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 Honourablethe Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of electors of the Division of Hindmarsh respectfully sheweth:
That the determination as to which young men are required to undergo compulsory military service under the National Service Act 1951-1968 is arrived at by a ballot system, based upon arbitrary grounds as to their date of birth.
And that this procedure providing for selection by a method of chance is an unfair and arbitrary imposition on the human rights of a minority and discriminates against certain of the young male persons in the community in favour of others solely by reason of their respective dates of birth.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that Section Twenty-six of the National Service Act 1951-1968 be repealed.
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 Humble Petition of citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully sheweth -
Your petitioners request that your honourable House make legal provision for -
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
-I address a question to the Prime Minister. As the Treasurer last night said that demand was growing at a reasonable rate what does he himself expect will be the effect of Budget strategies which were designed to curb demand inflation? Will he persist with strategies which the Associated Chambers of Commerce have described as inappropriate and which the Associated Chambers of Manufactures have predicted will ultimately necessitate much stronger economic medicine and a more prolonged recovery than would be required if these strategies were abandoned immediately? Is he allowing himself to be influenced excessively in this matter by the Treasurer’s obstinate insistence that he would perpetrate the same strategies again? If not, will he now give practical expression to his own retreat from the Budget yesterday by abandoning the 2½ per cent increase in income tax?
– Once again I have to remind the House that it is a matter of grave concern to me that a man without any economic knowledge at all can be asking questions of this kind when they were answered emphatically and clearly yesterday. I have pointed out - and now I want to use an adjective that my colleague the Treasurer has used before - that what we were trying to do, and what we have succeeded in doing, was to ensure that potential demand did not become actual demand. Therefore, far from saying that there was something wrong with the Budget, it is a complete vindication of the Budget strategy and shows it has been correct. I want this to be known to the honourable gentleman because clearly he has not understood the proposition put by the Treasurer and supported by myself. I also wish to point out that I did not see the television interview of the Treasurer. He himself, if he wishes, could supplement what I am now saying.
I go further and I emphasise - and I will keep on emphasising - that we have
Our policy which is designed to ensure full and effective employment. That was never the policy of the Australian Labor Party when it was in government, but it will consistently remain the policy of the Liberal and Country Party Government of the day. Might I take it a stage further, because these questions are obviously political? Might I ask 3 questions which are of great importance and which should be answered by the Leader of the Opposition on behalf of the Opposition? Does he now want to insist that the Government gives up its policy of trying to restrain inflationary forces which can have a very unfortunate effect on the pensioner, on the fixed income earner and on those who engage in the export trade, and which in fact can distort the very structure of the Australian economy? If he wants inflation to prevail he ought to have the courage to get up and say it. Secondly, I would like to ask whether the Leader of the Opposition is prepared to play his part-
– You are answering questions, not asking them.
– Yes, that is quite right, but I want the Leader of the Opposition to answer these questions.
– On a point of order Mr Speaker; is the Prime Minister in order in asking the Leader of the Opposition questions which the Standing Orders forbid him from answering?
-If I strictly interpret the point of order, no, but it has been the custom for a number of years that in reply to any question that has been asked by any member, providing the Minister is replying to a relevant matter, such questions by Ministers have been accepted as being in order.
– The second question that is of importance to this House and to the Australian people is: What action is the Labor Party taking to stop political strikes-
– The Government
– Why don’t you resign and we will show you what we will do?
-Order! The House will come to order. There have been far too many interjections, and I suggest that the House take stock of itself.
– The second point is that, if we could have a substantial reduction in strikes that serve no useful purpose, I am certain that our productivity rate would increase and this, in itself, would help us to ensure through a reduction in prices that there was a reasonable amount of demand consistent with our desire to control inflationary pressures. The third point that I want to make is that yesterday I pointed out that there had been a substantial increase in savings and that disposable incomes had increased by 14 per cent. This clearly indicates that the potential demand is there and that the people have the money to spend if they wish to do so. If they are not. doing so, then it is obviously due to the 2 causes I have mentioned, together with the psychological impact that has been created in recent months by the Opposition, to a certain extent, I believe, by the manufacturers themselves-
– And the newspapers.
– And to some extent, if the honourable member for Hindmarsh wishes to add it, by the group that he has just mentioned. All these things must be taken into consideration. But we have a strong economy. It is well balanced and 1 believe that it is capable of leading the world and ensuring the full and proper utilisation of our resources. I believe that it is the envy of every country that I know, particularly the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
– Mr Speaker, I want to answer the 2 questions asked by the Prime Minister.
-Order! It would be unusual for the Leader of the Opposition to answer those questions now. He could take advantage of the forms of the House to do so other than at question time. (Honourable members interjecting)
– 1 did not hear what you said, Sir. You allowed the Prime Minister to ask the questions although you thought that in doing so you were twisting the Standing Orders a little. So I ask you to twist them to the same extent to permit me to answer the questions asked of me by the Prime Minister.
– Order! I think that the Leader of the Opposition can be asked a question only on a mater of which he is in charge in the House.
– Strictly speaking, that is so.
-I should think that if the Leader of the Opposition wanted to make a statement the appropriate time for him to do so would be after question time. I should also think that if I were to allow this type of thing to occur at question time we would in fact no longer have a question time.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker.
– Just a moment. The Leader of the Opposition was in fact asked 2 questions by the Prime Minister, but I do not believe that the questions which were asked - if honourable members want me to interpret the Standing Orders correctly - should be answered at question time, because the Leader of the Opposition is not in charge of these matters before the House. That is a strict interpretation of the Standing Orders. As I said earlier in answer to the honourable member for Corio, the Prime Minister was not strictly in order in asking those questions.
– Sir, as question time will be re-broadcast, I want to have the advantage of answering what would otherwise appear to have been purely rhetorical questions so that my answer can be broadcast. Therefore, I ask leave to answer the 2 questions put by the Prime Minister.
– Order! Is leave granted?
Government supporters - No.
– Leave is not granted. (Honourable members interjecting).
– Order! I have already asked during the few minutes that question time has been in progress for honourable members to co-operate. I would suggest that this co-operation should be forthcoming as I do not want to have to take action over this particular matter.
– I rise on a pointof order, Mr Speaker. A precedent has been established for the sort of request which the Leader of the Opposition has made. You were in the Chair on the occasion on which that precedent was established. I have a clear recollection of what happened. Shortly before the 1969 election, the honourable member for Corio asked the Leader of the Opposition a question in relation to health insurance policies and you allowed the Leader of the Opposition to answer that question at some length. Sir, you in fact established the principle on that occasion. The Prime Minister has provocatively put certain questions to the Leader of the Opposition, feeling secure in the knowledge that the Leader of the Opposition would be prevented from answering them. The Leader of the Opposition should not be prevented from answering those questions, firstly, on the basis of the precedent which has been established and, secondly, on the basis of what Australians would regard as being reasonable fair play in the circumstances.
– I do not remember the particular occasion to which the honourable member for Oxley has referred, but if I did so rule on that occasion I was probably in error in interpreting the Standing Orders. The position at the moment is, as 1 see it, that the Leader of the Opposition has asked for leave to make a statement and the Government or Prime Minister has refused to grant leave.
– Mr Speaker, may I speak to this matter? I believe that questions -
Opposition members - No.
– Order! Does the Prime Minister claim to have been misrepresented or does he want to make a personal explanation?
– No, Sir. I wanted to make it clear that immediately after question time the Leader of the Opposition would be granted the indulgence of the House to make a statement if he wanted to do so.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Is the Government aware that there is mounting agitation among the churches, voluntary agencies and certain sections of the public concerning the Australian Government’s small contribution to the refugee problem in India? This catastrophe is the greatest human disaster this century and the people of Austrafia are demanding that the Government come to the assistance of these impoverished people in a more sacrificial way. That is evident from a fast commenced by 3 young men on the steps of the Melbourne General Post Office. As Australia prides herself as a free peaceloving country which is ever ready to come to the assistance of people in times of need, is it the intention of the Government to provide assistance commensurate with the size of this catastrophe? Also, as it is costing the Indian Government $100m a month to maintain the refugees will the Minister bring this matter before Cabinet with a view to providing an immediate grant of $10m in cash and and material aid to help relieve the suffering and human indignity of some 8 million East Pakistani refugees?
-I am aware of the considerable concern being expressed in many quarters for the plight of the refugees from East Pakistan. The honourable member for Holt refers to what he calls the small contribution from Australia. I do not think there is much I can add to what I said yesterday on this subject in answer to a question from the honourable member for Moreton. But this at least should be said: No matter what aid Australia gave, the magnitude of this problem is such that the aid would appear small. There are more refugees involved than half the population of Australia. Also I want to say that the aid which Australia gave was timely. Our aid was the third on the ground; it was completely appropriate and we have received the warmest commendation from the authorities that are involved. This does not answer the question as to whether the magnitude of this problem requires further review. As to that, of course. I cannot at question time commit the Government or myself as to what will be done but I repeat the assurance which I gave yesterday that this matter is under active consideration at this time.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister and refer him to the alarming growth in unemployment in recent months and his forecast that 100,000 people would be out of work by January. Is the right honourable gentleman aware that the unemployment benefit for a man with a dependent wife and one child is only 22 per cent of average weekly earnings? Further, is he aware that the unemployment benefit for a single man is only 11.3 per cent of average weekly earnings? With a substantial rise in unemployment expected because of the Government’s budgetary policies, will the Prime Minister consider an immediate increase in the present benefits of $10 for a single man and $19.50 for a man with a dependent wife and one child?
– There are 2 statements made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that are false. First of all, as to the growth of unemployment, he obviously fails to distinguish between the real figures and the seasonal figures. In terms of the real figures there was a fall last month of over 2,400 in the number registered for employment. Therefore, the first part of his statement is not only incorrect but it should be known by him to be incorrect. The second incorrect statement related to a forecast. I made no forecast whatsoever. If the honourable gentleman . will look at my words he will see that I used the word could’ and I referred specifically to the statement that had been made by the Leader of the Opposition in reply to the Treasurer’s Budget Speech. In other words, I gave no prediction whatsoever. However, I did point out that if one looks at the figures for January and relates them to what has been said by the Leader of the Opposition one will see that over a long period of time there is not much difference between the 2 sets of figures.
– My question which is directed to the Minister for National Development concerns the allocation of finance for Queensland’s reafforestation programme. As this programme received no special consideration in the Budget, will the Government consider reviewing this important matter in the near future and prior to the 1972 Budget?
– The question of softwood plantings and the assistance given to the States by the Commonwealth was reviewed at a recent meeting of the Australian Forestry Council and a recommendation was forwarded from that Council to the Commonwealth for consideration. It was announced at the time that there would be a substantial increase in the total amount made available to the States for additional softwood plantings for the next period of the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, and this amount was accepted by the States.
At the last meeting of the Australian Forestry Council, which was chaired by my colleague the Minister for Customs and Excise in my absence at that time, this matter was discussed at length and it was indicated that the agreement depended on conditions relating to increased allocations by the States for further softwood plantings in all the States concerned. There are however some problems associated with this matter and it has been referred back to the Commonwealth by the States. We have undertaken to review certain aspects of it, and at the present time arrangements are being made for further discussions to take place between the Commonwealth and the States. After these discussions have been concluded and the matter has been reconsidered by all the governments concerned 1 will inform the honourable member.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. What proportion of the total cost of the pharmaceutical benefits scheme is expected to be borne by the patient charge? Does he know of any reason why the patient charge should be doubled from 50c to $1 rather than be increased by a smaller amount?
– I will be glad to convey the honourable gentleman’s question to my colleague in another place. I am sure that my colleague will provide him with a full answer.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport: Is it correct that the industrial dispute surrounding the Australian National Line vessel ‘Echuca’ has been settled? What is the position concerning the resumption of operations by the Darwin Trader’? What have the radio operators gained from the dispute?
– I think that last night, after the court hearing, all parties to the dispute believed that a settlement had been reached. The Union itself, the Professional Radio Employees Institute, must also have believed this because radio operators were instructed to return to work. Most of the Australian National Line ships that had been tied up sailed. This morning I learnt to my complete astonishment that the union representatives had informed Mr Justice Franki that they did not agree that settlement had been reached and that they were instructing the radio operators, on the return of their ships to port, to leave the ships once again.
Nobody knows what is behind the Professional Radio Employees Institute in this action. Its action is certainly not in the interests of the other maritime unions, and indeed none of the other maritime unions agrees with the stand taken by the Professional Radio Employees Institute. No one is able to get at the real reason for this latest action. It seems to bc quite inconsistent with the attitude taken by the other unions. Indeed I think all parties to the dispute, apart from the PREI, agree that the terms of settlement were reasonable and fair. I regret to say that the PREI has taken this stand. Fortunately I learnt just a few moments ago that Mr Justice Franki has instructed the PREI that its members must return to work. I can only hope that on this occasion - it is about the fourth occasion - they do return to work, because if they do not return to work the ANL will have no option but to stand all men down and tie the ships up.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Education and Science. I refer to the increase from $300 to $400 in the maximum allowable deduction for education expenses. Is it a fact that only a small fraction of parents can afford to spend over $300 per annum on the education of their children and thereby benefit from the increase? Can the Minister state how many parents of children at government schools will benefit from the increase and how many parents who have children at the affluent independent schools such as those attended by the children of most members of Cabinet will benefit?
-The honourable member ignores something which 1 mentioned the other day and that is that many of the people who will be applying for deductions for education expenses under this provision will be paying taxation at a very much higher rate than that which prevails for many others.
– They also earn more money.
– Yes. If honourable members look at the table contained in a 3-page statement in which the South Australian Minister of Education tried to attack what the Commonwealth was doing, they will see that it showed the gross amounts of income up to, I think, the level of $20,000. I have not in my mind the taxation paid by a person in that category but I think it is probably about $13,000, other things being equal. This is something that certainly needs to be borne in mind when one looks at the operation of this particular taxation allowance. The honourable member for Kingston ignored completely the fact that the allowance is also a very great help to people in rural areas who are among the hard-pressed members of Australian society at the present time.
The fact that this allowance exists enables and encourages them to make an additional effort to send their children to a boarding school. Very often this is the only way in which people living in remote areas can get their children to a school which they would prefer and which they believe is desirable. Basically, behind the approach of the honourable member for Kingston to this matter is an underlying objection to the survival of the independent system of education. In spite of the policies and changes of policy which have come about over the last 4 or 5 years, the underlying belief of many members of the Opposition and the motivation for the question asked by the honourable member for Kingston are, I believe, that they would prefer to see one education system and that would be a State education system with no independent schools at all.
– Is the Minister for the Navy aware of considerable dissatisfaction amongst the naval dockyard police over pay? Is it a fact that naval dockyard police recruits most have a lengthy naval career before they are able to join the force? How does their pay compare with that of the Commonwealth police? Will the Minister undertake an early review of their pay rates?
– The other day in reply to the honourable member for Gellibrand, I indicated that at present there were problems with regard to the naval dockyard police and their rate of pay. I think that part of this situation is due to a misunderstanding. As honourable members know, the Kerr Committee has been appointed to inquire into the scale of pay for the whole of the Services. The naval dockyard police are fulfilling a very important role in the naval Service. At the constable level, they are equated roughly with a petty officer in the serving forces in the fleet. When they were first aligned under group pay their rate of pay, if I remember correctly, was at about the level of group 7. This rate was in line with the lowest level of pay for a constable in the Commonwealth Police Force.
Subsequently a pay case was heard and as a result Commonwealth Police were granted an increase. Consequent upon this increase, naval dockyard police were raised to group 10, a level which corresponds with the third band in the recommendations of the Kerr Committee, as I said the other day. However, at the time the Kerr Committee was appointed a case was being prepared for a re-examination of the rate of pay for a constable in the dockyard police because of the very factors mentioned by the honourable member such as the fact that they must serve some 8 years with the fleet before they can be appointed as dockyard police and are required to have a large number of skills. It was expected that there would be a realignment as a result of this case but it was never actually presented because of the appointment of the Kerr Committee.
Since that time the rate for constables in the Commonwealth Police has been increased. It is anticipated that, as a result of the recommendations, the Kerr Committee will carry out a job evaluation - it is at present addressing itself to this matter - and will take these factors into account. It is therefore expected that the review requested by the honourable member, and which is actually proceeding at this time, will result, and I hope speedily, in a readjustment of the base rate of pay for naval dockyard constables who, because of the smaller numbers involved, certainly do not have the same opportunities for advancement or promotion as do Fleet personnel. Nevertheless there is an annual increase in their rates of pay and I remind the House, as I did the other day, that they have received an increase in pay due to the new alignments which have been brought about by the Kerr Committee. I might mention that something which applies to them but which does not apply to the Commonwealth Police is the flow-on from the physical and allied trades readjustment which has taken place in the Commonwealth Public Service.
– On a point of order: 1 draw your attention, Mr Speaker, to your request to Ministers to ensure that their replies are short.
– 1 have had questions addressed to me from members on both sides of the House and also letters sent to me. Surely this is an important matter.
– The honourable member has suggested that 20 per cent of wool produced in western New South Wales will be among the categories of exclusion which I tabled in this House recently. There is no doubt that in an analysis of these categories of wool unexpected emphasis has been placed on the exclusion of wool grown in some regions. It is my understanding that in New South Wales and Queensland producers will probably find that a larger percentage of their wool will be excluded than would be the case in any other State. As a result wool industry organisations have made submissions to me and 1 am at present in the process of examining very critically the categories of wool to be excluded from the deficiency payment. If there is to be any variation it would, of course, still result in the position being approximately as it is today with the bottom types of wool in terms of value amongst the excluded types. However, as a result of my discussions with industry officials, I have given them an undertaking to look quite critically at the present exclusions to determine whether any adjustment should be made. When I am in a position to advise the honourable member of any decision that I take, I will do so.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Industry noticed reports of outrageous increases in freight charges which have been requested from Australian exporters by American-Australian conference lines? What action can farmers, exporters and, indeed, governments take against such extreme increases that could. in the future, affect the competitive position of Australian exports?
– It is true that there have been some substantial increases in freight rates to North America - a 25 per cent increase on meat and general cargo and a 15 per cent increase on wool. These increases have been negotiated with exporters who are obliged to agree to them by the beginning of September. If the exporters have not done so by then, they run the risk of a further penalty of 10 per cent on top of those increases. The most difficult question is what can be done about it. I am afraid I do not have the answer to that question.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Industry aware of the announcement by Canada that China has just purchased another 500,000 tons of wheat from Canada? This special sale will be valued at approximately $20m. Do the Minister and the Government still persist with the explanation that China’s decision to purchase wheat from Canada, while again completely wiping Australia, has nothing to do with political considerations or the hostile attitude of the Australian Government to the People’s Republic of China?
– I have made it fairly clear on a number of occasions and, indeed, in this House that if there has been any political difficulty created around the selling of wheat by the Australian Wheat Board to the People’s Republic of China, much of that difficulty has been created by the honourable member who has asked the question. I have stated that if a political problem exists, it is because of the general tempo that has been developed on the issue of wheat and politics over the last 6 months by the Labor Opposition in this House. I beg the honourable gentleman to remain a little quiet, a little patient and to cool down on this subject and give the Australian Wheat Board a chance of negotiating wheat sales with the People’s Republic of China. But to say that politics are preventing trade with China is not correct.
Australia has been extremely successful at the Canton Fair. Companies such as the Electrolytic Zinc Co of (A/asia) Ltd, Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and John Lysaght (Aust.) Ltd have been doing extremely well in selling different processed metal products. In fact, those companies have done better than their Canadian counterparts. However, it seems to be wheat with which we are having difficulty. It becomes pretty obvious that a political issue has been created around this problem. I am quite confident that, given a little patience and a little tolerance, the Wheat Board will be able to negotiate on sensible terms. If one looks closely at the Canadian contract which has been reported by Reuters, it will be seen that China has negotiated to buy 500,000 tons of wheat to be delivered over the next 3 months. Normally, when the Canadians have negotiated wheat sales, they have contracted for a period of 12 months and the quantity has been in the vicinity of 2 million to 2i million tons of wheat. One can assume that there are reasons for China stipulating such a short period. China may think that it will have favourable wheat crops or it may be keeping its options open so that it will be able to buy from other countries in the meantime.
I would hope that if the Labor Party is so concerned about political relations with China and with wanting to create goodwill, it might ease the tension that has been produced as a result of the proposed sale of Australian rams to China. The only country that has not been able to obtain rams from Australia has been the Peoples Republic of China which has been somewhat offended that, although its representatives have come here in good faith and have tried to purchase these rams, their endeavours have been blocked because of the policy of the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
– I address a question to the Minister for Supply. Will the Government consider having the design of the Government Aircraft Factories Ikara antisubmarine missile system adapted to a surface to surface missile system employing the same handling and guidance systems for use on Australian naval vessels constructed in the future? Would such an adaptation be relatively simple and provide an alternative to the expensive surface to surface missile systems normally acquired from the United States and also provide a vital work load for Australia’s declining aircraft industry? Was such an adaptation proposed to the Government 3 years ago and was no action taken upon it? If this is so, will the Minister inform the House why the proposal was rejected?
– The honourable gentleman asks me a very technical question about the successful development in Australia of the Ikara missile. I have not had under notice the particular aspects of this matter that he has referred to. I will take an early opportunity to look at them and to give him a reply.
– My question, which I direct to the Minister for Primary Industry, is supplementary to the question asked by the honourable member for Darling. Does the suggested inclusion in the price support plan of these presently excluded heavy hurry and carbonising types of wool mean that the price for better types of wool, including well grown merino types, will be reduced?
– On the contrary, as I have tried to explain in this House, because all wools are included in the schedule of prices determined by the Australian Woo] Commission, a price higher than 36c per lb will be paid for the 90 per cent of eligible wools. The question asked by the honourable member for Darling related to the specific wools that are to be excluded, and was in a different area. But the principle remains that because 10 per cent or thereabouts of wools is to be excluded, and all wools are included in the schedule, with the price set at 36c per lb, the 90 per cent of wools that are eligible will receive the subsidy component which I am told amounts to about 38.91c per lb.
– In directing a question to the Minister for Defence, I refer to the joint United States-Australia defence space research facility at Pine Gap. Is the Minister aware of the assertion that the establishment of foreign bases on Australian soil is a piece of national treachery? Is there any justification for such a claim? Secondly, is this view representative of the thinking of any group of members of this Parliament?
– During the debate last night, I did hear the honourable member for Wills say that he felt that the establishment of the base at Pine Gap was a piece of national treachery. I was amazed; or, rather, I should say that I would have been amazed if I had heard anyone but the honourable member for Wills make this assertion. I believe that treachery is perfidy or betrayal. If anyone has tried to betray anything at Pine Gap, it is the people who have tried to breach security and to betray to our enemies or to our possible enemies the secrets of the Pine Gap installation which are vital for national defence.
I believe that if national treachery of any sort has been committed, it has not been committed by those on this side of the House. It has been committed by those in the Press and some in the Opposition who have sought to uncover secrets which are vital to the defence of this country.
– I address a question to the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts and the MinisterinCharge of Tourist Activities. I ask about a question I put on notice last October for the former Prime Minister and then had to re-direct in March to the Vice-President of the Executive Council, and then a month ago to the Minister himself. I ask: When is it hoped to appoint a director of the Australian National Gallery which the former Prime Minister said in May last year would be done shortly? I also ask: What progress has been made in reviewing the Australian policy of taxing bequests, gifts and imports of works of art which makes it more difficult and discouraging for Australians than it is for Britons, Americans or most other people to collect, exhibit and donate works of art?
– I am well aware of the question that has been on notice since, I think, 20th October last year. The discussions on this matter are still taking place. I am sorry that I am not yet in a position to inform the honourable member of the results of those discussions but I am trying to accelerate the matter and I hope within a reasonably short time to be able to give him the information he requires. The question of taxation is usually a matter for the Treasurer and not for the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts.
– I address a question to the Minister for Trade and Industry concerning a letter which the Leader of the Opposition sent out about 3 weeks ago to a large number of businessmen with possible interests in trading with China. This letter, after providing a good deal of information which is freely available, I believe, from the Minister’s Department, stated that no official-
-Order! The honourable member shall not give information on what is in the letter at this stage.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to an article on medical practice in Australia appearing in the latest issue of the ‘Current Affairs Bulletin’ which was written by the late Professor John Read, Professor of Medicine at the University of Sydney? Professor Read said that a doctor’s fee for deciding not to operate might be between $5 and $20 but a decision to operate on the same patient might bring him a fee of between $20 and $250. Is the Minister aware that there are numerous studies which confirm Professor Read’s view that fee for service results in overutilisation, excessive hospitalisation-
-Order! I have jus! called the honourable member for Wentworth to order for giving information in a question. If the honourable member can complete his question I will listen to it.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer and is supplementary to the question asked by the honourable member for Kingston. Has the Treasurer received numerous requests from people living in isolated areas asking for an increase in the taxation deduction for education expenses so that that deserving section of the community may be allowed to recover financial stability after years of drought and when, because of favourable seasonal conditions, they might again be in the position of paying tax even though their income-
-Order! I ask the honourable member to ask his question.
– The question then is: Has he received numerous requests for increased taxation deductions for education expenses from people in isolated areas who have been suffering years of drought but who now come into a taxation bracket?
– Yes, I have received numerous requests for consideration. I received them before the Budget was formulated. I considered them before the Budget was framed. In the course of preparing the Budget we had to take decisions as to what degree of relief from taxation we could give in various areas. There was relief in certain areas about which the honourable member will know, but in our considerations we did not feel able to grant this one.
- Mr Speaker, 1 wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) extracted something from a speech I made last night and used it as part of a question. I think that he should read more of my speeches. This is what I said:
I personally believe that the establishment of foreign bases on Australian soil is a piece of national treachery. Australians must retain absolute control of their own soil, their own rights and their own future.
If any honourable member opposite would like to discuss that matter in public somewhere, I will be available.
-Order! The honourable member cannot debate the question.
– Mr Speaker, 1 wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. Last night during the adjournment debate the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) concluded his address by saying - and I overlooked this at the time:
I do not agree that I am treacherous to my country. I believe that as yet we are not able to stand on our own 2 feet and that if we have an alliance we must stand by it.
-Order! The honourable member shall not debate the question.
- Mr Speaker, I claim that the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) in his reply reflected upon members on this side of the House; he did not name them but nevertheless he reflected upon them. I suggest to the Minister that in view of what he said last night and of the importance of the subject, he might consult the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) in order to facilitate a debate on this subject in the House.
-Order! That is not a point of order or a personal explanation.
- Mr Speaker, I understand that I gravely reflected on your integrity as the Speaker of this House. Earlier I said that it was you who wai presiding in this chamber when the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) was allowed to answer a question from a member of the Opposition. It was the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) acting on your behalf. But, nevertheless, the precedent was established during your term of office as Speaker of this House.
– Thank you.
- Mr Speaker. I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. During the course of the adjournment debate in this chamber last night, in my absence - I had approached my Party Whip because I had to return to Adelaide on a personal matter - in a somewhat delayed reply the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) addressed the House.
-Order! The honourable member will not debate the subject. He will explain to the House where he has personally been misrepresented.
– Yes. I understand that last night the Minister for Defence referred to a speech which I had made during the adjournment debate last week and said that 1 had in fact stated that ‘we can only suffer as a result of our association with the United States of America’. I suggest to the Minister that he should look at what I said last Thursday night. If he can find those words I would be pleased if he could show me them. I did not use those words during the course of my speech during the adjournment debate last week. Mr Speaker, I will let it go at that and ask you please to underline my name on the list of speakers for the adjournment debate tonight.
– Pursuant to section 32 of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation Act 1956-1971, I present the fifteenth annual report of the Corporation for the year ended 30th June 1971, together with financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report on those statements.
– Pursuant to section 12 of the Immigration (Education) Act 1971, I present the annual report on migrant education for the year ended 30th June 1971.
– For the information of honourable members, I present the annual report of the Director-General of Health on the activities of the Commonwealth Department of Health for the year ended 30th June 1971.
-I have received advice from the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) that he has appointed Senator Withers to be a member of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Senator Marriott.
– by leave - I move:
The reason for this motion is that the Committee wishes to present an interim report in relation to kangaroos but it has not, under the terms of its resolution of appointment, the power to present interim reports. I commend the motion to the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, I present the report relating to the following proposed work:
Ordered that the report be printed.
Debate resumed from 19th August (vide page 366), on motion by Mr Peacock:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Mr Speaker, may I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation?
– Before the debate is resumed on this Bill, I would like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill, the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits (Pension Increases) Bill 1971 and the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances (Increases) Bill 1971 as they are associated measures. Separate questions may, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I would suggest, therefore, that you should permit the subject matter of the 3 Bills to be discussed in this debate, Mr Speaker.
– Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering the 3 measures? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
– The Opposition supports these measures, which seek to make adjustments to the superannuation payments made to former contributors to the Commonwealth superannuation fund, the defence forces retirement benefits scheme and the parliamentary retiring allowances scheme. These measures will not affect the present contributors to these funds because the payments are made entirely by the Commonwealth nor will they affect the activities of the funds in any way insofar as existing pensioners are concerned. In an explanatory memorandum that was circulated at the time these Bills were introduced it was pointed out that the estimated cost in a full year of these proposals would be $15.5m and that in 1971-72 it would be $ 11.6m. A footnote to the memorandum states that the net cost to the Budget in 1971-72 has been estimated to be $6.3m. It seems a large part of the cost of the superannuation pension increases has been met by the Post Office and other authorities outside of the Budget provisions. So some $5. 3m of the estimated $11.6m increased expenditure will not be borne directly by the Budget but by principally the Post Office and such authorities as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Some of those authorities have separate funds. But, insofar as the expenditure to be borne by the Post Office is concerned it will be a charge on the future revenue of that undertaking.
According to the 1968-69 report of the Superannuation Board, which is the latest report available, there were 25,997 pensioners at the end of June 1969. The number then was near enough to 26,000 and presumably it is still much the same. The report of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board for the year ended June 1970 shows that there were 5,533 pensions in force at 30th June 1969. I understand, although I do not have the accurate figure, that there are some 100 present recipients of pensions from the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Fund. Some of these recipients are former members and some are widows of members. Of course, that is the position with the other 2 funds also; some of the pensions are payable to widows and not to contributors.
There are one or two observations that I would like to make about these measures. The Minister for the Army (Mr Peacock) as Minister assisting the Treasurer when introducing these Bills said that the last adjustment of pensions payable under the Acts we are considering was in 1967. He went on to observe that in the intervening period there had been significant changes in the cost of living which, in particular, had affected adversely the purchasing power of those pensions in existence at the time of the last increase. All that one can «ay about these 31,000 to 32,000 fortunate people receiving these pensions is that they are in a much better position than are most other people in the community as far as adjustments in their incomes due to the effects of inflation are concerned. I suppose it is right enough that those who put in SI in a particular year thinking that it would give them a certain entitlement on retirement would envisage that the entitlement would have a certain purchasing power. But when there is a continuance of inflation, as there has been in Australia over the last 10 years, at a rate in excess of 2i per cent per annum, obviously in a 10 year period something like one-third - this is a compounded figure - of the real value of the pension has been eaten away. Of course, this raises the very significant question of what we do about incomes in retirement of those who may not have been fortunate enough to have been contributors to funds or who may merely have savings and are forced to look after themselves or those who might have insurance payments or annuities or something of that kind. There is no automatic adjustment made to those payments. In fact, there is no automatic adjustment to the payments under these Acts. The adjustment depends in a sense on an act of grace by the Government.
The Minister went on to observe that these adjustments are made on what he described as a notional basis. It is somehow determined that if Mr Jones who had been a clerk of a certain description in 1955 had retired not in 1955 but in 1971, for the grade of work he was doing he would now be receiving this sort of salary and could have expected to receive this kind of pension. An attempt is made to work out some system that would show that had such a person retired today this is the pension he would have received but because he retired some years ago he is getting only this pension and, therefore, the Government proposes to build it up or partly improve on it. The Minister said that the Government now has serious reservations about the results produced by applying the notional salary method. This is the third occasion now that this type of adjustment has been made and the Government decided to adopt the method again as pensioners and others on their behalf had indicated on many occasions that they favoured this method and had every expectation that it would be applied again.
