27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 2 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr HANSEN presented from certain citizens of the Commonwealth petitions showing that (a) the Commonwealth Parliament has acted to remove some inadequacies in the Australian education system; (b) a major inadequacy at present in Australian education is the lack of equal education opportunity for all; (c) more than 500,000 children suffer from serious lack of equal opportunity; (d) Australia cannot afford to waste the talents of one-sixth of its school children; (e) only the Commonwealth has the financial resources for special programmes to remove inequalities; and (f) nations such as the United Kingdom and the United States have shown that the chief impetus for change and the finance for improvement come from the national Government.
The petitioners pray that the House make legal provision for (1) a joint CommonwealthState inquiry into inequalities in Australian education to obtain evidence on which to base long term national programmes for the elimination of inequalities;
Petition received and read.
Mr WHITLAM presented from certain residents of the State of New South Wales a petition showing that the red kangaroo and many other marsupials, through shooting for commercial purposes, have been reduced to a numerical level where their survival is in jeopardy, none of the Australian States have sufficient wardens to detect and apprehend people breaking the laws in existence in each State, and in such a vast country only uniform laws and a complete cessation of commercialisation can ensure the survival of our national emblem; and it is an indisputable fact that no natural resource can withstand hunting on such a concentrated scale unless some provision is made for its future.
The petitioners pray that the export of all kangaroo products be banned immediately and the Commonwealth Government make a serious appraisal of its responsibility in the matter to ensure the survival of the kangaroo.
Petition received and read.
Mr SNEDDEN presented from certain residents of the State of Victoria a petition showing that because of uncontrolled shooting for commercial purposes, the population of kangaroos, particularly the big red species, is now so low that they may become extinct; there are insufficient wardens in any State of the Commonwealth to detect or apprehend those who break the inadequate laws which exist; as a tourist attraction, the kangaroo is a permanent source of revenue to this country; and it is an indisputable fact that no species can withstand hunting on such a scale when there is no provision being made for its future.
The petitioners pray that the export of kangaroo products be banned immediately, and the Commonwealth Government take the necessary steps to have all wild life in Australia brought under its control. Only a complete cessation of killing for commercial purposes can save surviving kangaroos.
Mr ERWIN presented from certain residents of the State of Victoria a petition showing that because of uncontrolled shooting for commercial purposes, the population of kangaroos, particularly the big red species, is now so low that they may become extinct; there are insufficient wardens in any State of the Commonwealth to detect or apprehend those who break the inadequate laws which exist: as a tourist attraction, the kangaroo is a permanent source of revenue to this country; and it is an indisputable fact that no species can withstand hunting on such a scale when there is no provision being made for its future.
The petitioners pray that the export of kangaroo products be banned immediately, and the Commonwealth Government take the necessary steps to have all wild life in Australia brought under its control. Only a complete cessation of killing for commercial purposes can save surviving kangaroos.
Mr JARMAN presented from certain residents of the State of Victoria a petition showing that because of uncontrolled shooting for commercial purposes the population of kangaroos, particularly the big red species, is now so low that they may become extinct; there are insufficient wardens in any State of the Commonwealth to detect or apprehend those who break the inadequate laws which exist; as a tourist attraction, the kangaroo is a permanent source of revenue to this country; and it is an indisputable fact that no species can withstand hunting on such a scale when there is no provision being made for its future.
The petitioners pray that the export of kangaroo products be banned immediately, and the Commonwealth Government take the necessary steps to have all wild life in Australia brought under its control. Only a complete cessation of killing for commercial purposes can save surviving kangaroos.
Sir WILFRID KENT HUGHES presented from a large number of residents of the State of Victoria a petition showing that the red kangaroo and many other marsupials, through shooting for commercial purposes, have been reduced to a numerical level where their survival is in jeopardy; none of the Australian States have sufficient wardens to detect and apprehend people breaking the laws in existence in each State, and in such a vast country only uniform laws and a complete cessation of commercialisation can ensure the survival of our national emblem; and it is an indisputable fact that no natural resource can withstand hunting on such a concentrated scale unless some provision is made for its future.
The petitioners pray that the export of all kangaroo products be banned immediately, and the Commonwealth Government make a serious appraisal of its responsibility in the matter to ensure the survival of the kangaroo.
Mr WHITTORN presented from certain residents of the State of Victoria a petition showing that because of uncontrolled shooting for commercial purposes the population of kangaroos, particularly the big red species, is now so low that they may become extinct; there are insufficient wardens in any State of the Commonwealth to detect or apprehend those who break the inadequate laws which exist; as a tourist attraction, the kangaroo is a permanent source of revenue to this country; and it is an indisputable fact that no species can withstand hunting on such a scale when there is no provision being made for its future.
The petitioners pray that the export of kangaroo products be banned immediately, and the Commonwealth Government take the necessary steps to have all wild life in Australia brought under its control. Only a complete cessation of killing for com.cial purposes can save surviving kangaroos.
Mr FOX presented from certain Australian servicemen serving in Vietnam a petition showing that because of uncontrolled shooting for commercial purposes, the population of kangaroos, particularly the big red species, is now so low that they may become extinct. There are insufficient wardens in any State of the Commonwealth to detect or apprehend those who break the inadequate laws which exist. As a tourist attraction, the kangaroo is a permanent source of revenue to this country. It is an indisputable fact that no species can withstand hunting on such a scale when there is no provision being made for its future.
The petitioners pray that the export of kangaroo products be banned immediately, and the Commonwealth Government take the necessary steps to have all wild life in
Australia brought under its control. Only a complete cessation of killing for commercial purposes can save surviving kangaroos.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Is it true that the Department of Health is preparing a large scale leaflet campaign to explain the Government’s health scheme? If so, is it intended to send leaflets to more than 4 million Australians? Would a campaign of this nature cost at least $300,000 to prepare and complete? If that is correct, how can such spending be justified when there is a critical shortage of hospitals? Would the cost of such a campaign provide substantial additional hospital accommodation for the Australian Capital Territory?
– As I explained in the statement J made to the House early in March and in my second reading speech on the National Health Bill, it is the view of the Government that, for the common fee system to work, it is vitally important that everybody have a knowledge not only of the common fees themselves but of the way in which the system works. As I pointed out then, it is intended that there will be a very widespread publicity campaign to ensure that the level of understanding of the system by the public is as high as possible. I would make the point in relation to the remainder of the honourable gentleman’s question that the benefits which will be obtained by the public, when the new health benefits plan is operating, will be immeasurable, and in order of importance this is very much greater and has a very much higher priority than the matters which the honourable member chose to raise.
– I would also like to ask a question of the Minister for Health. Is it a fact, as alleged recently by the Victorian Graziers Association, that in August 1969 a report on tenders for incinerators called by the Melbourne Harbour Trust was submitted to the Commonwealth Department of Health and that a particular tender was recommended for acceptance? Is it also a fact, as alleged by the Victorian Graziers Association, that the
Department of Health has informed the Melbourne Harbour Trust that an incinerator of only half the size need be constructed if the garbage is sorted before being placed in the incinerator, a process thought by many to be either very difficult or virtually, impossible? As this haggling between the Commonwealth Government, the State Government and the Melbourne Harbour Trust has been going on for at least the last decade, can the Minister do anything to break this deadlock, decide who is legally responsible for disposal of ships’ refuse and get the incinerators built before there is an outbreak of some exotic disease brought in by ships’ refuse?
– There have been difficulties with the State of Victoria in regard to an incinerator in Melbourne. I would not say that the honourable gentleman was right in claiming that this has been going on for a decade. In fact, the Commonwealth made an offer to, the States in 1966 to provide the full capital costs of building incinerators at ports around Australia as a measure to reduce the risk of an exotic disease coming into Australia. This offer was accepted by most States as a generous offer and, as a result, incinerators have steadily been built around the Australian coast. Victoria did not accept the Commonwealth’s offer and it has not yet done so. Victoria claimed that it was the Commonwealth’s responsibility both to maintain and run the incinerators and to meet their replacement costs. The Commonwealth has argued - and this has been accepted by most of the other States- that traditionally the actual cost of rubbish disposal at the ports has been a matter for the port authorities and that in any case it should not be a charge on State or Commonwealth funds but properly is a charge on the ship owners.
In 1968 the Commonwealth Government, in order to get some action in Victoria, agreed to provide moneys for these incinerators without agreement on the points in dispute. As a result, incinerators have been provided and paid for by the Commonwealth at Portland, Western Port and, J think, Geelong. As the honourable gentleman says, the present problem relates to the incinerator at Melbourne. In this case the port authorities called tenders for an incinerator without any consultation with my Department and on a basis which completely disregarded the discussions that had taken place with my Department in 1968. In essence the problem is that my Department regards the incinerator as too large and too expensive for the purpose for which it is intended. I have high hopes that the matter will be resolved soon. Discussions are currently taking place to bring the matter to an end, but I make the point that one does have a responsibility to pay some regard to the proper use of the taxpayer’s money. The fact that satisfactory arrangements have been made in relation to a great number of incinerators around the Australian coast creates, in my view, a strong presumption that the Commonwealth has not been unreasonable in its approach to this matter.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. In view of all the petitions that have been presented to the House asking the Government to take positive action to restore confidence in the arbitration system, does the Minister propose to take any action to restore such confidence or are these petitions going to be pigeonholed and ignored as happens to so many petitions?
– To say that something does not have the confidence of the community does not mean that the statement is true. I believe there is a widely held confidence in the arbitration system in Australia. Furthermore, I make it clear that the Government intends to maintain the arbitration system because of the protection it gives to 85% of the work force in this country who rely on it to guard their minimum wages and conditions. That needs to be said firmly and clearly. Criticism can be put into 2 categories. It may be put, first, into the category of criticism from people who would like to strike the arbitration system down and leave nothing in its place except what they call collective bargaining based on the systems - if we can call them systems - or lack of systems which operate in some other countries and produce industrial strikes and stoppages of greater magnitude than we have in Australia. I see no basis for that criticism to be responded to as though there is something wrong with our system.
The second form of criticism goes to 2 specific issues really, and it is not new that the systems should be criticised on these 2 grounds. One is delay and the other is the excessive use of legal practitioners in the system. In respect of these 2 matters I asked for an inquiry to be made by my Department and, with the consent of the President, by the Registrar of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to ascertain reasons for delays and the occasions on which legal counsel were used. I have recently had brought to me a report in relation to delays. The investigation required literally going through thousands and thousands of pages of transcript to find out why there were delays, at whose request the delays were and how long it did take before a particular matter came on for hearing after being filed. I received that report either yesterday or on Monday; I have forgotten which. But I have read it within the last 24 hours and I hope to be able to publish the findings of the report relatively soon. I am now considering whether action ought to be taken in relation to the delays, if there is anything that can be done to minimise them. Regarding the use of lawyers before the Commission, I am expecting that report very soon and when I receive it I will make it available for honourable members and the public generally to see. Also I would hope to publish a history of the legislation as it permits lawyers to appear and what is the present provision. When I am able to respond, I will do so.
– My question to the Minister for Customs and Excise relates to the dumping of cheese in Australia, which is a matter of great concern to a number of my constituents. Did the Minister earlier this year present an anti-dumping notice on foreign cheese entering Australia? If so, has he been carrying out any investigations on the matter since then? Has he anything to tell the House?
– The answer to the first part of the question is yes. I notified that these goods were subject to dumping investigation, I think early in December 1969. During the interim, as is required by the Act, my Department has conducted inquiries here and overseas to ascertain whether there is a prima facie dumping of non-cheddar cheeses in Australia. The report which I received only today from my Department confirms that there is prima facie evidence of dumping and 1 have signed this day a reference to the Tariff Board in conformity with the Act to conduct an investigation into it.
– I ask the Treasurer a question. The honourable gentleman will remember that, as the first Commonwealth Minister for Housing, he set out to convince the Government of that day that in view of the high social priority of the housing sector the Government should not use that sector in order to control the rest of the economy. I ask him: Will the recent restrictions on finance and interest rates affect the housing sector to a greater extent than most other sectors of the economy? Is it not a fact that demand pressure on the housing industry is currently evident in only 2 States - New South Wales and Western Australia? Does he agree that in view of the social priority of housing special arrangements should at least be made for those States in which the housing industry is not contributing to inflationary tendencies?
– Firstly, the passage of years has translated me from Minister for Housing to Treasurer. In answer to the question I would say this: One important factor affecting housing and those in the community, particularly the young people, seeking to buy homes has been the serious rise in the cost of home building and, of course, building materials. This is the product of the enormous pressure on the industry over most of its fields to build more houses than resources really allow. In these circumstances a measure of restraint is likely over a period to be beneficial to the industry. I continue to hold that view about the very important social priority of housing and I think it fs necessary as with other costs to keep a very close watch on it.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development. Approaches have been made to me by the
Hunter Valley Conservation Trust expressing concern that a final decision has not been reached between the Commonwealth and the New South Wales governments accepting the flood mitigation proposals that have been submitted to the New South Wales Government by that authority. The work already accomplished has been of enormous benefit to the Hunter Valley and it is hoped that a continuation of this work as recommended will proceed. Can the Minister state what the position is in relation to negotiations with the New South Wales Government as funds are urgently required to continue the flood mitigation work in this important valley?
– The honourable member and the member for Cowper have raised this matter with me on a number of occasions recently and in view of their interest everything possible is being done to expedite the decision as far as the Commonwealth is concerned. I did explain previously that in the previous water resources development scheme 4 projects had been left at the termination of the scheme at the end of last year. When the Prime Minister announced that a new fund of $100m would be established to assist the States over the next 5 years he announced also that the 4 proposals which had been received prior to that date would be considered under the new scheme. Resulting from that we informed the New South Wales Government that the flood mitigation proposal which it had submitted would be considered under the new scheme. We submitted to it the details of the normal information which is required and the New South Wales Government obtained the information from the departments concerned. There have been some informal discussions between my Department and the 2 departments concerned in New South Wales and my understanding now is that all the information that is required in order to make a decision is now available and we would expect that the Premier will be writing to the Prime Minister during the next few days with the full information that is required. I can give an undertaking that as soon as it is received the interdepartmental committee which examines these proposals will sit immediately and after its recommendation is received it will be considered fairly quickly by the Government.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Will the Minister respond to the challenge issued by the honourable member for Riverina in the adjournment debate last night and tell the House how much wheat of the 1969-70 crop has been handled outside the Australian Wheat Board? I refer particularly to interstate sales. Will be also tell the House how much wheat is still being held on farms because farmers do not know if. when and how much they will be paid if it is delivered?
– I see nothing of a challenge in this. This is information that has been asked of me several times. Some of the information can be provided and some cannot. I have quite openly stated on a number of occasions that there is no record of wheat that is traded outside the Australian Wheat Board. This is more or less illegal trading of wheat, using the provision in section 92 of the Constitution, and there is nothing that can be done to stop it if the wheat is going across a State border. There have been some very wild and extravagant estimates made of the amount of wheat that has been traded across borders. I will explain why these estimates are wild and extravagant. I believe that a figure of SO million bushels has been used by the honourable member for Riverina. But when one looks back at the records of the Australian Wheat Board for the quantity of feed wheat that is used in Australia one finds that this figure is generally between 16 million and 28 million bushels, depending upon whether the figure is for a drought year or a nondrought year. For anyone to suggest that SO million bushels of wheat is being traded across the border for this purpose is just to make an almost stupid estimate of the amount involved. We know that wheat is being traded across the border for stock feed purposes, but there is no indication that millers are involved in illegal trading in wheat. Therefore any wheat that is going across the border is being used specifically for feed purposes and the amount involved must be a figure below the maximum that has been used in the past.
Of course, the Australian Wheat Board is making useful sales of wheat for stock feed purposes. The Board is making these useful sales by disposing of a lot of its off-grade wheat. Therefore part of the stock feed demand in Australia must be met by the Australian Wheat Board. We also know that the sales of other types of stock feed - sorghum and barley - are hitting record levels this year and they must be replacing in some cases wheat that is normally used for stock feed purposes. But to suggest, as the honourable member for Riverina suggested, that the amount involved is 50 million bushels is a stupid and extravagant statement and cannot be claimed to be authentic in any way whatsoever.
As far as the amount of grain being held on farms is concerned, a figure could be obtained for this. I will do what I can for the honourable member. The Department of Census and Statistics might be able to obtain a figure for this. But anyone who says that growers do not know whether they are going to be paid for over-quota wheat is not keeping informed of the situation, because the Australian Wheat Growers Federation has firmly laid down a policy for over-quota wheat - that there will be no payment for this wheat this year, but if wheat growers are able to include that wheat in their quota allocation for the forthcoming season there will be a payment on it.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether it is true that 13 British and European shipping firms have agreed to form a consortium and to pool their container ships in a single fleet with a unified marketing and sales organisation. Is this fleet to be called the Australian Container Services and will this consortium be a threat to new container ship construction?
– Is it true that a number of companies from many countries, including Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, France and Australia, represented by the Australian National Line, have formed themselves into a corporation, virtually, which jointly will operate all the container ships, numbering 13 by the end of this year, between the United Kingdom, Europe and Australia. It is true that the company originally was to be called the Australian Container Services but I understand that the name now has been changed to the Australian Europe Container Services. Whether or not the companies act jointly or individually, I do not believe will have any effect on future container vessel construction. The whole purpose of bringing the container vessels together into one operation is predominantly to ensure the economies which demonstrably can be achieved by greater rationalisation of services, the achievement of better frequencies than might otherwise be possible and the provision of interchangeability of cargoes. These are all part of the service to shippers which we in Australia so badly need. I believe that by operating together the Australian Europe Container Services will provide a better opportunity for the container concept to be effective in cargo carriage. With the Australian National Line as a participating member of that group I believe that we, the Austraiian Government, will have an opportunity to ascertain the efficacy of this new. form of cargo movement and I hope, in the end result, have a better concept of the structure upon which freight rates are negotiated.
– I address a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Has the Minister made any progress in his negotiations with the container consortia for the inclusion of Tasmania in the consortia shipping port programme? Is he aware that Tasmania already is suffering serious loss of markets, irregular shipping and frustration because that State is in what could soon become a disastrous container shipping backwater? Is he also aware that the Minister for Trade and Industry and container consortia chieftains promised in 1968 and 1969 that Tasmania and north Queensland would share in this revolutionary shipping service with equalised freight all round the Australian continent?
– As the honourable member is probably aware, in Australia this week the Australia London Tonnage Committee is engaged in freight negotiations. One of the services with which the negotiations are concerned is that between Tasmania and the principal container ports. The undertakings given by the consortia relate to the preservation of the sca leg freight around Australia. This sea leg freight is the actual cost of moving goods from wharf to wharf. It is true that the sea leg freights remain constant for Tasmanian ports and for all the principal outports as well as for the container ports. The advantages of the container shipping charge lies in the additional service which the container concept envisages and for which an added charge is made but when a person ships by conventional vessels this added charge is borne separately and in a different way. I can well understand the concern of the honourable member for the future industrial development of Tasmania. It is shared by the Tasmanian Government. That Government has spoken to my colleague the Minister for Trade and Industry and myself on several occasions, expressing its concern that there should be an early resolution of these negotiations. I am confident that the negotiations now under way will lead to a solution of the problem which, I trust, will be eminently satisfactory to Tasmanian shippers.
– 1 direct my question to the Minister for External Affairs. This morning it was broadcast that the administration of Communist China had criticised the Soviet Union for, in this centenary year of Lenin’s birth, straying from Leninism and preaching Socialism while practising imperialism. What significance does the Minister see in this latest condemnation of the one Communist giant by the other?
– I did not hear the radio broadcast and consequently I do not know of its full contents. What I can say, without any thought of approval of either the philosophies, the policies or the international potential relationships of the Peking Government, is that the word ‘Communism’ has lost its original meaning - that is, from each according to his abilities to each according to his needs. As well, the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat has long since been abandoned in favour of the idea of the dictatorship of the Communist parties whether they happen to be in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, China or any other part of the world where Communism prevails. What I can say about the philosophies of the Communist movement is that wherever the Communists have set up a government it has been a domination of the rest of the community by the Communist Party. All elements of democracy have ben abandoned and all liberal theories and principles - as, for example, the liberal reforms that were attempted in Czechoslovakia - have been abandoned and there is a rigid repression of any kind of liberal thought.
So whilst I. cannot comment on the exact phraseology used by the Chinese Communists 1 can at least say that none of them approves of the principles of democracy. Where we see Communism in action we see the destruction of the rights of human beings as individuals.
– Has the Minister for Health seen a report of the Victorian Civil Ambulance’s bed bureau which slates that one Melbourne hospital has shut down completely due to staff shortages and that more than 250 hospital beds in Victoria are out of action due to lack of staff? Can the Minister verify whether the report is correct? If the report is correct, does he regard it as consistent with his claims that the Australian hospital system is as good as any other in the world?
– No, 1 have not seen the report. In the normal course of events in relation to my responsibilities as Commonwealth Minister for Health the facts of this situation would not be brought to my attention. They would be brought to the attention of the person who is responsible for this matter, that is, the Victorian Minister for Health.
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation: Is it intended to expand and improve facilities at the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital in Victoria? If this is so, can the Minister inform me of the type of improvements that are intended and what effects they will have in the interests of the patients?
– In reply to the honourable member for Wimmera, who I have discovered takes a very active interest in the affairs and administration of the Repatriation Department-
– I take a point of order. This is a further abuse of question time. The Minister is reading his reply. As 1 stated yesterday, this period is set aside for questions without notice, not questions on notice. If the Minister desires to make a statement-
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– Are you going to continue-
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order. I informed the honourable member yesterday that a Minister may answer a question as he thinks fit, providing the answer is relevant to the question. The Chair has no way of knowing whether a question is on notice or without notice. The honourable member’s point of order is therefore not upheld.
– Further to my point of order-
-Is the honourable member raising another point of order?
– Yes. I am not trying to reflect on the Chair but it is clear that there are 2 types of questions an honourable member can ask. They are either questions on notice or questions without notice. When an honourable member from the Minister’s Party asks a question and the Minister comes along with a prepared answer one can assume the question is a Dorothy Dixer, lt is an abuse of question time.
– There is no substance in the point of order. There is nothing in the Standing Orders that would prevent a Minister from reading his answer if he wishes. I have explained the situation. This has been the long standing practise of this House. 1 call the Minister for Repatriation.
– At the Heidelberg Hospital a new kitchen costing Sl.lm has just been completed and it was handed over to the Department on 15th April. There are other proposed works at the hospital which have been approved by the Public Works Committee but these will go ahead only if they are approved under the Government’s works programme. The first of these works is the conversion of the old kitchen into a new admission and medical records centre. The cost of this is expected to be about $196,000 and the date for the calling of tenders will be in July 1970. It is expected that the building will be completed in March 1971. Further, a 3-storey building is proposed. It will house 8 operating theatres, a pathology department and a central sterile supply department. This building will be air conditioned and is estimated to cost S2.7m. The target date for tenders will be May 1971 and the anticipated date of completion is March 1973. In answer to the second part of the honourable member’s question, I inform him that all the new facilities, both completed and proposed, are a continuation of the policy of the Repatriation Department and the Government to ensure that the highest possible standard of facilities in food preparation and medical treatment is available to the clients of the Repatriation Department who have served Australia so well. The provision of these facilities will mean that it will assist in the recruitment
– I take a point of order. Two pages of the Minister’s prepared reply were stuck together and he did not realise it.
-I would like to know the honourable member’s point of order. I would remind all honourable members that taking a point of order frivolously is an offence against the Standing Orders.
– I take that as a reflection on me. I was within my rights when I took the point of order that this was an abuse of question time. I suggest, Mr Speaker, that you deal with the Minister in the same way as you have dealt with honourable members.
-The honourable member is again out of order. I was referring to a point of order taken by another honourable member on his side of the House. I suggest that the Minister for Repatriation continue and that he be as concise as possible.
– I have just about completed my answer-
-Order! I think by continually preventing the Minister from giving his answer honourable members are losing sight of a point they should keep in mind and that is that the maximum use should be made of the time allowed for questions without notice.
– I would have thought this matter would have been of great interest to all honourable members in the House. 1 was saying that the provision of these new facilities will assist the Department in 2 further ways - in the recruitment of doctors to the staff and in assisting the staff, generally speaking, in the efficient performance of their important duties.
– I ask the Minister for Health a question supplementary to that asked him by my Deputy. I point out that his Department has in the past issued pamphlets on health matters, such as medical benefits, in the same way and form as the Department of Social Services and the Repatriation Department issue pamphlets relevant to their activities and that these pamphlets are made available, in the case of his Department, to doctors for distribution in their surgeries. I ask him whether the document that his Department is preparing on the proposed common fees is to have the same format as the earlier pamphlets and whether the Australian Medical Association has been asked whether it is prepared to advise its members to distribute this pamphlet like those earlier pamphlets? If, however, this new pamphlet is to be printed and distributed in a different way, will the Minister allow the House to express its view on it before he authorises and dispatches it?
– There will be a variety of information. The final form of it has not been decided because, as the honourable gentleman is aware, the legislation relating to this matter has not yet been passed by this Parliament. However, I would be very glad when the legislation has passed the Parliament and it is therefore possible to finalise the explanation to let him or anybody else pronounce a view on it. But I do make the point that we are talking about 2 separate things here. My Department, the Department of Social Services and the Repatriation Department - others perhaps - that provide benefits to the public do as a standard pattern provide information pamphlets in respect of the benefits that they make available so that the public can be informed. That is done by my Department and by the other Departments and that practice will continue.
But it has also been the practice, certainly in my Department - I cannot speak for the others - that when a departure is being made from existing arrangements, particularly a departure of a substantial nature, where it is necessary for the public both to understand the new arrangements and to be aware of them so as to get the benefits additional methods are employed. For instance, the Leader of the Opposition will be aware, if he reads the Press at all or if he listens to the radio, that at the time of the introduction of the subsidised medical scheme there was a pretty widespread advertising campaign by Press advertising, by radio advertising and, to a certain extent, by advertising on television. Pamphlets also were put out which were available from the traditional sources. It was felt in that case that, in relation to a new departure which involved completely new entitlements and particularly where it was necessary for people to be aware that these entitlements were available in order for them to get the benefits, this sort of departure was justified.
What we propose to do in the present case is justified on the same grounds. The pamphlet will refer not only to the common fee but also to our subsidised medical arrangements. We have found that these other measures taken in respect of the subsidised medical service have not reached as many people as we intended that scheme to reach. We feel that, on the basis of that experience, if these benefits are to be available to the people who need them most and for whom they are intended, we need additional methods, on a once and for all basis, in this case. The existing methods of distribution in doctor’s surgeries, in the offices of my Department and so on will continue as usual.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Services. By way of preface, may I refer to a statement made by the Minister some months ago with regard to the possibility of introducing a national child minding scheme. 1 ask the Minister whether such a scheme is still under consideration by the Government.
– I can very briefly inform the honourable member that this matter is at the present moment under the active consideration of the Government. I cannot give him any commitment as to when or if legislation will be brought in, but I can assure him that this very important matter is under active review. It relates of course to the responsibilities of my Department and also to the responsibilities of the Department of my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service.
– Can the Minister for Shipping and Transport state whether, in view of the damage caused by the fire on the tanker ‘Amanda Miller* at Whyalla, the disruption to the Whyalla shipyard could bring about any cancellation of present orders due to altered completion dates that could now apply?
– I did not quite hear the last part of the honourable gentleman’s question, but I gather that he is concerned about future orders at the Whyalla shipyard. A determination of the delays that will result to the completion not only of vessels that have been commenced but also of future vessels for which the Whyalla yard holds orders depends on the finding concerning what needs to be done to the ruined hulk of the partly constructed ship that has now been burnt out. But let me say that the Whyalla shipyard has established a very fine reputation as an Australian shipyard. I believe that its reputation would in no way be impaired by this disaster. The fire, its causes and the measures that need to be taken to ensure that future conflagrations of this sort will not occur have been and are the subject of inquiry by a senior officer of my Department and by Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. In due course if it is found that changes are necessary, no doubt these changes will be introduced.
Nonetheless I would expect that there would be some delay, and it is this delay which, necessarily, is of concern to those building ships and ordering ships. The delay in the completion of the ‘Amanda Miller’ will mean for R. W. Miller & Co. Pty Ltd a delay in the provision of a replacement for the company’s 2 smaller tankers which it had undertaken to withdraw from service when the ‘Amanda Miller’ came into operation. It will mean in relation to the movement of crude oil around the Australian coast, that for whatever the period of delay might be - and it is estimated to be about 6 months at the present time - there will inevitably need to be some replacement tonnage. As to the delays that will be imposed upon future orders, so much depends on the extent to which the company is able to achieve forward steel deliveries to replace the steel that has been affected in the fire and also on the time taken to remove the hulk and recommence construction. At this stage it is a little too early to say what the ultimate effect might be, but I am quite confident that the status and the respect with which the shipbuilders at Whyalla have been able to distinguish themselves by the quality of their work in the past will ensure that they will continue to receive orders in the future.
– Honourable members will have observed the large size of the notice paper, which is currently running at more than 70 pages. This is due to the large number of questions on notice which have been received during this session. Over 800 have been received to date. Because of this the Government Printer is experiencing increasing difficulty in printing the notice paper in the time available after the receipt of copy following the rising of the House. To relieve this situation I recently submitted to the Party Leaders a proposal that the complete notice paper, including all unanswered questions, be printed only once each week - that is, for the first sitting day each week. All other notice papers for the week would contain the usual notices, orders of the day, etc., but only those questions on notice which had appeared in the then current week for the first time. It was not possible to reach agreement on the proposal and, as a consequence, I have been obliged to examine other means by which the position may be relieved. Standing order 148 states:
Notice of question shall be given by a member delivering the same to the Clerk within such time as, in the opinion of the Speaker, will enable the question to be fairly printed.
It has not been found necessary in the past to fix a close-down time for the lodgment of questions and it has been customary for questions for the next day’s notice paper to be accepted up till the adjournment on the preceding night even although this has delayed the sending of notice paper copy to the Printer until late questions have been checked and edited by officers of the House. This checking and editing may take up to an hour after the House has risen. In the present circumstances, I feel this practice can no longer be continued.
I am informed that in the case of the Senate, where the questions received this session are less than one-third of those received in the House, it is a general working practice that questions for the next day’s notice paper should be lodged prior to the dinner adjournment on the preceding day. Earlier close-down times apply in other parliaments.
To meet the demands of the present situation I am of the opinion that I should fix a close-down time for the receipt of questions for the next day’s notice paper and that this should be, in normal circumstances, half-past five o’clock p.m. This I feel should do much to ease the position of the Printer in his overnight printing of the notice paper by enabling questions to be cleared for printing a reasonable time ahead of the rising of the House. The new arrangement will commence when the House resumes on 5th May. I ask for the co-operation of all honourable members in this matter.
Bill presented by Mr Bury, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a secondtime.
The purpose of this Bill is to authorise the payment to the States this financial year of special financial assistance totalling $16m. The $16m is made up of 3 elements - an amount of $12m, to be distributed among the six States in proportion to the financial assistance grants payable to them this year under the formula laid down in the States Grants Act 1965-1968; an additional grant of $1.5m to Tasmania; and further amounts, totalling $2. 5m to compensate the Stales for the estimated additional interest costs incurred by them up to 30th June 1970 as a result of the removal of the income tax rebate on Commonwealth Loan interest in November 1968.
The grant of SI 2m, which represents general budgetary assistance, was announced by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) at the recent Premiers Conference in response to representations by the States that they were facing difficult budgetary problems this financial year, due to wage rate increases and other factors.
Final estimates of the financial assistance grants payable to each State in 1969-70 are not yet available. However, on the basis of present estimates, the distribution of the grant of Si 2m would be as follows:
The additional payment of SI. 5m to Tasmania represents special assistance of a temporary nature to help the State finance its revenue deficit. Under the procedures of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, Tasmania will not receive the final adjusting part of its special grant in respect of 1969-70 until 1971-72. The effect of the extra payment of $1.5m will be to reduce the 1969-70 revenue deficit which the Stale would otherwise have had to carry until that time. It is part of the understanding between the Commonwealth and the State that the SI. 5m will result in the final adjusting part of the 1969-70 special grant being that much less.
When the income tax rebate on Commonwealth loan interest was removed in November 1968 it was recognised that this would result in the States having to pay higher interest rates on their borrowing programmes for works and housing. The Commonwealth Government therefore undertook to reimburse the States for the additional interest costs incurred by them up to 30th June 1970. The amounts set out in the schedule to the Bill represent estimates of the additional cost agreed between each of the States and the Commonwealth. The proposed reimbursements total $2. 5m. The additional costs borne by the States after 30th June 1970 will be taken into account in the new grants arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States to commence next financial year. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
– ( move:
The Customs Tariff Proposals which I have just tabled relate to proposed amendments to the customs tariff which were originally introduced into the lust Parliament as Customs Tariff Proposals Nos 8 to 12. The collection of duties under these Proposals was subsequently validated to 30th April 1970 by Act No. 84 of 1969. As these Proposals have not yet been enacted it is necessary to re-introduce them to continue the relevant duty collections. Customs Tariff Proposals No. 10 formally makes this reintroduction. An appropriate enabling Bill is also envisaged before the winter recess.
As previously, 1 have arranged for a copy of this speech to be distributed to honourable members so that they may, if they wish, read it with me. A short glossary of unusual terms is included in the normal detailed summary of tariff changes currently being distributed to honourable members. As this is a new Parliament I trust 1 may be excused if I go over much the same ground as had been covered when the changes were introduced last year.
The changes stem from the Government’s adoption of recommendations by the Tariff
Board in the following reports: Electric circuit breakers and switch units; floor and wall coverings; gang slitting machines; gloves and mittens; secateurs; and a recommendation by the Special Advisory Authority in his report entitled ‘Cherries, Preserved by Sugar - Drained, Glace or Crystallised’.
Dealing first with the Special Advisory Authority’s report on cherries, temporary additional duties of 6c per pound were recommended. The temporary duties are in addition to the normal duties of 47i% ad valorem general tariff, and 221% ad valorem preferential tariff, plus primage duty of 10% general tariff and 5% preferential tariff where relevant.
On electric circuit breakers and switch units the Tariff Board recommended duties of 45% ad valorem general tariff and 35% aci valorem preferential tariff for apparatus rated for use on nominal system voltages up to 200 kilovolts. The change in the level of duties on these goods varies according to their rating. For circuit breakers and switch units operating at higher voltages the Board has not recommended any change in the existing duties of 7£% ad valorem general tariff, and free preferential tariff.
