House of Representatives
10 November 1971

27th Parliament · 2nd Session

Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

page 3215


Aid for Pakistani Refugees

Minister for Customs and Excise · HOTHAM, VICTORIA · LP

– I present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of residents of Victoria, respectfully sheweth:

That the Australian Government grant a further $10 million immediate Aid to the East Pakistani refugees in India. Your petitioners also humbly pray that the Australian Government take the initiative in urging the instatement of Sheik Mujibur Rahman as the elected leader of his people and the creating of a political climate which will enable the refugees now in India to make a speedy, safe return to their own country.

And we your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

Aid for Pakistani Refugees


– 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 Australia respectfully showeth:

It is obvious the people of Australia are vitally concerned about the welfare of some nine million East Pakistan refugees that have crossed the border into India. Also they are equally concerned about the desperate plight of millions of displaced persons in East Pakistan, many of whom are worse off than the refugees, as they are not even receiving relief supplies. The involvement of the Australian is evidenced by their willingness to contribute substantial funds to voluntary agencies, to assist their work in these countries.

As some twenty million refugees and displaced persons are today facing acute problems of hunger and privation - nutrition and child family problems- ultimate famine and death on an unprecedented scale - the Commonwealth Government must plan to come to their assistance in a more sacrificial way.

Your petitioners therefore most humbly pray that in tackling these great human problems in Bengal, by far the greatest this century, the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, will request that a special meeting of Cabinet be called to provide $10m for relief purposes in

India and East Pakistan, and a further $50m over three years to help rehabilitate the refugees in East Pakistan.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

Aid for Pakistani Refugees


– 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 Australia respectfully showeth:

It is obvious the people .of Australia are vitally concerned about the welfare of some nine million East Pakistan refugees that have crossed the border into India. Also they are equally concerned about the desperate plight of millions of displaced persons in East Pakistan, many of whom are worse off than the refugees, as they are not even receiving relief supplies. The involvement of the Australian is evidenced by their willingness to contribute substantial funds to voluntary agencies, to assist their work in these countries.

As some twenty million refugees and displaced persons are today facing acute problems of hunger and privation - nutrition and child family problems - ultimate famine and death oh an unprecedented scale - the Commonwealth Government must plan to come to their assistance in a more sacrificial way.

Your petitioners therefore most humbly pray that in tackling these great human problems in Bengal, by far the greatest this century, the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, will request that a special meeting of Cabinet be called to provide $10m for relief purposes in India and East Pakistan, and a further $50m over three years to help rehabilitate the refugees in East Pakistan.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

Social Services


– I present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:

That a migrant who has been a member of the Australian workforce for many years, has paid taxes and acquired Australian citizenship, and seeks to live the last years of his life in his native land or, if an invalid, wishes to see his relatives, is denied pension transferability. Your petitioners therefore humbly pray:

That the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled, seek to have Australia adopt the principle followed by Britain, Italy, Greece,

Malta, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Turkey, Canada and the United States of America, who already transfer the social entitlement of their citizens wherever they may choose to live.

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received and read.

Social Services


– I present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members ot the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:

That a migrant who has been a member of the Australian workforce for many years, has paid taxes and acquired Australian citizenship, and .seeks to live the last years of his life in his native laud or, if an invalid, wishes to see his relatives, is denied pension transferability.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray:

That the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled seek to have Australia adopt the principle followed by Britain, Italy, Greece, Malta, The Netherlands, France Germany, Turkey. Canada and the United States of America, who already transfer the social entitlement of their citizens wherever they may choose to live.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

Social Services


– I present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members nf the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:

That a migrant who has been a member of the Australian workforce for many years, has paid taxes and acquired Australian citizenship, md seeks to live the last years of his life in his native land or, if an invalid, wishes to see his relatives, is denied pension transferability.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray:

That the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled, seek to have Australia adopt the principle followed by Britain, Italy, Greece, Malta, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Turkey, Canada and the United States of America, who already transfer the social entitlement of their citizens wherever they may choose to live.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

Social Services


– I present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:

That a migrant who has been a member of the Australian workforce for many years, has paid taxes and acquired Australian citizenship, and seeks to live the last years of his life in his native land or, if an invalid, wishes to see his relatives, is denied pension transferability. Your petitioners therefore humbly pray:

That the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled, seek to have Australia adopt the principle followed by Britain, Italy, Greece, Malta, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Turkey, Canada and the United Stales of America, who already transfer the social entitlement of their citizens wherever they may choose to live. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

Social Services

Mr Les Johnson:

– I present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth -

That a migrant who has been a member of the Australian workforce for many years, has paid taxes and acquired Australian citizenship, and seeks to live the last years of his life in his native land or, if an invalid, wishes to see his relatives, is denied pension transferability. Your petitioners therefore humbly pray -

That the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled, seek to have Australia adopt the principle followed by Britain, Italy, Greece, Malta, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Turkey, Canada and the United States of America, who already transfer the social entitlement of their citizens wherever they may chose to live. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

Social Services

Mr Keith Johnson:

– 1 present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth -

That a migrant who has been a member of the Australian workforce for many years, has paid taxes and acquired Australian citizenship, and seeks to live the last years of his life in his native land or, if an invalid, wishes to see his relatives, is denied pension transferability.

Your petitioners therefore humbly prayThat the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled, seek to have Australia adopt the principle followed by Britain, Italy, Greece, Malta, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Turkey, Canada and the United States of America, who already transfer the social entitlement of their citizens wherever they may choose to live.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

Social Services


– 1 present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth -

That a migrant who has been a member of the Australian workforce for many years, has paid’ taxes and acquired Australian citizenship, and seeks to live the last few years of his life in his native land or, if an invalid, wishes to see his relatives, is denied pension transferability.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray -

That the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled, seek to have Australia adopt the principle followed by Britain, Italy, Greece, Malta, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Turkey, Canada and the United States of America, who already transfer the social entitlement of . their citizens wherever they may choose to live.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

Social Services


– I present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth-

That a migrant who has been a member of the Australian workforce for many years, has paid taxes and acquired Australian cititzenship, and seeks to live the last years of his life in his native land or, if an invalid, wishes to see his relatives, is denied pension transferability. Your petitioners therefore humbly pray -

That the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled, seek to have Australia adopt the principle followed by Britain, Italy, Greece, Malta, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Turkey, Canada and the United States of America, who already transfer the social entitlement of their citizens wherever they may choose to live.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, wil] ever pray.

Petition received.

Social Services


– I present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth -

That a migrant who has been a member of the Austraiian workforce for many years, has paid taxes and acquired Australian citizenship, and seeks to live the last years of his life in his native land or, if an invalid,, wishes to see his relatives, is denied pension transferability. Your petitioners therefore humbly pray -

That the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled, seek to have Australia adopt the principle followed by Britain, Italy, Greece, Malta, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Turkey, Canada and the United States of America, who already transfer the social entitlements of - their citizens wherever they may choose to live. And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

Social Services


– I present the following petition:

To the Honourable- the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth -

That a migrant who has been a member ot the Australian workforce for many years, has paid taxes and acquired Australian citizenship, and seeks to live the last years of his life in his native land or, if an invalid, wishes to see his relatives, is denied pension transferability. Your petitioners therefore humbly pray -

That the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled, seek to have Australia adopt the principle followed by Britain, Italy, Greece, Malta, The Netherlands, ‘ France, Germany, Turkey, Canada and the United States of America, who already transfer the social entitlements of their citizens wherever they may choose to live. And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

Social Services


– I present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:

That a migrant who has been a . member of the Australian workforce for many years,’ has paid taxes and acquired Australian Citizenship, and seeks to live the last years of his life in his native land or, if an invalid, wishes to see his relatives, is denied pension transferability.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray

That the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled, seek to have Australia adopt the principle followed by Britain, Italy, Greece, Malta, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Turkey, Canada and the United States of America, who already transfer the social entitlement of their citizens wherever they may choose to live. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.



– I present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:

That the Australian Education Council’s report on the needs of State education services has established serious deficiencies in ‘ education.

That these can be summarised as lack of classroom accommodation, desperate teacher shortage, oversized classes and inadequate teaching aids.

That the additional sum of one thousand million dollars is required over the next five years by the States for these needs.

That without massive additional Federal Finance the State school system will disintegrate.

That the provisions of the Handicapped Children’s Assistance Act 1970 should be amended to Include all the country’s physicallyphysically and mentally handicapped children.

Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to

Ensure that emergency finance from the Commonwealth will be given to the States for their public education services which provide schooling for seventy,-eight per cent of Australia’s children. 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 the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:

That the Australian Education Council’s report on the needs of State education services has established serious deficiencies in education.

That these can be summarised as lack of classroom accommodation, desperate teacher shortage, oversized classes and Inadequate teaching aids.

That the additional sum of one thousand million dollars is required over the next five years by the States for these needs.

That without massive additional Federal finance the State school system will disintegrate.

That the provisions of the Handicapped Children’s Assistance Act 1970 should be amended to include all the country’s physically and mentally handicapped children.

Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to

Ensure that emergency finance from the Commonwealth will be given to the States for their public education services which provide schooling for seventy-eight per cent of Australia’s children. And your petitioners, as In duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

Aid to Pakistani Refugees: Taxation Mr WALLIS - I present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully sheweth:

That death from mass starvation and disease Is. occurring among Pakistan’s refugees on a scale unprecedented in modern history.

That,’ as part of the world community, the Australian Government has an immediate responsibility for concerted action.

That present Government aid .to the refugees in India is meagre and shameful, for a country of Australia’s position arid wealth. Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, should:

Increase monetary aid for the refugees in India to at least $1.00 per capita immediately and make provision for a further and extra grant for the victims of the famine In East Pakistan.

Grant tax deductibility to donations of $2.00 and over to Australian voluntary agencies working with the refugee problem.

Ensure that the Australian Government does all in its power to help bring about a political settlement which would be acceptable to tha people of East Pakistan.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.

Petition received.



– 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 of Australia respectfully showeth

That the sales tax on all forms of contraceptive devices is 271 per cent (Sales Tax Exemptions and Classifications Act 1935-1967). Also that there is customs duty of up to 471 per cent on some contraceptive devices.

And that this is an unfair imposition on the human rights of all people who wish to prevent unwanted pregnancies. And furthermore that this imposition discriminates particularly against people on low incomes.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the sales tax on all forms of contraceptive devices be removed, so as to bring these items into line with other necessities such as food, upon which (hers is no sales tax. Also that customs duties be removed, and that all contraceptive devices be placed on the national health scheme pharmaceutical benefits list.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

Lake Pedder


– 1 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 of Australia respectfully showeth

That Lake Pedder, situated in the Lake Pedder National Park in south-west Tasmania, is threatened with inundation as part of the Gordon River hydro-electric power scheme.

That an alternative scheme exists, which, if implemented would avoid inundation of this lake.

That Lake Peddar and the surrounding wilderness area is of such beauty and scientific interest as to be of a value beyond monetary consideration.

And that some unique species of flora and fauna will be in danger of extinction if this area is inundated.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Federal Government take immediate steps to act on behalf of all Australian people to preserve Lake Pedder in its natural state. All present and particularly future Australians will benefit by being able to escape from their usual environment to rebuild their physical and mental strength in this unspoilt wilderness area. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

Lake Pedder


– 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 of Australia respectfully showeth:

That Lake Pedder, situated in the Lake Pedder National Park in south-west Tasmania, is threatened with inundation as part of the Gordon River hydro-electric power scheme. That an alternative scheme exists, which, if implemented would avoid inundation of this lake.

That Lake Pedder and the surrounding wilderness area is of such beauty and scientic interest as to be of a value beyond monetary consideration.

And that some unique species of flora and fauna will be in danger of extinction if this area is inundated.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pi ay that the Federal Government take immediate steps to act on behalf of all Australian people to preserve Lake Pedder in its natural state. All present and particularly future Australians will benefit by being able to escape their usual environment to rebuild their physical and mental strength in this unspoilt wilderness area.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

Lake Pedder


– 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 of Australia respectfully showeth:

That Lake Pedder, situated in the Lake Pedder National Park in south-west Tasmania, is threatened wilh inundation as part of the Gordon River hydro-electric power scheme.

That an alternative scheme exists, which, it implemented would avoid inundation of this lake.

That Lake Pedder and the surrounding wilderness area is of such beauty and scientic interest as to be of a value beyond monetary consideration.

And that some unique species of flora and fauna will be in danger of extinction if this area is inundated.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Federal Government take immediate steps to act on behalf of all Australian people to preserve Lake Pedder in its natural state. All present and particularly future Australians will benefit by being able to escape their usual environment to rebuild their physical and mental strength in this unspoilt wilderness area.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

National Service


– 1 present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of electors of the Division of Sturt respectfully sheweth:

That the determination as to which young mcn 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.

Crime Prevention


– I present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:

That they are gravely concerned at the apparent appalling increase in crime in Australia, particularly in densely populated areas;

That they fear the police forces of the various States and Territories are undermanned and underequipped to handle the increase in crime;

That their concern is aggravated by the apparent number of unsolved crimes particularly those involving violence to the individual including murder.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the honourable members of the House of Representatives will seek to ensure that the Commonwealth Government will seek the co-operation of the States and supply extra finance to the States to enable:

proper town planning and development to halt the increase in densely populated areas which leads to increased crime,

the proper staffing and equipping of police forces to enable adequate crime prevention and detection measures to reduce the frightening increase of both solved and unsolved crime.

the proper detention of and rehabilitation of criminals, and

compensation to victims of crimes of violence, and your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

Aboriginal Welfare


– I present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undesigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:

That there is a crisis in Aboriginal welfare in the South West Land Division of Western Australia resulting from a population explosion, poor housing and hygiene and unemployment and unemployability.

That there is a need to phase out native reserves in the South West Land Division of Western Australia over the next 3 years.

That town housing must be provided for all Aboriginal families where the bread winner has permanent employment or an age or invalid pension entitlement.

That such housing must be supported by the appointment of permanent ‘home-maker’ assistance in the ratio of one home-maker to every 8 houses or part thereof.

That incentatives of housing, ‘home-maker’ services and training facilities must be created in centres of potential employment for those who are currently unemployed or unemployable.

That insufficient State or Federal assistance has been made available to meet these requirements.

That adequate finance to meet these requirements can only be provided by the Commonwealth government.

Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament asssembled will give earnest consideration to this most vital matter.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

page 3220




– Will the Acting Prime Minister now clarify whether the Government’s decision on Australian participation in the training of Cambodian forces is, as he asserted on 2nd November, merely to enter into ‘discussions with the governments of the United States, Cambodia, Vietnam and New Zealand on the possibility of training Cambodians in Vietnam’; or, as the Prime Minister asserted a day later, ‘a decision in principle to train Cambodian troops in South Vietnam in co-operation with New Zealanders and United States people’; or. as he has since been reported, to send 30 military instructors to join 10 New Zealanders in a training programme for Cambodians? What offer from Australia was accepted by Cambodia at a meeting yesterday in Phnom Penh and by whose authority was it conveyed to that meeting?

Deputy Prime Minister · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– I cannot answer the last part of the question. I am not aware of the meeting to which the honourable member refers. But I thought I answered this question when the Leader of the Opposition asked me about the matter last week.- Before we could convey to the Prime Minister whether we would enter into discussions about the training of Cambodians in South Vietnam it was necessary for the Government to take a decision in principle whether we would or would not do it. We took a decision in principle and we left it to the Prime Minister to make the announcement if he felt it was necessary, and he did. Now what is required is that discussions take place to work out the details of the arrangements for the training of those troops in Vietnam together with the other discussions which are taking place about training South Vietnamese with Australian instructors and advisers.

page 3221




– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. In view of recent comments by representatives of some television stations concerning censorship of television films, can the PostmasterGeneral inform me, firstly, whether such censorship is a statutory requirement and, secondly, whether the Government has given any consideration to a change in law? Some recent pronouncements are inclined to be confusing and if I interpret them correctly I express views which certainly are contrary to them.

Postmaster-General · PETRIE, QUEENSLAND · LP

– Some views have been expressed recently in relation to censorship of films, particularly in the area which concerns me and which is my responsibility, namely, the area of television. There are 2 bases of censorship of films existing at the present time in Australia. One is in relation to imported films which becomes the responsibility of the Commonwealth Film Censor and is covered by my colleague, the Minister for Customs and Excise. The other is in relation to television particularly, which relates to the responsibility of the Broadcasting Control Board under the Broadcasting and Television Act to determine standards of programmes and advertising. It has always been accepted that in determining standards of programmes, there must be some control or supervision to enable the Control Board to determine whether the standards have been adhered to, and in that situation one might say that censorship is applied. There have been discussions between the Department of Customs and Excise and my own Department of areas within my responsibility. Apparently the Film Censor takes into consideration the standards of the Broadcasting Control Board in determining admission or other wise, or acceptability or otherwise, of imported films. That does not apply to films produced in Australia. However, in regard to the recent statements that have been made, many people in various age groups have raised with me their concern at the possibility of removing censorship or the exercise of a control - whether you call it censorship or not - from the control of the Board and I have arranged to see representatives of the commercial television interests and receive a written submission from them. If I believe it is necessary to take the matter to the Government, this most certainly I will do.

I do believe that it is impossible for the Control Board to determine standards adequately unless those standards are policed. I mention a recent incident in which 3 entertainers were brought to Australia by one of the commercial television stations and appeared live on television. That station subsequently made a public apology for some of the statements made during the programme and it also apologised to the Control Board. Without some element of control by the Board, it may be that such apologies would not be made. Under those circumstances, the Board merely indicated that in future that group was to put its programme on tape and the manager of the station himself was to determine whether it went on the air. It was therefore not a complete censorship so far as the Board was concerned but it was an endeavour by the Board to ensure that the standards which, by statutory requirement, the Board is called upon to set down are in fact kept.

page 3221




– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Defence without notice, arises from the discrepancies between answers which he gave to my colleagues and me last week and the facts of the approach for Australian participation in the training of Cambodian forces as they are now known to a great many people. Is it a fact that the request for Australian participation was received neither on 1st October, as the Minister first asserted, nor on 30th September, when an official of the American Embassy approached the Department of Foreign Affairs, but in April? Were discussions initiated between his Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of the Army after the April approach and not, as he told me last week, after the request of 1st October? Does he now assert that neither the April approach nor the request of 30th September have been discussed by the Defence Committee which consists of the Chiefs of Staff and the permanent heads of the Department of Defence, the Prime Minister’s Department, the Treasury and the Department of Foreign Affairs? Does he- now assert that the Prime Minister remained ignorant of the negotiations and the discussions not for one month but for 7 months?


– If I may 1 would like to answer the question. To get the record straight, Australia had a policy in relation to Cambodia for approximately 18 months. This policy was established when Prime Minister Gorton announced at the time of the across-the-border operations, when Vietnam and American troops went into Cambodia, that Australian troops were not involved and would not be involved in operations in Cambodia. This has been our consistent policy. In all requests to Australia for military aid we have resisted any request to send advisers or instructors to Cambodia to train Cambodian troops. We have aided Cambodia with military equipment and with civil aid. In April this year there was a request from the American Embassy that we help train Cambodians in Cambodia. This request was made to the then Minister for Foreign Affairs and was handled by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Defence, who turned the request aside consistent with our policy. The Prime Minister was notified of the discussions that had taken place and the refusal by Australia to participate in that type of operation.

However, the request that was made of the Australian Government on 30th September was an entirely different one. It sought to engage in discussions about training Cambodians in South Vietnam, not in Cambodia. That is the difference between the 2 requests. Between those dates we had had discussions which, I believe, were initiated by requests from the Cambodian Foreign Minister for aid for his country. We agreed to train Cambodians in Australia and this was announced in a defence statement in about July. I will not commit myself to the actual date but it was certainly made in the middle of this year. So the Government had established a policy of training Cambodians in Australia, as it has had a policy for a number of years to train iti Australia military personnel from other countries in South East Asia. There has never been any objection to this. The question is whether we will participate in the training of Cambodians in South Vietnam. The Prime Minister has already announced that we are entering discussions on the training of South Vietnamese in South Vietnam and the training of Cambodians would be in conjunction with this. There is little new policy involved in this operation and I believe that the Government has been consistent throughout. I find it difficult to understand why the Australian Labor Party wants to keep carping about this matter. I read a statement reporting the Leader of the Opposition as saying that this idea should be nipped in the bud immediately and that we should not be involved with the Cambodians at all. Well, obviously the Government and the Opposition hold different points of view on this subject. We believe that aid should be given to Cambodia, but we do not intend to get involved with Australian military personnel in that country.

page 3222




– I ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs a question. It is reported that some 10,000 people died and another 5 million are in urgent need of assistance as a result of the cyclone and tidal wave that struck the Indian State of Orissa 11 days ago. Can the Minister inform the House whether the Commonwealth Government has contacted the Indian Government offering asistance? If so, what amount of aid is envisaged?

Mr N H Bowen:

– A tidal wave followed a cyclone and it has affected the people of Orissa. There have been various reports about the matter. Certainly the Press reports indicated that there had been 10,000 deaths - the number ultimately might prove to be greater than that - and that 500,000 people had been affected. It was stated also that 250,000 of these people had been rendered homeless and that there was very considerable destruction of rice crops. I have taken the opportunity to discuss this matter with our High Commissioner in India. Mr Patrick Shaw, who has been brought back to Australia by the Government to discuss the question of aid to the East Pakistan refugees in India and also this problem arising from the cyclone. We are currently looking into the matter. I do not think that these figures would necessarily be accurate or the final figures, but there is no doubt that a very considerable disaster has occured in the area.

I am not able to tell the honourable member at the moment what the Government will do in relation to this matter. It is something which currently we are studying, and 1 might say that I shall have a further talk with Mr Patrick Shaw tomorrow. However, the Government has a policy of acting promptly to get aid on the ground in areas requiring assistance. 1 could call attention to the fact that disasters occur from time to lime. One cannot estimate when they will occur. Since the refugee problem arose, of course, there was a typhoon in South Vietnam about 3 weeks ago known as Hester, which caused enormous damage in that country. The Government acted promptly on that occasion, having ascertained that many people were homeless because roofs had been blown off their houses. Earlier this month 4,800 sheets of corrugated iron, which was said to be very useful for the area affected, were loaded on to the ‘Harima Maru’, and they are on their way. They should get promptly on to the ground in the area affected and give aid where it is needed. We will be looking closely at the results of the Orissa disaster in the same way as the Government has done in all these other instances.

page 3223




– Has the Treasurer seen a statement made by Mr Bethune in the Tasmanian Parliament that it is the Commonwealth Government’s policy to inhibit development in the smaller States? Is it correct, as claimed by Mr Bethune, that Commonwealth Treasury officials at Commonwealth Grants Commission hearings have admitted that Treasury policy is to discourage development in Tasmania? Further, is it correct, as claimed by Mr Bethune, that this discrimination by the Treasury is due to the greater per capita cost of the needs of smaller States compared with Sydney and Melbourne? If this is the official attitude of the Treasury, will the Treasurer revise it so that proper revenue sharing procedures are adopted?

Treasurer · BRUCE, VICTORIA · LP

– I have not seen the statement attributed to Mr Bethune. but 1 will make sure that I obtain a copy of whatever he has said so that I can appreciate it for myself. But having said that I will make inquiries to see what he has said, I must assert firmly that it is not the Commonwealth’s policy to discriminate or as put by the honourable gentleman, allegedly reporting Mr Bethune, to arrest development in the smaller States. That is not our policy.

page 3223




– I ask the Acting Minister for Primary Industry whether his attention has been drawn to statements claiming that the Australian Wool Commission is failing to inform people of types of wool that are rising sharply in value and is acting in secrecy in relation to prices for parts of the clip. Has the Minister also seen claims made that these low grade wools have risen sharply in price since the Australian Wool Commission withdrew its reserve price support? Can the Minister clarify this situation and inform the House as to the exact position?

Minister for Shipping and Transport · GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · CP

– I have seen Press reports alleging that because the Australian Wool Commission has withdrawn its support for carding wools the price of carding wools has risen. The report also suggests that the Australian Wool Commission has been keeping that information from the wool industry. Insofar as the first part of the honourable member’s question relating to the allegation about carding wools is concerned, the situation is that at the commencement of the season the Australian Wool Commission withdrew support from carding wools and there was quite a substantial drop in the price for that quality wool. In the last few weeks there have been improvements in the price of carding wools. But to say that the Australian Wool Commission has kept this information secret is absolue nonsense. The Australian Wool Commission publishes a weekly report. If anybody likes to have a look at the report of 5th November he will see that the Australian Wool Commission reported that the price of carding wools was up by 4c in that week and was up about 3c and 2c respectively during the 2 weeks before. So the story is a lot of stuff and nonsense.

page 3224



Mr Les Johnson:

– I direct my question to the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts. Has the New South Wales Police Commissioner reported that Aborigines, who comprise only about 1 per cent of the population, represent about 40 per cent of some 15,000 persons in New South Wales convicted for drunkenness? Were only 2 of the cases involving Aborigines defended? What are the reasons for the distressing facts revealed by the Commissioner’s report? What will the Government now do to remedy the position?

Minister for Environment, Aborigines and the Arts · CASEY, VICTORIA · LP

– As the honourable member knows, the information contained in my answer to a previous question was obtained from the Police Commissioner in New South Wales. I have discussed the matter with the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs in that State. We have obviously drawn the attention of the authorities in New South Wales to the problem. We are also pleased to see that free legal advice is now being made available and we have helped with the various forms of legal assistance to Aboriginals in New South Wales in regard to some of these problems. We shall continue to do so. But generally the responsibility is a New South Wales matter and we hope that the authorities concerned will be aware of the information that has been made available as a result of this question.

page 3224




– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General as a result of a letter I have received, signed by the 8 doctors providing medical service at the West Gippsland Hospital in Warragul, certifying that there have been 14 deaths in that area as a result of carcinoma of the lung in the past 18 months. I ask: Have the recommendations of the National Health and Medical Research Council with respect to cigarette smoking being passed on to him by the Minister for Health? If so, why has the request of this authorative advisory body that all advertising of cigarettes on television and radio should be banned as an act of preventive medicine been ignored?


– I am not aware of the Minister for Health passing on to me a report of the National Health and Medical Research Council in relation to this matter. My memory is - I may be very much mistaken - that when the portfolio of Health was held by a Minister in this House that Minister indicated that the Council had said that there was a danger in smoking but it believed it was desirable to have an educational policy rather than the complete abolition of cigarette advertising on television. I understand that the Broadcasting Control Board and the tobacco manufacturers have got together and that the tobacco manufacturers themselves have adopted a voluntary code for the advertising of cigarettes on television which is being implemented at the present time. I will inquire of the Minister for Health whether my recollections are correct or whether I am under a misapprehension in relation to this matter.

page 3224



Mr Lionel Bowen:

– My question is directed to the Acting Prime Minister. I refer to the proposal for the training of Cambodian forces in South Vietnam and the statement by the Prime Minister that he has not seen the Cabinet papers on this matter. I ask: Why did the Prime Minister announce that he favoured the proposal before Cabinet had a chance to consider it and on what evidence did he rely? Knowing of the anxiety of farmers in the United States of America to enter the China trade and of the hostility of the Chinese to this Australian proposal, what consideration was given by Cabinet to the interests of the Australian exporters? In order that the nation can understand the position, when will the Acting Prime Minister make a statement to this House and when will he table the famous letter of the Minister for Defence of 26th October together with the 2 cables that he, as Acting Prime Minister, sent to the Prime Minister at Blair House?


– The honourable member has asked an interesting question, but I do not know whether it has much substance. To imagine that government does not continue to operate because the Prime Minister is out of the country shows a complete lack of understanding of how government works. The Cabinet is continuously discussing matters and making decisions on them. It made a decision as far as the training of Cambodian troops is concerned and it related that decision to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister was then in a position to make an anouncement if he felt it fitting to do so. As far as revealing any other papers or making an announcement in relation to this matter is concerned, that will be le ft in the hands of the Prime Minister when he returns from overseas.

page 3225




– My question is directed to the Minister for Education and Science.

Mr Cope:

– Is that the one he wrote out yesterday?


– No, it is one I wrote out.


– Has the Minister studied-

Mr Whitlam:

– I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. You are taking questions without notice. You will notice, Sir, that the honourable member for Bennelong did not say that it was a question without notice. You will also recall, Sir, that it is the question which the Minister for Education and Science himself wrote out for the honourable member yesterday and in relation to which you had to bring him to order.


-Order! There is no substance in the point of order. First of all, the honourable member did not say that the question was without notice; but many questions are asked in this House in relation to which the questioner does not use the prefix ‘without notice’, lt should in fact be said that the question is without notice, but it has been the custom and practice of this House for this never to be completely insisted upon. I do not know what the question is yet because the honourable member for Bennelong has not confided in me. As I have said before, I do not know of private conversations held between honourable members nor should I be expected to know. I am in no position to tell whether a question is in fact with or without notice. If I were asked to express an opinion in relation to this matter I would say that questions of this kind come from honourable members on both sides of the House.


– My question is directed to the Minister for Education and Science without notice. Has the Minister studied the recent publication throughout Australia in the mass media of a new and revolutionary policy on education? Can the Minister inform me what would be the cost of such a policy if it were put into effect by the Government?

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– There seems to be an extraordinary sensitivity on the part of the Leader of the Opposition on some aspects of education and he seems to go to quite extraordinary lengths to prevent questions being asked about them. 1 would have thought that he and his Party would show a very natural interest and concern about matters which are of great interest to a very large number of Australians. The only significant publicity that has appeared in recent times in relation to educational programmes is the publicity that the Leader of the Opposition sought on behalf of his Party in relation to his Party’s educational programmes. It is interesting to note that the programmes which were mentioned in the hand-out and at the Press conference covered only a part of the programmes that were approved at the Launceston Conference, and if the other programmes approved at the Launceston Conference are going to be put into the limbo then I think we have a right to know. On the other hand, if the policies at the Launceston Conference and the policies announced by the Leader of the Opposition a few days ago were to be put into effect the annual capital and recurrent charges over the next 5 to 6 years would be not less than an additional $525m. In addition to that, the honourable member for Fremantle mentioned an emergency grant of $180m which would be put into effect, as I understood it, before the alleged Australian schools commission would begin to operate.

Mr Whitlam:

– I rise to order. I accept that the Minister would want to take the opportunity to comment on things that he thinks I might have said but he was not asked to comment on things that the honourable member for Fremantle said. I would point out that that honourable member is not in the House because he is representing it at the meeting of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation Council. Therefore I would suggest that it is quite irrelevant to the question and quite improper, moreover, in any sense of courtesy or decency that comment should be made in the absence of an honourable member on public business.


-I would suggest that the Minister for Education and Science refrain from further comment in relation to what the honourable member for Fremantle has said because that was not implicit in the question.

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– With respect, Mr Speaker, may I say that neither the Leader of the Opposition nor the honourable member for Fremantle was mentioned by the questioner but the educational programmes that have been suggested in recent times are ones that have been mooted by the Leader of the Opposition and the honourable member for Fremantle. The honourable member for Bennelong asked me what the cost of those proposals would be and, with great respect, I cannot really see that the Leader of the Opposition has a point, in trying to prevent there being discussion or answers on a factual basis.

Mr Keogh:

– I rise to order. The Minister for Education and Science has now clearly indicated to the House that the matters on which he is commenting have nothing to do with the matters under his responsibility in his current portfolio. He referred to Australian Labor Party policy and surely it is an abuse of question time if members such as the honourable member for Bennelong illustrate their incompetence in preparing questions-


-Order! The honourable member shall not debate the question. The honourable member will resume his seat.