The Minister expressed reservations about making adjustments on that basis in the future. He said:
The method is however complex in its operation and close examination has shown that it generates anomalies and inequities between pensioners. The Government proposes, therefore, to examine simpler methods of adjustment which would produce more equitable results with a view to future application on a regular basis.
I would have preferred the Minister to have spelled out in more detail what these alternative approaches might be. Here is one of those occasions when we could say: Why not throw this matter open to some sort of joint inquiry or special committee before which people concerned can give evidence? This also raises the point upon which I began talking this afternoon. At least these people are relatively fortunate when compared with the rest of the community. In my view serious consideration has to be given to those who are contributors now to all these funds and to those who are contributors to so-called private funds in which ‘private’ means that they are schemes established by various firms for the benefit of their employees.
It seems that increasingly there is a tendency to suggest that these schemes should have a kind of escalator clause in them which would provide that the payment should be adjusted according perhaps to changes in the cost of living or by some method which would allow the people in these schemes to get some share of the increased productivity of the community. Also it is being recognised increasingly that what we describe as productivity - that is, a bigger output for the same input, to give a simplified definition, because of application of technology, educational systems and so on - in a way is an accrual due to the whole community rather than necessarily being identified with the person who works the machine or performs the function. That is why honourable members on this side of the House have moved on several occasions that these matters should be looked at systematically. I do not intend to move such a motion now because these Bills have fairly limited application; they are confined to present recipients of pensions and do not do anything for those who are still contributors.
More and more is there talk that there should be a national superannuation scheme. When one looks at the collective statistics that are available, and they are rather unsatisfactory in many respects, one finds that the total number of contributors in the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund at the end of June 1967 was 140,000. It has probably increased significantly since then. There were some thousands of members of the Forces contributing to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund and in the case of the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Fund, a much more limited fund, of course, there were something like 200 contributors. However, when one tries to find statistics about other funds it is not easy to get any readily available answers. One can get details about State superannuation funds for teachers and other State employees and one can get details about local government funds. In this vast field of the private funds a lot of mystery surrounds the obtaining of statistics. I think most of us receive that quite useful publication issued by the superannuation funds themselves. From memory I think there are about 30,000 separate such schemes in existence. The only thing that most of them have in common is that they have to conform to certain kinds of conditions so that contributions to them will be allowed as deductions for income tax purposes. It is an indirect kind of control but it is not really very satisfactory in aggregate.
An inquiry was undertaken in Victoria some years ago into the portability of superannuation. We ourselves passed legislation in this House recently affecting the ability to transfer from one fund to another when transferring from one sort of employment to another without having to commence contributions all over again. It was designed to enable people to transfer some of their rights and not have to pay higher rates because they were going into a new fund at a later age, and so on. It was around that kind of problem that Victoria undertook a study. It invited Mr Coward, I think his name was, from Canada to look into this matter and as part of that investigation there was arranged a comprehensive examination of all the funds in existence in Victoria as far as they could be found. I think it showed that in aggregate about only one-third of the total community is covered by superannuation funds of one kind or another. Some of the funds are very satisfactory; some of them give very limited benefit indeed. But at least more than one-half and close to twothirds of the total number of income recipients in the community are not covered by any sort of superannuation scheme. This is one reason why at least a national scheme would be far more comprehensive than any of the existing schemes are.
As the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) has indicated in a document which he issued recently, there may have to be some kind of bridging period and some kind of contracting out provisions so that if a person thought he was near the end of his working life and thought that he had better adhere to the scheme he was in rather than go into some new one he would have the right to do so. I understand that that was the practice followed in the United Kingdom, but whatever is the final solution the problem is certainly very complicated. The honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess), one or two other honourable members and I happen to be on a committee which at the moment is investigating the future of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund. That has been quite a fascinating inquiry in many ways but it is really only a microcosm of what is quite a vast problem. That is why I urge the Government seriously to consider setting up an expert committee in this matter that could take evidence from all sorts of people including representatives of this vast array of private funds.
In nearly every one of his last 4 or 5 annual reports the Insurance Commissioner - Mr Caffin, the Commonwealth Actuary, is the Insurance Commissioner - has observed that the number of forfeitures that have to be made by contributors to many of these private superannuation funds are quite unsatisfactory. There is quite a high rate of dropout by contributors simply because persons who have been in one fund have changed their employment and cannot transfer their right to another fund and so have cashed in or in some cases, have not cashed in. In fact in some funds a person really has no right to cash in if he severs his employment.
All these things, to my mind, need very thorough investigation before we can embark in any satisfactory way upon a comprehensive national scheme. It may take a long time to investigate these matters. The inquiry of the Joint Committee on Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Legislation, which is working in a limited sphere has extended over nearly a year. Of course, members of the Committee are limited as to time. We have other duties as well. It may well take anything from 2 years to examine thoroughly the way in which a national superannuation scheme should be introduced. I know that for some curious reason there seems to be a division of opinion on the Government side about whether there should be a scheme. With all respect to the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) I think he has a rather closed mind on this very important question. I hope that he will remove some of those prejudices and bow a little to the opinions of the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) in this matter. If there is a case against a fund, he is entitled to argue that case and would be able to do so if we had a committee of inquiry.
It well may be that after a thorough examination of the whole situation we would decide that we would do better to leave alone what we have, but I am afraid that I do not think I could come to that decision because I do not think the community in total can contemplate for very much longer two-thirds of the working population on the day they retire at 65 years having no prospect before them but to be continuant recipients of social service benefits. That is really the situation which faces the community and that is why pensions become a very political matter. The annual reports of the Director for Social Services, in which there are quite valuable statistics, show that there is a higher proportion of ladies reaching 60 and men reaching 65 years who qualify automatically for the pension than was the case some years ago. Of course, people now live longer and the proportion of the population that is of those ages is increasing; I think it is now in the region of 11 per cent, or one in every nine. Those people face the prospect of drawing the pension for about 20 years. The majority of people who draw the pension have no income except that pension.
A national superannuation scheme would make payments to everybody who contributed. There would have to be a certain bridging period, because once a fund is started a person cannot contribute to it for a week and expect a lifetime benefit from it. There has to be some kind of bridging process. The Canadian scheme has been quoted. We could determine the minimum amount which we think everybody should receive, and to the extent that they did not receive that amount either through the normal social service machinery or from a fund we could pay them directly out of Consolidated Revenue. But ultimately everyone would be entitled automatically on retirement to something that had relationship to the salary or wage that he received in the last several years of his employment. In addition the sum that he would be entitled to on the day he retired would have to maintain its purchasing power, and we might even allow for some sharing in the increased productivity of the community.
That is what is involved in this question. It is really a highly complex socioeconomic problem and it should not become simply one of political argument. This is one of those matters in relation to which we should sit down in a spirit of goodwill between all sections of the community and weigh one kind of interest against another, and it would seem to me that a committee of inquiry perhaps would be the proper way to encompass that. That is perhaps getting a long way from the measures that are before us. But at least the Minister indicated that as far as these 3 funds were concerned he was not satisfied that the method that we are now endorsing is the best way of making adjustments. I have tried to widen that proposition and to suggest that whatever may apply in that limited field also applies with much more force to the community as a whole, particularly to that vast section which at the moment is not covered in any way by membership of a fund of one kind or another. The Opposition offers no resistance to the passage of the Bill.’ I would hope that the Minister for the Army who is sitting at the table and acting for the Treasurer (Mr Snedden), might at least observe one or two of the points that have been made and perhaps they may even penetrate into the mysterious depths of the Treasury itself.
– I am delighted that the Government has decided to make provision for increased pensions, as indicated in these Bills. I express my very strong personal appreciation of the action that the Government has taken, firstly, as a matter of justice and equity to superannuated and retired officers, and secondly, from the point of view of the morale of those present Commonwealth officers who are nearing retirement and whose financial outlook in the future would have been somewhat bleak if it had not been for the proposals contained in these measures. It has been pointed out by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) that the last adjustment was made 4 years ago, in 1967. It is well known that since that time inflation has eroded the value of existing pensions and that many retired officers, particularly those in the lower bracket, have been suffering quite considerable financial hardship.
The Treasurer has indicated that the increases will be determined by the notional salary method which, I understand, is the method that the superannuated officers expected would be applied. 1 would like to congratulate the Treasurer on undertaking to examine simpler methods of adjustment with a view to making future adjustments at regular intervals on the most equitable basis that can be arrived at. I am sure that the House generally will note with satisfaction also that provision has been made for widows and certain orphans. The Treasurer has also given an assurance that the position of orphans and children will be given further consideration when the ninth quinquennial investigation of the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund and the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund is completed. However, one matter of complaint has been brought to my notice by one of my constituents who is a Commonwealth superannuated officer and who has been in correspondence with the Treasurer and with me for quite some time. With your permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to quote a couple of extracts from a copy of a letter dated 7th Sep tember 1971 which was written by this former officer to the Treasurer. He sent me a copy for my information. He said:
While appreciating the relief afforded by the proposed adjustments, it is a pity that the Government did not eliminate the discrimination between contributors and pensioners in respect of untaken units. The limited non-contributory unit scheme introduced in 1968 afforded benefits only to contributors, whereas I suggest that ‘the greatest need’ . . . was clearly for superannuation pensioners. Moreover the extension of the scheme should not be very costly because a substantial part of the gross cost would be recovered from increased income tax payable by the recipients.
The final paragraph of the letter reads as follows:
Would you please give consideration to bringing contributors and pensioners into line in respect of non-contributory and untaken units respectively; especially where pensioners satisfy the specific requirements available to contributors as covered in the 1968 adjustments.
With the exception of this point raised by my constituent, 1 believe that there is a general feeling of satisfaction and appreciation amongst all those who are going to benefit under these measures.
– I shall take only a few moments in this debate because all I really want to do is to put 3 questions to the Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr Peacock). The first question is: Has the Government considered making automatic adjustments to superannuation payments and, if so what are its views? It seems inconceivable, given the number of representations which I and, I am sure, other honourable members receive, that this proposal should not have come to the attention of the Government. It is a pity then that, when dealing with this matter the Government gave no indication of its views. It is important to know whether the Government has so far neglected to act, whether it has deferred action on automatic adjustments for some reason, or whether it has rejected automatic adjustments as a matter of principle.
As has already been indicated in this debate, many thousands of people are affected by the superannuation scheme. I think it would be reasonable to ask the Government to make a statement setting out its views on the proposal for automaticity. In particular this question is raised by the developments in the economy over recent years. The last adjustments to the superannuation scheme were made in
October 1963 and November 1967, and another adjustment is proposed now. What happened over that period is that we have had an increasing rate of inflation. Between October 1963 and November 1967, the 4-year period before the last review, the rate of inflation as measured by increases in the cost of living index was 9.8 per cent whereas in the last 4-year period, measured by the same index, the increase was of the order of 12.1 per cent. So what has happened over the last 4-year period is that the real value of superannuation pensions has declined at an increasing rate.
I think it is important, given these circumstances which are unlikely to be peculiar to the past period, that the Government should give consideration to automatic adjustments. This might be done in a number of ways. The period between adjustments could be shortened from 4 years to perhaps 2 years or one year; or alternatively, the rate of inflation which had occurred since the previous adjustment could be used as a measure of the next adjustment. It would not be unreasonable, for example, to institute an automatic adjustment scheme which applied whenever the real value of the pension declined, say by 5 per cent. These are just suggestions. I am sure that, as I have already said, the Government must have had them under consideration. It would be of interest and importance to hear what the Government’s real views are.
The second question that I put to the Minister representing the Treasurer is this: Will he clarify the position of employees of Government instrumentalities, for example, those covered by the Commonwealth Bank superannuation scheme? These require the Treasurer’s approval, I understand, before they can provide an adjustment of former rates. I also understand that such approval was given in 1967 following the last adjustment of Commonwealth superannuation rates. But so far as I am aware, at least until about 10 days ago the Treasurer had not given his approval this year to a request that he allow Commonwealth Bank superannuation payments to be adjusted. I notice that in the second reading speech there is an obscure reference to this matter but it is not really helpful in terms of the question that I am raising. In his second reading speech the Treasurer simply said:
In the case of pensions paid to former employees of Commonwealth authorities outside the Budget each authority meets the employer’s share from its own resources.
In other words he was indicating how government instrumentalities meet the adjustment without saying whether they would adjust this year. I therefore ask the Treasurer whether he will give his approval to these subsidiary schemes and indicate that any future adjustment of schemes, such as that of the Commonwealth Bank, will be approved whenever the main Commonwealth superannuation scheme is varied.
My next question relates to the comments of the honourable member for Ryan (Mr Drury). Non-contributory . pensions were introduced in 1968 and they have applied since 1969. The reason’ for the introduction of this scheme is succinctly set out in the 47th report of the Superannuation Board, which reads:
The Government’s intention was to provide some relief for contributors who were faced with difficulties in meeting the cost of additional units occurring in later stages of their career.
There is no doubt that the difficulties referred to in that report were quite real and without doubt those same difficulties were met by Commonwealth employees who retired prior to 1969 just as they applied to those employees who retired after that date. I ask the Government: Has it given any consideration to the possibility of providing retrospective non-contributory provisions for former employees who retired before the current scheme was instituted? I suppose this is a matter which affects a lesser number of former Government employees but it is still a matter of importance to them. In financial terms I would not imagine that it would be expensive. It would also be self-limiting in the sense that the people concerned would already be at an advanced age. But at the same time it appears to be a matter which warrants some further attention on which the conclusions of the Government should be publicly stated.
– I support the Superannuation (Pension Increases) Bill 1971. I agree with most of the points made by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean). It is a pleasure to have honourable members on both sides of this House in almost complete agreement with a piece of legislation. In introducing this Bill the Minister for the Army and Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr Peacock) said:
As I have already said when introducing the Superannuation (Pension Increases) Bill, the Government will be examining simpler methods of adjustment which would produce more equitable results than the notional salary method of adjustment adopted in this Bill, with a view to future application on a regular basis.
I agree with the point made by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports and the honourable member for Perth (Mr Berinson). Perhaps it would have been helpful if the Minister had put forward a few ideas as to the Government’s line of thinking on this matter so that we could have a general debate on a much wider basis. I am sure that everyone will welcome this Bill. We are all aware of the situation of those people in receipt of superannuation under the Commonwealth scheme, Defence Forces Retirements Benefit scheme or private schemes. These people are the ones who are affected in times of inflation. These people have made provisions in the early part of their career for retirement at a certain age and they expect that at that age they will be able to maintain a reasonable standard of living but when inflationary trends enter the economy they find that their livelihood is eroded year after year and there is absolutely nothing they can do to retrieve the situation. I think it is right and just that the Commonwealth Government has made provision in this Bill, the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits (Pension Increases) Bill and the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances (Increases) Bill for people who are in this situation.
Take the position of a warrant officer or a captain who retired in 1966 and who thought that he would get a certain amount of money which would allow him to live with his wife in reasonable comfort. His situation has been eroded. There is no scheme to which he can contribute in order to obtain more equity. He has to face the future with a certain amount of money. I think it is right for the Commonwealth Government to make provision for a review, as has been done in this legislation. I believe that such a review should be undertaken automatically. I personally feel that this is something which the Treasurer should introduce and I am sure that this feeling will be supported by honourable members on both sides of the House.
The honourable member for Melbourne Ports referred to the establishment of a national superannuation scheme. I think it is reasonable to say that most thinking people today believe that there is need for a debate on this matter. I think I used the wrong word when I said ‘debate’: There should be an investigation into this matter. There is necessity for the Government to introduce a White Paper in regard to this matter as was suggested by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports. Perhaps the honourable member is right when he says that the Government may have more information and knowledge on the factors involved in this matter. However, this information should be placed before the House and perhaps at some stage a committee would be prepared to look at it and to receive submissions relating to a national superannuation scheme. The establishment of such a committee would be to the advantage of everyone in that they would be able to understand all the factors involved in such a scheme. I hope that the Government at some future date will adopt the suggestion. I hasten to add that in my opinion it is not the correct way to do things in the way that this was done by the Opposition at a moments notice in the House the other day. Without notice this matter was raised and it was expected that everybody would jump up and vote in favour of it. As one of these honourable members who feel quite realistically that there is a need for and that there are problems in respect to a national superannuation scheme I hope that the Government will take the initiative in this, matter before very long.
I think that the honourable member for Melbourne Ports, I and other honourable members who serve on the Joint Select Committee on Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Legislation are aware of the great complexities involved in any superannuation scheme. To understand the situation one has only to hear the problems in other countries which have endeavoured to tackle this problem and which have established national superannuation schemes. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports wanted to know what would happen with an automatic adjustment in superannuation where everybody is under a national superannuation scheme and so many people would not be productive because all the time the number of pensioners would be increasing. How far can any economy carry these people when all the time a natural increase to offset inflationary trends comes about.
I think that we all agree that the widows and children who suffer under the Commonwealth scheme, the defence forces scheme and the parliamentary scheme, as well as those under private schemes, should receive the benefits which are now being offered to them. Any member of this Parliament may die today, tomorrow or the next day. He thinks that his wife will be adequately provided for even though she has no other income. I think it is only right that additional benefits should be made from these funds because after all costs will continue to rise. We should bear in mind that these funds are not overdrawn at the present time. Some provision should be made for these people.
I would like to refer to one other matter which may not be relevant to this Bill. Perhaps I could introduce it in speaking to a Defence Bill or a Bill relating to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund. However, it is referred to in the explanatory memorandum circulated by the Minister assisting the Treasurer and it does relate to these 3 Bills now under discussion. I refer to the cost for the full year of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits increase which will be $3,400,000. A matter which concerns me and which I do not quite understand is that it appears that this amount of money is to come out of the defence vote. I can see no reason whatsoever why costs associated with the defence forces fund should come out of the vote for the defence expenditure of this country. As I understand it the appropriation for defence is to pay the salaries of the members of the fighting forces and to purchase the equipment to be used by those forces in the defence of this country. If one looks at the Estimates one will find that for 1971- 72 the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund is expected to cost in the vicinity of $20,550,000. I cannot see that this is a true and rightful cost against the defence services of this country. If one looks at the cost of the superannuation component which is paid by the Commonwealth - this does not include the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and other authorities - it will be found that $5 1.7m is paid from the Treasury vote. Can the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) or his Department tell me why it is that the cost of superannuation for members of the Departments of Trade and Industry, Civil Aviation and other departments should not come out of the direct vote of those departments? Why should this practice apply only to the Department of Defence? In my opinion this appears to be some sleight of hand. We think that we are getting a full bottle for defence and defence equipment but find that from defence expenditure $20m is to be paid in pensions to gentlemen who have served the Commonwealth in the defence services. I see no reason for any difference in the way superannuation is charged to a department, and it should not matter whether the superannuitant was a member of the defence services or a civil servant. This is the only area where there is any dissimilarity whatever. I do not think it is correct to make this charge against the defence vote. If it is to be done with respect to one department, it should be done with all departments.
I support the 3 Bills and I hope that before long the Government will make a statement or introduce a White Paper on the 2 matters which I mentioned earlier - a regular review of pensions or increases of pensions and, perhaps after due consideration, a national superannuation scheme. As I said, national supperannuation is a complex question and there may be good and valid reasons why such a scheme cannot be introduced. However, I think that the people and the Parliament are entitled to know such reasons. Many of us know the problems which have been experienced in other countries in respect to this particular issue. I support the Bills.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I should like to make a few short comments on these Bills. I have received a considerable number of representations from retired Commonwealth officers living in the electorate of Robertson and I have met with them on many occasions. At least 45 - perhaps more - of them have written to me expressing their concern at the way their pensions have devalued over a period of time. I compliment them on the efforts that they have made on their own behalf in bringing this matter to my attention. I have made considerable representations to the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) and I am delighted to see that he has listened to those representations as well as to those of other honourable members. No doubt other honourable members have been approached similarly by retired Commonwealth officers in their electorates. The shame of it is that people who are in retirement, most of them in their late sixties or early seventies, are forced to do this sort of lobbying. As they drow old and perhaps are less capable of fighting battles than are some of the younger members of the community, they find themselves in a position where, because of cost of living increases, they consistently have to lobby and to write letters to their members of Parliament. This is something that should be obvious to all honourable members. It must be very worrying for them in their old age and in their retirement to have to be concerned about security and the cost of living. 1 agree with the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) that we should start immediately on debates and discussions about a national superannuation scheme not only in this House but also in the community at large. The Government could overcome many of the objections that may arise by taking the time to bring all members of the community into these discussions. Not only politicians but also academics, various people from different economic groups, pensioner organisations and all the sorts of groups about which we are talking should be consulted as to what they consider a national superannuation scheme should provide. No doubt there will be many differences of opinion between members on this side of the House and Government supporters as to what this scheme should incorporate. However, many of these objections could be removed in debate before the Government presented legislation for a national superannuation scheme. If I were in government, I would welcome as much cooperation as possible in formulating such a scheme. The grave mistake that governments are making these days is that they think they have all the wisdom and knowledge on these matters and that they must present as a fait accompli legislation that will affect the lives of every Australian over the next 20 years, 30 years, 40 years or’ more. The Government could circumvent much of this criticism if it were prepared to take not only the Parliament but also the people of Australia into its discussions and debates. Even if it takes 12 months or 18 months to come up with a scheme that is acceptable to 90 per cent of the people, this would be better than having a scheme which, like so many of the Government’s schemes, is acceptable to only 20 per cent of the people.
I was very concerned at what I learnt from discussions with some retired Commonwealth officers. Most of the retired people who live in the electorate of Robertson had been in the lower income brackets, particularly those who had worked in the postal service. In many instances the cash incomes of a couple on superannuation were only marginally better than those of a pensioner couple and they were missing out on the health benefits, concessional travel facilities and so on available to pensioners. This was gravely concerning them and I am delighted to see that the Government has made this notional adjustment. I hope that this adjustment will be made more frequently. These people should know that every year or every 2 years their superannuation will increase automatically. Then they would not have to worry about lobbying members of Parliament, writing to newspapers and getting themselves het up at a time when they should be able to live in relaxation and security, certain that they will be able to continue to enjoy the standard of living they had in the past.
– I support the cognate 3 Bills which are being considered in this debate. Direct Commonwealth employees are covered by the superannuation proposals we are discussing. Employees of Commonwealth authorities will be treated similarly by those authorities through their own funds. As has been stated, the last adjustment to superannuation and retiring benefits was made in 1967 and because of increased prices it is necessary to provide for increased allocations from Consolidated Revenue for increased pensions. A considerable sum will be paid to certain employees. However. as in all superannuation and retirement benefits schemes, anomalies do occur. By some means pensioners are aware of such anomalies and the pensioner who is receiving a lesser amount by way of retiring benefit always feels badly treated. It is difficult to know what sort of scheme could replace the present funds. I am pleased, however, to note from the second reading speech of the Minister for the Army and Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr Peacock) that those persons in receipt of benefits will receive a substantial amount. I am delighted to read that statement. The people covered by these Bills have served in various areas of activity. Some have been in the Commonwealth Public Service. Others have served in the 3 armed Services. The third group is our confreres who have retired from parliamentary service. It is good to know that these people are being considered at this time and that all parties in the Parliament are unanimous in their support for these measures in respect of pensioners.
I was very pleased to read the new provision which means that the increase proposed by this legislation will be passed on to widows. Certain orphans will receive increased pensions also. Special consideration will be given, in a 5-year examination that is about to commence, to the position of orphans and children.
I am always intrigued, when I receive certain documents, as to why simplicity cannot be the order of the day in their preparation. The people who draw up these documents understand what they mean, but a bit of deciphering and understanding is necessary to get a clear picture of just what the entitlement means with respect to the various rates of pension. One paragraph in the second reading speech delivered by the Minister assisting the Treasurer in presenting the Superannuation (Pension Increases) Bill 1971 intrigues me. I have shown it to many people but I have not been able to get a literal interpretation of it. The paragraph reads:
Provision has been made in the Bill to increase, as appropriate, a pension that became payable, on or before 30th June 1971, to a person who elected to have the preservation provisions of the Superannuation Act 1971 apply to him and who took his preservation benefit in the form of a deferred pension.
I understand from our good friends on my left - I refer to the departmental advisers - that, evidently, people have the right to defer a pension or to take up a deferred pension and that that paragraph brings them within the scope of the relevant Bill.
The machinations of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act and the DFRB scheme have been found to be very difficult to understand. I think it was before 1958 that a different scheme was introduced. Anomalies were created in that scheme. Unfortunately, the personnel of the various Services did not have the scheme explained explicitly enough at the time of its inauguration and I understand from some people in the Services that the officers who were detailed to explain the provisions and the ramifications of the DFRB scheme found it difficult to understand the facts that they were endeavouring to communicate to other people.
These 3 Bills are good Bills. They will alleviate certain problems experienced by many people now in retirement. Each and every one of us should hold these people in the greatest of veneration. I am pleased to add my compliments to those already extended to the Treasurer who is responsible for this Bill and its introduction here. I trust that we will not allow these provisions to go so long again without amendment. Perhaps inflation can be kept in hand. 1 would hope that, because of price increases a different type of thinking may be adopted as a result of which it will not be necessary to introduce further adjustments to this legislation for the reasons that have brought these Bills before the House.
– in reply - Mr Deputy Speaker, I do not wish to speak at any great length. I will convey to the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) the viewpoints that have been expressed by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) who led for the Opposition and by the various speakers from both sides of the House in this debate, who have all spoken in support of the 3 Bills now being debated.
May I refer quickly to a couple of points that I have noted here and on which I think comments ought to be made? Perhaps it could be said that the Treasurer or myself in indicating the reasons why these Bills have been introduced could have presented points of view over and above those reasons as to the concern that was felt about the notional salary method. However, it was indicated that we wished to inquire further into this matter. I would imagine that the reason why the Treasurer has not expressed himself further on this matter is that he does not wish to pre-empt the inquiry in any way by setting out certain lines which could be followed and then finding that there may be other ones or that in fact what he has suggested is not the approach to be followed. After all, the Treasurer does wish the matter to be investigated fully. I am certain that he would not wish to pre-empt this investigation in any way.
I turn, secondly, to a point raised by the honourable member for Perth (Mr Berinson) in regard to Government instrumentalities. He will be aware that employees in those instrumentalities are not covered by the Act in question but are covered by Acts dealing specifically with those instrumentalities. The honourable member is correct in saying that the consent of the Treasurer is required for increases to apply to people in those categories. I will ensure that his views are conveyed to the Treasurer who, I know, has been dealing with the matter. It would be proper for him, rather than for me, to reply to the honourable member.
Finally, I mention the point raised by the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess). The honourable member queries the reason why the expenditure in respect of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act was classified as part of the Defence vote. As the honourable member will appreciate, notwithstanding my undoubted loyalty to and support of the Treasurer, the primacy of my position is Minister for the Army. It would be wrong for me to express any intention, even on behalf of the Treasurer - he is not in the House at the moment so I cannot do even that - because it might place me in the position of having a conflict of interests. I have noted the views of the various speakers and I give my undertaking to convey them to the Treasurer.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Peacock) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 19 August (vide page 367), on motion by Mr Peacock: That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Peacock) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 19 August (vide page 367), on motion by Mr Peacock:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Peacock) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 14 September (vide page 1283), on motion by Mr Snedden:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr Whitlam had moved by way of amendment:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: ‘the House condemns the Budget because (a) it breaks the Prime Minister’s pledge to Parliament on taking office to bring into effect for 1971-72 a fundamental review of social services and of methods for adjusting them, (b) it contains no proposals to balance the finances and functions of the Commonwealth, the States and local government and (c) it produces no programmes for high national objectives of social welfare, economic strength and national security.
– Before dealing with any specific issues relating to the Budget, I wish to outline concisely again the fundamental objectives of the Budget and its effect on the Australian community. The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in his speech made the point abundantly clear that the over-riding economic purpose of the Budget is to combat inflationary pressures. The cost-push inflation that has been eroding the value of incomes has been falling heavily on those on fixed incomes, the pensioners, and those in the rural sector who cannot pass on their costs. It is true to say that cost-push inflation has been shattering the economies of most Western countries leading to unemployment in many nations, economic agony, balance of payment problems and international currency uncertainties.
Australia’s rate of inflation has not been as great as that of such countries as Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and New Zealand. We rank as the second or third lowest country in the world on the consumer price index charts.
However, action had to be taken to maintain the stability of the economic structure of our country and at the same time maintain the full employment economy concept. There are of course sections in the community who believe they profit from inflation. They now are among the prophets of doom opposed to any painful side effects of policies designed to restrain inflation.
As the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) so clearly stated, Australia has enjoyed a period of economic growth combined with full employment -unrivalled in our history. Ten years ago our gross national product was SI 7,000m; last year it was S28,000m. Ten years ago our work force was 4i million; today it is 5i million people. Our population- has nearly doubled since 1949. Our international reserves now stand at over $2.3 billion and we enjoy the reputation of having one of the strongest and most stable currencies in the world.
This is a broad total picture but within that frame we do have pockets of trouble, areas of need and areas requiring urgent assistance. The Government, though aiming to restrain inflation, has endeavoured to extend assistance to these areas - to the pensioners, to the farmers, and to the sectors that have fallen by the wayside as our dramatic economic growth has taken place.
I turn to the great economic and social problems of the rural sector. The fundamental reasons for the rural decline need to be defined. They are, as I see them in broad, simple terms and not necessarily in order of importance: Firstly, a series of adverse seasons since 1964 over a wide area of Australia; secondly, marketing difficulties, especially export marketing difficulties with such products as wheat; thirdly, the low export prices on world markets for many rural products, wool in particular, compounded by Britain’s likely entry to the European Economic Community; fourthly, the growing use of synthetics, or alternatives to products of rural origin; fifthly, the constantly rising cost of production; sixthly, the international currency crisis; and, seventhly, the whole rural economy has been geared to the era of post war prosperity. Today, with declining incomes, farmers and graziers are saddled with high fixed charges that occurred during the boom times, such as high shire rates, high land prices, high wages and so on.
The Government’s concern for the rural community is reflected in the provisions made to assist the rural industries staggering under the heavy gross load of indebtedness of over $2,000m that has compounded rapidly because of the factors I have mentioned. This year the total assistance to this sector is 32 per cent higher than last years record of $2 15m. This year direct assistance to rural industries reaches a new record of a maximum of $275m. This level of assistance is necessary not only in a sectional sense but also in the national context. Too often in the past few years we have heard the economic pundits and other would-be authorities claim that the importance of the rural sector in the economy is no longer of great consequence. They and the great number of other Australians were carried away in the dizzy mineral boom. They believed that the great growth in the secondary industries also made the rural industries and the farmers less significant in the economic sense. This of course was so much nonsense. The rural industries, in spite of the welcome growth in mining and secondary industries, still earn over 50 per cent of Australia’s foreign exchange.
The turn down in the rural sector will make, indeed is making, its presence felt in the total Australian economy. I believe the recent concern expressed in the report of the Bank of New South Wales survey and the Associated Chamber of Manufactures on the level of economic activity, probably reflects the effects of the rural depression more than the recent budgetary measures. It has taken longer for the effect to make its impact on the total economy than in the past, but undoubtedly it will be a significant contributing factor to any general slowing down of economic growth in this nation.
To date the full effect of the rural recession on the total economy has been largely counter-balanced by the heavy annual capital inflow. In the Government’s efforts to lessen the impact of the rural recession, the highest increase in assistance has been extended to the wool industry - Australia’s biggest single industry and Australia’s largest single export industry, having earned over $ 17,000m of foreign exchange since 1950. The industry, which is spread across the face of Australia, has over 1,000,000 people directly or indirectly dependent upon it.