In its report on floor and wall coverings the Tariff Board recommended duties of 35% ad valorem general tariff and 25% ad valorem preferential tariff for linoleum, printed paper felt base floorings, cork flooring and rubber underlay material. For vinyl, plastic and sheet rubber floorings the Board recommended rates of 45% ad valorem general tariff, and 35% ad valorem preferential tariff. This represents an increase in the level of duties of 10% ad valorem for plastic tiles and sheet rubber forms, while for printed paper felt base flooring the increase is 7i% ad valorem. The duties on linoleum and tiles of cork remain unchanged.
The Board recommended in its report on gang slitting machines thai protective duties of 30% ad valorem general tariff and 20% ad valorem preferential tariff apply to these machines. This represents a decrease in the level of duties on machines designed to slit mild steel sheet thinner than 12 gauge (BG) - that is to say, slightly less than one-tenth of an inch in thickness - and not exceeding 40 inches in width, from 40% ad valorem general tariff and 27]% ad valorem preferential tariff, and an increase for the other machines formerly subject to non-protective duties.
On leather gloves and mittens, the Tariff Board recommended that tariff protection at a level of 30% ad valorem general tariff be restricted to industrial gloves and golf gloves. For other leather gloves nonprotective duties are provided. This means duties are increased on industrial gloves and golf gloves and are not varied on dress gloves and are decreased on other gloves, such as baseball gloves or policemen’s gauntlets. Preferential tariff rates are fixed in accordance with international commitments.
Turning now to the report on secateurs, the Board proposed that protection should be accorded the local producion of secateurs of the anvil-type. Duty on these tools is increased from 7-J% ad valoren general tariff and free preferential tariff to 25% ad valorem general tariff and 15% ad valorem preferential tariff. The Board proposed no change in the duties on other types of secateurs, for example, those with 2 cutting blades.
Following the completion of international negotiations, previously tabled Tariff Board reports are being implemented in full. These reports are entituled wooden articles and cutlery, forks, spoons, etc. Proposals No. 10 also incorporate changes agreed to by the Australian and New Zealand governments for the addition of new commodities to Schedule A of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. Also included are some additions to concessions for hand made traditional products of cottage industries of developing countries, i commend the Proposals to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 5 March (vide page 153), on motion by Mr Gorton: That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The proposition involved in this Bill is welcome in the Australian community because it does represent an advance in support and fostering of the Australian film industry, lt does, not deserve, however, to be described in superlative terms, but rather in positive terms because it does show an improvement on the situation which exists now. On the other hand there are still many areas which need improvement if we are to have an adequate system of support for the development of an indigenous film industry. Although we will not be opposing the Bill in the second reading stage we will in the Committee stage be proposing an amendment to clause 6 to allow the appointment of a person to the Australian Film Development Corporation in spite of the fact that he may have some remunerative interest in the industry, and I will outline the reasons for doing this at that stage.
The proposition in this Bill is a late one but nevertheless welcome. It is particularly welcome for us members of the Opposition because it is the sort of thing which a Socialist party would undertake. It is a Socialist venture. It extends public participation within the market economy. I have no doubt that the inspiration for this Film Development Corporation comes from Great Britain from that great British Socialist, Harold Wilson, now the Prime Minister of Great Britain but in 1949 President of the Board of Trade, who established a film corporation with £Stg5m at that time, stating when he introduced the appropriate legislation that it would have ‘power to lend this money on reasonable commercial terms for film production’. When one reads through the second reading speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) in support of this Bill one gathers that he must have been greatly influenced by this great British Socialist.
Before I pass from this discussion, it is interesting to note that during the debate in the House of Commons on this proposal the Conservative member for Woodford, a Mr Churchill, expressed grave reservations about this extension of public enterprise, this encroachment of back door Socialism. We of the Australian Labor Party, of course, could understand a Conservative having this view because the principle implicit in this proposal is the sort of principle which a Socialist would uphold. In any event here we are, having boxed the compass, as it were, some 70 years after the establishment in the first instance of an Australian film industry. For nearly the past decade an indigenous film industry has been trying to establish itself after 70 years in which there has been a complete dearth of public support for such an industry.
Australia was one of the first countries in the world to produce feature films. In 1906 we produced the world’s first full length multi-reel feature film, The Kelly Gang’. Between 1899 and 1929 we produced approximately 2S0 feature films. Then came the depression and the advent of sound and the industry was subjected to severe strains which with the restrictive trade practices of distributors controlled by overseas interests led to the collapse of the industry in this country. This was rather sad and was pretty much avoidable, because we had on hand at that stage when the industry was going into its eclipse the findings of the Royal Commission on the Moving Picture Industry in Australia which heard evidence between 1926 and 1928. It made many recommendations which would have been of great benefit to the Australian film industry of that day. Interestingly enough, many of the proposals in that report would be of great benefit to the film industry in Australia today. I refer honourable members to what I said earlier, namely, that although the legislation before us represents progress it does not deserve to be discussed in superlative terms. There is still a lot to be done. In 1970 we have not fulfilled many of the suggestions which were put forward in the 1926-28 Royal Commission report on the Australian Film Industry. I can quote from the report some pertinent sections. At page 29 of the report the Commission suggested:
That, subject to recommendations by the Appeal Board -
Awards of Merit shall be made each year for the best films produced in Australia which will build up national sentiment, will be of high moral standard, contain humour, but not containing propaganda which might be prejudicial to international relations or likely to promote ill-feeling with other countries.
The Awards shall be, in order of merit, First, $5,000; second, $2,500; third, $1,500 . . .
The report goes on to discuss an award of merit for the best film scenario and an award of merit under similar conditions for the best film scenario containing Australian sentiment. It makes a number of other recommendations. Of course, time will not allow mc to detail them, and this is a shame, because here we are in 1970 not even yet fulfilling the outline proposed then but I will mention briefly, rather than detailing the proposals of that report, some of the suggestions which we could take up at this stage: quotas on the exhibition of films guaranteeing some Australian content; an increase in customs duty on the import of films; reciprocal tariff preferences for local films; laws dealing with the motion picture industry so that we will have uniform laws throughout the Commonwealth which will foster an Australian industry; a special Act based on the recommendations of the Royal Commission report. Of course, because we did not follow the recommendations then, and have not until recently done anything about helping the film industry, we have been responsible for scourging Australian artists from this country - driving them to other lands. In 1928, as stated in that report:
Australians have shown their adaptability in the moving picture world, and to-day there are many of them engaged in the industry in the United States of America who are capably filling posts as directors, actors, actresses, scenario writers, cameramen, &c. The unlimited scope afforded by the well-established industry in America has been responsible for their remaining in that country, and it cannot be expected that many of them would be prepared to sacrifice highly remunerative positions and return to Australia in order to assist in the establishment of the industry here unless every encouragement and assistance were given to make production in Australia a profitable and lasting employment.
It is remarkable that in 1962-63 the Vincent report was echoing these words. It stated:
The situation would be Gilbertian if it were not so serious. In Australia we have the spectacle of a substantial proportion of our theatrical talent going overseas to obtain employment. There they assist in the production of television programmes which are then purchased for telecasting in Australia.’
What irony. What peculiar irony that the Government should fail to act in the light of evidence that is continuously available from findings in reports responsibly based between 1928 and the beginning of this decade. The Vincent report even indicated how Australian talent in script writers living here was in fact selling its product in Britain and America and earning a good income because we had done nothing to foster the industry. In 1968 Lord Willis was re-echoing these words:
Australia has always been able to produce great talent: writers, singers, artists, poets and actors.
But for the most part such people hove had to turn to Britain, Europe and America for the opportunity fully to develop their abilities.’
So it is all very belated to arrive at this point in 1970. At this stage one is well justified in asking why we have had to bear with two decades of Conservative neglect of the Australian film industry. A film industry is a vital part of the artistic content and of the creative achievement of any society, and is probably one of the most influential sectors of the artistic role of a society. But we have applied philistinic indifference towards the development of an Australian film industry which would absorb Australian talent and allow it to revive itself and achieve a sense of expression, which would be in harmony wilh national aspirations and which would interpret the aims and the aspirations of Australian citizens.
A film industry would examine the sort of society that we are trying to create; it would prick the pomposity in our society by critically questioning all the assumptions and values which we aim at putting forward within our society. Compared with some other countries we are a late entrant - and I continue in my vein of criticism because I want to keep this thing in some sort of reasonable relationship to what has just been done and what should have been done - in developing and fostering an indigenous film industry. Some of these countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy and France are larger than Australia and are well known to us as film producing countries. However, some countries that are smaller than Australia in population have been able to maintain their own film industries. I refer to Sweden which has a population of fewer than 8 million; Norway with a population of less than 4 million; and Denmark with a population of fewer than 5 million. Each of these countries has been able to maintain a flourishing film industry. Those of us who have been fortunate to see films produced in these countries appreciate the high quality of production achieved. These countries have been able to maintain a film industry; we can do the same.
The Australian film industry should have been assisted a long time ago to enable us to achieve the sort of standards that we are used to seeing in films from Scandinavian countries. I interpolate here that we must not expect too much immediately from an Australian film industry. After all, we have allowed ourselves to be plundered of our best talent; we have restricted the opportunity for our creative people who produce or direct films to gain experience in this country by making it a more attractive proposition for them to leave the country and permanently reside away if they wish to become engaged full time in the industry. Again, there are countries less advanced technically than Australia that have great film industries. I refer here to India, Korea and Greece. Considering the situation today in the Australian film industry the proposal now before the Parliament is certainly good. It is good to the extent that it represents an official recognition and an official commitment in support of the Australian film industry. But in comparison with what has been done in other countries it clearly underscores that we should have started much longer ago, and having started at this late date we should have done much more than we have so far been prepared to assume.
I could suggest that we have muffed a good chance too, in proposing this film corporation, by restricting the proposal to Australia alone. It would have been an ideal opportunity, to develop closer co-operative relationships with our near neighbour New Zealand in involving that country in such an arrangement as we are proposing - the establishment of a film development corporation - and perhaps we could extend this opportunity to the islands of Oceania because Oceania seems to be an area which has a continuity of interest and one with which we will be increasingly closely associated as time goes by. The sort of thing I have in mind is the development of something similar to the Nordic Council which has assisted greatly in the promotion in the Scandinavian countries of, among other things, the film industry.
I would like to quote some figures showing again how we have missed badly in promoting Australian talent where we had an opportunity to do so in the production of Australian shows. I quote the findings of Sylvia Lawson who pointed out that in 1967 only 2.8% of television drama shown in Australia was locally produced. This was only one twenty-fifth of what Finland produced in terms of local content for its television network. Czechoslovakia, with a population about the same as ours had 70% local content; Sweden 58%; France 80%; Japan 80%; Britain 85%; and Canada, in the shadow of that giant, the United States had 50% . Yet, all we could achieve at that stage was 2.8%. Interestingly enough because of protection laws which the Government had enacted, we are doing very well in the production of television commercials. The commercials produced were technically and artistically, in terms of the way in which people acted in them and the effectiveness of the depiction which one saw, of a high standard and were able to compete successfully on the international market. If we can do this with commercials which are made to sell things surely we should be able to do it with films which express what people want to do, where they are going in life and the sort of aspirations they have. This, after all, is the role of an art - to interpret society and its scale of values.
Australians each year spend about Si 00m on attending film screenings. Most of this money is going out of the country. In fact, probably more than half of this sum goes overseas because most of our cinema circuits are overseas owned and controlled. Again, the films which are displayed are almost overwhelmingly produced overseas. So here we have almost a total outflow of Australian money because of the lack of initiative on the part of the Federal Government to act earlier to sponsor an Australian film industry. But there is a feeling in Australia that people do want to see Australian films. ‘Age of Consent’, which is a recent production in Australia, was rated the thirteenth most popular film, according to one scale of popularity testing, in a recent 12-month period. So on this basis alone people are interested; they do want to see what Australians do, how they are depicted and how their attitudes are reflected. If we fail to give the sort of support which we have to give - this goes much beyond what is before the Parliament at present - I am afraid that the chances of reaching the high standard of excellence which we must aim at if we want to foster a really viable film industry will be muffed.
Again I come to the question of quality of production. Perhaps one could commence by considering television programmes in Australia, because quite clearly we must seek to encourage later on the fostering of quality production of Australian films. It is reasonable enough in the immediate term to say, as the Prime Minister has said, that what the Film Development Corporation will aim at is to promote films which will be commercially successful. We will want to go beyond this later; that is, we will want to modify this legislation and to build in safeguards which will give some sort of protection to an indigenous film industry to encourage more Australian participation in terms of acting material, in terms of technical capacity in producing and directing shows and in terms of Australian capital funding the production of these shows. This is a longer term project, but it is not too much in the distance I would hope.
I would now like to refer back to television programmes. In 1967-68 we seemed to get some scale of the cultural values of this country from the annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board which showed that the metropolitan commercial television channels devoted 13.3% of their time to sport - a little under 20% to personality programmes such as quizzes, which are a quaint device for getting around the Australian content requirement imposed by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. In contrast with this, the proportion of non-formal education programmes gained only 1.1% and the arts 0.6% of the total time. Serious drama obtained nil. One could be invigorated, I suppose, at least for that year, to find that 0.6% of the total time devoted to art was a 100% increase on the previous year. But then, of course, sport programmes substantially increased too. All this adds up to this: We have become a derivative culture. So much of what we see and have reflected on television screens and film screens is an amalgam of the lesser cultural peaks of the United States and the United Kingdom - a hotchpotch of The Beverley Hillbillies’ and ‘Coronation Street’. Michael Wale, writing in ‘The Listener’ of 7th December 1968, said:
One survey showed that of the 136 evening programmes televised nationally in America, only 12 were not being seen in Australia.
As an interesting sidelight he also pointed out that one Wednesday evening he was stunned to see a rerun of a Randwick horse race item on Channel 9. But then he discovered that Sir Frank Packer’s horse had won the event. Sir Frank Packer, who also owns the station, had missed the showing on Saturday and had asked for the event to be rerun.
Culturally, on the basis of what Michael Wale says and on the basis of our own experience, we become a pocket borough of Hollywood’s B class film kingdom and this is not good enough. The second paragraph of the Australian Council for the Arts Film Committee interim report endorses this view. Therefore quite clearly we should look with some urgency at this proposition which is before us. We have to consider ways of refining it, of developing it and of taking it beyond the boundaries now before us.
Harking back to a suggestion I made earlier relating to the 1928 film industry royal commission, one thing we ought to do is to consider the introduction of import controls on films coming into Australia, lt was stated in evidence submitted by the Australian Film Producers Association to the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television, that: 11 is essential to realise that producers of Austraiian films cannot possibly compete with the dumping of programmes by overseas English speaking countries which are being sold at a mere fraction of their original cost of production. In fact, their costs have already been recouped by usage overseas and thus Australia, like many other countries find films entering into competition with the local film producing industry sold by overseas interests at prices with which the local producers cannot possibly hope to compete unless the Australian product is subsidised.
This Bill would have provided a good opportunity for the Prime Minister to have projected means of protecting the local film industry. Quite clearly, no Australian industry can expect to compete against this sort of dumping, particularly in view of Australia’s small population and the high cost of production factor involved in the film industry. The capacity and potential for developing a local industry are awaiting harnessing in Australia. The Senate Select Committee stated in its report that this country has already demonstrated that it can make world quality films and export them and the only reason it did not continue to do so was that the industry was left unprotected and squeezed out of the business by an overseas industry which was heavily protected in its own country. We have to protect our industry; we have to subsidise it. It is generally estimated that for a country to have a viable self sufficient film industry it requires a population of about 80 million. This means that only the United States of America, Japan, China, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and India would fill the bill. Therefore we have to support this industry.
A proposal such as the one before us providing only $Im represents only a very small beginning in this direction, lt represents an acknowledgment of a well established fact which on many occasions has been pronounced upon by people concerned about the film industry in Australia. How far will $lm go? I expect it will not go very far. It is rather paradoxical to learn that when the Canadian Corporation was set up to sponsor a Canadian film industry and $1Om was provided, there were groans throughout the country about the inadequacy of the amount of capitalisation for the scheme. We must consider that this sum of Sim would have to bc broken up between the costs of maintaining the Corporation, the preparation of projects, the actual production and then the distribution and promotion of these projects. One cannot visualise any explosion or even anything dramatic occurring in the development of an Australian film industry as a result of the allocation of this sum. I estimate it would cost probably about 550,000 a year to operate the Corporation. Projects would have to be considered, prepared and assessed and this probably would cost another $100,000 a year, leaving about $800,000 or $850,000 a year to be used in fostering film production. If one works on the assessment that for every SI spent on producing one of these films, $1 must be spent on promotion, in actual fact only about S400.000 is left available each year for actual production.
Age of Consent’, from what I have read, cost over Sim to produce. Crawford Productions has stated that it wishes to produce ‘Homicide’, its television serial, in colour film instead” of video tape because it wishes to sell on the United States export market. It has estimated that this would cost an extra $702,000 for 1 year’s production of 26 exisodes. Again, one could quote what Mr Silverstein said, as published in the Melbourne ‘Herald’ of 13th July 1969:
We’ve got to get away from the $400,000 modest’ productions and go for the bigger ones.
From what he said in that statement then quite clearly the sum of $400,000 for the production of a film is an extremely minute amount. In terms of the costs which have to be borne in producing worthwhile films which can be commercially successful, the sum of $400,000, or a little more, which will be left available for the promotion of film productions in Australia each year from this fund is not going to get us very far, according to my assessment. It is not a startling step for the Government to fund the Corporation with a total of Sim.
I ask the House to contrast our scale of values. The Government is to provide Sim for investment in creative art. That is the best it can do. But it is going to provide $8.1ni in order to remodel the gun mounts on the DDG destroyers of the Australian Navy within a few years of accepting them from America. The Government is providing $8.1m in order to destroy but only Sim to create. I can quite realise that the ruler of the Queen’s Navee would be concerned that we should have adequate expenditure on the Royal Australian Navy.
– Aren’t you?
– Indeed I am. I agree. But I ask the Minister to contrast the scale of values. If the Government can raise $8.1 m to destroy it ought to be able to raise more than Sim to create.
At this stage I wish to refer to what is done in other countries. The Canadian Film Development Corporation was established in 1967 with the following objectives: Firstly, to invest in Canadian feature film productions in return for a share in any profits made by the film. Secondly, to make loans to the producers of individual Canadian feature films and to charge interest on the loans. Thirdly, to make awards for outstanding accomplishments in the production of Canadian feature films. Fourthly, to make grants to film makers and film technicians resident in Canada to assist them in improving their skill and craft. Fifthly, to advise and assist feature film producers in the distribution of films and the administrative functions of feature film production. The Act relating to this Corporation provides, as 1 mentioned earlier, for the sum of $10m to be used by the Development Corporation in achieving these objectives. Each year awards of $100,000 are made to feature films of merit.
The Swedish Film Institute was established in 1963. Its major functions included the following: Firstly, to make financial awards for outstanding Swedish productions. A rotating panel of film critics decides the awards which are made regardless of production costs or box office takings. Quality films which run at a loss are able to receive some compensation. Secondly, it was to establish a Swedish film library. Local film clubs and interested groups receive assistance in order to see difficult to obtain films which commercial theatres do not screen. Thirdly, it was to establish a film school providing a 2-year course in direction, camera work, sound and production administration. Practical work forms a large part of the course and involves the production of actual films. Fourthly, it was to publish information about the film industry in film journals and at various international festivals. In 1963 the tax on cinema screenings was abolished and in its place a 10% levy was imposed. The levy alone provides the finances of the Swedish Film Institute.
In France a tax is imposed on all films released for commercial screening and a levy is imposed on ticket sales. From this fund a subsidy is paid to local production. In 1966-67 the subsidy rate was 13% of the net box office returns; that is, the more successful the film the larger the subsidy. In Italy at least 25 days, including 3 Sundays each quarter, are to be allocated to local feature films in cinemas. To qualify for this quota a local feature film must be of the requisite technical standard and of sufficient artistic, cultural and entertainment quality. Exhibitors of quality films are allowed a 25% tax rebate. A 50% tax rebate is allowed to exhibitors of films designated as suitable for children. Cash awards worth up to $65,000 are made to producers and directors of the year’s best 10 films. In Denmark a 15% royalty is imposed on ticket sales. This fund is used by the Film Council to support and encourage local film production. It gives aid to script writers, assistance to producers of high quality films, awards for high quality films and aid in sponsoring them at major film festivals.
In the United Kingdom in 1960 entertainment tax on cinemas was abolished and replaced by a 7i% levy on tickets, to be paid into the British Film Production Fund. Local film producers receive from the Fund a grant in proportion to the film’s box office takings. The more profit that is made on a film the bigger is the grant. In 1949 a National Film Finance Corporation was established with a fund of £Stg5m to make loans to local producers. I referred earlier to the Socialist object of the proposal which no doubt has inspired the conservative Prime Minister of Australia. In Spain, which is scarcely one of the more enlightened countries of the world, the Spanish Government provides subsidies to local producers out of a fund generated by duties imposed on foreign films. One week a month must be allocated to Spanish productions in commercial theatres. In meeting this quota ‘quality films’ are allowed to count as 2 days for each day’s screening.
In the rest of the world a great deal has been done to sponsor a film industry. Today we are deliberating on legislation which proposes to do a little bit to help local film production. I restate that at this juncture we should look at the need to promote quality in the production of films. This should be looked at as a medium term objective, in Sweden, as 1 mentioned earlier. 15% of the levy is available to compensate merit films. A further 20% is available for special merit awards. There, if a film loses money commercially but is artistically outstanding or of merit, then it can expect to receive support. Frankly, not only the majority but also the minority in the community deserve to be pandered to in the production of artistic work. Accordingly, quality production ought also to be an objective of the Corporation in the medium term.
At this stage I should like to be constructive and to mention some things that we ought to do. We should provide quotas, tariffs and tax rebates. In the case of quotas, we have an arrangement in New South Wales whereby 2.5% of film screening time is supposed to be devoted to Australian productions. It seems that this can easily be stepped around. If we are going to apply quotas then we are in danger of producing quickies which are produced not because of their quality content or suitability to the market but rather because there is a desire to move in quickly and cash in on the support that is available for the industry. This type of thing nearly wrecked the industry in the United Kingdom in the 1940s. It can be avoided. I have no doubt that adequate measures can be built into our legislation to ensure that this does not happen. Clearly, we do not need quotas. As I mentioned earlier, the Australian Film Producers Association said in evidence:
Our Association has been advised by many well informed persons that in the light of their experience, the Australian film producing industry can only hope for stability if it achieves in relation to financial assistance, a basic quota of the Australian film content.
This clearly is a constructive issue which ought to have been discussed by the Prime Minister when he brought the recommendation forward. The Vincent report recommended that 50% of drama shown on television screens should be Australian produced.
Tariffs also should be looked at to prevent the dumping of films from overseas, a practice which is in evidence according to the statements that I read out earlier. We must in any event protect the local film industry. I pointed out a short time ago that it is generally accepted that for a viable indigenous film industry to flourish, a population of 80 million is required. With 12 million people Australia falls well short of this. Clearly we need to give protection to such an industry. Generally I have severe reservations, on the basis of sound economic principles, about giving protection to Australian industry whether it. be in the form of tariff protection or subsidies. But in the case of a film industry a clear case could be made on the basis of the contribution to the artistic endeavour of our society.
We can also assist in the promotion of the industry by using the tax machinery available to us. At this juncture nothing is especially provided in the tax laws to assist the promotion of the industry. The industry has to pay tax on film which it purchases, even if the film is never sold. This seems to be unreasonable, especially when we consider the cost disadvantages to the indus try in Australia. If a duplicate negative, which is not for sale but is for bulk reproduction, is produced then it is subject to tax. This again seems unreasonable, especially at this early stage. Perhaps we can apply taxes much later on when the industry becomes soundly based, but at this juncture it seems to be quite unreasonable. Many tools or pieces of equipment which are essential for the Australian film industry are unfairly subjected to tax charges. For instance, exposure meters which are so necessary for measuring light are taxed. In contrast, micrometers used by engineers and scientists for measuring dimensions are tax free. This seems to be an anomaly which could easily be ironed out to the advantage of the industry.
We need relief from sales tax on film stock and equipment. We need relief from import duties on professional equipment. We need tax concessions for investment in the production of films, in the same way as generous concessions are made for investment in the mining industry. I do not accept for one minute that the importance of the film industry in Australia is any less than that of the mining industry in the development of this country. Nol only the material wealth that is created is important; the quality of life which we are trying to achieve is also important in the evolutionary development of any society. A more conscientious drive in export sales of Australian films will be necessary if we are to make this project really successful. Accordingly, the Government will have to accept the responsibility for developing agencies overseas and for establishing ways in which sales can be beefed up.
The Government ought to investigate carefully the distribution and exhibition of films. I mentioned somewhat earlier that in the 1920s, approaching the depression period, overseas control of the distribution and exhibition of films in Australia resulted in the throttling, or in contributing to the throttling, of the Australian industry. Today 80% of cinemas are controlled by 2 major circuits in the capital cities and in the larger centres such as Newcastle and Launceston. The 2 major circuits are Hoyts Theatres Limited and the Greater Union Organisation Pty Ltd. Unless those agencies book a major film, the film is dead before it starts. It has little opportunity for an outlet for exhibition in the country.
The problem is that producers are pretty much in the hands of these distributors. They do not know how the allocation of income from films is made by the distributors. The worst example of this was the distribution of the film They’re a Weird Mob’. Allegedly this film grossed a total of $3m in Australia, but so far the producers have seen about $500(000. This means that $2,500,000 went to the distributors. The film was released by British Empire Films Pty Ltd, which is the distribution side of the Greater Union group of companies which is 50% owned by the Rank Organisation of Great Britain. It is obvious from what occurred on this occasion that the people who contributed the creative work, who took the greatest risk - that is, the producers of the film - received only $500,000 out of the S3m grossed by the film and were exploited because of the peculiarly advantageous position which was held by British Empire Films with its tie-up through the Greater Union group of companies that are 50% owned by the Rank organisation in the United Kingdom. At this juncture 1 would encourage the Minister to discuss with us ways in which Australian producers could be guaranteed by law access to details of the way that the income earned by films is broken down and distributed. He should look at the possibility of breaking up the vertical integration which is quite apparent in sections of the Australian film industry and which could conceivably throttle this industry in its infancy just as it apparently helped to do in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
Under the proposals of the Bill the Corporation membership will exclude anyone participating in it who has a monetary interest in the industry. The Opposition does not accept that this is a legitimate ground upon which to debar anyone from participation in the Corporation. It could very well be that a person with pecuniary interests in the industry may have an extremely valuable contribution to make as a member of the Corporation board. Accordingly wc propose to move an amendment at the Committeee stage indicating our attitude on this. I would like now to draw some comparisons. If a corporation board is operated to give advice in an area of health services in the community quite clearly qualified people will be needed to sit on it. One could not object to a doctor sitting on the board on the basis that he has a special interest in that section of the health services and would therefore seek to give a loading in support of that area in which he is interested. I have not heard anyone on the Government side object to the fact that the Premier of Queensland, Mr Bjelke-Petersen, the prime member of the Cabinet of that State Government, participates in Cabinet deliberations on applications for oil search permits within that State despite the fact that he has a pecuniary interest in many of the applications that go before that Cabinet. However in the case of a Minister the position is somewhat different and I do believe there is a clash of private and public interests apparent there. In this case of artistic involvement though I do not believe there should be any fetter to a person sitting on a corporation board merely because he has a pecuniary interest in the industry, so long as he declares that interest. It may well be that he has a valuable contribution to make to the deliberations on the industry.
It is to be hoped the Corporation will not aim at creating moguls of the film industry in Australia but will seek to develop a fairly broadly based industry, one which will meet the demands of the broad, popular market in the community and help the development of quality films within Australia. What is needed is the development of a vital, creative, imaginative film industry giving a true reflection of the ideas, values, ways of life and aspirations of the Australian community. This must be the fundamental basis upon which the Corporation sets about its functions. I conclude by reiterating that whilst the establishment of the Corporation represents an improvement or an achievement for the film industry in Australia there is still a great deal to be done. There are many gaps, many deficiencies, many problems which have not been attacked and many questions which still remain to be answered. I hope the Government will do something about this soon and develop the means, some of which I have outlined, which wilt really help the vital and enduring growth of an important Australian film industry.
– The honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) gave some grudging support to this Bill. He said that if Labor had been in Government it would have brought in a similar Bill. I do not know whether that is a commendation of the Bill. I for one have never heard any suggestion from any member of the Labor Party advocating such a measure in the past. The honourable member for Oxley claimed that this was a Socialist measure and that the Liberal Government had introduced this Socialist measure. But it is not a nationalisation measure and if Labor were in power I have no doubt that it would nationalise the film industry because it has this mad, insane idea that everything must be nationalised and brought under government control. What the Government is doing in this Bill is bringing in something which is essentially Liberal policy - that is, co-operation between private enterprise and government when it is necessary to have that co-operation for an enterprise to be successful.
I am reminded of a story told of the American film producer Samuel Goldwyn who was at one time endeavouring to persuade George Bernard Shaw to hand over the film rights to some of Shaw’s plays. Shaw was not interested in Goldwyn’s proposal. ‘Think’, said Goldwyn, ‘of the millions of people who would have an opportunity to become acquainted with your art’. ‘Ah’, said Shaw, ‘you think only of art while I think only of money’. The Australian Film Development Corporation Bill which we are discussing today not only is aimed at assisting and stimulating the art of film production in Australia but, like Shaw, it also thinks of money. It aims to reduce the drain of funds which are pouring out of Australia each year to pay for films produced overseas. In addition it has an eye to the Australian film industry as a potential earner of overseas funds. In relation to population Australia rates second only to the United States of America as a supporter of motion pictures. Last year Australia paid $16.6m for overseas films and most of this money flowed into the pockets of American and British producers. The money earned overseas by Australian productions was almost negligible.
Why should this be so? Australia has an ideal climate for the production of films, a climate far superior to that of England and equal to, if not better than, that of California. Despite the lack of opportunity Australia has produced some of the finest artists in the world - people like Melba, Sutherland, Helpmann, Dame Judith Anderson, Zoe Caldwell, Peter Finch, Cecil Kellaway, Rod Taylor, and even the swashbuckling Errol Flynn. There are many more. Yet all of these famous artists were forced by lack of opportunity in Australia to seek fame and fortune in other countries, lt is strange that Australians have proven themselves equal to any in the world in almost very field except that of film production. Film making in Australia dates back to as early as 1900 but very few of the many films made have been of a sufficiently high standard to command a world audience. From the start there has been an enthusiastic audience for films in Australia and until the late 1930s it was possible to make a profit on a small budget film from the home market alone. However small budgets meant inadequate equipment and underpaid technicians and actors and so the industry was caught in a deadlock. Quality could not be improved until a wider market was reached but overseas distributors would not become interested until production was of a higher standard.
The honourable member for Oxley mentioned that Australia was one of the pioneers in the history of film making and it is a fact that a film called The Kelly Gang’ was made in 1905 by an Australian unit under the aegis of J. and N. Tait, the famous Melbourne theatrical brothers, lt was the first full length feature film produced in the world. This film was made at Mitcham, Victoria, which is only a mile or so from where I live and just outside my electorate of Deakin. Over the years there have been many attempts by the pioneers of the Australian film industry to place Australia on the map and as a tribute to these people I would like to remind honourable members of just a few of them. Older honourable members may very well remember them. Up to World War I there was a spate of distinctly Australian films, with such shows as The Bushwhackers’ - I do not know whether that was about the Labor Party - which had in it Australia’s first female star, a girl by the name of Lottie Lyall. There was also a film based on the exploits of the Australian bushranger ‘Captain Midnight’. One of the first comedies that was produced in 1913 and was called Charlie At the Show’. In it a local actor impersonated, even in those days, Charlie Chaplin. During the First World War a number of Australian war films were produced, such as ‘For Australia’ produced by Melbourne’s J. C. Williamsons Films - J. C. Williamsons are perhaps better known to theatrical people as “The Firm’ - ‘The Hero of the Dardanelles’ and ‘How We Beat the Emden’ produced by Australian Films. There were others.
The year 1920 was notable for the creation on the screen of Dad and Dave in the silent version of ‘On Our Selection’, starring Bert Bailey in a role that previously he had made famous on the stage. Other distinctly Australian films such as those of C. J. Dennis’s ‘The Sentimental Bloke’ and Ginger Mick’ were produced about that time. But in the mid-20s a bombshell hit the world film industry. Al Jolson made The Jazz Singer’, and talkies were here to stay. Owing to the lack of equipment Australia was slow off the mark with the production of sound films. Some dialogue was added to a few Australian films produced in the years from 1928 to 1931 but the effort was very limited in scope. By 1930 the Scullin Government was so concerned at the state of the Australian film industry that it offered a prize for the best Australian production, but entries were of such a low standard that only a third prize was awarded. This was for a film called ‘Fellers’ which had dialogue in the final reel only.
In the 1930s two Australian producerdirectors stood out head and shoulders above all others. I refer to Ken G. Hall of Cinesound and Charles Chauvel. Ken Hall scored a great success in 1932 with the sound version of ‘On Our Selection’ again starring Bert Bailey as Dad. This film was made at the Princess Theatre at Melborne by Efftee Films, so named from the initials of Frank Thring Snr, the father of the present Frank Thring who daily on television warns us to buy our television and radio licences.
– He works for the Federal Government.
– Yes. I had an aunt who, at that time, managed a retail crockery store in Bourke Street around the corner from the Princess Theatre. As the film was made on a shoestring budget she was requested to lend crockery to be used by Dad and Mum in the film version of ‘On Our Selection’. I have very dim memories of being taken around as a very small boy to see the filming, which was done on the stage of the theatre. I remember being most amused to see an extra playing a hose on the window of the homestead on the stage. I was told that the breaking of the drought was being filmed. I instance this purely to show how early Australian film producers struggled against almost overwhelming odds because of lack of finance. Today, 38 years later, ‘On Our Selection* is still earning money for its producers. In fact, it has earned more money as a percentage of original cost than has ‘Gone With the Wind’.
