27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the Australian Education Council report on needs of State Education Services has established the most urgent shortcomings in education.
That these needs can be summarised as severe teacher shortage, oversized classes, lack of classroom accommodation, poor teaching aids.
That the additional sum of one thousand million dollars is required over the next five (5) years by the States for these needs.
That without massive additional Federal finances the State school system will disintegrate.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to insure that emergency finance from the Comonweahh will be given to the States for their public education services.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of residents of the State of Victoria respectfully sheweth
That because of the 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. We, your petitioners, therefore humbly pray that:
The export of kangaroo products be banned immediately, and the Commonwealth Government take the necessary steps to have all wildlife in Australia brought under its control.
Only a complete cessation of killing for commercial purposes can save surviving kangaroos. And your petitioners, therefore, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of residents of the State of Victoria respectfully sheweth:
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 these 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.
We, your petitioners, therefore humbly pray, that;
The export of kangaroo products be banned immediately, and the Commonwealth Government take the necessary steps to have all wildlife in Australia brought under its control.
Only a complete cessation of killing for commercial purposes can save surviving kangaroos.
And your petitioners, therefore, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The Humble Petition of electors of Grey respectfully showeth:
That due to the higher living cost, persons on Social Service Pensions are finding it extremely difficult to live in even the most frugal way.
We therefore call upon the Commonwealth Government to increase the base pension rate to 30 per cent of the Average Weekly Male Earnings for all States, as ascertained by the Commonwealth Statistician, plus supplementary assistance and allowances in accordance with A.C.T.U. policy and adopted as the policy of the Australian Commonwealth Pensioners’ Federation, and by doing so give a reasonably moderate pension.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to bring about the wishes expressed in our Petition: so that our citizens receiving the Social Service Pension may live their lives in dignity.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the undersigned citizens of South Australia respectfully showeth:
That due to the higher living cost, persons on Social Service Pensions arefinding it extremely difficult to live in even the most frugal way.
We therefore call upon the Commonwealth Government to increase the base pension rale to 30 per cent of the Average Weekly Male Earnings for all States, as ascertained by the Commonwealth Statistician, plus supplementary assistance and allowances in accordance with ACTU policy and adopted as the policy of the Australian Commonwealth Pensioners Federation, and by doing so give a reasonably moderate pension.
Your Petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to bring about the wishes expressed in our Petition: so that our citizens receiving the Social Service Pensions may live their lives in dignity.
And your Petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The Humble Petition of citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully sheweth -
Your petitioners request that your honourable House make legal provision for -
The allowance of personal education expenses as a deduction from income for tax purposes.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– by leave - Mr Speaker,I received approximately 2 hours ago a copy of Sir Henry Bolte’s Budget Speech and I have noted the statement in that speech that it is not the intention of the Victorian Government to seek an appropriation from the Victoria Parliament for the purpose of paying payroll tax to the Commonwealth. Sir Henry Bolte indicated that exclusion of provision for the payment of payroll tax to the Commonwealth would mean a reduction of about $9m in the payments side of the Victorian Consolidated Fund for 1970-71 and I interpolate, it would also of course, mean a reduction of $9m in the amount of receipts into the Commonwealth revenue. Payroll tax has been imposed by the Commonwealth continuously since 1941. The relevant provision of the Commonwealth law concerning payment of this tax by the States has since that time - 1941 - remained unchanged. The relevant Commonwealth Act - the Payroll Tax Assessment Act 1941-1969- provides that an ‘employer’ for payroll tax purposes includes the Crown in the right of a State.
The payment of financial assistance grants by the Commonwealth to the States has, since introduction of the payroll tax in 1941, allowed for the payment of payroll tax by the States, and all the States have in fact paid payroll tax since 1941 in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Act. If they had not paid payroll tax then their reimbursement grants would have been less. At the June 1970 Premiers Conference, when Commonwealth-State financial relations for the period of 5 years commencing with 1970-71 were discussed, I made plain to the Premiers that the Commonwealth proposals were on the basis that there were no significant changes in the financial relationships between the Commonwealth and the States during the 5-year period. I indicated in particular that under the proposed arrangement we would expect that the States and their authorities would continue to pay payroll tax. The actual words used at that Conference were:
If we are to provide such a substantial increase in revenue assistance and in resources available to the States it should be on the basis that there are no significant changes in the financial relationships between the Commonwealth and the States during the period of the agreement. In particular, we would expect that the States and their authorities will continue to pay payroll tax and that the distribution of tax resources between the Commonwealth and the States will remain unchanged.
Although the Premier of Victoria made plain that he did not regard his Government as having agreed to the financial arrangements that resulted from the Conference, there was no indication by him or any of the other Premiers that they proposed not to continue to pay payroll tax. On the other hand, as I have indicated, there was a clear and unequivocal intimation from the Commonwealth that the continuance of the payment of payroll tax was a key part of the offers made by the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth Budget for 1970-71 was accordingly formulated on the basis that payroll tax would continue to be paid by the States to the Commonwealth. This was allowed for in the Budget estimate of payroll tax collections and also in the provision for the payment of Commonwealth grants to the States. If Victoria or any other State or States were not to pay payroll tax there would thus be a direct and significant effect on the Commonwealth budget. The Government is therefore unable to accept the position taken by the Victorian Government as stated in Sir Henry Bolte’s Budget Speech. My Government will, therefore, consider what course of action it should take in relation to Sir Henry Bolte’s statement in order to see that the Commonwealth budget is not impaired. I present the following paper:
Payment of payroll tax - Ministerial Statement, 30 September 1970- and I move:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr Whitlam) adjourned.
– I give notice that at the next sitting I shall move:
That regulation 2 of the amendments of the National Service Regulations as contained in Statutory Rules 1970 No. 116 and made under the National Service Act 1951-1968 be disallowed.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Health by reminding him of my numerous letters concerning a decision of a panel of 5 doctors at Springwood, New South Wales, to withdraw from the pensioner medical service in protest against his Department’s restrictions of pensioner treatment. In view of the anxieties and distress being caused to a large number of pensioners, will the Minis t»t re-open negotiations with the doctors in the hope that procedures will be adopted to overcome the present dispute and to assure continued services to age, invalid and other pensioners? If the Minister is not prepared to take this course, what action does he intend to take to provide medical service to pensioners of the lower Blue Mountains of New South Wales?
– 1 am aware of the honourable gentleman’s representations. I make it perfectly clear that neither I nor the Government has any power to compel doctors to join or to continue to participate in the pensioner medical service. Nevertheless, there are well over 6.000 doctors in Australia currently participating in the service. I understand that the doctors in question - I and my Department have not been told this by the doctors - object to the fact that their activities in connection with the pensioner medical service are the subject of an examination by a committee of inquiry set up under the National Health Act. In the process they have misrepresented both to their patients and to the Press the role of my Department and the Government in these matters. For that reason I would like to make it perfectly clear that there is no limitation on the number of services which a doctor is permitted to provide for a patient. However, the doctor is not permitted to claim for services which are not medically necessary.
The role of the committees of inquiry is to decide whether, in fact, the services provided by doctors are medically necessary and to make recommendations to the Director-General of Health or myself in relation to them. Contrary to what has been implied by these doctors both to their patients and to the Press, these are not departmental committees or inquisitions by my Department. They are committees which consist of 5 doctors, 4 doctors nominated by the Australian Medical Association, all of whom themselves are members of the pensioner medical service, and another doctor who is the Director of Health in my Department in the State. In the process of undertaking their inquiry they do it in an informal atmosphere, questioning the doctors about case histories, their visiting arrangements and so on in respect of each of the patients in dispute.
T make the point that these are not departmental committees. I understand that in this case the inquiry has been completed but I have not yet received the report. When I do receive it I will deal with it expeditiously. I understand from the Press that the doctors have claimed that there are particular circumstances in the area in which they operate, and the honourable gentleman has brought some of these to my attention, such as the density of the pensioner population, the lack of hospitals, distances and that sort of thing. They have claimed that this is a reason why it is necessary to visit pensioner patients more often. I do not know, until I read the transcript, whether they brought these factors to the attention of the committee. If they did not do so and the honourable gentleman could ask his constituent doctors to make available to me their views on this matter, I shall certainly take them into account in examining the transcript and the recommendations of the committee of inquiry.
– I address a question to the Minister for the Interior and by way of preface I refer to a statement made on 13th May last by the Minister with regard to the siting of the High Court of Australia and the National Art Gallery near Lake Burley Griffin a short distance from Parliament House. Will the Minister inform the House whether design studies for the National Art Gallery and preliminary planning for the High Court building are proceeding?
– I cannot call to mind whether design studies for the High Court are proceeding but design studies for the National Art Gallery certainly are proceeding.
– The Minister for Trade and Industry will have noted that the official trade figures show that Australia in the last financial year exported 12,543 tons of iron and steel scrap and waste and 14,000 tons of refined zinc to mainland China. As China is believed to be the main source of rifles, mortars and ammunition used by the Hanoi and Vietcong forces I ask the right honourable gentleman what steps he has taken to terminate this trade in metals which could, in a single year, produce hundreds of thousands of mortars and millions of rifles and rounds of ammunition for use against Australian and allied forces.
– Mr Speaker, you know, 1 could observe that it would appear, on the honourable gentleman’s hypothesis, to facilitate the manufacture of arms and ammunition for his friends.
-Order! The House will come to order.
– The Leader of the Opposition knows that the policy which the Government follows in this respect is the policy followed by all the Western powers. Australia, the United States of America and the other Western powers follow a list of strategic items which in the judgment of those powers ought not to be sent to Communist China. Australia does not export any item which is on that list.
– My question, which is addressed to the Prime Minister, relates to the suggestion made in some quarters that all Australian and American forces should be withdrawn immediately from Vietnam in order to stop further fighting there. Has the attention of the right hon.urable gentleman been drawn to the resolution which was carried unanimously at a recent meeting of the Asian Parliamentarians Union, at which nearly all the freely elected governments in the vicinity of South Vietnam were represented, opposing any reduction of United States or United Nations defence forces in the Asian and Pacific region unless carried out with prior consultation with the governments concerned and planned so as not to impair regional or national defence capabilities? If so, has the Government taken note of this resolution? Would a premature withdrawal of allied forces from South Vietnam be detrimental to the prospects of peace in this country and perhaps lead to greater bloodshed?
– I think it was the honourable member for Farrer himself who drew to my attention the resolution passed by this conference, at which he was in attendance as an observer, and consequently it has come to the notice of the Government that this is the feeling of governments in that area who, unlike some of our opponents, do believe in the domino theory, particularly since they see it coming into force in such areas as Cambodia and Laos. I would believe - and I believe any student of history in that area would believe - that a complete withdrawal of assistance to South Vietnam and the overrunning of that country by the forces of North Vietnam would lead to the slaughter of millions and a holocaust even greater than was caused in North Vietnam when the French forces withdrew - a holocaust freely admitted by the Government of North Vietnam but far too late to save the victims who had been killed in those massacres.
– Will the Minister for the Army either confirm or deny that the amount of iron and steel scrap mentioned in the question addressed to the Minister for Trade and Industry could alternatively provide sufficient material for about 300,000 recoilless rifles or about 175,000 80mm mortars of the type manufactured in mainland Ullina and used by Vietcong forces? If the Minister cannot answer this question, will he cause an investigation to be made and report to the House? Further will he, in the light of his special responsibilities, make representations to the Minister for Trade and Industry to halt the exports?
– I think it is quite clear that the answer to the honourable member’s question is implicit in the answer given by the Minister for Trade and industry. It is quite clear that the governments accept that the items listed can properly be exported. I do not think I need to go into the answer in any more detail than J have, nor do I intend to confirm or deny - they are honourable member’s own words - the calculations and conclusions made by him.
– I direct my question to the Minister for National Development. Is the Minister aware of the progress that has already been made in the construction of the Copeton dam on the Gwydir River as a result of the Commonwealth’s announced financial assistance? Owing to recent statements relative to the Commonwealth’s financial participation, can the Minister assure the House that the Commonwealth will continue to provide agreed upon annual payments to the New South Wales Government to ensure that scheduled progress on this important project is in no way retarded?
– Some months ago the Minister for Conservation in New South Wales and myself made a joint statement in relation to the work which was to commence on the Copeton dam and legislation was passed by this Parliament to approve a grant of $20m towards that project. Included in the Budget documents was an amount of approximately S3. 86m allocated for the provision of finance to assist the work by the Commonwealth for this year. Subsequent to that the New South Wales Government drew attention to the fact that it could during this year utilise a greater amount from our resources to continue the work at the maximum rate. My attention was drawn to this by the honourable member for Gwydir and also by several other honourable members. Later the Minister in New South Wales contacted me but in the meantime the amount of $3 .86m had been decided between the Commonwealth Treasurer and the New South Wales Treasurer as the appropriate amount for this year. However, after further investigations the 2 Treasurers decided that the Commonwealth would this year increase the amount to a maximum of $5.75m, which would be the maximum amount that could be spent by the Commonwealth on the project this year, and subsequently this would be increased by money made available by New South Wales. The $5.75m equalled about half of the total that had been spent up to date, including the appropriation for this year. That is the position at the present time. The full request by New South Wales has been met. as was proposed by the honourable member.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Shipping and Transport been drawn to the comments in the Adelaide News’ last week by the South Australian Railways Commissioner concerning the Maunsell report on the linking of Adelaide to the standard gauge railway? If so, is the Minister now in a position to state whether the request of the South Australian Government for an examination of the alternative proposal of the South Australian Railways Commissioner is to be agreed to before the adoption of the Maunsell report?
– 1 am afraid that I am nol aware of any statement in the Adelaide News’ last week. However, it is true that the Premier of South Australia has contacted the Prime Minister concerning his requested reassessment of the consultant’s report which the Commonwealth Government had agreed would be implemented to provide a standard gauge link from Adelaide to the trans-continental Indian-Pacific railway line. I think it needs to be remembered that there have been over the course of the years - indeed, I understand, for some 3 or 4 years - constant discussion, deliberation and examination of the proposals put forward by the South Australian Railways Commissioner. It was because there had been such extended deliberation on these proposals that Maunsell and Partners were commissioned, after joint consultation between the Commonwealth and the then State Government, to assist in resolving any areas of disagreement about the best means of introducing a standard gauge connection.
In the result the Maunsell report provided for a proposal which was agreed upon by the Steele Hall Government and accepted by the Commonwealth Government. The Labor administration in South Australia now seeks to revert to the same proposition which was initially put forward some years ago, examined by the consultants and in part rejected and in part accepted by them. The examination by the Commonwealth is now, of course, back in square 1 , waiting to see whether the South Australian Government will be prepared to accept some form of reasonable reassessment of the proposition. The Commonwealth is willing to look at it again, but the people of South Australia need to recognise that the consequence of their Labor Government’s decision is to deny them the opportunity of an early connection to the standard gauge link between eastern and Western Australia.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration. I refer to a resolution adopted by the annual convention of the New South Wales Division of the Liberal Party that the Department of Immigration should operate a more effective system of screening and selection to limit the arrival of undesirable migrants. Would the Minister comment on this resolution and indicate-
-Order! The honourable member is out of order in asking the Minister to comment. The honourable member will resume his seat.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister and refers to the latest 8-point proposals put forward by the delegation of the National Liberation Front at the Paris peace talks. Does the United States delegation regard the proposals as a possible breakthrough in the negotiations? If so, does the Australian representative at those talks agree with this assessment? If so, is the Australian Government now prepared to consider a political solution to the Vietnam conflict or does it remain committed solely to Vietnamisation - in other words, more fighting?
– I think the first part of the question perhaps could be amplified by the Minister for External Affairs. My recollection of the points to which the honourable member is referring is that there were proposals which boil down to being proposals that the Vietcong would cease attacking troops in the area provided it was agreed that all those troops would be withdrawn by a particular date, which in fact is no different from the proposals they have been making all along, namely that the only basis on which they would talk was unilateral withdrawal of troops, not applying to their own forces. In regard to the second part of the question, I think this Government has made it clear that it would like to have a political solution provided that political solution ensured the free operation of South Vietnam without those operations being attacked by guerillas inside or invaded by North Vietnamese forces from outside, and that is our objective.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration whether he has seen the Hobart newspaper report which says that an Australian citizen, Con Patiniotis, on holiday with his family in Greece was inducted into the Greek Army despite assurances from the Greek authorities that he would not have to serve. My understanding is that Patiniotis offered to pay the Greek equivalent of $350, which provides an optional exemption from military service. The payment of this amount was rejected by the Greek authorities. Will the Minister have this anomalous situation examined so that the rights of these citizens of Australia are protected and so that they may return to the land of their birth without confusion as to their true obligation and loyalties?
– I rise to order. Is it in order for the Minister for Labour and National Service to hawk the question just ruled out of order?
– There is no point of order. The honourable member for Hindmarsh will resume his seat. Before the Minister for Immigration proceeds to answer, I remind all honourable members that 1 will not have points of order taken or personal explanations made in this House for political purposes.
– As I recall it, the honourable gentleman posed 3 broad questions. The first concerned the application of Australian citizenship vis-a-vis the nationality laws of other countries. His second question related to Greece and the third question related to a particular case to which he made reference. In the first place, as the House will appreciate, the governments of a number of countries from which we draw our migrants, particularly those in the European area, take the view that under their nationality laws a former citizen of one of those countries does not lose his citizenship of that country if he acquires Australian citizenship. Thus he becomes a dual national. If he happens to be resident in either the country of his birth or the country of his adoption the principle of master nationality applies and the citizen ship of the country in which he lives at the time predominates. What this means in essence is that the person who has taken out Australian citizenship returning to Greece becomes subject to the laws of that country. As a nation we are not in a position to provide him with the usual protection which otherwise we could provide to Australians travelling abroad.
If my memory serves me correctly, the position in relation to Greece is that an Australian citizen travelling to Greece can be obligated for national service if he is in the country for a period in excess of 12 months even though he has been previously out of that country for a period of 10 years. As the honourable gentleman suggested, there is a financial option whereby, by payment of the sum of S300, he can opt out of that obligation. The payment can be made either here or in Greece. Whether assurance of a proposal for payment is an automatic matter is something [ would need to check. So far as the particular case is concerned, I have seen in the Press the reference which the honourable gentleman mentioned. I have called for a report, but it would not be proper for me to make a judgment on what action can be taken until that report is available. I will regard the matter as one of urgency.
– Does the Prime Minister favour, as has often been advocated, the televising of parliamentary proceedings?
-Order! The honourable member will be out of order if he is asking for an opinion.
– I shall rephrase the question. Has any assessment been made of the practical difficulties in televising parliamentary proceedings? Bearing in mind the recent events in this Chamber, which of the following Australian Broadcasting Commission classifications taken from the thirty-eighth ABC report would be used: Action drama, variety acts, serious comedy and satirical drama or humour situation and farce? Would it be suitable for general exhibition or would it require the issue of an R certificate? Would these proceedings count as Australian content?
– No such applications have been made to me. Indeed I think if an application were to be made for this purpose it would need to be made to you, Mr Speaker, since you are in charge of what should be done in this House. As for the rest of the question asked by the honourable member, I suppose each individual could well make up his mind. We could well think of people well cast in roles in comedy or drama, each in our own way. The honourable member for Hindmarsh perhaps could be Lady Macbeth, and others could fill in.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. 1 refer to the fact that we have 6 meat processing companies in Tasmania amongst the 26 that the Minister mentioned last week as having lost their export licences. Is the Minister aware that one exporter has had to dismiss 20 skilled personnel and has been left with a consignment of $88,000 worth of beef in cold storage? Is he aware also that the ship .’Port Burnie’ has been cancelled and that we are without shipping space not only for meat but for valuable export consignments of butter oil and casein? Is the Minister aware that a Dr Meisner of the United States of America has been crawling around on his hands and knees with a torch at 6 o’clock in the morning trying to find some fault with plants on which thousands of dollars were spent earlier this year to meet American requirements? Does the Minister see this latest development as a backyard method of imposing further quotas on Australian meat exports to the United States of America? Will he arrange for one of his senior officers to go to Tasmania as early as possible on the lines of a visit made to meat processing works in Western Australia in an endeavour to have licences restored, export markets restored and jobs restored to personnel?
– I am well aware of the difficulties of the processing plant at Devonport in Tasmania to which the honourable member referred. All Australian abattoirs and processing plants which want to be listed for entitlement to export to the United States market come under the surveillance of United States inspectors from time to time, and there is a responsibility on my Department to see that these abattoirs are kept up to certain requirements laid down by the United States Wholesome Meat Act. However, recently the Americans have been sending their own inspectors out to do this work, and in cases where they have found conditions unsatisfactory for a variety of reasons they have called for the delisting of these plants.
The plant referred to at Devonport is one such plant. Whilst certain play has been made of a few of the minor faults found, there are some difficulties with these plants as to their structural design and requirements. But wherever one of these problems arises officers of my Department confer immediately with the Americans and the company involved to see what can be done to overcome the difficulties. At the moment, rather than go into any details, I think it would be much wiser for all concerned if this matter were discussed with officers of my Department, the Americans and the company involved.
– My question to the Minister for National Development follow* on the question recently asked by the honourable member for Gwydir. Has the Minister been approached by the Government of New South Wales with a view to the diversion of some of the funds proposed to be provided by the Commonwealth for water conservation and irrigation purposes, other than the Copeton Dam to which we are committed, to treatment and other sewage works designed to cure the pollution of Sydney beaches? Is it a fact that many irrigation projects have resulted in types of production that cannot find remunerative markets, whereas Sydney beaches provide greatly appreciated amenities for between 2 million and 3 million people and a powerful attraction for both tourists and immigrants?
– No approach has been made directly to me on this matter, although I believe there has been some correspondence in other fields on some related matter. The only fund with which I have any association is the Water Resources Development Fund, the national fund which has been re-established, as announced by the Prime Minister at the end of last year. This deals solely with rural water supplies such as for irrigation purposes, dams, flood mitigation and anything associated with those activities. I will make some inquiries to see whether there has been any departmental correspondence in relation to this and I will let the honourable member know.
– I ask the Acting Minister for External Affairs a question. The honourable gentleman knows that iron and steel are among the strategic materials which the Congress of the United States of America has embargoed for export to mainland China under the Battle Act. I ask him whether iron and steel are among the strategic materials which Western countries, including Australia and Japan, have agreed not to export to mainland China.
– I am afraid that J cannot give the direct answer to that question. But I certainly will check up to see whether iron and steel are on the list. J will say that there are only several countries of the world which maintain adherence to this strategic list, and Australia is one of them. We have maintained this position now for quite some years. There are other countries that do not subscribe to it but, as I say, Australia has played a very prominent part in maintaining this strategic list to ensure that materials that can be of a strategic nature are not exported to and used by mainland China.
However, as for the actual items on it, if the honourable member had asked me this question a few years ago when I had some closer association with it I could have quoted the whole list. I think that there are about 17 items of the major type and certainly a number of others but I will check up and I will make sure that the information is provided to the honourable member.
– I remind the Minister for Primary Industry of his statements that he is looking into ways of expanding the work of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics as it relates to providing information on which farmers can base their decisions on production and marketing. I ask the Minister: What has been achieved in this regard? Can farmers expect the Government to take any further action to make available the greatest possible amount of information on market prospects, particularly in view of the very difficult circumstances in which farmers today find themselves?
– Because of the difficulties in the rural community, farmers and farmer organisations have been requesting more and more information so that they can adjust their own production levels or diversify according to what they think will bring them the best income. A great deal of information already is given out by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics which regularly issues publications such as Wheat Outlook’ and ‘Wool Outlook’. The problem is getting this information to the people who really need it.
The Government has decided to assist in this operation by having what is known as an annual agricultural outlook conference. This conference will be convened by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. It will include State government representatives, extension officers, officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and members of agricultural organisations who will gather together. Industry organisations and markets ing bodies will present papers. Governments will present papers. A general discussion will take place. The information so collected will be given the maximum publicity and circulation.
The use of this information will help governments and primary industry organisations to develop their own agricultural policies. But it will help also the primary producer to make a better judgment as to how much and what he should produce. I must emphasise again the point that T have made time and time again, that is, that the Government will not be telling primary producers what they should produce or should not produce. This is a matter for their own judgment.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Has the Premier of Victoria formally sought the transfer of the Victorian railways to the Commonwealth? If so, under what terms and conditions was the transfer offered, and when will a decision be made?
– We have received a letter from the Premier of Victoria suggesting that the Victorian railways should be taken over by the Commonwealth Government. From my reading of the letter and my recollection of the letter I think he was willing to make a free gift of the railways. The implications of accepting such a free gift will take some time to consider and I would need to do so before I could answer the last part of the honourable member’s question.
– I preface my question which is to the Minister for Immigration by referring to a resolution adopted by the annual convention of the New South Wales Division of the Liberal Party that the Department off Immigration should operate a more effective system of screening and selection in order to limit the arrival of undesirable migrants. In view of this resolution will the Minister inform me of what the present selection procedures involve?
– I have seen a Press reference to the resolution referred to by the honourable member. I must say that I am unaware of the reasons which were advanced for it but I want to observe that over a quarter of a century in which Australia has had experience in the promotion of a high level immigration programme our record in relation to selection and assessment of the 2.6 million migrants who have come to this country post- 1945 has been very good. That this is the case is evidenced in a number of ways. I think of the reports we have received of the incidence of mental illness and crime among migrants; of the reports that we have received on migrant youth; of the fact that the Australian system has been well commended by international authorities in the field of immigration; of the fact that our experience has been sought by other countries with high level immigration programmes, and finally of the fact that 2.6 million people who have come here in the post-war period have with some difficulties been effectively integrated into the Australian community.
Our system includes pre-selection on the basis of the written application and other documents, a direct interview with the applicant, health and radiological examinations, character and other checks. I want to say to the honourable member and to the House that this is not a question on which one can take any position of complacency because undoubtedly, in view of the fact that immigration is a difficult experience and because of the human factor, mistakes have been made in the past and will no doubt continue to be made in the future. What is important is that we should ensure that our system is as good as it can be made having regard to the human factor. I assure the House that our techniques of selection and assessment are under constant examination - that examination is taking place at the present time - that disabilities and deficiencies when shown to exist will certainly be remedied and that this point has been stressed by me in speaking with selection officers in some 10 overseas countries recently.
– Reverting to photographs, I direct a question to the Prime Minister. No doubt his attention has been drawn to photographs appearing in the September issue of ‘Vogue’ - a fashion magazine - depicting 2 of his Ministers, namely the Attorney-General and the Minister for the Army, acting as male models surrounded by a bevy of beautiful female mannequins. I ask him: Does he consider this is action befitting Ministers of State? What action has he taken to censure the 2 Ministers and to ensure a similar exhibition does not occur in future? Were they paid for their labours and if so are they members of the appropriate union covering the calling of a model? If not, was it a labour of love?
– I have seen the 2 photographs to which the honourable member refers. Indeed I have seen a number of photographs but I know the two to which he is referring.
– They have been touched up.
– No. I have seen them and I understand they appeared in the way they did without the knowledge of those who had their photographs so taken. However, I am sure that both the Ministers concerned, who have spoken to me on this, would admit that it was unfortunate that the photographs should have been so used and that they should have been in a position in which they could have been so used. But having said that, they did not then cry ‘fake’ or ‘unfair’.
– I ask the Minister for the Army the following question: ls it a fact that since 1964 deductions have been made from the pay of the Pacific Islands Regiment? Is it a fact that the Army is carrying on the establishment of the regiment various troops who are due for retirement? Has a pension scheme been implemented yet? If not, what are the reasons for the lack of implementation?
– The question of the pension fund and the complicated actuarial calculations are not solely for my Department to determine. Other departments are involved. However, I have been advised that the implementation of the scheme is soon to be completed and that sums already deducted from pay are being properly protected.
– Pursuant to section 18 of the Wheat Research Act 1957, I present the 12th annual report of the activities-
-Order! I suggest that the House come to order. It is almost impossible to hear the Minister for Primary Industry. After the last occasion on which I called Ministers to present papers 2 honourable members approached me and said that they could not hear what a Minister was saying. I think this is due in particular to conversation in the far corner of the chamber. I suggest that when a Minister is on his feet the conversation level be kept to a minimum.
– I present the 12th annual report of the activities under the Act for the year ended 31st December 1969.
– For the information of honourable members I present an interim report of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission for the year ended 30th June 1970. When the final report is available it will be presented in accordance with the statutory requirements
– by leave - In my second reading speech on the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill on 18th August 1970, I advised the House that the posting of registered publications and bulk pie-sorted mail to New Zealand at the domestic rates of postage was under discussion with the New Zealand Post Office. The Universal Postal Union Convention requires that such special arrangements should be agreed to by the country of destination.
The New Zealand postal administration has now advised that it docs not wish to continue the special arrangement whereby domestic bulk rates of postage are applied to bulk consignments of registered publications and pre-sorted printed papers posted to that country. However, the New Zealand Post Office has agreed that the new domestic bulk rates applicable to the categories of mail concerned should be permitted to apply up until 3 1st December 1970 and that the domestic individual item rate on registered publications could continue indefinitely. This means that as from 1st January 1971 all registered publications posted to New Zealand will be required to pay the individual item rate of 6c for the first 6 oz and 5c each additional 6 oz. Other types of printed papers posted in bulk will be required to pay the normal overseas printed papers rate. The postcard and greeting card airmail rate to New Zealand and its Territories, New Caledonia, New Hebrides, Loyalty Islands and Wallis and Futuna will be 7c per i oz from 1st October 1970 to accord with the surface postcard rate to these countries.
– by leave - I should like to ask the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) about the other side of this agreement - the arrangements that apply to mail sent from New Zealand to Australia. This morning I was supplied with information by an organisation that publishes a document called ‘The Plain Truth’, lt is published at a place called Ambassador College and it is part of the world-wide Assembly of the Church of God. The magazine has a circulation of about 50,000 copies monthly. I understand that if it is mailed in Australia for delivery in Australia its price is about 9c a copy. On the other hand if it is mailed in New Zealand for delivery to Australia - it makes the journey across the ocean - it is delivered by the Australian Post Office and instead of costing 9c it costs only 3c. ( would suggest that there is something in the nature of an anomaly here. Apparently it is cheaper to have this publication printed and posted in New Zealand for distribution in Australia than to have it printed and posted in Australia for distribution in Australia. This seems to be quite an anomaly. The situation will be aggravated by the new rates and it will now cost 12c if posted in Australia or about 4 times the cost if posted in New Zealand. I ask that consideration be given to this aspect of the agreement because it seems to me that if this applies to one publication, which has a circulation of 50,000 monthly, there must be other publications in the same category and the situation will be aggravated by the recent postal increases in Australia.
Consideration resumed from 29 September (vide page 1833).
Department of Housing
Proposed expenditure, $6,314,000.
– I move:
The Commonwealth must acknowledge, without reservation, its responsibility for ensuring that every Australian has a proper home in which to raise his family at a cost which does not impair his capacity to meet his family’s needs. This is not the position at present. In 1969 Australia required additional dwellings for at least 108,000 families newly formed by marriage and at least 25,000 families newly arrived from overseas. We required additional dwellings for 9,000 families who had previously shared accommodation and for 17,000 families who felt sufficiently affluent to want a second home. We required replacements for 18,000 dwellings lost by mishap or demolition. In all, therefore, our total national housing requirement was 177,000 dwellings. Of these, 34,000 were found from existing housing stock. Since in the course of 1969 we constructed only about 135,000 dwellings there was a shortfall in the housing supply of at least 8,000 dwellings. In 1970 we will require at least 147,000 new dwellings, but instead of stepping up our rate of construction we have actually allowed it to fall quite drastically. The number of new dwellings approved between 1969 and 1970 fell, in May from 14,732 to 11,307, a drop of 23 per cent; in June from 13,123 to 11,954, a drop of 9 per cent; in July from 15,029 to 11,184, a drop of 25.6 per cent; and in August from 13,772 to 11,628 a drop of 15.6 per cent. In the 4 months May to August the position was that approvals on new dwellings had fallen by 19 per cent as compared with the same period last year. A spokesman for the building industry, Mr R. L. Sears, Acting National President of the Housing Industry Association has said:
On the basis of recent approval figures, backed by continuing industry surveys, September quarter commencements are likely to be at least IS per cent below September quarter 1969, despite special efforts to accelerate commencements by Government authorities in the early months of the 1970-71 financial year.
Approvals for dwellings granted in the first half of 1970 fell short by 1,730 of the number granted in the first half of 1969. On present trends it appears that in 1970 there will be a shortage in Australia’s requirements of some 16,000 dwellings. By 1972 Australia’s annual requirement for new housing will have risen to 156,000 dwellings and by 1977 to 183,000 dwellings. We should be planning and gearing up for the next 3 decades because more dwellings will be constructed in that period than have been built since the commencement of our history. This is a challenge that we must meet. We cannot continue to use the housing sector of the building industry as a major instrument to dampen down the economy. The Treasurer (Mr Bury), when he was Minister for Housing, in a speech on the Budget in September 1965, said:
Yet his first action on becoming Treasurer was to. use the same worn out weapon to bludgeon down the home sector of the building industry. He gave no special consideration to this sector as was given to the rural sector. He knew what he had said in 1965. In the same speech he said:
We already have the labour and resources to construct upwards of 110,000 dwelling units per annum without undue strain on the rest of the economy.
He knew that there was no pressure on the home sector of the building industry in April 1970. He knew that the pressure was on the commercial sector, in particular in respect of commercial buildings. Evidence was available that there was no pressure on labour and resources in the home building sector then. His action in placing pressure on this sector of the industry, which he had warned against in 1965, forced interest rates up to the highest level in our history. When interest rates were increased by i per cent, from 7i per cent to 8 per cent, on a $12,000 loan from a permanent building society repayable over 25 years, it added a further $1,180 to the cost of repayment of the loan. In fact, the interest rate for permanent building society loans has increased from 6 per cent in June 1964 to 8 per cent at the present time, and some permanent building societies are charging even 8) per cent. This increase in interest rates from 6 per cent to 8 per cent means the payment of an extra sum of $4,590 -on a loan of $12,000 repaid over a period of 25 years. This is why we say there should be a national inquiry into housing. The Commonwealth Trading Bank has increased its interest rates during the last 2 decades from 3? per cent to 6i per cent.
The deposit gap is another aspect at which we must look. The maximum loan provided by the Commonwealth Savings Bank is $8,000. In special circumstances it will provide a second mortgage of $4,000, to lift the total loan to $12,000. This, in itself, is insufficient because the average cost of a block of land and a home throughout Australia now is $14,000. People have to find at least $2,000 to bridge the deposit gap. Honourable members opposite know that the Government had to increase from $15,000 to $17,500 the limit on the value of a home that may attract a homes savings grant, and even this is not enough. The honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) quite correctly stated during the debate on the Homes Savings Grant Bill that the limit should have been raised to at least $20,000.
There are other matters to consider besides the deposit gap and a person’s ability to pay. Repayments on a permanent building society loan of $12,000, repayable over 25 years, would be at least $92 a month. But the average weekly wage is only $77 a week, and 65 per cent to 75 per cent of workers earn less than the average weekly wage. This shows that the repayments on a $12,000 loan from a permanent building society are out of the reach of the normal worker. Because my time is short, I want to deal briefly with a few aspects of low cost housing. I do not want to be discourteous to the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) in another place. In herself she is a gracious lady, but as the Minister for Housing, she is a miserable failure. On 29th September last, when addressing a building and construction forum in Melbourne, she said:
One of the major aims of our housing contribution in the next few years will be to encourage the States to provide decent housing for lower income families who are unable to obtain satisfactory private rental accommodation . . .
Further on she said:
At the head of the list of our national housing aims are encouragement of the production of more homes, the building of homes specifically for renting . . .
This relates to the question of low cost housing. Never before in Australia’s history have the States been charged a higher interest rate on money borrowed to provide low cost housing. The Chifley Labor Government provided the States with 53-year loans, bearing an interest rate of 3 per cent, for the construction of low income housing. The Commonwealth agreed to meet three-fifths of the rent rebates. This was designed to ensure that no low income family would be required to pay more than one-fifth of its income for a government home. The interest rate has increased from 3 per cent to 6 per cent; yet the Minister talks about the Government’s policy in the way I have just mentioned.
In 1954-55, 17,900 homes were built by the State housing authorities. Those homes represented 22 per cent of all housing. But last year State housing authorities built 12,300 homes, or 9.7 per cent of all housing. This shows the hypocrisy of this Government. It talks about its major priorities, but those figures show how low housing is on the Government’s list of priorities. 1 turn to land prices. The average price of a block of land throughout Australia is $4,000, but in the Sydney area the average price is $7,000. In the Sydney area the price of land has increased by 200 per cent in the last 8 years. But during this period of time, due to planning the price of land sold at unrestricted auctions in Canberra decreased from $4,500 in 1962-63 to $3,000 in May 1970, a reduction of 33* per cent. Land can still be purchased at restricted auctions in Canberra for an average price of $900. I am quoting these figures from the thirteenth annual report of the National Capital Development Commission. lt is important that there should be a national inquiry to deal with interest rates, the deposit gap, the ability of people to pay and spiralling land costs. It should deal also with the necessity for more efficiency and uniformity within the building industry. The facts I have mentioned show the hypocrisy of the Government, which has failed to meet its commitments. The Labor Party calls for a national inquiry; it is long overdue.
– I rise to support the proposed expenditure for the Department of Housing. I would like to deal with this matter very quickly because I have quite a lot of ground to cover. In his 1963 Federal election policy speech, the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, announced a unique governmental measure to assist and encourage young people to acquire their first matrimonial home. It is now over 5 years since the first applications under the Homes Savings G-rs.nl Act were received on 20th July 1964. In that time more than 168,000 young married couples throughout Australia have received grants amounting to some $73m. In that time successful young couples have acquired homes valued at almost $ 1,750m. The homes savings grant scheme is a limited measure that does not set out to solve all Australia’s housing problems, but it has made a major contribution. There is no doubt that a basic objective of the scheme - to encourage young people to save for their own home - has been achieved.
Savings made for housing purposes by successful applicants for a grant since the scheme commenced would be substantially in excess of $250m. As the average age of a husband who receives a grant is 26 years - an age when income earning capacity is still limited - it is evident that these young people have responded to the purpose of the scheme. There has also been a slow but steady growth in the proportion of applicants able to acquire homes within the first 3 years of their marriage. Young home seekers acquire their homes in a variety of ways - by the purchase of a new or previously occupied home, construction by a building contractor on their own land or construction as owner builders. The home may be a flat or a home unit or it may be used in conjunction with that young person’s occupation, business or profession - for example a doctor’s home and surgery or a farm home. The home may be erected on land that the young person owns or holds under a long term Crown or private lease or even on land held jointly with a third person under an exclusive right of occupancy. Provided that the applicant for a grant has security of tenure of the land and the home meets the local authority’s requirements for permanent habitation, the scheme is sufficiently flexible to encompass a wide variety of circumstances.
I have stated those facts, Mr Chairman, because many people do not know that they are entitled to this bonus. The majority of young people acquire their first home by purchasing a new or previously occupied home but about one-third build through a building contractor and some 5 per cent build their own homes as owner builders. Only 1 per cent acquire a flat or a home unit and about 1 per cent of those who receive a grant under the scheme build a home which in addition is used as a shop, office or farm. Each year some 30,000 young couples acquire their first home and receive a homes savings grant averaging more than $400 as a tax free reward for their savings. The Commonwealth’s constitutional powers on housing are limited and the scheme must be considered in the wider context of Commonwealth housing policy as a part of the overall approach to the needs of the community. The scheme assists young people in the age group from 18 to 36 years, when housing needs for young married couples are urgent but finance is limited. Assistance to those the scheme benefits is also offered through the Commonwealth’s Housing Loans Insurance Act which is designed to reduce the need for a high interest second mortgage.
I have stated these facts because again the great advantage that young people can get from the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation is not generally appreciated or as well known as it should be. 1 have been surprised on getting in touch with various lending institutions to learn that they have not been fully aware of the advantages to be gained from that Corporation which has done a very good job. Tt has helped to meet the deposit gap, has assisted young people and has obviated the need for them to go to a finance company and pay an excessive rate of interest. The Housing Loans Insurance Corporation has done an excellent job, and although extensively advertised and written up in various journals in some quarters the full benefit has not accrued to the young married couple because of ignorance of its functions. The Commonwealth Government also contributes in a worth while way to housing development generally through its important role in the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement; the dwellings for single aged pensioners scheme, which makes provision for the payment of grants to the States; the aged persons homes scheme, which involves the payment of subsidies to benevolent organisations, and the war service homes scheme which provides loans to ex-servicemen. These all encompass a great deal of assistance towards the housing of different sections of our community and I think the Government is to be congratulated and applauded on what it has done.