The wool industry has always been the fulcrum to the balance in the rural sector, an industry that for years has stood on its own feet unprotected and unaided. There is every justification for the Government to come to the industry’s aid in its hour of crisis. I deplore the statements of those who cry doom and forecast the collapse of this industry. This industry however must be reorganised. Its handling and marketing procedures are undergoing a revolutionary if not a belated change. The establishment of the Australian Wool Commission, the research into objective measurement, the development of new wool selling complexes and the reconstruction programmes are all important and necessary measures. But these measures must be supplemented. One of the greatest outstanding requirements in the rural sector is the provision of a facility that will extend longer terms of repayment of existing loans to farmers. Growers’ organisations in the various States would like to see repayment periods of 20 to 30 years. In the face of the current rising costs and diminishing returns, the primary producer is finding it difficult, if not impossible, to pay his interest, let alone repay loans on the terms currently available to him.
The wealth producing industries - the productive industries - are the key to Australia’s economic growth and new wealth. The wool industry is one such enterprise. Banks, insurance funds, trustee companies and other financial institutions have, of course, more than an academic interest in this country’s economic growth and new wealth. If they want to maintain and develop their own activities in the fields of finance, it is in their own interests to continue to help sustain this section of the economy.
The Government has been investigating the establishment of a rural loans insurance corporation, which could underwrite long term rural loans from lending institutions. If a rural loans insurance corporation proves to be inadequate to this need, then some other instrument must be considered. For instance, the functions of the Development Bank could be examined to see whether it could be extended in some way to fulfil the requirement. The additional funds for rural reconstruction and the wool deficiency scheme must be supplemented by adequate long term loan provisions for the farmers who are ineligible for such assistance but nevertheless are carrying heavy debt loads needing extended terms of repayment. There has been quite unrealistic criticism of the principle of the wool deficiency policy. I should like to quote from a letter which 1 received from a constituent. He said in simple terms what he thought about the criticism that ran through the Press at the time. In simple terms he demolishes these arguments. He said:
The principal arguments against, help for the wool industry contain the idea that Australia can’t afford it
Suppose we take the 6 per cent wage rise which meant no counter-balancing extra production.
The average recipient was getting at least $70 a week, so 6 per cent meant $4 a week.
Say $1 went back in taxation, so he got S3 a week.
At least 2 million people got the 6 per cent - a net $6m per week or $300m for a full year net.
We afforded this to gain nothing, so why can we not afford to keep our leading export industry alive?
He went on to say:
As for the University Professors who say that subsidies are a wicked principle; they should be publicly reminded that their high salaries are the result of Federal and State subsidies to the Universities.
On this same subject of wool deficiency payments, I want to refer to 2 statements by front bench Labor members of this House - the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the shadow Minister for Primary Industry, the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). On 24th August last, the Leader of the Opposition described the scheme as a wool price sleight of hand and went on to say - and I quote from Hansard of that date, at page 619:
Payments to major growers, whose debts in most instances are minima), or non-existent will simply enhance a life style which has remained notably opulent.
The honourable member for Dawson is reported in Hansard of 20th August last, at page 433, as saying:
The Opposition will support only a proposition which distributes Government or public moneys to those producers who genuinely need help.
I want first to join issue with the Leader of the Opposition for perpetuating an image of the grazier as opulent, an image the grazier has not been able to live down since wool was in its hey-day of a £1 a pound. Some authorities have estimated that 30,000 wool growers could be forced off their properties in the next 12 to 18 months. Until members of the Opposition recognise that the collapse of the wool industry would pose one of the greatest social problem*, for this country in this century, whose revival transcends party politics, the sooner the Australian people as a whole will realise they have a common stake in the industry’s survival.
The rural industry is, and always has been, a mystery to the Labor Party. In accordance with its established practice, this Government consulted with the Australian Wool Growers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation before it introduced the wool support scheme. Who did the Labor leaders consult in this respect? Who did the Leader of the Opposition and the honourable member for Dawson consult in order to devise their obscure policies? When I speak of my concern for the rural industry I do not speak only of the farmer; I speak of all those who, like him, have been working in jobs or businesses and professions servicing the farmer’s needs or handling his product - the people in the rural towns in particular. Just like the farmer, many of them have been in their occupations for generations. They know no other.
As I said before, more than 1 million people are dependent either directly or indirectly on the industry, a percentage in the major metropolitan cities. Perhaps the people in those cities can be absorbed hut the prospects for the people in the inland towns is grim. Most have spent a lifetime establishing a home and a way of life. In many cases the family roots of generations are embedded in their town. How do they survive? If the industry is not revitalised, inland Australia will be dotted with ghost towns. If the rural townships go, the impact on the big coastal cities and on the nation will be staggering. Already our major capital cities are suffering from human congestion, traffic bottlenecks, pollution and environmental problems. Any further accentuation of this problem must be stopped by the drift to these cities.
Those who wish to leave the land and enter a new way of life must be given a chance to retrain and rehabilitate and obtain jobs in the major rural towns and provincial cities of their own choice. What is the Australian Labor Party’s answer to this great social and economic problem? I hope it is not simply standing by watching the left wing leadership take over. The Launceston Conference of the Federal
Executive of the ALP offered no hope to the rural sector. What happened to the submission of the honourable member for Dawson. The Conference came out with a fragmented policy knocking out subsidies and providing for the acquisition of wool. Acquisition of wool by whom and at what price? If ever a well informed Labor man had a raw deal, it was the honourable member for Dawson. He has had to adopt a most unreal policy; indeed, his position must be untenable.
Let us look at his proposal for the payment of 40c a lb to needy wool growers. Who is needy? Most wool growers fall into this category. It is ail right to say that there are wealthy wool barons. Where are they? Even Dalgety and New Zealand Loan Ltd is trying to dispose of some of its grazing properties. Even the Faulkiner family of the famous Boonooke merino stud are wanting out. A Labor government would apply a means test, with every wool grower having to submit his returns, his confidential records, to the official of some department of other to show cause that he was needy; going cup in hand as it were, pleading that he was a more needy bloke than his neighbour. What humiliation! How long would the costly processing of each application take? Who would establish the criteria for such a case?
It is true to say that the great majority of wool growers are in difficulties, sure, but some are in more than others. Some will not recover. There is need for rural reconstruction, rehabilitation and social readjustment. This latter need probably is the great requirement of all. But unless some guaranteed price level is extended to the industry as a whole, how can property reconstruction or debt reconstruction take place without an assured cash flow? Simply to dish out 40c a lb to the so-called needy’ would achieve no purpose, other than prop up the sick for a period while others not so ‘sick’ become ‘sicker’. This Government offers support for the industry as a whole. Once again the Labor Party, because of its own executive, offers a confused rural policy. During the wheat crisis, the Labor Party had several wheat policies. Now during the wool crisis it has several ill-defined policies. Without being too ungenerous, I think it fair to say that the Labor Party’s rural policy is as full of kid as a pregnant goat.
Mr Deputy Speaker, it is now imperative that we look to additional policies to complement State governments’ efforts in the field of decentralisation. Rural employment opportunities will continue to diminish unless the decentralisation of industry really accelerates. I am sure that concessional policies to industries would encourage their establishment in country locations and would largely overcome rural unemployment caused by the run of bad seasons since 1964 and the falling prices obtained for rural products, especially wool.
Before concluding I want to take the opportunity of saying how seriously we in this country should view the activities of the left wing elements of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. The people of this country should never forget that strikes, many of which were politically motivated, resulted in a loss of 2.4 million working days and cost wage earners $30.9m last year. Can Australia continue to afford the costly politically motivated strikes and the consequent disruption to satisfy the ununbridled o’er leaping ambitions of individuals inspired by the philosophy of socialism who are determined to smash our economic structure and way of life?
– Inflation is always deplored, but inflation always takes place. I would remind the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt), who has just resumed his seat, that when the present Government assumed office the basic wage was £5 18s a week, which is less than $12 a week. The standard wage now would be well over $50 a week. That is a reflection of the movement of prices. Since inflation is a condition of rising prices, the Government has been in its 22 years in office characterised by continuous inflation. Wage earners do not gain from inflation, nor do farmers. But there are people who gain from inflation. Holders of real estate gain from inflation, many businesses gain from inflation and, let us face it, governments gain from inflation. Inflation is popular with all governments, which is why it is taking place in all countries of the world. It is popular with governments because that is how they get out of debt. A person who lent £100 to the Chifley Government in 1945 lent it 25 weeks of the then basic wage. If he now got back $200 he would be getting back 4 weeks of the present basic wage. The Government is an enormous beneficiary from the process of inflation. That is fundamentally why inflation never stops.
An ordinary listener to the proceedings of this Parliament may be surprised to hear it said that the economy is actually nobody’s political propaganda; but that is the position. The Government is not responsible for the collapse of wool prices nor is it responsible for the market position of primary industry in the world. However, honourable gentlemen opposite were not loath to claim the credit for the boom prices that we enjoyed some years ago and the prosperity that resulted, which was fortuitously due to the boom prices. Without any hesitation the Government took to itself to claim credit for that situation. Having trained so many of its supporters to think in that way. it should not be in any way surprised today if many of them now consider that the Government must also be responsible for the depressed condition of prices in the rural industry.
There is no doubt that the Minister was correct when he continually stressed the importance to Australia of rural industries. It is a fact that every $1,000 worth of public expenditure on supporting an industry produces about $2,500 worth of exports if it goes in the direction of rural industries - that is, by way of all the forms of subsidies, rail freights and what have you - and $400 worth of exports if it goes in the direction of secondary industries. In view of that comparison, I have no doubt about the importance of rural industries to Australia.
The Government has been claiming - perhaps a little more falteringly lately - to be responsible for full employment. It should be remembered that the Chifley Government had full employment without an inflow of capital. There are many countries in the world which would regard it as laughable to claim great virtue for maintaining a high level of employment when there is an inflow of foreign capital of one billion 380 million dollars. I am using the American billion, which is $ 1,000m - which represents more than $100 per head of population in Australia. The formula adopted is to say that that is a tribute to our virtuous and stable governments. I am willing to bet that the money will continue to flow into Western Australia, with the virtuous and stable Mr Tonkin in office, so long as there is the virtuous and stable iron ore, bauxite and nickel in the ground in that State.
The capital inflow is not coming into this country because people passionately admire the governments of this country, neither the Conservative Government here nor the the Labor governments in 2 of the States. Capita] goes where it can get the resources and where it expects to get a return. So let us be done with a lot of these claims about the virtue of the Government in quite fortuitous circumstances. That reminds me of a political campaign in the United States when someone said to the youth in reference to Senator Goldwater: Why can’t you be like Senator Goldwater and inherit a department store?’ Why do we not say to New Zealand: ‘Why can’t you be like clever Australia and have billions of tons of iron ore. nickel and bauxite in your soil?’ Obviously that is something beyond the reach of any government. The basic things in the Australian economy have nothing to do with the policies of any government of course, they have nothing to do with the policies of any opposition, either. So let us try to discuss some of these things a little more objectively.
There are questions as to the handling of certain aspects of our industry. For instance, the Government speaks of farmers being affected by costs. Notice the terminology in which the word ‘costs’ is used. Somehow or other one can slide costs on to wages in that instance much easier than one could if one were to say that farmers are affected by prices. If one were to say that farmers are affected by prices the question of whether the Government can do anything about prices might arise. The Government denied for many years that it could. It has now attempted to do io in connection with a number of aspects - unfair trading practices, resale price maintenance and so on. They are costs and costs are prices, but the Government prefers to use the word costs’ because it can blame wages. Compare the alacrity with which the Minister for the Interior spoke about wages as a factor for the farmer and the reluctance with which the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) spoke about freights as a factor in farmers’ costs. When a shipping combine decided to hike the prices it charged for Australian exports the Minister for Trade and Industry wrung his hands, but he made it perfectly clear that the Government intends to do nothing about the matter. It does not intend to do anything with the national shipping line or anything else about an overseas combine which has gone into collusion.
I warn the Government that it may very well find that Japan will do in the field of minerals what it has now done to the wool industry. Japanese buyers have played a very significant part in the organisation of the downward movement in wool prices. That is their business. I merely note it. But the same thing could happen with bauxite. The governments of Australia are behaving as if they were completely foreign to one another. We have an enormous development of bauxite in Queensland under the auspices of the Government of Queensland, we have an enormous development of bauxite at Gove in the Northern Territory under the auspices of the Commonwealth Government and we are going to get enormous developments of bauxite in the Kimberleys and near Perth under the auspices of the Government of Western Australia. It is perfectly competent for Japan to enter into contracts with these various companies that have nothing to do with one another to take a couple of years’ supply of bauxite or alumina and then afterwards to stand back and pick and choose between them and play them against one another to force the price of alumina down. I venture to predict that this is what will happen.
One sees a magnificent organisation at Gove which has $300m invested in it, or 1,500 Swiss Francs, largely from Alusuisse, a Swiss company. One sees there the longest conveyor belt in the world, 16 miles long, but along that conveyor belt goes only bauxite. If the price of alumina falls this organisation will not be able to send nickel or manganese along that conveyor belt because it is geared to the production of one thing. It is more tightly bound than is the wool grower and, therefore, is more vulnerable to a policy that plays off the Australian States against one another or plays off Brazil against Australia than is the wool grower to any sort of organisation of the wool market between buyers. The one disadvantage of rural industry, of course, is that the terms of trade always tend to turn against it. This is what has created the Common Market in Europe and this is what has created the steel determination to protect the farmer in those economies where the farmer sells nearly all his goods internally. We could guarantee all Australian agriculture if we did not export most of its products.
What is the difference between secondary industry and primary industry in this respect? If there is a fall in the demand for cars, half a dozen car manufacturers can agree among themselves to reduce production, to lay off staff and to ride out the slump. If there is a fall in demand for wheat, wool or any primary product the first instinct of the farmer is to produce more to keep his income up and this very markedly has a tendency to lead to a further reduction in price. He is handing over the value of his increased productivity, his more efficient production, to the consumer nations, and this is why the terms of trade persistently turn against agriculture. This was pointed out by the economist Prebisch, and it is called the Prebisch effect. It has been one of the things producing the chronic political instability of Africa. Ghana and Nigeria in a decade quadrupled their production of cocoa and coffee and they received less for 4 times as much as they originally received for the unit 1 quantity at the beginning. They had to run very hard to stand still; they had to produce more and more simply to get the same return. Of course, they came to a point where they could not do so any longer and that economic instability was one factor underlying their general political instability.
I want to turn now from this aspect of the Australian economy to make one or two comments on defence. I think it is time we knew what is to be done about the FU 1 aircraft. It looks to me as though we will have instalment No. 10 for the next election. It periodically bobs up at every election. At the last election the Government did not want to have a politician commenting on the Fill so it got a retired air marshall, Sir Valston Hancock I think it was, to write in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ that it was still the most marvellous aeroplane of our age, the best thing on wings since the angels. He omitted to say, of course, that there are 2 classes of angels, those under Lucifer which crashed and those under Michael which remained airborne. I do not know which category of angels it comes into but it seems to me that it would be the Lucifer category. Anyway, we could have had the TSR2 instead of the Fill.
– It would not have worked.
– The honourable member for North Sydney says that it would not have worked but I do not think delivery would have been postponed for quite so long as the Fill. If this aircraft will not fly I hope the Government will spare us another election on it, and tell us what it feels should be the substitute for the Fill.
I want to comment also on one other aspect of defence. There is now very clearly a changed strategy developing in the Indian Ocean and if there is a changed strategy developing in the Indian Ocean another look needs to be taken at the Royal / stralian Navy. I invite the Government’s attention to the fact that the aircraft carriers, HMAS Sydney’ and HMAS ‘Melbourne’, were master strokes of the Chifley Government, but as the Chiefley Government is now somewhat remote in history, the 2 Australian aircraft carriers are historic old ladies. If the Government still believes in the usefulness of such vessels, and probably there is a continuing usefulness of the aircraft carrier for the pursuit of submarines, it is about time the Government started looking at the purchase of another aircraft carrier, possibly one of those much more modern British carriers which may or may not continue in service for the United Kingdom.
While on the subject of the Indian Ocean I would like to make a comment on the subject that was raised today in question time by the honourable member for Holt (Mr Reid) in his persistent effort to get a more generous approach from the Government towards the disaster of the Pakistani refugees. India has spent on the refugees 120 crores of rupees. A crore is 10 million rupees, so that is about $ A 1.1 5m. From abroad has come 8.2 crores of rupees. This means that one-fifteenth of the cost has come in aid from all other countries to India. I think this is insufficiently generous. I do not want to get into the technicalities of whether India wants wheat or not but since it has had to ruin many of its plans in order to carry the burden of these people one thing it could very well do with is foreign exchange. I commend to the Government the suggestion of the honourable member for Holt that a gift of SI Om might be a well worthwhile Australian gesture towards the stability of the Indian sub-continent.
Another matter I would like to draw to the Government’s attention is that it had a former Minister for External Affairs, now the Governor-General, who in the Bihar famine crisis - this is very little realised in Australia - sent $35m in aid to India. The wonders of the $1.5m for the present crisis rather pale into insignificance when compared to the action that Sir Paul Hasluck took when he was Minister for External Affairs. I admire anybody who can twist the Treasury’s arm to the tune of S3 5m. I remember once meeting Sir Paul in the streets of Perth after he made this gesture which saved the lives of millions of people in India. It really did. It represented 580,000 tons of wheat. I said to the gentleman who was then the honourable member for Curtin: ‘Paul, if I were to bung a brick into the nearest shop window I guarantee I would get coast to coast publicity, but your action which has saved the lives of several million people does not cause a ripple’. It is a very strange scale of values that we have in our commentaries and I think it has had the unfortunate effect that the Government does not register in its own mind its previous generosity as a precedent for what it might do today for the situation in India.
The last point I would like to make in the brief time available to me relates ‘o the unemployment position which is developing in the country and the possibility of assisting the farmer and rural communities. I ask the Government to investigate the possibility of commencing public works in the country, especially roads, and of giving financial aid to shire councils for urgent works that they all have. This may employ smaller farmers. It may employ people in the country towns who have lost work because of the slackness, and the expenditure in the country may be a defensive, temporary assistance for rural areas which are affected by the downward movement in the rural prices at the present time. This also was done during the late drought. In point of fact there were some shire councils that were rather better off in the drought period than they have been in periods of normal prosperity.
I had wished to speak on some constitutional questions in Papua New Guinea. (Extension of time granted.) I thank the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) for moving for an extension of time. I am very surprised at this unwonted generosity. I can now discuss the points that I wanted to discuss about the constitution of Papua New Guinea. There is one human problem in Papua New Guinea which I think is urgent.
One of the things we should remember is that the number of employed people in Papua New Guinea is a very small percentage of the population. The great bulk of the population of Papua New Guinea are self employed, growing their own food and so on, and this is rather fortunate for them. It is also rather fortunate for them in many areas where they can have their own gardens. It has been pointed out by research economists in Papua New Guinea that Australian industry and affluent Australian agriculture in Papua New Guinea are in fact subsidised out of the subsistence economy of the natives. That is to say we can only sustain the low wages that are paid because they are feeding themselves from their own economy, maintaining themselves in physical efficiency as a labour force, and by their own efforts they are subsidising people who are far more affluent than themselves. But there are areas that are exceptions to this. Port Moresby is an exception to this. You might be all right, if you have your own garden around Rabaul, getting a wage of $7 or $7.50 a week, but if you are getting $7 a week in Port Moresby and living in a shanty and not near your own gardens it very probably means tuberculosis for yourself, tuberculosis for your children and a very unsatisfactory condition.
I am disturbed at the inability of members of the House of Assembly to see these things. They are being trained in an automatic respectable reflex action. The price of everything is important except the price of labour. You only have to sit and listen to their debates to see that they have been trained and trained to regard any increase in wages as the last disaster and any increase in the price of anything else as something very desirable. If that goes on, it will create a problem for the House of Assembly in the future if, when Papua New Guinea governs itself, it governs itself on those assumptions.
The second thing I want to say is that land is the vital question in Papua New Guinea. Land is almost a sacred object. Our land is like our skin’ is one saying they have. ‘Money goes but the land remains’ is another saying they have - a very wise one perhaps from their point of view. This means that the acquisition of land from them for mining purposes has always encountered resistance. There is a burning grievance that back in 1884 the Germans took the land of the Tolai and it was passed from the former German expatriates to other expatriates and that it really belongs to them. I do not want to go into the merits or demerits of this. I merely point out that is is an instance of the importance of land in their thinking and’ that each crisis we have run into has at base a crisis built upon the fact that they regard land as vitally important.
– They will have to overcome rivalry between the tribes first, do you not think?
– If we go back to the tribal wars of the past, I do not know. Perhaps all those things can be sorted out. All I want to say is that the problem in Papua New Guinea is this local particular loyalty. The Tolai have no loyalty to the Bainings and vice versa. This is the problem 1 want to discuss in a minute. I accept entirely what the honourable member has to say about rivalries between tribes. I am concerned about this just as a fact of life and as a problem we have to deal with, but what I have undoubtedly found is that there is a resentment against the Highland majority, which is regarded as a manipulated Highland majority that would sit in the House of Assembly and pass measures for the taking of other people’s land in Bougainville but would resist tooth and nail anybody’s attempt to take their land.
If we govern on these assumptions we are governing divisively. There must be a settlement between those things.
There were utter disasters in Nigeria because the British on the whole favoured the Muslim north, which was quiescent and conservative and caused them very much less trouble than the Ibos and Yorubas in other regions and it produced the particularism and distinctiveness that became so disastrous for Nigeria in later time. I have said this in the House before, and I fear we are doing the same thing in Papua New Guinea. We are not conscious of it but I fear that this is what we are doing.
I also fear our conservatism in our own belief about the Westminster system of government. The parties in this House correspond with broad economic groups. There are overlaps and exceptions, but by and large the Country Party represents the rural community and the farmer; by and large the Liberal Party represents the metropolitan middle class and business; by and large the Australian Labor Party represents the wage earner. There is no real corresponding structure in Papua New Guinea, hence there is not the basic party structure unless it is artificially fostered in the House of Assembly of Papua New Guinea. The classic Westminster system in its greatest days was a stately gavotte between liberals and conservatives who had some differences on how best to run a free enterprise economy but had a deep fundamental unity about the survival of the nation state.
There is not that deep fundamental unity of nationalism in Papua New Guinea. There is this tendency to fragmentation. New Guinea nationalism is an idea in our mind. They never thought of it in 1884. They were not thinking of it in 1945. They have begun to think of it because it is a suggestion coming from without; it is not coming up from within them. I believe that in these circumstances there is not much tendency to unity, nor is there much tendency to disunity except on the question of land. People always say that it is hard where there is so little education to maintain national unity. I do not think it is the uneducated villager who threatens national unity. He gets on with his life. He is not particularly concerned with what is going on in Port Moresby, whether there is an expatriate government or whether it will be their own government in the future. His horizons are limited. He is not a threat to anything. The threat is this fear of the more advanced peoples on their land questions.
I think that the party system in Papua New Guinea is entirely artificial. We have some features of the Swiss system in Papua New Guinea now. The Swiss system is for everybody in the parliament to elect the Ministry so that the Swiss Federal Council has liberals, conservatives, socialists and what-have-you in its Cabinet. Somehow or other they work out a policy on that basis. There is a President who is elected annually. Nobody in Switzerland - I have just come from Switzerland - can tell you who the President is. He is the chairman of the Council of Ministers for any given year and in that year he receives the credentials of the diplomats and acts as the head of state. It is rather a tragedy that Africa did not have that sort of presidency as its model because those who became presidents and prime ministers in Africa proceeded to make themselves dictators. The modesty of the Swiss position might have been one of the best correctives for Africa, and it may well be one of the best correctives for Papua New Guinea. 1 think that the classless society like Papua New Guinea an all party Parliament or an all elements of opinion Parliament, with an elected Cabinet and an annual President might be the best system. A cantonal system, or a federal system, would enable the people of the canton of Bougainville to be sure that the government in Port Moresby would not be able to take their land. The people in the canton of the Gazelle Peninsula or New Britain could be quite sure that they themselves would settle the problems facing them. Otherwise, the attempt to impose unity on them in the manner of conflict that we have been exhibiting may well be disastrous for the future of Papua New Guinea.
– This Budget debate is now in its penultimate day, and were I to attempt to expatiate on the grand strategy of the Budget for the purpose either of commending it or of criticising it, I should imagine that very quickly there would be fewer members in the House than there are at present. I think that the time has passed when any useful contribution to the debate can be made by dealing with the Budget broadly. At the outset of my remarks I would like to say something about the amendment that was moved weeks ago by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). The proposed amendment seeks to criticise the Government for the alleged reason that the Budget contains no proposals to balance the finances and functions of the Commonwealth, the States and local government.
All I can say about that part of the amendment is that it seems to have been proposed in a sort of mental vacuum on the part of the Opposition, ft completely ignores the significant consequences of the 1970 and 1971 Premiers Conferences. To say now that the Commonwealth Government has made no significant steps towards resolving some of the great problems of Commonwealth-State financial relationships is to beat the air with an utterly fanciful proposition. The position is best summarised by a passage in the second reading speech of the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in which the honourable gentleman, when referring to the outcome of the 1970 and 1971 Premiers Conferences, said:
Recent developments have led to a significant improvement in Commonwealth-State financial arrangements. The new grants formula settled in June 1970 is increasing State revenues considerably.
It is important to bear in mind when one is considering the validity of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition that the effect of the arrangements made at those 2 Conferences - part of which arrangements is to be carried into effect by this Bill - is to increase State revenues at a substantially faster rate than Commonwealth expenditures will be increasing in this year. The precise figures are set out in the second reading speech of the Treasurer. I will not travel over that ground again. It is important to bear in mind that under the arrangements that have been made and that are proposed, Commonwealth expenditures will not increase at the same rate as State expenditures will be able to increase in the current financial year. So much for my remarks on the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. There is much more that one could say, but many people have said it better than I would be able to say it.
I want to address my remarks to one aspect of the Budget proposals that may not so far have received a great deal of attention. In his second reading speech the Treasurer announced that part of the Budget proposals consists of a decision by the Government to increase from $300 to $400 per annum the maximum deduction allowable to a taxpayer for the education expenses of a dependent full time student child. It is interesting by way of background to recall the history of concessional deductions for education expenses. The idea originated in the Budget of 19S2 when, for the first time, a concessional deduction was allowed for education expenses of dependent children. The deduction was then fixed at £50; that is to say, $100. The figure stood at that amount until 1965, when it was increased to $300. Now, 6 years later, the figure is to be increased from $300 to $400.
I want to say at the outset that, considered by itself, the proposed increase is thoroughly justifiable. It goes without saying that the cost to parents of educating their children, particularly at independent schools, has risen in the last 6 years much more sharply than will be fully allowed for by means of the increase of $100 proposed in this Budget. So the fact that there is an increase is, in itself and considered by itself, a good thing. The time has come when the Government ought to be turning its mind to some of the questions of principle involved in the idea of granting a concessional deduction in respect of particular expenses of a taxpayer. In the main the question of principle falls to be considered with reference to concessional deductions for education expenses and concessional deductions for medical expenses. I understand that the Commissioner of Taxation has for some time past been conducting his own review of various aspects of our taxation system, particularly our income tax system. As I said a moment ago, I think it is time that we turned our minds to this quite important question of principle - that is, whether concessional deductions for education expenses and medical expenses serve to create a situation of equity as between all taxpayers. I understand it to be the essence of any good system of taxation of people’s incomes that the tax should be progressive rather than regressive. There is, of course, considerable room in other fields of taxation for those types of tax that are called regressive taxes - taxes that hit every taxpayer, whether he be on a small income or a large income, by the same amount or to the same extent, so that the burden falls more heavily on a person on a low income than it does on a person on a high income. Sales tax is a prime example of this.
There is room in any system of taxation, if one is to consider the necessity of controlling the economy by fiscal means, for a degree of regressive taxation. But when we come to the field of income tax I believe quite firmly that we should as far as possible seek to preserve this system as a progressive system of taxation. I use the word ‘progressive’ in a special sense, meaning that the burden of taxes will fall most heavily upon those who can best afford to pay them. The trouble that I experience in my mind about the system of concessional deductions, especially in relation to education expenses, is that that form of deduction does introduce into what should be as far as possible a progressive system of taxation a regressive element for the reason that the advantage of the concessional deduction is far greater for the man on a high income than it is for a man on a low income.
The position can very easily be illustrated by reference to some figures. I confess that these figures are not altogether up to date but they will serve for the purposes of illustration. The advantage of a concessional deduction of $400 for a taxpayer with a returned income for tax purposes of $9,000 is $205. That is what he saves in tax by claiming a concessional deduction of $400. If he has an income of only $4,000 the taxpayer who claims a concessional deduction of $400 will save only $131 in tax. On the other hand, taking as an example those nearer to the higher end of the income scale, a taxpayer on a returned income before tax of $30,000 will save in tax by claiming a concessional deduction of $400 no less than $259. I hasten to say that these figures are based on the general rate of income tax unaffected by the special levy of 2i per cent which in this Budget becomes a special levy of 5 per cent.
The point I want to make is this: We ought to be looking for some alternative means other than a concessional deduction which will serve to equalise the person on a low income vis-a-vis the taxpayer on a high income. There is an essential inequity in the present system and what I would propose is not the total abolition of the concessional deduction for education expenses; rather would I propose that there be introduced into the law a provision whereby the taxpayer is given the option of claiming a rebate of tax in respect of education expenses incurred by him up to a certain amount of money so that with 2 options open to taxpayers the man on the high income can opt to take the concessional deduction and so save himself tax. In the case of the man on $30,000 a year he would save approximately $260. I am picking this figure out of the air - the selection of the figure would be a matter of fine judgment and would require a lot of detailed work. A man on a low income should be allowed to claim, say, a rebate of tax in respect of education expenses to a sum of S200 or S250. It is only by introducing some alternative such as I have proposed that we will introduce a necessary degree of equity into this part of our taxation system.
Why is it important that we should turn our minds to this sort of problem at this time? If we believe, as honourable members on this side of the House certainly believe, in the virtues of a free enterprise society - perhaps those virtues are not practised now as much as they ought to be - and if we believe that a healthy diversity comes from the institution which is known as a pluralist society, the Government should be encouraging individuals in the community to be self-reliant wherever possible in relation to such activities as the education of their children. There is no harm, as 1 see it, and there is great good, as I see it, in encouraging the maintenance and the promotion of a viable independent school system - not fostering it or encouraging it to the detriment of the public sector of education. The aim should be to see as far as government can possibly do so that both systems - the private system and the independent system - work side by side in their different ways with their different techniques to the general community advantage. Therefore it seems to me it should be a prime task of government in the field of education to encourage parents to invest in the education of their children in the independent school system if that be their will. lt seems to me that it is also important that the independent school system should not become the preserve of a thin upper crust of the children of very high income earners. It seems to me therefore that if we were to implement the broad idea I have tried to put to the House of giving an option in respect of education expenses to the taxpayer on a lower income we would be doing something to foster the best elements in the independent school system. We would be encouraging parents not to rely on the State at all times, which they are entitled to do if they wish in relation to the education of their children. The creation of this option would give to the parents on lower incomes an opportunity which they are perhaps now denied under the simple system - the regressive system - of concessional deductions. I think it is important that the Commonwealth Government should take the initiative as soon as possible in this field. I think it is important for the Commonwealth Government to turn its attention very quickly towards using the taxation system in aid of the independent school system. It will not of course be used solely in aid of the independent school system because it must be borne in mind that parents of children at government schools are entitled to claim a concessional deduction in respect of incidental expenses arising from the education of their children at those schools.