In 1933 Hall made ‘The Squatter’s Daughter’ and in 1934 starred the famous Roy Rene, better known as Mo, in ‘Strike Me Lucky’. In 1938 and 1939 Hall starred the late George Wallace Snr in ‘Let George Do It’ and ‘Gone to the Dogs’. Charles Chauvel’s first sound film was ‘In the Wake of the Bounty’ made in 1933, the first film in which Errol Flynn appeared. During the Second World War the Australian film industry gained a greater degree of stability than ever before, mainly because it was harnessed to governmental requirements but also because, due to Australia’s strategic position, world interest in the Commonwealth was stimulated considerably. In 1941, with the co-operation of the Department of the Army, Chauvel made ‘Forty Thousand Horsemen’, a story of the Australian campaign in Palestine in World War I. It was filmed in the sand dunes at Cronulla, in the electorate of my friend the honourable member for Cook (Mr Dobie) who will follow me on the Government side in this debate. This film starred Chips Rafferty in his first starring role. In 1944 Chauvel directed ‘Rats of Tobruk’ dealing with the Australian Army’s heroic defence of Tobruk. In 1946, Hall directed Smithy’, a film based on the life of the famous Australian aviator, Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith.
The war over, Ealing Studios of London came to Australia to make ‘The Overlanders’, a story based on the droving of mobs of cattle from the Northern Territory at the time of the threatened Japanese invasion. That film starred Chips Rafferty and a very lovely young Australian girl named Daphne Campbell from Orange in New South Wales.
– Whom did she marry?
– This young lady today is better known to all of us as the wife of the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). Today, she is Daphne Calder, and she is just as charming as ever she was. Ealing Studios and J. Arthur Rank subsequently made a series of films in Australia. I refer to films such as Bush Christmas’, ‘Eureka Stockade’. ‘Bitter Springs’ and ‘Kangaroo’ starring Peter Lawford and Maureen O’Hara. But these films were not the revenue earners that it had been hoped they would be, and eventually Ealing Studios packed up and went back to England.
Other excellent films worthy of mention have been produced in Australia. These include the films of Nevil Shute’s novels A Town Like Alice’ and ‘On the Beach’, Chauvel’s ‘Jedda’, and Ray Lawler’s The Summer of the 17th Doll’. The honourable member for Oxley also mentioned ‘They’re a Weird Mob’, which was another excellent Australian film which helped to portray the Australian way of life to the world at large. Very few of the films that I have mentioned, however, have been of more than local interest. Apart from technical imperfections which do not necessarily prevent a film from achieving world popularity, what has been lacking chiefly is trained creative talent; that is, writers and directors of high artistic standards with a thorough training in their craft.
With a few exceptions, films made in Australia by overseas interests have failed to be more than superficially Australian in character and have been more concerned with exploiting what is novel or bizarre in the local scene. However, these films have given Australian technicians and actors valuable experience and they have stimulated interest in the Australian way of life to some extent. I believe that it should be of concern to all Australians that approximately 75% of films shown in this country come from the United States of America, approximately 18% come from Great Britain and the remainder come from other countries, chiefly France and Italy. As we saw at the film showing by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) last Monday week, many of these overseas films must be produced by the half-educated for the half-witted. lt also should be a mattetr of concern that the bulk of the distribution of entertainment films in Australia is in the hands of American companies which have established their own offices in our capital cities to handle the physical distribution of their own films. 1 think that the honourable member for Oxley pointed out the lack of return that local producers receive due to distribution handling by overseas companies. Since John Garton became leader of this country we have had as Prime Minister a man who is distinctly Australian in character. We have seen this in a number of actions not the least of which are the establishment of the Industry Development Corporation aimed at maintaining Australian equity in Australia’s resources and, of course, the introduction of the Australian Film Development Corporation Bill, which we arc discussing at the moment. This Bill should be of untold benefit to the Australian film industry and it is fitting that it should be introduced by this Government.
The Australian Film Development Corporation will administer a fund with an initial capital of Sim to make loans to film and television producers. It will bc able to receive a share of the proceeds without any liability for debts incurred. These proceeds will be ploughed back to assist with future productions. The Corporation will bc able to participate in the formation of a company to compete with the American nearmonopoly of distribution in Australia. I have shown that despite the efforts of some very fine pioneers of the Australian film industry Australian films by and large have not been commercially successful.
But now the Government has implemented the 3 main recommendations of the film committee of the Australian Council for the Arts. A sum of $100,000 has already been put aside for an inquiry into the best way of setting up a training school, and $200,000 has already been allocated for experimental film making- $100,000 for productions and $100,000 to facilitate their showing on television. The setting up of this Corporation will encourage Australian produced films of high quality which also have a good chance of being a commercial success. The Corporation’s moneys are not just hand-outs to any hopeful or hopeless production, but rather they are an investment which will be recouped in the whole future of the Australian film industry. I think we can look with confidence to the National Film Finance Corporation which was set up in Britain in 1950. In the 17 years between 1950 and 1967 the British Corporation invested $70m in assisting the production of 694 feature films and 164 short films. In that time it received back $43.5m. The 694 films however are still in distribution and will undoubtedly go on generating income even after the full $70m is regained.
The setting up of this Corporation is just one more step by this Government in the building of a greater, more productive Australia. A flourishing film industry in Australia will employ talented Australian actors, writers, artists and technicians. No longer will they have to go overseas to follow their careers successfully. As a direct result of the work of this Corporation Australian films will be distributed throughout the world, thus projecting the ideas and the way of life of our people and our nation. As the Prime Minister said in his second reading speech, we should devote ourselves not only to the building of great new factories and smelters, not only to wresting produce and minerals from the earth, not only to material standards, but also to involvement in and development of the arts. This is an excellent Bill. It is a great step forward for the film industry, and I commend it to the House.
– I thank the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) for his chronological summary of Australia’s contribution to the cinematographic art. He made a splendid full length feature of it, and I offer no comment except to say that perhaps ‘Gone to the Dogs’ may well have been dedicated to the Liberal Party. Australia, someone said, is the country without a face. Part of the reason for this, of course, is the lack of a film industry of its own. It was stated in an article in Quadrant’ written by Sylvia Lawson on the Australian film industry:
The Australian Gim industry is not only the least productive in the world; it is also, in a sense, the most written about. Other countries talk about their films. We talk about our lack of them.
I think that is perfectly true. It is very necessary to point out, in speaking to this measure, that at present Australians spend about §1 00m a year on going to the movies, and none of this goes to local industry. The Opposition, as mentioned by the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden), is delighted that at long last we are to have a face, no matter how small or shy that face may be. I want to say right now that, although this may be a shy face and although it may be a small one, nonetheless hope springs eternal. As a practitioner in this industry for a number of years, I very sincerely congratulate the Government, or perhaps more specifically one should say the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), on bringing this Bill into the House. The honourable member for Oxley has dealt with its shortcomings and I think I would only be boring the House if I were to repeat these. lt does have some shortcomings, but I intend, if I may, to point out that the film as an art form is the only true art form to emerge in the 20th century. The cultural impact of film as an art form can be stimulating, provoking, satisfying and, above all, entertaining. This it has to be if it is to be a success in either the artistic field or the commercial field because - and let us be perfectly honest about this - unless a film will satisfy a certain artistic appetite and also be a box office success, any film industry is in great trouble.
There are just one or two parts of the Bill on which I would like to comment. The Prime Minister said in his second reading speech, when speaking of the Australian Film Development Corporation:
It may also, subject to ministerial approval, participate in the formation of a company for the distribution of Australian films.
With all respect, here we have the cart before the horse, because as anybody who has been engaged in the film producing industry knows, before hiring actors or writing a script one has to be absolutely sure that the film will be distributed. It is of prime importance to make absolutely certain of an assured distribution before 1 foot of film is shot. If we are to set up this Corporation and then, almost as an afterthought, suggest that perhaps we could participate in the formation of a company for the distribution of the products we are making, I would suggest with all due respect that some very ill advice has been received. The Prime Minister also said:
The Corporation will seek to encourage the production and distribution of Australian films of high quality. 1 have no dispute with this aspiration of high quality, but I would like to ask: Who determines what is a film of high quality? Experts have over the years been trying to determine this point. A film of high quality may indeed be a film that has high quality of scripting, high quality of acting or high quality of photography, but unless ail these are blended together as an artistic and acceptable commercial whole it is almost impossible to determine what is a film of high quality. We have to get our priorities right when we are trying to determine a question such as this. Indeed if anybody in the film industry could predetermine that a film would be of high quality and a box office success he certainly would not need the assistance of this Bill. I turn to a part of the second reading speech in which the Prime Minister said:
Producers of films will still be expected to have a substantial equity in a film, and to show faith in their artistic and commercial judgment. . .
Now I come back to the point 1 made a moment ago, that it is almost impossible in this industry to show faith in your commercial judgment, because this is not like making and selling a pound of sausages or any other product. Producers are relying upon human reaction to the product they have made. In my experience in this industry, nobody has been able to determine with any degree of certainty what the success or otherwise of a film will be. But I would not argue with that wording. I would agree, and I would hope that people would show faith in their artistic and commercial judgment. It is possible to show faith in your artistic judgment, but it certainly is not possible to show faith in your commercial judgment, and it does not necessarily follow that if your artistic judgment is right your commercial judgment will be right. In fact, it is quite the contrary.
The Prime Minister also said:
So we expect profits in money terms but at least as importantly we expect profits in human values. 1 have no argument with that at all. 1 think that we have to apply ourselves as realists to this, but if we intend to set up such an industry as envisaged in the Australian Film Development Corporation Bill, as I said a moment ago, it must of necessity make itself a paying proposition. If it does not the whole concept of the enterprise is doomed to failure. I was interested in the Prime Minister’s remark that in other countries considerable investment in film production is forthcoming from banking and other financial organisations. I support what the Prime Minister said. I would very sincerely hope that banking institutions and other investment organisations would find not only that it is substantially profitable for them to invest in film production but also that they would be doing themselves as well as their shareholders, whoever they may be, a service. They would also be doing the nation a great service. I hope that a similar course will be followed here to that which has been followed in practically every other country.
The Bill provides for the Australian Film Development Corporation to be made up of a Chairman and 4 other members who will be appointed for a period not exceeding 5 years. In my view, in any artistic enterprise - be it theatre, films, ballet or music - the arbitrary term of appointment of members can sometimes be dangerous. When we are dealing with the arts, as 1 said earlier, I think we must examine it on a totally different plane. To state arbitrarily that we will appoint a Chairman and 4 other members for a period not exceeding 5 years is, in my view, a mistake. What we should have in the creative field or the artistic field is a constant interchange of chairmen and members so that there is the constant inflow of new ideas that is so necessary to any creative field. This is not like a normal business or industrial enterprise, which has a certain pattern that is followed. Here when we are dealing with creative people the normal standards of business do not apply.
It has been said, perhaps with some justification, that the sum of Sim is a fairly niggardly amount. I think this is probably true. I return to my original theme and that is, the fact that this Corporation has been established is in itself a splendid move and I applaud it on behalf of all the actors, writers, producers, designers and directors in this country. The situation here has been a bone of contention with many creative people in Australia for a number of years. As was pointed out by the honourable member for Deakin, we have had a mass exodus of creative people from Australia over the years. I can testify to the accuracy of that statement because I jointed the exodus from this country many years ago as a writer and an actor. I can well imagine the frustration that has been felt in Australia for many years. It has been quite impossible for any creative artist in this country, perhaps with one or two exceptions, to be assured not only of a reasonable living standard but also of continuity of work. Without continuity in artistic creation very grave problems arise.
At this stage I would like to outline practical ways in which I think assistance can be given. I have here the report of th: Vincent Committee of nearly a decade ago which made certain recommendations. Paragraph 112 of that report referred to the assistance that should bc given to Australian companies engaged in producing films. It recommended assistance in the following ways.
By excluding from the taxable income of producing companies the profit resulting from sales of films overseas.
I commend this recommendation to the Government because it has great sense and sensibility and I think it would be of great assistance to film producers. Another recommendation in the Vincent report was this:
By lifting sales tax completely from all purchases of either materials or film stock and all products manufactured by film producers pertaining to film production other than final release prints.
The honourable member for Oxley touched on this point very lightly but I think it is worthy of further comment. Those two points from the Vincent report are pertinent to the Bill we are discussing today.
When Lord Willis was out here - I forget exactly when it was - I had a conversation with him about the position not only of the Australian film industry but also of the Australian television industry, with particular emphasis on the position of writers in this country. I do not propose to take up the time of the House by giving a long, detailed account of the importance of writers, but I think it is generally agreed in the industry - certainly as far as television is concerned - that unless we create, maintain and encourage Australian writers to remain in this country and pay them a reasonable recompense for their creative talents, the prop on which the film and the television industries are based is doomed to failure. I think it is accepted now by many people that one of the great weaknesses of Australian indigenous drama, particularly as it pertains to television, has been in this area of writing. We should do whatever we can, although this is not specifically mentioned in the Bill, to encourage Australian writers to remain in this country and make their contribution to the film industry.
The honourable member for Oxley intimated that we would be moving an amendment in the Committee stage. It is to the part of the Bill wc will seek to amend that I would like to turn my attention at this stage. It says that nobody with a pecuniary interest would be allowed to be a member of the board of this Corporation. I really do have some argument with this provision. I suggest to the Government that if it does this it will be in very grave danger of pulling the supports out from under a very worthwhile measure. It seems to me that if the Government says arbitrarily that anybody who has a pecuniary interest - and by ‘pecuniary’ I assume that it means some sort of monetary or financial interest in this industry - will be denied the opportunity to serve on this board, it will probably be robbing the board of a great deal of expertise that is needed. Who knows the business of the film industry better than those people who have been engaged in it and upon it for a number of years and who possibly have been able to make a profit out of it? I suggest to the Government with all respect that it give some further thought to this clause.
To follow up this point - this may not be a very relevant analogy - it seems to me that, if we are to deny a conductor the right to be on the board of an opera house or to deny a film producer a place on this Corporation because he has some pecuniary interest in the industry, it is not only surprising but is not consistent with what I would have thought would be Liberal policy. If we arc going to deny this right to people with expertise, we will have much difficulty in attracting people who have the right sort of contribution to make to the Corporation.
– This is the normal sort of thing with other boards.
– That may well be so, as the honourable member points out, but 1 am making this suggestion purely and simply as a constructive criticism because I want this particular Corporation to succeed for the reasons I have outlined. The mere fact that 1 am on the Opposition benches does not mean that 1 want to see it fail. 1 do nol want it to fail; I want it to succeed, and any suggestion that comes from this side that will make it succeed ought to be given due consideration by the Government. Honourable members may recall that in my maiden speech I laid some emphasis on the need for a better image - 1 hate that word, but there is no substitute for it - for Australia abroad. ] agree with the Prime Minister’s summation of his second reading speech that this is one way whereby we may achieve a better image. The image of Australia abroad as a land of koala bears and gum trees no longer applies. The image we should try to establish abroad in the eyes of our neighbours and friends is of an Australia that is vibrant and artistically and culturally creative - a land that has a contribution to make in the realm of communications with other nations, whoever they may be. If we can create this image abroad we will have gone a long way towards achieving true and full nationhood. If by the establishment of a corporation such as is proposed we can encourage the making of films and the establishment of a film industry we may well achieve a better image abroad.
In conclusion I refer to censorship. 1 do not know whether this has been considered, because I see no evidence of it in the Bill. Censorship is important and relevant, lt has been my experience overseas, perhaps not so much as in Australia, that if a producer hopes that a film will succeed he will inevitably run foul of Australian censorship laws. When I talk of censorship I do not advocate wild permissiveness. Of course, this is nol the occasion for a broad debate on censorship. But I do say. with the greatest respect, that we may find that a film pro duced wilh assistance provided by this Corporation may well be exhibited in New South Wales but banned in Victoria. 1 mean no disrespect to Victoria, but this is a real problem that could arise. Alternatively, the film could be shown in Tasmania and be banned in Queensland. A closer look must be had at censorship as it relates to the cinema, because in my view in film making the only way to reach the objective of an artistic and profitable exercise is to make sure that the film does not run foul of censorship. 1 hope that this does not occur, but with the peculiar censorship set up that we have in Australia at the moment there are bound to be problems. 1 hope that they can be averted. With all its shortcomings, I am quite certain that this legislation will be welcomed not only by the Australian people but by Australia’s creative talent. The Opposition welcomes it because it will fill in an artistic void that has remained for far too long in this country.
– 1 agree with previous speakers that this Bill fulfils a need the meeting of which is long overdue. I do not propose to recount the history of film making in Australia but it is a pretty sorry story. This has been due to a number of factors, all of which conspired to produce films which by world standards were pretty shoddy. We can remember the early days when films like ‘For the Term of His Natural Life’ were produced, the era of the Dad and Dave films which I suppose were entertaining to many Australians, and finally the efforts which culminated in the production of ‘They’re a Weird Mob’, which was a pretty good film. None of those films, including ‘They’re a Weird Mob’, would make any impact in countries other than Australia. It appears to me, as one who has been associated with the film industry for some years, that one of the great shortcomings in the history of our film making was that we made films essentially for local consumption. The people responsible had rather a poor opinion of the standards expected by Australian people.
Having said all that, perhaps somewhat in contradiction I pay a tribute to Charles Chauvel. He did everything possible in most discouraging circumstances to build up a film industry in Australia. Because of his efforts and the efforts of a few people with him we have now reached the gratifying position today where the Australian film industry is to be assisted. I agree with the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry) when he says that $lm is a very modest sum, particularly when one has regard to what a really good movie costs to produce. It is perfectly obvious that the Sim proposed in the BDI will serve only to establish the Corporation and perhaps give some sort of launching point for someone or some group of people who are prepared to embark on the production of a worthwhile film.
Let us consider for a moment the ingredients that are necessary to produce a really worthwhile movie. 1 would say that people overseas and in Australia would now regard our previous history of film making as a closed chapter. We are commencing afresh. Hence the first film that is now to be produced here could well set the standard by which our capability of becoming an identity in the film making world shall be judged. The first ingredient - 1 suppose it is the first necessity for most enterprises - is finance. If film making in this new era is to be worthwhile a lot of money will be required. If a person has been involved in purchasing films, in looking at them and in trying to separate the chaff from the wheat, he gets rather a second sense. He can almost detect, when a film is getting a huge build up by the distributors, that they are trying to cover up what has been a pretty shoddy film that has been produced on a shoe-string budget, lt becomes perfectly obvious when that film is exhibited and the audience or lack of audience gives a clear indication of how the film is received. There will have to be adequate finance and I repeat that this Sim could not contribute to the making of a film. Every penny of that will be required to set; up the Corporation.
The next requirement is the people responsible for making films. The most important department is that of directorship. The directing of a film is quite clearly the most important aspect of film making in this great art of the cinema. As an example I refer to 2 of our television series, ‘Bellbird1 and ‘Homicide’, both of which have almost universal acceptance here in Australia. I do not know whether they would be exhibited overseas. I should imagine that ‘Bellbird’ would not be of much interest to people living elsewhere but Homicide’ would be of some interest. Homicide’ would most certainly be most acceptable to people wanting realities. I would say this series has a very authentic touch about it. ft is apparent that the directorship of both of these television series is quite outstanding and that wc do have directors of outstanding ability in this country.
As to the other requirements I suppose that most people would, without giving too much thought to these things, say that the actor in the film provides the most important facet of film making, but of course this is not entirely correct. Here again we must get back to the first film that we will produce. I think that it is vital to get some big name in the film industry to lake part in our first production. Before a musician becomes qualified to be so called he must achieve a certain degree of excellence. The same applies to technicians. We have adequate people in Australia who could fit the bill in these directions. One outstanding example of a film that would take in Australia is True Grit’, for which John Wayne received an Academy Award.
It was a western film of tremendous appeal. In Australia we have all of the requirements for the production of this type of outdoor film. Some honourable members may feel that this type of film is not particularly popular these days, that people prefer so called adult films - films which have a pretty high content of violence and sex. It might interest honourable members to know that it is on record in the current copy of ‘Box Office’, which is the periodical that is circulated to most film exhibitors throughout the world, that almost 90% of the top box office attractions are the wholesome family type film. One immediately thinks of films such as ‘Sound of Music’, ‘Mary Poppins’, ‘Oliver’, Camelot’, and others which do not have an excessive content of violence or sex. We people in the industry know this. We know what we have to pay for those films. While I am on that subject let me say that it is high time that someone took a look at the percentage which is being demanded of exhibitors these days. When the Corporation is established it might well interest itself in some other facet of the cinema world than the actual making of films. Its responsibilities might be extended a little to enable it to look into the matter of the very high percentage charged by distributing companies in Australia to the poor struggling exhibitor who in these days of television is barely able to keep the wolf away from the door.
I thoroughly agree with the point of view expressed by the honourable member for Franklin as to the difficulties that could arise with the censorship laws which vary from State to State. I should imagine that when a film is made, at least in the early stages when this Corporation is trying to build up a going concern, it might even produce a film that could get through the censor. When one looks at some of the films that are around these days one would think that a fair amount of elasticity would be allowed in the content of our first film as to violence or sex. The Corporation would have a good deal of elasticity to produce a film which would not worry the censor in any State. I should not imagine that this would present any great difficulties. We have wonderful settings in Australia for the making of films, particularly films of the outdoor type. We have excellent light, particularly in the northern parts of Australia. We have unlimited scope for settings. No expense would be involved in providing settings for outdoor films. We have a large field for extras, particularly in the western areas of Queensland; there will be more extras than we will ever need if this drought continues. I suggest very humbly and with respect that when this Bill is passed - there is a surprising degree of unanimity in this matter although an amendment is foreshadowed; but because it will be presented by a Queenslander I think it will be a pretty reasonable one - and when the Corporation is set up it should take into account first and foremost the type of film to be produced. It is perfectly obvious that as Australia is known as a great outdoor country the first film to be produced under the operations of this Corporation should be an outdoor spectacular, and it should include in the cast an actor of some international status. I could suggest 1 or 2 in this House, but I rather think that the type of actor required is the outdoor type and the people I have in mind, if they ever got beyond the Great
Dividing Range - I mean the Blue Mountains - they would be in real trouble, and hence if they were to portray the type of character I have in mind it would be like a goanna at a maypole dance.
I would like to say, as one who is in this industry, that we should set out to achieve a box office success. All honourable members would agree that we will do or die in the very early operations of this Corporation. I must disagree with the honourable member for Franklin on one point although I do agree with him to a degree. No-one can say for sure whether any product is going to be a financial success. But we can say this: We can examine the films which have been successful and we will find that in most cases they have been the type of film, as I said before, that appeals to a family. They would be the wholesome type of film like ‘Sound of Music’ or ‘North to Alaska’. The film North to Alaska’ is a particular example of an outdoor film which has been a tremendous success. This type of film could be brought back into a theatre time and time again and it would do well. I do not suggest that the Australian film industry should produce a ‘Gone With the Wind’ unless we can sell the Opera House and apply the funds to the making of such a film. This was a film that cost many millions of dollars many years ago. But with a good deal of forethought and with consultation with people of experience films of the kind I have referred to can be produced. It is very important - and here again I go along with what was said by the honourable member for Franklin - that if people are to be excluded from the Corporation because they have a pecuniary interest in film production surely there should be some compromise. I speak here of people who have experience which may have been gained through their association - even a financial association - with the industry. We would think that when the Minister talks about a pecuniary interest this would relate purely to the investor. But surely the man who would be most qualified is the man who has made a success in the industry.
I must again refer to the early stages of the operation of the Corporation. It would probably be necessary in these stages to secure the services of some people of international status. I would hope that this industry would be established far away from the great cities of this country. Ft has been proved overseas that the best and most economical place for film studios is away from the more congested areas. There must be space for studios. Hence I would very strongly suggest that there is an area in western Queensland where we can provide just everything. We can provide all sorts of characters - 1 can assure the House of that; we can provide some of the most colourful characters. We can provide vast spaces. We can supply many extras, I regret to say. But above all, we can supply glorious Australian sunshine. There would be no question of holding up a film crew and thousands of extras because of rain - 1 can assure honourable members that there is no danger of that possibly for years to come. If I might make a plug for my own area, those people who establish the studios, as they eventually will, might well give consideration to establishing them in the great outback of Queensland.
– I welcome this legislation. 1 referred to the need for such legislation probably 10 or 12 years ago. I have always been interested in films and film making and I have always been very upset to think that Australia was so far behind the rest of the world in this field. I compliment the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) for the way he presented the Opposition’s case. I congratulate those who have already spoken on this measure, which the Opposition agrees with, except in respect of the matter dealt with in the small amendment we are going to move. It is always a pleasure when we can get a point of agreement in this House on measures of this nature. I think I should begin by reading a statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) towards the end of his second reading speech. What was said by the Prime Minister best sums up the purpose of this legislation. The Prime Minister said:
It expresses the Government’s belief that we should devote ourselves not only to building great new factories and smelters, not only to wresting produce and minerals from the earth, not only to material standards - but also to involvement in, and development of, the arts.
The human values we will thereby nurture, the satisfaction we will offer to individual development, the improvement of the quality of life are essential for any nation if it is to merit the description great.
That is a really statesmanlike utterance and I hope that what is proposed starts off on that plane, because I for one would oppose the expenditure of Sim if we are going to produce films of the type that we sometimes see on the screen and others, of course, that have not hit the deck because of censorship. I want to say something about my views on censorship later.
The attitude of the Prime Minister - it is also the attitude of the Opposition - is a laudable and excellent one. We hope that we will have men running the Corporation, and film producers making films, who will help to build this country’s image in the world in the very best sense. After all, this has been the Cinderella of Australian industries. Our film making history is the story of struggling companies always starved for finance and often for talent. The national Government’s long delay in coming into this field with the sinews of war - that is, finance - has enabled overseas film producers to export their films to Australia in their hundreds and thousands over the last 6 decades. In this period we have been completely inundated by foreign films. We have always had the talent and the ability in all fields of the arts in this country. Our film technicians, our actors and our actresses have been forced to go overseas to sell their talents to foreigners instead of using this talent in their own country.
Our pioneer film companies, which operated on a shoestring, as the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) has said, and which have had to fight the cynicism of the Australian public, have performed miracles in the past with such films as The Kelly Gang’, which was our first venture, and the ‘The Overlanders’, which had Chips Rafferty as the star. This was an outstanding film as was ‘Forty Thousand Horsemen’, which was produced by Charles Chauvel. This man was referred to by the honourable member for Kennedy as one of our very great early producers who suffered all the time from the malady of lack of finance. Australia has been invaded by foreign films each blatantly advertising the country of production, its artists, its people, its way of life and its language. Years of this brain washing have built in Australians a knowledge of foreign countries, their ways, their languages and their customs greater than their knowledge of their own country. Most Australian young people today could tell more about America than they could about their own country just because of what they have seen in films. This is not altogether a bad thing, but it gives a one-sided picture. We should be boosting our own country in our own films. The films that were mentioned by the honourable member for Kennedy, such as ‘Bellbird’, ‘Homicide’ and, of course, Division 4’ - the latest advent in this field -and ‘Showcase’ have shown that we have the talent in Australia to produce documentaries or short continuing stories week by week. It is time that we gave a publicity boost to this beautiful land of ours with its vastness, its grandeur, its beauty, its colour, its vigour, its varieties, its history, its customs, its humour, its uniqueness, its music, its adventure, its rawness, its beautiful women and its sports-minded men. Our women are the most beautiful in the world; 1 married one of them.
– What does she say?
– -I cannot tell you that now. One important factor has been the advent of television in film making, producing and viewing. Its impact on the world has been fantastic. The movie film has now invaded thousands of Australian homes night by night and afternoon by afternoon. We do not need to go to the picture theatres - most are closed down anyway - or to the drive-ins. The moving, dramatic outside world itself marches into our lounge rooms every night. While in our homes we can see men walking on the moon at the actual time that it is happening through the miracle of television. We see in our own homes movies that we had never heard of. We see some that we wish we had never heard of because the standard is so low. While on the matter of standards and the past I hope that our womenfolk keep on looking at those ancient films, those made 10 or 20 years ago, and continue to wear mini skirts. If ever there is a hideous sight it is the frocks, the maxis, of 10 to 15 years ago. I think all honourable members will agree with me on that point.
Week by week we see news documentaries, travelogues and educational films in our homes. Television has opened up a whole new world of opportunity for script writers, film technicians, actors and actresses, cameramen, producers, directors, musicians and composers. This Sim loan for film production in Australia will give producers a chance to employ these people in our own country and to make full length films and documentaries as well. I understand that a television documentary or film lasting 1 hour costs §60,000. This sum is recovered 10 times over when it is circulated round the world to the various television stations. This shows what can be done when talents are married to finance, equipment, geographical background and colour.
Television can do a lot for us through the activities of this proposed Film Development Corporation. I hope that television documentaries become a very important part of Australia’s film development in the next few years as a result of the establishment of this Corporation. There is tremendous scope for quality stories with historical and geographical content and with dinkum Aussies playing the leading and secondary roles. We have to counter the Americanisation of Australia through the movie films. This is where Australian producers can do so much. Australian people are exportable through the medium of films. Our country can be exportable. This is a magnificent country and we have magnificent people. Why should we have to watch American films, or French films or films from other countries all the time and be so starved of our own? We have proved that we have the talent here because many of our actors and actresses have made headlines overseas.
I suggest, Mr Deputy Speaker, that when we are thinking of someone to run this Corporation that, as the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry) so eloquently said, we need someone with experience, such as a producer or an actor. Why not coax back from overseas, from England or America, some of the leading Australian actors and actresses who already have made headlines in reports on our films in foreign countries? Why not choose one of these men, offer a top salary and invite him back to become the leading personality in this Corporation? This would be a challenge to him. It would be a pioneering effort for him. By doing this we would be bringing talent back to where we need it and establishing it in charge of this Corporation.
The distribution of our films is another task for the Corporation. The Prime Minister referred also to this matter when he said:
It may also, subject to ministerial approval, participate in the formation of a company for the distribution of Australian films.
This is a tremendously important aspect of the scheme. What is the good of producing films if we cannot distribute them profitably in other countries or to the Australian television circuit? We need skill in this field also. We need persons of ability to sell Australia and Australian films by distributing local works. I think that a distribution section should be formed early in the piece and should be a very important part of the work of the Corporation. It should distribute and market our films in Asia, Europe, England, the Pacific countries, and of course, America. Naturally competition will be greatest in America. 1 agree with the honourable member for Franklin that we have to fill out the image of Australia beyond that of koala bears, kangaroos and stock whips.
Quality of film production is absolutely vital and the Prime Minister referred also to this point. He said:
The Corporation will seek to encourage the production and distribution of Australian films of high quality.
He referred to high technical quality, talent and production quality and stated that he wants the films to be commercially successful. This is true; the films have to be box office successes. The Prime Minister said that excellence in production, camera work and technical presentation were necessary in order to justify the description ‘high quality’. The Prime Minister went on to say:
The fund is intended for investment in films. It is not intended as a giveaway project.
He wants the funds to earn money so that the profits can be reinvested in the industry. 1 think we will have to spend a lot more than $lm to get this project satisfactorily off the ground, lt may require an annual grant or loan for several years until it is properly established. However we will have to lift the standard of film production generally. The standard at the present time is getting to the lowest ebb in its history. Despite all the modern techniques, modern acting methods and modern scientific knowledge the general standard of film produc tion has reached its lowest ebb. It will go further down the drain if we do not stop it. We should stand up and fight this process. I intend to fight it as long as I am able to do so. I am a censorship man, am proud of it, and I intend to stay that way. I shall refer in no uncertain terms to censorship in a few moments.
Surely we can lift films from the gutter and the cesspool into which they are descending. Censors are overworked at the present time in having to cut out this tripe and filth from films. Why do we cater for the lowest common denominator instead of the highest in the production of films which are finding their way into the homes of thousands of our people, into our schools and into our entertainment areas? The best films of all time, those which attracted the biggest box office return, were devoid of depravity, uncouth sex and crudity. 1 will name just a few of the modern ones. ‘The King and I’ was a remarkable film and starred Yul Brynner. ‘Ben Hur’ was a film we will remember all our lives. The Great Escape’ and ‘The Dam Busters’ were two other magnificent productions. One could see the ‘Sound of Music’ many times. 1 would like to include in this category all Disney films. All of them are high quality films; all of them are decent. Disney made the greatest contribution of any producer and never produced a second grade film in his life. His films can be shown to anybody at any time. ‘Doctor Zhivago’ was another great modern film. Another two are ‘Where Eagles Dare’ and Born Free’. 1 have named just a few of the great films which did not depend on depravity for their sales.
Before concluding I want to say a few things about censorship. Nearly everybody runs for cover when this subject is raised. People are saying that the censorship board should be wiped. People say. that censorship should be cut out; that we should let in everything that is ugly and sordid. 1 want to say a few words about censorship because it is tied in with the subject of films. If we are to produce films then they should be films which can be kept away from the censors. lt is a waste of time and money to produce films from which a whole heap of film will have to be cut because it is pure depravity. If we start with that type of film we will waste a lot of money. Having read reports from people who viewed the segments of film cut by the censors which were shown here in Canberra last Monday night,I am 100% in favour of continuing censorship and maintaining standards. I shall quote a few remarks made by one of the pressmen - I will not say who he is, but he will know when he hears me reading his comments - about the type of film that has been censored. He said:
We saw George Peppard fighting for his life with the spike of a belt buckle and the jagged neck of a broken bottle against a mob of homosexuals intent on beating him to a pulp.
We saw George Peppard and Slim Pickens fighting to the finish with chains, branding irons and an assortment of other handy farmyard weapons.
We saw a bloody scene from an Indian film in which a remarkably agile one-legged victim did his desperate best to defend himself from a much larger two-legged attacker.
And so on.
It proved little to me.
Then he went on further and said:
It is the censorship of scenes or whole films because of their sex content which causes the controversy, and that is really what we were there to study. We were not disappointed. For example, there were four on-screen rapes. 1 admit one of them shocked me, but only because the rapist was Frankenstein, whom I had always associated with clean family monsters.
There were two lesbian love scenes - without doubt the most powerful and moving items on the programme.
One, from the French film ‘Therese and Isabelle’, was tender and beautiful. The other, from ‘The Killing of Sister George’, intense and passionate.
One of the items, from the Swedish version of ‘Fanny Hill’ showing the teen-age heroine watching a couple making love on closed circuit television in a brothel would have to go if there is to be any censorship at all.
He admitted that. The article continues:
But in my view there is no reason why adults should be prevented from seeing most of last night’s programme.
A case in point was a rape scene from the
Italian film Two Women’, which had none of the clinical explicitness of some of the other clips.
Sophia Loren’s portrayal of the terror and agony of the victim was superb cinema.
My overall impression from the evening was that film censorship in Australia is, at the very least, inconsistent. No pattern emerged of why some things offend the censor and others do not.
What the evening did show, quite vividly, I think, was the urgent need for an X or R certificate system of film classification in Australia-
Listen to this part - under which the onus would be on the exhibitor to refuse entrance to people under a prescribed age.
