Fill, although not then available, was a most superior type of aircraft for the various circumstances visualised, and not only the right type but the best type. It was with the benefit of this technical comparison of aircraft available or becoming available that the Government made its decision and the order was placed.
The Opposition was then attempting to make capital of the fact that the Government had not placed an order for aircraft and carried this position through to a criticism of the decision to purchase the Fill. In the recurring debates, I remember the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) pressed that the Government should buy a British fighter bomber known as the TSR2. This pressure by Labor members that we should choose and buy the TSR2 was incessant and at that time was almost as much a matter of disputation as the purchase of the Fill is now. It was not very long after this that the TSR2, which was intended to be produced by Britain, was cancelled. So the aircraft that the Opposition had been urging we should buy never eventuated as an aircraft at all.
Amidst the difficulties that have been experienced in bringing the Fill into production with a satisfactory assured performance, the Government’s military advisers have not suggested that the Government should alter its decision. I have no expert knowledge of these matters, but there is no doubt that the Fill is a more sophisticated and complex machine than is any other aircraft in existence. Its design is extraordinarily advanced and I think it is not surprising that there have been very considerable difficulties in converting so advanced and complex a machine from the drawing board to a completely reliable machine in the air. To admit this is not to deny disappointment at the succession of modifications and tests which have been found to be necessary and the delays which have followed in consequence. Assuming these modifications are resolved, the Fill would have to be assessed as being the most advanced aircraft in the world, at least in the Western part of the world. I do not know what the East may have. Australia, in possession and operating Fill aircraft after such proving, would be inferior to none in equipment. However, the requirement of testing which was stipulated at the time the order was placed has not yet been completed and will not be completed, as I understand it, for several months.
They are the facts, but the real challenge to the Government levelled by the Opposition is that the Government has made a misjudgment in placing the order for these aircraft. Coming from political opposition, what does this mean? It means that the Opposition claims that its judgment as a lay political entity is superior to the judgment of all the technical officers of the Government and superior to that of all the American military and technical specialists. That is an incredible attitude for the Opposition to take. The Government’s position is unchallengeably correct. It sought the help of the best equipped men in Australia in our air and military Services, and of our External Affairs advisers, to assess the purpose for which we need an aircraft and then to report to the Government before a choice was made as between the various aircraft that were available or likely to become available. Either the Opposition means that we should have substituted our lay, personal, political judgment in the choice of an intricate aircraft, or it is saying that the most highly trained specialists who have come tip through the ranks of the Royal Australian Air Force and the other military Services are incompetent in their judgments and that their judgments are not to be regarded as sound. That must apply equally to the American technical experts.
The issue before the House is whether the Government has acted correctly in making its decision, after having the advice of the most skilled men in Australia. The leaders and technical experts of the RAAF and the military leaders of the other Services must surely be the judges to whom we look for guidance. We have looked to them in the past and we shall continue so to do in the future. Any other suggestion is utterly intolerable. We are determined that our aircraft shall be the very best that technical skills can produce. Our strength is the strength of our own strong will; our own superb fighting men and the best equipment we can procure for their use, and nothing will deter us from that course.
Sitting suspended from 12.44 to 2.15 p.m.
– This debate has revealed so much of what is wrong with this Government. One finds two senior Ministers who have staked their own fortunes and reputations on a catastrophic decision and a Prime Minister who has sought to give the impression that he would like to make a change if he could but has proved too weak to overbear his senior colleagues. The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) - the Deputy Prime Minister - like the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) was a party to the decision in late 1963 on the eve of the House of Representatives elections. Their Cabinet colleagues are retired or deceased or have been removed or promoted. He came here trying to re-write history. He emphasised that this decision was taken on the advice of the experts. In fact the advice of the experts has not been published. It is sufficiently well known, however, that the experts gave alternatives. They were not unanimous. Of what relevance is it now to know what the experts might have advised by majority or alternatively 6 years ago. The Deputy Prime Minister does not assert that the experts now advise that the Government should persist with the contract irrespective of the suitability of the aircraft when it at last arrives. He goes further: He seeks to shift the blame by saying that at the end of 1963 members of my Party were advocating Australia’s purchase of the TSR2. In fact there was no commitment to this. At that time 1 pointed out that there were other choices, such as the Phantom. The right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) said in his 1963 policy speech: 1 make it quite clear that 1 am not judging, nor am I competent to judge, on the respective merits of the various aircraft available to the RAAF.
If one has to rely on historical arguments let us at least get them straight.
The blind spot which the Deputy Prime Minister has is that because he was party to a decision 6 years ago he has to persevere with it come hell or high water. The Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) was not a member of the Cabinet at the time. He became a member of the Cabinet after the 1963 elections. He has, during the nine debates which he laments, incessantly asserted the virtues of the Fill. The Deputy Prime Minister adopted the one line of attacking anybody who attacks this decision in changed circumstances - attacking the Labor Party, the Press and, inevitably, the honourable member for Warringah (Mr St. John). The fact is that in May 1967 the honourable member for Warringah proved correct about the ‘Voyager’. The probabilities are that in May 1968 he proved correct about the Fill. It is of no use abusing the critics. What is the expert advice now? What are the circumstances now? The Deputy Prime Minister is reaching the end of the road. This Government has made many decisions which have proved wrong but it would rather be firm or undeviating than correct. It has lost all capacity to change decisions which it is committed to, even when those decisions are proved wrong.
The Prime Minister has not entered this debate. He can be smoked out on these subjects only at question time. He has had an opportunity on half a dozen occasions to correct this error. When he took office he was asked about this deal and he said that it was too late to cancel the order anyhow. Pressed by Mr Tony Charlton with the question:
But personally, do you feel we should cancel the order?
The Prime Minister replied:
Oh, I, personally, do I feel we should? Clearly we should not because it is far too late.
The Prime Minister was never in fact a party to the decision in 1963. He was not at the time a member of Cabinet. He has given an impression on this matter, as in relation to overseas control of Australian industry, to welfare and to development that he wants to have a bit each way. He wants to cast a fresh image for the Government which he inherited but he has proved too weak to overbear the senior people who have stuck to their guns. Let me list the occasions when the Prime Minister had an opportunity to dissociate himself and save Australia from this deal which he inherited. There was the occasion when he acceded to office at the beginning of last year. There was the occasion of his visit to the United States in May last year. There was the occasion when the United States itself reviewed its arrangements last year with the General Dynamics organisation. There was the occasion in October last year when at last the Government tabled some of the documents relating to the Fill deal. Then there were the two visits which the Prime Minister made to the United States in the last 2 months.
The outspoken advocate - the principal participant in every debate - has been the Minister for Defence. Just as the Government was as anxious as it could be to get orders for an aircraft before the 1963 elections, so it is now as anxious as it can be to avoid deliveries before the 1969 elections. The political risks are too great. The Minister is well aware that with the first crash in Australia of an FI 1 1 he would crash, and the Ministry with him. Clearly every technical argument is being used to postpone deliveries. The Labor Party is at least frank with the people on this matter. We say that after the elections we shall take up with the United States alternative arrangements for an aircraft to match our means and our needs. We do not need and cannot afford a Cadillac of the air. The Government is not taking the people into its confidence at all. It may be that the Minister for Defence is showing some cracks in his facade just as the Fill has in its wing carry through box. Yesterday the Minister was asked once again a question about his classic claim that the Fill was the greatest thing with wings since angels and was the Cadillac of the air. Referring to me the Minister said:
I would also remind the honourable gentleman, when he ascribes to me these delicate phrases about the Fill being the finest thing with wings since angels, or words to that effect, that these were never my words. These were the words of an American journalist, which I quoted and attributed to him.
That is scarcely the way the words were first used in this place. In August 1967 the Minister said:
Today, with the exception of the B model which is flying for the Navy, criticism of the aircraft has all but disappeared.
He was referring to criticism in America. He continued:
It is interesting to consider a comment from a gentleman who knows, because he lives cheek by jowl not only with the production but with the use of this aircraft. He reports from Nellis airport base as follows:
The Fill is a super battle bird, the greatest thing with wings since angels. It is the ‘Cadillac of the Air*. It flies high and low-
Listen to this, because it is tremendously important -
It flies high and low, fast and slow, throws a power punch tougher than five World War II heavy bombers and sniffs out targets like a thirsty vampire. The Fill and its internal organs are a ‘radical effective departure’ from any contemporary aircraft. The supersonic plane is ‘the shape of things to come!’
No modesty there. The Minister did not say that this was the view of a mere journalist. He has now been exposed; now he is retreating slightly.
The Minister justifies the purchase of the aircraft with the claim that they were bought during the period of confrontation. Confontration ended more than 3 years ago. Confrontation will have been over for 4 or more years before any Fill can land in . Australia. Surely there was the opportunity to change the deal 3 years ago. You cannot justify this order by circumstances which no longer exist. The Minister even claims now: The Government understood very well that the price would escalate’. There was never any suggestion on any previous occasion that the price would escalate. Then the Minister again adopts the line which he has pursued so often - that to change this order is to challenge the United States alliance. He has resorted to this claim in earlier debates. In his view every critic of the Fill is a critic of America. What has America’s own attitude been to this aircraft? America has cancelled orders for the Navy version. She has cut back orders for the bomber version. She has deferred orders for the reconnaissance version. So the American administration has changed the orders it originally made for this aircraft. Our deal is with the American administration. We have already spent $200m on advance payments, crew training and new installations and equipment and we are advancing further millions each month for an aircraft which may never arrive. We ought to seek a better deal without further delay. If one considers, for instance, the Phantom aircraft, one finds that it has been ordered by Britain, West Germany, Israel, Iran and Japan, while no other nation has ordered the Fill and America herself will have none within thousands of miles of our region.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Mr KILLEN (Moreton) [2.26J- This has been an interesting debate, if for no other reason than it has provided an opportunity for the blending of various arts. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), for example, displayed a strong sense of history. We had from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) this morning a mild but not completely undisturbing touch of politics. We had from my friend, the honourable member for East Sydney (Mr Devine), what I would describe as a touch of fiction. We had from the honourable member for Warringah (Mr St. John) a heavy touch of theology. Before I examine these various elements I just want to say to the Leader of the Opposition that this is the most blatant display of cronyism I have ever seen. The Leader of the Opposition has come in to protect the honourable and learned member for Warringah, but may I ask the honourable gentleman why he did not raise the honourable member for Warringah a little higher in the order of debate?
That would have been a more palatable display of cronyism than putting him down as No. 2 on the list to speak.
I do not want to disturb what I hope is a well earned reputation as ‘Gentle Jim’, but I want to reply to the remark of the honourable member for Warringah this morning that no doubt he would hear something from the honourable member for Moreton with his tongue in his cheek. I do not have my tongue in my cheek at all. The honourable gentleman makes a great mistake in thinking he can come into this Parliament consumed with such a sense of selfrighteousness that he would have identified Barebone’s Parliament as a pack of bawdies and get away with it. As I have said, the honourable member for Warringah introduced an element of theology into this debate. This is true, because if ever there was a display of self-righteousness we saw and heard it this morning.
Let me, if I may, presume to give the honourable gentleman a little bit of advice: Angels should leave their harps outside when they come into this chamber. The worst that I said about the honourable gentleman was during a debate on this subject some time ago when I said I had spoken to crews who had flown the FI 1 1 aircraft. I said that I had spoken to one man with some 20,000 hours of flying experience with 100 varieties of aircraft. He had described this aircraft to me as being a suberb piece of machinery. I said that I preferred to accept the views of a man who had 20,000 hours of flying experience to his credit rather than the views of some Lord Fauntleroy from the north shore of Sydney. I do not think that is harsh language.
– I am sure the honourable member for Warringah does.
– He does indeed. I am delighted that the honourable gentleman has come in because I am going to tell him something more about this aircraft before I sit down. We have had theology, on the one hand, from the honourable member, and history on the other from the Leader of the Opposition.
The Leader of the Opposition invoked the authority of his former leader, the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), when he spoke in this debate.
– It hurt him.
– I reckon it has cut him to the quick. Can I recall to the honourable member what he said in 1963 when the argument commenced about whether we should purchase TSR2 aircraft or Fill aircraft. The now Leader of the Opposition on that occasion had this to say:
The first TSR2, described as being the world’s most advanced combat plane, is being completed at Vickers plant at Weybridge, Surrey, and is scheduled to fly at the end of this year. The aircraft will come to Australia next year for missile training trials at Woomera.
I do not know whether the Leader of the Opposition is a punter or not, but if he were to punt at Randwick on the basis on which he tips here, he would finish up with a patch on his tie and underpants made of hessian. The honourable gentleman went on to say:
It is a proto-type which will be flying at the end of this year and which will fly across the world to Woomera next year.
Whatever one may say about the honourable gentleman, we must say this: When the Leader of the Opposition makes up his mind to be wrong, he does it on a grand imperial scale. Let me come back to the argument, if I may so dignify it, that came from the honourable” member from Warringah. I do not want to upset my friend at all but I would be happier if he could be in a place in this chamber where I could see the white of his eyes rather than feel the cold blast of his breath on the back of my neck. I do not wish to be offensive about this. Those who have been here some time know that I try to take knocks and I hand them out occasionally, although in quite a restrained way. But both the honourable member for Warringah and the Leader of the Opposition, in their contributions to this debate, have not put forward one substantial authority in condemnation of this aircraft. The two honourable gentlemen know perfectly well1 that in another calling if they assert a proposition they are invited to tender with it their authority. Where is there authority for this?
One of the correspondents referred to - and I say this in terms of hushed reverence - was Mr Alan Reid. I was almost expecting the honourable member for Warringah to use that delightful collocation of language: ‘Alan, you are magnificent’. In any case, he referred to Mr Alan Reid. Mr Alan Reid would be the last person in the world to describe himself as infallible. This is the distinguishing feature between Mr Alan Reid of the ‘Daily Telegraph’ and the honourable member for Warringah. I want to read to the House in the moment or two that I have left the views of a writer in the publication ‘Aviation Week and Space Technology’. This publication is not connected with General Dynamics. Does the Leader of the Opposition understand that? Does the honourable member for Warringah understand that? It has no connection at all with General Dynamics. It is not published by Maxwell Newton, by the Liberal Party, by the honourable member for St George (Mr Bosman), the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham) or the honourable member for Indi (Mr Holten), who has flown this aircraft. In the February edition of this publication the writer, Mr C. M. Plattner, had this to say:
Air Force/General Dynamics FI IIA, nearing operational status here, does an effective job in its gradually emerging role as an all-weather and night interdiction aircraft. It has excellent flying and handling qualities, and its avionics subsystems are accurate and efficient in low-level penetration flying. Air Force officers here list these characteristics as unique to the FI IIA.
This is by a man who was given the opportunity of flying the aircraft. He went on to say:
Unprecedented operational independence, permitting normal flight operations without ancillary support aircraft, such as tankers or electronic counter-measures aircraft.
Capability of carrying larger bomb loads farther than any other Tactical Air Command aircraft.
Low level penetration capability to avoid enemy radar detection. . . .
It goes on in this strain. This is the view of what I would describe, with respect, as a highly reputable authority, a completely neutral authority. I have tendered my authorities. I have tendered the views of the crews of aircraft who have flown this machine. Here is one view which cannot be dismissed as being a little out of date. The publication I have referred to is dated February of this year. It was written by a man who writes for ‘Aviation Week and Space Technology’, which is an eminently reputable organisation.
– Has he found out why all of them have crashed?
– The genius has woken up. With the greatest respect to the honourable member’s well attuned mind, I think that he would have difficulty in grasping what I am saying. The simple truth of the matter is that as far as development of this machine is concerned it has a remarkable record of performance and of achievement. It is not going to be destroyed by the combination of theology on the one hand and wild history on the other, touched off by politics and fiction, that came from honourable members opposite - and I include in that group the honourable member for Warringah.
– The discussion is now concluded.
Mr ERWIN (Ballaarat- Minister for Air) - Mr Speaker, I wish to make a correction to my speech this morning, if I may. Have 1 leave?
-I suggest that the Minister should make a personal explanation.
– I am told that in my speech this morning I said that the Israeli Air Force had purchased SO Phantoms for $50m. I should have said that the Israeli Air Force had purchased 50 Phantoms for approximately $300m.
Mr FAIRHALL (Paterson - Minister for Defence) - I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I am not one who usually claims to have been misrepresented in this House because a good deal of misrepresentation goes on, but in the course of a rather undistinguished speech to the House the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) stated that I accused anybody who criticised the Fill of making an attack on the American alliance. I said nothing of the sort during the course of this debate. 1 have never said anything of that kind. I value my independence in these matters.
– Mr Speaker, if we are to debate this matter, I can verify this from Hansard.
– The Leader of the Opposition will have a very difficult job doing that.
-Order! The Minister has claimed to have been misrepresented.
– I have been completely misrepresented.
-The Minister is not allowed to debate the reasons why he claims he has been misrepresented. He can give the reasons but he cannot debate them.
– I do not want to debate them, but you will understand that when one’s motives have been impugned, as mine were in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, I am at least entitled to draw attention to the fact.
Debate resumed from 20 May (vide page 2007), on motion by Mr McMahon:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr Charles Jones had moved by way of amendment:
That all words after That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: ‘this House, while not opposing the Bill, regrets the Government’s continuing refusal to plan expenditure of an amount at least equivalent to the proceeds of all the automotive fuel taxes on roads and associated facilities.’
– I had expected that I would be the second speaker in the debate today. I understood that there was to be a speaker from the Opposition side. I do not want to spend too much time in dealing with this Bill, but there are certain matters on which I should like to express an opinion. This is very good legislation, and no doubt it will be accepted by all honourable members in the House, except those honourable members opposite who have moved a very foolish amendment. As I understand it, the amendment seeks to utilise all the moneys raised from fuel taxes on the construction of roads. This may sound very good in theory, but it does not stand up in practice. The fuel taxes and all the other taxes associated with transport were never imposed for the purpose of being used on roads. That was never intended, and it should never be intended. It is merely a revenue tax. But we should not be inhibited in the amount of money which we spend on roads which are of vital importance to the development of this country. It does not matter whether we spend more or less than the revenue raised from fuel taxes. We should spend adequate funds on the construction of roads, irrespective of where the funds come from. Of course, they must always come from Consolidated Revenue or from the revenue of the States.
The Bill represents a vast improvement on the old order. It recognises that one of the greatest difficulties which face this country and its development concerns the question of urban development. It is good to see that the total amount of revenue to be made available under the Commonwealth lid roads scheme is to be increased by 67% over a period of 5 years - from $750m to $ 1,252m. This is quite good, but in my opinion the total amount could economically be used in the first year or two of the 5-year period of the scheme. In my opinion, because of the fantastic development that is taking place in Australia and because this development must take place in the present circumstances, this amount will be found to be insufficient for the future needs in the development of this country over the next 5 years. I believe that before 2 years have elapsed we will find ourselves in the position of having to increase this amount to meet the circumstances which are arising.
I am glad that the provision that 40% of the money made available under the Commonwealth aid roads scheme must be spent on rural roads has been dropped. It was much too arbitrary. It is not a question of the percentage of money which is applied to rural roads. This does not come into it at all. I hope that those people who advocate that 40% of the money should be spent on rural roads will realise that in building a country like Australia we cannot differentiate between money spent on rural roads and money spent on urban roads because they are one and the same thing. They contribute towards the development of Australia, and one is dependent upon the other. This is the way it should be. So it is quite wrong that this arbitrary condition should be imposed. The new formula for the allo cation of money provides an entirely different basis. From inquiries I have made, I have been told that the new formula adopts the mean average of the old formula, which was worked out on the basis of one third as to area, one third as to population and one third as to the number of motor vehicle registrations within the States. In this Bill the concept of categories has been introduced. In some categories area is taken into consideration, and in other categories it is not. In some categories motor vehicle registrations are taken into consideration, but in other categories they are not. I think that in all categories population is taken into consideration. In the report of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads no argument is used other than that which is related to the disturbance of current operations or the effect on some States. I think that this has not been very scientifically worked out. It is just a potshot at the position.
As we all know, roads mean the development of Australia. If we exclude water conservation, the development of our rural industries, which is of paramount importance, and the discovery of minerals and oils, nothing in our development is so important as this question of roads and transport. Indeed, it is the key not only to decentralisation but also to our total population growth. One could go further and say that it is the key to our balance of payments position or to the standard of living throughout this country. It is also the key to the growth of secondary industry and to the maintenance of our competitive position in the world with relation to costs and prices for both exports and imports. Without sufficient roads we can never develop into a great nation and none of the matters to which I have referred could be efficiently handled. So this question of roads is of great and vital importance. I appreciate the position which rural development takes in this matter. The present Commonwealth Aid Roads Act has done a great job because a lot has already been done to improve the position in rural areas. I take pride in the fact that I am a product of one of the old pioneer families in this country. I was born on the land and I know the conditions which exist there. My mind goes back to the difficulties of development and production in the days when I was a child, when horses and bullock wagons were used. I have seen them stuck in the black soil plains. I know what it means to have good roads. Therefore, I have some appreciation of what can be done to help the rural industries to develop, a matter which is of vital importance.
We are living in the age of the motor vehicle. Of course, motor vehicles must have roads and good ones at that. There is a difference between rural and urban roads. Frequently it is necessary to have a private rural road giving access to only one or two properties. But these private roads connect with feeder roads to the centre of population. It is very important to have good feeder roads. Although the type of roads built in rural areas is entirely different to the type of roads built in urban areas, on the whole they both serve the purpose of developing the area and of increasing production. The construction of suitable roads is vital to decentralisation.
We must remember that transport as we know it today is quite different from what it was in the early days. Years ago when transport was slow villages sprang up here and there and provided the facilities required by comparatively few. I have no doubt that with better communications, transport and so forth the existing towns will develop to the point where they will be able to sustain the secondary industry which goes hand in hand with rural development. This will be to the advantage of the nation. It will mean that there will be another avenue of consumption for rural production. It appears that we will not have any new railways in the sense that we knew of them in the past. Therefore, roads must take their place. That being so, the roads will have to be well constructed to carry very heavy loads. I think this has been forgotten on some occasion in the past. The result has been excessive expenditure on the maintenance of these roads. We will have to construct good roads in the future to carry heavy loads. We should not forget that the aviation industry is developing to a much greater degree than we expected and that more cargo is being freighted by air. Therefore, what I said earlier about the development of secondary industry in towns will have to take into consideration the other forms of transport for goods produced in rural areas.
One big problem in rural areas is the failure of the shires to keep pace with the work which is so necessary for development. This Bill will allocate a little more than one half of the total amount provided for urban development of roads over the next 5 years. In my opinion that is very good, but I would like to see more money provided. I do not think that the sum which will be provided will cover the work necessary. It should be remembered that the urban areas are the seat of consumption for all rural products, and therefore urban development is important. The urban areas are the market places for the rural products.
No matter what one’s ideas may be, one should always remember that the growth of cities cannot be stopped. Human beings are made that way; they want to get to the cities. Therefore, conditions have to be created within those cities so that they can operate on an economic basis. Only the cost of living within cities will result in the creation of satellites. Of course, the cost of distributing, handling and retailing goods increases alarmingly if there is no efficient transport system. One has only to look at the position in Sydney at present. You, Mr Speaker, know as well as I do that in certain respects there is absolute chaos and confusion in Sydney at present. The other day when I was coming up to Canberra I found that it took me three quarters of an hour to go from my home in Wollstonecraft to just across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a matter of a mile or so. This was because of the traffic conditions and the state of the roads. Imagine the enormous waste there is in time and fuel and the affect on the motor vehicles and the people driving them. One cannot calculate the enormous cost of this to the community.
– They do not get bogged.
– No, they do not get bogged. I am not comparing the urban and rural roads at this stage. I have made it quite clear in my earlier remarks that I am not making comparisons which are odious. But it should be remembered that rural production depends on efficient urban development. As I said earlier, roads are vital to the transport system within the urban area. There is a great need for a readjustment of the main highways in all the cities of Australia. One can take as an example any city in Australia - and I am most familiar with Sydney - and one will see that the side streets of the past are being turned into main arteries because the main highways are choked with traffic and need adjustment. Whatever assistance is given towards the suburban roads has to be met by the State government or the local government authority. In addition to the maintenance of suburban roads, the local councils have to contribute heavily to the main roads. What is happening everywhere is that whenever a new subdivision is created the local council requires the subdivider to construct the roads, guttering, footpaths and so on. This cost is added to the price of the land. Nobody ever tries to estimate what the total cost would be in this developing country. I should imagine that it would run into many thousands of millions of dollars throughout Australia. What is being done by private industry to develop suburban roads?
We all appreciate that municipal taxation is getting completely out of hand at present. This is causing high density housing and further traffic chaos everywhere. What is the answer to this problem? It is hard to say. New South Wales has a State Planning Authority. I suppose that most of the other States have a similar organisation. It has the responsibility of trying to solve the problem. Often we have debates in this House on housing and the high price of land. What is the reason for the high price of land? Various factors are involved. As one who has been concerned with this matter for all of my life, I am convinced that it is only due to the ignorance of those dealing with the matter - and there is no doubt that pathetic ignorance is displayed by the Federal, State and municipal governments - but also to Government interference with the proper free acquisition of land on a competitive basis. I know we have some very fine officers on the State Planning Authority today and that they do things according to the text book. But one only has to go back a few years ago to the time when the Cumberland County Council in Sydney created a green belt. Where is the green belt today? lt had to go. It is no longer as it was laid down in the original plan. Today even this present State Planning Authority is inhibiting and preventing by controls and interference the proper development and the availability of land throughout the area that will inevitably grow and expand as the city progresses.
At the present time Sydney is a city of some 2.5 million people. It will not be long before there are 5 million or 6 million people in it. The members of the State Planning Authority sit down with their text books and they decide that they will not allow this area and that area to be subdivided. This has the effect, together with other effects such as the Government acquisition of land for its various purposes - and these are widening every year, apparently- and with the locking up of certain land by some of the big commercial interests-
-Order! I think the honourable member is getting a little wide of the Bill. I do not see any relevance in his remarks.
– This is definitely relevant, with great respect.
-I hope the honourable member is not canvassing the ruling of the Chair. I am endeavouring, in my own mind, to find some relevance. I think the Chair has been fairly tolerant. There has been nothing spoken about roads for several minutes.
– I certainly am not trying to canvass your ruling, Mr Speaker. All that I am saying is associated with the development of urban roads. I was about to say that with this frustration in the opening up of land in my opinion there needs to be a change in the arbitrary system that the local councils impose on subdividers in the construction of roads in the outer areas. Instead of imposing this arbitrary system of the construction of bitumen roads and so forth and so on, including kerbing, guttering and everything else, this ought to be relaxed in certain places with the formation of the road in a temporary way. The cost of its final construction no doubt should be borne by the people who will benefit from these new roads. This would enable these people to obtain cheaper land in outer areas. It would enable the suburban roads to be developed in a way whereby they would feed into the main arteries which this Bill, I hope, will help. In this way we would cheapen the price of land and we would get a better road system. Not only that, but as I have said before, we must be able to readjust the main arteries in a city’s road system so that they may be able to serve the outer areas, realising that the city will develop in spite of what we do. These roads must link up with the rural roads and then we must do as I have said in relation to the development of roads in the rural areas. There is much more that I could say but my time is limited. This is a matter of great importance to me and, I believe, to the nation. I think it needs to be studied by people who understand it, and I do ask those persons who represent rural electorates to think in terms of the whole instead of trying to segregate the interests of rural development from those of urban development.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) to this measure, and in doing so I want to repeat the general tenor of his argument. The Commonwealth right through the years, of course, has characterised its approach to road finance by a deliberate retention for revenue purposes of a substantial proportion of taxation. Accepting the Government’s figure of a 5% increase in the consumption of fuel by motor vehicles in the 5-year period there will be a matter of some $3 15m which will remain undistributed and go into the coffers of Consolidated Revenue. The honourable member for Newcastle said - and I agree with him - that calculated on an 8% increase in consumption in the 5-year term there would be a little matter, a mere bagatelle, of some $459m in revenue by way of excise which would be retained by the Government. If this money were released and applied for the purposes for which it was originally intended a lot of Australia’s transport problems would be solved, in particular the problems of the cities, and some of the problems that still remain in the country areas.
Australia is the most sparsely populated of all the continents. There is no country which needs motor transport more than Australia and there is no country which has to pay more to get it. There is no government which has been more tardy than this
Government in its recognition of these facts and of a fair and reasonable distribution of money as between the conflicting claims of the country, the provincial cities, the great metropolitan centres and the various State capitals. Of course, rural domination is something that does not apply merely to this Parliament and the present Government. It is a worldwide characteristic amongst the so-called Western democracies. The western farming bloc in the United States determines the fate of governments. In the Common Market today a lot of its economic problems arise from the domination and the dictatorship by the various agrarian pressure groups in the various parliaments of the European Economic Community.
There are, I understand, quite a number of speakers still to come from the Country Party and they will be wringing their hands and protesting to high heaven, but we will see whether they avail themselves of the opportunity to vote for the amendment and to get the extra money.
– We will answer that one.
– And whinge in the process. Up to date every Commonwealth aid roads programme has been a matter of spreading scarcity evenly. If we really want to get a broad national approach in this matter I recommend that honourable members read the excellent publication by Geoffrey Blainey entitled ‘The Tyranny of Distance’. They may then really appreciate the problems of Australia and the percentage of our gross national product which it is necessary to apply to transport in every field. Estimates have been made of the cost and they generally vary between 25% and 30%. In other words, there is no country in the whole world which is forced by reason of sparsity of population and the immensity of distance to devote such a substantial proportion of its total gross national product to transport. When I speak of transport and expenditure for this purpose, I do not mean merely excise duty from petrol, but every phase and every factor of it including sales tax on motor vehicles, expenditure on railways, expenditure on road development, expenditure on air transport and so forth. There are limits to the development of any country and those limits in the case o£
Australia are naturally imposed by population density. They are imposed by limits of distance, and despite the best efforts of 12 million people we are still only in possession, literally, of a boomerang of development. We find 95% of the people of Australia living in that boomerang which lies along the east coast in the high rainfall areas and along portion of the southern coast of the continent, plus the settlement in Western Australia. Ninety-five per cent of the population live within 200 miles of the coastline. These are the hard facts and these are the facts that we should consider. If honourable members want further proof that we have problems in trying to take physical possession of a whole continent, they should have a look at the ratio of public servants to the total population. They will find that the ratio is somewhere in the area of 1 to 4. In other comparable countries it is as high as 1 to 8 and even 1 to 10.
Even in New South Wales - and I speak with some close knowledge of its problems - there are no less than 132,000 miles of main roads of various types. That is twice the mileage, might I remind honourable members, of the whole of the British Isles. We have had to develop these roads in a little over 160 or 170 years and to do it with, at the present time, one-twelfth of the population of the British Isles. In other words, within the State of New South Wales every taxpayer carries twenty-four times the burden of his kinsman in the British Isles in constructing and maintaining roads. Because of pressures which have been applied by the Country Party allies of this Government we find the appalling spectacle in many parts of this State of bitumen farm roads feeding on to gravel highways. I repeat that if the Country Party needs more funds its members should support the amendment so that we may see where they are going.
We hear much talk of research and development. It is pleasing to know that for the first time the Government has bad a real report from the Committee which it set up and which has advised it on this occasion, even if the Government has not accepted the whole of its recommendations. It has been estimated by reliable authorities that the actual cost to Australia of road and transport inefficiency, traffic congestion and associated problems is $2,000m a year. Going back through history, Sydney in particular was never designed for modern traffic. I do not suggest that there is actually a comparison to be made with ancient Rome, but in ancient Rome, because of the narrowness of its streets, wheeled traffic had to be forbidden in daylight hours, and the bullock carts went through the streets of Rome at night. If we look at cities in the central east that are now surrounded by desert we find that they were once major centres of population. They grew to the point where they had outgrown the transport capacity of primitive means of transport to bring in the food from the surrounding fertile areas. The fertility of these areas was worked out and those cities are now in deserts and are visited only by tourists.
We are still predominantly sea-border dwellers. Eighty per cent of the world’s population still lives in coastal cities or on alluvial river plains. One of the besetting problems of Australia today - we are still 65% to 75% city and urban dwellers - is urban sprawl and urban traffic density. The honourable member for Bennelong made reference to the Cumberland County Council, which he slated to some extent. Whatever its limitations may have been, it did carry out some very useful investigation. Some 10 years ago it prepared a report in which it stated that the average travelling time for the average commuter in Sydney, travelling to and from work, was 21 hours. In the case of my own city of Wollongong I would say that the average travelling time per day is li hours. That is the time spent in travelling to and from the far flung extremities of the long narrow coastal strip to the steel industry and its associated heavy secondary industries. This problem is growing. It is the result of stark inefficiency, but there is very little we have been able to do about it because of the difficult limitations on local government authorities.
Another factor that should never be forgotten is that with urban sprawl problems are continually being created. The metropolis of Sydney is scattered over an area which in Europe would be accommodating 12 million people. But if we are to carry on on the present basis, with every suburban dweller wanting his allotment of land and we have four houses to the acre, we will never be able to generate sufficient revenue to maintain the necessary services. The Cumberland County Council made an estimate some 10 or 12 years ago, which I referred to previously. In its report it said that the cost then of providing the necessary public facilities of electricity, water, sewerage, gas, a percentage of a hospital bed and a proportion of a school room amounted to some $3,200 per dwelling, which has to be met. One of the characteristics of Sydney, Melbourne and, within certain limits, my own city of Wollongong is the need for urban renewal.
In your own constituency, Mr Speaker, you will find exactly the same problems. I remember on one occasion having an informal discussion, when I was a member of the New South Wales State Parliament, as to the practicability of the eastern suburbs railway. A visiting transport specialist from the United States came in, and we asked him what could be done and whether it was an economic possibility. He said: ‘What is the population density per acre?’ We calculated it, as nearly as we could, at thirty to the acre. He said: You cannot make it an economically viable proposition without a population density of at least ninety to the acre*. If town planning is to continue on the present basis or to perpetuate its present mistakes, these problems will continue and they will mount up. The problems must be faced and they must be solved.
I have a very great deal in common with my colleague the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones). We both represent heavy industrial areas. His city was a major city when the city of greater Wollongong was a chain of unconnected mining villages with a small major town. Within just 20 years we have had to face up to major industrial development. We have become in the space of 20 years the major centre of heavy industry in the southern hemisphere and the major centre of steel production. I speak with a very great knowledge of my city. My people have been there for 130 years. I was born in Wollongong and I know its problems better than any man walking its streets today. Our difficulties historically have been those of access. Originally people came to our area by sea because there was not a road over the formidable mountain range. These problems exist to this day because our area is a long coastal plain bounded on the west by the Illawarra Range and on the east by the Pacific Ocean, with the two converging at Coalcliff, and with a spur of the Illawarra Range coming out to the sea near Shellharbour. We have a length of about 25 miles and an average width of 2 miles, and we have specialised local problems. As we are an area whose industrial production is equal in value to, if it does not already exceed, that of the national wheat crop, we are entitled to special consideration.
To get out of our city one has to go over a choice of two mountain passes. Less than a month ago we had heavy rain, which is typical of this season, and for a period only one of these mountain passes was traffickable. What a shocking situation for the seventh city of Australia, for a city which has a vital importance to national development and to national progress. Access to the Hume Highway is by Macquarie Pass. There are 5 miles of road to traverse a mountain range which is 2,600 feet in height and there are 80 or 90 most difficult turns in the pass. The New South Wales Department of Main Roads has plotted another and better road of access. We need money to build it. The local council does not have it and is not likely to have it. In fact, two-thirds of its revenue comes from rates levied on the humble homes of ordinary industrial workers. A proportionate contribution is not being made by heavy industry.
I regret to have to speak in these terms because I know the benefits of heavy industry to the area but we have within the City of Greater Wollongong traffic problems of equal magnitude to those of the City of Sydney. I can quote particular main roads which have a daily traffic average of 30,000 vehicles on a three-lane road. Sydney Harbour Bridge, with eight vehicular lanes, has a total capacity of 90,000 vehicles a day and there has been agitation for some years for its duplication. I could quote from a letter that I have received from the Town Clerk of the City of Greater Wollongong as to its particular problems in relation to the various access roads. Apart from Macquarie Pass, Mount Keira Pass was closed a month ago when we had 15 inches of rain within 2 days. Mount Ousley Pass was the only access road open. Bulli Pass was closed and the other alternative road down Bald Hill and around the cliffs of Coalcliff is never safe and there has been an agitation for years to have it closed as being unsafe.
In my own constituency we have a traffic problem that comes definitely within the ambit of this legislation. It arises from the development which has occurred to the south of Lake Illawarra in the Municipality of Shellharbour which was 15 years ago a wholly dairy farming area with two small towns of Shellharbour and Albion Park. Today it is a dormitory area with an enrolment within the subdivision of Oaks Flats alone of 9,500. The sole access to this area and Kiama is over the mouth of Lake Illawarra and a two lane bridge is expected to cope with the traffic flow from a total population of 25,000 people. It is an impossibility to achieve it. We have an undoubted case for direct assistance on a national basis. It was a stroke of good fortune for Greater Wollongong that during World War II for strategic purposes the Mount Keira Pass was established as was the Mount Ousley Pass, otherwise in the event of invasion we would have been like rats in a trap, hemmed in on a coastal plain and with a most formidable mountain range to negotiate.
Direct assistance under section 96 is needed urgently for my constituency. It is needed particularly in the areas where the Housing Commission has constructed some 8,000 homes - in the Warilla area. The Housing Commission is restricted because of the limitations of finance. Councils will not accept dedication of Housing Commission roads until they have been constructed at the Housing Commission’s expense. Naturally they are all of a very sketchy construction - the minimum that will comply with the council’s requirements. Therefore we need special assistance for an area of national importance. There is need for the establishment of a special regional authority, where both State and Federal governments can combine to analyse the problems of an area, to assess them and to provide appropriate remedies - to provide appropriate finance. I strongly support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Newcastle.
– The total allocation of funds under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Bill 1969 is generous - an amount of $l,252m. The Government is to be congratulated on making this money available and in recognising the great need for an improved road system throughout Australia. But we must have a balanced development in our road system. This is an important aspect of road development generally. With that in mind I consider that the allocation of some $600,690,000 to be expended on urban arterial and subarterial roads is over generous in relation to the amount of $186,760,000 which has been allocated for non-urban arterial and subarterial roads. I am not suggesting for one moment that the money that has been allocated for urban works could not be spent to advantage there; what I am suggesting is that of the total amount available an undue proportion has gone to that particular field. I am strongly of the opinion that the importance of non-urban arterial and sub-arterial roads has been underestimated in the national scene. I say this against the background of the tremendous need for decentralisation, about which we hear so much in this House. We need also to promote tourism, which is a growing and valuable industry - an industry that can be developed by improving rural roads.