We on this side of the House must remember that in 1969 a great initiative was taken with the avowed aim of enabling the independent schools to continue in the future to provide the services that they ought to be able to provide to maintain a healthy national condition in the education of the children of this country. The House will remember that the initiative that was taken in 1969 was to provide for the first time at Commonwealth level per capita grants of $50 in the case of secondary school students and $35 in the case of primary school students. It seems to me that in a real world any government must bear in mind that once you enter the field of giving direct assistance to a particular purpose or to a body of people it is not practicable and it ought not to be practic able to retire from the field or refuse to keep the payments up to a realistic level. However, it is perfectly plain that by reason of greatly increased financial assistance given to the States this Government has taken the view that the States from now on can undertake more of the responsibility of making per capita grants to parents of children in independent schools in aid of the education of those children. That may be an arguably good view. However, I happen to know that the failure of the Government to make increased provision by way of per capita grants in this year’s Budget has been received with great regret and, indeed, dissatisfaction amongst important sectors of the community and I can understand their view. Therefore, if this position is to be remedied, the Government should act and act quickly within the framework of the taxation system to make it possible for people on lower incomes, if they so desire, to keep their children in independent schools. This can be done by the alternative I have proposed.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The Budget is not solely an annual record of expenditure and estimated receipts for the coming financial year. It is the most powerful economic weapon in the hands of a government and this powerful economic weapon will decide the fate of all Australians during the next 12 months. It will decide also the level of security to be enjoyed or otherwise by every family in Australia. No more powerful weapon is wielded by a government than its annual Budget because, through it, a government works out its economic theories and its financial policies. Therefore, it is the concern of every Australian to try to understand the Budget. In trying <o understand this Budget, we in opposition are convinced that in endeavouring to deflate the economy, which seems to be the only alternative that this Government has in mind to combat inflation, the wage earner and the family are the real victims. As a result of the hammer blow of this Budget, the worker on $60 a week will pay in increased charges the equivalent of one week’s wages extra this financial year. The main increased charges are those on personal taxation, petrol, radio and television licences, cigarettes, postal and telephone services and chemist dispensing fees.
This Budget is designed to hold down excessive expenditure in order to control inflation and yet keep the body politic alive and healthy. I believe that it is far too deflationary and already there can be seen the effects of this Budget on the economy in the 3 months since it was framed by Treasury officials. In its clumsy attempt to combat inflation, the Government will increase unemployment everywhere. Already, the sad decline in rural industries is adding to the quota of unemployed in Australia. On top of this, the squeeze on manufacturers will further aggravate the situation as I will point out shortly. After all, inflation is to be preferred to deflation. In a deflationary situation, thousands of people are out of work which means that less food is sold and therefore the farmers suffer as consumption declines. The demand for every conceivable item that is used in a home, that is worn, etc., is depressed the moment there is a state of vast unemployment. So, inflation is much to be preferred to deflation. Of course, when saying this, one must weigh the effect of inflation on the fixed income earner. In this sense, inflation is like a thief in the night for it means that rising costs must be borne by people who do not have rising incomes. In that respect, inflation is a menace but when taking the overall picture it is preferable to deflation.
Massive unemployment is criminal in this modern world and it is creeping up again on all countries with alarming suddenness. At present 950,000 people are unemployed in the United Kingdom and several millions are out of work in the United States of America. The wage and salary earners are always the victims of anti-inflationary measures. Will this Budget do what it was designed to do? I do not think so. I think that even in the period since it was introduced, it has been proved that the Budget has not done what it was supposed to do. The effects are quite frightening as has been shown by 2 recent surveys which were published in this country on 9th September, only last Thursday. The quarterly survey of industrial trends by the Bank of New South Wales and the Associated Chambers of Manufac tures of Australia showed that manufacturers had experienced many of the elements of a recession in their activity over the past 3 months. Figures of anticipated new capital expenditure by industry issued by the Commonwealth Statistician showed that manufacturing industry expects to cut back sharply on its investments over the 6 months from July to December this year. Economic observers say that this shows the Government has blundered and miscalculated in its Budget strategy because the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) predicted an upsurge in private spending and so introduced restraints in the Budget mechanism to counter this. But the upsurge did not eventuate and the effect of the Budget was to shatter business confidence and once that is shattered, things become serious. Manufacturers, already feeling the effect of the squeeze in February, became even more pessimistic. The ACMA and Bank of New South Wales survey said:
Manufacturers’ outlook for planned capital expenditure in the next 12 months is the most pessimistic since 1961.
Of course, the credit squeeze was introduced in that year. The gloomy outlook from this major economic indicator is backed up by the Commonwealth Statistician. His official figures suggest manufacturers’ spending on new capital equipment will rise by only 2 per cent over the next 6 months. This compares with a rise of 13 per cent in the 6 months to June this year, which represents a decline of 11 per cent from the beginning to the end of this year. Australian manufacturers employ 1.4 million people - about a third of the Australian work force - and when their capital spending is cut back it causes a multiplied slowing down of economic activity within this large sector of the economy.
According to the ACMA and Bank of New South Wales survey, which as I said was published last Thursday, only 38 per cent of manufacturers were working at a satisfactory full rate of operation. This is the lowest proportion since the survey began asking this question in 1964. Even more disturbing to the House and to the country is that according to economic observers 40 per cent of those surveyed expect the general business situation to deteriorate in the next 6 months. Only 14 per cent of those questioned expected an improvement. Economic observers therefore say that stagflation psychology has taken a grip on the manufacturing sector of our economy, with quite frightening results. Therefore, the Budget was unnecessarily cautious and deflationary.
The price paid is unnecessary unemployment. Mr Snedden’s wage bogy, described as ‘a powerful upthrust of costs stemming largely from large wage claims relentlessly pursued,’ was not backed up by wage statistics. Official figures issued after the Budget showed the average weekly earnings for men in the June quarter at the smallest rate of quarterly growth for 2 years.
Yet, the Treasurer claimed that the upsurge of wage increases was one of the reasons why he brought the hammer blows down through his Budget. The statistics show that he is miles out in his thinking. The wage increase in that June quarter was the lowest for 2 years.
Economic observers expected the effect of wages on costs to ease. They say other indications are that the Budget’s demand bogy was another unnecessary fear.
The survey which has just been completed shows that 2 out of 3 manufacturers in Australia are operating well below capacity. I feel that the results of this survey are frightening when it is considered that they come only 3 months after the Budget was drafted. The article to which I have referred states that obviously, the Government now must take early action to get manufacturing rolling forward again. The sooner it does so, the better, because our economy depends upon it. Economic observers say the problem facing the Government now is when to stimulate the economy. It will have to act before other Budget measures take effect.
The Government will not do so speedily because that would be an admission that the Government was at fault in the Budget that it presented. The Government might do so by indirect methods, quietly and slowly, over the next few months to counter the deflationary effect that the Budget has had.
– It would be better to get out.
– That is right. It should resign while there is yet time. This survey presents a very frightening picture of the situation that exists only 3 months after the Budget was put into final form by Treasury officials.
The next matter with which I wish to deal is shipping and its effect on the Tasmanian economy. Unemployment in Tasmania has risen to 1.69 per cent, the highest level in Australia. Nearly 3,000 are out of work at the moment. Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd, the biggest paper manufacturers in Tasmania, has sacked 263 men in the space of some 3 weeks. That is about one-fifth of its total work force. It has done so largely because of competition from imported paper. Its paper, by the way, is first class writing paper and not paper for the printing of newspapers. Newsprint is manufactured in the southern part of my electorate at the big Boyer mills at New Norfolk.
The unemployment situation in Tasmania is worsening because of the fact that the Australian National Line has increased freight rates by approximately 25 per cent in the last 12 months. The ANL carries 85 per cent of Tasmania’s imports and exports. Therefore, the effect of such an increase on our economy is enormous. But the amazing fact about the ANL is that, since 1957, its total profit has been $27m. In only one year did it suffer a deficit. When this happened, it pressed the panic button and freight rates increased by approximately 25 per cent in the year following its first deficit. That deficit occurred largely because the ANL entered the Japanese-Australia trade, not because of any losses on the Tasmanian run. The adding of this freight increase to the cost of goods imported and of produce exported has had an enormous effect on our economy. This strangulation effect is showing itself already in that for one thing, it has discouraged new industries.
The Senate established last year the Senate Standing Committee on Primary Industry, Secondary Industry and Trade. Its first inquiry concerned the Tasmanian Shipping Service. That Committee went into this problem. To me, its report of 105 pages is most disappointing. The Committee tells us little that we do not know already. It certainly has not recommended that a freight subsidy should be paid by the Commonwealth Government to assist Tasmanian shippers and the Tasmanian economy. It is vital to our manufacturers and our primary producers that they enjoy a competitive status equal to that of their mainland rivals. The more freights rise, the less chance Tasmanian manufacturers and primary producers have of competing with their mainland rivals who enjoy road and rail transport alternatives that Tasmania does not have.
Already this Government is paying a shipping subsidy, but not to Tasmania. Looking through the Budget documents, I discovered that, in the last 5 years, our Federal Government has paid $1,101,000 to subsidise the South American shipping service. 1 remember this shipping service being established, but I had not looked at it in recent years and quite overlooked the fact that it existed on a Commonwealth subsidy. If the Commonwealth can do that for the company that operates that service, why cannot the Government do the same thing with respect to ANL services between Australia and Tasmania? After all, the ANL is a government line. The Government has been hiding the fact of this subsidy. One must study the document Public Authority Finance - Commonwealth Authorities 1970-71’ to discover that little piece of evidence.
My next point concerns local government which is not dealt with in this Budget. Local government is overloaded with responsibilities and is starved for finance right throughout Australia. It must meet high interest rates in respect of many of its borrowings. The amazing fact is that about 23 per cent of rates collected by local government authorities is being used up to pay for loan charges. Rating upon individuals has almost reached saturation point. I wish to comment on one or two interesting points in this respect. Rates today cost Australians $4.43 for every $1 that they cost 20 years ago. For every $1 paid in rates even only 2 years ago, each ratepayer now pays $1.15. For every $1 that councils owed 20 years ago, they now owe $8. Councils had to use 21.8c in every $1 of their rate revenue, not to provide new services or to maintain existing ones, but to service debts. This figure is higher in many individual cases.
It is obvious that a new look approach must be adopted with respect to local government which is the grass roots government in Australia. There are approximately 925 local councils and city councils In Australia. The Commonwealth,
I think, should introduce some sort of loan council for local governments. It should adopt the same approach to this type of Government, which is the basic form of government, as it does to State governments. Local government is the form of government that is closest to our ratepayers and electors. I do not think that it is right that ratepayers should be required to pay higher and higher rates for the services that they need. I believe that town sewerage and town water schemes should be handed over to the State governments and thus taken right out of the hands of local governments altogether. If these 2 items alone were removed from their control, local governments could survive. If these great increases in costs continue local governments in this country will be strangled. I think that the Labor Party when it comes into government will do something about setting up a loan council for local governments. We will consider creating the money for that loan council to commence operations. The loans will be made to the local government bodies after annual consultation with the authority that is set up so that they may be put on a proper business footing financially.
– We will consider it.
– I agree. We will consider it, anyway. 1 turn finally to tourism. This matter does not come specifically within the terms of the Government’s Budget, but I wish to say one or two words about it. Every person who visited Australia in 1967 spent an average of $300. Spending by each visitor to Australia has risen now to an average of $400. In 1969, Australia earned $116m from tourism. It is estimated that, by 1975, income from tourism will increase to $300m. It is expected that approximately 700,000 visitors will come to Australia in that year. It must be recognised, I believe, by any government, that development of tourist potential is the world’s biggest single business. In fact, tourism on the international level is now the largest single item in the trade.
– You have a casino now which must help.
– We have only one. We do not have one in the north. In fact, in
Debate (on motion by Mr Turnbull) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.1 to 8 p.m.
– by leave - The statement I am about to make has already been made to the Senate by my colleague the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton). Copies of the statement as delivered by him are now being circulated for the information of honourable members.
After much detailed work and consideration a definite stage has now been reached in the plans and proposals for the airport needs of Sydney. As well as being the largest and oldest city in the Commonwealth, Sydney is also the principal gateway for people flying to and from Australia. Aviation is a growth industry. Although it is only a relatively young transport arm, it has in recent years exhibited dramatic growth rates. Its capacity for technological development is well know to all of us and because of our vast distances between major centres of population, Australia has relied heavily on its most important advantage, that is speed. But while it has brought our most remote centres within hours of the capital cities in every State of the Commonwealth, aviation has continued to demand a substantial share of the national resources. Although these resources are of course limited, it should be remembered that civil aviation is growing at a faster rate than the national growth rate.
The industry’s progress has demanded a high degree of forward planning and expertise not only in the air but also on the ground in the development of airports and ground facilities. Take just one example.
Early in 1969 the Commonwealth Government set up an interdepartmental committee, comprising representatives of the Department of Civil Aviation, the Department of the Interior, the Treasury and the Department of Works to advise the Government on the major airport requirements for Sydney. In particular the committee, under the chairmanship of the Department of Civil Aviation, was asked to consider the need for a second airport and, if this was established, to consider and report upon its location. Fully realising that this was a matter of great importance to the whole community, the Minister for Civil Aviation, when questioned over recent months, has pointed out that he would report on the matter as soon as it was practicable for him to do do. 1 am now in a position to inform the House of the results of the committee’s work as well as the decisions taken by the Government after considering its report, lt has also been judged appropriate to make this statement available concurrently to our colleagues in the State Parliament of New South Wales, through’ the Premier, and to the community at large.
The interdepartmental committee was created following the preliminary investigations which the Department of Civil Aviation had been carrying out over a number of years. For some time the Department had been conscious of an ultimate need to provide additional airport capacity for Sydney and its investigations had covered both the extension of the present airport site as well as a general study of areas around Sydney where a second airport could be established in due course when it was needed. In its consideration of locations where a second airport might be established, the Department appreciated the difficulty in finding suitable places within a reasonable distance of Sydney.
A modern airport requires a large area of land, particularly if it is to cater for aircraft used on international services. It must also have obstruction-free approaches and be located on reasonably flat ground if construction costs are to be kept within acceptable limits. Airports are expensive assets and belong to the whole community. Once established it is vitally important that they are able to be located in areas where there is ample opportunity to have them adequately separated from the surrounding development that a large and fast growing metropolis like the Newcastle, Sydney, Wollongong complex brings in its train. In these respects, the terrain around Sydney seriously restricts the number of alternative locations for such an airport. Also, the extent of built-up areas around Sydney precludes the use of a number of otherwise suitable areas.
In its earlier considerations, the Department carefully examined a great number of locations and was able to reduce these to about a dozen, which then needed much more careful consideration individually in a number of respects. Honourable members will agree, I am sure, that it was right and proper for a Commonwealth interdepartmental committee to be first to study the second airport proposal. The Commonwealth has a very heavy responsibility in providing and maintaining the major airports in this country and is therefore in a good position to establish the national requirements as a whole. In examining the future airport requirements for Sydney, the committee first of all had to consider the probable growth in aircraft movements in air services of various classes for quite a long time ahead. Such predictions are complex and not necessarily precise as the actual growth can be influenced by unforeseen circumstances.
Careful consideration of the capacity attainable in peak periods at Sydney Airport was also necessary. This depends on many factors such as weather conditions, the air traffic control facilities available, the mixture of aircraft types and noise abatement procedures. The committee found it necessary to take account of the various factors in order to arrive at capacity figures which could be used for comparison with the future traffic predictions. I am familiar with the voluminous working papers which the committee considered and I would like to say we must all be most impressed by the thoroughness with which these aspects of the task were approached.
The committee determined that additional airport capacity, over and above that of Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport in its present form, would be required in the late 1970s. The committee also concluded that even if the present airport is improved and its capacity increased, there will still be a need for a second airport. Depending upon the improvements made at Mascot and the growth in the traffic which it serves, the second airport will most probably be required no later than the early 1980s. From many points of view, Mascot is an excellent site for an airport, being within 8 miles of the centre of Sydney and surrounded to a large extent by Botany Bay. The value of its proximity to Sydney is all the more important as we now know that, with the particular problems of siting a new airport in the Sydney area, this could easily be about 40 miles or more from the centre of the city. Mascot also forms an integral part of a fast developing transport complex in which road, rail and ports are linked with the airport.
In making these comments I am not overlooking some of the problems of the present site, its restricted area and the disturbances caused in some residential areas by aircraft noise. Its location in relation to the centre of metropolitan Sydney is therefore extremely important if the air services using the airport are to meet the community needs. Obviously, there is therefore some conflict between the interests of Sydney as a whole, both now and in the future, and the interests of communities adjacent to the airport. A reasonable balance between these interests would not be achieved by accepting the propositions put by some sections that Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport should not be developed, or that it should even be abandoned.
The Minister has previously stated his view that we are committed to the present airport indefinitely. That it should remain and be developed was the view also expressed by the Chifley and Scullin governments, lt currently represents a book value investment of $167m, $ll2m of this from public funds and $55m from private enterprise. It would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to replace. We cannot afford, nor do we intend, to throw away such a valuable and important community asset which, despite some difficult noise problems, has very great advantages by comparison with any other potential airport site. The new runway, extending into Botany Bay and over 13,000 feet in length when it comes into operation early in 1972, will make the airport a better neighbour to the community and more operationally effective.
The Department of Civil Aviation has studied the noise problems very carefully - and will continue to do so - and a great deal has been done to limit its severity. The various measures currently being taken add to the operating costs of the airline industry quite substantially and with other measures which will gradually have effect in the future, the situation will be kept under reasonable control. The Department is currently preparing a comprehensive noise monitoring system for this airport which I hope will be installed next year. It is not often appreciated that this Department, that is, the Department of Civil Aviation, has played a leading role in world aviation organisations aimed at dealing with the noise problem and production of quieter engines.
While it is, of course, intended to retain the present curfew, it is not only up to the civil aviation industry and the Department of Civil Aviation to limit the effects of aircraft noise. In the long term a great deal can be achieved by proper planning in areas adjacent to the airport. In this connection the Department of Civil Aviation is offering all the assistance it can to the local authorities as well as to the State Government, which has the authority outside the airport boundaries.
For some time the Department of Civil Aviation has been carefully examining alternative proposals for increasing the capacity of Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. No secret has been made of the fact that improvements such as parallel runways involving extensions into Botany Bay have been under examination. These investigations are still proceeding in consultation with appropriate elements of the aviation industry and the New South Wales State Government. The inter departmental committee was acquainted with alternative proposals for the development of Mascot and was able to consider in general terms the differing effects of such proposals in meeting the airport needs for Sydney.
Having reached this point, the Committee turned its attention to alternative locations for a second airport and it reviewed the dozen or so locations which the Department believed had any prospect at all of accommodating a major airport. One of the first things to be determined for each location was the rough layout of an airport, the location and length of runways and the position of terminal areas. This work was necessarily preliminary in nature at this stage, but in considerable detail. It allowed the subsequent consideration of the effects of air traffic using such airports on the use of airspace generally in the Sydney area. Not only were the effects of civil airport operations at Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport, Bankstown and other civil aerodromes taken into account, but Royal Australian Air Force operations at Richmond and even Williamtown had to be considered, as well as the requirements of other airspace users, such as the Army and the Navy. It was in these aspects that the Department of Defence and the Service Departments were drawn into the Committee’s discussions, and the Minister for Civil Aviation has stated that the advice of these other Departments was of great assistance to the committee.
Engineering feasibility and order of cost of alternative plans, some 16 in all, at all these locations were considered, as well as the compatibility of such airports with the adjacent communities, access by surface transport, environmental aspects, etc. The 16 different preliminary airport layouts and detailed plans were examined at the following locations: Wyong, Norah Head; Wyong, Warnervale; Somersby; Richmond; Badgery’s Creek; Fleurs; Marsden Park; Long Point; Lucas Heights; Wattamolla, National Park; and Duffy’s Forest. As a result of all these considerations, the Committee was able to discard a number of locations and end up with 4 that it could not reject or place in order of preference without extensive consultation with the Government of New South Wales, together with detailed surveys and other technical economic and operational investigations in depth. These locations are: Duffy’s Forest; Richmond; Somersby; Wattamolla. Duffy’s Forest could not be developed for use by international aircraft, whereas the other 3 sites appeared to be suitable for both domestic and international services.
Many honourable members would have heard the suggestion made from time to time that rather than bring international air services to an airport within driving distance of Sydney^ a more distant airport at Dubbo, Narromine or places even much further away from Sydney might be used. On this basis domestic services would connect that airport with Sydney, and perhaps other capital cities. Such a proposal is not compatible with the demand for fast airline connections between the major cities of the world. For instance, one Boeing 747 carries enough passengers when fully laden and landing at a remote airport to call for 10 Fokker Friendship type aircraft to transfer its passengers to their capital city destinations. Furthermore, the Committee clearly established that for domestic air services alone at Sydney, 2 airports will be required in the not distant future. The suggestion is, therefore, not considered applicable in meeting the airport requirements under consideration.
Since receiving the report, it has been necessary for the Department of Civil Aviation to study very carefully in its own right as the Department with the ultimate responsibility the recommendations of the interdepartmental committee, particularly in connection with the alternative site for the extension of the present airport. Furthermore, the Minister for Civil Aviation decided that he should acquaint himself with the various locations investigated and discussed in the report. Since then he has personally inspected many of the proposed sites where it was thought a new airport might be located.
The Minister also decided that he should examine current trends in airport planning and equipment becoming available overseas prior to placing the committee’s report before the Government. The growth and early experience in the operation of jumbo jets and the impending introduction of other wide-bodied aircraft, as well as the probable use of supersonic aircraft in the near future and the possible introduc tion of VSTOL and STOL aircraft, introduce new considerations in airport planning. He was therefore fortunate that the opportunity to inspect and discuss some 20 major airports in Europe and the United States was open to him during his recent visit overseas to attend the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s Assembly in Vienna. These investigations overseas confirmed an earlier impression that other countries too are experiencing major problems in providing new airports to serve large cities.
As the Minister has mentioned on prior occasions, New York and London are but 2 cases where the site of new airports within a reasonable distance of these cities involves great difficulties. Many honourable members will be aware of the fairly recent decisions to establish a third airport for London at Foulness, 50 miles east of that city. It has been estimated that this new airport will cost up to $l,500m. I might add, too, that London’s Gatwick airport is 27 miles from the city, while others worthy of mention in this context are Rome airport, 20 miles from the city, Washington airport, 27 miles from the city and San Francisco airport, 14 miles from the city. Quite apart from the aspects I have mentioned, the very important interests of local communities, environmental factors and the very great cost involved in a second airport for Sydney, require that this project must be most carefully considered and all available viewpoints brought to bear upon it before any decisions are taken.
The committee recommended that the remaining investigations leading up to the selection of the most suitable site should be made by a joint Commonwealth-State committee. The Commonwealth has adopted this recommendation and following several discussions the Minister for Civil Aviation has had with the New South Wales Government, I am now able to say that the proposed joint committee will be set up quickly. Terms of reference have been agreed upon and the final stages of the work will begin quickly and be concluded as soon as possible. Briefly, the terms of reference of the committee will be:
Sydney together with the respective roles of the existing airport and the new airport, addressing itself mainly to the following alternative sites: Richmond and Somersby, but without necessarily restricting itself to these locations if the committee considers that other locations merit detailed consideration.
Speaking generally on these terms of reference, it will have been noted that the interdepartmental committee found itself unable to decide between 4 final sites or to place these in order of preference. The Commonwealth Government has decided that 2 of these sites, Richmond and Somersby, should be considered in priority above the others and has directed the joint committee to operate accordingly. If the committee wish to evaluate further sites, the Commonwealth will not object. However, the Commonwealth’s view is that, for a variety of reasons, Duffy’s Forest and Wattamolla are neither desirable nor satisfactory sites and it hopes that a quick determination between Richmond and Somersby can be made.
The work of the interdepartmental committee was based on preliminary information about each location, lt will be necessary now in consultation with the State of New South Wales to develop firmer proposals after careful study surveys are made in each area. From the information so obtained, more exact operational and engineering planning will be possible, leading to better estimates of construction quantities and costs. It will be appreciated that access to the airport, a matter for the State authorities, is a matter of essential importance if the new airport is to serve the community adequately.
The capital cost of the airport and associated facilities is expected to run into several hundred million dollars. The interdepartmental committee recommended that the Commonwealth Government should engage consultants, expert in this field, to carry out a comprehensive cost-benefit evaluation of the alternative proposals including those for the development of Mascot. This will allow a very thorough assessment to be made of comparative costs. Such an economic analysis of the whole airport situation for Sydney will be available to the Commonwealth-State committee to take into account along with other important considerations. The Commonwealth has agreed with the recommendations and expressed the hope that scope might be found to use Australian consultants in conjunction with the overseas consultants who will be needed as principals.
It is difficult at this stage to determine how long these further inquiries leading up to a recommendation for the siting of a second airport will take. We are well aware of the need for the earliest possible decision but equally well aware of the importance and cost of this whole question and the need for it to be fully considered from all points of view. The Government is aiming to resolve the matter as quickly as it can, but an estimate of time is not possible with any reasonable accuracy at this stage, and any undertaking given may therefore be misleading. However, the Minister for Civil Aviation will ensure that this task is given the highest priority with the object of it being completed as early as possible and the results reported to both governments.
We are very conscious, too, that in matters such as this there is a very broad community interest involved in addition to the detailed civil aviation considerations. The interests of local communities are very important and these will be properly taken into account so that the overall balance of public interest may be fairly and properly assessed. It will be competent for the joint Commonwealth-State committee to seek and also receive in writing any objections or additional proposals or information that they judge should be taken into account or would help their work.
The committee will consist of members from the Commonwealth, the Department of Civil Aviation - whose member will also be the Chairman - and the departments of the Treasury, Works and Interior. The State of New South Wales will provide the remaining 3 from those departments it believes have the most to contribute. The committee will be free to draw on others as required. The Department of Defence, for instance, would have the right to appoint an observer.
In conclusion, I would like to add that the Commonwealth Government looks forward to working with the State of New South Wales On this national project. Over the many months of investigations and deliberations we have been particularly impressed by the ready assistance and interest of the State Government in this important r -itier. 1 consider this to be an historic t. pie of Commonwealth-State cd-operation which will assist us all to carry out quickly the final phase of the investigation leading to the choice of a site for Sydney’s sc.ond airport which, in due course, will be worthy of that great city. I present the following papers
Sydney Airport Proposals - Ministerial Statement. 15 September 1971.
Motion (by Mr Chipp) proposed:
That the Home take note of the paper.
– The Opposition welcomes the statement which has just been made by the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz), who represents in this chamber the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton). This statement is another example of the procrastination and delay by and indecision of the Government on a most important subject. The first thing to which I wish ‘to draw attention is the fact that it would appear that there has been another Cabinet leak. I am wondering whether it was made by ‘Billy the Leak’ to his mate Sir Frank err who in the Cabinet is really leaking out this information. Although this confidential report, which has been in the hands of the Minister for Civil Aviation since September 1970 and has been a pretty closely guarded secret up to date, the Sunday Telegraph’ of last week gave an almost verbatim list of the 16 sites investigated by the Department of Civil Aviation. I wonder whether it was ‘Billy the Leak’ who let out this information?
-Order! If the honourable member is referring to the Prime Minister he should withdraw that remark.
– I did not name anyone, Mr Speaker.
– But if the honourable member is referring to the Prime Minister he should withdraw that remark.
– I did not name anyone, Mr Speaker. I do not know whether ‘Billy the Leak’ is the Prime Minister in the eyes of some people.
– Why does the honourable member not have the courage to say who it was?
– Yes, I was referring to the Prime Minister.
– The honourable member will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it, Mr Speaker. The honourable member wanted it out. Everyone knows who Billy the Leak is.
– The honourable member will again withdraw that remark.
– ] withdraw it. The report was first requested by the Minister for National Development, who is now seated at the table, when he was Minister for Civil Aviation. We had a great fanfare of trumpets on 14th July 1969 when a committee was appointed to report on the need for a second airport for Sydney. Then we had another statement by the present Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) when he took office that he would get a report from the Committee very quickly. Finally in September 1970 the Committee’s report was presented to the Minister for Civil Aviation who then proceeded to sit on it for the past 12 months.
It is not fair and reasonable to this Parliament for a committee to take almost 2 years to prepare a report and then for the Government to sit on that report for a further 12 months. I hope and trust that the new joint committee which is to be appointed to investigate the recommendations of the present committee will not take a similar length of time because this is a question which requires an urgent and immediate decision.
The Opposition would move at this point for the appointment of a parliamentary select committee to investigate the recommendations and bring down its own recommendations but for the fact that it is afraid that if it did this all it would do would be to delay further the settling of this question and give the Government a further escape. The Opposition has on numerous occasions over recent years moved resolutions in this place calling for the setting up of a committee to investigate this important question. This is a question which should have been resolved by the Government not 3 years ago but early in the 1960s at the time when jets were introduced into regular public transport. From that time, the early 1960s, it was obvious to everyone who had any knowledge of civil aviation that there was a great need for the Department to determine at an . early date just where a second airport was to be located in Sydney. Even parliamentary committees made similar recommendations. For example, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works presented a report to this Parliament on 23rd September 1965 in which it said in recommendation 4:
We recommend that steps be taken to identify, as soon as possible, the site for the development of Sydney’s second major airport.
The same Committee at a later stage made a similar recommendation to the Parliament in which it said:
The Committee strongly support the recommendation of the 196S Committee that steps be taken to identify without delay the site for the development of Sydney’s second major airport.
That committee in 1968 when considering the whole question of the airport had several things to say about it. It said:
The Committee believe that if the Government intends to provide facilities commensurate with the needs of modern civil aviation, then clearly it has a responsibility to plan with more energy and imagination than has been shown in this instance.
The Committee went on to say that it supported the findings of the Committee in 1965. So in fact any amount of evidence has been available to the Department of Civil Aviation that it had a responsibility to this nation to get on with the job of planning a second airport for Sydney. It is obvious from the Committee’s reports that the Government was not interested in an alternative site to Mascot for an airport. It was of the opinion that parallel northsouth runways would meet the requirements of civil aviation today. In fact, if we read those reports we will see the forecast that parallel runways would be completed by 1980 and that this would meet the requirements at Mascot.
However, all the way through these investigations the Government and the Department have failed to take into consideration the problems which jet aircraft today are creating for the people who are unfortunate enough to live under the flight paths. Honourable members who were members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Aircraft Noise had the adavantage of receiving evidence from people affected by the noise of these aircraft in the areas in which they lived. The Department must have been aware of that information even before it was given to the Select Committee on Aircraft Noise. The Minister for National Development some time ago boasted that his Department was responsible for bringing the problem of aircraft noise to the attention of the International Civil Aviation Organisation and having a committee set up to investigate it. I draw the attention of honourable members to the fact that even at that point the British Government had already realised the problems of aircraft noise and had taken similar steps long before the Minister and this Government took action.
When the Select Committee started to investigate aircraft noise it had in front of it the findings of the British parliamentary inquiry into aircraft noise. The British Parliament has already made its decision before this Government got around to the question of aircraft noise. Everyone was aware of what the demand would be for airport facilities. Everyone must have realised the limitations of Mascot. I quoted some figures once before and I think they are worthy of repetition now. When one looks at the size of airports throughout the world one sees that Sydney Airport has an area of 1,700 acres, Tullamarine has 5,350 acres, Perth has 3,600 acres and, overseas, Chicago’s O’Hare Airport has 7,200 acres and New York airport has 4,900 acres. I do not have time to go through all of them hut it must have been obvious to the Government and the Department that there was a problem associated with Mascot. Nevertheless they were sitting on it and doing nothing about it. These are the problems to which the Government has not offered any solution whatever in the statement that has been made belatedly tonight by the Minister. All I hope is that the Government will not take as long bringing down the next report.
In the limited time I have I would like to refer to the reference by the Minister to the question of distance. He said:
In its consideration of locations where a second airport might be established, the Department appreciated the difficulty, in finding suitable places within a reasonable distance of Sydney.
We realised that locating a suitable site within a reasonable distance of Sydney is today one of the major problems that this committee has to face, but if the Government had had the courage, foresight and knowledge to have acted on this subject back in the 1960s, when it was obvious to everyone that there was a need for a second airport and that Mascot was no longer a satisfactory proposition, the Department could have been examining some of the sites which would have been available so that the planning could have been carried out. We know that today we need a funnel for an airport about 10 miles long and 1 mile wide and anything under that funnel will be affected by aircraft flying over it. Therefore, the Government will have a considerable problem in selecting a site within a reasonable distance of Sydney where this requirement can be met. As I said 10 miles by 1 mile is the absolute minimum even taking into consideration the new noise levels that have been agreed to by ICAO but which have not yet been made public. I believe that the noise levels fixed for new aircraft from now on will be much less than that emitted, for example, from the Boeing 707. The Lockheed L1011 and the DC10 will comply with the ICAO requirements, but the Boeing 747 is just outside and certainly the Boeing 707, 727 and the DC9 will not comply with the noise requirements. So in finding a site that is suitable I believe the Committee is in trouble and has problems brought about because of this Government’s failure to face the problem 10 years ago instead of waiting until now.