I wished to make some further comments on that aspect of housing, but as time is so limited I will have to pass on to other matters I want to bring up. Due to a misunderstanding that is not entirely the fault of the applicants quite a number have failed to receive the grant. In the first instance many people believed that the cost of the home - say $15,000 - and not the value determined by a valuer was the material consideration. I think this is wrong. The scheme was designed to encourage thrift. This method discourages thrift. Land being purchased on terms is an allowable form of saving but a house and land being purchased on terms are not. I think this should be accepted as a form of saving. When a person buys a block of ground and pays it off on terms it is accepted. I cannot understand why, if he buys a house already on a block of land, he is not allowed to pay this off on terms and have it accredited as savings under this scheme. I trust the Minister will take note of that and have the Act amended so that instalments paid towards the purchase of a home can be taken into consideration.
Many young couples missed out on the grant because their savings bank account was not designated as a homes savings account. In the first year of operation this was not a requirement and it is not now necessary to do so. I think in the circumstances enabling legislation should be passed in order to pay the grant to those people who have technically been adjudged unqualified for the grant and been refused it on this ground, I think it is unfair that these young people, who have done everything correctly, according to the spirit of the Act at any rate, should be disqualified for this purpose.
I wanted to speak about dwellings for aged persons and the migrant flats scheme, but as time is running out I desire now to speak about the hight cost of land, especially in New South Wales. The high cos’ of land in New South Wales has made ii more difficult for young people to own their own homes. The high cost of land h due to the implementation of planning in that State which is iniquitous and cruel in its application. Thousands of acres of land were frozen in a so-called green belt which has now almost completely disappeared. Thousands of vacant lots of land have an embargo upon them and are lying idle. Zoning is the great and paramount reason for high land prices. A contributing factor is the high handed attitude of the Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage
Board, which appears to be the determining factor in land releases.
What is required in New South Wales is an elected co-ordinating advisory body to supersede the bureaucratic State Planning Authority of New South Wales which has caused distress, frustration and confusion wherever its tentacles have stretched out. Young people are being asked to pay a prohibitive and enormous price for land in New South Wales and this has been brought about by artificial implementation of planning. The Liberal-Country Party Government in New South Wales has made the great mistake of not repealing the socialistic legislation that was on the statute books when it first occupied the treasury bench. Had the New South Wales Government done the right thing as a free enterprise government it would have immediately repealed those Acts and young people would not now be in the position, as the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) has stated, of paying $8,000, $9,000 or $10,000 for land. This artificial implementation of planning has been responsible for this high increase, making it difficult for the low wage earner and the young married couple to own their own homes, as this and all Liberal governments would wish them to do. lt would appear to me that the only way the low wage earner will be able to purchase his home is through the Housing Commission, which offers exceptional terms. They are good. I believe that from now on, because of the high price of land, we should do all we can to assist the low wage earner to own his own home, if the position is not checked very quickly it will be quite impractical and impossible for the low wage earner to own his own home unless be purchases it through the Housing Commission of New South Wales. Houses built by the Housing Commission are quite well constructed and in most cases they are sited in desirable locations. I would like to see some checks on the inflationary trend in the price of land. I understand Victoria had adopted a system of zoning. In Victoria the price of land is sky rocketing and putting land outside the compass of those people whom we should endeavour most to assist. I refer to the low wage earner, especially the low wage earner with three or four children.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by the hon ourable member for Reid (Mr Uren). The Government is clearly worried about the reactions that have rebounded as a result of the swipe the Treasurer (Mr Bury) gave the building industry early in 1970. When he made this swipe he must have forgotten the speech he made about 5 years ago when he deprecated the fact that the building industry was used as a stop-go accelerator and brake for the economy. Recent statistics have shown that the brakes on the building industry were applied excessively by the Treasurer in the first few months of this year. They are now being eased but are they being eased sufficiently? Has sufficient notice been taken of the housing requirements of the Australian people? Will the amount authorised for borrowing be sufficient to meet the urgent needs of the many thousands on the State housing commission books who are waiting to purchase or rent a house? The government regards housing finance as an economic weapon. When the economy is a bit slack finance is provided for additional housing of course but it is never enough to meet the needs of the people. When the economy has recovered and the need for housing is at its greatest the Government cuts back on housing finance.
Finance for housing should be based on the needs of the community and should not be used as an economic weapon in the stop-go policy of this Government. Overall there is a steady deterioration in the number of houses that can be built for those on low incomes. In 1968-69 the State housing commissions built only 8,488 dwellings although more than 51,000 applications were lodged during that year. There was a lag of more than 76,000 it the end of 1968-69. This is a serious situation for those on low incomes. They cannot afford high rents. Their only hope of owning a house is to buy it through the State housing commission. I was interested in a statement made by the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) on 16th July this year. She said:
The fact is that the overall decline in home building activity that has occurred has produced a barely significant increase in unemployment amongst skilled workers, apart from bricklayers in Western Australian.
Bricklayers are the first affected when housing restrictions are applied but restrictions soon have a snowballing effect throughout the rest of the building industry. The Secretary of the Building Workers Union in Western Australia has pointed out that up to the end of June 152 tradesmen had either left the industry for other States or were working in other employment.
The fact that cannot be ignored is that the building industry has been hard hit by the policy of this Government. Figures released by the Deputy Commonwealth Statistician show that Western Australia had the sharpest decline in building activity in the June quarter of any State. There were 3,650 approvals during the June quarter, 1,215 fewer than in the March quarter. The ‘West Australian’ on 31st August 1970 quoted the Deputy Commonwealth Statistician as saying that the total value of building approvals in Western Australia in July was $32. 26m compared with the monthly average of $32. 92m in 1969-70. He poined out, however, that the July figure was boosted by a record approval of $ 1 5.8m - nearly half the total, be it noted - to be expended on the building of offices, factories and buildings other than houses and flats. He went on to state that houses and fiats approved totalled 910 units valued at $ 10.47m compared with the monthly average in 1969-70 of 1,720 units valued at $18.73m. That is a severe reduction in the number of units approved for the housing of people. Taking Australia as a whole, housing approvals fell by more than 9 per cent in the first 6 months of the year while office block approvals rose by 70 per cent. In Western Australia there are more than 19,000 applicants on the State Housing Commission books awaiting accommodation. In 4 years the waiting period has gone from 14 months to 4 years for homes to be purchased and for homes to be rented the waiting period is nearer to 5 years. Emergency cases - people living on verandahs, in caravans and in condemned houses - have to wait an excessively long time to get accommodation. The emergency cases include people who have court eviction orders against them.
Land speculators have been making huge profits at the expense of home builders. Land prices are more stable now but are excessively high. Since 1950 land prices have jumped. In some areas land has doubled in price each 5 years and in other areas doubled in price in less than 4 years.
Land prices in residential areas of Perth are higher than in any other State. The cheapest of blocks is about $5,000. With a deposit of $1,000 to buy such a block, a buyer will pay $17.50 a week for 5 years, bringing the total cost of the land to more than $7,000. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has pointed out that in the Australian Capital Territory - this was also pointed out by the honourable member for Reid just some minutes ago - because of the system that works here, land prices have been kept at least stable and in fact in recent years have decreased. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) rejects the suggestion that grants should be made to the States to enable them to acquire, subdivide, develop and sell land at cost in order to keep down the price of land. The credit squeeze and the increase in interest rates have made it more difficult for young couples to buy homes. More and more couples are having to borrow housing finance at high Interest rates. Some are paying mortgage broken 12i per cent and, in some cases, 14 per cent. In the State House, on 11th August 1970, Mr Claughton addressed a question to the Leader of the House. He asked:
Fs it a fact that some lenders are advancing short term housing finance at rates in excess of 14 per cent?
The Minister. Mr Griffith, replied:
It is understood that this would be so. That is a shocking rate of interest for young people to have to pay in order to obtain bridging finance. This is because the building societies and the banks have been forced by this Government to restrict lending for houses. The rate of 12i per cent is about 4 per cent more than the charges made by building societies and about 5i per cent higher than some bank rates.
This Government should be forcing interest rates down, not forcing them up as the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out. Seventy-five per cent of all housing loans from institutional lenders are now made at rates of interest the total repayment of which substantially exceeds the value of the loan itself. In 1949 the interest on a savings bank loan of $8,000 totalled $4,456. It now totals $8,440. It is also pointed out that 24 per cent of all home buyers are obliged to secure an average of $2,000 from fringe lenders outside the banking system at very high rates of interest. I have just quoted some of the rates of interest that are being charged. If this Government really wanted to assist young people to secure their own homes it should allow interest on housing loans to be a tax deduction, as it is in the United Kingdom. Why could this not be allowed as a tax deduction? lt would enable young people to have the opportunity of more easily acquiring their own homes.
The proportion of flats being built to houses is excessive. A recent estimate stated that in Western Australia 1 flat was built for every 2.2 houses. I receive complaints from families who have had their names down for a State Housing Commission house but who have had to accept a flat. What sort of a life is it for a family with young children to live in a flat in a building of possibly 2 or 3 storeys? According to some reports, flat living is responsible for the growth in child delinquency. These types of dwelling are the slums of tomorrow. In fact they are actually terraces built on end, without backyards. When calculating the extent to which the housing position is deteriorating each year it is necessary to take into account both the increase in population and the demolition of existing houses. I do not know what the overall figure for Australia is, but in Western Australia it is estimated that 1,000 houses go out of circulation each year. They’ are condemned, demolished for factories and offices or pulled down to build freeways. This number must be made up.
Apart from the natural increase in population we must cater for those who come from overseas. A heavy burden is placed on the State to provide houses. This means that those who are waiting for homes have to wait for a longer period. Migration is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government, and therefore the housing of these people should become a Commonwealth responsibility. In Western Australia the proportion of migrants to population is higher than that of any other State. This places an added burden on the State. Instead of helping people to secure a home this Government has been responsible for making it more difficult. The credit squeeze has made housing finance more difficult to secure and has forced up interest rates. The housing situation for many people has become a hopeless one, and the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of this Government. For its deliberate action in setting back the building of houses this Government stands condemned.
The Opposition proposes, as stated in the amendement so ably moved by the honourable member for Reid, that a national inquiry should be initiated to ascertain the nation’s housing needs in the future; to identify the shortcomings of the building industry so that they may be quickly removed; to establish beyond doubt the priorities which should be observed in the provision of funds for housing; to overcome interest and deposit problems; and to provide land and housing at low cost by means of appropriate agreement between the Commonwealth, the States and local government authorities.
– We have just heard from the 2 spokesmen for the Australian Labor Party the usual complaints and demands for ever increasing expenditure on another avenue, in this case housing. Naturally the Government has a responsibility, as it is responsible for the guidance of the economy of this country, to see that proper priorities are arranged and that funds are made available for and are channelled into housing according to the amount which the economy can stand and which it is physically possible to use in building. I just want to take up one or two of the points which have been made, particularly by the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb), because he turned his back on the responsibility of providing balance in the economy by just touching on 2 points affected, namely, levels of employment and general price levels in the economy. These matters are bound up with the monetary and fiscal policies of the Government. When the Government sees a need to reduce the level of demand in the community in order to provide as much stability as can responsibly be provided in price levels and employment levels it can affect demand throughout the community. One aspect affected will be the commencements of new buildings.
The honourable member referred to a stop-go policy. The economy of any industrialised and sophisticated country such as Australia is a very complicated machine. How else other than by a stop-go method could one drive a car in heavy traffic? That is a very apt analogy to the management of an economy such as Australia’s. It is necessary from time to time to put in a few nips and at other times to inject funds in various ways in order to preserve a balance. I shall not now deal with this because it is a very complicated field. Were it otherwise, the Labor Party would be the first to complain of a buildup in unemployment or of prices and inflation generally being allowed to rise beyond acceptable levels. There can never be enough supply to answer the demand of people for housing. J am aware, as all honourable members are, of needs in many areas. Sections of Melbourne and Sydney in particular contain poor housing. It is a pity that more honourable members do not visit some of these areas to acquaint themselves with the problem. To put matters into perspective, we have to realise that these areas are relatively small compared with the total areas of the suburbs in this country. The honourable member for Stirling referred to certain statistics for building in Western Australia of which I have some knowledge. Everyone in this House knows that Western Australia and Perth in particular have seen in the last few years a tremendous building programme. It has been said to be approaching boom conditions. With that great demand it is natural that there will be fluctuations from time to time particularly when it is necessary, for totally different reasons, for the monetary policy to soak up surplus funds and prevent demand building up to unacceptable heights. The honourable member concluded by referring to the amendment before the House for yet another inquiry. Whenever the Opposition is unable to formulate a policy with any definition, we have a demand for another inquiry. Why is it that if things are as bad as previous speakers have said the Opposition cannot suggest some specific action that should be taken instead of just making general demands for more housing and higher standards?
One matter which was alluded to today was that of general land prices throughout Australia. Certainly this is a matter which must engage the attention of anyone who is interested in housing. It is easy to criticise rising land prices, but it is worth pointing out that this is a world wide phenomenon which has occurred in all communities but mainly in industrial com munities. It is in part the consequence of growth of an economy and of the wealth of an area. Land prices are more stable now. If we look at the criticisms which are made from time to time by those not in government and who have not the responsibility of government, the usual solutions proposed are that there ought to be large scale resumptions, which clearly affect individual rights which Australians correctly expect and maintain. We have suggestions of price control, which brings about a great deal of artificiality and, incidentally, black markets, with the price set becoming invariably the minimum.
Another solution that is proposed and with which I am in a little sympathy is the making available of more land. But if we look closely at any metropolitan area map we will find that there is really not a lot of land available. This is obviously a short term solution, although I think at times a solution which could answer a particular need. Nevertheless, with Australian cities building as they do and sprawling out into tremendous distances, with a contrast that is quite noticeable when one travels overseas, there is great demand for services such as length of piping, sewerage, water and electricity. So that general calls for more housing, lower costs and improvement in environment do not get us very far forward. We have to see the whole thing in context and try to make suggestions of differences in emphasis and in priorities rather than bringing forth, as any member could, an odd complaint or a general criticism.
The number of dwelling units completed in the year 1969-70 totalled 140,000- a tremendous number. In the year to come there will be an increase of 2,000 or 3,000. Perhaps the total number of dwellings completed this year will be 143,000 - no mean figure. Honourable members may say that it should be more. I suggest that that does not get us very much further forward. In addition to the cost of houses themselves there is a considerable cost in providing services by State government and local government bodies. When one calls for an improvement in standards and environment, which it is quite proper for anyone to do, one must always remember that it will involve more cost and that the additional expenditure in meeting that cost will have to be taken from something else.
Really the problem of housing comes down to a problem of finance and of economic capacity or the physical capacity of the labour force in Australia. The Commonwealth Government in the year 1970-71 will provide $288m, being a 10 per cent increase over the previous year, for the financing of housing. That is a large sum. That of course is by no means the total expenditure. That is the Commonwealth Government’s contribution, from the total allocation for all needs and all the demands on the Commonwealth Budget, for this very necessary aspect of life. When one talks of increasing housing and increasing finance it must always be remembered that there is not always in any given area enough physical labour to build more houses in a given period. There have been a number of cases where demands have been made for additional funds for housing and there just have not been enough additional tradesmen available to carry out the work to any significant extent. If money is poured into housing and if demand completely outstrips the physical capability to build, inflation will result. Building costs will rise because there is demand - because money is available but there are insufficient resources to meet that demand. The housing problem, like so many other avenues of government, is not capable of a one hit solution. There is need for a continuing effort, and I think some of the suggestions made by earlier speakers are under the eye of the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabella Rankin) and her Department will continue to be. It is a continuing effort; indeed it is a challenging effort.
The Government has done a number of praiseworthy things in relation to housing. In closing I mention the homes savings grant scheme, which has been a tremendous success. It provides, as honourable members know, a tax free grant for young couples under the age of 36 years who have saved for their first matrimonial home over a 3-year period. It is aimed at encouraging saving; it is a reward for saving. It is also increasing the funds available for housing on a long term basis. During the financial year 1969-70, 28,800 grants were made, totalling $12m. Of the applications received 86 per cent were approved, and the majority of them were for the full amount of $500. It is a substantial and worthwhile contribution to young people saving in order to bridge, as it is called, the second mortgage finance gap which was alluded to by the honourable member for Stirling. Under this scheme, which has been in operation since 1964, 174,000 grants have been made and $7 5m has been paid out. The total value of a house and land which may attract a grant has been increased from the $14,000 at the commencement of the scheme to the recently announced figure of $17,500. It has been suggested from time to time that this is not a very large amount, but I put it to the Committee that it is an acceptable amount for those in the community who have need and who are prepared to save. In spite of all the figures produced, the average value of house and land for which grants were made in 1969- 70, as is shown in the interim statement of the Secretary of the Department of Housing, was $11,600. So I draw attention again to this scheme, which is criticised from time to time but which has provided most substantial amounts to help in the financing of housing, lt is a scheme operating to the benefit of young persons. As honourable members know, operating for aged persons is the Aged Persons Homes Act, which gives help to elderly people who are in need.
– I desire to enter this debate to support the amendment that has been moved by the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) and which now lies on the table. The honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland), who has just resumed his seat, has been in this place only a little longer, but not much longer, than I have been here. He has fallen already into the trap of reflecting the thinking of the Government in relation to housing, which is a very urgent matter.
It is not just good enough in 1970 to stand in this chamber, as we have seen some honourable members on the other side during the course of the debate on the Estimates, and make stupid comparisons between what was expended in 1949 and what it is proposed to expend in 1970-71. I do not suppose that a student doing a thesis on a simple subject would want to make comparisons using those periods to prove that there was anything relative in them. However the honourable member for Curtin who, having resumed his seat, has left the chamber now, has fallen into this trap because he has seen fit to go into a whole heap of figures and, to some extent, statistics, etc.
Let us bring the debate back to the needs of young people in our community today. Let us consider those young persons who are embarking upon the purchase of a home. Let us consider those who are inquiring and starting to think about setting1 up a home and what confronts them. Would it be any good for me to stand in this chamber this afternoon and say in respect of the areas of Rostrevor, Campbelltown, Paradise and Dernancourt in the electorate which I represent that I was doing justice to the burdens that confront these young people who will become new home owners or who are new home owners by saying that 5,000 new electors have come into these areas since writs were issued for the last Federal House of Representatives election? No!
What ought to be said in this chamber - and it should be said more often - is that this Government by its actions since the time when the last Federal election was held has heaped a burden upon the home owner that is an absolute and utter disgrace. I mention a report in the Adelaide Advertiser’ of today’s date. This newspaper has only just arrived here and. as yet. I have not had time to look at it thoroughly. But I notice that, on page 6. that builders themselves deny that they are back to a normal building programme. In fact, I will quote this report. Tt states in part:
The president of the South Australian branch of the association (Mr F. Wilkinson) said that housing in South Australia, even after a slight increase in the 1969-70 figures, was still running at the low 1961-62 credit-squeeze level.
The credit squeeze of 1961-62 was imposed by a government of the same political persuasion as the present Government which repeated that stupid action earlier this year. The call was that inflation was present. In taking that action, the Government has retarded progress in an area that was just getting back on its feet in some States. Of course, I refer to the building industry area.
Let us consider what has been said in this chamber and indeed in other places by so-called responsible Ministers of this Government. I refer also to Press state ments that have been made by them. The Treasurer (Mr Bury) is now overseas witnessing some demonstrations in some of the areas to which his mission from this country has taken him. The Treasurer saw fit to describe the action taken by the Government in relation to the economic situation in somewhat different terms from those used by his Leader, the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). But, since then, both gentlemen have said that conditions have returned to normal. If the Government maintains that the situation has returned to normal because of its actions and because of the policy, short-term as it may be, that was introduced by the action of the Government in March last, if my memory serves me correctly, and if the Government maintains that by its action it has arrested the inflationary spiral, why should the Government - and I include in my remarks the Minister for the Army (Mr Peacock), who is sitting at the table - look at the need to provide relief to the lifetime burden which has been placed on the shoulders of young people in my electorate by the increase in interest rates? This burden has been inflicted upon young people in other electorates also. I ask whether the Government stopped to think about its action and the consequences that would result from it. Perhaps the Government thought of these things, but I ask whether it really paid any regard at all to what its action was likely to mean to those, people who had existing arrangements with banks and the like, and other lending institutions which followed the action of the Government and increased their interest rates?
Let us take the case of a person who is paying back a mortgage over a period of 25 years. The fact is that, if the interest charged on that loan has increased from 6i per cent to 7 per cent, that person will be required to pay at least an additional $1,000 on that loan. By its action to arrest the inflationary spiral the Government through the increased interest rates that it has imposed has taken back the benefit gained by the people. If interest rates had not been increased, these people would not have been required to carry this additional burden for what might be called the larger part of their working lives.
What is wrong with that concept? I ask the Minister for the Army, who is at the table: What is wrong with that concept?
Why is it that the Government has never done this before? Why is it that the Government has imposed these increased interest charges to overcome its economic problems in an area to which, if one accepts the words of the Government, some regard must be paid, in taking into consideration the concept of the overall economic situation at that time. This action is completely hypocritical. It is levelled at the younger people in the community. It is directed at the home owners in the community. Yet, we see members on the Government side who have the gall, the stupidity and, for that matter, the arrogance to come into this chamber and to say that because ‘X’ number of houses have been built since the Government imposed its new economic policy, all is good and there is nothing to worry about. There is a lot to be worried about. Honourable members opposite wonder why honourable members on this side of the Committee complain about the manner in which this Government has carried on in the last 2 sitting days. The action taken by the Government was nothing more than a diversionary tactic to direct attention away from the problems of the community. These are the problems of people who are a damned sight more important than answers to questions such as: Who waved a flag, for what, where, and so forth and so on?
If a lending organisation has increased its interest rate from 7 per cent to 7i per cent, this will mean that over a 25 year period the repayment required will have been increased by almost $1,000. If the increase has been from 6i per cent to Ti per cent, this amount comes darn near to $2,000. And so it goes on and on. Irrespective of the source of a loan - whether it be from the Commonwealth Savings Bank, other savings banks, life assurance companies or other bodies - apart from loans through the War Service Homes Division, this burden has been inflicted upon these people. The Government by its actions has taken away from the actual wage earner a percentage of his or her weekly pay packet. Yet, in this chamber on that aspect of the matter we hear from time to time the hypocritical statement from Government members that the level of wages has continued to rise and, as a result of this, inflation has occurred. I invite honourable members to examine that statement. Where does the Government stop? When does the Government commence to understand that its policies over the years have not been objective policies in the interests of the people whom it represents?
Why, in this chamber during the course of the last few days, my friend and colleague, the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun) posed a question to the Prime Minister. It was a good question too! What sort of an answer did he get? The answer was a slight on the Premier of South Australia, because the Prime Minister happens not to like that person as a person or as a holder of that office, lt does not reflect anything on the Prime Minister either. The fact is this: If it is good enough for the Commonwealth to advance funds for the development of the fair city of Canberra and for other territories under the control of the Commonwealth, what is wrong with the concept that the Government ought to accept its responsibility, along with the vote that it receives, to arrest this tremendous burden which is placed upon teenagers and young people in the community as a result of the ever increasing and spiralling cost of land? Let us take the position in a newly developed area. With the use of bulldozers, a builder will be able to build a lot more easily and much more cheaply on land than a contractor could in the past. But young home buyers still must pay enormous sums for the land.
Let us examine the question of the financial predicaments in which the State governments find themselves. Let us do this in spite of what has been said from time to time by the Prime Minister on this subject. It was mentioned by him even today in answer to a question. The State governments today are being accused by the Federal Government of being responsible for matters ranging from the proposed ban on the shooting of the red kangaroos to any other subject that honourable members may wish to name. The Commonwealth says that these are State responsibilities. But the States have not the responsibility nor have they the right to collect what must be described as the bulk of the revenue that is provided by way of taxation by every wage earner in the Commonwealth. It comes into Federal revenue. Part of Labour’s policy is that cheaper finance will be made available to State governments and in turn to shire councils, local municipalities and so on for development of land for a whole host of purposes, one of which concerns the vital sector of home building. This Government causes ever increasing costs of homes. It lends money to State Government instrumentalities, such as water boards, at interest rates that impose upon them an ever increasing burden. This burden moves down the line until finally the poor old purchaser has to bear the brunt of it.
Why is it that the Government as a lending authority imposes such a tremendous interest rate on the States which in turn have to pass on that burden? To sum it up in another way, although the people in the States initially provide the money through taxes, they pay again, again and again. One could stand for a week repeating that very word but 15 minutes is al) that the Government has seen fit to allot to individual honourable members speaking in this debate of a very serious problem confronting the community generally. In doing that simple act the Government has conveyed its regard for the problems associated with housing. Vet the honourable member who spoke for two or three minutes and who has now left the chamber said that housing is a State Government responsibility. I challenge him on that. Would he as a member of a State Government accept that housing was completely his Government’s responsibility? He comes from Western Australia where the building of cottage homes, as a result of his Government’s action and his own actions, has been reduced by 50 per cent, although the demand and the need for additional homes were there.
The cost structure has risen out of all proportion. The Government has not looked at the trade practices that exist within the building industry today, particularly in respect of those houses in which a great deal of imported timber is used. Costs have risen as a result of a number of regulations, wise or unwise, within the States. Douglas fir, commonly known as
Oregon, should be landed in this country today at a much cheaper price than it has been for some years but the cost of it to the home builder is ever increasing. Has the Government ever given any thought to that? Has it ever given any thought to looking at the timber cartels that exist in this country? Of course it has not. The simple fact is that it represents those people and it does not represent the wage earner, the worker, the salary earner and those who come out here as migrants and who have to build homes at tremendous cost. He has to find suitable employment and a second job to carry his mortgage. He has to ensure that his wife will work and when he goes along to get a loan he has virtually to guarantee to the lending authority that his wife is not in short term employment. He has perhaps to go beyond that lending authority to other fringe areas of financial help at tremendous cost to himself. He may find himself working over >he weekend in a part time capacity so as to keep his head above water. All these things ought to be known to the Government. If any Government supporter stands up and says that he is aware of them, my answer will be that the Government has not done anything about them.
The Government has embarked on a policy in regard to homes for the aged and I am not criticising that policy. But it has made one tragic blunder here because it has not maintained a continuing interest in the people for whom it said it was providing homes for the rest of their lives. The Government has exploited this area of the community and I intend to deal with that matter in a subsequent debate. Let no Government supporter stand up here and try to make out that he has a halo around his head because of the Government’s housing policy: it may well fall clown around his neck.
– I am rather dragged lo my feet by the mildly hysterical display we have just witnessed. I think probably it is just as well to get out of fiction and back to fact and deal with what the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) spurned and that is accurate figures. Let us be quite plain about this: I have not heard any mention by the Opposition that housing is a State responsibility. 1 know of no State government that would wish to deny that. It is a State responsibility. It is not ours. We have intruded into some fields at the request of the States. We have intruded into housing by providing some finance to the States, though most of the finance by far comes through the State savings banks and State sources of capital. Housing is a State responsibility. That is why when 1-
– You put the interest rates up.
– When you have finished jabbering I will continue. That is why when 1 was a member of a State Parliament - it would have done the honourable member for Sturt some good to have gone through that mill first - I was aware of governmental teams coming from Victoria and from New South Wales to see the housing system in South Australia which was set up by Sir Thomas Playford. In case the honourable member for Sturt has not heard of it, it is called the South Australian Housing Trust. In its day - I believe it still is - it was the biggest breakthrough in housing for wage earners and those who were not in fortunate circumstances. If it has a fault the fault is that it tends to take over too much from private enterprise. Perhaps those on the Opposition benches may not agree with me but the fact is that private enterprise in the field of housing in South Australia does not have the implication that it does have in other States. The Trust was created not by a Federal Labor Party, not by a Federal Liberal Party or Federal Country Party coalition, but by a State Liberal Party and by a very great and a very far sighted State Premier. This housing scheme in South Australia was necessary because the finances of every person in that State were affected by the fact that the cost of living there was considerably below that of other States. This held true until about 4 years ago when unfortunately the cost structure in that State got slightly out of plumb for political reasons. I will not elaborate upon them because I think that most honourable members can accurately recall who was in power there 4 years ago.
I really wish to take up the wildly erratic insinuations that the honourable member for Sturt cast. If he has a look at tha Housing Quarterly’ which has just been released today - I presume he has had an opportunity to look at it - he will find that the Australia-wide increase for the March quarter was 3 per cent for new houses and 18 per cent for flats. In the June quarter houses were down 7 per cent and flats were down 16 per cent throughout Australia. If he has a look at the South Australian figures-
– That does not sound impressive to me.
– It does not, no. But he should look at the South Australian figures. The honourable member for Sturt referred, if my memory serves me correctly, to a statement made by a representative of the building trade in South Australia, who said that the figures in that State were below the 1961 figures. Let us have a look at this. Contrary to those figures I read out, for the June quarter in South Australia there was an increase of fairly considerable proportions. It was an increase of 7 per cent for houses, which was about the general Australian average in the March quarter, and 81 per cent for flats, which is well ahead of the Australian general figure. In the June quarter, instead of the minus figures which I gave, according to the latest figures available houses were up 7 per cent and flats were up 32 per cent. In view of that, it is quite wrong and quite irresponsible to quote people who say that the building industry in South Australia is not improving. I would like to follow this a little further. Commencements in the June quarter were 5 per cent greater than in the March quarter, and 18 per cent above the level for the June quarter of 1969. indicating
– It is the Labor Government.
– On the contrary. The Labor Government, of course, has not been in office in South Australia long enough to make one ounce of difference. The fact is that a Liberal government - I thank the honourable member for interjecting - has put up a first class record in that State in a field that is a State responsibility, not a Federal one.
The honourable member for Sturt suggested that come the golden era, as he no doubt sees it, when all sorts of wild contentions that an Opposition can put forward can be tested in the light of the then exising situation - if we can imagine such a state of affairs - cheaper finance would be available. But, of course, the honourable member completely overlooks the implications of the Government’s monetary policy. This would not be cheaper finance; it would be worth a lot less. This is the lesson to be learned from the Budget and the state of the economy at the moment. It is quite futile to say: ‘When we get into power we will provide housing finance at 0.5 per cent interest’ because this implies a certain state of liquidity in the economy. If the honourable member wants to kid people that such finance would be worth anything in those circumstances he wants to think again.
There is one other remark made by the honourable member to which I would like to reply. I refer to his contention that only 15 minutes is allowed to each honourable member to debate housing. We are now dealing with the estimates for the Department of Housing. He would be well aware that with the co-operation of the Opposition Whip we have come to a proper programme in which we have allowed about 52i hours to debate the Estimates. This is considerably more than the time taken to debate the Estimates last year. There will be other opportunities for the most loquacious member in the Parliament to speak on housing, whether on the adjournment or during debates on housing legislation. We are meant to be debating estimates of expenditure. Honourable members on this side are happy with the Budget in total and perhaps we are not so concerned to make statements that will not bear scrutiny. For heavens sake, if we are to make statements on housing or anything else we should base them on the latest statistics. We should then inquire of the States, which have the responsibility for housing, whether they want the Federal Government to take over this responsibility.
– I support the amendment. It is with deep regret that I view these estimates. They do nothing to ease the situation that exists in Western Australia. The Budget has done nothing to ease the parlous situation facing the building industry in my State. It has done nothing to assist the State Housing Commission, the pensioners and others awaiting reasonable rental accommodation or young married couples living in flats who are trying to obtain a home on reasonable deposit and finance at a reasonable interest rate. No emergency relief is offered in the compounding housing crisis which exists in Western Australia. This is a bitter disap pointment. The building industry in Western Australia was hit severely earlier this year when the Government increased interest rates on government bonds, thus bringing about a general increase in interest rates.
This measure was not introduced at Budget time. It was introduced as a socalled emergency measure and caused immediate hardship to thousands of home buyers throughout Australia. Many home buyers did not realise that they had a rise and fall clause in their mortgage agreements and that they were obliged to pay higher interest rates. One might say that the home purchaser should read and understand the fine print in his agreement. But let us face it, young people who go to a reputable firm, building society or bank do not look at the fine print. Rather, they look for guidance. As a result, very many people - thousands in fact - who could ill afford it were trapped when the increased interest rates on Government bonds put the building societies and others in the position where they had to put the rise and fall clause into operation. This meant that as much as a further 5 years was added to the repayment period of their mortgages. Nothing has been done to relieve this situation. Assurances have not been given that people will not be caught by further increases. This Government should legislate to protect these people.
The home buyer, who is a most valuable asset to this country, is invariably rearing a young family. This is the person upon whom the future of this country will depend. These people looked to the Budget for relief and assurance but none has been forthcoming. Home costs in Western Australia are unbearable. High land prices, increasing building costs and government inspired increased interest rates on housing and in fact on all institutions serving the community, including local government, have caused prohibitive home repayments. Home buyers also have to bear the added burden of higher home service costs such as municipal rates caused by further interest charges which we charged by bond issues to the various authorities. This is not good enough, and our young people deserve a better start in life. They deserve encouragement from this Government. Some young couples have delayed marriage to save and qualify for the homes savings grant. Some of them, who have been saving for some time, have come to me and complained bitterly that they will now pay far more in interest in their life time because of the increased interest rates than they can ever hope to get from the grant. In fact, they feel as though they have been tricked for they point out that it is hard to obtain a home within the qualifications set down by the requirements to obtain the grant. Because they must wait and save, inflated prices often absorb whatever little grant they may receive.
There is a housing crisis and this Government should institute a national inquiry into housing needs and associated matters. The Australian Labor Party will carry out such an inquiry when it becomes the government. But why should our young people in these days of plenty suffer because of an acute housing shortage? There is no shortage of materials. This Government has had 20 years to plan for the present population. lt has failed miserably. Let us look at what is being done in Western Australia in the name of the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. Western Australia, which has a Liberal Government, is the largest State and has the most land available in Australia. People dependent on State Housing Commission homes in Western Australia are being put into flats, or so-called town houses, or as so many aptly call them, ‘Coronation Streets’. I do not blame the officers of the State Housing Commission who do a marvellous job with the money made available to them and the instructions given by the Government. These officers, together with every developer in Western Australia, face a lack of services such as sewerage, water, electricity and other public services which are dependent on government allocation, planning and policy.
The State Housing Commission must build high density developments and people must accept them as their home because no other home is provided for them. The waiting lists date back to 1966. Therefore, in desperation people have to accept accommodation where there are no proper play areas for their children and in some cases laundry facilities must be shared. They have to accept accommodation with the discomfort of only semiprivacy. Gone is the Australian tradition by which every man has a home or his own block of land in which he has a garden and there is the opportunity for his family to play and to grow in dignity. The pity of it is that so many of the people who are forced to accept this accommodation are migrants who have come to this country to escape this type of crowded community development so that their children might have a better future. It is no wonder that some recoil in horror at the idea and refuse this accommodation. They are put again at the bottom of the waiting list. They prefer to suffer the continued hardship rather than accept what they consider is a way of life detrimental to their families. These people had hoped for some plan for reasonable detached self-contained homes to be made available under the Budget. They had hoped that special grants to the States would have been made available for this purpose to keep pace with increasing migration and local population growth. They had hoped for a plan such as that proposed by the Australian Labor Party which would cater for the lower income earner.
We call on the Government to make grants to the States to enable the construction of houses at the lowest possible interest rates, for sale or rental, with priority to those most in need, in conditions which conform to specified standards of services, amenities and accessibility. We call on the Government to make conditional grants to the States for the reclamation and rehabilitation of depressed areas in accordance with modern town planning, and to make additional special grants to enable States to engage in the forward acquisition of land for State housing projects for development and/ or sale. We call on the Government to make grants to the States for the provision of such community amenities in housing estates, constructed with Commonwealth grants, as the Commonwealth itself provides in housing estates in the Territories. If the Government will not do these things sn urgently needed to give relief in the housing field, a Labor government will do so.
The Government has made a great show of its 82 for $1 subsidy for the construction of aged persons homes, yet it has avoided its responsibility to the aged by excluding the one authority which has the most experience in the field of housing and which is geared to plan, to construct and to administer - the State Housing Commissions. Because of this, old people in Western Australia have to wait in excess of 5 years for reasonable rental accommodation, and even then it is not supplied to them just because it is available. The aged persons who seek rental accommodation are selected on the urgency of their need. This is disgraceful, lt is no fault of the State housing authority but of governments in the supply of funds and planning. The Government may well say that it has provided for this situation with grants to the States for dwellings for aged pensioners. However this has proved lo be totally inadequate because pensioners are now waiting 5 years or more for accommodation. Fancy a person reaching 6*5 years of age, retiring and then waiting until he is 70 years old to get reasonable accommodation. No wonder so many aged people become depressed and finish up in C class hospitals or rest homes as the only alternative to bleak rooms of a substandard nature. Of course, some will ask: What about the retirement homes scheme? This is all right if a person has the key money, donation, entrance purchase price, whatever we like to call it, but a majority do not have it. As there is not sufficient accommodation available, under this scheme to meet the demand there is again a waiting list and, of course, a selection system to overcome. So the aged person is defeated in respect of this scheme. No matter what accommodation is available it is not sufficient and is too costly for the majority. Urgent relief is required.
Overall, in any section of the community in Western Australia, there is a housing crisis. A 50 per cent drop has occurred in the number of houses commenced in Western Australia between April and September of this year. I do not deny that the drop in the other Slates has been severe, but it has not been as serious as in Western Australia. The Government of Western Australia claims that it is a boom State, but builders are being forced to dismiss skilled staff. Manufacturers of building materials have put off staff and further retrenchments are expected because large stocks of many materials are on hand. Claims that lower levels of activity are necessary to contain costs are ridiculous. The housing industry faces the same inflationary costs as other sections of the economy. It has not been suggested that other sectors restrict their production. The honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland) said that his Government sees a need for a reduction in the provision for housing at times because of economic factors. He claims that the Government must have a stop-go policy to preserve balance. He compared this with the stop-go of a car in heavy traffic. Well, this is caused by bad traffic control just as the stop-go policy on housing is caused by bad Government administration, poor foresight and lack of planning control. The Government has denied previously that it had a stop-go policy and we must bc grateful to receive this admission by the honourable member for Curtin at long last so that the people may make their own decision whether this is the type of government they want. Likewise Government speakers have denied the desirability of adopting the Labor Party’s amendment which demands a national inquiry into the nation’s housing needs of the future. This is not good enough. Why perpetuate the crisis of the present in the future? The truth is that the Government cannot allow an inquiry for it is obvious it would discredit the Government’s lack of proper planning. Its stop-go policy would be exposed in detail. It is incredible to think of anyone voting against low cost housing, lower interest rates, reasonable deposits, a proper provision of homes for all and a stable building industry. To vote against the amendment is to do this. 1 commend the amendment.
– The honourable member for Swan (Mr Bennett) must have spent quite a little time writing the episode that he just read to us but I would advise him that if he wants to be effective in presenting something good that he writes he should learn to read it properly because, after all is said and clone, members would like to know what he is talking about. Half the time I did not know what he was talking about and T wonder whether he did himself.
– You were talking to me. That is why you did not listen to him.
– Is that it? I did pick up one or two matters that he mentioned. He spoke about the parlous state of the building industry. This is a lot of nonsense. The building industry is extremely active throughout Australia. It is most difficult in any of the capital cities to find good tradesmen to employ. Every builder is experiencing difficulty in getting the kind of men he wants - men capable of doing the job. In many cases builders are forced into employing people who are not competent at the work the builders want them to do. This is because the building industry is, in fact, in an active condition throughout Australia. The honourable member for Swan spoke of the long waiting list for Housing Commission homes. This was mentioned also by the 3 Labor speakers. The honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb) mentioned it and I think that the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) spoke of the long waiting list for Housing Commission homes in the various States. This is a regular contention that members opposite put forward, but it would be interesting if they obtained a list of the people who have applied for homes through the Housing Commissions. Almost everybody who is renting a home in any of the suburbs in any of the capital cities would be an applicant for a subsidised home.