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– This other part of the proposal that was related to the Australian schools commission, which is indeed a revolutionary proposal for education and not necessarily an advantageous one, was that $180m would be provided until the schools commission could get into operation. The amount of $180m to be handed out to the schools commission would be additional to the S525m which I mentioned and which in a day or two I would be prepared to detail for any honourable member. This sum would be equivalent to a 16 per cent increase in personal income tax rates-

Mr Reynolds:

– I rise to order. Quite frankly I cannot understand how the Minister can answer a question about the Labor Party’s education policy. This matter has no relation whatsoever to the Minister’s portfolio. I understand that the Minister is answerable in this chamber for those functions over which he has jurisdiction and the Labor Party is not one of them, I am glad to say.

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– In reply to the point of order: I was asked what the cost would be to the Government if it were to implement a certain policy and that is precisely what I was seeking to reply to.


-Order! I hope that the Minister will not prolong his answer unduly.

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– I merely wanted to make the point that the additional $525m annual cost would require the equivalent of an increase in personal income tax rates of more than 16 per cent or company tax rates of 33£ per cent. In view of the fact that the Labor Party has said that it would not cut defence expenditure I wonder whether these might be the answers in which Labor would try to raise this sort of finance.

page 3226




– I ask a question without notice of the Minister representing the Attorney-General. In May 1969, during his first term as Attorney-General himself, the honourable and learned gentleman made statements to the House on the establishment of the Institute of Criminology and the introduction of a criminal code for the Territories. I ask him firstly why the Criminology Research Act which his successor introduced 8 months ago has not yet been proclaimed and when it will come into operation. Secondly I ask whether consideration has been given to the appointment of a joint select committee to sit during the recess to inquire into and report upon the Territory criminal code which the present Attorney-General reiterated 12 weeks ago would be coming in by way of legislation. Does the honourable gentleman agree that the code belongs to the type of technical legislation which in Britain is customarily considered, and in Australia could most effectively be considered, by select committees rather than on the second reading of a Bill or in a Committee of the Whole.

Mr N H Bowen:

– -With regard to the establishment of the Institute of Criminology I know that there has been some difficulty in obtaining a suitable director but whether this is the reason for the delay I do not know. I will refer that part of the question to my colleague in another place. In reply to the second part of the question, I know that the criminal code has been the subject of very considerable study within the Attorney-General’s Department. When I was Attorney-General one officer was working full time on this matter. That person went overseas and when he returned he applied the knowledge he had gained to this subject. In addition we had independent judicial assistance. Whether it would be satisfactory to have a select committee inquire into this subject would be a matter of judgment. It is in one sense highly technical but on the other hand it does involve policy decisions as to the type of penalty for various offences and this would be something which could be considered by a select committee. I will refer the honourable gentleman’s suggestion to my colleague in the other place. I do not think I would like to see created a select committee which might further delay the introduction of the code.

page 3227




– I address a question to the Minister for Education and Science who is in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Is the Minister aware that many people are loath to order mutton and especially beef at eating houses because the meat, when received, is too tough to eat and enjoy? Does the Minister know that a process that will make tough meat tender is said to have been discovered? Will he ask the CSIRO to make investigations into the success or otherwise of the said process which, if satisfactory, would add greatly to the demand for Australian meat?

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– I think there is considerable merit in the honourable member’s suggestion. I do know that when I last held this portfolio, the CSIRO was undertaking a considerable amount of work in Queensland on the controlled curing of meat. This was designed, quite specifically, to get meat to markets overseas in a better condition - more tender and preserving the taste - than might normally be the case. I will pursue this matter to see what progress has been made with this investigation and to find out what additional information I can get for the honourable member.

page 3227




– I address a question to the Minister for the Navy. Was it announced in 1970 that there was a 5-year construction plan for naval support facilities at Cockburn Sound? Will he advise what its naval capacity will be when the proposed construction is completed? Is it not correct that, as originally announced, it would have very limited naval capacity? Has he noticed that the Prime Minister is referring to these naval support facilities as a naval base? Will the Minister state whether it is intended to extend these naval support facilities into a base as advocated by speakers from both sides of this House?

Minister for the Navy · EVANS, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– I have, I think, clarified this question previously. The base at Cockburn Sound is being prepared in a preliminary stage to be a support facility for up to 12 months for submarines and destroyers. At present conversations are proceeding with regard to the specific number of each that would be allocated for permanent occupation - that is 12 months or longer - of this facility. This is, however, a facility that we see as being increasingly important and significant in the light of strategic requirements and developments in that area. There have been expressions of interest in the base by Americans whose top admirals have paid visits to the area. The United Kingdom, of course, has been interested since Captain Stirling, after whom it is named, first described it as a very important site for naval strategy in the whole of this area and the Indian Ocean. It will be developed progressively in accordance with the needs of the day and, speaking personally, I believe it will become, in the future, one of the key naval bases of the Australian continent.

page 3228




- Mr Speaker, my question to the Treasurer concerns a matter which I have brought to his notice in correspondence, lt requires a short preamble so that its import can be thoroughly understood. I understand that not infrequently Commonwealth employees - I confine this question to them - are paid less than they are entitled to receive. This under-payment, which is done by mistake, may go on over a period of years. When it is discovered, the amount under-paid is paid to the employee in a lump sum and that lump sum is added to the employee’s normal income in the year in which it is paid for the purposes of striking a taxation rate. The Taxation Office claims that under the Act it is unable to do anything else than this and cannot apportion the amount under-paid over the years during which it was under-paid for taxation purposes. I ask the Treasurer Is this, in fact the position? If it is the position, will he examine the existing Act in order to try to ensure that employees are not disadvantaged through a mistake not made by them but by the Commonwealth as their employer?


– The right honourable gentleman both spoke to me and wrote to me about this matter, and in consequence [ have instructed the Commissioner of Taxation to examine it so that he can inform me as to what action could be taken to correct the position and what would be the consequences and ramifications of any such action not only in the Commonwealth Public Service area but generally. I understand that the facts as recited by the right honourable gentleman are correct. I am expecting confirmation of that and also some indication, as I said earlier, of what is involved in changing the situation.

page 3228



– I wish to make a personal explanation.


-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?


-I do. In today’s Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’ on page 10 there appears an article which states:

Canberra, Tues.- The Editor-in-chief of the Australian Consolidated Press, Mr D. R. McNicoll today appeared before the Privileges Committee of Federal Parliament.

He was questioned by the Committee for about an hour.

Mr McNicoll appeared before the Committee, at its request, to answer questions concerning the publication of an article in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ on August 27.

A three-quarter inch heading on the story in the paper that you cannot trust states:

Senators question Editor-in-chief.

I recall earlier during the life of this Parliament electing the Privileges Committee of this House. The names of the members of the Committee appear daily on the notice paper. The Committee of course does not contain any senators. Mr Speaker, no doubt you would agree that it is depressing that after an hour’s questioning by the Privileges Committee of this House the Editor-in-chief of Australian Consolidated Press thought he was being questioned by senators. I personally consider it a gross misrepresentation for the ‘Daily Telegraph* to state that I leave the protection of my privileges as a member of this House to senators.

page 3228



– Last week the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn) sought information from me about imports of wool from New Zealand and their effect on the Australian Wool Commission.


-Order! Does the Minister wish to clarify the matter?


– I would like to give that information. The position with regard to imports of wool from New Zealand has been grossly misrepresented in various allegations which have appeared in the Press. For many years Australia has been importing from New Zealand coarse wool for the manufacture of carpets because carpet wool is not grown in Australia. In addition, small quantities of wool suitable for blankets are imported from New Zealand, but once again this wool is of types which are generally not available in Australia.

Contrary to the allegations made, the great bulk of wool used in manufacturing blankets in this country is locally produced. Moreover, in the order of 90 per cent of the wool used in blankets is of low grade types which are not protected by the reserve prices of the Australian Wool Commission. It will be seen, therefore, that such wool imports as are made from New Zealand in no way conflict with the operations of the Australian Wool Commission or cause it to buy more wool than would otherwise be the case. A fact that many people do not realise is that because of the great multiplicity of types of wool and differences in their suitability for particular end uses, not only does Australia import wool from other producing countries but the converse also applies. Thus, for example, both New Zealand and South Africa import wool from Australia.

page 3229


Minister for National Development · Darling Downs · LP

– Pursuant to section 40 of the Australian National Airlines Act 1945-1970, I present the twentysixth annual report of the Australian National Airlines Commission for the year ended 30th June 1971 together with financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements.

page 3229



Ministerial Statement

Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts · Casey · LP

– I seek leave to make a statement on matters which were the subject of a question by the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry) to me.


-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.


– On 28th October the honourable member for Franklin asked me whether the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) had omitted to table a letter which I had received from the Chairman of the Interim Council setting out the Council’s dissatisfaction with the reports of P.A. Management Consultants Pty Ltd. The honourable member further asked me whether the Prime Minister had omitted to table the transcript of discussions between the Interim Council and the consultants and a supplementary report subsequently prepared by the consultants in collaboration with the Interim Council members.

The Prime Minister was asked by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) on 14th October 1971 whether he would table all documents and reports relevant to the Film and Television Training School in relation to the question whether my figures were accurate. The Prime Minister tabled the relevant papers that were in my possesion at the date of that question. The honourable member having asked for additional information, I now table a letter addressed to me on 20th October by the Chairman of the Interim Council which is presumably the one to which the question relates. To clarify that letter I sought further information from the Chairman of the Council and I therefore table the following later and related papers which, including the letter, are:

Letter to me from the Chairman of the Interim Council for a National Film and Television Training School dated 20th October 1971; attachment to that letter headed ‘Record of discussion with P.A. Management Consultants’ at the 1 3th meeting of the Interim Council 12 noon Monday 11th January 1971 text of a telegram despatched on 25th October from me to the Chairman of the Interim Council: copy of text entitled ‘Draft telegram to the Honourable Peter Howson from Peter Coleman* dictated by telephone to my office from Sydney on 25lh October by Mr Martin-Jones; text of message dated 25th October from me to Mr Peter Coleman which was telephoned to Mr Martin-Jones by Mr LeGassick: text entitled ‘Message to Mr Peter Howson, M.P.. Minister for the Environment. Aborigines and the Arts, from Mr P. Coleman, M.L.A., in reply to your queries passed on to my Executive Officer by Mr LeGassick this afternoon*.

I have not received and have no knowledge of any supplementary report prepared by the consultants in collaboration with the Interim Council members. This statement will also serve to answer Question No. 466 on the Notice Paper as to (1) and the first part of (2). lt is not the constitutional practice to answer questions as to Cabinet as sought in the latter part of (2), (3), (4) and (5). 1 present the following paper:

National Film and Television Training School - Ministerial Statement, 10th November 1971

Motion (by Mr Swartz) proposed:

That the House take note of the paper.


– At last the procrastination has been halted, even if only temporarily. I want to address myself to what I consider to be the nub of this whole issue. The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) on assuming office made a declaration that in fact he was to be a Cabinet man and he has reinforced that statement from time to time. This particular letter was in the possession of the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson) and the Cabinet when they met on 25th October. The question asked by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) on 14th October made no restriction in terms of time.It merely asked whether the Prime Minister would table all documents and reports relevant to the film and television training school to determine whether the Minister’s figures were accurate. There was no restriction as to time; he was just asked to table all relevant documents and reports. The Minister had this letter in his possession, as he informed us in his statement, and yet this presumably was not discussed in Cabinet by the Prime Minister who on 26th October - the day after - made a long and detailed statement at 8 p.m. in this House on this very issue.

It is totally inconceivable to me that this matter was not discussed in Cabinet on 25th October; I cannot accept any statement asserting that this was not discussed on 25th October because, as I mentioned, the Prime Minister came into this House on 26th October and said:

I have stated the position in some detail and 1 have tabled reports and other papers so that the whole matter can be looked at fairly and squarely.

That is what the Prime Minister said, yet on the day before he and the Minister had this letter in their possession, and they are asking me to believe that this was not discussed at Cabinet level. Subsequently, the

Prime Minister came into this House and tabled all documents but this one which in fact was received on 20th October.

This is an extraordinary situation. The Prime Minister is seeking to have honourable members, the nation and - it appears - the entire world, believe that he is a Cabinet man. What are we to believe? This letter was not tabled with the other papers in this Parliament at 8 o’clock on 26th October and that is the reason why I say that there has been too much procrastination on this issue. All the relevant documents should have been tabled at that time because they were in the Minister’s possession. This is yet another classic example of a total breakdown of communication between Ministers and the Prime Minister. This is yet another example of the de-Gortonisation programme that is taking place with this project which was introduced by the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), which I supported in this House and which I will go on supporting. But I will not accept that this document which was in the hands of the Minister was not discussed in Cabinet and therefore it should have been tabled in this House at 8 o’clock on 26th October.


– I believe that the debate on this statement and the papers which were tabled at the time the statement was made can meaningfully proceed only after the papers themselves have been able to be examined by all honourable members. I understand that the Government is prepared to make time available for this debate at a later stage in this session and I therefore move:

That the debate be adjourned.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 3230


Motion (by Mr Swartz) agreed to:

That the House, at its rising, adjourn until tomorrow at 1 1.45 a.m.

page 3230


Approval of Work - Public Works Committee Act

Minister for Customs and Excise · Hotham · LP

-I move:

That in accordance with the provisions of the

Public Works Committee Act 1969, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the Committee has duly reported to parliament. Construction of primary and pre-schools at Bradshaw (Alice Springs) and Nakara (Darwin), Northern Territory.

The proposal is for the construction of 2 school complexes, each to accommodate 800 primary and infant pupils and 100 pre-school pupils. The estimated cost of the Nakara school is $1. 275m and the Bradshaw school $1.2m. The Committee has concluded that there is a need for the work and has recommended construction as proposed. Upon the concurrence of the House in this resolution, detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendation of the Committee.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 3231



Reference to Public Works Committee Mr CHIPP (Hotham - Minister for Customs and Excise) (3.39) - I move:

The proposed works involve the installation of a sewerage reticulation system and pumping stations to serve all blocks on the eastern side of Katherine River with an allowance for future expansion and construction of a treatment plant of lagoons, filters, chlorinator and effluent disposal. The estimated cost of the proposed work is $1.3m. I table plans of the proposed work.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Northern Territory

– I support the motion. Future development in Katherine will be connected to the sewerage system. Apart from the $l.3m allocated for this project $37,000 will be tied up in the acquisition of easements. One of the main reasons why this project is such an urgent measure is that the soil in Katherine is not absorbent and the normal septic systems, which should absorb the effluent, do not work adequately. This necessitates a constant replacement of trenches at a cost of $200 or $300 for each house or $6,000 for a hotel. In addition the septic tanks had to be pumped out fairly regularly. So this is a very necessary and a very urgent piece of planning. 1 commend the local council member who fought so hard to get this sewerage system. He realised that the population of the town would be growing to something like 4,000 next year and about 6,000 by 1980.

Dr Patterson:

– He must have been a Labor man.


– The Labor man was defeated in the local elections. This town is of great and growing importance. It is at the junction of the Darwin, Alice Springs and Wyndham roads and is the centre of a very important meat and agricultural area. I commend the project and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for its consideration of it.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 3231


Minister for Customs and Excise · Hotham · LP

– I move:

The Customs Tariff Proposals which I have just tabled relate to proposed amendments to the Customs Tariff 1966-1971. Proposal No. 23 implements the Government’s acceptance of the Tariff Board’s recommendations in its report on track for tractors. The new duties will operate from tomorrow. The Tariff Board recommended duties of 20 per cent general tariff and 10 per cent preferential tariff on complete track shoe assemblies and on pins, bushes, links and link assemblies when imported separately. On track shoes imported separately the Board recommended that existing duties of 74 per cent general tariff and free preferential tariff be retained.

In its report the Tariff Board noted that pins and bushes had been imported at prices significantly lower than the stated current domestic values. The Board considered that continuation of sales at prices below normal values in the exporting countries would cause injury to Australian industry. By ‘Gazette’ notice tomorrow pins and bushes being parts for track shoe assemblies exported to Australia on and after 1st December will become subject to dumping duty where sales are made to Australia at export free on board prices which are below current domestic values in the country of export. Long term normal values will be established after overseas inquiries, which are now in course, are completed. Proposals Nos 22 and 24 reduce duties on certain accessory items for diamond drilling machines and on sheets of vulcanised fibre. The reductions are in accordance with the relevant Tariff Board reports and have retroactive effect. Details of the tariff changes are currently being distributed to honourable members. I commend the Proposals.

Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.

page 3232


Minister for Customs and Excise · Hotham · LP

– I present the Tariff Board’s report on the following subject:

Track for tractors.

Ordered that the report be printed.

page 3232


In Committee

Consideration resumed from 9 November (vide page 3201).

Second Schedule.

Postmaster-General’s Department

Proposed expenditure, $74,155,000.

St George

– One of the difficulties from which both sides of the Committee suffer in a consideration of the estimates for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department is that we are dealing with only the tip of the iceberg. Here we have a multi-million dollar industry; in fact, the total earnings of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in 1970 were $7l5m. During any consideration of the estimates for this Department we have a series of Bills coming before us but it seems to me that we never really settle down to a comprehensive study of what is the largest industry in Australia. There are problems that we have to face up to, such as the extent to which the Post Office is a community service and the extent to which it is a business enterprise. The great i egret that I have is that as parliamentarians we have never really had an opportunity to study some of the basic issues that are presented to us in a rather piecemeal way. For instance, the Post Office as such has to carry a large number of subsidies ranging from those for the country telephone ser vice, the Radio Australia programme, which always seems to me to bc a Foreign Office function, to the bulk postage of periodicals. These subsidies are a charge upon what the Government often says is a business enterprise but in character they are subsidies which the Post Office is required to carry on behalf of the Government. It is about time that we prevailed upon the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme), in his last year of office, and his officers to bring before this Parliament a detailed White Paper on the organisation, the functions, the structure and the financing of the Post Office.

One of the continuing problems we have concerns the loans that are made available to the Post Office and the repayment of those loans. For instance, this year the Government under another heading will advance to the Post Office some $255m. So on the one hand it is giving it $255m while on the other it will take back $141. 8m in interest payments. The curious thing is that these loans go towards the acquisition of assets which the Australian people, through this Parliament, own anyway. But the interest rates that have to be paid on those loans become a running cost to the Post Office and are used as justification for the Post Office increasing the cost of its services. This type of financing seems to have the same sort of reality as a game of monopoly. What has been happening is that the Government - not only this Government because Labor governments did much the same thing - is using the Post Office as a taxation authority. This is not the way it should be used, but if it is to be used in this way let us be very clear in our minds what it is we are doing. One of the other difficulties that has arisen, and one which is now being shown far more consistently in the increase in the cost of living, is the way in which the Government’s operations in the Post Office are an inflationary factor. Over the last 2 years postage rates have increased 40 per cent, telephone connection charges 67 per cent, rentals 38 per cent and, as we all know, radio and television licences have increased 33 per cent. These are charges made by a government instrumentality under the direction of the Government, which work against the Government’s economic policies.

Perhaps I could leave in the Minister’s mind the thought that it would be a great bestowal upon this Parliament if, in his last year of office, he presented to this Parliament a very detailed statement of how he and his Government see the Post Office and if he brought forth new ideas as to how the Post Office and its finances might be organised. We on this side of the chamber favour establishment of a statutory corporation to run the Post Office, but I must say that I personally have never been able to obtain sufficient facts on which I can make a judgment as to whether this is the right or wrong way of doing it. I am inclined to think that it would be a good idea to have a statutory corporation but, as I say, one of the great difficulties we experience is obtaining the type of information upon which we can make a proper judgment.

There are a couple of other points I should like to raise. I have mentioned the increases in fees for television viewer licences. I think it is noteworthy that the individual owners of television sets have had to pay increased charges for viewer licences but that increased charges have not been imposed on television station owners. The licence fee for television station owners has remained unchanged since 1964, and no doubt Sir Frank Packer is hoping that this particular circumstance will continue. But if increased charges are to be imposed, it seems to me that television station licence fees constitute the first area in which they should be levied. Television stations pay a basic licence fee of only $200 a year and, in addition, a percentage of gross earnings; for most stations it is 1 per cent of gross earnings. I hope that, if further increased charges are imposed by this Government in the area of Post Office activities, before slapping up the charges for the licence fees of individual television viewers very earnest consideration will be given to increasing the charges for television station licence fees.

One point about which I am most concerned relates to the operation of the coaxial cable between Sydney and Melbourne. The Postmaster-General, who is at the table, in a reply to me dated 9th November 1971 pointed out that the coaxial cable is leased by the Post Office to 2 television organisations, namely the General Television Corporation Pty Ltd, which is owned by the Australian Consolidated Press Ltd and therefore is a Packer organisation, and the Herald-Sun TV Pty Ltd in Melbourne. I asked - I thought it was a reasonable request for a parliamentarian to make - how much these facilities cost. The answer I received was as follows:

The rates for the leases of these facilities are matters for private negotiation between the Post Office and the parties concerned and it would not be proper for me to release publicly in the House, the information sought by the honourable member.

Personally, I do not believe that this is the sort of attitude which the Government should adopt towards a member of this House who is seeking information. I further asked how the Australian Broadcasting Commission got access to the coaxial cable. Apparently these arrangements are supposed to be agreed upon mutually between the 2 companies concerned and the Australian Broadcasting Commission, but we are not told what the arrangements are. It seems to be odd that a government instrumentality has to go cap in hand to private companies to get access to Commonwealthowned facilities. I can tell honourable members one thing that will happen when the Australian Labor Party takes office: That type of arrangement will not be allowed to last one day after we take office.

In the limited time left to me I should like to take up the rather personal problems which face the ordinary people. As I think we all feel, we have entered into an era of computerised frustration, but in no field is it more prevalent nor more niggling than in the impersonal world of the telephone. The telephone is becoming a costly servant and a very demanding master. But how insignificant we feel as individuals when we are confronted with computerised accounts based on the automatic readings of little black boxes, and how powerless we feel we are to challenge the accuracy of those transistorised robots with which we are forced to deal! Not only do we feel powerless, but we are made to feel impotent by the ready assumption of the Post Office bureaucracy that if there are any difficulties about Post Office accounts, the computer must be right. May I suggest that in cases of alleged overcharging of telephone accounts - there is a large number of cases; we all receive representations about them - the Post Office should devise a system of registering outgoing calls and that these be checked against automatic meters. If necessary, a charge could be made, but this should be refundable if there is a discrepancy between the 2 readings. The customer may be proved wrong, but at least be would have the satisfaction of being convinced rather than being dictatorilly told. Together with my colleagues I find that this matter presents a great problem. People come along with these computerised print-outs of their accounts and they feel frustrated; they feel that a personal attack is being made upon them. They go to the Post Office and they are told: ‘You are wrong’. They are given the impression that they are liars and that the computer must always be right. If we could bring a little personalised service into the running of the Post Office, this would be very much appreciated by the customers of the greatest organisation in Australia.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock:

– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– We are debating the estimates for the Postmaster-General’s Department. I have had an opportunity to look at the report of the committee of investigation into the commercial accounts of the Post Office which was presented in 1959. Tomorrow I propose to move that a further investigation into the accounts of the Post Office be carried out on the lines of the previous investigation, but with terms of reference which can be understood. There were 5 members on the committee which carried out the previous investigation, and 2 of them violently disagreed with the majority report. They stated that the words ‘net financial advantage’ used in connection with the Post Office could not be given effect technically - in other words, this reference meant nothing. As I said, there was a violent disagreement between the 3 men who submitted the majority report and the 2 men who submitted the minority report. The men who submitted the minority report believed that the fairness of the interest charges imposed upon the Post Office was in grave doubt. When 1 look at the present accounts of the Post Office and the papers wilh which I have been furnished by the Legislative Research Section of the Parliamentary Library, I find that 90 per cent of the money required to run the Post Office was financed by the Australian people from taxation. The capital invested in the Post Office, together with some payments which were made to the States when we took over in 1901, amounts to $2,484,331,130. As far as I can ascertain, this money was taken from revenue - from the taxpayer.

The Treasury, following previous practice, is charging the Post Office interest on taxpayers’ funds. This may be fair, but it has the effect of making the user of the Post Office pay interest on the taxes he has paid. Who pays the taxes? The Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and other big firms 1 think paid $66m in taxation in the last financial year. A lot of big firms and wealthy people pay heavy taxes, and they in the main have financed the Post Office. But at the present time the people who are most unfairly hit by Post Office charges are those on low incomes - people in indigent circumstances. If they write a letter or make a telephone call, 16 per cent of what they pay to post that letter or to make the telephone call is returned to the Treasury as interest on the money provided to finance the Post Office.

We hear it stated that the Post Office should be run as a business undertaking, and 1 think that the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) and his senior officers in the central office have tried very hard to make the Post Office pay. But the post office gives a lot of service to the community. The Australian community is completely different from the American or British community. Great Britain has 50 million people in a very small area while Australia has 12 million people scattered over hundreds of thousands of square miles. I think that the electorate of the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) in Western Australia covers 900,000 square miles.

At this stage we are not ready for the high pressure accounting and computer system. In my electorate, small post offices are being closed. This affects the quality of life, because the minute a post office in a small place is closed - it may be losing 51,000 a year - then a store begins to close and pensioners have to get a car or some other form of transport and go to the centralised post office to be looked after there. This is a matter of argument. I know all about Liberal Party policy which says that we ought to have statutory commissions. But do not forget that most statutory commissions are hemmed in by Government control and have to report to Ministers. The statutory commission was supposed to lessen the load of the Minister and take the matter away from Parliamentary control. 1 have never yet seen a computer with a heart. By handing things over to this system we are acting against the interests of the people as a whole. Let us look at some of the services provided in these small post offices. Tax forms are supplied. The people in charge of these non-official post offices often help people with their tax returns. Social service pension forms are provided on behalf of the Department of Social Services. Also provided are electoral application forms, which are a responsibility of the Department of the Interior, housing scheme booklets, television and radio licences, drought bonds, money orders, alien registration forms and registration for national service forms. Also they handle the payment of pensions and child endowment and the collection of customs duty. One could go on for days talking about the services that the post office provides in these little places. I am intensely upset by the closing down of small post offices. This is going to save a few miserable dollars.

If we are concerned about the quality of life why do we do things which build up the present urbanisation of Australia? I think that SO per cent of our people live in the big cities, or 90 per cent, if we add the big towns. People are leaving the country areas and we are contributing to (his by closing the small post offices. That is a backward step. If the Post Office had not paid interest on the taxpayers funds it would have benefitted to the extent of $112m profit this last year. The Post Office belongs to the people of Australia. No matter how bad it is, it represents the heart and soul of the people of Australia. If interest were not charged to the Post Office, representing 16 per cent of earnings, there would have been a profit for the Post Office of $11 2m.

This is the reason, Mr Lucock, why there ought to be a further investigation of the method of financing the Post Office. I repeat that the Government has soulless accountants, men who put the machine before their hearts and minds. The system that the Post Office is trying to carry out now is against the interests of the country and of the places in which post offices are closed. If one reads the result of the inquiry that was held - there is no need to go through it in detail - one finds that three of the five members of the committee made a majority decision and two were dead against it. Actually, from the technical accounting point of view, the terms of reference were unintelligible. There ought to be new terms of reference. I am sorry to do this to the Postmaster-General because he may not be running the Department in the next 10 years but I propose to fight to have this system stopped.

We speak loosely about business undertakings. How can we have a business - a railway system or a post office system in a new country like this - with communications spreading for thousands and thousands of miles and operate it on a centralised basis? It is 3.000 miles from Sydney to Perth and 3,500 miles to Port Hedland. I saw a statement the other day that said decentralisation was occurring. Decentralisation means that one-third of the people who work for the Post Office will be out of jobs where they live and two-thirds will be concentrated in the big cities and big country towns where there are area regional controls. Surely this Parliament should not make a contribution to cutting down the post offices in small towns and villages. The little post offices with telephone boxes outside which are being closed in some small suburbs are being run by some of the best men we have in the country - the non-official postmasters. Do not forget that they have never yet had a strike. They make a tremendous contribution to the welfare of the country and to the interests of the people.


– In speaking to the estimates for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department I shall refer specifically to some aspects of the television industry. At the inception of television 15 years ago the Government of that time made a promise to give us television that is predominantly Australian in every phase of programming. This promise is clearly contained in section 114(1) of the Broadcasting and Television Act which states:

The Commission and the licensees shall, as far as possible, use the services of Australians in the production and presentation of broadcasting and television programmes.

The Postmaster-General in 1956, Mr Charles Davidson - now Sir Charles Davidson - when introducing the Act left no doubt about the Government’s intentions. I quote from Hansard of 10th May 1956 at page 1963. Mr Davidson said:

Although I am prepared to concede to Opposition members that they are sincere in their desire to develop the use of Australian artists and Australian television programmes generally, I point out very definitely that no one on this side of the chamber-

That meant the Government side, of course - . . will bow to anyone else in his realisation of the potentialities of television, and in his determination to use those potentialities to the utmost extent for the development of Australian art and culture. Let that point be understood immediately.

Later on in the same speech Mr Davidson went on to say:

The importation of American productions cannot be allowed to continue to the detriment of Australian production.

In view of those statements a keen disappointment and sense of frustration must bc felt about what has actually happened, because the importation of foreign programmes is still continuing at a rate which is very much to the detriment of Australian productions. Television should stimulate among Australians a consciousness of national identity and a pride in their nation. Instead we find the vast majority of programmes typify American or British attitudes and institutions, their manners and customs, their traditions and heroes and, of course, their manner of speech and in general their way of life.

A new settler in Australia would be utterly confused about the country he intends to make his home. His television set shows him California, other parts of the United States, London and other parts of the United Kingdom. There would be very few programmes to enlighten him about the character, personality, way of life and culture of the Australian people. No other country has been prepared to tolerate such a massive assault on its own cultures. The United State of America,

Great Britain and Canada have all ensured that their television programmes reflect, comment on and advance their own identities. Very few foreign programmes appear on American television screens. Britain in practice limits the imported shows to approximately 12.5 per cent of its total content. Canada has recently specified that 50 per cent of the programmes shown in prime viewing time - that is evening viewing - must be of Canadian origin. Australia, more than any other country, should be using television to propagate its own personality. It is still a young nation with a sizable intake of new settlers, most of whom are eager to become good Australian citizens. I submit that they would find it most difficult to ascertain any idea of the Australian culture or the Australian way of life by watching television, which is to say the least a sad commentary on the present state of the television industry.

The Australian public has amply demonstrated that it likes to watch and wants to watch Australian produced programmes. For example, 13 of the 26 top rating programmes in 1969 were made in Australia. The two top shows were ‘Homicide’ and Division 4’, which are written and produced by Australians. Incidentally one of the least successful of the Australian produced dramas was ‘Riptide’, which has ceased production. I submit that ‘Riptide’ tended to fail because it was written not by Australians but by British writers who were not familiar with Australian contemporary conditions. That is true also of two other comparative failures, namely, ‘Good Morning, Mr Doubleday’ and ‘Joan and Leslie.’ The programme ‘Good Morning, Mr Doubleday’ attempted to use American scripts adapted to an Australian setting. The programme ‘Joan and Leslie’ had a similar lack of success with adapted British scripts. The failure of those 3 programmes assuredly confirms that the Australian public prefers programmes which are completely and authentically Australian.

Australia has produced many actors, writers and variety artists who have enjoyed international repute. To put it more simply, there is no evidence of a lack of creative ability in our community, yet it is still argued in some quarters that it is impossible to produce more and better programmes of Australian content because we do not have the talent to support them.

This argument is ridiculous. The truth is that our local talents are frustrated because Australian actors and writers are given very few opportunities to express or develop their own talents. That has resulted in some of our best writers and actors settling in Britain, where their talents are fully exploited by the industry in that country.