– The terrain would have been the same.
– The terrain would have been the same; that is perfectly true. But the residential development which has taken place and which is planned by the State Planning Authority in New South Wales for the immediate future would not then have been planned or have taken place. A lot of that area would have been open space on which an airport could have been reasonably planned by the Department of Civil Aviation and the Stale Planning Authority. The honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan) shakes his head but he knows it is true, because we have had a representative of the State Planning Authority before the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise. It is obvious to me that the Department of Civil Aviation had Towra Point picked out but in order to try to save the former honourable member for St George from electoral defeat, the Gorton Government gave the site away. 1 know that Towra Point was the site. If I had time I would read a letter I have in my possession from Pat Hills about it. The fact is that the Government has not been practical and realistic in the manner in which it has gone about this matter. The Government has a problem in front of it in establishing a second airport which will be within a reasonable distance of Sydney.
What I want to know in the few minutes remaining to me is what the Government is going to do in the next 10 years. If the proposed committee were to make a decision tonight it would still be 10 years before the new airport would be operational. Knowing the way this Government’s committees operate it will probably be another 3 years before we get a final decision from the Government. 1 would like the Minister tonight to say that the committee will present its report by 30th June next year. Then we could really start to get somewhere. There is no reason, with the evidence that the Government has already received and is available to it, why a decision could not be made no later than 30th June next. I want to know what the Government is going to do about Mascot in the next 10 years. Is it going to proceed with parallel runways? ls it going to lift the curfew? Is it going to continue to create the noise nuisances which it is creating at the present time? Every holiday period such as Easter or Christmas there are numerous extra flights into Sydney. There are an extra 20, 30 or even more in some cases. J have not time to quote the facts but at these holiday times permission is granted for aircraft to land at all hours of the night at Sydney. We want to know the facts. What is the Government going to do about it? What factual information has it got about STOL and VTOL aircraft? Are they a practical proposition or is the Government only stalling until after the next election so that then it will not have to make a decision about where a new airport is to be located or whether it will retain Mascot only. The Australian Labor Party assures the people that it will make an early decision about where the airport is to be located and will bring relief to the people around Sydney.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-4 rise to commend the statement which has been made to the House because I believe it gives a very responsible account of the Government’s action in this matter. It is rather interesting to hear the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) assert that the correct location for Sydney’s second airport would have been Towra Point. I wonder just what his colleague, the honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison), really thinks about that, lt surprises me that the Opposition in this matter should assert so positively that it is the view of the Opposition that Towra Point was the correct site. We will certainly be interested to hear from the honourable member for St George about this when he speaks a little later in this debate.
– I rise to a point of order. I did not say that the Opposition had selected Towra Point as its site. I said it was the Government’s decision and I can prove it.
– I will not join issue with the honourable member for Newcastle. He has made this further comment but I recall that he very clearly said that Towra Point was the site that should have been proceeded with. I think the important consideration is the fact that a recommendation has now been made and that a proper inquiry based upon appropriate information assembled by the Department of Civil Aviation will be conducted into this matter. Of course it is correct that the State authorities should have a significant part in this approach. I believe that the terms of reference of the committee that is to be established, a joint Commonwealth-State committee, are more than appropriate for the task that the committee will undertake.
The honourable member for Newcastle criticised the Government and referred to reports in 1969, 1965 and 1968. He said that there should have been a different approach to this matter, but I remind the House that the facts are that the development of the present Sydney (KingsfordSmith) airport has been in accordance with the most practical approach possible. That was to provide for both international and internal transportation by air the best possible service for the city of Sydney. There has of course been and continues to be some discomfort for some citizens of that city. This is most regrettable, but the establishment at Mascot of an asset that has been developed for an outlay of Si 67m and the fact that the extension of the north-south runway has still to be completed spells out very clearly that it would be false economy to sell out the Sydney Airport at this point of time.
I believe that this is the background that must be taken into account when assessing the statement that has just been made to the House. The extension of the runway into Botany Bay certainly will also minimise the noise factor and it will give the added advantage of providing an opportunity to develop a parallel runway. I believe this is a proper approach and I seriously question the assertion by the Opposition that it would make an immediate decision to sell out Sydney Airport and establish an alternative airport for Sydney. I believe that if the responsibility were with the Opposition - we hope it will not be at any time in the future - it would not proceed on these lines but would follow quite closely the pattern that is now firmly established as a consequence of the investigations that have been made and would seek to establish in due course a second airport to serve the city of Sydney. There are a number of reasons for this, not the least of which is the fact that there is just not a suitable site within easy distance of the city of Sydney. Richmond and Somersby are locations which, have been determined as the result of a very detailed study.
– Where is Somersby?
– Somersby happens to be in the electorate of the honourable member for Robertson. If he were to pay as much attention, to this matter as other members of this House perhaps he would be one of the first to support a proper investigation into the prospects of the use of the site at Somersby. But of course the Richmond site is a far more logical location, provided that when the State authorities have had an opportunity to express their views on it and when further investigation of a technical nature has been completed it turns out to be the best site. But in terms of distance from the city of Sydney and of its relationship to the built up area of the Sydney’ metropolis certainly Richmond seems to offer the best prospects. I do not think that his is the appropriate time to debate precisely the location at Richmond, but it is fair to assume that it has a relationship to the existing Royal Australian Air Force establishment in that locality.
The terms of reference give the opportunity for those 2 sites to which I have referred, as well as others, to be looked at effectively. I believe that that will provide the means for avoiding some of the pitfalls that have been experienced with Tullamarine and other main airports in Australia. A very sound decision was made in the case of Tullamarine. The land was acquired and the project got under way. But because of a degree of lack of realisation on the part of Victorian State authorities too much development occurred too close to the Tullamarine Airport before the Airport was even completed or opened. I hope that the action now being taken in relation to the selection of a site for a second airport for Sydney will avoid that very serious risk.
The State authorities alone will have the means to avoid any problem of that nature. It is all very well for the Opposition to be critical of the Government on this matter but, as I said earlier, if the Opposition had the responsibility for the selection of the site I doubt whether it would have proceeded in any other direction. If the Opposition were to turn back the clock it would have to admit that the first proposal for the establishment of the present Sydney airport was made by the Chifley Government in 1946 and that the New South Wales Government of the day, which was a Labor administration, agreed with that proposal. The statement that there has been a misdemeanour on the part of this Government in the very formative stages of the airport really cannot be sustained. At no point of time has there been a practical stage at which one could say that it was appropriate to move from the existing Sydney Airport site to an alternative site. One of the real reasons for this is the nature and geography of the Sydney area.
If there had been a site in Sydney similar to the Tullamarine site in Melbourne in terms of distance from the existing airport and if there had been an appropriate area closer to Sydney then perhaps a different policy may have been appropriate. But the suggestion is made to those who use our own internal air system, and to international operators that they should use a site as far removed from the city of Sydney as those that obviously are the only ones available, would have met with very great resistance. I suppose it is fair to say that even the 2 sites that have been mentioned specifically will have that disability at least in a few years to come.
Reference has been made to the decision of the British Government. The honourable member for Newcastle said that the British Government did the right thing and made the right decisions in view of the problems of the London (Heathrow) Airport. But the development of a new airport at Foulness, 50 miles east of the City of London, at the cost of $ 1,500m is only just getting under way. So the decisions to which the honourable member for Newcastle referred as having been a demonstration of action by another government are certainly hard to find. The comparison if one wants to assess it in that way - of the City of London, in terms of traffic and the problems of getting to and from the airports that serve that city, with the City of Sydney demonstrates clearly that the decision that we make must be for a very long term project. When we think of Richmond or the other site we are thinking in terms of a distance of 30, 40 and more miles.
The appropriate thing to do is to develop a second airport which, in the first instance, will serve for international travel. There is a very good reason for that. 1 believe that the travelling public in Australia and the commercial interests of Sydney - those who use air transport day after day - will still want to use the Sydney Airport for a long time to come. In other words, can one visualise the situation in which the journey from Sydney to Melbourne or Brisbane to Sydney would be equal in time to travelling by road from the city to a second Sydney airport? I do not believe that that is feasible as far as our own internal travel is concerned, but it is a different matter for international travel. I do not think that it would be asking too much to expect international travellers to spend a little more time getting from a second airport which was an international airport, to their final destination in the city of Sydney. Of course, that is purely a personal view.
I believe that in the light of all the information that has been given in this House in the past and in the light of the various reports that are so valuable in assessing this whole matter, there is a practical course that must be followed. The appointment of a Commonwealth-State committee will provide an opportunity to follow through very logically the steps that are necessary to reach the point where we can act in a manner appropriate to the time, to the economic factors that must be taken into account and to the balanced interests of all sections of the community. I repeat that the Government recognises the disabilities of those who live under the flight paths of the existing Sydney Airport and the discomfort that they suffer from noise. But at the s«me time a vast section of the community depends on the effective operation of the Sydney Airport, and its interests must also be taken into account.
Undoubtedly, when a report is submitted by the proposed committee further steps will have to be taken. No doubt at some stage the Public Works Committee will want to study the report that is submitted. That would be right and proper. I am sure that the statement that has been made is timely and that it accounts in a very proper manner for the Government’s actions. I very strongly commend what has been put to the House tonight.
– Tonight we have been treated to the long awaited report by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) on the second airport for Sydney. But what we got was a squib. The procrastination which has marked the 2i years of preparation of this report is to be followed by a further committee and it will be a long time before we get a responsible decision from the Government. This dilly-dallying ineptitude is not only costing the Australian taxpayers millions of dollars but it is also making life hell for the people living in the vicinity of airports, particularly the Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport. It seems to me that the Government could not care less about the people living in my electorate and the adjoining electorates of Barton, KingsfordSmith and Grayndler.
The report displays a complete lack of understanding and, what is more, a complete lack of vision in the planning of what has been described as the fastest growing industry in the world. The Government is standing flat footed in an area noted for its great challenges to human planning. It seems to me that the Government is intent on throwing good money after bad in persisting with the further development of Mascot Airport. It envisages a further investment of $200m in addition to the existing investment of $112m by the Commonwealth. The Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport, as we all know, is a pocket handkerchief sized airport of 1,600 acres. The standard for international airports overseas is between 12,000 and 15,000 acres. This pocket handkerchief size airport at Mascot will have a Commonwealth investment of $300m. The Minister and honourable members on the other side have been speaking about hundreds of millions of dollars. The new international airport at Tullamarine which has an area of 5,400 acres cost only $83m. As far as we on this side of the House are concerned the uneconomic anti-social development of Mascot Airport must be halted and a second site must be selected forthwith and an immediate start made on construction. This is not a new problem. I wish to refer to a prescient statement made 111 years ago by mY good friend and colleague the honourable member for Barton (Mr Reynolds) in 1960. My colleague said:
Rather let us have a public inquiry before great sums of money are expended on the provision of airports in these thickly populated areas. Even at this stage consideration might be given to removing Sydney’s international airport to Richmond . . .
That statement was made Hi years ago. lt has taken the Government and its committee 21 years to arrive at the same decision. J am glad to note that the Minister for Civil Aviation in a statement in another place, which has been repeated here tonight, accepts the necessity for a second airport for Sydney. He also recognises that it will be needed by the late 1970s or early 1980s. But 1 wonder whether he recognises that in this day and age it takes 10 years to build an airport, lt takes 10 years from turning the first sod until a regular passenger transport takes off. After 2i years we have this abortive report. How long do we have to wait until the next committee presents its report? 1 think we will be lucky to see the second report before the end of the century. In the meantime land developers are moving into the areas already named in this latest report. There will be additional costs to the Government in the purchase of the land and we will run out of areas large enough for an airport. Because of this long delay I do not think that at this stage wc should just be thinking -about a second airport. Rather, we should adopt a visionary approach of forward planning and think of a third airport.
Because of the lack of vision on the part of this Government in the past in civil aviation matters it is no doubt thinking in terms of needing 4,000 to 5,000 acres for a second airport. As 1 said we should be thinking in terms of at least 12,000 to 15,000 acres. I recently visited Los Angeles and the city authorities have set aside 18,000 acres for the provision of a new airport to be built 28 miles out of Los Angeles at Palmdale: Pending construction of a second airport for Sydney the Government is to proceed with further development of Mascot Airport. It is no secret - this has been obvious to those who have been associated with airport problems - that the Government intends to duplicate both the north-south runway and the east-west runway at Mascot. I am sorry that we are unable to have incorporated in Hansard a map prepared a couple of years ago by the Maritime Services Board of New South Wales. This map shows the 2 runways running out into Botany Bay. What we have to keep in mind is that the cost of extending these runways into Botany Bay is astronomical in comparison with their construction on land.
In the United States the cost of constructing runways and taxiways is approximately $300 a ft. The cost of constructing runways at Tullamarine was approximately $570 a ft. The cost of the extensions currently taking place at Mascot - no doubt this is the extension and duplication that the Government has in mind - runs out at $5,500 a ft, roughly 1,0 times what it costs to build runways on land. But what is equally disconserting is that the projected duplication of runwavs which will be achieved at excessive cost will be a scandalous waste in terms of usage. The limited area available for construction will not allow a 5,000 ft separation of runways. International Civil Aviation Organisation regulations require that for simultaneous use of runways they must be 5,000 ft apart. But the plans 1 have seen for Mascot show that the runways will be only 1,000 ft apart. This will mean that these runways will not be able to be used simultaneously even though there has been a tremendous expenditure of funds on them.
The Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation graciously acknowledged in his speech that there is some conflict between the interests of Sydney as a whole both now and in the future and the interests of communities adjacent to Mascot Airport. lt is very nice of him to concede that point because this is the basic point.
We in this place spend a lot of time talking about the quality of life but when it comes down to a practical proposal this Government is not in the forefront. For example, let me refer to an article by Dr Elfyn Richards, Vice-Chancellor of Loughborough University of Technology, Loughborough, in the United Kingdom. Dr Richards is a former member of the Wilson Committee on Problems of Noise. He made a statement which I hope this Government will keep in mind. He said:
Noise pollution is with us and, like taxation, it is likely to remain. Like taxation, too, noise pollution is unfair if its burden is borne too heavily by a single part of the community. The right balance must be struck between the economic gain a nation derives from the existence of an airport, and the burden of amenity and property loss suffered by local people in the region of the airport.
As the representative of the people of the electorate of St George I can say that this criterion is demonstrably not being used by this Government. Let us have a look at aircraft movements at Mascot. In 1970 there were 123,081 movements at Mascot Airport. The projection of the Department of Civil Aviation is that by 1980 there will be 210,000 aircraft movements at Mascot. My arithmetic is not particularly good but on the basis of the airport being used 24 hours a day this would mean one aircraft movement every 2 minutes. I would like the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson), who is safe in the knowledge that he does not live near Sydney, to spend a couple of nights at my place to find out what one flight every 2 minutes would mean.
Having acquiesced in the growth of the problem of aircraft noise and not handling development of civil aviation in this country with any vision, the Government all of a sudden seeks to place the onus for rectification of the problems of aircraft noise on local government authorities. It has devised a particularly good public relations gimmick which’ it has explained as noise exposure forecasts. Noise exposure forecasts do not tell us anything that we do not already know. First of all we know that aeroplanes make noise and when they are flying over residential areas they disturb people. Noise exposure forecasts reveal the degree of annoyance but the Government’s superb answer to this is that we should wipe out these areas rather than reduce the noise over the areas. The whole object of the exercise is ‘Okay, we regard the airport as important’. Sir Frank Packer certainly regards it as important. As the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) has already pointed out, Sir Frank Packer has indicated to the Government what its attitude ought to be, and this is not the first time that the position of Sir Frank Packer has been made known in this House. 1 am prepared to acknowledge the statement in the Minister’s speech on noise monitoring. Noise monitoring is not something that this Government came up with. It was a recommendation of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise and it was the recommendation that the Labor Party members of the Committee placed in that Committee’s report. I want to make it very clear that we will not be satisfied with just putting in a noise monitoring system because as we see it the purpose of a noise monitoring system is not only to monitor noise but also to establish a noise limit and should aeroplanes exceed that limit this system will detect it. The Opposition goes further and says that if any companies persistently violate the noise limit, their permission to land and to operate at Kingsford-Smith Airport should be withdrawn. The Opposition is also delighted to note that the Government will continue to insist on the curfew but as a colleague of mine who is the Mayor of Rockdale. pointed out, as far as this Government is concerned the curfew applies only when airlines do not want to operate. It is to be hoped that the Government will pay increasing attention to the recommendation of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise that the curfew should be rigidly enforced.
To sum up, the Opposition sees the problem in several ways, but basically the further uneconomic and anti-social development of Mascot Airport must be halted. As I pointed out, the Government is only throwing good money after bad. The airport area is far too small by international standards to justify the huge sums that the Government appears to have in mind for investment. Secondly, there should be an immediate decision to build a second airport arid get on with the job. Thirdly, there should be imposed on planes operating at Mascot a noise limit which should be effectively policed by the noise monitoring system. The operating rights of companies whose planes insist on violating the noise limit should be cancelled. Fourthly, the Government should rigidly enforce the night curfew. I hope that the opportunity will be taken by this Government to adopt a far more effective attitude to the growth of civil aviation in this country. Australia depends upon civil aviation and I hope that we do not have to continue for too long to depend on this Government to give us the lead.
– 1 compliment the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) on the statement that he delivered to the House of Representatives this evening. I should like to pay a tribute to the interest in civil aviation which has been taken by my colleagues in the House. I am well aware that there is an emotional content, particularly for the honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison), in this matter. His electorate rs very close to the Sydney Airport and, as I know from personal experience, having been privileged to represent the electorate of St George in the 19th, 20th and 22nd Parliaments of the Commonwealth, that a growing concern was being reflected in the considerations, particularly of the local government authorities in that electorate, of the effect of noise from the Sydney Airport. The problems about which the honourable member has spoken are human problems; their solution is vital to the good of New South Wales, to the local government authorities and to thousands of people living in the great metropolis of Sydney. One can have only sympathy for the intense arguments, the anxiety and the emotional approach that the honourable member, who was formerly His Excellency in a diplomatic sense, has put forward.
I feel that in discussing this matter, it is wise to look towards the future. I have made one or two notes that I feel may be of significance in the consideration of what the future holds for the city of Sydney - the great metropolis. Honourable members are probably well aware, as most of them receive reports from the State Planning Authority in New South Wales, that it is envisaged that by the year 2000 there will be approximately 5 million people resident within the city of Sydney and its close environs. There is not much doubt that the development of Sydney will spread both north and south, to Newcastle and to Wollongong and that, therefore, there will be a great concentration of people in that area. However, transport costs are vital in considering the significance of the development of civil aviation in Australia and, at this stage. I think lt is wise to refer to the present economic position and to problems faced by the international airlines operating into the great complex of the Sydney Airport. As honourable members have mentioned, the Sydney Airport already represents an investment of $167m.
The problem facing international air transport is that rising costs for research and development of aircraft and for engines has led to an international situation in which companies purchasing modern aircraft have been forced into great borrowings which they have to service and which are provided by international banking consortia. These companies have been unable to maintain their profits over recent years and there now exists a situation in which an enormous number of companies, international companies in particular, are suffering great financial strain. They are losing money and they are likely to suffer economic collapse unless steps are taken to stabilise the international industry. The only thing that can be done, of course, is to rationalise the industry and to use the International Civil Aviation Organisation in such a way as to protect from unfair competition those people who have vast investments in the airlines. Governments throughout the world are investing enormous sums of money in the infrastructure that is necessary to support the international civil airline industry and a manifestation of many of these problems can be seen in Australia.
As has been stated, it will cost about $200m or $300m to develop the new Sydney airport. Honourable members can rest assured that the more delay that takes place, the greater is the likelihood of the ultimate cost being higher because, as time passes, so inevitably costs will tend to rise - labour costs, land costs, the pressure of people and so forth. This is illustrated in many of the decisions that have been made by Labor Party governments in New South Wales. It is to be seen in places like Kurnell. Perhaps the classic illustration is the famous Opera House which a former Premier thought would cost £5m and which will cost something of the order of $100m. Inevitably, this must be the story of the future. As has been said by the Minister, there is no likelihood that any government will move away from Sydney airport No. I being located where it is today.
Historically, the original decisions were made in 1929 by Mr Scullin and again by the late Mr Chifley,; as Prime Minister, and his colleagues in the 1947 period when it was known full well that there would be jet aircraft. Jets were flying at that time - aircraft such as the Meteor and the Vampire. It was obvious to all associated with the Government of the day - the adviser? in the Department of Civil Aviation and people in the industry itself - that jet aircraft would be using Sydney Airport, Melbourne Airport and other Australian airports. This problem will continue into the future but there is always the possibility of a technical breakthrough which will lead to a commercial development of the short take off and landing and the vertical take off and landing aircraft. This could lead to a situation in which there would be less demand for the existing concept of the international airport, with vast areas of land, of concrete runways and so forth.
When we look at the rate of technological development in aviation over the last 15 years or 20 years, we must recognise that this field of activity is advancing at an ever increasing rate and that every likelihood exists that by 1980 to 1985 the whole present picture will have altered considerably. One would hope that, if this is the case, the Government - sapient as it is. economic as it is and, as my colleague from Wentworth (Mr Bury) reminds me, always aware of the fact that the funds of taxpayers must be husbanded with great care - would best be in the position where it had not committed itself to the expenditure unnecessarily of vast sums of money. One must proceed with caution in all of these matters and. with good sense of pro priety, be prepared to take advantage of the technological advances that may be forthcoming.
Personally, 1 would find some regret if the present location of the Royal Australian Air Force station at Richmond were to be interfered with. Having been the President of the Officers Mess at that Royal Australian Air Force station in 1948, I have a personal feeling for that area of land. I say this to those who think in terms of the development of civil airports: I have never known of any civil airline captains who were altogether happy about large blue hills pretty close to airports. I can see the faces in this place of some who understand exactly what I mean. Speaking from personal experience, I can assure the House that hills, if they are close to aerodromes, can be difficult.
In the light of these factors, I have no doubt that the proposed committee will proceed as it must with its inquiries. The most vital thing from the point of view of the . House of Representatives is that the Government of New South Wales will have every opportunity to allow the local government authorities which function under the Minister for Local Government to put a point of view. That point of view probably will be a difficult one for governments to handle. I have no doubt myself, however, that although people object to the noise that comes from airports these local government authorities - I would say to the honourable member for St George - are not above taking advantage of certain commercial circumstances that may emerge from time to time. I think that the honourable member may be well advised to talk to the members of the municipal councils at Hurstville and Rockdale and to examine their future projects, particularly those over the next 3 years or 4 years, to see whether he can make some interesting discovery which may lead him to believe that they may have a certain measure of tongue in cheek when they are critical of the Department of Civil Aviation and the Federal Government in this matter.
I hold the view that people close to airports will always seek to take advantage of cheap land. This has been seen before. It has been illustrated perfectly in Melbourne where pressure has been put on State
Government authorities by local government authorities and areas of land that were to be kept free around Tullamarine airport now have been developed by developers and purchased for houses. They are seeking to take advantage of the position there. There will always be people who will wish to live close to airports. They will want homes and they will put up with all the noise that is to be suffered. If some commercial advantage can be gained, honourable members can rest assured that there will be some people - a limited number by all means - who will take advantage of those circumstances.
Therefore, when the Minister made reference to an outside concept, the statement that so many Fokker Friendship aircraft would be needed to service international airports some distance from a capital city led me to wonder whether it was a reasonable contention that aircraft of this type should be considered in relation to a project that might be looked at having regard to the requirements for 1980-1985,
I believe that the time will come when the establishment of an enormous aircraft complex at places like Dubbo and Narromine may be a great deal more feasible than it is in 1971. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that by 1985 this will be a great deal more feasible. 1 also think that aircraft of the appropriate type which will bring people into the great capital cities from areas such as those in the same way as a taxi takes a person home after he alights from a train at Central Station can be developed. It all depends, as I say, upon the aircraft which are designed for specific functions. The Canadians are going into this field in a big way. There is an aircraft called the De Havilland DHC7, which is the STOL aircraft of the future and which is capable of operating from airstrips of 2,000 feet. Airstrips of that size are quite small. This aircraft can carry 48 passengers and has 4 turbo-prop engines. It is an ideal sort of commuter aircraft that can be used over distances of up to 120 miles.
I hope that the House will be cognisant of the fact that the proposed committee will go to work when the recommendations are put up. We will need to try to avoid being parry political in this matter. We must try to be sympathetic to those who will suffer because of the decision that will be made. But, in the ultimate, it is the public interest which must be the cardinal and paramount consideration. What is in the best insterests of the people of the great metropolis of Sydney will be in the best interests of the people of Australia. I hold the view that political parties will need to recognise this fact. Frankly, I have never really found an Australian who has toid me that he changed his voting pattern and voted for party A instead of party B because of a certain amount of noise that came from a jet engine or something of that nature.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I represent the area of the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. Let me put on record that this report is a tragedy. It is a direct denial of the interests of the people in that area. This has been fought as an election issue. Let me say here that that is the real issue. Firstly, the Liberal Party-Country Party complex seeks to say: ‘This is what you are going to get in this area’. I hope that the Government loses 2 seats because of this attitude. One will be the seat of Cook and the other will be the seat held by Mr Speaker. Neither of the representatives of these seats is to blame. The Government itself must bear the responsibility.
Here we have a report of 15 pages. The first 7 pages are devoted to reasons why Kingsford-Smith Airport should be retained. No opportunity was given for any member of this House to present any evidence to this so-called intellectual committee. Who comprised this committee? It comprised public servants and experts. Whom did they see in the area? What do they know about the feelings of people? I have here an unsolicited letter dated 8th September from a constituent, Mr Lesue, of 87 Hardie Street, Mascot. He states:
These last 6 weeks we have had no let up both with incoming and outgoing aircraft and believe me tonight they have been going out at the rate of one every 3 minutes. I have noticed that Mr Morris our State Minister of road transport has openly stated that anything over 80 decibels is dangerous to the people’s health.
In the final paragraph of his letter, he asks whether it is not about time that some direct action were taken and that the people of Kingsford-Smith - the people in my electorate - virtually stormed on to the tarmac and occupied the whole of the terminal area to show some form of protest.
How political is the Government as a government? Let us look at what was in the original submission. In 1965, the Government set up a committee to investigate a second airport for Sydney. The period of gestation here should have given birth to an elephant. Instead it is something like a premature squab with a terminal illness. What has happened as a result of the work of this committee? There is no result at all. We now must put up with Kingsford-Smith Airport until 1980. We should consider also that the Sydney regional plan of 1967 stated: ‘The Commonwealth Government is planning further airport facilities elsewhere. Of course, in 1968 the Government was advised by the Department of Civil Aviation that ‘elsewhere’ was Towra Point, but that upset the honourable member for Cook (Mr Dobie). Good luck to the honourable member for Cook, but he happened to be on what might be termed the winning side in this political arena because he then got the former Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, incredibly to make an announcement at Mascot Airport before he left for an overesas visit. On 29th March 1969 he said:
The community noise problem involved in the operation of jet aircraft in the Towra Point area would be so severe, that the Minister for Civil Aviation has advised me that he has decided to direct the inter-departmental Committee, convened to consider the future airport needs of Sydney, to exclude this site from its consideration.
That was the issue. Jet aircraft noise was affecting so many people that the Department said it would not extend the airport any more. We now come to a report that says that the obvious thing to do is to put parallel runways into Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport. How hypocritical is the Government? There are 250,000 people in the eastern suburbs. I think there are 100 hospitals, some 200 schools and every other facility we need, yet the Government will destroy them with noise. They were there before the air port. Let us not have this idiotic argument that Scullin thought about it. This is getting back to the days of the steam tram or- something. He had no idea of what the issues would be. This is what is put up here from some bureaucrat in a Public Service position who says that this is what should happen.
Let roe put it on the line from the point of view of the Opposition. We will fight the next election on this issue and we will say that when we tried to debate it here the honourable member for Cook and others - including the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) - did not have the courage to give us a chance to do so. lt is a lot of hocus-pocus to suggest that we are dealing with the interests of the people. We are not; we are dealing with vested interests only. Perhaps the shareholders in Ansett Transport Industries Limited have more say in what goes on than does any member of Parliament or anyone else. Tullamarine is an outstanding disgrace from the point of view of what could be termed secret commissions for land development having regard to the Tullamarine Estates Pty Ltd. The Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works should be looked at by the Commissioner of Taxation. Honourable members opposite know very well that this is true. They should have a look at that sort of development.
There is not one airport in Australia that meets world standards. Honourable members should look at Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport from that point of view. It is the thirty-third largest airport in the world and that is not bad going seeing that it is on 1,500 acres when most other airports in the world take up 10,000 or 15,000 acres. World statistics show that 10,000 to 15,000 acres are required for an airport. Let me put it on record that I do not favour Somersby or Richmond because we cannot get the area required in those places. I am amazed to think that everybody thinks we are saying that. What should be said is that we need 10,000 acres an a suitable area. We do not have to sterilise the whole 10,000 acres. In fact, 2,000 acres is all that is required by the Department and the other 8,000 acres could be turned over to light industrial use from which the Government would make quite a substantial profit. This is done throughout the world and should be done here. But here we have the position where the survey was first started in 1965. Now in 1971 the Government comes down with a disastrous recommendation for parallel runways at Sydney Airport. We are taking 2.000 flights a week now and the Department wants to get it up to 4,000 flights, because that will be at least the air traffic between 1970 and 1976. In fact, traffic will quadruple by 1980. lt will grow so fast we will not be able to cope with it. The charter aircraft business will boom. We know this, lt has happened in England. The authorities there are planning major airports of at least 10,000 acres in a country which does not have much land anyway. France is already planning its third airport. In Saltholm off the coast of Norway one is already planned. In Montreal the airport covers 15,000 acres, and so it is in the United States. What do we have here? Nothing - not one site. It is incredible to think that this is happening.
This should be looked at from the point of view of planning. In 1968 it was suggested to the Public Works Committee by no less a person than Mr Fien, who is a lecturer in the Department of Aeronautics at the University of Sydney, that perhaps Dubbo or some other site should be considered. He did not say it should necessarily be Dubbo. He went on to say that people had talked about the dangers of having to go too far away because it is a problem for people. What about looking at modern transport connecting the airport and the people? Modern transport does not mean our archaic railway system which, 1 understand, is the slowest in the Southern Hemisphere. The point is that there are now rapid rail transit systems. They are being developed and used. We should now, in collaboration with the New South Wales Government, be developing such a system to take people from the new international airport to wherever they want to go.
It has been established as a matter of fact that at least one half of the people who land at Mascot change into another aircraft. He raised the difficulty of trying to cope with the traffic when we have big international flights coming in in the peak hours of the morning with the domestic flights there as well. A Boeing 747 unloads some 350 people. One can imagine the congestion there when everybody else is trying to get on or off the aerodrome on a domestic flight. It will not work out, and this is the point he made. If we did separate them we would not have this intermingling. Why does the Government not do it? It is being done elsewhere. I understand that Dubbo and places like that would welcome a bit of decentralisation. In fact, it is the platform of the New South Wales Branch of the Labor Party that decentralisation be carried out to that extent.
I want to place it on record that we are not trying to wipe out the asset at Sydney Airport. The people in the surrounding areas are tolerant enough to say: ‘Well, we do not want any further expansion. We will put up with what we have but we want no further expansion. We want no flights over the residential areas and we certainly want the curfew maintained.’ But to have them saturated with noise, as this will do, is a complete denial of justice. From the point of view of the Government it is complete irresponsibility. From the point of view of a mandate the Government should lose every seat under the flight paths, and the people in my area would be the first to reject the Government. Certainly the people in Mr Speaker’s electorate of Phillip on the heights of Randwick and in Coogee will reject the Government, because they are under this flight path. It should also happen in the electorate of Cook because the people there will be under the further flight paths that this proposal will generate. It is amazing to think that the Government can come in here acting as a responsible government and say: ‘We have spent $167m.’ It has wasted most of that money.