– Particularly in the Dalby area.
– In all areas. This classification of roads is of greater importance because of the increasing carriage of goods by road transport. This traffic will increase further because of the need to reduce costs in the transport field, particularly costs to our primary industries which are having a difficult time, as has been stressed often in this House. I draw particular attention to the needs of non-urban arterial and subarterial roads because of the tremendous mileage of roads in this classification. Recently in Queensland a passenger road service, which runs 6 days a week each way, has been introduced from Brisbane to Mount Isa, a distance of 1,254 miles. This service has been well patronised and it is an example of the tremendous scope of the non-urban arterial road system. It is because these roads have been improved that such road services start. This particular service has been of tremendous value to the people in the area and those associated with the bus service have assured me that they had not expected anything like the amount of use that has been made of it. It has provided a valuable service to the area and it indicates that perhaps the needs of rural areas were not fully understood when the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads made its report. I doubt whether anyone would have realised the full need for this service or would have anticipated the use that it is getting since its provision.
My time is limited but I want to stress the claims of this classification of roads. I invite honourable members to secure a map of Australia and delete the urban sections and then study the road network which has to be built up and maintained throughout the rest of this great Commonwealth. Take out the urban sections and you do not take out very much. I admit that there is traffic density in the urban areas and that there are needs. I admit that action needs to be taken to overcome traffic congestion in the cities but, at the risk of being accused of not looking at this subject from the broad angle, I draw attention to the tremendous needs of the non-urban arterial roads classification. The needs have been underestimated in what is generally a creditable report from the Bureau of Roads. The urban section has been given more consideration than it deserved in respect of the total amount that is to be made available. This has probably been brought about by the concentrated efforts of organisations in the cities which made continuous and special efforts to have a large proportion of Commonwealth aid devoted to the cities. In my opinion they met with more success than they deserved at the cost of the non-urban arterial and sub-arterial roads.
The Treasurer (Mr McMahon), in his second reading speech said:
If State and local authorities again increase expenditure on roads from their own resources by about 50% over the next 5 years … it would mean that investment in roads would have a higher place in our national priorities. Given a continued strong growth in our gross national product, this should be attainable without creating undue strains on available resources.
I wish that were so. The information given to me shows that there is a very considerable concern, which I believe is well justified, that the shires in particular will not be able to meet, without an undue strain on their resources, the requirements for roads in their areas. T have here a copy of a letter from the Shires Association of New South Wales to the Premier of New South Wales. I do not have time to read it all, but I will read the last paragraph. It states:
The Shires Association of New South Wales accordingly urges most strongly that you lend your support to a revision of the formula or the evolution of some alternative arrangement which will ensure that the needs of country main roads and local roads are met.
All shires, not only those in New South Wales, are concerned about the position. A case for financial assistance from the Commonwealth for local government, issued by the Australian Council of Local Government Associations stresses this point. I shall quote briefly from the document. It commences by saying:
Local government is a creation of the States and it follows as a corollary that the primary responsibility for ensuring an effective local government lies with the States.
The question then arises - why this approach to the Commonwealth.
The answer is clear. The financial resource* available to local government under the existing set-up are quite inadequate to satisfy its needs and drastic measures are essential to ensure the survival of local government as an autonomous institution sharing in the responsibilities of government within the Commonwealth.
I want now to examine the position of local authorities in this field. Local authorities do have a tremendous responsibility and it is increasing. They must do what they can to retain the population in their areas. We hear people in the cities spaak about the growth of population there, and we know that this is so, but to retain even the population that we now have in country areas the local authorities must provide more amenities than they have ever been called upon to provide before. For instance, they must do what they can to retain essential medical staff, business and professional personnel and the work force generally in their areas. One big difficulty that many small towns have is to maintain an adequate medical and nursing staff. These people will not stay in the towns unless reasonable amenities are available, and this places a substantial drain on the funds available to the local authorities. The authorities in the areas that have been hard hit by droughts have very serious problems, and unfortunately many areas in Queensland today are in this situation. The local authorities are hard pressed to collect rates, even at the present level. If they must increase the rates to obtain funds to spend on roads, their position will be even more difficult and the people living in those areas will be placed in very serious circumstances. Costs in these areas are a very real burden and every effort must be made to contain them. We hear talk of the sparsity of population. One way that rising costs can be steadied is by improving roads. Good roads are a vital factor in the reduction of costs. The need for these roads may not be as outstanding as the need for other non-urban roads is, but I say that the provision of $394.55m is little enough for this section of our road system.
Another activity that is affected is education. Roads in our rural areas are the means that enable many of our children to obtain their education. Many children in rural areas can gain the benefits of the educational facilities that have been provided only if the roads they must use are of sufficiently good standard. Bus routes in Queensland at least will not be approved until the roads have been brought to a standard that is acceptable to the Department of Education. Surely our children are entitled to the best education that we can provide. They suffer other handicaps; but education is a vital necessity. The need for higher standards of education is obvious to everyone. We want the children living in country areas to be able to take advantage of even the limited educational facilities that are available to them.
Having made those points, I want to comment on some remarks made by the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor). He said that bitumen farm roads in places were leading on to gravel highways and he attributed this to the influence of the agrarian section of the community. If this is so in New South Wales, that section of the community must have had its influence on the New South Wales Labor Government and the New South Wales Labor Government should take responsibility for this situation. I have not seen it in Queensland, but if bitumen farm roads exist in New South Wales they would have been provided by the ratepayers and would not have any effect on roads in other areas.
If they have been able to provide bitumen roads for themselves, I say good luck to them. I have not seen such roads and I would say that only a small number of them exist. There may be an odd one here and there.
I recognise, as the Australian Country Party recognises, the need for balanced development in Australia. We are not opposed to work being undertaken in city areas. The honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) can take issue with me on that point if he wants to do so. I am sure that many people in his electorate would like to see more development in rural areas as well as in city areas. But we in the Australian Country Party will not take second place to anyone in the broadness of our outlook. We have proved this, especially in Queensland. That State has developed beyond all expectation because it has had an Australian Country Party-Liberal Party Government. It is the only State with a Country Party Premier. Its development will stand comparison with the development of any other State, and this is the result of the broadly based policies of the Australian Country Party in that State. While I feel strongly about the allocation of $600m for urban arterial roads, with less than $187m being spent on rural arterial roads, I am hopeful that, as the State governments will be relieved of much of the work they would otherwise have had to do in urban areas, they will be able to assist in the development of rural arterial roads and so achieve a balance. The Commonwealth should distribute the funds so as not to put responsibility for these roads on the State governments.
Despite the points I have made in connection with the Commonwealth Aid Roads Bill I agree that the overall allocation of funds for the next 5 years should result in a very much improved roads system generally, and from this angle the Government is to be commended on its recognition of the importance of our roads. It is to be commended for maintaining a stability in our economy which will enable the Government to provide this largely increased amount of money without upsetting the economy, and this is one of the things that I hope the people of Australia will never forget. I conclude by saying that
I feel that great benefits will flow from this Bill and I hope they will balance out as a result of State Government activity. I trust that the needs of all areas will be given full consideration in every allocation of funds from the Commonwealth. That is what I and my Party sincerely advocate at all times.
– Rarely have I listened in this House to speakers who have been so stirred by a sense of parochialism as I have in this debate. Perhaps this is a good thing because it does show the interest which individual members have,- not only in their own areas but also in their own States. It shows also that they recognise the problems which exist in the cities, the provincial cities and the rural areas. The main argument which evolves from all the speeches which I have listened to is that there is not enough money to go around. Every honourable member who has spoken in this debate has put forward some suggestion which would involve additional funds being allocated. Whether rural areas should receive more and provincial cities and cities should receive less depends upon the point of view that one takes. There is no question of where I stand in this matter, because this Bill has been a victory for the metropolitan areas.
– Of course it has.
– I am glad to hear my friend the honourable member for Macquarie agree with me on this. He knows full well the great benefits and the deficiencies that will flow in his own area, just as I know those in my area. The Australian Country Party says that more money is needed in rural areas. That is fair enough. That is the purpose of the amendment which has been moved by the Opposition. We all want more money whether we live in a city, a provincial city or a rural area. The way to get more money is to ask the Government to give us a greater share of the taxes collected. I do not wish to canvass the quaint ideas of the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull), who is now interjecting. He interjects a lot but rarely does he speak in this Parliament on roads.
– I speak more than any other man in this House.
– Honourable members will see in this debate whether he speaks. He rarely ever speaks on roads in this Parliament. I am concerned about how these allocations are worked out, and I hope that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz), who is also the Minister Assisting the Treasurer, will provide me with some more information on this. It is not good enough simply to work out some percentages and to say that these percentages have been based on analyses. The key to this problem can be found in this paragraph of the report of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads for 1969:
It will be readily appreciated that, from the nature of the case, such an investigation will produce a mass of data, and a report thereon, taking into account engineering, economic and other relevant considerations, cannot be anything but voluminous.
– Get on with it.
– ‘If the honourable member wants to talk let him get up and talk; he is incapable of speaking. He sits there with a grin on his face. Just look at it. The report continues:
For this reason the Bureau will be preparing a separate document detailing the evidence, and tha results of analyses of this evidence, obtained during the course of its investigation. This document will be entitled ‘Australian Road Systems- 1968’.
This must be the key to the whole case. This must be how the Bureau of Roads ascertained its priorities and how it recommended to the Government the various figures given in the report. Will this report be made available to the Parliament so that honourable members may understand or at least find out what method the Bureau used to work out the allocations and the assumptions it made?
I do not accept what is in the report. I do not accept the inflexible rate of interest because anyone who is trained in benefit cost analyses knows that simply by varying the rate of interest in discounting you can get an entirely different answer. You can prove that a road is uneconomic or economic. That does not say that the report is wrong. I want to find the arguments upon which the Bureau of Roads and the Government based their acceptance of the assumptions which underlie the priorities and the actual allocation principles embodied in the report. These cannot be obtained from the report because, it is only a summary document. I hope that the document entitled Australian Road Systems - 1968’ will be published and that it will not be vetted or edited by the Government in relation to the assumption underlying these analyses.
I want to bring to the surface a few principles. Whether one argues that more funds should be spent in rural areas or more fund? should be spent in city areas depends on the political camp to which one belongs, the electorate one represents or the vested interest which one might have in the problem. 1 do not accept the principle that because there are more people in the cities there should be more roads in the cities. On the other hand I do not necessarily say that that principle is wrong because, after all, a Government bases its decisions on qualitative factors as well as quantitative factors. One of the most important factors in the building up of the cities in Australia has been the tariff structure. If one wanted to take the extremes of a laissez faire policy, which is not acceptable to anyone who thinks sanely, then there would be a very small number of people living in the cities. Australia would be a large agricultural and pastoral nation exporting its primary products and importing its basic essentials. Instead of having a population of 12 million people we would probably have a couple of million people. The deliberate tariff policies of all governments - be they Liberal-Country Party or Labor governments - have led to the growth of this country, but the main beneficiaries have been the people in the capital cities.
One only has to have a look at the balance of payments to see that the surpluses generated in the principal surplus producing States, Western Australia and Queensland, are and will be used to balance the deficits in the more populous States. Economic growth has caused an increase in the population in the capital cities at the expense of the rural areas. Underlying this is the basic economic fact of life that over 70% of Australia’s total export income still comes from the rural areas, and this proportion will increase rather than decrease in the future because most of the great mineral deposits are located in rural areas. This in itself means that there should be some balance between rural areas and the city areas.
The honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) knows that the granting of a tariff in respect of hot water bags or small engines, for example, creates employment, demand, more jobs, more houses and more streets in the suburbs. Yet it might be to our advantage to import those hot water bags and small engines from, say, Japan in response to an accelerated increase in our exports of rural and mineral products. It is a matter of balance. The city areas may have a greater need for roads and may make greater contributions to the national purse, but these are not national economic reasons - 1 stress the word ‘national’ - why they should have the greatest share of finance for roads. The basic principle behind the Government’s payments for beef roads is that they contribute to our export earnings and you invest money to create further export income. This is the criterion which I believe should be followed. On the other hand, I concede that any government, Federal or State, must make qualitiative decisions. For example, it must give to other areas a weighting other than a national economic weighting. If a government adopts a tariff policy which creates wealth or demand in a city it has an obligation also to adopt a policy which will provide roads and houses.
We could argue all day whether rural areas or city areas should get more money for roads. I prefer to adopt the strict economic argument. The lifeblood of this country is its export earnings or the creation of wealth as a substitute for imports. The only areas that have a potential for creating this wealth, with the exception of a few secondary industries, like steel, are the rural areas, supplemented now in a greater degree by our mineral deposits. So, although it may mean a few more holes for city roads, it will be in the nation’s interest to spend more money on the export producing areas - on those areas which have the potential to generate export income, thus allowing greater imports to come into the capital cities to finance consumer goods as well as capital goods. But you cannot have it both ways. If you are to have an effective tariff - an apparent tariff - you will create wealth in your capital cities, whether it be by government policy or by Labor Party policy. You must couple this with a proper construction programme in the cities.
You can approach this matter in different ways. The Country Party can adopt a parochial attitude and talk about finance for roads in country electorates. The Liberal Party can say that most of the money for roads should be spent in the cities. The Labor Party takes the conservative view. It believes that expenditure should be balanced. I, for example, maintain that more should be spent in rural areas. I am sure that the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) could advance an argument just as strong that more should be spent in urban areas. The true test will come when the vote is taken. Every honourable member who has participated in the debate has adopted the central theme that not enough is being spent on roads, whether they be in rural areas or city areas.
– Do you not represent the taxpayers?
– The taxpayers have contributed for the upkeep of roads through the petrol tax. We argue that the taxpayers have already contributed this money whether they live in the cities or in rural areas. The provision of roads is one of the most lucrative investments in development. I believe in the principle that all roads are good roads. Roads are in a sense like water: I have not seen one project, not only in Australia but in the world, where, after 10 years, the limiting factor has been not the availability of land but the availability of water. A similar argument applies almost to roads. Take the case of rural areas. One of the greatest problems confronting primary producers today is the cost price squeeze. Those people who have seen road trains driving through bull dust or on unsealed roads will know how the conditions lead to bruising and downgrading of the beef and thus cost this nation dearly in valuable income because it is export income. Here again is a case for better roads. I can point to many areas in the northern parts of Australia where valuable export earning roads must have high priorities.
I think it all boils down to the side you are on. But there is one thing that every participant in the debate has hammered, and that is that not enough is being spent on roads. The way to get more money for roads is to support the Opposition’s amendment. If this is done we will have more money for roads, irrespective of whether we live in the cities or in rural areas.
– On several occasions the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) has spoken in this chamber but rarely have I seen him as confused as he was this afternoon. He said that most honourable members who have taken part in the debate were parochial in their attitude but he immediately proceeded himself to adopt a parochial attitude. After talking about Queensland he tried to suggest that the Labor Party had adopted a statesmanlike attitude to the subject of roads. When all the Opposition’s argument on this subject is condensed we come to the one issue: We must have more money for roads and it must come from the petrol tax. The honourable member for Dawson accused the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) of rarely speaking about roads. I do not suppose any honourable member has contributed more to discussions about roads than has the honourable member for Mallee. He has been in this Parliament for about 20 years. In that time he probably would have participated in every debate dealing with the subject of roads. The statement by the honourable member for Dawson was utter rubbish.
I do not want to take up a great deal of time this afternoon because I know that the Leader of the House (Mr Erwin) wants to get this legislation through. I will not traverse all the points that have been raised by other speakers. I am pleased to note that my colleagues in the Country Party are taking an active role on this issue. I do not mean necessarily that they have participated in the debate, although most of them will speak on the Bill at some stage, but they have discussed this matter with their various local government authorities and at Party meetings - virtually all along the track. They have been doing this not for only a few days or since the Bill was introduced but rather for many months. The Bill makes provision for a new agreement between the Commonwealth and the States with respect to finance for roads. The Bill stems from the report of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. One could almost say that the new agreement is unrelated to any previous agreement. The agreement provides for the amount of money to be granted to each State over a period of 5 years and to a certain degree informs the States where the money shall be spent. I think it was the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) who took exception to this arrangement.
The agreement provides for expenditure in four categories - main trunk roads, other rural roads, urban roads and planning and research. The total grant for the 5 year period will be $l,252m, which is an increase of $502m over the amount provided in the previous agreement. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard a table, drawn up by the Treasury, which is very similar to the table that appears in the Bill.
The table gives details of expenditure and it should be of some benefit to those people who are prepared to study Hansard. In passing may I say that I wish that many more details of Bills were incorporated in Hansard. People who read the debates do not know what they are reading about because the full details are not incorporated.
If the honourable member for Dawson accuses me of being parochial when I refer to Victoria, all I say is that I am proud to be parochial. I want to repeat some of the things that I have said to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair), to the Government and to the councils in my electorate. Under this legislation Victoria will receive $254.4m which will be divided as follows: Si 56m for urban arterial roads, $17.7 for rural arterial roads, $76.8m for rural roads other than arterial roads and $3. 8m for planning and research. The principle of allocating funds in this way is, to my mind, very good indeed, provided the amounts are distributed fairly and equitably. However, I am not satisfied that the distribution is an equitable one, particularly as it affects Victoria and specifically as it applies to the main trunk roads section, for which $17.7m will be provided, and other rural roads for which $76.8m will be allocated. In the last year of the 5-year plan just completed, Victoria spent $ 12.5m on unclassified roads. There could be an increase in the total road mileage during the currency of the new plan. This would be brought about by the inclusion of various roads such as tourist roads, forestry roads and by-pass roads. This increased mileage could - and I am not saying it will - total something in the vicinity of 5,000 or 6,000 miles. However, the legislation allows for the Minister to declare what roads should be put into various classifications. He is the man who will eventually have the say in this matter.
The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) said in his report to the Premiers when announcing the programme that there would be a 5% increase each year in the amount to be spent by the States under the rural roads heading. 1 submit that this 5% will cover only the natural and normal increase in costs, or perhaps a little more, and will not allow for increased mileage or increased vehicle usage. If the rural roads section were transferred to the main roads section then the amount of $17.7m allotted for rural arterial roads would certainly fall short. The councils in my electorate are certainly not satisfied with the present proposals. Never before have I had as much correspondence with the councils as 1 have in respect of this matter. Last year when it became known that there was a possibility of a change in the overall policy 1 received representations from every municipality in the Wimmera electorate, as well as some in the neighbouring electorates. The total number of councils involved was twenty-one. This is interesting because some of my colleagues on both sides of the House representing metropolitan interests naturally would have far fewer municipalities to deal with. When one has twenty-one municipalities to correspond with one certainly has a fair amount of work to do. All the submissions of these councils have been placed before the Minister and the Government.
When the Prime Minister met the Premiers and announced his proposals, I received another fourteen submissions from those councils, thirteen of which complained about the deletion of the clause requiring 40% of the total allocation to be spent on rural roads. I wish 1 had time this afternoon to read some of these statements because they are all very enlightening. I have one here from the Donald Shire which was written to me on 9th January 1968. it reads as follows:
The Council appreciates your vigilance an supports with vigor your efforts to retain the principle of the existing agreement allocating 40 per cent for rural roads.
You may use this letter in any way at your discretion to defeat the other interests which would seek to reduce this allocation.
That is a very brief letter but it does show the thinking of the Council and it is very similar to other representations 1 have received. I ask the Minister whether he can give me and the councils an assurance that because of the increased usage, increased costs and possible increased mileage, sufficient money will be made available to cover the work which will be necessary for maintenance, reconstruction and new roads.
The councils are concerned that although there will be an increased allocation of $500m over 5 years, they will receive a very small share of this. Country municipalities certainly have a heavy load to carry. Let me quote from a letter I received from the Stawell Shire Council. It is dated 22nd January and was written before the Prime Minister actually made his announcement. I will not read the whole letter but only portion of it. It reads in part:
All categories of roads in this area need more funds than are at present available, but by far the greatest need lies with the rural roads comprising school bus routes, access from occupied farm homes tq townships, railway stations and wheat silos and access to developed, developing and undeveloped farmlands. Over the last six years the moneys available from all sources, to roads within this shire, have averaged out approximately at the following amounts:
I will not go into all the details. Suffice it to say that for highway and tourist roads totalling 73 miles the amount spent per mile per year was $4,000; for main roads totalling 116 miles the amount spent per mile per year was $2,000; and for unclassified shire - rural - roads totalling 811 miles, the average amount spent per mile per year was $200. The letter continued:
Long term programmes have been made and estimates prepared which indicate that if 250% of additional funds were available for unclassified Toads in this Shire over the next 20 years, then it would be reasonable to hope that the roads could be brought up to a standard which is required now, not in 20 years time.
I wonder how my metropolitan friends could take up this issue in their areas? The letter went on to say:
Finally it is submitted that, whatever be the needs of city roads, State highways and main roads, the essential minimum needs of rural roads (i.e. the Victorian unclassified shire roads outside metropolitan areas) is ever so much greater, both in number of miles of roads to be upgraded and in the total financial needs.
My Council respectfully request that you will do your utmost to show Parliament how extremely important it is to retain the 40% clause in the CAR agreement and to provide for substantial increases in the allocation of rural roads in the future.
This is the kind of letter I have been receiving from all the twenty-one councils in my electorate. They are naturally concerned at the amount of money that will be made available for other rural roads.
I think that the honourable member for Calare (Mr England), in this debate some days ago, referred to the money that is spent on what I would classify in some instances as insignificant side issues, such as the contruction of small bridges. This is the way in which a large part of the money is being spent. As was stated in the letter which I read from the Shire of Stawell, it is rather alarming to note the amount of money that is allocated per road mile for highways as against the amount of money allocated per road mile for rural roads. In the Shire of Stawell, an amount of $200 has been spent per road mile on rural roads, yet an amount of $4,000 has been spent per road mile on highways. That is a substantial difference - ratio of 20 to 1. It is true that highways have to be heavier, wider and all the rest, but, nevertheless, there is a very big difference in the amounts of money spent on highways and rural roads.
I may appear to be gloomy, but now I want to refer to a couple of other issues which perhaps could be said to be on the brighter side. There is no doubt that as a result of this legislation there will be a substantial improvement in roads throughout Australia, but, unfortunately, this improvement is not always in the right places. The reasons for this are very obvious. Firstly, the Commonwealth is to contribute an extra $500m for roads and, secondly, the States will be expected to increase their contribution by at least 25%, and no doubt it will be higher than that 25% minimum. If one looks at the contribution which the States have made under previous Commonwealth aid roads agreements one notes with interest that the States have contributed more than their share. The total amount required to be spent by the States under previous agreements was approximately $548m, but the actual amount spent by the States was $788m. Victoria was required to spend $143m, but it actually spent $219m. It can be seen that the States have played their part in this regard.
Finally, we have been challenged this afternoon to state where we stand in relation to the amendment introduced by the Opposition. It is very easy to say: ‘Return all the money received from petrol tax and customs duty’. I often wonder what would happen if there were a change of government in Australia. I cannot see this happening in the near future but, nevertheless, what would happen if the Australian Labor Party came into office? I submit that it would be so shocked that it would not know which way to turn. Honourable members opposite seem to adopt the principle of saying: ‘We will make all the promises around the place, but when we get on to the other side of the House we will then be in a position to decide what we are going to do about them’. We get plenty of promises from them outside election time. It is very easy for them to make promises because they know that they do not have to worry about fulfilling the promises. There is one point which the Opposition has overlooked in suggesting that we should return all the money received by way of petrol tax. I should like to ask any honourable member opposite who is to follow me in this debate this afternoon whether he can recall any time when Labor was in office when it returned all the money that was collected from petrol tax and customs duty. Of course, the answer is very obvious. It is no. Now it is different. Honourable members opposite can afford to make promises.
I am not happy with all the proposals that have been included in the Bill. I am disappointed that greater significance is not placed on the importance of rural roads as against roads in metropolitan areas. I believe that what is contained in the Bill is certainly a much better proposition than what has been suggested by the Opposition regarding the automatic return of all moneys collected by way of petrol tax. The thing that concerns me is that this is the first occasion on which money has been earmarked for roads in the metropolitan areas. One would assume that if the Government is to change its overall policy regarding roads it might do it gradually but it is not being done in that way. The Government has earmarked literally 50% of the total grant for roads in metropolitan and provincial areas.
– Is the honourable member not going to vote for the Bill?
– I have no hestitation in saying that because of the Government’s desire to allocate more money for roads in an attempt to improve standards, coupled with the fact that more money will be made available by the States, I will support the legislation.
I think that the point which we must not overlook is that the Government is to con tribute an increased amount of money for roads, and it has earmarked a certain amount of money for different sections. If there is any shortfall in the sections about which I am concerned, of course, we will naturally be looking to the State governments to make up the shortfall. But I inform both the Minister for Shipping and Transport and the Government that if councils in my electorate - and there are many of them - find that the money which is being made available to them is not keeping pace with demands, they can rest assured that I will make the very strongest protest for them as the honourable member for Wimmera.
– The honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King) dealt with this national issue now before the House with a broad statesmanlike sweep which covered the whole of the Wimmera electorate. I will deal in a sma way with that modest area which he has left. The issue before the House focuses attention once again on the tendency of the Government to deal with broad issues in fragmented units. This is extremely undesirable in a number of fields. In this field it is especially undesirable, lt seems to me that this would have been an excellent opportunity for the Government to have dealt with the broad question of the need for a national transport plan for Australia. Instead of that, all the Government proposes is that a certain allocation of money will be made available for roadworks over the next 5 years in the six States of the Commonwealth. There is no involvement in the essential interlocking issues, such as the best use which can be made of the various modes of transportation in the community or the ways in which these modes can be used more efficiently through interlocking services.
For instance, it seems quite incredible to me that the Federal Government will provide this money for roads and then wash its hands of the responsibility of ensuring that where roadworks will encourage the use of private transportation this private transportation wilt dovetail into public transportation facilities. In the City of Brisbane, quite clearly basic facilities are available so that commuters to the city would be more beneficially served if extensive parking ureas were established at suburban railway stations so that commuters could commute to these points by private vehicle and then be transported by a very speedy railway service to the inner city. Similarly, it is odd that money will be provided for improved roads through cities to port facilities, but there is no guarantee that the economies which are to be obtained through the provision of improved roads will not be destroyed through the inefficiency of facilities available at the ports. So we are not maximising the economic efficiencies which we can get out of the capital investment which is being provided.
There is no dispute that we need a national transport policy. What we are doing is approaching this matter with a fragment complex. I think it is worth quoting Mr Loxton, who is Chairman of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads and a man of eminence, who spoke at a seminar last year which was held at the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Melbourne. I wish to refer in particular to two of the many important points he made in the paper he delivered on a road transport policy. Firstly, he said that in the case of road transport it is doubtful if Australia has formulated a national policy. This means that as far as the Government is concerned once it disposes of the finance for road works it has no clear conception of the exact areas it will reach and no knowledge of what the impact of the investment will be in social and economic terms. To dispel any doubt as to whether there is need for a national transport plan, I point out that Mr Loxton went on to say that he believes that Australia should work towards a national road transport plan. Those two points were made by a man who is eminently placed in the Commonwealth Public Service. The first is that there is no national transport plan. The second is that one is needed and we should work in this direction. It was quite disappointing to me to find that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) did not refer to those points in the recommendation he has made to the Parliament.
It is quite clear that one of the initial steps the Government could take in a move towards a national transport plan and improvement of the efficiency of its investment as well as the administration of transport in the community would be to clean up the rather diffuse way in which responsibility is distributed federally among the Ministry. There are no fewer than seven Ministers in the Federal Ministry who in some way ot another influence the administration of transport or things directly related to transport in the community. This diffusion in itself must lead to diseconomies. I suggest that the next move would be for the Federal Government to use its powers under sections 96, 98 and 101 of the Constitution to implement a more effective and positive national transport plan. These powers and authorities are available to the Government. In fact, section 101 of the Constitution provides for an interstate commission. Such a commission was allowed to lapse in, I think, the 1920s. I believe that there is a need for it to be re-established to operate in this area.
The Government has taken no steps to make use of the powers and authorities available to it. It should define a policy which will integrate with maximum efficiency the different modes of transport. During any discussion on transportation it is quite wrong to confine one’s remarks to roads; the other forms of transport should also be taken into consideration. The Government’s policy should provide that railways be used for long and medium range haulage of freight of a large volume; that roads be used to co-ordinate with the railways and to provide services where it is not possible to provide railway services; that ships be used for long range haulage and for the haulage of large loads; and that aircraft be used for the carriage of passengers and small freight items. In the case of aircraft there is quite clearly an opportunity for more people to be encouraged to travel at cheaper rates by removing the anomalous and, it seems to me, discriminatory system of having two classes of travel, first and tourist. On short hops such as between Brisbane and Sydney, which take about 1 hour, hostesses are running round the aircraft providing meals for the first class passengers. It would be better if all the seating accommodation in aircraft was provided at a tourist rate, without meals. This would have the effect of reducing fares. It would also encourage more people to travel by aircraft. This would in turn discourage people from travelling long distances by train and so accentuate their role for carriage of goods.
It is quite clear that there are a number of areas that the Government could exploit to achieve more efficiency in transportation. But it is also quite clear that, firstly, the Government has not done anything to develop a plan which could make this possible and, secondly, it does not intend to do so. What the Government has done to improve certain areas - again I point out that it has been done in fragments instead of as part of an overall concept - has clearly wrought great benefits for transport communication in the community and ought to be an incentive to the Government to develop this sort of plan on a broad basis. For instance, in the first 5 years after the standard gauge link between Melbourne and Sydney was completed train traffic was revitalised and there was an increase of about 80% in the freight tonnage. It is quite obvious that if that sort of thing could be duplicated and repeated throughout the Commonwealth there would be greater efficiency, which would be of overall benefit to the nation. But it is most important that the use of economic resources should be distributed on the basis of an economic criteria and not because of political pressure - the sort of pressure the Government finds itself subjected to at the hands of the splinter group in the coalition.
Perhaps I should indicate how important transport is in the overall concept of the economy. Approximately 12% of the gross national expenditure and 13% of the personal expenditure is on transport. Those figures indicate just how important transport is to us and the part it plays in our daily lives. They also indicate how influential transport is on the economy. Because the Government continues to refuse to face up to the need to define a national transport plan we cannot be sure on the evidence available that our investment in this area is being used to maximise development in the community. Secondly, problems which are endemic now will become quite unbearable and even impossible to remove in the future. Private passenger transport, if I can give this figure as an instance, carries approximately 80% of all passengers transported. At the rate the investment is taking place in private motor vehicles it seems that within the next 20 years this means of transportation could displace all other surface transport. This would not be reason able as the congestion would be impossible. The Government has to act now to ensure that congestion does not become impossible. The mere providing of money for roads without ensuring that co-ordination of the services is achieved so that use of the resources is most efficiently provided for the community will not avert this problem in the future.
Some discussion has been had on the use of earmarked funds. The Opposition has moved an amendment to the effect that all taxes derived from petroleum excise be diverted to road work. This is not an unusual proposition; it is one which has been accepted by many other countries. In any event, it has a political attraction in that it is acceptable to the community. The community will know that it is paying a certain amount of money in a given area. The community will be quite happy to do so because it appreciates that there is a need for more road works to be carried out. lt seems that the Australian Country Party is opposed to the proposition that excise duty be used exclusively on road work. I cannot quite understand why it is opposed to such a proposition. If it were established that more money would be derived from the excise duty than was needed for road works there would be some justification for its opposition, but that is not so. The evidence is that there are glaring areas of road need in Australia today.
I contest the point put forward in the report of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads that if the Government were to increase the Bureau’s suggested allocation - which is more than the Government will provide under this legislation anyway - inflationary pressures would be encouraged. Adequate economic tools are available to the Government to ensure that inflationary pressures do not get out of hand if more money is invested in roads works. It always appears to me that in a depression such as the one which occurred in the 1930s or a recession such as the one which occurred in the 1960s there is a massive increase in money for road works. In periods of economic buoyancy when the economy has picked up and the demand for road services would be more acute than in periods of recession or depression the amount of money and the effort for public works such as road building is proportionately not as great.
– That is not right.
– In proportion to need in the 1930s, the amount of manpower which the Government put into road works was considerable and the amount of money invested in road works in the recession of the 1960s was quite substantial. In fact, this would apply to public works generally. The Government did this in a time of recession in demand for services. At a time of increased demand for these services when the economy is buoyant the tendency is for the brakes to be applied on the grounds of the non-availability of money. I am not denying that there has been an increase in the current 5 years over the previous 5 year programme, but in given periods the evidence seems to suggest that what I say is correct. For example these special grants are made to State governments and local authorities and they are then used for road works. That is a rather odd way of approaching this matter. There is obviously a need for more money to be spent on roads. Only 19% of Australian road surfaces are sealed. In a country as large as Australia this shows a glaring deficiency. According to Darwin and Solomon in a report to the Australian Road Research Board the evidence is that the quality of roads in Australia is not as good as it ought to be. They state:
One further indicator worthy of note is the expenditure per mile of roads. With all figures being expressed in Australian dollars, in 1962 the Australian figure was S640 compared with New Zealand $1,400 and the United States $2,900. For Canada in 1963 the figure was $1,650. Whilst this comparison ignores many significant items such as the effect of terrain on cost, the degree of difference is some indication of lower Australian standards.
They also go on to say at another point that the evidence that they have available after comparing the increase over a period in the demand for automotive fuel gallonage is that the total road expenditure deflated shows that the real expenditure on roads has failed to keep up with road usage.
The next point I want to mention very quickly concerns the congestion in the cities. Surely this is related to the provision of money for roads. An estimate is that con gestion costs Australia $20m a week. This causes quite excessive and unnecessary costs in production. It is something which could be eliminated. Mr Herbert, a private consulting economist, has estimated that by removing congestion - and he suggests that this could be done in a 15-year period - profits in the cities could be increased by another i%. He states:
If the removal of congestion only raised the increase in city productivity from 2% to 2i% (and it might be considerably more) this alone would pay for the whole cost of removing congestion within the 15 year period, and go on providing benefits after that.
When statements like these are made after economic research one feels rather perplexed and really quite despondent, as an ordinary taxpayer and road user, that the Federal Government fails to develop some sort of national plan which would cover things of this sort and which would cover regional planning in areas where the physical work would be carried out on road improvement and on facility improvement so that transport would move with the greatest efficiency that it is possible to establish with a given amount of investment. There is no evidence that this is even thought about let alone aimed at by the present policies of tha Government.
To show just how dislocating this congestion can be to business there was a report published in 1925-26 by the United States Department of Commerce. Admittedly it is somewhat dated, but it is not without its relevance now. It was quoted in a 1954 work. The report stated:
Where congestion occurs the volume of business has been brought down from 1 to 20 per cent below that which would have been transacted with the automobile as a ‘business-bringer’ minus the factor of congestion.
A 20% loss of business in a congested area is a substantial loss, and given the overheads which a business has to carry in investment in the sort of area which is usually congested, it seems to be quite an unfair imposition on businesses. It is a public responsibility that this imposition be removed. It is certainly within the area of practicability to remove it and it is certainly within the area of responsibility of the Government to agree to remove it.
Finally, I want to say that probably the greatest problem we have had in the development of a suitable road policy an distinct from an actual transport policy has been the success of the Country Party in pressuring the Federal Government to provide at least 40% of road allocations for rural areas. There is no doubt that many areas in rural districts need more roads, but there is even more evidence that there is need for improvement in cities. Sir Thomas Playford said in 1964:
I cannot but say today that in our more populated areas we have a very much more difficult problem to meet than the problem in our rural areas. That problem arises from the fact that the total amount of money being made available for roads is inadequate.
This, of course, is the long and the short of the problem which the Government is not facing up to. Even the provision of $l,250m under this Bill over 5 years for the six States is not enough for the road needs of the Commonwealth. Quite clearly the suggestion which has been put forward by the Opposition, that the excise duty from petrol ought to be earmarked for this purpose, is a reasonable proposition. We say that the Government ought to earmark funds for a particular purpose, as is done in many countries overseas. In any case, the evidence seems to be that we would need more money, if we were to have a completely adequate road policy for the Commonwealth, than would be provided from these sources. Consequently the opposition of the Federal Government is completely incomprehensible.
– I find it difficult to understand the lack of comprehension of the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) as he apparently finds it impossible to understand what the Government is presently doing in relation to transport as well as Commonwealth aid roads funds. The honourable member, like many other members of the Opposition, seems to believe that what the Government should be doing is creating plans rather than roads. He compliments the Government on much of the development that has taken place and points out how beneficial this has been to particular regions and to the nation generally, and at the same time he says that this should provide a stimulus to the Government to create a whole set of plans. What the honourable member fails to understand is that we have a programme rather than a series of plans and that this programme is being carried out with considerable success throughout Australia.
The shire authorities within the electorate of Eden-Monaro have all approached me with regard to some of the details attaching to the present proposals for the next 5-year period of Commonwealth aid roads funds. All their cases have been based fundamentally on the case prepared by the Shires Association of New South Wales, and this case has been put to the Government through the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair), the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) and the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). So the Government is well aware of their case. However, in trying to clarify their points myself I have consulted with the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) who has provided me with considerable clarification on the points at issue, as has the Minister for Shipping and Transport. The main point made in the shires’ case is that during the current 5 year programme the total amount of Commonwealth grant allocated for rural roads was $188.4m. For the next 5-year period the amount allocated for such roads has been reduced to $173.69m, this being subject to deduction for that portion of expenditure on roads in the Newcastle and Wollongong regions to be financed from the grant for arterial and sub-arterial roads in urban areas.
The shires’ case also refers to an assurance said to have been given by the Commonwealth that the Commonwealth grant to New South Wales for expenditure on rural roads other than arterial roads would be available for expenditure on roads previously coming within the class of rural roads other than highways, main roads and trunk roads. But it should be pointed out that any such action would mean that the Commonwealth grant of $63.87m for rural arterial roads would be spread over road classes 1, 2 and 3 compared with the amount of $104m of the Commonwealth grant which was allocated for such roads during the current 5 year period. The Shires Association of New South Wales goes on to suggest that the New South Wales Government should request the Commonwealth Government to transfer for expenditure on roads coming within classes 1, 2 and 3 up to 25% of the total grant allocated for urban arterial and sub-arterial roads.