– That is not true.
– lt is true. There are tens of thousands of people on the waiting list for Commission homes who do not really need them. This is an absurd argument to put forward as an indication of a shortage of homes. The Labor Party is trying to prove that there is a shortage of homes in Australia.
– There is.
– There is no shortage of homes. There are certain problems, but there is no shortage of homes per capita in Australia. There may be certain reasons why applicants for homes want to change their accommodation, but the big inducement is that they are seeking from the Housing Commissions homes that have a subsidised rental. Who would not want such a home? Who can blame them for it? This is understandable. The honourable member for Swan spoke also of people being forced into high density housing. One of the troubles in Australia is that many of the people who talk about this subject know nothing about it. This is a pity because it is an important subject.
L wonder whether the honourable member for Swan realises that when capital cities like Sydney and Melbourne are fully developed it is impossible to do as he suggests in relation to the age old tradition of a man, his home and his garden. The tradition is fine, and I agree with it, but no city in the world can avoid high density housing. The honourable member must understand that at least 25 per cent of the population in any city in the world must, of necessity, live in flats, units or similar accommodation because of the particular circumstances in which they live. Proximity to work and the need for all manner of things require them to live on their own so, in this sort of circumstance, high density housing is a necessity for 25 per cent of the population. I base this claim on many years of experience.
The honourable member for Stirling said that the Government deals with housing as though it were an economic factor and not a human problem. I agree that it is a human problem - perhaps one of the most important that we have - but it is also very materially an economic consideration. I do not know whether the Opposition realises the effect which the building industry has on the economy. It has probably the greatest effect of any industry in Australia. If the building industry is in a condition of over-production it can create an inflationary trend, which is very serious for the community. On the other hand, if the building industry is in a state of depression it can cause a depression in almost every other industry in Australia. The building industry is a great guide* - probably the greatest guide - in making economic adjustments, and it must be kept stable in order to create and maintain economic stability in the community. Honourable members opposite should understand these things when they talk about the building industry.
I understand that the honourable member for Reid has moved for an inquiry into housing. If we do not know the present position with regard to the provision of homes in Australia, we ought not to be where we are at the present time. Save me from- any further inquiries, and for goodness sake save me from some of the planners in the community. I believe that the provision of housing is one of the important needs of human life. I believe also that the standard of housing in any community is a measure of the country’s prosperity. In this respect Australia stands very high indeed when compared with other countries. This Government adopts a policy of encouragement of home ownership. This has never been the fundamental policy of the Australian Labor Party. The Labor Party, when it was in office, did everything it could to prevent home ownership in the true sense. It went out to encourage people to rent homes. This is fundamentally opposed to our policy.
As I have mentioned, there has been a tremendous increase in the standard of housing in Australia. When one looks at the standard of homes that are being built today in any suburb in any city of Australia, one sees that in most cases today the homes are being constructed of bricks and have tiled roofs. Hot water systems, which were never thought of years ago, are now provided in homes. Washing machines, tiled bathrooms, electric ranges and all the other amenities which women did not enjoy previously are now provided in homes. Today people demand a high standard of housing and they are getting it.
Since this Government came to office 21 years ago it has never let up on the construction of homes. Tt has done more for housing than any other government in the 180 or 200 years of Australia’s history. When Labor was in office the construction rate was 1 house for every additional 4 members in the population. In the period that this Government has been in office the construction rate has been 1 House for every 2.5 additional members of population. These figures speak for themselves and indicate quite clearly that there is no physical housing shortage. I know that there are housing problems today. Of course, the investor normally is not building houses for renting purposes. That was killed by Labor. I do not want to go into the question of incentive because I have not sufficient time to do so today, but I would deal with my statement that there is no physical housing shortage in Australia. This is true if one takes the population and the number of homes in existence.
There are problems. The great problem is the accommodation of the very low income group, the indigent group in the community. This is a difficult problem and it is one which governments can help to overcome. Somebody said that housing is a State matter, but I hope that the Commonwealth will interest itself in the provision of low income housing for indigent people because I think there is a problem here which needs to be met. I hope that our future housing agreements with the States will be based solely on the provisions of low income housing for indigent people.
– At what interest rate?
– At a low interest rate, lt is not a question of interest rate at all. lt is a question of the provision of low rental homes to meet the circumstances of indigent people on low incomes. This is one problem. Another problem concerns aged people, and I suggest that the Government has tackled this problem very vigorously and effectively. Until this Government conceived the idea pf providing homes for the aged, which was a magnificent proposal, nothing was done for the aged in Australia. The Government encouraged philanthropic organisations, churches and now municipal bodies throughout Australia to come to the party and assist in the provision of homes for the aged. I suggest that it is not too much to ask the community to come to the party because a little self help in this matter is indicated. This Government is very generous in the subsidy which it is providing for the construction of homes for the aged.
I turn to finance. My friend the honourable member for Reid talked about the deposit gap. Of course, this is always a problem. There is a great cry about higher interest rates; but everything has increased, so why not the price of money? Interest rates have increased in every country. If we want a lower interest rate we have to tax people in order to subsidise the interest rate. I admit that it is only a question of fact, but this Government has done a great_ deal in relation to the deposit gap and interest rates.
– What has it done?
– 1 will tell the honourable member. The Government has established and encouraged the formation of building societies. These societies work on a very low overhead and they provide loans at comparatively low interest rates. As I have said in this Parliament previously - I have been taken to task for it because some of the banks do not like my saying it - 1 believe the permanent building society movement should be used as the vehicle for the financing of home ownership. It is the best possible vehicle. I would advise every young person to invest some money in the permanent building society movement as a prelude to the acquisition of a home when he or she gets married. Building societies are managed by people who are giving dedicated service without reward. They are not profit making ventures. The societies are providing expertise and an understanding of housing problems and they ought to be encouraged.
I suggest that people ought to invest money in permanent building societies. If they do so they will receive 6i per cent interest on their investment, which is the present rate. Savings banks also are providing a service. The homes savings grant scheme, under which young people are encouraged to save, is a product of this Government. Nobody else had thought of it before it was introduced by this Government, lt is a wonderful scheme. This Government also initiated the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation. By the payment of H per cent of the total amount of the loan a person may receive an advantage of 95 per cent of the total purchase price of a home. This payment covers the whole period of the ‘oan. These are all matters that have been initiated by this Government in order to deal with housing in its broadest sense. 1 could refer to land prices but it would take a Iona time. I will have an opportunity to refer to it when we are debating another Bill. The position is not as the honourable member for Reid says it is. This is a problem that we have brought upon ourselves bv our own government interference and controls in th* past.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– 1 have a great deal of personal liking and respect for the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) but i believe that he is getting out of touch when he. makes a statement, as he did earlier this afternoon, that there is no shortage of housing in Australia. I would suggest that he needs to go around and mix with the younger people more. If he does he will find out that a large percentage of younger people cannot even endeavour to build a home today because of the cost of land and the cost of building. Accordingly they are forced into the situation of living with in-laws or living in some rented room, lt is not that there is not a demand for housing; it is simply that many young people are unable to get to the first base of finding the wherewithal to acquire a home, i think he also made a statement that Labor tried to prevent home ownership when it was in power. But having made that statement he then made the conflicting statement that Labor had killed the incentive to invest in rental properties. He cannot have it both ways. Either we killed the incentive to invest for rent and promoted home ownership or vice versa.
The facts of the matter are that the Labor Party in office, both Federal and State, did everything it could to promote home ownership. I think one can see that in the various spheres, in its banking policies and its encouragement to lending institutions such as the banks and insurance companies to allocate funds to the building societies. One can see it in the housing agreements with the States, to encourage the building of homes and the acquisition of land by the States for the building of homes. The honourable member also said that although interest rates have increased everything else has gone up. What he omitted to point out is that this is a 2-tier system. First of all, the cost of housing in the last 10 years alone has at least trebled, according to the statistics of one of the Government’s own instrumentalities, the War Service Homes Division. Following this the cost of the money which has to be borrowed to build a home has gone up. as the honourable member said, and interest rates have doubled as well. So on the one hand the cost in dollars that one pays for the money to build a home as at least trebled and then the interest rate has doubled to increase the price twice again. So his argument that because everything has gone up it does not matter just does not hold water.
The Opposition has proposed an amendment that expenditure by the Department of Housing be reduced by Si as an instruction to the Government that a national inquiry be initiated to ascertain the nation’s housing needs in the future, to identify the shortcomings of the building industry so that they may be quickly removed, to establish beyond doubt the priorities which should be observed in the provision of funds for housing to overcome interest and deposit problems and to provide land and housing at low cost by means of appropriate agreement between the Commonwealth, the States and local government authorities. I support that proposal very strongly. One of the first matters I wish to submit to the Commitee this afternoon relates to the artificial shortage of land which has now arisen. We find today that land is being tied up by big companies and is not being immediately released for sale. We find that there is a lack of public investment owing to the laissez-faire economic policies of this Government and a lack of finance available for public investment in the necessary services such as sewerage, roads, electricity supply and water supply.
We find that in New South Wales today although there is a State Planning Authority it is not the body charged with the planning of the State. In reality it is the Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board which determines which areas will be developed, lt is commonsense that until such time as the Board releases the necessary finance for the development of water reticulation and sewerage the State Planning Authority does not and cannot release the land for home development. This in itself is creating an artificial shortage of land and forcing land prices up.
Only today I was reading the latest statement made by the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) titled ‘Housing Aims in the Seventies’. She called for greater stability in the flow of finance for housing in the 1070s. She said:
This is a matter of great concern to the Government, and especially to my Department, because unnecessary fluctuations in the availability of housing finance cause unnecessary fluctuations in home building.
She has found out at last. The Opposition has been trying to tell her this for many years past. I would like to quote now from an editorial in the ‘Daily Mirror’ written after one of her statements not so long ago. ft was made this year and the editorial said:
Dame Annabelle Rankin is no Walt Disney Tinker Bell, but as the Federal Minister for Housing she is certainly living in a fantasyland.
Her airy-fairy talk about getting housing finance at 6 per cent interest-
I would like to know where one can get it at 6 per cent. The bank rates are up around 8 per cent. 1 know of one person who bought a house recently. He settled for the house within the last week and paid 15 per cent flat. The editorial continued: and a house and land for $10,000 shows that she is so far out of touch that she might as well be on the moon. Without a radio.
The average cost of a block of land alone in Sydney is $6,800. Who, after paying that, could put up a house for $10,000. lt would have to be an igloo. The editorial goes on to say:
If ever there was a time for the Whitlam plan for a 2 per cent subsidy to all young married couples who buy a home in the first 10 years of their marriage this is it. On a $13,000 home-
That should read $15,000, by the way- this would save them $204 a year if they pay oil the loan in IS years. Little enough, but certainly a help.
We even have another editorial in the Daily Mirror’ released as late as today commenting upon the statement issued by the Minister for Housing which 1 read just a few moments ago. lt stated:
Would someone please explain the facts of life to Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin, the Commonwealth Minister for Housing?
This is an editorial in the ‘Daily Mirror’ today. It continued:
Every time she opens her mouth she demonstrates her utter inability to grasp the fact that, because of scandalously high prices, a home might as well be a castle.
Dame Annabelle says: ‘All those home seekers who can afford to save to own their own home should save.’
That is remarkable. The editorial went on:
Just how many people does the lady senator from Queensland think can afford to save money for a home deposit while paying ridiculously high rents?
Dame Annabelle ; and some of her ministerial colleagues who insist on talking pie in the sky-
They are still up in the air - should listen carefully to Mr Whitlam, the Opposition leader.
He is making a great deal more sense on the housing issue because he is treating it as a crisis - with every justification.
That is the reply by a newspaper, which could not be said to be a friend of the Labor Party, to the statement issued by the
Minister within the last 24 hours. Every statement she issues calls for another outcry.
If we take a look at the statistics we find that a house and land costs - if we take the ‘Daily Mirror’s’ price for Sydney - on the average $6,800. If we take the figure given by the War Service Homes Division the cost of the average home it builds - this would be a very conservative figure - would be $10,464. That is the 1969-70 figure. That gives a total of $17,264. With a 15 per cent deposit, if a person can get a house on such low deposit and not many can, he would have to find $2,600 deposit. He would then have to borrow $14,664, as well as paying legal fees, the cost of plans and all the other costs involved. What young couple today on an average income can possibly afford to put themselves $14,664 in debt when the lowest rate of interest they will pay is 8 per cent? As I said, I know of one case where the people had to pay 15 per cent flat. Today far too much of the available finance is going into the commercial building field.
An article in the ‘Australian’ on 28th July was headed: ‘Boom in Office Building. Credit Squeeze Hits only Finance for Homes’. An article in the Sydney Morning Herald’ on 28th July was headed: ‘Fewer Homes for more Skyscrapers’. These are the facts of the situation today. Far too much of the finance available is going into purely commercial buildings. There is a need for selective policies to transfer labour and materials and the finance that is available from the excessive concentration on commercial buildings to housing. Unfortunately, time is very limited today. I put to the Treasurer (Mr Bury) in June this year that at least 1 per cent of the Statutory Reserve Deposits deposited by the trading banks with the Reserve Bank should be allocated, by direction of the Reserve Bank through the trading banks to building societies or other avenues of home finance lending. This would immediately relieve the tremendous dearth in home finance lending that exists today. Although the Treasurer sent me a long letter of gobbledegook as to why he did not think this was a good time to do this, the facts are that there is a severe dearth of home building finance. This is the only method by which the Government can take direct action to overcome the problem.
– Order! The time allotted for consideration of the proposed expenditure has expired.
That the amendment (Mr Uren’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Department of The Interior
Proposed expenditure $103,167,000.
– The Department of the Interior is charged with the duty of administering many of the activities of government in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. It is an unusual government instrumentality because it handles such diverse matters as local transport, garbage, housing, kerbing and guttering, nature paths, adoption of children, welfare, agricultural services, animal and bird protection, architects’ registration, boiler inspection, bush fire control, the Canberra Tourist Bureau, registration of dogs, civil defence, drivers’ licences, electoral offices, forest management, fruit inspection, registration of hawkers, lake administration, meteorology, testing and registration of motor vehicles, the News and Information Bureau, the police, scaffolding and lifts, street cleaning, the War Memorial, weights and measures, and workers compensation. Many problems are posed by these diverse subjects which are a matter of serious concern as an accounting problem and also in terms of efficiency, as well as posing the problem of how such functions should be made accountable to representatives who are elected and responsible to the people of the Australian Capital Territory. This is a problem of territorial self-government. Time does not permit of this being discussed today. It is a very complex problem. What I have in mind to talk about today are the questions associated with the ownership and administration of land in the Australian Capital Territory and some of the dangers that I see to that administration and to the planning and development of the Australian Capita] Territory.
Land has always played an essential part in all societies, lt is not and never has been regarded as a commodity available for sale or gift in the same manner as, say, a motor car or a book. This is partly because land is so permanent and is a source of wealth and power. There has always been a concept of duty imposed on the owner or the occupier of land. In mediaeval times he was obliged to render services of various kinds to the king or to the lord of his manor. The ownership of the residual interest in land was vested in the king. With the development of commercialism and commercial values these duties were replaced by a growing tendency to allow the free disposition of land and the free development of land and to permit the residual value in the land to belong to the occupier of it. The tendency was a progressive attenuation of the rights of the public interest in the land on the one hand and it brought about an increasing allotment to the occupier of all increases in value that occurred to the land.
In a laissez-faire society this was regarded as an ideal thing to aim at. It often led to unjust enrichment. But in a laissez-faire society that was merely regarded as someone’s good luck. However, with the emergence of the great metropolises of, say, New York and London and cities like Sydney and Melbourne this idea of absolute ownership in land placed more and more difficulties in the paths of town planners who act on behalf of the public and who try to ensure that the places we live in are beautiful and yet remain orderly. The tendency has also led to the gross evils of speculation in land which we have come to know so well and which are rife today. We all know of situations where astronomical increases in the value of land have occurred because land was ripe for redevelopment. I give 2 examples: The unimproved capital value of certain land in the city of Sydney was approximately $141ni in 1951. It rose to $566m in 1966. The unimproved capital value of land in Blacktown, which is a developing area in New South Wales, increased from approximately $3,500,000 in 1951 to $92m in 1966. Fortunes were made by speculators. Town and city planners and their plans wilted under their pressure and the activity of their lobbies.
In situations of that sort the acquisition of land by the public for roads, playing areas and reserves has often been made impossible by the prohibitive cost of acquiring the land and the compensation that would have to be paid for it. The pressure of the developer and the speculator for change of land use has proved too much for the town planning schemes of the States where freehold land is the dominant system of land holding. In States such as New South Wales where the freehold concept of land holds sway, attempts to control land use by land zoning, with a complicated system of appeals to the Land Valuation Courts, have largely proved unsuccessful. One has only to look at the foreshores of Sydney Harbour and what has happened to them and to compare them with Canberra to see what I mean. Control of land use on behalf of the public is all important, because the future is a very long time. We here in the ACT are in the same situation as Sydney was in many years ago. Many parts of Canberra are becoming ripe for redevelopment. The integrity of the planning system of the ACT must be preserved. It must not be subjected to the stresses and pressures that the town planning systems of States like New South Wales have had to yield to.
In the ACT we are fortunate because in 1910 our founding fathers decreed that all land released by government should not be released as freehold land. This left us with what is now the situation. Most of our land is held under a leasehold system. Those early statesmen who chose a leasehold system did so for a variety of reasons. The principal ones were, firstly, the idea that the residual value of land should belong to the community as a whole and not to individuals, and that all increases in value brought about by circumstances which were not the result of the efforts of the land holders themselves should accrue to the public instead of to some lucky individual. The leasehold system also ensured that governments would not be deterred from acquiring land in the public interest because of having to make enormous compensation payments. The second reason was to facilitate town planning, although they did not call it ‘town planning’ in those days. King O’Malley obviously had this in mind when he described how Canberra would become the pride of time’. If planning were facilitated by not having to make enormous compensation payments it was even more facilitated by putting ‘purpose clauses’ in the leases as they were issued. These purpose clauses determined the use to which the land could be put. The system makes provision for the occasions when those purpose clauses can be changed and enlarged.
I believe that the Australian Capital Territory system of land tenure is the envy of every person in Australia who thinks seriously about the problems of urban living and how they can be overcome. The National Capital Development Commission was created in 1957 and was modelled on the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority. It was charged with the duty of undertaking and carrying out the development and construction of the city of Canberra as the national capital of Australia. It has been a magnificent example of successful government enterprise as a public corporation. I do not suggest that there have not been troubles in the administration of the system. I do believe that there are dangers that present themselves today. Over the years there have been demands for more frequent reappriasements of ground rents on a triennial basts rather than on a 20-year basis. In our changing society with values going up, the rate of change and the rate of development have been too great.
There have been suggestions that the accounting system operated by the Department of the Interior has been faulty and that there have been delays in the production of a municipal account which relates to Australian Capital Territory finances. The decision of the High Court in the case of Esmonds Motors v. Nixon and the Commonwealth exposed many of these problems in such a way as to frighten the Government during the recent by-election. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) hastily announced his proposals to abolish land rents. These proposals to abolish land rents are the dangers that 1 have in mind. Up until that time, as far as I am aware and as far as I can ascertain through the research I have been able to do, there had been no public discussion, no agitation and no demands for any such step to abolish land rent. It is believed that the Government intends to abolish land rent as from the end of this year. This belief causes grave concern to many people in Canberra.
They know that their rates will go up, but they do not know to what extent. They have been told that increased rates will be an income tax deduction whereas payments of ground rent are not, but they know that this will benefit only the wealthier members of the community. This proposal of the Government has much in common with its other proposals that it made in its recent Budget which also benefit wealthier groups in the community at the expense of the less wealthy. There is grave cause to suspect that the proposals result from pressure on the Government by large commercial lease holders in the Australian Capital Territory.
The National Capital Development Commission is known to have opposed the proposal but would welcome an inquiry so that its views could be expressed in public. The Royal Australian Planning Institute has called for an inquiry by a parliamentary committee. The Town and Country Planning Association of Victoria has made representations that a full and genuine leasehold system be retained in the Australian Capital Territory. There is another aspect that causes concern. The proposals of the Government amount to a unilateral repudiation of the contracts that the Commonwealth has entered into in its leasehold agreements with about 20,000 people in the Australian Capital Territory. They are all lessees of the Commonwealth. They have not been consulted. They are about to have their contracts changed at the whim of the Government.
There are many questions that have to be answered. What are the advantages of the abolition of land rent? Have any representations been made by responsible bodies for the abolition of land rent? Will the Minister make them available? There is a more insidious feature to it all. It is known that land rent is based on 5 per cent of the unimproved capital value of the land - re-appraisals take place every 20 years - and that this value obviously depends on the scope of the pur post clause in the lease. If a person has a narrow purpose clause in a lease, the land is likely to be of less value than if there is a broad purpose clause in the lease which permits all sorts of activity and development to take place. The reasoning behind this 5 per cent is that a proportion of the value of the land always belongs to public interest.
If land rent as geared to value is abolished will speculators buy up land with the purpose of changing the purpose clause, knowing that it will result tn increased value, that they will not have to share that increased value with the Government as they have to do now and that it will go to them instead of being siphoned off to the community through the Government? This could happen because a developer or a speculator would only have to pay rates if land rent were abolished, and if rates reflect the traditional concept that they are only a reimbursement for the cost of services to land, they will not have the inhibiting effect on a speculator or a developer that ground rent has. If this happens, the legal safeguards that we have created may be inadequate. They haw proved to be inadequate in New South Wales and elsewhere.
Will the imposition of a reserve price on future leases impose an additional cash burden on home builders, a cost which is now recovered by the Government from rent over a long period? Surely this is preferable both from the Government point of view and for the person who wants to build his home for the first time. The occasional high premiums that are paid for land are a result of land scarcity and nothing else. Release more land and the premiums will fall and will be a mere indication of a person’s choice of a block of land. The Australian Capital Territory should provide the guidelines for a systematic and financially viable programme for new towns and communities throughout Australia. The proper legal, financial and administrative provisions associated with the legal system must be worked out and thought out properly. The part played bv ground rent in the leasehold system, and the manner and the extent to which it in itself, over, apart and separate from the purpose clause, provides for control of land use, must be properly understood. It is understood insufficiently at this time. If these questions are not answered satisfactorily, the progress that has been made in Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory to date may well be placed in serious jeopardy.
Sitting suspended from 5.54 to 8 p.m.
- Mr Chairman, pages 50 to 59 of the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1970-71, which is now before the Committee, show that the estimated expenditure for the Department of the
Interior for the current financial year is $103,167,000 as against an actual expenditure for the financial year 1969-70 of $92,381,674. 1 should like at the outset to compliment the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) on the very capable and efficient way in which he handles a very difficult portfolio. This Department has many ramifications. There are many, many things for the Minister to consider. Personally, I always have found him most approachable and ready to consider any proposition that is put to him. I appreciate, as other honourable members do, the way in which he so competently administers his Department. I pay tribute also to the very many departmental officials in all the various branches of the Department of the Interior who provide such efficient service to this nation. 1 wish to say something in particular tonight with regard to one branch of the Department of the Interior. That is the Electoral Branch. The estimated expenditure for the Electoral Branch for this financial year, as shown at page 50 of the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1970-71, is $4,582,000. On 12th March of this year, I put to the Minister for the Interior a question without notice. It was a twofold question. In the first part, I asked the Minister:
Will he consider the introduction of mobile polling booths for use at major hospitals to replace the present unsatisfactory voting procedures at these institutions?
Those of us who have any knowledge of voting procedures at major public hospitals, large convalescent homes and the like, cannot but be of the one mind, I am sure, that there is room for improvement. 1 believe that the present methods are slow. They are cumbersome. They are outmoded. I point out just as an illustration that in Queensland - my own State - mobile polling booths are used satisfactorily and efficiently at these institutions for State and municipal elections. I would be very grateful to the Minister if he would pursue his inquiries into the possibility of introducing mobile polling booths for Federal election purposes.
The second part of my question consisted of a request to the Minister in this form:
Will he also consider abolishing the present practice of handing how to vote cards to electors at the entrance to polling booths and in lieu thereof provide for the display of authorised how to vote cards in every cubicle in every polling booth? 1 suggest that this should be done throughout the country. This seems to me to be a fairly straightforward suggestion. It would need to be considered carefully. If this system were to be decided upon, the printing would need to be uniform. It would need to be clear. It would need to be easily readable. The authorised cards would need, I suggest, to be fixed to the wall in every cubicle and probably would need to be covered with glass so that the wags could not scribble rude remarks on them.
I am reminded of the story of the old lady who went into a polling booth and asked the presiding officer to assist her because she was very confused. There were 17 or 18 candidates in the Senate election being held and she did not know one from the other. The presiding officer, quite rightly, declined and said: ‘I am sorry, madam, but this is something that 1 cannot do’. He took her to a cubicle. She wrote on her ballot paper: ‘God bless them all’. This may not be a very constructive approach but it may be a very well meaning approach. I do ask the Minister most seriously whether he will consider this suggestion.
If I may reminisce for a moment, 1 first put this forward at least 10 years ago - possibly more - in this chamber. I was supported by certain other members at that time. They included the late Mr Bruce Wight, who was the member for Lilley, and the late Mr George Lawson, who was the member for Brisbane for many years. They were very strong supporters of my proposal in relation to this new method. When 1 say ‘new method’, it is in fact the method adopted in Britain. It works well there. I do not think anyone would suggest that the Australian electors are any less intelligent than electors in Britain. It has been argued, I know, that in Britain voting is not compulsory whereas voting is compulsory in this country. But I still feel that, if there were a will, a way would be found. The present system is not economical. The system that I am advocating would be much more economical. The present system, I submit, is costly and wasteful to all political parties.
I believe that almost all electors have made up their minds how they are to vote before they reach -the entrance to a polling booth. I do not think that they need to have handful after handful of how to vote cards thrust into their hands by the representatives of all the various candidates and political parties. A real scrimmage takes place to be the last to put a how to vote card into the hand of some elector, who is harassed on the way to vote. I suggest that this harassment is unnecessary. I suggest that this harassment is outmoded. I suggest that the system, the adoption of which I propose, would be much more acceptable to electors than the present system that we have followed for so many years.
I wish to say a word or two regarding polling hours. I believe that the present polling hours for Federal purposes - that is, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. - are too long. Each polling day is a long and arduous day for all the returning officers, the presiding officers, the poll clerks and all those who sit at tables hour after hour in this very detailed and responsible work. I have advocated previously, as serine of my other friends whom I have mentioned and other honourable members of this chamber have advocated also in previous years, thai there be a revision of the polling hours and that consideration be given to reducing them to 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. I have in mind the voting hours in Queensland which are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the purpose of State and municipal elections. I understand that in some States the polling hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. whereas in certain other States they are the same as for Federal purposes, that is, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
If the 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. voting method operates successfully in some States, as it does in Queensland, I suggest that it could be made uniform successfully. I realise that there are farmers who like to be on their farms in the summer months working and getting the last ounce out of the daylight before they go to vote between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. I would suggest that, even if polling hours were extended beyond 8 o’clock at night, there would be some electors who would roll up at the last minute, f n my judgment and in my experience, after talking to many people, I say with conviction that there are very, very few people who could not manage to vote between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. if those were the voting hours. 1 realise that the matter of religious beliefs comes into this proposal. But 1 do not think, from my investigations and inquiries, that there would be a great many voters whose religious beliefs would preclude them from voting by 6 p.m. on Saturday. There are some, I know. I would suggest to the Minister for his consideration that this matter be thought about also. I ask him whether or not those who have religious beliefs and fall into the category that I have just described could perhaps be catered for with postal votes. There would not be so very many involved.
With regard to the method of voting, very much has been said and written. I know that there are critics of the present preferential system. But it seems that the only genuine criticism that can be levelled against the preferential system is that a voter quite truthfully may claim that he has no preference for any of the candidates. In fact this did happen in a case in Victoria relating to the last Federal election in October 1969. A Mr Little, a barrister, took the matter to court when he was summonsed for not having cast a vote. He pleaded his case on the basis of a High Court case presided over by, if I remember rightly, the late Mr Justice Higgins and he won his case. His argument was that he did not have any preference for any of the candidates. None of the candidates gave him a real choice because he did not want any of them. It appears to me that, on a legal basis anyway, only on this ground is there a valid criticism of the preferential system. In my experience, Party room ballots and ballots in most organisations with which I have been associated in my life are conducted on a preferential basis. It is true that in some instances the exhaustive ballot system is used. We use the exhaustive ballot system for the election of Party leaders, for example, in the Parliament. But generally speaking the preferential system is acceptable throughout the community and it is a system with which the people are familiar. There are people who argue that a fairer and more democratic system should be devised and perhaps some system of proportional representation could be devised for the House of Representatives. Personally I am a little sceptical. I prefer to keep what I understand and what I believe the great majority of the people of Australia understand and that is the preferential system of voting which I believe to be a fair system and the fairest that has yet been discovered.
The first past the post system, which is advocated by honourable members opposite, is obviously unfair and undemocratic when one looks into it because minority groups in the community would virtually be disfranchised. I will give a simple illustration of the unfairness of the first past the post system which used to operate in some spheres, lt was definitely unfair and 1 feel that those who argue in favour of the first past the post system probably do not properly understand its implications. 1 give this simple illustration: if candidate A polls 40 per cent of the total votes cast and candidate B runs him a close second with 38 per cent of the total votes cast and candidate C polls 22 per cent of the total votes cast, it is obvious that candidates B and C between them have polled 60 per cent of the votes. In other words, 60 per cent of the voters want a candidate other than candidate A. Yet under the first past the post system candidate A would be elected with a small minority of 40 per cent of the votes. My argument based on this simple illustration is that if we are to have at some future time a change in the method of voting let us have a fair and democratic system and one which will truly give a proper reflection of the wishes of the people. 1 am certain that the first past the post system does not do that.
Finally I want to make reference to a matter which I raised at question time today. I asked the Minister for the Interior a question pertaining to the siting of the High Court of Australia and the National Art Gallery. I asked the Minister whether design studies for the National Art Gallery and preliminary planning for the High Court building were proceeding. I trust that they are. I ask the Minister whether he would be good enough to look into the present position and if he sees fit to do so to inform the House at an early date so that we will know how these matters are progressing. I feel it is important in relation to the development of the Parliamentary Triangle that no unnecessary time be lost in arriving at a decision with regard to the High Court building and to the Art Gallery because as I understand it the development of the Parliamentary Triangle will have to be considered in relation to the design of the new parliament house which we know is probably a good many years away yet. But I do emphasise the necessity for some uniformity of approach and uniformity of design in relation to the development of the Parliamentary Triangle.
– The honourable member for Ryan (Mr Drury) referred in his speech to voting systems. I was most interested in his statement that he wanted a fair democratic system for voting and his criticism of the first past the post system. It is, of course, the policy of the Australian Labor Party that the first past the post system is a fair system. I noted that he was strangely quiet in regard to the one vote one value policy. If he is consistent in his argument he must on his own premise argue that one vote one value is also stupid and unfair. I remind him that the policy of the Liberal Party in Queensland is to have one vote one value. Therefore I assume that it must also be the policy of the Liberal Part)’ in Canberra, if logic prevails, to have one vote one value. If we are going to argue that way about democratic processes we have at least to be consistent. 1 want to talk briefly tonight about cyclone ‘Ada’ and the work of the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology in relation to that cyclone. Before the estimates for the Department of the Interior were announced a special report of the Director of Meteorology on cyclone ‘Ada’ was made available to members of the Parliament and to the Press. 1 commend that report to all honourable members. This is an excellent report which clarifies issues of confusion, of charges and of ignorance which arose as a result of cyclone ‘Ada!. The Bureau has carried out painstaking research into the causes and effects of the cyclone and has made recommendations as to the remedies to meet problems relating to the cyclone. The Director of Meteorology. Dr Gibbs, and the Regional Director in Queensland. Mr Shields, are to be commended for the work which they have done. They recognised the problem. Both of these men on the instruction of the Minister went into the north of Queensland. They conversed with all types of people who had various theories and ideas and they took evidence. I can say that they did an excellent job and that their efforts are appreciated. I hope that other departments will follow the example which has been set here. When a disaster occurs they should send their technical men into the field so as to gain knowledge and experience of the disaster. There were many lessons to be learned from this cyclone and I am pleased to say that a lot of the problems are now very obvious and in the future we will be able to prevent them from occurring. Some of the loopholes have been filled.
It is my view that there is still a great deal of complacency in the north in regard to cyclones. One cannot help but take note of the conclusions reached by the Bureau of Meteorology that the north coast of Queensland can expect an average of one cyclonic disturbance every 3 years. The coastline between Townsville and Cape York is particularly vulnerable to a cyclonic disturbance once in every 3 years and from Townsville to Mackay, centering from Bowen to Mackay, once every 5 years. This conclusion in itself is fairly frightening because there had nol been a cyclone in the north for some time, until cyclone ‘Ada’ occurred this year. This is the first cyclone since 1958. The people have become a little complacent about cyclonic disturbances. The report of the Bureau sets out quite clearly that we in the north can expect to get an average of one cyclonic disturbance in 3 years. The inquiry revealed serious weaknesses in weather forecasting, organisation and particularly in communications. One aspect about which something can be done is the critical position regarding communications. There is a need for co-ordination of the warning system, the communication media, those people in the field who have to carry out the instructions and, of course, the people in the north themselves.
The inquiry found that the 2 critical messages were sent at 9.50 p.m. on the Saturday when the Bureau finally realised the intensity and the severity of the cyclone. This inquiry revealed that the 3 key radio stations - 2 in Mackay and 1 in Townsville - did not get the messages. This, of course, is why 1 for one had no hesitation in criticising the Commonwealth. I was critical because those radio stations did not get the messages. As I have said, the report has shown that the messages were sent at 9.50 p.m. but were not deliv ered. This is a very serious situation. It means that someone is to blame. The official reason given in the report was that the telephones were not answered at the radio stations. This is not good enough. Someone in the Postmaster-General’s Department had those 3 messages - messages of death, if you like - of the approaching cyclone.
Because someone in the PMG could not get the radio stations to answer the telephones these messages must have sat on someone’s desk for 8 or 9 hours before the telephones rang at the radio stations the following morning, lt was during those 8 or 9 hours when the whole of the north should have been warned that the devastation took place. This is a serious matter because what the report actually implies is that someone - and it is quite clear to me by inference that this is the PMG - in Brisbane or Townsville received these very important telegrams from the Bureau but did absolutely nothing about them for S or 9 hours. With even average intelligence the person responsible must have realised how serious those pieces of paper were. Although someone did telephone, because of the extraordinary system in the north where facilities close down at the weekend the radio stations did not answer. The radio stations were either too busy to answer the telephone or had closed down. Instead of ringing up the police so that they could alert the whole of the area from Mackay to Townsville the person responsible apparently did nothing. This is what is implied in the report.
I hope the Minister for the Interior will follow up this point because as f see it this experience shows that there is a wenk link. No-one can tell me that someone else besides the Postmaster-General’s Department handles telegrams. The report says that they were not delivered. If someone in the PMG had rung the police, the police could have immediately notified and reopened the radio stations to broadcast the warning throughout the north. I shudder to think what would have happened in those 8 or 9 hours if the cyclone had struck the unsuspecting city of Mackay, which is on low lying ground and which at the time was asleep, unaware of the tragedy which was taking place a relatively few miles to the north. When the commercial stations came on the air the following morning I heard with my own ears when I tuned in at 6 a.m. the announcer broadcast the latest meteorological report which he had received at about 8 or 9 o’clock the night before. The announcer did not even have the 9.50 report - which was the critical report. He in fact reported a message in which someone had added the words that it was not a very important cyclone. Whilst he was making this announcement people were dying.
I am very thankful that this report was written. I do not know what circulation the Minister has m mind for the report but I hope that it will be circulated in the north. As I have said before, there is still an air of complacency among people up there, lt is essential that the provincial cities and the coastal towns in the north take a more positive view in planning for the next cyclone. I do not know whether people from the north are by nature complacent or casual, but a number of people I have spoken to up there say: ‘Oh well, it will not happen again. It is finished. We will not get that type of cyclone again.’ However, as I have said, on an average we will get one cyclone every 3 years. Somewhere between Mackay and Cape York a cyclone will strike with this frequency. Despite the seriousness of cyclone Ada it is still very doubtful whether emergency organisations are sufficiently geared to handle the savagery of another cyclone in the north.
Although the report dealt only with the technical aspects and the consequences of this cyclone, the Commonwealth has to give more thought to co-ordination between the Services - the Army, Navy and Air Force- with respect to cyclonic disasters such as cyclone Ada. This is a field in which we have had a lot of duplication of problems. We have had State Ministers ringing up the Prime Minister or other Federal Ministers. We have had Federal Ministers ringing up someone else. We have had the situation where someone in the Air Force has had to say: ‘This is about the fourth phone call we have had on this and the 4 phone calls have been different. What do you want? Someone wanted a squadron of aircraft and someone else wanted one aircraft.’ There is bad planning and co-ordination in this field. There is a need for one person, whether it is the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) or the Minister for Defence (Mr Malcolm Fraser), to co-ordinate emergency services in time of disaster. Also, I think it is time that the Commonwealth and the States met to define the functions and powers of civil defence organisations in Queensland. This is not at all clear at the moment when civil disaster strikes. When cyclone Ada struck Mackay there was some confusion as regards the real function and power of civil defence units.
I wanted to speak about the Northern Territory tonight and in particular I wanted to refer to the problems of diversification of meat markets and the type of meat produced in the Northern Territory. J said something about this last night on the adjournment. However, 1 will have to restrict my remarks tonight as I have only a few minutes left in which to speak. I would like to impress upon the Government that the cattle industry in the more remote areas of the north such as in the Ord, the west Kimberleys, the Northern Territory, Cape York and the northern breeding areas of the Gulf, are in quite a different position to other areas of Australia. This is so for 2 main reasons. The first reason is the type of beef produced. Because of the climate and the natural resources these areas are suitable in the main only for manufacturing beef. The second point is that most of the beef cattle industry in northern Australia Ls a monoculture. Industry in these areas is made up entirely of beef. There is no alternative. If the prices drop a producer cannot swing into sheep or into agriculture. It is a question of staying on the land. The north is quite different from many areas in the south where at least farmers can diversify a little. If one enterprise drops in price it is possible for farmers in the south to concentrate a little more on wool, grains or some other type of industry. But this is not the case in the north.
For these 2 fundamental reasons the north is very vulnerable as regards a diversification scheme. The north does not produce quality beef to export to other markets. Also, the north is vulnerable to what happens in export markets. I mentioned last night what would be the result if anything happened to the American market because the north is so dependent on it for beef exports. If anything happens to that market the areas that will really cop it are the traditional export areas of the north. There is simply no other alternative for the type of beef that is produced in the north where today the emphasis is on quantity and not quality.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– In speaking to the estimates for the Department of the Interior I intend to discuss those items that relate to the Northern Territory. I note that the Northern Territory Administration revenue has been estimated to increase during the coming year by §2. 3m to $15. 6m. This figure does not really tell the complete story of income received in the Northern Territory because other items, such as direct and indirect taxation and receipts from the Postmaster-General’s Department and the Commonwealth Railways, must be taken into account. It is a low estimate of revenue, but compared with this figure the estimated expenditure by the Department of the Interior during 1970-71 is $81. 3m. This figure is low compared with overall Commonwealth expenditure in the Northern Territory, lt only includes expenditure by the Department of the Interior plus expenditure on work which is being done for it by the Department of Works. Figures contained in the civil works programme indicate that the proposed expenditure by the Department of Works on new works in the Northern Territory will amount to $34.8m and that the total expenditure will be $63m. Money to be expended in the Territory by the Department of Works this year for the Department of the Interior is shown as $25. 3m.
In previous debates I have spoken about the Commonwealth Government’s interest in the Northern Territory. I have pointed out that 5 years ago the overall expenditure on State-type functions was $45. 9m whereas in the coming year it will be SI 13.4m. This does not include items related to the Department of Education and Science and the Department of Health. In the civil works programme are listed many developments related to the Northern Territory. 1 can select items at random. There is a steam power station on which will be expended $4.2m; construction of the northern zone sewerage scheme, $ 1.023m; provision of engineering services, more than lim; a powerhouse installation costing between $200,000 and $300,000; the augmentation of the Alice Springs water supply to cost another $193,000; and the Darwin River Dam to cost $8m.