It was said here in 1968 that one of the most expensive things we could do would be to extend the runway out into the Bay by dredging sand out of the Bay. We have built a 13,000 feet runway for a Boeing 747 that now comes in and lands on the 8,000 feet runway in my electorate. That is how much good planning was done. And what about the report by a senior executive in the Department of Civil Aviation that has never been submitted to the House? It was completed in the 1950s and it suggested that there be no further extensions at Mascot but that another airport be planned. That report was never brought to light but it exists. Perhaps that man was not at the top of the tree but he had the best brains in the Department, yet we have to put up here with some idiotic decision made by people who do not represent the people in the area. If this is a democracy, let this Parliament decide it. Why is it that we were not able to consult people on this matter or investigate it? Why is it that there has been no social survey of the people in the area? It has been done everywhere else in the world. Why are these things not looked at?
The Select Committee on Aircraft Noise took evidence from the air traffic controllers at the airport. They said that they could not be responsible for the safety of aircraft because of the saturation of the air space. Since we took that evidence there have been 2 accidents at Mascot - one a major accident. A Trans-Australia Airlines aeroplane taking off collided with the tail of an international flight coming in. It could have meant disaster for many people on that air strip. Why? Because the air traffic controllers are over-burdened. There was also an accident during the landing of a Boeing 747. It could have been caused by what might be termed a pilot error- I cannot judge the situation - but it was nearly a fatal accident. Honourable members should think of the people in my electorate who are underneath these flight paths. What happens if there is an error of judgment? There could be a disaster. They are the ones who will be sacrificed because this Government has been so frugal and so disrespectful of their rights.
Why is it that they have to put up with this added burden? They could be the first to go if there is some pilot error or if some mishap occurs in this industry. Honourable members know it could happen. Nobody wants to talk about it but it does happen. It nearly happened in the electorate of the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) when an aircraft was taking off. Why should we have that added burden? Do not think there is any real advantage from a local government point of view. The Department does not even pay rates to the council and never once has it submitted a plan to the local council for its approval. That is what it thinks of the local council. These are the matters I want to put to honourable members. Why were not the people consulted a long time ago? What is the real problem with this Government? Why was it so anxious that Tullamarine should be finished first? It is finished now and good luck to the people there. But it is a tragedy for the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) - and he can tell honourable members of this - because of the noise he has been saturated with.
What was the evidence which entitled Tullamarine to some sort of doubtful priority? I want to know, because statistics show that last year at Mascot we took three-quarters of a million international passengers while Tullamarine took 56,000. Now with Bolte’s hotel tax they will be lucky to get 6,000. Who would want to go there? If honourable members want to look at traffic statistics there were 3.16 million domestic passengers and .75 million international passengers who went through Mascot last year. It is the thirty-third most important airport in the world, but it is on the smallest area of any major airport in the world. It has been completely neglected for years. It virtually subsidises the Department of Civil Aviation because it makes its greatest amount of money out of international flights.
Mascot is one aerodrome in Australia which makes a profit. As honourable members know, we are subsidising every aircraft passenger from taxpayers’ money. Where is the honesty in this situation? The Opposition in this Parliament and the Opposition in the New South Wales Parliament say that a site for Sydney’s second airport should be immediately selected. It should not be at Somersby or Richmond; it should be in an area of 10,000 or 15,000 acres. There should be fast rail transport, if necessary, from the airport to the main centres of population. That would be a solution to the present problem, and that planning could be done within 6 months, if it were started now. Do not let us have the situation which has existed for years where we have had to try to drag this information out of this unfortunate Minister. We cannot blame him. The portfolio of Minister for Civil Aviation was put in the Senate to keep the Minister away from our attacks in this House.
We get a report like this. We might as well not have it at all. It is an indictment of the Liberal Government in New South Wales if it is silly enough to say: ‘Later we will put the second airport somewhere, but we will allow Mascot to expand’. It deserves to lose every Liberal seat in this area, and the next election will be fought on this sheer issue. This will be the main issue because it involves people’s safety, their homes and their assets. Their everyday way of life is at stake. We have to look at the matter from the point of view of schools. Lessons are being interrupted. We also have to look at it from the point of view of hospitals. In this area are located some of the major hospitals in New South Wales and in Australia. What about the interests of the patients? I can show that between midnight and 4 a.m. there were 17 flights over residential areas in December. Do not let us pretend that the curfew is of any real value. What about the running up procedures and the maintenance on engines that are carried out? All this work is done on the airstrip in the early hours of the morning. This is ridiculous from the point of view of the interests of the people.
The siting of Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport was shocking planning originally. It is disastrous planning now to consider doubling the size of the present airport. Then there is the interest of the taxpayers. An amount of $160m has been lost. The Government did not have any interest in the taxpayers when it spent this money. It had a lot of interest in a few international operators, but they do not contribute much to the taxpayer. They are interested in the business of making a profit. We ought to help these operators, sure, but we do not want to subsidise them to the extent that we have. I think that this report ought to be rejected now by this Parliament. I should like to see a vote taken on it so that we would know where everybody stood. I am certain I speak for the people in my electorate when I say that this report is a disaster. It should be rejected, and a committee of this Parliament should be appointed to inquire into the question of where a second airport for Sydney should be sited. Such a committee should consult with the New South Wales Government and we would get a decision within 6 months. The decision would be accepable to everyone, and we would not have the imposition of the sort crf penalty which is being levied on the people whom I represent.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Cope)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I think that emotion has taken charge of some honourable members today, and perhaps I can alleviate some of their distress. Referring to the statement by the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz), at the outset I want to impress upon this House and on all people interested in this matter that the recommendations set out in the report are not mandatory. All or any one can be rejected. The report will probably suffer the same fate as have other reports which have been presented to this House. I say without reservation or equivocation of any kind that the interdepartmental committee’s report has no statutory power whatsoever and, as I said previously, it will probably suffer the same fate as have other reports.
The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) has given an unqualified assurance that no site will be finally decided upon unless and until every objector has been heard. We want to get down to common sense and realism in this matter. The people of New South Wales - and New South Wales means the people of Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong, and to hell with the rest - want Mascot to be the premier airport of Australia. I suppose that most States would like to have the premier airport of Australia within their boundaries. To have an international airport within one’s State at the present time means that some people must suffer some distress. But be assured that as night follows day, posterity will judge people who hunt an international airport away from their area as having no foresight and no respect for the future. Technology will overcome - in fact it is fast overcoming - many of the difficulties to which my colleague, the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen), referred.
– Are you in favour of Richmond?
– No. But if people hunt the proposed international airport away from their area, in 15 years the population will say that those people lacked foresight. At the present time we have a prototype of things to come in the form of the Hawker Harrier aircraft. Already aircraft engine manufacturers such as Rolls Royce and Pratt and Whitney, I think, have spent $60m on experiments aimed at reducing aircraft noise. If this amount of money is continually ploughed into experimentation, aircraft engines will make such a pleasant sound that people at Lakemba Ridge will waft softly to sleep.
We also have to consider the question of decentralisation. If the recommendations in this report are to be accepted, the new airport can be sited in only one area, and that is Somersby. But there is a much better site than Somersby, and that is Warnervale. It has the Pacific Ocean on one side, Tuggerah Lakes on another side and Lake Macquarie on another side. Sydney’s second airport should be at Warnervale. As the honourable member for KingsfordSmith said, train services to the area could be improved. Train services are used to transport people from the airports to the main centres of population in Japan and in other countries. Sydney would not be very far away, by rail, from the new airport. If we want to consider people and if we want the problems caused by noise gradually to disappear, then the second airport should be sited at Warnervale.
It would not matter whether we built an international airport in a desert. Within 12 months thousands of people would be living in the area right underneath the flight paths of aircraft. The members of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise went to Adelaide. I guarantee that within half an hour of our arrival 5 jet planes passed over head at not more than 100 feet above the houses. We knocked on the doors of the houses in the area and asked the people whether the jet planes had disturbed them. Referring to aircraft noise, one old chap said: ‘If you take it away I would not know what to do; I could not live without it.’ But aircraft noise has a psychological effect upon other people. The honourable member for Kingsford-Smith is aware of the baker who lived at Lakemba Ridge. He bought his property for $16,000. He was a dough maker. He worked at night and he wanted to sleep in the day, but with the noise of (he aircraft he could not sleep. But the point that must be remembered is that after 8 months he sold his property for $22,000. The people who purchased it were notified of the aircraft noise in the area. Aircraft noise presents very difficult psychological and social problems. Some people can live with it, whilst other people cannot.
This is a chance for the New South Wales Government and the Commonwealth Government to do something about decentralisation, which is a subject that everybody shouts about from the roof tops but do not put very much thought into. As I said before, New South Wales now stands for Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong. We should either divide up the rest and make it into 2 States or give it back to the Aboriginals and ask them to try and do something with it. Because of the policies of the State Planning Authority in New South Wales the conglomeration of people in this area is almost terrible to behold. Some people have to travel 60 miles a day to and from work because of the extension of the outer areas of Sydney. These people are simply being brought from one slum area to another. But for the churches in the localities about which I am speaking there would be no amenities whatsoever for these people.
The siting of the next airport raises a number of problems. The honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) spoke about the delay in arriving at a decision on the sitting of this airport. There have been delays, but it may be to our advantage that there have been delays. I am thinking about the great advancements that have been and will be made in aeronautics. My very good friend, the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham), who has had a lot of flying experience, will know as well as I do of the great improvements that are being made in the construction, design and performance of aircraft. An extra engine is often put on a huge train to carry it over the Blue Mountains. It may be that we will see a corkscrew type of aeroplane taking another aeroplane up into the air and releasing it. That is not beyond the bounds of possibility. Aircraft designers have indicated that mat is feasible.
The honourable member for Newcastle spoke about the leakage of information in relation to the site of Sydney’s recent airport. I think he was unfair in saying what he did because the ‘leaks’, as he called them, came from the honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage), who evidently was privy to some confidential information. The unfortunate thing about this matter is that he has assuredly brought many public servants under suspicion because how else could he have obtained this information but from somebody in a high position in one of the Commonwealth departments.
– What information?
– He told us some 8 or 9 months ago where the airport was going to be. He spoke of it as a rumour. The unfortunate thing about this matter is that he has brought under suspicion innocent men who are loyal and true to the oath that they took as public servants.
Richmond can be wiped from the list of possible sites for the next airport. It has never been a possibility. It is too close to the great Blue Mountains. Anybody who has aviation experience knows the great hazard that the Blue Mountains present. It would not be possible to have a runway for aircraft coming in from the direction of the Blue Mountains. The honourable member for North Sydney has had experience in regard to the flying of aircraft in and around the hills of Canberra. He would no doubt verify that these hills pose problems to pilots. When the subject of aviation is discussed he should be listened to because he certainly knows something about it. 1 turn now to the question of the noise caused by jumbo jets, and 707 and 727 aircraft. Many people who live near airports say that they cannot stand the noise caused by the aircraft, but many others will say that it has no effect on them whatsoever. It is a psychological matter. Some people can put up with the noise of aircraft and some people cannot. I do not want to do anything which would, militate against my friendship with the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith but I have to point out that the cost of anything that the Government does at Mascot - I am speaking about the airport itself and not the surrounds - will be considerably more than the cost would be elsewhere but because of Mascot’s proximity to the city of Sydney, it would be a sounder proposition economically. Let us consider the Tunning cost of travelling 40 or SO miles to an aerodrome in an outer area and the cost of running passengers to and from Mascot. Any capital expenditure on Mascot would be quickly made up by the added cost of transport from an airport in an outer area to Sydney. The disposition overseas is for large areas of land to be set aside for airports. In one area in Canada 53,000 acres were resumed for this purpose. I think it is time we used more imagination and wisdom in relation to the establishment of another international airport and set aside a huge area of land on which we can build to the benefit of Australia and the aviation industry without restrictions, restraints and constraints.
– Some years ago a former Liberal Party member of this Parliament, when the question of aircraft noise was under discussion, made this astounding statement in respect of those people who live near aerodromes: ‘If you elect to live near a pig sty you cannot complain about the stink’. That is precisely the line of argument that has been followed by the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin), who has just resumed his seat, and other supporters of the Government who have participated in this debate tonight. The Government has in effect said that anybody who built a home near a possible aerodrome site years before the aerodrome was contemplated now has to put up with the inconvenience and everything else that goes with aircraft noise.
I listened to the remarks of supporters of the Government who took part in the debate tonight. What a weird and wonderful collection they were. First we had the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson), who lives on the north coast of New South Wales. He is one of the people whom the aeroplanes carry over my electorate at midnight and keep half the population awake. Having to look at him in the day time is bad enough, but fancy being woken up for him in the evening! It would be a different matter of course if the aeroplanes were zooming low over the dairy farms of the north coast of New South Wales and the cows stopped giving milk. There would be a revolution in the Australian Country Party. But these aeroplanes can fly over homes in residential areas at any time and nothing is said about them.
Then we had the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham), who lives in the splendour and the wealth of the North Sydney atmosphere - Kirribilli and the harbour. He is probably sleeping his head off every night while the people who live in my electorate are kept awake because the Liberal-Country Party Government is doing what the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen) said it is doing, namely, destroying the living conditions of people because of the development of the aerodrome at Mascot. As for the honourable member for Mitchell, one thing is certain and that is that when the Richmond aerodrome becomes a civil aerodrome he will not be with us any more for the simple reason that people do not settle down in harmony alongside those people who allow aeroplanes to be brought into their district. He will find there will be plenty of electors there but they will have a Labor member of Parliament simply because people are fed up with the kind of thing that is happening with the development of Mascot aerodrome.
I speak tonight as the pioneer of the campaign against aircraft noise in this Parliament. On 9th September 1953, a time when Mascot aerodrome was in my electorate, I presented a petition to the Parliament. Hansard of that date records:
Mr DALY presented a petition from certain residents of Mascot, New South Wales, praying that action be taken by the Department of Civil Aviation to alleviate danger and noise from lowflying aircraft in that vicinity.
That was 18 years ago. On 21st October 1953 I made a further speech in which I said:
I realise that Mascot is an area over which it is natural to expect to see low-flying aeroplanes, but the fact remains that the residents of the streets concerned have regarded the matter so seriously as to petition this Parliament to take appropriate action, which might include redirecting aircraft by other routes so that they would not pass over this residential area.
I followed that up with a further speech during the 1953-54 Estimates debate. So tonight I speak with some knowledge of the subject. At that time honourable members laughed when I spoke of low-flying aeroplanes over Mascot. They asked: ‘Where else would they fly low?’ Since that time it has become a major problem; then they were small aircraft. Tonight we find the report of a committee established in 1969 being tabled and, as the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith said, it does not make any definite findings other than to recommend the expansion of Mascot aerodrome. But the Government is appointing another departmental committee. Having read this report I personally invite every member of the Committee to spend a week at my expense under the flight path of the aeroplanes leaving Mascot. I defy them not to find that everything in this report is false. The expansion of the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport is a public scandal and only a dilatory, worn out and discredited government like this would think of expanding it.
Let us look at the map that is presented of the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport and the estimated noise exposure forecast. About one-third of my electorate disappears simply to enable Ansett and others to fly into the air at any hour of the day or night. Look at the electorate of KingsfordSmith and others. It is not so much the effect on the electorate as such as the fact that the Department of Civil Aviation is working on a strange theory. As the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith said, the Department does not want to shift the aeroplanes; it says: ‘Let the people shift’. There are 125,000 people in my district and some half of them would be expected to move out. More than half a million people are involved in the electorates surrounding the Kingsford-Smith aerodrome and yet the committee says we should spend more and expand the aerodrome. The Department of Civil Aviation has a policy which deserves a full investigation by the Minister. It spends millions of dollars on aerodromes and when someone says that an aerodrome ought not be in a particular area the Department says: ‘We have spent too much money; we cannot waste the money that is there’. That is the thin edge of the wedge and it is a negative approach to great problems facing the establishment of aerodromes in this country.
I heard the honourable member for Mitchell say that it is the public interest which is involved. Have not people who live in the proximity of aerodromes and who were established there before aeroplanes became what they are today any rights, any civil liberties or any right to say that their mode of living should be protected? Why do not some honourable members go to the 99 hospitals that the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith and the honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison) mentioned and see the people there? Why do they not visit the Reverend Hawkins’ homes in my district and hear planes flying over. The Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) stood up at one of those homes one day and made what I consider for him to be not a really bad speech, but he had to pause again and again as Qantas and others flew their aeroplanes just above his head. His golden voice was stilled as we all shuddered at the aircraft noise caused by Mascot aerodrome being where it is and the flight paths being over those homes. But the Minister is young and strong and vigorous. What about the poor old souls who were listening to him? This was happening in the daytime but at night one can go to any church in the Leichhardt, Marrickville and Newtown areas, particularly Leichhardt, and find services being interrupted. Not only that but also shift workers and others find that their sleep is affected and industry disorganised as well as the schools and other instrumentalities. Yet the Government says that it will continue to expand this aerodrome.
Why is it that there has to be an aerodrome at Mascot? People fly 12,000 miles across the world and then expect to be in Martin Place the minute they step out of the aircraft. That does not happen anywhere else in the world. The committee said in its report that aerodromes are 40, 30 and 27 miles out from the cities in other countries. I think there is a lot to be said for the establishment of aerodromes in Dubbo and places like that. Any government which is looking ahead a bit, any government but this Government which has not a thought in its head, would know that expressways have to be built out to aerodromes. People cannot expect to land right in the centre of the city when they fly across the world. Quite frankly if they have enough money to fly across the world they can afford a taxi into the city from an aerodrome 30 miles out from the city. But why should all the people in my district stay awake just because some person comes into the State for a few minutes? I am a bit with Bolte; I think we can tax them as much as we like because, as he has worked out, those whom he is taxing have not a say in his government and those who come to Mascot and get into another plane will not affect any electorate here. So let them put up with the a bit of inconvenience.
It is not only the development of Mascot that matters so much but also what goes on within the confines of the aerodrome as it is today. A curfew has been imposed. I wonder whether honourable members know that that curfew applies only for actual flying time. An aircraft is like a runner. Before a race he has to warm up a bit; and so do those aeroplanes. I lie awake in the early hours of the morning and listen to the hum of Ansett’s aeroplanes as he sets out to make a few more million dollars. Everybody in Marrickville lies awake listening to the hum of these aeroplanes 3 or 4 miles away. Then at holiday times at 2 o’clock in the morning the airlines have to fly school kiddies or some people or other because that is the only time they can go. The real reason they are flying then is that Ansett and others are applying pressure on the Government to allow them to do so. They want to make money and they put these services on in the early hours of the morning, not caring at all for what the people are suffering underneath the flight path. The honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan) who is interjecting has no sympathy for these people at all because he is one who recommended the lifting of the curfew in Melbourne not so long ago. I personally invite him to be my guest right under the flight path when aircraft take off in the early hours of the morning. Then he will see what is doing.
The Government states that there is a huge investment involved at Mascot aerodrome and because there are millions involved we cannot possibly shift the aerodrome. What it will do is build parallel runways, as was mentioned here tonight. The honourable member for Cowper - he is not a good authority and it is not a good thing to quote him, I suppose, but at least he took part in the debate - said that aircraft can come in over the sea. But he does not realise that to get round so that they can come in over the sea they have to zoom over Leichhardt, Marrickville and electorates such as Kingsford-Smith and Phillip. Consequently, people are affected no matter what is done. I will go so far as to say, as has been said here tonight, that this committee is just a delaying process, a put off job to allow for a few more million dollars to be spent to make it more difficult to shift the Kingsford-Smith aerodrome. Consequently we can say at this stage that the Government has no plans whatever for the future development of aerodromes in this country. Therefore, when honourable members opposite complacently say. that it does not matter let me remind them that there are about half a million people in the proximity of Mascot aerodrome who are very concerned with this matter.
Apart from the great qualities of the honourable member for St George and his magnificent intellectual approach to the great problems of this country, one thing which helped him to win his electorate was that the electors knew they had a man who would fight against aircraft noise and the disabilities people suffer under it. As for the former member for St George, Mr Bosman, it was terribly sad that he took a flight with Air Japan or some other airline on the eve of the election because this issue in electorates is a vital one and it is one which no government can discard. Apart from the politics involved surely people are entitled to live in a reasonable measure of security from this kind of disturbance during the day or the night. Surely people are entitled to some comfort in their homes. We talk about getting rid of pollution and all these things. What is more important than the health of citizens, their right to sleep at night, their right to carry on their employment without being interrupted and the right for churches and schools to carry on their work? . Surely we cannot ignore the rights of thousands upon thousands of people because aircraft companies want to have aerodromes right in the heart of Sydney.
I think the report that has been brought down should be rejected or sent back for further consideration by the committee. What is wrong with putting some parliamentarians, who know the practical problems, on one of these committees? These are all departmental committees, probably all appointed by the boss even though the Minister signs his name to the appoint ments to them. We are getting reports on great problems from public servants who are without a real knowledge of what is being done.
On the question of the Mascot aerodrome, I wonder if the evidence shows that these people have sat down to see what has been caused by noise to people’s lives. Have they sat under the flight paths? Have they studied the kind of districts that the flight paths go over? Do they realise that in this area of 1,600 acres it will be practically impossible to move for aeroplanes as time goes by, because it is not sufficient? The big Pan Am aeroplane that crashed not so long ago because a bird got into an engine crashed within 900 feet of one of the most heavily populated areas in my district. Had it run another 900 feet there would have been a great and serious loss of life. Yet this Government says that we are to spend millions on expanding this airport. The DCA says that it has to be done. Evidently there are not too many in the Department who think too much, either.
– If it were so close to Packer’s house it would be different.
– The honourable member says that if it went so close to Packer of the ‘Daily Telegraph’ it would be different. You can bet your boots that the Ansetts and others live a long way from these centres. Yet here today we find a government endorsing a report which proposes to set up another committee and throws out a couple of suggestions as to where Sydney’s second airport might be established. Significantly the Government has put into this debate honourable members who are not affected by aircraft noise. No honourable member from the other side of the House who has spoken has any intimate knowledge of what has actually happened in relation to this matter.
I did not bring my files to the Parliament tonight. Quite honestly, I would nearly want a truck to carry them in, so many complaints have I got. The complaints 1 receive are mounting. I receive complaints about television being affected and about the effect on people’s sleep all because an aerodrome that was meant for Moths and small engined aircraft in days gone by is now being turned into a monster terminal by this Government because its administrators are too lazy or are not intelligent enough to find another centre for an airport. With other honourable members on this side of the Parliament 1 condemn the proposal and I congratulate the honourable members for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones), Kingsford Smith and St George for the devastating way in which they have ripped to ribbons this report presented by the Government, which has completely repudiated its responsibility to protect the lives of people by allowing this airport to be continued and expanded.
– The honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) was in good voice tonight. He is seldom at a loss for words even if he does not very often say very much. I certainly sympathise with the members of his electorate. To have the honourable member for Grayndler and the aircraft together is indeed to be exposed to a fair degree of noise. I think that in looking at this question we should hope for - I think with some reasonable confidence - changes in aircraft techniques which will alleviate the problem which undoubtedly exists. The suppression of noise from aircraft is now under investigation and I believe that the noise will be very much lessened in the near future. One would hope also that the development of vertical take-off and short take-off aircraft which has been mentioned by my friend the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham) in this House will come into focus and allow us to think pf these problems in a more constructive way. 1 think we should congratulate the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) on a balanced and constructive approach to these very real problems - and they are problems. To my way of thinking it is a very good thing that he has proposed now to have full co-operation between the Commonealth authorities and the authorities of New South Wales, because although aviation is within the Commonwealth’s jurisdiction the airports we are talking about are in New South Wales and Government of New South Wales will have a very proper interest in their siting. I am very glad that its representatives have been co-opted on to this committee. When we speak of the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport I think there is one thing we should keep in mind and that is that the development of that airport has brought along with it the development of Botany Bay as a port which may be tremendously important for the whole future of New South Wales. With the development of deep draught shipping, which was not foreseen even a couple of decades ago, Sydney Harbour is not adequate for the new circumstances. It may well be that the development of Botany Bay as a deep water port which has come into being with the development of the aerodrome will be of tremendous importance to the whole future economy of New South Wales.
I am glad that in this report the Government has rejected the idea of a further aerodrome at Towra Point. I think it would have been unwise and unfair to have put another aerodrome there, and that this is a wise decision. I am glad that for conservation and other reasons the Government has rejected the sites at Wattamolla and Duffy’s Forest. The new aerodrome will be at Somersby, Richmond or perhaps some third site. I do not know whether Somersby would be the best site. Obviously there are technical considerations which I would not want to go into. But if Newcastle is to have its main airport at Williamtown, which will be accessible to the city when the new bridge is built, the attraction of Somersby to that extent might be lessened because the northern part of the area will be served from the Newcastle side. This seems to suggest that Richmond may be the best site. I am not impressed by talk about the mountains being too near. This may have been important in the old days, but with proper landing devices which are now available it does not have the same kind of importance as it would have had 10, 1 5 or 20 years ago.
Again 1 do not pretend to have a technical knowledge of this matter but it does seem to me that Richmond has certain advantages. Firstly, it is a proper distance from Sydney. By saying ‘a proper distance’ I mean that it is neither too near nor too far. It is important that it be not too far from Sydney; oherwise it cannot be developed as an alternative airport to the KingsfordSmith Airport which will take away the nuisance of night flying at KingsfordSmith. Honourable members know that very often the curfew must be broken for safety reasons. If there were an alternative airport near Sydney this would not be necessary and the position at Kingsford-Smith would be much improved.
I think that a second airport for Sydney has to be connected to Sydney by both an expressway and a railway or perhaps some rapid transport system. Richmond has some advantages because the expressway that would go to Richmond would be serving other purposes. From Sydney to Parramatta obviously we need an expressway, and from Parramatta to Richmond we get access to 2 other lines, the Bell’s line to the west of New South Wales and the Putty fine to the north of New South Wales which branch off from one another in the Windsor-Richmond area. It seems to me that if we were to select Richmond as the site there would be very great advantages for the development of the road system in New South Wales in a way which is not directly related to the airport. Rail access would also be available. It may be that the rail access would be by means of a rapid transport system. But at least there would be a permanent way which would not be like the permanent way to the north of the Hawkesbury which consists of a winding track which will never take high speeds. In this case there would be a virtually flat track which would be capable of taking high speeds and so a high speed rail could be constructed into the Richmond area.
I do not want to be too definite about this. All I am trying to do is put forward some matters which are not perhaps technical matters as far as the aerodrome is concerned. I suggest that in this area perhaps there might be advantages not connected with the aerodrome, in having these facilities. The area to the west of Sydney requires good transport for reasons other than the aerodrome. If we can combine good transport facilities for the aerodrome with the good transport facilities which are needed for other reasons, particularly for the trunk roads going to the west and north of New South Wales, there may be some advantages. If we can develop the second airport within a reasonable distance of Sydney the noise nuisance from KingsfordSmith Airport will be very much reduced. Everyone hopes that it will be so reduced. I have a great deal of understand ing of the nuisance which is caused. We have to think of ways and means of reducing it.
– The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) in his statement relating to the sites for the proposed second airport for Sydney said:
Once established it is vitally important that they are able to be located in areas where there is ample opportunity to have them adequately separated from the surrounding development that a large and fast growing metropolis like the Newcastle, Sydney, Wollongong complex brings in its train.
One of the 2 places named in the report is in my electorate of Robertson. I want to know why this particular area has been selected. I can understand some of the appealing aspects from the point of view of the interdepartmental committee because the site is midway between Newcastle and Sydney. I think that the population of Newcastle will probably be around the half million mark fairly soon. The population of Sydney is about 2i million. It is predicted that the central coast area of Robertson will soon have a population of half a million. Therefore I can see that from the population point of view it is ideally situated. However, 40 per cent of the traffic will come from the north shore of Sydney. It does not take long to get from the north shore to the Somersby area on the expressway which now links those areas. I estimate that it takes about 30 minutes drive from Hornsby to Somersby.
So if 40 per cent of the traffic comes from the north shore there is quite a distinct attraction in having an airport in that position. It lakes me anything from 55 minutes to li hours, depending on the traffic, to go from Turramurra where I presently live to the Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport. If I had to go to Somersby I would be there in about 40 minutes. These are 2 very good reasons why the interdepartmental committee has selected this particular area. Land may be purchased fairly reasonably. I have noticed with great interest some of the sites that were crossed off the list. I notice that Duffy’s Forest - which I understand is either in or very close to the electorate of the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) - has been crossed off. That site would be even more appealing. Why has Duffy’s Forest been scrubbed off the list?
All that we are given is the cryptic comment that Duffy’s Forest could not be developed for use by international aircraft.
– That is all right.
– It does not fit.
– No explanation has been given. Could it be that the electorates of 3 Liberal members - the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner), the Minister for Social Services and the honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar) - are close to this site? We know that a great deal of the airport traffic comes from their electorates. They are perfectly happy to have airports as long as they are out amongst the working class people who are the ones that have to put up with the noise. Heaven forbid that the genteel people of the north shore should have to put up with that noise. They want airports but they want to stick them down amongst the working class people and let them put up with the noise. I want a better explanation as to why Duffy’s Forest has been crossed off this list.
– You can do better than that.
– 1 will do a lot better than that when I am finished with you. I can imagine the pressures that would have been exerted on Liberal members when the Duffy’s Forest site was suggested. I have a business in the area and I know how effective those people can be at getting to the people who count in making- these decisions. Unfortunately they have far more influence at the moment than the people from Grayndler, Newcastle and Robertson have. The north shore people want an airport and they are the ones who will use it most. Let them have it in their area. Let them inhale their own filthy pollution from their aeroplanes.
I believe that this is purely and simply a political decision. I know for a fact that, barring any violent upsets in the political arena, the Liberals have written off the area of Robertson. They have also written off the 2 State seats of Gosford and Wyong. They know that they will not be able to hold the seat of Mitchell very much longer because Mitchell is a growing area and, like all the outer urban areas, is going to go Labor. So they are perfectly happy to stick the airport in areas where they will not lose any votes in the future. I am trying to find out this evening exactly where in Somersby the airport is proposed, because Somersby covers a fair area of land. It covers about 7 or 8 miles. I have been to see the Minister for Civil Aviation twice this afternoon but he was in another place. 1 was trying to find out exactly where the site is because its location makes a great deal of difference. If, God forbid, we are saddled with this airport we want to know as quickly as possible what its relation is to the residential areas of the central coast. It could mean quite a considerable amount of difference. As yet, I have not been able to get that information. The Minister’s secretary said that he will do the best he can to give me that information as soon as possible.
I want to know exactly where the site is in relation to the town of Gosford, which is in an area with a population of about 10,000 to 12,000 people. I want to know where it is in relation to the new, growing areas of Lisarow, Wyoming and Narara areas which a few years ago had only about 200 people in them. At the last election I think there were 1,500 voters in Wyoming. This is one of the fast growing areas of my electorate. I imagine that within a very short space of time there will be anything up to 5,000 or 6,000 people in this area. If the area set aside for the airport is going to be on the eastern side of Somersby it could well be that the planes will be flying in within 2 or 3 miles of Gosford and within 2 or 3 miles of Lisarow, Wyoming and Narara where young commuters have come to live because they cannot afford the cost of land in the Sydney metropolitan area. They have come up there to have their families of 2 or 3 children and in the foreseeable future they will have to put up with the problem of airport noise.
I want to know about the flight paths. Surely at this stage there must be some idea of what sort of flight paths are envisaged in the plan. I have heard from some of the leaks that have come out on this matter in the last week or two that the flight path will be in over Ettalong and Woy Woy, into the Somersby area and out through Wyong and The Entrance. That is a very nice semicircle, which just about covers every residential section of my electorate. If anyone was trying to annoy the people who live in my electorate he could not have picked a better plan. We have to know these sorts of things. The honourable member for Grayndler laughs but he knows the areas of Woy Woy, Ettalong, Umina, Gosford, Wyong and The Entrance.