It should now be pointed out that under the present roads grants arrangements the only requirement as to the direction of expenditure of Commonwealth aid roads grants is that a minimum of 40% must be expended on rural roads other than highway, main roads and trunk roads. Under this provision the New South Wales Government will have been required to spend on minor rural roads during the 5 years to 30th June 1969 nearly $84m of the Commonwealth grant. For the next 5 years the Commonwealth has allocated $63. 87m for expenditure on rural arterial roads and $ 109.82m for expenditure on rural roads other than arterial roads. Thus a total of $ 173.69m of the Commonwealth grant will be required to be spent on rural roads. This is more than twice the amount required to be spent during the current 5 years. It is difficult to say, in view of these figures, how the Commonwealth can possibly be accused of starving the New South Wales rural roads of funds.
Of course, it is appreciated that in practice in the current 5-year programme the New South Wales Government has been allocating a higher proportion than the 40% of the Commonwealth grant for expenditure on rural roads. This is a decision taken by the Government of New South Wales. Over the next 5 years it would be open to the Government of New South Wales to make available its own funds for expenditure on any classes of roads. During the current 5 years the State Government funds allocated for roads have amounted to about $300m, which is an increase of over 50% on the amount that was allocated in the previous 5-year period.
Under the new road grants arrangements the States will be required to increase expenditure by a minimum of between 25% and 30% in the next 5 years. However, if State government allocations in the next 5 years increase by a similar proportion as in the current 5 years there would be about $450m of State funds available for roads expenditure. In addition, although funds allocated for roads by local authorities are not readily available for transfer between the various road classes, such authorities do in practice make a significant contribution to expenditure on most classes of roads. So in this context it is of interest to note the programme of expenditure on construction and maintenance of roads recommended for New South Wales by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. After surveying road needs in conjunction with the State road authorities the Bureau recommended a total roads programme - it might not be a plan satisfactory to the honourable member for Oxley - for Australia involving an expenditure of $3,760m during the next 5 years. The Bureau has said that this programme would produce a return to the community of 10% or more and would be achievable without imposing a strain on our physical resources. Of that amount, the total recommended programme for New South Wales is $l,178m, excluding administrative costs. I think that members of this House are familiar with the breakdown of those figures and the way in which they have been split up in New South Wales.
The major point I wanted to make was that the shires, in arguing that the Commonwealth is underwriting rural roads to a lesser extent, are misinterpreting what is going on. In actual fact the Commonwealth is now underwriting or requiring greater expenditure on rural roads. It is then up to the State Government to make use of the other funds available to it. In fact, the State will almost certainly be spending about $2 for every $1 the Commonwealth spends. I do not think it could possibly be argued that there has been any bias against rural roads in these proposals and in fact, as I have just said, if anything is true it is the opposite of that. I believe that most members will also be aware that the study by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads has resulted in an allocation of moneys which is much more in proportion to the number of people and cars than in proportion to acres. The results, as we know, have seen an increase in New South Wales of about 82%, in Victoria of 73%, and in Queensland of 69%. The proportions for the other States would have been lower, but they were made up with a special funding arrangement so that their increases would be 50%. This has meant that we have a fairer allocation of funds, and in the case of New South Wales it would appear that the Premier is not only satisfied when it comes down to talking about hard figures but also is prepared to state that these funds will not only allow continuing progress on unclassified rural roads but will also ensure that the Government’s programme of improvement of the rural State highways, trunk roads and main roads, by extension of bitumen surfacing on such important arterial roads as the Barrier Highway to Broken Hill, the Mitchell Highway from Bourke to the Queensland border, the Oxley Highway between Wauchope and Walcha and the Bruxner Highway west from Tenterfield, will continue unabated and the work will go on. The Premier has indicated that New South Wales expenditure on all classes of roads in the rural areas of the States in the next financial year will rise from the present estimated expenditure of $72m to $75.6m, in 1970-71 to $79.3m, in 1971-72 to S83.3m, in 1972-73 to $87.3m, and in 1973-74 to $91.7m. We have that assurance from the Premier of New South Wales and the State Government, after all, is responsible for about two-thirds of the actual expenditure in New South Wales. We have seen the position where the Commonwealth is, in actual fact, underwriting the cost of roads to a greater extent than it has done in the past. We have seen some justice coming into the picture in relation to the money available to New South Wales . and New South Wales has achieved a far greater increase than any other State. I say ‘justice’ simply because under the previous arrangement New South Wales was penalised as being a so-called wealthy State as compared with the socalled less wealthy States. The position has changed in the intervening years so it is only appropriate that the programme should change. The Government is to be complimented on its approach to the whole problem and the way in which it has planned its programmes, despite what some members opposite think about it.
– What is the difference between a plan and a programme?
– This is a programme and not just a plan.
– What is the difference?
– There is a heck of a difference. The honourable member from somewhere in the north of Queensland-
– Central Queensland.
– I thought it must have been a fair distance from civilisation. The honourable member asked me what is the difference between a plan and a programme.
I should have thought that he could have answered this question himself. If we look back into history we see that a lot of plans were produced by the Opposition when it was in Government, just as it produces many plans now, with little result from them. It is not always easy to transfer from a plan to an active programme. It is harder to achieve results. It is not simply a matter of putting forward something that can be incorporated in a big bundle of paper and labelled as a plan.
One matter that I bring to the attention of the Minister and the Government regarding the distribution of these funds is that some shires, particularly one in EdenMonaro, have the problem - although it may seem a little unbelievable and I had better not quote the name of the shire concerned - of having their ‘other rural roads’ in such good condition that they want to spend money on roads that now will be classified as tourist roads. They would see a considerable advantage in this. I suggest that the Government should consider enabling shires to spend, at their own determination, 25% of the Commonwealth aid road funds on roads that are their responsibility. Obviously they have in mind using Commonwealth aid road funds to meet some of the shire’s contributions for a tourist road and so attracting a matching State grant. I do not see that this is an unreasonable proposition. It would give the local shire, which is closer to the problem, some flexibility. And if it would relieve the local ratepayers of some of their burdens it would surely be worth while. The shire council would be the local organisation most capable of determining which of its roads is in most need of available funds. My suggestion would give the shire council the right to exercise its own option in respect of a quarter of the Commonwealth aid road funds that were available to it. I hope that the Government will seriously consider discussing this with the States. It may well be a matter more for determination by the State Government than by the Commonwealth Government but as it has to do with money provided by the Commonwealth it would almost certainly require Commonwealth consent.
I want finally to turn to the question that is raised by the Opposition’s amendment which, as I understand it, advocates the expenditure of all available fuel tax and excise on fuel on roads. We have the figures before us. In fact, I do not think there are any figures or facts that are not available to the Opposition for the purposes of this debate. Since 1958-59 the Commonwealth road grant as a percentage of total duty has shrunk from about 70% to about 66%, and the road grant as a percentage of excise duty has shrunk from about 84% to about 67%. I believe that there is a good case to be made, not in support of this amendment in isolation, but for relating either excise duty or all fuel duty to road expenditure; for regarding it as a consumer tax that people pay for consuming roads. We have on our hands a road war which is costing us more in human life than the major wars have cost us. At present it is certainly costing us a lot more than any war, defence or Army operations in which we are presently engaged. It is not only the design of the road that causes accidents and deaths. We need to spend a lot more on our roads and associated transport facilities, including the training of people in driving and research into all alternative transport systems. At the same time it would be quite irresponsible to support the Opposition’s amendment in isolation.
– Because this is far too complex a matter simply to say that we will now switch over to applying all the excise or all the fuel tax on roads. Other considerations are involved. Where would other money be raised? The Opposition’s proposal would have the effect of taking money out of general revenue. This would involve a complete review of the whole of our taxing field and I believe the matter should be looked at in that context. I do not in any way blame the Opposition for moving the amendment, but I cannot support it. However I certainly do support the Government’s proposal.
– The Commonwealth Aid Roads Bill 1969 will shape the development of our. road system in Australia for the next 5 years. It is of great importance to the nation. It is of tremendous importance to that section of the community which relies on transport, which is dependent on communications and which relies upon a modern system of communications. I believe that the Government’s decision to increase the allocation for the next 5 years by an overall percentage of 67% is a significant contribution to Australia’s development. We see expenditure increasing by more than $500m over this period. Compared to anything previously attempted, this is quite outstanding. 1 want to refute straight away the suggestion by the Opposition that the Government has been tardy, that it has not faced up to its responsibilities on an overall basis and that there is justification for the amendment moved by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones). We have had the old story from the Opposition that all the moneys collected from the fuel tax should be allocated for road purposes. It has been said before, and I repeat it today, that we must have regard to the overall economic development of the country when we consider matters of great importance, such as the matter dealt with by this Bill. If we were to take the whole of the fuel tax for roads, the revenue resources of the nation would have to be so adjusted that there would be a heavier incidence of other taxation. Therefore, I believe that the Government, having regard to available funds, resources and construction capacity, has produced a very desirable programme.
However, I have other views on the implementation of the programme. 1 am concerned that some changes have been made in the proposals for the spending of this vast sum of money. I refer especially to the departure from the previous provision that 40% of the allocation be spent on roads other than highways, trunk roads and main roads and the introduction of a new category to which specifically is allocated the largest part of the amount that is being made available - that is, $600m for urban arterial roads. It is fair to admit that the requirements for urban arterial roads have increased tremendously and that, to create a means of access into the great metropolitan areas, vast sums must be spent. However I fail to see why the amount of the allocation on this first occasion should be so large. I believe that in providing such a large amount for this new category the Government has relied too heavily on the recommendation of the Bureau of Roads.
Its recommendation was based on a statistical assessment and took into account factors that were referred to by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) when he introduced the Bill.
Underlying all this is his specific reference to the benefits that would flow from this expenditure of Commonwealth air road funds. The benefits have not been spelt out precisely to the House. We understand from the report of the Bureau of Roads that basically this relates to road usage, to an estimate of the costs of specific aspects of transportation and to road construction costs. To some degree population has been considered. However, the recommendation certainly has not taken into account betterment factors on a basis of equilibrium. My point is that if the country is to see a lower expenditure on rural roads, as this legislation provides, and the cities are to see a vast increase in expenditure on their roads, the betterment factor will not emerge in an equal way. If we build roads in the country, we see a distant improvement in productivity. There is a growth factor which produces an infusion into the economy from our export earnings, from the increment of the expansion of primary production, which is quite clearly defined.
The only progression we see in the cities is an increasing provision on a high cost ratio for transport to enable the cities to cope with the tremendous expansion that flows directly from centralised development - development of the kind we see in the vast cities of Sydney and Melbourne in particular, with large concrete structures going skywards, able to house tremendous numbers of people in office blocks and in other enterprises. From that we do not see a betterment factor in the economy as we do when expansion occurs in the country. So the ratio between the two will leave the economy of the country at a disadvantage. It is true that figures based purely on the formula adopted by the Bureau of Roads will produce another answer. This formula has been used and, on the basis of pure guesswork, a return of 10% on expenditure is expected. But the important point is the basis that has been taken to produce this result and I want to dispute right away that the basis that has been used is a sound and satisfactory one for the good of the whole of Australia.
In saying this, I do not for one moment want to appear to be opposed to the requirements of the great cities being met. They have a requirement, but it should be treated on the basis of maintaining a balance in the overall situation. When I look at the expenditure in the last 5 years on urban requirements in New South Wales, as against other requirements, I am quite staggered with the decision that the Government has reached. I want to cite figures for the Department of Main Roads contained in the last report of the New South Wales Auditor-General. It shows receipts and payments under three headings - County of Cumberland, which is the metropolitan area, country and developmental. I take first of all the return from motor taxation and charges. The return in the County of Cumberland is $9,047,647. In the country it is $36,190,585, which is a very big difference indeed. It is true that there is a contribution from councils of some $8.5m in the County of Cumberland and only about $200,000 in the country. I will not weary the House by giving the other headings of income. Total receipts for the County of Cumberland are $37,353,000 and for the country $58,851,000. The total figure for developmental roads is $1,887,000.
This, of course, as in the past, provided the basis for the contribution to road construction in New South Wales from sources other than Commonwealth aid roads. It shows quite clearly the pattern of development which has been necessary there and which has substantially satisfied the needs of that State in the last 5 years and, of course, the 5 years before that. Yet we are now proposing a drastic departure from this pattern, a departure that will infuse into the metropolitan area a sum that will increase tremendously. New South Wales will receive an overall increase of 81%, but the increase for the urban section will reach well beyond that figure. Yet the country areas will be left at a disadvantage unless the legislation is implemented as outlined by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair). This was referred to by the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Munro). He said that from the depth of his inquiry into the import of this measure it was apparent there would be no loss in the country. I question whether this will be the case. I instance the following statement made by the Prime Minister following upon the Premiers Conference held in Canberra last March:
Under the arrangement proposed the allocation of money for such roads will be the same amount of money as was received in 1968-69 plus an escalation of 5% each year which will be compounded. Thus although the old formula of 40% of the total grant available has been abandoned the actual amounts available for such roads will increase each year of the S-year period, and such roads will receive the amount of S394.55m- an increase of $94.55m. . . .
This is true if the ultimate effect of the Bill is that all existing classified roads, in the case of New South Wales anyway, are classified as being other than rural roads. Whether the amount to be received for rural roads will be in accordance with what the Prime Minister said will hinge entirely on a decision on these lines. A detailed perusal of the Bill reveals a serious doubt as to whether the power which will be vested in the Minister for Shipping and Transport will result in such action being taken. If such action is taken, then the fate of the funds for rural roads will be in accordance with what the Prime Minister said; if it is not, the position will be vastly different. The honourable member for Eden-Monaro went on to say that he was quite satisfied with what will happen to rural arterial roads. He suggested that there would be an increase in such roads. He spoke entirely about New South Wales.
I have referred to only some of the figures relating to road expenditure in NSW under this proposition. The allocation for rural arterial roads will be lower than the sum that flowed into this sector under the old scheme, taking into account what was provided from State sources and what came from Commonwealth sources. This will create a serious situation unless the implementation of the provisions of the Bill is such that this can be avoided. I am pleased to see that there is a provision in the Bill which will allow a State to make application for funds to be re-allotted if there is a requirement so to do, but there is a contingency which makes it very doubtful that a case could be put. Therefore I am concerned about the consequences as they relate to rural arterial roads.
The new expression ‘rural arterial roads’ is understood to cover classified roads previously referred to in New South Wales as
State highways, trunk roads and main roads. The whole pattern of the development of transport in Australia is dependent on the development of rural arterial roads. The pitfall in the provisions of this legislation, apart from the questions which I have posed concerning the rural roads section, is to be found in the limitations relating to the provisions for the main rural arterial roads. This brings right into the light of day the development and building up of the standard of the important main links such as the Pacific Highway, the Hume Highway and those other main highways which run across New South Wales. The New England Highway is as equally important. The Olympic Highway, which is used extensively by traffic travelling between Melbourne and Sydney, the east-west links such as the Gwydir Highway, the Bruxner Highway and the highway which runs west from Sydney through Orange and into the central west all are vital links in our transport system. The reference I made earlier to a lower provision for this section of the roads system will hit hard at the capacity of the State to develop such roads in the way that they should be developed. Much can be learned by studying road development overseas.
A tremendous effort has been put into the development of Toads known as Ml and M2 in the United Kingdom and the construction of the autobahn in Europe which runs, not through one country but through several, including Germany, Switzerland and down into Italy. Great progress has been achieved by providing satisfactory main highway links through such countries. This is what we are failing to achieve in Australia. This was the objective when the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads was established by legislation about 5 years ago. I am disappointed that the Bureau has not dealt with this requirement in the same way as it has dealt with the statistics and voluminous detail concerning urban road problems in Australia. Whilst the Bureau makes a contribution in providing advice and guidance on urban problems, it is leaving this vital requirement of main links across the nation too far in the background. Shire councils, municipal councils and the Department of Main Roads are not given sufficient finance to set about bringing the standard of this sort of road up to what is required for consistent heavy transport. This is the great weakness which I hope will be overcome as a result of the passing of this legislation. I hope it will be patently clear that there is insufficient money for this section of our roads system.
Under this Bill funds are to be allocated for research. I am not opposed to research, but I want to sound a note of warning about what can happen if this is to be the thing that will be emphasised. If research will throw up a situation in which local authorities will be faced with a requirement to submit to a laboratory in Sydney or Melbourne a sample of filling, gravel, stone or other material that may be used to see whether it is satisfactory to use on a road, the practical approach to road construction will be lost and it will be a sorry day for this nation. I have seen this kind of thing grow gradually in New South Wales where local authority has not been allowed even to start work on a road until all sorts of technical requirements have been satisfied. Very often the technical approach was so complicated that roads which had been constructed and surfaced had to be torn up because the experts did not happen to get on to the right track when they were trying to determine what should be done. I am not criticising every engineer or every system in its entirety. The point I make is that anyone who has any country experience knows perfectly well that there is always a tussle in deciding between what is practical and what is scientific or acceptable. If we are to be dominated by a scientific approach to road construction the results could be quite disastrous. The entire system could be hamstrung in a very short space of time. I hope that the Minister will ensure that local authorities are given an opportunity to be heard on the matter of research. I hope that they will not be obliged to be subservient to some bureaucratic approach which will deprive them of the opportunity to do the kind of work that they have done in the past and which has proved immensely satisfactory. The activities of local authorities have led to decentralisation, which is desirable in Australia but which could be rapidly lost if we are to have a bureaucratic approach to the improvement of standards of road construction.
Hand in hand with the subject of research is the part that local authorities play in road construction. I have been shocked to see in New South Wales in the last decade how slowly but surely local authorities have lost the right to carry out road construction. This right is quickly drifting into one large construction organisation - the New South Wales Department of Main Roads, with its huge head office building in Sydney. Local authorities are subservient to it and are deprived of the opportunity to carry out road construction within their areas. This situation has led to local authorities losing opportunities to acquire and own road making plant and to create a permanent work force resident in local areas. Today road gangs are brought perhaps 500 miles to do certain jobs and are then returned over the same distance, all at great expense. The system requires plant to be moved all over the State.
It is true that in some areas regional depots have been established and that there is decentralised administration but the extent to which the head office of the Department gathers strength and dominates the scene is quite worrying. If this situation is supplemented by the provisions of this Bill local development and expansion will be further inhibited. Creation of know-how in places where it should exist - right along the highway, even if it stretches from Melbourne to Brisbane or from Perth to Melbourne - will be inhibited. It is of no use having a centralised authority in one locality: There should be a system which enables engineering facilities, construction facilities and the like to be spaced at proper intervals along the entire section of this nation’s arteries. To do otherwise would be folly.
The honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) spoke with seeming wisdom about the need for a national roads policy. He had a grandiose idea about integrated transport planning. Such an approach would, if adopted, create a degree of centralisation which would completely hamstring the entire system. If you want to see what should be done look at the situation in the United Kingdom, in Europe and in the United States. There you will not find anybody falling into the trap which the honourable member for Oxley has fallen into. In these more developed countries you will find an overall policy but it is implemented in such a way as to allow for local autonomy and localised expenditure of funds on the great road arteries. If we are to try to keep pace with these countries we must adopt a similar policy. There are very good reasons why we should consider local factors in road construction. These include differences in terrain, differences in the geographical features of the countryside, differences in soil conditions, differences in the capacity of metal or gravel to provide a good foundation, differences in weather conditions and differences in the way in which men employed to plan an effective road system follow that plan. Unless you have this organisation spaced around the nation rather than in the form of a great octopus operating as a central authority you will not get the results that have been achieved in the more developed countries. In Australia we need a transport system which has as its basis a sound road system. 1 was disturbed to hear some honourable members say that they were pleased to see the abandonment of the old provision relating to an expenditure of 40% of funds on rural roads. They claimed that this provision was outdated and outmoded. They said that there was no need for further concern about country roads. At the outset 1 referred to the problems associated with country roads. I emphasise the great need of country areas. I do not suggest that all of the funds should go to the country. I do not say that no money should be spent in the cities. I simply put it to the House that there is a point of balance between the requirements of country areas and the requirements of city areas. There are cogent reasons, which city dwellers could not even begin to understand, why country areas require funds for roads. It may be true from a statistical viewpoint that traffic in the country is not as heavy as it is in the city. Statistics on a sheet of paper might support the view that a particular country road should not even exist. I suggest that the people who produce these figures have not had the experience of trying to travel along a muddy road, of getting bogged, of taking 2 or 3 days to get goods in or out of a locality. They have not had to drive a vehicle over a road so rough that depreciation on the vehicle is 4 or 5 times greater than it is in the case of a vehicle owned by a city dweller. They have not experienced the nightmare of trying to live a normal life at the end of a section of 20, 30, 40 and 50 miles of gravel road. They have never experienced the hardship of driving for countless mites, to the local shopping centre, to a place of business or to deliver children to school, on a non bitumen road. The problems of those who live in the country areas and their effect on the development of this country are as great as those besetting the city dwellers who take perhaps 45 minutes to travel 3 or 5 miles. These problems are in balance. There should be no competition here for Commonwealth funds. The two sets of circumstances should be considered in such a way as to bring about balance, in the allocation of funds.
The Bill provides for the classification of roads. It sets out the way in which funds will be provided to the States. It contains a number of definitions. 1 am concerned with the definition of ‘road’ which reads: road’ includes -
I hope that in the interpretation of this Bill a bridge will be regarded as part of a road. If we take the definition as it stands it could be that there is no provision for a bridge to be part of a road. The interpretation might be that a bridge is part of a road only when it is used by pedestrians. I ask the Minister to discuss this matter carefully with the Parliamentary Draftsman to ensure that no impediment exists. I trust that after the Bill is passed and the classifications provision becomes clear the House will be given a further opportunity to discuss the implementation of this matter.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I would like to assure the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson) that however frustrating it might be to sit in a queue with a car engine running and taking three-quarters of an hour to go 3 miles, it is just as frustrating waiting for a 10 minute speech to finish in half an hour. Listening to the speech of the honourable member and some of his colleagues, I am reminded of Mark Antony’s speech at the burial of Caesar when he said that he came to bury
Caesar and not to praise him. I wonder, and I have wondered ever since the agitation began in Country Party circles for the retention of the provision for the expenditure of 40% of the allocation on rural roads, how the members of the Country Party will explain their attitudes when they vote in favour of this measure. We all know that the ultimatum was: Forty per cent or nothing. They have been saved, perhaps, to some extent by the fact that the classifications of roads have been altered in such a way that some roads that were previously regarded as rural roads are now in another category.
I was interested in what the honourable member for Cowper had to say about local authorities. I am surprised and pleased to know that in Queensland local authorities are allowed - indeed many of them depend for revenue on this practice - to carry out work on behalf of the Main Roads Department. I know there have been strong pressures, particularly from the Liberal section of the Queensland Government, to have the day labour system abolished and to have this kind of main roads work given to contractors. So far this proposition has not been accepted and I hope the present practice will continue. In practically every instance the cost of the work carried out by local authorities for the Main Roads Department has proved to be within the estimate, and in a number of cases additional work has been carried out because a certain amount of money was left over.
I support the amendment proposed by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones). Tt was in these terms:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: ‘this House, while not opposing the Bill, regrets the Government’s continuing refusal to plan expenditure of an amount at least equivalent to the proceeds of all the automotive fuel taxes on roads and associated facilities’.
I believe there is a very sound basis for this amendment. The honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull), who has been here for a number of years, told me that he put forward such a proposal during the time of the Labor Government and was told by a Labor Minister at that time that there was no connection between this tax and the way in which it should be spent. 1 can tell the honourable member that at least he has convinced us that he was right on this occasion. Now that he has convinced us I hope he will continue to maintain his attitude. But perhaps be has been convinced by the arguments of the Labor Minister at that time. In any case, the honourable member has convinced us and I hope be will vote with us.
The honourable member for Newcastle estimated that at least $314m more would be collected in automotive fuel taxes than is to be expended under the agreement we are now discussing. Our attitude has been made quite clear and I do not want to go over it. But there are a couple of points that I should like to make. I want to refer, firstly, to expenditure on urban roads. In Queensland the allocation will be divided among five municipalities which will receive 8.27% of the total allocation over the full period. In New South Wales it will be divided among three municipalities which will receive 16.57%. In Victoria the amount will be divided among four municipalities which will receive 13%. In Western Australia and South Australia the total allocation under this heading will be spent by single municipalities, while in Tasmania there will be two municipalities. I submit, therefore, that there is an argument for a greater allocation to Queensland, which has more municipalities to deal with. Besides that, of course, Queensland has the largest number of provincial cities.
I am disturbed that there is no provision in the agreement for any allocation towards the provision of amenities for private boat owners. In the last decade there has been a remarkable increase in the number of pleasure boats owned privately. Not only people who live near the coast and inland waters but also those who live quite a distance away now own these boats and take them on trailers many miles each weekend for a bit of fishing or other recreation. They use launching ramps and other amenities which in the past have been provided mainly from funds made available under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement. The people who own these boats pay considerable amounts of tax. The great majority of them are not licensed fishermen and are not eligible for exemption from sales tax on fuel. They pay large amounts of tax on the petrol they use in outboard and other motors installed in their boats. I very much regret that no provision has been made in this agreement for money to be allocated for launching ramps and the like. This means that the States will have to make the necessary financial provisions and there will be a shortage of funds for the purpose.
We are fortunate in Australia in having such a long coastline. The people take advantage of it and many of them spend their leisure time on the coast. They use large numbers of these boats and require a considerable number of launching ramps and other amenities. They will require more and more as time goes on. The fact that the Commonwealth is not making money available for this purpose is just another indication that the Government refuses to relate in any way the money collected in fuel tax to the manner in which it is expended. I have said before that it is quite just that the money collected in fuel tax should be expended on the roads and other things used by the people who pay the tax. I am glad to see that the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Munro) agrees with this. He has said that the people who use the roads most pay the most tax on fuel because they purchase the greatest quantity of fuel.
Only this week I saw a documentary broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. It showed sheep being trucked from a drought area in Queensland to New South Wales. One of the . comments was that the owners of road trains were making an additional charge of $1 a mile because of the poor state of the roads over which they had to carry these sheep from outback Queensland into New South Wales. On another occasion in this House I mentioned the attitude of the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland. The President of that club in his annual report said that not enough was being done to improve the road system. The honourable member for Cowper says that he does not agree that not enough is being done and I will not reply with my own biased opinion but with that of the President of the RACQ. In the monthly journal of that club. The Road Ahead’, the President said that all attempts to halt the road toll had been aimed at penalising the driver. He said that certainly the human element is a major factor in our present traffic safety situation. The article in the journal continued:
The RACQ believed that the normal, lawabiding motorists accepted their responsibilities. But these motorists also expected the vehicle manufacturers to make their vehicles safer and also expected the authorities - Federal, State and Local Authorities - to make our road systems safer.
The RACQ President said that economic wastage alone made it quite evident that road safety truly was a national matter. The Commonwealth and State Governments had formed multitudinous bureaux, committees and boards for road research and co-ordination.
But instead of these bodies producing a safe national roads system they seem to have become a means of escape from responsibility - none of them appeared willing to ‘hold the hot potato’.
One of the themes that has been running through all the speeches made this afternoon is that there is a need for more funds to be spent on roads. Honourable members who come from urban electorates have said that more funds were needed to be spent on roads in urban areas. Honourable members who come from rural electorates have said that they would like to see more money spent on roads in rural areas. I suggest that the way in which more funds could be provided for roads is by supporting the amendment which has been moved by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones).
– In supporting this Bill I note that an enormous amount of money is to be made available for expenditure on roads over the next 5 years. An amount of $ 1,252m is to be provided, which is an increase of $500m or 67% on the amount provided for the previous 5 years. I note that of this amount, $110m is to be allocated for roads in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. Of this amount of $110m, the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads recommends that $68m should be spent on roads in the Northern Territory. This is not enough, considering the distances involved and the upgrading that is necessary to be done on roads in the Northern Territory. But I must point out that this is a considerably larger allocation than was made for the previous 5-year period. Of course, by the same token the number of vehicles using these roads is increasing at a very fast rate each year.
So this amount of S6.8m will certainly be required in the Northern Territory.
Of the amount allocated for roads in the Northern Territory, $25m has been earmarked for the beef roads scheme which has already been planned. I compliment the Government on the beef roads scheme. These roads have certainly proved their worth. They have been used for transporting stock to places such the Katherine and Darwin meatworks. Unfortunately, they will not be used for transporting stock to the Katherine meatworks for some time because the meatworks were burned down only a fortnight ago. But because of this fire, cattle will have to be transported west to the Wyndham meatworks in Western Australia, and also further up the Stuart Highway to the Darwin meatworks. This underlies the urgency in the provision of these most important roads. The road to Western Australia is only partly sealed, and because of the heavy traffic which will have to use it as a result of the destruction of the Katherine meatworks, it will cut up very badly. A lot of the road is just graded earth; some of it is stone. I urge the Government to press on with the sealing of this road.
I understand that an amount of $24.1m was spent on road construction and repair in the Northern Territory in the past 5 years. So the amount of $43m that is to be provided under the Bill we are discussing is a great improvement on the previous allocation. In the proposal we are considering I see that no mention is made of the most important road in this area. That is the southern part of the Stuart Highway from Alice Springs to Port Augusta. The honourable member for Grey (Mr Jessop) and I have been strongly advocating that something should be done regarding this road because it is a most important and vital link. Approximately five-sevenths of this road is in South Australia and the remaining two-sevenths is in the Northern Territory. On the part of the road in the Northern Territory the Commonwealth Government has built a bridge over the Hugh River, which is just south of Alice Springs. There is a very fine stretch of road on either side of the bridge, which shows what can be done when they get on with the job. After battling along this road for about 600 miles, it is a great relief to travel along even a few miles of first class bitumen road. The Commonwealth Government is constructing a bridge over the Finke River, and I would imagine that the same circumstances will apply and there will be a few miles of sealed road on either side of the bridge.
As regards the five-sevenths of the Stuart Highway in South Australia, the South Australian Government has a responsibility to do something about this road. I hope that the South Australian Government can obtain funds under the heading of rural arterial roads which, as the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) pointed out in his second reading speech, are important for the progressive development of an adequate highway system spanning the nation. I point this out to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) so that he might be able to co-operate with the South Australian Government in this regard. I should also like to draw the attention of the South Australian Premier and his highways department to the fact that most of the people who travel north on the Stuart Highway put a considerable amount of money into the South Australian Government’s coffers. I urge the South Australian Premier to remember this fact. South Australia is to receive a special grant of $9m, which could be used, to some extent, on this north-south road, and also, according to the remarks of my friend from Grey, on the Eyre Highway. I also point out to the South Australian Premier that a lot of business is being lost by transports using the Barkly Highway through Mount Isa in Queensland rather than going by the direct route to the Northern Territory. So it is of vital importance for the South Australian Government to do something about this north-south road.
Before concluding I point out that the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads, in paragraph 5.8 of its report, stated:
Consideration was also given to the proposal that certain roads be selected to form a National Highway System. The selection of roads to be included in the system, from the many different routes connecting centres of population . . .
I bring this matter to the attention of the Minister. I have promised to be very brief, so I will not go any further than to make a very strong call for the north-south highway, or the Stuart Highway, to be made a highway, which it certainly is not at the present time, and for it to be sealed. The honourable member for Grey lives at one end of the Stuart Highway and I live at the other end. There are 700 miles of unsealed road in between. I believe that both the South Australian and Commonwealth Governments should include the Stuart Highway in the national highways system as a matter of urgency. Even last week there was a lot of rain in the area, which almost cut this road once again. I urge the Minister to put this road on the national priority list.
– The Commonwealth Aid Roads Bill will result in -grants to the States totalling a little over $250m a year. As the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) has made quite clear, that is well below the revenue received from excise on motor fuel, which is estimated to be $270m a year. This has been the pattern over at least the last 10 years. That revenue is quite distinct from the $140m received in sales tax on cars, revenue from other taxes on road vehicles, revenue received by the Commonwealth from the automotive industry itself. I realise that there are some conservative thinkers who will maintain that motoring is a luxury which must therefore be taxed to provide revenue for more essential activities. That is not true. There are very few necessary foods or other essentials which would be available so cheaply without the use of fuel driven vehicles. In any case, in its amendment the Opposition does not go so far as to ask for the money derived from sales tax on motor vehicles to be used towards financing roads. The Opposition asks for the tax on fuel, which is a fairly accurate reflection of the road usage by each vehicle, to be used towards financing roads. If a luxury tax is desirable on certain classes of motor vehicles, sales tax can meet that end. This is more or less recognised by the fact that certain groups for whom a vehicle is deemed essential are exempted from sales tax.
The argument between rural and urban users has entered the debate. I agree with the supporters of the Australian Country Party and the other honourable members who took part in the debate that the worst roads are in the rural areas but that the biggest congestion occurs in the city areas.
I think we should therefore follow the principle of the greatest road comfort, safety and efficiency for the greatest number of road users. I join the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) in insisting on the right of Parliament to have tabled the report of the Bureau of Roads on which the Government secretly based its priorities or which it chose to disregard and conceal - we do not know which because we have not been entrusted with a copy of the findings of the experts. Expenditure on urban centres helps the country dwellers, who almost all use town roads. On the other hand, improved rural roads help the urban residents, who almost all use country roads. No town dweller can survive without viable country industries and country transport and no rural citizen can share in modern civilisation without urban industries and transport.
The honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) emphasised urban needs, glowering as usual at his Country Party colleagues who attacked him by way of interjection. The Opposition is more concerned with human needs than sectional competition. The Opposition realises that cities must grow bigger, but it is also aware of the problems associated with this growth such as the escalation of transport costs, land costs, over-crowding, air pollution, water shortages, nervous tension, loneliness, delinquency and others which increase with urbanisation. Like all parties, the Australian Labor Party recognises the importance of decentralisation. The record of the recent Labor governments in Tasmania and South Australia compares very favourably with that of the governments of other colours. One honourable member opposite said that the Government does not have a plan but has a programme. When I pressed for an explanation he said that plans are just put on paper but programmes are put into practice. I suggest that the true difference in practice between the plan of the ALP and the Government’s programme is that the Government has a spending programme whereas the Australian Labor Party has development plans.
– Double spending.
– I will come to the question of double spending shortly and I will justify the Opposition’s proposal for the use of the proceeds of fuel taxes on roads and associated facilities, Australia needs a national road and transport policy - a plan and a programme, if you like. We on this side of the House have consistently emphasised this point, lt was also advocated in this House by the honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) when concluding a speech on 25th March last. The objective must be more roads that are straight and smooth with fewer sharp crests and greater width - especially for overtaking on approaches to crests in rural areas - more dual carriageways, split level crossings and other safety engineering features. A statesman far ahead of his time made railway level crossings illegal in Austria generations ago. It would be a good investment for Australia to do the same. The most appalling sight I have ever seen and one which was reminiscent of a battlefield was after midnight on a railway line near a level crossing on the outskirts of Rockhampton. There lay the bodies of five members of a family in the compressed remains of a station wagon. One baby died later in hospital. The seventh member of the family, the youngest, survived. A locomotive is a big thing to take on in the dark, but the Queensland Government has so far failed to put into effect the suggestions of many people in this area that reflector paint be used along the sides of all trains.
The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) has raised his usual objection that we cannot use any more of our resources on roads - and this is the answer to the honourable member who interjected earlier - in a time of nearly full employment because we would be diverting resources from somewhere else. This is always the argument of a government which wants to preserve its right to favour the use of Australian resources for non-essentials, such as the knocking down of a perfectly sound bank or insurance building to build a more fashionable one, buying Fill aircraft or purchasing American built destroyers that are four times as costly as if we built them ourselves, and which are equipped with missile systems that are no better than the Ikara and other missiles we sell to America. This is not a Budget debate, but I think I have said enough to expose the emptiness of the Treasurer’s argument. The Treasurer has it in his power to control the investment and building policy of banks and insurance companies and to press for restraint in the purchase of flying opera houses and so on. The money that the Opposition says should go to the road users has come from the road users in the first place. It should go to protect those who are at risk on our roads, to smooth and clear the way for them and to bring all areas into easier and quicker contact. There is no justification for the use of money derived from the fuel tax on extravagant foreign spending on military hardware or anything else.
Most of the supporters of the Country Party who blame the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) for not retaining a larger proportion of the money for rural roads will still vote against the Opposition’s amendment to make the proceeds of the fuel taxes available for the roads. They use the excuse that a Labor Government did not use all the proceeds of the petrol tax on roads. They should be reminded that they are speaking of a period of war and postwar; a period when petrol was rationed and expenditure on roads was also restricted. It was in fact some 18 months after the Menzies Government came into office before petrol rationing was abolished. The Menzies Government saw, as did Mr Chifley, Australia’s responsibility to conserve dollars and to protect sterling for a further period, as requested by the British Conservative and Labor governments of that era. Finally. I believe that the Commonwealth should adopt the same leading role in central planning that it does in the allocation of finance. lt should spearhead the attack on the crazy lack of co-ordination between professors and research workers in the field of traffic engineering, between town and decentralisation planners and between the Government departments concerned with all types of transport.
– It is not my intention to cover all the things that have been said by members of the Government in relation to this Bill. Let it be said that I support all that has been said in relation to consideration being given to expenditure in the country areas of Australia and particularly of New South Wales. One of the factors facing us in relation to the amendment moved by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) is the consciousness that in the first place this amendment would defeat the Bill itself.
Secondly, of course the amendment is meaningless. It refers in particular to the proceeds of all automotive fuel tax being spent on roads and associated facilities, but if the money that at the present moment is being paid into Consolidated Revenue from this tax were taken away and allocated to roads then, of course, other moneys would have to be raised to match the amount taken out of Consolidated Revenue. In that regard, I wish to read what the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) said in the second reading speech. He stated:
We have necessarily had to weigh financial aspects such as these. But we have also looked at roads development in a much wider context and perspective.
I suppose that in any legislation relating to finance in this Commonwealth Parliament it can always be said that not enough money has been made available, but let me again emphasise that if more finance for roads is to come from one particular source, of course there will be less finance available from Consolidated Revenue for something else. In relation to the Budget, therefore, and in relation to the allocation of funds from Consolidated Revenue, all these things have to be given consideration. Therefore those of us who say that certain consideration should be given to provisions relating to roads must always have this in the back of our minds.
The two points that I want to emphasise are, as I have said, that the money is being made available for the shires and municipalities so that the burden will not be greater upon these local government bodies, and the second concerns decentralisation. We have talked a great deal about decentralisation. We have talked about the increased costs. Any increase that would have to be made in rates would militate against decentralisation because this would be detrimental to development in country areas, and, of course, it would also in those areas increase the costs of primary production. The cost factor in that respect is of great importance. That is why I was pleased to see the comments of the Treasurer in presenting this Bill. He said:
A State may also be allowed limited transfers between the road classes for which the Commonwealth grants are available. However, it is our firm intention that, wherever possible the grants should be used only for the class of roads for which they are being made available.