– That is not much.
– I do not think the honourable member would find provision for the expenditure of these sums in his electorate. If he did he would probably hit the headlines every day for a month. This is happening because the Northern Territory is cared for by such a live-wire Minister. The Opposition cannot stand a recital of these proposals because things like this do not happen in their electorates. I commend the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) for his unceasing efforts to further develop the Northern Territory and improve the lot of the people who live there.
– The Government is gerrymandering the place.
– Order! The honourable member for Sturt is out of order on 2 counts. He will still be out of order on 1 count if he does not return to his own seat.
– I refer now to the estimates related to the Northern Territory Legislative Council, particularly to those items relating to travelling and subsistence, members’ fees and allowances and members’ travelling allowances. I might add that the majority of elected members never support the Government, the Minister or myself but, being a Territorian, I believe I should speak about these allowances. The local members are paid $2,900 per annum while they are sitting. They are provided with fares and accommodation plus u S200 per annum telephone allowance.
– Too much.
– For some ot them, probably. Normally the Legislative Council meets 4 times a year for a period of 2 weeks each time. This year, after the November sitting, it will have met 5 times. Of course the members had a great sit in which lasted for many weeks. I guess they did some work, but they still have 65 items on the business paper. I would say that with the growth of the Northern Territory the legislation is increasing to a great extent so I would urge the Government to look at the possibility of devising some positive approach to improve the salaries of members of the Legislative Council because $2,900 would not enable anyone to employ a clerk, typist or anyone else to look after his business while he was attending to legislation. The telephone allowance of $200 per annum is inadequate. Those members from the south of the Territory live 800 or 900 miles from the Legislative Council in Darwin. One such member is a member of the Australian Labor Party and I speak for him as well. He is the member for the district of Barkly.
– A good member.
– Apart from the fact that he does nothing for the area he is quite a good chap. I am fair enough to include him in my remarks. I include also other members who do not support me much. One member I know happens to be a good representative. He is the Country Party member for Alice Springs. His $200 telephone allowance is almost gone already. He lives in Alice Springs but undertakes most of his political work in Darwin. I suggest that the Government should consider some solid increase in their salaries. To get some first class representatives the Government should consider a salary of about $7,000 a year plus a Federal members authority system similar to that which we have. These members are honest to God fellows who are trying to run the Northern Territory and they should be remunerated accordingly. I know that the majority of elected members do not support me but I hope that the Government will disregard this because it is possible that they will only be members temporarily and in the future we may get some pretty genuine and sincere representation, especially if the increases I suggest are provided. The political future of the Northern Territory demands this, lt would enable a different type of man to seek election to the Legislative Council and the Territory would be far better off if there were a realistic approach to the question of remuneration of members.
I refer now to that item which relates to the Northern Territory Housing Commission advance. The amount proposed this year is $5.7m, an increase of $1.8m over last year. The figures that I read relating to estimates of work to be done in the Northern Territory are an indication of the tremendous interest which the Minister and the Government are showing in the Northern Territory. I commend the Minister and hope that this progress will continue. The Government is genuine in its efforts to help the Territory.
I note it has been estimated that receipts from the mining industry in 1970-71 will be more than Sim. I ask the Minister to look at the technical men whom he has got handling this expansion in the mining industry. It is a very rapid expansion. There is a lot of mining going on in the Northern Territory. In order to develop the Territory it is very necessary to keep this mining boom going. Mining is booming in the Northern Territory in the same way as it is in Western Australia. I ask the Minister to look very closely at filling the positions in the mining industry in order to help it to develop.
I note that an amount of $4. 8m is appropriated this year for expenditure on the beef road programme. I urge the Government to consider the continuation of this programme. Hitherto it has been called the beef road programme, but these roads serve as developmental roads not only for transporting cattle, feed and the other necessities needed to run pastoral properties, but also for mining projects. Some of these mining projects are producing a lot of income for the Territory. Also, the roads are needed for tourism, which is an up and coming industry in the Northern Territory. Hitherto it was very difficult to allocate any money for the construction of these developmental roads. The fishing industry also calls for the construction of first class roads running to what could be considered even in the Northern Territory to be outback areas. I note that the present road programme will conclude in 1972 and, that consideration is being given to implementing a further major developmental, road programme. I again urge the Govern-, ment to consider continuing these road programmes in the Territory.
While on the matter of roads, I should mention the Alice Springs to Port Augusta! road which is one of the few trunk roads! in Australia which have not been sealed. I’ know that it comes under the control of; the Department of Shipping and Transport, and I shall have something to say about it when we are considering the estimates for that Department. I hope the Minister will continue to display an intense interest in the Northern Territory. He has produced a programme which is going very well and 1 hope we will continue to see the Territory progress in the same manner as at present.
– Before speaking about the general matters to which 1 intend to devote my attention tonight, 1 should like to make some comment on the remarks made by the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). I noted wilh interest that in his advocacy for various improvements in the Territory he suggested that if a greater remuneration were offered to members of the Legislative Council there might be some changes in the Council. I trust that that does not mean that members who belong to the same parties as honourable members opposite are not so gifted with public spirit that they would offer themselves for election to the Council in the interests of the people of the Northern Territory notwithstanding the disadvantage under which members of the Council presently operate, the present Government having been in office for over 20 years. In the several speeches which the honourable member for the Northern Territory has made in this session he has not devoted a great deal of his time - or perhaps any of his time - to the Aboriginal inhabitants of the Territory to whom I intend to refer tonight.
The proportion of Aboriginals vis-a-vis other citizens of the Northern Territory is the highest in Australia. Recently several members of the Aboriginal Affairs Committee of the Australian Labor Party paid a visit to several areas in the Northern Territory. Firstly, 1 should like to thank the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon), Mr Giese and the officers of the Welfare Branch in all the places that we visited for their co-operation in making a fairly short visit to the Northern Territory as informative and educational as possible. I intend to devote the rest of my time tonight to speaking about the situation at Wattie Creek near the Wave Hill welfare settlement where a group of Aboriginals have been living for several years. I am sorry that the Minister is not in the chamber at the moment.
– He has just been called out.
– I realise that he was here for the earlier part of the debate. The Minister recently made a speech in which he said that it was not the Government’s policy to recognise traditional land rights. He cast doubts on whether Wattie Creek was part of the traditional land of the Gurindji people. He said that were it practical to set up industries or enterprises the Government would assist the Gurindji people to set up such enterprises, but this was nol the case. He also said that contract mustering, which had been suggested as a suitable industry, was on the wane. I do not think that I have unfairly represented what the Minister said.
Some suggestions have been made that the Gurindji people at Wattie Creek are there because they have been manipulated by people outside. We know that many people in Australia have taken an interest in the plight of the Gurindji people. The Australian Council of Churches. Abschol the National Union of University Students, many university people, trade unions, Aboriginal rights organisations and of course many individuals have taken an interest in them. The settlement at: Wattie Creek is the Gurindjis own idea. In August 1966 there was a strike, for award wages, on many pastoral stations in the Northern Territory and at that time a group of Aboriginal people - most of them were Gurindjis - went to camp near the Wave Hill welfare settlement and later to their present site at Wattie Creek.
The first point I should like to make is that the Wattie Creek site is the Gurindjis’ own idea. It was their idea that they should establish a settlement. The annual report of the Welfare Branch of the Northern Territory for 1968-69 makes this comment:
In two areas at least - East Arnhem Land and the Wave Hill area - pressures quite unconnected with traditional behaviour have, in fact, encouraged strong interest in land, and brought closer identification with traditional geographical areas than is normally the case.
Although the Welfare Branch ascribes motives with which I do not agree, it agrees that the Aboriginals at Wattie Creek have a strong attachment to the land in that area. What is the attachment of the Aboriginal people to the land? This is the site of their own choice. I should like to quote from Professor Stanner, in a booklet entitled ‘After the Dreaming’, which contains the Boyer lectures for 1968. He said:
No English words are good enough to give a sense of the links between an Aboriginal group and its homeland. Our word ‘home’, warm and suggestive though it be, does not match the Aboriginal word that may mean ‘camp*, ‘hearth’, country’, ‘everlasting home’, ‘totem place’, ‘life source’, ‘spirit centre’ and much else all in one. Our word ‘land’ is too spare and meagre. We can now scarcely use it except with economic overtones unless we happen to be poets. The Aboriginal would speak of ‘earth’ and use the word in a richly symbolic way to mean his ‘shoulder’ or his side’. I have seen an Aboriginal embrace the earth he walked on. To put our words ‘home’ and ‘land’ together into ‘homeland’ is a little better but not much. A different tradition leaves us tongueless and earless towards this other world of meaning and significance. When we took what we call ‘land’ we took what to them meant hearth, home, the source and locus of life, and everlastingness of spirit. At the same time it left each local band bereft of an essential constant that made their plan and code of living intelligible. Particular pieces of territory, each a homeland, formed part of a set of constants without which no affiliation of any person to any other person, no link in the whole network of relationships, no part of the complex structure of social groups any longer had all its co-ordinates.
He went on to say:
We are watching a little miracle when we see men who, having been made homeless, again pull their world together sufficiently to try to make another home for themselves, like the Gurindji at Wattie Creek. It is something which people brought up on ideas of land as ‘real estate’ or leasehold’ find difficult to understand.
Now, what is wrong with the Wattie Creek settlement? Why is it that the Government has not accepted this settlement? 1 put it to the House that it is because this was the Aboriginals’ choice. One of the problems throughout all of these situations is that the Welfare Branch of the Northern Territory Administration, the State Department of Aboriginal Affairs, or whoever the administration might be, always knows best. We are told that the site at the Wave Hill settlement is a much better site. But it is not without its disadvantages as well and I will quote from the report of the Welfare Branch for 1967-68 in which it said about Wave Hill:
Wave Hill Welfare Centre is situated 280 miles south west of Katherine, near the Wave Hill Police Station. During the wet season Wave Hill may be cut off from overland contact for periods of up to four months.
So we realise that there are now some difficulties associated with the site at Wave Hill where the Government is building these homes. I am not knocking what the Gov ernment has done at Wave Hill. 1 note that there are applicants for most of these sites but I believe that only one of them is from a Gurindji family. But there is also the need to cater for those other Aboriginals who choose to live at Wattie Creek. I believe the reason that they choose to live at Wattie Creek is that they desire to be independent from the cattle properties, particularly Vestey’s, and the Welfare Branch for part of the year. Surely this is no bad thing.
May I quote from the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), a statement which was issued on 8th October of last year? The Prime Minister said this:
We believe that Aboriginals should be able to retain features of their own culture where they so choose. The work of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, which was set up by us, will help here. We are encouraging Aboriginal handicrafts and arts. We aim to create a higher degree of mutual respect between Aboriginal Australians and other Australians.
Further on in his speech he said:
We do not intend to take the easy way of deciding everything for the Aboriginals, and telling them what they are to do and what they are to be. Instead, we will take the slower and better way of consulting them, and working out plans in accordance with their real wishes.
I put it to the House that the Gurindji people at Wattie Creek have been clearly and consistently now for over 4 years expressing what their real wishes are and that the Government has ignored those wishes.
What we are asking is that the Gurindji be given sufficient land and assistance to maintain a settlement on the site of their own choice and that they be assisted to establish such enterprises as will enable them to be as self-supporting as they can be. Let us look at this question. We are told that no employment is offering. I again turn back to reports of the Welfare Branch in recent years. In 1967-68 it had this to say:
Following an extremely good wet season in 1967, and top prices being offered at both West Australian and Northern Territory meatworks, labour was at a premium. All stations in the district were in fact affected by the lack of labour. At the end of 1967, during the normal wet season lay-off, most stations preferred to continue the employment of stock-camp workers, a practice not normally followed in previous years. These workers were used ostensibly on station improvements but at the same time ensured that labour would be available for the commencement of the 1968 mustering season.
It goes on to say:
Another good wet season in 1968 created an equally great demand for labour. During the whole of the year, efforts were made by some pastoralists to introduce European labourinto the district, but achieved only minor success. The majority of Europeans were young and inexperienced; they found stock-camp work both arduous and not to their liking; and did not remain long on the job. There was not one station in the district that did not apply to the Branch–
That is the Welfare Branch - for assistance in recruiting Aboriginal labour. Again in the following year in the Welfare Branch report we find the comment that the labour demand was strong. The report stated:
Some stations, both large and small, were beginning to makeuse of contract musterers.
This is what the Minister said had a limited future. The report continued:
These contractors obtained Aboriginal labour either from populations no longer attached to stations (such as the Wattie Creek population) or from settlements or the town area of Katherine.
It goes onto give further details. I would like to put it to the Mouse and to the Minister that what he has said so far is not tremendously convincing. All the evidence is that employment is offering. If, as the Minister says, contract mustering is on the decline because the properties are being fenced, then why not contract fencing? Let the Minister table the result of surveys made by his Department or by other instrumentalities such as the Bureau of Agricultural Economics into what enterprises and activities are practicable for the Aboriginals in this area. What this Parliament has to recognise is that this is a community of Aboriginal people.
I am not making a claim, which could be made in other parts of the Northern Territory, that Aboriginals be given possession of their traditional land. In many of these places the Aboriginals have lost that intimate contact with their land that exists elsewhere. Current court cases prevent me from mentioning precisely the areas I would like to mention. But it is a fact that the Aboriginals have a community and they have an attachment to this area. I think they deserve more sympathetic consideration than has been given by the Government and by the Minister. This is not merely a demand for political purposes - not merely a demand made by politicians. It is the earnest belief of the majority of Australians, the majority of Australian churches, the Australian Council of Churches, trade unions and all of those interested in the advancement of Aboriginals. Frank Hardy in the ‘Australian’ rightly said that Wattie Creek is the watershed of race relations in Australia. I would like the Minister to have a new look at the situation there, not to be hidebound by his past decisions but to look honestly and sympathetically at the situation of the people of Wattie Creek and to assist them to gain a title to a piece of land where they might erect a settlement on a site of their own choice and to consult with them and to assist them in establishing such industries or enterprises as may prove viable and practicable in the circumstances.
– Ever since 1 have been in this Parliament it has been pretty well the rule that 1 have taken part in the debate on the estimates for the Department of the Interior. I probably say the same things every time I speak. On the other hand, I have found that one has to keep on doing so if one is advocating a certain action. One has to keep advocating it until people take some notice. I listened very carefully to the honourable member for Ryan (Mr Drury). Of course, he is a Queenslander. Last year the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron), I think, put up the same case regarding the hours of polling for Federal elections. The present hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Queenslanders are always advocating that we should take 2 hours off the end of the term and make it 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Last year it was the honourable member for Griffith and the year before it was another Queenslander althoughI forget who it was. The point is that it may be all right for Queenslanders and it may be all right for city dwellers, but I and other members of the Australian Country Party on numerous occasions have put forward the view that in the southern States the primary producers would be at a disadvantage.
Over theyears the Federal elections have taken place chiefly at harvest time, which is November and December. At that time of year it is important for primary producers to be out in the paddocks to a certain hour. Some honourable members opposite are laughing, but they must remember that if farmers delay stripping an oat crop for an hour or two and a big wind springs up, most ot the oats will fall to the ground. Therefore we continue to advocate that there be no change in the polling times; that they remain 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. A Queensland member of the Country Party disagrees with me. But one State cannot control the Commonwealth. As these times suit the southern States and the primary producers we say very definitely that they should continue.
Something has been said about preferential voting. The Labor Party is said to be in favour of the principle of first past the post. The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) said that if one agrees with that principle one must agree with the principle of one vote one value - that plaintive note we hear so often from the Opposition benches. Let me say first of all in regard to the preferential system that if it works out correctly - and this is in theory - when 2 candidates are left after the preferences have been distributed the position should be the same as if they were the only candidates standing. This does not work out in practice as a rule for the simple reason that some candidates pick out an opponent whom they think is the danger and they put him at the bottom of their preferences. But a lot of people forget that preferences are not counted until the candidate ceases to have a chance to win the election. So it does not make much difference as far as the candidate is concerned where he puts his preferences. The only thing that perhaps can be arranged is an exchange of preferences. Maybe this exchange will be very valuable; otherwise, it does not mean much.
The other matter I want to speak about is this plaintive call of one vote one value. What a ridiculous thing this is. I have spoken on it often. There is much laughter from an honourable member who represents a city electorate. Let us look at the Senate. The Senate is a place where voting occurs pretty often. We must realise that in Tasmania there are fewer than 400,000 people and that in New South Wales there are more than 4.5 million, and each State has 10 senators. Is this one vote one value? Let honourable members opposite call out “one vote one value’ now if they feel like it. It is the most ridiculous thing I have heard since I have been in this place.
An Opposition member - Abolish the Senate.
– The last time I spoke on this subject 1 got the same interjection. The Labor Party did not make any move to abolish the Senate when it was in office. It seems the Labor Party likes it it keeps it there. As was said by a former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, it is no good wasting time talking about abolishing the Senate. You have to get a vote of the Senate before you can hold a referendum. Do honourable members think the Senate would commit suicide? Of course it would not. The Senate is there to stay and there is not the slightest doubt of it. If there was a referendum the people would vote to leave the Senate where it is because a cry would go up that it is the greatest safeguard of Australia. We know that the Senate votes on party lines although it was considered by those who drafted the Constitution that it should represent the States. But senators vote on party lines; they talk on party lines; they live on party lines. So where is the one vote one value principle now?
– What is your point?
– I am showing that the principle of one vote one value is false. Will some member of the Opposition who says that it is not explain later, if he has time, how 10 senators for 4.5 million people and 10 senators for 400,000 people is in keeping with the principle of one vote one value? If he can do that I am quite happy to hear him but only a miracle could make somebody do it and even with a miracle it would not be correct. The last redistribution of electoral boundaries changed things in favour of the cities. I represent an electorate of nearly 20,000 square miles.
– How many people?
– About 47,000 people. What has happened in the metropolitan electorates? Cunningham, whose old area was 129 square miles, has been reduced to 73 square miles. Shortland, which had an area of 1 18 square miles, is 46 square miles. Corio had an old area of 847 square miles; its new area is 288 square miles. Deakin was 1,065 square miles; the new area is a mere 17 square miles. Lalor had an old area of 1,749 square miles; its new area is 322 square miles. Oxley had an old area of 3,890 square miles; its new area is 209 square miles. What is happening all the time is that people are being attracted to the city because the city has the voting power. Therefore it has the amenities. 1 have given enough figures to show the true merit of the principle of one vote one value. Everyone knows that the cities have the amenities. There are continually more members of Parliament coming from the cities. People are being attracted to the cities by their amenities. When a redistribution occurs it is found that there are more people living in the city and as a result we get more members in this House representing city electorates. I said that I represented about 20.000 square miles. In the last redistribution 2 more subdivisions were added to my electorate. The principle of one vote one value is followed fairly closely in the House of Representatives. The cities are growing all the time. We hear members of the Opposition referring to the drift to the cities. This is wrong. I claim to have coined the slogan ‘Decentralise political representation’.
– Can you clarify it?
– Yes, I can clarify it by saying that when I tell you what the slogan is you will laugh at it. The Opposition dues not want to decentralise political representation. It wants to centralise it. By this centralisation of political representation the population of this country would be centralised in 1 or 2 cities. What have I done? I have advocated this for years. I have fought for it. What has the Opposition done? It has been quite in agreement with what is going on. Surely to goodness people know that if we could decentralise political representation this country would be better for it. As far as cities are concerned, if there was a war 1 atomic bomb could blow Sydney or Melbourne to pieces. 1 believe we should decentralise the people into places like the great Murray Valley. We have a league there called the Murray Valley Development League. Its aim is to have 1 million people in the Murray Valley. People from very small electorates of 8, 9 or 10 square miles start to laugh about these things. An honourable member said the other night that it is harder to represent a small area. The honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) represents an electorate of 9 square miles. It has been suggested that it is harder to represent that than a large electorate. The honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) who was calling out represents a large electorate. With Kalgoorlie, Coolgardie and Geraldton given attention there i-> nothing much for him to worry about. But some of us have electorates with people evenly distributed, living in small areas. In a small electorate of 9. 10 or 15 square miles all you have to do is put an advertisement in the paper that you will tie at a certain place at a certain time-
– I ask you. Mr Chairman, is it right under the Standing Orders for the honourable member for Mallee to make a bitter, unprovoked attack on city members under the guise of asking for equal representation?
– Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– 1 only wish that I could have a recording of the points of order raised by the honourable member for Grayndler, because every time I speak he tries to suggest that I am making some sort of a vicious attack. I have always said that he does not forget the days, years ago. when I thrashed him on the floor of this House.
– Order! I suggest to the honourable member for Mallee that he is going a little wide of the debate on the estimates for the Department of the Interior.
– -If a man represents an electorate of under 20 square miles he has only to put an advertisement in the paper and all his constituents can come in and meet him. But with a big area you cannot do these things. It is ridiculous to say that the man representing a small area has much more work to do than the man in the country. After all. the man in the country has to travel long distances. In the electorate I represent I can travel over 300 miles straight and I am still in the electorate. People in the city electorates would never be able to drive a car that far.
– Your electorate is not 300 miles long.
– Is it not?
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– We always listen with pleasure and delight to the benign, benevolent and beneficent humbug that pours out of the mouth of the honourable member forMallee (Mr Turnbull).It is an incredible thing about the Australian Country Party that whenever its members get up and speak about political representation invariably the two things that are identified are the prosperity and progress of the country people with the political survival of the Country Party. If I were the honourable member for Mallee I too would support the system of voting which he has spent 15 minutes of precious time talking about. After all, the honourable member for Mallee has only to tot up a total of 19,914 votes and he is elected. The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) has to work to obtain–
-I wish to raise a point of order.
– No point of order is involved. The honourable member for Mallee will resume his seat.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented? The honourable member for Wills has to run up a total of 25,000 votes to be elected. The honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Mclvor) who represents a city seat for the Australian Labor Party, has to run up a total of 31,458 votes. If 1 were the honourable member for Mallee and I were concerned with the Country PartyI would be most outspoken in support of the system that keeps that Party in power. After all, what is a system of rigged electorates and a system of preferential voting short of a system that guarantees that the party that invariably comes second comes first and the party that comes first comes second? It is a system under which those who always lose winandthosewhoalwayswinlose.IfI were the honourable member for Mallee very naturally I would support exactly the system of electorates that put him in power. He is invulnerable while the country electorates of Australia remain rigged and gerrymandered as they have been for years.
One other very interesting thing that the honourable member for Mallee talks about is decentralisation. Is he talking about decentralisation of people? Is he talking about decentralisation of industry? Is he talking about decentralisation of economy? Of course he is not. He is talking about a thing called ‘decentralisation of political power’, which means in short the overrepresentation of the Country Parly. As a matter of fact he said last week that he did not believe–
– Order! The time allotted for the consideration of the proposed expenditure has expired.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Department of Immigration
Proposed expenditure $71,274,000.
– The proposed expenditure for the Department of Immigration for the coming, year is estimated at $71,274,000. The importance and wide ramifications of the activities of the Department provide wide scope for discussion. There are many matters that the Opposition would like to debate. For instance, we are somewhat concerned at he failure of the Governmentto provide visas for overseas visitors, at the refusal of naturalisation and many other allied matters. Despite our interest and concern with these subjects the 2 hours allotted does not present us with the opportunity to debate them fully. Consequently our debate on this important section of Government policy and administration is restricted.
During July the Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch) announced a series of new studies and investigations which the Government is initiating in the migration programme. I consider it to be appropriate that 1 should devote my time to this proposal as my time is very strictly limited. At the outset I should like to give a brief survey of the history of the Australian immigration programme. I do not think it would be out of place. The Minister described the programme in his publication Immigration in the Seventies’ in these words:
Twenty-five years ago - in 1945 - Australia revived, expanded and refined its traditional policy of assisted migration into the most ambitious venture of its type in our history.
Perhaps I could go further and say that our immigration programme ranks as one of the great achievements of our time and is acknowledged as such by people of all shades of politics and thought in Australia today. The first Minister for Immigration was the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), who was sworn in on 1 3 th July 1945 during the time of the Chifley Government. The new Department of Immigration, according to a document issued by the first Minister at a later date, commenced with about 24 officers, 6 stationed in Canberra, 6 more in Melbourne and about 12 located in London, engaged almost exclusively in making arrangements for the British wives and children of Australian servicemen to come to Australia. Now, after that small commencement, in 1970 on the occasion of the silver anniversary of the commencement of this scheme by a Labor government, the following information as to its growth makes really remarkable reading: On 30th August 1970 the staff in Australia was 1,520 and overseas 672. The records available show that the total number of regional offices on 31st December 1946 was 7 in Australia and 1 in London. Today the total number of regional offices in Australia is 10 and overseas 45. Those figures indicate a remarkable growth in the Department, as I shall further show.
On 17 th September 1970, in answer to a question I had directed to him the Minister for Immigration advised me that arrivals under the United Kingdom assisted passage scheme increased from 1,960 for the January-June period in 1947 to 69,035 in 1969-70. I understand that the estimated figure for 1970-71 is a little in excess of that figure or at least near it. He further advised me that the number of permanent and long term arrivals for residence of one year or longer in Australia between October 1945 and June 1970 was 3,385,676, of whom is is estimated some 2,696,000 were migrants. The Minister further stated that the estimated number of persons born overseas who were resident in Australia at 30th June 1970 was 2,500,000, representing 20 per cent of the total papulation.It is also estimated that there are some 1,200.000 children bom in Australia to one or both migrant parents. Since the commencement of the migration scheme our population has increased from approximately 71/2 million to just on 121/4 million.
These figures indicate amongst other things a major contribution to our population by migration, which surely ranks amongst one of the greatest mass movements of people in modern times. To those who have made it possible - the first Minister, his successors, the successive govern ments, the departmental officials, churches, trade unions, employers and voluntary organisations - Australia owes a great debt of gratitude. Not only in people has it made its contribution, but as the Minister said recently:
In the past 25 years it has made a major impact on Australia in terms of economic growth and in the social and cultural diversification of the Australian community.
I think few people will disagree with those sentiments and that summary of the programme. But now I ask, as the Minister has asked recently: What of the future?
Recently the Minister announced the terms of a far reaching inquiry into all the ramifications of the immigration programme not, as he said, to curtail migration but rather, as he put it, to study certain aspects and allied matters that he mentioned to me in a letter which was just an endorsement of what he had already put out publicly. He said:
The measures which I announced on 26th July are:
A comprehensive review of the benefits and cost to Australia of immigration conducted on traditional patterns.
Investigations into desirable future levels and distribution of population for Australia,
Major surveys, covering up to 10,000 people, of migrant1!’ experiences during their first few years here.
The appointment of authorities on urbanisation and environment as consultants on the immigration programme,
Closer liaison and mutual exchanges with Canadian migration authorities.
As will be seen, the matters for inquiry and investigation are somewhat comprehensive. The Lahor Party does not oppose an inquiry or investigation of the scheme. Rather do we say at this point of time 25 years after the commencement of the scheme, and having in mind its magnitude, the nationalities involved and the problems occasioned by the influx of new people, it is not unreasonable to take stock, as it were, of the situation and to plan for the immediate years ahead. If anything, the inquiry is probably overdue. lt should be understood clearly that the Labor Party supports migration. I shall quote our policy for the benefit of the Committee and make it quite clear. It is as follows:
Convinced that increased population is vitalto the future development of Australia, the Australian Labor Party will support and uphold a vigorous and expanding immigration programme administered with sympathy, understanding and tolerance.
The basis of such policy will be -
Australia’s national and economic security.
The welfare and integration of all its citizens.
The preservation of our democratic system and balanced development of our nation.
The avoidance of the difficult social and economic problems which may follow from an influx of peoples having different standards of living, traditions and cultures.
The children and spouses of Australian citizens to bc entitled to Australian citizenship.
I feel that 1 should place that on record in order that the position of the Labor Party will not be misunderstood.
In recent times criticism has been made by some sections of the community of the demands of immigration on our economic capacity. This is not an unusual pattern because similar criticism was offered by critics of sustained immigration as long as a century ago. lt is probably to be expected. There is an inclination to blame migrants for the shortage of housing, the demands on education, overcrowding of the cities and a number of other problems. There is no doubt that to an extent this may be true. At the same time it is wrong to blamethe migrants for all these problems. They may have added to them, but after all they are not solely responsible. Whatever difficulties may have been created would on balance, I suggest, be offset by the benefits and the growth that they have brought to Australia. They have provided a large home consumption market, increased our spending, added to our culture and our gross national product, and in many and varying ways they have changed and advanced our way of life.
The Minister in his publication ‘Immigration in the Seventies’ quoted interesting figures on the migrant contribution to our economic welfare which should be studied by all people. If any blame is to be attached to the shortages and the overcrowding that exists, it is not the migrant who is responsible but it is more the fault of the Liberal-Country Party Government. Where the Labor Party differs from the Government is that we say that, having brought migrants to Australia in their thousands, we have a responsibility to provide adequate finance to the State and local government authorities for education, housing, hospitals, and development. This unfortunately has not been the case. State governments, starved of money by the Commonwealth, were left with the responsibility of educating migrants, English and non-English, and the responsibility of providing hospitals, homes, etc. for them. The short-sighted view taken by the Government was that the States could look after them because the returns they would get from the new citizens would make up the leeway on the financial front. This was short-sighted and wrong, and the Labor Parly does not approve of it. Therefore let. me make it quite clear that the Labor Party, in accordance with its policy and the ideals which commenced this scheme, supports migration. This docs not hide the fact that we believe the scheme should be reviewed from time to time. It may be necessary to set different targets, different types of migrants, and maybe to revise the approach to the accepted goals of the past in regard to numbers, types, educational and trade qualifications and matters of this nature.
This brings me to the basis of the inquiry proposed by the Minister. Time does not permit me to deal with it in detail. 1 have outlined the basis of the inquiry as announced by the Minister.It is safe to say, however, that the objective and ramifications of the inquiry are very comprehensive, but one significant factor disturbs the Opposition: Who is to conduct the investigation? The Minister has not stated any individual names except those appointed to certain immigration committees. He also stated that the Australian National University was to be consulted. It would appear that other than this it will be a survey and investigation at the departmental level and that, it may bc several years before it is completed. In these circumstances one may be excused for forming the impression that the inquiry will bring forward a decision more in keeping with the wishes of the Government than would an impartial outside inquiry.
The immigration programme owes its success amongst other things to the united support of most of the major political parties of Australia. In fact it is one of the few aspects of national policy on which there is fairly general agreement except probably on the details of administration. I. go further and say that it is because of this approach that the selling of the scheme to the Australian people 25 years ago aud since has been made possible. At that time the acceptance of large scale migration of Greeks, Italians and other nationalities seemed a remote possibility. In fact I shall go so far as to say that at that time even Pommies, as we used to call them, were a little bit suspect.
With this background I suggest to the Minister that in the interests of immigration and its further this inquiry should have been conducted by an all-party parliamentary commitee from both Houses of the National Parliament. The type of committee that would be set up that way, widely representative, uncommitted, with first hand knowledge of the scheme, would have been well qualified to bring down a report that would have been invaluable to the Minister and the Government, whatever its political colour; on which the future programme of migration might be based. In the past, committees of this kind have rendered invaluable reports to the Parliament.
It seems strange that we have a variety of committees including the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, the Joint Committee on the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Legislation, the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Joint Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House, the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise and the House of Representatives Committee on Wildlife Conservation and others, yet on this important subject the Minister cannot see fit to give us an all party committee of both Houses on probably the most important national project of our time. I think that the Minister has failed to that extent in that he has restricted this inquiry with its wide terms of reference and the long range effects that it will have on Australia’s future to a committee that is limited in that respect. I say that it is a matter for regret that the inquiry will be conducted evidently on a departmental level. Without any reflection on those concerned, I believe that even at this late stage a committee such as I have suggested should be appointed for an investigation into all the ramifications of the migration scheme. I believe that its findings would be of great benefit to Australia and to the Government, whatever its political colour might be.
– I was most interested to listen to the speech made by the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly). Usually, when be makes a speech in this House, the honourable member makes so many outlandish statements that many of his speeches are regarded as a bit of a joke. But, tonight, I think the honourable member for Grayndler gave us a very reasoned and studied approach to the subject of immigration. 1 congratulate him on it. 1 think that his suggestion of an all party committee to look into the subject of immigration is something that is well worth considering. lt is just over 25 years since Australia’s post-war immigration programme came into operation and it is interesting to note that, at this time, we are hearing criticism of the scheme. As one journalist wrote recently: Australia’s immigration programme has been taken out of the sacred cow category and subjected to increasing criticism’. The Commercial Bank of Australia Ltd in a recent review was critical of the high rate of inflow, claiming that it prevented the maximation of economic growth. Professor E. L. Wheelwright, who is the Associate Professor of Economics at Sydney University, has maintained that our rate of increase of population is too high and the policy of indiscriminate migration, as he termed it, should cease. Dr Evans, a human biologist at the John Curtin School of Medical Research at the Australian National University, has said that the whole idea that we have to go on increasing our population size is open to question and that the advantages of a further increase are outweighed by the disadvantages.
The Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch) has been aware of this type of criticism for some time, and recently, as the honourable member for Grayndler said, the Minister announced that the Government would undertake a full scale review of Australia’s immigration programame. It will be the first of its kind undertaken in Australia, and it will be a cost benefit analysis of the whole migration programme. As an accountant, I am all for cost benefit analyses. They let us know the cost of the benefit which we receive from the exercise, in this case, the migration programme. It is up to us, then, to weigh the cost against the benefit, and to decide whether we desire to proceed with the present programme, or increase, or decrease the flow. The migration programme is supported by all parties in this Parliament. The present scheme was introduced by the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) when he was Minister for immigration in the Chifley Government, and it has been continued by succeeding Liberal and Country Party Governments.I think it is a matter for some pride, that Australia has absorbed some 2.6 million migrants since 1945. We now have in our population’ a higher proportion of people born overseas than America ever had. One in every 6 persons in our cities, was born outside Australia.
Although the Department of Immigration has existed for only a quarter of a century, Australia has gained much over its two century history from migration. Immigration started in Australia when the first 850 people landed at Sydney Cove in 1788, and it has been said that the history of Australia has been the history of immigration. All of us in this House, are either immigrants ourselves, or descendants of immigrants, so that we might say that Australia’s growth and economic strength have been founded on its immigration policy. I was pleased to read a. recent statement by the Minister that immigration to Australia would continue at a high level and that some 2 million new residents could come to Australia in the 1970’s. I consider this sound policy. Of course, there is criticism in some quarters; of course, there are problems; of course, there are costs; and of course, there are debits. But the credits, both tangible and intangible, surely out- weighthedebits.Idonotbelievethatwe should allow the voices of doubt to slow down our rate of population growth. There is more truth to the old hackneyed phrase of ‘populate or perish’ than some people would admit.
When I was a boy at school some economists said that Australia would never be able to maintain a population in excess of 20 million people. With our economic growth and our new-found resources, only a fool would make that prediction today. Who can look into the future and accurately forecast an optimum population for Australia? But there is an even stronger reason than our own selfish ideals of security and a better standard of living for accepting more people into this country, and it is a profoundly mora! one. In 1969, the world population increased by 71 million people. This was more than the combined total of those killed in both world wars,It is a gain of 2.2 people per second every day of the year and it means that each day there are 190,080 more mouths to feed. What moral right do we have to say we are not going to take our fair share of these people. What moral right have we to say: ‘We cannot absorb you into our economy, because it might interfere with our standard of living.’
This Tra alright. Jack’ policy propounded by the Commercial Bank, Professor Wheelwright and Dr Evans, is morally indefensible. We will never be able to retain this country unless we do increase our population, whether we loose it by invasion or by default in the face of world opinion.
It is sheer humbug for peopleto say that migration is the cause of pollution in our cities or that it cuts down on our quality of life. If there is pollution in our cities, it is a problem with which not only the Government, but also every citizen, must contend. But those of us who have been bom in this country do not have to look far to see what immigration has contributed in so many ways to what we have now come to accept as the Australian way of life. Sure, there have been problems of integration. Sure, there have been strains on housing and education, and, sure, there has been a tendency for migrants to settle in the already crowded cities of this continent. But these are not insurmountable problems. We must not limit ourexpansion because we run into a few difficulties. Australia is a country of vast potential and we need an expanding population to help to develop that potential. Since the Second World War, Australia has been fortunate in being able to attract a reason ale number of suitable migrants to this country, but these conditions may not always prevail. In the past, the numbers of immigrants coming to Australia has varied with wars, disasters, booms and depressions. Today, with economic buoyancy in Northern Europe and less unemployment in Southern Europe, it has become necessary for Australia to look farther afield for suitable migrants. Turkey is a typical example.
I believe that there were misgivings on the part of some people who felt the Turks would not be readily assimilated. At the Eastbridge Hostel in Nunawading on the edge of my electorate of Deakin, 9 Turkish families have moved in in the past 2 months. Already 3 families have moved out to private accommodation. One family, the husband of whom was previously an accountant with an American firm in Ankara, spoke fluent English. Another was found a position with a firm of building supplies and the firm has already rung the hosie! asking for more Turkish workers, if they become available. It is essential, however, in expanding our population, that we continue our policy of maintaining an homogeneous society. We have all at some time been assailed with what has been called the ‘White Australia policy’, which is supposed to be the policy of succeeding governments to allow in only people of European extraction, because it is claimed we believe that they are superior to those with a different coloured skin. We all remember the rather facetious and witty remark of the right honourable member for Melbourne when he found it necessary to refuse entry to a certain Chinese gentleman named Mr Wong, that ‘two Wongs don’t make a White’. The Press of this country have never let him forget that remark made in jest.
– He commenced the migrant programme.
– If the honourable member had been listening he would have heard me say that earlier. The honourable member for Port Adelaide may have misunderstood me. I was not in any way criticising the right honourable member for Melbourne. If I was doing anything I was criticising the Press. But our restricted immigration policy is not based on any theory of racial superiority. Australia’s immigration policy is directed to maintaining a predominantly homogeneous population, mainly because we would not like to see Australia become the breeding ground of racial prejudice and hatred such as we are witnessing in America and England today. If we can adapt our resources to bringing in people who are readily able to be assimilated, then we may well avoid the problems of racial hatred, and maintain our goal of an homogeneous population.
But our policy does not exclude nonEuropeans. There is provision for entry of the non-European spouse, unmarried minor children, aged parents and fiance of an Austraiian citizen or of persons having resident status in Australia. In addition, nonEuropeans may settle in Australia on the basis of their ability to integrate readily and their possession of qualifications which are positively useful. I have been responsible, through representations to the Minister concerned, for bringing more than a few such people into Australia. I have a lifelong friend whose father was Chinese and whose mother was Australian. He is an Australian of the very best type with a very fine Australian family.
J travelled for some 5 weeks through 9 countries in Asia last year and the only people who asked me about our so-called White Australia Policy’ were Australian journalists abroad. Perhaps it makes a good story back home, but it certainly does not help Australia’s image. Most countries have a restricted immigration policy for varying reasons. I had lunch at the Chinese Embassy today and the Ambassador outlined his country’s policy in this regard. Only yesterday the Ambassador for South Korea said in Melbourne once more in reply to a journalist who had asked about white Australia: 1 am sure that if I were in Australia’s position I would have some sort of restriction, too.
Let us by all means have this cost benefit analysis to let us know where we are heading. But for moral reasons as well as those of national security, let us not slacken in our efforts to expand this wonderful country by continuing our immigration programme. And let us avoid the traps of other nations; let us continue to bring to this country only such migrants as can be readily integrated. It is a sound policy from Australia’s point of view. I have no doubt that informed world opinion will understand and agree with our policy.
– Firstly I would like to compliment the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) and return 2 compliments that he has previously paid me. I am beginning to wonder what is happening in this chamber tonight when I am the second Labor speaker to be in agreement with an honourable member in the Liberal Party. It does not auger very well for the future of this country when that happens. My reason for saying that is that it would seem that everybody at this point of time, including myself, is agreed on the proposition that there should be an investigation into our immigration policy. However, unlike the honourable member for Deakin I do not go so far as to agree that there is a need to set up a committee of inquiry and then explain why we ought to keep on increasing our intake of migrants. The very crux of an inquiry by such a committee is whether we should in fact continue our present rate of intake of migrants.