Have honourable members ever heard a more naive statement or suggestion than that in their lives? How can persons under 18 years of age be left out? There is a sample of what the viewers saw the other night of segments cut out from films. I am amazed at the self righteousness of those invited to that cinema who are giving the impression that they are incorruptible, unmovable, beyond temptation, indeed ivory tower dwellers. It made me sick to read these apologists for unrestricted screenings of filth and corruption. Those who watch and who advocate the burial of censorship of films and books because they are incorruptible themselves are prepared to poison, distort, corrupt, twist and destroy the minds and characters of millions of people who are not incorruptible - people who are at the most impressionable age of life. Those self righteous people want fornication, horrifying violence, sexual intercourse, lesbianism and homosexuality to be screened for everybody’s viewing and legalised on the screen for all over 18 years of age. God forbid.
What sort of race will emerge if people are fed for life on this type of stuff? This is what worries me. All of us who are legislators in this place ought to think about that. This is not a laughing matter. Pressure is being put on the Government to wipe out the Censorship Board and to let all this material come into Australia unrestrictedly and onto our screens, in the forlorn hope that no-one under 18 years of age will see it. To lift censorship entirely is to lift depravity and corruption to the same level as decency, and to lift ugliness to the same status as beauty. It will give the green light - this is what, to my mind, is serious - to every morally deformed, spiritually bankrupt producer to include more depravity and violence in his movie films. This is what would happen, until morals sank to a much lower level than they are at the present time.
The cry that this filth is only for adults and that persons under 18 years of age would not be permitted to view such things is as weak as water and as naive as the little children themselves. Our censorship people do their job and cut this sort of thing out of films that are imported. They mark some For Adults Only’, but how can children and teenagers be controlled when no longer do they go to the theatre but millions of them watch films on the television screens in the freedom of their own homes? Such films, if allowed, would be shown on television within a year or two or even within a few months.
Parents are being forced to send their children and teenagers off to bed. The pressure on parents is terrific. It is unfair to subject them to this type of thing when Bringing up children is tought enough today without this kind of film to make it harder. The only way to keep children’s minds away from such depravity is not to show depravity in films. It is as simple as that. The greatest films of all time, as 1 have said, contained no sexual depravity at all. They were outstandingly free from the sort of filth that was shown a few nights ago to a selected group in the Parliament by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp).
– We were all invited.
– Were we? Some of us were not back in time. Honourable members know what is done with sewage, lt goes deep underground. I put these films at the same level. We are crying out about the pollution of cities, harbours and beaches, and are making a great outcry for action. But the apologists for the ending of censorship condone the pollution of man’s mind, and that is far more serious than the pollution of a few cities. They do this without any disapproval at all. I honestly cannot understand their attitude or inconsistency. I realise that censorship, in one sense, is the denial of freedom. But 1 ask: Freedom for whom? fs it freedom to the producers who make these quick, cheap films which have such a devastating effect on the impressionable people who view them? It may be all right for adults. They can probably take it without any effect. I am thinking about the thousands of people who are not yet adults. The censors have a responsibility here to keep these corrupting films out of Australia or from being produced in Australia.
I have found nothing yet to change me from being a censorship man. I do not make any apology for it. I would still feel that way until we could have films produced around the world and in this country that were free from such depravity beyond the need for censorship. It is argued that that is the way to sell films. I have proved to honourable members this afternoon that the best films that were ever produced were produced without that sort of thing, and they have brought in millions and millions of dollars.
I appreciate very much what the Government has done in this new field of enterprise. One honourable member chided us by saying that we might nationalise this industry if we became the government. We would not decide on that at this moment, but if the industry failed even with Government help and had to be rescued entirely perhaps by a government taking it over, nationalisation may have to be the ultimate solution. Let us give private enterprise in co-operation with Government a chance to make this work. I feel that with all the talents, all the energies and all the initiative private enterprise has in this field today, coupled with financial assistance, we can make a success of the nlm industry in Australia. It is absolutely essential to do so and on the highest possible level we can put it, because in the end the type of films which were seen the other night here and which were censored so heavily would ultimately kill the industry that produced them. We cannot continue feeding on films of that type forever. There conies a time when we will probably cry out in horror against them. So let this Corporation help to lift the standard of film making in this country and perhaps give a lead to the whole world.
– I shall resist the temptation to comment on the censorship matters which the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) raised. IT I could take a word out of the speech of the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry), I think the honourable member for Wilmot is a pretty hard act to follow. I hope we will have the opportunity in this House one day to debate at length the whole subject of censorship so that it can be discussed in some form of totality and in context. I do not agree with the honourable member for Wilmot that censorship can be viewed as if looking at a black and white film; there are no blacks and there are no whites in the subject. I believe it is not an easy subject to discuss in public unless the whole subject is covered at some length.
I join in the congratulations that have come forth to the Government since this legislation was brought before the House. Once again we are seeing the implementation of policies laid down by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) on 8th October last. More importantly, and as mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech, we are seeing a clear demonstration of the willingness of the Gorton Government to foster and develop Australia’s performing arts. As all honourable members will know, the Government, acting on the recommendation of the Australian Council for the Arts, established an interim council to investigate and report on the best way of setting up a national film and television training school. For this purpose I believe $100,000 was allocated while another $200,000 has already been allocated for experimental film making. Of course it is still early days as far as their experimental work is concerned but nobody would deny the need for such experimentation in a country where so much pioneering film making took place and where over the past generation or two the Australian film industry has fallen away from commercial importance and, I am told by those who have persevered in the industry, away from commercial profit as well.
For example, there is an Australian film showing in Sydney at the moment which clearly illustrates the great, if not the crying, need for development away from and above the standards that this film has created. It is pleasing then to know that the Corporation to be established by the Bill before the House will seek, and I now quote from the second reading speech of the Prime Minister:
To encourage the production of films which are box office successes and which have those excellences of production, camera work and technical presentation which justify the description ‘high quality’.
Now we are all aware of the keen interest of Prime Minister Gorton in fostering all forms of artistic and cultural development and in the February newsletter of the Australian Film Council it was pleasing to note that in its opinion - that is, the industry itself - he was the first Australian Prime Minister to acknowledge the existence of an Australian film industry. I have no doubt this fact is well and loudly acknowledged by all branches of the Australian performing arts.
It is not my intention to repeat what has already been said by honourable members on both sides of the House who have already spoken. We would all agree the standard of speeches has been very high, particularly the speech of the honourable member for Franklin. The figures quoted and the articles to which reference has been made have obviously been read by all of us and I do not intend to repeat them. But I believe that there are signs that the Australian film industry has not disappeared forever. For example, Mr John McCallum, President of the Australian Film Council and a man of great yet diverse achievements in the film industry throughout the English speaking world, said in a letter to the Australian Financial Review dated 14th April 1970:
Most of the 15,000 members we represent have been working tenaciously for some time to make films under conditions which are more difficult than those confronting other industries - legislation more honoured in the breach than the observance, restrictive marketing practices, no Government help (until recently) and no tariff protection (except in the case of advertising films for television . . .
He goes on to say:
Far from having ‘a record of almost unmitigated disaster’ -
That suggestion had been made by this newspaper: . . Australian films, considering the conditions under which they were made and marketed, have a creditable history.
Mr McCallum goes on to quote the success of ‘They’re a Weird Mob’, and several television films and firmly refutes the somewhat cynical editorial comment of the Australian Financial Review’ of 8th April 1970 which I believe the House should hear. It says, referring to this legislation:
The Government certainly put a considerable degree of effort into diagnosing the film industry’s ills and is now prepared to back its judgment with fairly large injections of funds . . . But instead of building on this basis, the Government should mercifully perform euthanasia and start from scratch with untried but ambitious raw human material which has the capacity for growth.
I believe it would be a sad day if this advice were followed by any Government and by any Party and I can assure the editor of this newspaper that it will never be the policy of this Government to destroy any art form which can develop Australia into a mature nation. As the legislation shows, it is the intention of the Government - and I am pleased to see it has the support of the Opposition - to promote whenever and however it can all art forms, and our achievements clearly show this.
Much has been said by the Opposition and the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) in particular, about the great development of indigenous film industries in such comparable countries as Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, France and Japan. I would not deny the achievements of these countries; but each of these countries by dint of its indigenous language has not been subject to the same pressures from the United States of America and the United Kingdom as we who are predominantly English speaking have been. I am certain we would all agree we must have a local film industry as far as we can achieve it, but we must never forget the economics of the film industry have been such that it has been cheaper to bring everything in from overseas. I am pleased to see we have reached the stage in our development when we are doing something to stop this movement. As the honourable member for Franklin showed in his speech - and I agree - any film industry must show itself to be financially viable. After all, Australian productions are not always going to achieve the success of ‘Age of Consent’, if it can be called Australian, or ‘You Can’t See Round Corners’. In fact, it is hard to see how such poor films as ‘The Set’ which is showing in Sydney now are exhibited let alone achieve financial return for the makers. If our Australian industry does not produce films that will be seen and accepted by the Australian or overseas audiences then we would be wasting our time in trying to put life and vigour back into the Australian film industry. The Prime Minister stated in his second reading speech:
The fund to be established under this Bill is not intended as a give-away project.
Because of this, I believe that the Bill will be an inspiration to the film industry.
Again, I would quote from the letter written by John McCallum to the ‘Australian Financial Review’. He said:
To quibble about what Mr Gorton left out cf his very good speech announcing the Film Development Corporation is puristic nonsense. His words excellence of production’ imply in themselves creative imagination’ and ‘originality’.
Mr McCallum went on to say:
We are very grateful to Mr Gorton for what he has done, and for what we hope he will do.
I do not intend to take up much more of the time of the House. But I wish to comment on one aspect of the Bill which has brought comment from both sides of the House. This relates to the composition of the Corporation. First, I think it should be known and stated that the fact that we are not having persons on the Corporation who have a pecuniary, interest in film production is in line with the policy which we established when we created the Commonwealth Banking Corporation and the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation. So there is nothing unique in this proposal. I believe that it is a principle that we should follow. After all, the idea of this Bill is to establish a fund and a corporation which will encourage a joint effort.
We must remain very, very careful that we never have a situation in which members of the Corporation could be accused of conflict of interests. It may be well for us now to say that we should have people from the industry in the Corporation. But I venture to say that, as the Corporation progresses, if we do not stand by this principle we will be hearing comments and criticisms about the conflict of interests of people who are on the Corporation. I also wish to comment on the proposal that the members of the Corporation are to hold office for a period of 5 years. I think that if the period had been anything less than 5 years their time as members of the Corporation would not have allowed them any opportunity to develop their own thoughts.
The history of the film industry in Australia has been covered totally in this debate. The comparison with overseas has been covered fully. I look forward to the day when we will be able to produce in Australia low-cost films that achieve the excellence of films that are now doing the rounds, such as ‘The Whisperers’. I would hope that, within the next 10 years, we may see coming out of Australia films of the same standard as those which came out of Great Britain during and after the Second World War. If we can achieve films of the excellence, calibre, quality and standard of ‘Brief Encounter’ or ‘This Happy Breed’, though they may seem corny and somewhat out of date now, I believe that the whole business of this Bill will have been worth while. I commend not just the Government on this occasion. I think that this Bill - I was pleased to hear that this was also noted by one of the members of the Opposition - is a commendation of the Prime Minister himself for having personally brought it into the House. I wish the Australian Film Development Corporation every success when it comes into operation.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to speak briefly on merely one aspect of this Bill, namely, the composition of the Australian Film Development Corporation. 1 do not think that much disagreement exists about the need for this Bill and all the things that we hope it will achieve. But I think we ought to bear in mind that, in recent years, a steady decline has taken place in the large film groups producing films. Hollywood is on the decline if we look at it in terms of the great extravaganzas that used to be produced. The great stars of just a few years ago are no so important as they were once. We often find that the stars of the films that are most successful these days do not even receive a fee. They become a part of the production unit and they draw their dividend, as it were, if the film is successful. Such is the precarious nature of the film industry. lt is interesting lo note also that some of the most popular films these days are productions made on a shoestring. By that I do not mean films that are cheap and nasty, lt is a comparative term. I am not suggesting that the sum of money involved is under $100,000. Let us consider some of the films made in this more modest way which are competing successfully with films which cost millions of dollars to produce. Some of the films that we recognise as being popular today include ‘Midnight Cowboy’, ‘The Graduate’ and ‘Easy Rider’. These are modest productions by Hollywood standards. One has to try to analyse what this development might mean. I think that the reason for the popularity of these films is that the age of the theatregoer is falling. Older people tend to remain at home and observe the films on the ‘telly’ in the luxury of their lounge rooms or wherever the television set may be. The age of the filmgoer is tending to fall, lt is perhaps less than 30 years of age.
Surprisingly, young people are not interested in frivolous films. They seem to be interested in films with social commentaries, even films with severe, unrelenting, highly critical commentaries of many of our accepted hopes and values. I think that all of the films that I have mentioned come into that category. So if we look at what wc are trying to do in Australia it would seem that the need is not to encourage the super-duper feature film. This inevitably will mean supporting large production facilities and so on, or even overseas groups coming to Australia to make films here. As a comment on this I wish to quote from an article by Sylvia Lawson in a journal published late last year. Commenting on this sort of film she said:
The overstrained, manufactured Australianism of ‘Agc of Consent’ should be enough to convince any adult filmgoer of the total inadequacy, so far as Australian self-interpretation is concerned, of the British- or American-based film project which uses Australia as a location. The fact thai this film is doing roaring business here at present does not disprove my point; it rather suggests the extent of audience-hunger to see Australian backgrounds, Australian life and performers on the screen. Audiences will accept hackneyed crudities in this sort of supposedly ‘Australian’ work which they will hiss off the screen, or simply walk out of, if they appeared in overseas productions; behind that fact lies a tragic cultural irony.
I think that what we must seek to do with this Corporation is to encourage small independent original groups of film makers. This brings me to the point that 1 want to raise and at which we on this side of the House have already hinted. I refer to the composition of the Australian Film Development Corporation. 1 am fearful that, in the way in which it is stated in the Bill, though the appointees - the people selected, on 1 am not quite sure whose recommendation, by the Governor-General - may be very worthy -people, there is no guarantee that they will know anything about film production. I am prepared to accept that in fact, in view of the apparent interest of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), the Corporation may well be the right honourable gentleman’s baby and his prime interest. Also, I am prepared to accept that at this stage the group of advisers that he has around him may well be - I am nol saying that they are - the best available in the community. But that is not the basis on which a corporation such as this should be founded. After all, it is dependent on the insight of the Prime Minister. What happens if he goes and somebody with a rather narrower horizon than he has is in the position of deciding on the composition of the Corporation? Quite dearly it will be somebody like that who will decide on the composition of the Corporation. What happens if someone with rather limited horizons comes to stack the Corporation? This is something one must- worry about, and I hope that the Government will think about it a little.
In addition - and we have also hinted at this - the claim that someone who has a financial interest in film production should therefore be automatically prevented from taking part in this Corporation is wrong. If we are to find the best available people in the country to best advise the Government on assistance for the film industry, we are most likely to find that sort of advice in the ranks of film producers, directors, actors, technicians and so forth. We are unlikely to find them in groups of laymen like myself, who have an average man’s interest in these things. I am well aware of my shortcomings in understanding the problems of the film industry. I wish to conclude by suggesting that, as laudable as the Bill is - I am not wanting for one moment to detract from it - 1 hope that the Government will seriously consider the amendment we have suggested, which does not go as far as I would like to suggest it should go. But it at least removes the bar to the best types of people we should be encouraging to take part in the functioning of this Corporation.
– I applaud and support this Bill, which is a Bill to devote a considerable sum of money to encourage the film industry in Australia. All of us would hope that the film industry, through this encouragement, will develop to such a stage that we will be proud of the films we are making and that they will be of such a quality that they will be marketed and sold abroad and earn valuable export income. I have consulted the Cinematographic Regulations relating to the export of films, and after consultation with my Department I have decided to cancel the film regulations which as some honourable members may know, still control the export of Australian made films. The most vital part of these regulations reads as follows:
That relates to the days of the old magic latern slides -
Those regulations still apply to films made in Australia for export, which means that any film made under the assistance of this Bill would have to cross the threshold of the provisions of those regulations. In other words, every film made for export would have to be censored in terms of those criteria. I believe that would be an absurd situation, and to my mind it would be unthinkable to restrict the creativity of Australian film makers by imposing regulations which would merely be a strait-jacket for those trying to make films to compete on the world’s markets. It is therefore my intention to cancel those regulations.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
- Mr Chairman, with the compassionate consideration for which you have become renowned, may I be permitted to make one observation quickly before I proceed to move the amendment circulated in my name? The observation relates to the announcement which has just been made by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp). I heartily commend him for this proposal. One of the celebrated cases which pointed to the ridiculousness of this export embargo concerned the film produced in 1969 by an Australian and entitled ‘Sketch on Abigail’s Belly’. The producer applied to the Commonwealth Censorship Board for an export permit to show it at the Oberhausen Film Festival. Because of the delays he proceeded and sent the film by mail. It made the finals and received a diploma. Because he had sent it by mail and without the authority of the Censorship Board he was fined $50. This is a rather ridiculous situation. Another thing is that if it is good enough to remove censorship controls from films produced in Australia which will be exported it is reasonable enough to be consistent and say that we ought to apply the same sort of standards to those films which are imported. However, 1 probably am trespassing a little too far to continue in this direction in the Committee stage. I move:
What this means quite simply is that under clause 6 as it stands, a person who has a pecuniary interest in the film industry would be precluded from serving on the Australian Film Development Corporation. We feel that this is unreasonable. The Corporation is not some sort of purely materialistic money-making organisation within society. lt is an organisation which, we would hope, will aim at achieving standards of excellence in areas of artistic endeavour. The people involved in it, we would hope, would represent a wide spectrum of expertise, business acumen, professional acumen and administrative capacity. 1 seems obvious to us that if we are to seek to achieve these standards of excellence in our artistic effort we will have to attract to the Corporation people with the best ability and the best qualifications in the various fields which will be represented on the Corporation. Quite clearly, among those people who will be best qualified within the film industry will bc people who, in some cases anyway, have a pecuniary interest in that industry. The Bill requires that they must disclose their interest. So long as they disclose this interest before sitting on the Corporation; it seems not unreasonable to me that they should be allowed to sit on that Corporation. Where a conflict of interest arose - and remember that there will be 5 members on the Corporation, not 1 , 2 or 3 - this would be patently apparent and appropriate steps would be taken, 1 am sure, by the person concerned, as a moral obligation, to ensure that he had no involvement in the decision making process on that specific occasion.
May I draw the attention of honourable members to what seem to me to be two important analogies, one of which relates to the United States of America. The Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, which was set up by President Johnson, is Mr Roger L. Stevens. Mr Stevens has indisputably contributed a dynamic force to the promotion of the arts in the United States of America since he has achieved this position. Mr Stevens, while being Chairman of this Endowment, concurrently holds pecuniary interests in some sections of the art world. In other words, he stands to gain from his involvement in a business associated with the promotion of art. Mr Stevens has found no impediment because of this pecuniary interest in contributing quite generously and quite beneficially to the promotion of the arts through the National Endowment. I suggest this is a good example of the sort of arrangement I have in mind. 1 feel it upholds the argument I am putting to the House.
The second case concerns industrial advisory committees of various types which the Government has formed, lt has a defence advisory committee, an industrial advisory committee and others. 1 cannot remember them all. Each of these committees is manned by people who are in fact magnates of the business world and who stand to gain in a very real sense from some of the decisions that the Government makes. I refer the Minister, or any other person who wants to dispute this point, to Sir John Allison’s Queal Memorial Lecture in Adelaide in the earlier part of the last decade, where he discussed the role of these advisory committees. If it is good enough for the Government to have these advisory committees which are directly related to very many topics, it seems more than good enough for the Government to allow a person with a pecuniary interest to sit on the Corporation. It seems to me a narrowminded suspicion that someone who has a pecuniary interest must therefore be a person who cannot be trusted and who will exploit his situation for personal gain. Some people will do this, but not all people are like that. Frankly. I believe as a general statement that people do feel a moral commitment to society, and when they are given a public responsibility they do their best to discharge it honestly and conscientiously. I repeat that if a man discloses his interest in a section of the film industry there should be no problems at all.
The next subject which I would like to raise with the Minister for the Navy (Mr Killen), who is at the table, is found in clauses 20 and 21 of the Bill. If the Minister will apply his forensic skills to these clauses - I know that he will give us his usual precisely distended ambiguity when he explains the implications of them. He is a celebrated advocate of the courts and an even more celebrated Minister of State. So it is fair enough to ask him to give us the benefit of his experience. Clause 20 states:
The functions of the Corporation are to encourage the making of Australian films and to encourage the distribution of Australian films both within and outside Australia.
Does this mean that the Corporation will have authority to make recommendations to the Government about such things as quality, tariff controls, import controls, tax concessions or methods to encourage quality of production of films. I will put this to him shortly rather than take up the time of the Committee any further.
I refer next to clause 21 which says:
The Corporation has power to do all things necessary or convenient to be done for or in connection with the performance of its function-
It goes on in sub-clause (1.) (c) to say: to provide financial assistance to producers of Australian films. . . .
I will not go into the details of it. Does this mean in fact that the Government would be prepared to take up the initial investment in a. proposed film venture? There is some sort of unintentional conflict or vagueness on this point in the second reading speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton); I wish he had dealt with this more specifically. Will it be the Government’s policy always to demand - there seemed to be an implication of this in the Prime Minister’s speech - that there should already be an equity on the part of the producer, the director and the other investors in the proposed film enterprise before the Government will be prepared to commit itself? I suggest it would be more desirable for the Government to take up the initial investment as an indication of good faith and as evidence that it is a worthy project to support. This would encourage outside investors who may be contemplating making an investment in the enterprise. This would be the more practical way of encouraging more prompt support by investment in this industry.
– If I could take the questions put by the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) in reverse order, I will first of all deal with clause 21. Clause 21 does not lay down any a priori directions as to how the Corporation shall work. The clause is cast deliberately in very broad language to provide financial assistance to producers of Australian films. If I may I will correct an impression that has been erroneously but not deliberately created. The Corporation will not be a film producer. It will provide financial assistance but plainly the Corporation could not be expected to go off on some silly frolic of its own. It will direct its efforts and attention only to those enterprises that would seem on the balance of probabilities to have some prospects of success. As I understand the honourable gentleman’s question on this point, he may have had in mind the case of some well deserving project that was under way but was lacking in financial backing. I would imagine that the Corporation would assist, if arguments were put to it which showed the merit of the project and that it had every reasonable chance of success.
If the honourable member looks at the language of clauses 20 and 21 as a whole, he will see that they are deliberately cast in a very broad way. They are not definitive because, as I am sure the honourable member will agree, the functions of the Corporation may take a little time to shake down. That is certainly the way I read clause 21. It does not lay down in advance any particular way in which the Corporation shall function. It leaves it to the essential good sense of the members of the Corporation. In regard to the question of the honourable member concerning clause 20, the short answer would be no, the Corporation could not assume the responsibilities that are now presently entrusted to the Tariff Board. However, I could contemplate a set of circumstances in which the Corporation may make a suggestion to the Tariff Board-
– A general sort of statement.
– A general statement, but it would not, as I read the Bill, seek to play a role which would in any sense rival the Tariff Board. The language of clause 20 is broad and it does not restrict the Corporation unnecessarily. It gives it, as it were, a very wide charter indeed.
I deal now with the amendment which has been moved by the honourable gentleman.I do not think he had his heart in it. I would start by saying that the comparison that he invited us to draw with the gentlemen in the United States of America is not completely a realistic one. As I recall the language used by the honourable member for Oxley, he spoke of the American Arts Council. We have here the Australian Arts Council, and it may be fair to compare one with the other. We may well find people on the Australian Arts Council who have pecuniary interests in industries associated either closely or peripherally with the arts in Australia in one form or another. The Films Committee of the Australian Arts Council in Australia recommended the insertion of the provision which is now found is clause 6. But it is not only because the Films Committee of the Australian Arts Council made that recommendation that it has been included in clause 6. I invite the honourable member to look at the principle which rests-
– What about the Vernon Committee’s report?
– What happened to it?
– That Committee made recommendations and the Government did not follow them up. The Minister has just indicated that because a committee recommends something it is always followed up.
– No, I did not say that at all. I would ask the honourable member not to be impatient. I am saying it is not merely because the Films Committee of the Australian Arts Council made a recommendation to this effect that the Government has accepted it. What resides in clause 6 is good sense because it does not allow for a conflict of interest of a person sitting on the body and advising it. For that reason the amendment is not accepted.
Sitting suspended from 6.1 to 8 p.m.
– by leave - Since 1965, Australian ground formations have been engaged with our allies in resisting armed attack on the Government of South Vietnam. Since that time, the question of whether Australian forces should have helped resist that attack has been debated in Australia. This Government, as previous governments, has approached this question in the spirit which was crystallised in one sentence by the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) when he was Leader of the Opposition. That sentence is:
The overriding issue which this Parliament has to deal with at alltimes . . . must be judged by this one crucial test: What best promotes our national security, what best guarantees our national survival.
The Government believes that judged on this standard, our engagement in Vietnam is right and that it does best promote our national security, and we believe that for these reasons:It is surely incontrovertible that in Vietnam aggression is taking place and is being resisted. It is surely incontrovertible that the war there is only being sustained because large numbers of troops from North Vietnam are constantly dispatched to invade and subjugate the South, and that ifthat troop flow stopped the war would stop. Resistance to such aggression does best promote our national security, because we must strive to ensure that history is not repeated and that invasion and aggression is not allowed to be successful. For if it is successful, then the short span of history through which many of us in this chamber have lived shows that once successful, it is repeated and repeated until it becomes insufferable and has to be stopped - but stopped at a cost in blood and treasure infinitely greater than would have been the case had it been stopped at its initiation.
Surely something of what happened in the last generation can be taken as experience by the present one. We saw Fascist and Nazi aggression raging unchecked and subjecting one small country after another to conquest until it had to be stopped - at the cost of a world war - which need not have happened had the aggression been stopped at its beginning. I thought that these lessons, which, let us never forget are of more import to small nations than to large, had been learned. Because for some years after the close of the Second World War, resolute action was taken to resist and defeat subversion in Malaya as it then was. This took some 12 long years or more - years when civilians were murdered by terrorists - when bands of guerillas with grenades and Sten guns sought to overthrow by force a government the people in Malaya wanted. Australians were there, with British and local forces, resisting that aggression. We were told then - and the words are strikingly familiar today: ‘Australians should not be in Malaya. The war will go on forever, lt cannot be won’. But it was won. That aggression was not successful and Australia’s national security was best promoted because of that lack of success.
Then we saw aggression in Korea. We saw the people of the North sweep across the frontiers of the South in armed formations. Because the prevention of aggression, then, was the basic concept of the United Nations, we saw United Nations forces moving to defeat that aggression. Australians were there. And the aggression was defeated. And Australian national security was best promoted because it was defeated. We saw, and the principle is the same, Malaysia threatened during the confrontation and armed incursions into Malaysian territory. Australia helped to repel this aggression. And our national interest was best served by this. And then we saw the pattern repeated in Vietnam. It is Communist aggression there as it was in Korea and Malaya, but the source of the aggression - significant though it may be - is not as significant as the fact that it was aggression. For the Government believes that if small nations are to survive and prosper, then aggression from whatever source - whether it is inspired by Communism, Fascism or old fashioned nationalism - must not be allowed to succeed.
The one consistent thread of principle - that small nations are best rendered secure if other small nations are not allowed to be overrun - has distinguished our policy through the post-war years. That is why we are in Vietnam, and that we should be there is a proposition supported by three of the significant political parties in Australia and opposed by one - the Labor Party. I put it to the House that Australian security is bound up with seeing that aggression does not succeed. I put it to the House that it is immoral to launch aggression but not immoral to resist it. This is a proposition which has been twisted and turned inside out by those who cry that this is an immoral war. So it is - but the immorality is in those who began it, who continue to invade, who will not negotiate for peace, who are bent on conquest and nothing but conquest.
We have said that successful invasion of South Vietnam by the North would lead to further attempts at conquest in Laos, in Cambodia, and on the frontiers of Thailand. This was scouted and denied by those in the ranks of the Opposition who support the case of the invaders. But the history of recent days shows, I submit, how dangerously wrong they were. Sir, I have thought it necessary to speak of this background in discussing the latest decisions on our participation in Vietnam, lt was and is right for us to help to stem aggression. It was and is in our national interest - and that of all small nations - for aggression to be defeated. It is in our interest to help to secure by negotiation peace with selfdetermination for the people of South Vietnam. And in the meanwhile, while the invader will not negotiate, it is right to help resist him. Against this background, I speak to the House of the Government’s decision.
Following a review of the situation in Vietnam which led to the earlier United States decisions to reduce the level of its forces by 115,000 by the middle of this month, President Nixon yesterday announced his decision to introduce a new and long range programme of United States troop reductions involving the withdrawal of 150,000 men over the next 12 months. On 16th December last I announced the Government’s decision that when the military situation in Vietnam permitted a further substantial withdrawal of allied troops, then some Australian units would be included in the numbers scheduled for withdrawal. Since then we have, with South Vietnam and the other allies, continued to keep developments and prospects in Vietnam under close study. The Communist side maintains its intransigence and continues to set its face against a negotiated settlement. There is no progress to report as regards peace talks.
As the President has stated, there has been some overall decline in enemy force levels in South Vietnam in the last few months, though their actions in Laos and Cambodia must give us all cause for concern. The development that gives encouragement is the progress in what has been called ‘Vietnamisation’ - the movement towards South Vietnamese selfreliance. We see one result of this in the progressive reduction of allied forces. But it must be understood that ‘Vietnamisation’ means much more than the assumption by South Vietnamese forces of a greater share of the combat burden. Behind it lies a massive programme of expanding and modernising those forces. And behind that again is the progressive assumption by South Vietnam of the responsibility for all aspects of the war - a war fought across the widest fronts, embracing a complexity of military, political, psychological, social and economic factors. In all these areas much still remains to be done by South Vietnam, assisted by its allies across a wide civil and military spectrum. Yet progress has been such that important qualitative changes are being made, and will continue to be made, in regard to the assistance required by and given to the Government of South Vietnam in pursuit of the objective shared over the years by that Government and its allies. 1 reiterate that that objective is to establish the circumstances in which South Vietnam can determine its own future without fear. There can be no thought of abandoning that objective by a precipitate withdrawal of allied forces. But in continuing to give assistance to South Vietnam, our intention will be to take account of their own growing strength and to strike the most appropriate balance between an Australian military contribution and other forms of Australian assistance to Vietnam: We are mindful particularly that the process of ‘Vietnamisation’ obtains no less in Phuoc Tuy Province than in other parts of Vietnam and that it is both desirable and feasible for Australia to undertake, as the circumstances permit, qualitative changes in the shape of our overall contribution towards the goal we seek.
Accordingly, I now announce to the House that after consultation in recent weeks with the governments of Vietnam and the United States, who understand and accept our approach, the Government has decided that one Australian infantry battalion and some supporting personnel will be withdrawn from South Vietnam. This reduction to our force in Vietnam will be effected by withdrawing, without replacement, the 8th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, which at present is scheduled to complete its tour of duty in November next. This will require a modification of the role at present played by our forces - a modification made feasible by the forces of Vietnamisation and national acceptance of responsibility by the Vietnamese themselves in Phuoc Tuy.
But lei no-one say that because there is a modification of the role we play therefore we should play no role at alt. Reducing our forces because the Vietnamese are able to assume more responsibility is one thing. Totally removing our forces before the Vietnamese are able to accept full responsibility for replacing them is quite another.
The timing of the battalion’s departure from Vietnam remains to be determined, lt will be governed by general circumstances within the area in which Australian forces are operating and by the progress of Australian projects to assist the growth of greater capability in the South Vietnamese forces, and I shall touch on those later. Whether or not the battalion’s departure may be brought forward from the November date will depend on developments in these fields.
After the initial withdrawal, should the progress of pacification and Vietnamisation succeed as the President hopes and believes that it will, then at some stage during the 12-month period, we will consider phasing additional troops into the planned withdrawal. But the future situation is so uncertain and the future strategical situation so unpredictable that it is impossible to be any more definite than this. In co-operation with the Government of South Vietnam, in pursuit of our basic objectives, we are actively examining further ways in which we can contribute to the growth in South Vietnamese self-reliance.
Following consultations with the Vietnamese Government, we have decided to provide a number of small mobile Army teams, totalling some 130 men. to work with the regional and popular forces in Phuoc Tuy province. The teams will have a liaison and training function and will operate on a pattern similar to that developed by some members of our existing Army Advisory Training Group, which will continue its work. We are also developing a further proposal that Australia provide instructors and other assistance to a South Vietnamese training centre for junior leaders - leaders of the popular forces and regional forces - planned for establishment on the site which will be vacated by the Australian battalion to be withdrawn from Vietnam. It is envisaged that courses at this centre, which would accommodate 400 to 500 students at a time, would give particular attention to instruction in methods of jungle warfare which have been developed by Australian forces.
In addition. Cabinet will give urgent attention to the results of comprehensive studies now being made of other forms of assistance which might be offered to Vietnam. Sir, I am glad to be able to tell the House and the people of Australia that the situation has been reached when withdrawal of some Australian forces can be made. I would be yet happier when all Australian forces could be withdrawn, provided that our object is in no way endangered. And I believe that history will show that Australia in Vietnam was right, as she was right in the other instances of which I have spoken, not to stand idly by and refuse to lift a finger to help a small country attacked from without. For whenever one small country loses its freedom let us not ask for whom the bell tolls: it tolls for all. I present the following paper:
Vietnam - Ministerial Statement, 22 April 1970.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Mr Snedden) agreed to with an absolute majority:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) speaking without limitation of time.
– 1 was unable to study the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) before he delivered it but I was able to anticipate it. I was not able to study it because of a breach of the understanding which applies when leave is to be given for ministerial statements. The understanding is that leave will be given to Ministers to make statements if the statement is given to the Opposition 2 hours beforehand. This was not done on this occasion. However, I am not complaining about any lack of courtesy in this but it does show how this country is governed. Thirty-six hours ago President Nixon delivered a speech on this subject, lt was ready for delivery a week ago but the delivery was postponed because of the Apollo XIII mission. If there had been any consultation previously this statement could have been prepared many hours ago. Furthermore, if the Government had had a responsible anticipation in this matter, which concerns not only thousands of Australian men in Vietnam but also families in Australia and the whole standing of this country, then better preparation would have been given.