I hope that full consideration will be given to this so that in the case of New South
Wales, where money is needed in rural areas, the terms of that provision can be applied. There is, of course, a large increase in finance. The Bill provides for 67% more in this present 5-year programme than the total in the past 5 years. When we look at that and consider the total transport problem in Australia it can be seen that this will make a very valuable contribution. There is only one other thing I want to stress. Under the old agreement money was made available from these funds for port works. I think the total was in the vicinity of $2m. I hope that the Government will give urgent consideration to making available to the State governments finance for that work in conjunction with road work, and as this is an urgent matter I urge the Government to give it consideration immediately so that the relevant legislation may be presented to this Parliament for implementation when the next Budget is presented. I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) to present that point to his Cabinet colleagues with all the strength that is possible. I support the representations and the comments made by my colleagues in the Country Party and the measures presented by country members of the Government.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– As the 5-year period of the current Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement expires on 30th June it is necessary that we enact new legislation to continue these arrangements, and this must be done either today or tomorrow because the House is due to rise after tomorrow’s sitting. In all the 23$ years I have been in the Parliament I have been a strong advocate for the provision of 40% of total allocations under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Scheme for rural roads. But this matter has been debated, and it appears that we are not able to maintain this 40% arrangement. I am not one to flog a dead horse but I believe that the 40% provision was in the best interests of Australia. I want to quote some remarks by a man who came here with a delegation in 1964. He was President of the Shires Association of New South Wales at that time. He was Councillor J. Smith, and he said:
We have 133 shires . . . The vast increase in production that has taken place in wheat, in wool and in meat over the last 10 or IS years has not by any means been accidental. In a very, very large measure the wealth and prosperity that has been added to this country was due to several factors, I know, but largely to the improvement in rural roads. I’ is the greatest thing that has happened since the advent of railways in country areas.
He was talking about the 40% of Commonwealth Aid Roads funds being made available for rural roads. This was from a man of great experience. I want to pass on and establish a basis for my discussion tonight. With the concurrence of the House, I incorporate in Hansard a document giving statistical information about the division of the total area of Australia into various territories:
Having regard to that document, I want to say a few words about the $600m to be allocated for arterial and sub-arterial roads in the State capitals and major provincial cities. The total area in which that amount will be spent is 8,428 square miles. Over the whole of the remaining area of Australia, totalling 2,959,481 square miles, the expenditure will be $58 lm. The smaller area will get an amazingly greater proportionate share of the total money available.
I shall now refer to Victoria, and I shall not speak in a parochial fashion.
– That will be a change.
– Well, even if I did speak of the area that I represent, as I will not, I would not be very parochial because I represent just about a quarter of the whole area of Victoria. In Victoria there is the metropolitan area of Melbourne and there are the provincial cities of Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo. The area covered by these is 2,445 square miles and the allocation is $156,100,000. The area of the rest of Victoria is 85,439 square miles and the allocation for that area is $94,570,000. It is obvious that the small areas where people have congregated are to receive much moTe money than the rest of the State. I do not think this is in the best interests of the State.
Having listened closely to the speeches in this debate, I find that the members who have spoken fall into three categories. First there are the city men who say: ‘This is splendid. We are getting a lot of money for the cities.’ One honourable member is nodding now and showing that he is very pleased about this, thinking nothing about the rest of Australia. The second category includes Country Party members who say: We would like the rural areas to get more of this money. We do not want extra money but we want more of the money allocated under this scheme.’ Then there are members from various parties who are neither here nor there. They belong to parties which have a majority of members from city electorates, yet they represent rural electorates. This is one of the greatest paradoxes I know. I fail to see how anybody in a rural electorate could vote for a member of one of these parties, knowing full well that he would be overwhelmed by the metropolitan members in his party. This is something I can never understand.
– That is why the Country Party has a coalition with the Liberal Party.
– Honourable members must remember that the Country Party never votes in the joint Party meetings. This is very important to remember. Now I want to quote some remarks by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) in his second reading speech. He said:
Some $600m is to be allocated for construction of arterial and sub-arterial roads in the State capitals and major provincial cities. This is a very large sum and it should go far to assist in overcoming the difficult and complex traffic problems of the cities.
I think it should too. I think it is too much money altogether. After all, we have been told on many occasions that the metropolitan areas have money to spend and perhaps they would spend some of it in the country. I suggest that they should spend that money in the cities and allow the country areas to get more of the general allocation under this agreement. It has been said that the States can allocate any portion of their own very considerable roads funds to country roads. Is it not a fair proposition that the money is collected chiefly in those cities should be allocated to city roads, leaving more of the money available under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement to be allocated to country roads?
If we leave the State governments to allocate money from their own funds it is not likely that they will allocate it to the country because the number of country members and country electorates in a State is only about half the number of city members and electorates. Of course, when a member comes into Parliament he is supposed to represent the people who elected him. I have always said to the people I represent that I would do all I could to assist their industries and assist them generally, but that if something came up to make the Mallee electorate more prosperous and at the same time devastate the rest of Australia I would adopt the national viewpoint. I hope the people I represent can hear what I am saying or that they will read it in Hansard.
One Liberal member speaking in this debate said that he did not like the 40% provision, and he said that the proposal now before us is quite different. We have, of course, lost the 40% arrangement and I know that we cannot get it back at present. We have thrashed this out in party meetings and all sorts of places. If we cannot get it back we have to get the next best thing. What is it? One member said that no new railways are being built. I picked up the Age’ of 27th May and in it is an article which indicates that there is to be a railway line on a big freeway. The Victorian Minister for Local Government, Mr Hamer, announced the building of the S24m eastern freeway, and right down the middle of it will be a railway. The other day when 1 was travelling in a taxi I was speaking to the driver who was a most intelligent man.
– He must have been a Labor man.
– As a matter of fact he came to Australia from Czechoslovakia 16 years ago. I complimented him on the way he spoke and on the interest he took in matters. He could talk on most subjects. He talked to me about what should be done to relieve traffic congestion in the city. He suggested that instead of building car parks in the city they should be established in the suburbs where there is plenty of room and the people could come to the city by train. Why docs everybody want to go into the heart of Melbourne or Sydney by car? Often there is only one person to a car. This causes congestion and this sort of thing should not continue. Let me get back to the matter of country roads. In his second reading speech the Treasurer said:
The amounts to be allocated for expenditure on the construction and maintenance of rural roads other than arterial roads in each State have been determined by increasing by 5% a year the amount the State is required, under the existing legislation, to spend from Commonwealth funds on minor rural roads from its 1968-69 grant. Over the next 5 years this will yield a total amount of almost S395m, an increase of about $95m on the amount required to be spent on minor rural roads in the S years ending in 1968-69.
This is an increase of $95m on the amount that we got during the last 5 years under the current legislation. Of course, arterial roads come into our consideration. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair), who is sitting at the table, will play a vital role in this because he will have to declare what are the arterial roads. If he does not declare the arterial roads to be the same as they were in the old legislation - and this involves roads like the Calder Highway, the Hume Highway and other highways - will they become what are described as ‘other rural roads’? Some definition is needed. I have been trying very hard to get a definition of a rural road. The only definition I can discover is that a rural road is a road other than an arterial road, but the Minister has to decide what arc arterial roads. I have great faith in the Minister and I believe he will do everything possible to clarify the situation. The Treasurer, in his second reading speech, also said:
A further amount of almost $187m is to be allocated by the Commonwealth for expenditure on arterial roads in rural areas.
If this Si 87m is not sufficient to meet the cost of the arterial roads will some of the money be taken away from what are called minor rural roads’? I do not like that description. The words may sound all right to a city man, but what is a minor rural road? If a person lives 15 miles away from a country town and he depends on a road to get to the market, or for the carriage of his wheat or stock, or even to go to the town to buy supplies, it is not a minor road but a major road so far as he is concerned. Although we have had large discoveries of minerals and natural gas it must still be said that the primary industries are the life blood of this nation and anyone who forgets that is not acting in the best interests of Australia. I want these types of road defined, because definitions are mighty important. In the present Act ‘rural roads’ is defined. The definition reads:
Rural roads’ means roads in rural areas (including developmental roads, feeder roads, roads in sparsely populated areas and in soldier settlement areas and roads in country municipalities and shires), other than highways, trunk roads and main roads.
Are what are referred to in the Bill as minor rural roads’ - and I do not like that description - roads other than highways, trunk roads and main roads? Are the highways, trunk roads, and main roads regarded as major roads? If the roads that were getting an allocation under the old legislation are not regarded as arterial roads, will they be minor roads? I want the Minister to explain this because it is vital to us all. If those members who are in the Country Party cannot get the full 40% of the Sl,200m-odd, then we have to get the best we can, and the best we can get in the circumstances is a clear definition. Will the Minister give us some indication of what he is going to declare to be arterial roads? If he said: T will not declare the Calder Highway, Henty Highway from Portland in Victoria, and Bass Highway; I will just declare the Hume Highway and leave it at that’ would the other highways be regarded as minor rural roads, and would they be roads other than highways, main roads and trunk roads? If so, minor roads would not receive as much money as they got before.
It must be remembered that in Australia there are many people serving as shire councillors. When history is written, if truth gets a hearing - and I put that in as a stipulation, because in the past I have seen things happen which have not been written about in history truthfully - the work of these men, who serve without any pay, who travel long distances to meetings and who are always at the beck and call of the ratepayers, will rank high in an analysis of those things that have built Australia. Shire councils are constantly being given jobs to do and functions to perform that call for more and more money. It is necessary that they get the highest possible return from the legislation that we are considering which will, when it gets the Royal Assent, become law. The Opposition’s amendment is to omit all words after ‘That’ with a view to inserting in place thereof the following words: this House, while not opposing the Bill, regrets the Government’s continuing refusal to plan expenditure of an amount at least equivalent to the proceeds of all the automotive fuel taxes on roads and associated facilities.
Everyone knows that 5 or 10 years ago the Government completely divorced Commonwealth aid road money from the petrol tax. It did so at that time so that all those people concerned with the building and maintaining of roads would know how much money they would receive in the ensuing 5 year period. We must remember that what we legislate now will obtain for the next 5 years. The amendment has been moved and the Opposition has been chiding us and asking: ‘What are you going to do about it? You want more money. Are you going to vote for the amendment?’ I do not want more money. I only want 40% for rural roads of what has been allocated. If Australia is to get almost $500m more than in the last 5 years that is a fairly good rise overall.
Time is moving on quickly and I want to make just one other point. In 1949, the last year of office of the Labor Government, I raised for urgent discussion the matter of the necessity for a substantial increase in the allocation by the Commonwealth to the States of moneys from the petrol tax for the construction and maintenance of roads. I did not ask for the lot; I asked for an increase. The man who followed me in the debate was none other than the Labor leader, Mr Chifley, and then Mr Menzies, now Sir Robert Menzies, spoke. After the three speeches on this vital and important subject, Labor applied the closure, which is better known as the gag. Now on such a subject we have 5 or 6 honourable members on each side of the House engaging in the debate. In 1949 after only three speeches, the Lord High Executioner, as Sir Robert Menzies called him, came along, moved the gag and it was all over. I did not get any support from any rank and file Labor members on that occasion. I could name some of those who were here at the time and still are here, but I do not want to embarrass them. On that occasion I sought to have the allocation increased.
In another speech in this House, I said that new members of the Parliament do not always realise what happened in the past. We have here honourable members who have not the slightest idea of the way that Labor acted when it was in government. But I had 3i years of it. That was enough and I do not want it again. That is why I tell honourable members now what happened in those days. Honourable members opposite remained silent when I was trying to have the allocation for roads increased. In those days the amount distributed in one year was §6,908,000 out of a total collection from the petrol tax of $17,500,000. Labor kept $10,500,000 in Consolidated Revenue.
– Things have changed since then.
– Things have changed considerably, I know, but fundamental principles never change. We can see all sorts of changes, but the fundamental principles of a human being or a nation never change. The fundamental principles of a fair deal never change, and a fair deal is better than any shabby trick. Therefore, I had every justification in asking for an increase of the allocation. I did not ask for the lot then, but my request for an increase was refused. I was told very bluntly on another occasion that the money collected from the petrol tax had no more to do with roads than the excise on beer had to do with the building of hotels.
My time has almost expired. I hope the Minister will be able to explain the points that I have raised. Mainly I want to know whether the roads that are now called minor roads are the same as the roads that were previously called rural roads other than highways, trunk roads and main roads. This is a big question and my constituents and people all over Australia are waiting for the answer.
– Each one of us as he moves around Australia is very conscious that more and more motor vehicles are using the roads. We are conscious through the figures that have been cited during the course of this debate of the very large percentage of private motor vehicles on the roads and of the fact that 75% of goods moved in Australia are moved by motor transport. Under the old Commonwealth Aid Roads legislation the Commonwealth has over the years contributed to the States a substantial sura of money that has been spent by the States without any regard to any criteria, except that 40% was required to be spent for roads other than highways, trunk roads and main roads. My friend and colleague, the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull), has just referred to the contribution that the expenditure of this 40% of the allocation made to the development of outback roads in Australia. I personally believe that this was so. It gave many areas an opportunity for social and economic progress and development that would otherwise have been denied them. Beyond this it provided a very suitable underpinning to the fairly strained resources of local government in many country areas.
When the Bureau of Roads looked at the current road programme, it said, and I think very rightly said, that there were demands in order of magnitude for the expenditure of sums of money for road construction, reconstruction and maintenance in the future that were substantially greater than the amount of money that had been allocated in the past. The report of the Bureau, which was presented to me on behalf of the Government and which has been distributed, analysed these needs, quantified them, and then came up with a recommendation that a specific sum of money should be allocated over the next period of 5 years. In doing so, it considered not just the physical demands for new construction, but in paragraph 1.8 it specifically referred to the available supplies of materials, plant, skilled and unskilled labour, and professional, technical and supervisory personnel that would be needed if we were to introduce a comprehensive road planning scheme for Australia. The amount that the Bureau suggested should be spent over the next 5 years endeavoured to take these factors into account.
Of course, this is not all the money that will be spent during the period. It is approximately one-third of the sum of money that will be spent in the States on road construction, reconstruction and maintenance. Approximately the same amount will be spent by the State governments and another amount of about the same order will be spent by local government. Beyond this, of course, are the very substantial sums of money that the Commonwealth contributes, as the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) remarked, towards the construction of roads in the Northern Territory, to the construction of roads in the Australian Capital Territory and to specific projects such as the beef roads and the Gordon River road fund in Tasmania. Each one of these amounts is supplemental to the sums included in the recommendation before the House tonight.
Substantially what we have done in this legislation, which was introduced by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon), is to bring forward for the first time the beginning of a national road policy. It is said that by comparison with past orders of expenditure there is to be a reduction in one sector or another. The Commonwealth requirement was that money should be spent in classes 1 or 2, which are now defined as rural arterial or rural sub-arterial roads, in classes 3, 4 or 5, which are broadly speaking the other rural road categories, or classes 6 or 7, which are the urban arterial or urban sub-arterial road classifications. What we are doing is for the first time stating through this legislation that the amount of money that is to be allocated by the Commonwealth is to be spent in specified areas. This to my mind is a remarkable advance, because we will be able to plan comprehensively the type of road development that is needed and so underpin the developing needs of a country such as Australia.
We are not doing this for the whole of the money that is being spent. There is no specific requirement for the matching grants from the States to be spent in any special category. The matching grants are fairly minimal. They are provided at a level that has been averaged out over the provision for the last 2 years and is then required to be escalated proportional to the increase of motor vehicle registrations in the future. This, I am assured, is a requirement that will not place particular stresses on any of the States. It will not mean that there is a requirement for any State to divert funds, for example, from shire councils into State Government revenue. It will not place an unnecessary demand on State revenues, but it will enable a progressive escalation in the amount of money the States themselves spend. This will also be supplemented by the amount which local government spends. So far as this programme is concerned, there is to be a specific requirement that Commonwealth money be spent in certain areas and henceforth we will be able to ascertain the relative needs and results of forward projections of finance to a greater extent than has been possible hitherto.
During the course of the debate several honourable members suggested that they would like to have available the supplementary reports that are referred to in the report of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. These supplementary reports have only recently been received by the Government. I understand that the Bureau had some difficulty in obtaining from the State government authorities all the information necessary for the compilation of its report and consequently the receipt of this information by the Government was delayed. The Government itself has not yet had an opportunity to assess these reports, but in due course it will decide whether or not they should be published in whole or in part.
A significant thing about the Bureau’s report is that it has given the Government a basis from which it has been able to make a number of decisions, but there were other areas which the Bureau, operating predominantly in a cost benefit analysis field, has not been able to assess adequately. It has not looked at the economic and social advantages of road construction. It has not referred to the nature of the vehicles. It has referred to traffic counts rather than whether a vehicle is a timber jinker, a wool lorry or a heavy truck carrying goods to or from a new area or old area or from a factory into an outlet. It has not distinguished between motor vehicles generally and heavy vehicles in that sense. Consequently there arose a disability as far as the report was concerned.
For that reason, when the Government looked at the report it endeavoured to ascertain what past patterns of expenditure there had been and to lay down for the first time a comprehensive forward programme for road development and construction. In so doing it looked at the other rural roads category, if you like to call it such - that is, the old 40% area designated as the area where expenditure is required on roads other than highways, trunk roads and main roads. Then it said: ‘For this category we believe that there is a necessary escalation and that there should be an amount provided that will enable the local government authorities, which have been spending their money so effectively on road construction, to have greater capacity than they have had in the past.’ The Government looked for a means to enable that amount to be escalated over the 5-year period of the new agreement. It took the amount allocated in the last year of the last quinquennium, that is the financial year 1968-69, and escalated that amount by 5% per annum. This meant over 5 years an increase of approximately 31%, and it gave an additional sum of about $99.5m over the amount allocated for the previous period. This will enable the shire councils and those who have been spending in that area to preserve and indeed to expand their past programmes.
My colleague the honourable member for Mallee referred to his concern - it is shared by other honourable members - that this category should substantially represent the old area which was defined in a negative rather than a positive way. One of the problems in this new legislation has been the difficulty of defining one road as compared to another, predominantly because each State adopts a different classification system. Each State has different classes of roads and the area of expenditure has differed substantially from State to State, lt was for this reason that, in relation to urban and non-urban roads, only urban areas have been defined in the Bill. Roads outside urban areas are included in one broad category, and arterial and nonarterial roads are to be designated by the Minister for Shipping and Transport. It is intended that the undertaking given by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) that roads which previously attracted 40% of the allocation under the old Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement should now be provided for in as escalated manner be honoured.
As far as the balance of the basic grant is concerned, the Government looked at the report of the Bureau of Roads and felt in the circumstances, failing any other basis of defining or dividing the allocation that it was reasonable to adopt the scheduling programme provided by the Bureau. Hence, having broadly allocated the amount of money required to be spent on other rural roads, it was decided that the money to be spent on the urban and non-urban arterial and sub-arterial categories should be divided according to the scheduling programme.
As for the balance of the money, that is the 1.5% to be allocated for planning and research, there is a requirement that this money should be expended in co-operation with and under the general supervision of the Commonwealth on projects which it has approved. Road planning and research is to include not just the planning and research of roads themselves. I refer honourable members to the definition section in clause 2(1.) of the Bill. It will be noted that paragraph (a) of that clause includes the investigation of transport by road in relation to other means of transport. During the course of the debate several honourable members spoke about broad transport policy. It is intended, through the application of this provision, that the Commonwealth should be able to co-ordinate with the States in planning and research for the first time, looking into the whole interrelationship and inter-dependence of various forms of transport. It is hoped that the balance will mean an effective co-ordination and co-operation in the transport field and a more effective application of the tremendous sums of money that are now to be allocated to the States for road construction, reconstruction and maintenance.
There are two other things about this programme that I should mention. The arterial and sub-arterial road categories are to have funds set aside only for construction and reconstruction. It is felt that this should permit the development of substantial through-ways, expressways, highways and trunk roads in such a way that there will be a progressive development of the principal through-roads for which the Commonwealth might reasonably be held to have responsibility. In regard to roads that have been defined in the report of the Bureau of Roads as classes 8 and 9, it is felt that, as the cost benefit analysis has demonstrated that the result of spending money on those roads is so much higher than on roads where Commonwealth money is to be spent, it is reasonable that responsibility for these should be continued to be assumed by the State and the local government. As to classes 3, 4 and S, that is non-urban roads other than arterial and sub-arterial roads, the money is not to be restricted to construction and reconstruction but is to include maintenance. It is felt that in this way there should be a reasonable possibility of maintaining the same type of programme as the shires have pursued under the old Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement.
Within the whole concept of this Agreement has been the idea that we should be able, through the application of this very substantial increased sum of money, to get in each State an increased order of expenditure. The Bureau’s scheduled programme made provision for those States in which, because of population density, length of roads and the number of motor vehicle registrations, there is obviously a greater need. This formula meant that in all States there was to be an increase, but that in some States it would be less than in others. It is for this reason that to South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania there is to be a supplementary grant. This supplementary grant is not restricted to any category of required road expenditure. It is an allocation of money which is intended to give a State a measure of flexibility. It is intended that those three States which would suffer under a strict application of the scheduling programme will be able to maintain a reasonably escalated road construction, reconstruction and maintenance programme. I am sure that this will in fact be possible.
Of course, as far as the more populous States are concerned the order of increase of expenditure in those States substantially reflects the very great increase in money to be allocated for the urban road sector. For the first time the urban road sector is being recognised in this allocation of funds. It is felt that as a result of these allocations it should be possible for all States progressively to move towards a planned programme of urban road construction. It is hoped that this will not mean the application of money only to the transport of people but also to the through transport of goods and consequently that it will have some result in generally reducing the cost of moving goods through the States to the principal ports and from one side of a city to the other. It is felt that this expenditure on urban roads will make a very worhwhile contribution to planned urban development, particularly in those principal sectors of population on the east coast of Australia. In my opinion this legislation represents a notable contribution by the Commonwealth towards recognition of the transport problems that face Australia today.
The basis of the Opposition’s amendment is that to the Commonwealth’s allocation of $l,252.5m should be added all of the money collected from motorists by way of automotive fuel taxes and that this total sum should be allocated to the construction and reconstruction of roads and associated facilities. Several things have been said in the course of this debate as to why fuel taxes are not directly applicable to the expenditure of funds on road construction. Notable is the answer given long ago by a Labor Minister for Transport in this House who said that to think of the full application of fuel taxes to roads is to think of the application of tobacco taxes to the purchase of cigarettes. It is not sensible to think of money collected in one sector as being specifically and directly applicable to that sector. Liquor taxes and other indirect taxes - all receipts of Commonwealth revenues - must be distributed according to a planned programme implemented by the Government. This is specifically what the legislation intends.
We have produced a constructive forward road programme. It is a programme providing for a very substantial increase over expenditure in past years. The amount has been described by the Bureau of Roads as all that can be attained, given the present availability of professional, technical and supervisory personnel. In other words, information from the Bureau and all the advisory authorities within the Commonwealth suggests that to accept the amendment would place unnecessary strains on resources. In the circumstances, it is not practical to accept the Opposition’s amendment. Rather we should look at this very positive programme that has been submitted in this Bill. Let us now see whether we can apply the programme and endeavour to ensure that all of these road categories are given the measure of increase that it is intended they should receive. The result will be, I am sure, a very substantial improvement of this very necessary infrastructure of modern Australian society. I commend the Bill to the House.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Charles Jones’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. W. J.
Majority . 28
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Clauses 1 and 2 - by leave - taken together.
– I would like the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) to clarify several points I wish to raise on clauses 1 and 2. My first point relates to the interpretation of the term ‘street lighting equipment’ which is set out in clause 2(1.) of the Bill under the heading of ‘roads’. I would like the Minister to give the House some indication whether there is any compulsion on State governments to allocate certain sums of money for street lighting, particularly in regard to roads for which assistance is given by the Commonwealth. I ask this because at present State departments of main roads are reluctant to make money available for street lighting. In many cases the modern type of lighting that is required today for the lighting of highways represents a considerable cost to local government councils. It is readily accepted that lighting is an important part of the safe operation of traffic on roads today. The old days of cars relying on headlamps for lighting purposes have gone. I would like the Minister to give me some clear assurance and undertaking that the State governments, through their main roads boards, will be required to allocate reasonable moneys for, if not the whole cost of, the provision and maintenance of street lighting on main highways, trunk roads, main roads and the like.
I regret that the Minister has not included provision for some financial assistance for driver training ranges. This is an innovation for teaching young people, and the not so young - in fact anyone who wants to attend a proper training range - to drive correctly. The teachers are experienced and skilled drivers. People are taught to negotiate turns properly and to understand what the various street signs require of them. This system could be used in place of the present system of private instructors who in many cases are concerned with only one thing, getting their clients licensed as quickly as they can. They make sure that the pupils know the books of instructions like parrots, without really knowing what is involved or required of them. I hope the Minister may be able to see his way clear, either later in this debate or at least when the Bill is dealt with in the other place, to writing into the Bil] a provision to provide assistance for the establishment and operation of drivertraining ranges.
I know that the New South Wales police, who are basically responsible for the operation of training ranges in New South Wales, are very happy with the results that these ranges have achieved. I think it is essential that the State governments should consider teaching young people, who now attend school at 18 years of age and from there go to teachers’ colleges, universities and other forms of higher education, to drive correctly. I do not think the time is very far off when the minimum age for a licence will be reduced to less than 17 years, which is the minimum at present in New South Wales. I think it would be as well for the Government to give serious consideration to making money available so that this teaching can be provided.
The other matter I want to deal with concerns clause 2 (2.) of the Bill, which deals with the amount paid by a State to a municipal, shire or other local authority. Further on in the Bill the Government has made provision for the minimum amount that State governments will be required to contribute towards the cost of roads. The amount the States will contribute will be governed by the base rate applicable on 31st December 1966. The States’ contribution will increase by the amount that motor car registrations increase year by year. If we look back over the last 5 years we find that in 1964 there was an increase in registrations of 8.4%; in 1965 there was an increase of 6.9%; in 1966 it was 5.7%; in 1967 an increase of 5.9%; and in 1968, the latest year for which I have figures, the increase was 5.1%. In fact, the total increase in motor car resistrations througout the Commonwealth in the last 5 years has been 35%. If that rate of increase is maintained in the next 5 years, the States will be required to increase their total allocation by only approximately 35%.
What will happen as a result of the increased Commonwealth contribution towards roads, particularly in the cities and urban areas? The result could be a very substantial increase in local government contributions. For example, conditions in New South Wales are laid down in an agreement between local government authorities and the Main Roads Board. The agreement sets out the amount that the Main Roads Board will contribute and the amount that is required by the Main Roads Board to be contributed by local government. If the Main Roads Board has an increased allocation of, say, 80% for urban development, local government’s contrbiution will have to be increased by about 80%. I can just imagine - and 1 am sure that honourable members can do likewise - the embarrassment that will be caused in local goverment affairs if local government has to increase its contribution to keep pace with the amount which will then be made available by main roads boards. 1 would like to see the Government write some proviso into the Bill restricting the amount of money which local government will be required to contribute.
The States are being dealt with quite generously in this allocation inasmuch as their minimum amount will be fixed. The minimum amount lo be paid by the States in all probability will increase by no more than an average of 5% to 6% annually. Yet, the States could impose a very very severe burden on local government. I should like the Minister to write into this Bill a provision which would require the States to pass on to local government their increased allocation of moneys for road development without requiring local government to impoverish itself in order to keep pace with the moneys which will be available to it. I am certain that if the Minister looks at this matter he will see the need for something to be written into the Bill to give the necessary protection to local government. lt has also been brought to my attention that there is a need for the provision of some sort of appeal by local government. The mayor of one particular local government council in Australia - and I do not want to deal with it individually because I do not want to make this a political question - is greatly concerned that the Main Roads Department in his State has already indicated to him that his council will receive only a very limited amount of the moneys which will be made available to the State government; that there will be a definite case of favouritism because the local government council in question is a Labor administration which has a political philosophy opposite to that of the State Government. It has been indicated to the mayor that the funds to be allocated to his council will be severely restricted. I believe that it is not the desire or wish of this Government or of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads that moneys should be allocated unfairly. I should like the Minister to indicate to me whether it will be possible to examine cases which are brought to his attention in which councils could be unfairly treated because of political influences within the State Government. I should like the Minister to give me some advice on the points I have raised.
– The honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) has raised three matters. The first related to street lighting equipment. Because discussions are still going on with the States as to the details of the administration of the proposed Commonwealth Aid Roads Act, it is not possible at this stage to say in what way the States will be required to submit complete road programmes, or whether they will be required to go as far as submitting the urban category and the non-urban arterial and the sub-arterial categories, or whether they will be required to submit only roads which will be approved. lt is intended that there will be a total road programme in the future. If (here is to be a total road programme, Lt must include ancillary items of equipment, including street lighting. This will be one of the areas in which Commonwealth money will be permited to be spent. As it is permitted that Commonwealth aid road funds should be spent on street lighting, I have no doubt that road programmes will include provision for street lighting, that this matter will come under the supervision of officers from within my Department, and that where in the past the provision of street lighting has been purely the responsibility of local government authorities, in the future where the road itself is approved under one or other of the Commonwealth aid roads categories, it is possible that the whole, or at least part of the money for street lighting will be contributed from Commonwealth funds.
– Will you require the State to make this contribution, or will it use Commonwealth money?
– The Commonwealth will designate to what extent a total road programme will be approved. At this stage it has not been determined whether or not the scheme will provide that a particular type of street lighting is required and whether it will go into the detail of allocating between State, local government and the Commonwealth the amount of money to be spent in particular areas. But I would expect that in consultations leading to the approval of a particular programme, lighting would be one of those items which would be considered.
Secondly, the honourable member for Newcastle suggested that perhaps it would have been advisable for the definition of road’ to include a driver training range, and that these ranges should be allowed as items on which Commonwealth aid roads funds could be expended. Already the Commonwealth contributes separately, from recollection, $350,000 per annum for road safety. To my mind, there are other avenues which might be looked at in considering the purchase of these driver training ranges. Like the honourable member for Newcastle, I believe that these ranges are a very valuable adjunct to driver training, and I think they are very worth while. I shall look at the suggestion put forward by the honourable member for Newcastle. Personally, I do not believe that driver training ranges would be suitable for inclusion within this legislation. Indeed, it was for that reason that the $2m allocation for ports and harbours has been omitted in this instance. If I may, I shall refer to that exclusion. The Bill is intended to relate only to road construction.
As to whether other matters which are not specifically related to road construction should come under the Commonwealth aid roads scheme as they did previously in the case of the ports allocation, it is felt that these matters are not directly applicable to this legislation and that consequently they should be excluded. I say that without expressing any opinion on what I regard as having been a very valuable contribution - the $2m allocation for ports in the past. The States themselves have consequential residual capacity to allocate funds so far as ports and harbours are concerned and so far as their own flexibility is concerned. Because of the very substantial increase in the money to be available, the States should be able to take unto themselves expenditure on ports and harbours and also the reapplication of funds as a result of the requirements of this legislation. They should be able to introduce a measure of flexibility because of the very large sums of money being given to them. I do not believe that driving instruction is directly covered by the definition in the Bill, but I can assure the honourable member for Newcastle that I will take note of his remarks and consider whether there is some other avenue through which some assistance might be given.
The other matter to which the honourable member for Newcastle referred related to contributions by local government. During this debate several honourable members from both sides of the House have expressed concern as to the effect of any additional requirements on local government. Local government already has very substantial demands placed upon it, not just for road construction, but for all the other avenues of its responsibility. The Commonwealth has no direct relationship with local government, and to give effect to the requirements of the honourable member for Newcastle would in fact mean that the Commonwealth would be intruding directly into the field of contributions from State to local government. At the same time I can assure the honourable member that it is not proposed that local government should be required to make any contribution. It is expected that local government’s contribution will continue to increase and to be applied in the way in which it has been applied in the past. The Commonwealth places no requirements on municipal councils, shire councils or other local authorities. The Commonwealth only requires that State governments should match the fairly generous provisions which are set down in this legislation.
However, I take on board the concern expressed by the honourable member for Newcastle. I recognise the disabilities which local government faces. J can understand the honourable member’s concern that local government should not have any undue burdens placed upon it. At the same time I believe that it would not be possible in this legislation to include specifically the restriction which he seeks in a piece of Commonwealth legislation. However, I understand his concern and I assure him and other honourable members that there is no requirement in this legislation for any order of expenditure by local government authorities, although it is expected, from the report which the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads has submitted, that local government authorities will continue to make a very worthwhile contribution towards road construction, reconstruction and maintenance in their areas of responsibility.
– I would like the Minister to clarify a couple of minor points concerning clause 2 of the Bill. The definition of ‘road’ in clause 2 includes, amongst other things, ‘a bridge or tunnel for the use of pedestrians’. I assume that it includes a bridge or tunnel for the use of motor vehicles. 1 would like the Minister to confirm that.
– Yes, I meant to say, in reply to a question asked by an honourable member earlier, that it includes bridges in the same way as it includes bridges and tunnels which are designated.
– Very well. Does the definition also include any road works that go down to the wharf for a vehicular ferry - what may be regarded as a bridge between a ferry and the shore? Does it include the kind of facility which joins a road on land to the ferry?
– It depends on the category into which it falls. There are several categories within the urban arterial and sub-arterial classifications. If the areas to which the honourable member for Eden-Monaro refers come within these designated roads, the answer is yes, they would be included. For example, if they are in classes 8 or 9 they would be excluded. If they fall within those roads that are categorised as non-urban, arterial or sub-arterial they would be included. If not, they may come within the other sector of non-urban roads. If they come under that category the shires, which are normally the authorities responsible for spending the money, would take the decision as to whether they are roads upon which the money should be spent in the course of their roads programmes.
The honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin) has asked me to comment on the classification ‘Sydney statistical division* under the definition of ‘urban areas’ in clause 2. The difference between urban areas and statistical divisions is a matter that gave the Government some concern when it was endeavouring to frame the wording of the legislation. As described within the definitions in clause 2, ‘urban area’ means an area designated by the Commonwealth Statistician for the purposes of the census taken in 1966. The Sydney statistical division will be taken to be the urban area - as distinct from the actual urban area of Sydney, which I understand is another area capable of definition. Shires which in the past have been in the outside area of the Sydney urban area and which are now to be included within the Sydney statistical division will no longer be entitled as they were formerly, to the amount of money that was previously set aside for roads other than highways, main roads and trunk roads. These shires will now become eligible, in the same way as all other municipal bodies, for expenditure in their area on principal urban arterial and sub-arterial roads. This will mean that although those shires will not be eligible for the amount of money that will go to the non-urban areas, they will be substantial beneficiaries because through their area will go substantial arterial roads. Consequently, many of the shires will find that the pace of road construction within their areas will be accelerated substantially and that their own burden of responsibility for these roads will be lessened. It is expected that from the State resources and their own resources they will be able to maintain their own roads programmes. I might add that in addition, the various State governments have already given assurances that they will endeavour to implement the intention of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), when discussing the application of the formula with the State Premiers, that the roads which formerly received the 40% allocation shall receive an increased contribution of 5%. I have no doubt that some of these shires may in the end receive some money from the State governments in order to compensate them for any deficiency which may otherwise arise.
– I thank the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) for explaining the definition of local government and what is required of the local government authorities. I hope that the State departments of Main Roads will pay due heed to what he has said, which is that in reality local government authorities are not required to make any contribution. I refer once again to the booklet distributed by the New South Wales Department of Main Roads entitled ‘General Conditions of Assistance to Councils for Works Under the Main Roads Act 1924- 60’. I refer in particular to page 4 of that booklet. I am not greatly concerned with the County of Cumberland because the New South Wales Department of Main Roads and the local government authority have an arrangement whereby the Department collects a certain percentage of rates and then goes ahead and does the work. But T am concerned about the local government authorities outside of the County of Cumberland.
A table I have in front of me indicates that the New South Wales Department of Main Roads contributes 100% of the cost of construction and maintenance of State highways to a width of 20 feet. In certain prescribed areas where there are divided carriageways it contributes 100% of 20 feet for each carriageway. But that is only for certain prescribed roads and certain prescribed sections of roads. There can be main highways where the Department accepts responsibility for only 20 feet but when the road gets out a bit further and becomes a divided carriageway it accepts responsibility for two lanes of 20 feet. On main roads it accepts responsibility for 75% of the cost of 20 feet, on ordinary main roads it accepts responsibility for 661% of 20 feet and on tourist roads it accepts responsibility for 50% of 20 feet. The table also gives percentages for other roads. It also refers to the cost of bridge work, kerbing and guttering and things of that nature.
As I pointed out earlier, I am very much afraid that the local government authorities will be severely embarrassed if the State governments do not take due notice of what the Minister has said tonight. The Minister said that in reality local government authorities are not required under this legislation to make any contribution whatsoever. I hope that in the not too distant future the main roads boards of the States will review their agreements with the local government authorities so that a more generous contribution can be made by the boards, bearing in mind the increased contribution that they will be receiving from the Commonwealth government under this legislation. I know that the local government authorities are prepared to meet a fair and reasonable share of the cost of these works, but I do not think that they should be burdened with the large increase that will take place. I visualise that in some urban areas the amount of money available for roads will increase by anything upwards of 100%. Having in mind the limited amounts which were made available under the old legislation, the new legislation will mean that greater sums will be available to the main roads boards in the urban areas. I hope that at some later stage it is drawn to the attention of the Minister that the main roads boards are forcing the local government authorities to increase their contributions at an unreasonable rate - far in excess of what they are required to contribute now. I hope that the Minister will then examine the possibility of reviewing the Act so as to give some relief to the local government authorities.
Clauses agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Sinclair) - by leave - read a third time.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
Income Tax (International Agreements) Bill 1969.
Broadcasting and Television Bill 1969. Broadcasting and Television Bill (No. 2) 1969.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Government Business, Orders of the Day numbers 2 to 9, being called on.
Debate resumed from 27 May (vide page 2272), on motion by Mr Wentworth:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– May I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation. Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I would like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill, the States Grants (Paramedical Services) Bill and the States Grants (Nursing Homes) Bill as they are related measures. Separate questions may, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest, therefore, Mr Speaker, that you permit the subject matter of the three Bills to be discussed in this debate.
-Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering the three measures? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
– The three Bills which we are to discuss break new ground in Commonwealth participation in the field of social services. For this the Opposition commends the Government, and in particular the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) and the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes). We.hope that thenrosy predictions are fulfilled. The Opposition feels, however, that these new innovations do not measure up to the demands of the community for greater home care, more senior citizen centres, better use of the service’s of welfare officers and social workers, and more low cost nursing home beds and paramedical services for the aged, the needy and the infirm in the community. The first Bill, States Grants (Home Care) Bill 1969, provides $500,000 a year to the States on a $1 for $1 basis for the provision of housekeeping and home help services and $500,000 a year for the establishment and development of senior citizen centres and the subsidising of the salaries of trained welfare officers operating from these centres.