– That is not the only purpose.
– It is nol the only purpose but it is probably the prime purpose. I hope that later I will be able to elaborate on that very point. The honourable member for Deakin also spoke about the history of Australia as being the history of immigration and if I may I will recapitulate a little of the history of Australia. Immigration, since the inception of Australia, has gone through a number of phases in our relatively short history of 200 years. Some of these phases have been carefully planned and some of them completely unplanned, thrust upon us by circumstances. The record shows that Captain Cook landed on the east coast of Australia in 1770 - 200 years ago - and took possession of the continent in the name of the King of England by ordering 2 musket shots to be fired to drive off the interested spectators - that is. the Aboriginals - and then by raising the Union Jack. As well as a great navigator, Captain Cook must go down in history as the greatest real estate agent of all time. Surely no area of real estate on earth has ever been purchased for such a low price. Can anyone imagine 3 million square miles of land being obtained for the cost of enough powder to fire 2 bullets from 2 muskets? Captain Cook duly reported back to those who had sent him that the great south land - Terra Australis - was, as they had suspected, suitable for habitation by Europeans. And Australia’s first immigration scheme was off the ground.
The Government of Britain was having a torrid time, with all those dreadful, smelly people who were stealing food be cause they and their families were hungry and all those long haired lay-abouts who were not only muttering about their problems but were actually prepared to do something about them. These miscreants were standing up in public, holding meetings in private and in public, even going to the extreme lengths of holding demonstrations to demand recognition of their problems, a solution of their problems and access to justice. The be-wigged noblemen shook their heads solemnly in alarm and said: The law is the law and it must be obeyed’. They had no cameras then so they simply tried in the courts those insurgents who sought justice and had them transported across the seas to the new colony. They were Australia’s first immigrants. I give thanks that I live in a more enlightened and tolerant era where governments regard dissent as a healthy symptom of democracy and governments would not dream of gaoling dissenters or trying to stifle open discussion.
Eighteen years after Captain Cook, Captain Phillip arrived with a fleet of ships bearing our first migrants. One could say without fear of contradiction that this, our first immigration programme, was the result of a planned policy. Some of the immigrants came from the finest families. The others were carefully selected for their qualities and the selections were confirmed by some of the finest judges in England, litis planned immigration policy continued for a number of years with the immigrants being housed in cosy little migrant hostels at Port Arthur in the south, at Botany Bay on the east coast and Moreton Bay in the north. Gradually this method of government selection of migrants fell into disuse and good old private enterprise took over with the expected bumbling and stumbling that is usually associated with the selfinterest of private enterprise.
Australia then entered a phase of unplanned immigration programmes. Gold was discovered in the 1840s and gold fever brought people to Australia from most parts of the world - Europe, Asia and the United States of America. The population of Australia increased dramatically although all those who came did not stay, but, to use a contemporary quotation, there was a net gain of arrivals over departures. Certain agriculturalists in the north were carefullly looking at the system of farming used in the southern part of the North American continent where the agriculturists had found a way to cut down labour costs. They bought their units of labour, paid them no wages, but did realise that it was necessary to feed and house them. Some farmers in Australia’s north thought this was a good idea so they did the same thing. They brought black people to Australia from the islands nearby and used the same methods as their American counterparts. The passing of time has seen a great change in the attitude of farmers towards employees. No longer do we hear farmers complaining about high wages; nor do they try to get labour on the cheap. Fortunately government action was taken to destroy the iniquitous slave system, but unfortunately the policy that was evolved tended to discriminate against people who were nol white and became known as the White Australia Policy, a term that is still quoted in many countries and is as distasteful to me as it was when I first heard it.
Between the two world wars there was an intake of people from Europe and the British Isles. But this was not planned and the economic situation at that time was no better in Australia than it was in Europe. As a result there was little incentive for people to move. We had to wait for the Chifley Labor Government in the late 1940s after the war to set about finding solutions to the many problems that confronted Australia on the road to post-war rehabilitation. The evidence of sound governmental planning by Mr Chifley and his government has been manifest for the last 20 years or more. In so many ways the succeeding governments, including this one, have followed the guidelines that were soundly laid down 20 years ago. Not the least of these is in the field of immigration. Mr Chifley’s inherent ability to find the right man for the right job led him to choose the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), as he now is, to institute an immigration policy. This he did with such wisdom that this policy has remained virtually unchanged for over 20 years. This is surely a tribute to the man who conceived it.
As against that tribute, it must also be borne in mind that there have been significant changes in the requirements and the needs of the community in the intervening period. Yet, in spite of the changed circumstances, succeeding governments, and the various and numerous succeeding Ministers for Immigration, including the present Government and the present Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch), are still following the guidelines laid down by my colleague the right honourable member for Melbourne. Australia’s immigration policy has become a matter of public debate and the general concensus would be that the policy needs review. This needs to be said and it should be said over and over again until notice is taken of it. 1 repeat that Australia’s immigration policy is in need ot review. I have heard various descriptions of the position, but the one that I like best and thought: most appropriate was the heading for an article in the ‘Australian’ in May of this year which described our policy as ‘Immigration: A horse that has run wild’. I did not think much of the article as the author’s solution to the problem was to shoot the horse. The article puts forward a point of view that immigration is a cost to the community because it draws on resources that could be applied to other things and that there is not sufficient return to the community to warrant a continued outlay. On the face of it. this would appear to be true but a deeper look at the question raises doubt about the validity of the arguments used.
In my electorate I have a very large percentage of families who came to Australia as immigrants. Many of these people are naturalised and many more are awaiting naturalisation. So apart from my concern for the welfare and well being of all these people, the problems of the migrant community are now of special significance to me. 1 give credit to the present Minister for his attitude and I do so without any embarrassment at all. This attitude is expressed in the. Melbourne ‘Age’ in July of this year which slated:
The Government will make its first full scale review of Australia’s immigration programme.
Full marks to the Minister for his ability to convince his Government to take a sensible course when his predecessors apparently could not, or perhaps their governments were unwilling. The article went on to state:
As a starting point, he had earlier this year approved a cost-benefit analysis of immigration: This project, would provide detailed information on the economics of immigration.
The preliminary study would lake at least a year and considerably longer for the total project.
Mr Lynch said he bad initiated talks with the Australian National University on desirable population levels and distribution.
Another major innovation would be an in-depth study of up to 10,000 migrants.
The experience of these 10,000 would be studied at various stages during their first 3 years in Australia.
Mr Lynch also said that he had decided to broaden the basis of Australia’s consultative machinery on immigration.
He said he had decided to widen the functions and membership of the Immigration Planning Council to include urbanisation and environmental considerations.
The tenor of that statement leads me to believe that the purpose of the cost-benefit analysis would be to determine a firm policy on the quality or quantity of the intake as related to the general economy. But it seems from other statements that this aspect will be ignored completely. In the Melbourne ‘Herald’ in June, the Minister is reported as saying in London that he planned to attract 350,000 British settlers over the next 5 years. Again, the journal called ‘Canberra Comment* in July reported the Minister as saying:
There has been no suggestion, however, either by the Minister, his Department or the Commonwealth Government, that there should bc a cut back in the migrant intake.
If it is an assumption that the findings of the investigation committee by the Australian National University will be ignored, the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) left no doubt when he addressed the annual dinner of the New South Wales Chamber of Manufactures on - 5th August. On that occasion he said:
We must continue- to have a high intake in the seventies no matter what bank brings out a statement querying the value of it.
It would seem that through no fault of the Minister the 2 pertinent questions that need to be answered will never be asked. I believe that immigration today is at a crossroads and the choice of which road to take is one the Government must face up to fairly quickly. One signpost says: Should Australia seek to limit its total migrant intake while upgrading the overall skill content of that intake?’ The other says: ‘Should we continue to seek as many people as possible, accepting the fact that this will inevitably mean accepting more unskilled and therefore relatively unproductive workers?’
The time for this debate is severely limited and full debate and elaboration of the many facets of this important subject are not possible in the time available. In fact, immigration is of such vital importance that Australia’s policy warrants full debate in this House. But to return to the 2 questions that 1 have just posed - and they seem to be the crux of the issue - there is argument to support both points of view. The cost-benefit basis is not altogether a purely ecnomic question. Many features can be measured in substantive terms. Bodies can be counted. Statistics reveal that approximately 2.5 million people have come to Australia and stayed during the past 20 years. We know that we have received people from 40 countries. We also know the number of people born in other countries who lived in Australia as at June 1966. For example, 908,664 were born in the United Kingdom, 267,325 were born in Italy and so on. We know and can measure how much money is spent and charged against the Immigration Department and we know by book-keeping which areas cost what. A simple arithmetical sum would give us a cost per person which has been fairly reliably assessed at $650 a head. There are many other aspects to this question.
I see my time has almost run out and it is noi possible to canvass all of the points in the time that is available. However, it is generally agreed that the ledger has shown a credit balance in favour of increased immigration in the past. The question that we now face is: Will that credit balance continue? The Australian National University inquiry should provide the answers. It is unfortunate and condemnatory thai the Government, which has been in office for 20 years, has realised at the eleventh hour that there is a need for reason rather than emotion to frame our immigration policy. There are many things that I could say about education - the teaching of English in the migrant hostel in my electorate. But there is not lime to do this. I trust that the Government will take note and act on the findings of the Australian National University inquiry.
– Rising to speak in support of the estimates of the Department of Immigration I first of all want to pay a tribute to the Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch). We have had many very good Ministers for Immigration but the present Minister has brought drive and enthusiasm to this portfolio. This, together with the hard work of his Department, augurs well for the future of our immigration policy. I would also like to pay a tribute to his departmental officers. As one who has been associated with immigration ever since I came into the Parliament I pay a tribute to the tremendous job they do and their keenness to co-operate with honourable members irrespective of party affiliations in every way and on every occasion. Undoubtedly Australia’s record in the field of immigration is a very proud one. It compares more than favourably with the immigration records of other nations. It has been extraordinarily successful when we consider the number of settlers who have come here over the comparatively short period of some 25 years, the different ethnic origins, and the different areas they have come from in different civilisations in many parts of Europe and elsewhere. It is because of our efficient immigration policy and the thoroughness with which we have attempted to assimilate these people that the great majority of them have become very good Australians. They have become Australians in habit, outlook, thinking and in their loyalty to Australia. This is a remarkable thing. We have very few pockets of national feeling among settlers from other countries. We have some but when we consider the number who have come here in relation to our own comparatively small population the record is remarkable.
In the early years we had the problem of the .war .refugees when it was_npt .possible to screen our migrants in the way it is possible to screen them today. Despite this, we have been remarkably free of undesirable migrants. There is no question that they have enriched our culture in many ways. They have brought much to us from the more ancient cultures of Europe and they have broadened our outlook in an invaluable way. Isolated as we are from European civilisation in many ways - by distance in the past - it has been of tremendous benefit to us to bring these people here from areas which have a broader and perhaps more tolerant attitude. This has done much for the Australian attitude to other people, to the Aus tralian tolerance of other people and to our understanding. They have brought with them many skills, new trades and a great deal of knowledge. Not only have they been invaluable in the work they have been able to do with their trained skills and in the trades but they have also created much employment in Australia. This, of course, has created the problem we are faced with today. We have a considerable degree of inflation and rising costs. This situation has not been caused by the inflow of migrants alone, but undoubtedly this has had an effect.
Migrants must be fed, clothed mid have housing provided for them. They must be educated. We must train the younger ones and retrain many of the older ones. We require training in many more skills and the pressure on our education system is attributable largely to the tremendous intake of migrants and migrant families. Wc require more hospitals, universities, transport and all the other things that go to make up our civilisation as we know it. There have been accusations, as I have said before, that our immigration policy perhaps has aggravated unduly the trend towards inflation and rising costs, but we must balance that against what we have gained. One of the areas of complaint has been from a very small section of primary producers who feel that migrants have contributed, in part at least, to the rising costs. Those primary producers must remember that it is tremendously important that we populate Australia. It was one of our early Prime Ministers, Billy Hughes I think, who said: ‘Populate or perish.’ I believe that still remains, to a large extent, true.
Australia is surely the greatest prize in the world today. If the Japanese had realised just how rich our potential was they would not have come down the Malayan Peninsula but would have come straight here. Australia is a tremendously rich country, far richer than it was 25 years ago. We did not know of our mineral wealth, we had not developed our industrial potential and we certainly had no idea of our agricultural potential in those days. It was the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) who said that history has shown that no nation as richly endowed as Australia can ever hope to survive unless it is capable of defending itself. So we must have people if we are to survive. We must have people if we are to remain an economically viable community in this competitive world. We must have people who believe in free enterprise if we are to maintain this nation of free enterprise and independence. We want people who believe in that way of life. We must have people with a political philosophy opposed to the all destroying policy of Communism. I do not suppose that ever before in our history was there a greater need for people to realise the dangers of Communism and Socialism. Nobody realises the dangers more than those who have suffered so badly under Communism. These people have seen what it means, and those of our own people who play with it here should talk to those who have endured it and they may have good cause to think again. The people, even in high places in Australia, who are prepared to play with Communism and weaken our defences ought to take the opportunity of talking to some of the migrants who have been through all this in Europe and they may - I hope will- change their opinions completely.
Our immigration programme has been exceedingly successful, principally because we have moved with the times. We have not been content to stay with the policy that we introduced 25 years ago. We have changed it and adapted it to the changing problems and changing conditions. We have learned by our mistakes. Today we have an army of highly trained officers both here and overseas. 1 draw attention to the tremendous advantage of bringing our trained officers back regularly from overseas posts and sending other departmental officers from here overseas. This is not done in all our departments, but it does give us a constant and up to date contact with the places from which we are drawing the people we hope will become worthy Australians. I pay a tribute to those officers who, under the greatest difficulty, do a tremendous job. The type and calibre of the migrants who have come here are a standing monument to the excellence of our overseas officers and to the thoroughness of their attempts to secure the best people who will become assimilated and integrated in our community.
We have built better accommodation for our migrants. Many of us remember what the accommodation was like in the days of the refugees when conditions were pretty shocking, although still a lot better than in the concentration camps. We must not forget that, but we have progressed a long way from those days when we hastily erected hostels to take and shelter these people. Today we have improved tremendously our hostel accommodation. We are providing flats for our migrants so that they can live here under better conditions as soon as they are able to get jobs. Our educational programme both for adults and children has developed along satisfactory lines. Certainly there is much to be done but we have come a tremendous distance along the road. In our education programme we have provided broadcast programmes for migrants, special lessons in factories and places of work, crash courses in English for adult migrants so thai they are more quickly able to fit into the community and, perhaps most important of all, we have introduced English training programmes for migrant children in our schools so that they are not disadvantaged in their training. It is true that it is the children who become Australian most quickly. This, in itself, brings a problem because the children become Australian almost overnight and the parents sometimes feel a little resentful of it.
Again, we have gone a long way along the road in recognising the skills and qualifications of migrants. Despite resistance from a number of areas and a number of institutions we have been able to persuade many institutes, organisations and trade unions to accept the qualifications of migrants. Our officers are expert at translating the qualifications gained overseas into their equivalent in Australia. This is very important work. As I said, the whole of our immigration programme has been aimed increasingly at making it possible for all the people we are bringing to Australia to become Australians as quickly as possible, to he assimilated and integrated into the community. We need people urgently. As I said, we need them for defence purposes. We need them to develop this vast continent. We need them to increase output of industry in order to make industries viable. We also need migrants to develop our home market. Here again I say to our primary producers: The best market you can possibly have is your home market’. The man who is receiving a salary or wages and is enjoying a decent standard of living in Australia is the best market which the Australian primary producer could ever hope to have.
Our immigration policy is a story of increasing success. We have built up a dynamic young nation in this outpost of European civilisation. We need these people if we are going to survive. We need them to help us fulfil that important task which I believe is ours - to give a lead to many millions of people in Asia who are looking for a better way of life. People in this part of Asia are looking increasingly to Australia for a lead in this direction. I support the proposed expenditure for the Department of Immigration. I commend the Minister and the Department for the forward looking and very successful policy which they have pursued in the past and which f am confident they will pursue in the future.
– Other speakers have pointed out that for 25 years immigration has been a major item of Commonwealth Government expenditure and that 2.6 million new settlers have been the result. Indeed, the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) and the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) pointed out that our immigration history is a much longer one. The honourable member for Deakin pointed out that the number of migrants we have received in modern times have given us a lead over the immigration rate that even (he United States of America achieved. 1 was very much impressed in the United States to see the museum of immigration that has been set up at the base of the Statue of Liberty. It preserves primary sources such as documents, letters, books, photographs and relics in a display which tells the story of migration to that country, and it will continue to do so for many years. I believe that in many ways our story of migration will rival that of the United States, and I think that now is the time to start such a project to preserve these primary sources - relics and so on - so that in the future people will have a better appreciation of how migration contributed to this nation’s growth and development.
Only of late has there been a questioning of whether a vigorous and expanding migration programme is the best thing for Australia. The Opposition believes that a proper immigration programme must have a basis of and work towards ensuring Australia’s national and economic security, the welfare and integration of all its citizens and the balanced development of our nation. We must also take note of and avoid the social and economic problems which might follow from an influx of peoples having widely different standards of living, traditions and cultures.
I compliment the Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch) and his Department because I believe they possess the same sort of principles and believe in a questioning of the proper role of immigration. The Minister has initiated major examinations of aspects of immigration. We may differ with his methods and possibly his conclusions and actions, but we recognise the effort being made and await the conclusions that will be reached. The staff of the Department of Immigration has been most helpful and understanding in any cases I have put before it. In only one instance has an inquiry 1 have made never been promptly and courteously answered. This one case about which I have written on two occasions referred to a third year medical student at the University of Melbourne. He was born in Shanghai of Dutch parents who have migrated to Australia and are now naturalised. His younger brother has Australian citizenship. This young man applied for naturalisation, but his request has not been acceded to. My queries as to reasons have not been answered. I might add that he is, to use what is a probably an unofficial term, a conscientious non-complier in that he refuses to register for national service. If this is the reason for his failure to get naturalisation, it should be stated. This sort of political discrimination disturbs me.
Recently I was invited to address an informal group of young migrants from a European country on Australia’s political setup. In the main they were young married couples who had migrated at about the same time. They were looking forward to naturalisation. They were of good education and varied political opinions. They meet each month in a discussion group to discuss Australian arts, theatre, books, politics and so on. Several of them expressed their support for my political party and their concern about Australia’s involvement in Vietnam and other issues. However, they offered the view that they were afraid to take part in political activity because of a general feeling that migrants who took part in political parties other than the Government parties may be refused naturalisation. Although the Minister has assured the House that the numbers refused naturalisation for political reasons were small, I am very concerned with the development of this view among migrants under our immigration plan, particularly amongst such a very responsible group. If it is not so, it should be vigorously denied and advised to new settlers. After listening to the honourable member for Hume (Mr Pettitt), I know that he would not agree with this.
I should like to refer to a speech made by the Minister for Immigration to the Metal Trades Industry Assocation in Melbourne on 30th July of this year. He said, amongst other things:
It is important that Australians understand what can and what cannot reasonably be asked of the immigration programme. It is not intended to - nor can it - insure us against the consequences of our own shortcomings. It is not an alternative to sound wages policies.
It is not an alternative to adequate industrial and occupational training facilities in Australia. Tt does not absolve us from our responsibility to train professional, skilled and other key workers.
Immigration’s essential role in these areas is to supplement and reinforce other lines of action. It does not absolve others from their responsibilities.
I do not quote this to disagree with it. I do however believe that the Department of Immigration is being let down in other areas of Commonwealth Government administration, or perhaps the Minister fails to convince his colleagues. If immigration is not intended as an alternative to adequate industrial and occupational training facilities, if it does not absolve us from our responsibility to train professional, skilled and other key workers, then the complete lack of forward long term Australian objectives in education and quality of education, which was highlighted in the recent debate on the estimates for the Department of Education and Science, should not exist. Further, a matter raised at the Citizenship Convention in Canberra in February of this year regarding the recognition of overseas qualifications should never have arisen. The report of the committee investigating this question is a matter of utmost urgency. To wait 25 years is just not good enough.
At the same convention the question of the desirability of chain migration was raised, particularly by the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) who said:
I suggest to the Convention that special studies be made of areas where chain migration has been particularly successful. Chain migration enables the base families to act as welfare officers to migrants. They take care of their work, accommodation and entertainment.
If we are to use base families in this, the Department of Health and the Department of Social Services must review their attitude to standards for elderly and ailing members of such families. Often the members of the base family will settle better and he happier and more productive in their endeavours if the complete family unit is with them. Too often we have constituents approaching us because their aged and ailing parents and relatives are not able to migrate with them or the parents have had less than 10 years here, are destitute and no social services are available to them. It seems that while it might involve greater social service and health expenditure it may increase the economic productivity of the family unit in a way that more than compensates for this.
Comment is made in this year’s Budget Papers that:
Expenditure on migrant education services is estimated to increase by $2,667,000 following the Government’s decision to expand migrant education programmes.
Then a breakdown is given. This sounds laudable enough but it cannot gloss over the problem that exists. My electorate has a high migrant population, although nowhere near as high as that in some inner metropolitan electorates. The problem of language difficulty is therefore well known to me. For example, at Heidelberg Girls High School there are some 38 students who are forced to travel to a school in another suburb for assistance with the English language. This sort of thing is not sufficient. It seems to me that it would bc better if their language retraining was done at their own school. Surely even with this number it would be worth while to have a part time visiting teacher for this work. But it is not only active teaching that is important. To such schools should go special grants for books and for libraries both of a general and specific nature related to the use of the students’ native languages and English. I suppose this is loo much to expect when State secondary schools in Victoria anyway cannot even find out what sort of priority they have for Commonwealth library assistance. lt is difficult to develop this educational theme to solve migrant language problems in such a short space of time. Many statements have been made on it, the most recent being a series in the Melbourne Herald’ of last week, indeed, the subject matter took up much of the discussion at this year’s Citizenship Convention. To give some examples of its magnitude 1 refer to one of the background papers on the language problems of migrant children at that. Convention. The paper cited a 1968 survey in New South Wales where it was shown that, with 5 per cent of the total school population being migrant children, some 32 per cent of these, representing about 1 6.500 children, were considered to have language difficulties. It would seem that there are many steps to be taken here in Australia, but even more importantly there must be a call for expenditure on such children in their country of origin and, since the problem extends to adults, on their parents too. Our immigration officers overseas, particularly in countries sending large numbers to Australia, can and do start this process from the time the first approaches are made, wherever practicable. However, a great increase in activity and expenditure on these people is an urgent matter. It would seem that expenditure in this respect will salvage many families from despair when they reach Australia.
Perhaps after 25 years the Department of Immigration should not only be concerned with just mere money. Has it assessed past performances in this field? Does it know where various programmes have gone wrong and where they were correct? What is our potential source of teachers in this language field? How many have we who are adequately trained? Are they teachers with training in the special techniques needed for teaching individuals at the various levels of age and in language teaching itself? What are the best methods of convincing migrants that facility in the use of English is so very important? What incentives ar: needed to keep them in this training? What are the results of the failure to provide adequately?
In closing I will quote from the first of these articles that I mentioned in the Herald’ last week. The article states:
Their pupils will be the unlucky ones who were brought, by well-meaning parents, to ‘The Lucky Country’ - at the wrong time.
The wrong time, in both the official and the personal sense. Wrong, from the official standpoint, because a system to aid migrant children is now only getting started.
Wrong, in the personal sense, because age of arrival in Australia can determine whether a child will have a chance, or be a no-hoper. For many of these children, migration to Australia meant only a door slammed on their future.
In the words of one inner suburban girls’ high school principal, they will achieve higher education only if they are geniuses.
And nature doesn’t throw up many geniuses.
Further on in the article it states:
Up against even bigger problems are children who arrive in Australia during the primary school years - say, seven, eight or nine.
The article states further:
At least SO per cent of them will never master anything more than ‘functional English’. It will nol enable them to cope with secondary school work. Their textbooks, as they get out of form two and three, will be beyond their comprehension.
So much for the instant Australians that we heard the preceding speaker mention. He told us that they are able to adjust over night. This is arrant nonsense and should be dismissed. It should be understood that they do not adjust over night. The article says further:
They will remain in school until IS or so, but only a few will go on to do Leaving or Matric. The great majority will leave school early and take unskilled jobs in factories.
Many of them could have gone on to higher education, and the professions, had they been working in their native tongue in their homelands . . or if proper facilities to teach them “in English had existed here. -
What a waste of potential. What a sentence to pass on children. This should be a matter of the gravest and greatest concern to the community.
– Although some few people outside this chamber have put the point of view that Australia’s population should ideally be stabilised at around 13 to 15 million people, there seems little doubt that for this country to become economically balanced a population in excess of 20 million is necessary. The fact that Australia was under-populated and was in a situation where tremendous reliance had to be placed on the rural sector of the economy to supply overseas earnings for the nation was recognised a long time ago. Obviously, if the nation was to develop, more people were needed to do the work. The manufacturing sector of the economy had to be expanded and expanded rapidly if a more balanced economy was to be achieved. As we all know, manufacturing industries are labour intensive and hence we needed people, both skilled and unskilled, to develop an effective labour force. For these and other reasons we have had a sustained immigration programme since the end of the Second World War. There were obviously many reasons for bringing people to Australia. Amongst the chief of them was the concept of building a population as an immediate aid to the nation’s security.
I believe that this aspect of immigration policy was a valid one, and still is, though perhaps to a lesser extent today when military technology has, to a certain degree at least, overcome the advantages previously enjoyed by sheer numbers of people. We, as a rich nation with a small population, must seek to defend ourselves not only by building numbers of people but by development and utilisation of the most up to date technology, with the emphasis, 1 believe, on the technology, in this respect, of course, as the population grows our resources in terms of manpower and brain power grow, and this will be reflected in technological developments. However, it is in the increase of our economic strength that the immigration policy has had its most easily measurable impact. As preceding speakers have said, since 1945 over 2.6 million settlers would have come to this country and these 2.6 million people have obviously contributed greatly to the nation’s work force. Many people, quite rightly 1 believe, have asked how much they actually have contributed.
If I can give a measurement of this contribution, in 1968-69 out of a total Australian work force of 5.27 million people about 1.3 million were migrants. Obviously such a proportion shows thai their total contribution to our gross national product is considerable, and without them we can be absolutely certain that the major advances that have been made in developing the manufacturing and other sectors of the economy could not have been achieved.
But there are other benefits as well, as other speakers have said. We should all be aware that as a population increases in size the per capita cost of goods and services is reduced. Economies of scale in industry also become apparent. People speak, quite rightly, about the cost of bringing settlers to Australia, but we must always remember that a significant proportion of migrants are classified as skilled or semiskilled personnel and their settling here has been estimated to save Australia $US8,000 per average worker in preemployment training. In addition, cultural benefits have also been derived from our immigration policy. There is no doubt that Australia was - and still is to a certain extent - a rather insular place cut off from easy access to the rest of the world. Now, of course, rapid and increased transport facilities have cut down our insularity. But migrants to Australia, by the introduction of aspects of vastly differing cultures, have contributed enormously towards the development of a more cosmopolitan society in Australia, and this has been of tremendous benefit.
That there are problems and costs associated with the immigration scheme nobody denies, and I would like to look at some of the criticisms that have been raised, lt has been said that not enough use has been made of many skilled personnel who emigrate to Australia and I believe that in some cases this is and has been the case. In many instances though the situation is brought about either because the use of the skill requires a level of expertise in the English language which is not possessed by the immigrant or else not enough is known or accepted with respect to convertibility of qualifications gained outside Australia. To overcome these problems it is very pleasing to see the emphasis being placed on language education and, in fact, on migrant education in general. Honourable members will remember that on 23 rd April this year the Minister announced details of expenditure involving Si 6m over the next 4 financial years to be used in migrant education. I am sure that this money will be very well spent. Only good can come from this emphasis on education as people from widely differing social, cultural, political and ethnic backgrounds face the task of assimilating the social institutions of their new. country. This must not be a one-way process though, as there is still a tremendous need for the Australian community as a whole to gain a more knowledgeable attitude and fuller appreciation of the problems immigrants face and the ways in which migrants* contributions to this country’s future can be realised. This requires a degree of involvement, interest and support from all sections of our community.
I believe that before this atmosphere can permeate right through this community people must be convinced that the benefits of our migration programme, both individual and collective, outweigh the stresses and strains already being felt in our full employment economy. I mention the convertibility of qualifications and I believe it is to the credit of the Department of Labour and National Service that it has undertaken the task of compiling a guide to European technical qualifications and their approximate equivalent here, lt is also a tribute to the Department of Immigration that in 1969 it established a committee on overseas professional qualifications. I hope that these guides will be accepted readily by unions and institutions throughout Australia so that those cases of misallocation of human resources which do occur can be curtailed. There are some other aspects of our immigration policy which have disturbed me in the past but I believe that steps which have recently been taken will do much to overcome criticism. I firmly believe our immigration policy should be based on the needs of this country, the availability of suitable migrants and the capacity of the Australian community to integrate migrants into our society. This integration should occur in such a way as to ensure the maximum return in human and economic terms, not only to the Australian society but also to the migrant families.
This requires that personnel employed at our overseas selection centres should be equipped and trained to promulgate an accurate picture of Australian conditions to ensure that intending migrants do not get a false impression of this country and the conditions they are likely to experience when they arrive here. It also requires that the selection procedures for migrants should be such as to reduce to a minimum selection of undesirable migrants or those who would experience untoward difficulty in assimilating into the society of this country. I think that the Government should make it very clear that it is not interested in breaking records with respect to the acquisition of migrants. Rather, it should reiterate a policy of selection based on human considerations and individual merit. Our capacity to integrate migrants with benefit to the total society has been well documented, but I believe it would be wrong not to question just how many additional people are needed. It would be wrong not to question what particular skills or qualifications are in short supply; whether there is a danger of developing ethnic groups within major cities, cut off from and falling behind the mainstream of Australian society by educational or language barriers; whether our educational, health and housing facilities are being dangerously over strained; and whether we are, in fact, as a community doing all we can to derive the maximum mutual benefit from our migration programme.
I believe the Department of Immigration is aware of these problems and by the provision of migrant educational services, social workers, welfare officers, trained contact workers, together with a host of voluntary workers, it does much to reduce the problems of migrants in this country. The work of the various Good Neighbour Councils tn this respect is noteworthy. I congratulate the Department on its instigation of research into a number of fields concerned with migration. Research into desirable future population levels together with the structure and distribution of the population within Australia can only be of great assistance in assessing desirable levels of immigration. A cost-benefit analysis of immigration and time span surveys of migrants during their early years will provide much needed back-up data and disclose avenues for further initiative in the selection and integration of settlers. The appointment of authorities on urbanisation and environment to the Migration Planning Council can only add to the effectiveness of this Council and, together with the Immigration Advisory Council and the Immigration Publicity Council, it will act as a source of good advice to this Government. The approach adopted by the Minister and his Department, particularly the efforts quantitatively and qualitatively to assess the selection procedures, desirable intake levels, assimilation procedures, and contribution of new settlers will do much to answer the questions of those who view our immigration policy with some suspicion. I endorse the approach and look forward to the results of the investigations with much interest.
– -This evening in the consideration of the proposed expenditure for this Department for the current financial year it is important to realise that this particular area of Federal Government responsibility is unique in that, unlike most of the other departments, there is no serious disagreement between the general direction of Government policy and that of the members on this side who represent the Labor Party. This important fact is in no small way a tribute to my colleague, the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), who was Australia’s first Minister for Immigration. The grand policy design, formulated and introduced by the right honourable member, has stood the test of time. Throughout the years since its commencement our immigration programme has had the support of both sides of this Parliament. I am sure that all honourable members look forward to a continuation of this general agreement in future immigration policies.
On several occasions during the short time I have been in this Parliament 1 have seen honourable members opposite produce a booklet and refer to texts in it. I have it with me this evening. It is the ‘Platform Constitution and Rules of the Australian Labor Party’. On this side of the House we are well awarethatGovernment members regard the possession of the policy booklet as an essential part of their ability to participate in many debates and even though they choose to quote from it only in an endeavour to embarrass my Party and to suggest that some sections of our policy reflect on us in an unfavourable way, we realise that it has, however, become accepted practice over the years for Labor Party policy to be taken and implemented to the Government’s advantage. As this is subsequently to the advantage of the Australian people, we are proud that the Government has so often legislated sections of our policy. May I point out that probably the first occasion on which this Government implemented our policy was in the field of immigration? While the Government manages to remain in office it can do no better than continue to base its migration policy on ours.
Our policy has been quoted this evening during this debate by the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly), the shadow Minister for Immigration. There is no need for me, in the time available for the completion of this debate this evening, to requote it. Our immigration policy has been administered in the past in a way that has met with the approval of all political parties. We have at all times found that it has suited our needs and worked satisfactorily in the establishment of a balanced society in Australia. However, in recent months several voices have been raised in querying the future needs and directions of migration policy.
My colleague, the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen), questioned the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) on the effectiveness of the present immigration policy. Unfortunately, even though it was very early in the day, during question time, the Prime Minister missed the point of the question and answered that he did not realise that any members of Parliament thought that the immigration policy was bad. It is to the credit of the present Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch) that he has recently ordered a searching inquiry of Australia’s future migration needs. But just as the Prime Minister missed the point in answering the question put to him by the honourable member for Robertson, I am afraid that the Minister has missed the point in considering the need and making hisdecisionfortheestablishmentof this committee of inquiry.
I would like to support the proposition put so capably this evening by the honourable member for Grayndler on behalf of the Australian Labor Party, that the most suitable type of inquiry to investigate the future immigration needs of our nation is, without a doubt, a joint committee of both Houses of this Parliament. I appeal to the Minister this evening to reconsider his announced intention and to seek Government approval for a joint parliamentary committee. He will be assured that such a proposal by the Government will be supported wholeheartedly by the Opposition.
Earlier this year I had the opportunity to attend the 18th Australian Citizenship Convention. At this Convention I heard a number of very interesting matters associated with immigration discussed. They have been mentioned in more detail this evening by honourable members from this side of the House. The particular problems confronting the newly arrived settlers to this country were the subjects of papers that were presented to the Convention by experts in each particular field.
The migration problems associated with health, housing, education and cultural and social activities were analysed. Generally speaking. I believe that problems still exist for migrants in the early years in which they are in this country. These were very capably illustrated in the discussions that took place at that Convention. A wonderful job has been done both by old Australians and by the migrants themselves in overcoming so many of these problems. One matter that I think is worthy of mention this evening is that where we seem to have failed most miserably in the integration and assimilation of migrants is in the field of politics. As yet no migrant has been able to receive party endorsement for successful election” to any of our parliaments. The responsibility for this must rest very heavily on the propaganda that is fed to the migrants in their early days in this country when, to my knowledge and that of many honourable members on this side of the House, it is obvious that attempts are made to poison them against Labor’s political persuasions. Apparently migrants have not been sponsored by members of the Government Parties for any seats which it has been possible in the past for them to win and so become members of any of our parliaments.
I believe that a genuine endeavour has been made by my Party in recent years to sponsor political awareness and understanding among migrants. In Queensland we have established within the Labor Party the Migrant Advisory Council. It is a very important and effective section of our Party organisation. I hope it will not be many years before we see the entry of an ex-migrant, a naturalised Australian citizen, taking his place side by side with his fellow Australians in one or our State Parliaments or in our National Parliament. Then I believe we will be able to acclaim justly and proudly the success of our migration programme in total and the success of the assimilation and integration of our post-war migration population.
– Time is short so I shall attempt to be brief. I would just like to point out that from World War II until 1968-69 the net migration gain in Australia exceded 1 per cent of the national population in only 7 years. The last of those years was 1968-69, and that was the first increase of 1 per cent or more of the national population since 1954-55. Only in 1949-50 did the net intake of immigrants to this country exceed 2 per cent of the national population. In that year the net absolute acquisition was about 161,000. Only in 3 adjacent years and in 2 more recently has the figure of 100,000 been exceeded. If the long-standing, theoretical aim of a 1 per cent net population gain of migrants intake is to be achieved in the 1970s the gross arrival figures will need to rise above 200,000 almost immediately.
Further, if the more usual achievement of 0.8 per cent of the national population is the aim then the figure of 180,000 by about 1972-73 should suffice. We are beyond that figure already. The current year’s predictions are around the 185,000 mark. So there is no question of our not achieving the practical as distinct from the original theoretical aim of migrant intake to Australia. If that sounds a lot, may I very briefly make a reference to the sort of migration which has gone on around the world in modern history and with which we might compare ourselves, as too often we fail to do? Between 1820 and 1930 some 65 million people emigrated from Europe, mostly to the Americas. They now account for well over 200 million of European stock in the Americas, Africa and Australasia. Sixteen million people migrated from the British Isles alone in the period 1846 to 1932. In Ireland the potato famine of 1845 reduced the population of 8,500,000, through death and through emigration, by 23 per cent by 1851, 6 years later. In other parts of the world we find, for example, that after the formation of Israel in 1948 the immigration intake reached 239,000 per annum in 1949 on a base population of only 800,000. The total population of that country more than doubled between 1948 and 1953.
So it is perfectly clear that although we congratulate ourselves very thoroughly on the success of our migration programme we have not been faced with taking in the numbers of people that other parts of the world have had to face within the last century or two. So we should be able to maintain this proposition for as long as we reasonably want. However, attention has already been drawn to the fact that immigration in Australia appears to be at the crossroads. If this is so, it reminds me somewhat of the man who was linguistically at the crossroads in an East German hotel where he made a valiant attempt to write in English a sign which said: ‘Do not enter the lift backwards and only when lit up’. 1 do not agree with the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh) that there is a general consensus that migration is at the crossroads. At the same time 1 suggest that it may well be so, because any programme of any kind which has been in operation for 10 or 20 years or more is due for reassessment and investigation. If I may say so without undue congratulation, I think our Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch) is characteristically attuned to the tempo of the times in that he has inaugurated or is inaugurating a fairly wide ranging series of investigations to which the honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar), amongst others, previously drew attention. I will not in the limited time available to me dilate upon them in detail. I would, however, like to draw attention to one or two aspects of migration apart from those which very clearly are on the credit side. We have been told, for example, that on a reasonable estimate the average migrant coming to this country is worth about $10,000 in social Costs introduced here - that is to say, all the education and other matters which have been put into that body before he got here. This is indeed a very great consideration quite apart from his forming a factor in the work force and in growth.
There is one small problem in a country which by Government policy and by Opposition inclination and otherwise says that it is to some extent interested in decentralisation, and that is that the migrants by and large, despite the good work they do in some areas of agriculture and in some areas of the country, are concentrated in our urban areas. So migration cannot be said to be a solution to the problem, if it is such, of decentralisation. We find, for example, that in my City of Hobart approximately 11 per cent - a relatively low level - of the population are migrants, roughly half British and half other. I am not sure of the exact figures but I think that about 22 per cent of the population of Melbourne would be similarly placed. I think it runs as high as 25 per cent or 27 per cent in one or two industrialised centres such as Wollongong, and I think it rises as high as 30 per cent in Canberra. We get quite a range of migrant proportions - from the order of 10 per cent to maybe 30 per cent - in our large cities.
This leaves us with a very big problem which is already being faced by the Minister and his Department, and this will be the subject of debate in this place at a later stage, A Bill has already been introduced concerning migrant education. The particular relevance of that is that about one-quarter of the 3.1 million people gross who arrived in this country from overseas between 1945 and 1969 have been under the age of 15 years and therefore, quite obviously, in need of considerable education. The problem as we face it will be considerably reduced as time progresses by the greater selectivity of migrants. This seems to be, from all reports, something which the Department of Immigration is pursuing consistently. It will, I presume, tend to obviate some of the difficulties which have arisen in relation to returning migrants, although the studies that have been done on returning migrants, inadequate though they might be in number, suggest that the problems involved and the reasons for return are not nearly as black or as bad as is often painted publicly. But necessarily, with increasing selectivity of migrants, some of these problems will be solved.
Finally, because I have to allow other members to make a short speech in this debate, I suggest that the problem of the crossroads position of the immigration programme as it is seen by some is near enough to being real. If we increase our selectivity and accent the possibility of integration, which I think is now the new word rather than ‘assimilation’, of migrants with the Australia community as we now find it, we will find that those crossroads can be suitably passed and not necessarily in only one direction. At the same time, lest we tear ourselves apart by going off in two opposite directions at once, it seems that we will have to get to grips with this situation of decentralisation and increasing urbanisation, without undue dramatisation and where the migrant population, increasing or decreasing, fits into that pattern.