The Prime Minister chose to introduce his speech by a reference to the speech 5 years ago by my predecessor. He should have quoted it in its entirety because he would have read in it an accurate prophecy of everything that has subsequently happened in Vietnam. Nothing the Prime Minister has said can disguise the extent of the debacle which the policy pursued by his Government for the past 5 years has reached. Simply, ite South East Asian policy is in ruins. The whole rationale of that policy has crumbled. The premises on which it was based have been exposed as false and untenable and its avowed objectives unattainable. It will be 5 years next week since Sir Robert Menzies announced the first commitment of combat troops to the war in Vietnam. Nothing better illustrates the extent of the failure of the policies he then propounded than the changed reactions of honourable members opposite. We have none of the war whoops of those days. For the past 2 years each statement by the Prime Minister on Vietnam - each of them a response to statements by Presidents of the United States - has been heard by honourable members opposite in sullen silence. These counsellors are now most still - most grave. The Prime Minister’s statement exemplifies the unreality which has distorted all Government pronouncements and policies on Vietnam.
Five years ago Sir Robert Menzies justi- fied the commitment on 1 great ground: The war in Vietnam, he claimed, was part of the downward thrust of China between the Indian and the Pacific Oceans. Subsequently the justification has been narrowed to ‘teaching North Vietnam that aggression could not succeed’. All along it has been these false interpretations of the nature of the conflict in Indo-China that have trapped us into false responses foredoomed to failure.
Tonight the Prime Minister has done nothing to dispel the aura of unreality which has for so long vitiated his Government’s policies. In particular, there is the same refusal to grasp the implications of President Nixon’s statement yesterday that characterised his refusal to admit the full implications of President Johnson’s crucial statement of 31st March 1968. The crux of President Nixon’s statement is that, irrespective of military events in Indo-China, irrespective of progress in Paris, American disengagement is irreversible. Despite the deterioration of the situation in Indo-China the process of disengagement is being speeded up. The kernel of the President’s statement is this plain, specific fact that a further 150,000 combat troops are to be withdrawn within a year. The manner the President chose to present this fact to the American public does not alter its meaning, and the full impact of its meaning can be measured when set against the terrible and tragic events in other parts of Indo-China in the past month. What the President has admitted by his action transcends his explanation of his action. He has admitted that the whole Vietnam venture has been a terrible and tragic mistake - that is the real meaning of his statement. The whole and sole purpose of American policy is to extricate the United States from that mistake.
The situation in Indo-China is far too serious for the injection of exercises in self justification such as the Prime Minister indulged in tonight. It is all very well for him to state that our policy in Vietnam has succeeded: Let those believe it who choose. Yet there is a real menace in these efforts to depict Vietnam as a success. It is not just a distortion of history; it is a refusal to learn the lessons of Vietnam. If you claim that you have succeeded in Vietnam, if you assert that your objectives are being achieved, then you are in fact justifying in advance a repetition of Vietnam. Why would one choose to abandon successful methods? This is a dangerous delusion. God knows, the United States, the people of Indo-China, have paid, are paying a terrible enough price for the lessons of Vietnam. Are we to refuse to learn them in order to save somebody’s political skin? It is time to end trying to save face and start trying to save lives.
There is a fearful symmetry about the 5 years of Government pronouncements about Vietnam. They began with pretences and they are ending tonight with pretences. On 29th April 1965 we had the pretence that our involvement was required by our obligations under the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. We had the further pretence that our commitment was a simple response to a simple request from the then Government of one Dr Quat, the tenth Prime Minister to succeed the assassinated President. Diem. Tonight we have the pretence that the reduction in our commitment is related to developments in South Vietnam and in particular in the province of Phuoc Tuy where our troops have been engaged for 4 years. Yet everyone knows that what was said in Canberra tonight was contingent solely on what was said at San Clemente yesterday. Let us drop the pretence that this is an independent decision reached on the basis of the military situation in Phuoc Tuy or the political situation in South Vietnam as a whole. This announcement has come not because we are Vietnamising’ Phuoc Tuy but because we are following America in de-Americanising Vietnam. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr McMahon) himself twice gave the show away when he was overseas last week. In Bangkok he said:
Australia will announce a partial pull-out of its troops in South Vietnam if President Nixon gives a specific withdrawal figure on Thursday.
If the United States does not pull out Australia will follow the negative move.
Then he went to Saigon itself where the following exchange occurred:
Question: Did South Vietnamese leaders bring up the question of Australian troop withdrawals?
Answer: No, they did not.
Question: Did you volunteer your views? Answer: I did have a long talk, a very long talk, with President Thieu and I did inform him that 1 was cot aware of President Nixon’s decision. J didn’t know. But I did confirm and he already knew it, so it wasn’t necessary for me to confirm it, that we would take action in certain contingencies. He accepted that fact. He knew about it
It is only if we grasp this fact - that the decisions by this Government have nothing to do with the real situation in Indo-China - that we can explain why the Government now thinks it is possible to reduce the commitment piecemeal when that was supposed to be totally impossible and irresponsible only a few months ago. Right up to the eve of the October election the Prime Minister held to the line that ‘when and if an Australian withdrawal occurred it would be 1 out all out’. In his last television broadcast before the pre-election shut-down, he said:
The size and composition of the Australian ground forces in Vietnam is such that it would not be possible to have a phased withdrawal.
The Prime Minister had developed and reiterated this argument throughout last year. On 6th July he said, also on television:
I think that the suggestion of phasing down the’ Australian contribution of infantrymen and artillerymen and people driving tanks which is somewhere around 8,000 - not quite 8,000 men - I think the suggestion of phasing that down is scarcely tenable. The force was built up to 3 battalions with its artillery and with its tanks because that was a viable force. You could have 2 battalions in die field and I resting and that gave yon much much more capacity than if you only had 2 battalions there because you could only have I in the field and 1 resting. Although it may mathematically sound as if it is only twice as good, in fact it is better than twice as good. So yon would be very very much cutting down the military capacity of the force there and of course, I would think you would be increasing the danger to die ones that remained there if you didn’t have a self-contained viable force.
– Who said that?
– The Prime Minister on 6th July. He went on to say:
So the question would rather be, if it arose, whether we should have troops - ground troops - there or whether we should not.
And then he was asked: ‘Would we scale down comparably, that was really the question’, and he replied: ‘1 think not scale down. I think a time would have to come - I don’t foresee it - but it would have to come when if there was a great and continuing American withdrawal, we would have to decide whether we left troops there or not.’
Now ali the things that the Prime Minister said were hypothetical last year are happening this year. These events have been set in train irreversibly. The time has come. The people of Australia, not least Australia’s armed forces in Vietnam, are entitled to know why the untenable last year is now not only tenable but, according to the Government, desirable. Conversely and more directly, why is the undertaking of one out all out not being honoured? Some are to come out. Why not all? The question further arises of the Prime Minister’s integrity in making the statements that he did last year. Was it the considered view of the Cabinet? Was it the view of the Chiefs of Staff? Was it the view of our commanders in Phuoc Tuy? Or was it merely a cheap riposte to Labors proposal to achieve a phased withdrawal in 3 stages by June this year using the method of non-replacement as the serving battalions completed their tours? Whatever bis motives, the people were entitled to believe, presumably did believe, that it was meant seriously and sincerely. So were the troops and their relatives entitled to take it seriously. It was a statement of policy - not just a single statement but statement after statement by the Prime Minister of this country. What has invalidated it? Why has this undertaking been dishonoured? It is just part and parcel of the deceit and deception that has characterised the Liberals and particularly the Liberal leadership throughout this tragic and disastrous chapter.
There is indeed only one bright fen lure in the whole of that commitment and that is the conduct of the men of the armed forces themselves. They have done their duty - have done it in the first war in Australian history opposed always by a substantial section of the Australian people and now by a majority of the Australian people. In the light of the undertakings given by the Prime Minister last year and in the light of his statement tonight it is intolerable that they should be called upon for further sacrifices in so discredited and disastrous a cause.
So far as Australia is concerned this war has become solely the war of a political Party - the Liberal Party. It is no longer possible to depict or defend this war in terms of the freedom of the Vietnamese people or the people of Indo-China, a war for freedom or for democracy, a war against China or a war to maintain the American alliance, or any of the other definitions which have been used to extenuate and extend our commitment. It is the war of a party; it is not the war of this nation.
The untenability, the intolerability of the Government’s position is intensified by its refusal to back negotiations, to which the Prime Minister did not refer. The Prime Minister instantly rubbished the French proposals. The President of the United States welcomes not only the French but the Russian proposals. It is part of a pattern of performance by this Government over 5 years. Sir Robert Menzies wanted to be the last Prime Minister to denounce negotiations. His successor supported the elements in the Johnson Administration who insisted on continuing the bombing. The present Prime Minister has disparaged peace talks time and time again. The Government has backed every move for the escalation of the war and resisted every move to limit it or end it. The result of its policy of prolongation has been that the whole of Indo-China is now engulfed in civil and racial war.
Tonight the Prime Minister said that Hanoi was responsible for the failure of negotiations. It is idle, in the context of what is now happening in Indo-China, to think that one has solved the problem by apportioning blame. The blunt unpalatable fact is that you cannot talk to North Vietnam as if she were on her knees. None of us like the fact, but fact it is, that we are not in a position to stipulate prior conditions. The difficulty of bringing about meaningful negotiations is not an argument for refusing to try. Geneva in 1954 and 1962, and Panmunjom in 1954, took months and years. We have to face the fact that any negotiations will be about a war in which there are no victors, no vanquished, only survivors. War is hell but the longer this war is prolonged the further it expands, the more certain it is that the peace, too, will be held because it will be the peace of death.
Debate (on motion by Mr Jarman) adjourned.
Consideration resumed (vide page 1456).
– I would like to refer to the comments made by the Minister for the Navy (Mr Killen). He suggested that it was unwise to have on the controlling body of the Australian Film Development Corporation somebody involved in the active production of films. I cannot recall the exact words used by the Minister but he did suggest that this would not be necessary. I think he indicated that the film committee of the Australian Arts Council had recommended the present proposals and that the Government was abiding by that recommendation. I hope I am not misinterpreting the Minister.
I do not believe that this is necessarily a strong argument against the case being put forward by the Opposition. The film committee of the Australian Arts Council is not necessarily a group of experts either. I am not saying that it is comprised of unworthy people. I do not know the exact composition of the particular Council. I am not aware whether there are expert film producers on it. However, I still adhere to the claim that we are trying to make: That if this Corporation is to judge the applicants for financial assistance from the Commonwealth fund which is to assist in the production of films - and in essence that is what it is meant to do - then surely the best judges would be people who know something about film production.
I am aware of the feeling that there is something a bit suspicious about the idea of people actively involved in film making also being in a position to decide who should get financial assistance. I realise that this is equated with, for example, large business enterprises seeking assistance from the Government and seeking approval from a committee composed of businessmen. Quite clearly the implication would be that they would have such a vested interest that their judgment could not be impartial.
Let us assume that one of our film experts on the Corporation had a biased view. In those circumstances I suggest that the payoff would not be such that it would have a crippling effect on the Corporation.
What would be sought, in terms of money would not be all that much. Even if one ot the individuals involved in the judgment had some tenuous association with one of the applicants then surely there would be only 2 possibilities. The first is that the group which obtains the money, with the assistance of one of its spokesmen who are on the Corporation, might fail to produce a worthwhile film. That is one possibility and in that case the Commonwealth would lose some money. I grant that that could happen. One could hardly say that the individual on the Corporation had gained anything through giving perhaps slightly unwise advice. All he has done has been to ruin his own chances for the future. I do not feel that we have lost all that much. On the other hand, supposing that, on the advice of this gentleman, the Corporation gives some funds to a group with which he has some slight connection and it produces a significant film, then surely wc have lost nothing but have gained a lot. We have benefited from the fact that the gentleman with this intimate knowledge of film production has given wise advice. So, with all due respect to the Government’s fears and suspicions, even at the worst we would lose very little, whereas at the best we would have a lot to gain. 1 suggest that the standard of (he advice would be potentially much better than if the only pool of advisers we had were people who had no intimate knowledge of film production. That is the key to the proposal that the Opposition is making. As we said before, we are strongly in favour of the Bill but we are seeking to ensure that the best possible advice is tendered to the Corporation. We suggest that t’.iis can only be obtained if the people serving on the Corporation have some intimate, direct, active working knowledge of the production of films.
– The Bill states quite categorically and quite specifically that members of the proposed Film Development Corporation will bc appointed from amongst persons of standing and varied experience. 1 have no argument with that. In fact J think that this is as it should be. But 1 cannot for the life of me accept that part of the legislation which will penalise people in a particularly sensitive and creative industry who have experience in that industry. 1 know that the Minister for the Navy (Mr Killen) has pointed out, very cogently, the reason why this particular clause was inserted in the Bill. To come back to the point that has been made, surely it follows that, if we are to set up a corporation to advise into which film making activities moneys will be channelled and if we then prevent anybody who has a pecuniary interest in that industry from being appointed, we are robbing the industry of the expertise that it needs.
This is a very complicated industry, lt needs imagination, creative originality and - 1 am sure that this will appeal to our Liberal colleagues - a great deal of business acumen. If we are going to deny these people the opportunity of appointment to the Corporation by virtue of the fact that they possess business acumen and the ability to assess the creative originality of a film and its potential both commercial and artistic, then this seems to me to be a very odd attitude to take. The Corporation most certainly would need the best possible experience that it could obtain. I do not think that the amendment we are proposing is audacious. I think it is a very businesslike amendment. If we are going to establish a precedent, as has been done in the Bill, by denying representation on the Corporation to people who are possessed of expertise in an industry that is particularly difficult at the best of times, then the Opposition cannot agree with the proposition. We have said before that it is our sincere and honest desire that the Bill should go through and that the Corporation should become a living entity to provide the sort of stimulus that is needed for not a flagging industry but an almost non-existent industry.
I come back to my original point. If the Government robs the film industry of the expertise that it so badly needs then, in the Opposition’s view, it will destroy the whole proposition that it has sought to put forward. I ask all honourable members to accept the amendment because it in no way sets out to destroy the fabric that has been set up in the Bill. In fact, it would add quality to the Corporation and certainly the expertise and the business acumen that it will most certainly need.
– I do not know whether the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry) is completely conscious of the weight of his own argument, but he has persuaded me to accept his argument as being one which is untrammelled in its support of the existing provision. The honourable gentleman referred to the fact that what is needed is . business acumen. That is the term he used. I point out to my honourable friend that the whole character of the Corporation is directed towards putting the emphasis upon business acumen, which I repeat is the very argument that the honourable gentleman used. If, on the other hand, my friend had said that the emphasis is upon the Corporation having an artistic, cultural or theatrical acumen, then he would have had a lot of weight on his side. But he has elected to put the enphasis upon business acumen. My friend is precisely right. This is exactly what the Corporation is designed to do.
Before the suspension for dinner I tried to explain that the Corporation does not whistle off on a frolic of its own, taking the view that some particular form of film activity should be encouraged or discouraged. It looks to see where it can, for the most part, secure a maximum amount of value - not for my friend’s money, not for my money and not for the Government’s money, but for the taxpayers’ money. I am sure that my honourable friend will agree that that is the essence of good sense.
– How would you measure that?
– The honourable member for Oxley, who led for the Opposition on this matter, is predictably unpredictable. 1 will illustrate that simple proposition. I know that my honourable friend has the greatest of difficulty in following the most elementary of proposals, but I will try to reduce it to an even subsumed level of elementariness.
– What do you mean by that?
– I will explain that to the honourable member later. Let us imagine that the Government said: ‘Now, John
James is going to be appointed as a member of the Film Corporation’, if I may so cryptically describe it, and the honourable member for Oxley came in and said, with his cheerful mien: ‘Oh, but John James has got lengthy and extensive business interests with the film industry’. We could imagine the sort of argument that some of my honourable friends opposite would make of that proposition. They would say: ‘He is going to use his efforts to persuade the Corporation to direct business activity his way’. It is an old fashioned principle, and I think a pretty good one, that if you have a particular interest in something you do not sit, in any sense, by way of adjudication. That applies to the courts. I know that some people tend to deride those who practise in the courts - although, looking opposite, I see honourable members who I suspect have some sense of gratitude towards those who do practise in the courts. But it is a great principle of the law that no person shall sit in adjudication if he has an interest in the matter in question. Some good law on the point was laid down by the House of Lords in the Grand Junction Canal case. You can take that interest and that principle long enthroned in the law and you can apply it to ordinary civil secular life. That is exactly what the Government has done. That is a good, sound principle; it is good sense. I am rather surprised - indeed, I am rather perturbed - that the Opposition and, in particular, the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) has sought to try to persuade us to another course.
– The Minister for the Navy (Mr Killen) took some time to explain his point without really arriving at it. He makes his progress at the rate of an inch each Good Friday, which, I understand, is the rate at which lawyers reach heaven.
– But we are sure of getting there.
– It depends on whether honest men are on the gate. The Minister for the Navy is in complete conflict with a well established practice of the Government. There are 11 industry advisory committees, covering the various sections of industry, which the Government has set up and to which it resorts for advice. According to the answer to a question asked in this House, membership comprises about 80 leading industrialists who are appointed because at their knowledge and experience rather than their other activities. The fact is that these leading industrialists have a pecuniary interest in various fields of industrial activity in the community. I mentioned earlier Sir John Allison’s Queale Memorial Lecture in Adelaide in the early part of the last decade. I asked the Minister to refer to it. In it Sir John Allison clearly indicated that there was much benefit for the Government to gain by having these people, who were experienced in business and had pecuniary interests within industry, advising the Government.
If this principle is good enough in that area which is merely the area of material interests in business advising the Government where it will get its best gain, surely it is good in this sphere we are discussing which goes beyond mere business involvement but includes artistic endeavour and creativity, which is something quite different. I suggest to the Minister that there is adequate experience in the United States of America to support my contention. Looking quickly at my notes, I see a quote from ‘Henry VI by Shakespeare. It is:
The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.
After hearing the Minister’s speech tonight, I can understand why Shakespeare said that. There is plenty of precedent in the United States of America with its Arts Council where it does appoint people who have a pecuniary interest within various fields of art to assist in the promotion of the arts and culture. It is quite ridiculous and represents a narrow-minded suspiciousness which is quite unbecoming of the Minister to argue against the amendment proposed by the Opposition.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Hayden’s amendment) stand pan of the Bill.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority .. 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Killen) - by leave . - read a third time.
– I present the second report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
River Murray Waters Bill 1970.
Dartmouth Reservoir Agreement Bill 1970.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Nixon, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to remove a doubt whether ordinances of the Australian Capital Territory may have extra-territorial effect. The need to remove this doubt has arisen in connection with proposals to make certain amendments to the Uniform Companies Acts, and in particular the Companies Ordinance of the Australian Capital Territory. The amendments to the Companies Acts will give effect to recommendations by the Company Law Advisory Committee, consisting of Mr Justice Eggleston, as Chairman, Mr J. M. Rodd, C.B.E., and Mr P. C. E. Cox. This Advisory committee was appointed by, and reports to, the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General.
The Advisory Committee has recommended amendments which, amongst other things, will require the disclosure of substantial shareholdings in companies and improve the effectiveness of the takeover code. The provisions requiring disclosure of substantial shareholdings will require a person having a beneficial interest in not less than one-tenth of the voting capital in a company listed on an Australian stock exchange to disclose that interest, thereby preventing concealment by means of nominee shareholders. The new takeover provisions will prevent circumvention of the code by means such as first come first served offers. The Company Law Advisory Committee specifically directed its attention to the need for this legislation to extend to overseas shareholders, and in paragraph 6 of its second interim report the Committee made the following statement:
We think it is important that the legislation should be so expressed as to leave no doubt that the obligation of disclosure is intended to apply to persons resident, or companies incorporated, outside the jurisdiction, as well as to persons or corporations within the jurisdiction.
The Standing Committee of AttorneysGeneral has decided to give effect to this recommendation and has agreed upon a draft of the proposed amending provisions. There is, however, some doubt, as the matter stands at present, whether the proposed amendments to the Companies Ordinance of the Australian Capital Territory can be given an extra-territorial operation. It is desirable that this doubt should be removed so as to facilitate the making of this proposed companies legislation, and also other legislative measures that may from time to time require similar treatment in the future. The High Court of Australia has held that, as a matter of constitutional law, laws for the government of a territory can operate wherever territorially the authority of the Commonwealth runs. But there is a doubt whether, as a matter of statutory construction, the ordinancemaking power conferred by section 12 of the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1910-1965 enables an ordinance to be given such an extra-territorial operation. The present power in section 12 is to make ordinances ‘having the force of law in the Territory’. This Bill provides instead for a power to make ordinances ‘for the peace, order and good government of the Territory’.
The form of words proposed by the Bill is a time-honoured one. It is used in the Northern Territory (Administration) Act, Cocos (Keeling) Islands Act, Christmas Island Act, Norfolk Island Act, Papua and New Guinea Act, the Constitution Acts of the States and, in respect of specified subjects, in the Commonwealth Constitution. It has been held by the. courts to permit the making of laws having extra-territorial effect. The opportunity has been taken in the Bill to attend to one other matter of a statute law revision character. Section 11 of the principal Act, which confers certain jurisdiction on inferior courts in Jervis Bay territory, is no longer necessary because the jurisdiction is now conferred by the Court of Petty Sessions Ordinance of the Australian Capital Territory. The present Bill accordingly provides for the repeal of section 11. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Daly) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Anthony, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill and the related Bills is to give effect to proposals submitted to the Government by the Australian Dairy Industry Council to provide statutary support to the present dairying industry equalisation scheme. The equalisation scheme which has operated since 1934 is based on a system of voluntary agreements between participating manufacturers and the Commonwealth Dairy Produce Equalisation Committee Ltd, hereafter referred to as the Equalisation Committee. Broadly the scheme is an annual pooling of local and export sales so that all factories receive the same return for their butter, cheese or casein irrespective of the market on which the product is sold. The stability which has resulted from the equalisation scheme has proved of great value to dairy farmers. An inherent weakness in the scheme is its dependence on the voluntary co-operation of manufacturers who may give notice of withdrawal at any time. Any appreciable withdrawal could result in the breakdown of the arrangements with disastrous consequences for the industry as it would inevitably result in price cutting on the local market and lead to a complete loss of price stability as the domestic price would inevitably be forced down to the level of export parity.
The Commonwealth Government as a practical measure of support has since 1943 made eligibility for bounty payments on butter and cheese under the stabilisation arrangements conditional on factory participation in equalisation. The strength of this provision however has diminished over the years with the reduction in the average unit rate of bounty payable arising from increased total production and a gradual widening in the gap between equalisation values and the return from the local market. While there is no immediate threat to the scheme these factors have created some uncertainty as to its continued operation on a voluntary basis. At the present time there are a number of small cheese companies that are not in equalisation but their production is not sufficient to make their non-participation a threat to the existing scheme. However dairy industry leaders have been aware that the scheme could be quickly undermined by the withdrawal of even one significant manufacturer and for some years have been investigating with the Commonwealth and the States ways and means of buttressing the scheme.
The Government agrees with the Australian Dairy Industry Council that the continuation of the equalisation scheme is necessary for the orderly marketing of butter, cheese and casein and that the voluntary scheme requires statutory support in order to secure a firmer foundation for the industry’s organisation. It has accepted the Council’s proposals for federal legislation to provide a Commonwealth levy on production to finance equalisation payments as the most practical means of achieving this. This Bill and the accompanying Bills give effect to the basic provisions of the industry’s proposals which are designed to permit the continuation of the existing equalisation arrangements. The proposals have been unanimously endorsed by the Australian Dairy Industry Council and have also received the approval of the Australian Agricultural Council. The basic element of the industry proposals is tha establishment of a fund by way of a levy on the production of dairy produce to provide the necessary finance for equalisation payments.
The purpose of this Bill is to provide for a separate levy to be imposed on the production of butter, butter oil, cheese, casein and such other dairy produce as may be prescribed. The Bill provides that where production at a factory is on average less than 5 cwt per month over a production period the product is exempt from the levy. This provision will exclude the smaller fancy cheese manufacturers and there is flexibility in the proposed legislation to make any concessional payments to larger manufacturers that may be negotiated with the Equalisation Committee. Condensery products have been specifically excluded as there is no support from the manufacturers of those products for an equalisation scheme. The levy will be payable by the proprietor of the factory at which the dairy produce is produced, lt will apply from a date to be prescribed for each type of dairy produce and the operative rate will be prescribed after recommendation to the Minister by the Australian Dairy Industry Council. The maximum rates of levy specified in the Bill are the rates recommended to the Government by the Australian Dairy Industry Council.
The legislation has been designed to permit the imposition of the levy on one product or a number of products as circumstances warrant. The levy for equalisation purposes will be related to a production period which will normally cover the 12 months period ending 30th June but there is provision to reduce a production period should the need arise. As the rate of levy will be determined essentially by the amount of equalisation payments made in respect of sales from the relevant production period it cannot be determined for some months after the end of the production period. Consequently provision has been made for the rate of levy applicable to the specified kind of dairy produce to be prescribed between 6 months and 2 years after the end of the production period. For the purpose of securing the collection of the levy during the interim period there will be imposed a provisional levy which will enable funds to be collected for equalisation purposes as the season progresses. I would emphasise that all the proceeds of the levy will be repaid to the dairy industry and that the scheme does not involve the Commonwealth in any financial commitment.
In addition to the equalisation payments mentioned above the levy proceeds may also be used to meet cold storage and other marketing and administration costs incurred by the Equalisation Committee. In effect the Equalisation Committee will be able to continue its present important function of ensuring the maintenance of supplies of butter and cheese to meet requirements throughout Australia all the year round without additional costs to the consumer. The levy proceeds may also be used to meet costs incurred in the withholding of export surpluses and subsequent planned shipments to the United Kingdom to ensure continuity of supply on that market. These are important functions currently being performed by the Equalisation Committee.
Provision has been made for the Commonwealth Government to make arrangements with the Equalisation Committee to collect levies and disburse equalisation payments on its behalf. This will enable factories already in equalisation to continue their existing arrangements with the Equalisation Committee if they so wish. In effect they will continue to make payments to the Equalisation Committee when market realisations exceed the average equalisation value out of which the Committee will pay the levy on behalf of member factories. In turn the equalisation payments will be offset against levy commitments. Other factories may opt to pay the levy direct to the Commonwealth or the Equalisation Committee, and receive equalisation payments where eligible.
I mentioned earlier that the payment of bounty on butter and cheese under the dairying industry stabilisation arrangements is restricted to factories participating in the present equalisation scheme. As the levy under the proposed legislation will be payable by all factories, provision has been made to amend the Dairying Industry Act to enable the payment of the stabilisation bounty to be made on the production of all butter and cheese on which levy has been imposed.
For the purpose of administering legislation involving the collection of levies and their disbursement provision is required for persons authorised by the Minister to enter premises and examine documents and papers that are relevant to the operation of the legislation. Some concern has been expressed by the Parliament on the need to ensure that such provisions do not infringe on the civil liberties of the community and a new provision has been included which takes account of the main objections raised. The provision which has been included in two of the accompanying Bills provides for reference to a justice of the peace for a warrant to enter premises in which dairy produce is produced if the consent of the occupier is not forthcoming. This provision should ensure that the civil liberties of the community are not infringed and, at the same time, permit the legislation to be enforced.
The equalisation scheme embodied in this Bill and the accompanying legislation is an industry scheme financed completely by industry money and accordingly it has been deemed appropriate to make provision for the Australian Dairy Industry Council to make recommendations to the Minister for Primary Industry on the main aspects to be covered by regulation, such as the date of imposition of the levy, the rates of levy, provisional levy and equalisation payments.
A referendum of dairy producers held before the introduction of the existing equalisation scheme in 1934 indicated overwhelming support for the scheme. While it is apparent that there is general producer acceptance for the proposed legislation in view of the lapse of time since the last referendum the Government considers it desirable to hold a further poll of producers. The Dairying Industry Equalisation Legislation Referendum Bill provides that the implementation of this Bill, the Dairying Industry Levy Collection Bill and the Dairying Industry Equalisation Bill, is conditional on a simple majority vote of dairy producers cast at a poll being in favour of this course. lt is the intention of the Government after consultation with the industry to conduct the poll as soon as practicable after the legislation has been passed by Parliament.
The legislation has been designed so that a compulsory equalisation scheme for a particular product or products will not be implemented unless there is a specific need created such as by the withdrawal of an important manufacturer from the present voluntary equalisation scheme.
The Australian dairy industry is faced with a serious situation because of increasing butter production which has resulted not only in a reduction in producer returns because of the higher proportion which has to be sold on the unprofitable export market, but it is also heading the industry into a serious surplus problem. The industry will need to take some positive steps to meet the situation which could well impose some strain on its present marketing structure, the core of which is the existing equalisation scheme. The Government believes that this Bill and the accompanying Bills will provide a firmer foundation for the industry’s organisation and improve the prospect of securing the co-operation of State governments and the industry in taking some positive action to meet the problems of the industry. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Anthony, and read a first time.
– I move: That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to provide the machinery for the collection of the levy and the provisional levy imposed under the Dairying Industry Levy Bill 1970. To facilitate the collection of the levy the Bill makes provision for the Commonwealth to enter into an arrangement with the existing equalisation body, namely, the Commonwealth Dairy Produce Equalisation Committee Ltd to collect the levy and the provisional levy on behalf of the Commonwealth. This provision will permit the existing arrangements for factories already in equalisation to be continued. Other factories can opt to pay the levy and the provisional levy direct to the Commonwealth or the Equalisation Committee.
The provisional levy in respect of a production period which is collected from a proprietor of a factory will be offset against his levy commitment for that production period. Any provisional levy collected in excess of that commitment will be refunded. The arrangement embodied in the Bill for the collection of levy by means of a provisional levy is thus similar to the pay as you earn taxation collection arrangement. The progressive collection of the provisional levy is necessary to finance equalisation payments as the actual rate of the levy cannot be determined until sales have been completed which, on experience, could take up to 2 years after the end of the production period.
The levy and provisional levy are imposed cm the product at the time of production and as there is frequently a weight loss in the case of cheese during the maturation process provision has been made for the levy and the provisional levy to be calculated on the weight of the cheese at the end of the maturation process. The machinery for collection provided in this Bill has been designed so that it can be adapted with a minimum of interference to the existing industry arrangements. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on morion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Bill - by leaver - presented by Mr Anthony, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to provide for the establishment of a Dairy Produce Equalisation Trust Account and for the payment into this account, of amounts equal to the amounts collected as levy and provisional levy under the Dairying Industry Levy Bill. The moneys in the Trust Account will be used to make the type of equalisation payments and other payments described in my second reading speech on the Dairying Industry Levy Bill. There will be provision fo.~ interim rates of equalisation payments to be fixed by the Minister for Primary Industry from time to time after taking into account any recommendations by the Australian Dairy Industry Council. The final rates of equalisation payments will be fixed by regulation.
There is also provision for the Commonwealth to enter into an arrangement with the Commonwealth Dairy Produce Equalisation Committee Ltd to make equalisation payments to proprietors of factories on behalf of the Commonwealth Government. This provision complements the arrangements for the collection of levy which are designed to permit the existing arrangements for factories already in equalisation to be continued. Other factories can opt to receive the equalisation payments direct from the Commonwealth or from the Equalisation Committee. There is provision for an annual report to be submitted to Parliament on the operation of the Act.
This is the third of the complementary Bills required to implement the industry’s proposals for statutory support to the present dairying equalisation arrangements. It lays down the procedures for returning to the industry the money provided by the Dairying Industry Levy Bill and so allows for the completion of the equalisation process without any financial commitment to the Commonwealth. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion -by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Anthony, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to make legislative arrangements for a referendum to be conducted on the question of whether the Dairying Industry Levy Act, the Dairying Industry Levy Collection Act and the Dairying Industry Equalisation Act should be brought into operation. The Bill provides that the Acts cannot be implemented unless a simple majority of the votes cast at a poll of producers is in favour of this course. In order that the views of the industry should be properly reflected, voting in the referendum will be compulsory.
Under the terms of the Bill a producer will be entitled to a vote if during the year preceding the polling day he supplied milk or cream to a butter or cheese factory and at the time of voting owned cows for this purpose. Where milk or cream is supplied to a factory by a partnership each partner will be entitled to a vote. In the case of companies, each company will receive a vote. To avoid the possibility of minors voting in the referendum only persons who have attained the age of 21 years will be allowed to vote. Voters will have the opportunity to study the legislation and consider its implications as the Bill provides that the Minister for Primary Industry shall prepare a pamphlet containing authorised arguments in favour of an affirmative or negative answer to the question to be decided by the poll. The pamphlet will be distributed to all eligible voters with their ballot papers. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Anthony, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
In my second reading speech on the dairying Industry Levy Bill I mentioned that the payment of the stabilisation bounty on butter and cheese under the Dairying Industry Act, 1962-1967 was restricted to factories participatitng in equalisation. As the levy under the proposed Dairying Industry Levy Bill will be payable by all factories provision has been made to amend the Dairying Industry Act 1962-1967 to enable the payment of the stabilisation bounty to be made on the production of all butter and cheese on which levy has been imposed. The Bill has been designed to enable the amendment to be implemented separately in respect of butter or cheese in the event that levy is imposed on only 1 of these products.
The opportunity has been taken to make some additional amendments to the principal Act. The first amendment relates to a recommendation made to the Minister for Primary Industry in 1967 by the Australian Dairy Industry Council that for the year 1968-69 and subsequent years bounty should be paid under the Dairying Industry Act on the basis that would yield a uniform rate on a butter fat basis for both butter and cheese. There are administrative difficulties in achieving a uniform rate of bounty under the present provisions of the Act which require separate appropriations to be made for butter and cheese. At the time of appropriation it is impossible to forecast what amounts should be appropriated to yield a uniform bounty rate as the production year is then only beginning. The alternative formula proposed provides for the appropriation of a single amount for butter and cheese which will automatically determine one rate for butter fat for both butter and cheese. This amendment will require a consequential amendment to the Processed Milk Products Bounty Act 1962-1968 and a separate Bill has been drafted for this purpose.