The second Bill, the States Grants (Paramedical Services) Bill 1969, provides for the treatment in their own homes or dwelling places of aged people who are in need of physiotherapy, occupational therapy, chiropody and other similar services as are approved by the Minister. To introduce this measure the Commonwealth Government is prepared to grant a subsidy of $250,000 to be shared between the States on a $1 for $1 basis. The third Bill, the States Grants (Nursing Homes) Bill 1969 is designed to encourage the States to provide low cost beds in nursing homes for the sick aged of little means. A sum of $5m spread over 5 years is made available for sharing between the States on the same basis. The motives of the Government in introducing the measures are laudable and the services which it is hoped to encourage State governments, local government authorities and community organisations to introduce or expand are urgently needed in the community. But the finance to be made available by the Commonwealth will hardly scratch the surface in solving the problems. Let me spell out the amounts which will be made available to each of the States for each of the new services. Under the States Grants (Home Care) Bill for housekeeping and other domestic assistance the States will receive as follows: New South Wales $181,000, Victoria $137,000, Queensland $72,000, South Australia $47,000, Western Australia $38,000 and Tasmania $25,000, making a total of $500,000.
Under the States Grants (Paramedical Services) Bill the following grants can be made: New South Wales $91,000, Victoria $68,000, Queensland $36,000, South Australia $23,000, Western Australia $19,000 and Tasmania $13,000. Under the States Grants (Nursing Homes) Bill the grant to each of the States cannot exceed over the 5-year period the following amounts: New South Wales 81,813,000, Victoria $1,374,000, Queensland $717,000, South
Australia $465,000, Western Australia $381,000 and Tasmania $250,000, making a total of $5m over the 5 years. To be fair I should mention that a further $500,000 a year can be drawn by the States for senior citizens centres and the employment of trained welfare officers at or from those centres. This makes a maximum total Commonwealth grant to the States of $2.25m a year. This in itself is a miserly grant for the whole of the six States in order to provide extra beds in nursing homes, paramedical services and home care.
It is pertinent to mention here that only one State, Queensland, has indicated its intention to participate in the scheme. Queensland is the only ‘participating’ State. The Minister for Social Services said in his second reading speech - and I read it in order to substantiate the point that I have just made - that:
On 18th February last the Prime Minister wrote to all the States telling them of the Commonwealth proposals. Queensland has accepted them; New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania have intimated that they still have them under consideration, and Victoria has replied to the effect that it cannot see its way clear to implement them until the financial relations between itself and the Commonwealth have been fixed more to its satisfaction. Nevertheless, it has been decided that it would be more desirable for this Bill to go through the House before we rise for the recess. We do not want the operations in any State to be in any way delayed by the fact that parliamentary approval to the main plan has not been obtained. At all events, Queensland is already prepared to proceed, and perhaps other States will indicate their acceptance of the Commonwealth offer in the next few weeks.
I want you to note, Mr Speaker, the phrase and perhaps other States will indicate their acceptance of the Commonwealth offer in the next few weeks’. The Opposition cannot help but feel that the timing for the introduction of this legislation is political. Firstly, this is election year and it is now almost 10 months since the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) in his Budget Speech of August last said:
We are convinced that there is a need to develop home care and related services, particularly but not exclusively for aged persons. We have therefore invited the States to discuss this matter with us, at the official level initially, with the aim of working out a comprehensive and co-ordinated programme of home care, in which the Commonwealth will participate financially and with which would be associated an offer of Commonwealth assistance of up to Sim a year towards the provision of additional State nursing home beds for the infirm aged with little means.
I pause here, Mr Speaker, to remind you and honourable members of the many critical speeches made by the Minister for Social Services when he was a backbencher, and his early speeches when he was elevated to the Ministry, about the need for justice for pensioners and an improved welfare system. So far he has laboured and produced nothing. I would also remind you of the early speeches of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) when he talked of the need for any great nation to take care of the weaker within it, the aged within it and the ill within it. Ten months have elapsed and neither the Prime Minister nor the Minister for Social Services has proved his good faith. After months of negotiations with the States only one State is prepared to accept the offer of the Commonwealth. No matter how this legislation operates between now and the Federal election it will be used by the Government for election propaganda.
Secondly, Sir Henry Bolte, the Premier of Victoria, has told the Commonwealth that Victoria cannot see its way clear to implement the proposals until the financial relations between itself and the Commonwealth have been fixed to its satisfaction. Sir Henry and most other State Premiers are completely dissatisfied with CommonwealthState financial relationships. Sir Henry, I feel certain, intends to make his stand at the next meeting of the Australian Loan Council and the conference of the State Premiers. But if some more of ‘he States are prevailed upon to accept the proposals before those meetings Sir Henry’s hand will be weakened and he will be forced to accept these proposals without obtaining the bigger gains for which he must hope.
Thirdly, it is political because the States cannot afford to make a $1 for $1 grant for extra services when they now have great difficulties in finding the necessary finance to run their essential services. Before this session finishes the Parliament has to debate the States Grants (Special Financial Assistance) Bill 1969, which grants $14m to the States as special revenue assistance to solve difficult Budget problems. If special assistance is required by the States this financial year, how can they introduce new devices which will increase their spending? My colleague, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), will deal with this topic in more detail when he speaks on the related Bills. Before I pass from this point I should mention that local government authorities which are also expected to participate in these schemes face a similar financial dilemma to that of the States. It is no wonder that the States are reluctant to signify their intention to take up this Government’s offer. It is to be expected that they will all come to the party as they cannot afford to create too much hostility before the next meeting of the Loan Council and the Premiers’ Conference. That is why the Minister for Social Services could forecast in his second reading speech that perhaps other States will indicate their acceptance of the Commonwealth offer in the next few weeks. This is the thin edge of one of the wedges that will be used on the State Premiers at the Loan Council meeting and the Slate Premiers Conference in order to get them to abide by the decisions of the Commonwealth Treasurer.
Mr Speaker, I turn now to a study of some of the provisions of the Bill. The States Grants (Home Care) Bill provides for a $1 for $1 subsidy to the States for housekeeping and domestic services. Apparently New South Wales and Victoria have appropriate schemes operating. As the Minister for Social Services has stated, they should receive substantial annual grants for their present services and facilities. No mention of the other States is made, and as I have had no opportunity to check, I can only assume that a scheme which would meet with the approval of the Minister is not operating in those States. The emphasis of the scheme is placed on help for aged persons living in their own homes or in other premises occupied by them. This seems to me and to members of the Opposition to be too narrow a restriction. Some of the groups of persons the Opposition would like to see covered are families in which one member of the family is seriously ill and there are pressures on the family caused by nursing the invalid person, families with mentally retarded children, who carry a similar burden in many cases, one-parent families where the parent is forced to work to maintain the family, and families where serious illness strikes the mother. I think that these might be covered in the Bill. They are certainly provided for under the New South Wales housekeeper emergency ser vice at the present time. Perhaps ail of these categories are included in the Government’s yet unknown comprehensive plan of which there has been so much talk but which has never been announced.
In the Minister’s second reading speech and in the Budget speech of the Treasurer last August there was talk of an overall comprehensive plan of health and social services. But since that date it has taken 10 months to bring down the legislation that we are discussing tonight. There have been 10 months of negotiations with the States, and only one State has so far indicated that it is prepared to participate. We can only speculate on what happens behind the scenes, and it seems that the States are reluctant to enter into these schemes with the Commonwealth Government because they appreciate that what has happened in the past is likely to happen in the future. The Commonwealth Government is handing over a lot of its responsibilities in social services to the States, and whilst the Minister in his second reading speech did cast some doubts on the constitutional authority of the Commonwealth in these fields it can be taken for granted that the general community throughout Australia believes that the fundamental and overriding authority for social services and health services lies in the hands of the Commonwealth. It is no good any Government trying to pass the buck for the financial burden of social services and health facilities to the States. The community will not accept this.
Local government authorities are now becoming full to the teeth of finding money out of their own meagre resources to subsidise home nursing services, senior citizens’ centres and municipal rates of age pensioners and other pensioners. State governments have also almost reached the end of their tether in these directions. The responsibility for social services, as far as I am concerned - and I think tonight I speak for the Opposition - is in the hands of the Commonwealth, and to clutch at the straw of the Constitution and suggest that the States should be drawan into this scheme on a financial basis seems to me entirely wrong. I have no objection whatsoever to the States being asked to co-operate in these schemes, to local government authorities being asked to co-operate in these schemes or to voluntary organisations being asked to co-operate in these schemes but, first and foremost, the Commonwealth Government must stand up to its responsibilities and find the finance to give to the States and to the local authorities in order that they may be able to carry out these most worthy community services.
There also seems to be a restriction in the employment of trained welfare officers, who will be subsidised only if they are working at or from a senior citizens centre. I take those words directly from the Minister’s second reading speech. I do not know exactly what they mean. I do not know whether they mean that the people can be employed by a State Government and seconded to a senior citizens centre, whether they can be employed by a local government authority and be in charge of a senior citizens centre, or whether the portion of their wages that is not subsidised must be paid by the body operating the senior citizens centre, whether it be a voluntary organisation, a local government authority, or for that matter a State Government. But informed opinion is that it would be more efficient and economic if trained welfare workers were employed by the local government authority in the area, and not only employed in the senior citizens centre but also allowed to integrate all the welfare services that are operating in the region.
It is estimated that fewer than 20% of persons eligible to use senior citizens’ centre facilities do so. According to the Bill the welfare officers must be trained and experienced if they are to operate and integrate the welfare services that are available in some of the areas throughout Australia. If they are to be tied down to working at or from senior citizens’ centre we will find ourselves short of trained welfare officers who are experienced in the field. If they cannot get around the municipality or the region that 80% of senior citizens who do not use senior citizen service centres will never see or perhaps never know of the activities of the welfare officers. From an efficiency point of view alone it seems to me that the correct approach would be to have a welfare officer in charge not of one senior citizen centre but two or three senior citizen centres and also helping to integrate all the welfare facilties that are available in the municipality or region.
– You are going to have a busy officer.
– I do not think that he will be very busy at this stage. If we have regard to the amount of money that is being made available we can see that it will not pay for many welfare officers in many States - and I pause to stress that at the moment only one State has become a participating State. An amount of $500,000 is being made available for welfare officers in the six States. If the Government is hoping to get experienced welfare officers it must be expecting them to work for nothing because the $500,000 not only has to provide half the welfare officers’ wages but must also meet on a $1 for $1 subsidy basis the one-third contributions from the State and from municipal bodies or voluntary organisations for the construction, establishment or development of senior citizen centres. How many senior citizen centres could be built throughout the Commonwealth from the $1.5m which is the maximum amount indicated in the Bill for the provision of such centres and for meeting half the cost of the salaries of welfare officers? I know that the honourable member for Bowman is going to say that this is not the maximum, but in the ministerial statement of 26th February and in the Minister’s second reading speech the figure for the next 12 months has been set at $500,000. In all, the best that can come out of it is SI. 5m if the States and the municipal authorities or voluntary organisations come into the scheme. As I said when I commenced my speech, this is certainly a start, but that is all that can be said of it It does not cover the situation. If the Commonwealth is going to spend only $500,000 this year then it is not going to get a great number of people using these services. It will not acquire many welfare officers because it will not be able to meet their salaries.
The introduction of paramedical services in the homes of aged people is a desirable extension, but here again the Opposition believes it is too restrictive as well as uneconomic and inefficient. The person performing the paramedical services - whether it is physiotherapy, speech therapy or chiropody - will have to travel from place to place. This means that about one-third of his time will be spent in travelling. The Bill insists that the paramedical services must be carried out in the home or dwelling place of the aged people. I am not against that provision because there are a lot of people in the community who need these services in their homes, but there is a far greater number who are capable of going to an approved home for the aged, which might be operating in their area, or to a senior citizens centre. I would suggest to the Minister and to the Government that in addition to stating that paramedical services will be available in the homes of aged people the Bill should also provide for such services to be available in senior citizen centres and in homes for the aged.
I understand that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) intends to confine his remarks to the States Grants (Nursing Homes) Bill so I will make no comment on that Bill. I intend to seek further information from the Minister for Social Services and from the Minister for Health when we are discussing these Bills in the Committee stages, but I hope that at that stage the Minister for Social Services will take more notice of what I say than he is now taking. The Treasurer, the Minister for Social Services and the Minister for Health have all referred to the Government’s comprehensive social services plan, but that plan has never been announced. Not one member on the Government side, whether he be a member of the junior partner in the coalition, the Australian Country Party, or a member of the Liberal Party, has heard one word about any comprehensive plan that the Government has for the field of social welfare. Judging from the timing of the introduction of this legislation it would appear that the plan is unfolding piecemeal.
The Commonwealth is now associated with the States and local government in the provision of many social welfare services - home nursing, sheltered workshops, homes for the aged and various other services that have done some good in the community. But each of these services has grown up like Topsy. There is no overall plan. There has been no attempt to integrate these services to see that the resources, both personal and financial, that are made available by the Commonwealth and by the community are being used to the best advantage of the people that they are supposed to help. No indication has been given in this House that the Commonwealth has made any survey to determine how many of these welfare services are overlapping. As far as I know, no survey has been made to ensure that the money which is being spent on these services is not being wasted in any way. It is the Commonwealth’s responsibility not only to provide finance for social welfare - and as I said earlier, the Opposition believes that the responsibility for social services and health services in the community is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government - but it is the Commonwealth’s responsibility to provide an integrated plan.
Some supporters of the Government will say: ‘You want to socialise everything. You want to centralise everything.’ We have no intention of making that suggestion. We are quite happy to work through local authorities and community organisations, but I do not think it is reasonable to expect a community, local government authorities and the States to contribute on a $1 for $1 basis to these schemes. There are many door-knocks at the moment through which voluntary organisations are taking over the responsibilities of the Commonwealth Government. Last Sunday we had the Austcare doorknock. On 22nd June we will have the Heart Foundation doorknock. Heart diseases and associated blood complaints cost Australia in the vicinity of $700m a year. About 66% of the people under 65 years of age who die are killed by heart disease and associated complaints and 56% of the deaths in any 12 months are caused by these diseases. At any stage of the year about 65,000 people in Australia are suffering from heart complaints. And this Government talks about its comprehensive plan for social welfare and health services. On 22nd June, thousands of volunteers will walk around to collect funds so that a voluntary organisation can conduct research into heart complaints and educate and rehabilitate sufferers from heart complaints.
The Opposition wants a plan. It wants a plan from the Government that is in office and has been in office since 1949. The Government has had ample opportunity to introduce an integrated plan of social welfare and health services but as yet has not introduced such a plan. The whole ambit of welfare services in the community is a hotchpotch and it is time that this Government after its years in office came forth with a plan that is not only acceptable to the community but is also acceptable to the Opposition. The words of Joseph Cook were quoted by the Minister for Social Services, who is still taking the same deep interest in what I am saying and who apparently took this same interest in what the State Ministers for Health and others said to him in the 10 months that the Bills which are now before us have been under discussion. The Minister said in his second reading speech that the words of Mr Joseph Cook might prove to be correct, if the Government puts into effect its words about a comprehensive health and social welfare plan. I doubt very much whether the Government has such a thing as a comprehensive social welfare plan. I think that they are just a few more words that are being used by the Government every time it introduces an extra item of social legislation. I doubt very much whether the Minister for Social Services can tell me what the next step in this comprehensive plan will be. I think his words were that the foundations are now being laid’. It has taken him 10 months to put down the foundations and I do not think he knows where the next brick will come from. If the Government wants some support from the Opposition on this, I suggest-
– No thanks.
– Perhaps you do not want any support
– No help whatsoever, absolutely none.
– Do not be too hard on them.
– I would not have said this, but for the remark that the Minister for Social Services has just made.
– Come on, you are trying.
– And so are you, very trying. During 20 minutes of my speech the Minister for Social Services sat at the table and slept and on three occasions he snored. Then this bumptious Minister-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! The honourable member is not entitled under the Standing Orders to make personal reflections.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, your authority is to control the House-
-The interpretation of the Standing Orders is a matter for the Chair, and it is not for the honourable member to tell the Chair.
– You are correct in what you say, but, if any occupant of the Chair allows the Minister for Social Services, the Minister for Health and the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) to interject while I or any other Opposition member is speaking, I do not think that they are entitled to complain when they are hit.
– We do not.
– You do it continuously. You are the greatest whinger in the House.
-Order! I suggest that the honourable member return to the Bills.
– The act that has been put on by the Minister for Health, the Minister for Social Services and the honourable member for La Trobe is a clear indication that this Government has become completely contemptuous of the Opposition and of the Australian people. I made three or four constructive suggestions in the speech that I have delivered tonight. The Minister for Social Services and the Minister for Health could not repeat one of them. They introduced the Bills at 8 o’clock last night and we are debating them today when the proceedings of the House of Representatives are not being broadcast. Another half a dozen Bills on the notice paper were brought in weeks ago and have not been discussed.
-Order! I ask the honourable member to return to the Bills that are before the Chair.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I can only voice my protest at the behaviour of the Minister for Social Services and the Minister for Health. I tried to make a constructive speech tonight on the Bills that are before us. We have allowed the Government to hold the debate on the three Bills together as cognate measures. Because we treated the Government with decency, this has happened. It is amazing how game some people can be when they have your protection.
-The honourable member for Lang has my protection just as other honourable members have, but I would like him to confine his remarks to the Bills that are before the Chair.
– If I had not been on occasions an occupant of the Chair myself, I would make some comments now the like of which has never been heard in this House before. I was about to finish on a pleasant note when the Minister woke up and made his comment. I now say that the Bill introduced by the Minister for Social Services is as small and petty as he is.
– That is a personal reflection on the Minister and I ask the honourable member to withdraw those final remarks.
– I withdraw them.
– I was very disappointed to see how the speech of the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) deteriorated towards the end. However, there are a couple of points in his speech which are worth referring to. Firstly, the Opposition has no fundamental objection to these three Bills; indeed, it could not possibly have any objection to them. The suggestion that the timing of the introduction of these three Bills is political is nonsense. If the Opposition had given this legislation any real thought it would have observed how well thought out and how brilliantly conceived were the three Bills. They are the product of mature and prolonged thought, and it surprises me that such excellent Bills have been produced in such a relatively short time. The honourable member for Lang referred to the inability of the States to pay for their own participation in these fields. Some States are already making a significant contribution in these fields but for their own political purposes do not wish to participate at this time. Victoria is one such State. The old Socialist monolythic approach appeared.
It is obvious that the Opposition has not yet learned of the failure-
– Why do not you leach us?
– Most certainly the honourable member for Yarra has not learned of the failure of the social legislation of Socialist States overseas. If he were to look at them with a clear eye he would see what a failure it has been. I will refer to this later on in my speech. I am trying not to be political about this matter but rather to look at it from an objective standpoint. If the Commonwealth Government provides all the money, obviously it will call the greater part of the tune. I have never known of a Socialist government which has provided all the money and has not called the whole tune. The present schemes are incentives to encourage the participation of all sections of the community, and this is one manifestation of the brilliance of the Bills. They are so brilliant that honourable members opposite cannot see the point.
Another point raised by the honourable member for Lang related to social workers. The suggestion that one social worker could operate more than one senior citizens centre is obviously impracticable. The honourable member overlooked the fact that owing to inadequate facilities in some universities there is a shortage of social workers in this country. There are not enough of them to be employed on a larger scale. This is one reason why the Commonwealth Government has made its present estimates of expenditure. 1 refute the honourable member for Lang’s contention that a ceiling has been set on the expenditure. In fact the amount for senior citizens centres is not limited. Clause 6 of the State Grants (Home Care) Bill clearly shows that there is provision to escalate grants by subsequent appropriation. I understand that the Government will make available all moneys which the States are able to match. These Bills represent a tremendous advance in social legislation. They are epoch making. This legislation is aimed at areas where help is especially needed at the present time.
We are considering three Bills. The States Grants (Nursing Homes) Bill is intended to encourage the States to construct nursing homes. There certainly has been an enormous increase in the number of private nursing homes since this Government instituted the relevant legislation but there is still need for low cost nursing homes of adequate standards. I hope that when these nursing homes are constructed they will be integrated with hospitals, and I also hope that this will be the beginning of an increasing recognition of the need for the grading of the elaborateness or otherwise of hospital facilities according to the needs of patients.
The States Grants (Paramedical Services) Bill is intended to encourage the provision to elderly people of physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, chiropody and similar services in their own homes but not, as the honourable member for Lang mistakenly thinks, exclusively in their own homes. There is provision for such services in senior citizens centres as well. This is for the relatively immobile people, and anyone who has had experience with the aged knows that one of the things which renders them immobile is very painful feet. Chiropody services will serve a very real purpose.
The States Grants (Home Care) Bill is intended to encourage, firstly, housekeeper and home help services mostly but not exclusively for the frail and elderly. The honourable member for Lang said that he would like to see these services extended. So would I, but there are considerable practical difficulties in a full extension of these services. Moreover it must be seen that the services provided for in this Bill are flexible. Secondly, this Bill calls for the establishment of senior citizens centres with a subsidy to be paid for the salaries of attached welfare officers. I have made quite a considerable study of such social services in many parts of the world, as a result of which I am able to say that this legislation is very advanced and is very intelligently conceived. It takes into consideration the desirability of sovereign States sharing the responsibility in this sphere and also the obligation of civilised man to help his fellow man. Obviously honourable members opposite have not recognised that this is desirable. It is thus hoped to avoid the monolithic approach which is apparent in social services throughout the world especially in Socialist countries - an approach which tends to depersonalise welfare programmes and produce, for instance, elaborate buildings with inert unmotivated occupants.
Two of the three bills are devised so that more elderly people will be enabled to live in their own homes, where they moot certainly would prefer to be. Senior citizens centres will give old people an incentive to live and to live happier and more meaningful lives. They will result in the provision not only of counselling services, some paramedical aids and food and laundry facilities but more importantly of social contacts and activities which so many old people today still crave in vain. 1 hope that the old people who attend these centres will be given some voice in their operation. The resulting sense of responsibility would further encourage their motivation. I ask that such organisations as pensioner leagues be allowed to use the centres for their meetings. I have been most impressed by the work of these leagues and the new life, happiness and interest which they engender amongst their members.
The Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) rightly sees in these three Bills the dawn of a new era in our social legislation, and he has foreshadowed still more progress in the future. I express my admiration to the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) for giving a solid start to this work in instituting trie Social Welfare Committee, of which the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) is chairman, and the Minister for Social Services is a very active member. I praise the work of the Committee and I wish its members well in the future. If this legislation is representative of their work I know that they will produce further excellent legislation.
In a surprisingly short time, despite the comments of the honourable member for Lang, the Committee has brought down this magnificent legislation which is calculated to encourage government at all levels - Federal, State and local - and also charitable organisations and individuals to participate and co-operate in finding the best solutions to the problems which beset old people today. These problems have become more acute since the social revolution of recent years. There is a progressive lessening of family responsibility for the welfare of its needy members, especially for its aged members. I congratulate the Committee upon finding such magnificent answers to the problem. The unsubtle Socialist approach, the placing of these people in State run institutions, has been brilliantly avoided. I look forward to the time when elderly people who so wish may live in comfortable settlements under the aegis of churches, charitable organisations or humane individuals and may participate in some aspects of the management and can preserve their individuality. In this regard may I again stress the contrast between Socialist legislation and legislation in this country. The legislation which this Government has already produced has resulted in magnificent settlements for aged people such as those at present supervised and sponsored by the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson) and his predecessor in that electorate, and by the honourable member for Swan (Mr Cleaver).
I have visited these establishments. I have also visited homes for aged persons in supposedly socially progressive countries, such as Scandinavia. The situation of the elderly in the two different and distinct kinds of institution which one finds on the one hand in Australia and on the other hand in other countries is dramatic. The people who enter the privately run institutions, such as those to which I have referred in Adelaide and Perth - in fact, all round Australia - declare that they have obtained a new lease of life. The change in their outlook is remarkable. The characteristic depression of old people has vanished. They get new motivation. Their health improves. It is surprising how much less they need nursing home care. This is the point which I took up with the father of the honourable member for Sturt. He pointed out that the health and motivation of old people in these bornes is so much improved that the need for nursing care is lessened. This fits in with my experience. In the state run institutions in Scandinavia you see people inert, unmotivated and depressed, sitting around wasting their remaining years in depression, inactivity and generally a hopeless form of existence which is in complete contrast with what I have seen in institutions in Australia.
I have been talking about the institutional care of the aged but it is to be hoped on the other hand that aged people will be able to live in their own homes if they wish, visited regularly by social workers, assisted in their homes by housekeepers or daily help, and treated within their own homes for all but the most demanding of illnesses. The senior citizens centres will provide these people not only with meals and other facilities but also with a new social life and, best of all, motivation. I hope, too, that in the future we will see a greater use of rehabilitation methods so that the incapacitated of all ages will be helped back as far as possible to their normal lives. This wonderful prospect cannot be realised immediately. For a start, there are not enough social workers. All the new services and facilities must be provided gradually so that they will integrate properly and so that the elderly people will progressively be encouraged to use those services and facilities. They cannot be instituted all at once. We are only beginning, as the Bill recognises. I am sure that progress will be rapid, as the Bill also recognises, because it provides for an escalation of costs. I heartily support and applaud this legisation, looking forward to further progressive legislation of this type in the future.
– Australia has surely never had a government which raised so many expectations among disadvantaged citizens and left so many expectations unsatisfied. Australia has surely never had a Prime Minister whose rhetoric in matters of social welfare so greatly exceeded his achievements. There has not been a Minister for Health so zealous in the defence of the Government’s ramshackle national health scheme and so laggard in proposing effective solutions to the numerous and pressing problems of the sick and incapacitated Australians for whose welfare his Department bears responsibility. In introducing the States Grants (Nursing Homes) Bill the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) said:
The Government recognises too that there is a shortage of low cost nursing home accommodation of acceptable standard throughout Australia. The financial assistance that will be available under this Bill will assist the States in the alleviation of this shortage.
Ten weeks ago on 20th March I asked the Minister a question about the number of institutions which provide nursing home accommodation and the number of beds which are available in such institutions.
The question remains unanswered. Yesterday the Minister professed to be surprised that members of my Party should resent having the debate on the Bill, the second reading of which was moved only yesterday, resumed today. When the proposals for the Bills were outlined nearly 3 months ago I placed a question on the notice paper. I expected that it would have been answered at least before the Bills flowing from the ministerial statement were debated. The question was relevant to the ministerial statement and to the Bills. The Minister’s inability to provide me with a reply highlights the inadequacy of the research which precedes the introduction of legislation such as that now before the House. That inadequacy is highlighted still more dramatically by the scheme of assistance which the Minister’s Bill proposes. In his second reading speech the Minister said:
If the States take full advantage of the measures provided by this Bill, more than 1,000 new public nursing home beds could become available over the next 5 years.
– Yes, public nursing home beds - 1,000 over the next 5 years. Is the Minister aware that the waiting list for beds in State nursing homes in Victoria now exceeds 3,000 and has exceeded that number for several years past? Is he aware that the Bill therefore proposes to provide for six States over a period of 5 years onethird of the number of public nursing home beds required in a single State right now? Moreover, the Commonwealth will make this trivial and inadequate contribution only if the State governments concerned agree to match the Commonwealth’s grant on a $1 for $1 basis. Honourable members will agree that such a measure of co-operation between the Commonwealth and State echelons of the Liberal Party can no longer be taken for granted. The Premier of Victoria, Sir Henry Bolte, has categorised the Minister’s proposals, along with those of his colleague the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth), as ‘a request for the States to subsidise - to a greater degree - services which are really the financial responsibility of the Commonwealth.’ Sir Henry added:
The Victorian Government does not have the money to provide subsidies in the manner proposed. In the circumstances the matter must remain in abeyance until the problems of CommonwealthState financial relations have been resolved.
He added at a later date and in response to an ill-considered and provocative comment by the Minister that the Commonwealth was ‘blatantly dishonest’ in its proposals to expand home help, to provide additional home nursing services and to provide additional beds in public nursing homes.
The obduracy of the Victorian Premier may well lead to an impasse in the provision of additional nursing home beds. Such a development would distress neither the Minister nor the Government. Honourable members should not think it aimless or inadvertent that the Government constantly quibbles about whether particular public activities are the responsibility of the States or of the Commonwealth. Liberals are as anxious to slow down the inevitable increase in Government expenditure on nursing homes as they are to slow down expenditure on schools, hospitals and all urban services. They know that the best way to restrict expenditure on any public activity is to insist that it is an activity for the States, which have fewer financial resources than the Commonwealth and which raise their revenue by indirect and regressive taxation rather than taxation which is direct and progressive.
The Minister for Health is poised for a triumph of Liberal gamesmanship. He has made a show of what passes in the Liberal lexicon for compassion. He has simultaneously provoked the leading Liberal Premier into rejecting his proposals. He has postponed again, for an indefinite period, the assumption by the Commonwealth of a continuing and comprehensive responsibility for nursing home care. Nursing homes are conducted in our country by State governments, by churches and charitable societies and by individuals and organisations in search of profit. In Victoria, for example, the State Government conducts ten nursing homes and hospitals with a capacity in all of 3,780 beds. The waiting list for beds in these institutions numbered 4,649 at 30th June last. It has increased since I960 by 300%. The number of beds has increased over the same period by 5%. The frail aged and the chronically ill who cannot obtain admission to a public nursing home and whose condition is such that they can no longer receive care at home, are obliged to seek admission to private nursing homes. Fees for private nursing homes range from $28 weekly to amounts in excess of $60 a week. Private nursing homes now provide two out of every three nursing home beds, and are among Australia’s most spectacular growth industries.
The number of private nursing homes in New South Wales increased in 1966 by 1,700 and in 1967 by 1,100. Contrast the rate of increase in the number of private nursing homes with the increase of public nursing home beds. Private nursing homes change hands among speculators and entrepreneurs at prices ranging up to $3,000 per bed. They receive two-thirds of the amount appropriated each year by the Commonwealth for its nursing care benefits. They provide standards of care which range from the opulent to the abysmal. A Sydney doctor was quoted last year as saying:
The inspectors must see, as we do, the blank, apathetic faces of old people in the bad homes. They must come across those forgotten old men and women sitting about dully in armchairs through the day, without any attempt being made to interest them in life or to give them some sort of occupational therapy which might add 8 little point to living.
The Industrial Officer of the New South
Wales Nurses’ Association has pointed out:
Many of the private establishments are either under or inadequately staffed. We had a case, for example, in which one of our members was looking after 91 patients in a private home with only herself and two others on the night shift.
I do not suggest that such conditions - or indeed the far more serious abuses documented regularly by Mr Keith Mitchell, the Secretary of the Hospital Employees’ Union in Victoria - are typical. They are, however, excessively prevalent among that class of private nursing home which caters for persons who can pay little more than their age pension and the Commonwealth nursing home benefit. Few needs in the field of health are so pressing as the need to ensure that nursing homes not only provide care and accommodation of a standard compatible with basic human dignity but also that their attitude is orientated to rehabilitation. Nursing homes must not remain for their predominantly aged inmates simply an expensive setting in which to die.
Far from pursuing this objective, the Minister for Health and his Department constantly hound aged and chronically ill Australians into nursing homes of the lowest possible standard. The Melbourne ‘Herald’ reported on the third of this month that officials of the Department of Health were conducting a ‘crack-down’ on approved private hospitals which provide accommodation for chronically ill patients. In order to save itself the expense of paying hospital benefits on behalf of these patients, the Department was warning the proprietors of the hospital concerned to move them out or face the possibility of having their approval revoked. It is this attitude on the part of the Department which has fostered the game of ‘musical beds’ in which chronically ill patients are shifted from one private hospital to another to minimise the danger of de-registration for the proprietors involved. Deprived of their hospital benefit entitlements, many of these patients would be unable to afford nursing home accommodation of any but the cheapest kind. In. the case of patients under 60 years of age, they would be ineligible for admission to almost all State and church nursing homes. At least a third of all chronically ill Australians are under 60 years of age.
Ironically, the plight of nursing home patients has been exacerbated by the introduction of the Government’s new intensive nursing home care benefits. According to the medical social worker of the Victorian Asthma Foundation, nursing homes have lifted their fees since the introduction of the new benefits to about $53 for patients held not to require intensive nursing care and to about $70 for those who do in fact need such care.
– Wake up to yourself instead of repeating every bit of gossip.
– -If the Minister would give me a prompt answer to questions which I have placed on the Notice Paper I could then rely on official statistics. I have quoted the source of every statistic that I have given. On 20th March I placed a question on the Notice Paper for the Minister relevant to the ministerial statement he made on 6th March and basic to the consideration of the Bills he introduced last night. If he had answered this question in the 10 weeks he has had to do so, I would not have to quote officials of medical bodies and employees’ associations. I would not have to quote newspapers and I would not have to quote charitable bodies. If answers were supplied I could quote the authentic sanctified statistic? produced by the Minister for Health. But he has not answered my question; I am quoting the best information available to the public. Where in fact 1 have quoted statisticians and economists who have investigated matters in the field of the Minister’s Department, his senior officials have had to admit on oath before the Senate Select Committee on Medical and Hospital Costs that all those statistics were soundly based. The Minister himself, when he got around to answering questions, has conceded the accuracy of the statistics on which I have based my proposals. Now let him in the answers which I have been waiting for expose the fallacies of the statements and the statistics which I have quoted and of which I have given the source.
Two thirds of all nursing home patients are being rejected out of hand for intensive nursing home care benefit. Here I quote what the Minister would regard as another piece of gossip. I quote from an article which appeared in the Sydney ‘Daily Mirror’ of 15th January. It concerns the Cabrini Convalescent Home which is situated in my electorate. The owner and the matron of that home are quoted in this article, in which they gave instances of cases where benefits have been refused. The first case was of an 81-year-old stroke victim permanently paralysed on the left side, whose speech was affected. Secondly, the article referred to an 84-year-old heart patient who is unable to move without assistance. The third case involved an 87- year-old victim of rheumatoid arthritis who suffers from hardening of the arteries and cannot move without help. The fourth case referred to a one-legged man who is partly paralysed, suffering from terminal cancer and confined to a wheelchair. If these arc the system’s rejects, what measure of misfortune is in fact required to establish eligibility?
Australians who are ill or incapacitated should not be required to penalise themselves financially or penalise their families financially in order to meet the cost of nursing home care provided on a chain basis by investment companies or as part of the conglomerate activities of undertakings primarily concerned with the manufacture of beer. The fact is that breweries are finding nursing homes quite a profitable growth investment. Nor should such per sons be forced for want of means into the charge of fly-by-night proprietors who have neither the capital nor the inclination to provide adequate accommodation, facilities and staff. A Labor government would share equally with the governments of the States capital and recurrent costs incurred in the provision of public nursing homes of an agreed standard.
Following upon the implementation of Labor’s alternative health programme, it would encourage the voluntary health insurance funds to develop a new role in the community by applying their $80m reserves to the establishment of aged persons’ homes and associated nursing home care facilities approved for subsidy under the Aged Persons Homes Act. Provision of aged persons homes and nursing care accommodation would be an undertaking far more closely in accord with the best traditions of the friendly society movement than the present impersonal and ineffective voluntary insurance activity foisted upon them by the Government 19 years ago. A Labor government would continue to provide Commonwealth nursing home care benefit for the inmates of approved private nursing homes and nursing homes conducted by voluntary health insurance funds. By such measures, and only by such measures, can the present shameful predicament of so many of Australia’s feeble aged and chronically ill citizens, including that one-third of them under 60 years of age, be remedied, and Australian nursing homes be raised at least to a decent standard.
– I am sorry that I cannot quote statistics because I have not a staff as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has. I know we were given notice that the Bills were to be introduced, but they were introduced only 24 hours ago and, like other honourable members, at this stage of the session I object to being given 24 hours notice in which to prepare to debate Bills. One has not even got time to read the Bills. We have to debate something which is of great importance to all sections of the community. I am particularly interested in this matter because I think I am correct in saying - I speak subject to correction - that the housekeeping service originated in my own local government area, and 1 think that the Meals on Wheels service was started first in the State of Victoria. I am sorry that the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) should have seen fit to issue such vicious criticism of the Premier of Victoria and the Victorian Government not so long ago. It was unfair, unjustified and totally exaggerated, and why it was done, I do not know.
I can deal with only two matters tonight. One of them the Victorian Government’s position and what it feels in relation to these Bills. Matching grants are all very well on the surface, but many of them operate most unfairly, so far as the States are concerned. One matter I have in mind concerned professorial salaries fixed by the University Commission from which, as a result of an increase in salaries and the operation of the Income Tax Assessment Act, the Federal Government made quite a handsome profit. But the States, because they had to match the grants to the universities, were liable for a considerable extra amount of money each year. Therefore, on this question of matching grants we have to do a little more than say: ‘Here we are giving the States extra funds’. I welcome the support of the Opposition and the remarks of the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) in supporting these particular principles. But let us be honest with ourselves. Victoria and New South Wales are the two States which first observed these principles, and now we, in the Federal sphere, are just cathing up with them. But under the Constitution, the Federal Government is responsible for all social services.
I asked the Minister of Health in Victoria what the Victorian Government’s position was regarding these particular Bills. I sent him a copy of the news release which was given out by the Minister for Health. I am going to read the reply which I received. I do not like reading letters at length, but I think that this letter puts the Victorian situation very clearly and simply, and that it ought to be written into the records, in view of the unfair and uncompromising criticism which has been issued by people who ought to know better. There was, apparently, more gentlemanly criticism from the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn), but with his lack of knowledge of the actual facts of the case, he apparently did not find out die position before be started along the same lines. The letter from the Minister of Health states:
Thank you for favouring me with a copy of the News Release by Dr the Honourable A. J. Forbes, M.P., relating to the Commonwealth proposals to aid the States in home care programmes. In reply to the issues raised I can assure you that it has never been the intention of the Victorian Government to abdicate from the areas in which the State is providing assistance to the aged. The present relative effort by the Victorian Government in the field of the welfare of the elderly is far ahead of any other State.
He could have added: ‘and the Commonwealth Government’. The letter continued:
We arc spending $3,200,000 a year on homes for the aged, $17 million a year on the care of aged and invalid pensioners in public hospitals. . . .