– At a time when the Australian migration programme is under more sharp questioning than at any time for 20 years it is as we to examine why. The major reasons can be found in the distortions of Australia’s development. We are the most lopsided nation in the world, and for 20 years we have been bringing men and machines into the cities and creating overcrowding in an empty continent. Migrants are being poured into the metropolitan complexes with a reckless disregard to the quality of life and to the balanced development of the nation. The migrants are not all being drawn from overseas. Sydney and Melbourne these days are drawing migrants from a countryside in crisis. It is little wonder that the suburbanite looks over his back fence and begins to wonder whether we have too many people and whether we are overcrowded. It is a proud boast in our empty continent that Kings Cross in Sydney is the most thickly populated square mile in the world.
In these circumstances we must recognise that the questioning of the migration programme is in fact the questioning of the development of Australia. It should be dealt with as such. In other words, the current examination of the cost-benefits of migration are of little value unless they are related to national planning and national objectives. Because we live in the most unplanned economy in the Western world, it is difficult to assess what is best for the nation. In other words, without national planning or national growth objectives it is extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, to achieve the best balance in migration and migrant intake.
Let us examine what has happened in one city area because of bad planning at national and State levels or no planning at all. In the south Sydney area served by the community referral centre which my colleague the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope) helped to bring about, half of the population is drawn from Yugoslavia, Lebanon and Greece. The other half of the population includes a group of Aboriginal migrants, refugees from a countryside in depression, a large number of pensioners, a whole series of high rise developments which contain a majority of deserted wives and Service wives, women without husbands, and children without fathers. What a mess of sociological pottage. The aim is migrant integration, but how can we successfully integrate such a fragmented community? This is a situation which should never have been allowed to develop. But it has developed and we are reaping the problems.
Take the children. Because of the strain on the teaching system the teachers are frustrated and the children suffer. Some children have developed what is called school phobia because they are either too frightened or too overwhelmed to face school and they just do not go. Australians often look at their suburbs with big migrant populations and have a vision of tightly knit national groups. Nothing could be more unreal. So many of the families are outside any kind of community activity. Their old church, family and locality ties have been broken. Even the comradeship of work is denied them because the man works here, the women works there, and by the time they meet it is to get some rest for the next day’s grind. In many cases the only individuals they ever meet are those who want to sell them something. In many cases these disengaged people are robbed by those who pretend to serve them. It is true that chain migration avoids this kind of spiritual and cultural isolation, but we have thousands of people who have come from outside chain migration.
The humanitarian arm of the nation’s migration policy has only latterly been strengthened to deal with the situation that we ourselves have created. I refer to the Good Neighbour Movement, with which I have been associated for 17 years and which works with church and community groups. The Minister opened the State conference in New South Wales a few days ago.I flew in later in the day and was proud to be there. Only now has the movement been strengthened by skilled social workers. Only recently in that south Sydney area has a referral centre been established, and it fills a vital need. The council in that area has done more in social welfare at the grass roots level than the State and Federal governments put together. I want to see an investigation of the social problems created by ourselves. I feel these imbalances in national development affecting old and new Australians alike should be probed and tackled. It should be done as part of the current inquiry.
I turn to Asian migration. I have been associated with the migration to Australia of doctors from India, pharmacists from Singapore, cooks from China, nurses from Fiji and Thailand, and more latterly I have had some dealings with some people from Macao who have not yet reached here. But there is confusion as to what are the requirements for migration from Asia. There is delay in processing applications. There is downright bumbling by nonmigration officers not sure what current policies should be applied.
– Order! It being 11 p.m., in accordance with the order of the House of 26th August, I shall report progress.
– Order! It being 11 p.m., in accordance with the order of the Houseof26thAugust,Iproposetheques- tion:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I require that the question be put forthwith.
That the House do now adjourn.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. Sir William Aston)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– As I was saying before the division, I believe that we should establish urgently a migration office in Asia. Manila, which is in the heart of our own Austro-Asia region, would be an ideal location for the first office. It would have specially trained and briefed staff who could process in the first instance applications from all over Asia. There would not be that many; not that many are interested. The majority would probably be Australian educated professionals wanting to return. At present we train them, send them home, refuse to readmit them and they go to Canada and the United States of America and get jobs using skills that /* we need here.
The office could provide also a focal point for Australia to keep in touch with the thousands of students who have trained here. They want to keep in touch. If the whole exercise is any good, we have to keep in touch with them. A skilled office, with skilled specially briefed staff could be a focal point for former Australian student contact throughout Asia, a place where we can evaluate in a continuing way the value of what we are providing for Asian students - in some cases, our courses are not even recognised when these students get home - and at the same time the office could be the reference point from all our missions for applications from Asia. To continue the present arrangements is not good enough. We need this Asian migration office.
There is no doubt in my mind that migration needs to be continued in each and every remaining year till the end of the century. As to the solution of the difficulties in the present programme, 1 say that we reject the solution proposed that we halt migration. My solution would be for the nation to develop new frontiers of development so badly needed for its citizens both old and new. We must create new cities for the new century based on conservation works and rural development. New agri-urban communities - agropolises I call them - could be the most exciting places to live, created by the best planners and architects, bringing people from overcrowded urban Australia and from across the world to build new and viable communities across our nation. Mr Chairman, that is my considered submission to the Committee tonight.
– This has been a particularly thoughtful and productive debate. I appreciate the constructive suggestions which have been put forward by honourable members. I must say that the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) set the tone of the debate in opening the discussion on the estimates for the Department of Immigration. I welcome what the honourable member said concerning the importance of Australia’s immigration programme which in the post-war period has successfully brought some 2.6 million new settlers to this country. During the course of this debate there has been a great deal of common ground between honourable members on both sides of the House. It is fair to say that tribute has been paid by honourable members not only to the significance of the programme but to the tremendously beneficial impact which this programme has had on the continuing development of Australia. I think here of the economic contribution which migration has made, but we should not overlook the social and cultural diversification which have resulted from the programme. The honourable member for Grayndler also paid tribute to those many people, particularly the officers of my Department, whose contribution has been indispensable to the success of the overall scheme and I join with him on this point.
Honourable members from both sides have commended the major studies which I recently initiated into a number of keynote fields of the programme. But I want to say to the honourable member for Grayndler and also to the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh) that I think it can be fairly said that the suggestion which they have put forward concerning the establishment of a joint committee of both Houses of the Parliament to investigate the areas which are the subject matters before the committees which have been established is based upon a misapprehension as to the nature of the studies. The optimum population study and the cost-benefit analysis are certainly not departmental studies in any sense whatsoever. The third area of consideration, the time span surveys of the experiences of some 10,000 migrants, is of course appropriate for departmental study and in fact that study has already been initiated. 1 can report progress to the House in relation to these studies and I mention that following a recommendation by the Immigration Planning Council, Mr J. R. Wilson, Senior Lecturer in Economics at Sydney
University, has been appointed to undertake the cost-benefit analysis. Recent discussions with Mr Wilson have established that the first and simplest stage of the investigation is expected to be completed during 1971 and this will be followed by recommendations concerning the second and more complex part of the study. The assignment will be conducted under the general supervision of the Immigration Planning Council which includes Professor B. R. Williams, Vice Chancellor, Sydney University, whose own authority in the area of cost-benefit analysis is well recognised both in Australia and abroad.
So far as the optimum population study is concerned, detailed discussions have taken place between officers of my Department and the Australian National University and it is hoped that following these discussions the University will undertake the population study. Considerable progress has been made in early discussions with University officers concerning the broad parameters of the study and 1. hope, during the next week or so, to be in a position to make a more detailed statement. I might add that honourable members will be aware that the Department of Demography of the Australian National University, headed by Professor W. D. Borrie, had world standing in this field. Since the early announcement was made the Department has established guidelines along which the long term survey of settlers is to be organised. Preliminary work has commenced on problems regarding source material from which to draw a representative cross-section of settlers, on topics to be studied in co-ordination with governmental and other authorities. At the same time, regular exchanges of technical information have taken place with the Canadian Department of Immigration which has started a similar survey. I arn sure that on reflection, having regard to the additional information which I have now provided and which may not have been available previously to honourable members on the other side of the House, it will be agreed that the most appropriate form which the studies should take is that form which has been determined. It will be clearly understood that the research in question will take place over a period of years involving studies by a number of quite learned authorities. Quite frankly this form of inquiry is not best suited to the work of a parliamentary committee.
The honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) asked the basic question: Should we continue to seek as many migrants as possible? I certainly want to dispel any illusion that we are interested in maximum numbers without regard for the important factors which I have raised before in this House. In answer to a question in this House some weeks ago I indicated that our objective for the year ending 30th June 1971 is 180,000 migrants. This is not based on the concept of bringing to Australia maximum numbers but rather it has regard to three quite basic criteria. They are firstly, Australia’s national needs and objectives; secondly, the availability of suitable settlers: and thirdly, our capacity to integrate effectively those who come here. I respond quite vigorously to the honourable member who raised this and to an honourable member on my own side and say that we are not interested in any question of a numbers game, as it has been referred to in the Press. After all it is in essence a matter of our capacity to integrate those suitable settlers who are available and, as I mentioned, our own national needs and objectives.
The honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins) raised a number of quite interesting issues. 1 might say in general terms that unfortunately the constraint of time does not allow me in this debate to deal with all the issues raised by honourable members on both sides but I will certainly take the opportunity to provide my reaction in writing to all the suggestions put forward. The honourable member for Scullin mentioned the matter of an immigration museum. I am certainly aware of the existence of such a museum in the United States of America. I will have a look at this matter in relation to Australia. The concept certainly has merit. The honourable member and the House can be assured that our historical records and documents are most carefully maintained both within my Department and within the Government Archives Office. A particular case was referred to which involved a third year medical student. I am unaware of the details at this stage but I will certainly advise the honourable member in writing when I obtain background information. The honourable member also referred to the naturalisation of migrants. The policy pursued by this Government over a long period of time is no secret to honourable members, lt is a policy of this Government not to grant citizenship to Communists or members of the extreme right. However, an applicant’s political views otherwise are not taken into account when considering citizenship applications.
I answered a question on notice recently which was asked by the honourable member for Grayndler and figures have been provided. Whilst I cannot recollect them at this stage an examination of the figures shows that the number of applications rejected is very small indeed having regard to the number of applications which have been accepted. Every application is personally examined by me. The full facts of each case are placed before me and if these reveal in the judgment of the Government that the applicant’s activities are such that he is not considered to be suitable to have the privileges and discharge the obligations of Australian citizenship then citizenship has been and will continue to be refused on that basis. This is a matter of quite fundamental policy on which there is variance between this side of the Parliament and members on the other side. The honourable member made a most thoughtful contribution to the debate and I regret only that time docs not allow me to refer to all the suggestions which he put forward. A number of honourable members in the latter stages of the discussion referred to the question of the distribution of population, in particular the regional distribution throughout Australia. This is a most important point. 1 recognise it and respond to it. I say to those honourable members who have raised this point that this is certainly one vital area which will be included in the optimum population study.
The honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) raised the question of social workers. The need in this area is, of course, appreciated. Social workers have done most valuable work and we certainly can increase their numbers. In 1970-71 it is expected that 30 to 32 community agencies will have been given grants to employ social workers for migrant social problems. I would respond to the honourable member and indicate that I realise the need in this area and 1 look forward to seeing -in increase in the number of social workers in the period ahead. Finally, the honourable member for Riverina raised the question of an immigration office in Asia. 1 will not reply to the honourable member in detail but I will indicate that we do have a number of our officers working in this region. However, off the cuff it seems to me that his question does not have that form of intrinsic merit I would otherwise have expected from him. But I will look it the suggestion and write to the honourable member.
The only other basic question which I have time to canvass was that of ethnic concentrations. This is certainly a vital question which has been the subject of a considerable survey by officers of my Department, lt is pertinent to reflect upon the fact that ethnic concentrations have existed from the earliest point of recorded history. Such concentrations exist in various parts of Australia for a variety of reasons. Concentrations of persons of the same nationality initially offer to the migrant and his family an opportunity to be with compatriots. They also offer a migrant a sense of fellowship with members of his own nationality. This serves to provide a cushion or barrier to the normal cultural shock which the difficult transition of migration and resettlement from one country to another involves. In this sense, ethnic concentrations can be seen as advantageous to migrants in the short term, before they move into outlying suburban areas.
Unfortunately time is the constraining influence here. I would have appreciated the opportunity to respond in more detail to what was said during the debate but I will do so at a later stage. I would like to pay a tribute to the officers of my Department for the contribution they have made over the years and to the ability which they have manifested.
– Order! The time for the consideration of the proposed expenditure has expired.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Department of Labour and National Service
Proposed expenditure, $14,088,000.
– The Department of Labour and National Service is one of the most complex departments that a Minister can be called upon to administer. It is certainly the most sensitive, lt is responsible for the compilation of industrial statistics. It is responsible for the smooth operation of the conciliation and arbitration system. It is responsible for the law that governs the relationship between unions and employers and also for the relationship that should exist between unions and their officials. Unless all of these factors are properly governed, peace in industry becomes impossible and the whole nation suffers. In all probability, I will not have time to do more than merely mention what is certainly the most topical of all functions which the Department must carry out. I refer, of course, to its responsibility for coercing 20-year old conscripts into the undeclared and utterly indefensible war in Vietnam.
Without covering the whole field of industrial relations, 1 must, however, also mention the Department’s obligations under the various Conventions of the International Labour Organisation. 1 do this because in this area the Commonwealth has not only failed to ratify or implement ILO Conventions, but has actively lent itself to the violation of them. If one can accept some of the replies given by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) to the questions that I have asked, one is entitled to conclude that there is an urgent need for a general overhaul of his Department and of the way in which the Commonwealth Industrial Court and the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission are functioning. Before moving to a more detailed examination of how the Conciliation and Arbitration Act is being administered, I want to say something about the subject of productivity and its relationship to wage rates and gross national product. For years now, the Government, employers and the public media have been calling for some productivitywage relativity. Union leaders in that time have been demanding a greater share of the increased productivity which technological advance has already made possible. Many union leaders have in return offered to co-operate with management further to increase productivity, provided labour shares in the benefits. One prerequisite to any proposal for increasing productivity is to increase labour’s share of the profits tha; flow from the increased output. But before any of this is possible, there must be reliable machinery for measuring and recording productivity trends in the nation generally and in respective industries.
The Minister for Labour and National Service has confessed to Parliament that no such machinery exists at present. This, in spite of the fact that it is more than 10 years since I first called upon the Government to request the Commonwealth Statistician to set up the necessary machinery for measuring and recording productivity. This, however, is only one of the Government’s failures in the field of industrial relations. It has failed to compile proper statistics on the incidence and causation of industrial accidents. Nothing has been done to study ways and means of reducing the astronomical loss of production caused by industrial accident and disease, which is estimated to be in the vicinity of $ 1,000m a year. The Government has failed to rectify the most obvious, and in many instances, longstanding defects in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The Minister has been slothful in his handling of questions asked in Parliament on notice, and when answers are supplied they are sometimes evasive, incomplete or inaccurate. The Government’s lack of interest in the vital field of industrial relations, which is so essential to our national growth and prosperity, can be gauged by the fact that it has allowed a build-up of 34 years backlog in the publication of the Commonwealth Arbitration Reports. On 5 separate occasions the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, Sir Richard Kirby, has directed the Government’s attention to its inordinate delay in publishing these important records of the Commission’s decisions and findings.
Even though the work of the Commonwealth Industrial Court is but a fraction of that carried out by the Commission, there is another backlog in the printing of the Court’s judgments. At 30th April 1970, 42 judgments of the Court which are normally printed were not available in printed form. Fifteen of these were delivered in 1968; 23 in 1969 and the remainder in 1970. Under this Government the whole machinery of conciliation and arbitration is slowly grinding to a breakdown. The Government placed its faith in penalties. When these failed, the whole system collapsed because the Government was too tired and complacent to examine and rectify defects in the law, and too drunk with power to listen to advice. Some people may believe that 21 years in office is too long for even a good government. But in the complex and sensitive arena of industrial relations, an arrogant, lazy and know-all government is utterly disastrous. For proof that such an assertion is correct one has only to look at the sorry scene in Australia today.
We now see more industrial dissent and unrest than at any time in more than a generation. The Ministers ham-fisted handling of industrial matters has been only partly responsible for today’s chaos. Rising prices and exorbitant profits have also played a part. The Government’s lethargy in award enforcement has been a contributing factor. And the slow, clumsy and heavy-handed arbitration system that has evolved under this Government is easily the chief cause of our industrial troubles. In short, the Government has brought the whole system of conciliation and arb,traion into disrepute. Something like 1,740,000 employees are covered by Federal awards and yet only 52 Commonwealth arbitration inspectors are employed on award enforcement. Most of the work is carried out by State inspectors of whom no less than 239 have been authorised to do the Commonwealth’s work. Last year, 8,776 breaches of Federal awards were reported; but out of a total of 72,084 breaches reported during the past 10 years, legal proceedings were instituted in only 210 cases.
By loading the Commission with legal practitioners, who at the time of appointment were predominantly occupied in representing, employer, interests, .the Gov-eminent has adversely affected the Commission’s image of impartiality and given rise to suspicions of Bench stacking. Mr Justice Moore, Mr Justice Williams, Mr Justice Aird, Mr Justice Franki and Mr Justice Robinson were all actively engaged in representing employing interests at the time of their respective appointments. The Government appears to have recognised the value of balanced appointments at the commissioner and conciliator level. Yet not one union barrister has been appointed to a Presidential position on the Commission in the 21 years the Government has held office. So far as the Arbitration Commission is concerned, I want to say just that it has become virtually nothing more than the economic arm of the Government. Perhaps there is not much wrong with Parliament being directly responsible for determining the national policy on industrial matters. If parliamentarians were made to stand up and be counted on the bread and butter issues now reserved to non-elected and life appointed judges, wage and salary earners would have a much greater stake in parliamentary democracy than is now the case. When governments want to influence the Court or the Commission they should do it openly and only with the approval of Parliament in a way that permits full redress to those affected by the outcome.
The Government had no authority from Parliament to oppose the Australian Council of Trade Union’s annual leave case. It had no authority from Parliament to make the submissions it has presented to the Commission in the various national wage cases. The Public Service Board had no authority from Parliament to oppose the ACTU case for equal pay and the Board certainly had no authority from Parliament to make the submissions it did in the professional engineers’ case. All of these things were done by, or with the approval of, the executive Government without consultation with, much less the approval of, Parliament. The head of Charles I must now appear to have been taken in vain.
Perhaps the most blatant interference with the Commission has come from the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) himself. On at least two separate occasions he has sought to direct and intimidate the Commission by publicly stating the Government’s policy on matters before the Commission. He did “it in the recent -oil*- industry case. aird- tiedid it again on the eve of this year’s national wage case. His action caused such apprehension within the trade union movement that the President of the ACTU, Mr Bob Hawke, felt constrained to publicly rebuke the Prime Minister for commenting on cases which were awaiting judgment. The Government’s impropriety in these matters has weakened the independence of the Commission and thus lessened respect for its findings.
Arbitration has become far too technical, far too costly, and too slow and incompetent. It must now give way to conciliation. Its only future lies in the fixation of national minima for wages and conditions of employment. In these areas it still has a useful and very important role to perform. Minima rates and conditions would, of course, be recoverable at law and it would still remain the task of arbitration inspectors to inspect records and deal with claims for under payment of wages, etc. A Labor government, therefore, will retain the arbitration system, but will lay much greater emphasis than is now the case on the value of conciliation. A Labor government will amend the arbitration legislation in such a way as to encourage the negotiation of industrial agreements of limited duration. Provided an agreement has been approved by a secret ballot of the unionists affected by it, no union should be justified in striking against any of its agreed provisions. Given this kind of guarantee of peace in industry, employers will be able to carry out their costing and production planning in the certain knowledge that these will not be disrupted by unexpected work stoppages or new wage demands.
Under a Labor government penalties for strike action against wages and conditions arbitrarily imposed upon unions will be repealed. A Labor government would also repeal the present penalties against lockouts. Lock-out penalties have never been more than an empty gesture in order to justify penalties against strikes. No employer has ever been convicted or fined for a lock-out since the advent of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act in 1904. Moreover, none ever will be penalised because it is too easy for an employer to convert a proposed lock-out into a strike. Given these conditions, a wise employer will soon see the advantage of a negotiated and enforceable industrial agreement over an unenforceable arbitrary decision of the Commission. To secure the benefit of such an agreement, employers will be forced to make concessions to unions which would not be available from the Commission. Industrial peace will be the employer’s reward. A better share of industry’s prosperity will be the union’s inducement to keep the peace.
As already indicated, membership particpation and responsibility, will become the cornerstone for the success of any plan for a negotiated settlement of industrial disputes. For this reason, I, feel that con sideration should be given to writing a Bill of Membership Rights into the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The United States of America has already done this, and Canada is now considering the matter. The Industrial Court would then have to ensure that union officials and union policy remained under the effective control of the membership. I do not know the issues which will dominate the Government’s campaigning during the forthcoming Senate elections. To me there can be no more important issue than the nation’s future development and the prosperity of its people. This surely transcends any petty political gain that may be had from relatively unimportant side issues. We cannot achieve these great and vitally important objectives unless we have a government that will give urgent attention to industrial relations. We cannot afford the loss which management and labour now suffer through the lack of proper means for the prevention or settlement of industrial disputation.
A Labor Senate victory will indicate public support for the restructuring of our machinery for conciliation and arbitration. This, followed by the election of a Labor government in the House of Representatives, will see a new era of labour management co-operation out of which increased productivity will lead to higher real wages, and higher wages and greater co-operation will lead to higher and higher productivity. With the will we can find the way, and given the way there is no limit to our country’s greatness.
– I am afraid that I could not follow the speech of the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron). I doubt whether many honourable members could, but perhaps we can read it tomorrow. I address myself to the question of the national service aspect of the particular subject before us. The last two or three days have seen the question of national service in great prominence in this Parliament. It has been the issue at stake behind much of what has occurred in this place. It has been the advice given or comments made upon the subject of national service that has been the cause of a great deal of debate and upheaval.
– And a great deal of suffering.
– For goodness sake: Do you mind? The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), in replying to the speech which I made in this place last night, saw fit once again, as he has done for some 7 years - it is about time that he desisted from this practice - to draw attention in some slighting way to the fact of my background being that of a Presbyterian minister. 1 am not ashamed of my background; to the contrary. But it is not the central issue with what I am here at this moment to do - to represent the constituents of Evans and the Party for which I stand. The implication was made last night that because there was another Presbyterian clergyman and myself in this place and the subject of national service was being discussed, in some way we were guilty men - to use the words of the Leader of the Opposition - because we had not adopted the Labor Party’s altitude to the subject of conscription for national service. Reference was made to decisions of church courts in time past.
Before I get on to the rest of the matte I should like simply to make my own position clear once and for all. The Presbyterian Church, like most other Christian churches of which I am aware, does have a very definite attitude to this whole question of the obligation between church and state, lt holds that the state has a valid and necessary place in society and that a Christian has a duty towards the state and the rulers of the state. In other words, it does not mean that to become a Christian is to escape to an ivory tower of perfection, to separate oneself from one’s fellows. A Christian is identified with the aspirations and agonies of the other members of the society around him. He shares in the struggle with his fellows to build a better, more just, fairer and cleaner society and world. He is called upon with them to participate in this travail, with all the imperfections of human society, with its lack of blacks and whites and its many areas of grey. He has to take cognisance of this fact, and being a Christian does not excuse him from the ordinary obligations of men and of members of a state or society.
The reformed church of which I am a member makes the position of church and state very clear. So for the benefit of the Leader of the Opposition and others who may feel that in some way perhaps there was an abdication on my part from the traditions and teachings of the Church, let mc quote the Westminster Confession of Faith which every Presbyterian minister is called upon at his ordination to recognise as being a standard of the church subordinate only to that of Holy Writ itself. It states that it is the duty of Christians to pray for their civil rulers, to honour their persons, to pay taxes levied by them, to obey their lawful commands and to be subject to their authority for conscience sake.
With regard to the authority of the state to wage war, it is explicitly stated that Christians may lawfully wage war upon just and necessary occasions’, and that God has ordained that the civil authority has been given ‘the power of the sword for the defence and encouragement of litem that are good and for the punishment of evil doers’. This was indeed an ancient document, but it is still maintained as one of the standards of the Church today. War is no different today, in the moral sense, from what it was in the days of the first Christians or of the reformers. Brutality, hatred, fear, injustice, destruction, innocent suffering and death have always been the attendants of war from time immemorial. But nevertheless, throughout the centuries Christians have never as a group adjudged that the evils attendant upon war were the greatest evils or dangers besetting mankind. If the state, according to the Christian faith, has the right and indeed the duty to use the ultimate sanction of war, then it follows that the state has a corresponding right and duty with regard to what it requires of its citizens in responding to these unhappy but necessary occasions.
Having said that much in making the position clear, as I understand it, from the teachings of the Church and the traditions of Christiandom, let me turn to the current situation. This Government - the lawfully elected Government of this state - has maintained and stated that it believes that national service is essential in the national interest to maintain the Army at the level required now and in the future, and the majority of the Australian community would appear to share this view. We cannot have security treaty arrangements unless those with whom we are partners know that we have and will maintain sufficient armed forces to honour those obligations. So each year for some years past there have been 2 national service registrations in which a total of 100,000 men, in round figures, are required to register for national service. Approximately 6 weeks after the close of the registration period a ballot is conducted to select sufficient men who remain liable for service to ensure that a call-up of a mere 8,400 fit men for the Army each year takes place.
Now let us look at some of the figures because the whole subject of national service has been under grave question and attack in our society. The reasons may be many and various but they can hardly relate to the overall scrupulous avoidance of any kind of favouritism or of sectional interest intruding into this situation. Of some 530,000 men registered to date, 43,000 have been called up and enlisted in the Regular Army while a further 12,000 have decided, at the time of their registration, that their service should be through the avenue of the Citizen Military Forces as an alternative to full time national service. Of this number - 530,000 registering, 43,000 being called up - fewer than 100 have failed to report for service since the inception of the scheme in 1965. I maintain that this in itself is an indication that in our society today, for all the noise, the fury and the furore of the militant vocal minority, there is a great and wide acceptance of the necessity for national defence and, as part of it, for national service.
There is a realisation that wc are living in days rather different from those depicted by the honourable member for Hindmarsh who preceded me in this debate, who appeared with great gloom, the gloom in which he revels so often in this place, to describe an Australia which would appear to be in its last stages of decay of all industrial peace or progress. On the contrary, we are living at a time when we see unparalleled development economically. Of course there are areas of tension in the economic sense and there are industrial reasons for the upheavals which take place all too frequently, but on examination it is most unfair to suggest that those causes are in any way to be sheeted home to the Government’s activities.
Nevertheless we are living in an opulent society. It is a society in which young men everywhere have unprecedented opportunities to earn large salaries while they are still teenagers. While they are still unmarried they may earn money that our fathers would have been amazed to contemplate as an ordinary working man’s wages. Yet in this society it is fondly expected by our opponents that young men would volunteer in sufficient numbers to take upon themselves the onerous duties of national service for national defence. It has been proved to be not so, and the Government has been forced, in honouring its obligations and its duties both to this country and our allies, to legislate for compulsory national service.
In the situation which has emerged there has come about a whole series of ways in which the conscience and the attitude of young mcn to the war or wars in which we have been engaged can be accommodated. Indeed there would be no country in the Western world to which a critic could point which has gone out of its way more than has this country to afford an avenue for thu conscience of individuals to be respected, and indeed even the political views of individuals - this is surely what applies to objection to service in a particular war in a particular zone - to be accommodated. Even political views can be accommodated. These persons can readily avoid the necessity to serve in a particular zona if they are prepared to undertake the honourable duty of joining the Citizen Military Forces and undertaking their training to serve society while they are at the same time earning their living.
But there is one particular issue which is coming before this House and of which notice has been given by the Opposition. We will hear a great deal more of it in the immediate future. It relates to an amendment of the regulations by the Government, which I personally welcome. We have seen circumstances in the past where courses of study undertaken by young men, for various reasons - perhaps because of the length of their course of studies, perhaps because of tragedies in their families or an inability to continue a course for a year or so, perhaps due to failure in a year - have gone beyond that point where, if they were to continue and complete the course, they would be able to complete their military obligations before reaching 26 years of age. The studies have thus had to be interrupted. So the amendment to the regulation has been introduced to assist such students, particularly those who are undertaking lengthy courses of study. This, in my view, is a sensible and generous attitude on the part of the Government. It Ls a reasonable attitude and one which I think most people would applaud. But undoubtedly there have been others who have had a different attitude to this age limit of 26 years. 1 have here a document titled ‘The Ins and Outs of Conscription’ which sets out to give a framework for those who seek to avoid military service. One of the first pieces of advice given to a young man who seeks to avoid his military obligations and who seeks to do so before he registers is that he should leave the country if he can and not return before his twenty-sixth birthday. In some way the idea has grown up that if he reaches the age of 26 years he is beyond the age where he should be called up.
The nub of the matter is that the Government has made provision for the exemption of genuine young men - people who are students and those who have no real objection to military service and are prepared to follow through their . obligations - who can still undertake service up to the age of 30. They may now continue their courses up to and past the age of 26. The suggestion is being made by the Opposition, however, that somehow or other this whole thing should be scrapped at least for non-students, and the limit of 26 years retained. If it were, the dodgers of any form of national service, those who would get out of the country which has supported them up to a certain age and to which in the future after turning 26 years of age, _.. . .they, look to. provide them with their liveli-hood and protection, would skulk out of the country. They would come back only after they had reached the age of 26 and then take up their life again, safe and secure and bludging on other people’s services to the nation. If this is the suggestion behind the Opposition’s proposal, as I believe it to be, then all I can say is that it is exposed as being on all fours with many other arguments that we have heard in this place or have been reported in the Press and quoted in this place.
– I want to refer to salary rates for professional engineers, research scientists and scientists working in the Commonwealth Public Service. This matter was raised as one of definite public importance earlier this year by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron). Unfortunately the debate was curtailed after one speaker from each side and it was not possible for the House to took at the important issues involved in any detail. Honourable members will recall the famous engineers case of 1961 which set guidelines for many other professional groups in the 1960s. This case established national minimum salaries for professional engineers and also laid down minimum professional academic standards and the duties of various classes of engineers in the Commonwealth Public Service, ft was a notable recognition by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission of the value to Australia’s economic and technological growth of the engineering profession. Unfortunately in the subsequent 9 years members of this key professional group have declined in relative status and remuneration.
In December last year after a lengthy hearing a revaluation case on engineers’ pay and conditions was completed. The decisions reached in this case were extemely peculiar. Although 2 members of the Bench recommended substantially increased salaries, a decision was adopted which virtually rubber-stamped a determination by the Commonwealth Public Service Board. In effect the Commonwealth Public Service Board determined the new wage rates and because of the composition of the Bench hearing the claim, this determination was approved. The net result of the protracted hearing was that the great Volume of economic and professional evidence put by the engineers was largely overlooked. A decision was introduced which completely failed to maintain the relativity of professional engineers.
The presiding judge in the Commonwealth Public Service case, Mr Justice Wright, said the revised rates determined by the Public Service Board did not do full justice to professional engineers. Mr Commissioner Portus said the increases put forward by the Public Service Board were inadequate to preserve the standard of the diplomate, graudate and experienced engineer relative to non-professional employees.
The overwhelming impact of this decision fell on professional engineers in the Public Service. About two-thirds of Australia’s professional engineers are public servants. These highly trained and skilled men cannot negotiate over-award salaries. Over the past 9 years these key personnel have seen the advances made by the 1961 case gradually whittled away. In particular the wage standards of engineers relative to the salaries of clerical workers in the Commonwealth Public Service have declined considerably. For example, in 1961 after the engineers’ case a base grade engineer got $4,400 a year at the top of the salary range. A clerical officer on a comparable salary range got $4,660 at the top of that particular grade.
At the moment, a base grade engineer gets $5,118 at the top of his salary range. This is an increase of about 16 per cent since 1961. By comparison, the equivalent clerical officer, without promotion to a higher grade, gets a maximum of $6,997. This is an increase of about 50 per cent since 1961. Quite clearly a Commonwealth Public Service engineer has lost ground sharply compared with his fellow clerical worker. In real terms the purchasing power of his salary which was much the same as a clerical officer in 1961, is now some 34 per cent below that of the clerical officer. This is a gauge of how Commonwealth Public Service engineers have fallen behind other public servants in their salary claims.
Following the failure to obtain anything like wage justice from the Arbitration Commission’s split decision of 3rd December last year, a new claim was made directly on the Board on 6th May this year. This claim was rejected by the Board in a statement on 18th June. In this statement the Board made the concession that it saw salary anomalies but did not believe them to be sufficiently great to warrant correction. The Board made the further claim that its rates remained competitive with salary rates in private industry.
With support of the great majority of its engineer members the Professional officers Association of the Commonwealth Public Service recommended a course of industrial action which was begun on 6th July. The main prong of this action was an overtime ban with the proviso that this should not affect work required for the maintenance of essential services where safety and life are involved. Engineers were also advised to resist pressures to lower their professional standards in coping with increasing work loads, even if this resulted in delays and inconveniences to major departmental projects and services. Further, they were advised not to assume responsibility beyond their delegated authority, and not to give engineering orders or directives to subordinate staff who were getting higher salaries. Finally, in view of the shortage of professional engineers the industrial programme stipulated that they refrain from undertaking projects and tasks that could not be adequately engineered.
With this forceful programme of industrial action under way, the engineers’ associations resumed negotiations with the Board. On 18th September, the Professional Officers’ Association decided to stop the industrial action it had initiated so that a pay review could be made by the Board. The Association told the Board and its members by circular that the review of salaries should be completed within 6 weeks. This is the situation that exists at the moment; serious industrial action has been terminated so that the Board may have another look at engineers’ salary rates. The situation ls an explosive one because the effectiveness of 4 important Commonwealth Departments - the Department of Civil Aviation, the Department of Supply, the Department of Works, and the Postmaster-General’s Department - is at stake. These Departments must suffer if there is any substantial loss of engineers; their operations must also be seriously impaired if failure to restore parity to engineers’ salaries provokes industrial action along the lines I have indicated.
A further cause for alarm at the sharp drop in salaries and status of these men is the key role of professional engineers in the modern technological society. In September last year I raised this matter with the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). I put it on that occasion to the right honourable gentleman that of all developed countries, Australia had the lowest rate of engineers to population. I emphasised the importance of making the profession more attractive to university graduates. The Prime Minister disputed the claim that Australia was critically short of trained engineers. He said further that the Government has paid attention to the training of engineers, technologists and technicians through the setting up of colleges of advanced education. In the Prime Minister’s view, this would provide enough engineers for Australia’s technological development. I believe the evidence refutes the Prime Minister on all these counts.
According to an article published in the journal ‘The Professional Engineer’ in August 1969, Australia fell considerably behind other developed countries in the number of engineers qualifying each year. The Professional Engineer’ said that using 1963 as a base year, 118 engineers were qualifying each year in Australia for each one million of population. Comparable figures for other countries were: France 132, Germany 335, Japan 297, Sweden 243, United Kingdom 2O0, United States 183, and Russia 737. The survey concluded that Australia had the lowest engineering work force of any developed industrial country for which data could be obtained. This, I submit, is hardly a proud record.
I turn now to the plight of research scientists in the Commonwealth Public Service. Nearly all research scientists in this area are in the Department of Supply, the Atomic Engergy Commission and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. For some years it has been necessary to have a Doctor of Philosophy degree and other professional experience for employment in the Public Service as a research scientist. The salary claims of these key workers paralleled the experience of the engineers; they were given a salary increase of 11 per cent to 15 per cent by the Board in 1969 and after a long hearing these rates were confirmed by the Deputy Public Service Arbitrator. Chiefs of Division in the CSIRO and the AEC were given an 18 per cent increase in 1969 by the Board, and a further marginal increase in February this year by the Deputy Arbitrator. The right of appeal was exercised in these cases and the decision was given by a bench of 3 on 4th September. This gave no increases to most research scientists; increases of from 1 to 8 per cent were given to top level research scientists and chiefs of division.
A similar position exists with Commonwealth Public Service scientists who basically require a Bachelor of Science degree for employment. They work in a wide range of departments and agencies, including the Department of Supply, the Department of National Development, and the Bureau of Meteorology. They were given a salary increase of 7i per cent by the Board in April last year - a very much smaller increase than that given 6 months later to the engineers and research scientists. A claim was lodged for the scientists, culminating in a decision handed down by the Arbitrator on last Friday. This gave increases ranging from 3) per cent to 71 per cent. In association with the Ti per cent increase last year, scientists were put on much the same footing as engineers with increases in the 11 per cent to 15 per cent range. This has brought another major professional grouping in the Commonwealth Public Service into a state of serious industrial unrest.
The decision has fallen with a particularly savage crunch on geoscientists employed in the Bureau of Mineral Resources. These men are in great demand because of the mining boom. Representations were made on the special significance of geoscientists within the scientists case because of the much higher salaries in private industry. The Arbitrator in his judgment recognised the special circumstances of geoscientists and said that the Public Service Board might find it necessary to give further attention to their salary rates. However, this is certain to be too late. Earlier this year a group of more than 40 geoscientists from the Bureau of Mineral Resources advertised their availability for outside positions. They received an average of 3 specific offers each and a number of major mining companies expressed interest in the whole group. Some of these men resigned; others decided to wait and see whether the scientists case gave them a greater measure of wage justice. The hopes of these men have been sadly dashed; it seems now that there will be a wave of further resignations from the Bureau’s already depleted strength.
It seems that in all these cases the Board has acted quite ruthlessly in holding salary rates within a narrow band ranging from 11 to 15 per cent, with some of the higher posts getting a little more. This conscious policy of depressing relative salary rates for these key personnel can only harm recruitment at a time when a shortage of engineers and scientists is emerging. Certainly, it must force a reconsideration by all members of these professional groups of their future with the Commonwealth Public Service. Beyond this, it may even force a reappraisal of their future prospects within Australia. Putting the straightjacket on salaries in this way must have damaging consequences for the Commonwealth Public Service. It is a matter of urgency that salary rates for professional engineers, research scientists and scientists be revised and restored to levels comparable with those applying in 1961.
Let me say in conclusion that, as I pointed out a few minutes ago, this matter was the subject of an urgency debate earlier this year. On that occasion the responsible Minister - the Minister far Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) - gagged the debate after only one Opposition speaker had spoken. J. hope that when the Minister replies to this debate he will have a little more to say on the subject.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Thursday, 1 October 1970
– In rising to speak to the estimates for the Department of Labour and National Service, I wish to confine my remarks to one section of the Department’s responsibilities; that is, national service. I want to make a very strong plea to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) and the Government to consider very seriously the desirability of introducing universal national service. This is something that, the people of this country are prepared to accept. I am quite certain that the great majority of the people in this country would prefer universal national service to our present system. I was one who accepted the present ballot system as being the only answer initially when we did not have the necessary instructors, equipment or accommodation for our young men.
– Don’t you like the ballot system?
– 1 would like to see universal national service. Today we. have too many people sabotaging our national servicemen and our national effort, including members of the Opposition and particularly the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard). 1 would like to see every young man do national service - military training. I believe that it is possible for him to do at least 6 months of intensive training in camp. He would be doing concentrated training. 1 would make no exceptions at all.
There are plenty of jobs for the noncombatant. There are plenty of jobs for* the conscientious objector. He could do some form of national service. Put him in the cookhouse or let him dig latrines if he is not prepared to do anything else. I am certain that most of the conscientious objectors would then quickly change their minds. There are a few genuine ones, I agree, but not nearly as many as members of the Opposition would like us to believe. As I said earlier in the piece, I accepted the need for the ballot system initially, but I do not believe we are justified in carrying it on without making a serious attempt to study the possibility of introducing compulsory universal national service. I anr convinced that if we did have universal national service we would have so many, volunteers for the permanent Army that we would not need a ballot system.
– Give it a try.