Mr Lucock, in concluding my remarks I would like to say that I find it most difficult to understand why some television stations persist in bringing persons from overseas to compere variety shows, some of which contain interviews with prominent people. Let me cite several Australian television personalities whom I submit compare more than favourably with the importations in the field of entertainment. I mention them in alphabetical order. T cite Barry Crocker, Brian Henderson, Bobby Limb, Joe Martin. Rex Mossop, Bert Newton, Bob Rogers and, as an interviewer. Miss Bobo Faulkner. Queensland, South Australia. Western Australia and Tasmania probably possess television personalities of similar ability and skill to those I have mentioned from New South Wales and Victoria. I do not for one moment suggest that all Australian television productions are perfect, but 1 do submit that many of them are of ‘A’ class quality. Making an all round suggestion, I believe that Australian productions are very worthy of every support and encouragement.

Finally, I should like to congratulate the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s television section for its presentation of the programmes ‘This Day Tonight’ and ‘Four Corners’. Both of those programmes have at times been criticised by members of this Parliament as being politically biased. I believe that that is a lot of nonsense. There have been occasions on which I have disagreed with the views expressed and the method of expressing them on those 2 programmes, but I hope the day will never come when programmes of this nature are dominated by political parties.


– I rise to support the estimates for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, which provide for an expenditure of $74,155,000 this year. It is interesting to note that last year an amount of $67,414,026 was actually expended by the Department on its operations. The Post Office, being the largest business undertaking in Australia, has certainly experienced great problems with rising costs, particularly in the wages field where S77m has been added to the cost of labour this year compared with the average increase in the last 5 years of S40m. To keep within reasonable financial loss limits the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) has had to increase post and telegraph charges. This increase has imposed great financial burden and hardship on people in country areas, who rely so heavily on post and telegraph communications.

One area in which a section of the community has been charged very heavily for services rendered is in the delivery by mail of daily newspapers to people who live in outlying areas. There certainly has been a great increase in the charge for this service. It is common for people who live in these areas to be charged 20c or more for the delivery of their daily newspapers from the local newsagent. I believe that the Post Office has lost a considerable volume of business in country areas as a result of the increase in this charge because private mail contractors and carriers are now delivering newspapers at half the price being charged by the Postmaster-General’s Department. As it could have an effect on postal revenue. I believe it is a matter which is worthy of investigation by departmental officers. Quite a considerable loss of postal revenue throughout Australia could be lost as a result of this increase.

The Postmaster-General’s Department is making every effort to cut down on overhead expenses. For example, it has in hundreds of instances closed small non-official post offices and downgraded official post offices to non-official post offices. I agree wholeheartedly with the remarks of the honourable member for MacArthur (Mr Jeff Bate) concerning the great service which the small post offices give to the people in country regions. The wonderful services which they provide means so much to and is appreciated by the people in these areas. I believe that the wholesale closing of small post offices has been to the detriment of people who live in country areas. For that reason, I believe that this policy should be very carefully review. Every day one receives in the mail letters from people complaining about the closing of small post offices. I appreciate that the Department is actually losing financially on these post offices, but the providing of services for people in outback areas is more important and it should receive more consideration than it is being given at the present time. Whilst action of this kind is no doubt warranted in some instances there are many occasions on which I feel it is not warranted. One case which comes to mind is the post office at Denman, which is in the Paterson electorate. Denman is a most important town on the Hunter River. It is one of the biggest milk producing areas in the region. It is also the headquarters of the Denman Shire Council and an area in which great development is taking place at the moment in the extension of the wine industry and the planting of vineyards. The development which is taking place at present is on a large scale and will boost the business of the Postmaster-General’s Department in the town. Being the headquarters of the Shire Council it is, of course, causing concern to the people there from a prestige point of view. But I am not worried about the prestige point of view. I am worried about the fact that it is a growing area and I believe an official post office should be kept there. This matter has been taken up with the Postmaster-General. I hope that he will make a firm investigation of the retention of the post office at Denman on an official basis.

The Department also owns a block of land in the heart of Denman and it is in a much better location than the present office. Consideration should be given to the construction of a new post office building on that block. Country people have been upset by the programme of closing small post offices, as I have mentioned before, and this is causing country members great concern. It has been pleasing to see the Minister recently modify considerably a scheme put forward by the telecommunications section of the Department whereby many changes would have been made in existing centres of operation throughout Australia, for new set-ups under area managers and the implementation of this scheme in its orginal form would have caused great inconvenience to the staff and the loss of considerable revenue in the towns and cities where those offices were situated. This proposal has been changed satisfactorily by the Minister and I think this must give great satisfaction to all those who were expressing considerable concern about this change of policy. I congratulate and thank the Minister for being so considerate in changing this proposal which apparently was brought forward without great consideration being given to the effect it would have on staff in country towns, on the policy of decentralisation and the loss of the considerable amount of wages that is spent in those towns.

Television reception is very poor in the Upper Hunter region and the Department has plans to install a translator station on Rosscole Mountain Near Aberdeen, along with commercial television interests. There has been considerable delay in starting this important project and over the past 2 years I have constantly brought the matter to the attention of the Minister, as viewers in this area have paid their television licence fees but still have very poor reception. These people constantly remind me of this poor reception and ask when the problem will be remedied. Only this week I received a communication from the Minister to the effect that the Australian Broadcasting Commission station would be built and in operation by 1972 and that the commercial station would be in operation in February 1972. This will be of great benefit to the television viewers in the Hunter Valley because the operation of these essential translator stations will mean viewers in the area will receive decent television reception.

While the provision for the Department to meet the cost of telephone lines within IS miles of a post office has been of great assistance to people in country areas there is still a tremendous backlag in the provision of such services in country areas. I have many applications from business people in country areas for the installation of a telephone service. On taking this up with the officers of the telecommunications section of the Post Office I have been informed that the main reason for the delay is a shortage of cable. I ask the Postmaster-General to have a look at this situation because it is holding up the provision of many important services to business houses and other people in country areas. I support the estimates.


– Due to the restriction on time I shall have to confine my remarks today to just 2 or 3 areas that fall within the general responsibility of the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme). Firstly, I would like to have a look at the question of the appointment of commissioners to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. If 1 remember correctly, the Act provides that there will be 9 commissioners, and I think at least one of them has to be a female. I believe, further, that all States are represented on the Commission at the moment. But what 1 would like to determine is what criteria are applied when the selection of a commissioner is made. If my statistics are correct and current, the average age of our commissioners at the moment is about 61 years. Of course, I would not criticise them on this issue alone. Indeed, they may well be bringing a maturity and wisdom to their various offices but it does seem to me that the overriding qualification at the moment is rather restrictive. They are being drawn from the academic field, the community service field and, to some extent, from the business world. I suggest to the Minister that perhaps he would be generous enough to give some thought before he leaves his office to whether this is a good enough representation to control, to advise and to handle the very complex and expensive but very dedicated organisation of the ABC. It seems very strange to me that, for example, the latest appointee to the Commission is in fact a Victorian member of the Country Party with no particular distinction in the field of broadcasting.

Mr Daly:

– Being in the Country Party is bad enough.


– That in itself may be a very great distinction; I would not be prepared to debate that point with my colleague. But the essential point I am making is that I feel that perhaps the time has come when a general review of the appointment of commissioners to the ABC might well be considered with regard to the knowledge they would have of the broadcasting and television systems of the ABC. It seems to me fundamental that if we have this vast and complex organisation manned, of course, by very dedicated officers, it would be logical that certainly a percentage of those commissioners should have a very intimate knowledge of how the

Commission functions as a broadcasting and communications system in this country. I make these observations not as criticism of the existing commissioners. As I say, they may be carrying out their tasks with great energy and dedication but I feel that now, when the communication systems of this nation are so sophisticated and important and have such an effect on contemporary thinking and contemporary affairs, the time might well be here when we should make a reassessment of the qualifications of the appointees to this organisation.

I refer now to a certain apprehension I have - I have expressed it in this House before - about the exercise of some of the restraints placed on various members of the ABC particularly in the public affairs field. I have said before in this chamber that it would be most unwise for any government, of whatever political persuasion, to over-emphasise this curtailment of free expression as it is illustrated in public service and public affairs programmes. I know that there is a great deal of uncertainty among a great many of the staff members, particularly those associated with ‘This Day Tonight’ and ‘Four Corners’, over precisely what direction these programmes should take. I do not think anybody in this Parliament is entitled, or indeed equipped, to instruct these people who over a number of years have developed an expertise and a technique in interviewing bow they should or should not carry out their task. There are a great number of employees in the ABC who are very apprehensive at the moment, particularly those associated with ‘This Day Tonight’. This is a programme that has established itself as perhaps ons of the most popular in this country. It is a forum for public debate and public disagreement. It is a forum for public discourse on the affairs that affect this nation and its people and therefore at no time should it be shackled by directives either from this Parliament or from outside influences.

In my view programmes such as those I have mentioned will survive and go on from their present position of strength only by being penetrating and pertinent without being impertinent. I suggest that it would be a very great mistake for us to stultify, inhibit, restrict or in any way place an impost upon these programmes which would destroy this very essential public media. I speak with a number of years of experience in this field. I know how frustrating it is for any interviewer in the public affairs field to have to be continually looking over his shoulder and to be continually aware that however penetrating or objective he may be there is always the chance that he might tread on somebody’s toes and be taken to task for doing so. As I have said, there is this feeling in the Commission at the moment. Various directives and memorandums have been sent out to certain people suggesting - I do not say instructing - that perhaps the line that they are adopting is not quite the right line for a certain sector of the community. I do not believe this is a healthy state of affairs. Let me at once absolve the Minister who I can see is looking at me rather apprehensively. I am not suggesting that these documents come from him.

Sir Alan Hulme:

– I was wondering who sends them.


– One or two memorandums have been sent by the Programme Manager of the Commission, Mr Hutchinson, to Richard Carleton in Canberra as to how he should conduct interviews on the programme ‘This Day Tonight’ I do not think this is a very healthy attitude because today people want to know about contemporary issues in our society and about the political scene. The people have every right to know about them and they have every right to have all points of view presented.

I have noted from reading an article dealing with FM broadcasting set out in the 23rd annual report of the Broadcasting Control Board that the Minister has set up a public inquiry into this matter. I know that the Minister is as concerned as I am to reach finality on the recommendations of that inquiry into FM broadcasting. This is a matter of great importance and it is, in my view, at the top of the priority list. I ask the Minister to give some indication when the recommendations of this inquiry might be put before the Parliament so that we can, if necessary, have a general debate on the findings. In view of the additional air space, if I can put it that way, being occupied by additional licensees, I think that this is a tremendously important area.

Today we have to be very conscious of the situation in regard to the whole field of world copyright laws in relation to satellite telecasting. This is a matter to which I do not think we have given sufficient consideration and I think that we ought to have some regard to some of the problems which will certainly emerge as satellite telecasting expands in the very near future.

Assistant Minister assisting the Postmaster-General · Cowper · CP

– The estimated capital expenditure of the Postmaster-General’s Department this year amounts to no less than $424m, which is an increase of $40m on last financial year. In discussing the estimates for this Department a number of observations have already been made by honourable members but I think some reference should be made to the important role of the Department and the services it renders to the community as a whole. This year about $400m will be required for extending telecommunication services alone. Merely to keep pace with departmental requirements this expenditure is absolutely essential. In postal services the capital outlay is much lower. It is of the order of $20m for this year. To carry out its operations the Australian Post Office is required to draw upon the Treasury for no less than $255m in the form of loan assistance.

In discussing the Department’s rates and charges and its level of service I think that we have to have regard to these important considerations. The postal service is expected, as far as possible, to match expenditure with earnings. This has been the policy - I am sure that it is still the policy - adopted by both sides of this chamber although it is not always clearly expressed. If postal charges had not been increased we would have faced a loss of $35m. Particular reference was made to this loss in the Bill on the adjustment to charges for postal, telegraph and telephone services. We should remember, of course, that in budgeting for the estimated expenditure the increased cost of labour amounting to $77m is the major item. When we have reference to the level of service, as we had this afternoon, it must be remembered that the labour content in the operation of the Department is terribly critical because without the sustained employment of those people who provide this level of service it would not be practical to give the kind of service that we have today.

A lot has been said in regard to cost comparisons. I want to refer to a very interesting article on comparisons reported in the Melbourne ‘Herald’ a short time ago. That newspaper had gone to a good deal of trouble to compare costs today with those of 60 years ago. It is of interest to note that the cost of postage is relatively cheaper today than it was 60 years ago. In 1911 the average basic wage was sufficient to post 504 letters. Today’s average basic wage is sufficient to post 773 letters. I think that people often lose sight of this fact. The Post Office has the responsibility to provide a service to the public but at the same time it has to deal with the problem of costs and maintaining a relationship with the requirements of public interest.

The honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison) strongly advocated the establishment of a corporation to take over the Postmaster-General’s Department. If we look at the consequences of this approach overseas we would be hesitant to give any strong support to this proposal. For example, the United States lost no less than SI, 300m last year. The British postal service, which is now operated by a corporation lost $53m. Canada lost $100m. Those figures indicate the lack of success of an approach along the lines suggested by the honourable member for St George.

Dr Jenkins:

– The telephone service is run by private enterprise.


– The honourable member has said that the telephone service is run by private enterprise. I presume that he is referring to the position in the United States. If we were to make a comparison of the service given by the Australian Post Office in telecommunications and telephone services we would find that Australia is way ahead of more affluent countries such as the United States of America. This applies particularly to the service given in country areas in Australia. These areas are much better served than comparable ones in the United States. Again, this is merely an instance of the requirement of capital and the need for revenue to make this level of service possible. One would be failing in one’s responsibility if it were not to be said that it is recognised that there are some great needs to be met both in the provision of additional services and in the maintenance of existing services. However, as I said a moment ago, this can be done only if the revenue is available. I am sure that this does not suggest that those who administer the Postmaster-General’s Department should have a free hand to go ahead and ignore the cost aspect - in other words, that this Parliament should underwrite an open order in respect of costs. The expressions of honourable members indicate that the Parliament would not accept that kind of approach. The facts are that no such approach is made. A responsible attitude exists in this direction.

Concern has been expressed about the problems of maintaining small country post offices. The honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Jeff Bate) spoke with some feeling in this regard. I am sure we all share his concern, but it is also important to have a clear understanding of what happens in small country areas, particularly where a small post office may have provided a service for many years. Ultimately it may be the only business operation left in a small community from which people have dispersed to other centres. The pattern of operation has often been that to get their mail and to have the benefit of the services provided, local residents have to call at that small country post office. If it is in the situation where the business passing through the town and the revenue raised by the post office are so low that it becomes a problem to maintain the post office and the alternative is to provide a local roadside delivery, undoubtedly the local residents are better served if this is done. I am sure that in every instance a full investigation is made. I know that this has occurred in a number of localities in my own electorate. The consequence has been that a better grade of service has resulted from the change from the small post office to a road delivery system.

There is much that one could refer to in other fields, but time does not permit this. I conclude by saying that the responsibility of the Postmaster-General’s Department is to provide service first, to see that there is reasoned economy and that the results achieved both in the high level services and in the lower echelon are the best possible for the community that is served.


and his officers to any inquiries an honourable member makes. However, the answers I have received in relation to the exorbitant accounts that some individuals in the community are receiving are not convincing. These accounts suddenly double or treble. The people receiving such accounts might be only pensioners who infrequently use the telephone and yet suddenly find themselves faced with astronomical accounts. The answer I receive from the Department usually is that the metering equipment has been checked and has been found accurate. Usually there is an explanation of the functioning of subscriber trunk dialling and it is suggested that perhaps these people have forgotten some interstate calls. This sort of answer usually comes from deputy directors, directors, and the Postmaster-General himself.

Just the other day I received a letter, which I intend to read, from a Mr A. E. James, of ISO Waiora Road, Rosanna. It states:

Re Telephone No. 45-4345 Acc. No. 305-261151-1.

Dear Sir,

I wish to bring to your attention a matter that is most unsatisfactory. Our telephone account at our private residence has run for many years at around the $60-70 per half year. In the period to November 1970 we received an account for $190.10, which we complained about very strongly.

During the early part of January we were away on holidays and on the night we returned home we received a call from the PMG saying that they had been running a test on our phone over the previous 2 weeks and it had been metering at the same rate as charged in the account. How could this be when no-one had access to the house during the period we were away?

Subsequently we received an account for the following 6 month period for an amount of $196.39 which we again complained about and to date we have paid neither of the accounts although I am willing to pay for the calls we have made but not for these 2 outrageous accounts.

We are not home very much and to make the number of calls claimed and charged for would be a full time job, 7 days a week. We, in fact, seldom use the phone during the weekend. 1 have been keeping a tally of our business phone calls which average less than 10 calls a day and yet our private phone was supposed to be used for over 20 calls per day 7 days per week. Considering my wife works and seldom phones anyone and that at other times we have been away for several weeks the charges are totally unsatisfactory.

We also have reason to believe that our phone has been tapped, a fact which PMG technicians admit could make the meter run wild. We have also been told that technicians could pick up a pair of wires in the street and dial anywhere on STD and we could be charged accordingly.

Trusting you can help in this matter.

Yours faithfully,

  1. E. James

I have not yet made inquiries into this case because I knew this debate was coming up and I had received answers to similar complaints. Even if we forget the last 2 paragraphs of that letter and just take the period when they were away on holidays and no-one had access to their home, they were informed by the Department that their telephone was metering at the same rate as on the account. I feel that this, with the complaints I am receiving, makes the answers I have received unsatisfactory with regard to the metering and computer accounting. I accept that the technicians and others in the Department are honestly trying to check the equipment, but there seems to be some inherent bug of some sort. Gremlins used to be the bane of the Air Force during World War IT and I think there is something like a gremlin somewhere in this metering equipment on subscriber trunk dialling and in the computer accounting. This is something that should be looked into - a complete reassessment of the metering systems and the computerised accounting system - to see why these things are occurring. I cannot accept the answers T am receiving.

Secondly. I should like to add my plea to that of the honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison) and the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry), who indicated that it might be a suitable time now for a White Paper to be produced on the future of the Postmaster-General’s Department so that we can have a debate on it. I am reinforced in pushing this forward because at the recent InterParliamentary Union conference in Paris there was a resolution dealing with communication satellites and their use for educational and other purposes between countries. The Department was kind enough to give me a great deal of information on this. I have visited the Goddard Space Station in Greenbelt, Maryland, where many of these communications satellites have been assembled, so I have had a fair chance to look at this matter. My concern is not so much with the technical matters as with the international agreements and how communication satellites can be effectively controlled to provide between the countries of the world programmes that will lead to better international relations. I think this is another matter for inquiry, together with this general outline of the future of the Postmaster-General’s Department, and could well be included in such a White Paper instead of just becoming the subject of a pious resolution passed by well-meaning parliamentarians from several countries at an Inter-Parliamentary Union conference.

The third matter is that of postage rates for free distribution newspapers. The complaint I have received is from the Leader Publishing Co., which has its headquarters in Northcote but which distributes its newspaper through a large area of the northern suburbs of Melbourne. It believes that the Department is showing a discriminatory attitude in the postage rates for free distribution newspapers. At present it costs the company 18c to send by post a single copy of a free local newspaper. I believe the Department fears that if the postage rate for these newspapers is made much cheaper this postal system will be used totally to distribute the newspaper. But as the delivery boy system costs only a fraction of PMG costs - it is less than lc for each paper - this does not stand up to examination.

In fact these free distribution newspapers, which are free because of economic circumstances and because it is easier to run them on advertisements than on subscriptions, are being discriminated against and the postal rates charged for their delivery are unjust. 1 would like the PostmasterGeneral to give some thought to the fact that there are legitimate free distribution local newspapers which are unfairly affected by postal rates. Only a fraction of their circulation is distributed by mail, the rest being distributed locally. They give people news of local happenings. I would like to speak much more on this

Department. I hope that the PostmasterGeneral will take some notice of what I have said.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Luchetti) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– In speaking to the estimates for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department I would first of all like to congratulate the PostmasterGeneral (Sir Alan Hulme) and the Government on the progress that has been made throughout the full breadth of this very important Department. One of the factors, though, that caused concern for some areas was the proposal for the reorganisation of the Australian Post Office telecommunication activities. The PostmasterGeneral’s Department provides employment for many people in some country towns, and the great problem that arose was that particular towns were to be placed at a great disadvantage because they were to lose a number of these people as they were to be moved to other areas where area management headquarters were to be established. It is very pleasing to note that the Minister, after receiving representations from honourable members concerned and from other people interested in the development of their areas, decided to make a very substantial alteration to proposals for withdrawing staff from country towns so that now two-thirds of the staff that it was proposed to move will remain where they are at present. This indicates that the Minister and the Government are prepared to consider not only the needs of the Department but the needs of the areas which the Department serves.

I draw attention to the fact that the Government as a whole advocates decentralisation. We do not have a ministry for decentralisation, and if we are to have decentralisation it will have to be achieved through the departments that are already under the control of the Government. I was very pleased indeed to see the PostmasterGeneral accept this principle while retaining quite a considerable amount of the benefit which it is proposed to obtain through the change in area management. I hope that the full benefits of the proposal will be obtained and that at the same time PMG staff will be retained in the towns from which they were to be transferred.

I believe that Roma, in my own electorate, had a special claim for consideration. It is some 300 miles west of Brisbane and is well inland by comparison with most other centres. Roma is an ideal area from which to provide PMG services, and 1 am hoping that the Postmaster-General, after the appointment of area managers and taking into consideration all the arguments that have been placed before him, will consider it in the siting of area headquarters. In the light of his co-operation with those people and honourable members who have made representations to him, I am hopeful that this will be arranged and that we will be able to provide all or most of the benefits of a reorganisation and at the same time help our decentralisation move. We have only to look at the cost of establishing people in larger cities to see the advantage of maintaining a degree of decentralisation. 1 would like to quote a couple of statements that were attributed to Mr L. G. Rowe, the Chairman of the Australian Telecommunications Development Association. He mentioned the tremendous size of the Australian Post Office and claimed that it had assets exceeding $2,400m which were increasing by about $400tn a year, as was mentioned by the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson), the Assistant Minister assisting the PostmasterGeneral. One or two of his other comments are worth noting. He said that the Australian Post Office bought about $200m worth of telecommunication materials a year, of which about 90 per cent was spent with Australian firms. This is to the credit of the Postmaster-General’s Department and to Australian industry. He went on to say that the partnership between the Post Office and manufacturing industry in providing Australia with world class communications had become even more vital in an area of startlingly rapid technological development. I believe that in this field Australia has a lot for which to take credit, and T think that that credit should be shared by the Minister and the Government. Mr Rowe said that wage increases outstrip productivity increases in spite of all that is being done to increase productivity. The productivity increase that has been obtained in the Postmaster-General’s Department serves as a good warning that we can easily outstrip our productivity to the great disadvantage of the people who are employed in this industry and indeed in any other industry.

I would like to draw to the attention of the Minister a couple of other points. 1 have mentioned before the great disadvantage of people in remote areas under the present extended local service area system, because they do not have the number of people with which to communicate as do people in areas of similar size in more closely settled areas. I hope that further consideration will be given to the expansion of the size of those areas which are established so far from the more closely settled areas and which, as I said, have comparatively few people. These people are a very deserving section of the community, and I hope that consideration will be given to providing them with larger local service areas so that they may make local calls to towns where medical and professional services are available or to the main business centre and so that they will receive a service in line with services provided in other areas. I support my colleague, the honourable member for Paterson (Mr O’Keefe), in his commendation of the non-official post offices and the people who staff them. They have given great service to the community and I hope that what can be done for them will be done and that they will be given every consideration by the Department. 1 should like to refer to television in our western areas. I appreciate the fact that this has been provided for a number of towns, but the programme has fallen behind schedule. My colleague, the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) joins with me in this plea. We would like to see this programme expedited because the television services serve not only those towns which are on the programme but other towns as well. The town of Quilpie is a pretty good example. It is a town of some 800 or 900 people and is well away from any other amenity but it is not even on the programme. So I look very expectantly to the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) for his assistance in expediting this programme. One other point to which I wish to refer is the application which was made by Darling Downs Television Ltd for a licence to provide commercial television to Roma. This application was made approximately 12 months ago and the company has received no final answer to the application. 1 consider that that length of time is excessive. In the meantime the costs are rising and it could result in making this an uneconomic proposition.

This television station would serve the decentralisation programme, as I mentioned, without any cost to the Government. I know, because I have been in touch with the Minister and members of his Department, that there are technical problems. Translator transmission requires channels for each translator. However, I wonder whether those extra channels in that area would have an adverse effect on other areas. I hope that this will be given more consideration because it is of vital importance to those people to have television and if a commercial television station can be established in that area it will be of benefit to them and it will help decentralisation. The company is prepared to provide the station and I urge the Postmaster-General to try to arrive at a favourable decision to enable this amenity to be provided. Finally,’ I again congratulate the Department on what it has achieved in a quickly developing technological age. I hope we will be able to see those benefits expanding more and more into the outlying areas of my own State of Queensland and throughout Australia.


– In addressing myself to the estimates for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department I, too, would like to refer to the matter that was mentioned by the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett), namely, the plans to reorganise the Post Office. In my area, up to date the engineering activities of the Post Office have been centred in Whyalla. It did appear from the Postmaster-General’s original statement that this reorganisation would mean the transfer of about 30 senior post office staff and people attached to that Department from Wyalla to Kadina. This caused a great amount of concern not only among the post office staff at Whyalla but also among the town council and neighbouring councils in the area. In fact, I have received a letter from the Spencer Gulf Cities Association which takes in 4 major corporations in that area expressing its concern that these activities were to be transferred to Kadina.

However, when the Postmaster-General made his second statement he said:

Approximately two-thirds of the district staff that was proposed to be transferred or moved by promotion or otherwise will remain where they are at present located. They will operate in circumstances in a situation similar to a business branch.

I am sure that the Post Office staff at Whyalla realises that this means there will not be anywhere near as many transferred from that city as was intended under the original proposals. However, there is still some concern at the fact that the headquarters are to be moved from Whyalla to Kadina, mainly because there is a feeling amongst the post office staff that, although the headquarters will be stationed at Kadina and some of the other activities will be decentralised, there could be a tendency by the people in charge of the area headquarters to bring their senior staff closer together. This could mean in later years a greater concentration of people at Kadina instead of the decentralisation which was envisaged in the Minister’s second statement.

One matter that did cause concern among the people at Whyalla was whether a complete survey had been made of the comparative advantages of Whyalla and Kadina. As honourable members know, Whyalla is a growing city. It is a modern city with a population of over 30,000 people. It has all the necessary facilities. It has more or less been built up as a region that provides a lot of the services for the west coast area of South Australia, and it is felt by the people in the area that it would be much wiser to leave the area headquarters at Whyalla. Whyalla has many advantages, one in particular being that it has all the modern facilities of a city. There is readily available housing in Whyalla. There are continuing programmes by the Housing Trust to provide houses for the people there. There are adequate commercial facilities. I suppose most of the major Adelaide firms have branches in Whyalla. There are first class shopping facilities in the form of large supermarkets and so forth and all the activities that people look for in their living conditions.

There is also a high level of educational activity in Whyalla. This would be of concern to the post office staff in furthering their children’s education. It is possible to receive tertiary education at the Institute of Technology in Whyalla and I am sure that this is an advantage of which many of the children of the post office staff would avail themselves if they were still to be stationed at Whyalla. But of course, if they go to Kadina, they will not have these advantages. Because of Whyalla’s natural growth, these facilities will increase. The hospital provides full services. It provides specialist services not only to Whyalla but also to most of the west coast and this is clearly one of the reasons why these departmental activities should remain at Whyalla. Its whole range of community services and facilities are as good as those which are provided in the metropolitan area.

Although these comments relate mainly to conditions as they apply to the staff, I am sure they would also apply to a great extent to the post office operations. Whyalla serves the west coast Eyre Peninsula area where there is quite a lot of Post Office activity to be carried out, especially in the provision of rural telephones and 1 am sure that to have Whyalla as the centre would greatly facilitate the serving of this area. One other point was also made to me by one of the post office staff in Whyalla. Often they are called upon to use aircraft to carry out repairs and other services. At Whyalla, there is a first class aerodrome; at Kadina there is only a strip and I understand that the largest computer service in that area will not land its aircraft at Kadina. While 1 realise that Kadina will service western parts of New South Wales, I feel that Whyalla provides much better services than could be provided at Kadina. If the use of an aircraft from Whyalla were needed in a chartered plane a person could reach his destination in the time taken to travel from Kadina to Adelaide to get a plane there. I hope that a complete survey has been made of the relative advantages of these 2 towns because I am sure that if this matter were examined, Whyalla would be seen to have many more advantages than Kadina.

I should like to conclude on a matter of television services. I have asked the PostmasterGeneral on a number of occasions about the television services to be provided on the west coast of Ceduna and also in the rocket range area at Woomera. I know that this is in the present programme of the Postmaster-General’s Department and, although no date has been set for the opening of these television stations, I hope that the Department will see that the whole matter is expedited so that this modern media can be made available to these people as soon as possible.


– In commenting on the estimates for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department I support very strongly the remarks that were made by the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Jeff Bate). In the last few years whenever there have been increases in Post Office charges I have said that we in the Australian Country Party would support those increases if they meant that there would be increased and improved services in country areas. Unfortunately, while this has been the case sometimes I am afraid it has not happened all the time. It is time the Department and the Treasury got together for further discussions about interest payments on capital works expenditure. Surely above all else the Postmaster-General’s Department provides a service to the community. I appreciate that advances in technology have led to improved services to country areas. But the increased charges for these services have been detrimental in more ways than one. I do not quite agree with Frank Chamberlain who, in a broadcast, said that increased charges made a farce of the Government’s policy of decentralisation but I do not think they help in any way. The recent increases, particularly in telephone and postal charges, have been detrimental to our country areas. Particularly hard hit have been those who rely heavily on newspapers delivered by post. The forwarding of newspapers to people in some country areas provides one of the few links that these people have with the news and local events. To impose these high postal charges upon newspapers sent to country people is a retrograde step.

I appreciate that these charges were increased because the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) and his Department are trying to run the Department as a business concern and I accept the fact that it is a business concern, but we have to remember that the Postmaster-General’s Department renders a service to the community. Although we talk about getting people into country areas what we have done in recent times in increasing Post Office charges will not help. Mention has been made of the closing down of post offices and of the Extended Local Service Area facility. I have made 2 representations to the Postmaster-General’s Department in regard to ELSA services. There are times when, in putting into effect ELSA services, association of interest must be considered. While admittedly there are some areas that appear to be within a certain radius, business associations sometimes go outside that circle. I believe that on those occasions there will have to be some special arrangements made to provide the ELSA service to these people. As an illustration, I am thinking of one area where outside the ELSA circle there is a rail head. People in the area have to telephone beyond the area to make bookings on the train, to find out how the trains are running and frequently to check whether their seat or sleeper bookings are correct. Every time they do this they make a trunk line call whereas under the ELSA system it would only be a local call. In circumstances such as this special arrangements should be made so that such an area is placed within the radius of the ELSA service.

There are some post offices in the New England area which have been closed but which should have been kept open. One post office still under consideration which I feel should not be closed is at Walcha Road. Walcha Road is a rail head and if its post office is closed it will cause inconvenience to many people in the area. For this reason I feel that that post office and others in the area should be kept open. I do not want to go over the ground covered by my colleagues who have spoken on decentralisation but we are trying to get people away from the metropolitan and urban areas and establish them in country areas. One of the arguments put forward for the closing down of post offices and the reduction of services is the cost of providing them. It is almost a matter of which comes first, the chicken or the egg, but if we constantly close post offices and reduce services fewer people will stay in these areas and, consequently, it will cost more to provide the services for a fewer number of people. But surely the same argument can be used in reverse. If we make these areas attractive for people to come in and we encourage more and more into them and thus decentralise our population, we will be able to make these services available in these areas at less cost.