A second amendment will provide for the withholding of bounty payments on butter and cheese on the recommendation of the Australian Dairy Industry Council where provisional levy and levy is owed by the proprietor of a factory for more than 3 months. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Anthony, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to make a minor amendment to the Processed Milk Products Bounty Act 1962-1968 which is the Act relating to the distribution of bounty payments on the export of processed milk products. The amendment will enable the alternative formula in the proposed Dairying Industry Bill to be used in the determination of the rate of bounty payable in respect of any processed milk product exports consistent with the present legislative requirement that the rate of bounty payable shall not be greater than the rate applicable to butter fat used in the production of butter in the same year. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 4 March (vide page 87), on motion by Mr N. H. Bowen:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The purpose of this Bill is to provide for the establishment of an Australian Institute of Marine Science to be located at Townsville in Queensland. It makes formal provision for the detailed planning of the functions and powers of the Institute. As the Minister for Education and Science (Mr N. H. Bowen) said in his second reading speech, the provision of an Austraiian Institute of Marine Science in the tropics, particularly because of the various oceans which surround Australia, will make a most important contribution to both fundamental and applied science, not only in Australia but in the world. It is clear that one of the great virtues of the establishment of the Australian Institute of Marine Science particularly at Townsville, the gateway - one might say - as regards university work, to the
Great Barrier Reef. The James Cook University of North Queensland, in conjunction with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and with such post-graduate institutions as this one will be. offers northern Australia a chance for research in the fundamental and applied fields that it has never had before.
I know that from this side of the House there have been over the years tremendous pressures exerted on the Government to establish an institute of marin science in the field of marine biology in particular. My colleague, Senator Felix Dittmer, has for many years been in the forefront of the plea for assistance to establish such an institute. It would seem that the Government has finally decided to establish it. The Great Barrier Reef, located in the area which the Institute will serve, is destined to become one pf the richest tourist centres and one of Australia’s greatest permanent assets for earning international income. I believe that the Reef zone in addition to its priceless value as an Australian asset will emerge as one pf the world’s leading marine science research laboratories. In fact the biological and physical mysteries of the Great Barrier Reef itself and its contiguous waters and the life on the continental shelf adjacent to the Reef are a challenge which I am sure is eagerly awaiting the world’s top marine scientists. As I said before, both fundamental and applied research will accelerate the knowledge which is greatly wanted with respect to the Great Barrier Reef area and I am sure it will contribute a lot to solving the mysteries of the ecology of the reef systems and the surrounding waters.
Some honourable members will remember that some years ago an application was made to mine a section of the Reef near Innisfail. The application was to mine what was called dead coral. It was pointed out by learned scientists who made first-hand investigations of this area and objected in the Warden’s Court to the application for mining that there was no such thing in their opinion, which was backed by scientific evidence, as a dead reef. Although there was evidence of substantial amounts of limestone it soon became clear to those who studied this phenomenon that the dead reef, or the dead coral, was still a vital and integral part of the living reef and to damage the so-called dead part of the reef would in fact disturb the ecological balance of the Great Barrier Reef itself. One could go further and say that if the balance is disturbed there is the strong possibility of the tidal systems of the Great Barrier Reef being also of such a nature and of such power that the whole structure of the Reef itself and the living side of the coral could be disturbed. This could have a cumulative effect and damaging seas could come onto the coasts of the protected inland areas behind the Reef. Those living there, like myself, know how great an asset the Barrier Reef is not only in terms of its value to the tourist industry but also of its tremendous importance to the northern coast of Queensland. If anything upsets the ecological balance of the Great Barrier Reef there would be a tremendous difference in the shape of the north Queensland coast.
There is no surf in this area as people in the southern States know surf, except when we have the south-east prevailing wind. We do not have the surf as honourable members know it in the south because we are protected by the Barrier Reef itself. The Barrier Reef zone is an integral factor in the proposed Federal legislation to assert ownership and control by the Commonwealth over territorial waters and the continental shelf. At least, the Opposition believes it is. As such, the Bill we are now considering is complementary, one might say, to that legislation in that it actually heightens the Commonwealth’s responsibility in the fields of marine research, marine biology and the associated physical sciences fundamental to any programme of conservation and development. I believe that, as far as the Barrier Reef is concerned, conservation must march hand in hand with development. Fundamental to that is the Institute of Marine Science in the fields of fundamental or basic research and in the application of that basic or fundamental research so that the conclusions of the hypotheses can be translated into commercial application.
Although many people would like to see the Barrier Reef left untouched, undeveloped, Australia has an obligation to share this asset with the rest of the world. The best way to do that is through positive steps for tourist development and positive steps for the development of natural resources keeping in mind all the time the great need for the conservation of the Reef and the contiguous areas. I believe this is one of the great virtues of research. I do not believe there should be any attempt to spoil or damage the major reef areas unless bodies like the Institute of Marine Science or those concerned with postgraduate research or applied research in the geological or biological fields have at least been able to express scientific opinions as to what the effects of a particular development project will be. I think this would be one of the main purposes of the Institute. It is not just some type of learning setup where people go along and do a master’s thesis or a Ph.D. thesis in a particular field and leave the area to go overseas or somewhere else. I hope it will not be that. I hope that the Institute will be closely integrated with the development of the area and that the scientists who work there will stay in the north. Too often we see scientists go to an advanced institute of learning just to get a higher degree and then immediately leave the area. It is hoped that the Institute of Marine Science will attract overseas scientists of high repute. I believe that it will, because the Barrier Reef is unique in the world. It is the largest structure which has been formed by living organisms. As I said before, its ecological balances must be protected in reef areas because of their great importance to the entire reef zone.
It was my intention tonight to deal with some scientific aspects of what I believe the work of the Institute would entail. This was particularly in respect to the measurement of proteins from the waters. I wanted to refer particularly to the fundamental research with respect to the food from the sea which can then be translated into fertilisers and so forth. However, most of the notes that I had have been left upstairs, because I did not intend to speak on this Bill till later tonight. But I am sure that the more important jobs the Institute will do will involve not only work which will protect as well as enable the development of the Great Barrier Reef zone but will also involve fundamental work with respect to measurement of the wealth of the sea, particularly in the field of food, because the sea is a tremendous source of food, of protein and of energy and fertilisers.
As the Minister has said, in his second reading speech, there will be a great deal of work concerned with marine environment. Tt is also expected that there would be work carried out with respect to the Crown of Thorns. The Crown of Thorns is causing a lot of controversy in the Barrier Reef areas. In my area of Mackay in Queensland it is a very rare thing to see the Crown of Thorns. In fact, very few people have actually seen a Crown of Thorns in this area. Even in the areas where they are more plentiful - at Cairns and Innisfail - it is a very strange thing that the fishermen or people living there for years will tell you that in some years they are in plague proportions and then the following year it is difficult to find this pest. They are analagous to a grasshopper plague. They seem to come and go. However, according to scientists like Dr Endean they are capable of doing tremendous damage.
One of the reasons why the Government has introduced this Bill to set up an Institute of Marine Science, and why the Opposition supports it, is to get value for money. I have mentioned some of the factors involved in research but I am sure also that the Government hopes that this move will lead to a further development of the area. I would say that there is no permanent asset in Australia which, in world terms, has greater value. The Great Barrier Reef has far greater value than all the minerals or oils that we can find in Australia at the present time. This research is necessary because the Great Barrier Reef is not an inexhaustible asset. We have to make certain that the Reef and its surroundings remain as they are and that nothing happens to them. I have referred to the question of the best way to develop the Great Barrier Reef. Is it by mining? Is it by oil drilling? Is it to do nothing? Or is it by means of encouraging the tourist industry? I have mentioned that hand in hand with research there has to be development in order to let people see this unique wonder we are so fortunate to have on our doorstep. We have to be able to integrate tourist facilities with the marine research being carried out. We have to integrate the great airlines or the air routes of the world with those of the north in order to let people see this great phenomenon, the Great Barrier Reef.
The Minister for Education and Science is aware that one of the planks of the Australian Labor Party policy is the establishment of an international airport at Townsville. This should be done. At present tourists who want to see the Barrier Reef, people who rank it as the No. 1 tourist attraction in Australia - international surveys have revealed that this is so - have to fly to Sydney, mainly, then to Brisbane and to Townsville or Mackay and back again to Sydney to get another international flight out of Australia. Tourists object to having to do this. There is no reason why there could not be an international airport at Townsville with feeder flights to Cairns, Mackay, Rockhampton and Gladstone, all centres feeding the Barrier Reef. Of course this will come in time. It certainly will if there is a change in government.
– Can they wait that long?
– It might come about quicker than the honourable member thinks. The Opposition supports this Bill. It is sorely needed and should have been introduced years ago. My notes in connection with this Bill are upstairs and I can only quote from memory but 1 think the former Prime Minister of Australia, Sir Robert Menzies, said, when this proposition was first put forward, that he would give it no priority. I am subject to challenge over that statement but I think that basically I am right. It was not given priority 5 or 6 years ago when it was first put forward. lt can confidently be expected that this proposed Institute will lead the world in tropical research, as will the James Cook University of North Queensland. Both the Institute of Marine Science and the University at Townsville are specialising in tropical research. The university is specialising in such fields as tropical engineering and some aspects of tropical medicine, in the husbandry of beef cattle and their environment in tropical areas - breeds with such as zebu or Brahmin blood - all in association with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Townsville. There is this great march of science. All the disciplines which are so closely associated with the development of northern Australia are centred there. Research workers are conferring with each other, swapping ideas, learning from their research and experience. The great knowledge being gathered in the tropical areas is being passed on to workers in associated areas in other countries analogous to northern Australia. This work will also bring to Australia scientists who want to do their work in the northern areas. They will come to this area.
This Bill is a step in the right direction. I believe it is of great importance for the development of one of our greatest assets, the Great Barrier Reef. Obviously 1 have not dealt with the other warmer sea areas such as those around New Guinea and the north west of Western Australia. However, they are relevant. Although the work of the Institute will be centred in Townsville it will not be confined to that area, lt will be concentrated on the Great Barrier Reef but there will be basic work, fundamental and applied research, carried out in other areas of Australia. Some people have suggested that this Institute should be established not at Townsville but in some other area. This is a matter of opinion. I think it is being established in the right place. It will be in an area where there are tremen.dous problems. There are problems associated with oil drilling in the area contiguous to the Great Barrier Reef. I do not want to get into that controversy. However, the biological, geological and other research which the Institute will undertake is needed to throw more light on whether it is safe to drill in the Great Barrier Reef area. It is essential that research be married to practice; that before there is any development which could damage areas of the Reef, scientists are consulted fully in order to get the great benefit of the hypotheses and results of the research which will flow from the Institute. As I said before, this is a good Bill.
– At a time when there is a world wide awakening to the growing requirement to understand and exploit to the advantage of mankind the full bounty of the sea, the Gorton Government is to be congratulated on its timely action in establishing an Institute of Marine Science in Townsville. For too long we have been forced to think of and marvel at the mysteries of the seas, and it is not before time that there has been an international realisation that we should think of the oceans not only as the bounding main but as a source from which and by which many of mankind’s current and continuing problems can be alleviated. Nevertheless, there will always be mystery surrounding the seas, which man may never control even though his understanding of them improves.
In establishing the Marine Institute in Townsville the Government is not only following the recent example of the United States of America, France, Great Britain and Germany; it is acclaiming that Australia is indeed an extremely marine oriented nation. Not only does the vast proportion of our population live within and enjoy the environs of the several oceans which skirt our continent but, in being one of the world’s great trading nations, we have become more than ordinarily concerned with the waterways of the world as a means of communication, transportation and survival. So in 1970 we must remain concerned to see that the waterways which play such a vital role in giving us the means of maintaining a flourishing economy and high standard of living are secure for free trade and movement and protected from international pirating and lawlessness. In a sentence, we must maintain and develop a national concern about our oceanic activities to see that they are directly correlated to the needs and aspirations of the Australian community.
In his second reading speech, the Minister for Education and Science (Mr N. H. Bowen), who is sitting at the table, neatly described the Government’s reasons for establishing the Marine Institute. I was pleased to note that he saw the Institute as being ‘a national centre that will conduct research itself and give encouragement to valuable studies conducted elsewhere concerned with both biological and physical aspects of marine science’. It is most important that the scope and the terms of reference of the Marine Institute should neither be limited nor be such that they will duplicate or replace any of the valuable work that is already being accomplished by such organisations as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the universities or the State governments. However, the members of the Interim Council, as announced by the Minister, are a most distinguished panel. In fact it would be fair to say that, with their diverse professional activities in the field of marine science and their individual pre-eminence within their respective disciplines, no more appropriate group of marine scientists could have been brought together. Nevertheless, I do commend to them the need to look at their brief in the broadest possible terms and to establish the unshakeable principle that the Townsville Institute will not become the sole base for nationwide research, experiments and development.
There can be no denying that Townsville should become one of the great centres of marine studies in the world and may well rank with the world’s best once it is under way. But I hope that the Interim Council will not only follow the wide terms of reference which the Minister gave in this House on 4th March but further that it will consider widening its investigation to include some of the features which have been included in similar legislation overseas. For example, the United States of America has a Marine Sciences Act of 1966. A year or so ago the then Vice-President of the United States, Mr H. H. Humphrey, in one of his last official acts as such, reported to his President on the activities of the National Council on Marine Resources and Engineering Development which was established under that Act. The Vice-President’s report stated that the Marine Council had:
Subsequent to this report President Lyndon Johnson sought $528m for the activities of the Marine Council in the 1970 financial year, because, as he put it, Americans ‘must take bold and imaginative steps to enable this and future generations to enjoy the full bounty of the sea’. And if this is true of the United States, as I believe it is, then this sentiment must stand with equal force here in Australia.
Quite obviously, the role of the new Institute should not be seen as being limited to any one activity. Most of us in this Parliament will be very much aware of the nationwide interest in saving the natural beauty and wonders of the Great Barrier Reef. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) told us in his policy speech on 8th October last:
Research in the area of the Great Barrier Reef will be one of the first priorities of the Institute.
Nobody will deny the need for collective action, both scientifically and politically, to achieve the goal of saving the Barrier Reef from all predators. As honourable members are aware, this problem has been the subject of widespread investigation already, particularly by the Queensland Department of Primary Industries, the Queensland University, the CSIRO and Commonwealth departments.
However, the most important investigation has been made by the committee established by the Australian Academy of Science, 3 members of which committee are appointees to the Interim Council as named in the Bill before the House. It is significant that, in its report to consider the reported widespread destruction of the Great Barrier Reef, the committee ‘emphasised that the plague of crown of thorns starfish is widespread throughout the Indian and Pacific oceans and that there has been serious destruction of live coral in scattered areas throughout these oceans’. It further agreed that more information must first be obtained about the biology, ecology and hydrology and other aspects of the Great Barrier Reef. In fact the committee suggested 13 specific areas of research which called for long term co-ordination as well as short term experimentation with protective measures to combat plagues of the crown of thorns starfish. It is important to remember that they were not able to come up with any specific solution. If this distinguished body of marine scientists could not make such a suggestion on the general problem of protecting all the Reef one can logically assume that the suggested areas of research mentioned in their report will constitute much of the original work of the new Marine Institute.
But I again repeat the need for the Interim Council to make certain that the scope of the Townsville Institute has to be very much wider than protecting the Barrier Reef. Obviously, the acanthaster planci is a problem beyond the confines of the Barrier Reef. I would like to think that all investigations by the various Australian organisations will not only be co-ordinated per se but will also be part of an international investigation of what we presently regard as a pest of the seas.
There would be few, if any. members in this House today who would dispute the wisdom of choosing Townsville as the site for the Marine Institute. I believe that the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett) must be given the credit for having the Government make this decision. The honourable member is well known for his advocacy of the north and its claims for involvement in national activities. I know from personal visits to his area that the residents of North Queensland have many reasons to be grateful for their active federal member and his work on their behalf. To ensure that the members of the Interim Council will be fully alive to the necessity for collective action, both internationally and within Australia, I would hope that there will be included in the Budget Estimates later this year sufficient funds to facilitate visits by all the Council members to all the major marine institutes around the world. After all. if the Twentysixth Parliament could send a committee around the world to look at other houses of parliament then it should not be beyond the resources or the wit of the Twentyseventh Parliament to send 7 marine scientists on an equally important tour of discovery. Whether this type of expenditure is considered or not, I believe that the funds to be placed at the disposal of the Interim Council should be of generous proportion and fully adequate for this professional panel to perform professionally their most important of tasks for the future of Australia. If we do not start off on the right foot, because of unnecessary restriction on expenses relative to preliminary investigations, then we could well be frittering away the golden opportunity that is contained in the legislation before the House.
The Prime Minister, in his policy speech, mentioned that the capital cost of the Marine Institute would approximate $3m. This sounds a sensible figure. But if the Institute is to become the centre of excellence, as the Prime Minister predicts, then adequate funds must also be made available for preliminary work and investigation. As the Minister mentioned in his second reading speech, this Bill ‘makes formal provision for detailed planning of its functions and powers’. As I have mentioned previously, a considerable amount of valuable work is already being accomplished in marine geoscience in Australia. It was revealed at the Occanology International 1969 Conference in Britain a year ago that, in terms of fundamental study, interest in marine geoscience extended to all 14 Australian universities and university colleges. However, the two biggest existing oceanographic organisations in Australia are the Division of Fisheries and Oceanography of the CSIRO at Cronulla and the Royal Australian Navy. The former is in my electorate and is only a short distance away from my residence. It employs 113 professional people and it is the centre of the research into the prawning industry, amongst other industries, in Australian waters. I would hope that the Interim Council does not see its way to recommending the transfer of this unit to Townsville and that any suggestion of such a move will not be allowed to retard the already announced plans to extend the research facilities at Cronulla.
The work of the Royal Australian Navy in oceanographic research is well known and the decision 2 years ago to design a specially built ocean science ship was proof that the Liberal-Country Party Government is concerned with the development of marine studies. Of course, the Royal Australian Navy has been concerned with defence matters but as so much of its research can be applied to civil marine science and technology I would hope that the Interim Council will be giving much thought to co-ordinating the efforts of the Royal Australian Navy and that the Royal Australian Navy in turn will be as cooperative as security will permit.
Recently the annual conference of the Australian Marine Sciences Association was told by its President, Mr R. C. Sprigg, that there was ‘a transcending need to establish a clearer dialogue between governments, research and industry’. Mr Sprigg went on to say that the seas were not being exploited sufficiently to feed the world and that there was a great need to investigate animal life cf the seas. This view was repeated by Germany’s Federal Republic Oceanography Commission which also saw the need for exploitation of food reserves in the sea and, co-incidentally, the requirement that industry will play an increasingly important role in marine research. So I again make a suggestion to the Interim Council that it should include in its charter such provisions as will encourage industry to participate in marine research in Australia alongside the Institute and the universities.
Coming as I do from an electorate which is almost completely surrounded by water and which has one of the largest shorelines of any Australian electorate, I am most anxious to see that the Marine Institute applies itself with enthusiasm to conservation of the Australian coast and overcoming water pollution and its revolting effects. There is scarcely a day passes that I am not made aware of the need not only to conserve but to improve the beaches that are part of Bate Bay. From Cronulla to Boat Harbour one is constantly aware of beach erosion and one is even more aware of the fact that none of the experts is prepared to say exactly what causes it. Some experts blame it on the concrete promenades which were built 30 years ago; others on the high-rise units that have been built on the waters edge during the past decade; while others blame the erosion on the regrettable removal of sand from the natural and once extensive Cronulla sand hills. The University of New South Wales has tried to help, the Sutherland Shire Council has turned its attention to it, but nobody can say with real certainty what Causes the beaches to disappear. Canute thought he had the answer by assuming his sovereignty over all he could see. But in Cronulla, and I know in many other beaches pound Australia, the sands run out and do not come back. If there was an area for urgent investigation by the Marine Institute it is in the field of hydrology and the implementation Of a conservation scheme, not only for Cronulla’s beaches - important and beautiful «ft they are - but for all the beaches around the beautiful Australian coastline. For if we do not get some objective research put into this field we could well finish with no beaches before anybody can learn why the erosion occurs and where the financial responsibility of this conservation rests. One thing is certain: Local councils cannot be asked to assume this financial burden for all time.
When reading through the White Paper on Marine Science and Technology which was presented to the United Kingdom Government in April 1969 one noticed a lot of space was given to pollution control and, more particularly, to sewage pollution of the seas. Again I would like to draw attention to the health hazards that are experienced by many surfers who use the beaches around our urban areas. Apart from having less beach to come back to, surfing loses a lot of its aesthetic charm and attraction when one is conscious of sharing a wave with what the scientists refer to, somewhat pointedly, as solid waste. I know there is no need to remind the honourable member whose electorate also boasts beaches almost as beautiful as Cronulla that an experience I have just described certainly takes the joy out of our national sport, surfing. It would be amusing if it was not so serious a matter. Premier Askin is to be congratulated on his recent decisions to spend large sums on communition as well as the construction and siting of longer outfalls for sewage discharge into the sea. But the tragedy of this pollution of man’s environment by himself is the lack of research that has gone into this aspect of pollution. If it is that this problem has been fully researched and not put into practice then it is all the more serious and all the more reason for the Marine Institute to establish close lines of liaison with government and industry in all that it undertakes. It should see that all of its findings are quickly communicated to all interested parties so that the value of its research can be the more quickly put into practice for the advantage of all.
The final suggestion I would like to make to the Interim Council at this time relates to legal problems that will surround this area of activity. It does not lie within the scope of this debate to discuss the legal problems surrounding the sea. Nor, I fancy, does it lie within the competence of the members of the Interim Council properly to interpret international law as it relates to the sea and as it is developing in this legal field. For example, Professor D. P. O’Connell of the Department of Law at Adelaide University has emerged as one of those whose expertise in the law of the sea is fast gaining international and local recognition. When Professor O’Connell sess fit to comment recently that the whole fabric of the law relating to the sea could be thrown open to challenge over such a simple matter as prosecuting a fisherman for taking an undersized fish, then it behoves the Interim Council of the Marine Institute to consider the establishment of a legal bureau to advise the institute about its legal competence to undertake specified research and development. If Professor O’Connell is not available to lead such a bureau or, at the least, accept a brief to establish such a legal department, then the Council should take pains to find :t legal mind of comparable excellence to do so.
In conclusion may I again commend this legislation, lt promises a new era of understanding of our oceans and waterways, lt throws out a challenge for marine scientists, whether expatriate Australians or not, to come to Australia and share in a challenging new development in the next 2 decades which should equal anything we have experienced in Australia in the exciting decades that have just passed. It offers a chance for dramatic improvements in the quality of life, not only for Australians but for our less fortunate neighbours to the north, lt could mean that the future generations of Australians will see in the establishment of an Australian Marine Institute in Townsville one of the important political decisions of this decade, and it could well be that the Gorton Government will be remembered, among many other achievements, as having developed in the Australian nation a real and new awareness of the vital importance of our marine resources. I sincerely hope so.
– I come from as far west as one can go in Australia without actually treading water and about as far from Townsville and the setting of this Marine Institute as it is possible to get within Australia. But I am sure this legislation will be welcomed by all Australians. I do not agree with the honourable member for Cook (Mr Dobie) that it is a very timely action. Senator Felix Dittmer has been advocating this for at least a decade. I would hesitate to say that it was his advocacy which produced this, just as 1 would hesitate to say it was the advocacy of the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett) which produced it. 1 think there were 2 great threats to the Great Barrier Reef which helped to speed the decision. One was the crown of thorns starfish and the other the activities on the reef permitted by Mr Bjelke-Petersen, the Premier of Queensland.
The honourable member for Cook said that the Prime Minister has estimated that the cost of the Institute will be $3m. If that is the estimate I think we must all be prepared to spend $9m. In the 25 years I have been associated with the construction of one body that was created by the Commonwealth Government, the Australian National University, I have never found the estimates for the buildings to be much more than one-third of the ultimate cost. If the Institute does cost us $9m it may still be a thoroughly justified expenditure. The legislation creates an Australian Institute of Marine Science in principle. The Bill sets up an interim council to define the scope of the Institute. We have not farmed the sea scientifically. On the west coast of this continent, we know, a 38-foot rise and fall of tide could in gulfs become a great source of hydro-electric power. Apparently we are engaged in destroying or watching the destruction of an ocean wonderland - the Great Barrier Reef.
From time immemorial man has been fascinated by the sea, and that in itself would justify an institute of marine science. But the sea is becoming more and more important as a source of food, as a source of climatic knowledge, as a source of fertiliser and, of course, as a tourist attraction. It may also be a source of medical knowledge, since the immunity of certain fish to deadly poisons and to pain may have a significance for mankind. More and more we are coming to appreciate that the preservation of our environment is a factor in public health and mental hygiene, and in the Indian, Southern and. Pacific Oceans, and in the Arafura Sea, Australia has a truly magnificent environment. The Australian Great Barrier Reef, intelligently preserved, will be an immense scientific and economic asset. The Great Barrier Reef is 1,250 miles in length and occupies some 80,000 square miles. It is incomparable. It contains 340 known species of coral.
Australia is already a byword for the destruction of land species’ of unique creatures. lt is to be hoped that, clawing and clutching for money, we do not become also a byword for the destruction of a great natural wonder and that we can preserve fish and crustaceans inhabiting our coastline. The establishment of this Institute at Townsville, or in its vicinity, may be wise. It may provide the scientific information which will produce a change in the outlook of the State Government of Queensland which is not conspicuously enlightened on subjects of conservation; or, at any rate, its Premier goes to some pains to give the impression that he is not. One fears that oil gushes and accidental leakages could destroy sections of the Barrier Reef.
The Opposition welcomes the Bill. We hope that the Australian Institute of Marine Science will become a centre for oceanographic, marine biology, marine ecology, tidal current and climatic studies second to none in the world. If the scope of the activities of the Institute is wide we must be prepared to make adequate allocations of finance for its activities. Doubtless it will add to world knowledge of the movement of fish, of whales, of plankton - the source of food of sea creatures - and of oceanography. The Institute should recruit from overseas. The objective of the Institute is scientific knowledge, not nationalism. The Institute also is in proximity to Papua and New Guinea, and the fisheries of Papua and New Guinea should benefit from its activities.
The members of the Interim Council should be empowered to see marine research wherever it is highly advanced, to bring back constructive ideas and to ensure that this Institute stands on the shoulders of the existing body of scientific knowledge. It is to be hoped that the Institute will advertise all over the world, at least the English speaking world, for research scientists. It is also to be hoped that there will be no hesitation in having vessels needed for research built and designed. The Institute will need not only laboratories but also floating laboratories. It is vital that the growth of the Institute to full effectiveness will be at least as fast as the growth of some of the fast growing universities.
To buttress this Institute we should be prepared also to extend the study of marine biology, marine ecology and oceanography in the Australian universities. The importance of equipment was demonstrated in the discovery by Americans, very speedily, of the guns of HMS ‘Endeavour’ which had not been discovered by unequipped Australians over generations. It was a triumph of technology. Although the objects discovered were simply of historic interest, the episode pointed clearly to the significance of equipment. Australian education and research for generations have expected to be ill-equipped. The Institute of Marine Science has a work of such significance that its equipment must be first class. The Bill, I am sure, has the unanimous support of the House.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, there is a great deal more in this Bill than might meet the passing eye. I think that the speakers who have gone before me have already indicated that to be the case. The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) for example spoke of the vast resources of the world’s oceans - and, I think, very rightly so. He spoke of the protein resources that remain to be tapped. This is and has been a matter of some interest to the world’s scientists for quite a long time. The honourable member did not bring his remarks back to the basic requirements although doubtless that was implicit; this is one of the greatest possible solutions to the current population problem of the world in terms of feeding it, not stopping its growth. In particular is this so when so much of the population of the world is protein dependent, relying particularly on the kind of protein that comes from the pelagic or similar resources - in other words, fish and matters of that kind.
We can take the matter even further than that in terms of possibilities of the marine environment. Already some leading architects of the world have postulated and have been planning a proposition for floating cities in some of the calmer waters of the globe and, as you doubltless know, Mr
Deputy Speaker, the waters of the world cover about 70% of our global surface. We have here an immense area as yet untapped in the sense that land surface currently is tapped, and in some cases overlapped. 1 do not wish to reiterate, any more than 1 can help, arguments, points and aspects of this matter which have been put before. But I wish to commend again the Minister for Education and Science (Mr N. H. Bowen), the Government at large and those individual honourable members on either side of the House who have been responsible for having this come forward by or at this time. I was quite taken by the mentioning of the honourable member for Cook (Mr Dobie) of the degree and extent of research in the marine area which already goes on in Australia, despite the fact that for most of the last 20 years I have been either student or teacher in Australian universities. However, most of this work to the best of my knowledge goes on under the heads of particular disciplines such as zoology, geomorphology and so on. Very few of the concentrated efforts of marine research are conducted under a specific head or in a specific institution brought together under one specific heading in terms of marine scientific research. So I think that the proposition that we have this Australian institute of Marine Science is entirely admirable.
I draw attention for a few minutes to something of the sort of development that has gone on in this field elsewhere. I think that it would be generally held that, in the field of marine science, the United States of America is well ahead of the world, ns well it might be because of its immense resources in financial terms and in scientific knowhow generally. Nevertheless, that does not necessarily follow. To illustrate my point I wish to use one or two quotations from the 1969 report of the United States Commission on Marine Science, Engineering and Resources. The Commission says, for instance:
The Commission finds that the United States position of world leadership in marine science depends mainly on the work of a small number of major oceanographic institutions. These few, large, well-staffed, and relatively well-financed centres of oceanographic research have had profound influence on scientists and programmes at other institutions and have established criteria of excellence for the efforts of others. Such institutions as Scripps Institution of Oceanography,
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Lamont Geological Observatory represent a major national investment around which the nation’s marine science programme must be built.
Now, in substantiation of this belief in this matter but at the same time indicating just how this has been given practical effect in the United States in recent times 1 with to take a very few figures indeed from the same report. In 1960-61 there were 77 graduates and 262 enrollees in the field of ocean science. There are other subcategories or related categories in this whole field of marine science such as basic science, technology, engineering, marine food science and so on which have comparable although rather fewer numbers. By 1967-58 the graduates in this field of ocean science numbered 474 and the enrollees 2,647. So in the short space of 6 or 7 years numbers had increased many fold. I think this indicates the respect with which this field of scientific endeavour is held in the United States.
I would like to indicate from the same report just what are the propositions for expansion in this field in the United States. 1 will take just a few examples so as not unduly to take this report apart, because it is available in the Parliamentary Library for those who seek it. It states:
The Commission recommends that federal marine science laboratories be strengthened by adequate funding and staffing. Selected, consolidation of marginal laboratories is one way of ‘achieving this purpose; however it should be remembered that effectiveness is not necessarily a function of size.
I would underline that point verbally be cause that may well go for some of the universities in this country and for other institutions concerned with education of one sort or another. A further recommendation states:
The Commission recommends that the United States establish as a goal the achievement of :he capability to explore the ocean depths to 20,000 feet within a decade and to utilise ocean depths to 20,000 feet by the year 2000.
That is a very big aim, and it indicates the sort of thing we might have in mind, if not that actual aim, when we found an institution such as the one under discussion. 1 mention only one other recommendation. The report states:
The Commission recommends that the United Science Foundation expand its support for undergraduate and graduate education in the basic marine-related scientific disciplines and plan post doctoral and mid-career marine orientation programmes in consultation with the academic and industrial marine communities.
That, in a very small nutshell, is the sort of position we find in this developing field in the United States. I have already referred by name to 2 or 3 of the institutions in the United States. Although this report suggests that size is not necessarily a prerequisite to excellence, nevertheless some of the leading ones there are of substantial size and of a size which we could not hope to achieve in quite a long time.
However may I very briefly outline the resources available in 1 or 2 of the leading institutions which we may care to take as models for the ultimate development of the institution which is proposed here. For instance, the essential aspects of the structure of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at La Jolla, California, are as follows: It is an integral unit of the University of California at San Diego, supported by a parent institution, the United States Government, industry, special funds and income from endowments. Its staff consists of 110 research and supporting professionals, 385 technicians and 189 others. They then elaborate some 20 or more principal fields of research, which include, amongst others, marine environment, submarine geology, studies on the interaction of biological and geological problems, submarine organisms and so oh through the biological and physical fields of marine research. The institute maintains an offshore area for installation of special underwater scientific equipment. It has a 355-foot ocean-going craft of unique design and so on.
If we turn to the Woods Hole oceanographic institution in Massachusetts we find the same sorts of things. It is an independent, non-profit research organisation with its own board of control, supported by the United States Government, foundations and private gifts. It is staffed by 52 research professionals, 79 supporting professionals, 122 technicians and 184 others. The volume of research, measured this time in dollars - although that is only one measure of research - in 1961 was $4m; in 1963 it was $6,500,000, and so it goes up the scale. Again the principal fields of research are similar to, although not identical with, those of the other institute that I mentioned. These are perhaps the kinds of organisations and structures which may be borne in mind as ultimate possibilities for our marine institute that is now proposed.
However it is quite clear that they depend on vast resources and that they support very large numbers of staff, not by some other standards, but for an intensive research institute. This sort of thing is well ahead of us and by no means near. What we are saying in effect is that the usual sort of American setup for major institutes of marine science is that they are, firstly, attached to universities and that, secondly, they have private endowments which are of a substantial kind and the equivalent of which is not likely to be found here in the foreseeable future. They have professors who are basically paid by the universities, for example, the University of California in the case of Scripps, and so on.
I have not yet touched on the question of the varying types of students of marine environment who may be involved in these institutions. As I recall, most of the comments of the honourable members for Dawson, Cook and Fremantle (Mr Beazley), have touched on the research area. Certainly that would seem to be the appropriate thing to talk about in relation to such an institute. lt need not however necessarily confine itself to post-graduate, doctoral or similar research. In due course, particularly in view of the terms of reference of the Bill, which are quite wide - and I think agreeably so - it may be possible to consider an institute such as this having undergraduates attached to it or serving in it as well as dealing exclusively with the post-graduate field. But for the moment we have many problems awaiting us. We have a vast and interesting coastline to be looked at and the sort of things which have already been outlined awaiting the research of people who might be attached to such an institute.
I would like to suggest a possible alternative for the time being - there may be others - to the sort of thing which we find in the institutes in the United States to which I have just drawn attention. I do so not entirely out of my own knowledge but as a result of discussion with some former colleagues who have a greater knowledge than I in this field. I would suggest that the first and foremost essential - I hope the Minister for Education and Science, who is sitting at the table, will hear me on this - is to have a good director for such an institute. If we have almost nothing else we need to have a good director of outstanding qualifications so that scientists around the world, thinking in terms of coming to the Institute for a short or long time, will know what they are about. His name will do a great deal for the institution. It may not be easy to find such a man, but it should not be impossible.