– I would like to. It is a fact of life that in an emergency every able bodied man in this country would have to carry arms. To send untrained men into battle is little short of murder. I have seen it happen. I have seen young men, little more than boys, sent into action against trained opponents. I say that this is little short of murder. Six months training at least would give them the basic principles of discipline and the ability to handle their weapons. It would not take very much longer to knock a man into shape. It might even make men out of members of the Opposition who are so voluble, if they had 6 months of Army training. I doubt it. I do not know whether it would be possible to make men out of some of them at all.
Wc have been told at times that cost is the great problem. In this affluent society I do not accept cost as being an adequate excuse for not attempting at least to look at the possibility of introducing compulsory national service. Surely cost is not of great consequence when the future of this nation is at stake. Another problem that has been raised is the shortage of. instructors. We have had servicemen in Vietnam, Malaysia and other areas of Army service sufficiently long now to provide at least a nucleus of trained instructors which could quickly be built up to give adequate instruction to our young men for 6 months in each age group. Another problem mentioned was accommodation. I do not believe that the young men of today are any less hardy than their fathers or their grandfathers were. I can remember going into camp and sleeping on a straw palliasse in a tent. I was lucky to get some straw. I do not think it would hurt our young men today, lt might do them quite a lot of good.
I believe that all these things are not an adequate argument when the safety of the nation is at stake. We are not strong enough to defend ourselves. I refer honourable members to the statement of the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) that history has proved over and over again that a rich nation .without defence cannot remain free. We cannot expect to remain free unless we are prepared to play our part. We cannot expect our allies to come to our aid in an emergency unless we are prepared - and not only prepared but able - to play our part. Some of our enemies who were very close to our shores not so many years ago would walk into this country tomorrow if they thought they could get away with it. Honourable members should not kid themselves that they would not. Do not think that the Japanese have any great reason to love this country. As I said in an earlier debate tonight, if they had realised how valuable this country is, if they had realised the mineral wealth we have,, if they had realised the industrial potential and the rural wealth we have, they would not have come down the Malayan Peninsula but would have come straight here.
If we are going to defend this country then we must be prepared. I have nothing but disgust for the young man who is not prepared to learn to bear arms so that in an emergency he is able to effectively defend this country. I have no respect for the man who is not prepared to get up and fight. Six months in the Army would do the honourable member opposite, who is interjecting, the world of good, as it would a lot of other young fellows. It is not much use saying that in an emergency they will get up and shoulder arms and fight unless they are trained, equipped and able. We can easily see those who are not prepared to get up and defend the country by their interjections here.
– I rise to order. Frequently during the course of debates in this chamber when honourable members on this side of the chamber have spoken in a similar manner to the way we are being shockingly addressed at the moment by the honourable member for Hume, who has just resumed his seat because a point of order has been taken, they have been called to order by the occupant of the Chair. Must people sitting in this chamber be insulted by a speaker who is on his-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - There is no substance to the point of order.
– 1 am coming to the point of order. If I had not been so rudely interrupted by an honourable member sitting on the front bench on the Government side-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! I do not uphold the point of order and the honourable member for Sturt will resume his seat.
– l claim to be misrepresented on the basis that the honourable member cast more than a reflection on those sitting on this side of the chamber when he said that they would not have the courage to bears arms for this country. Just because he wears an RSL badge-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I was not referring to the honourable member who has a very good war record. Would that there were more on the Opposition side who had the same. I am critical of those who are not prepared to do what that man did. The deterioration of our national character is indicated by the very fact that the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition was prepared to get up in this chamber and call on our troops to mutiny.
This is an indication. It would not have been accepted a few years ago. He would have been drummed out of the country if he had done that sort of thing.
– I rise to order. The statement was made that the Leader of the Opposition advocated mutiny. That is a deliberate untruth. Mr Deputy Chairman, and I ask that it be withdrawn because it is personally offensive to me and to other members of the Labor Party.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– Those who saw the Leader of the Opposition and those who heard him in the House–
-I rise to order. The honourable member for Grayndler clearly stated that the honourable member for Hume had misrepresented, in fact falsified, what the Leader of the Opposition had said. The Leader of the Opposition did not say that and the honourable member for Hume has no right to make such a statement. We ask him to withdraw it.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I rule that the honourable member for Hume is in order.
– You rule that in fact he can say that the Leader of the Opposition advocated mutiny when in fact he did not do so?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- The point of order is not upheld.
– Mr Deputy Chairman, I move:
That the ruling be dissented from. (The honourable member, for Grayndler having submitted in writing his objection to the ruling.)
– Mr Deputy Chairman–
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! No debate on this motion is allowed in the Committee stage. 1 now put the motion.
That the ruling be dissented from.
The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman - Mr Drury)
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
- Mr Deputy Chairman, I take it that we are to continue this debate and not to have a series of public meetings or demonstrations in the chamber. The way things look at the moment it will not be long before members of the Country Party are waving some sort of banner. The honourable member for Hume (Mr Pettitt) a few months ago demonstrated the collective neuroses of members of the Country Party and Liberal Party when he said that the safety of the nation is at stake; that we are not strong enough to defend ourselves; and that we could not expect our allies always to come to our aid. Therefore, he said, he wanted universal national service.
There can be no better demonstration of collective idiocy than that simple statement of belief. The honourable member would bring all the young men into the Army for 6 months. It does not matter whether they would be doing anything useful. He says that they could work in the cookhouse or in the latrines. I do not know what they would be doing in the cookhouse. I suppose they could cook all the surplus food products that members of his Party are attempting to produce. What exactly does he mean? Has he ever consulted the Year Book to see exactly what his proposal would mean iri numbers? How many men would he get for universal national service? How many men were born 20 years ago? How many have been added to that number by migration? He would take about 120,000 men who come into that age category each year and put them through the collective machine to paint stones outside an officers mess or to peel spuds in the cookhouse. How many would he have and for how long?
At the 1966 census there were 436,709 men, including Liberals, between the ages of 20 and 24 years. There were about 384,000 between 25 and 27 years. After the honourable member had been running his apparatus for a little while he would have nearly 1 million men under arms. What on earth for? Is it not time that we adopted a rational approach to this matter? The national service system is a Western European anachronism imported into this part of the world. The honourable member referred to costs. He said as an aside that he has no respect for those who will not bear arms to defend this country. When is he going to start on his colleagues in the Liberal Party-Country Party Government who are of military age group and who are spending their time in this place sending young men to a war to which they will not go themselves? When will he start on a couple of Government members in the Ministry who were of the military age group when the war in Vietnam started?
It is time that we took a good look at the whole system, of national service and what it means. I believe that national service, as it is presently conducted, is a national confidence trick; that it is an exer cise in national humiliation; that it is a piece of collective immorality; and that it is a selective injustice perpetrated upon a group of young men who cannot answer for themselves. Why do I say that lt is a confidence trick? The honourable member for Hume demonstrated that no military need exists for national service at this time. I ask: What do we need; how many do we need; and what do we want them for?
First, we must examine our neighbourhood to see what is the military situation there. The facts are that very few of our neighbours have introduced this national service system. Very few of our neighbours offer any sort of threat to us. Why is it that honourable members on the other side such as the honourable member for Hume will not stand up and say: This is the threat and this is how we ought to answer it?’ Is it Indonesia, which a week or two back demonstrated that it was going to reduce its military establishments, that threatens us? Is it the Cambodians, the Laotians, or the Malaysians? Is it the Japanese or the Singaporeans? Honourable members opposite never say. Of course, this is never questioned. So, I believe that it is a confidence trick to exploit continually the emotions of the people of Australia by promoting the fact that 1,000 million people happen to be to our north. Therefore, the national service system should be rejected.
National service is also something worse. It is moral values which are at stake. National service is an exercise in national humiliation. Young men of the 25 years to 40 years age group who have come into this Parliament have been elected on tickets favouring the perpetuation of the war in Vietnam and on the continuation of the national service system. On any kinds of ancient Australian values, if they believed in the war in Vietnam, they would go to that war themselves. If there is one thing that we always believed in, it was: One in all in. If we are going to involve somebody else, we had to place our own freedom, our own service and our own sacrifice on the line. When will honourable members opposite do that? Every election in which we elect a young man who is of military age to this place on a Liberal Party-Country Party ticket is an exercise in national humiliation. 1 am not like the honourable member for Hume. I do not disrespect these young men. In some ways, 1 find most of them personally likeable. But 1 just cannot understand what has happened to the ancient Australian values when I see that this is happening every month or two and when I see that every 6 months we indulge in this dreadful ballot system in which the Leader of the House, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) indulged himself the other day. On the other hand, the ballot box by which we select men to be the political sacrifice for the political gimmickry of honourable members opposite, is an exercise in collective immorality. Can anybody justify that system? Can anybody say that there is anything moral about this system of selecting young men to be sacrificed in the battlefields of Vietnam or that, if they fail to answer the call or if they defy it with an exercise of moral courage which always surprises me in the young, we have not indulged in national immorality? This is the greatest act of immorality .that this country has ever perpetrated. I am astonished that the national service system has been able to continue so long.
Also, its continuation represents an abdication by the parents of Australia of their rights. What is wrong with the parents of Australia, the mothers and fathers, .that they allow this to happen to their sons? What is wrong with the sisters and brothers of Australia that they allow this to happen to their brothers? What is wrong with the people of Australia that they have allowed this system to continue so long? Are there many honourable members on the other side of the Committee who are prepared to debate the necessity of our participation in Vietnam? Of course there are not. Australia went into the Vietnam war off the cuff 5 years ago. We stay in it because this Government has not the moral courage to pull its troops out and to say: ‘We made a mistake’. So. we continue with it.
The parents of Australia. I believe, are abdicating their duties to the young men of Australia. Everybody over the age of 25 years who votes for this Government in support of national service is abdicating his or her responsibility and is exercising national selfishness. I regret it when young people lie in the streets in front of trams.
I do not think that it is a wise thing to do. But for the people in the tram to object to being inconvenienced by these young men, some of whom will be sent to war, is . an exercise in selfishness. When I think of the great mass of our community of 12 million or so people calling on the 40,000 young men who have been called up so far to do their duty while they carry on with their business as usual I wonder what has happened to the morality and sense of values of this country. The national service system which is being perpetrated is in fact an act of national selfishness, which ought to be rejected. 1 am sorry that debates are not held as frequently as they should be in this chamber about the whole basis of our defence system. I regret that we are debating this matter at this late hour of the night when the proceedings of the chamber are not being broadcast. I challenge honourable members opposite to take this issue out into the public by-ways and talk about it. After the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) went out in the front of Parliament House last week and addressed the people - thousands of people around Australia are grateful to hint for the courageous stand he has taken on this issue- I walked back into Parliament- House. As I came in somebody said to me: ‘Are you leaving them?’- 1 said: ‘No, I am not leaving them’. I was returning to the chamber to participate in a debate on repatriation. I should point out that there were notable absentees from the ranks of honourable members opposite. Two young women said to me as I was coming through the door-: You ought to be leaving them’. I asked them why. They said: They are such a scruffy lot’. J looked a bit askance because I do not pass that sort of judgment on people. Then one of them .said: ‘They are just children’. I replied: They are the ones you are sending to war. They are the ones who should be on your conscience’. Frankly, I just cannot understand what has happened to the people of Australia. I repeat that national service is an exercise in selective injustice.
The honourable member for Hume said that the 12 million people who live in Australia live in one of the world’s most affluent countries and, indeed, it is. In the last 5 years about 42,000 young men of 20 years of age or thereabouts have been called up. Over 400 of them have been killed. Some 2,000 of them have been wounded. Some- of the young -men who have been called- into our armed Services and sent to war have been crippled for life. They are now in receipt of a miserable pension which can never offer them a decent standard of living. In other words, these young, men have been conscripted into a lifetime of poverty because somebody blundered some years ago in relation to a matter of national policy. Some young men are being imprisoned. Only the other day a young man in South Australia was sent to prison for 2 years. How can we justify such a thing? How can the Minister for Labour and National Service, who, as far as I can tell, has chosen to leave the chamber rather than discuss the issue which is being debated, justify it? What about the Australians who are being injured or killed in the mine fields of Vietnam while the rest of us go about our business as usual?
Is it not possible that there has been a change in the morality of the community? Many of the honourable members opposite have had distinguished careers and many of them have a conscience. Why do they not appreciate that the national service scheme is a blot on the social conscience of the whole nation? It is, of course, a very divisive issue.- If the Government had any real conscience . of or sensitivity to Australian nationhood it would abandon this system immediately. It is self defeating. I know of countless young men who now scorn the Services - not for the past but for the present - because the national service system has made service in the Australian Army obnoxious to them. As a result, they will not join the Citizen Military Forces and they will not join the Regular Army. They do not look upon the Royal Australian Air Force or the Royal Australian Navy as a respectable career. National service has dragged the: whole idea of service in our armed forces and the defence of. Australia in the dust and the public is helpless to do anything about it. lt is a serious reflection upon democracy that between 40,000 and 60,000 people can take to the streets in Melbourne in protest against the national service system and receive no response from the. Government. I believe that it is important, to the unity of the nation that we abandon our national service system. We have to find an alternative method of recruiting men to our Services. Do not tell me that it cannot be done because I know a good deal about this subject and I know that it can be done. Young John Zarb, who was one of my constituents, went to prison not very far from my office. The demonstrations which were held on that occasion were held because he was imprisoned. If there was no national service system there would be very few demonstrations about the war in Vietnam, even by those people who regret we are there and believe we should not be participating in it. We have seen in recent weeks what might be called serious public riots between police and dissenters. All these things flow from the iniquities of this system. I wish that honourable members opposite would remember that the issue is that the values of this nation ought to include, first of all, that no-one is sacrificed for the common good in an instance such as this unless there is some equality of sacrifice from elsewhere.
During the last war each one was called upon - to pull his weight in some way or another. There were restrictions upon the enjoyment of life while others went off to war. At the present time it is business as usual for the largest mass of the community. Some 40,000 young men in the last 5 years have gone into the services. Some 500,000 have not. All those 500,000 at some , stage of their careers have had this threat hanging over, their lives. I belong to the age group which now has sons who enter this area and I look with horror at what is threatened by my friends opposite to my sons and my friends sons and my nephews. They will have to face either the battlefields of Vietnam or the prison cells of Pentridge. Yatala, Boggo Road or somewhere else. I wonder what kind of values stimulated all of this.
I did not agree with the commitment to Vietnam when it was first ventured upon. At that stage there was emotion in the community. A large percentage of the community seemed to agree that it was a desirable exercise. By 1967 a large percentage of the community had faced the fact that the commitment was no longer valid. I refuse to believe that the community at large says that we ought to be in Vietnam any more. I believe that the great mass of the community regards the national service system, and particularly its selective nature and the commitment to Vietnam, as obnoxious and lacking in moral value. I. do not believe that we will be able to hold up our heads as a nation which has some sense of moral values and some sensitivity to the general traditions of this nation until we have abandoned the national service system. As I say, it is a piece of national humiliation; if is selectively unjust and ought not to be tolerated by a democratic parliamentary system.
– I had not intended to speak in this debate but some of the remarks made by the honourable member for. Wills (Mr Bryant) are’ completely off beam so I feel that I should say something about them. In regard to national service, judging by his remarks he would have no-one serving this country’ at all.
– What would the Army do?
– I am referring to universal national service which does not necessarily mean that everyone is compulsorily inducted into the Army and sent to Vietnam or wherever a war happens to be taking place.
– That is not what you said.
– I said serving Australia. I have previously .in this Parliament called for national service and when I say national service’ I mean that the young people after leaving school should join the Army where they can be trained. With the training of these young people we would not need to have the hideous ballot system, or whatever was’ the description used by the honourable member for Wills. The young men would be trained in the Army. They would be under some discipline, but honourable members opposite would not know about that.
– Trained for what?
– I am saying that, once they are trained and come out of the Army, most of them are proud of the fact that they were part of the show, whether they went to Vietnam or stayed in Australia. Nearly all those I have met have said exactly this. They also volunteer after their training to serve in Vietnam, Malaysia or some other place. After I made a speech on this sub ject earlier this year in the House it was quoted in the ‘Northern Territory News’. A reporter was sent down the street and he said: ‘Calder has called for universal national service. We will ask the youth of the Territory what they think about this.’ What did they think about it? The first six of the seven who were interviewed said: ‘We agree with him. We think we should be doing something for our country’. Countries that have universal training include Sweden and Switzerland. Honourable members opposite do not want anyone at all to have to serve their country, whether in peace or at war. They want to carry on in their mad Moratorium way. That is the way they want it. If countries such as Switzerland, Sweden and Singapore can run a universal national service scheme, why cannot Australia do it? It would do today’s young men and women nothing but good to come under Army discipline. Most honourable members opposite - I do not include the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) because he did a bit of soldiering-
– I am not the only one on this side of the House who served. Get off my back. I would not serve under this Government’s terms; that’s for sure.
– The honourable member does not seem very proud of the fact that he served Australia. ‘
– I rise on a point of order. Why is it that this man who is resuming his seat at present, as he should because I have taken a point of order, is the second man in the Country Party tonight to poke a finger at me and try to infer that I should dissociate myself from my colleagues on this side of the House when he has no reason so to do?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– My point of order is this: You, in your capacity as Deputy Chairman, should draw to the attention of the honourable member that he has no right to carry on in the manner in which he sees fit to carry on.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - ‘Order! It would be much easier for the Chair to hear what was being said if honourable members would remain silent, in accordance with the Standing Orders.
– Before I was so rudely Interrupted I was saying that I considered that the young of this country need to be introduced to some kind of discipline. I illustrated that by what actually happened after I had made a speech about national service. If the discipline in the home today is not what it was in the days when we were brought up, the Army can supply it.
– Do you believe in the thumb screw?
– I think it probably would have been a good idea if someone like the honourable member for Kingston had done national service training. I shall resume my remarks about national service. Why do not members of the Opposition want anyone to have to serve his country? They do not want anyone to have to do it whether in peace or in war. I have heard various honourable members opposite, when answering a question as to where they would fight the enemy, say: On the shores of the country; on the coast of Darwin’. Although no enemy is threatening our country, young people could still serve their country. They could be trained. Having been disciplined, they could go overseas and assist in many countries. They could do , a job for Australia and serve Australia without actually shouldering arms. Honourable members opposite are mad crazy about Vietnam and about no-one being sent to Vietnam.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! The honourable member for Sturt will remain silent.
– I .am silent.
– You are silent in mind.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- If the honourable member for the Northern Territory will address his remarks to the Chair T think we will get along better.
– Continuing my remarks about universal national service, the honourable member for Wills said that there must be some scheme whereby people can be trained. The honourable member just gets up and blahs off. says nothing and runs down any practical theory that people might have about serving this country. So long as no-ohe is serving Australia the Labor Party will be quite happy. The Labor Party just wants a bunch of rabble. It wants to ruin Australia’s reputation overseas. That is why I recommend universal national service.
I support the honourable member foi Hume (Mr Pettitt) and I completely deprecate the remarks of the honourable member for Wills. The honourable member throws his war service up at every turn of the clock and says that he considers we should not be going to war. I repeat again that I consider there should be universal national service in Australia and that this would do the young of Australia nothing but good.
– I would like to address my remarks to our present arbitration system. Whilst I would assume most honourable members are aware of the history of our arbitration system I would like to point out that this system was evolved in the late part of the last century. With the coming of federation, in 1904 a Commonwealth Act was brought into effect. The Act at that time did not have a great deal of power but since it came into force we have seen the Act changed many times. In the 1950s it was felt that the Act did not have any teeth so it was decided that it should be altered to give it teeth. We have seen industrial relations fall since that day because of the operation of the penal clauses that resulted from the teeth that were put into the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. We have reached the stage now where the unions are gradually losing faith in the arbitration system. In fact, 18 months or so ago we saw a dispute over the penal clauses. This dispute arose after many years of indiscriminate use of the penal clauses for the slightest pretext.
We saw a blow-up with the Tramway Employees Union case in which there were mass stoppages throughout Australia against the penal clauses. Since then we have seen a slackening off and a slight alteration of the Act. Although this alteration does not take away the penal clauses it does provide some machinery which will help to .solve disputes before they reach a stage where stoppages take place. Another aspect which I think is responsible for the unions and the employee organisations losing faith in the system is the fact that in most cases - this happened in the national wage case, in the total wage case and in the oil industry dispute where the profitability of industry came in - we have seen the Federal Government come in on the side of the employers or come in and put forward the same case as is presented by the employers.
It is for these reasons that I feel the employee organisations are losing faith in the arbitration system. It has often been said that the arbitration system gives great protection to the employees of this country. But there is quite a lot of emloyees who receive no protection. This is the case . of employees who work in country towns, where possibly union organisations are hot so strong. Employees in country towns generally work in small groups and they do not receive the protection that they’ are supposed to get from the arbitration system.
I know from my personal experience that where small groups of employees are working in isolated areas they usually work under far ‘less favourable conditions than those laid down in the award unless they are visited by a union official. Often they do not receive, the penalty rates to which they are entitled. . On many , occasions I have found penalty rates not being applied. I have seen instances where an employer has paid a flat rate whether the employee has been working on a Saturday or .a Sunday or at any other time. That sort of thing is still happening. In many cases employees find their long service leave conditions whittled down because they are working in isolated areas. In order to overcome these problems it is necessary, for us to appoint more arbitration inspectors. Whilst we know that the federal arbitration system does not apply to workers who do not belong to, organisations registered. with the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, the appointment of more arbitration inspectors tq visit country towns would ensure that decent working conditions apply. .
Only a few weeks ago an official of the Electrical Trades Union of : Australia visited Darwin and on his return he mentioned quite a few of the things that he had found. He spoke of employees not being paid proper penalty rates or not receiving conditions to which they were entitled. I remember that when I visited Alice Springs and went through quite a few of the workshops there I found that exactly the same sort of thing was happening there. I suggest that we make sure that the arbitration system affords the protection that it is supposed to give and I recommend the appointment of more arbitration inspectors so that workers’ conditions can be protected in the smaller country areas. Another matter which is of importance in country areas- is the possibility of intimidation in cases where an employee feels that he would like to join a union. I have found on many occasions that an employee has been told that if he joins a union he .will be sacked. This is another reason for the appointment of more arbitration inspectors to assist workers in country areas.
Perhaps I could mention now a few points concerning industrial relations in my own area. Whyalla, which is in my electorate, has the largest shipbuilding industry in Australia and one of Australia’s giant steel complexes. It is controlled, of course, by Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. We all know the size of the BHP company these days. It has become a vast octopus. I do not decry its efficiency, but certainly I would decry the company’s attitude in industrial relations; In no town where BHP operates to any extent will it be found that industrial relations can be admired. In Whyalla there have been many disputes in recent times. Some have lasted much longer than should have been the case, mainly because of the attitude of the employer. If the company had adopted a policy of conciliation, of getting round the table and trying to talk things out. many of these disputes would not have occurred. One dispute which I recall concerned a man who refused to join a union because of his reigious beliefs. Although other members of the same religious organisation had joined the union, the dispute was allowed to go on for 3 or 4 weeks, during which time work stopped. Yet with good public relations that dispute could have been resolved.
Another dispute which occurred just recently concerned men engaged on the building of the oil tanker ‘Amanda Miller’. The employees had. made an approach to be paid ship repair rates for working on the ‘Amanda Miler’ which had been burnt out, but BHP refused to pay this rate. As a result a dispute arose, But the point is that the feeling generated in this dispute did not originate in the claim for ship repair rates to be paid for work on the Amanda Miller9. Because of the attitude of the company to union officials on the job, because it had them escorted from the site and refused to allow them to interview new employees coming on. the job, a feeling of resentment was built up among employees, as a result of which there was a” strike which lasted for 3 weeks or a month. The dispute was put into the hands of a conciliation commissioner who refused to hear the case until the men went back to work. When they had returned to work he dealt with the matter and granted ship repair rates to the men working on that job. This was a case where, if bad public relations had not been permitted to develop, it could have been resolved without the long stoppage that occurred. There have been a number of cases along similar lines and this is why I say that industrially things at Whyalla are not as they should be. In one dispute my own union, the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society of Australia, was fined a few thousand dollars because it refused to revoke a democratic decision to limit overtime to 12 hours. Because its members would not exceed 12 hours the union was hauled before the court. Whyalla is basically a company town. Until a few months ago even local government was under some control by the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. Whyalla was controlled by a special commission that was set up to manage the town. The Whyalla Town Commission consisted of 4 nominees of BHP, 4 elected members and an independent chairman.
A few years ago Australia was the venue of a conference organised by the Duke of Edinburgh. Its main theme was the effect of industrial relations on the human being. Anyone who read the book that was published following the conference could readily recognise various industrial towns in Australia by the comments that were passed by some of the delegates. I am sure that many lessons could be learned from this book. As a means of trying to improve industrial relations in Whyalla a copy of the book should be sent to every director of BHP and its industrial officers as well as to those who come into contact with employees of -the company. I conclude by saying that in our arbitration and conciliation system I should like to see less emphasis on arbitration and more emphasis on conciliation. By so doing a better understanding can be gained of what the ordinary working class problems are and we could ensure that the ordinary industrial worker receives his fair share of the nation’s wealth.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) spoke about professional engineers and expressed the hope that I would say something. He is not here to listen to me but no doubt he will be hearing my remarks on the internal communication system and is likely to come in shortly. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition quite clearly, and quite naturally I suppose, has taken advantage of a feeling among professional engineers that the result of their case before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission did not give them what they hoped to receive. There can be no doubt that they did not receive what they hoped to receive, but I do not think it assists the general cause of arbitration and the general cause of the progress df the profession of engineering for the Deputy Leader to take it up as a political issue. No doubt he hopes that the powerful speech that he made will appear in the official journal of the Association of Professional Engineers’, Australia, and that alf members of the APEA will be persuaded that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is right on their side. It is very easy to align oneself with a dissatisfied group, but an Opposition, and especially an office holder in it, must exercise responsibility. I think that responsibility has not been exercised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this case. I should hope that if- the journal does publish the text of his speech it will also publish the text of what I am saying because it discloses the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to be a sheer political device hoping to attract the support of engineers electorally. But if he were in Government he would be obliged to say exactly what I am now saying, that the Public Service Board is a primary wage fixation body.
If associations which present a memorial of claims to the Public Service Board are dissatisfied with the result they can then go to an independent arbitrator appointed under the statute. From the arbitrator they can be referred to a full bench of the Arbitration Commission or, alternatively, they can proceed with their claim before the arbitrator and, if dissatisfied, they can go to a full bench of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission on appeal. The Professional Engineers Union did go to a full bench, and that bench made full inquiry, listened to all the arguments and then delivered a decision. The main basis upon which criticism is levelled seems to be that it was a split decision. If more than one person is on a bench it is likely that there will be a split decision. In this case 2 benches were sitting together, each comprising 3 members. The reason why there are 3 members on. the bench is to accommodate the split decision. There is nothing strange about a split decision from a full bench, whether’ ft be in the strictly judicial character or in the role of arbitration. Indeed, I would remind honourable members that the biggest percentage increase ever granted in a’ national wage case was in the basic wage increase of 1950 when an increase of £1 was granted in the basic wage. On that occasion there was a split decision, the chief judge of the then Industrial Court deciding that there should be no increase at all, but the other judges overruled him on a split decision. The biggest percentage increase ever was granted.
At the present time there is in progress a series of discussions between the Public Service Board and the Association of Professional Engineers: lt is entirely proper that this should occur, and it is most inappropriate for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to make political capital at this point of time because the limitations of work that were imposed by the Association have been abandoned since the Public Service Board and the Association decided to have these discussions. The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) covered a deal of territory and mentioned a few matters. I do not propose to follow him down every nook and cranny or every rabbit burrow that he decided to descend. He spoke about the productivity measure and at the same time criticised me, I think it was, or the Government generally - criticised somebody - for not having produced a productivity measure. I fear the honourable gentleman does not understand what productivity is because if he is looking for a contemporaneous measurement of productivity he will not find it. If he has any criticism to offer he should offer it to the Commonwealth Statistician who, like statisticians in every other country in the world, has been trying to devise a contemporaneous productivity measure. It is impossible to devise one. But I will make the point of telling the Commonwealth Statistician that the honourable member for Hindmarsh is critical of him.
The honourable gentleman also mentioned industrial accidents. I should point out to him that the States and the Commonwealth in co-operation have been most assiduous in trying to reduce industrial accidents. Progress has been made. What we are trying to do is to alert people to a conscientious attitude towards industrial accidents. We are instructing trainers; we are devising standards of safety; we are inculcating in people the need to guard machinery and to adopt protective, measures. A full review of International Labour Organisation conventions was published last October, and that is the basis for further action in this regard. The honourable gentleman talked about an arbitration inspectorate. It is worth looking at what he said. It departs from the facts. It is not true that most inspections under Federal awards are carried out by State inspectors. Although the figures are not available, the percentage of such inspections is quite small. From 1960 to 1969, 163,000 inspections were carried out by Commonwealth inspectors. Of the 72,084 breaches mentioned by the honourable member for Hindmarsh, in all except 210 cases the breaches were rectified after the inspectors last visited the plant. Prosecutions were launched in the remaining 210 cases. The main aim of the inspectorate is to ensure compliance with the awards and the achievement of greater safety, not to prosecute for breaches if they can be rectified.
The honourable member for Hindmarsh referred to appointments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I do not want to pursue that matter. I thought that hs was casting aspersions on the members of the bench. He has frequently done it, and I do not propose to pursue that matter at this moment. But I remind him and all honourable members that not a single complaint has been lodged by any union - certainly not by the Australian Council of Trade Unions - about any appointment that has been made. A number of unionists have been appointed to the Commission as arbitration commissioners, and I am glad to say that they are very highly respected members of the Commission. They are performing a very admirable job and I express my thanks to them. They are exercising their independent function very well.
The honourable member for Hindmarsh said that we should stress conciliation. If he were to pay any attention to what is going on he would know that conciliation is being stressed. But what I do not think he recognises is the fact that conciliation is a two-way traffic, and that while conciliation is desirable it is not reconcilable with a demand accompanied by a threat. When a demand is accompanied by a threat conciliation is impossible unless the threat is withdrawn. It would be much better if a claim were made rather than a demand and a threat. I would recommend to the honourable gentleman that such influence as he may possess should be exercised to achieve that end..
Other speakers in the debate traversed a number of issues mainly relating to national service. I have no doubt thai that matter is very much in the minds of every honourable gentleman and I will not enter into a debate on it at this stage. I am sure that a lot will be said abou! national service in the future.
– I want again to place on the record the remarks which the present Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) made in this House on 20th August 1964 when referring to universal national service. He was asked this question:
Then why have von not introduced national service training?
At page 439 of Hansard he is reported as saying:
We have not introduced it because to do so would be against the unanimous advice of our military advisers. Why do our military advisers give that advice, and why do we accept it?
Further on he said:
This advice is partly the result of their assessment of the requirements of the current situation and the adequacy of our forces to meet it. Can we meet the current situation without reintroducing a national service training scheme? This is a matter that our advisers have attempted to assess. Their advice also is partly the result of their assessment of the adequacy of our forces to meet the situation ‘ if national service training were introduced. Would the forces be less adequate?
Would they be more adequate? Would the introduction of such a scheme make no difference? A proper answer to these questions springs from a knowledge of the defects of the national service training scheme.
A national service training scheme is not a source of long-service officers, non-commissioned officers, technicians, tradesmen, specialists and instructors. These are the people who are scarcest at the present time, and it is precisely these people who would be diverted from their current operational roles by the necessity to train national servicemen. It is sometimes suggested - I hear the honourable member for Bradfield muttering something about it behind me - that an Army instructional corps should be established, ft is precisely the young, fit people with recent experience whom we need in the field force, that we also need for training the CMF and national servicemen.
Tn other words, the attributes to which we attach the greatest importance - readiness, efficiency, availability - would be substantially reduced by a national service scheme on any worthwhile scale in the circumstances existing at present.
That was said by the present Minister for Health who was then the Minister for the Army.
– That was 1943. It is about as far out of dale as you are.
– That was said in 1964. 1 will be brief about this. The history of the service is, of course, that universal military service was introduced in 1910. In 1929-30 it was abandoned. It covered the age group of men from 14 to 60 years at the time in varying degrees of service. In 1939 Part IV of the Act was reproclaimed and people were called up to serve. Subsequently during a period from October 1939 to somewhere in the middle of 1943 there was an extension of this service until there was almost universal military service of a permanent nature in the Australian Military Forces. In 1943 the Labor Government expanded that by a special Act to include service beyond Australia. To say that the Labor Party introduced conscription in such a period as this is. of course, nonsense. It is flying in the face of the facts and I would suggest that honourable members opposite, including the honourable member for Hume (Mr Pettitt) who is unable to think for himself, should turn to the pages of the debate at that time and see what the Minister had to say. I believe - I am prepared to debate this with the honourable member for Hume and with the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) in any part of their electorates and in my own electorate as well - that national service as they envisage it is wasteful, militarily unnecessary and an anachronism at the present stage of Australia’s history.
Mr PETTITT (Hume) - I wish to make a personal explanation.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I advocated universal national service in every speech I made during the last election campaign and this is the first time on which the electorate of Hume has been won 3 times in succession since before the last World War.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Department of National Development
Proposed expenditure $38,457,200.
Having in mind proposals for the erection of a nuclear power station on Commonwealth territory and, in that connection, the need to examine the efficiency or otherwise of this scourse of energy, I move:
That the proposed expenditure be reduced by $10 as an instruction to the Government that a select committee of this House should be appointed to inquire into and report on the uses of nuclear power in relation to -
the projected power needs of the Commonwealth;
the comparative advantage derived from generating, power .in this way as against all other sources now being employed;
the effects of the establishment of a nuclear power station upon the environment;
administrative- procedures and regulations adopted elsewhere to lessen any undesirable effects of the operation of such a. station to ensure the utmost protection of members of the public and the national interest; and
the desirability of establishing a nuclear power station at this time pending the outcome of further technological developments taking place elsewhere.
An announcement was made in the Budget Speech that this year there would be an allocation of $2.4m for expenditure on the proposed nuclear power station at Jervis Bay and that more money would be made available if required. The Opposition is far from satisfied that full and proper consideration was given to the decision before it was announced to build the nuclear power station at Jervis Bay. To allay any doubts that the Australian Labor Party is opposed to the introduction of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes I propose to state Labor’s policy in this respect. It is as follows:
Civil application of nuclear energy will play a significant role in Australia’s development through electricity generation, desalinaton and in some civil engineering applications. Despite the expenditure of over $150m on the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, Australia is still not properly prepared for the advent of nuclear technology, and is lagging behind other developed countries in its adoption.
Labor therefore proposes -
Development of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission so that it may contribute more effectively to Australia’s needs.
The establishment of an undergraduate course in nuclear technology iri an Australian university.
Stimulation of the growth of nuclear technology in Australia, particularly by early Commonwealth initiative to establish a nuclear power station.
Investigation of the application of nuclear energy to desalination.
No application of nuclear explosives to civil engineering except under the strictest surveillance and after exhaustive surveys have demonstrated that no untoward ecological damage will ensue.
Australia’s adherence to the nuclear weapons non-proliferation treaty, on the understanding that this will not hamper the growth of civil nuclear technology in Australia.
It will be seen that it is the Labor Party’s intention to encourage the development of nuclear technology in Australia, but we certainly do not want to be sold a pig in a poke for over $ 13.0m for our first power station. Our amendment queries whether sufficient consideration has been given to the integrated power needs of the Commonwealth, the economics of nuclear power, the environmental effects, the safety standards for nuclear power stations and the timing of the establishment of our first nuclear station.
My doubts were first raised on this subject when I and others in this House and the Senate placed a number of questions on notice and asked questions without notice in this House and in the Senate. We found that we received far from satisfactory answers and, in many instances, no answers at all. I asked a number of questions of the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) during question time and I received generalised answers which evaded the point of the questions. For instance, I have had a question on notice since 3rd June this year. It is question No. 1193 and it seeks information on sites other than Jervis Bay which had been considered for the power station. I still have not received an answer to that question. On 5th September Sir Phillip Baxter stated on the ‘Four Corners’ television programme - and I quote from the transcript of the presentation:
Then we looked al sites, many of them in Canberra, in New Sooth Wales, different places and finally at Jervis Bay. Jervis Bay, on all counts came out to be the best of them.
A document which I received from the Australian Atomic Energy Commission some months ago states: . . after a preliminary survey involving approximately15 sites in all, 8 were selected for more detailed investigation. Two of these were in the Australian Capital Territory, 4 in New South Wales including one in the Snowy Mountains, and 2 on Commonwealth Territory at Jervis Bay. Each site was examined on the basis of availability of water for cooling purposes, topography, proximity to planned urban development and other safety and public relations aspects.
Yet my question of 3rd June, which was very straight forward, cannot be answered. The question was:
Were any other sites besides Jervis Bay considered for the building of Australia’s first nuclear power station? If so, where were the sites and why was each discarded in favour of Jervis Bay?
But Sir Phillip Baxter, Chairman of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, could say on television that a number of sites were examined. Fifteen sites in all were examined and it was sifted down to eight for final examination but the Minister cannot tell me, a member of this Parliament, the sites that were considered I am left with only one conclusion and that is that no other site was examined, and I doubt very much whether Jervis Bay was given thorough consideration. My doubts on Jervis Bay are based on answers to questions 1 have received giving contradictory information. In answer to question No. 1191 regarding studies made on ecological and environmental factors at the sites considered for a nuclear power station, the Minister replied:
The reports to which the honourable member has referred are confidential studies by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission and the Electricity Commission of New South Wales prepared for management.
Yet in answer to question No. 1 194 regarding the release of heated waste at Jervis Bay I was told by the Minister:
The Government is aware of the nature of thermal pollution, and detailed examination of environmental and ecological factors is being made so that any disturbance of the environment at Jervis Bay will not be significant
So in one answer I was told that the reports have been made and are confidential and in the next answer I was told that detailed examinations are being made.
I asked for an explanation of this contradictory information in a written question No. 1161 on 21st August 1970 and I have still not received a reply. I do not object to being called a fool but I object most strongly to being treated as such. I am certain that this is what the Minister and the Atomic Energy Commission are doing not only to this House and to me but to scientists and the public generally. Nobody in the community seems to be able to obtain any detailed information on very important factors surrounding the introduction of Australia’s first nuclear power station.
I can give several other examples of unsatisfactory or misleading answers to questions I have asked. One reached me last night. In answer to question No. 1109 the Minister referred to a paper by Messrs Davy, Giles and Charish entitled ‘Ecological Factors in the Siting, Design and Operation of a Nuclear Power Station’ and said:
The paper has now been prepared in its final form and a copy will be made available for the honourable member if he so desires. The paper will be submitted to the Ecological Society for Australia for publication in the proceedings of the Symposium if they so desire.
But the Minister released that paper to me and to the Press on 12th June 1970 and it has taken until 30th September for me to receive a written reply to my question of 20th May this year. Would you be surprised, Mr Deputy Chairman, ifI said that I doubt the information in the answer I have now received? I have every reason to believe that after this paper was prepared - I have a copy of it in my hand together with the statement that the Minister released on 12th June for the information of the Press - it was censored and altered by a very senior official of the Atomic Energy Commission. I hope I have shown that the Parliament has been treated with scant consideration in its endeavours to obtain factual information on the establishment of the first nuclear power station at Jervis Bay. If time permitted I could give further examples of reluctance te supply information on the economics, the safety factors and the preparations that are being made at the site. All that information should have been available to the Atomic Energy Commission, the Minister and the Government before the decision was announced. The first nuclear power station was estimated to cost SI 30m when the announcement was made; but now there is silence on the amount that it will cost. The Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission has indicated that by the turn of the century in the vicinity of $5,00On will have been spent on nuclear power stations throughout Australia.
I suggest and the Opposition suggests that this is a matter at which we have to look closely. There are environmental factors. There are safety factors. There is the question of the efficiency of nuclear power at the moment. Technologies are being developed throughout the world Which, perhaps, will outdate our first nuclear power station almost before it is in operation. 1 am convinced that risks are being taken in the establishment of our first nuclear power station at Jervis Bay. It is for that reason that I, on behalf of the Opposition, have moved this amendment to the estimates for the Department. The Opposition does not wish to maximise pessimism or optimism. We want information, and a select committee will provide that for the Parliament and the community.