We, as a Federal Government, should take steps to see that we assist decentralisation and not work to its detriment. I want to pay a compliment to the New South Wales Government. Under the Minister concerned, John Fuller, that Government has done a tremendous job on decentralisation. It seems to be a pity that while it is trying to do the very best it can, we in the Federal sphere appear, even if not to be retarding it, not to be giving that State a great deal of assistance. Therefore I feel that the financing of the public works section of the Postmaster-General’s Department and these other matters must again be given very careful consideration. But to my mind it is not enough just to give them careful consideration. I would hope that following discussions the Treasury and the Postmaster-General’s Department would come to a far happier and more intelligent arrangement in regard to finance, so that we would no longer be met with the comment that we have to increase postal and telephone charges next year because of the increased expenditure of the Postmaster-General’s Department. If there had been a sensible approach to finance - I use the word advisedly - we would have been able to absorb the increased salaries without raising charges. It is about time further discussions were held so that we can come to a far better arrangement on these matters.

In conclusion I want to make a brief comment on something I have mentioned on more than one occasion. I believe, whether it is done by the setting up of a corporation or in some other way, that some method should be found whereby the Postmaster-General’s Department can go onto the loan market and attract loans. On the telecommunications side, a business side of the Department, one of the problems confronting those who are planning is that they are never sure how much finance will be made available to them over a period of time and they are restricted because of that. In some cases they have to have 3 different plans requiring different amounts of finance. This does not add to the efficiency of the Department and is not an advantage to the services the Department is trying to provide. I would like to congratulate those within the Department on the work they have done, for the courtesy they have always shown me in my electorate, and on the services they have rendered to the people within the framework of the Department. I believe that the Post Office can be made far more efficient and that it can be used to implement, to a far greater extent, part of the essence of our policy regarding country areas - the decentralisation of people and organisations.


– The honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) referred to the fact that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, the estimates of which we are considering this afternoon, provides a service to the community. I believe that it would be in the interests of the community if occasionally the PostmasterGeneral (Sir Alan Hulme) pointed out to his Department that in making decisions for the provision of public telephones and letter receiver it should give more attention to the provision of services to the people than to the fact that the Post Office should pay its way, which I believe is the paramount consideration at the moment. Often this latter consideration prevents a very important and desirable service from being established. But I do not wish to dwell on those matters this afternoon.

I intend to be very parochial and to devote my remarks to problems in my electorate of Bowman, but what I will say applies in general to Brisbane and the surrounding areas. I refer to the provision of telephone services to private homes in these areas. A very grave situation has developed in regard to the availability of new telephones for private homes. It is perhaps a coincidence, but nevertheless it is significant, that the major problem areas appear to centre in my electorate of Bowman. Let me firstly explain that 1 do not wish to single out any particular section of the Postmaster-General’s Department in apportioning the blame for this problem, nor do I wish to suggest that generally speaking any particular officer of the Department is at fault. From the dealings I have had with the Department, 1 have only the highest regard for the competence of the officers concerned. However, I must point out to the Postmaster-General that there is no doubt that various sections of the Department have contributed to the current situation. In particular, I believe that the planning section of his administration could be said to be responsible, to a considerable extent, for the development of the present situation regarding the connection of telephones to private homes. I believe that in the past this section has been to blame for not ensuring that cable and exchange facilities have been made available well in advance of the development of new areas on the fringes of Brisbane and that funds have been provided, as required, in existing areas. 1 believe that a telephone has ceased to be a luxury, but the Department has failed miserably in providing the facilities for the connection of telephones in areas surrounding Brisbane. If I am wrong and it has not been the fault of the planning section, then surely it has been the fault of the section which implements the recommendations of the planning section, and I suppose that the obvious reasons for this are economic ones. I believe that very often the effecting of economies in these areas is false economy. The exchange areas to which 1 refer in particular this afternoon are the ones where the greatest problems occur. I refer to the exchange areas of Wynnum, Eight Mile Plains, Capalaba, Mount Gravatt and Wellington Point. The problems in these areas existed before the end of the last financial year and, to the best of my knowledge, in the estimates which we are presently considering no attempt has been made to recognise the urgency of overcoming these problems.

I shall give an illustration of what 1 believe is a serious failure by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department to provide private telephone connections within a reasonable time, and for the purposes of the illustration I will take 3 months as the minimum period in which telephone applications should be met. In the Wynnum exchange area 46 applications cannot be met. In these cases the delay has been given as being between 12 and 24 months. The cases I am quoting are ones which have been brought to my attention; they are not cases about which statistics have been provided by the Department. In the Eight Mile Plains area - some of these cases are not within my electorate- 43 applications that cannot be met within a 3- month period are currently outstanding. In the Capalaba area 19 applications are outstanding, in the Mount Gravatt area 15 applications are outstanding, and in the Wellington Point area 7 applications are outstanding. But the present situation in the Wellington Point exchange area is that no exchange lines are available and I understand that they will not be available for a minimum period of 15 months. Wellington Point is a suburban area in which rapid residential growth is taking place. It does not call for much imagination to believe that the 7 applicants currently awaiting the provision of a telephone in their homes will be joined by 3 or 4 times that number of applicants before lines are available.

The problem concerning telephone connections being unavailable appears to follow a similar pattern, which leads me to claim that the problem is principally in the planning section, as I have said in my earlier remarks, or in the section which is responsible for implementing the planning section’s recommendations. I have many letters from electors in my area who have submitted applications to the Director of Posts and Telegraphs in Queensland. In many instances the explanation given for the unavailability of a telephone connection has followed a pattern; they seldom vary. I should like to quote from a few samples of letters to illustrate the seriousness of the problem. The first 2 letters were written to me about people in a particular area and they show that in a period of approximately 6 months no action has been taken to overcome the problem. I will not refer to the name of the particular applicant who lives in Richard Street, Lota, but the explanation given for this person’s application being delayed by the Director of Posts and Telegraphs in Queensland on 12th January 1971 was as follows:

Concerning the general situation in the Lota area, the position, at this stage, is that we are able to provide telephones inland from the railway line. However, we do have a problem between the railway and the coast and, in this area, it will not be practicable to satisfy applications for service until additional cable is provided. This will, unfortunately, entail work of a very extensive nature and, because of the magnitude of the task of providing new cable for quite a considerable distance, together with the large pro gramme of other new works to be undertaken, present indications are that this particular project will not be completed for about eighteen months.

On 28th July 1971 I received a letter from the Acting Director of Posts and Telegraphs in Queensland regarding an application for the installation of a telephone service in Barrinia Street, Manly, which is in the same vicinity as the previous case. On this occasion I was informed as follows:

The telephone cable serving the area sides has been fully allocated to existing subscribers’ services. It is not practicable, therefore, to provide further services until additional cable has been laid. This work involves laying pipe and a large size cable for approximately 11 miles. On present indications, it could be about 18 months before a service can be provided.

So the same situation existed in July as existed in January. To the best of my knowledge - 1 would be very happy to hear differently from the Postmaster-General - the same situation currently exists, even though since then a budget has been introduced and new estimates have been prepared for the current financial year. Another serious case exists in the Gumdale area, and the same explanation has been given about the unavailability of cable. The large amount of work that has to be done in the area means that the cable will not be available for the services to be provided for a period of 14 months. We quite often hear about the problems in country areas, but here we have this situation in the capital city of Queensland. It is scandalous to consider that people are required to wait between 18 and 24 months for the small facility of a telephone in their homes for their private use.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Corbett) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– I rise in this debate on the estimates of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department to appeal for the adoption of a principle in relation to telephone services. That is that no Australian or no Australian family should have to pay for a trunk call to telephone the nearest doctor, dentist, chemist or even policeman. The position is that in hundreds of country centres in Australia a call to these basic services involves a trunk call. If Mrs Sydney or Mrs Melbourne had to make a trunk call to contact the corner store there would be a revolution in Sydney and Melbourne, and probably very rightly so in this day and age. But in many cases this is exactly what Mrs Country has to do. She cannot even call the corner store in the ma;nr centre without making a trunk call. She cannot call a doctor, a dentist, a chemist or, as I say, even a policeman unless a trunk call is involved.

By means of a question on notice I suggested to the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) the adoption of a rezoning principle with a view to providing relief to country telephone subscribers from the present heavy burden of trunk call charges and placing all trunk line users over 400 miles in the same situation. T put up a detailed proposition which the Minister answered today by saying that it would involve more than $106m in lost revenue. I do not want to quarrel with that overall figure at the present time but I want to ask the Minister at this stage whether he will reinvestigate the first stage of my proposal - the 50-mile zone - with a view to ensuring that every family can make a local telephone call to the basic services. This would mean recosting that figure. I do not believe that it would really be of such magnitude. I think it would be a comparatively modest amount. 1 hope that this will be considered. By increasing the basic zone people would be given access to the basic services by a local telephone call. That would be the first step along the road to uniform charges, which we all want to have.

Let me refer also to the reorganisation of the telecommunications section of the Post Office. When it was suggested that there should be a major reorganisation, this hit Riverina as well as many other country electorates like a bombshell. There was a great deal of puzzlement about it. The telecommunications section made a profit in 1970-71 of nearly $24m. This was very good. But one of the things that has come out of the proposed reorganisation is that there would be area managers who would be moved from the capital cities to regional centres. I have no quarrel with that. About 22 representations have been made to me but none of them have quarrelled with the principle that there should be a real decentralisation of authority. But what they have been concerned about is that the district services which the Post Office in its wisdom 20 years ago created to give a more immediate local service, would be put back 20 years by an interior centralisation. In a place like Narrandera this would involve 53 positions and $250,000 in property.

Mr Robinson:

– Where did you get that figure?


– I have only limited time otherwise 1 would be quite happy to give the honourable member the details. If he has not got them he ought to have them.

Mr Robinson:

– lt is not true - that is why.


– This is what the honourable member says, but his performance has been rather miserable on this issue, so I suggest the best thing he can do is to listen. Under the original proposals there could have been a movement of 252 people. The Postmaster-General, as a result of representations made by honourable members on both sides of the chamber, has decided that two-thirds will remain and one-third will go. It would be a good staff relations move and would relieve a great deal of personal tension now evident if the Department would promulgate advice on which positions precisely are to be moved. The statement made by the PostmasterGeneral is hardly adequate to reassure staff members. It is not adequate at the moment to reassure the communities concerned. They have asked that further consideration be given, not only because of the present rural recession but also because of the improvement in services which have been effected over the last 20 years by the decentralised division of control.

There is a concern that this will not mean efficiency. It will mean a remoteness in areas - for example the one in which I am involved - the size of England. There is no quarrel with the concept of area management if it involves decentralisation from the major centre. If it means centralisation then there will be great concern. Incidentally, it is suggested that there will not be an increase in the total number of engineers, but it will mean a reshuffling within the Department. I hope that the Postmaster-General will pay particular attention to the 2 aspects which are still causing concern. Firstly, the staff are still in the dark. Secondly,, the communities concerned are still worried that there will not be a maintenance of the services that they now have, because of the tendency to centralise within the system.

The third point 1 wanted to make is that the Postmaster-General’s Department has done a particularly good and expeditious job in its inquiry into television services, particularly for school children in the southern Riverina. I want to make this point, because there is a vast territory in which several thousand school children have been unable to obtain the advantage of television in their schools. Television sets lie idle. They are dusty, hopeless things because there is just no use for them. Plans have been made, following an inquiry that was carried out in a particularly effective way, and decisions have been made by the Postmaster-General. I commend him for them. I now hope that these basic services for several thousand school children can go ahead. Obviously it is wrong to deprive thousands of children in this country of a basic facility which is shared by other pupils. Those are the 3 points I wanted to make in relation to these estimates.

PostmasterGeneral · Petrie · LP

– I am afraid that it will be impossible to deal with all the items that have been raised during the debate this afternoon, but I would like to take the opportunity of referring to what I might term the ‘main matters’ and leave some of the lesser items for subsequent comment, perhaps by letter after the House has risen. I may not take the items that have been raised in any order of importance but rather in the order of the speakers who have participated in the debate. The honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison) was the first to make a contribution on behalf of the Opposition. He raised the old problem which has confronted the Post Office for many years and which has been discussed in debates of this nature over a long period. I refer to loan repayments, interest charges and so on within the postal organisation. 1 do not think it is my duty this afternoon to try and go through the whole operation. I think it is sufficient for me merely to refer to the figures which were given by the Assistant Minister assisting the Postmaster-General (Mr Robinson). This year the Post Office will spend approximately $424m on capital works. It will borrow $255m of that from the Treasury, which leaves approximately $170m to be financed from its own sources. This will be mainly in the area of depreciation provisions on plant and one or two other items such as furlough.

The question of interest charges enters into these considerations. The honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Jeff Bate) raised this matter this afternoon. In doing so he went back to the report of an earlier committee. The extraordinary thing about the comments of the honourable member was that he was not interested in the majority view of the committee as expressed in that report but in the minority view. I have been a member of this place for a long while. In that time 1 have generally found honourable members to expect a majority report to be implemented and not a minority report. It might be convenient for some honourable members to have 50c each way, but that is not possible in this instance. If the interest, which this year will be S140m-odd, is not paid to the Treasury - it is of course complained that the money comes from the taxpayer and we are therefore charging the taxpayer twice - the Treasury will be $140m-odd worse off and will have to go to the taxpayer to recover that money. It is a matter for personal judgment whether one looks at it from the point of view of a subsidy through the Post Office or a direct charge in taxation by the Treasurer. I merely make reference to that matter.

I was interested in the comments of the honourable member for St George about the inflationary factor in increased charges and his reference to the setting up of a statutory corporation. Let us have a look first at the inflationary factor. For some months now I have been indicating publicly that as a result of awards made last financial year - that is. prior to the end of June - the Post Office will this year have an increased wages bill of $77m. The honourable member for St George suggested that increased charges are the inflationary factor. I think he should have gone into the matter a little deeper. If he had done so he would have found that wages, which are responsible for the increased charges, are really the inflationary factor. I think he actually made the admission which we on this side of the chamber have been making for a very long period of time.

Mr Duthie:

– The amount of interest which is paid is colossal.


– I cannot give the honourable member for Wilmot the actual figure for the interest which is paid, but 1 think it could be about $18m more this year than last year. There is no logic in comparing that as an inflationary factor with the $77m increased wages bill.

I turn now to the question of the replacement of the Post Office with a statutory corporation. We have heard this argument expressed ad nauseum over the years. Members of the Opposition have praised the British for making their Post Office a statutory corporation. It became a statutory corporation following a report to a Labour government in the United Kingdom on the nationalised industries in that country. Targets were set in relation to the Post Office in the United Kingdom. The target which was set for the postal services - I am not referring to telecommunications - was a net profit equal to 2 per cent of the turnover of the postal services. I have just received information on what happened last year. It shows that there was a loss of £ Stg62m in the postal services conducted by the statutory corporation in the United Kingdom. The Opposition has been suggesting that a statutory corporation would be the solution to all the ills of operating a postal service. I suggest to honourable members opposite that they should have a very close look at what has happened in the United Kingdom. Indeed, to have achieved the 2 per cent profit which was the objective the statutory corporation would have needed an additional revenue of £Stg81.5m in the last financial year.

The honourable member for St George spoke of the use of the coaxial cable between Sydney and Melbourne by commercial stations. As I recollect, he did not mention that there was an off-leasing to the Australian Broadcasting Commission in relation to one of these transactions. The honourable member said that whilst the licence fee charged to householders had gone up the Government had not done much about the licence fee charged to television station owners. It should be appreciated by every honourable member that there is in fact a sliding scale of fees in relation to the holding of television station licences and that this goes up to a maximum of 4 per cent of the total revenue of the station. Revenue from that source last year was $1.7 12m, which was an increase over the previous year. I do not believe that there is to be any going cap in hand, as he used the term, to commercial stations in relation to use of the coaxial cable. What was the situation? We put down a coaxial cable from Melbourne to Sydney through Canberra. There are 6 tubes in that cable. At the time it was put down and for some time afterwards 2 tubes were surplus to Post Office operations. They were spares. We have been able to gain revenue by leasing them to commercial television stations. What would the Australian Labor Party have done in the same circumstances? Would it have allowed them to lie idle or would it have felt that substantial sums of money could be added to the revenue of the Post Office by their use? I believe we made what the community would say was the correct judgment when we leased them to a commercial station.

Mr Morrison:

– Why not the ABC?


– Because the ABC did not make a request for them. The application came from a commercial station, which then approached the ABC. Under the provisions of the agreement the ABC sub-leased one third of the time on that coaxial cable and later another commercial station also entered into a leasing agreement. So the ABC did not at any point of time approach the Post Office for a separate, independent, full time lease of the coaxial cable or for the microwave facilities.

I cannot spend all of my time commenting on the remarks of the honourable member for St George. However, I do wish to say that it is possible - I go to his comments in relation to private telephones - for private individuals to lease a meter from the Post Office at $15 a year and a $10 installation charge. So if the people who believe they are being substantially overcharged by the Post Office want to make a check this can be done through the resources of the Post Office.

The honourble member for Macarthur (Mr Bate) made particular reference, as did one or two other members, to the closure of small post offices - mainly nonofficial - or their reduction in status from official to non-official. I know this has been done, but in general terms - and I do not say absolutely - this has been associated with the installation of automatic telephone facilities where an exchange happens to have gone into the area which has reduced the responsibilities of the post office keeper or the telephone office keeper and we have been able to make a variation in terms of the delivery of mail, in most cases very satisfactorily from the point of view of the individual. But I assure the House that these things are not done lightly. They are done with great care and consideration for the people who are concerned and in very few cases, in my view, would there be any substantial detriment to individuals within the community. 1 move on to the points made by the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry). He made certain references to television. He referred, first of all, to the criteria apply,ng to the appointment of commissioners of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. 1 do not think it is appropriate for me at this moment to endeavour to go through all the criteria which one might use in determining the suitability of a person as a commissioner. But 1 do point out that it is a part time appointment and, because it is a part time appointment, there is a much smaller field to choose from than there would be if these were full time positions. The honourable member also made reference to directions that were given within the ABC. I point out to the House that the Commission - that is, these 9 commissioners - in fact has almost complete autonomy in terms of programming.

I believe that many employees of the ABC believe that they too have autonomy in relation to programming and I suggest that the autonomy given to the 9 commissioners is not passed down in terms of licence, or whatever you may call it, to the employees. The employees of the ABC are in exactly the same situation as the employees of any other organisation. They are there to be given instructions and. indeed, it is the responsibility of the commissioners to determine what shall bc the guidelines or the instructions under which employees will work. I understand that in recent months the Commission has given considerable time to the discussion of new guidelines or new terms of instruction. So that if in fact - as the honourable member for Franklin said - Mr Hutchinson, the controller of programmes, gave a direction to Mr Carleton here in Canberra then he was no doubt acting within the responsibility which had been passed down to him from the Commission through other senior officers - the general manager, etc. - into what 1 might term the other areas of ABC activity. I would be very surprised if there were real criticism of this situation because it was included in the Broadcasting Act in the days when the Labor Party was in power. Therefore 1 do not believe there is justification for criticism by the Opposition of a principle which it accepted and which we too have accepted in this area.

Mr Sherry:

– Times change.


– They do change, and that is one reason why we have television today although we did not have it in the days when the Labor Party was in power. Nevertheless responsibility for running the ABC services is a matter for the Commission. Surely the honourable member would not suggest that some person at some other level, even down to a little above the office boy, has autonomy or licence in relation to his personal activity within the organisation of the ABC. Of course he has not. The honourable member also asked about the frequency modulation inquiry. I can only tell him that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is still sifting the evidence. At present it cannot give me a date when the report will be available but 1 know that it is not wasting time having regard to the other responsibilities which are placed upon it.

The honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) raised the question of a commercial television station at Roma. This matter is still under investigation. The installation of a commercal television station at Roma would require the use of 3 frequencies in relation to the translator hops from Toowoomba to Roma. We are not yet in a position to offer a final judgment in regard to the matter. Several honourable members representing country areas made reference to decentralisation, decentralisation of authority, area management - whatever term may be used. Having regard to the sense in which the expressions were used I can only repeat what I have already told honourable members by letter or in statements made in the House, namely, that no decision has yet been made as to where area headquarters will be situated. I appreciate that an advertisement calling for applications for the positions of area manager was in fact placed in the Commonwealth ‘Gazette’ but I have requested that these be not necessarily considered as definite.

When area managers are appointed within the next few months they will make a personal inspection of the area, have a look at the facilities available and at the prospective comfort or otherwise of those who may move into an area, and then make recommendations as to where the headquarters should actually be placed. I believe that there need be no fear on the part of the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) in relation to this. We made an adjustment 20 years ago, and in terms of this new operation we are moving back to what applied 20 years ago. The honourable member must surely appreciate that the technical aspects of communications have advanced quite considerably. Let it not be forgotten that the number of people who will move - and most move voluntarily - will be no more than perhaps eight or ten out of 300 or 400 people who are working in a particular district at the present time. My time has almost expired and it is impossible to deal with all of the other matters which are before me. I give an undertaking that I will look at the other matters and that answers will be given, as usual, in letter form to comments which have been made by honourable members.


– In the course of his remarks the PostmasterGeneral (Sir Alan Hulme) mentioned that $225m will be borrowed from the Treasury in the course of the next 12 months. This basically is one of the problems besetting the Postmaster-General’s Department. It is one of the evils in the present financial arrangements, a situation whereby the taxpayers of Australia have money taken from them through taxation and then the same people who pay the taxation are obliged to borrow that money back from the Treasury for the purpose of promoting a Commonwealth instrumentality. This is an evil. This is something that is wrong.

Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.


– Before the sitting was suspended I had been criticising the practice of Australian people having to pay interest on their own money which was borrowed from the Treasury by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. I think it will be agreed that the Australian Post Office is a public organisation on which the taxpayers’ money can rightfully be expended. This was the conception at Federation. This was the belief of Australians in the early days of the development of this nation when it was necessary to communicate with the various parts of Australia. But in more recent times a sophisticated approach has been adopted and today the Australian people- ‘the taxpayers of this country - have their own money taken from them by the tax gatherer and it then goes to the Treasury. In turn the money is passed to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. The amount this year is $255m. The people of Australia who have to post letters, who need a telephone and who must send messages by telecommunications axe obliged to pay interest on the money borrowed from the Treasury - money which is in fact their money.

One depressing aspect of recent times has been the deterioration in the service given by the Postmaster-General’s Department. It lacks the proud reputation of other days. In some communities where once 2 mail deliveries were made each day there Ls now only one mail delivery. In other places there has been a rationalisation in postal deliveries. In an area in my own electorate every person signed a petition objecting to the rationalisation programme which meant that letter deliveries would be made from the adjoining and bigger town and instead of these people being able to receive their mail before 9 a.m. they would receive it somewhere about 2 p.m. This is the jet age. This is the nuclear age. This is the age in which we can send men to the moon. We can do all sorts of fanciful things but in the simple matter of communications within a nation we find that this sort of depressing situation exists. Despite the most vigorous representations made by me and the petition signed by every resident in that area nothing has been done to alter the situation.

In addition, mail deliveries have been affected in many country districts and instead of mail deliveries 3 times a week they are now made twice a week. All this seems to stem from the unhappy financial arrangements where costs and prices have skyrocketed and spiralled and charges have been increased. The people in country areas in particular are paying the penalty for these conditions. These people are also affected by the increased telephone charges. Charges have been increased in every facet of the Postmaster-General’s Department, such as postage stamps, telephone charges and the installation of telephones. These charges have over the years continued to increase and correspondingly the quality of the service given by the Department has deteriorated. I asked of the Postmaster-General how many post offices had been closed and how many would be closed in the immediate future. The Minister replied that in New South Wales 59 had been closed and 12 would be closed; in Victoria 72 had been closed and 11 would be closed; in Queensland 21 had been closed and 14 would be closed; in South Australia 30 had been closed and 6 would be closed; in Western Australia 10 had been closed and one is to be closed; in Tasmania 16 had been closed and 11 are to be closed. The closure of these post offices is most unfortunate because it damages the quality of the service that has been given by this Department. I do not want to cast any reflection on those people associated with the Department who have to work to a very strict budget. They are obliged to measure the amount of money they have; they have to economise and they have to try to stay within the amount of funds they are allocated. I pay a tribute to the officers generally in the Department for their civility and courtesy in dealing with members of the public, including members of this Parliament. These men should be praised for their efforts and I do so in this debate.

But these words are not sufficient. More must be done. I have been appalled at what has occurred in recent times and I refer to the position where people are unable to get a telephone installed, particularly those people who are in urgent need. This is a public service which is so much a part of the life of the people of this country today. These people invariably are given the reply that an extension is unavailable due to a lack of plant and equipment. Why should this be so after all these years? Surely this Department is able to measure up to the growth of our communities. This Department should be aware of the development that is taking place. Surely it is aware of the massive profit that is being made by the private company which is installing telephones. This service ought to be provided by the Department without any trouble whatsoever. After all, the more service there is the greater the profit for the Department. But the Department seems to be incapable of installing telephones in public buildings. It was left to an outside entrepreneur to put in red telephones in public buildings. The PostmasterGeneral’s Department should have used its own facilities to provide this service. This is a matter that is to be regretted and to be condemned. I can only hope that this service will be extended by the Postmaster-General’s Department.

This Department has in recent times through some strange idea sought to reorganise and reconstitute its activities and to establish new departments in certain country areas, necessitating the transferranee of people from their homes and disrupting existing departments which are giving satisfaction to the public at the present time. Whilst the Departmen is doing this it is neglecting the obvious, that is, the provision of services being demanded by the public. If the Department and the Government was getting on with the job of ensuring that these services were being made available and that the essential links for these services were being manufactured one could understand and applaud it. Now that we have decentralisation in the manufacture of essential items necessary for the expansion and development of postal services the Postmaster-General should have a look at the demands being made by the people of Australia.

I deplore and condemn the failure of the Postmaster-General’s Department to get on with the job of providing a translator station for the people of the

Wallerawang-Cullen Bullen area. I am unhappy with what is taking place at the present time. This represents a retrograde step, as far as I am concerned. This translator station was promised years ago. It was on the programme for last year but it has not been mentioned in recent times. We hear talk about colour television. We hear talk about new services. This area is within 100 miles of Sydney. It stands to the everlasting discredit of the people who administer this Department that the people in the country should be treated in such a shameful way.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Department of Shipping and Transport

Proposed expenditure $90,936,000.


– The appropriation before the Committee at the moment is for the Department of Shipping and Transport. I thought it was for $83,900,000 but we will not argue over a few million. Money comes and goes very easily in a place like this. The reason I have referred to the amount of the appropriation is that I want to draw attention to what I consider is the failure of this Government to give some clear indication of policy in the field of shipping and transport - just what it has in mind and what plans it has for the whole Department. This is a most important field. I believe that transport costs represent about 25 per cent of the total cost structure throughout the Commonwealth and this is a figure which cannot be disregarded. It is one which must be taken into consideration and I believe that some sort of statement from the Government is long overdue.

This debate should commence with a statement by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) on what are the Government’s plans for transport. In other words, there should be a White Paper but this is a field in which the Government has failed to act. White Papers could be presented by each of the Ministers explaining Government policy - what is envisaged not only for the ensuing 12 months but also for the long term. Such statements could explain what the Government has in mind for the next 5 years or even the next 10 years. I hope that in the not distant future there will be a policy along this line to enable members, during the Estimates debates, to discuss long term planning in regard to transport. At present we have, instead, spasmodic statements by Ministers. I do not hold this against only the present Minister. His predecessors have done and other Ministers do the same thing. Ministers go to a school fete or a progress association meeting and make a statement on Government policy in a particular field. Such a statement should be made in the Parliament so that honourable members would have the opportunity to discuss and debate Government policies.

One of the features of the Department of Shipping and Transport about which I am concerned is the updating of the Navigation Act. There have been minor amendments to the Navigation Act but no real effort has been made by this Government to tackle the problem of reviewing and updating the Act. When there were some major amendments to the Act back in 1967, the then Minister for Shipping and Transport, Mr Freeth, gave members of the Australian Labour Party who interviewed him at that time an assurance that within a short time there would be a complete review of the Navigation Act. That was 4 years ago and still no proposal has been brought before the Parliament to update the Navigation Act. Thanks to the present Minister for Shipping and Transport, I had the privilege of receiving an invitation to attend the Australian Transport Conference which was held on 24th and 25th March this year. At that conference numerous papers were presented by men who were well and truly experienced in the field of transport. Without examining these papers in detail, there is one speech to which I should like to refer. It was a speech by Mr Patterson. I do not have time, with all respect to him, to list his full credentials but I can assure honourable members that he was well credentialled and was in a position to deal with his subject, which was shipping. Under the heading of ‘Need to Update Legislation’ - this was only one section with which he dealt - Mr Patterson went to great lengths and into detail to explain and almost to plead with the Government to do something about updating the Navigation Act. It was the unanimous view of people attending the conference that there was a need to update the Act.

There is a need to provide dry docking facilities throughout the Commonwealth. I am vitally concerned about this because the State dockyard is in my electorate. For 5 years the New South Wales Government and this Government have been playing around with the question of the financing of a new graving dock for the State dockyard. To a certain extent, I put much of the blame on the New South Wales Minister for Works because he has not been prepared to take the step of saying: ‘Right, it is our responsibility to build this dock. We are going to get on with the job and we hope that we can get some financial assistance’. I am convinced that financial assistance would have been forthcoming to make sure that the dock was a going concern. Docking facilities in Australia have reached a serious stage. The floating dock which was originally constructed to carry ships of 15,000 tons can now handle ships of only 9,000 tons. The Cairncross dock in Queensland is providing part of the service and I would hope that in the not distant future the report which the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has can be brought down and a decision made.

The same can be said about the Tariff Board inquiry. There is a need for a decision on the Tariff Board’s report which, I believe, has been in the Department’s hands since 12th July this year, even though the hearing originally commenced about 2 years ago. The Government should do something about these matters and I hope there will be some activity soon. At the Australian Transport Conference to which I referred the Commissioner for Main Roads from South Australia drew attention to the great need for national uniformity in respect of road transport. It is ludicrous that in a country of some 12.75 million people it is almost impossible to drive a fully laden truck from one State through the Commonwealth without running into problems concerning height, width, axle loads and so forth. I am only jumping through these subjects because I believe there is a need for this Government to do something about them.

The Government should be active in the field of railways. I have some figures which I have quoted previously in this Parliament and which I shall keep on repeating because I think they are worthy of repeti tion. In 1951, the railways throughout Australia had a capital debt of S684m; in 1970, the debt had grown to Sl,541m. In 1950, the railways interest bill was $26.4m and in 1970 it was $73.125m. This gives some indication of the indebtedness of the State railway systems throughout Australia, yet we have no clear statement of policy from this Government to indicate whether it has any solution to this problem whereby there can be some reduction in the debt of the railways which, in turn, has a major effect on freight rates. I hope that the Minister will have something to say about this matter so that at least we can have some clear indication of policy.

In my remaining time I should like to refer to the report of the Australian National Line which, in the main, deals with the activities of the Australian National Line. I am concerned about the losses that are being sustained by the ‘Australian Endeavour’. On overseas trading I believe there has been a loss in the last 2 years of $4,538,705. This is too much. The general opinion of people in the shipping and stevedoring industry is that the Australian National Line has been taken for a ride, if I may use that term, by the more experienced people in the conference and that if a ship has had to leave Sydney or one of the other container ports with a light load, it has been the ‘Australian Endeavour’. This is a case of a cellular container ship showing a loss while the roll-on roll-off ships that are operating on the Australia to Japan route are showing a profit. The Government is not providing this Parliament with sufficient detail of the activities of the Australian National Line. The Line loses over $3m in one year on trading and all that we can get are sketchy references without any great detail as to what factors have been associated with that Joss. I hope that in years to come we will be able to get some detail from the Government on individual ships and particular routes, explaining the trading position.