After that we obviously need some plant, technicians and equipment. It is clear from the figures I have quoted for Woods Hole and Scripps that the technicians will by far outnumber the researchers. This will be the case for most institutions of this kind. So we have to contemplate a fairly fundamental amount of support equipment and staff before we can do as much research here as anywhere else. But with a relatively modest background or underpinning such as this, I suggest that we can contemplate this Institute in its first stages of development as being one with a good director and operating on the basis of offering postdoctoral fellowships. In other words, it would not necessarily have to pay considerable salaries to leading scientists in small or large numbers. It could offer substantial salaries but nevertheless less in terms of total cost than the kind of salaries I have mentioned. It could offer post-doctoral fellowships to people around the world to work with the local equipment, with the assistance of local institute technicians. If that sort of proposition is put into effect I suggest there will be no difficulty whatsoever in attracting first rate people. With a reasonable amount of flexibility of operation, which again would be desirable, this will very quickly assume the proportions of an institute approaching world standing. This has been the hope expressed by other honourable members who have spoken on this Bill.
Referring to large or small institutions, I have already heard privately and not from any official source, suggestions of empire building. Some honourable members have expressed certain reservations on the aspects of empire building in such an institution as this. It would perhaps be wrong of me to suggest that those fears are absolutely groundless. It is human nature, as far as I have observed it, to empire build, and, again as far as I have observed it, the academic stream of mankind is not exactly exempt from that inclination. Nevertheless, I would say to those sceptics who are inclined to believe people who ply a few glass bottomed boats from here to there on the Barrier Reef rather than some piece of unbiased, properly and statistically supervised scientific research about the problems of the crown of thorns starfish or any such related scientific problem, that they need have very few fears of this kind. Their fears certainly need be no more than normally would be held of any other educational institution. In fact, nowhere can you find a more disinterested - I say this in a particularly personal sense - breed of people than the scientists who have only their salaries to gain and no commercial interest of the kind that normally attaches to empire building in other spheres. So I would regard that as no sort of fear sufficient in any way to inhibit the fairly rapid development of this Institute.
I have very little more to say. I indicated earlier a number of important matters that have already been touched upon by honourable members who have spoken previously. But I would like to underline the requirement of such an institution to have the capacity, and certainly to have a charter, that would enable it to investigate all manner of important problems within its financial limitations - not only biological problems which tend to be rather accented in the popular Press but also the physical ones. In this I include the oceanographic aspects such as the development of the coastline. Incidentally, the honourable member for Cook made some reference to the failure of people to solve the problem of disappearing beaches and the like. I could in fact suggest to him that only recently a very near colleague of mine had to go to quite some lengths to solve a lot of the problems of the kind he fears. These are usually beyond the capacity of the local councils to solve.
So we have an almost limitless field of scientific endeavour which can attach to an institute such as this in a country such as this. The honourable member for Dawson and perhaps one or two of the other honourable members expressed the fervent hope that the people who came to work in this Institute, from wherever they came, would stay and work in the area and to some extent would be rooted in its problems. That is a very nice hope and aim, but 1 would hope also that it does not develop into an excessive strain of parochialism. The honourable member for Fremantle suggested that this should be an institute which looked for scientific knowledge and did not follow the trends of nationalism. May 1 adapt what he had to say and suggest that what this Institute should set out to do is endeavour to find national scientific knowledge and not parochialism. While 1 readily agree that the tropical environment could be very well investigated - it would probably be hard to find a better site to do this than Townsville - I think we should by no means consider the Barrier Reef, the Queensland coast and that general area as the only source of operations for people who will be attached to this Australian Institute of Marine Science.
As has already been suggested, in terms of the wealth of some of the American institutes, there is one other field which the Institute could develop in this area. For example, both the Scripps and Woods Hole oceanographic institutions take about 2,000 journals in their libraries. That may be some small indication of the degree, the complexity and the diversity of scientific endeavour in this field, a field which has barely been brought to the notice of the general public at this stage. Even when it is given attention it is usually in fairly specific fields such as exploration for oil or pollution by the sinking or the holing of an oil tanker. There are vast and untapped fields here which are coming very much into the public purview but which have long since been under the notice of scientists. Of course, the basic difficulties in coming to grips with a submarine environment, or even a surface marine environment, compared with the ability to move about on land, has inhibited development in this field relative to development on land up to the present time.
So while trying to avoid a parochialism which I suggested should be avoided but nevertheless indulging a healthy local interest in these matters, I suggest that as this field of research develops we may well increasingly consider that, figuratively speaking, the oyster for such development is the Australian coastline, and as time goes on the claims of sites other than Queensland - 1 would certainly include Tasmania with its unique coastline - will be considered for investigation. For the time being one must agree that the choice has been well made and, with the new, emerging and autonomous ‘James Cook’ University at Townsville, it is fairly obvious that there are associations and other facilities capable of being used in the development of this Australian Institute of Marine Science. Finally, 1 commend the Minister and I commend all those honourable members who have before my time here sponsored this move. I hope that the matters which 1 have drawn to the attention of those listening might be noted, together with the other myriad facets of this matter to which attention has been drawn by other honourable members. As I said at the outset, there is a great deal more in this proposition than meets the eye when we look at 2 or 3 pages of a Bill to establish a marine science institute for Australia.
Debate (on motion by Mr Cross) adjourned.
Political Parties - Vietnam - Fire in Whyalla Shipyard - Naturalisation and Citizenship
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:
Thai the House do now adjourn.
– I want to refer tonight to the difficulties confronting Tasmania because of deficiencies in Federal Government shipping policy. The first problem area derives from delay in integrating Tasmania into the overseas container shipping service. This entails that the cost of feeder services from Tasmania to the Melbourne container port be absorbed either by the shipper or by some form of Government subsidy. The second problem area results from the inadequacies of existing services between Tasmania and the mainland and Tasmania and overseas ports, particularly in Japan. The crisis facing Tasmania goes beyond defective services and uncompetitive freight rates; in the broader sense it strikes directly at the policies of decentralisation which have been vaunted by the Federal Government. Because of
Tasmania’s exclusive reliance on sea transport for its place, in national and international trade, this is just as much an issue of national policy as the .provision of beef roads in Queensland and the building of the standard gauge railway. There is no lack of evidence to support the belief that Tasmania is facing an era of economic stagnation if solutions are not found quickly to these pressing problems.
The threat of stagnation is already menacing the industrial development which has been carefully nurtured over the past 20 years, lt is also undermining the expansion that mineral developments in recent years have brought to the island.
The disadvantages facing Tasmania in the container era were emphasised in the report of the Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes. The Committee recommended that Tasmania be given special treatment for the disabilities it would certainly suffer in export trade. On 23rd February 1967 the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) told this House that it was the intention of those operating container ships to provide feeder services from outports to the three main container ports of Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle.
On 13 th May last year, in answer to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), the Minister said it was still the intention of the shippers to provide feeder services from outports and absorb the cost in freight rates. He said that with freight from Hobart to Melbourne it had been found that the price quoted for shipping containers would make the through freight to London quite uneconomic. This was a matter that would have to be negotiated and the Minister expressed confidence that it could be resolved. The Minister concluded by saying that if there appeared to be any unjustified delay in introducing the feeder container service he would take immediate action. It is a year since the Minister made this promise but the Government seems to be no nearer to stating a clear policy on providing container facilities in Tasmania, or in securing equalised freight rates. On 17th March I raised this issue with the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair). The Minister stressed that this was primarily a question for negotiation between shipper bodies and Conference members. However, he said that the Commonwealth recognised that this was a serious matter and should be settled as soon as possible. The Minister said he expected the negotiations to be resolved at the meeting between Australian shippers and overseas shipowners scheduled for the end of April. I understand that these talks began on Tuesday. This should make it possible for the Minister for Shipping and Transport to make a statement when the House resumes.
In the light of the assurances of the Minister for Trade and Industry it is not good enough for the Minister for Shipping and Transport to throw the whole weight of the success of negotiations on to shippers and shipowners. It is the clear duty of the Commonwealth to set a more active example in getting a just and rational formula for equalising freight rates. According to the Tasmanian President of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia, Mr Cuthbertson, Adelaide shippers who send their cargo to Melbourne for overseas container shipping pay the same cargo rate as Melbourne shippers. The same applies to Brisbane shippers who send cargo to the container port at Sydney. Yet as between Hobart and Melbourne, which are not as far apart as are Adelaide and Melbourne or Brisbane and Sydney, the container companies will not absorb the cost. On the face of things this seems to be an incredible perversion of basic economic logic.
Doubts about the Commonwealth’s sincerity in assuring an integrated container service have been reinforced by a meeting of the Export Development Council in Hobart last December. At this meeting, the head of the Department of Trade and Industry, Sir Alan Westerman, said that it could be too costly to integrate Tasmania fully into the container service. He suggested, as an alternative, the use of special ships similar to the great Scandinavian vessels now being used overseas. According to Sir Alan, these ships could call at Tasmanian and mainland ports collecting goods for direct transport to Europe. What this sort of thinking implies is a second string shipping service outside the container shipping network. A service of this sort may be useful for subsidiary ports and less important exports of the mainland. But it is vital for Tasmania that it be incorporated into the container system with equalisation of freight rates. The Government has made this promise and it must be honoured.
Beyond the container issue, poor shipping services are seriously impairing the effectiveness of the Tasmanian economic structure. The Tasmanian Premier approached the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) in December last year seeking some remedy for these grave problems. He seems to have got little if anything from these negotiations. Inadequate shipping has dealt a heavy blow to wool and fruit exports from Tasmania. Overseas merchants are reluctant to buy Tasmanian fruit because they know that delivery cannot be assured, and delays in shipping make purchases from Tasmania uneconomic. Delays in wool shipments mean that brokers have to extend the period of repayment, which increases the interest bill and forces the growers to wait longer for their returns. It has been estimated that shipping delays will add $20,000 this year to the interest bill of Tasmanian wool growers. The pattern has been established of Tasmanian exporters accepting discounted returns for their commodities. Inadequate shipping services and the high freight framework also have had an unfortunate impact on the domestic price structure. The prices of consumer items are often substantially higher than for comparable items in other States.
The most unfortunate effect of the shipping crisis is the loss of key industries to other States. This crisis is blotting out the work which has been done over many years by way of incentive schemes to develop industries. The disabilities of the shipping services have been felt with particular severity by companies exporting to the eastern market, particularly to Japan. Irregular and widely spaced sailings have put shippers who are based in Tasmania in an extremely uncompetitive position. The availability of shipping to Tasmanian shippers averages out at 1 shipment every IS days. Quite often the gap between shipments is as long as 1 month. Shipments in South Australia and Victoria average 1 a week. Already Cadbury Fry Pascall Australia Ltd, which is a traditional part of trade and tourism in Tasmania, has had to close down a large portion of its Hobart operations and move to Melbourne.
The present situation which applies in Tasmania as a result of what can only be described as an inadequate shipping service is a matter which has been raised by honourable members in this Parliament, particularly honourable members on this side of the House. The Minister for Shipping and Transport will recall that it is also a matter which has been dealt with extensively by those people who have the responsibility of maintaining a regular flow of exports from Tasmania using the shipping services which are available to them. Representations have been made to the Commonwealth Government by the present Tasmanian Government and the Labor Government which preceded it. The shipping services provided to Tasmania have deteriorated rapidly in recent years. The stage has now been reached were a shipping crisis has developed in Tasmania. Therefore, I have taken the opportunity tonight of raising this matter. J believe that the responsibility for the present situation must be accepted, as I have already pointed out, not only by the ship owners and the exporters in Tasmania but also by the Commonwealth Government, because it has a clear responsibility to solve some of the shipping problems which are now facing the State. Tasmania is completely dependent upon shipping, lt is the only State in the Commonwealth of Australia which depends almost entirely upon shipping to ensure that the goods which it produces are available for sale in the mainland States as well as overseas. I hope that the Minister will take the opportunity of dealing with this matter.
Mir SPEAKER - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Mr KING (Wimmera) U 1.9]- Rarely do I rise on the motion for the adjournment of the House, but I believe that a member of this chamber has two very great responsibilities. The first is to watch over the interests of his constituents and make representations to the Government and the Parliament on their behalf. The second is to report the activities of the Parliament and the Government to his constituents. I do not wish to make any apologies or offer any excuses this evening for again raising the question of the present situation in the wheat industry. I only regret that the honourable member for the Riverina (Mr Grassby) and the honourable member for
Dawson (Dr Patterson) are not present in the chamber. However, they may turn up before I conclude. Over the last 12 or 15 months there has been a great deal of comment in relation to primary industries, and particularly to the wheat industry. It is not surprising that the problems within most primary industries today are created by world surpluses. Unfortunately the Opposition is making a great play of the misfortunes of the people in primary industries. It seems to be using every opportunity it can get either to pull down the Government or to pull down the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) and those supporters of the Government who represent rural interests. Even the honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison) recently tried to make great play of the question of our gift of wheat abroad and 1 quote from the Melbourne ‘Sun’ of 26th February the heading, Gift of wheat called a trick’. I have not sufficient time to go on and explain to the honourable member for St George just how far out he is in some of his comments.
The real reason for my rising is to answer some of the statements made by the honourable member for Riverina and I am glad that he has now returned to the chamber. I want to quote very briefly some of the comments that he made in this chamber last night. I have not time to quote the whole of his speech. He said.
I think the scheme is iniquitous, ill-conceived and hasty and is operating against the best interests of all concerned.
He went on to say:
The argument as to who is responsible for the introduction of wheat rationing in the middle of the season . . .
And I repeat the words ‘middle of the season’ -
In other words, the Commonwealth or the Minister directed the wheat industry. The honourable member went on to say:
The implementation In detail was left to the colleagues of members of this Government who are in government in the States.
Let us be quite clear that the decision began here. It was conceived here and was implemented here.
He went on to say that he predicted that the sales of wheat outside the Australian Wheat Board would be higher than those inside it. His final comment was:
What is happening at present is a tragedy. It is based on policies which were hasty, ill-conceived and even badly implemented.
They are statements which were made last night by the honourable member for Riverina. The honourable member should be reminded of a few things when he is talking about the reasons for over production. I want to remind him that it is the doings or activities not inside Australia but rather outside which are responsible. I would also remind him that over the last 5 years production and surpluses of wheat have increased tremendously. World production in the last 5 years has increased by some 20% . The carry over has increased by 30% and world trading has declined by 9%. That dispels any suggestion that there is ample scope for an open go in relation to wheat production. He mentioned that the decision was made in the middle of the season. He is well aware, or he should be as the representative of the seat of Riverina, that the bulk of the crop is sown in about May, June or July, depending on the part of Australia in which it is. I also remind him that the decision was taken by the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation in Perth on 11th, 12th and 13th March 1969, which is hardly the middle of the season. I want to quote very briefly some of the resolutions that were carried at that meeting. The resolutions are:
That is hardly a decision by this Government. It went on:
Ft is the unanimous desire of affiliated members of the Federation that the quota proposals be introduced for the coming harvest 1969-70.
Now, I have mentioned these figures. This information was relayed to the Minister for Primary Industry who happened to be at a meeting in Hobart of the Australian Agricultural Council. Naturally enough this matter was discussed there. I want to, just briefly, quote again from a statement by a Mr Price who was senior vice-president of the Australian Wheatgrowers’ Federation at the time. He is now the president of the Federation. He said:
I would strongly refute that there has been any political pressure exerted on the Australian Wheat Growers Federation, either before the implementation of quotas or since their introduction. My organisation accepts full responsibility in originally assessing the need for wheat quotas;
I hope these honourable members are listening - and it was at our request-
Meaning the Federation’s request - that the Federal and State governments recognised the correctness of our attitude in endeavouring to come to grips with the current situation involving a surplus to sales potential of at least 250 million bushels of wheat. Should any politician or political party endeavour to make adverse capital out of the introduction of wheat quotas, they will be responsible for the greatest disservice ever to the wheat industry of Australia.
That was said by the senior vice-president of the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation and the President at that time, who happened to be Mr McDougall, said in the Financial Review’ on 6th May 1969:
On 13th March, the Australian Wheat Growers Federation decided to restrict the production of wheat in Australia.
I want honourable members to note this. He went on to say:
The initiative was taken without prompting by the Commonwealth or State governments. It was the result of a sense of responsibility and concern that leaders of the industry have felt for some time.
– Methinks he doth protest too much.
-I think the honourable member for Barton interjects too much.
– 1 suggest to the honourable member that it is Opposition supporters who are doing all the protesting. Does the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) still think that direction came from this place? If he does then I say that 1 have a duty to the public to expose the honourable member for Riverina, and others who have supported him, for what they really are. I leave it to the House to decide what I mean by that. Finally, dealing with the last part of his statement made last night, that part in which he said that the quantity of wheat that will be sold outside the Australian Wheat Board is greater than that inside, I would remind the honourable member that since 1948 - that is going back a few yean - the largest quantity of wheat ever consumed in Australia was 70 million bushels, 45 million bushels of which was used in the production of flour. The remainder, 25 million bushels, was used for stock feed and other purposes. The largest amount of stock feed ever consumed in Australia - 28.7 million bushels - in any one year was in 1964 during one of the bad droughts we had. Now, the Australian Wheat Board has had an assurance from the flour mills of Australia that they will purchase all their wheat through the normal channels as far as flour production is concerned. So the real question now is: What are these so-called interstate traders going to do with this amount of 50 million bushels of wheat that has been cited? It is absolutely ridiculous to think that there could be that amount of wheat. 1 would like to know where this wheat would be stored even if it were possible to purchase it. If we created a record in the amount of wheat used for stock feed it would be in the vicinity of only some 30 million bushels.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– As I follow the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King) it is interesting to note that our friends on the other side, the Country Party, appear to have got permission from their colleagues in the Liberal Party, who are now quiet on their antiCommunist bogy, to devote their evening to attacking the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby), a man who has won the hearts and minds of the Australian rural sector. They, in their death throes, are attempting to sabotage the excellent job he is doing, but I do not think they are going to have much success. We mauled them last night but they are coming back for another try. I want to speak about something that grieves me and other honourable members here very greatly. I picked up the ‘Australian’ this morning and saw an article headed ‘Liberals says party fails to inspire youth’. It grieves honourable members on this side of the House to see the passing of this once great party. I want to quote the article which appeared in the Australian’. The article states:
The Liberal Party was not inspiring young people in Australia, Mr R. Winnel, a 22-year-old party branch president said yesterday. ‘People like Jess-
I do not wish to be disrespectful, Sir. I am just quoting from the paper - can rave on about the red bogey, but young people won’t swallow it’, said Mr Winnel.
As a matter of interest I decided to get some of the speeches of the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) and read them. They are very interesting.
– They would have made you tired.
– Yes, I was tired after reading them. There is not much in them.
Of the 11 speeches the honourable member for La Trobe has made so far he has devoted 10 to attacking the Communist influence in the Australian Labor Party. He has attacked Mr Burchett twice. He then must have had some sort of mental aberration because he got on to airport noise. He then spoke about Mr Burchett again. Then he was on Labor’s membership of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Communist smear. He then spoke about law and order and I might say that when he was talking about the Labor Party being unparliamentary he referred to the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) and the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) as looking like apes. This was said by the man who was telling us how to behave in Parliament. Then he got the prize from one of the local papers for the most tasteless speech in years in which he attacked the honourable member for Lalor. If the honourable members care to read this one on 10th April they will know what I mean. The honourable member for La Trobe then spoke on the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign and the days and hours of meeting in which he referred to everyone as a pack of Corns.
Young members on this side of the House expected to hear some contribution from honourable members on the other side. Apart from their front bench, all we have heard has been ravings and rantings and practically no contribution has been made to the problems that face the people of Australia. The honourable member for La
Trobe is a classic example of this. Let me continue with the article because it is well worth reading. It is a classic. The article states:
Mr Winnel is president of the Liberal Party branch at Kingsgrove, a Sydney suburb, and president of the Earlwood Young Liberals.
– That is in St George.
– Mr Winnel has an impeccable background - in the St George electorate. The article continues:
Mr Winnel has attacked the Liberal leadership in the latest issue of The Australian Liberal, the official organ of the New South Wales division of the Party.
He said in this article:
Some months have passed since the tiresome ramblings at State Council about the Federal election. Yet even after such recent events as the wrangle between the Premiers and Mr Gorton, there still seems to be an air of uncertainty about the direction in which the Liberal Party is heading. “The question of leadership in the Federal Party has been properly resolved, for the present at least.
Nevertheless, there is still a burning question in my mind as to what leadership the Liberal Party as an entity itself is providing.
Since Menzies time, Australian politics seem to have lacked authentic leadership, in that it lacks both inspiration and dignity.
In the last election swinging voters were prepared to vole against a government which seemed apathetic to their own particular problem. Voters were becoming more discerning not only about candidates, but also about policies.
Now, listen to this -
The Liberal Party can afford ‘neither the extravagance of members with no new ideas or enthusiasm, nor the rashness of members more interested in writing Se autobiographies than in pursuing the interests of the people and the Party they represent.
It gets better -
We don’t have enough divergence of opinion. By the time somebody gets into a position of power he is likely to favour the status quo. Recently young Liberals put up 10 ideas - and only one got as far as State Council, and that was watered down. It was all right for the Liberal Party to rely on the red peril in the time of Stalin, but people who have grown up in the 60s are too wise to swallow it,’ Mr Winnel said.
He said it was absurd to suggest that the Vietnam moratorium was a gigantic communist plot. Young Liberals won’t accept the idea that there is a communist under every cabbage’, he said.
He is a very wise young man, Mr Speaker. There should be more of them. The article continued:
Instead of relying on the red bogey, the Party would be better off producing candidates with enthusiasm, idealism and dignity and with a sensitivity towards people’s needs as well as an awareness of social, economic and political forces.
– He ought to join the Labor Party.
– I think he probably will. Quite a lot of them are coming over. A former President of the Young Liberals is now a member of the branch to which I used to belong. The article continues:
There is no moral fibre in many of the expressions of our Government’, Mr Winnel said. They lack a certain purpose as far as the young are concerned. They conscript young people for war but they are not pushing people into a peace corps.’
I suggest that the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay), the honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), the honourable member for La Trobe and the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) would do well to get that article, read it, absorb it and lake notice of what it states.
– And then retire.
– Yes, and then retire. The Liberal Party was a great party in the time of Sir Robert Menzies. As to the Country Party, one has only to pick up a newspaper and read what the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) has had to say. He is reported to have said at Warrnambool the other day that the farmers should not cut the supply main which has fed them. He went on:
You will get nowhere toy shooting down your front line troops from behind.
This is beautiful stuff. I wish everybody in the cities would read the article from which I am quoting, which appeared in the ‘Sunday Observer’ of 19th April. It states:
With the contempt of a self-made man for those who had it easier, Mr McEwen told them what he had given them in the past 20 years: ‘I got a thousand million out of the Commonwealth Treasury into your pockets.’
He boasted about it. in today’s issue of the Bulletin’, a half brother to the paper you can trust, a wonderful photo appeared of the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) dressed as Captain Cook in a saluting pose. He looks like a potential leader of the Liberal Party. The article, written by Peter Samuel, states:
The last few weeks have seen almost continuous bitter argument in the parliamentary Liberal Party over Mr Gorton’s altitudes toward policy. His capacity for making enemies in what is supposed to be his base of support is being demonstrated as vividly as ever. The Liberal Party, before Gorton, hardly met for more than an hour each parliamentary week and hardly got beyond discussing procedural issues. Any substantive discussions on policy were a rarity. Now the party is meeting repeatedly, for as many as eight hours per parliamentary week. There is little give and take at these meetings. It is angry polemics and cool efforts at political assassination.
This is lovely stuff. The article continues:
Walkouts are common. The Liberal Party room has become a battleground of the most serious kind. Last week, for example, some of the most talented Liberals were devoting almost all their political energies to anti-Gorton projects. They were against him on the health scheme, against him on the Industrial Development Corporation, against him for excessive gagging on debates in the House and against him for his treatment of mc States in the offshore minerals legislation . . . Former Minister David Fairbairn is the most formidable rebel and carries probably most authority.
Later in the article the writer in referring to rebels mentions the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns), that great democrat the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Jeff Bate), the honourable member for Casey (Mr Howson) and the honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin).
– And the honourable member for La Trobe, and ‘Trobe’ has a capital ‘t
– That is right, you are all in it. The article goes on:
All these mcn would deny they arc rebels. They would claim, with some justification, that they represent the traditions of the Liberal Parly and that it is Mr Gorton who is the rebel. ‘The root cause of the trouble is that Mr Gorton is at heart a socialist. He is breaking every single principle that the Liberal Party stands for.’ lt grieves us on this side of the House to see this once great Party disintegrate.
– It was not my intention to speak this evening in the adjournment debate. However, I would suggest to the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) that whilst it is probable that few courtesies are left in this House it is the usual practice to give notice to an honourable member when you intend to attack him or speak about him. I appreciate that the honourable member is newly arrived and 1 am sure that it was not intentional that the usual courtesies were not extended by him tonight. I do concern myself with these things. I think it is a good thing that such practices are followed because 1 believe that the adjournment debate is important, lt gives us the right to raise any matter we wish to raise, lt has worked well because honourable members on both sides have always observed the accepted procedures.
The matters raised by the honourable member for Robertson were amusing. I thought that it was one of the best speeches he has made since he has been in this House. But the point is that he did not write it. I think he reads beautifully. Not only does he read beautifully, Mr Speaker, but I think he looks beautiful. When he rose to speak he looked sartorially elegant. Last week he made a statement about the boys in the band. Frankly I thought he looked first rate. 1 would point out to the honourable member that as far as I am concerned this gentleman in the electorate of the honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison) has a perfect right to his opinion. A member of the Liberal Party is entitled to make such a statement. All I can say is that if-
– What about-
-Order! The honourable member for Sturt will cease interjecting.
– If the honourable member for Robertson has been in the Labor Party for long he will be aware of what happened in Victoria last year. I think there were 100 or more members of the Party who disagreed with the executive or some member of the Party and they were all expelled overnight.
– That is a lie. That is a complete lie.
-Order! The honourable member for Scullin will withdraw that remark.
– Mr Speaker, I withdraw the remark that it is a lie and substitute the word ‘fib’.
-Order! The honourable member will not substitute a word and will not enter into debate.
– Mr Speaker, if I am incorrect about this statement, tomorrow night 1 will bring into the House the minutes of the Labor Party executive.
-Order! I suggest to honourable members that the House come to order. I also suggest that interjections, which are becoming rather numerous, cease right now. I suggest that the honourable member for Sturt restrain himself. He has had one warning from me tonight and several others during this session.
– I realise now, Mr Speaker, that because of a particular occasion tomorrow night there will not be an adjournment debate and the House is not sitting next week. But 1 assure the honourable member for Robertson that I am prepared to bring the document into the House during the first week that the Parliament resumes. I assure him that I have perused it and I am referring to one of the official paragraphs in this statement from the State executive. I think that there were 3 people, expelled in this instance, who decided to appeal to a court. I think the document made it fairly clear that the Labor Party allowed no right of appeal to any court of law. Such a step is not applicable to the Labor Party organisation. I will bring the minutes into the House for the benefit of the honourable member. Some honourable member interjects and suggests that there may be a kangaroo court. That may be so.
I also draw the attention of the honourable member for Robertson to the case of the former honourable member for Batman, a distinguished member of the Labor Parts’. I suggest to the honourable member for Robertson that this man had greater and longer membership than he has. I would think that he served the Labor Party more efficiently and effectively than the honourable member for Robertson has. The former honourable member for Batman was raised from humble beginnings. He joined and served the Labor Party but could not abide the unfortunate side issues which seem to be involved with Labor Party membership. This honourable gentleman of whom I speak decided on one occasion to join an organisation concerned with the defence of Australia. Such a step obviously is now taboo so far as the Labor Party is concerned. He was expelled immediately.
I do not suggest that thus young 22-year- old gentleman who was accorded almost a full page in the ‘Australian’ should be expelled because, as I say, he is entitled to his opinion. But it amazes me, in view of the events happening throughout the world and the problems facing Australia, that a great newspaper can devote a full page to an article on a 22-year-old gentleman’s opinion. It may be that this view is shared generally; I do not know. On the weekend before last I was in Queensland addressing the Young Liberals and I found that in Queensland they do not seem to share this opinion. In Victoria they do not seem to share this opinion. But this one young gentleman who has expressed this view has had his name in the newspaper. Good luck to him. I think he could be a potential member of the Australian Labor Pary. I think the Labor Party deserves him. He should get on well with the honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison) because I think he could be of a similar type. I suggest to honourable members that they hasten and lose no time in getting him as a member.
Honourable members opposite and this young gentleman may think that there is no concern in Australia about what is taking place. The Opposition and this gentleman have accused me of talking about Communism, anarchism, Bolshevism, or whatever it might be, but I suggest that they should not become lulled into too much of a sense of security and think that there are not a large number of people who are concerned about what is happening, what has happened and what will happen. There are people who realise that the time is coming closer when we in Australia may well have to stand on our own and when we may well be concerned about the internal morale of this country. Yesterday I read a book written by an Australian Army major whom I shall not quote verbatim but who ended by saying that ultimately we and the Americans may have got out of Vietnam, but there is no man, whatever his feeling, whether he approves or disapproves as an Australian or an American - I take this to myself as an Australian - who will not somewhere in his mind carry a moral issue as to whether he did the right or the wrong thing. Only time will prove this. I think also that the reaction of other nations close to us will be of great importance to the Australian people.
I do not intend to change my opinion about our being in Vietnam. I think we are right in respect of Vietnam and South East Asia, but I think also that without doubt we have lost the propaganda war.
We - the allies and the free world, as I call it - have been licked in the propaganda war. However, I could be wrong. As against that, the only satisfaction that may come is that 5 or 10 years later one may be proved to have been right. That will be little recompense. I only hope that if things do go wrong honourable gentlemen opposite can look themselves and their families in the face and say that they did make the right decision.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) referred to a speech that I made and said that I had spoken about ‘The Boys in the Band’. I have not mentioned that at any time.
– Once again we have been subjected to one of the Fascist-like ravings of half truths and inaccuracies that we have become accustomed to hearing from the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess). The matter that I wish to touch on in the limited time available to us in the debate on the adjournment motion is the major fire that took place in Whyalla on Saturday night when the ‘Amanda Miller’, a ship under construction, was apparently completely or almost completely destroyed. One of the things that concern me at this stage is that this Parliament has not received a report by way of a statement on this incident from the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) who I understand is going overseas tomorrow. I understand that an inquiry is under way at the present moment between the Australian Shipbuilding Board and Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd, an inquiry from which the owners of the ‘Amanda Miller’, R. W. Miller Holdings Co. Ltd, have been specifically excluded. I understand that the company has made inquiries and has requested that it be admitted to the inquiry and permitted to take part but has been definitely and positively excluded from it. According to Press reports and other information available to me, the company has already contributed between $3m and $4m towards the cost of the construction of this ship. Working on the basis of a 33% subsidy, one is entitled to believe that the Australian Shipbuilding Board’s contribution at this stage is about $2m, by way of progress payments. Therefore the Parliament is entitled to know just what is happening with $2m of our money which has been invested by way of subsidy in the ‘Amanda Miller’.
There are so many gaps in the accounts concerning this unfortunate accident that I think a public inquiry is required. This Government is developing a policy of completely excluding public inquiries. There was a private inquiry into the disastrous Port Hedland air crash on 31st December 1968. The Department of Civil Aviation carried out the inquiry, brought down certain findings and then refused to permit a public inquiry into it. This was another hole in corner job. The Minister for Shipping and Transport recently made a statement on the grounding of the ‘Oceanic Grandeur’ to the north of Australia. When 1 asked for a public inquiry into the matter he said: ‘Not at this stage. An inquiry is being conducted by the Department.’ These hole in comer methods are just not good enough. These matters should be subjected to public scrutiny so that all persons involved or interested could be in a position to take part in the inquiries.
As 1 said a moment ago, there are several aspects of this whole incident that need clearing up. First of all we have to bear in mind that the workmen finished work on this ship at 3 o’clock on the Saturday afternoon. In the vicinity of 10 p.m. the crew of a tug which was lying off the slipway noted that the ship was on fire. There are very strong rumours prevalent at the moment - in fact 1 have heard very strong reports - to the effect that the fire was noted at about 9 p.m. Six men had been working on the ship approximately 30 minutes to an hour before Stannard’s tug crew noted that the ship was on fire. Honourable members should bear in mind that when Stannard’s tug crew saw that the ship was on fire all of the outside of the forward section of the ship was ablaze. I mean that the staging around it was ablaze, not that the steel was burning. The Minister should give us some answers to these questions tonight. What time was the general manager of the Whyalla shipyard advised that the ‘Amanda Miller’ was ablaze? What time did Stannard’s crew note the fire? What time did the fire actually start? We want to know what time the security guards started to do battle with the fire? It must be realised that the reports to date say that the fire started in the keel blocks of the ship. As I know something about shipbuilding I want to bring to the attention of honourable members the fact that the keel blocks under a ship are large pieces of hardwood timber, anything from 12 to IS inches square and from 4 to 6 feet long. These blocks were ablaze.
Honourable members have had an opportunity, as I have, of seeing photographs of the fire showing the blocks ablaze. I ask: How would it be possible for a fire on a ship out in the open, as the ‘Amanda Miller’ was, not to be sighted by the watchmen on duty that night long before it was sighted? The Minister has seen the ship, as 1 have. I have not seen it since the fire, but both he and I saw it on the one occasion. How did the fire start? We must remember that the men finished work at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and it was not until 9 or 10 o’clock at night that the fire was noted. These are important things thai require some explanation. If the watchmen were carrying out their duties at hourly or 2-hourly intervals - I believe in this case they made 2-hourly inspections - why was the fire not noted long before it was? Is there a fire attendant working on these ships while they are under construction, as is the case in some of the shipyards throughout Australia? Was there a fire attendant constantly going around this ship to make sure that there was not a fire? Where you have men working with electric welding and where they have oxy-acetylene burning and where there are hot sparks flying everywhere there is an ever constant danger of a fire. What I want to know is: Was there a fire attendant on the ship while it was under construction, and did that fire attendant carry out a close inspection of the ship for at least 1 hour after the men ceased work? Furthermore, are watchmen’s duties so substantial - as we often find they are in these places - that they have time only to race from point A to point B, from point B to point C, and from point C to point D, put their key in the clock and then race on to the next point; that they have not time really to have a look around to see whether there are fires or anything else requiring their attention? This is another question to which I think the Minister should give us an answer.
How far apart are the fire hydrants, and where are they located on the slipway? Were they located in a position, as I believe they were on this occasion, where the firemen could not get near them because of the nature of the fire? Why were they located in such a position? Why were they not located in a position where they could be easily accessible for the connection of hoses? How many hydrants are there along the slipway? Are chemical fire extinguishers located at central positions so that at least they can be trained quickly on to a fire which has broken out? How often is the equipment tested? When was the equipment which was used on this occasion last tested to ascertain whether it was serviceable and in a fit condition to fight a fire such as this one? Furthermore, from Press reports it is apparent that there were on board the ship large number of oxy-acetylene bottles :iud propane bottles which contain highly inflammable gases. Why were so many of 4,Ar bottles stored around the ship in such large quantities that when the fire broke out they became a hazard to the men fighting the fire?