– Woy Woy to you.
– If the honourable member lived there he too would have a persecution complex. It is all very well for honourable members to make jokes about this but this is a very serious matter. 1 hope I can find out about these things and show just what the Liberal Party thinks of a very serious matter which may affect the lives of 80,000 people in my electorate. Apart from these people how will a decision to build a second airport in this area affect the citrus farmers who live in the Mangrove Mountain area? They are the ones who will be most vitally affected. I say the Mangrove Mountain area because for the uninitiated it encompasses the Somersby area. Living in this area there are about 1,500 people who have citrus farms. There is a small amount of dairying in this area but it is mostly citrus. These people will want to know exactly how they will be affected in the future, if they have any future should this plan be implemented.
The proposed siting of an industrial complex in the Somersby area, which is in the Gosford Shire, has been suspended although some 350 acres have been set aside for this project. The New South Wales State Planning Authority has refused point blank to rezone the area for industrial use. The Authority knew that Somersby was being considered as a site for a second airport. 1 placed on the notice paper questions relating to Somersby some 6 months ago but I have not been able to obtain a definite answer. The Authority knew of the proposal for an airport. I have been approached by a number of firms about setting up of factories in this area. One firm wrote to me and said that it had American backing and it wanted to build a factory with a capacity for 150 or 160 employees. The American supporters have been driving this company mad to build a factory in this area but it cannot get a clearance from the authorities. 1 refer to the firm of Hesdols and Co. Pty Ltd which wishes to build a factory in this area. The firm of Ashtons wants to build a factory in the area which would employ about 50 people. Another company which has approached me on this matter is Ronson Pty Ltd with employment for about 100 people.
There are many other firms interested in this area. We could be knocking back employment opportunities for 1,500 to 2,000 people. This is a very vital area for employment purposes. In this area we have the problem of people having to travel a minimum of 1) hours to get to work every day. These people travel 40 to 50 miles a day. Some of them go by car to Gosford and then they spend H hours travelling into the city and from there out to Kingsgrove where they work. It is not uncommon for people to spend 2 hours travelling to work in the morning and 2 hours returning home in the evening. We want to get industry into this area but this is being held up by proposals such as a second airport for Sydney. lt is most, important to bear in mind that the central coast area is a magnificent area. It has every amenity that nature can provide. People who live in Sydney and Newcastle know it well. They go there by the thousands for their holidays. They spend their time at The Entrance, around the lakes, the magnificent streams and lagoons. I know many members of the parliamentary staff who spend their annual holidays in this area. About 5 or 6 members of Parliament have weekenders in this area, including Mr Speaker, the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart), and the honourable member for Banks (Mr Martin). These people go there because it is a magnificent area. We have been told that in 30 years there will be half a million people living in this district. This district is a magnificent area for people to spend their retirement. For instance it is not unlike the Mornington Peninsula which is represented by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) although that is not as good.
– You speak as though you are a member of the New South Wales Government Tourist Bureau.
– I may well finish up there. Many thousands of people spend their retirement on the central coast. They go there because they want to get out of the smog, the congestion, the chaos and ugliness which city people have to put up with. Take the electorate of Grayndler. This is not an attractive area. Suburban areas may have excellent parliamentary representation but physically they are ugly and full of pollution and smog. People come to my electorate to spend their retirement in a pleasant and clean atmosphere. Now we have the suggestion that this magnificent area which has everything that nature can provide should have superimposed on it an international airport. We are hoping to plan a Utopia in this area. I believe we can achieve this aim. Everything is there basically to plan one of the greatest residential areas in the world. I will not go into the details now but I know that we can do this. However, I do not believe it can be done if a decision is taken to place an airport in this area which would create all the ugliness which people seek to get away from for their holidays or retirement.
– The only reason I have risen to speak in this debate is because there has been such a spate of New South Wales representatives attempting to speak on matters about which they know nothing. I exclude the honourable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr Lionel Bowen) and the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) who have had the benefit of their experience as members of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise in coming to grips with this problem.
– And so has the honourable member for St George.
– Yes, 1 am sorry, and so has the honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison). That Committee did examine a lot of problems related to airports. The main point I want to raise is that it would be an absolute tragedy if we were to interfere with the Royal Australian Air Force base at Richmond. The members of that Committee had a look at the base. They had the advantage of being able to see the base and to talk to the personnel there. Some members of that Committee know something about the RAAF. Having been in the Royal Australian Navy it may surprise some honourable members to know that 1 have some background knowledge of the RAAF. We know that Richmond is a centre of absolutely vital importance to the defence of Australia, ft would be completely wrong for anyone to try to move this base from its present location and you could not operate at Richmond a joint civil and Air Force establishment as is done in Canberra. It is in a main strategic position to support the defence requirement of Sydney and Newcastle.
– What about Williamtown?
– Williamtown is a separate establishment. The honourable member does not understand. At Richmond we have a base on which the whole of our logistics depend. If Richmond is to be used as a site for a second airport we would have to include the area used by the agricultural college. This is another reason why there would be interference to something that is already contributing greatly to the welfare of the people of Australia. In taking a decision on the location of a second airport we should bear in mind the position of the mountains. People who have studied civil aviation know that they cannot put in a flight path in the area of the Blue Mountains and aviation authorities are reluctant to have approach and take-off runways in the direction of mountains.
As we are considering in this debate the future development of civil aviation I want to register a vote of gratitude to the personnel of the Department of Civil Aviation. It was wrong for honourable members to suggest that these people had wasted time, had not known what they were doing, and were not serious in examining this proposal. Anyone who has had any dealings with them will know that these officers have examined the’ whole situation thoroughly and have done everything possible to examine every aspect. It is wrong to suggest that members of the Parliament would be able to do the technical work involved in imposing a possible runway pattern on an area of ‘land and in determining whether such an area was suitable. Officers of the Department have devoted hours of diligent work in trying to determine the most suitable place for an airport. Places like Duffy’s Forest, which seems to worry the honourable member for Robertson, (Mr Cohen), are not big enough. Insufficient land is available. Sydney is handicapped because its terrain is unsuitable.
It may be that the second airport should be located at Dubbo, but such a proposal would be in the distant future. However if members opposite suggest its location at Dubbo, why do they not suggest establishing the airport at Broken Hill and making a job of it? In that way something real would be done to aid decentralisation. The honourable members for Grayndler (Mr Daly), St George (Mr Morrison) and Kingsford-Smith want the airport located away from their areas. They want to inflict the airport on the people of Dubbo. This is a crazy attitude. What would the people of Dubbo say in future years about those members who inflicted aircraft noise on them? I am most conscious of aircraft noise and have done much work in trying to reduce the effects of such noise. I believe the Government is following the right course. When the Government has said that the noise problem will be reduced, it has meant it. The Government’s claims are based on facts and on technical information which are available to anyone who studies the subject. The noise value of the 747 aircraft is less than that of the 707 aircraft and future aircraft will be made even less noisy. I cannot understand why those honourable members from New South Wales whose electorates are affected by operations from the Sydney airport do not have the gumption to allow the curfew to be lifted at Mascot.
– Why should they?
– The whole thing is simple. At terrific expense runways are being extended into Botany Bay. Much thought went into this project and the whole proposal was calculated. If those runways are used the people of Marrickville will not be worried by noise, so why should the curfew be not lifted on the condition that aircraft take off and land over the Bay? The proper place for the extension of the Mascot Airport is Towra Point. This is so obvious. I am not worried about whether Mr Gorton and the honourable member for Cook (Mr Dobie) have some feelings on this because that is unimportant. The second airport should be at Towra Point and it could be run in conjunction with Mascot.
– Does Mr McMahon say that?
– No, of course not. The Mascot Airport has been developed at enormous cost and as a result of considerable technical determination. A magnificent job has been done in taking advantage of every bit of ground available and work has proceeded under extreme difficulty. Already there are 2 cross runways. It is no good members opposite talking of parallel runways as something new. 1 have known about parallel runways for probably the last 8 to 10 years. Plans for those runways were shown to members of a parliamentary committee which was examining proposals for extensions to the Mascot Airport and for the development of the international terminal building. Parallel runways have been provided as has a new control system for air traffic. Further parallel runways could be constructed at Towra Point and flight operations could be directed by the existing control system. In this way the problem would be solved.
Some people will be inconvenienced no matter where the airport is located but fewer people will be inconvenienced if parallel runways are provided across the Bay at Towra Point. Aircraft could take off and land over Botany Bay or over the sea. This is the sort of thinking that must be examined. I hope that the committee which investigates the proposal will examine conditions at a place like Hong Kong where the problem of annoyance to people has been overcome. No-one wants to annoy people. If the New South Wales members - those members from Grayndler, Kingsford-Smith and St George - are dissatisfied, let Australia’s No. I international airport be Tullamarine. I would be quite happy if that were the position. Sir Henry Bolte is quite happy to ensure that there will be no building development around Tullamarine where there is ample space. Qantas Airways Limited has located its headquarters in Melbourne and I hope it has sufficient sense to use Tullamarine as the appropriate place for bringing people to Australia by international flights.
– I imagine that I could not have a better pamphlet to distribute at the next election campaign than the speech just rendered by the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan). I imagine that his colleague the honourable member for Cook (Mr Dobie) will be particularly grateful for the honourable member’s continued support for the development of Towra Point.
– You must use some sense in this matter.
– Well, let the honourable member tell that to his colleague, the honourable member for Cook and see what he has to say about the development of Towra Point. I do not intend to delay the House for long but 1 must speak on behalf of the thousands of people I represent in the electorate of Barton and on behalf of my colleagues in this House against the Government’s procrastination over this business. This has been a fob-off from go to whoa. The House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise was set up in the latter part of 1968 and now the Government plans to establish yet another commitee. The Government should not think that the people in these areas are fools. The people recognise what the Government is doing - that it is just procrastinating, prolonging and fobbing-off the decision in the hope that it will get through yet another election without making a commitment on this matter. I can assure honourable members opposite that with the assurance that there will be a duplication of runways at Mascot, they can forget about winning electorates in the metropolitan area of Sydney. What the honourable member for McMillan does not recognise is that even the present runway extension of 13,000 feet does not mean that there will be any relief from the use of the east-west runway. The report indicates that there could be a proportionately increased use of the east-west runway by aircraft that will be using Mascot Airport. I grant honourable members opposite that the only predictable relief predicted will be during the night curfew hours between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. More planes will be taking off and landing over the Botany Bay approach.
What the honourable member for McMillan is suggesting - it would be interesting to know how many of his colleagues support his view - is that because so much money has been spent on Mascot, it can be economic only if it is used 24 hours a day. Is that the view of the Government? This is what the people who are affected by this problem want to know. If what the honourable member has said represents the view of the Government, at least we know where we stand in the matter. But what the honourable member does not take into account is that we are concerned not only with the matter of noise. Other important factors are associated with this problem.
The people who live in these densely populated areas close to the airport have the ever constant worry in their mind that if one of these big aircraft crashed a terrible tragedy would occur. It would be a pity for this to happen and then for us to say: ‘Well, we should not have acquiesed to the proposal’. I think of some of the institutions in my electorate. Never mind about the residential areas. I bring to mind some of the major institutions in my electorate and in the adjoining electorate of St George. I think of the St George District Hospital with, at any time, in excess of 1,000 patients in it. I think of the St George Technical College with more than 1,000 students attending it at any one time. I think also of the densely populated area of Brighton-le-Sands and the districts surrounding it.
The other matter to be considered is that of property values. What do honourable members think that this decision will mean for people who own properties in the areas close to Mascot Airport? What chance has any person who intends to leave the district - who intends to retire perhaps into the salubrious electorate of my colleague, the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) - of selling his or her property? What chance has such a person when it is known that the east-west and north-south runways are to be duplicated? What will happen to the value of the property owned by such people?
What will happen to the schools in the area, for ever battling against the ever constant noise that interferes with lessons in their classrooms? What about the position with regard to church services? Local congregations have protested to me since 1 first entered this Parliament. My colleague, the honourable member for St George (Mr
Morrison) was good enough to quote from what I said in the first speech that I delivered in this Parliament in 1959. I then beseeched the Government not to continue with further development of Mascot but to seek some other site outside the metropolitan area.
At that time, I nominated Richmond. I mentioned Richmond because what is involved is not only a matter of ground space but also a matter of air space. The trouble is that, with the Royal Australian Air Force located at Richmond, the possible sites for a second airport in Sydney have been inhibited. Personally, I would ask that the RAAF be shifted from Richmond. Such a move would extend the range of possible areas in which a second airport could suitably be located.
I am worried and my constituents are worried by the prolonged delay over this decision. The decision on the location of the second airport for Sydney should have been made at least 5 years ago. We should not have gone on with the development that has taken place. We should be well on the way to the establishment of Sydney’s second airport by now. Instead of that, we will have this saturated development of an area of 1,600 acres. This area will be the site of absolutely saturated development in which the Government will get the last drop that can possibly be squeezed out of that area which is situated so close to so many of the heavily populated areas of our city.
As the Government has gone as far as it has and as it has delayed a decision as long as it has, I beseech it even at this late stage to reach an early decision on the location of the second airport for Sydney. The important thing is that, once having made its decision the Government should get on with the job of building the second airport. In his speech, the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) indicated that it will be some time in the 1980s before relief is provided to the people in the areas surrounding KingsfordSmith Airport. In that time, not only the people in the electorates of Barton, St George and Kingsford-Smith but people in approach areas on the north shore and in the eastern suburbs will be affected. The problem is not confined to the immediate areas around the airport.
So, I make this plea: Let people count before planes. Let the environment for people and their well being count for more than bringing people into the heart of Sydney a few minutes earlier than they might otherwise have arrived there. I do not wish to delay the House unduly but let me repeat what I have said before: The need is not for a major airport to be located so close to Sydney. The Minister has said that Mascot is ideally situated. I wonder in whose terms it is ideally situated. Let the Minister conduct a poll of all of those people - the thousands of them, not an insignificant number - who live close to the metropolitan area of Sydney to determine whether they believe that Mascot is ideally situated. It may be ideally situated for people who pour into Sydney from other Australian cities or from overseas. It may be ideally situated for those people but they are not required to live in the area day and night. These people come in once or twice in a year perhaps. To those who live in the area all the time the decision announced tonight is a most unfortunate one. The delay is most unfortunate also.
So, I can give this assurance: There will be great resistance if the Government has in mind anything along the lines of the view presented by the honourable member for MacMillan. If the Government has any idea of lifting the curfew to introduce services 24 hours a day into and out of Mascot, it will strike mighty resistance. I will not mind being associated with that resistance. I do ask the Government to get on with the job, to make a decision and to start work on the building of the second airport so that the people in my electorate and surrounding areas may obtain relief.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, this statement is long overdue, but its findings are disappointing. The interdepartmental committee was set up on 14th January 1969 and the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) has had its report since September 1970. In other words, he has been sitting on it for over a year. Now, the final decision rests between 2 proposals - Somersby and Richmond.
I do not profess to be an expert on where the second airport for Sydney should be located. We know that, with the progress of technology, aircraft have created great noise problems. The noise caused by aircraft is of concern to all progressive members in this House. Tonight, my colleagues, the honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison), the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly), the honourable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr Lionel Bowen), the honourable member for Barton (Mr Reynolds), the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen), and, of course, the Federal spokesman for our Party on matters of civil aviation, the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) have expressed their attitudes to the proposal.
I will not debate where the second airport for Sydney should be located. But, in my capacity as Federal spokesman for my Party on urban affairs, I am going to say where it should not be. The honourable member for Robertson has expressed strong criticism in regard to the proposal that the airport should not be located at Somersby. I do not know the details of this proposal but I do know the problems in planning urban affairs particularly in regard to the closer Sydney area. When I talk about the ‘closer Sydney area’ I refer to regions within 40 miles or 50 miles of Sydney.
In regard to Richmond, this is probably the best residential area in large quantity now available near Sydney. I think of the rolling hills of Kurmond and the lowe Kurrajong Heights area. I think of the land across from there to the Nepean River and the lower Blue Mountains and further to the Penrith area. In another direction, across to Blacktown, most of the area is virgin land. Sydney, above any other city in the whole of Australia, has a land crisis. Land values in Sydney are the highest of any city in Australia. They exceed by thousands of dollars the average cost of land in other States. The average price of a block of land in Sydney at the present time is $7,800.
We find that the ruling interest rate of the fringe banking institutions is 13 per cent or 13.5 per cent. We can imagine the struggle facing young people who wish to acquire a piece of land on which to build a home in which to rear a family. Therefore, I arn totally opposed to the proposal that the second airport for Sydney should be located at Richmond. This does not mean that my view will predominate over that of my Party. The policy of my Party is that the proposed department of Urban Affairs should act as a liaison body and will determine the siting of airports. Of course, we would be influenced greatly by the views of the Department of Civil Aviation and particularly those of my colleague the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones). We would work in close co-operation. I say quite clearly that I personally am opposed to the siting of an airport at Richmond.
The policy of my Party on urban affairs will be to maintain a liaison between the Department of Housing, the Department of Shipping and Transport, the Department of Civil Aviation, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Works, the Bureau of Roads and the Bureau of Transport Economics. As I see it Sydney will develop north-west from Blacktown across to the lower Blue Mountains to Kurmond where the rolling hills are and where it is proposed that the airport be situated. Sydney will also develop south-west - in other words, along the railway line and the Hume Highway towards Campbelltown and beyond. This matter must be examined in this way. It is the policy of the Labor Party to acquire large tracts of land on the fringes of Sydney to set up Belconnen type cities, such as we have in Canberra, with all the cultural, educational, artistic, aesthetic, sporting, recreational, commercial and industrial areas established so that workers can live within an area and be employed within the area without having to travel 25 and 30 miles to work, lt is for this reason that we are calling on the Government to heed the warning that a Labor government would strongly oppose the location of an airport at Richmond. To my mind noise pollution would destroy the area as it has the electorates of my colleagues who have spoken tonight.
We have to do some planning, but there is very little planning being carried out by the Government. In fact, we know that there is little co-operation between the Department of Civil Aviation and the New South Wales State Planning Authority or any other planning authority. Where in any way has the Commonwealth Government involved itself in urban planning? We have to look at the location of airports, and as far as I am concerned the location of an airport at Richmond is not acceptable. It would not be in the best interests of Sydney because, as this Government knows, Sydney is facing a dire crisis. It is in great difficulties because of the rise in land costs, and even greater difficulties would be created if the land within the Richmond area were used for the proposed airport. I understand that Richmond is the major priority with the Government, but it would inherit the already chaotic conditions of the Marrickville area and in the electorates of those honourable members on this side who have already spoken in this debate. We want to see the creation of cities in which the people can live in serenity and tranquility without being bothered by noise pollution caused by aircraft, irrespective of whether they are landing and taking off during the day or night. Of course, we realise that the Government’s plans for a new airport provide that it will be functional for 24 hours a day. I have placed on record my attitude towards the establishment of an airport in the Richmond area. My opposition is total.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Joint Defence Space Research Facility - Government Policy: Newspaper Reports - Motor Vehicle Industry - Adult Retraining Scheme - 35-hour Working Week- Visit of South African Sporting Team - Telephone Services: Ipswich - Telecommunication Services - Employment
Motion (by Mr Swartz) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I wish to refer to the members of the colonial Cabinet who, when they are all present, sit along the front bench opposite. Last night I could not attend in the chamber because I had to be in Adelaide, but the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) saw fit to reply belatedly to me on a matter I raised in the House last week. I am a little surprised that a Minister of the Crown, who enjoys advantages in the House at all times, should hide behind the adjournment debate to introduce the matter he raised last night. Where is his courage? 1 challenge him to stand here tomorrow and make a ministerial statement about the Pine Gap installation and we on this side of the chamber will most certainly debate the matter; not in the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House tomorrow night, but during the course of the day. The Minister for Defence is yapping to the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns), who does not know anything about housing. He would be better occupied listening to me. The fact is that at no time did I suggest that we on this side of the chamber would not have any consideration for anything the Americans would want to do.
The Minister also had a bit of a crack at me about the fact that I have said I am almost a complete pacifist. I remind the Minister of another pacifist, and I also remind the honourable member for Angas, that great ex-member of the Royal Australian Air Force who is now interjecting from the back benches. In fact, this week they could have attended the John Curtin Memorial Lecture, named after the greatest Prime Minister that this country has ever seen. John Curtin, a pacifist, led this country at its time of greatest peril during World War II. Honourable members opposite have very short memories.
I do not think I need do more now than quote from an article which appeared in the ‘Sunday Australian’ of 22nd August. It states:
Mr Fairbairn could not by any stretch of the imagination be thought to pose any kind of competitive threat. … he was so pedestrain I don’t think it could have occurred to anyone that he could lead a government.
That article was written by the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), the previous Prime Minister. Let us have another look at the article written by Mr Gorton. The honourable member for Farrer, the present Minister for Defence, had gone to the then Prime Minister looking for a plum of office in London. He went looking for a plum job, after suggesting to the Prime Minister that Paris was not good enough. A couple of days after the elections, when he had not done too well, he began to think ‘Perhaps London is a little remote and possibly I could win the leadership of the Liberal Party’. He was the first among those who started stabbing in the back.
I do not want to waste a lot of time on the honourable member for Farrer. I repeat my challenge. I ought to be allotted 20 minutes in this debate tonight because 1 missed out on 10 minutes last night, not that it would take all that long to do the Minister over. I challenge the Minister to stand here tomorrow morning and make a ministerial statement on Pine Gap. I say to him: Do not hide behind the adjournment debate. Use the privileges of this House open to a Minister of the Crown. Stand up and see whether we will debate the matter of Pine Gap. Let us see whether we are not capable of amplifying what we consider to be the correct policy in contradiction to what the Liberals say. You in fact last night in attacking me agreed with what I had to say in regard to the matter, that is, that the bases did not afford any defence to Australia. That is what you did last night. You should read your own report in Hansard. You went off on me last night after I had gone to Adelaide. You say to me: ‘AH right, you would like to be extended the courtesy of the House-
-Order! 1 suggest that the honourable member for Sturt address the House through the Chair; he should not address an individual member.
– The Minister went off last night, as he was not able to do it at any other time, for the simple reason that he issued Press handouts at 2 o’clock in the afternoon and he could not withdraw them. There was an embargo on them but perhaps he thought that he should go off last night. But I do not want to waste any more time on that matter. 1 want to refer to some reports which have appeared in the Press from time to time. Let us have a look at what the daily Press has to say about this Government. When is it going to do the right thing and get out of office? In every newspaper in the nation today one sees that the Government is under attack. A headline in one newspaper states: ‘Child Patients Sleep on the Floor: Ministers Make Statements’. There is a surplus of some $630m in this year’s Budget, but the Government does nothing about these children. It is not concerned about the fact that children in Australia are sleeping on hospital floors. It could not care less. A headline in another newspaper, referring to the tragedy in Pakistan, states: ‘Death Reaps a Young Harvest’. An article in another newspaper says that the Prime Minister (Mr MoMahon) has sent a message of mercy. Where is his humanitarian thinking? What is the Government prepared to do about these matters? Nothing.
Turning to the question of trade, a headline in another newspaper states: ‘United States Plans an Even Tougher Trade Policy*. What does the Government do about it? Another headline states: ‘Huge Rise in Cost of Freights to the United Slates’. It is just a mere 30-odd per cent. The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony), in answer to a question today, was not able to say that the Government is prepared to do one single thing about the fact that Australia’s rural industries will be required to pay this exorbitant freight slug. The Government is to do nothing about it at all. The Minister gets out of it by saying that the increase will be only 15 per cent on wool, so what have we to worry about? The fact is that the wool industry cannot afford it. In addition, something has been said about 2 blokes who were sacked for selling wheat. I think that the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) dealt with that matter last night. One can go through the newspapers day after day and see the headlines. What in fact is the Government going to do in regard to the wool industry? Yesterday’s Melbourne ‘Herald’ stated that the public cannot back wool much longer, even if the Government thinks it can. What do the so-called responsible Ministers of the Crown propose to do about that? The Minister got up, and attempted to defend the crowded hospital situation in which the children of this nation were sleeping on the floor.
-Order! There seems to be a concerted attempt from my right to disrupt the honourable member for Sturt. I suggest that honourable members on my right cease interjecting.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker.
– Mr Speaker, would this be an appropriate time for me to move for an extension of time for the honourable member for Sturt?
– Alongside a photograph of Bob Hawke is the heading ‘“We Were Wrong”, the Prime Minister admits’. When will he do something to correct the wrongs and the evils that he is inflicting upon the community today? The editorial in this morning’s ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ has a further crack at the Prime Minister in an extremely roundabout sort of way. But, of course, the editorial places emphasis on the fact that the Government wants to get out of the present economic situation, which is of its own making, by insisting that there should be a fair pool of unemployed. Another headline states: ‘Government is Likely to do Something for the Aged in the Community’. I do not know where members of the Government meet; it is probably down in the dungeons somewhere where they thrash out these matters with a blind eye to the needs of the public and the community generally. Apparently at this belated hour the Government is to do something for the aged. But why did not the Government in the Budget make provision for the aged people in our community? So it goes on.
The Government ought to be censured because of the fact that it is leaderless. It is unable to assess correctly the needs of the community. If I wished I could go on for hours talking about education. The Government intends to import doctors into Australia from America to overcome the crisis in the medical field. Australia has to get teachers from somewhere because of the crisis in education. Today there is no decent developmental programme going on in the Commonwealth, because the Government is completely devoid of any plan. It is about time that it recognised its guilt, its weakness and all its shortcomings and that it is an absolute failure in office. It should toddle up the road and see the Governor-General for the purpose of having a government appointed which is prepared to accept those responsibilities.
If I may I shall now come back to the matter on which I rose originally - Pine Gap. For the third time I repeat to the Minister that if he makes a short ministerial statement in regard to that installation tomorrow we will welcome it.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I propose to speak about the Pine Gap installation. Some years ago when this matter was first mooted I welcomed this installation. A then Labor Party member of the Northern Territory Legislative Council made the statement that it would attract Chinese rockets. I replied at that time that there would be a lot of other places suffering the same fate. That was years ago. Last Thursday the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) made these remarks in this place about Pine Gap:
During the course of the last 24 hours or so we have been made aware of this station.. … A Mr Klass referring to his interview on the radio programme ‘PM’ - has gone on record on that programme and has spelt out in quite clear terms … the existence in this country of bases of a type that we should not have here. Their only purpose in the overall scheme of things is connected with the American defence system. There can be no doubt in the minds of honourable members opposite the existence in this country at Pine Gap of part of a global communication system which will not add to the defence effort of Australia.
He went on to say that Australia was now a prime nuclear target.
– That is right.
– Yes, that is right. Now it is Russia. It was previously China. He also said that the Americans had said that the people of this country were expendable. Let us suppose that Dr Klass is right in what he said on the programme to which the honourable member for Sturt referred. Dr Klass said:
I believe its primary role-
That is, Pine Gap’s - is to serve as a relay point for receiving signals . . .
The honourable member for Sturt did not mention this, but Dr Klass went on to say:
That is what the doctor said. Last Saturday speaking on the television programme ‘Four Corners’ a Mr Peter Ryan, who is an American authority on space exploration and avionics, said:
That is what Mr Ryan said. In this matter the honourable member for Sturt has been proudly supported by his Australian Labor Party colleagues the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby), the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) and the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) who talked about taking the hysteria out of the whole thing. The honourable member also mentioned messages to submarines carrying missiles. Last night the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) said about Pine Gap:
It is an agreed activity under ANZUS. 1 had thought that the Opposition favoured the ANZUS agreement.
It would appear as though it does not. That is typical of the whole policy of the Australian Labor Party. The interviewer commenced the ‘Four Corners’ programme last Saturday by giving a description of Pine Gap. Then referring to a Skylifter aircraft at Alice Springs aerodrome, he said:
These planes land once a week from America via Richmond, New South Wales. All the equipment for Pine Gap has come in planes like this, landing in the late afternoon, unloading’ behind a security screen, flying off into the night; the sound of their jets a reminder to Alice Springs of the world outside, its tensions and its perils.
What arrant nonsense. These aircraft land there during the day. One can see them on any day of the week. They sometimes fly over the town. The whole comment of the honourable member for Sturt was based on that sort of premise. If men like Klass and Ryan are correct Pine Gap is a defence base. In response to a question about what the American satellites were doing over the Pacific, Ryan said: . . they are watching out for nuclear submarines. When they are travelling under the water they leave a wake which ls slightly warmer water and this can be detected by infra-red techniques -
They are the submarines about which the honourable member for Reid was complaining. They are submarines of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Yet members of the Australian Labor Party rise in this House and say that there should not be such an establishment at Pine Gap. lt is a defence facility. Assuming that Klass and
Ryan are correct, what will happen now that I have read out tonight what they said? Honourable members opposite will not take any notice of my statement that it is a defence facility. The honourable member for Wills had the audacity to say in this House that it is a piece of national treachery to have such a base. The honourable member for Sturt said that it will not add to the defence of Australia and that a base of this type should not be here. Talk about national treachery! It lies right at the feet of the Labor Party.
– I draw the attention of the Government to the serious situation which has developed in the vehicle building industry in South Australia. It is hardly necessary for me to point out that any setback in that industry means a major setback to the whole of South Australia. This situation has arisen from the announcement of the retrenchment of a large number of tradesmen. A total of 450 tradesmen are to be retrenched from the plants of General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd and 179 from the plants of Chrysler Australia Ltd. It is true that the tradesmen at the Chrysler plants have been offered work on the production line and that more or less the same thing has happened at the plants of General Motors-Holden’s, or rather there will be vacancies which they do expect some of the retrenched tradesmen may be able to take up. The situation is still a very serious one. Even assuming that these men will be able to take up positions on the production line it will still mean a considerable reduction in their take home pay and a considerable under-utilisation of skilled manpower.
Naturally the Trades and Labor Council of South Australia and the unions concerned are taking a very serious view of the matter. They are submitting a number of proposals to the employers. These proposals include a proposal for joint consultations to be held when retrenchments due to redundancy are likely to occur. The unions want an adequate severance pay related to years of service and they want the employers to indemnify retrenched employees against a loss of earnings as well as the payment of accumulated sick leave and other measures. These measures are essential and they are in fact all found in the section under the heading ‘Technological Change’ in the platform of the Australian Labor Party. It is imperative, of course, that the unions take up this matter in the first instance with the employers, but I point out to the House that the platform of the Australian Labor Party indicates that a Labor government would be very active indeed in problems such as this, not only in resolving problems as they arise but also in doing as much as possible to try to prevent these distressing human situations arising in the first place. What is happening at the moment? The Liberal Government appears to be standing flatfooted.
I would like to ask the Minister - I thank him for coming into the House to hear what I have to say - what has become of the Government’s plan for adult retraining. Earlier this year in the autumn session the Minister spoke to the Parliament about this. But as far as I can see the matter seems to end there. The policy of the Labor Party states quite clearly that where redundancy occurs there must be adequate assistance for retraining, re-employment, re-housing if necessary and the provision of make-up pay from the previous employer if the new job is obtained at lower wages. But what is the Government’s action? There are several deficiencies in the Government’s programme. We have not had a chance to discuss these deficiencies but I could just mention some of them in passing. First of all, the maximum pay that is available if an employee is being trained full time is $46.20. Already many of these employees, if they go on to the production line, will have had a considerable reduction in pay of $17 to $19 a week. If they go on to $46.20 they will be on even lower wages still. The maximum retraining period under this scheme is only 12 months and in many cases this is not long enough.
There is no provision for re-housing and there are many other matters to which I could refer. I draw the attention of all honourable members to the excellent programme on technological change and related issues which emanated from the Launceston conference of the Australian Labor Party this year. Here is one plank that the Government could very fruitfully take out of the Labor Party’s platform.