– I support the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport, but like the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) I am particularly concerned at the picture presented in the 1971 annual report of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission. As the honourable member for Newcastle has said, but not in this detail, the figures revealed in the report show an increase in net loss of Australian coastal and charter operations from $210,612 in 1970 to $452,479 in the last financial year. This loss was sustained despite the rise in general cargo rates of 12.5 per cent early in the year. I realise the industrial disputes contributed largely to the operating costs and detracted from revenue. The Chairman in his report refers to the fact that the ‘Darwin Trader’ though still at this time a losing proposition, represents, or should do so, a considerable improvement’. We could not say that this was a wildly optimistic statement, but at least the position with respect to coastal operations is not nearly as worrying as that revealed in the report with respect to the overseas services. With respect to those overseas services the bald figures spelt out by the report state that the net trading loss on overseas services has risen from $1,964,753 in the financial year 1969-70 to $2,573,952 in the financial year 1970-71.

It is this loss which causes me particular concern. We all know that the desire to carry at least some of Australia’s exports overseas in Australian ships and to gain access to details of the financial arrangements and costs of the shipping conferences were behind the Government’s decision to enter the international shipping field. Very few people in Australia would quarrel with the propriety, the forward thinking, of such objectives. However it is the results of the implementation of measures designed to achieve the objectives which must be looked at when assessing the viability or otherwise of the exercise. It is this assessment of the results achieved so far and the publicly stated views of future operations which give rise to my misgivings. Bearing in mind the figures I have already quoted, I point out that the Chairman in his report had this to say:

The cellular container ship ‘Australian Endeavour’ engaged in the Australia-United KingdomEurope trade as apart of the service offered by Associated Container Transportation Australia Ltd has run at a heavy loss again this financial year.

We have already pointed that out. Then follows a most disturbing sentence:

This experience is reputedly common to all owners of similar vessels in the area, and most, the Commission included, are not optimistic that profits will be forthcoming in the immediate future.

The Chairman then went on to detail the difficulties which have been experienced.

Industrial disputes, congestion at wharf terminals, the burden of servicing, the capital cost of the shore facilities provided, the need to control the movement of thousands of containers spread throughout Europe and Australia are just some of the things he has mentioned. He then went on to say that they ‘form the background to the widely expressed dissatisfaction with the concept’. The concept he was talking about, of course, was this cellular container ship concept.

Although it is only fair to point out that the Chairman expressed some hope for improvement, the unmistakable impression is given that the gravest doubts are being expressed about the future of cellular container ships as viable propositions on the Australia-United Kingdom-Europe trade. If this gave me cause for concern the next section of the report magnifies my disquiet. The report states:

Next year the cellular container ships now being built for the Commission in Bremen, Germany, will enter the trade between the Commonwealth and the east coast of North America in conjunction wilh similar vessels owned by Associated Container Transportation Australia Ltd. It can be anticipated that in this service too, financial results in the early period will be influenced by some of the same factors which have adversely affected the Australia-United Kingdom-Europe sector.

The Chairman of the Commission obviously anticipates and shares my concern when he states in his report:

On the face of it, the question may well be asked as to whether vessels under the Australian flag are competitive and, if not, whether the concept of an Australian overseas merchant fleet is worth pursuing, and notably as regards the ‘Australian Endeavour’ where the loss has been so heavy.

His opinion of cellular container ships can easily be perceived by his statement that the loss did not come about because running cost differentials were great, but ‘because of the slow turnround and disabilities suffered by every cellular shipowner in the trade’. We therefore must now once again assess our position. Our operating cellular container ship is costing the nation $2. 5m a year to run. We have the immediate prospect of adding to this cost when the second cellular container ship comes into operation next year. Not only are we faced with the near certainty of greatly increased operating losses, but the capital costs of approximately $40m associated with the venture are enormous. What do we get in return? In terms of these ships, and in contrast to other types which I will mention in a few moments, we have an inflexible system, with limited and costly access facilities, loading, unloading and distribution difficulties, capable of carrying only a limited number of types of cargo efficiently. Most of these types of cargo are not exported in any quantity from Australia. Our principal exports, which are still primary products of various kinds, are mainly not suited to containerisation, and if they are so transported the costs are correspondingly high because of the inefficiencies which must occur, because of their unsuitability for such transport methods.

Additionally, it seems that we have a substantial unused freight capacity by liner out of Australia. What makes the situation more poignant is that not only are those exporters least able to withstand high freight costs most likely to be affected, but also there are already operating different types of ships - the vehicle deck vessels, which the honourable member for Newcastle mentioned, which have their own ramping arrangements allowing them to work both at container wharves and at berths without special facilities.

It would appear to me that these multipurpose types of ships have substantial advantages over the cellular container vessels, with a degree of flexibility both in type of cargo capable of being efficiently carried, and in berth usage, which makes them a seemingly much more attractive proposition. It seems to me that unfortunately we may have become embroiled in a highly costly experiment, with the active ingredients of that experiment rendered partly obsolete by technological change. If the experiences of all owners and operators of cellular container ships are similar to our own - and the report of the Chairman of the Commission suggests that this is so - it cannot be said that the fault lies entirely with our management. It could be that these ships themselves are not living up to their initial promise.

In these circumstances I fervently hope that the Government is keeping this whole matter under the closest scrutiny, particularly in terms of the costs and returns and the suitability of the types of ships it is operating. It seems to me that it would be tragic if considerations of questionable national pride or stubbornness are allowed to obscure a situation in which the return for our large investment is unsatisfactory, either because we have chosen the wrong sorts of ships or because of the terms under which we entered the various shipping conferences. The benefits must be carefully weighed against the demerits, and if necessary a decision made to cut our losses before they reach truly astronomical proportions.


– I would like to look at some aspects of transport involving Tasmania, particularly the need to develop an integrated system for the development of Tasmanian transport. Since these estimates were last debated in the Parliament 2 important reports on Tasmanian transport have become available. One is the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Primary and Secondary Industry and Trade. The other is the survey of sea, air and rail transport made by Pak Poy. It is impossible to make any sort of detailed synthesis of the recommendations made by these 2 reports. What I would like to do is to direct attention to the most important findings of the Committee and Pak Poy and to suggest some ways in which they could be used to evolve an integrated transport system for Tasmania.

Obviously any integrated transport system will depend on rail and sea transport. Air transport is an important supplement to the carriage of freight to Tasmania by sea, but as it absorbs less than 1 per cent of total non-bulk freight to the island each year it is not of overriding importance. The Pak Poy report found that existing facilities at major aerodromes were adequate to meet freight needs for some time and that no major investment was required. This is not the case with railway investment. A fortnight or so ago the Parliament passed a Bill which gave assistance to Tasmania for the building of the railway link to Bell Bay. This provided $4.25m of Commonwealth money for the construction of the rail link. The initial intention of the Commonwealth was to provide 85 per cent of the establishment cost of the line, then estimated at $3.5m. The total cost of the railway, based on the Commonwealth contribution of $2. 5m, would have been $5m with the State providing $750,000.

According to discussion on the Bell Bay railway in the Tasmanian Parliament in the past week, the link would cost more than $7m or at least double the original estimate. If the initial ratio of Commonwealth to State assistance were intended to apply the Commonwealth contribution would have to be raised to $5.95m, that is, 85 per cent of the cost of the link. This is $1.7m more than the assistance the Commonwealth made available in the Tasmanian Rail Agreement Bill 1971. If the Commonwealth will not vary its assistance because of the increased cost of the link, the State Government will have to find at least $2. 75m towards the cost of the railway. In this way a commitment by the Government to contribute 85 per cent of the establishment cost of the line would be whittled down to 60 per cent and even lower.

The level of Commonwealth assistance for the establishment costs should be clarified and if an extra contribution is necessary, the Commonwealth should make it. Beyond the establishment costs of the Bell Bay link, there is a lengthy list of other railway works needed in Tasmania. The Bell Bay link will require extra locomotives and log wagons to handle woodchip consignments. Other railway works have been submitted to the Commonwealth and assistance requested. These include a new railway freight yard at Launceston and upgrading of other sections of track. There is precedent for Commonwealth assistance in provision of rolling stock in the Railway Equipment Agreement 1961 which assisted South Australia to buy locomotives and iron ore wagons. The Tasmanian Government should be given similar assistance on the same terms because of the importance of the wood chip industry to northern Tasmania. Looking past the horizons of the Bell Bay link, there is a most urgent need for the upgrading of Tasmanian main line railways. In a remarkable piece of understatement the Senate committee said that this would be beneficial and that Commonwealth assistance should be provided. The need for this revitalisation of the Tasmanian railway system is revealed in stark terms in the Pak Poy report.

According to evidence given to the Pak Poy inquiry, the timetable for the swiftest freight service by rail between Hobart and Launceston is 9 hours 48 minutes or an average speed of 13.5 miles an hour. Stephenson’s ‘Rocket’ would have made better time. According to Mr N. C. Vogan, a chartered engineer who looked closely at the existing structure for Pak Poy, the maximum speed of trains on the Tasmanian rail system is 45 miles an hour for passenger services and 35 miles an hour for freight trains. Average speeds are much lower. In his survey Mr Vogan estimated that the Hobart to Launceston line could be upgraded to give a maximum speed of 50 miles a hour for freight trains at the modest cost of $5.7m. This assistance for the upgrading of the 500 miles of existing rail in Tasmania should be given readily by the Commonwealth.

Since 1951-52 the Commonwealth has given a total of $248. 8m for rail projects in Australia; Tasmania has got $4.25m which is the bare cost of the Bell Bay link. Now that the provision of extra railway works and the upgrading of existing lines has become crucial, it is imperative that more assistance be given to Tasmania. The need to upgrade the railway system is one of the prongs of any integrated transport system for Tasmania. The other is some sort of solution to the vexed shipping problems which constantly beset and beggar the State. The annual report of the Australian National Line tabled recently makes depressing reading with its record of further losses and a most unsatisfactory industrial picture. Again the report makes no reference to the extent of losses on the Tasmanian sector of ANL activities. Repeated attempts to get this sort of information have failed, but there is no doubt in my mind that until the past 2 years the Tasmanian operations were profitable. According to evidence given to the Senate committee by the ANL there were heavy losses on the Tasmanian trade in 1970-71. This in the majority opinion of the Senate committee justified the 121 per cent freight increase imposed by the line in August last year.

The committee’s opinion must be respected but on the basis of past contributions of the Tasmanian trade to ANL profits and the State’s almost total reliance on shipping freight, a different approach could have been adopted. On this line of approach, it seems that further freight rises are inevitable and will be adopted unless some ways can be found of improving ANL profitability on the Tasmanian trade. A number of recommendations to do this are contained in the Senate committee’s report and the Pak Poy report. One is the separation of the tourist and freight trade by provision of specialised tourist vessels. Under the present system it is impossible to separate out costs for either trade. The Pak Poy report found that the loss in passenger and tourist vehicle trade seemed to be higher than carriage of freight. If this is the case, it is clearly misleading to lump together charges for all cargo, whether passengers, cars or commercial freight. With the cost of each component known, it should be possible to put charges for ANL services on a more rational and economic basis. The separation of tourist and cargo services would also have the benefit of eliminating the impact of seasonal tourist demand on the supply of cargo space.

Another important policy change that should be adopted would be to allow the ANL to act as a freight forwarder and provide a door to door service. The roll-on roll-off services introduced by the ANL in 1959 cut sea freight rates by almost 45 per cent. The benefit of these lower sea freight rates has since been eaten away by the additional freight-forward charges the new services brought. These associated land transport services sop up from 45 per cent to 50 per cent of the door to door movement of freight with wharfage taking 10 per cent and sea freight 40 per cent to 45 per cent. These are two tacks that could be taken to improve the profitability of ANL operations. Other suggestions have been put forward by the Senate committee and Pak Poy. AH these ideas have merit but there is little point in introducing them in isolation beyond the limits of a comprehensive plan for Tasmanian transport. At the moment we have a series of sane and relatively modest recommendations made by the Senate committee. There is also another set of recommendations made by Pak Poy supported by volumes of evidence on the transport of goods for Tasmania. What is needed is some sort of master plan designed to weld these recommendations into an integrated plan encompassing shipping, port and freight forwarding facilities by rail and road. This cannot be done in the scope of a 10 minute speech on the Estimates. Many of the Pak Poy recom mendations are controversial, particularly on the need to concentrate on larger ships and centralise facilities at one port. This recommendation has provoked violent reaction from sections of Tasmania and undoubtedly there are serious social issues involved. But it is important that these vital issues be examined closely by a competent authority and a list of priorities in cost-benefit terms drawn up.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Luchetti) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– Australia is one of the great overseas trading nations of the world - in fact, the twelfth biggest. Yet of all the great trading nations we carry the lowest proportion of our trade in ships of our own flag. This has many consequences, not the least of which is something like S700m a year in overseas exchange for freight. The world trading pattern is moving towards bilateral shipping. For instance, Australian-Japanese trade will be increasingly serviced by Japanese and Australian vessels with no cross-traders permitted. If Australia cannot provide enough shipping to take up its share, Japan will take up the slack.

What would we have to do to increase the size of the Australian merchant shipping fleet? We already subsidise the construction of ships in Australia but only to match foreign ship building costs. We do not provide any of the other incentives which encourage foreign ship owners who carry the bulk of our present overseas trade. It is worth looking at what these incentives are. Most overseas countries encourage ship building by offering attractive loan finance. Generally, finance is available overseas at between 6i per cent and 8 per cent over 8 years. This, together with a reasonable depreciation allowance, permits owners to write off their investment in a practical period. The present Australian depreciation period is 16 years for bulk carriers and tankers and 20 years for other vessels. But today no vessels are built for a life of 20 years. Cellular vessels are built for a life of 10 to 12 years by Japanese owners and 12 to 15 years by British owners. A similar financing system should operate for Australian owners.

I have spoken several times in this House about the importance to industry of restoring the 20 per cent investment tax allowance. It would be particularly valuable in the shipbuilding industry, because ships are long term construction projects, and the tax allowance would provide a very valuable cash flow early in the life of the ship. One of the objections raised to an expansion of Australian shipping is the question of high labour costs. Labour costs are not nearly as important now as they used to be. It is true that there is some feather bedding. A 24,000 ton cellular vessel on European scales requires 28 men, compared with 35 men under Australian conditions. But, nevertheless, the capital cost of the ship and the other running costs are far more significant financially than the crew costs.

Industrial turbulence is another cause of concern. So far the Australian National Line’s overseas vessels have been relatively strike-free since they began operating. But there is a need for rationalisation among seagoing unions to reduce costs in shipbuilding, ship operation and industrial negotiations. Good industrial relations in the shipping field, as in so many of our other industrial activities, are critical to our future. We must also do something about shipping conferences. Our seaborne trade is almost wholly in the hand of crosstraders and other national shipping lines, and our exporters are sometimes held to ransom. Without a viable merchant fleet we are quite unable to influence rates of freight, ports of call, types of cargo carried or conference attitudes.

The new Restrictive Trade Practices Act should give the Government powers similar to those vested in the United States Federal Maritime Commission, which controls conferences, approves freight rates and ensures that monopolies and cartels cannot operate to the detriment of American seaborne trade. We also need some degree of unity among shippers, perhaps through the Australian Shippers Council. I envisage a situation where we have open shipping conferences with rate agreements registered with the Government, Australian vessel participation in all conferences to check on costs, and the Australian Government acting in a supervisory capacity in a similar way to the United States Federal Maritime Commission. If we take these steps we will build up a fleet of merchant ships which will properly represent our status as a major maritime and trading nation and be to the great benefit of our exporters and our balance of payments.


– Here again estimates are presented to this Committee without any provision being made for the sealing of the east-west road link - the Eyre Highway. In answer to a question in which I asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) personally to inspect the highway by driving across it, he said that he would not do so, and he said that he was adequately informed on the condition of the road. If he is adequately informed on the condition and is aware of the human suffering and heartbreaks which face very many people who travel interstate in search of work, to visit relatives and friends, to enjoy a well earned rest on annual leave or long service leave, or a retirement trip, then he must be immune to human suffering.

On one of my many trips across Eyre Highway recently I assisted people who had lost their vehicle through fire. Another motorist had holed his sump when he struck a rock, and the motor of another car was overheating because the radiator had shaken adrift. All this happened within one hour. I can honestly say that in mv many crossings of the Eyre Highway there has not been an occasion when some unfortunate motorist has not required assistance. This is totally apart from the statistics relating to cost which were revealed in answer to my question on this matter.

Under questioning the Minister has admitted that a tremendous amount of Commonwealth money has been spent on maintaining the Eyre Highway and that more will be spent. Earlier this year the estimate given for sealing the 310 miles of the highway from Ceduna to the Western Australian border was 9m. The South Australian Government currently is sealing the section from Ceduna to Penong, leaving a section of 266 miles unsealed. However, the incredible refusal by the Commonwealth earlier this year to meet the South Australian Government’s offer, whereby the South Australian Government would contribute S3m, or one-third of the cost of sealing this section of the highway, and the Commonwealth would contribute S6m, or two-thirds of the cost, is completely beyond comprehension. In this area of national responsibility it is not a question of the Commonwealth needing to reach into its pocket to supply the money immediately. The money could be provided on a definite programme over the next few years. It must also be remembered that questions have revealed that maintenance of this section of the highway in the past 5 years and in the next 5 years will have cost $1.6m and that damage caused to vehicles, for which claims could be made under insurance policies, will amount to a minimum of $200,000.

In February this year the South Australian Premier said that 8 people had been killed in the previous 16 months on the unsealed section of the Eyre Highway and that 6 of them had been killed as a result of head-on collisions because visibility was impaired by dust raised by other vehicles. The Minister for Shipping and Transport says that he is fully informed on the condition of the road, yet he does nothing. What is needed to stir him to action? How many deaths must occur or who needs to die before he will take the matter to the Cabinet and stop mouthing platitudes when speaking of road safety and blaming motor vehicle manufacturers for the problems on our highways? Let him put the Commonwealth’s house in order first before asking the motorist and the manufacturer to spend millions of dollars on improving the safety of motor vehicles. Let him use some of the money which has been raised by the imposition of heavy taxation on the motoring public and provide proper roads for public use.

Recently a statement was made by the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) to the effect that the Government is to provide $4m for a road to the East Alligator River area of the Northern Territory to serve the new uranium province east of Darwin. Whilst not denying the benefits which will flow to Australia from the development of the north, this highlights the contempt with which the Government treats Western Australia. The West Australian’ newspaper agrees that there is a need to seal the remaining section of the Eyre Highway. The editorial in that newspaper on Monday, 8th November 1971, which was subsequent to answers being provided to the question I had asked, stated:

The Commonwealth’s attitude is not only imposing a heavy maintenance burden on South Australia, but for the sake of $6m, which could be spread over several years, it is putting too much of a drag on national road funds upkeep. This unsound practice is not made any better by the Commonwealth’s getting revenue of SI. 3m in the past 5 years from private motorists who travelled across the desert by rail - most of them no doubt because they wanted to avoid the dust bowl. Canberra’s aim should be to get the maximum value and safety out of the heavy South AustralianWestern Australian capital investment in the highway and to get maintenance costs down to the minimum.

It appears that the Commonwealth will continue to make a yearly contribution of $25,000 to South Australia for the maintenance of this road, which in itself is totally inadequate for the projected maintenance costs for the next 5 years. ft is estimated that the maintenance costs on the road will be Si 90.000 in 1971-72, $180,000 in 1972-73, SI 80.000 in 1973-74, $170,000 in 1974-75 and $ 1 60.000 in 1975-76. South Australia will have to provide a large part of the money in order to overcome a national problem. One becomes very suspicious that the Government has a vested interest in continuing to ensure that it receives revenue from the Commonwealth Railways, as many vehicles are forced to utilise the railways’ pickapack system because of the road conditions. As a result, there will be a further swelling of the Commonwealth’s coffers from railway revenue.

Again the Commonwealth is badly lacking in providing assistance for the development of rail links in the north-west of Western Australia. It has allowed to develop a situation in which all the north-west railways to iron ore developments are privately owned instead of being major revenue earners for the Australian railway system. The Pilbara region is still unconnected by rail to eastern or Western Australian centres of population. It has been mooted that the Pilbara region could be serviced by rail by upgrading the MullewaMeekatharra railway, building a new line to Mount Newman, joining the Mount Newman-Port Hedland line to the Mount Tom Price-Dampier line and providing general cargo terminals at Port Hedland and Karratha. To do this the Government would need to have access to two privately owned iron ore railways and would need to become involved in a capital outlay of between $S0m to $60m.

Here again, Commonwealth money would be needed to develop this rail link, and this country would be paying a type of rent for the use of a rail link which should be the property of the public and a revenue earner for the Government. Recently the Commonwealth approved an expenditure of some $70m for a line from Alice Springs to Tarcoola, a distance of about SOO miles. Whilst not decrying the benefits to flow from it, I think it would be pleasing to Western Australia if the Commonwealth were to investigate and subsequently propose a rail link between Alice Springs and the Pilbara rail system at Mount Whaleback, the terminus of the Mount Newman railway.

Mr Calder:

– I agree.


– Even the honourable member for the Northern Territory can see the value of this. We hear a lot of talk about this area being impenetrable desert country, but this is far from fact. This link has been traversed on occasions and in fact has been given the name of National Highway Code 121, as it links Route 1 on the west coast with Route 1 on the east coast, one to one. or as some would call it, the Capricorn Highway due to its proximity to the Tropic of Capricorn. It covers a distance of some 900 miles. One writer who surveyed the route indicated that the route from Mount Whaleback to Alice Springs has a 200 mile stretch of stabilised sand ridges, some up to SO miles long, then it is flat and smooth with sparse spinifex and in many parts gravel. The ballast for the critical 200 miles was available from the Runton Range and Baron Range. The benefits not only to the Pilbara but also to Alice Springs are too obvious to be mentioned.

One might compare Alice Springs with Salt Lake City, Utah in the United States of America where the railway line crosses the Great Salt Lakes. The city is the junction for the Denver, Rio Grande, Western Union Pacific and Western Pacific railroads, lt is the capital of Utah and is similarly situated to Alice Springs. It has meat packing, oil refining, smelting and other allied industries. Alice Springs could be the rail junction where east meets west and could have similar development. It could help to justify the huge expenditure of public moneys each year on the Northern Territory and could up and develop what is known as the ‘dead heart’ of Australia. But more importantly it could provide an imaginative link with Australia’s most vital area for the future development of our economy if not already our most important area - the Pilbara region of the north west of Western Australia. The Commonwealth must demonstrate its interest in industrial development, defence development and tourist potential by taking action along the lines T have outlined.

Northern Territory

– 1 thank the honourable member for Swan (Mr Bennett) who has given the Northern Territory such a build-up. He spoke about the necessity for building roads and connecting Alice Springs with various parts of Western Australia. I might remind him - he probably does not know - that when his great leader was in Alice Springs some years ago he was asked a similar question to the one that the honourable member is purporting to ask the Minister. I do not know whether he means the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) who is at the table or the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair).

Mr Martin:

– Which great leader?


– Your great leader, the new leader with the fluffy Italian hairstyle. When he was in Alice Springs some years ago he criticised the Government for not sealing the north-south highway from Alice Springs to Port Augusta. He had been sounding off with wild abandon and saying that it should be sealed. He was asked: How do you know it should be sealed? Will you not drive down to see what condition it is in?’ He said: ‘No, of course not*. He was fairly emphatic about that and refused to drive down the north-south road. So much for the honourable member’s criticism and that of his leader.

The Commonwealth Railways and the North Australia and Central Australia Railways come under the Department of Shipping and Transport. Last year their operation showed a loss of $403,000 compared with a profit of $492,000 the year before. Their earnings increased by $1.3m but the earnings did not increase sufficiently to cover the operating costs which rose from $20.8m to S22.5m in a year.

The same trend is evident in the affairs of the Australian National Line, which carried more cargo during the year and increased its revenue by almost S9m to $68.2m and yet the net loss increased from $].4m to $2.5m. In the case of the Commonwealth Railways the cost of operating the Central Australia Railway line over the 3 feet 6 inch gauge, poorly ballasted with bridges in doubtful condition and a lot of the track in sub-standard condition, would escalate. That can be understood. Those who are actually operating the line from Port Augusta to Alice Springs via Marree are doing as good a job as they can in the circumstances, because this line is in need of replacement. The Government is doing a survey at the moment on the Tarcoola to Alice Springs line. I urge the Government to push ahead with this because I do not think that the economics of the old 3 feet 6 inches gauge from Marree to Alice Springs can produce a profit in the future. After very little rain many of the bridges and culverts go out of action. The trains are held up and maintenance work has to be done which otherwise would not have to be done. Once again I urge the Government to carry on with the survey of the Tarcoola to Alice Springs line. The Australian National Line is a very different story. It owns and operates 32 ships, amongst which are some of the very latest design. I mention the ‘Allunga’ of 20,000 tons and the ‘Darwin Trader’. The ANL produces an increasing loss, from $1.4m to $2.5m. Why?

Mr Cope:

– I will bite.


– I am glad of that because most of this loss can be attributed to strikes and stoppages. So I think the honourable member bought the right answer. It is estimated that the marine stewards strike alone cost the ANL $2m. It lost $2.5m, so most of it went down the drain in one hit. On top of this were other industrial stoppages. In the port of Darwin, nearer to home, my remarks still apply. The ANL has had to raise charges because of the slow turn round of ships in the port of Darwin. Western Australian ships have experienced the same trouble. Yet ti t Government is to spend $23m on developing the port of Darwin. Sometimes one would wonder why. The port is to have land backed berths, container handling facilities, bulk handling wharves and wharves and docking facilities for small ships such as the prawn ships, barges and other small ships that travel along the north coast from time to time. I admit that at times there is congestion on the wharves in Darwin but at the moment, at the rate the ships are coming and going, there is no real need for congestion on the wharves. The basic ingredient in the turn round of ships is hard work. Most members of the Australian Labor Party do not seem to know what that is. The lack of this most essential ingredient has virtually caused most of the troubles on the Darwin waterfront. I refer to the overall output. Some gangs turn in a pretty good performance. Others turn in a very bad performance. But the overall performance has resulted in the Australian National Line’s having to increase its charges. The Western Australian ships are looking very hard at the possibility of leaving the Darwin part of the service - from Wyndham to Darwin - off their run altogether.

I turn now to division 482 item 1 of the Estimates, which is the expenditure for the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. The expenditure last year was $661,000. The appropriation this year is $786,000. The Commonwealth Bureau of Roads is at the moment looking at the road situation throughout the country. I have noted with a certain amount of pleasure that there has been an increase in the appropriation this year for the Bureau of Roads. I hope it will continue the work of improving the highway system throughout Australia. The previous speaker, the honourable member for Swan (Mr Bennett), referred to the necessity for the complete sealing of the Eyre Highway. The sealing of Highway 1 up to the top of northern Western Australia, through . the Gulf country and down to Queensland would provide a tremendous national asset. While I am speaking about highways, I would draw the attention of the Government to the north-south road between Alice Springs and Port Augusta. It is the only other highway in Australia between capital cities which has not been sealed. It is the road on which I said the Leader of the Australian Labor Party refused to drive some years ago in order to see its condition. He may or may not know and honourable members may or may not know that it is a vital defence link as well as a vital tourist link between any part of southern Australia and northern Australia. Once a motorist gets on to the bitumen road at Alice Springs he can proceed to Darwin and then go over to the west to Kununurra and down the west coast is he happens to be interested in Western Australia. I urge the Government to continue the work which has already been started on this road. Work on the first 100 miles from Alice Springs to Erldunda already has been put to contract.


– The story of the freight rates being charged for the shipping of Australia’s 1971 apple and pear crop is a tragic one. The conference ships which have been for several decades carrying our apples and pears overseas decided this year not to carry them any more. The Australian Apple and Pear Board then entered into discussions with the Salen-Blue Star nonconference group, which was prepared to carry a portion of our crop next season on the basis of a freight increase of 24.24 per cent, which was equivalent to an extra 50c a case or S3. 5m on the 7 million cases of apples and pears exported each year from Australia. Naturally the Board rejected this outrageous offer as one which would be crippling to the industry.

At that point of time an American shipping company - quite out of the blue - made an offer to the Board to carry H million cases overseas at a freight rate comparable with last season’s rate, which was S2.23 a case, but this offer was not acceptable. So the Apple and Pear Board a few weeks ago sent a team to London to renegotiate with the Salen-Blue Star Line.

The negotiating team returned to Australia at the weekend with a very sad story to tell. It said that it had to accept a tough compromise. It had to accept an increase in freight rates of between 12 per cent and 20 per cent, depending on the rate of loading and the rebate conditions. Furthermore, the Line will lift only 4,700,000 of the possible 7.000,000 cases of fruit that Australia produces for export. A 20 per cent freight rise will cost Tasmania alone an extra $2m on its freight bill last season of $llm. The new rate will approach $2.70 a case. The growers will have to get at least $6.40 a case in the United Kingdom and elsewhere to break even. The average price obtained last season, which was a good season, was about $5.50. So it looks to me as if, unless some very important concessions are made in relation to the new arrangements, the Tasmanian growers in particular and the Australian growers as a whole will have to give up growing apples and pears. Unless a solution is found to this piracy on the high seas the majority of the growers in Australia will be ruined.

What action needs to be taken? Firstly, a concerted effort will have to be made to lift the speed of loading. Unitisation and single bills of lading will have to be introduced in order to gain maximum rebates and so reduce the freight burden. The rate in Hobart at present is 15,000 bushels a ship a day. Although the waterside workers . have given the industry great co-operation each year and have been praised for their efforts, the rate of loading will have to be increased by 50 per cent if we are to get a maximum freight reduction from rebates. That will place a big burden on everybody handling the fruit at the loading end.

Secondly, maximum use will have to be made of the stabilisation plan for the industry which was recently passed by this Parliament. The Commonwealth will have to pay the 80c guarantee for the full 7 million cases exported and not a part thereof, as stated in the legislation. Thirdly, the American shipping line’s offer to carry one million cases will have to be accepted whatever its conditions. Fourthly, the Commonwealth may have to make a straight out subsidy of at least 20c a case, which represents half the increase being demanded.

If the industry is to be saved one or all of the propositions I have put forward will have to be accepted. At the present time the growers do not know whether they are going to pick their apples next season or let them rot on the ground. Never has the Australian apple and pear industry faced a crisis such as the one it is now going through. The industry is worth $20m a year to Tasmania alone. Are we going to let this industry go down the drain just because the Government is not interested in it?

Mr Luchetti:

– Change the Government.


– But by the time a Labor government gets in at the end of next year there will not be an industry at all unless this Government is prepared to take specific action urgently to tackle the great problems, especially the freight cost problem.

This is the grim story of a nation which does not have its own overseas shipping line. We are now face to face with the results of the critical decision that was made by the Menzies Government when it came to office in 1949 not to go ahead with the legislation which had been passed by the Chifley Labor Government 4 months earlier for the establishment of an overseas shipping line. If we had established our own overseas shipping line at that time we could now have 15 to 20 of our own modern ships on the overseas trade runs and our industries would not bc facing the crisis that confronts them today because of high freight rates. We are today in the hands of the Philistines and the 20th century pirates. The story I have just related proves that.

On 28th October 1 asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) whether, in view of the fact that the Government had been subsidising an overseas shipping line to South America to the tune of $1,101,000 over the last 5 years, it would come to the party and subsidise freight rates between the mainland and Tasmania to offset the 25 per cent increase the Australian National Line has received in freight rates in the last 2 years and which has hit our economy a very severe blow. After I had received the reply from the Minister I said that this could sound the death knell of any Commonwealth assistance. The Premier of Tasmania ridiculed my suggestion. He condemned me for using extravagant language and seeking to make party political points. He said:

Applications of this kind are made not by private members of the Opposition but by the State government. Until the matter is discussed by the Federal and State governments the decision of the Commonwealth will not be known.