Why was the BHP fire fighting unit out of action, unserviceable, for 2 months? What alternative arrangements had the company made to fight a fire during the period when that fire unit was out of action? After all, BHP knew that it was outside the limit of the town where it could call on the town fire brigade. What alternative arrangements had it made? Unfortunately, I have to race through these matters because of the limited time at my disposal tonight. BHP used the town fire brigade that night for only one reason, that is, that the men on that fire brigade were volunteers. Because of the type of men they are, they were prepared to go out and give a hand because there was a fire under way. One of the things that strikes me is the fact that the Minister, in reply to a question by the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) yesterday, said:
The fact of the matter is that there was no equipment with which to extinguish the blaze. There was just no equipment there. The men were trying to fight the fire with inadequate facilities. Even in the first hour of the fire, which is the most important time of any fire, there was insufficient water pressure to combat the blaze. This is where the real trouble lies. There was insufficient water pressure there to put out any semblance of a fire. Why was not the fire reported much sooner than it was? I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport: When is this Parliament going to be advised of what happened there? Can we expect the fire commissioner’s report to be tabled in this place? Why cannot we have a full public inquiry, instead of a hole in the corner inquiry which is so often held into these matters?
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The maxim goes that politicians approach most subjects with an open mouth. I do not think that this is ever more aptly demonstrated than when I sit in the Parliament at this hour. I must deal initially with matters which have just been raised by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones). On several occasions he has suggested that we, sitting in political judgment on matters which are of tremendous significance, should come to a decision which would anticipate findings made by technically capable people who are qualified in the engineering and scientific bases of ship construction, in this instance, and in navigation in other instances. We remember the instance of the very tragic sinking of the ‘Noongah’ when again the honourable member for Newcastle suggested we should anticipate findings of the court. In this instance I have not made a statement to the House, but I intend to make a statement when I have the facts before me which 1 believe the House should have at its command. These will be accurate facts capable of giving to us all an appreciation of the circumstances surrounding the tragic fire at Whyalla. The matters the honourable member for Newcastle has raised I will be very happy to ensure are investigated. I hope many of them will be answered but, as he will realise, all the circumstances of the fire will not be capable of being resolved. The initial cause of the fire is one which not unnaturally is cloaked with some uncertainty. I hope it will be possible to determine how the fire started. I think we would all hope this. Whether or not this is possible depends on an accurate assessment on the spot.
The honourable member for Newcastle suggested the inquiry is being undertaken by the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and the Department of Shipping and Transport and that R. W. Miller and Co. Pty Ltd are excluded. The Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd is conducting an inquiry and, separately, so is my Department. This inquiry is a preliminary inquiry and has no bearing on any inquiry by the State Government. After all, it is within the Jurisdiction of the South Australian State Government that the conflagration comes. If it decides it is within its capacity to undertake an inquiry it is up to it, but at this stage the two preliminary investigations are being undertaken by Broken Hill Pry Co. Ltd as the people concerned with the shipyard and by the Department of Shipping and Transport in order to determine first of all the circumstances and facts as soon as possible and, secondly, what powers we might have. The matters the honourable member for Newcastle has raised I am quite happy to refer to a technically competent committee for inquiry, but I frankly do not believe this House is competent to prejudge inquiries or to undertake inquiries of this nature. Until we get sufficient facts for us to be able to debate the issues here in an adequate form it is preferable for the matter to be raised in that way. Consequently I hope that when the House resumes I will have some details and facts in relation to the fire and 1 will be happy to raise the matter in this chamber.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (MiBarnard) raised several matters relating to shipping issues. in Tasmania. These, as I explained at question time in this House today, are presently under discussion within the Australia-London Tonnage Committee and the recognised shipper body. I believe it is necessary that discussions bc undertaken at a commercial level. This Government does not believe in intruding on the detailed operations of companies who have a commercial responsibility to provide a service. The basis of the closed conference that exists between the United Kingdom, Europe and Australia is that there should bc a service which is adequate and which is capable of providing a frequency that can handle the export cargoes of Australia and service all the main ports and outports. These negotiations between the registered shipper body and the Australia-London Tonnage Committee I am confident will come to the solution that not only the Deputy Leader of the Opposition but all honourable members on this side of the House hope will lead to an adequate provision of a service for the outports in circumstances where there is more and more of a centralisation of cargo necessary to achieve the full effectiveness of the container method of shipping.
The other matter 1 want to mention is that there have been in this House tonight statements made by the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) about some of my colleagues on this side of the House, relative to our attitude to Vietnam and those issues that have been raised in this chamber concerning the so-called Moratorium Day that is apparently about to be staged in Australia. I do not speak in the House very often on this subject simply because it does not happen to be my ministerial responsibility, but I assure honourable members and others in the chamber that I, like many of my colleagues - indeed, all my colleagues on this side - believe that it is tragic that an insidious propaganda campaign is undermining the minds of men and women in the Australian community against what we see as the absolutely essential necessity for a defence effort which is capable of preserving this country for the future. We believe that the commitment of Australians to the assistance of countries in South East Asia will preserve what wc have here today not just for today but for the future and will give to those who live in Asia some opportunity of enjoying a better way of life than they would hope to enjoy under Communism.
I believe that it is absolutely essential that not only members of the House but also people outside the House recognise that the stand which is apparently being taken by so-called responsible members of the Opposition to support a campaign which is basically intent on changing the law by breaking it is one which I would see as being the first step towards the introduction into our society of the situation that existed back in the middle ages when it was the law of the strong. which prevailed over the arm of the weak. If we reach a position in our society where the rule of law, the rule of order and the rule of peace are negated, I believe it would be a disastrous thing for the community. I assure the honourable member and other honourable members on that side of the House that when the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) and the honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) make statements about these issues, they do not speak alone. They speak with the full support of every member of the Government.
– I wish to say something about the Whyalla fire. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) chided the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) for prejudging the issue. I would have thought that, if anybody had prejudged the issue, it was the Minister because in his answer yesterday afternoon to the question asked by the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster), the Minister said:
The Minister has prejudged the utility of any fire prevention equipment or techniques there. Apparently we should believe that the larger the fire the more futile it is to try to fight it. The Minister made what I thought was one of the most ludicrous statements ever made on such a subject when he said:
It must be recognised that the fire occurred on a Saturday night at a time when most people, including I would presume those in Whyalla, were not about the shipyard and consequently were not available readily to take the necessary precautions to put out the fire.
I would not have thought that there was any technical reason for assuming that fires were less likely to occur on a Saturday night than at any other time. One would imagine that there would be a great deal of combustible material lying around a shipyard.
– What about the availability of persons to fight the fire?
– I would imagine that fire brigades do not disperse over the weekend. That is scarcely a very comforting thought. The Minister cannot write off this disaster. This was the largest conflagration that any of us can remember in Australia’s history, but the Minister took it with great equanimity. He bore the loss with amazing fortitude. In his answer to the honourable member for Sturt, his first remarks were:
I have no idea of what loss has been incurred in the past or at any stage through fire. No doubt, there have been very substantial losses on other occasions.
The Minister took it very calmly indeed. The Commonwealth has to bear this loss. I would imagine it is the largest conflagration in this country’s history.
– In a ship.
– Where have there been larger conflagrations? I think there might have been some such fire in wool stores. I think there might have been some there-
– They are the only ones that I can think of. This is one in which the Commonwealth is involved. Every ship over 200 tons built in Australia is built because the Commonwealth subsidises it. Until the new owner takes delivery of it, that ship is Commonwealth property. It is grossly negligent for the Commonwealth
– To be fully insured?
– Well, what comfort is that?
– A little, financially.
– Is the prospective purchaser insured against loss of profits? Is our country insured against the loss involved in having foreign ships taking our oil instead of having one of our own ships do it? There is no insurance for those losses. What the Minister is referring to is the very narrow consideration that there may be insurance for the materials destroyed. But up to a year’s labour may be lost, as well as a year’s trade, for which we will all have to pay not only as individual companies but also as a nation.
This is a disaster affecting Commonwealth property. The Minister is responsible for the Department and the various instrumentalities which place these orders and which own this valuable property until delivery is given. 1 cannot think of any Commonwealth instrumentality which has suffered such a loss with such equanimity. The first statement made by the Minister on this subject suggested that it should all be written off as of no importance. He said it was covered by insurance: the fire happened on a Saturday night: we must accept that therefore it would be a difficult fire to cope with; and, in any case, the fire was so large that it was pretty useless to take any steps to deal with it.
Let me bring forward the record of fires in which the Commonwealth has been involved in recent years. There was the great fire in the Townsville bulk sugar depot in May 1963. The Commonwealth bore some responsibility there. Considerable Commonwealth installations are in Townsville. It was found that those in the possession of the Department of Civil Aviation and the Department of Air could not cooperate with the port authorities and with the fire brigade of the city council. Nothing could be done for days; the fire had to burn itself out. Then there was the lire in the Melbourne mail exchange. Lastly, I mention the fire at HMAS ‘Albatross’ which occurred at Christmas 1967. Once again, nobody would be on duty. There is spontaneous combustion on Christmas Day meaning a loss of $1,800,000. The Commonwealth Fire Board did not know about that fire.
Quite frankly, the Commonwealth has such large installations and it places such large contracts that it ought to take a much more prudent attitude towards conflagrations affecting its property. It is not the only body concerned here. We now have the fact that the largest shipyard in the southern hemisphere has been discredited by this conflagration. This is the largest shipyard in the southern hemisphere. Can any of us remember an occasion when any comparable conflagration has occurred in any shipyard? Again, the probable principal sufferer is the biggest customer that Australian shipyards have had - R. W. Miller Holdings Co. Ltd. It is no great encouragement to a company which is trying to build ships for the Australian trade in Australian shipyards, and which has placed the largest order that an Australian shipyard has ever had, to be excluded from all considerations here. As my colleague the honourable member for Newcastle said, the company is not consulted; in fact it is rebuffed by the investigation by the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and similarly by the investigation by the Australian Shipbuilding Board.
– It has not been rebuffed by us.
– I do not think the Minister rebutted the allegation made in this respect by the honourable member for Newcastle. The biggest customer Australian shipyards have and the first Australian company to place orders for tankers which are the principal ships on our coast is a big sufferer in this instance. Yet the Minister completely wipes off any concern for this matter.
Apparently the Department of Shipping and Transport is prepared to cover up for the shipyard itself which ought to be encouraged to pursue safe building techniques and to obtain similar orders in the future. We gain no credit for our Government or for this shipyard by giving the impression that this conflagration was inevitable, that it was a matter of no moment, that insurance will cover it, that it occurred on a Saturday night and that it was so big that nothing could be done about it. This is not good enough. Commonwealth property and a Commonwealth guarantee are involved. The largest ship every under construction in Australia, which was being built for the biggest client of Australian shipyards and the most patriotic of our private shipping companies, is involved. Yet (he Minister expresses no concern at all. This is not good enough.
– 1 would like to follow the last 2 speakers from this side - the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) - and say a few words on the question of the ‘Amanda Miller’ fire. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) has stated that there are to be 2 inquiries - one by his own Department and the other by the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. It is certainly to be hoped that, whatever comes out of those inquiries, lessons will be learnt.
I look at this matter from the viewpoint that the fire had burned for quite some time before it was actually noticed and by that time it had got out of hand, and that a little later it struck the oxy-propane bottles and oxy-acetylene bottles. By that time it was too late. There are many circumstances that can arise in a place such as Whyalla and in the confined space of a ship. We must remember that this incident did occur out in the open. A lot of this equipment is inside the ship and there are many circumstances that can arise. A fire can occur suddenly in oxy-acetylene equipment. I have had considerable experience in the handling of oxy-acetylene and oxy-propane equipment. I have seen plenty of things happen in a very short space of time. When a fire suddenly breaks out when this equipment is in the open, if one is unlucky the fire can get out of control.
In normal working hours a few hundred men would have been working on this ship. The fact that the men had knocked off at 3 o’clock on the Saturday afternoon does not come into this matter. Normally, if a fire starts as a results of a particular set of circumstances, such as sparks hitting an oxy hose, there is a fire within the bowels of the ship where this equipment is. If the fire suddenly gets out of control, with hundreds of men inside the ship, the fire fighting equipment is just not good enough.
I understand that it is a fact that the Whyalla shipyard fire tender had been out of action for a couple of months. I believe that in the inquiries the reason why that happened should be really probed. The reason why there was low water pressure, as was alleged earlier, should also be probed deeply. These are the things that we hope will come out of the inquiries. Surely if 2 inquiries are to be held lessons will be learnt. Let us hope that the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd takes pretty good note of the lessons to be learnt. I have had a fair deal to do with safety first procedures. It was always our opinion that BHP was one company to which we could always look up and point as an example of a firm that really took a keen interest in safety first procedures. 1 think it has the best safety precautions I have come across up to date, but apparently that does not apply to the fire fighting equipment in its shipyard in this case. I am sure that, whatever comes out of the inquiry, BHP will certainly learn a lesson.
Criticism has been levelled at the local fire unit at Whyalla. One must remember that the local fire unit in Whyalla is a small volunteer unit and that the BHP works are outside the town boundaries. I think the men of the Whyalla fire unit did a magnificent job. I have had a bit of experience with these voluntary fire fighting units in my own town and I know the sterling job they do. I am sure that the crew at Whyalla are of the same calibre, but their attempts to hold the fire, as we know, failed because the fire just got out of hand.
We should also look at the attitude of the South Australian Government to fire fighting equipment, because too many of the big towns in South Australia rely on voluntary fire brigades. We would hope that the South Australian Government has learned a lesson from what happened here and that it will go into the whole question of fire protection in country towns and try to bring in an improved system of fire protection. I certainly hope that, whatever comes out of these inquiries, lessons will be learned and that steps will be taken to rectify any faults. There may be 200 to 300 men inside a ship, and if something goes wrong, as is quite possible - it has happened plenty of times before - and the fire fighting equipment is not there, there can be deaths. In this case there was only one casualty, and possibly it can be said that we are lucky there was only this one casualty. Let us hope that these lessons will be learned and that the Whyalla shipyards will become a place with adequate fire protection.
– I wish to raise a matter with the Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch). It concerns a migrant, a Mr A. J. Vorstman. I quote his name with his full approval and, indeed, with his encouragement. Mr Vorstman is a Dutchman who arrived in this country a little over 6 years ago. He is a boilermaker by occupation, is married to an Australianborn girl and has an Australian-born child. Repeatedly this man has sought Australian citizenship and his applications have been rejected without any reason or explanation having been given. It is quite clear that his applications for naturalisation and Australian citizenship have been rejected because he is a member of the Australian Communist Party.
I question the justification of the Government’s rejecting an application for naturalisation merely because a person belongs to the Australian Communist Party. I certainly question the wisdom of anyone belonging to a Party of that philosophy, just as I question the wisdom of anyone belonging to the Liberal Party or the Country Party. In any event, he has a right to make a free political choice within our democratic society, that is, to exercise certain liberties and freedoms which inherently belong to an individual within a democratic environment. Having made this decision - and we should uphold the right of a person to make such a decision freely - he should not be penalised for it. The Communist Party is not a proscribed organisation within this country. There have been referendums which clearly indicate that Australian citizens will not tolerate the proscription of this political party. Indeed, it would be highly undesirable to proscribe this or any other such political party within this country.
Certain aspects of the treatment of Mr Vorstman are, to say the least, highly questionable if his allegations are correct. He claims that on one occasion about 12 months ago, or a little more, two officials from the Department of Immigration and a third party interviewed him and questioned him for nearly 2 hours. It transpired during the course of the interview that the third party with the two Immigration officials was allegedly an Australian Security Intelligence Organisation agent and that this ASIO agent informed Mr Vorstman that if he was prepared to become an informer for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation - that is an informer on the Communist Party, on political activity and on general radical movements in the community - this would favourably influence the outcome of his application for Australian citizenship. I ask the Minister to give his considered opinion and his considered verdict if he can. I know that I have brought this matter to his attention at somewhat short notice tonight but if he cannot say tonight whether Mr Vorstman’s allegation is correct perhaps he will do so later.
It would be highly undesirable for the Department of Immigration to be working hand in glove in this way with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. But it would be even more undesirable that an ASIO agent in company with officials of the Department of Immigration should be in a position to say to Mr Vorstman or to any other person seeking Australian citizenship that although he was having difficulty and had been having difficulty for some time in obtaining Australian citizenship a more favourable attitude might very well develop on the part of officialdom if that person became an informer for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. I do not want to labour the point any further at this stage. If I cannot obtain some guarantee from the Minister that this did not take place then I feel morally bound to pursue this matter to some greater extent. It is quite wrong and repugnant to anyone who holds democratic concepts that a man’s political beliefs should be used as the issue which allows him to be held to ransom for something which he greatly wants to achieve; that is, Australian citizenship.
This man is working in the Australian economy. He is contributing to the economic development within the community. His contribution is just as important as that of any other member of the community. He has rights within the community. The most important right which he seeks and which has been denied to him is official recognition that he is an Australian citizen. He believes he is an Australian citizen in every other way. He participates lawfully within the Australian society. He has joined a political party as an act of free choice, a party which is not illegal in this country. Accordingly it is quite wrong to discriminate against him. His wife is an Australian born citizen and she feels gravely discriminated against because of the way in which her husband is being treated. She finds it extremely offensive that the family should be regarded in this particular way. They have an Australian born child. They ought to be given Australian citizenship.
The Department of Immigration repeatedly replies to Mr Vorstman in the following terms:
It is a long standing rule to disclose the reason for the refusal or deferment of an application for citizenship only where the applicant is unable to show that he has an adequate knowledge of the English language or is unable to meet the residential requirements of the Citizenship Act.
As Mr Vors man’s case does not come within these categories I am unable to inform you of the grounds on which bis application was refused.
One does not need to be a Sherlock Holmes to conclude very easily that his application is refused because he is a member of the Communist Party. But the fact is that the Department refuses to make this confession and I ask why. It would be a simple matter for the Department to say as a matter of procedure: ‘We do not provide Australian citizenship to people who belong to this political party’. It is quite wrong because Mr Vorstman and people in a like situation find themselves being treated in an extremely frustrating way, a way which Kafka found drove him almost to insane distraction; a remote almost featureless bureacracy making decisions in the castle, as Kafka wrote in one of his more renowned works; remote bureaucracy which cannot be reached and which is making decisions almost in the abstract and passing them down through goodness knows what sort of tortuous pipelines finally to reach the hapless victims of these decisions. This is quite wrong. We do not want a remote bureaucracy making some sort of vague assessment and giving some sort of vaguely worded decision on the rights of a person within the community. As K found in all of Kafka’s writings, he was shuttled from minor official to minor official, always skirmishing on the periphery but never really quite reaching the heart of where the decisions were made, never quite reaching where he should be entitled to reach as a citizen within a democratic society, to put his case for his rights within a society. He has the right to establish that he is an individual, that this is a democratic society and that no bureaucracy and no person has a right to take these privileges from any individual. I repeat that I do not support the political views of Mr Vorstman but he has a personal right, if he wishes to exercise it, to choose freely to belong to the Australian Communist Party. The Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch), the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) or any other Minister in the Government - not even that great democrat who looks after the Department of External Territories - has not a right to deprive a person of citizenship in this country if he meets normal requirements and standards which are not regarded as illegal if they are held by other Australian citizens. Mr Vorstman fulfils these requirements in every regard. 1 ask the Minister, whom I regard personally as a reasonable sort of man, not to allow himself to be encrusted with the barnacles foisted on him by the rutted ways of the bureaucracy with which he has to work but to shrug this encrusting tendency off and to take a fresh and stimulating approach to this man’s problem. 1 am gravely disturbed at the very many cases which occur in Australia where people seeking citizenship find their applications rejected largely on the basis of some sort of secret report which often comes from countries outside; from such great democracies’ - I ask Hansard to put inverted commas around ‘democracies’ - as Spain and Portugal. This is clearly quite wrong. Individuals in our society have rights. There ought to be a clear statement as to why this man and other men in his situation have their applications rejected. Where they are rejected there ought to be a tribunal to which these people can make a public appeal, so that they can exercise democratic rights, otherwise the expression is an empty slogan.
– I do not intend to keep the House very long at this early hour of the morning, but I do want to respond to the comments made on the adjournment by the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden). I appreciate the fact that he foreshadowed to me late this afternoon that he would be raising this case on the adjournment. The case, of course, concerns the refusal of citizenship to Mr Vorstman and the allegation that Mr Vorstman was offered inducements to provide information.
The background of this case is simply this: Mr Vorstman’s application for citizenship was carefully considered by my predecessor in February 1969 when he decided that the application was not one for approval. The circumstances of the case were again considered by Mr Snedden in October last, but the earlier decision was not varied. I myself earlier this year examined most carefully the papers relating to Mr Vorstman’!. application and 1 confirmed to some honourable gentlemen who made representations at the time that I was unable to approve of the grant of Australian citizenship to him. As the honourable member for Oxley has indicated, the policy of the Government, which has been made clear to honourable members who have raised this question, is that it is a long standing rule to disclose the reason for the deferment or refusal of ari application for citizenship only where the applicant is unable to show that he has an adequate knowledge of the English language or is unable to comply with the language provisions of the Citizenship Act. As the case of Mr Vorstman does not come within these categories I, as the responsible Minister, am unable to disclose the grounds on which his application was refused.
I do want to say to the honourable gentleman, however, that this is not a case of remote bureaucracy, because Mr Vorstman was subject to a decision made by myself after the most careful examination of all aspects of his case. With regard to the honourable gentleman’s reference to matters which Mr Vortsman claimed were raised with him during an interview associated with his citizenship application, the information I have received concerning the interview indicates that Mr Vortsman’s allegations are in fact without foundation. The honourable member for Oxley also raised during his comments on the adjournment the generality of government policy concerning refusal of citizenship on grounds of national security.
I restate tonight for the information of honourable members that it is the policy of this Government - a policy which has been reaffirmed on a number of occasions - not to grant citizenship to Communists or to members crf the extreme right. The reason is that those people aim to subvert by undemocratic methods the type of society that we have and desire to maintain. Their aims are not, in our view, consonant with the concept of good citizenship. We have always regarded citizenship as a privilege and its conferral should never be regarded in any way as an automatic process. However, an applicant’s political views otherwise are not taken into account in considering citizenship applications.
The honourable member for Oxley said that there were very many cases of rejection. To place this matter in its correct perspective let me say that in the period from 1st January 1949 to 30th June 1969 some 580,000 persons were granted Australian citizenship, and during that time only 405 persons were refused citizenship in accordance with the policy I explained earlier. Each application for Australian citizenship is the subject of exhaustive inquiries into all aspects of the application and of the applicant’s background. If these reveal that an applicant’s activities are such that he is considered to be unsuitable to accept the privileges and to discharge the obligations of Australian citizenship, then citizenship has been, and will continue to be, refused.
As I recall it, the honourable member for Oxley also raised the question of some form of independent tribunal. I simply want to say that the grant of citizenship has been regarded for a century as a privilege, not a right, and as being properly a matter within the discretionary power of the executive government answerable to Parliament. This Government does not believe that it would be appropriate that policies and decisions on matters of this kind should be made by a body independent of Parliament and in fact not answerable to Parliament. Proposals for independent appeals tribunals which have been raised in the Parliament from time to time usually have arisen from the refusal of citizenship on the ground of Communism or other extremism. But much of the information upon which such decisions are taken could of course not be disclosed at an appeal hearing without severe interference with essential security intelligence sources. That policy is a policy of long standing which has been endorsed by my predecessors in the Government. It is a policy which I certainly intend to maintain.
– Earlier in the adjournment debate the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King) raised the subject of the problems confronting wheat growers, so I hurried into the chamber lest there was a need to support him in some action on behalf of wheat growers and the solution of their problems but, sad to relate, all that I heard was that if there is anything wrong at the present time in the countryside and with the wheat industry and the wheat growers, then the people responsible are the wheat growers. Apparently from what he said this evening, they thought of rationing, they conceived the quotas, they knew all about it, so if they are in trouble it is their own fault.
The honourable member for Wimmera tonight earned himself a distinction because in this continuing debate - I almost said in Wheaton Place - this is the only time, at any rate in the debates in which I have taken part, that 1 have not heard him add a new adjective to qualify the term ‘the honourable member for Riverina’. I have heard some very picturesque adjectives, new appellations and new epithets, but I am very disappointed, because some of them are becoming a bit repetitive. I thought I would do a little service tonight before I got onto the problems of wheat growers. 1 want to lel honourable members opposite know that I have discovered a new dictionary in the chamber, so if they are going to become abusive regularly at midnight 1 suggest they spend a little time with it. lt is located behind me. If they are going to be abusive at least let them be picturesque. lt has been suggested that the Commonwealth Government is pure and undenied in respect of the administration of matters concerning the countryside. I recall that not to grant citizenship to Communists or to of New South Wales the State Minister for Agriculture made a statement in relation to the first of the 2 measures designed to alter the structure of the wheat stabilisation scheme. He said that the announcement as to what was to happen, particularly to the home price of wheat, was made by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) in this Parliament after he had broken off negotiations with the industry and without any consultation with the States at all. I had conversations with the New South Wales Minister because we were concerned, and he was concerned, with the situation. He publicly opposed the announcement and publicly condemned it. He said that it would lead to increases in the prices of a whole range of commodities in the cities. Of course, this is exactly what happened. He made it quite clear that it was futile to accept the opposition which I led in the Legislative Assembly of New
South Wales because be said: ‘If we agree with what the Opposition says and if we accept your line and say that we will have no part of what the Commonwealth has proposed the Commonwealth will wield the big stick. It would be prepared to break stabilisation and ruin the whole of the wheat industry and its structure to get its own way’. That is what he said and if honourable members opposite want to examine his speech I refer them to the records and annals of the mother Parliament of this nation.
If we consider the suggestion that the wheat grower is at fault and that it has nothing to do with the fiscal dictatorship of the Commonwealth which brought this situation into being, let us look at what happened. The Minister for Primary Industry said that everybody was aware of what was going to be done. We had the situation where growers were informed of their quotas as they were getting their machinery ready to harvest. But the Minister says that they all knew their quotas. If we consider that point, it might be argued that the growers should not have planted any crops at all or that they should have cut their crops according to the quotas which had not been mentioned and which they had not received. This presupposes that they have a magnificent form of foresight, highly developed. But let us be blunt about this. What actually happened was that not only did the growers not know precisely what was intended but the banking system did not know because in many instances bank managers and bank agencies, both public and private, made advances to growers to plant the crops which they actually put in. Many of them were told subsequently that they would be able to deliver only half of their crops and be paid for half of them, but they had made these plantings in conjunction with their banks. So much for the argument of Government members who are defending the Government so sturdily tonight and who have suggested that the wheat growers are hopeless in their ability to plan. The growers did not know the situation nor did the banking institutions of the nation, because every bank was represented in the loans which were made in the wheat areas. The suggestion that everything was known and everyone was aware of the situation fails to the ground.
Tonight there was a reference to the black market. I was delighted today when the Minister for Primary Industry rose in his place and said: This business of 50 million bushels on the black market is rubbish. It could not be any more than 28 million bushels.’ The Minister then went on to confess that he did not know the actual position on the black market because he did not have the precise figures, but he said that he thought that that would be the position. He was then asked whether he knew how much wheat was being held on farms. He said that he did not know but he would certainly try and find out for the honourable member for Darling (Mr Fitzpatrick), who had asked the leading question on this subject. In fact, we do not know the actual position, nor does the Minister. Estimates have been given. These estimates have ranged, as I have said publicly on many occasions, between 20 million bushels and 50 million bushels. As I have said tonight, we have not been given the precise figures. The Minister does not know the precise figures. Let us be blunt about it and accept the fact that the Government has lost control of the wheat industry to such an extent that it will never know the actual 1969-70 harvest.
I have said again and again that the estimates which have been made by people involved in the wheat industry of wheat sold on the black market range from between 20 million bushels and 50 million bushels. The Minister for Primary Industry said today that it would not be more than 28 million bushels, but he has confessed that he just does not know the actual position. However, he is going to make an effort to find out. I wish him good luck. But let us be quite blunt about it and accept the fact that because the Government has in fact lost control of the industry it is unlikely ever to find out the precise figures. This was the whole purport of the questioning which I initiated outside the Parliament and which has been carried forward here.
In view of the overall short fall in the harvest the sensible thing would have been to take in all of the 1969-70 crop and pay the $1.10 a bushel first advance. If this had been done it would have wiped out the black marketing and lt would have given some collateral and security to the country side. In fact, this can still be done. I notice that the Treasurer (Mr Bury) is in the House at the moment. Last year when it appeared that the harvest across the nation would be bigger than it turned out to be I asked the Treasurer whether he would consider making more money available to take in the whole of the crop and pay the first advance of $1.10 a bushel. I pay a tribute to him because he wrote back - not very promptly but as expeditiously as he could, and I pay him a tribute for that - and said: ‘We have done as much as we can’.
Government members - Oh! 1
– I give credit where it is due. 1 will let honourable members have a copy of the Treasurer’s letter if they are interested in it. I believe that they should act on it. The Treasurer said: ‘I am not prepared to recommend that any more money should be made available, but I will certainly make available the full sum’. That is what the Treasurer said. I have the letter to prove it. But what is the present situation? Quotas of 308 million bushels are being applied across the nation. There is a considerable short fall in the harvest delivered to the Australian Wheat Board, which will probably mean there is a balance of $53m that the Treasurer has in his hip pocket that is earmarked for the wheat growers, although the Government’s supporters are not asking him for it. The Treasurer must be very puzzled tonight as he sits there wondering why they are not seeking the money from him. After all, he said that it was available. The money is earmarked for this purpose and he has it in his hip pocket, but his colleagues are not asking him for it.
I have given the facts of the situation. Unfortunately the facts hurt somewhat. When trouble arises and wells in the countryside the voices are not raised when they should be raised and when they are raised they are not strong or constant. I recommend that an examination be made not only of the dictionary but also of the circumstances which appertain at present so that we will be able to get what there is a great need for at the moment, which is some collateral and confidence in the countryside and less abuse.
Motion (by Mr Bury) put:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. Sir William Aston)
Majority .. 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.47 a.m. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
Does he see any merit in the United States law which decrees that no union member whose dues have been withheld by his employer shall be declared ineligible to vote or be a candidate for office by reason of alleged delay or default in the payment of dues.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Presumably, the United States law to which the honourable member refers is the LaborManagement Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, section 401 (e) of which provides, inter alia:
No member whose dues have been withheld by his employer for payment to such organisation pursuant to his voluntary authorisation provided for in a collective bargaining agreement shall be declared ineligible to vote or be a candidate for office in such organisation by reason of alleged delay or default in the payment of dues’.
I understand that many Australian employers arrange for union subscriptions of their employees to be forwarded to the union concerned. For example, as the honourable member will no doubt be aware, the Australian Workers Union is party to many agreements containing such provisions. My general view would be that there is an obligation onthe parties to such arrangements to ensure that they do not operate so as to disadvantage those affected by them. If the honourable member considers there are cases in which persons have been disadvantaged by such arrangements. I would be glad if he would draw them to my attention.
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice:
Will soundproof sleeping quarters be provided for personnel at the Royal Australian Air Force Base at Learmonth in Western Australia as recommended by the Select Committee on Aircraft Noise.
– The Minister for Air has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
What was the percentage of non-manual workers employed in the (a) transportation equipment, (b) electrical and electronic equipment, (c) chemical and allied trades, (d) food processing and (e) fuel and power industries, or their nearest equivalent industries, in each year since 1950.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is contained in the following Table. The figures given are the latest available.
The sub-groups included within each Industry Group are:
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
(a) and (b) Aside from Conventions which apply solely to non-metropolitan territories or developing countries (viz. Nos 82, 83, 84, 85 and 117) and machinery Conventions (Nos 80 and 116), ratification of a Convention cannot proceed without consideration of the relevant law and practice in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. Some Conventions may, of course, have no, or virtually no, practical application at present in a particular Territory.
asked the Minister for Labour anc! National Service, upon notice:
– The answer to l he honourable member’s question is as follows:
Imports of Primary Produce from New Zealand (Question No. 371)
asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
The Acting Commonwealth Statistician has advised that details of prices are not available for imports from New Zealand and the values shown in the table are values for duty calculated on a free on board basis.
The Government would take steps to protect any industry which is threatened by imports from any source. As far as New Zealand is concerned there are provisions in the Free Trade Agreement which enable either Government to act where serious injury to a local industry is threatened or is occurring.
asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– I am informed that:
The eight persons, engaged in developmental research are working on matters, such as the following, which have direct relevance for the Board’s current inquiry work:
Imports from Asian Countries (Question No. 592)
asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
What was the percentage of Australia’s total imports from Asian countries for each of the past 10 years.
– The answer to the honour able member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
What was the value of (a) imports from and (b) exports to (i) ail Asian countries, (ii) all Asian countries excluding Japan and (iii) all Asian countries excluding Japan and Mainland China for the latest year for which information is available.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
Why can separate figures be given for size of classes in (a) primary and (b) secondary classes in government schools but not in nongovernment schools (Hansard, 26th September 1969, page 2146).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The previous question referred to by the honourable member related to pupil-teacher ratios and not to size of classes. It was not possible to show separate pupil-teacher ratios for primary and secondary grades in non-government schools because separate details of the numbers of teachers in those schools teaching primary and secondary grades are not available. Only statistics of total teachers in non-government schools are at present available.
Pre-school Education: Expenditure (Question No. 103)
asked the Minister for Edu cation and Science, upon notice:
When his Department was asked by his predecessor to look into the whole matter of international comparisons of educational expenditure, did the Department investigate the relative expenditure on pre-school education in Australia and comparable countries! If so, what did it find to be the relative expenditure.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
During the course of this investigation data on total expenditure on pre-school education was not available in sufficient detail to enable valid comparisons to be made between Australia and overseas countries.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
How many Australians have been (a) killed (b) wounded and (c) reported missing in Laos since 1960.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
No Australians have been killed, wounded or reported missing in Laos since 1960.
Mr Francis James: Passport (Question No. 647)
asked the Minister for
External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Department of External Affairs is continuing to seek information through any channel which might lead to ascertaining the present whereabouts and ensure the well-being of Mr James.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 April 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1970/19700422_reps_27_hor67/>.