The Government’s scheme ostensibly started on 1st July this year. But as far as I can tell, the Department of Labour and National Service, or rather the Minister for Labour and National Service, does not seem to have done anything about it. I do not really think that the Government should wait for events to overtake people in situations like this. I would like to see the Government go in and try to assess the situation. I understand that the present Situtation is due mainly to the decision of the car industries to bring out a new model only every 5 years instead of every 2 years as was the case. The Government should assess what the situation will be, what is going to happen, what is the extent of the problem, what it is going to mean in the future and what really needs to be done about it. I think that both employers and the Government have a responsibility to ensure the future and security of the redundant employees. I believe that employers who after ali will benefit, or expect to benefit, from technological change must carry much of the responsibility for the workers who are displaced. However, the Government must act as well.
I come now to another matter about which I think the Government should alter its attitude. I refer to the 35-hour week. This matter was raised by the present Treasurer (Mr Snedden) when he was Minister for Labour and National Service. He stated that the Australian worker must make up his mind whether he wanted to take the benefit of rising productivity in the form of more goods or more leisure. I think there are a number of reasons why we must start thinking of the latter. In other words, we must start thinking of a shorter working week. Increasing technology and automation are causing a great deal of alienation of the work force. The individual worker becomes a cog in the machine. He finds little cause to identify himself with the goods he is producing or with the company paying him to produce those goods. The worker finds less scope for work of a creative nature during the hours of employment. This can only come outside his employment.
But there is an even more basic question: Do we want more and more productivity? Where will that increased productivity get us in the end? Anyone who saw Professor Paul Ehrlich while he was in
Australia must be aware that we cannot keep basing our society on more and more goods and higher and higher productivity because sooner or later we will either run out of power, energy, metals or the other resources, or pollution will make this planet uninhabitable. I was most disappointed in the response of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) to a question asked last week by my colleague the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford). It was most distressing to learn that the Prime Minister had taken little or no notice of what Professor Ehrlich had to say and what he had heard he was going to discount. This is another reason why we must be thinking of a shorter working week, not just as a reward for greater productivity but instead of greater productivity. I mention these arguments at this time because the unions have a 35-hour week as one of their proposals to ameliorate the present situation in the car industry. It is a proposal which should not be scoffed at and dismissed. It warrants very serious consideration. 1 am not suggesting that we introduce a 35-hour week across the board tomorrow, but I believe that the time has arrived to start planning for its gradual introduction.
There is another matter which is terribly important and about which the Government has done nothing. If men are eventually to be redundant in the car industry we cannot just shrug our shoulders and say too bad’. We must say: ‘What is the best way to deploy these manpower resources’? I think we should be thinking in terms of our run down public transport facilities. Surely it is not a great step for a tradesman to move from building cars to building locomotives, rolling stock and buses, but the Commonwealth is ignoring this terribly important field of public transport. I quote now from an article which appeared in ‘Rydge’s’ Journal of March 1971 and which quotes Mr Brown, Chairman of Commissioners of the Victorian Railways, in a report presented to the 1970 Australian and New Zealand Railway Commissioner’s Conference. The article states:
For a tenth of what the Commonwealth plans to spend on Melbourne roads, rail services could be upgraded to provide increased passenger capacity at least equal to that achieved by spending the other nine-tenths on roads. . . .
Over $600m will be provided to the Slates between 1969-70 and 1973-74. . . .
If only 10 per cent of Melbourne’s share of this were diverted to the upgrading of fixed rail systems the current rate of expenditure on improving the city suburban railways could be more than treble.
Let us face it. The motor car is here to stay. Thank goodness for that, a sentiment with which 1 do not think anyone would argue. But a little expenditure diverted to public transport from the enormous amount that we are spending on roads will solve many of our urban problems as well as providing security of employment in a gainful way for many skilled workers. This might be part of our answer to the car industry problem. The situation in the motor industry is throwing up many problems. I have indicated some such as adult retraining, a 35-hour week and how far that will help with the problem of automation, the provision of public transport and the whole question of economic planning. There is a tremendous number of problems but thus far the Government has been silent on them. I do not know why it is not bursting to do something about these tremendous problems. It is time the Government faced up to them.
– I thank the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun) for the courtesy he extended to me by indicating that this matter would be raised by him tonight, lt is not my intention to cover at length the points he has raised because I know other honourable members wish to speak but, as a courtesy to him, I shall reply to one or two of the issues he brought forward. It is certainly my understanding that the facts concerning the retrenchments at General Motors-Holden Pty Ltd and Chrysler (Australia) Ltd at their South Australian plants have been accurately stated by the honourable gentleman, but I say to him in quite clear terms that it is not correct at all to say that the Government has been inactive in seeking to provide solutions to the problems that have occurred in those 2 industrial establishments. Immediately the news was made public, officers of my Department were in contact with the plants concerned. The men were interviewed and every effort has been made by the Commonwealth Employment Service in Adelaide to effectively place the men who have lost their jobs because of the retrenchment programme. 1 understand that at present a number of the men concerned - 1 cannot quote the figures at this stage - have accepted offers from both companies of production line work; that a number of them have been referred to other employers and have been placed by the Commonwealth Employment Service; and that a number of others have moved from their previous places of residence. This does in fact give the lie completely to the honourable gentleman’s assertion that no action has been taken.
The honourable gentleman referred to the question of the Government’s employment training scheme for workers displaced by technological change. The details of that scheme have been made clear to the House. They have been the subject of a ministerial statement. I do not intend to repeat them at this stage, except to remind the honourable gentleman that the programme is geared specifically to the problems of technological change. In that sense, the training scheme would not be applicable to the recent retrenchments in South Australia because in fact they did not result from any problem of technological change. What in fact happened in South Australia, as the honourable gentleman is well aware, is that the companies concerned took management decisions which were well within their prerogative to take. These decisions related to forward development programmes, not to current production schedules. In no way did the retrenchments concerned reflected the companies’ thinking on the present economic position.
Finally, I refer briefly to the honourable gentleman’s comments concerning the question of a 35-hour week. The Government’s position in relation to this matter has been made very clear in the House. We are totally opposed to the introduction throughout Australia of a 35-hour week because of the severe economic implications which that would cause. I have mentioned the figures before but I will repeat them for the information of honourable members opposite. The cost to the community of introducing a 35-hour week would be between $1, 600m and $2,305m per annum on the basis of requiring additional staff, and between $2,400m and $3,450m per annum on the basis of additional hours overtime worked. It will be clear to honourable gentlemen on either side of the House that this is not a programme which this country can afford at this stage, and it would be irresponsible to suggest that it should. Neither is the introduction of a 35-hour week any answer to a particular problem in an industrial establishment such as has been the case in those 2 plants in South Australia.
Guidelines of redundancy have been established through the National Labour Advisory Council in relation to workers made redundant because of technological change, but guidelines have not been established to cover the particular situation to which the honourable gentleman has referred. I believe that this would be a very useful area of examination for my department. I thank the honourable member for the suggestion that he has made. It does not come to me as a new suggestion. Nevertheless, since he has brought it to my attention I can assure him that the matter will be studied and I will advise him of any action that is taken.
– I want to raise a matter this evening which I had been prepared to let lie after some of the heat generated in recent months concerning the South African sporting tours had died down. However, we were granted the rare privilege of listening to the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) last night in an exercise in ratbaggery such as I had not heard for a long time. I hope I never hear it again in this House. He accused the people who opposed the tour of all of the worst sort of excesses. Apparently there was an incident in which a prominent South African was rung up and there was a threat to pack rape his daughter and do all sorts of vile things. The honourable member for Deakin lumped this in with members of the Australian Labor Party and those people who opposed the tour. He had the audacity also to quote the gallup poll figures which had shown a continual drift against the tour. I grant that the majority of Australians are still in favour of the tour, but when one recognises that only a short 6 months ago 85 per cent of Australians supported the tour and now it is down to 63 per cent, at this rate it will not be long before the figures reach the 50-50 level, as occurred in the United Kingdom. The honourable member prefers to place his own interpretation on this position, but he is not qualified to do this. I do not know why it is that people are changing their opinion about the tour. I could say that it is because quite clearly they understand the implications of racism that are involved in this matter and now they are prepared to take a stand. He made his own interpretation and said it was because they were fearful of demonstrations.
Let us get to the matter on which I am really rising this evening and that is the headlines that appeared in the Melbourne Herald’ today and in a number of other newspapers which read: ‘Riff -raff halted tour - Vorster’. The article that followed stated:
The South African Prime Minister, Mr John Vorster, tonight accused the Australian Cricket Board of Control of suffering from a new disease - demonstrates - in cancelling the South African tour. … ‘If Sir Donald Bradman says to me it is my fault and my Government’s, I say to him as a good cricketer, “Sir Donald, you are talking through your hat and you know it”.’
Further on it states:
Mr Vorster claimed that ‘all decent Australians,’ whether they agreed with the South African Government or not, wanted the tour to take place. Only the ‘riff-raff’ did not want the Springboks to visit Australia. ‘They threatened violence and committed violence. The riff-raff won. That is the long and the short of it. If a minority can get away with it, the conducting of national and international affairs will become impossible.’
Listen to this classic. This is unbelievable:
Tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, what now applies to cricket and rugby will apply to other spheres. It is time that democracies take note that minorities are trying to force their will on majorities.
It is almost laughable. Here we have a man who leads li million people and rules 19 million people and talks about the rights of minorities. Let us hear who are some of the so-called riff-raff who are opposed to the tour. Let us start with this article in the Melbourne ‘Sun-Pictorial’ under the heading ‘Liberals back Prime Minister’s criticism’:
About a dozen Liberal Party members had supported criticism of the Prime Minister, Mr McMahon, over the Springbok cricket tour, Mr C. H. Francis, Q.C., said last night. Mr Francis, 47, a Melbourne barrister, is president of the Party’s Stonnington branch. This is the biggest Liberal Party branch in the State.
Riff-raff. Mr Mackerras, a former member of the State executive, resigned from the Liberal Party. Riff-raff. Thirty-one people signed a letter to the Prime Minister, 1 understand, asking for the tour’s cancellation. Listen to some of the riff-raff: Robin Boyd, architect - a real radical, rabble rouser, a dreadful fellow; Max Charlesworth, reader in philosophy, University of Melbourne; Dr H. N. Sanger, Chairman, Council Liberal Jewish Rabbis, senior Rabbi, Temple Beth Israel - dreadful fellow, real riff-raff; David Scott - this should interest the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) - director. Brotherhood of St Laurence; Sir Eric Scott, president, Pharmaceutical Service Guild, of Australia; Douglas Wilkie, journalist; and the Most Reverend Frank Woods, Primate of Australia. Listen to this radical - this revolutionary: Mr Kenneth Myer, company director. Riff-raff. We could mention also the World Council of Churches, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Labor Party. I suppose some people would call us riff-raff, but I think that in the general trend of things we have a fair amount of respectability. I have not thrown a bomb for at least a week. Let us quote some of the things that were said in South African newspapers. This was written by Mr Stanley Hurst from Johannesburg under the headline ‘Cricketers bitter at tour cancellation’:
South Africans and their cricketers and officials have reacted bitterly to the cancellation of the Australian tour. None of the reaction, however, was against Australia - it was almost entirely levelled at the South African Government’s apartheid policy, which created the predicament.
The fiercest critic has been Neil Adcock, the Springbok fast bowler of a decade ago who was to have been tour manager. He pointed out that in recent months the Government had changed its policy towards most sports to allow for international, inter-racial competition in certain circumstances, but this had not been done for cricket.
He said: ‘One has now to consider the fact of whether we are ever going to play international cricket inside or outside this country. I cannot see it taking place in the next 10 or 20 years. The policy of our Government has been so rigid, especially towards cricket, that one cannot feel they will change.’
The article goes on:
The skipper of a leading Indian club, AbduBhamjee, urged that a start should be made with non-racial cricket at club level and forgettin petty apartheid’.
In all the years when our non-white players like Basil d’Oliveira were being ostracised and having their ability stifled, our white players and administrators did nothing.
They were all white Jack.
Only when isolation began to threaten their interests did they begin to stand up and speak out for multi-racial sport It was too little and too late.
Another heading from The Sun Pictorial’ reads:
Now chaps, you know what it’s like to be excluded on grounds other than your ability’, the Springbok cricketers were told yesterday.
This is not a local radical, revolutionary university rag but the Rand ‘Daily Mail’. The article continued:
But we take leave to remind our cricketers of one thing- what they are experiencing now is no more than the sting of ostracism which nonwhite sportsmen in this country had known for generations.
Now chaps, you know what it’s like to be excluded on grounds other than your ability.
True, our cricketers and cricket administrators have spoken out against racialism recently.
But only recently . . . Only when the threat of isolation began to threaten their interests did they stand up and begin to speak out for multi-racial sport.
The East London newspaper ‘Daily Despatch’ commented yesterday that the chief person to blame was the South African Prime Minister, Mr Vorster.
Yes, it was our Prime Minister who doomed Springbok Test cricket by keeping Basil d’OIiveira from touring here,” it said.
That was the beginning of the end - not only for Springbok cricket but for apartheid itself.
It is a sad day when we see garbage like Vorster being able to call decent Australians riff-raff. This is the man who was interned during the war for his Nazi sympathies. That should concern the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman). What a hide this man has to talk about the people I have mentioned as riff-raff. I wonder how many of our friends on the other side will go home and tell their RSL branches how sympathetic they are to a man like Mr Vorster. I have never been as disgusted as I was the other night by the speech of the honourable member for Deakin.
– I want to speak tonight about telephone services in the city of Ipswich. I should point out that the city of Ipswich is a fairly substantial section of my electorate and that the people there have for some years now voted very wisely at each election. The main point of concern for the citizens of Ipswich is that there has been an extending delay period for connections of private telephone services. About 12 months ago the delay was about 3 months. This distressed a number of persons who had sound reasons for wanting an early connection of the service, more especially as the Government usually propounded that the average delay was 3 weeks. But as the months have been rolling along the period of delay has been extending to 6 months, 8 months, and now I find myself in alarm because the delay is about 12 months in many parts of the Ipswich city area. This seems to be an intolerable and inexcusable situation and one for which there has been no explanation so far coming from the Postal Department.
There was a suggestion at the beginning of this period that the delay arose because there was a diversion of facilities and resources to central north Queensland following on cyclone damage. Surely one could not possibly attribute the extent of the delay to this cause some 12 to 18 months later. One could reasonably expect that with proper programming and planning the postal authorities might have anticipated the sort of demand development which would take place in Ipswich over the period about which 1 am speaking. What is giving me even more concern is the possibility that this extending delay period which started off at 3 to 4 months and extended to 6 months and is now around 12 months - to ail intents and purposes 12 months means indefinitely - may continue to worsen. To this point the Postal Department has given no assurance that it will take steps to eliminate the delay.
There are people in Ipswich who have set themselves up in business privately, with the sort of enterprise which one would expect would attract commendation from the ‘free enterprise’ Liberal Party. Accordingly, these people deserve every assistance which can be reasonably extended to them when they are setting themselves up in this sort of enterprise. They must, of necessity, have telephone services. I know of a number of people who found that when setting themselves up in business they could not obtain a telephone service and as a result were experiencing serious difficulties in operating their businesses. In one or two cases the difficulties are so serious that bankruptcy may ensue. This is perfectly unreasonable. I hoped that the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) would have been present in the House tonight seeing I conveyed word to his office that I was going to discuss this subject.
– Did the honourable member warn him?
– Yes, very early in the evening. In fairness I ought to add that I know him quite well and if he is not here he will have a good reason for not being here. Nevertheless I hope that tomorrow morning I will receive some report from him explaining, firstly, why these delays have occurred; secondly, why they have worsened; and thirdly, what precise action he proposes to see that they are eliminated.
In conclusion on this point I think it is worth putting on the record that the telecommunications services in Australia are being bled to support the overall activities of the postal services of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. There will be a loss of SI 7m this year on postal services but telecommunications will provide a profit of $53m. The expected outcome is that there will be an overall profit of S3 6m. Perhaps I also should write into the record - because it bears some significance to what I am talking about - that in fact a cost of near enough to SI 42m is also borne by the Postmaster-General’s Department as interest charges. This will be paid this year to the Treasury under the arrangement whereby money from Consolidated Revenue - that is, money provided by the taxpayers to the Treasury - is lent to a public instrumentality so that it can provide a public service to taxpayers who, in turn, have to pay a higher rate again for the services provided with money they have surrendered already as taxes to cover not only the repayment of that money but interest charges also. So they are paying a double tax rate through this particular policy being pursued by the Government. The figures I quoted indicate the financial strength of the Postmaster-General’s Department in spite of the peculiar book keeping systems it operates. On this basis there can be no argument that there is a shortage of funds on the telecommunications side or in the overall activities of the
Post Office. If we include that enormous sum I mentioned - S142m - there is no shortage of funds at all and that could not reasonably be used as an excuse for this quite unreasonable and inconveniencing delay in the provision of telephone services in Ipswich which is, after all, the second biggest provincial centre in Queensland, with a population of over 60,000.
The final point I want to raise is in support of the Ipswich District Development Board. This is an association of people headed by Mr Peter Ives, its manager, and is dedicated to the economic development of the city of Ipswich and the surrounding district. The population within a radius of 150 miles of Ipswich is over 1,250,000 people. The Development Board believes that if the Commonwealth Government was prepared to offer special tax concessions for decentralised development in places such as Ipswich the city of Ipswich would have a much stronger local economy. In Ipswich we suffer from fairly serious disadvantages. Some of the industries which have been the traditional back bone of the city have entered a state of decline. For instance, in the mining industry, where once we had some thousand of employees and several hundred mines, we now have only about 1,000 employees and fewer than a dozen mines operating in the area. Admittedly they are producing more coal than ever before but the fact is that there are far fewer job opportunities for these men. They have to search further afield than Ipswich to obtain work. A similar situation has arisen in the Railway Department because of technological change. There is very little opportunity for job absorption in the Railway Department in that city. This is a section of industry which once employed several thousand people. In addition there has been a rundown in the woollen textile industry, again because of a number of developments - changing demand and improved efficiency leading to a fewer number of mills operating in Australia with a greater turnover and so on.
I have put forward very quickly the reasons why the people of Ipswich and the Ipswich Development Board feel justified in their claim that if the Government was prepared to provide taxation concessions as an incentive for the decentralisation of industry the city of Ipswich could expect, with the sort of potential markets I have mentioned, a blooming of economic development which would be advantageous to the city. This development would offer additional opportunities for employment and more importantly it would relieve the stress and inconvenience on people, young people especially, who at present have to travel 30 or 40 miles to Brisbane each way daily in their pursuit of employment. To be effective this would have to be dovetailed into a system of national planning which, again coming back to community needs, would involve the co-operation of the State Government with the Federal Government in promoting this sort of activity on a regional basis. I would like to develop this argument at some length later, but unfortunately my time in this debate has lapsed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.56 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
As to change in this policy permitting Australian operators to obtain DC3 type aircraft at ruling overseas market prices’, see answer to Part (6).
The asking price of the DC3 advertised in Flight International’ of5th November 1970 was presumably a realistic one, having regard to the factors I have mentioned, but I have no information on whether the aircraft was in fact sold, or sold at that price. As will be seen from the answer to Part (7) some DC3 aircraft sold in Australia in the last 5 years have brought higher prices.
I do not necessarily have available to me as a matter of course the prices at which aircraft change hands, except for aircraft owned by the Commonwealth. However, in order to answer the question as fully as possible, the following table has been compiled as a special exercise:
Those pilots of Jetair Australia Ltd who has not undertaken the Flight Proficiency Test required by Air Navigation Orders for the renewal of an Airline Transport Pilot Licence were issued with a Senior Commercial Pilot Licence if they met the renewal requirements for that licence.
A Senior Commerical Pilot Licence permits the holder to fly in command of any aircraft for which the licence is endorsed unless the flight is a regular public transport service operated by the holder of an Airline Licence. The Senior Commercial Pilot Licence did not restrict the operations of Jetair Australia Ltd in any way.
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Air, upon notice:
– The Minister for Air has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question has been provided by the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs:
The conference is attended by employers, employees, and/or their representatives. The Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs is also represented, acting on behalf of and with assisted Torres Strait Islanders and Aborigines.
The 1970 Diving agreement covers relative share allocation for Skipper, other Divers, First Tender and other Tenders.
In elaboration, as with most other fishing industries remuneration is on the basis of an ‘incentive to earn’ method of assessment. However, the Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs insists on a guaranteed minimum basic rate being available to provide an allotment of funds to dependants of the employee and immediate personal moneys, but this amount is not to be taken as maximum rate of ‘wages’. It is a guaranteed minimum basic rate.
General procedures of application are that each employee in the Pearling Industry is engaged through the Shipping Master at Thursday Island under shipping Articles which embody the Diving Agreement, and the full entitlement of each individual is based on a ‘lay’ and bonus assessment of the full proceeds due each individual vessel.
Advances are made from time to time against the guaranteed minimum rate and anticipated further income based on production. On discharge nett balance due is paid each individual before the Shipping Master, and the Shipping Master does not authorise discharge of the seaman until he is satisfied that any liability attachable to the vessel is effectively discharged over the season’s employment.
asked the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Ministers discussed a range of matters including the general organisation of the administration of Aboriginal affairs; arrangements for consultation of Aboriginal opinion; recent legislative and administrative action in relation to Aboriginal reserves; problems and needs in the fields of health, housing, education and employment; and progress in combating discrimination. The Council, however, made no specific suggestions or recommendations.
asked the MinisterinCharge of Tourist Activities, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Pacific Islands Regiment (Question No. 3438)
Mr Jacobi on 6th May, 1971, asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
Is it a fact that the rate of salary of indigenous officers of the Pacific Islands Regiment is much less than that received by expatriate officers.
Are these indigenous officers and their wives required to meet the same housing, messing, dress and other comparable costs as expatriate officers and their wives; if so, do these indigenous officers and their wives find themselves unable to maintain this equivalent standard of living.
Is the reason for the difference in the rate of salary because (a) it is compensated by the differences in the costs of educating the respective officers’ children to a similar standard; (b) it is necessary to attract sufficient expatriate personnel for a limited time while they are progressively replaced by indigenes; or (c) it is part of the Government’s economy drive.
; - The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
(a) Parity of salary is maintained, as far as possible, between indigenous officers of the Papua New Guinea Public Service, the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, the Pacific Islands Regiment and the Papua New Guinea division of the Royal Australian Navy.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
Can he say -
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In Operation- 18- 5526 MW.
Under Construction- 66- 47,974 MW.
On Order- 45- 40,724 MW.
Total- 129- 94,224 MW.
In Operation- 24- 7,116 MW.
Under Construction- 27- 21,119 MW.
On Order- 20- 17,907 MW.
Total- 71- 46,142 MW.
In Operation- 2- 350 MW.
Under Construction- 2- 235 MW.
On Order - nil.
Total- 4- 585 MW.
I should perhaps explain that there is only one SGHWR reactor (known as such) in operation. Nevertheless, under the heading ‘SGHWR Type’ I have included three other reactors as they too are of the heavy water moderated, boiling light water cooled, pressure tube type. The two reactors in operation are -
the 100 MW enriched uranium unit at Winfrith in the United Kingdom; and
the 250 MW natural uranium CANDU BLW at Gentilly in Canada.
Those under construction are -
the 200 MW Japanese ATR plutonium recycling reactor; and
the Italian 35 MW Cirene prototype unit
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
What steps have been taken to establish the National Graduate School of Business Management in the University of New South Wales as recommended by the committee of experts in the report published in July 1970.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The honourable member will recall that when the Commonwealth Government published the report of the committee of experts recommending the establishment of a National Graduate School of Business Management in the University of New South Wales, it announced that, while accepting the recommendations of the report in principle, it would proceed to discussions with the business community concerning the proposed new School. Consultations with prominent and representative people engaged in business and industry are still proceeding but it is hoped that they will soon be concluded. The Commonwealth will then be in a position to make an announcement about the National Graduate School of Business Management recommended by the Cyer Committee.
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Government has arranged 7 RAAF Hercules flights from Australia (5 to Agartala and 2 to Calcutta) at weekly intervals from 17th June. Excluding their cargo, the estimated cost of these flights is $100,000. A further flight has been offered to the Indian authorities.
Acting on behalf of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Government hired a Hercules aircraft from Pacific Western Airlines Ltd of Vancouver to make 3 flights to India in June. The costs of the aircraft and the loads of relief supplies were borne by UNICEF.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
What further information has he obtained on the extent to which photographs taken by the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration are available and useful for mapping and appraising Australia’s natural resources (Hansard 29th April 1971 page 2221).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Further information which I undertook to obtain for the honourable member on 29th April 1971, was provided in a letter from me dated 8th June 1971. That letter included the following information:
Officers of my Department maintain contact with the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration in order that they may be kept informed of available satellite photography over Australia.
The Division of National Mapping and the Bureau of Mineral Resources have obtained copies of approximately 50 space photographs of portions of Australia taken in the course of Gemini and Apollo flights.
These have proved interesting but have not proved as valuable as conventional air photography in appraising Australia’s natural resources’. 1 have nothing further to add to the above.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
What studies have been made to determine the effects of the proposed Armco Steel Works on (a) timbered frontages now facing a proposed tourist resort, (b) sea water temperatures considering also the effects of the proposed nuclear power house, (c) air and water pollution, (d) ecological changes and (e) the consequences for fishing, swimming, boating and camping in the area.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The matters raised in the honourable member’s question are within the responsibility of the Government of the State of New South Wales. I am unable to advise what studies have been made by that Government either by itself or in association with the company concerned,
asked the Minister for Nationol Development, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
Will he prepare a position paper on Vietnam arguing Australia’s objections to the seven-point plan of North Vietnam for settlement to the Indo-China war and outlining Australia’s alternatives.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Australian Government’s views on the problem of a settlement in Indo-China, including its views on the seven-point proposals put forward in Paris by the delegation of the so-called Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam, were stated in my speech on international affairs on 18th August.
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
Will he present to the House copies of letters exchanged on 29th April 1965 between the Australian Ambassador and the Prime Minister of
South Vietnam and earlier documents which prompted this exchange.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Copies of the letters exchanged on 29th April 1965 between the Prime Minister of the Republic of Vietnam and the Australian Ambassador to the Republic of Vietnam were tabled in the House on 19th August.
On 20th August the honourable the Leader of the Opposition, in the course of a question without notice, asked me whether 1 would table minutes of the conversations between the Australian Ambassador and the then Prime Minister of the Republic of Vietnam referred to in that exchange if letters. My reply was to the effect that, while there is of course a record of those conversations, it is not the practice to table confidential reports of that kind. 1 added that I certainly did not intend to change the practice.
The foregoing applies equally to the question on notice asked by the Honourable Member for Capricornia.
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Military Forces: Use in Times of Domestic Violence (Question No. 2364)
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
This part of the question has required a detailed search of the Commonwealth Archives. From this search it has been ascertained that there has been a number of occasions on which the Commonwealth has received requests from States for assistance in time of civil unrest. In none of these requests was a specific reference made to section 119 of the Constitution. These are the only requests for which records have been located -
Minister, requested the Commonwealth Government to ‘arrange for troops to parade the City and take positions’ at specified locations, as a ‘precautionary measure designed to make an impression and to have a strong force of men available at suitable points ready for instant use if the situation should demand their being called upon in the regular manner’.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
Can the Minister provide (a) figures on the volume of air traffic at West Beach Airport in each of the last 10 years and (b) an estimate of the volume of traffic in each of the next 10 years.
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
(a) Exact details of the relevant discussions are not available.
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Notwithstanding extensive enquires overseas,it is not possible, for reasons that will appear below, to supply answers to the issues of law raised by several of the honourable member’s questions. The position, however, is as follows:
and (2) By the Peace Treaty of 1951, Japan renounced all right, title and claim to the Spratly and Paracel Islands (among other territories), but the treaty did not determine the sovereignty of these islands, either as between the Allies or otherwise. It is understood that a number of states claim the Spratly Islands and the Paracels.
Sovereignty did not pass to the Soviet Union, by the terms of the treaty, in respect of any islands.
Under international law, an island has its own continental shelf. By Article 3 of the treaty, Japan concurred in the placing of the islands there mentioned (including the Ryukus under the United Nations trusteeship system, under United States administration.
In respect of the Spratly and Paracel Islands various unilateral declarations are understood to have been made, but so far as the Government is aware there is no international agreement regulating the matters concerned.
We do not know whether the Spratly and Paracel Islands have permanent inhabitants, but believe they do not. The nationality of permanent inhabitants, if any, would presumably depend on the question of sovereignty, as to which see the answer to questions (1) and (2) above. The nationality of temporary inhabitants would, of course, depend on factors other than their mere presence on the islands.
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:
What is the rate of placement of physically disabled persons registered for employment in (a) metropolitan and (b) non-metropolitan employment districts.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Commonwealth Employment Service of my Department provides special assistance for persons whom it classifies as handicapped persons. These include the mentally, as well as the physically, handicapped. Not all persons with physical impairments seeking employment assistance, however, are registered as ‘handicapped’ in an employment sense because some disabilities are not severe and others are of such a nature that they do not constitute an occupational handicap, bearing in mind the other characteristics, skills and qualifications of the persons concerned. A person must be disadvantaged for purposes of employment to be classified by the Commonwealth Employment Service as a ‘handicapped’ person.
For the financial year ended 30th June 1971, 16,341 persons classed as handicapped were placed in employment by the Commonwealth Employment Service. Of these, 13,716 placements were in metropolitan areas and 2,625 were in non-metropolitan areas, including Darwin and Canberra.
asked the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Before concluding this review a brief look into the future would not be out of place. Firstly there is the question of Australia again becoming a member of the Bureau of International Exhibitions- Having, now participated in two major international exhibitions. Montreal in 1967 and Osaka in 1970, it would seem difficult for Australia not to play her part in similar exhibitions in the future. Membership of the BIE would allow us a full part in decisions as to when, where and under what conditions such future exhibitions should be held.’
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
On what occasions and in what terms has Australia reported measures taken under paragraph 1 of Article IV of the South -East Asia Collective Defence Treaty to the Security Council of the United Nations.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
On 23rd May 1962, in relation to the decision to send a squadron of RAAF Sabre jet aircraft to Thailand, the Australian Permanent Representative to the United Nations informed the Acting SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations in the following terms.
In a Parliamentary statement on 17th May 1962, the Australian Minister for External Affairs, Sir Garfield Barwick, said that recent military developments in Laos had given rise to great concern on the part of the Australian Government and its allies including the Government of Thailand. Communist advances, in violation of the cease-fire in Laos, were of immediate concern to Thailand because of their proximity to the Thai border. Sir Garfield Barwick said that the Australian Government, as a member of the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation, commended and fully endorsed the precautionary and defensive measures taken by the United States Government to help ensure the territorial integrity of Thailand, and was itself consulting with other South-East Asia Treaty Organisation members as to further measures which might need to be taken to this end, including the movement of further military forces into Thailand.
I now wish to inform you that, following joint consultation with the Government of Thailand, the Australian Government has decided that an Australian contribution of forces should be stationed in Thailand to co-operate with Thai armed forces in maintaining the territorial integrity of that country. This decision has been made at the invitation of the Government of Thailand and in pursuance of the obligations of the Australian Government under the Manila Treaty.’
On 4th May 1965, following the announcement of the decision to provide combat forces for service in South Vietnam, the Australian Acting Per manent Representative to the United Nations sent the following message to the President of the Security Council.
I have the honour to inform you that the Australian Government has decided to despatch forces to South Vietnam in order to assist in securing its defence against the hostile activities, including armed attacks, which have been supported, organised, and directed by North Vietnam.
This decision has been made at the request of the Government of the Republic of Vietnam and it is in accordance with Australia’s international obligations’.
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
Are (a) the Spratly Islands or (b) the Paracel Islands part of the territory of (i) any party to the South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty or (ii) any Stale or territory which the parties have designated.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
As indicated in my answer to the honourable member’s question No. 3670, sovereignty over these islands is undetermined and claimed by a number of Stales.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 September 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1971/19710915_reps_27_hor73/>.