The latest increase of 12£ per cent was put into effect in the middle of June. Yet the Premier’s statement would indicate that the

Tasmanian Government has not yet made an official approach to this Government for a freight subsidy. It is an indictment of his Government that he has criticised my question to the Minister. What are we to think of the situation when the Minister replies to my question requesting a subsidy to the effect that although he is concerned at the situation, it is not Government policy to subsidise the Line and he does not anticipate any change? It was after I received that reply that I said that it sounded like the death knell of Federal assistance for Tasmanian shipping and the Premier attacked me for making that comment. I will repeat it, unless the Government is prepared to come forward and deny that this is so. I want the Minister to tell me whether the Tasmanian Premier has, on behalf of his Government, made an official approach to this Government in the past 4 months about such a subsidy. If it has not this is a disgrace to Tasmania because the crisis caused by the increased freight rates charged by the ANL is affecting the whole of the Tasmanian economy.

In conclusion I must say that the annual report of the ANL tells a sad story for Tasmania because the report states that unless the Line continually increases the amount of freight carried it cannot continue to operate at a profit. This is sad news for us.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock:

– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.

Minister for Shipping and Transport · Gippsland · CP

– I will not delay the Committee for long.

Mr Charles Jones:

– You are not replying, are you?


– I can assure the honourable member that I am not closing the debate. I propose to speak again at a later hour, but before the debate proceeds any further I would like to answer a couple of the points that have been raised. I think the first things I ought to talk about are the problems associated with the Australian National Line, both in the coastal trade and in the overseas trade. These problems have been raised by several speakers tonight. The first point that needs to be made, of course, is that whatever problems the ANL has faced over the last 12 months of operation, it has suffered a great deal of industrial difficulty. The honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar) did run broadly across the problems as seen by Sir John Williams, but he failed to read the further comments of Sir John in respect of the concept of container shipping itself. One point that needs to be made quite plainly is that the trouble that Australia has in developing an overseas shipping line is based fundamentally on industrial strikes. We need a period of freedom from this sort of thing before anything can be done along these lines.

Let me quote 2 or 3 examples from overseas experience. We have been plagued with strikes on the waterfront. The ANL lost $2m in one strike on the waterfront. Just compare that experience with the experience of the port of Hamburg, for example, which has not had a strike in 6 years, or the port of Bremerhaven which has not had a strike for 26 years. What chance have we of building up an overseas shipping line of any consequence when we are plagued with strikes as we are? What chance have we got of building up a shipbuilding industry with the industrial difficulties and demarcation disputes that we face? In the Mitsubishi yards in Japan when the workers go on strike they wear a red armband to work but they proceed to do as much work as they did the day before. Their through-put is the same as it was the day before. In the meantime the employers and the union representatives sit down and talk about the strike but the country does not suffer a loss. We just cannot compete with that sort of attitude, and until there is a realisation of this difficulty by a great number of union leaders the problem will not be overcome.

In opening the debate tonight the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) raised several questions. First of all, he asked me would I make a policy statement about the activities of my Department. There is a great deal of activity going on within my Department at this time and the honourable member for Newcastle will be aware of some of it. But just for his information let me repeat some of the activities in which Australia is concerned in the transport field. He was present when we set up the Transport Industries Advisory Council at a transportation conference earlier in the year. He will be aware of the setting up of the Bureau of Transport Economics within my Department and he will also know of the reorganisation of my Department. He will know that the Bureau of Transport Economics is already undertaking a study of urban transport as well as a study of the rail systems of Australia. Many honourable members would know of the Department’s activities in regard to road safety, particularly the increased activity over the last 6 or 8 months. This has included the setting up of an expert group to make not only a national study but also an international study of the problems of road safety. We propose to hold a seminar in March 1972 at which not only Australian but also international speakers will speak on the scientific, psychological and other aspects of road safety. Honourable members will know of the initiatives we have taken in regard to oil pollution.

There is a great deal of activity going on within my Department. A lot of decisions will flow from the results of these activities within several months and I shall be happy to inform the honourable member for Newcastle and the Parliament when they come to fruition. One thing that amazed me was that the honourable member for Newcastle was unaware that Mr Tom Norris, who was a member of the Department of Shipping and Transport for many years and who is a very respected figure in the shipping world, is in fact reviewing the Navigation Act. I thought that was common knowledge. A working document has been circulated to the trade union movement, ship owners and many other interested bodies seeking their support for a working over of the Navigation Act. I would anticipate that the first section of that may get into this Parliament by way of legislation during the next sessional period. That is my hope. So that review is thoroughly under way with the co-operation of the trade union movement and the ship owners.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) again raised the problem of the Bell Bay railway placing, as he sees it, a financial strain on the Tasmanian Government. I have quoted figures on this before. The facts are that the Bell Bay Railway Agreement has been drawn up on exactly the same terms as the Western Australian Railway Agreement. The Commonwealth has agreed to provide S4.25m, $2.5m of which is by way of a loan over 30 years and SI. 75m of which is by way of grant. As I said when he raised this question on a previous occasion, if a proposition concerning the purchase of rolling stock for the Bell Bay railway is put up we will, of course, look at it. But no decision can be taken at this time. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition also mentioned the problem of ANL freight rates. Of course, we are all concerned about increased freight rates, but the facts are that high wage claims and industrial troubles have caused this increase in freight rates. But I would have thought that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, along with his Tasmanian colleagues, would recognise that in the application of freights to Tasmania by the ANL on this occasion Tasmania did fare somewhat better on a percentage breakdown than it did on an occasion some years ago when there was an across the board freight increase, whether the cargo was for Darwin or for Tasmania. In fact, the freight rates were applied by the Line to meet the cost of the separate activity. I believe that Tasmania was treated properly and fairly in that review.

The honourable member for Swan (Mr Bennett) raised again the problem of the sealing of the Eyre Highway. I can only repeat what has been said before: The Western Australian Government found the money, out of the Commonwealth aid roads grant and its own finances, to seal its section of the road. The section that is not sealed lies within the borders of South Australia. The facts are that the Commonwealth aid roads grants to South Australia have increased by 50 per cent for the current 5-year period and that the total amount of money going to South Australia from the Commonwealth in this form in this 5-year period is Si 29m. The priorities for the sealing of the road are a matter for the South Australian Government. If it does not believe that the priority is high enough, of course, the road will not be sealed. All other State governments have sealed the highways they have considered to be of high enough priority. If the South Australian Government wishes to apply that money to other roads - either city roads or country roads - it can do so. Unfortunately, that is as far as I can go at this time. I agree with the honourable member on one point: It is necessary that the road be sealed.

The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder), who always displays a very keen interest in the advancement of his electorate and certainly keeps fighting and probing to make sure that the Territory is receiving its fair share in the allocation of Commonwealth resources, raised again the problem of the Tarcoola to Alice Springs railway line. I understand his keen interest in having the reconstruction of that line proceeded with. The facts are that we have some 30 surveyors on the route at the moment, endeavouring to survey the route between Tarcoola and Alice Springs. I hope that as soon as the survey is completed the construction of the railway line will commence. I have answered one or two points. Some honourable members are still to speak. I propose to answer their points later.


– Last Sunday week the Australian Labor Party held a road safety seminar at Terrigal. On that day I had the privilege of putting a Labor Party policy to reduce drastically the road toll in Australia. I was one of 3 speakers. The others were the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), who presented a policy on no-fault liability, and the Labor Party’s shadow Minister for Shipping and Transport, the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones), who is now at the table. I propose to speak briefly about our national programme. I have already spoken about it in this chamber once or twice.

What we propose basically is this: We will set up a Commonwealth highway safety bureau which will set uniform standards for the States to implement. These will include standards on driver education, traffic codes and laws, the collection of data, traffic control devices, driver licensing and vehicles in use. Such a bureau will set safety design standards for new vehicles and test vehicles after production. It will have its own independent laboratory which will carry out research. It will investigate ways of implementing recall legislation for defective vehicles. It will also study, together with our department of urban affairs, effective urban planning that will stop the motor vehicle from intruding into everyone’s life as it now does, and also the possibility of setting up a national vehicle inspection company such as exists in Sweden or similar to what operates in New Zealand.

I wish to use the bulk of my time in talking about what I thought was a most exciting proposal which was put forward by the Labor Party’s shadow Minister for Shipping and Transport - the proposal to build a 4-lane highway from Brisbane to Adelaide. I think each and every one of us who looks at transport today recognises that there will be a change in emphasis in the allocation of money to transport and the way in which it is allocated. We have seen what has happened in Victoria under Sir Henry Bolte and in South Australia under Mr Dunstan. In the future we will see less money spent on highways within cities and an upgrading of public transport. But I believe that we will spend a great deal of our money on interstate highway systems and major roads outside the present urban systems. I think we have to accept the fact that the vehicle is here to stay. Those who rail against it - I am one - would like to see it play a diminishing role in the cities. We have to face the fact that it is the best method of transport for most people and it is an economic method of moving goods.

We have to realise that this country undoubtedly has amongst the worst roads imaginable outside the cities. The Hume and Federal Highways, on which we are forced to travel in order to come here, in my view are a national disgrace. We heard only today how bad the roads are in more distant parts. But even in the heavily populated areas along the east coast we have these disgraceful roads on which a large number of people are killed. We know that vehicles are now travelling about 10 miles an hour faster than they were in 1960 or 1961. It is a miracle that we do not have more accidents on our roads. Between Sydney and Albury every year about 100 people are killed. I have tried to estimate the number of people killed throughout the highways system of Australia as it now exists. I would like to have incorporated in Hansard a question that I asked and the answer that ] received. I asked for the number of people killed on major highways, but the only basis on which statistics are gathered is for the metropolitan area and the rest of the State.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) - (Question No. 2926)

Mr Cohen:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

  1. Has there been any analysis of motor vehicle accidents to show what proportion of (a) deaths and (b) injuries occur on (i) rural and (ii) urban roads:
  2. If so, what were the results.
Mr Snedden:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The Acting Commonwealth Statistician has supplied the following information in reply to the honourable member’s question -

Particulars of road traffic accidents which OCCU outside’ and ‘inside’ traffic built-up areas are available for Victoria only. In that State, during the year ended 31st December 1969, there were 546 fatal accidents in built-up areas and 357 outside built-up areas. During the same period injury accidents which occurred inside built-up areas numbered 12.881 while those outside built-up areas numbered 2,763.

The only dissection for which details of road traffic accidents can be provided on a basis which is common to all Slates is a break-down between (i) metropolitan area and (ii) rest of State. This information, for the year ended 31st December 1969, is shown in the following table:


– The answer shows that in 1969 the number of people killed in the metropolitan areas was 1,532 and the number killed outside the metropolitan areas was 1,970. I would think that the majority of the 1,532 would have been pedestrians, although there is no analysis. A great number of the deaths in the metropolitan area are pedestrian deaths. On the other hand, I would think that the majority of the 1,970 people killed on our rural roads or highways would have been drivers or passengers. I would like to know exactly how many people are killed on our highway systems. I believe that if we set up an interstate highways system, as the Labor Party will do, we will find that we will, save probably in the vicinity of 800 lives a year. So one of the great advantages of having such a system will be safer travelling.

I also wish to have incorporated in Hansard a table of figures derived from research work done on various highways in England. They illustrate that the death toll dropped by 70 or 80 per cent when such a highway superseded the previous rural road.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -


– The cutting of the road toll by about 80 per cent is one great benefit of these highways. There is also a reduction in journey time. Then there is the fact that a major highway will carry a greater volume of traffic. A word that is on the lips of everybody in our community today is ‘decentralisation’. I can think of no better way of decentralising than providing proper major highways, particularly in the areas around Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Industries will decentralise if their goods can be transported quickly over the distance of 100 to 150 miles to the major ports and rail heads. I believe that this will be a major factor. On the question of freight economies, a considerable amount of money will be saved by such a highways system. Also personal expenditure due to wear and tear on vehicles and on petrol would be reduced with better driving. One could easily allocate some money from the defence expenditure towards such a highway system.

I will deal with the American highway system which was built basically for defence. Then of course there is the question of tourism which again is on everybody’s lips. An asset like this would boost international tourism quite considerably. The Government will say that we cannot afford it. Let me quote what happened in the United States. In 1956 President Eisenhower started what was the ‘greatest public works programme in history’ - the construction of 41,000 miles of interstate expressway to link the major cities of the United States at a cost of $50,000m. I think by now almost 35,000 miles has been completed. It is anticipated that the project will be completed by about 1976. This project was funded by setting up the Highway Trust Fund. The money in that fund must be spent on that highway system. There was a tax of 4c a gallon on fuel; a tax of 6c a gallon on lubricating oil; on new trucks, buses and trailers there was a tax of 10 per cent of the manufacturers sale price; on parts and accessories there was a tax of 8 per cent of the manufacturers sale price; on vehicle tyres and tubes there was a tax of 10c per lb; on heavy vehicles there was a tax of $ 1 p?r 1,000 lb annually or a gross weight of vehicles over 2,600 lb.

In comparison with the United States Australia’s 1,500 miles, the distance about which we have been talking tonight, is a reasonable goal. I am speaking of the road from Brisbane to Sydney to Canberra to Melbourne and Adelaide. Later the highway could link up with Perth and Cairns. Initially it would involve areas where there was a heavy volume of traffic in the eastern States. This is a reasonable goal for Australia to set. If the Americans could do it in 1956 we can do it in the next 10 to 15 years. I think the honourable member for Newcastle estimated the cost to be about $700m over a period of 10 to 15 years. If that money cannot be raised through taxation or it is unacceptable to the Australian people to raise it in this way, we could think in terms of a tollway. We must have an interstate highway system in Australia. It is no longer excusable to continue in this age, with the growing number of motor vehicles on our roads, to ask the people of Australia to drive on our present roads.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– At a time when the nation is looking at ways and means of reducing costs I want to raise a matter tonight to find out whether the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) can throw some light on it and also whether the Australian Transport Advisory Council has given very much consideration to this subject. I refer to corrosion or rust in motor vehicles specifically and also as it applies to other vehicles such as tractors. The greatest problem with rust in Australia today is principally confined to motor vehicles. I believe that the Federal Government must take positive steps to introduce legislation, in co-operation with the States, to compel car manufacturers in Australia to take more effective measures to prevent rust in motor vehicles. The growing incidence of rust in Australia costs the nation millions of dollars a year. The bulk of Australia’s population lives in close proximity to the seaboard where the prevalence of corrosion is extremely high. The cause of corrosion is principally the atmosphere. Corrosion occurs with a combination of oxygen and moisture. This combination leads to an oxidisation reaction. The incidence of rust is greater in areas where there is a higher density of population, such as in industrial areas on the seaboard, because the atmosphere in these areas is contaminated or polluted with sulphur dioxide. Sulphur dioxide when combined with moisture and oxygen leads to an acceleration of the oxidisation reaction process, thus accelerating the rate of corrosion.

Which areas of Australia are more important in terms of the problem of rust? Taking into account the factors which I have mentioned and by ascertaining those areas in Australia which have a high relative humidity you can pinpoint those areas in which the rust problem is severe. In those areas which have a relative humidity of more than 75 per cent, plus the oxidisation reaction process, plus urban industrialisation, you have a greater concentration of rust. Taken by and large, every area on the seaboard of Australia faces the problem of rust. In addition to the waste of resources a significant number of road deaths occur each year and a lot of these may be attributed to rust in vehicles. Unsafe vehicles which are called rust buckets are being driven on our highways. The use of thinner gauge steel in the manufacture of car bodies hastens the corrosion process. In many parts of Australia the life of a car and depreciation costs are dependent on the annual rate of the spread of rust. Some honourable members who will be familiar with pre-war vehicles such as the Whippets and the Chev 4s know that there are still some of these vehicles on our roads today and it is fairly difficult to find any rust in them, even the ones which are driven in seaboard areas. In contrast my car is 3 years old and it is rusted heavily in the lower parts. I point out that I live on the coast.

It is obvious that this rust is caused by a combination of atmospheric conditions and the practice of using thinner gauge steel in the manufacture of car bodies. In an area where there is a high relative humidity the rusting process is accelerated. Instead of motor vehicle bodies being constructed to last longer it would seem to me that manufacturers are concerned mainly with securing as rapid a turnover as possible without too much protest from the public. We cannot blame the manufacturer directly because it is not the fault of the manufacturing process that .is used. The manufacturer cannot be blamed because of the atmospheric conditions. But I do blame the manufacturers to this extent in that they have the facilities to give a protective coating to the steel or alloy used in the manufacture of motor vehicle bodies which would render to them a life much longer than they have at the present time. Earlier I referred to the pre-war vehicles. My parents had a Whippet and I would guarantee that if it was still going there would certainly be no rust on it.

I believe that this Government should give consideration to the subject of rust. What can the motor vehicle industry do about this? Firstly there are different ways of treating the steel. There are protective measures which can be taken to safeguard steel or the alloys which are somewhat resistent to corrosion. It is obvious to those people who have any knowledge about welding that the joining of different types of metal by a welding process is often one of the principal reasons for the formation of rust. We will have to find some way to counter the electrolytic couples reaction. This is quite obvious to those people who have done a lot of welding, for example; and, after all, there are many welds on most motor cars. There are several types of protection available. Firstly, there is protection without altering the steel surface; that is, with non-metallic coatings, waxing fats, paints, lacquers, plastics and so forth. This type of protection is commonly used but it is only a temporary measure. A more permanent protection is the metallic coating, which is an electrolytic process - the spray gun application, for example, of molten metals and so forth. I believe there is an even more permanent protection which involves the altering of the steel surface itself by the use of an alloy which is resistant to rust or by an electro-chemical process.

It may be suggested that all of these things seem somewhat far-fetched but I am told by reliable authorities - this is something I want to know, because I believe it is serious - that the manufacturers who today are producing vehicles in such volume could virtually rustproof the steel in a motor car body for about $30 to $40. I refer to manufacturers like the Ford Company and General Motors-Holdens Pty Ltd. This is what I have been told; I do not know whether it is correct. ‘

Mr Foster:

– That is right.


– I thank the honourable member for that information.

Mr Peacock:

– What methods are they suggesting should be used?


– They have suggested the use of chemical processes - electrolytic processes. I am not an expert in this field but I should like to know whether this is possible as I come from an area where rust is of tremendous importance because it affects costs. The high incidence of rust in motor cares must also be of some concern to the Government. I understand that today there is a change to a monoconstruction process under which, for example, the front end is manufactured and there is the possibility that the whole structure of a motor car can be affected by rust - not simply an axle or a fender. The whole of the motor car body can be affected.

I am told also that some of the more expensive motor vehicles - the Volvo and the Mercedes-Benz - have bodies of structural steel which has been treated against rust. A couple of people within the precincts of this Parliament drive Volvos and we could secure this information from them. If it is illustrated that these cars do not exhibit any rust characteristics I believe we can learn much from them. In all seriousness I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport to consider this matter. About $ 1,000m is involved in the cost of new vehicles each year and an additional $10Om is expended in motor car replacements each year.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope) - -Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– I am pleased that the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) has raised the question of corrosion because it has been of particular interest to me in recent weeks. My interest stems from the fact that a certain firm, whom I shall not name, approached me and said: ‘You have a car which is not perhaps of such light build as some other cars. We would like to treat the underneath body work of your car at no cost to try to prove a point’. This work was done last week. I suppose many honourable members have, over the years, thought of corrosion and its action on a vehicle that they prize and that they expect to last for some time. I remember very clearly taking action to combat the problem of corrosion when I was on a scholarship in England. I purchased a car which I intended to bring back to Australia and I took every protective measure possible. As far as I know that car is still merrily motoring along. In those days the way of tackling corrosion, particularly under-body work, was by the application of some bituminous product. With hindsight one can say that this substance unquestionably caused cracking in Australia’s extremes of weather. It hastened corrosion and the consequent destruction of the vehicle.

The honourable member for Dawson mentioned also modern plastic coatings which not only do not crack in Australian extremes of temperature but which also are far lighter. I may touch on the powerweight ratio a little later because this obviously is an important factor in the economics of building modern vehicles. If this matter of corrosion had not been raised tonight by the honourable member for Dawson I probably would have asked a question about it tomorrow, but I would have tried to base that question on the cost to the nation, particularly the public sector of the nation. I do not know, but I believe, as obviously the honourable member for Dawson does, that there is much the Government should do in relation to vehicles which are manufactured or assembled in Australia. There is an enormous field of waste in the governmental sector if we consider the fleets of Commonwealth cars which are scattered throughout the Commonwealth; the Commonwealth trucks and utilities which are operating throughout the Northern Territory and the literally thousands of vehicles on Commonwealthowned properties throughout Australia. Also affected by corrosion is the whole range of Commonwealth-owned defence equipment.

During the war many honourable members no doubt saw the Americans putting guns and vessels to sleep, as it were, with plastic coatings and cacky goo which were intended to keep out oxygen and, therefore, corrosion. One can imagine that these preparations were effective. However today there are all sorts of preparations that one can use without putting a whole fleet in moth balls. These preparations can be used while the equipment or the car is being operated. They are anti-corrosion measures. It may well be that the Government is far ahead of the likes of me in thinking of the enormous costs that could be saved by protecting the millions of dollars worth of gear it owns. In case this is not so - this is why I was interested in the honourable member for Dawson bringing this matter to light - I take advantage of this debate briefly to bring to the notice of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon), the Minister for Supply (Mr Garland) and. more particularly, to the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) the need for taking proper protective measures against corrosion in all the hardware that this nation owns.

Perhaps 1 may be permitted to branch away from my central theme. I was interested to hear the honourable member for Dawson refer to the Volvo car and to the fact that it was protected against corrosion. 1 understand that this is so. If one examines the life of motor vehicles manufactured throughout the world and not merely in Australia, it is clear that the Volvo is at the top of the list.

Mr Armitage:

– Prominent people are buying them.


– Perhaps the honourable member is a turnip and not a swede. The car which is in second place is the Volkswagen, although I am not sure that the life of that vehicle can be related to protective measures taken either underbody or overbody. Probably another factor is involved, namely, the ready availability of the Volkswagen, so it probably is not relevant to our consideration of protection of surfaces. Mr Deputy Chairman, this is really all I have to say on the matter, but I am personally beholden to the honourable member for Dawson for refreshing my mind on the subject because I think it is not unimportantIf there is any way whereby the Government can, as I am suggesting, through the public sector, and, as the honourable member for Dawson is rather suggesting, through the private sector, save the taxpayers’ money it is up to it to explore this topic and, if necessary, to do more about it than perhaps - and I cannot guarantee this - it is doing now.


– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) whether he will kindly give me an explanation of an item on page 87 of the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1971-72. Under sub-division 3, Other Services, provision is made in item 04 for financial assistance for the Melbourne-King Island shipping service. The amount appropriated under this item in 1970-71 was SI 60,000, and that was the amount expended. I note that the estimate for 1971-72 has been reduced by $70,000 to $90,000. I ask the Minister what connection this has with the construction of a new vessel the ‘Straitsman’, by R. H. Houfe and Co. Pty Ltd in the Cairns shipyards in north Queensland. It is a vessel of 1,000 tons which we arc all anxiously looking forward to coming into service some time, we hope, in February.

The subsidy given to King Island commenced in 1964-65 at a time when it was urgently needed by the Island people. I did a great deal of work with the Island authorities at the time compiling statistics which indicated that the rail and road freight rates to Melbourne from places the same distance from Melbourne as King Island is from Melbourne were certainly much lower than the sea freight rates on goods carried between King Island and Melbourne. The Government provided for the ‘King Islander”, the vessel which has provided a marvellous service between King Island and Melbourne, a subsidy which was originally $5 a ton for general cargo. That subsidy has been reduced over the period since 1964-65 to $3.35 a ton for general cargo. The Government also gave a subsidy on cattle and sheep that were carried on the ship to the port of Melbourne. It meant the salvation of primary producers on the Island and brought a great deal of stability to the Island. We have always been grateful to the Government for the shipping subsidy that has applied to the ‘King Islander’ since 1964-65. I believe that since the subsidy was introduced about $lm has been paid out.

I am concerned at a possible reduction because even though the ‘Straitsman’ is due to come on the service in February and will provide a triangular service between Stanley, King Island and Melbourne, the ‘King Islander’, which I said has provided a wonderful service over the years, will be retained in the service. As the subsidy was originally given exclusively to that vessel, I wonder whether the subsidy will be continued with the introduction of the new vessel. It is for this reason that tonight I have asked the Minister why there has been a reduction in the estimates under this item of some $70,000. We are anxiously looking forward to the introduction of the ‘Straitsman’. Port installations at Stanley have already commenced, and the service will be a tremendous boon to primary producers in the far northwest corner of Tasmania, because with 5 services a fortnight they will have access now to the Melbourne markets.

Because this is the first opportunity I have had to do so I would like to refer to a report - the Minister may know the cost of it - to the Commonwealth Government and the Government of Tasmania on a King Island shipping subsidy which was compiled by Macdonald, Wagner and Priddle. The cost of the report was borne on a dollar for dollar basis by the Commonwealth Department of Shipping and Transport and the Government of Tasmania. Quite honestly if I were the Minister for Shipping and Transport I would sue these consulting engineers for the return of any money they received for this report. The report is simply a mass of tables which anyone could obtain from various organisations in Tasmania and on King Island. There is no consideration in it of the triangular service linking King Island with Melbourne and Stanley. No consideration is given in the study to the possibility of building a port at Grassy. The report mentions firms as having been interviewed, but I know for a positive fact that they had no consultation whatever with this company. I refer to such bodies as the Marine Board of Circular Head, the Duck River Co-operative Butter Factory Co. Ltd and Hardwoods (Australia) Pty Ltd, who were listed as having been consulted in the compilation of this report when in fact the principals of those factories and the Marine Board of Circular Head, which has its office at Stanley, had no contact with this company.

I was very pleased - as a matter of fact everyone was - that Peko Wallsend, which had come on to the scene and taken over the scheelite mine at Grassy on King Island, consulted Maunsell and Partners, consulting engineers of Melbourne. This firm came up with a report recommending the construction of an all weather port at Grassy on King Island. The Government then called for a second look at the Macdonald, Wagner and Priddle report as against the Maunsell and Partners report. I am very pleased that eventually both the Commonwealth and the State Government, but the State Government in particular, accepted the recommendations of Maunsell and Partners and that an all weather port at Grassy has now been completed and the installations are under way. It was good to see the other day that the ‘Joseph Banks’ was able to get into this port and shelter.

Peko Wallsend is to be congratulated for the work it has done. It has spent $500,000 on capital equipment for the construction of the breakwater. This meant the taking of millions of tons of overburden from the mine to build a breakwater which extended from the shores some 1,600 feet out to connect up with an island. Overburden and great rocks and boulders were dumped into water up to 50 feet in depth. It was a great day when the final load was delivered across the breakwater and connection was made with the island. The port of Currie on the other side of the island has served the island very well, but the channel is far too narrow and far too dangerous. Many times the ‘King Islander’ and other ships which have used this port have been held up in there for days at a time because of the weather; it has been impossible to get in and once in sometimes it has been impossible to get out. Goodness knows how many times the ‘King Islander’ has scraped its propeller when it has attempted to get in to service the island.

In the few seconds left to me, as I did when the late Frank Mercovich passed away, I pay tribute in this Parliament to the work he did as General Manager of the Australian National Line. Briefly but very sincerely I pay tribute to Sir John Williams, who has just retired after 15 years as Chairman of the Australian National Line. I pay tribute to him for the wonderful work he did in the great advancement of the national line in this country. When he took over the Line we were spending $600,000 a year in subsidies to a private shipping company to provide a service to Tasmania. Now, of course, we have 3 vessels and a cargo vessel on Bass Strait every day.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock:

– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– It is indeed depressing to have had in this House only a few weeks ago a matter of considerable concern to the apple and pear growers not only in Tasmania but in other States of the Commonwealth and tonight to hear the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies) report to the House that the Apple and Pear Board had to reject certain offers. 1 want to make this strong comment to the Government and particularly to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon): It should not be the responsibility of the Apple and Pear Board to get angry about this matter and reject the offers, lt is time this Government accepted its responsibilities and told these pirates from overseas to go to hell and to take their ships with them. The Minister entered the debate earlier tonight and he can have a look at every one of the statements made by himself and his predecessors along with the documents prepared by the former leader of the Country Party, Sir John McEwen. On each occasion that a new vessel has entered the trade in Australia they have spoken in grand and glowing terms about what each ship would mean to the shippers and producers in Australia. In fact, they have not been worth a damn and not one member of the Government has the guts and courage to stand in this place and repeat the words used at the various ship launchings. Their speeches may as well lie on a seat in this chamber for all the good they have been.

In the very short time that is available to me I want to draw to the attention of the Committee the complete obsession of the Minister and his colleagues with industrial disputes. Let me hasten to say that such disputes are not without their bearing on costs. I will not dispute that, but it is just not good enough to say that so far as the Darwin trade, the coastal trade and the overseas trade are concerned, industrial disputes constitute the whole of the problem. Let me inform the Minister that the United Kingdom shipping lines which have formed a huge consortium put up with the worst industrial demarkation dispute in the history of shipping. The Minister is well aware of that. 1 hope that he replies to me on this but if he replies other than by way of agreement with me then he should not be the Minister because it would mean that he did not know what he was talking about. The fact is that Southampton and London were tied up for month in and month out to such an extent that the first container ship in a great many months destined for the United Kingdom-continent trade did not tie up with any United Kingdonn port. Is that not right?

Mr Nixon:

– That is right.


– I am glad you agree. They had to go into a Dutch port.

Mr Barnes:

– Rotterdam.


– Rotterdam. The Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) is right. Do not compare the industrial situation in certain West German ports with Australian and United Kingdom ports because applying in West Germany is the same understanding of industrial relations that the Government has in this country. The Government and Ministers of various departments should apply themselves to the concept that there should be a proper basis of understanding industrial relations so far as any huge technological change is concerned. Until the penny drops and the Government realises that it will have disputation in every port throughout the Commonwealth. If the Minister does not recognise this by now I suggest, if he has not relegated to the wastepaper basket all records of what he and his predecessors have said, that he take these speeches home, read them, count to ten and bite his tongue and he will once again realise that what I have said is true. The Government is heading for another period of similar industrial circumstances because at a time when the existing agreement is running out it is doing nothing but harass the trade unions, the employers and the stevedoring companies to ensure that there is not a proper agreement. This is because it wants an industrial dispute for its lousy, narrowminded political purposes. I am sorry that I cannot describe it in better language but it is the best I can do. I resume my seat on this note: The Minister cannot deny that what I have said is true. The Government and the Minister have a responsibility to the growers of apples and wheat. And mark you this, in conclusion: China did not take one grain of wheat from Australia on any Conference Line vessel. She chartered her own ships because she would not be bound by the pirates and the burglars that the Government bows and scrapes to year in and year out.

Minister for Shipping and Transport · Gippsland · CP

– The simple fact is that the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) has made my case for me. The case I put forward earlier was that industrial difficulties are making great trouble for the future success and operations of the Australian National Line. If we turn to the report of the Chairman of the ANL, who is an undisputed great figure in the shipping world, we will see that he agrees with what the honourable member for Sturt has said and what I have been saying all night. The fact is that industrial disputation is threatening the existence of the ANL and every shipping service, not only on the coast but also overseas. In his report the Chairman said that industrial unrest was causing delays to vessels and he mentioned that Tilbury closed for almost 18 months. I do not suppose there is much difference between . a wharf labourer in the United Kingdom and one in Australia. Neither has any respect for our national flag line and this is obvious from the way they have been treating it. The Chairman went on to say that considerable unrest on the Australian waterfront is disrupting terminals. I am pleased that the honourable member for Sturt agrees with the point I was making earlier.