– I must, of necessity, speak against the amendment; but in particular I want to speak to the estimates for the Department of National Development. It seems to me that the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) does exactly what he says he is not trying to do. He says that he wishes not to maximise pessimism on this matter. I believe that it is entirely proper for a member of the Opposition - in fact, for the Opposition as a whole - to adopt something of the kind of attitude the honourable member for Lang has adopted; but I really believe that he thumps the barrel a little too hard.
After all, as I recollect, the Calder Hall atomic power station in Cumberland in the United Kingdom was developed in 1956 and investigations went on for a long time before that. For decades Britain has been aware of the environmental and safety factors and such things as those. In fact, we now have something over 40 such stations in the world - I do not know the current figure - producing significant proportions of power in the United States and the United Kingdom. The honourable member for Lang, up to a point, is crying wolf in the sense that he thinks we will run into all sorts of new problems of safety, environmental and other kinds. I believe that it is entirely proper that he should ask a few questions and perhaps want further investigation of matters of which he is aware. But frankly I believe that it is a little beside the point to be worrying, as though the sole consideration is the economy of the operation, about the cost of power from this station.
After all, a blind man could see that the first nuclear power station in this country would not be set up for the prime purpose of producing the cheapest power of all time. It has many greater implications than that. Despite the models elsewhere, in a sense it will be a pilot for such a development in Australia. As the honourable member has already shown us, that development is coming a considerable length of time after developments of a similar kind elsewhere. So, I really believe that, to some extent, he is maximising his pessimism, however justified some of the queries may be. In any case, I wish to leave the rest of that for the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz), who is at the table, because he is more knowledgeable about this matter of our nuclear development than I am. 1 wish to talk a little more broadly about some aspects of national development as they concern these estimates for this year. I think it was back in the early 1950s that Salvador de Madariaga, an eminent Spaniard, visited this country and wrote a number of articles for the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’, as I recall. Coming from the peasant environment, generally speaking, of Spain at that time, he projected, among other things, a population of about 100 million people for Australia. At the time I and some of my fellow students had cause to consider this sort of prediction and to work out our fairly untrained minds at that stage on that sort of proposition. It was perfectly clear to us that we would only have a population of 100 million in this country by any form of national development if we were of the mind to lower the standard of living by some considerable number of degrees below what was then operating. In a sense that proposition was rejected by all those who thought they were in the know about propositions of that kind.
However, things have moved a long way since then. The sort of figure we might have put a finger on and which Griffith Taylor put a finger on way back was around about 20 million or 30 million people as the absolute population possibility in Australia in the foreseeable future. This would appear to be considerably extended now, particularly so in the light of at least a couple of factors. Our capacity to deal with 1950 assessments has been extended considerably owing to our firstly having passed some threshold of industrialisation. Before the last World War this country could hardly be said to be an industrial power of any description. Now we seem to have passed that threshold to the extent that our industrial manufacturing output surpasses that of our primary industry. Secondly, primary industry - not in the usual sense of the term - in the form of the extractive mining industry has probably been the greatest single boost in recent years to our national capacity to develop and maintain a greater population.
While this is so it raises, to me at least, a number of other problems. Not the least of these is the question of decentralisation, which tends to come up every now and again in a number of matters in this chamber. I wonder just how far we are going to be able to go along that way. Perhaps the greatest single possibility for increased decentralisation of any significant order in Australia in the coming years will lie in the immediate field of mineral development. We could range for a long time if we had it in that sort of field. Figures for the whole field are readily available in various statistical publications. I do not have them here and I do not need them.
Let us take one instance, for example, an investment of about $ 1,500m in the aluminium industry which is of very recent vintage. If I remember rightly, about $800m of that is invested at Weipa alone. We know that the discoveries and developments date from, at the earliest, 1955. With the beginning of the Weipa development we have more or less triggered overseas interest in a renewed mining operation in Australia to the extent that we now have a mineral industry almost second to none and certainly with the sort of capacity and resource potential that was undreamt of even as late as the early 1950s and of a kind comparable with that in the United States some decades ago when the Lake Superior iron ores were being developed.
We have here a very considerable economic problem, whichever way one looks at it and from whatever point of ideology. It is a pure economic problem in the first instance. To put it very briefly, almost all the forces of economy and economics these days operate in the direction of agglomeration. Although in the past we have had iron and steel industries based on raw materials, that is no longer the case. I will not go into any further detail than that. The tendency now is that even iron and steel industries are based on a market situation, to be market oriented rather than raw material oriented. This more or less takes place in respect of all commercial and industrial areas, if I may generalise rather widely. That means that the forces of agglomeration - the attractions of the market, of the labour force operating the industry, and of the linkages between industries and various component manufacturers - operate in the direction of the big centres such as Sydney and Melbourne, notably, in Australia.
One shining light which seems to be the possibility for breaking down that natural economic inclination would appear to be the mining industry and the increased mining capacity in the sense - we have some indication of it already - that townships with populations of 10,000 or maybe even 20,000 may be able to proliferate up to the point of some dozens or even scores throughout the 3 million square miles that we possess. If in fact they turn themselves into growth points for other industries, even rural industries, in the environs of those growth points we may have the one real means for decentralisation of a significant order to attract population away from the otherwise overwhelmingly attractive urban agglomerations, despite the fact that they do have some drawbacks. I did hear of an American industrial geographer of some standing, who visited here recently, who was of the opinion - it is only one opinion but I think it is indicative - that it will be a long time yet before
Sydney and Melbourne, and certainly our smaller centres, begin to experience the diseconomies of scale, of congestion and of traffic problems and that sort of thing which will cause any significant decentralisation of industry in a natural sort of way.
As I think 1 mentioned in another context not long ago, the recently published New South Wales study on decentralisation would indicate that the economic forces militating against decentralisation of industries are not quite as real as they are often thought to be. In fact, social factors, factors of the mind, tend to operate more strongly at times than do the sheerly economic factors. In other words some people could move out to rural locations, roughly, if they had a mind to, and diseconomies like distance, higher freight rates or the freight rate component in location analyses, may not be as difficult to overcome, in some cases at least, as is. generally thought. So there may be hope, if we couple these various factors, in terms of moving some of the population to centres other than our main cities.
This leads me to one other question. 1 may run into considerable danger of playing into the hands of honourable members on the Opposition side. I refer to the question of national priorities. I may be wrong but as I understand it most of our developmental priorities stem from the States. That is to say, the States have in mind certain things that they want, certain structures that they wish put up. The proposals are put to the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth accepts them at a certain time, rejects them, or accepts them at a later time. In fact .that is bow we find power stations and mining enterprises, partially or otherwise involving Government, developing from time to time and from place to place. That seems to me to be. up to a point, a sensible means of operation.
However there comes a time when one has to look at the comparative advantages of certain propositions - to wonder whether or not we should have a list of national priorities - to the extent that the propositions of the States at least might be questioned. Whether they themselves have projects in the right order would remain to be seen. But the national view might well be one which, at least from the point of view of this Government - and without necessarily endangering the independence or autonomy of the States - would at least subject them to a comparatively critical analysis in terms of what the States put forward. While saying that I also have to say that this is the sort of area where State pleas are often very common. Looking at the. debates on this matter in the last year I found, for example, that the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) told us of the untold misery of the Queenslanders who had been short changed by the Commonwealth. That is a pretty old story, one way or another, and although 1 think he would find it difficult to sustain that story this year, doubtless other people can produce the same results.
Although I dislike the idea myself, 1 must for once do a little special pleading and, in the context which I hope I have already established, I must mention the situation in Tasmania where, quite markedly and by many forms of measure, such as the average income, it is possible to see that Tasmania’s limitation of size puts it in decidedly a peculiar position vis a vis the other States. This is the sort of point which perhaps sometimes is made to excess. In the case of Tasmania it is made very thoroughly in relation to freight rates and that sort of thing but that makes it nonetheless real. I would argue that when it is a question of looking at priorities, it would be not unduly special pleading or at least not unduly improper to suggest that a sympathetic reception should be given to any reasonable proposition put up from that sort of quarter. The forces of agglomeration, as I mentioned earlier, are such that they are undoubtedly operating in greater measure in smaller entities than in larger ones.
In fact a number of studies that have been made, one or two by myself, indicate that if we look across the employment board we will find, let us say, in a hundred or so employment categories, a national average type employment in, say New South Wales. If we look at Tasmania we will find that in fourteen or fifteen of those hundred or more employment categories there is national average employment and that all others are below. In other words, there is a much greater variety and diversity of standard or above standard operation in the industrial sphere in all employment spheres in larger entities such as New South
Wales and Victoria and a much smaller diversity, a much greater concentration in a few fields and therefore, of course, a greater danger of an economic eggs in one basket situation in a smaller entity.
Finally I would like to make the point that in this question of national priorities or otherwise in the whole area of national development it is hard to see that anything is more important than the relative distribution of population in relation to industries, and therefore the question of urbanisation versus decentralisation raises itself constantly. Whether it is the function of the Commonwealth to take positive steps to redress any imbalance or to perpetuate lines of operation is another question or is the same question but another part of the same question to be answered. I would rather at this stage leave it to the Minister and the Government at large ultimately to answer that. But I think in terms of what we have seen .so far, insofar as I understand it, the situation has been one in which the States ;ask for assistance and it is given in. varying ways. I think perhaps the time has come- so frequently we find the. Federal-State: situation raising itself - when we might- consider ourselves as a national entity.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart). This Government’s policy to thrust Australia into the nuclear power race has been accomplished with sheer political arrogance and a complete contempt for public participation. The Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) is confident in the knowledge that the whole Jervis Bay project is a fait accompli. We are being asked to endorse a heavy appropriation of some $130m to construct a nuclear power station at Jervis Bay, and it is estimated .that some $5,000m will be spent on nuclear power over the next 30 years. The amendment justly indicts this Government for its blatant and deliberate rejection of the people’s right, either direct or through their elected representatives, to a parliamentary or public inquiry or debate. It indicts this Government for its deliberate withholding of facts and information necessary to a balanced evaluation of a matter of national importance.
One statement by the Minister for National Development on 28th of last month suffices to indicate this Government’s contempt and arrogance for public concern. He stated: lt is our policy to keep the House and the general public informed about the progress and purposes of the Jervis Bay project. At the appropriate time we intend to make to this House a detailed report upon the final choice and make public as much relevant information as possible.
I state categorically that this Government has never at any time furnished the Parliament or the public with so-called progress reports on matters of substance. This Government arbitrarily decided to construct the nuclear power plant. It arbitrarily decided to build it at Jervis Bay. It will arbitrarily inform the Parliament and the people after it has arbitrarily selected the successful tenderer. Then and only then will the Parliament or the taxpayer be told of the burden of the cost the taxpayer will be expected to bear. Then and only then will our people be informed of the crucial matters relating to the degree of radiation emissions, and their possible effects on health and the environment, and the dispersal of radioactive wastes. Surely there ought to be 4 criteria for the selection of any site. Firstly, what region of the Commonwealth would require or could absorb additional power and the economic costs involved? Secondly, what region of the Commonwealth would benefit in power and water from a dual purpose reactor? Thirdly, what contribution could such a siting make in terms of decentralisation and reduction of the pollution factor? Fourthly, factors involving health and safety both in the environmental and technical sense must be considered.
On 8th January the Minister stated in the Sydney Town Hall that 50 sites were examined. The Government has claimed that ultimately 7 sites were examined and Jervis Bay was awarded the ribbon. Despite the many reasons that have been referred to there exists only one reason for the selection of Jervis Bay, and it is the weakest of them all. It was selected simply because it is in a Commonwealth Territory. It was chosen to avoid a tiresome and tedious crossfire between the Commonwealth and the States. Let us look at the facts. The plant is to be situated within a few miles of the richest coal region in Australia. Further, that region provides the cheapest commercial power units anywhere in Australia.
Is the proposed nuclear power station to be economic? We cannot get the figures so I must rely on Bruce Ross of Wollongong University College who estimates that the cost of power at Jervis Bay will be at least 50 per cent more than the cost of New South Wales power. This will mean that a large Commonwealth subsidy will have to be paid, amounting over a year to about $7m. The total subsidy paid over a period of 25 years will be about $180m. As a decrease in the cost of conventional coal produced power is possible, that subsidy could increase. Therefore in addition to the initial capital cost the taxpayer will be obliged to face an annual cost of about $7m.
Had New South Wales been left to its own devices it would not have entertained the building of a nuclear power station at least until the 1980s. Victoria is in exactly the same position. This is confirmed by reference to a paper submitted to the Institute of Engineers by W. H. Roberts, Secretary for Fuel and Power in Victoria, and a former associate director of the Atomic Energy Commission. He wrote:
Installation of nuclear rather than oil or gas plant before 1978-80 would involve about twice the capital investment and would be competing for baseload operation with the low cost of extra output from established but loaded Latrobe Valley stations, and unless heavily subsidised would not be economical.
In effect, whatever region of the Commonwealth is selected for nuclear power, in terms of power it will require a heavy Commonwealth subsidy and will be uneconomic. Let us apply the next criterion; that is, whether the proposed power station should be placed in an arid zone to supplement existing water storage. The suitability df a dual reactor has been rejected on the grounds that a detailed examination was not worth while as it would be more economic to provide arid areas with both power and water by conventional means. But surely in Australia, the driest continent on earth, a detailed investigation was justified. South Australia, being the driest State of the Commonwealth, merited a detailed investigation. If power is uneconomic, surely we must probe an evaluation of desalinated water. I challenge the assumption of the Minister that conventional methods are cheaper than the cost of desalinated water.
Dr Alvin Weinberg of Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the United States of America predicted in a recent article in Nature’ that even with present technology nuclear power could be used to produce pure water from sea water at a cost of between 9c and 18c Australian for 1,000 gallons. I shall now cite the actual costs of 1,000 gallons of water in South Australia. The metropolitan cost is 44c; Whyalla 92c; Port Augusta $7.30; Port Pirie $1.45; and Eyre Peninsula $1.91. Let us have none of this rot of conventional power being cheaper. The figures I have cited highlight the shallowness of this Government’s approach. 1 wonder whether any detailed inquiries have been made at all. Let us apply the test to Jervis Bay. It again fails to make sense. The nuclear power station will be in an area where the average rainfall each year is between 35 inches and 40 inches, lt is certainly not an arid zone. I make a plea for South Australia and claim that it must be placed high on the priority list. My State will face a severe water shortage before the end of the century, despite the construction of water storages at Chowilla or Dartmouth, or at both places. It is of vital importance. Desalinated water in South Australia is a must for continued progress and growth.
A 250 megawatt station would mean an injection into our sparse water supply of some 75 million gallons per day. Mr Beaney, the engineer in chief, has gone on record recently as saying that: ‘Any such plant to be worthwhile in assisting the metropolitan water supply would need to produce between 50 million gallons and 100 million gallons of water per day’. Why not South Australia? It would make a valuable economic contribution not only to the State but also the Commonwealth as a whole rather than a total economic liability. The logic of this claim is ruled out by this Government without any detailed investigation.
On the question of decentralisation, let me merely ask this: Did the Australian Atomic Energy Commission or this Government investigate the concept of ‘where in this country do we need new centres of industry and population?’ The answer obviously is that they lack the foresight, imagination and courage necessary to carry out an investigation.
On the fourth question, which is the criteria relating to health, safety and radiation, our people have a right to condemn this Government and the AEC for its failure -to publish or declare the facts. What is the Baxterian philosophy? Firstly, it states: The problem is studied and the answer comes up that science and technology can develop satisfactory answers for everything. Secondly, the problem is minimised. The pronouncement is made that all aspects of life and living involve risks. Thirdly, the concept of the tolerance dose of radioactive poison is developed. The first step is to determine what dose of poison converts humans immediately from vertical to horizontal positions where they remain. This, of course, is above tolerance, so the dose a little lower than that, perhaps five times lower than a lethal dose, is prescribed. The second step is that, at some point, more and more humans become exposed to the poison and, while they are not instantly converted from living to dead, they still die over a period of months or years, or perhaps show related illnesses. Is there any safe tolerance level? The honest answer must be: ‘We do not know’. But, of course, any person or indeed any scientist who disagrees with such facts is dubbed by Sir Philip Baxter as supporting a particular political colour or, alternatively, one discredits the concept of no safe tolerance by questioning the motives of those who raise such questions. Last, but not least, is that most famous of all outs: ‘We shall study the problem*.
Controversy has arisen in the United States of America particularly initiated by Drs Tamlin and Gofman and by the scientists E. B. Lewis and Linus Pauling to the extent that they calculate that 36,000 deaths in the United States may be caused by the radiation level. Finally, after years of struggle, these scientists’ views have won some form of recognition. Why is it that the States of ‘ Minnesota, Vermont, Michigan and Maryland as a protection for their people have, in the light of these findings, taken unilateral action to fix dosage levels lower than that fixed by the United States Atomic Energy Commission? As a consequence, the whole issue at last has been dragged before the United States
Supreme Court to be aired publicly. The United States Atomic Energy Commission will be forced to substantiate the credibility of the tolerance level and, more importantly, the people will have the opportunity to judge for themselves.
What I claim is this: We must base our policies and decisions on the experience and mistakes of others. In view of this, we should, firstly, outlaw the concept of a tolerance dose of any by-product poison. If the AEC believes that a safe tolerance does exists, it is up to the AEC to prove it; secondly, abolish the dual role of promoter and protector or, if you will, judge and jury or this appeal from Caesar to Caesar. The AEC must be stripped of all functions having anything to do with public health or safety; and, thirdly, a determined principle must be adopted that the only acceptable tolerance dose for the health of our people, radioactive or otherwise, is zero.
The Baxterian empire and this Government claim that they alone have the right to be the only select group throughout the entire nation which has the competence to reason and decide what is right and in the best interests of the people and of the nation. I put it forcefully to the chamber that there exist people beyond the gods who occupy the Lucasian Heights or the executive suites of the Government, who are equally competent to criticise, to assess and to judge.
I am not against Australia’s entering the field of nuclear power, but I strongly condemn the combined Government and AAEC ludicrous facade of secrecy by which the Government gags its own expertise by way of the iniquitous provisions of the Crimes Act, the Atomic Energy Act and the Commonwealth Public Service Act. Both instrumentalities have deliberately sought to blanket and suppress crucial information. In other more enlightened countries, such as the United States of America, the public’s voice is heard, its rights are protected by statute and this whole matter is a question of public inquiry and public documentation. To this point of time not one word of debate on this subject has echoed through this chamber. There has been no inquiry either by this Parliament or by a public investigation outside this Parliament The Government has not the slightest intention of holding such an inquiry. I believe that when the costs are made known to the taxpayers and the nature of the radiation emissions are finally divulged they will be in such a form -that the Government will be protected at every level. Why is it that the Governments of the United States of America, Great Britain, France, Canada and Japan have set up standing committees of the Parliament in relation to this matter? Why does Australia stand alone on this issue7 On these grounds alone I support the amendment.
– In dealing with the estimates of the Department of National Development and the role the Department plays in regard to Australia’s uranium resources, I would like to avail myself of this opportunity to mention some of the aspects which I raised on 16th September of ibis year in a debate on the motion for the adjournment of this chamber. I refer to the possible takeover of Queensland Mines Ltd, the company which made the massive uranium find at Nabarlek in the Northern Territory. Honourable members are aware that on 17th September this year the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) made a statement on this matter in which he gave notice of his intention to legislate to prevent an effective takeover of Queensland Mines Ltd by any foreign controlled or backed organisation. As the preventive legislation to be introduced, would be an Australian Capital Territory company ordinance and not an Act of this Parliament the House Would be unable to debate any aspects of it. Therefore, I would like on this occasion to deal briefly with some of the subject matter.
Basically the legislation would limit to 15 per cent of the issued share capital the total number of shares able to be held by Queensland Mines Ltd or Kathleen Investments Ltd, a company which holds a 50 per cent equity in Queensland Mines Ltd. In other words, 15 per cent of these companies can be owned overseas with the further provision that no one holding may exceed 5 per cent. In my speech on 16th September I outlined the possible dangers of a takeover and called upon the Prime Minister to introduce legislation to prevent it, which he intends to do. In the course of my remarks I suggested that the Government should convene a conference of the Commonwealth and State Attorneys-
General to discuss amending the company laws in order to ensure that Australian resources remain in the control of Australians. I did so thinking that in the light of the Nabarlek problem the Government might be stirred into setting up permanent machinery to prevent foreign takeovers instead of relying on the Prime Minister’s whims as to when and where he should act with stopgap legislation. I should point out that the Prime Minister can act only when a company is incorporated in the Australian Capital Territory. Clearly the Government has no intention of acting upon my suggestion in this regard.
What is needed, of course, is a constitutional change and the introduction of comprehensive federal company law. This is the only thing which will give the Parliament power to protect Australia’s natural resources and guarantee Australian’ cor:porate independence. At the moment section 51, placitum (xx), of the Constitution confers on the Parliament legislative powers with respect to foreign corporations and trading or financial corporations -formed within the limits of the Commonwealth. The first test of this section of the Constitution occurred when the High Court of Australia considered the case of Huddart Parker & Co. Pty Ltd v Moorehead in 1909. The High Court held on that occasion that the Federal Parliament could not control the behaviour of the companies under section 51, placitum (xx) - the corporation power. The Royal Commission on the Constitution in 1929 and the High Court deliberations on the banking case in 1948 also confirmed the opinion that was expressed by the High Court in the case Huddart Parker & Co. Pty Ltd v. Moorehead.
The Joint Committee on Constitutional Review in its report in 1959 pointed out that the existing Australian company law legislation consisting of Acts of the 6 States and the company ordinance of the Australian Capital Territory exhibited areas of wide divergence that in the view of the Committee could only be overcome by the introduction of comprehensive Federal company law legislation. The Committee recommended this course in its report but the Liberals failed to take any action to secure the necessary constitutional change. As the Constitution stands at the moment this Parliament is virtually powerless to take any action in respect of companies, unless of course a company is incorporated in the Australian Capital Territory.
The Commonwealth does have an alternate but less desirable option open to it in relation to controls over companies searching and mining for minerals with a view to export, that is, to use its power under section- 51, placitum (i), of the Constitution to make laws with respect to trade and commerce with other countries, and among the States’. Under this power the Commonwealth could refuse to grant a mineral export licence to a company unless it was incorporated in the Australian Capital Territory. This approach could be adopted immediately and would serve to have any company intending to export minerals brought under the control of the Commonwealth Parliament. There is no need for the . .Government to flounder around pointing the bone at State governments and State Ministers for Mines when it itself could overcome its constitutional impediments by , the method I have just outlined.
If we are serious about this debate on the estimates- for the Department of National Development is it not about time that the people had value for. money, by having the -Department do its job as it should, as only it can, when this Parliament has legislative, power over companies that are participating ; in our national development? Harking back to my speech concerning the Nabarlek uranium on 16th September, on that occasion I named Conzinc Rio Tinto of Australia Limited as the company most . likely to attempt a takeover of Queensland Mines Limited. Conzinc Rio Tinto of Australia would in any such action have been acting as agent for its parent company Rio Tinto Zinc Corporation Ltd of the United Kingdom. During my remarks I said that Rio Tinto Zinc of the United Kingdom was controlled by the European-based Rothschild banking organisation, and’ much to my surprise I must have touched, a few sensitive nerves. It was pointed out to me that the chairman of Rio Tinto Zinc, Sir Val Duncan, said recently at the annual general meeting of Rio Algom Mines Ltd, its Canadian uranium company, that the Rothschilds’ interests in Rio Tinto Zinc were insignificant. I do not regard that statement as indicative of the true influence Rothschilds has upon Rio Tinto Zinc and in turn upon CRA.
I would like to quote from the 1969 annual report of Rio Tinto Zinc to illustrate my point. In the section of the report which deals with directors’ interests one note says this passage:
The interests of Mr D. R. Colville and of Baron Guy de Rothschild include the following holdings which ate owned (beneficially or nonbeneficially) either by N. M. Rothschild and Sons, in which both directors are partners, or by a company in which N. M. Rothschild and Sons controls more than one third of the voting rights.
The main point that emerges from this note is that D. R. Colvile and Baron Guy de Rothschild are partners in N. M. Rothschild and Sons, the . merchant bank. An analysis of the number of Rio Tinto. Zinc ordinary shares held by .the 27 directors reveals that Baron Guy de Rothschild and his partner, D. R. Colville, between them hold the astounding proportion of 85.28 per cent of the total number of ordinary shares held by the. directors including the chairman, Sir Val Duncan. Clearly these figures prove that Rothschilds have a pre. dominant influence upon the board of Rio Tinto Zinc Corporation Ltd and through its 83.6 per cent equity in Conzinc Rio Tinto of Australia Ltd a prominent influence on that company.
While the stated holdings of Rothschilds and Colville in RTZ are small in comparison with the issued capital of 101,865,832 shares I think it is fair to assume that the finance houses of the City of London which would hold the vast majority of RTZ shares would not be prepared to see Rothschilds dominate the RTZ board unless of course Rothschilds has massive nominate shareholding itself and control over other institutions holding RTZ stock. I do not believe that I have done RTZ or CRA any injustice for I am certain that both companies are virtually commercial extensions of merchant banks dominated by the Rothschild influence. What has to be realised is that sooner or later this Parliament has to control the operations of these gigantic financial institutions. At the moment their profits are being reinvested in Australia. The day will arrive when they want to repatriate their funds back to their countries of . origin. I hope we realise before then the magnitude of the problem we will face on that occasion.
I deal now with the subject of uranium in relation to Australia’s future nuclear power needs and to the selection of the reactor type for the Jervis Bay installation. The discovery of the giant uranium deposit at Nabarlek, with its concentration of uranium oxide as high as 540 lb per ton, opens up a number of questions in relation to reactor type selection and fuel policy. Firstly, would it be an economic proposition for Australia to install her own enriching plant with a view to becoming an exporter of enriched uranium and a supplier for our own stations? Secondly, would not this possible enrichment installation have a bearing on the tender selected for the Jervis Bay station7 Thirdly is the Australian Atomic Energy Commission carrying out any investigations on enrichment technology? The gas centrifuge system currently being used in the United States of America is expensive. The plant is worth something of the order of $700m. The centrifuge method is believed to cut the capital cost to something in the vicinity of $400,000 to $500,000. Fourthly can we proceed with our programme without taking into account enrichment processes? Fifthly what impact will fast breeder reactor technology have upon our uranium reserves? Is it true that this technology would render our reserves redundant and of no value? Should not we be exporting as much as we can now and reap the profits and still retain a reasonable supply of fissionable fuel?
Those are a few of the questions that relate to enrichment. I do not think the Atomic Energy Commission has considered fully those aspects. Bearing in mind these considerations, it is important that the reactor type selected for the Jervis Bay station is one that is best suited to Australia’s needs because the technicians training on this reactor no doubt will be gaining experience that will dominate the selection of the next reactor. I would like to quote a couple of arguments for and against the 2 main types under consideration - the Canadian CANDU reactor and the British steam generating, heavy water reactor. A paper prepared by Mr Tony Barry lists some of the advantages and disadvantages “of the CANDU system. The advantages are these: Firstly, national uranium fuel independence from overseas supplies; secondly, high plutonium production which can atd either a nuclear bomb project or the installation of fast breeder reactors; thirdly, partly proven design; fourthly, low fuel inventory and replacement, allowing a small interest burden on stockpiles if overseas fuel is used; fifthly, it is not necessary to reprocess fuel elements to extract unused uranium 235 to achieve good fuel economy. Some of the disadvantages he lists are these: Firstly, higher unit cost to provide electricity, perhaps 10 per cent higher in some circumstances; secondly, possible reductions in cost of enriched uranium with the introduction of centrifuge enrichment could make this type of plant even less economic; thirdly, on stream replacement of fuel elements; fourthly, as with any reactor type to produce weapons grade plutonium it is extremely uneconomic in terms of the cost of electricity produced. CANDU and SGHWR are most suitable for this type of activity.
In relation to steam generating, heavy water reactors, he lists some advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are: Firstly, cheaper fuel cycle than with fully enriched reactors; secondly, probable cheaper unit costs for power generation; thirdly, boilers are not required external to the core; fourthly, the use of pressure tubes for the coolant means that. a thick steel pressure vessel for the core is not required; access to centrifuge technology if British design is chosen. Some of the disadvantages are limited experience of design, the need to use enriched fuel and the fact that plutonium production is less than that of the CANDU system. We have to look at a number of considerations. I have said before that the applications and invitations to tender are weighted in favour of the CANDU t type of reactor. I think it has been fairly well canvassed that the CANDU reactor using natural uranium fuel produces quite an amount of plutonium 239 which is the material used to make a very basic dirty bomb. A dirty bomb is one that throws off a lot of radioactivity. Of course, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating when we see the type of reactor finally selected. I have a sneaking suspicion that with the nonratification of the Treaty on the NonProliferation of Nuclear Weapons this Government could be considering keeping its options open for the construction of a nuclear weapon. I do not think this Government has any right to select a reactor of the CANDU type for the purpose of producing nuclear weapons without a full debate in this Parliament on this very question.If we manufacture nuclear weapons in Australia we will commit ourselves to be targeted by nations such as Communist China, which has perfected delivery systems for its nuclear weapons, and Russia. The production of nuclear weapons is something that is linked with the selection of the CANDU type reactor. This is something that should be considered by this Parliament. Anorher matter which needs to be considered is the prob lem of nuclear wastage. Waste is a problem.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
Post and Telegraph Rates Bill 1970.
Post and Telegraph Bill 1970.
House adjourned at 2.18 a.m. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Report states (pages 43-44) -
The evidence does not persuade us that there is a more appropriate form of local government for the Gazelle Peninsula than that currently in force, to be supplemented at an early date by a town council for Rabaul itself and for any satellite township of which may be - established to serve the needs of Rabaul. We summarise our reasons for this conclusion as follows:
An amendment of the Local Gov- - .ernment Ordinance 1963 to reintroduce the requirement that only native councillors are eligible for election. This of course would force 116 other local authorities in the Territory, which are presently working well, to conform to the chauvinism of the Mataungan Association: or
Nations Organisation and it would be unfortunate if it were necessary to abandon it because of unreasoning fears which have Hot been demonstrated to have any substance.
The then Assistant Administrator (Services) stated on 13th November 1969 in the. House of Assembly that “The Administration considers that the immediate need is to discuss these and any other changes that may be proposed with the people involved. It intends to invite a representative group of leaders to Port Moresby for discussions with ministerial members and the Administration. In such discussions it is natural that the Administration will invite-: not only members of the Council and Mataungan Association, but representatives of other interested parties. The problems of the Gazelle are best solved by those most concerned in them. This Administration proposal will open the way for arrangements acceptable to the Tolai people to be arrived at through discussion.’
The Government and the Administration have sought since that time to bring together to solve their differences both those Tolais who favour full representative local government and those who seek to exclude all except indigenous people from taking part. Whilst in Rabaul in the course of his recent visit the Prime Minister offered to meet the Mataungan Association and discuss their differences but this offer was refused. During his visit to the Gazelle area from 5th-7th August the Administrator of Papua and New Guinea, Mr Johnson, offered to meet and talk with the Mataungan Association. The full executive of the Association refused to meet him but he did meet a small group of Mataungan Association members. The Administration will, continue to support any initiative that it believes has even the slightest chance of resolving the differences. On 8th September a combined meeting of the Mataungan Association and representatives of the Gazelle
Local Government Council was held to discuss the current problems in the Gazelle area. Further meetings with the objective of if possible solving these problems are planned.
A statement of the Administration’s intention to introduce urban local government in Rabaul and the other significant towns in the Territory was made in the House of Assembly on 22nd August 1969. Under the recently announced transfers of decision-making authority to the Ministerial and Assistant Ministerial Members, this is a matter for final decision by the responsible Assistant Ministerial Member under the authority of the Administrator’s Executive Council.
The Report states (pages 44-45) -
The density of settlement in the Gazelle Peninsula and in the Duke of York Islands calls fox both immediate and long-term action for the opening up of additional land and the resettlement of the people. To that end we recommend:
The then Assistant Administrator (Services) stated on 13th November, 1969 in the House of Assembly that The recommendations concerning land are set out in paragraph 157 (A). The Commission proposes that land be acquired for Tolai resettlement in areas of critical concentration of population. The Administration accepts the rec ommendation. Indeed, the -Administration has already been following the policy embraced by paragraph 157 (A) (i). The plantations of Matanatar and Revalien, totalling 1,765 acres, are being purchased for this purpose. Further, with due regard to the needs of the Bainings people to participate in commercial development, the Administration intends to provide for an expansion of agricultural settlement outside the traditional Tolai area.
This includes the use of the areas known as Vanapaladig, Japlik and Mandres, totalling 9,000 acres, and a portion of the Kerevat forest area of between 5,000 and 6,000 acres.
This is substantial progress. The process will continue. I emphasise that there is no question of giving land away. Any plantations purchased will be subdivided and allocated on economically sound terms.
The Commission also recommends that the Local Government Council controls the manner in which land acquired for resettlement is allocated. The Administration will read this as a recommendation to consult with the Council in the matter of allocation of lands purchased to relieve critical shortages. In this sense, the recommendation is acceptable.’
Since then the two plantations (Revalien and Matanatar near Kokopo) have been purchased and negotiations taken place between Tolais and the Administrator for their disposition to relieve land shortages. Revalien will be divided into small individual blocks and negotiations onthe method of disposal of Matanatar are proceeding. A survey is under way of other plantations that would be suitable for division and allocation in areas of critical land shortage.
A Land Board to consider applications for the land known as Japlik, Mandres and Vanapaladig and part of the Kerevat forest area was established with an expatriate chairman and six native members including representatives of the Gazelle and of the Bainings Councils. For some time a member of the Mataungan Association was also a member of the Board. When a vacancy occurred on the Land Board it was proposed to appoint an additional member of the Mataungan Association to the Board. He declined to take up the appointment. The Land Board has now completed allocation of blocks and some successful applicants are now moving on to the land.
The Toriu River Valley road at present under construction will provide access from current Tolai land holdings to the Gazelle Peninsula isthmus and later to the Nakanai coast to the south of the Peninsula. The Tolais will be encouraged through a process of continuing education to settle in these areas.
During his visit to the Gazelle Peninsula and as a further step towards solving the. problems which are facingthe Tolais the Administrator has proposed the establishment of two committees: a land policy committee to plan land purchases and distribution in the Gazelle Peninsula and an economic development committee. Representation on each committee has been offered to the Mataungan Association.
Concerning the unresolved land appeals, the Supreme Court Calendar for 1970 provides for monthly sittings in Rabaul in addition to the New Guinea Islands circuit every second month. Sixteen Land Appeals had been heard in Rabaul by the end of the July sittings; these were all the cases ready for hearing. The strength of the Supreme Court has been raised from 5 to 6 judges.
Three temporary positions of Principal Legal Officer and 2 of Senior Legal Officer have been created and filled in the Crown Solicitor’s Office, and 6 positions of Principal Legal Officer, 3 of Senior Legal Officer, and 1 of Legal Officer have been created and filled in the Public Solicitor’s Office.
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Access to the nearby major traffic artery, the Hume Highway, will probably be through the industrial area to the south of the complex site. Any heavy vehicle traffic is likely to be in this vicinity since the wool dumping and container filling facilities will be situated on the southern edge of the site.
These arrangements should ensure that inconvenience to residents in the areas adjacent to the wool village is kept to a minimum.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
What percentage of the (a) quantity and (b) value of pharmaceutical benefits are supplied by wholly Australian-owned companies.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Of the ready prepared prescriptions dispensed as pharmaceutical benefits during the financial year ended 30th June 1970, 89.51 per cent were identified by brands specified by medical practitioners.
Wholly owned Australian companies supplied 10.16 per cent of the ready prepared prescriptions identified by brand, representing 7.14 per cent of the value of these prescriptions at wholesale level.
The foregoing information is in respect of ready prepared prescription benefits dispensed by chemists, doctors and private hospitals approved as suppliers. Similar information is not available for preparations made up in the suppliers dispensaries or for benefits provided in public hospitals.
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
As the electoral boundaries do not correspond exactly with Census collection boundaries the population figures shown in the. above table have been based on the nearest complete collectors’ districts and must therefore be regarded as estimates only. The figures are exclusive of full-blood Aborigines and of ‘migratory’ population. Aborigines were excluded from that Census as section 127 of the Constitution was in operation at that date.
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
November 1968 and 31st August 1970, as recorded by the’ Australian Meat Board, were as follows:
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Nuclear Power (Question No. 1274)
asked the Minister for
National Development, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Nuclear Power (Question No. 1286)
asked the Minister for
National Development, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Nuclear power (Question No. 1290)
asked the Minister for National Development upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Most of the matters raised in the honourable member’s question are hot within my responsibility. To a large extent therefore the following reply is based on advice provided by the Minister for Labour and National Service.
I have not seen the study to which the honourable member refers. However, in assessing the Committee’s findings concerning the training of engineers it must be pointed out that they were based on the educational arrangements existing in the United States. A question to be considered would be whether these findings can be applied without modification to the Australian situation.
From time to time statistics are quoted as to the number of male engineers qualifying per head of population in the relevant age groups. These statistics, however, do not rest on a common definition of what constitutes ah ‘engineer’.
It would be inappropriate to single out t particular occupation or group of occupations as having a ‘vital and decisive role’ in Australian development. All members of the work force, professional techologists. technicians, skilled, semiskilled and unskilled alike contribute to this end and no group can achieve much without the cooperation of other occupational groups within the work force.
The question of appropriate rates of pay for engineers employed in the Commonwealth Public Service is a matter for decision by the Public Service Board and, if necessary, by arbitration as provided for under the Public Service Arbitration Act. I am informed that a searching inquiry was recently made by a Full Bench of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission concerning pay claims for engineers and the Commission’s decision was announced on 3rd December 1969. Subsequently, the Public Service Board considered renewed pay claims for engineers. On 18th June 1970 the Board informed the three staff associations concerned of its conclusion that in current circumstances, it would not be appropriate to grant additional pay increases for engineers. However, the Board indicated it would undertake a further survey of rates paid by other employers towards the end of this year in order to be able to assess any movements in the market apparent at that time. Moreover, there is recently being undertaken a joint Board/Departmental review of the work of engineers employed by the Commonwealth. Arrangements have been made for staff associations to be associated with this review on a continuing basis.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
How many aircraft have been purchased overseas each year by (a) Qantas, (b) Trans-Australia
Airlines, (c) Ansett Transport Industries, (d) the Department of Civil Aviation and (e) Commuter Airlines, and what was the cost in each case.
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Over the past eleven years, a total expenditure of some $393 million has been incurred in the purchase of 215 aircraft from overseas sources by Qantas, Trans-Australia Airlines, Ansett Transport Industries, the Department of Civil Aviation and Commuter Airlines.
The following table shows the number and cost of aircraft purchased by each organisation since 1959-60 to 1969-70. The purchases by Commuter Airlines date back to the commencement of commuter services, some three years ago.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– I have been informed by the Public Service Board that the answer to parts (1) and (2) of the honourable member’s question is as follows:
After hearing the report of its officers the Board took its decision on the claims, concluding that a case had not been established for further pay increases for engineers in the Commonwealth Service at that time. The Board then met with the representatives of the associations, and informed them of its decision in terms of the statement which was circulated. In brief, the associations were advised that in general the pay rates for engineers in the Service remained competitive, but that the Board would undertake a further survey of rates paid by other employers (particularly in the private sector) towards the end of this year.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Public Service Board has advised me that the answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Board has now decided that in those cases where awards of Colleges of Advanced Education are, after due process, recognised as being of comparable length and standard to University degrees, they should be accorded equality of treatment with University degrees for salary purposes. Pending establishment of effective national accreditation procedures, the Board is consulting with the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education as to the processes which might be adopted to evaluate awards issued by Colleges of Advanced Education.
In the case of pharmacy courses, the Board has sought an evaluation from the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education of the standard of courses conducted in the various States. On receipt of that evaluation, the Board will, as appropriate, take action to give effect to its decision referred to above.
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
Will he, before the debate on the estimates for his Department, supply an answer to my question No. 100 which I placed on the notice paper on 4th March.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
My answer to question No. 100 was given in Hansard dated 23rd September 1970 commencing at page 1574.
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (l).and (2) See the answer to question 664.
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
(b)The comparable information relating to the operations of State authorities is not within my control.
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 September 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1970/19700930_reps_27_hor70/>.