The care of aged and invalid pensioners is a social service for which we in this Parliament are responsible. I suppose that other States, besides Victoria, are spending similar amounts, but Victoria is spending 5? 17m a year on the care of aged and invalid pensioners in public hospitals. The letter continues:
In the field of home care, Victoria is spending $940,000 a year in providing subsidies for housekeeper services and senior citizens clubs. Payments by the Slate for housekeeper services amount to $700,000 a year, and meet four-fifths of the net cost of this service. The payments towards senior citizens clubs, which embrace the ‘meals on wheels* service, include a building grant on a two for one basis, subject to a maximum individual payment of $10,000 and a grant on the basis of four-fifths of the net operating costs of the clubs subject to a maximum payment of $2,000 for any one club.
I think the honourable member for Lang said that almost every month there is some door-knock appeal raising funds or carrying out policies of this nature. It is certainly a good thing to have some co-operation from voluntary organisations. I myself took part in a 10 mile walkathon in order to raise funds for the Meals on Wheels service. The service raised about $2,000 and it had to raise another $18,000. I am glad that this extra subsidy probably will help those people who are in that particular cleft.
– Did you last the distance?
– I not only lasted the distance, but I came in eighth. The letter continues:
The Commonwealth proposal is not precise regarding the sum which it proposes to make available in Victoria for capital grants for senior citizens clubs and for the employment of social workers in these clubs. However, if we assume that the Commonwealth would provide capital grants taking into consideration the present basis and expenditure by the State and the municipalities, and also that its payment towards the cost of employment of social workers in these clubs would be shared between the States on a papulation basis, the maximum amounts which would be available to Victoria under these circumstances would be $75,000 a year for capital expenditure, and $140,000 a year towards the employment of social workers in these clubs.
On this basis, acceptance of the Commonwealth proposal would involve Victoria in lifting its annual expenditure to $1,386,000 on the specific matters mentioned in the proposal.
The letter goes on to say that the relevant information is set out in a table which is given. The table is set out under three headings. They are the maximum Commonwealth subsidy available annually, the current annual level of expenditure by Victoria and the annual level of expenditure involved in accepting the Commonwealth’s offer. For housekeeper and home help services the maximum Commonwealth subsidy available annually is either $137,000 or $138,000, I am not sure which figure is correct. The current annual level of expenditure by Victoria is shown as $700,000 and the annual level of expenditure involved in accepting the Commonwealth’s offer is shown as $700,000. The maximum Commonwealth subsidy for capital grants for senior citizen clubs is shown as $75,000, the current annual level of expenditure by Victoria is shown as $100,000 and the annual level of expenditure involved in accepting the Commonwealth’s offer is shown as $100,000. For current maintenance grants for senior citizens’ clubs the Commonwealth subsidy is shown as nil, the current annual level of expenditure is shown as $140,000, and the annual level of expenditure involved in accepting the Commonwealth’s offer is shown as $140,000. I do not know why that figure is shown because the Commonwealth’s subsidy on current maintenance grants is shown as nil. Grants towards the employment of social workers in senior citizens’ clubs is the next one on the list. The maximum Commonwealth subsidy is shown as $140,000 and the current annual level of expenditure by Victoria is shown as nil. Therefore, Victoria would have an increased level of expenditure of Si 40,000. For paramedical services to the aged in their own homes the maximum Commonwealth subsidy is shown as $68,000 or 570,000 - 1 am not certain which figure is correct. The current annual level of expenditure by Victoria is shown as nil. The annual level of expenditure involved in accepting the Commonwealth’s offer is shown as $70,000. I refer now to nursing home beds.
– It was Victoria’s proposal to pay one-half of the cost for paramedical services.
– The present level of expenditure by Victoria on paramedical services is nil.
– It was Victoria’s idea that it pay one-half.
– That would be a very good idea if the Government were not acting as a pawnbroker and keeping the States in financial straits. The States cannot be criticised for nol spending money that they do not have to spend. The Minister for Health has never been a member of a State House. He does not understand the difficulties that the States face. It is time he ceased criticising them. For nursing home beds the maximum Commonwealth subsidy is $236,000, the current annual level of expenditure by Victoria is $150,000 and the annual level of expenditure involved in accepting the Commonwealth’s offer is $236,000. The total for the maximum Commonwealth subsidy available annually is $659,000, for the current annual level of expenditure by Victoria it is $1,090,000 and for the annual level of expenditure involved in accepting the Commonwealth’s offer it is $1,386,000. The letter continues:
The above table does not make any allowance for the cost of maintaining the additional nursing home beds which the Commonwealth proposes to subsidise. It is understood that the purpose of these beds would be mainly for patients in need of fairly intensive nursing care, and therefore the cost of maintaining them would be considerably in excess of average bed costs at a hospital for the aged. However, on a conservative estimate of costs, acceptance of the Commonwealth proposal in total would mean that over the next 5 years the Commonwealth subsidy would be some $3. 3m, on condition that the State Government spends some $9m including the extra maintenance costs of the additional beds.
To put the matter in another way our present expenditure on care of the aged is in excess of $4m a year. If we accept the Commonwealth proposal, at the end of 5 years we would be committed to a rate of expenditure of $6.5m a year.
In the light of these figures I leave it to you to judge whether, as the Federal Minister has suggested, we are playing politics or we have cause for a genuine concern about the financial implications of the Commonwealth proposal.
The proposal was put to us formally by the Prime Minister in February, and was announced publicly by the Federal Minister a week later without any time having been given for us to indicate the problems they create for us. This is something that could, and should, have been sorted out between governments in the first instance.
However, in addition to the financial implications, the letter we have received from the Prime Minister is quite vague in a number of respects, and the Deputy Premier is therefore writing to the Prime Minister suggesting that a conference of Treasury officers be arranged to clarify matters.
That letter answers the criticism of the Minister for Health which, as I said at the outset, I consider to be unjustified and totally unwarranted. Victoria is not going to reduce its expenditure. There are many matters which have not received proper consideration or which have been glossed over. As I said at the outset, it is all very well to make a matching grant to the States, but with the States in the position that they are as a result of Commonwealth-State financial relationship, it is difficult for them to do anything. They are in a very difficult position.
– Like the honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) who has just spoken, I am disappointed that these Bills are being forced through the House without adequate time being made available to give them the consideration that they deserve. These measures are important. It is all very well to say that the House debated a statement made some time ago by the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) on a health care programme for the aged, but the Minister indicated at that time that the main reason for making that statement was to obtain the opinion of the House on the proposals he was putting forward so that appropriate legislation could be drafted following consideration of the matters raised by the House.
If the Minister’s subsequent statement is to be believed, none of the matters which were raised in the original debate were considered in any way and the proposals put forward in the Bills before the House are in fact exactly the same as the proposals outlined in the Minister’s statement. That is what I am given to understand, anyway. However, this is not quite correct on at least one score. Originally the Minister indicated that the basic premise for senior citizen clubs would be one-third Commonwealth contribution, one third State contribution and one-third local contribution. That is not the position in the legislation now before the House. The legislation provides that the Commonwealth will pay one-half of the contribution of the State up to a maximum of one-third of the total amount. If the original requirement for a one-third local contribution has been dropped it means that the previous debate has served some useful purpose. The one-third local contribution would have been a major factor in limiting extension of the scheme to anything like the level desirable for the provision of senior citizen clubs in the community so that those who can make use of the centres will be adequately provided for.
I am very concerned at this stage with the amount of money provided for paramedical services. As I have said before, the amount of money provided is extremely low. I do not intend to debate the importance or otherwise of the amount of money at this stage. But I am concerned that the States Grants (Paramedical Services) Bill, like the other Bills, appears to be pointing a gun at the heads of the States. There appears to be little scope for flexibility in accepting the existing schemes, which have been found in certain circumstances to be working well. I think that rather than uproot completely an existing service which is providing the basic aims of the Bill, as would appear to me from my reading of clause 4, it would be better to have that degree of flexibility either in the Minister’s hands or by some other means so that services which are effective and are working can continue to operate in those areas where they are already giving good service.
I refer especially to day hospitals whic to my knowledge, are already in existence at a number of geriatric institutions. Grace MacKellar House at Geelong, which I have mentioned in this House before, operates such a service for elderly people. They are picked up at their homes, brought to the day hospital, given the types of treatment which are envisaged in the Bill, provided with a mid-day meal and returned to their homes after they have had their treatment. This type of situation is enabling a lot of people who cannot be admitted to hospital to get treatment which they badly need. The Bill states that the paramedical services are: . . wholly or mainly for aged persons in their homes in respect of which that Slate proposes to incur expenditure.
The meaning I place on that, without being a lawyer, is that this applies only to those services which are provided in the home. 1 hope the Minister can indicate that this does not mean what it says. If that is a fact then the services which 1 have just described are not to be considered for assistance under these Bills.
If so, 1 think it would be a tragedy because it would mean that if Geelong, for instance, was to benefit under these Bills it would be necessary to provide a second service duplicating the one which already exists in order to qualify for Commonwealth assistance. I am not suggesting that it is in all cases possible for people to go to a centre to receive treatment. There are people and there will continue to be people who need treatment in their homes, but a great number of people, especially elderly people who are either living alone or practically living alone, benefit greatly not only from going out to have treatment but from mixing with other people during the day and having a hot meal with them. They get greater benefits than merely medical treatment.
Such establishments as Grace MacKellar House in Geelong could provide a reasonable and economic basis for paramedical services to aged persons without their being actually institutionalised. If this scheme is to work and if we are to provide this service at the levels which are desirable in the home there will have to be far more chiropodists, occupational therapists, speech therapists and physiotherapists trained and available in the commuinty than are evident today. There is no indication that I can see i, that these people are likely to became available in the near future. It may be for this reason that the grants of money which are being allocated are, to all intents and purposes, token amounts which would most likely provide adequate services in the home for one city of varying size in each State according to the amount of money provided, but would not provide any level of service for a whole State. That is the major point which I wished to make.
The other point I want to make, ana which I think is important to this debate, is that these Bills are being passed by the Parliament at a time when agreement has not been reached between the Commonwealth and the States for the implementation of the schemes which are involved. I sincerely hope that the schemes for similar proposals can be brought into operation as quickly as possible so that aged persons may receive the treatment that they need. But if the States are not prepared to accept these proposals in their present form obviously some form of compromise will have to be reached. If a compromise is to be reached it would be far better if it were reached before legislation is passed through the Parliament: otherwise we could have the rather ridiculous situation of having redundant legislation passed through Parliament with no effect whatsoever.
What I am concerned about is the effect on aged people when they read in the newspapers that they are to get these sorts of things. They will immediately look for the services which have been promised them, or that they think have been promised. Having regard to the sums of money appropriated by these Bills and the fact that ai this stage not all the States have indicated that they are prepared to carry out the proposals in these Bills, these people are going to be seriously disappointed when they find that they have been, like the donkey, virtually chasing a carrot on the end of a stick. They have in fact been offered something which does not exist and may never exist. This is, in my opinion, a very serious thing. I think it is serious that this Parliament should be passing legislation on matters such as this at a time when there is no guarantee whatsoever that any of the States, with the exception of Queensland, will in fact implement the legislation.
I hope that these services are made available quickly. I hope that the States and the Commonwealth can come to the necessary financial arrangement so that these schemes can be implemented, and I also hope that the passage of these Bills at a time when the States clearly have a gun at their heads does not seriously jeopardise the possibility of working out an arrangement between the Commonwealth and the States which could give aged persons the type of services that they so badly need.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) put: That the question be now put. The House divided. (The Chairman - Mr P. E. Lucock) Ayes .. ..62
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
– The Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) has been baiting speakers on both sides of the House. He has resorted to argumentative interjections rather than reserving his prerogative to reply at the end of the debate. I do not accuse him of blatant dishonesty as another argumentative member of his Party, Sir Henry Bolte, has done. Nor do I share Sir Henry’s view that the proposed grant to the States is merely bait to get the States to overspend. I do not share the view of Sir Henry’s deputy, Sir Arthur Rylah.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Failes) - Order! The Bill has been discussed generally during the second reading debate. We are now in Committee and the honourable member must confine his remarks to the details of the Bill.
– In the States Grants (Home Care) Bill we see that the amounts to be paid to the States are set out in Part II. The State of Tasmania is to be given $25,000 as a ceiling amount - which, incidentally, is the amount allotted for the proposed paging system in this House, which may or may not improve the efficiency and accessibility of members. The amount allocated for Tasmania will provide wages for two or three people. The Commonwealth has abdicated its responsibility to provide for aged persons. As the Premier and Deputy Premier of Victoria have stated, this is wholly a Commonwealth responsibility. It is wrong that a measure of this kind should set such limits on the amounts allocated, making no reference at all to the basis on which these amounts have been arrived at. We have been given no information in the months since this measure was mooted to indicate the estimates of what the requirements are for aged persons, and it appears that during the course of this debate we are not to be given this information.
As for incentive to the States, the only incentive is for the States to find more money - which they have not got. There is no incentive for the States to plan in coordination with each other or with the Commonwealth or in the light of overseas research. In fact, there is no provision for planning anywhere in the Bill. There is a programme for spending money but there is no plan for attacking human problems. There is no plan for research or for finding out what are the needs of aged people.
– How can the honourable member say that?
– Where is the provision for planning and for investigating the needs of aged people? There is no plan in this Bill or in its conception, for finding out the needs of old people, lt assumes certain arbitrary figures and lays them down as a ceiling. It perpetuates the pernicious system of reliance on charitable fund raising and on the debt-ridden local authorities. There is a failure to integrate home and clinic, as the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) stated earlier in the debate, lt is limited to home care and there is no provision for transporting people to centres where much more care could be given by the same number of trained personnel. This care will be given only when the special workers - the therapists - take themselves to the patients’ homes, which will require twice as much time to treat the same number of people. I submit that this is hasty and illconceived legislation, undertaken under pressure from the Opposition, from the public, from the professions and from the old people who have become disgusted with the Government’s neglect in this field.
– My complaint with this Bill relates to the wideness of some of its clauses. I should like the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) to explain the reasons for this wideness, particularly as the State govern ments and local authorities will have to submit proposals for his approval. Many proposals have to be approved by the Minister before they can attract a subsidy. I refer the Committee to clause 4 of the Bill which contains definitions. ‘Approved welfare service’ is interpreted to mean: a welfare service that -
Nowhere in the Bill can I see a definition of ‘welfare service’. Can the Minister tell me what ‘welfare service’ means? Does it mean the delivery of meals? Does it mean hair cutting? What welfare services might it mean? Does it mean payment of a dance band so that dances can be held at a welfare centre? Does it mean the provision of bowling mats so that the welfare centres or senior citizen centres can provide bowling facilities for the aged people? Is that a welfare service or is it not? In clause 4 home care service’ is interpreted to mean: a service in the nature of housekeeping or other domestic assistance to persons in their homes.
What is meant by ‘other domestic assistance’? Is it shopping? Would it apply to a person making regular visits to a home? Why are these provisions so wide? Judging from the nursing homes benefits it appears that sometimes the Government leaves the provisions wide not only so that it can let things through but so as to prevent things getting through. A lot of authority is vested in the Minister whose approval to certain proposals must be obtained. Perhaps the Minister has explained the reason for the wideness of the provisions to the State governments during the discussions he has had with State Ministers, but he has not explained it in his second reading speech or since. We are entitled to know, and the State Governments and local authorities are entitled to know, if they do not already know. Will the Minister answer the questions that I have posed?
Mp WENTWORTH (Mackellar- Minister for Social Services) [11.15] - I shall be happy to set the honourable member’s mind at rest in this regard. It is perfectly true that the definitions are wide. This is for a very good purpose, because we believe that the various States will have various priorities to suit their own circumstances. We do not intend that this shall be uniform legislation imposed upon all of the States. Rather do we expect that the States will bring forward their own proposals, and if they are meritorious and conform to the general wide definition they will be approved. If the honourable member will do me the honour of looking at my second reading speech he will see that this flexibility was proposed. The Act will be administered in the most flexible way. It is meant to be flexible because what Queensland might want may be different from what New South Wales might want. Each State will have the opportunity of developing its services in the way that commends itself to that State in relation to its own circumstances. Undoubtedly we will be suggesting things to the States and hoping from time to time to have our suggestions adopted, but the initiating power will lie in the States and it is not expected that every State will use this initiative in the same form.
The other point which I would bring to the attention of the honourable member is this: Here we have the first stage of a scheme. It has to be developed, and it will develop in practice. It will grow. There are not rigid ceilings on expenditure. If the honourable member examines clause 6 he will see that there is provision in the future for appropriation additional to the minimum amounts set out in that clause. Those amounts conform to the general indications that we have had from State officers as to what they can reasonably expend in the first year or so of the operations of the scheme, but we do expect the scheme to expand. We will learn as we go. We do not expect to know all the needs of all old people. They will have their individual needs and I look for initiative to come from organisations of elderly people and other voluntary bodies or, indeed, from the churches. They may show us things that can be done under this legislation. If they are commendable things then extra appropriation will be made for them. The same is true in regard to citizens centres and welfare officers, provisions relating to which are contained in a later part of the Bill. Here again no ceiling is set.
The pace at which we can go forward will depend upon the plans which the States themselves formulate and which, as I have said, might not always be uniform. For example, the senior citizens centre which would be appropriate to a heavily populated suburb, such as would be within the honourable member’s own electorate, would not be appropriate to a small country town. There will be different plans to meet different circumstances. This flexibility is inbuilt in the Act and there is no ceiling. The operation of this Act will, in many ways, reduce the present calls upon State expenditure. It is true that we have this matching provision so that States which will be the initiating bodies and the administering bodies will have a responsibility and will not be irresponsible. But this not only comes into a field where the States aTe at present bearing the sole burden; by making a better use in the future of bed accommodation, for example, it is designed to help the States reduce their net expenditure on hospital services and at the same time give a better and more efficient service to those of their citizens who need it.
Finally, may I repeat what I said in my second reading speech. Although the Commonwealth does give a lead here and although it does provide funds, this is not a field for which, under the Constitution, the sole responsibility is divided between the Commonwealth and the States. We want to play our part and we want to give a lead. We are, under this Bill and under the other Commonwealth provisions, providing by far the greater part of the necessary funds, but this is still a field which, under the terms of our Constitution, is not the sole responsibility of the Commonwealth but is divided between the Commonwealth and the States.
– I would like to ask the Minister for Social Services whether, in the Australian Capital Territory, the Commonwealth will provide from its own funds the services, facilities and assistance that the.se measures seek to provide in the States by grants from the Commonwealth to the States. Might I ask the Minister whether he recognises that in the Australian Capital Territory the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth alone, has the constitutional responsibility for the provision of these benefits?
– 1 am glad to be able to set the honourable member’s mind at rest. I have discussed this matter with the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) and I can assure the honourable member that the Commonwealth in its own Territories will play the initiating part that we hope the State governments will play in their areas.
– I will in a moment direct a question to the Minister about clause 10 of the Bill now before the Committee, hoping that he can help me just as he has helped the Committee with some very helpful answers in his most recent speech. Before doing so, I say that I am glad that the Minister has explained to the Committee that this is but a start. I am sure every honourable member will recall, as I do, that in his second reading speech the Minister drew a parallel between this legislation and the homes for the aged legislation which, commencing as a very small thing, as most good ideas do, has grown into a mammoth scheme and has spread across the Commonwealth. In every State there is now a ready acceptance that this is the impetus, the incentive and the catalyst to benevolent bodies, organisations and churches to do something practical about the housing of the aged. The same principle will apply to this legislation, and both Ministers of State have made this clear.
We have listened to some amazing statements in this debate, and they do not stand up. We must come in, therefore, in the Committee stage to make a few points clear. The Government has faced many calls over recent years. Those of us working on both sides of the House in members’ committees have looked at the problems of senior citizens, of meals on wheels and of the money being expended by those governments that are now being put forward to us as complaining governments. Having looked at these problems, we have tried to find some solutions and both sides of the Parliament have put forward their recommendations. Here in these Bills we find that Government acknowledging the representations that have been made over the last 5, 6 or more years. There is a genuine recognition here, which anyone who can read should be able to acknowledge, that something should be done and is being done for senior citizens. The housekeeping problem of aged people is recognised and a gesture is made that may start as a small gesture. There is a ceiling, but a temporary ceiling, for the first year only. The Minister has foreshadowed what will happen if the State governments get themselves organised. Some are organised, but there has been no unanimity in State government action. If the pressure comes on the Commonwealth to find more funds for next year, undoubtedly those funds will be found.
My colleague, the honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) spoke his mind earlier in the debate before the Committee stage. I want to take issue with my good friend from Victoria and put this question to him: Who asked Victoria to abdicate anything at all in these fields?
– Do not call him your colleague. He does not like that.
– He is a good friend and he will understand. He spoke frankly and should let others, whether they be Government supporters or Opposition members, answer him. Who asked Victoria to abdicate any field of service? I point out that the Commonwealth in these Bills is offering supplementary assistance for anything that the State governments may already have undertaken to do. These proposals are not being thrust upon any State Government. The State Government can take them up. If it so desires it can use them to the full and it can come back with requests, as has been indicated, for more funds and put forward various proposals. The Victorian Govern^ ment put forward certain proposals and the Commonwealth accepted them. Here tonight we find that the right hand of Victoria knows not what the left hand of Victoria is doing.
I am interested in the proposal in clause 10 that the salary of a welfare officer in a senior citizens establishment, one of the social centres in any of the approved establishments, for the first time can be subsidised. I wonder whether the Minister can make clear what is not yet clear in my State, and that is whether it is essential for the State Government to provide half the salary to be matched by the Commonwealth or whether it is permissible under clause 10 for the State Government to recommend that the contribution of half the salary by an organisation, a church or a charitable body be matched under the Commonwealth’s proposal. This is not clear and is certainly not understood in my State. I would hope that the Minister would give an answer. I assure him and the Committee that in anticipation of this Bill being passed I have myself drafted an application for the Western Australian Government seeking this very attractive subsidy of 50% of the salary of a welfare officer. I would hope, therefore, that we could have advice from the Minister in the affirmative.
– The answer, briefly, is yes.
– This is a humane, imaginative measure seeking to ensure co-operation between all levels of government and individuals. It also seeks to share responsibility appropriately. I want to ask the Minister two quick questions. Does this measure require any matching State legislation? Who will be the employer of the welfare officers, the local organisation or government, the State Government or the Federal Government?
– I am not able to answer the first question, because it is a matter for the State concerned. I am not clear whether all States would have to amend their legislation. The welfare officer can be employed either by the State or by the local organisation concerned. He or she will not be employed by the Commonwealth but can be employed by either of the two bodies I mentioned.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Wentworth) read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 11.32 to 12 midnight.
Thursday, 29 May 1969
Consideration resumed from 27 May (vide page 2276), on motion by Dr Forbes:
That the Bill be now read a second time. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
– I ask the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) to indicate whether the wording in clause 4 excludes from the application of this scheme any paramedical services which are provided by community authorities and which are not actually carried out basically in the home.
– I ask the Minister to give to the House a clear explanation of the definition of ‘paramedical service’. Clause 3 of the Bill defines ‘paramedical service’ in these terms:
Paramedical service means chiropody, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech therapy or any other paramedical service that is for the time being approved, by instrument in writing, by the Minister for the purposes of this Act, and includes services in the nature of social work that are performed in connection with the provision of a paramedical service.
Are dental services covered by the words any other paramedical service’? If not, why are they not included? What other service does the Minister have in mind that he might approve of in writing from time to time? What is meant by the words includes services in the nature of social work?’ Clause 4 states:
For the purposes of this Act, the Minister may, at the request of a participating State, approve, by instrument in writing, a scheme for the provision of a paramedical service wholly or mainly for aged persons in their homes in respect of which that State proposes to incur expenditure.
What is meant by the words ‘wholly or mainly’? Who else is included or who else is it expected might be included. If a senior citizens centre introduces an approved welfare service, will such a service be covered by paramedical services or by home care service? If, for instance, at a senior citizens centre chiropody or occupational therapy classes are organised, will that come under paramedical services or will it come under the home care provisions?
- i think I can do little more than echo the statement made by my colleague the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) when he said that the three Bills have been deliberately drawn to make them as wide as possible to cater for a system or proposals where the initiative rests with State Governments. In other words, we really do not know the particular proposals which the States will propose to us, and we want to make the legislation wide enough and flexible enough to enable us to fit in with any reasonable proposal made by the State governments under this heading. In relation to the specific questions asked, in normal circumstances it would not be proposed that dental services would come under paramedical services as proposed. But if a proposal were put forward to cater for these on an emergency basis, which presumably is the only basis on which they would be provided in someone’s home, we would certainly be prepared to have a look at it.
The provision as to social work is a broad definition to cover the whole range of possibilities for which this was felt to be the best expression. In essence what it means is tha* it could cover the work of somebody assisting a professional paramedical worker where this was part and parcel of the process. The words ‘wholly or mainly for aged persons’ which appear in clause 4 imply that although these basic proposals arc mainly designed for aged persons we would not resist a proposal that they be extended in certain circumstances to other groups in the community. Indeed, I gave an assurance in that respect in answer to a question asked by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) some time ago when I said that it would not be limited exclusively to people of pensionable age. If the States put up to us in their overall programme proposals which were designed to provide home care services for a proportion of people who are not aged, we would be prepared to look at them. The wording of clause 4 is designed to make it possible for us to do this.
The honourable member for Lang asked what other paramedical services were envisaged. If we had had them specifically in mind we would have included them in the Bill, but this is part of the flexibility to which I referred. Possibly it will be claimed that it is desirable to include some particular service within the Bill and that it is reasonable to classify it as a paramedical service. We hope that this particular clause gives us the power to do that if the Minister for Social Services considers it desirable. I apologise to the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes). I do not know whether I have answered his question or not. If I have 1 did so inadvertently because I really did not hear it precisely. If I have not answered his question and he is prepared to repeat it, I will see if I can do so now.
– I am concerned about the words ‘in their homes’ which appear in clause 4 of the Bill. Those words would seem to limit the application of the clause to services actually provided in homes. During the debate on the second reading I referred to a paramedical service provided in my area whereby people are picked up at their homes and taken to what is called a ‘day hospital’ where they are provided with treatment of a paramedical nature - physiotherapy and so on. This is an efficient and economical method of providing services to those people capable of being transported. It is better than having the service provided in their homes, which could be time consuming. This service is of great value to the community. Will the words ‘in their homes’ mean that this type of service cannot be provided because the treatment is not given in the home? If that is the meaning of the words it appears to me to be a narrow provision in a Bill which, it is claimed, is drafted to throw a fairly wide loop. I would hope that schemes similar to that which operates in Geelong might come within the ambit of the Bill, because they provide a very good and sound service.
– My interpretation of the Bill is that the provision of paramedical services for aged persons is limited to such services being provided in their homes. It was not suggested to us by the States in our discussions with them that the situation should be otherwise. However, as I have said, the general intention of the legislation is that it be as flexible as possible. If any of the States suggest that it would be desirable and within the spirit of the home care programme to cover these services, we would certainly be glad to consider them and, if necessary, to amend the legislation if we feel that it is desirable to do so.
The point raised by the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) in reply to the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) holds great potential for further consideration. I fully appreciate the intention of the legislation to vest in the State government the initiative in most of these matters but I feel that the various State governments will be looking to this debate and to the second reading speeches by the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) and the Minister for Health for guidelines as to their initial procedures. As regards the interpretation of the words ‘wholly or mainly for aged persons in their homes’, in discussing this matter in Western Australia I noted with approval a fairly ready acceptance of the fact that under the Aged Persons Homes Act we are seeing in many cases an aggregation of elderly people in distinct villages - in settlements - and this concept in certain areas is very helpful.
Surely one can interpret these words to mean that if people are living in a unit in a home village or settlement the connotation of ‘their homes’ might well be applied to the entire settlement. If this is so- I would advocate that it should be, thus helping the honourable member for Corio - we find that one or two of the points raised by the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) can definitely attract our interest. For example, what has been our experience with the meals on wheels service? Invariably elderly folk do their own cooking when they live independently in units or flats in a settlement, but there comes a time when health fails. They may not be hospitalised, but their doctor or the welfare officer recommends the meals on wheels service. This is supplied from the kitchen of a senior citizens’ centre, but organisation is necesary by the various villages to bring the food into the village. We have become accustomed to the wives of many community leaders handling and delivering the food but perhaps the organisations might now make a claim for assistance under this provision. I would suggest to the Minister that the provision of a meals on wheels service is definitely linked with health. The diet of old folk is sadly affected if they do not get at least one good hot meal a day. So I would hope that the meals on wheels service might be looked at in this concept.
In some of the villages certain therapy work is being done as an extra gesture towards the old folk. I strongly advocate that a subsidy be paid in cases where old folk are taken by vehicle or walk for exercise a few hundred yards to a centre where they obtain occupational therapy or physiotherapy. I would hope that the Minister might give this matter further consideration. I would urge him to place a more flexible interpretation on the definitions. If this is done it will be an essential guideline for which I am sure the State governments will be grateful. I submit that one would be justified in claiming a subsidy for providing a village social centre which lonely old folk might attend. For old folk to be able to attend such centres night after night in their own village is a kind of therapy. The organisations running the social centre would be involved in expenditure in providing entertainment.
– The Bill provides for grants to be made to the States but I ask the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) whether in the Australian Capital Territory the Commonwealth will, from its own funds, provide the types of services that are envisaged to be provided by the States with assistance from the Commonwealth under this measure.
– Replying to the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) on the subject of clause 4 the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) indicated that requests for additional paramedical services would have to originate with the participating State. I understood him to say that following such a request he would be prepared to look at the possiblity of approving a service which took place outside the beneficiary’s home. I could cite a number of instances where this is likely to happen in my electorate. I ask the Minister specifically: By what process will this State recommendation be carried? Must it be in the form of a written request from the Premier to the Prime Minister or will the matter be handled at some other administrative level? Will all of these requests have to be channelled, as so many are at the moment, from the Premier to the Prime Minister?
– I, too, would like clarification on this point, lt appears from the remarks of the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Munro) and the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) that there has been an omission from the intention of the Bill. It may be worth while for the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) to consider holding the Bill over for further consideration on the next day of sitting. It is a minor matter here and now but it may become a major matter if it has to go through the channels of the States in the process of achievement of amendment. The idea of day hospitals or of night hospitals or of evening hospitals fits in pretty well with the remarks of the honourable members for Swan (Mr Cleaver) and Corio. It is a concept that has been neglected in Australia. It is a most economical method of combining the advantages of home care with the advantages of hospital care. It is not necessary to have three shifts of staff. The patient has the advantage of returning to his home and then having the facilities of a treatment centre in the few hours of the day when they are required. He also has the enormous social advantage of mixing with other people, an advantage which he may never otherwise have in the restricted life that he is now leading. I think this is a very important aspect. It is a way in which we can improve the patient’s outlook towards his medical condition and his future life. It is also a means of saving the States and the Commonwealth a great deal of expense. It saves the expense of having these people admitted to hospitals and homes. It saves the time of very valuable and scarce personnel at treatment centres who otherwise would have to spend half their time travelling.
– I want to make a brief reference to the subject raised by the honourable member for Swan (Mr Cleaver). I refer to the meals on wheels scheme. The present proposals would be worth virtually nothing in Brisbane because the assistance is more or less related to senior citizen centres which will use their facilities for providing meals. In Queensland there is hardly any organisation which utilises the senior citizen centres for this purpose. In the Bulimba area in my electorate one of the service clubs uses the Commonwealth hostel for the purpose of preparing meals, receiving the assistance and co-operation of the management. This is why I say that the present proposal would be worth absolutely nothing in that area. I hope that the Minister will take note that the present proposal in the legislation is very restricted and deprives worthy organisations of financial assistance.
– I must retract what I said earlier in reply to the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes). I think it is as well to set the record straight. I am told by the drafting expert - and this is consistent with what was contained in the Prime Minister’s letter to the Premiers - that the words ‘wholly or mainly’ in clause 4 of the Bill qualify the homes as well as the aged persons themselves. It is wide enough to cover broadly the points raised by the honourable members for Corio, Capricornia (Dr Everingham) and Swan (Mr Cleaver).
– Will the grants that are suggested be adequate for that extension?
– The grants that are proposed are made in respect of that conception of the way in which the scheme will be carried out. The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr J. R. Fraser) asked me whether this scheme will be extended to the Australian Capital Territory. I can give him the same answer as the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) gave him in respect of another matter. I met a deputation the other day from the National Council of Women. This organisation had been providing some of these services already in the
Australian Capital Territory and as a result of my discussions with that deputation we are currently having this question studied inter-departmentally between my Department and the Department of the Interior. I hope that before very long we will produce some results.
The honourable member for EdenMonaro (Mr Munro) asked about the process by which this scheme will come into operation. As I see it, the only communication that will be required between the Premier of a State and the Prime Minister will be a straight statement that the State wishes to take part in the scheme. Then it becomes a participating State. There would be discussion between the appropriate officers of the Department of Social Services, the Department of Health and the appropriate State departments. Through those discussions a plan would be hammered out and would be approved. Then, under the legislation the State would be able to get a share of the money.
– What about future approvals and future suggestions? What is the origin of the suggestions?
– As I understand it, they will be able to put forward fresh suggestions all the time. This is not inflexible. It will be a living, growing thing and we will see how it develops. Certainly we will not be impervious to suggestions for expansion and improvement. But what we will be looking for is an initial plan which will show that the State concerned has an overall scheme in relation to the provision of home care. We are not too keen on the idea of a piecemeal approach to it. But once a State demonstrates that it has such a plan we can go ahead under the Act. Then any future changes or additions will come about in the normal process.
– Will you, as the Minister, be able to initiate a change if you think it desirable.
– It depends how large the change is.
– In view of what has been said in Committee, one would have felt inclined perhaps to press for the insertion of a few words as an amendment. 1 am very grateful for the explanation that has been given but unless the guidelines are set down right at the beginning so that State goverments interpret these words in the sense that has been explained to us, I would think that it might be wise to insert after the words ‘their homes’ such words as ‘village, settlement or local community’. That would spell out that we are covering not just the homes in which these people have their beds, not just their units or their flats but the settlements where they live with other people like themselves, or even the local communities, villages, towns or suburbs, in which the services might be given. But I will desist from pressing for the amendment in view of what the Minister has said, although I would ask the. Minister to amplify, in correspondence with the States, the understanding that we have arrived at in Committee regarding clause 4. The States should be given to understand right from the beginning that the words “wholly or mainly for aged persons in their homes* may be interpreted to cover the local community. I think that if that is done everyone who has spoken in this debate will be satisfied.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Dr Forbes) - by leave - read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 27 May (vide page 2280), on motion by Dr Forbes:
That the BUI be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Dr Forbes) read a third time.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
Decimal Currency Board (Abolition) Bill 1969. Citizenship Bill 1969.
Debate resumed from 1 May (vide page 1593), on motion by Mr Fairbairn:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Mr Speaker, may I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation? Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I would like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill, the New South Wales Grant (Gwydir River Dam) Bill and the Victoria Grant (King River Dam) Bill as they are related measures. Separate questions may, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest, therefore, that you permit the subject matter of the three Bills to be discussed in this debate.
-Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering the three measures? There being no objection, I will permit this course to be followed.
– The Bills before the House form part of the Government’s national water resources programme. They provide grants for the States of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia for three projects. A water resources authority is not envisaged in the legislation before the Parliament. The measures, although welcomed by the Opposition, have been exasperatingly long delayed and fail to meet the broad national needs of Australia. Speaking at Tumut in November 1966 the Minister for the Interior said that the Federal Government’s grant would start a national conservation authority. This, of course, is not the purpose of this legislation and it will not be achieved. The tardy provision of funds will slow down these urgent conservation projects. The Opposition welcomes the pro posals to augment the water resources of this nation. Consequently, we do not oppose the measures which provide the funds requested by State governments. Indeed, State governments have sought grants over a period of time, and they have been impatient about the delay in obtaining the funds which they have sought. We offer criticism of the delay in making the grants to implement the Government’s 1966 election promises.
It is noteworthy that the first legislation in the national water resources programme was introduced on 1st May of last year - the Queensland Grant (Maraboon Dam) Bill. I remind honourable members that that dam has now been named the Fairbairn Dam, in honour of the Minister for National Development. I offer him congratulations for having his name recorded in such a satisfactory and material way. I believe that there is no more useful purpose of legislation than to provide finance for water conservation in Australia. For that reason it is good to know that the Minister’s name will be remembered through at least one of the proposals that has been adopted. As I have said, we offer criticism of the delay in making the grants. The late Harold Holt, when Prime Minister, made in November 1966 the promise of a S50m water resources programme.
I have referred to what the Minister for the Interior said because it is important to remember that no national authority is being established by this Government. We will continue with the fragmented policy of the States making recommendations and the Commonwealth in turn making inspections. Delays will occur. Projects will have little or no relationship one with the other and they will all form part of a patchwork quilt of projects throughout Australia. The Minister for the Interior was quite definite that a national authority would be established. On 25th November 1966 he made a speech along those lines at Tumut. As I have said, it is a fragmented policy in respect of undertakings which do not form part of a co-ordinated national programme. The Murray River and Darling River systems call for such a nationally planned water resources development scheme. This legislation is not to set up an authority but to provide funds for projects selected by State governments, the first of which deals with a proposed pipeline from Tailem Bend to Keith in South Australia. The scheme was introduced some time ago.
The Opposition welcomes proposals that will help to provide water for this thirsty land, for urban communities and for industry generally to enhance production and to improve the living standards of the people. The South Australia Grant (Tailem Bend to Keith Pipeline) Bill is to provide a grant of $6m for a project with a total cost of $14m. The scheme was commenced in 1963-64. According to a statement provided by the Minister the grant will help to construct a pipeline of 86 miles from Tailem Bend to Keith and also to provide branch lines and the storage tanks necessary to the scheme. It is anticipated that this project will help to provide water for about 2,800 square miles of country and to service thirteen towns.
I have learnt from the Minister’s speech and from the notes which have been provided that two schemes were submitted by the South Australian Government. Later eight other schemes were suggested but no information was provided. I offer the comment that whilst it is of very great value to obtain detailed information on schemes that have been submitted by the respective governments and ultimately adopted, it would be of very great benefit to honourable members and to the Parliament generally if we were to be furnished with information on all the schemes. I think that the House should be informed not only of the potential of the scheme accepted by the Government but also of the schemes that in the opinion of the Government do not have the virtues of the one it accepted. That information should be supplied to the House. I ask the Minister for National Development to supply in the future not only information regarding the accepted scheme but also information regarding those projects which were submitted but not accepted. The Tailem Bend to Keith pipeline will be of great value to the people who live in that area. It will help to provide water for the rural industries. There is an urgent need for an adequate water supply in this region. I think that more should be done in regard to not only distributing and conveying water to the centres requiring it but also conservation of water in the region. In that way we will ensure that sufficient water is available for the pipelines that this legislation provides for.