I want to come now to more serious matters raised by the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies). He stated properly that the Commonwealth now provides a subsidy of $3.35 a ton to ensure the continuation of the service of R. G. Houfe and Company Pty Ltd from King Island to Melbourne with the ‘King Islander’. The reason for the change in the estimates is as the honourable member said himself: ‘This subsidy will cease on the introduction into the service of Houfe’s new vessel, the Straitsman’. It is expected that the ‘Straitsman’, now being built in Cairns, will be delivered in about February 1972. When the ‘Straitsman’ is introduced the ‘King Islander’ will remain in service to take stock from the Island to the mainland.

Although the ‘Straitsman’ will be operated without subsidy, Houfe’s expect the rates to be comparable with those of the ANL. It is not expected that the new Grassy port will be operational in time for this ship. That is the reason for the change in the figures mentioned by the honourable member.

The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) and, the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) raised the question of rust in motor vehicles. My understanding is that this matter was examined by an Australian Transport Advisory Council committee some years ago. It was called the Australian Motor Vehicles Standards Committee which has been replaced by the Vehicle Performance Committee. The Committee concluded that the problem in Australia was not as serious as it was in the northern hemisphere where there is snow for some 6 months of the year and the streets are sprayed with a saline solution. The rust problem is, therefore, of much greater consequence in the northern hemisphere than it is in Australia. The answer to the honourable member for Dawson is that it is a matter of consumer demand. I suppose that if people keep on changing their cars every couple of years in order to keep up with the Joneses, or perhaps I should say the Smiths, then the motor car manufacturers will not be encouraged to build with a material that will last much longer. The fact is that this matter is totally in the consumers’ hands. If they choose the sort of car mentioned by the honourable member for Angas that is a matter for them.

Mr Charles Jones:

– There is a great deal of waste.


– I agree that there is a great deal of waste, but nevertheless there is consumer demand, and that is the only way in which the demand can be met. The honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) referred to the Australian Labor Party’s policy. I have no wish to comment on Labor’s policy other than to say that many of the things which it puts forward are presently being implemented by the Government, and it seems that Labor’s policy is more or less a parallelling of the Government’s policy in most respects. The honourable member for Robertson no doubt would be aware, as would the honourable member for Newcastle, that both the National Association of Australian State Road Authorities and the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads are studying the operations of the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act and will give close attention to the needs of the community before they come back to the Government with their report on the present operation of the Act and any changes which might be desirable.

As regards road safety, I reiterate to the Committee the names of those associated with the expert group which has been established. Originally the group was under the chairmanship of Sir James Darling, but he has retired recently, and it is now under the chairmanship of Mr Justice Meares. Also in the group are Brigadier Campbell, a consulting psychologist; Mr P. J. Kenny, a surgeon; Mr P. D. Pakpoy, a transport planning and research consultant; Professor Robertson, a pathologist; Mr Solomon, a statistician; Mr Sweeney, a mechanical engineer; Mr Jack Brabham, a racing driver and designer; and Mr Cosgrove of my own Department. As I said earlier, I am expecting a lot from this expert group. It is to hold a symposium next March which both national and international experts will attend, and out of this will come some recommendations which I can take to the Australian Transport Advisory Council for consideration. The Committee will also be aware of the money which we have spent in the road safety field on several projects and on publicity. In fact, a few weeks ago we launched a series of films built around the 9 lives of Hector the Cat. These films have a great impact on children of a very young age, and I would advise any honourable members who have the time to go to the local schools in their electorates when these films are being shown and have a look at them. I think that they are a credit to the producer, and I am hoping that a great deal will come out of them.

The honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) referred to the problem of apple and pear exports. He will know that the Australian Apple and Pear Board has negotiated a capacity for the shipment of 4.7 million bushels of apples and pears at rates depending upon the amount of unitisation achieved and that negotiations are continuing for the remaining 2 milton bushels. He asked whether the Tasmanan

Premier has approached the Federal Government about fruit stabilisation payments. He has done so. The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) received some representations on this question from the Tasmanian Premier. They were referred, in the first place, to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) who had meetings with the Apple and Pear Board and the Tasmanian growers in an attempt to get their house in order. Negotiations are still proceeding for the carriage of the rest of the fruit.

There is one other matter to which I would like to refer before I resume my seat, that is, the subject of oil pollution. Recent Press reports have given considerable publicity to statements atributed to the Victorian Minister for Public Works about the intention of the Victorian Government to introduce legislation to prevent oil pollution in Victorian waters. One section of the reports says that under the proposed legislation the Victorian Minister would have power in an emergency to sink a ship if it was in danger of breaking up and threatening to spill oil in coastal waters. The claim has been made that Victoria is setting the pace in the fight against oil pollution and that Victoria’s efforts are not being matched by the Commonwealth and the other States. Such statements display a complete lack of understanding of the facts and of the role of the Commonwealth and the States and the initiative taken by the Commonwealth 1o prevent pollution of Australian coastal waters and the coastline.

The fact is that legislation was introduced in this House in March last year - more than 18 months ago- for precisely that purpose. This action followed the incident involving the tanker ‘Oceanic Grandeur’ which had been holed in Torres Strait and which posed a threat of a major pollution of our waters. The Commonwealth acted quickly - so quickly, in fact, that Opposition members complained that they had insufficient time properly to study the Bill. Accordingly, the Government agreed to repeal the legislation within 6 months and to introduce a fresh Bill. This was done, and the new Bill - the Navigation Bill (No. 2) 1970 - which made provision for preventing and dealing with the effects of pollution by oil was passed in November last year. This Act gives effect to many of the principles contained in 2 international conventions drawn up at Brussels in 1969, but because these conventions have not yet come into force internationally there are some ships to which the Navigation Act is not able to be applied - for example, intrastate ships.

The provisions of the Act enable the Commonwealth Minister to issue a notice in writing on the owner of a ship from which oil is escaping or is likely to escape requiring him to take such action as is specified to prevent or reduce the extent of pollution. If, for example, it were considered necessary to require a ship to be sunk in order to prevent the escape of oil, this action could be specified in the notice, and if the owner failed to comply the Commonwealth Minister could take action to have the requirements of the notice carried out. These provisions do not apply, however, to a ship not registered in Australia unless the ship is in Australian coastal waters. Thus we have the situation that the Commonwealth is able to take action in respect of Australian ships other than intrastate ships, and also in respect of foreign registered vessels in Australian coastal waters. At a recent meeting with State Ministers in Perth I drew attention to the fact that Commonwealth legislation does not apply to intrastate ships and I suggested that State Ministers should consider introducing complementary legislation, modelled on the Navigation Act, to fill that gap. I understand that the proposed Victorian legislation is still in the drafting stage but that it is being modelled on the Commonwealth Navigation Act. If this is so, it would seem that the lead given by the Commonwealth is now being taken up.

During the 12 months to the end of March, 305 oil spillages were detected on the Australian coast, but many of these were quickly and easily cleaned up by the offending vessel or by the port authority. I point out that 134 of these incidents occurred in Victoria, but in 69 cases, most of which could be classed as minor in nature, the offender was not detected. Thus there were in Victoria 65 incidents where the offender was detected. By way of comparison, in New South Wales 111 pollution incidents were reported and in 86 cases the offender was detected, there being only 25 incidents, again mostly minor in nature, where the offender was not detected. If we consider ship calls as a measure of the potential number of oil pollution incidents we find that in 1970-71 there were 6,470 ship calls at New South Wales ports and only 3,600 at Victorian ports. One would expect to find that there were considerably more pollution incidents in New South Wales than in Victoria, but this was not the case. Thus, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that a significant proportion of the incidents in Victoria was caused by small fishing boats and launches whose movements into and out of port are not included in shipping statistics and which could never conceivably cause such a major oil pollution that sinking of the vessel would be warranted. One thing that Victoria could do to overcome minor pollutions would be for the State to look at the provision of reception facilities, such as mobile tankers, at all wharves so that oily water can be discharged as cargo is being onloaded. As far as Victoria is concerned, even the provision by the State of drums at wharves for oil disposal would be an advantage.

Let me turn now to the matter of penalties for oil pollution, which also were mentioned in recent Press reports. This matter also was raised by me with State Ministers in Perth in the context that the present maximum penalty of $2,000 for deliberately discharging oil is .too low and should be increased. There was unanimous agreement. But a proposal by the Victorian Minister to set a minimum fine of $2,500 and to raise the maximum fine to $100,000 was not acceptable to other State Ministers. They felt that in many cases a minimum fine of $2,500 would be extreme and should be set by a court, and that a maximum of $50,000 would be appropriate. In order to give effect to the decision of the Ministers to increase the maximum penalty it will be necessary to amend the Pollution of the Sea by Oil Act 1960 and have complementary legislation passed by the States. At the same time it is proposed to amend the Commonwealth legislation to give effect to amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of the Pollution of the Sea by Oil which have been agreed to by the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation.

One amendment forbids the discharge of oil within 50 miles of the Great Barrier Reef. This amendment was proposed by

Australia and passed by the recent meeting of the IMCO assembly which I attended in London. Prior to this amendment the convention prohibited the discharge of oil within 50 miles of the nearest land. This could have resulted in oil being discharged in the immediate vicinity of the Barrier Reef which extends up to 145 miles from the Australian coast. I expect to be able to introduce the necessary amending Bill during the autumn session of the Parliament. When it is considered that Commonwealth legislation on which the proposed Victorian legislation is being modelled was introduced more than 18 months ago and that the Commonwealth took the initiative in calling the State Ministers together to discuss the need for similar State legislation and other matters in relation to oil pollution, 1 fail to see how it can be seriously claimed that Victoria has been setting the pace. I would like to thank the various honourable members who have taken part in the debate tonight on the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport.

Mr FOSTER (Sturt)- Mr Chairman, I wish to make a personal explanation.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock:

– Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?


– My word. During the course of my speech - made by the fact that the Government has restricted the time for debate - the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mi Nixon) implied that I had suggested and supported his contention that the ills of shipping and the position that it is generally were wholly and solely the result of industrial disputes. My explanation is that 1 said it had its small part to play. At no time did I imply that industrial disputes were the whole problem in regard to shipping. 1 want to make that abundantly clear to the Minister once again.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Department of Foreign Affairs

Proposed expenditure. §89,913,000.

Mr Les Johnson:

– The situation in Pakistan is easily the most critical issue in foreign affairs in the world today. An outbreak of hostilities between India and Pakistan would put such a strain on those countries’ alliances that the chance of confining the conflict would be almost non-existent. The conglomerate situation must be viewed in the context of India’s favourable relationship with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Pakistan’s ties with the United States of America and China. Despite the disinclination of either India or Pakistan to go to war, the tinder box of Bangla Desh and the economic burden of 10 million expatriate refugees from East Pakistan might be self-combustionable. Here then is a highly charged potential catalyst for human disaster which could envelop half the world. Already the Pakistan crisis has reached proportions of human tragedy which exceed those that took place in Vietnam.

No country, not even Australia, could escape the serious consequences of such a conflagation. Yet our efforts to allay the impending crisis have been both insipid and insignificant. Our promise of aid to the refugees of the order of $5im is not even sufficient to pay the bill for the relief programme for 2 days. India’s crushing burden of expenditure on refugee relief is $3m every day, 7 days a week, every week. At this point of time there is no end in sight. Clearly, India must unburden herself of this obligation or face economic ruin. The prospects are that India could use the vehicle of war as a means of unburdening herself of the obligation. Our own Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) wandering the world in search of a cause to lift his declining status, has not responded to the issue of his era. At home his Cabinet, in a cavalier and careless manner, flirts with a dangerous episode in Cambodia.

Abroad the Prime Minister cringes for the sanctification of the ANZUS Treaty. The Prime Minister’s inevitable destiny is that the greatness being thrust upon him will successfully elude him. Here was his chance as a Commonwealth leader to help resolve the crisis between 2 Commonwealth countries - India and Pakistan. I would remind the Committee that it would not be without precedent for an Australian leader to give leadership in great world events. I refer to the former leader, Dr Evatt, who prevailed in the United Nations and gave leadership in the Middle East situation, in the creation of

Israel, and in the area north of Australia when Indonesia was fighting for its independence. When all is said and done, if the Commonwealth does not stand for the right of self-government it stands for nothing at all. If it does not stand for the right of self-government among members of the Commonwealth then degeneration will set in and the Commonwealth will come to be a meaningless entity.

Our Prime Minister should have advocated the establishment of an international commission to find ways of gaining independence for Bangla Desh. He should have joined Mrs Gandhi in her international crusade for the restoration of democracy for the 75 million people in East Pakistan. After all, when the elections took place in that unhappy country the Awami League succeeded in gaining 167 out of 169 seats. It was the will of the people that the six-point plan which substantially represented a plan for self-government, sovereignty and independence, should prevail in Pakistan. If war breaks out the S5im Australian aid programme will be overspent 100 times or more before the conflict ends. Yet the Australian Government has hardly stirred itself on the basic issue to which I have referred. The desperate plea by Mrs Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India, for international initiatives has fallen on deaf ears. Her call is for the restoration of the will of the people in East Pakistan. Only this course can facilitate the return of 10 million refugees to their homeland.

There is no capacity on the part of the world to meet the increasing burden of the refugee programme. Australia’s aid of $5£m is an indication of the declining enthusiasm to meet this enduring task. As I have said, the only real solution is to work and strive for the political solution of the problems of that country. Only this course can enable the 75 million people to resume a normal life and regain selfsufficiency. In other words, the people of East Pakistan will have to get back to their farms, to till the fields and to work in the factories, because at this point of time the country is at a virtual standstill. I remind honourable members of the current Press reports which show the critical nature of the situation in Pakistan. Insurgent warfare is already aflame. I quote from the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 29th October in which it is stated:

The Indian Prime Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi, said today that there were about 150,000 rebel East Pakistanis fighting for an independent Bangla Desh.

Recently when I attended the international conference on Bangla Desh in Delhi and subsequently visited the refugee camps around Calcutta I found people from many parts of the world who were intent on establishing an international force to help the people of East Pakistan regain independence. The article continues, referring to the Pakistanis fighting for independence in Bangla Desh:

They are believed to comprise 50,000 former members of the Pakistan Army or para-military organisations and 100,000 young volunteers.

As you walk through the refugee camps you see thousands of people calling out the war cries of Bangla Desh, with their fists raised, calling for independence and sovereignty and for the release of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who, as honourable members know, has been detained without trial in Pakistan. No Commonwealth country has a licence to engage in this basic denial of freedom, this denial of the right of trial, and in all the other indecencies which are taking place, without expecting other Commonwealth countries to speak out about them as they are matters with which the Commonwealth is supposed to be concerned. Year after year we go off to our Commonwealth conferences. Sometimes I wonder whether we are talking with our tongues in our cheeks. The Australian Government, being one of the traditional and seasoned members of the Commonwealth, has an obligation in this matter which it has not yet fulfilled. Although there has been a call to arms by India and Pakistan a state of indifference prevails around the world. We are learning from the various Press releases that are coming to hand that both countries are fast putting themselves on a war footing. The ‘Australian’ of 10th November 1971, under the heading ‘India and Pakistan prepare for war* states:

The Indian Government has prepared a law allowing it to comandeer private transport for defence us:, according to officials in New Delhi.

The ‘Australian’ of 8th November gives an account of Indian and Russian transport planes running an airlift to build up spare parts stockpiles for India’s fleet of Russian MIG21 and SU7 jet fighters. It goes on to say that Indian defence chiefs say that Mrs Gandhi was not indulging in diplomatic hyperbole when she said in New York that India has reached the limit of her endurance in trying to cope with the influx of refugees from East Pakistan. Meanwhile, a special envoy from West Pakistan has just returned from China and has said unequivocally that China is prepared, poised and ready to assist West Pakistan if it becomes necessary to do so. In the face of this situation, I believe that the Prime Minister has failed on his international journey. I indict him because I believe the consequences for Australia and the Asian region are enormous. If our Prime Minister is intent on doing the right thing he should instruct our representatives in the United Nations to seek the appointment of an international commission and otherwise to secure a full scale debate on this matter so that some light can be thrown on it and the lone Mrs Gandhi - a great and fearless leader - can be assisted by other members of the Commonwealth.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Corbett) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.

Diamond Valley

– This debate on the estimates for the Department of Foreign Affairs is an opportunity to look at where the representation of the Department is situated and the consequences that flow from that representation. Australia is well represented overseas by people of the highest quality. Those with whom I have come in contact are very well trained and have a good knowledge of the countries to which they are attached. I was particularly interested recently to look at Australia’s representation in Africa, because it is a part of the world where Australia’s interest is new but which may well be of increasing importance in the next decade. Australia has a High Commission in Kenya which is also accredited to Uganda. We also have a High Commission in Tanzania which is accredited to Mauritius but not to Zambia, which adjoins Tanzania. Obviously we do not have any representation in Zambia. There are more Australians in Zambia, as I understand it, than there are in Tanzania. Further, in the problems of southern

Africa and the way in which they will be solved, Zambia will take just as important a part and is just as significant a country as Tanzania.

It is important that Australia has close contact with the southern and eastern African countries because events in that region are of considerable and growing concern to Australia. I suggest that at the earliest opportunity Australia should either accredit its High Commission in Tanzania to Zambia or, what would be more preferable, establish a new and separate High Commission in Zambia. It is clear that Uganda is going to become a significant country in east Africa. It is therefore important that we have close relations with that country. Accordingly, I would suggest that Australia should upgrade its representation in Uganda by establishing a High Commission there, instead of maintaining the lesser arrangement we have by the accreditation of our High Commission in Kenya to Uganda.

I make these suggestions for two reasons. Firstly, Australia has interests in Africa that have probably not yet been fully appreciated. It is true that those interests are not as substantial as our interests in the nearer Asian region or the Pacific Ocean region. But we are a littoral state of the Indian Ocean and have a mutual interest in that region with the Indian Ocean littoral states of Africa and those in the immediate hinterland. Events that occur at least in those parts of Africa and in the Indian Ocean itself are of vital significance to Australia. This is especially so of the naval and military activity in the region, which shows more signs of building up than it does of decreasing. Again there are in Africa potential fields of increased trade for Australia that have not yet been fully exploited. The second reason is that Australia has an interest in contributing to more stability and peace in the southern and eastern African regions and can take some part in bringing the parties together in useful contact and dialogue. I believe that this is an exercise where Australia can take an initiative in international affairs. If that initiative is successful, it could well contribute very favourably to Australia’s standing in the international community and contribute to peace and stability in the region, which is in itself in Australia’s interest.

The potential for dialogue in Africa is there. I myself hold no brief for South Africa, but it is to the credit of South Africa that it has stated several times that it is prepared to have dialogue with the African states to its north. It has also said that it is prepared to discuss at such meetings any matter at all, including, as I understand it, internal policies in South Africa. This is indeed a long way for South Africa to have gone though it is disappointing that some of South Africa’s neighbours have declined this offer by South Africa to engage in dialogue. That is one reason why the climate is improving. Secondly, there are signs that at least some of the Francophone countries of Africa are prepared to engage in dialogue with South Africa and open up some tentative contacts. Countries such as Cote Ivoire and Haute Volta and African statesmen such as President Houphouet-Biogny have seen that it is fruitless berating South Africa and adopting an over belligerent stand against her when the mutual interests of all African countries and their people are much better served by contact, trade, recognition and discussion with South Africa and with each other.

This is a fertile field where what is needed now is some encouragement by countries outside Africa to bring the protagonists together. Australia can lake an initiative in this field and should be prompted to do so because of the interest that Australia has in peace, stability and economic progress in the region. This discussion, of course, raises inevitably the relationship between Australia and South Africa. Australia, I would suggest, is in a unique position to affect events in Africa. We have close relations with South Africa through diplomatic exchange, expanding trade and a common cultural background. At the same time, we have good relations with those other countries in Africa with which we have contact. We are widely regarded as being a country affected and influenced by our presence in Asia, and our contact with Asian countries. This puts us as a European country in a unique position with advantages not possessed by other European countries. To preserve this position and to use it to advantage, as I have suggested we should do, we must be over careful not to become too identified with the maintenance of the present situation in South Africa. To do so would be to jeopardise the opportunities we have of being a mediator or an agency of dialogue in Africa and could well react adversely in our relations with some Asian countries and some of the countries of Africa other than South Africa. I say that principally because there are great changes coming about in South Africa. Even those people who hold themselves out as protagonists for South Africa would be foolish to deny that. Just as other countries in Africa realise that there is a lot to gain by contact with South Africa, so at the same time is South Africa realising that it is in her own interests to change some of her own internal policies and to work for closer contact with the other countries of Africa. There is a re-thinking in South Africa of tt» basic policies applied in that country and this tendency is evident as much in the Government and the ruling party as anywhere else. Much of the re-thinking is for economic reasons and an awareness that the present policies can retard the economic growth of the country in a very competitive world.

I do not wish to exaggerate the dangers to Australia, but I believe that there is at least a potential danger that if we are not cautious we will become identified with the support and approval of policies in South Africa that the South African Government itself may abandon in time. If that were so, Australia could jeopardise its relations in not only Africa but Asia as well. I think the source of that potential danger comes from the Government’s present policy towards Africa which can best be described as a low profile, middle course policy; a policy of polite restrained relations with the black African countries and quite an intimate relationship with South Africa, protesting at the same time as we properly do that we find apartheid abhorrent. The trouble with such a policy is that it is open to interpretation as being a policy of passive support at least for South Africa. Consequently one often sees statements like the one made by the President of the Supreme Council for Sport in South Africa who has described Australia as unfortunately defying world opinion and, to use his own words ‘as South Africa’s white friend and greatest ally’. So that is the way the policy can be interpreted, unfortunate though it may be.

Again, 1 think we are sometimes mesmerised by the argument that South Africa’s own policies are an internal matter for South Africa and not for us. Of course, we cannot interfere in the internal policies of other countries, but an internal policy can become so notorious and divisive that it becomes an international issue, and when it becomes an international issue a country such as Australia must take a stand and sooner or later Australia will have to take more positive a stand on these divisive’ international issues of race and racism. Our present low profile, middle course policy is at least open to the interpretation that we are siding with the forces of minority governments in Southern Africa. 1 believe that we should not continue such a policy but rather that we should recognise that we have wider interests than those represented solely by South Africa and adopt a positive policy which accurately reflects the mainstream of international events.

I was particularly interested to see in the foreign affairs statement made by the Minister in August of this year where he analysed the changing situation of relationships in the world as it is today, especially where he said that this situation offered new changes and new opportunities. He went on to say that we need policies that are sensitive, flexible and imaginative. It is extremely difficult to articulate a proper policy for Australia to adopt towards South Africa and towards other southern African countries, but I suggest that this at least is an area where we might well apply what the Minister has said: namely, that we should be looking for sensitive, flexible and imaginate policies. I suggest that the emphasis should be on ‘flexible’. Putting it at its very least, perhaps it is time we had another look at the attitude that we take to the various African countries.


– In speaking to the estimates for the Department of Foreign Affairs I think it is fair to comment on what is potentially the most dangerous situation in the world today, that which exists in Pakistan and India. This matter has been raised in this Parliament a number of times, but obviously not nearly often enough to acquaint the Government of the real seriousness of the situation. On 2 occasions in this House I attempted to move a motion dealing with the level of Australian aid. Finally a subsequent amendment which was moved- indicated the level of aid which was thought by members on this side of the House, and at least some members on the other side of the House, to be desirable. Most Government supporters chose to reject that proposition which was that the level of Australian aid should be equal to approximately $1 for each Australian, or approximately $13m. The present level of Australian aid is $5.5m, which is considerably less than satisfactory in view of the very critical situation which exists in that area and the tremendous human need which exists and is growing daily.

One of the things which must be recognised is that if countries such as Australia do not contribute then the Indian people have to foot the bill. This means that their development projects are set back, that greater pressures are placed on the budget of that country and that the dangers - if dangers exist in that area - grow. We are just in the process of disengaging ourselves from a disastrous exercise in Vietnam. We are in the process of engaging ourselves in an equally disastrous exercise in Cambodia. But how much more serious, if the Australian Government really believes that communism in Asia is a threat to Australia, is the threat that the democratic government of India could collapse under the weight of the human and economic calamity which is created by the problems of East Pakistan and the flow of refugees from there into India? It might be worth while if some Government supporters think about this.

If in 1966 the Government could blandly claim in election material that the North Vietnamese going into South Vietnam posed a threat of invasion to Australia then possibly it could think about what sort of a threat could exist if the economy of India is not able to sustain the type of strain which is being placed upon it by this crisis. The democratic form of government then becomes threatened. This is a real possibility and one which might well be worthy of some thought on the part of the Government. There are already 500 million people in India in a serious state of underdevelopment and there is a serious lack of economic capacity in that country which is faced with the need to find something like

S 1,200m a year for refugees. Our aid of S5.5m seems to be a pretty paltry level of assistance on a human level, and if we use the more material proposition of insurance, which was what we were using to justify our presence in Vietnam, then it is a pretty poor premium to be paying to ensure the future security of Australia if the Government ever seriously believed its own propaganda about Vietnam. If the Government is too miserly - and it appears to be - to give substantial cash contributions to India then possibly it can kill 2 birds with one stone. Country Party supporters may be interested in this proposition.

At the moment one of the major requirements needed to cope with the refugee problem is blankets. Blankets are made out of wool of which we have plenty. It has cost us millions of dollars to store the wool we have in Australia. Australian mills are not working. There is plenty of manpower and the capacity to manufacture blankets exists. This material method of giving aid might lend itself to the Government’s thinking if it is not prepared to give the cash which is desperately needed. Blankets would be likely to provide some relief to the refugees and some relief from our own built-in economic problems. I ask the Government to reconsider the aid which it has provided. I believe it is a reasonable request to be made by any member of this Parliament and is one that should be made by every member. The present level of aid is unsatisfactory and should be greatly increased. No-one can doubt the need.

The other side of the India-Pakistan coin is the real possibility of conflict between those 2 countries. Australia is involved at least by default. Pakistan is a signatory to the SEATO treaty, a treaty which the Australian Government never fails to mention when it feels it is politically desirable; a treaty which apparently did not get an airing during the recent visit of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) to the United States. During the tyranny in West Pakistan the Australian representatives sat with the Pakistani representatives at a SEATO council meeting but apparently they did not feel that the matter was worth raising. Possibly there was a lack of foresight on the part of the Australian Government. But the fact of the matter is that one of the allies to whose aid we are treaty bound to come has suppressed a government led by Sheik Mujibur Rahman in which the Awami League won 167 out of 169 seats in East Pakistan and in fact obtained an absolute majority of seats in the elected parliament of the whole of Pakistan. Someone made a mistake when he drew the electoral boundaries. Had he seen the Liberal and Country Parties in Australia, that sort of situation would not have developed. But he made the mistake and the wrong government was elected. So the army was sent in. That is not a sort of situation that Australia should tolerate. It is a situation in which we should make far stronger representations than we are making. I note that some statements are being made overseas by the Prime Minister. These statements seem to be more in conflict each day.

One other matter that I will raise in the short time left to me is the problems that confront Australia - I think through lack of initiatives rather than through initiatives - arising out of Britain’s proposed entry into the European Economic Community. I note from the news bulletins and Press tonight that the Prime Minister supposedly is patching up the mess that was made of Australia’s negotiations on the Common Market subject at an earlier time. We can only take that to mean that the Prime Minister is saying that the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) either was incompetent or just did not do the job he was sent to do. I suggest that if that is a fact the Prime Minister should have said so at the time. What is more important is that, as Australia’s vital interests were involved - it is too late to start trying to patch up things now; the boat has already sunk as far as Australia is concerned - the Prime Minister himself should have been in London making sure that Australia’s viewpoint was put. My own opinion is that the Deputy Prime Minister went to London 6 months too late and that he traded, as the Government so often does, on the hope theory. The Prime Minister has gone there now to patch up the cracks - but, as I said, after the boat has sunk as far as Australia is concerned. All the talk in the world will not alter the things that have already been signed. Britain is going into the Common Market. The terms for Australia are less than Australia would consider satisfactory. The Government is now trying to negotiate something for New

Guinea, lt is just a little late, lt is not unusual for the Government to wake up a little late. It has just done so on Vietnam.


– It is a great pity that a nice fellow such as the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) must try to pontificate on matters of which he has not the slightest knowledge. His concluding comments regarding the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) and the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) indicate the brainwashing that honourable members opposite have undergone. I wish to draw attention to one comment that he made. He spoke of our commitment in Vietnam and went on to say how equally disastrous our exercise in respect of Cambodia is or will be. This is just a continuation of the charade that honourable members opposite have been entering into over the last few days. Certain members of the Opposition - the few who still have in their hearts an allegiance to the principles which the now almost defunct, genuine Australian Labor Party was once so ready to fight for and cherish - must be appalled and saddened at having to share the shame and dishonour which certain policies of the new left wing pro-Peking radicals have brought into the Party and which blemish, distort and finally will destroy the spirit and heart of this once great party.

Most people in Australia are fully aware of .this attitude which, year in and year out, day in and day out, is shown in a clear, bitter and critical censure of the United States of America, an antagonism to the Americans and a distortion of their motives, but at the same lime a cringing sensitivity to any action that may prepare people to counter Communist aggression and intrusion into South East Asia. If we make any effort to contribute to the training of troops there, it is immediately condemned. The people of Australia are acutely sensitive to this. Honourable members opposite have some sort of an airyfairy idea that they are making ground with the Australian electorate. 1 wonder whether they have read the 2 recent by-election results in Queensland. In one by-election a group of people in Maryborough, who are synonymous with the average Australian Labor voter, were so impressed by the performance of these people that there was a 17.5 per cent swing against the so-called Labor Party.

Mr King:

– Who won the by-election?


– The Liberal Party won it in a photo finish with the Country Party. Why did the honourable member ask that question? In the Merthyr by-election - in a by-election we normally see a swing against the government - we saw a 4 per cent increase in the Liberal vote. As if that was not enough, what happened in the Northern Territory recently? We hope that in the very near future the Northern Territory will become a State. It has been traditionally a Labor stronghold and is still a Labor stronghold if we regard the Labor Party as what it once was. The people there still have the ingredients of what we once knew as the Labor Party. What happened there 3 weeks ago? The Labor Party sent its radicals there. It sent its new look, so-called Labor people there. They were running in and out of the Territory. Their influence was so effective that the Country Party now has 5 members of the Legislative Council instead of 4; there are 3 Independents; and there are 3 others. They are 3 Labor Party members. I almost forgot about them. The anti-Labor vote was increased considerably.

The point to which I am leading - I am speaking on foreign affairs - is that all this has been produced because the people of Australia are concerned that the security of this country would be very much in jeopardy in the hands of this group of people opposite. Let us concede that somewhere in the chain of communications something broke down. Is it a tragedy that the Prime Minister may not have been informed for a week or so of a particular event? Of course it is not. The salient factor is that we are carrying on a policy, of which we have made no secret since we were committed in that part of the world; that is, to give every possible assistance to these people who are resisting Communist aggression. Now that we have withdrawn from Vietnam, honourable members opposite lack that argument. We are not now committed to a war. So we propose to leave people there to train the soldiers of Cambodia. Honourable members opposite do not like that. They are completely sensitive to it. Where is the old spirit of the Labor Party? On the other side of this chamber there are men who are typical Labor men and who were trained by the old Labor Party. But the old idea of ‘stay in and fight’ apparently is a thing of the past. They cannot fight this intrusion by left wing, pro-Peking radicals.

Perhaps the most important facet of our foreign relations is our relationship with Indonesia. Fortunately, that country offers a complete bulwark against Communist infiltration, aggression and intrusion in this part of the world. Honourable members will notice that I keep saying ‘Communist’. There seems to be a habit of avoiding this term. We are becoming complacent and are not watching the intrusion of this ideology. While I was at the United Nations I had the opportunity to mix fairly continuously with the representatives of Indonesia. They have a great desire to build the closest possible relationship with us in every possible respect. My contribution to this debate is to suggest most strongly that we exploit every possible avenue - far in excess of what we are doing at the present time - to create the closest possible relationships with that country. We should make a contribution through our educational system. Our young people should be trained in the language. They should learn the culture. They should learn about the thinking of these people, whose law is based very much on Islamic law, so that they will bc able to build up a genuine understanding not only of the political ideology of these people but also the way in which they think and the way in which they act in creating relationships with us. I urge the people of Australia and the governments in Australia to endeavour to create the closest possible relationship with Indonesia.