The other matter to which I wish to refer for a few moments is the Victorian Grant (King River Dam) Bill. This legislation will provide for the granting of $4m for the construction of a dam on the King River. The estimated cost of the dam is $4.2m. I would like the Minister to inform me upon what basis the Government provides $20m each for schemes costing about $45m but $4m for a $4.2m project, as is the case with the King River Dam. I think that guidelines should be drawn up to indicate clearly the Government’s policy in matters of this kind. I note that the Victorian Government submitted eight projects for consideration under the national water resources development programme. The Minister did not refer to all of those projects in his second reading speech, but he referred to one project included in the short list of projects announced last year as undertakings suitable for consideration. Our South Australian colleagues and the people of South Australia have had the agonising, depressing and annoying experience of having the proposed scheme for a dam at Chowilla abandoned. This scheme was discussed by the River Murray Commission and approved by the State governments concerned. Whilst Australia urgently needs more water storages, I feel that when funds are to be voted for projects the House should be supplied with the fullest information on all of the projects considered.
I note that the proposed dam on the King River will be a rock fill embankment approximately 125 feet high, which will store 10,000 acre feet of water. I understand that that is a satisfactory proposal. But there is the question of the disparity between the provision of funds for this project as against others that we are asked to consider this evening. This scheme is not a new one. The Public Works Committee of Victoria made a study of the water conservation possibilities of (his area in 1961 and 1962. In 1966 studies were carried out by the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission which recommended the construction of a dam at Horseshoe Bend.
In addition to this, people of the area formed the King Valley Water Conservation League to promote the development of the water resources of the King River. In 1967 the League commissioned a consultant te undertake an economic evaluation of the proposed King River irrigation project to support the Victorian Government submission to the Commonwealth under the national water resources development programme. The irrigated area along the King River had grown from 400 acres in 1959-60 to the present area of 1,850 acres, which is considered to be the upper limit of irrigation development from an unregulated river flow and underground sources. The point that I wish to make is the commendable attitude of the King Valley Water Conservation League. I think honourable members would pay a tribute to people who uphold the highest traditions of good Australians in this field by putting forward the claims of their district, documenting its advantages and bringing forward a report which supported the Victorian Government in its submission to the Commonwealth. This also emphasises that Victoria was prepared to act before the Commonwealth Government was prepared to do so. In my opinion the delay is most undesirable.
I would like to see a more fluid policy develop so that when the State and the Commonwealth have to work in tandem they will work with the utmost harmony and with the greatest degree of expedition. I have emphasised the importance of the Parliament being informed. This is a matter that must always weigh heavily with honourable members. But here was a case where the river system had been considered by the State in 1961, 1962 and 1966, and considered again in 1967 by the local organisation, but not until 1.48 a.m. on 29th May 1969 - almost 3 years after the former Prime Minister announced this water resources development plan - have we the legislation before the Parliament to permit the progress of this scheme.
I should like to refer generally to what has taken place. In the course of his defence of Government policy the Minister has made clear the point that I have been trying to make - that the Government must be satisfied with the economics of schemes such as this and that these factors deserve early and careful consideration. With that I agree, but when one considers the unending delay which has occurred and the frustration and bitterness felt by some people, particularly the Minister for Conservation in New South Wales who engaged in some controversy with the Minister for National Development, it is not a very happy way to deal with a matter of such significance and importance to this nation. Surely the development of Australia could be more effectively discussed in our parliaments than through the columns of the Press. We are indebted to the Sydney Morning Herald’ of 22nd January 1969 for publishing a letter by the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) wherein he said:
Under the National Water Resources Development Programme which the late Mr Holt announced in November 1966, an additional $501 was to be spent on water conservation over a period of 5 years to increase primary production and mitigate the effects of drought. This money was intended to be allocated to the most worthwhile water conservation projects. It was never intended to be something that was just divided up amongst the States.
That is a statement with which I can concur, but it appears to me that at this stage the Minister seems more concerned about dividing the $50m under the national water resources development programme between the States than he has been about trying to evaluate the sort of schemes that are most important and necessary in Australia. There is, of course, the Emerald scheme which now bears the name of the Minister. It cost $20m and was begun on 1st May last year.
The Bill before the House refers to the Copeton Dam in New South Wales to be built at a cost of $20m, there is the Victorian project concerning salinity in the River Murray which will cost $3.6m, there is the South Australian Tailem Bend-Keith pipeline project which will cost $6m and the Victorian King River project, to cost $4m, making a grand total of $53. 6m. This I know will be expended over a period of years. It will not all be called upon this year, next year or within 5 years. The Minister previously said that some S3 3 m would be called upon, but in any event the whole of these funds are to be used in the next 5 years. It is not a particularly extravagant sum of money when one considers the statements made by the Minister for Conservation in New South Wales, Mr Beale. In a statement regarding the intentions of his Government on water resources he said that he would provide $ 1,200m for water planning over a 25-year period. Mr Beale is rather ambitious and his plans seem to far outmatch and outpace the proposals of the Commonwealth Government.
When looking over these figures I think there ought to be greater consideration of and greater concern for the overall problems of developing the water resources of this country. The need for water, of course, is a commonplace fact. It is accepted by anybody who has any appreciation of the needs of this country. In an article in the Sydney Morning Herald’ of 25th March last year Mr John Mills said:
Lack of planning will slow growth. Australia’s potential growth is controlled more by the availability of adequate water supplies than any other single factor.
If this is to be translated into fact, if we are to get the adequate water supply required for the nation, then I believe that we will have to go beyond what the Minister has proposed. We will have to form some sort of Australian resources authority, such as the Darling River authority that was advocated here on numerous occasions by a number of members and particularly by the former member for Gwydir, who, I regret, is not in the House on this occasion to express his sentiments on the legislation in connection with the Copeton Dam. He was most impatient about matters of this kind. He was dissatisfied with the progress being made by the Government. He was not pleased with the tardy manner in which the Commonwealth was tackling this question. It was not surprising, therefore, to find upon reading the statements made by Mr Beale, the New South Wales Minister for Conservation, that he was most frustrated and annoyed about the delay on the part of the Government in providing funds for the Copeton Dam. A newspaper report quoted him as saying:
This is a situation which shames intelligent planning. The situation is so absurd and so heart breaking that it appears incredible in this day and age of expert planning’.
The heading for that article, which appeared in the Sydney ‘Sun’ on 16th January this year, was : ‘Dam men sacked. Blast at Government’. The article was written by Mr Vince Kelly.
This is the tone of the criticism of the Government for its failure to get on with the Copeton Dam and its failure to get on with the job of conservation in Australia. One has only to think of what is happening in respect of the Darling River basin. It draws its water from Queensland and New South Wales and that supply could be aug mented from streams discharging surplus water into the Pacific Ocean. When we think of these things we realise that more could and should be done. An article in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 8th January this year was headed: ‘Delays in water grant criticised’ and it referred to a statement by the New South Wales Minister for Conservation. He criticised the Commonwealth Government and drew attention to the fact that plans had been submitted to the Commonwealth more than 12 months previously, yet it had failed to deal with the matters concerned. There was a further report in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ headed: ‘Beale defends Copeton. The NSW case for water aid’, in which Mr Beale replied to the Minister for National Development.
Let us hope that in the future, Mr Speaker, this disputation between the New South Wales Minister for Conservation and our Minister for National Development will not occur. I would like to think that we will be able to work along more progressive lines. If we cannot get the national authority to carry out these works then at least let us have harmony and teamwork in the development of our resources. Since the announcement of the water resources programme the State governments have anxiously waited to share in it. Regional authorities and conservationists have become impatient at the Government’s delay in making grants for projects considered by them to warrant financial support. The Minister for National Development was taken to task by the New South Wales Minister for Conservation over Copeton Dam. He was also taken to task by Professor Munro and other well known experts in this field. The people of the north west of New South Wales have been greatly concerned. They have become impatient; they have become irate; they have protested. It may be known to honourable members - I am sure it would be known to the Minister for National Development - that Senator McClelland presented in the Senate a petition signed by 611 residents of the north west area of New South Wales asking that the Commonwealth Government get on with the job of providing funds for the Copeton conservation project.
These are facts, Mr Speaker, and they warrant action being taken in the future.
The Minister has said that money will not be divided up for these projects. I only hope that in the future there will be some definite plans for these works. The Copeton project was considered for a considerable period of time. I am not complaining about the Government’s anxiety to see that this project is a viable economic proposal but the Minister raised questions about the soil and its productivity. The Minister now admits, and so does bis Department in the publication with which it has been good enough to provide us, that is a first class proposition and that the lands are similar to the lands of the Namoi Valley, where there is excellent production and records are being made not only in the quantity of cotton grown but in the quality of cotton and where other industries are also thriving.
This is a Bill to provide $20m for the Copeton Dam. It will be an earth and rock fill embankment type of dam 370 feet high and will have a storage of l.l million acre feet. It will cost $45m. The time taken to complete the work, because of the Commonwealth support, will be cut from 10 years to 6 years. It is an irrigation project. It is good to remember that the site was selected in 1936. The State, after surveys had been made of thirty major river valleys, agreed on a site for the dam in 1965, and in 1967 the matter was referred to the Commonwealth as a proposal to participate in the funds under the national water resources development programme. It has taken from 1967 to May 1969 for action to be taken by the Commonwealth, which seems to be unduly slow. The Copeton Dam plans were completed in 1968^
The Minister for Conservation in New South Wales talked about the tragic dillydallying at Canberra and also scornfully asked: ‘What will it grow?’ This is good land. According to the publications provided by the Minister a great area of land will be available for development. The type of dam being constructed will enable a draw off of water at various stages. The first storage would draw 90,000 acre feet, the second 700,000 acre feet and the third 1,100,000 acre feet. This seems to be an exceptionally good idea. Whilst the overall project will cost $45 m, $43.9m will be spent on the project of the dam. The Snowy
Mountains Authority has been involved in this and I am particularly pleased to think that this great organisation had been given the opportunity to provide technical knowledge and know-how in a matter of this kind and in the evaluation of the project.
The Opposition welcomes the legislation. We look forward to similar pieces of legislation which will come forward and which will assist in the development of Australia. We are naturally disappointed with the paltry sums that are being made available in such times as these. There is a need for further Copeton Dams, further Tailem Bend pipelines and further King River projects throughout Australia. I am certain that we will not achieve our great objectives unless we have a national programme and a national authority for the Darling River basin so that this great river can be harnessed and waters can be conserved.
I believe that the border rivers agreements in relation to New South Wales and Queensland were valuable when adopted in the first instance but that their value has not been of such great significance in recent times. I believe that through the funds that can be made available by the Commonwealth Government useful work: can be proceeded with for the advancement of Australia. It has been said that there is a need to plan for the harnessing of the Darling River, and numerous people in authority have commented upon that. Other suggestions have been reported under the headline: ‘Move for Unity on Water Plans’.
These people are all impatient not only with the Copeton project but also with other projects. One of them is the President of the Ashford Shire Council and of the New England Regional Development Committee, Councillor J. R. Black, who initiated moves for a common policy on water conservation in the north west of New South Wales and the Darling River system. His work deserves support. He is a man of vision. He is a man of knowledge. He understands the district. Other people have often suggested that projects such as this should be undertaken.
We do not want the pettiness that comes from the sectional interests. Something which surely indicates pettiness is a statement by Sir Henry Bolte which was reported in the Melbourne ‘Sun’ of 16th August 1967 under the heading: ‘We “Won’t Share Water” - Bolte’. What a declaration that is. There is need for national understanding, national unity and co-ordination of policies in these matters. The leader writer of the Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ wrote in an editorial of the need for a national water plan. He quoted authorities. Those authorities are certainly men whose views should be respected.
At this early hour of the morning the Opposition does not wish to proceed with this discussion for an extended period of time; but we do want to voice our protest against the Government’s delay in coming forward with the types of schemes that are needed. We offer congratulations on the success of schemes undertaken. But we can only express the hope that from the advocacy of good Australian people will emerge the adoption of national policies in matters such as this. There is no water scheme in Australia which is as suited to the implementation of national policies as is the Darling River scheme. That river derives its water from three States of the Commonwealth and provides water for four States of the Commonwealth. This scheme should be a national project. The Opposition supports the three Bills now before the House. It wishes them a speedy passage. We can only hope that other projects will be brought before the Parliament as speedily as possible.
– I listened with interest to the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti). He reminded the House of several projects that have been instigated by this Government in the past. Surely there is evidence before the House tonight that there is a continuing policy by this Government which recognises the water resources needs throughout this country. Tonight we are discussing three Bills under which this Government is providing grants of up to $30m. We are considering a grant to South Australia of $6m for the Tailem Bend-Keith pipeline. New South Wales will benefit from a grant for the Gwydir River dam. Victoria will benefit from a grant for the King River dam.
I wish to refer in this debate to the Commonwealth proposal to provide financial assistance to the State of South Australia in order to accelerate the construction of the pipeline from Tailem Bend on the River Murray to Keith in the south east of South Australia. This scheme was conceived in 1946 when a request was made by the residents of Keith to the South Australian Minister of Works in the Playford Government of that time. They requested that the Government provide a town water supply to serve that area. That request set off attempts by the Government to locate conveniently placed subterranean water sources. Those investigations failed to discover adequate supplies of good quality water suitable for stock. So a project was planned, involving a main trunk pipeline from the River Murray to Keith - a distance of approximately 89 miles.
The Bill before the House provides for amounts to be paid to the State by the Commonwealth equal to two-thirds of the amounts expended by the State on or after 26th February this year in carrying out the works and for the construction of works required to complete the pipeline from Tailem Bend to Keith, including three pumping stations and three concrete storage tanks. Money will be made available also to construct branch mains from the pipeline to provide a reticulated stock and domestic water supply to an area of approximately 2,800 square miles of farming and grazing country as well as to serve the thirteen townships en route, including water reticulation in the towns of Tintinara and Keith. The total cost of this project will be about $14m and the Commonwealth contribution as described by this Bill will amount to $6m. Following so closely upon last week’s Commonwealth decision to grant an extra $2m to the State of South Australia to assist in that Government’s budgetary problems, this surely will be greeted by the South Australian Premier with great joy. I hope he will display more enthusiasm than he did last week when he is reported to have said:
The grant was less than the Government had hoped for and less than appeared justified in relation to other States, but it would probably enable South Australia to balance its 1968-69 Budget.
I would have thought the Premier should have been extremely pleased that his representations for a further grant were so successful and that the validity of the case he presented and the persistent efforts by
South Australian Federal Government members for a better deal for South Australia had been recognised in such a tangible way. When compared with other States, South Australia did exceptionally well in receiving a total of S3.35m, second only to the New South Wales Government which received $3. 99m. I feel that on reflection the South Australian Premier will recognise the great success of his representations which were backed up so persistently by South Australian members of this Government. This additional $6m provision by the Commonwealth Government for the Tailem Bend to Keith pipeline will enable the work to be completed by 1973, years ahead of schedule had this money not been made available.
The South Australian Government submitted one other project in the first instance - the Lock to Kimba pipeline, and subsequently a further eight projects were proposed but without details supporting them. I want to say a few words concerning the Lock to Kimba pipeline. This pipeline has been under consideration for many years. Sir Thomas Playford recognised the importance of this work and undertook to give it his attention. However, his Government was defeated and he was unable to proceed with the project. The subsequent Dunstan Government, in spite of an election promise to proceed with the pipeline, did not do so. 1 have drawn the attention of the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) to this matter on several occasions since I have been in this place. He indicated that he would consider the project along with the many others submitted by the States. I sympathise with his problem and realise that priorities had to be determined in order to allocate the $50m for selected water conservation projects in the States. I realise, too, that he was faced with no less than thirty-two projects to choose from, amounting to a total cost of $300m, and it was his unfortunate task to eliminate many of these projects. This resulted in the Lock to Kimba pipeline being dropped from the Commonwealth list.
The fact that the Government chose to do this, and for good reasons associated with the cost benefit study of the two South Australian projects, is little consolation to the people in my electorate - people who live in the driest electorate in the driest State in the driest continent of the world; people who have been forced to cart water every summer for the last 10 years. Although the Kimba area in particular has had light rains recently it is estimated that unless heavy rains fall in the near future, water restrictions will re-commence in September. The Stale Government has installed pumping stations and storage tanks in the area between Lock and Kimba at a cost of $140,000. During the last dry period, two trains a day were necessary to carry 52,000 gallons of water to Kimba for the domestic needs of the 1,600 residents, and this was done at some cost to the South Australian Government. When I visited the Lock area recently, I was glad to see that the present State Government, true to Mr Hall’s election promise, had commenced construction of the pipeline and that already a few miles had been laid. However, it is estimated that it will be 3 years before the pipeline will reach Kimba. Meanwhile, these people will be subjected to further hardship during the hot weather. No doubt the South Australian Government has been able to commence work on this pipeline because the Commonwealth Government made $6m available for the south-eastern scheme, thereby easing the financial burden in that area. But South Australia’s funds for water resources projects are extremely limited and I believe that that State has a good case to present to the Commonwealth for further consideration of the Lock-Kimba scheme.
This project involves the construction of 68 miles of pipeline from the Polda underground basing to the town of Kimba. It would provide a water supply for stock and domestic purposes over an area of 480,000 acres in addition to providing a domestic water supply for Kimba. I understand that the whole scheme is estimated to cost S3. 52m. If the Commonwealth undertook to provide finance on the same basis as that outlined in the Bill, it would involve the Commonwealth in the expenditure of about $1.5m. This would enable the South Australian Government to progress more rapidly with the work of bringing relief to the many people living in that area. I strongly support the South Australian Government in its efforts to secure additional money for this second project, and urge the Minister to consider the points I have made when he is next faced with the allocation of further grants for water resources. I have pleasure in supporting this measure.
– As my colleague the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) has said, this Bill is welcomed by the Opposition for it is an indication that the Government has decided to make positive plans for the further development of the water resources of this nation. In his second reading speech, and also in a statement which he made in the House some time ago, the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) said that a total of thirty-two projects had been presented to the Government by the States for consideration under this particular programme.
I do not wish to speak at any length at this late hour, but if the Minister is in the position to do so at this stage I should like him to provide us with some more information about these projects. As he well knows, I have put several questions on notice seeking more details as to how his Department and the Government arrange the priorities for these works. It was not long after the thirty-two projects were submitted that it was stated in the House that, after preliminary inspections, the number for final consideration was reduced to six. I should like to know what project was No. 7 on the list and how close it was to No. 6. Or were these six selected simply because they were given first and second priorities on the lists submitted by the various States? The point made by the honourable member for Macquarie is quite valid. If the Government is going to allot priorities to projects based on State criteria as distinct from national criteria, it should say so. It looks very much as though this has happened.
The Government is reluctant to provide any data that would enable us to establish not only the relative priorities of these projects but also .the relationship of these projects to the others that have been omitted. This is very important, because it is the whole basis of a national water resources programme. I am not saying, for instance, that the project that has the best marginal ratio or the best cost benefit ratio, or whatever evaluation co-efficient is being used, is the one that necessarily should be adopted. A government takes into account other factors beside the purely quantitative analysis. It must take into account the qualitative factors, not only in relation to water but also in relation to public investment, transport and other types of public utilities. However, the economic analyses are at least a guide and the Government should consider them. I think one of the projects considered is in the electorate of the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon), who is interjecting. Recently, when he went to Bundaberg, which is in the drought stricken area, he was very quiet about the fact that the Government is giving his electorate S6m.
– No, nothing is being done in Gippsland.
– I thought it was.
– One of the projects should have been in Gippsland,
De PATTERSON - That is precisely the point I am making. The Minister for the Interior says that Gippsland should have had a project. The honourable member for Grey (Mr Jessop) was somewhat distressed because the second project in South Australia was not given a better hearing. I am somewhat distressed because some projects in Queensland that I consider should have had a better hearing have been omitted from the list. We are now debating national water resources projects, and 1 say that this short list again shows a blatant discrimination against Queensland. Since the Government took office it has committed about $850m to irrigation and power projects. Admittedly the Snowy Mountains scheme is by far the major element. However, of the $850m, Queensland, which has 45% of Australia’s water and the largest tracts of underdeveloped fertile soils, has received assistance for only one project and that is the Emerald irrigation scheme, for which a total of $20m has been provided. Is this a fair allocation out of a total of S850m?
– It is more than that, is it not?
– No. When the Snowy Mountains scheme is finished, it will be much more than that, but at this time only $20m has been committed by the Commonwealth. I noticed recently that the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr McEwen) said that this Government had helped to finance the Mareeba-Dimbulah scheme. I give him the benefit of the doubt, but I venture to say that the Government did not. The scheme was financed by the State Government. The only project for which the Commonwealth has provided assistance in Queensland is the Nogoa, which is now being built. As I say, I have no objection whatever to the projects we are debating tonight. I have always believed that water conservation projects, if they are soundly based, will prove their worth. I do not know of any water conservation and irrigation project in Australia or the world that has not, 10 years after the reticulation and drainage have been completed, been limited by lack of water and not by lack of land. If any honourable member could name one project where that is not so, I would be pleased to hear of it. The same old story applies with any dam. The height of the dam has to be raised to impound more water. The water impounded is not sufficient in terms of the area of land that the dam can service.
I hark back to priorities. I ask the Minister to state the relative priorities between the Burnett irrigation scheme and the King River scheme, for example, or the dam on the Gwydir, because this is important. We ought to be given a little more detail on this because, after all, the whole basis of benefit cost analysis depends upon looking at one project and comparing it with a like project. As anybody who has dealt with this technique knows, a little fiddling with a few of the assumptions will achieve almost any result. If a number of like projects are compared, provided the same basic assumptions in relation to price and cost are used and provided the same discount rate is used, comparable figures can be arrived at. I stress that like projects have to be compared because a common fault in benefit cost analysis is to compare projects that are not alike. When this is done the assumptions could be invalid. This technique is particularly suited to water and to roads. A legitimate answer can be arrived at.
I was surprised and pleased, 1 might say, at the rapidity with which the Government has made decisions in relation to these projects, particularly after having been associated with what I might call the fine tooth comb treatment that was given to the Ord River scheme and to the Nogoa scheme. Every conceivable excuse was put forward why those two projects should not be advanced. Finally, perhaps for what might be called qualitative reasons - it was just prior to an election - the Government decided that the Ord River scheme and the Namoi River scheme should be given the go ahead. As far as I am concerned, the most important thing is that the decision was taken. The latest reports from the Ord, contrary to what some newspaper correspondents say, are that the area will produce very good yields this year. We cannot judge the Nogoa scheme because it is only in its infancy as far as experimental work is concerned.
I ask the Minister one very important question. The actual amount of funds committed by the Government under this programme is $53m for the 5-year period, although only approximately $33m will be spent in this 5-year period. Does this mean that no more projects will be decided upon before 1972? This is a burning question. It is the most important question as far as Queensland is concerned. As the Minister well knows, it will be a burning question for the rest of the year - particularly as the election draws near - most certainly in the Burnett area and in other areas such as the Burdekin. If in fact the Government is contemplating studying more projects with the object of making a further decision before 1972, 1 believe it ought to say so.
The Government will do what is called a reappraisal of the Burdekin scheme. I am not quite clear what this ‘re’ means. An appraisal was done in 1949. 1 suppose this is a reappraisal after 20 years. If a scheme such as the Burdekin is to be reappraised by an authority such as the Snowy Mountains Authority, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, the Northern Division of the Department of National Development or others, another political football will be created in the sense that it will become a political football until a decision is taken. Whereas if it follows the actual methods by which these projects under discussion tonight were arrived at, then we may get a quicker answer, because it is quite remarkable to me that the answers to these projects could have been derived by the Government so quickly. If the Government had taken the criteria that it took for the Ord River scheme and the
Nogoa River scheme on the insistence of the Treasury, for example, export income and import parity for the products produced, the results might have been different. I am quite interested to see some of the products under consideration here. If one takes the import parity and export parity, allowing for freight, then it would be hard to justify some of these projects. Of course I am glad to see that the Government takes a much more benevolent and much more realistic attitude to developmental projects than perhaps the rather narrow accounting attitude of the Treasury.
One of the most important points that has been used to justify these projects has been the stability of production. I think that this is something we often overlook. We are inclined to look at an irrigation project as some grandiose scheme for creating wealth. One of the most important objects of irrigation is to stabilise production. This will certainly occur with these three projects. The great virtue of the Burnett scheme is that it will stabilise the production of sugar and livestock in the area and at the same time encourage or allow an increase in production.
If one takes the cumulative value of the losses, direct and indirect, that have occurred in the major droughts in the postwar years in coastal Queensland one would find that they are significantly greater than the cost of providing several major irrigation schemes in that area, and this certainly applies to an area like the BurnettIsis area. Tremendous losses are involved. I think often when we are evaluating developmental projects we do not give sufficient weight to the loss incurred as a result of droughts. It is of no use saying that there may not be any more droughts because as sure as night follows day there will be major, serious droughts in the coastal areas of Queensland. I do not think Victoria can stick to the average of one major drought over 20 years in the postwar period. I hope it can. It seems to me that this is problematical anyhow.
In conclusion I again stress that the Opposition completely supports this Bill, but we would like some more information on these water conservation projects. There is a lot of money involved. This can be seen by adding the $53m committed to these projects to the expenditure on the Ord River scheme and the Nogoa River scheme. I was going to include the comprehensive water scheme, but reports have been issued for that project. Of the schemes I mentioned there is not one public report which we can get our teeth into. Perhaps this is a good political point that these reports should not be published. Once something is published, particularly something based on conjecture for the future, there is always someone who will say in a few years time: ‘I told you you were wrong’. Perhaps it is better not to publish it. However, I do think that more information should be given as to how the priorities were arrived at. Despite the fact that only $33m of the $53m will be spent up to 1972, does this mean that there will be no more projects announced before 19727 More importantly, does this mean that there will be no more projects announced in Queensland before the end of this year?
– This legislation relates to three projects connected with the financial grants by the Commonwealth to the State of New South Wales, the State of South Australia and the State of Victoria. The project in South Australia has been referred to as the ‘Tailem Bend-Keith Pipeline’. The Commonwealth will be allocating to the State some $6m for this project. To the New South Wales Government it will allocate $20m for the Copeton Dam on the Gwydir River which, I understand, will cost the State Government some $45m in total. The allocation to Victoria for the King River Dam is $4m. All of this, of course, resulted from the announcement made by the late Prime Minister, Mr Harold Holt, in 1966 when he said that the Government after re-election in 1966 would set aside some $50m for water conservation throughout the Commonwealth and that this money would be allocated in terms of priorities to various States.
At this point I wish to indicate that the allocation had nothing to do with State rights. There was no intention - there never has been and there never will be - on the part of the Commonwealth Government to invade the rights of the States. We realise that it is the responsibility of the States to carry out water conservation and irrigation programmes. We are helping them, as the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) has said in his second reading speech, to the extent of $50m. All of this money has now been allocated throughout the Commonwealth. The honourable member for Dawson has asked: Is this the end of the road? No doubt the Minister will give his reply.
At the same time as the late Prime Minister made the promise to allocate this $50m he said nothing about the Constitution. My attention was drawn tonight to the fact that the honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) chided me in a gentle way about some remarks I made last week in discussing the legislation relating to Commonwealth aid roads grants. What I said at that time I will repeat tonight, because the information in the Hansard report of my speech is correct. The Premier of Victoria came to the Premiers Conference in Canberra in March of this year. After that conference he went back to his State and said that motorists in Victoria could expect that registration fees would not be increased in the next 5 years. This was after an increase in grants to his State of some 67%. Tn other words, this was another case where a Premier of a State came to Canberra in search of money and returned to his State to get the headlines.
What I said in the previous debate on the Commonwealth aid roads grants was that the Victorian Vear Book states that constitutionally road construction is the responsibility of the States. I went on further to say that when the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) announced his intention to introduce legislation concerning nursing aid the same Premier said that he would not match the grants that were allocated to Victoria by the Commonwealth for nursing aid. I went on to point out that the $450,000 that we would have been allocating to Victoria at that time for nursing aid would be a good trade for the $254.4m which that State would be getting by way of the Commonwealth aid roads grant. The Premier said that, constitutionally, welfare was a matter for the Commonwealth. He should have said in the same breath that, constitutionally, the construction of roads in his State was a matter for his State Government. I made the offer that we would trade our responsibility, which amounted to $450,000 in that case, for the $254.4m which he was receiving for State roads.
– lt was not accepted?
– No. I was chided by the honourable member for Chisholm. I thought 1 would try to put the record straight. I will go a little further and say that the honourable member for Chisholm should realise that, here again, the responsibility for water conservation, irrigation and water resources rests with the States and the governments of those States. The $4m that is being allocated for the King River project could have come out of the State’s coffers if the State had the money. I realise that the Premiers have problems so far as their financial relations with the Commonwealth are concerned but 1 point out that all States now have what could be called Conservative governments - Liberal-Country Party type governments. If between them they cannot do something about their financial relations with the Commonwealth there is something wrong with them.
In another speech I said that I am a federalist to the boot straps. I repeat that I am a federalist to the boot straps. I believe that the Commonwealth should assist the States financially but I believe also that after coming to Canberra seeking grants the States should give credit where it is due. I am aware that the honourable member for Grey (Mr Jessop) has similar problems in South Australia to those which confront us in Victoria. As I have said, $50m has been allocated for water conservation. This allocation is a continuation of the Government’s plan, announced in 1966. to give financial assistance to those States in which water conservation projects can be shown to be viable. They are projects of high priority. I compliment the Government on giving assistance to South Australia because I agree with the honourable member for Grey that South Australia is the driest State in the driest continent. Very few people who talk about these matters realise that only 16 inches of water falls on Australia annually compared with an average of 25 inches on other continents. As a united Commonwealth-State group we should do more in the future about water conservation than we have done in the past.
The Tailem Bend-Keith pipeline project is very important to South Australia. I agree with the honourable member for Grey that as some $9m remains to be spent on the programme, justice would have been served if the Parliament had voted $9m for the project in this Bill. The benefits that will flow to South Australia upon finalisation of the project will be immense. South Australia has a need for more water than it has ever received. About 80% of South Australia’s water comes from the Murray River. In recent years honourable members from that State have spoken about the Chowilla Dam project. This matter was referred to also by the honourable member for Macquarie, who questioned the reason for abandoning the scheme. I think it is fair to say that the River Murray Commission, on which the interested States and the Commonwealth are represented, carefully examined the Chowilla Dam proposal and came to the right conclusion. In 1963 it was estimated that the project would cost $23m. Another estimate was made in 1966 when a figure of $63m was mentioned. I speak from memory. When tenders were called in 1967 I think the lowest tender was $67m. Chowilla Dam would have been such a wide expanse of water that losses by evaporation and the risks of salinity would have been very great. The decision was made to abandon the scheme following pressure from the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, which is the expert in these matters. The South Australian Government is to be congratulated on accepting the abandonment of the Chowilla Dam scheme and agreeing to the proposal that the major dam to provide water for the State should be built on the Mitta Mitta River at Dartmouth. In this way South Australia will get a better deal.
In fact, through the River Murray Commission, instead of getting 1.25 million acre feet of water per annum South Australia will get 1.5 million acre feet. In other words, the Premier of South Australia and the officers who have advised him in these matters have been wise and forthright in getting an additional 20% of water because of the abandonment of the Chowilla Dam and the construction of a dam at Dartmouth on the Mitta Mitta River. I believe that the South Australian Government realises the need for conservation of water but I think it also should be told that of the small supplies of water that it does receive some 50% is used on the gardens in Adelaide. There could be ways of keeping these gardens in good condition other than by spraying them from the valuable source of the River Murray. The honourable member for Dawson questioned why the Queensland Government did not receive more than the $20m which was previously allocated for the Nogoa River Dam. On a per capita basis and leaving out the Snowy Mountains Authority - this is something that has been happening since 1949 - I believe that the Queensland people have had a good deal out of this $50m allocation by the Commonwealth Government.
– Not enough.
– I said on a per capita basis. The honourable member for Bowman says that it is not enough. I agree that Victoria has not received enough. We are the main collectors of revenue in this country. I repeat that from the gross national product we are now taxing the people to the extent of 35%. All the experts on economics and even my own reading - I certainly am not an expert - indicate to me that our economy is in an explosive situation. In other words, the people have reached the end of their taxing ability. Although the honourable member for Bowman needs more money and I am sure that I need more money, too, for Victoria, I fail to understand where this money will be found. In fact, when listening to the honourable member for Dawson I thought that he was about to set up printing presses and peel off the $1 or $100 bills, because this is what would be necessary if we were to agree to all the things that have to be done or are requested to be done by honourable members on this side of the House and on the other side of the House.
I have said before that my constituents in the electorate of Balaclava are being taxed to the hilt. They cannot take any more. I have read reports in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ and other papers to the effect that there will be no change in the tax system in the forthcoming Budget. I believe that the Government will have to do a good deal of thinking between now and Budget time in order to reduce the amount of tax being paid by those groups of workers - I say workers advisedly - who get between $3,000 and $10,000 a year. When we look at the average wage structure in Australia we find that workers, particularly trained workers, get $68 or $70 a week and that overtime brings them to a higher figure. So they are in this very high tax bracket. I would like to help the honourable member for Bowman in this and other matters but I find that it is quite impossible from the point of view of the taxpayer, on whose behalf I speak. The $50m allocated by the Government in 1967 has been spent very wisely, I believe - on the Nogoa Dam in Queensland, $20m; on the Copeton Dam in New South Wales, $20m; on the Tailem Bend to Keith pipeline in South Australia, S6m. We have allocated $4m to the King River dam in Victoria and $3.6m has been allocated to a salinity project on the River Murray. My advisers tell me that some Sim has been saved out of this $3. 6m. I understand also that another project that is still under consideration is the Cressy scheme in Tasmania on which a plebiscite is to be taken of possible users of the water to be provided by this scheme.
As I have said, the South Australian people are not really well served so far as water supply is concerned. I believe that 80% of their needs come from the Murray River. This river as well covers quite extensively the needs of Victoria and New South Wales. But it is important from the point of view of South Australia and from the point of view of the project we are considering that the continuity of supply to South Australia is maintained. As I have said, South Australia needs to do a good deal in the field of conservation because 50% of the water that it receives is used in the form of spray. South Australia receives 1.25 million acre feet of water and this will go up to 1.5 million acre feet in the years ahead. The South Australian Government must do something about restricting the use of water for spraying gardens and the like. Quite frankly, I would not know the answer to South Australia’s water problems, but there must be an answer to them.
South Australia, because of an additional 20% supply of water from the Murray River surely can look forward to the future with confidence. I refer particularly to those people and the 13 towns in the south eastern part of South Australia who will, as a result of the Tailem Bend-Keith pipeline, get a regular supply of water. The increased growth that will result from the regular water supply will do a good deal for South Australia. It will build up South Australia as a viable State among the States of the Commonwealth. It seems to me that very little has been said about the cost of water to city people on the one hand and to country people on the other. Again, my information indicates that country people receive water, particularly in the irrigated areas, at the rate of lc to 3c per thousand gallons whereas city folk have to pay up to 50c per thousand gallons for their water. I think the Government could have a look at desalination projects. But because of the subsidy paid for water used in irrigation areas it is impossible to make real comparisons between the cost of the artificial manufacture of water through desalination processes and the supplies that are now received from rivers for irrigation purposes. As I have said, water used for irrigation in agricultural areas costs between lc and 3c per thousand gallons. I believe that the State and Federal governments should have a good look at these matters and do a good deal more about them in the future.
The consumption of water in Australia is quite astronomical. On a hot day in Sydney, the population of two million people uses some 400 million gallons of water. However, on a normal summer’s day in London, eight million people use the same amount of water. In other words, the water authorities in Australia - the Commonwealth, State and local government authorities - really need to do a good deal more about the use and conservation of water than has been done in the past. Manufacturing industries particularly should recirculate the water that is used. Few people in Australia realise that to make one ton of steel 70,000 gallons of water are needed. It is interesting to note that it takes 15,000 gallons of water to produce one ton of paper and 540 gallons of water to wash one ton of coal for export. To process one gallon of petrol from crude oil 10 gallons of water are needed. One loaf of bread requires 550 gallons of water.
The people of Australia on an average use 150 gallons of water a day or 163 tons a year. These figures are important to a country which has less water falling on its surface than any other continent. I can do very little more than support the legislation and ask the Government to think a good deal more about water conservation projects because to build up this country and to keep migrants coming in at the present rate will require much more thought and consideration than has been given in the past to this subject, not only by the Commonwealth Government but by State governments as well.
– In opening my comments I want to pay a brief tribute to the former honourable member for Gwydir, Mr Ian Allan, for his efforts on behalf of his electors and the Australian Country Party in relation to the Copeton Dam. Mr Ian Allan was known both inside and outside this Parliament for his great interest, enthusiasm and hard work in pushing the Copeton Dam project as well as other water storages in the north and north west of New South Wales. I am sure that he felt a great deal of satisfaction at the announcement by the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) of an allocation of $20m towards the $45m that it will cost to build the Copeton Dam.
The major project that I want to speak about is the King River Dam which is situated in the Indi electorate. I have noticed that some honourable members who have spoken tonight, and some honourable members who have not spoken tonight, have disagreed with certain of the decisions that have been made by the Minister and the Government in relation to the $53m which the Government has allocated. I believe that the Minister and the Government have shown excellent judgment and keen perception of the asset that the King River Dam, in particular, will be not only to the people in the immediate district but also to Australia as a whole. I pay a tribute to the Minister for National Development for his personal interest in this project. I thank him and his wife for their visit to the King Valley. On a very cold evening the Minister addressed a large audience in the King Valley and answered questions for a long time. This was greatly appreciated by the residents of the King Valley, and on their behalf I place on record their thanks and my thanks to the Minister and his wife. On behalf of the residents of the King Valley I should like to place on record too the tribute I pay to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) who also visited the area.
I know that the hour is rather late but I must say that the passage of this legislation means the end of 18 months of very hard work and a great deal of uncertainty, frustration and impatience for a lot of people. The result which has been achieved certainly is a tribute not only to the people to whom I have referred but also to organisations such as the King Valley Water Conservation League which carried out a survey of the potential of this valley at a cost to itself of $1,800. The survey was submitted in support of the case for the King River Dam. The Victorian Tobacco Growers Association, the City of Wangaratta and the Shire of Oxley also deserve merit and credit for the work which they did regarding this project. My State parliamentary colleagues, the honourable Ivan Swinburne and the honourable Keith Bradbury, both played a major part in presenting the case to the Government.
The establishment of the King River Dam will mean that the tobacco industry, which is very important not only to the district but also to Australia, will have stability which it has never enjoyed previously. It will be assured of a continuous water supply. The establishment of the dam will enable the tobacco industry not only to maintain the present quota which is allocated to growers in King Valley but also to meet the demands of future increases in the production of tobacco which will be necessary. General farming practices will be helped. A number of people who have not been able to use flood mitigation practices, which are most economical, will be able to do so when the King River Dam is established. The dam will mean not only progress to the King Valley but also to the great city of Wangaratta. It will provide more water for the establishment of secondary industry. It will assure a water supply for the industries which are presently established in the city of Wangaratta. The dam will help to mitigate the effect of drought both to primary producers and to the city of Wangaratta.
The decision of the Government to allocate $4m towards the cost of the King River Dam is an investment not only for the district and the city of Wangaratta but also for Australia. The investment will last for 100 years or longer. The dam will help the city of Wangaratta, which is on the main highway between Melbourne and Sydney, to progress. We hope that eventually larger storages will be built both on the Buffalo Dam, which comes down the other end of the Ovens Valley which runs into Wangaratta, and on the King River Dam. Eventually these dams could make a contribution to the River Murray system. After a period of 18 months, many investigations by departmental officers and many discussions at various levels of government, the Commonwealth has finally made a decision. I hope that the State Government will press on and bring the project to a speedy conclusion. In conclusion, I repeat that the Minister for National Development and the Government are to be congratulated on their sagacity, perception and wisdom in making this $4m available for the King River Dam.
– I congratulate the Government and the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) on the significant progress being made by these three Bills in the national water resources development programme. The honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) has said that the Government has been far too slow. The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) has expressed his astonishment at the rapidity with which the Government has reached its conclusions. The honourable member for Indi (Mr Holten) has said that a decision has finally been made. Honourable members opposite have stressed the necessity for water storage, apparently without being aware of the difference between water storage and the development of our water resources. Honourable members are aware that our natural water storages vastly outreach our artificial storages, but the use of our man-made storages vastly exceeds the present use of our natural water storages.
I want to ask the Minister only one question: Is it not true that all the factual data about which some honourable members opposite have asked, all the objective information on measurements and so on are in fact available to all members of this House? Is such information available for this debate? I understand that the interpretations of the data may not be available because these vary and come from different sources, including the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, but the factual data is available.
– I am drawn to my feet by some comments made by the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn). I agree with his suggestion that it is a pity that the Commonwealth could not have seen its way clear to pay the total outstanding cost of the Tailem Bend to Keith pipeline. I agree with his observation that South Australia is not well placed in regard to its water resources. I agree with him that it is necessary that South Australia, and indeed every State, should examine its water usage to ensure that it gets the best use of the available water. However, I do not agree with his comments about the use of water sprayed, as he described it, onto the gardens of the city of Adelaide. The figures quoted by the honourable member greatly exceed the amount of water that is actually used on Adelaide’s suburban gardens. The metropolitan area of Adelaide does use a proportion of South Australia’s water resources in order to have a pleasant city in which to live, with attractive gardens. The South Australian people paid a high price for that pleasure and privilege. Because of their foresight and their earlier sacrifices they should not now be deprived of benefits.
I come now to a point that arises out of the second reading speech of the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn). He said that State governments have the responsibility for the conservation of water resources. He pointed out that their submissions are ample testimony of the recognition of the need to develop and make available as much water as possible. I draw to the Minister’s attention that not every State has given equal recognition to the need to conserve its water resources. I believe that South Australia, taking into account its limited resources, has been outstanding in the conservation of water and the careful use of its water resources. It should not now be deprived of benefits simply because in the distribution of funds for the future development of water resources the matter is examined as a cost benefit analysis and the results achieved are compared on a national basis.
It is important that we take into account all national policies, but we need, in assessing those policies, to take account of the fact that each State has had a different policy. The States that have been careful and have had foresight in respect of their water resources should not now be deprived of the benefit of additional grants to improve their conditions merely because the marginal benefits that are now available from their remaining resources are more limited than would be the case in the other States that have shown less foresight in the development of their water resources. If the people of Melbourne and the State of Victoria are upset that they have not had adequate water for their gardens they should realise that it is the responsibility of their own State Government that their gardens have gone dry. The people of South Australia are paying a high price for their water. Not only is great capital expenditure involved in the development of the water resources of South Australia but also in the recurrent cost of shifting water across the Mount Lofty ranges. The people of Victoria should not be resentful of the use of water by the people of Adelaide to make their city a pleasant one with attractive gardens.
I urge the Minister for National Development to take into account the fact that the different States have had different policies up to a point at which the assessment has been made when he is examining the claims of South Australia in respect to the allocation of money for the development of the nation’s water resources. Those States which have chosen to spend large sums on water development should not now be deprived of money for further development. Therefore, South Australia, which has ‘been careful in this regard, should be given special consideration to ensure that all of its marginal water projects are given proper priority in terms of the development of its water resources. In this regard, I support the honourable member for Grey (Mr Jessop) in his plea for support of the project in his electorate.
– in reply - In view of the lateness of the hour, I shall be very brief in the comments I make. I feel it is a pity that one of the most important aspects of national development should come before the House at such a late hour. There is quite a lot I would like to say. It is sometimes said that one can talk oneself out of more than one can talk oneself into. As the Opposition has approved of the Bills before the House,
I shall be very brief in my remarks. This is a great day for me. I am sure that it is also a great day for the Department of National Development, the Government and the country. The Government has honoured a commitment it made at the last general election that it would spend about $50m on a national water resources development programme. The task has not been easy. I am glad that the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) has acknowledged this fact He said that he was surprised at the speed with which the Goverment has moved. It is all very well for a State to put up a project and the moment it is put up to say: *Why do you not agree with it?’
There are some dedicated officers in my Department and in the Bureau of Agricultural Economics who have gone into these projects and spent a long time assessing their benefits. These officers have come up with a programme which I believe to be as good as one could possibly hope for. It is true that there must always be some disagreement on priorities. As the honourable member for Dawson pointed out, the priorities depend on what is fed into the projects. I think he said that one has only to fiddle with the assumption to get any answer one likes. I would not put it quite as bluntly as that. But the fact is that a slight alteration in the assumption can mean quite a different result This result can vary from year to year, depending on the particular product that comes out of it. Nevertheless, the Commonwealth has looked as closely as possible at those projects which have been submitted. It has now come up with a water resources programme. I said earlier that this programme will involve an expenditure of only $33m over the next 5 years, but I believe that in fact this sum will be larger because the Government is examining whether it will be able to provide New South Wales with the same amount of money over a shorter period of time. If this is done the amount will be increased.
There is a feeling that the national water resources development programme is the only way in which the Commonwealth is assisting in the development of water resources throughout Australia. That is not so. As the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn) pointed out, the basic responsibility for developing water resources lies with the State. The Commonwealth has moved in to assist the States in many ways. It set up the Australian Water Resources Council, which regularly holds meetings of the Commonwealth and State Ministers. Through the Council the Commonwealth makes grants to the States to step up the rate of assessment of their water resources, both surface and underground. We have given considerable grants to the States one way and another for major projects which are beyond their responsibility. The Snowy Mountains Authority is one. Already the Commonwealth has contributed about $670m to this project. By the time the scheme is completed the Commonwealth contribution will be about $750m. Obviously that is a sum which the States could not possibly have met. But what a tremendous advantage this has been to Australia.
I have been informed that during the drought years two-thirds of the water that went down the Mumimbidgee River was from the Snowy Mountains scheme. Had that area not had the advantage of that water it would have, been in very dire straits. Even in the Murray River about one-third of. the water which was stored within Lake Hume came from the Snowy Mountains Authority. So one can go through these projects in relation to which the Commonwealth has assisted the States. We have also the great Ord River scheme which is now under way. How many people realise that about 16% of the Commonwealth’s water resources flows down the Ord annually - that a greater amount of water flows down the Ord than flows down all streams coming out of the Snowy Mountains? The Commonwealth advanced half the money for the development of the Blowering scheme. There are also the comprehensive water supply scheme in Western Australia and the flood mitigation scheme in northern New South Wales. We are now advancing large sums to Tasmania to help to develop the Hydro-Electric Commission. These are all over and above the great national water resources development programme that we are talking about tonight.
I do not want to speak longer about this tonight, but I do want to agree with the honourable member for Dawson on the advantages of irrigation. So often we are inclined to have academics telling us that they have produced some formula under which no irrigation project can ever be proved to be economic. This is staggering when we consider the effects that irrigation has had. Let me quote just a few figures to the House because I think they are well worth hearing, even at this very late hour. Let us consider the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. Here was an area of about 150,000 acres of parched land which supported barely 100 people 50 years ago. Today it has 30,500 people, and the value of its production last year was $3 1.4m. What a tremendous improvement that is. This just shows what we can expect from irrigation. Let us consider also the recent drought in the south, which was the worst we have had in the history of Australia and which I hope will have been the worst in my lifetime. A standing committee on drought relief in New South Wales estimated that the drought caused the loss of 11.8 million sheep, 860,000 beef cattle and 117,000 dairy cattle in that State. Yet during this period of great loss the committee said that in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area the general value of production increased and livestock numbers were maintained. Surely this is an example of what can be achieved by irrigation.
One could go on, but I want merely to draw attention to a couple of things which prove my point. I get very tired of being told that irrigation is not economic and that there is only one thing worse than letting water flow out to the sea - that is, to store it in uneconomic dams. The honourable member for Dawson has said, and I agree entirely with him, that he cannot recall one dam in Australia for some years which has not brought considerable prosperity to the area through irrigation. I have some figures here to show how in an irrigated area you get a build-up of population and of production whereas an area without irrigation becomes virtually static, or, if anything, loses population. Let me mention the Deniliquin municipality which is one based on irrigation and the population of which has gone up in 20 years from 2,600 to 6,200. Yet a similar municipality next door at Hay has actually slightly lost population during that same time. One could go through so many of these comparisons. Let me conclude by saying that I believe these measures which go through the House tonight - I know they will go through because the Opposition says that it agrees with them - will have an enormous effect. We will see droughts again in this country - nothing is more certain - but when they come we will be just that little bit better off as a result of these measures that we are passing tonight. I conclude by saying that I am glad to be associated with such a project and I know that the dedicated officers in my Department are glad to be associated with it. I think all of us can be. I suppose at some future time when our grandchildren say to us ‘What did you do, Grandad?’, we can point to one thing that we have achieved for this country that will be something. I feel that all of us associated with this legislation today, have achieved something in the development of our great country.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Fairbairn) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 15th May (vide page 1856), on motion by Mr Fairbairn:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Motion (by Mr Fairbairn) proposed:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– I ask the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn): In view of his statement made some time ago that within the 5-year period it would appear that approximately $33m only will be used in the promotion of the projects approved by the Parliament, is it his intention to name any further projects between now and the end of this year?
– In reply to the particular question, I did mention during my speech that the Government is looking at the possibility of making advances at a faster rate than that announced by me. This would mean that instead of spending $33m over this period, perhaps we could spend more. This is at the discretion of the Treasurer (Mr McMahon), if we believe there is advantage in so doing. If we decide upon this course then perhaps we will use the full amount. As for future projects, the position remains the same. The States have the opportunity of approaching the Commonwealth about them. We have honoured our obligation by providing $50m - in fact slightly more than that amount - even though it may not be possible to spend all of it in the 5-year period.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 15 May (vide page 1857), on motion by Mr Fairbairn:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Motion (by Mr Fairbairn) proposed: That the Bill be now read a third time.
– I want to raise a question I mentioned in the course of my earlier remarks. The Commonwealth is providing $4m for this particular project which is to cost $4.2m. I would like to know, if the Minister can give me the information, what criterion is adopted by him or his Department in determining the amount of a grant made to such projects. For some projects the grant represents 45% of the total cost. In this case the grant absorbs almost the entire cost of the project. Is there any fixed rule laid down for the guidance of the Government as to the sum made available?
(2.28 a.m.] - There is no criterion. We are dealing with a basic amount of $50m. We know that if we provide a grant almost identical to the estimated cost of this dam in Victoria it could well be that it will be finished for a cost of $4m. If there are good conditions and a good contract we often find that the cost can be slightly reduced. The Victorian Government said it had two projects which were very similar. It said: ‘If the Commonwealth picks up the tab for one project we will be able to afford to proceed with the other’. The two projects were those on the King River and the Mitchell River. The Victorian Government, having ample loan funds available, said that if we advanced the money for one project it would be able to afford the other. In this case we said that we would provide $4m, which was slightly less than the estimated cost of the King River project.
– I would like to ask the Minister a question supplementary to that asked by the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti). I am not clear on what the Minister meant about additional projects which might be announced. The impression I gained was that it was up to the State Governments to make a further request for funds. Would it not be implicit that they do seek more funds because of the fact that already they have made requests relating to 32 projects? I realise that only a small number of those projects have been analysed. On the other hand, does it mean that those 32 projects have been rejected and that the States have to make further requests? If the Commonwealth is prepared to engage in additional projects, does this mean that we have to push the point with the State Governments that they had better get in fast and make further requests; or does it mean that these requests are now under consideration by the Government?
In some cases, particularly so far as Queensland is concerned, projects such as the Burnett River Dam-
-Order! The debate on the third reading is a very limited debate. I have been very lenient with both the honourable member for Macquarie and the honourable member for Dawson. I would request the honourable member for Dawson to limit his remarks.
– I assume that the Queensland Government would not have to apply again for the Burnett project, because after all it is an urgent project about which a lot has been said in recent weeks.
Mr FAIRBAIRN (Farrer- Minister for National Development) (2.31 a.m.] - I feel that we are a little bit like Oliver coming back and asking for a second helping of porridge. We have just got through $50m. No sooner have we allocated this lot than we are being asked where the next lot will come from. Naturally the Commonwealth keeps all requests from the States under review. We have had a further request just recently with regard to the Kolan scheme, which was mentioned by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). This will be processed in the normal way. As far as the national water resources development programme is concerned our first commitment has been honoured, but this does not mean that we will drop everything now. We will be reassessing various other projects that have been put to us. But I say that at the present time we have honoured our commitment. We have more than honoured it. Nevertheless if we get future requests from the States we will look at them, and we will look at the request we have already received from Queensland.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I want to read quickly an extract from the transcript of ‘This Day Tonight’ on Friday, 21st March, in regard to Mr Maxwell Newton, lt reads:
HUDSON: You are extracting then economic information for example to the advantage of private individuals and companies.
NEWTON: Indeed, that’s my business. My business is to find out economic and political information before any else . . . publish it and that’s how I earn my living.
HUDSON: By fair means or foul.
NEWTON: 1 penetrate the Government.
HUDSON: By any means then.
NEWTON: As best I can.
HUDSON: What sort of government departments then have you penetrated in this way?
NEWTON: The Department of Trade . . . The Department of Trade each week. I publish documents, including confidential documents, from the Department of Trade often verbatim.
HUDSON: There is a suggestion here of course that you’d have to pay for this kind of information.
NEWTON: Well I wouldn’t like to comment on that.
I consider that Mr Maxwell Newton convicts himself out of his own mouth, and I think it is time that he was brought to the bar of this House.
I want to speak more particularly tonight in regard to Communism and how it is being assisted by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I wonder if we are correct in subsidising such instrumentalities and authorities as the Australian Broadcasting Commission, which is sabotaging our national heritage, standards and values. There are hundreds of instances that I could reveal, but 1 would quote a revolting programme produced on a Sunday morning just after ‘Divine Service’ in which the institution of marriage was ridiculed. As unwholesome as that was it was insignificant compared to what was to follow. A frequent exchange of spouses was recommended and justified by the dialogue that followed. The children and the spouses were to continue to live in the same residence - something akin to animals in the field. In order to identify the children with their sire and dam it would have been necessary, I take it, to have had each child earmarked and tattoo branded.
However, what I want to bring forward tonight is the partiality and slant to Communism and extreme left wing politics as featured on two interviews last week. Messrs Joyce and Couchman interviewed Mr Fowler of the Metal Trades Employers Federation. He was interviewed aggressively. The interviewers clearly exhibited where their sympathies lay - certainly not with Mr Fowler. Then last Wednesday we had the spectacle of the same two men interviewing Mr O’Shea at a Peking Commo grog-up. They clearly entered into the festivities and were more delighted than the Peking Communists with Mr O’Shea’s release. This was in marked contrast with the interview of Mr Fowler.
Further I want to recall a most treacherous and damnable statement by Mr Duckmanton, in which he stated that if the ABC was to wait to get all people interested and/ or being challenged to appear on a programme simultaneously few programmes would be produced. Radio and television audiences are different from readers of newspapers. If a person is attacked in a newspaper he can reply the following day and 90% of the readers will read his defence and rebuttal and so make their own assessment. He will have been afforded a chance to clear his name or to erase the stigma that has been placed upon him. That is not so, however, on television and radio. Once a person’s name is defamed or smeared, it is practically impossible for him to adequately clear his name of the stigma and smears implied, because the members of audiences are never the same. Mr Duckmanton, judging by his statements, could not care less. He flouts what Shakespeare wrote years ago, namely: ‘He that filches from me my good name robs me of that which not enriches him, and makes me poor indeed’.
There has been a deterioration in the standard of management and control of the ABC since Mr Duckmanton became General Manager. The sooner he is relieved of his position, the better it will be for the ABC, the nation and broadcasting in particular. Sir Robert Madgwick is a charming and delightful academic gentleman, but he is totally unsuited to the position to which he has been appointed. The people of this nation should be alerted to the seriousness and power of Communism. The Communists are small in number, but their power and strength are truly a threat to Australia.
The set of strikes that has occurred over recent months was initiated in February last by Mr Aarons, the Secretary of the Communist Party. With Russia establishing bases east of Suez and warships in the Indian Ocean, it is our responsibility and our duty to warn the public of the power and strength of the enemy within Australia. These people are small in number, but are aided and abetted, perhaps unwittingly but nevertheless very definitely, by the World Council of Churches. The programming of feature viewing by the ABC does not receive the supervision necessary to ensure that a fair, genuine and balanced programme is televised and broadcast on its various stations.
Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 2.39 a.m. (Thursday)
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In addition the State of Western Australia has engaged a firm of engineering consultants to study all available information and advise if an interim solution, which will satisfactorily meet the water needs of the existing irrigation lists and of the town, is a possibility.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
Are all members of the Commonwealth Parliament covered against the possibility of permanent incapacity by the Parliamentary pension scheme or the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act 1930-1969 does not apply to members of Parliament.
The Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Act 1948-1968 does not cover members against the possibility of permanent incapacity as such but in certain circumstances does permit a member who resigns from the Parliament or fails to stand for re-election to be granted a pension after a qualifying period of service shorter than would otherwise be required or to be paid a lump sum benefit greater than that which would otherwise be payable, if the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Trust is satisfied that the resignation or failure to stand for re-election is due to ill-health.
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Failure to register - 624 convictions - penalties imposed ranged up to $100, more than 50% were of $20 or less.
Failure to notify change of address - 66 convictions - penalties imposed ranged up to $50, approximately 80% were of $20 or less.
Failure to attend medical examination- 46 convictions - monetary penalties imposed ranged up to $100, approximately 60% were of $20 or less; one sentence of 7 days imprisonment as well as a fine following refusal to enter into a recognizance to submit to an examination.
Failure to obey call-up - 33 convictions - 2) were committed to custody of Army including 1.4 who were also fined; 9 entered into a recognizance to obey a further call-up notice including 7 who were also fined; 3 refused to enter into a recognizance to obey a further call-up notice and were sentenced to 2 years’ imprisonment. Fines ranged up to $50.
Left Australia without permission - 8 convictions - penalties imposed ranged up to $75, approaching 60% were of $20 or less.
Failure to produce certificate of registration to authorised person - 14 convictions - penalties imposed ranged up to $20.
A further 6 penalties ranging from $6 to $20 were imposed for offences of failure, when temporarily absent from place of living, to make arrangements to ensure that postal communications marked National Service’ were received without undue delay, failure to notify loss or destruction of certificate of registration, failure to supply information and supplying false or misleading information.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1, 2 and 3. There are forty-six life insurance companies registered under the Life Insurance Act 1945-1965 to carry on life insurance business in Australia. Their names, together with the other information requested, are as follows:
The Australasian Temperance and General Mutual Life Assurance Society Ltd (a)
Australian Mutual Provident Society (a) The City Mutual Life Assurance Society Ltd (a) The Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society Ltd (a)
Cuna Mutual Insurance Society (b) Friends’ Provident and Century Life Office (b) The National Mutual Life Assurance Association of Australasia Ltd (a) Norwich Union Life Insurance Society (b) Scottish Amicable Life Assurance Society (b)
Adriatic Insurance Company (b) Associated National Insurance Co. Ltd (b) Australian Metropolitan Life Assurance Co. Ltd (a)
The Australian Provincial Assurance Association Ltd (a)
Australian Reinsurance Company Ltd (b) Business Men’s Assurance Company of Australia Ltd (b)
Commercial Life Assurance Limited (a) Commercial Union Assurance Company of
Australia Ltd (b) Commonwealth General Assurance Corporation
Eagle Star Insurance Co. Ltd (b) Equitable Life and General Insurance Co. Ltd (a) The Federation Insurance Ltd (a) Guardian Assurance Company Ltd (b) Hallmark Life Insurance Co. Ltd (b) The Invincible Life and General Insurance Co. Ltd (a)
Legal and General Assurance Society Ltd (b) The Mercantile and General Reinsurance Co. Ltd (b)
The Mercantile and General Life Reassurance
Co. of Australia Ltd (b) The Mutual Life & Citizens’ Assurance Co.
New Zealand Victoria Life Ltd (b)
The Northern Life Assurance Company of Australia Ltd (b)
Occidental Life Insurance Company of California (b)
The Producers & Citizens’ Co-operative Assurance Co. Ltd (b)
The Provident Life Assurance Co. Ltd (b)
The Prudential Assurance Co. Ltd (b)
Royal-Globe Life Assurance Co. Ltd (b)
Security Life Assurance Ltd (b)
Skandia Australia Insurance Ltd (b)
South British United Life Assurance Co Ltd (b)
Swiss Reinsurance Company (b)
Switzerland Life Assurance Society Ltd (b)
Transport and General Life Assurance Co. Ltd (a)
Underwriting and Insurance Ltd (a) Unity Life Assurance Ltd (b) The Victory Reinsurance Company of Australia Ltd (b)
Yorkshire General Life Assurance Company (b) The Yorkshire Life Assurance Company of Australia Ltd (b)
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
What requests or suggestions were made at the meeting of the Education Ministers in Adelaide in March for legislative or administrative action by (a) the Commonwealth, (b) the Territories and (c) the States?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
According to my knowledge, the only matter announced which I believe would come within the scope of the honourable member’s question was a decision by members of the Australian Education Council to undertake a survey of educational needs. The terms of the announcement were as follows:
The Australian Education Council will undertake a new nation-wide survey of educational needs, having regard to modern educational standards.
Each State will take appropriate action to set out the needs of that State for the education of children up to the completion of secondary schooling and for the education of teachers.
To provide a common framework for the several State surveys, and to make possible nation-wide planning to meet the needs revealed, the States will adopt common terras of reference for their surveys.
When the State surveys are completed, they will be collated and considered by the Australian Education Council. Action will then be taken to formulate a nation-wide plan for the fulfilment of needs in accordance with priorities determined by the States. The Commonwealth’s co-operation will be sought to put this plan into effect.’
The Commonwealth will participate in the survey in respect of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory so that the survey will result in a full and complete coverage of the Australian situation.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
What report has he received from his Department on securities and exchange commissions since the question by the honourable member for Swan and the interjection by me on 16th October 1968 (Hansard, pages 1995-6)?
– The answer lo the honourable member’s question is as follows:
I indicated at the time that if I found there was anything of interest that 1 could convey in addition to what I then said, I would do so. In the event I have had nothing further to convey.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
What are the (a) places of operations,
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Commonwealth Aluminium Corp. Limited,
Western Aluminium NX., (subsidiary of Alcoa of Australia Limited).
There is an additional small production of bauxite for purposes other than aluminium production by A.C.F. and Shirleys Fertilisers Ltd. (North Tamborine, Queensland), the Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd (Moss Vale, N.S.W.), and Sulphates Pty Ltd (Mirboo, Vic).
Other companies proposing to mine bauxite in Australia are as follows:
Alcan Queensland Pty Ltd Amax Bauxite Corporation Nabalco Pty Ltd.
Queensland Alumina Limited Western Aluminium N.L. Comalco Aluminium (Bell Bay) Limited. Companies proposing to produce alumina are: Nabalco Pty Ltd Amax Bauxite Corporation Commonwealth Aluminium Corp. Ltd.
Australian primary aluminium producers are as follows:
Comalco Aluminium (Bell Bay) Limited Alcoa of Australia Limited. Companies which will be producing in the future are:
Alcan Australia Limited. 3. (a) Places of operations:
Under the Commonwealth Aluminium Pty Ltd Agreement Act of 1957, royalty is payable on bauxite mined at Weipa as follows:
on bauxite processed in Queensland or Tasmania - 5 cents per ton.
Jarrahdale - Special royalty rates under the Alumina Refinery Agreement Act 1961 with Western Aluminium N.L. provide for the following:
Both (i) and (ii) being subject to variation proportionate to the increase or decrease in the base price for aluminium ingot above or below SA500 per ton.
The Agreement signed in December 1968 between Amax and the Western Australian Government for the development of the bauxite/alumina project provides for the following royalty rates:
li cents per ton on bauxite processed in Australia.
Royalties payable on special grades (refractory purposes, etc.) will be: 25 cents per ton on bauxite used within Australia. 40 cents per ton on bauxite shipped outside Australia.
These rates are based on a world aluminium price of $A500 per ton based on the Canadian export price for ingot as published in the London ‘Metal Bulletin’.
Cove - Under the Mining (Gove Peninsula Nabalco Agreement) Ordinance 1968, Nabalco Pty Ltd committed itself to:
The royalty for locally treated bauxite will be subject to a reduction to a minimum of 10 cents per ton according to profitability.
The production of bauxite, alumina and aluminium in 1968 was:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The percentage relationships requested have not been published nor have they been calculated by the Commonwealth Statistician. However, the basic information On respect of financial years) is contained in the following publications:
Gross National Product 1948-49 to 1957-58- Australian National Accounts, National Income and Expenditure 1953-54 to 1966-67 (Table 12). 1958-59 to 1967-68- Australian National Accounts, 1967-68, Preliminary Statement No. 1, Gross National Product at Current and Constant Prices (Table 1). 2. (a) State revenue from taxation 1947-48 to 1952-53:
Finance, Part I - Public and Private Finance 1955-56, Bulletin No. 47, Table 57. 1953-54 to 1965-66: State, Territory and Local Government Authorities Finance and Government Securities, Bulletin Nos 1-4. 1966-67 to 1967-68: Commonwealth, State and Territory Taxation Collections, 1966-67. The 1967-68 figures will be published in the 1967-68 issue of this bulletin to be published shortly.
Commonwealth Payments to or for the States, Other than Specific Purpose Loans
Commonwealth revenue from taxation for each year is given in the Statements attached to the Budget Speech. A summary table for the years 1953-54 to 1966-67 was given on page 46 of Statement No. 7 attached to the Budget Speech in 1967-68. Figures for other years can be obtained from the relevant Budget Speeches.
Commonwealth Government debt, and
State Government debt- Table No. 10 of ‘Government Securities on Issue at 30th June 1968’ issued on the occasion of the 1968-69 Budget.
The average interest rate on the Commonwealth Debt, and
The average interest on the States’ Debt - Table No. 13 of ‘Government Securities on Issue at 30th June 1968*.
Commonwealth net borrowing - Table No. 10 of ‘Government Securities on Issue at 30th June, 1968’. Net borrowing is the change from June to June each year. (0 State net borrowing for works and housing programmes - Table 37, page 64, of ‘Commonwealth Payments to or for the States 1968-69’.
State, semi -government and local government net borrowing programmes approved by the Loan Council - Table 40, page 67, of ‘Commonwealth Payments to or for the States 1968-69’.
Interest payments on the Conanonwealth debt, and
Interest payments on the States’ debt - Total interest payments, as such, separately for Commonwealth and State debt, are not available. However, interest liability as at 30th June each year may be found in Tabic No. 12 of Government Securities on Issue at 30th June 1968’.
National Water Resources Development Programme (Question No. 1440) Mr Cross asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
What projects, in their order of priority, were submitted by the Slate of Queensland for inclusion in the National Water Resources Development Programme?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Queensland Government has submitted the following projects for consideration by the Commonwealth under the National Water Resources Development Programme:
The Emerald Irrigation Scheme
The Kolan Irrigation Scheme
The Bowen/Broken River Scheme
The Burnett/Isis River Scheme The projects are listed in ‘order of priority as announced by the Queensland Government.
A further report dealing with the lower Burnett River area has recently been submitted by the Queensland Government, It sets out proposals embracing both the Kolan and Burnett/Isis River schemes.
Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East: New Guinea (Question No. 1444) Mr Whitlam asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Has his attention been drawn to a statement by the Minister for External Territories reported in the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’ of 11th April that an application had been made last year for Papua-New Guinea to gain associate membership of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East but for technical reasons it was refused?
If so, how can this statement be reconciled with his answer to me on 5th November 1968 (Hansard, page 1474)?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Press report referred to has been noted. The fact is that the Minister for External Territories has expressed a wish for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea to become an associate member of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East. The principal intention of such action would be to establish the Territory’s eligibility to receive financial and technical assistance from the Asian Development Bank.
The answer given to Question No. 879 on 5th November 1968 remains valid. The question of the Territory becoming an associate member of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East is continuing to receive careful consideration in the light of the constitutional development of Papua and New Guinea.
Royal Australian Navy: Pay Rates (Question No. 1446) Mr Whitlam asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The introduction in 1968 of the group pay system for sailors, which led to substantial pay increases for many sailors, particularly in the technical grades, has increased temporarily the number of sailors receiving more pay than some junior officers. Overall, there are approximately 2,500 sailors whose rate of pay for the time being exceeds that of Sub-Lieutenant on promotion, and approximately 280 whose rate of pay for the time being exceeds that of a Lieutenant on promotion.
There is nothing unusual in the pay rates of higher technical employments intruding into lower professional salaries. In the case of the Navy, immediately prior to the introduction of group pay, over 800 sailors received rates of pay exceeding that of a Sub-Lieutenant on promotion. The new element in the present situation is that because sailors’ rates were increased ahead of the review of officers’ rates, the number of sailors receiving pay in excess of some officers’ pay is for the present greater.
As the honourable member will realise, the pay of Service officers cannot be considered in isolation, but consideration is being given in the defence group of departments to the question whether the circumstances referred to above are, in the Service situation, sufficiently distinctive to warrant some special amelioratory action.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
How many persons have visited the Snowy River Scheme in each of the last 10 years?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Since 1958 the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority has kept records of those people either who checked with the Authority before making a private tour or who participated in tours conducted by the Authority.
These records do not include visitors who toured the Scheme in parties organised by private transport companies or visitors who privately visited the works without checking with Authority offices. It has been said that the recorded figures might be doubled to give an approximate total number of those who visited the Scheme by all the various means.
The 1968 figure above does not give any real indication of the total numbers visiting the Scheme because it was in this year that a large scale changeover commenced of control of tours from the Authority to private enterprise.
The Cooma Visitors’ Centre, operated by the Cooma Municipal Council, would have records of people who checked there since 1962 but these figures would also include a great number of people who did not necessarily visit the works of the Scheme whilst in the Snowy Mountains Area.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Education: Aid for Catholic Schools (Question No. 1464) Mr Stewart asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Education: Aid for Catholic Schools (Question No. 1465) Mr Stewart asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Requests have been received from Roman Catholic lay organisations, asking that the Commonwealth should:
Hi) contribute towards or take responsibility for the general running costs of independent schools.
In addition to these new forms of assistance numerous requests have been received for specific help to individual schools within existing Commonwealth programmes for science facilities and school libraries.
As indicated in my answer to question No. 1464, asked by the honourable member, lay persons are also members of the Federal Catholic Schools’ Committee which has approached the Government seeking aid for Catholic schools.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: 1, 2 and 3. Awards of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, including those applying in the Northern Territory, do not distinguish between Aboriginals and other employees covered by them. There is one exception, the Northern Territory Pearl Fishing Award, which does not apply to employees ‘whose wages and conditions are fixed by the Northern Territory Aboriginal Ordinance’. A few Aboriginals are employed in this industry as fishing activity demands.
I understand steps are being taken to make an application to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission about the provision I have just quoted from the award.
Inspectors are appointed under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act for the purpose of securing the observance of the Act and regulations and awards of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. There are three officers of my Department in the Northern Territory who are authorised as inspectors. They are located at Darwin and Alice Springs. Their normal inspection activities are supplemented by regular tours of inspection by inspectors based in Adelaide. In addition, three inspectors are currently conducting inspections in the Northern Territory and the North of Western Australia. They are paying particular attention to employment in the pastoral industry.
Regular statistical returns covering the work of the inspectorate do not distinguish between Aboriginals and other employees.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
What additional Status of Forces Agreements concerning (a) Australian Forces in other countries; and (b) the forces of other countries in Australia have been discussed or concluded since his predecessor’s answer to me on 21st September 1966 (Hansard, page 1160)?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
No additional Status of Forces Agreements concerning Australian forces overseas or the forces of other countries in Australia, have been signed since the reply provided by the Acting Minister for External Affairs on 21st September 1966. Pending further consideration by the Australian authorities, negotiations have not yet been concluded on the terms of a reciprocal Status of Forces Agreement to accord with the protocol to the Agreement of 9th May 1963, concerning the status of United States forces in Australia.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
What percentage of the Commonwealth Savings Bank’s (a) deposits and (b) housing loans is made in each State?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Yes. 2. (a) Provisions with respect to the publication and filing of accounts and financial statements of companies carrying on business in Australia are contained in the uniform companies legislation of the States and mainland Territories.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
At which ports (a) has the Commonwealth paid for an incinerator to be installed and (b) is the Commonwealth negotiating with the States for an incinerator to be installed?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Electrona, Burnie, Bell Bay and Inspection Head in Tasmania, Port Pirie and Port Adelaide in South Australia. The Commonwealth has agreed to reimbursement of costs for incinerators for the following ports:
Portland and Westernport in Victoria.
Brisbane, Townsville, Cairns, Gladstone and Thursday Island in Queensland.
Bowen, Mourilyan, Bundaberg, Port Alma, Weipa, Lucinda Point, Urangan and Mackay in Queensland. Sydney in New South Wales.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
Do sales tax exemptions apply in respect of omnibuses whether operated by government or public authorities or by private operators? 2. (a) Do exemptions apply in respect of goods used by omnibus services only if operated by government or public authorities?
What would be the cost of granting exemptions in respect of goods used by omnibus services operated by private operators?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
Are taxi-cabs classified as commercial vehicles in respect of State taxes and insurance premiums?
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
The rates of insurance premiums for taxi-cabs, in common with those for other vehicles used for business or commercial purposes, are higher than those for private cars.
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
How many applicants were registered for unemployment benefits at the Leichhardt employment office at 30th April in each of the years 1967, 1968 and 1969?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Presumably the honourable member is referring to the number in receipt of unemployment benefit.
This information is not available for particular localities within the metropolitan area which is treated as a whole.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice;
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Australian Casualties in Vietnam (Question No. 1411)
irns asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Repatriation General Hospital, Concord, New South Wales
Repatriation General Hosptial, Heidelberg, Victoria
Repatriation General Hospital, Daw Park, South Australia
Repatriation General Hospital, Hollywood, Western Australia
Repatriation General Hospital, Hobart, Tasmania
Launceston General Hospital, Launceston, Tasmania
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
My Department has received the following information in response to inquiries directed to the appropriate authorities in all States and in the Northern Territory.
During the past 5 years two deep sea divers have been killed and one injured.
One death which occurred at Wollongong, New South Wales, in July 1965 resulted from asphyxiation presumed to have been caused by the diver becoming ill while at depth. The second occurred in November 1965 at Ashmore Reef, 150 miles off the north-east coast of Western Australia and was due to the illness known as the bends. The injury to the third diver occurred about 70 miles off Port Hedland in June 1968 when an anchor chain crushed his wrist and resulted in temporary paralysis of the arm.
As a general rule deep sea divers do not carry weapons or other devices to protect themselves against attack by sharks or other dangerous fish. I am informed that besides the cases I have mentioned there has been an average of one death a year over the past five years among Torres Strait Islanders who dive for pearls.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: 1 and 2. Yes. The application was dealt with by Leichhardt Municipal Council on 25th July 1968, when approval was granted to the plans and application, subject to certain requirements, all of which have been accepted by the Line. The only plans which have not been submitted to the Council to date are those for the cargo shed and the single storey administrative building. These are in the course of preparation and should be submitted within the next few weeks.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice: 1, What are the plans of the Australian National Line for the current development being undertaken by it at Mort Bay, Balmain, New South Wales?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Australian National Line is currently developing the southern shore of Mort Bay to provide a berth 435 feet in length, capable of accommodating a ship of 650 feet in length. The entire area on the southern shore of Mort Bay bounded by Mort Street, Cameron Street and Church Street right-of-way extension is being developed as an additional terminal area, having an approximate coverage of 8 acres. The wharf will be provided with a stern ramp and a travelling crane, having a capacity of 25 tons. The wharf will ultimately accommodate, in addition to Australian coastal vessels, the ship now under construction for the Australian/Japanese trade. 2. (a) The buildings on the extended terminal on the southern shore of Mort Bay will consist of a cargo shed approximately 200 feet in length by 75 feet in depth and 20 feet in height, to be positioned at the foot of the rock face bordering Short Street, and an administrative office building of single storey height at the entrance to the terminal area situated in Mort Street.
There is so far no plan for the transhipment of overseas cargoes between White Bay and Mort Bay terminals.
Fires in Commonwealth Establishments (Question No. 1084)
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Minister for Works has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question: 1 and 2 - Because the Chairman of I he Commonwealth Fire Board supplied the information from the Board’s statistics prepared from lire loss reports received during the 5 year period ended 30th June 1968. At that date the extent of the Albatross’ (Nowra) fire was recorded in such statistics as follows:
One (1) fire involving damage to building at
A procedure has been introduced of including on the agenda of Board meetings, a list of all reports received since the previous meeting relating to fires which have caused a loss to Commonwealth property exceeding or likely to exceed $1,000 or which have some unusual feature. The actual reports will be tabled at meetings and will be available to be perused by Board members. This should ensure that corrections in subsequent reports are carried through into statistics of the Board.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 May 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1969/19690528_reps_26_hor63/>.