– In dealing with the estimates for the Department of Foreign Affairs it is notable that Government speakers are avoiding the problems faced by refugees from East Pakistan. I take this opportunity on behalf of the thousands of people in my electorate and the people throughout this nation to record their and my own personal condemnation of this Government for its miserable pittance of S5im to help the refugees from East Pakistan. The crisis facing India and Pakistan is the frightening prospect of a war. If such a tragedy should occur the effect would not only be felt throughout India and Pakistan but certainly throughout the rest of the world. Since the Pakistan army launched its reign of terror on

East Pakistan on 25th March almost 10 million people have fled into Indian territory. Beyond question this is the greatest single movement of people across any national frontier in history. Official statistics number the refugees at 27th October to be 9J million. The average rate of refugees crossing the border each day is 33,000. The total is now about 10 million. The rate of flow will continue for several months for two or three very good reasons.

Firstly, a major famine is imminent in East Pakistan. This will force more refugees into India. The projected estimate is that the current food shortage will affect some 25 million people. Secondly, there is abundant evidence that East Pakistan authorities are pursuing discriminatory policies designed to force Hindu Bengalis to leave. There are reports of organised and widespread confiscation of property of Hindus and the re-distribution of it to Moslems. Thirdly, the operation of the Bangla Desh guerillas - -Mukti Bahini- - will increase. This will generate further refugees. The Hindu Bengali population of about 13 million before the conflict will suffer most and will opt, of course, to go across the border. What is astonishing is that despite the overwhelming evidence by the Indian Government, foreign diplomats and journalists, and a host of United Nations officials, the Pakistan Government persists in maintaining the fiction that only about 2i million people have come from East Pakistan, and further that their flight is attributable to Indian propaganda. One could almost be forgiven for reaching the conclusion that the Australian Government based its aid on the Pakistan assessment, hence the miserable $5.5m rather than what it ought to and must be, $12m.

The Indian Government estimated that the cost of maintaining 8 million refugees for 6 months is $533m or about $3.2m a day or about 13c in Australian currency for one refugee each day. The Aid India Consortium met in Paris on 26th October - the Minister knows this - and it accepted the estimates prepared by the World Bank in co-operation with the Indian Government that $700m was needed to defray the costs incurred by India in maintaining the refugees during the current financial year. It was noted by the Consortium that approximately $200m has been pledged by foreign governments but only some $20m has been delivered. That figure has been more or less static for the last few months. The Consortium urged that the 14 member governments should increase their aid. Almost half of the $200m is to come from the United States of America. The bulk of it is being channelled through United Nations agencies.

Let us examine the impact of this situation on India itself. Last June, in the Rajya Sabha, Mrs Gandhi stated:

When any country has to face a large influx - not an influx over a long period, but a sudden influx - of nearly 6 million people, I would like to know of any country in the world which has . faced even one-tenth of this situation before. If even 10,000 refugees arrived in any European country the whole Continent of Europe would be afire. We are trying to deal with’ 6 million human beings who have fled from a reign of terror, who have come wounded, with disease, with illness, hunger and exhaustion. And they have come to our country, which is one of the poorest in the world.

India has a gross national product per capita of less than $90 per annum. At least one-third of all rural families live below a poverty line of 100 rupees, or $12, a month for a family of 5. The Indian economy was on the point of recovery but the cost of refugees in the financial year 1971- 72 represents, in fact, one-sixth of the normal annual development expenditure. What economic alternatives faced the Indian Government? It was forced to make a desperate effort to raise finance by imposing a range of tax increases which will hit hard the commercial and the wealthy. The other economic alternative was to cut back government expenditure and reallocate development funds - a course which already it has been obliged to adopt, but one which is loaded with potential political’ and social dynamite.

West Bengal had been described as a vast rural slum’ before the terror. Calcutta, with a population of about 7.5 million people, is the eighth largest urban agglomeration in the world. The slum population is estimated at almost one-half of the entire city population. I remember reading in the English ‘Geographic’ as far back as 1966 that it was estimated that 600,000 people lived in the streets of Calcutta without any shelter. Added to the immensity of this overwhelming density of human suffering and poverty is vast economic pressure. The potential political explosiveness of the situation created by the civilian invasion of West Bengal lies largely in the added raw material that it provides for political extremism. The honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) should realise that in recent years Communism has developed in the context of war. West Bengal is both home state and revolutionary laboratory for the so-called Naxalite movement. What Yahya Khan has inflicted on India is defined best by Clausewitz as follows:

What Yahya Khan hai done lo India has been the conduct of aggressive warfare by other means, because no orthodox attack upon a neighbouring Stale could possibly be more debilitating. Apart from the immerse tost of providing fond and shelter for such a vast number of people, the social and political tensions that it causes are barely tolerable and will very soon become intolerable.

When the intolerable is reached, it tragically will lead to war. John Grigg, a correspondent for an English newspaper, addressed the following decisive questions to Mrs Gandhi. He asked: ‘If you are forced into a war with Pakistan, how quickly could you win it?’ She answered: Nobody wins wars nowadays’. He asked: But surely the Israelis won in 1967?’ She answered: ‘They won a battle certainly, but have they really won the war?’ This is a solid piece of basic philosophy which the Australian Government should have applied to the tragic Vietnam commitment.

India is a country with immense capacity for patience and tolerance, and Mrs Gandhi is a very exceptional leader. It was at least a merciful providence that the Indian general election was over before the reign of terror commenced. If her efforts to thrash out a peaceful solution fail, war is inevitable. However terrible it may be for India, in my humble belief it will be even more so for Pakistan. In my view the alternatives to war are: Firstly, Yahya Khan should commence negotiations immediately with the imprisoned Bangla Desh leader. Sheik Mujibur Rahman, to seek a political settlement, the resettlement of the refugees and the restoration of democratic government in East Pakistan. Secondly, there should be a complete cancellation of aid to West Pakistan. Thirdly, unless the world community is able quickly to contribute the $700m a year to maintain the refugees, India’s own resources will run out and the situation rapidly will get completely out of control. I believe this Government has a clear political and moral obligation to face up to its responsibilities. I will admit that in terms of political pressure it is extremely limited in what it can do, but in terms of aid, of its resources, it has a very important and crucial role to play. Why is it that between 1965 and 1967 an Australian Government of a different ilk but the same pattern was able to allocate S33m io India? In the year 1966 it was able to allocate SI 7m. Why the miserable pittance this occasion when, in fact, the position has far wider world ramifications? We can allocate only $5.5m. I call on the Government to make a worthwhile and meaningful contribution. That contribution ought to be and must be $I2m.


– The summary on page 39 of the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1971-72 which is before the Committee, showing estimated expenditure or the Department of Foreign Affairs, indicates a total expenditure of $89,913,000 for 1971-72. This represents an increase of approximately $8,500,000 over the actual expenditure for last year, 1970-71. An examination of pages 40 to 43 of that document shows the wide field over which this money is to be spent. I note that there is increased provision for cultural relations overseas and for relief of destitute Australians abroad. Some areas of expenditure show a marked increase over the expenditure for 1970-71. For example, there are contributions to the United Nations, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation - UNESCO as it is generally known - the South Pacific Commission, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Our contribution to OECD rises from $18,400 to $500,000 which demonstrates the Australian Government’s readiness to assist to an increasing extent in this important field. As the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) pointed out in August in his Budget Speech, Australia was ranked third in the world in 1970, for the fifth year in succession, by the Development Assistance Committee of OECD, a fact of which I think we can be proud.

Over the years Australia has faithfully paid its membership dues, as assessed, to the United Nations. We have also paid our share of the cost of peace-keeping forces. Some nations have been unwilling - perhaps in some cases unable - to do this. The major offender in relation to unpaid contributions is the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, a foundation member of the United Nations, a member of the Security Council and one of the great powers of the world. France is another offender. I believe that the United Nations has shown weakness in not insisting on the payment and in not enforcing article 19 of the Charter in those cases where failure to pay is not due to conditions beyond the control of the member nation concerned. The retiring Secretary-General of the United Nations, U Thant, stated in his final report a few weeks ago that the United Nations must very soon face the fact that it is a bankrupt organisation which needs at least $60m to pay its immediate debts. If the recalcitrant nations paid what they owe to the United Nations its financial plight would not be so serious today. One international writer says:

As he bows out this December after a record 10 years in office, U Thant leaves an organisation that is not only insolvent, but which failed most of its lofty ideals.

Unhappily, this is true. Perhaps if there had been a greater willingness to cooperate for the benefit of the world at large the position today may have been very different. I believe it is unfair to heap the blame for substantial failure on the head of the Secretary-General, although no doubt he must accept his share of responsibility for the administrative and financial side. The same writer whom I just quoted also referred to ‘the General Assembly becoming in the last decade the creature of small developing countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America’. He goes on:

If is now possible for 83 States having only 10 per cent of the world’s population and paying only 5 per cent of the United Nation’s budget to pass important resolutions by the required two-thirds majority. Time after time these countries built up majorities for resolutions which they had no power to enforce.

No-one can claim that this state of affairs is conducive to sound, constructive decisions in the interests of world peace. Certain nations have used and are using United Nations as a forum for their own propaganda and a vehicle for their own self- interest, thus betraying the high purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter. The double standards manifest in the United Nations reflect no credit on that organisation. It pretends to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, yet many member nations pay no regard to the human rights of the 14 million Nationalist Chinese on Taiwan. Quite unceremoniously this fine country of civilised people was recently expelled from the United Nations, and we read that some of the African delegates jigged for joy at the expulsion. What we do not read is that the United Nations expresses any concern for the millions of human beings who are enslaved behind the Iron Curtain; least of all is anything done to assist them or to minimise their plight in any way. As far as the United Nations is concerned it seems that their plight is not even recognised.

I deplore this double morality in the United Nations. The desperate situation of the Pakistani refugees has undoubtedly touched many hearts throughout the world. I believe there is widespread approval of Australia’s action in increasing our aid to these refugees as announced by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) recently and also of the Government’s assurance that it will continue to keep the position under constant review. I believe that this statement was widely welcomed in the country. Let us hope that a general settlement can be arrived at between India and Pakistan and the tragedy of war averted.

Page 42 of the Appropriation Bill that we are now considering sets out proposed allocations under the Colombo Plan, covering projects, experts and equipment, and special aid io Indonesia, our nearest neighbour to the north. I believe Australia can be proud of the part it has played under the Colombo Plan, of which it was the sponsor. Australia has also played a major role in relation to the South Pacific Commission. Our proposed contribution to the South Pacific aid programme has been increased from just over $500,000 in 1970- 71 to $lm this financial year.

In the Dyason lecture delivered a few weeks ago at the University of Queensland Lord Trevelyan, a distinguished British diplomat, said he saw a growing role for Australia in the maintenance of a peaceful and economically viable South East Asia and that Australia’s role in the region is bound to increase as Australia develops into a strong economic force. I do not need to emphasise that Australia is a large land mass but it is of course a relatively small power. We have a population of only 12$ million people at the present time. Our resources are not unlimited; they are finite. Our future is closely bound up with that of other countries in our region. Though historically and culturally of the West, we have a golden opportunity, situated geographically as we are, of helping to bridge the gap between East and West. I believe this is an important part of Australia’s destiny.


– The time for debating in the Committee tonight is the short period of 10 minutes for each member. It therefore follows that none of us can devote as much time to any of these great and complex problems of international affairs as we might wish to. I would like to say something about some of the speeches that have been made by members on the Government side earlier tonight. In the first place I would like to congratulate the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown) on his very fine speech supporting the upgrading of Australian representation in Africa. Zambia and Uganda were the 2 places he mentioned in particular. I also had the opportunity of visiting East Africa recently, but I visited neither Zambia nor Uganda. I agree that Australia must play a more important role in East Africa. The sorts of arguments put to us by the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) tonight are symptomatic of the priorities whereby Australia works out how much interest it should take in various parts of the world. Again we heard of the communist threat from the north, pro-Peking radicals and such emotive phrases.

Much has been made of the assistance being given by the People’s Republic of China to the building of the Tanzam railway. It is the biggest Chinese aid programme anywhere, and I think it is the only aid programme of any significance in Africa. It is winning the Chinese a lot of credit in that part of the world not, I think, because it has been overly political but because the people taking part in the programme have been well trained. Many of them were trained to speak Swahili before going to Africa. I should think that that would be no mean task in China. We discussed this with people in Kenya and asked them how they felt about the Chinese. They said: ‘They will pick you up and give you a lift in their trucks and that is something no white man would ever do’. It is obvious that in some ways the Chinese have an advantage over Western countries when they mount an aid programme in Africa.

I would like to pay a tribute to the very fine job being done by members of the Department of Foreign Affairs throughout the parts of the world I was recently able to visit, particularly Africa. The numbers of our representatives there are fairly small and the work load is very great. Perhaps this matter would more appropriately bc raised when discussing the estimates of the Department of Trade and Industry, but I would like to say that our trade representative in the office of the High Commissioner at Nairobi handles trade matters for the whole of Africa, apart from white South Africa and Rhodesia. I was amazed that one man was expected to cope with all those problems and also to develop Australian trade for the whole of Africa.

I support the idea that we should pay more attention to East Africa. We are concerned about problems in the Indian Ocean. It is obviously in Australia’s interest to keep the area under close scrutiny. We could do this best by developing good relations with the countries of black Africa. 1 listened with interest to what the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown) said about South Africa. One can sympathise with problems there, although I must say that I do not agree with the policies of the Government of South Africa. 1 could not detect the change that the honourable member saw there.

There are some heartening signs but all the evidence is that any change taking place will be very slow. I am afraid that there just will not be enough time. I agree with the role we are playing in our relations wilh South Africa although there is no doubt that the Springbok tour of this country earlier this year did a great deal of harm to our reputation overseas, and a great deal of harm to South Africa’s reputation overseas. I was particularly interested in Great Britain to read the news reports from Australia that were featured. Notwithstanding the satisfaction that any nation has at seeing its sportsmen or sportswomen doing well overseas, the price that South Africa and Australia paid for the Springbok tour was much greater than most of us would care to admit.

Mr Donald Cameron:

– Perhaps you could say the same about a visit of the Trotsky Ballet.


– I am not altogether sure about the Trotsky Ballet. I was not dealing with cultural matters, with which the honourable member is familiar, but with foreign affairs. I would like to comment on the contribution made by the honourable member for Ryan (Mr Drury) to this debate. In his thoughtful speech he spoke about millions of people enslaved behind the Iron Curtain and of double morality. One of the big problems we have to contend with is our future relations with the People’s Republic of China. The double morality has not been entirely on the other side in international affairs because we have taken the view until quite recently that Taiwan represented China. Our view is now changed. Our Government is prepared to accept that the Government in Peking should be recognised as the de facto Government of Mainland China. We on this side of the House welcome this change in the Government’s attitude because this has been our policy since 1954. But the Government is now saddled with having previously recognised the Nationalist Chinese administration in Taiwan as being the representative of China. One should give credit to Sir Robert Menzies, a previous Prime Minister, because in all the time that he used the threat from the north and about China sweeping down between the Indian and Pacific Oceans when he was mustering votes for the ballot boxes, he never raised our representation in Taiwan to the level of Ambassador.

We are now in the position where, if we are to develop relations with the People’s Republic of China and have an Australian Ambassador in Peking in the future, and a Chinese Ambassador in Canberra, this

Government will have to withdraw from its position of recognising Taiwan and accrediting an Ambassador to the Nationalist Chinese in Taiwan. This will not be a very palatable move for the Government to make. I fully agree with the idea that we should support the United States in its guarantee to the people of Taiwan that they will not be invaded from the mainland. I know that the United States has said it is prepared to support the Nationalist Government in Taiwan by force of arms, which is something we have not said that we are prepared to do, but we sympathise with their dilemma. I hope that the Department is not just following along on the coat tails of the United States to see what will happen when President Nixon goes to Peking and what he may be able to negotiate because all the evidence is that China will not agree to bettering its relations with Australia diplomatically while Australia continues to recognise Taiwan.

I get no satisfaction out of rubbishing anybody and I am certainly not rubbishing the people of Taiwan. Within certain limits they have done a remarkable job economically but theirs is not the Government of China. Our Government is in a position where in the near future it will have to retreat from the unreal position into which it has taken this country. We have, of course, a great number of other problems, such as the deterioration in the relationship between Australia and the United States in recent times. It was not so very long ago that the Australian government was able to say to the world and to say very convincingly to the Australian electors that it had an intimate relationship with the United States and that it knew beforehand what the United States intended to do. It is obvious that this is no longer the case. The trust which existed has broken down. We know of the recent embarrassment of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) when the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) announced his leadership of an Australian Labor Party delegation to China. The Prime Minister came out and attacked this move in the old cold war terms we hear from people like the honourable member for Kennedy. On the very next day the visit of President Nixon to the People’s Republic of China was announced. I am sorry to say that I cannot see any evidence in the newspaper reports that the recent visit of the Prime Minister to the United States has done anything to raise the standard of relations between Australia and the United States, but I hope the Government gives this matter a high priority because good relations with the United States are still important to this country and will remain so in the future. It is obvious that our relations with the United States have deteriorated greatly in recent times.

Progress reported.

page 3293


Overseas Investment in Australia - Appointment of Governor of South Australia - Wine - Political Parties - Finance - Northern Territory - Sydney Airport

Motion (by Mr N. H. Bowen) proposed:

That the House do now adjourn.


– Recently the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) drew attention to the sale of land in the Simpson Desert area to overseas interests at 20c an acre. More recently honourable members have become aware of attempts being made by Sir William Gunn to sell further Australian real estate to American interests. In the latter case Australians were to have been precluded from purchase and were informed of their right to invest only after much public criticism. This evening I wish to draw to the attention of the House a promotional pamphlet being circulated in the United States of America through Honolulu. The sheet is distributed by a corporation which euphemistically calls itself the Australian Land Corporation. It operates from regional offices at 1150 South King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96814. On the obverse side of the sheet is printed in bold print the words ‘Australia Land of Golden Opportunity’. The recipient on opening the sheet is presented with the following message, and I will read it in detail. It says:

You know what happened to Hawaii land values. . . Experts are predicting the same great potential for Australian

It shows a picture of a jet plane leaving Honolulu and heading directly for Western Australia. It continues:

Investment opportunities are now fantastic! Just 6 hours from Hawaii by, new supersonic jet.

Follow the leader! Australian land is priced today . at what Hawaii land cost just a few years ago!

Then the following points are made:

After long careful research, over 1,500 large United States corporations - including General Motors, R.C.A., Kaiser Steel, Shell Oil, Chase Manhattan Bank, Remington-Rand, King Ranch of Texas, Mobiloil - have already invested almost two billion dollars in Australia.

Many successful Americans - including Art Linkletter, television personality; Dillingham Corp. of Australia Pty Ltd; David Rockefeller, president of Chase Manhattan Bank; Clare Booth Luce, actress and former US Ambassador to Italy; Anne Baxter, motion picture star . . . and many, many others - have been thoughtfully, investing in Australian land.

Then this pamphlet emphasises these words:

They know where top profit potentials are!

Now, for the first time, the tremendous profit potentials of Australian land are being offered to the American public at low investment costs . . . you, too, can buy big, rich Australian acreage - just three miles from beautiful sandy ocean beaches, near a major seaport.

You can buy good Australian land for low down and low monthly payments.

Australian Land Corporation.

Over fifty years of professional real estate experience.

Member of Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce.

The address is then given. It has the effrontery to print the following:

Both Hawaii and Western Australia are seaboard states. Both enjoy similar sunny climate. Both are developing at record rates! Australians are our kind of people - a nation on the moye! Many, Australians refer to their fast-growing country as the ’51st State’ of our Union!

Sir, I believe that statement is insulting to the Australian people and that it is not true. I believe they hold the fear that if this Government continues in office it will eventually occur through the sale of all our land and all our resources. I believe that no Australian thinks of our country as being the 51st state of the American Union. This is a further indication of the need for this Government to take heed of the trends that are developing in this country, to recognise that we are selling our country at incredibly low rates, that we are losing control of our resources and even of our agricultural and city lands. To ‘ illustrate this point, I refer honourable members to the publication titled ‘Annual Bulletin of Overseas Investment 1969-70’, which was compiled by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics in Canberra. We find that in 1960-61, overseas interests invested $lm in Australian primary industry, and that in 1969-70 that figure had increased 66 times to S66m. We also find that total overseas investment in companies in Australia increased from $375m in 1960-61 to $740m in 1969-70.

In January 1968 there was presented in Canada a report by the Watkins Commission which had been set up by the Canadian Government to investigate all aspects of foreign investment in that country, its effect upon the country and what policies needed to be implemented in order to meet the effects of overseas investment upon Canada’s growth and Canada’s policies. There is not sufficient time for me to refer to more than a short passage in the concluding section of the report. The main concern felt by the Commission is reflected in this section. Foreign ownership of resources leads to the situation in which the government loses control of a wide area of policy making and industries are owned by foreign interests and have their policies directed by company heads who have no interest in the advancement of the country in which the industries are established; they are interested only in the wider field of their own companies. The concluding section of this report, under the heading ‘A New National Policy’, states:

The old National Policy served Canada in its day. as an instrument of nation-building and a means of facilitating economic growth. The challenges have changed and a new National Policy is required.

That is equally true in Australia. It continues:

The nation has been built, but its sovereignty must be protected and its independence maintained. A diversified economy has been created, but its efficiency must be improved and its capacity for autonomous growth increased.

This is as true for Australia as it is for Canada. The report continues:

It is this spirit which informs the present proposals. While each individual proposal deserves careful consideration, taken together, these proposals are designed as a programme which is realistic and attainable both from an economic and political viewpoint. Increased economic interdependence among nations is recognised, but also that a stronger national economy is needed to function effectively in a global setting. The movement within Canada toward stronger provincial authority, is also recognised, but this does not alter the fact that foreign ownership is a national issue that goes beyond regional concerns. The growing mutual dependence of nations today suggests finally that Canada’s foreign policy and global responsibilities can be made more effective by sustaining a healthy national independence.

I commend to honourable members this report titled ‘Foreign Ownership and the Structure of Canadian Industry - Report of the Task Force on the Structure of Canadian Industry’, lt is in the Parliamentary Library. As I said, the report was brought down in 1968 by a commission which was set up to consider all the ramifications of foreign ownership in Canada. I believe that a similar situation has arisen in Australia, and I think that we ought to learn from the experience of Canada and not wait until foreign investment reaches in Australia the proportions that it did in Canada, which necessitated the setting up of this Commission. I believe that this is one area in which the ground work has been done, and I think that we ought to benefit from it.


– Tonight I want to deal with an attack that has been made by a member of this House on the person who has been selected by the South Australian Government to become the Governor of South Australia. I read in the Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ a report that Sir Mark Oliphant has been attacked by the Liberal member for Boothby (Mr McLeay). I wish to take the honourable member for Boothby to task, although he is not present in the chamber, because of the terms which he has used to refer to Sir Mark Oliphant. He has said that Sir Mark is identified with the Left and that he is not fit to be the Governor of South Australia because of the fact that he is politically committed. His criticism is based on the fact that Sir Mark Oliphant is a member of certain associations. Why does not the honourable member for Boothby stand up and say that he was in Russia recently and drank so much vodka that it was running out of his bootlaces? Yet, the honourable member has seen fit to attack the appointment of a most eminent Australian and a most eminent South Australian to the position of Governor of South Australia.

Hardly one word of criticism has been heard of the appointment of this very competent person. Rather have most Australian newspapers throughout the day applauded the appointment of Sir Mark Oliphant. The honourable member for Boothby who, I repeat, is absent from the chamber, insults the monarchy when he sees fit to criticise this appointment in the way In which he has. Only today have all honourable members received in their offices this booklet of some 30 pages entitled The Monarchy in Britain’. Australia gets a mention in the back of this book together with Canada, Barbados, Uganda and other countries. That is the only reference to Australia in the whole of this document. It has been produced at some great expense. I hope that our taxpayers did not pay for it.

I wish to make some reference, if I may, to a speech that was made recently by your leader, Mr Deputy Speaker. I refer to the leader of the ‘Flash 8’ - that is, the Country Party in this House. I call that Party the ‘Flash 8’ because at the last general election its members obtained about 8 per cent of the total vote. The fact is that your leader, the Acting Prime Minister (Mr Anthony), went into South Australia and was at a show at Clare which is one of the wine growing areas of that State. While at that meeting, he said that while the Australian wine industry was having some problems, these problems were only associated with producers of lower quality, cheaper wines sold in bulk. Manufacturers of good quality wines had little to worry about.

I hope to goodness that the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) who represents wine growing areas in South Australia does not go off on that note when he comes to debate the matter which he has on the Notice Paper. The Acting Prime Minister deserves to be condemned for saying this type of thing. It was only yesterday that Australia’s 2 greatest wine producers and principal growers complained bitterly once again at the attitude of the Government with respect to its excise on this industry.

Those remarks fetch me to another matter. The leader of the Country Party - your Leader, Mr Deputy Speaker - frightened of the fact, I understand, that the Government will suffer defeat at the next election wants an early election. He did not tell the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) about his wish. However, the Prime Minister got the word somewhere because I see that he is bleating off from London, or somewhere, that we can expect an election in March. If he is an honest person, he ought to return and make Aus tralian history - the only history that he will ever make as a Prime Minister - by seeking a double dissolution of both Houses of the Parliament. He should let the people unravel the shocking mess which he and his immediate predecessors, along with the Country Party, have placed this country in.

The Acting Prime Minister goes off in the Press and says that he is sending letters to ask more than 50,000 Country Party members throughout Australia their views on the future of the Party. The Acting Prime Minister is so bereft and barren of ideas, as is the Party which he leads, that he has to send out 50,000 letters in the hope that the Country Party will get a few replies to give it some form of guidance for the future. Here is a Party, which forms a coalition government after receiving 8 per cent of the total votes cast at a general election, the leader of which is writing to 50,000 of his Party’s hard core supporters - the Party still hopes that it has that number of supporters - asking them to give the Party some guidance. This is done at a time when we are in the middle of a debate on the Budget for this financial year. What a great cop it must be. What a great example of positive leadership from the adjunct of the Government - a Party which receives only 8 per cent of the total votes cast in a general election - to send out 50,000 letters asking for guidance. I wonder whether the Country Party sent a letter to Sir Mark Oliphant to seek his guidance. It always used to invite him to its functions. It would bc interesting to see whether his opinion was sought and if so, it would be interesting to note that gentleman’s reply. The Acting Prime Minister and Leader of the Country Party wants to ask these 50,000 people whether the Country Party ought to continue in coalition with the Liberal Party. The Country Party should have enough nous to wake up. If it is to do any good for the country and for the people it represents its representatives in this Parliament - whether they have been elected by a low percentage or not - ought to have enough courage to make up their own minds as properly elected and so-called responsible members of this Parliament. Did the Country Party have to write 50,000 letters? Imagine the Labor Party dropping 50,000 letters to the trade union movement to seek guidance. That would lift the roof off this place.

This is what the Country Party has done. It wrote 50,000 letters seeking guidance as to whether it should continue to support a Government which is at such a low ebb as this one that has been sitting on the treasury bench for the last . 20 years. The Leader of the Country Party also asked whether the Country Party should become an independent centre party. What did he mean by that? Mr Deputy Speaker, I ask you as a member of the Country Party, or any one of your colleagues over there, to get on your feet after I have finished and tell us what is meant by a centre party in relation to responsible government in this country. The Leader of the Country Party asked whether the Party could best assure its future by intensifying activity in the country and large towns. The Country Party has brought them all to ruin. Now that it has brought them to ruin it starts to send letters saying ‘Well now, mate, what do you think we ought to do about you?’ The right honourable gentleman then asked whether the Country Party could assure its future by broadening the scope of its political base by fielding candidates in metropolitan areas. So the Country Party has given the country blokes away for dead, has it? That is what it means. It has sold them down the drain in 101 ways and the Leader sends out a letter like this when he is in office. After having sent the country people to the wall he says: ‘We write you off. You are not worth anything to us. We will see whether we can get in with the industries in the metropolitan areas.’ In the same way John McEwen gave away sheep and went in for cattle. That is typical of the Country’s Party’s lousy attitude and its irresponsibility to the country electorates of this Commonwealth. The Press report of the Country Party’s letter stated:

Liberal Party officials today expressed surprise at the questioning of the future of the coalition at such a high level in the Country Party.

I do not know what they are expressing surprise at. The whole of the electorate is expressing disgust at the way they have carried on here in this Parliament at least since I have been associated with it. The Country Party ought to be condemned for sending out a letter of this type. Nobody denies a parliamentarian the right to seek the views of his electorate, but to seek the views in the manner in which the Leader of the Country Party has in this matter is no more than disgusting.

I do not know who paid the 3½ grand for stamps, but let me make a casual observation. Seeing that the Country Party got 1 million quid recently from Dalgety and the other wool barons, no doubt they paid for the stamps. What are they doing today? They also are deserting the rural areas. They are going into other forms of business. They have raped and taken all they can out of the country. They have taken all they can out of the rural producers, and the small fellows particularly. Measures were passed in the House the other week and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) who was at the table at the time is now overseas. He failed to answer the accusations from honourable members on this side of the House about the recent measures to protect the wool industry and the wool grower. In fact no grower in Australia can make direct application for assistance under those measures. All they meant was that Dalgety would have first bite of the cherry and, if that was the whole of the cherry, too bad for the rural producer. That is what is happening and it will continue to happen.

So the Country Party has deserted its electorate. Dalgety is reaping the benefits from the recent passage of the Bill through this House. The Country Party has got money from them for electioneering funds - $lm, I understand, stacked into safe deposit boxes. Now Dalgety is deserting the rural areas by going into tourism and God knows what else. Just how dishonest can a political party be with the people it ought to represent? By sending out these 50,000 letters it is virtually saying: ‘To hell with the rest of the electorate, to hell with the Commonwealth, to hell with responsible government. We have had it. We can see it is a sinking ship and we are going to be the first one to dive out.’


– This afternoon in the Sydney ‘Sun’ the financial editor issued a report in relation to the Northern Agricultural Development Corporation Ltd as follows:

The public share issue offered by Northern Agricultural Development Corporation Ltd, closed last night - 50 per cent undersubscribed.

Prospectus was released last September for an issue of 2.6 million SO cent ordinary shares at par.

The Australian public equity would have been almost 37 per cent, but its interest now is anybody’s guess.

Underwriting brokers . . . could place the shortfall anywhere - this includes outside Australia.

This particular development was started by Mr Bryce Killen who has an enviable reputation in relation to development in this country. He was very anxious, and proclaimed his anxiety, to keep this property and the development with which he was anxious to proceed in Australian hands. It was indeed a contrast to the announced intention of Sir William Gunn. Just the other day there was an interesting comment in the ‘Australian’ which stated:

The main difference between the two floats apart from the fact that Mr Killen is making his offering in Australia and Sir William is making his offering in America is that Mr Killen is not expecting an easy time raising his $1.3m in Australia, while Sir William is with his $7.6m in America.

Another difference is that, dollar for dollar, NADC looks a far superior buy.

Here we have a situation where an Australian attempts to interest Australian capital in a large link for northern development, but apparently his efforts have not proved successful. The reason why I raise this matter on the adjournment tonight is that the ‘Sun’ financial editor stated also:

Perhaps Federal MPs Grassby and Everingham-

I am glad to see my colleague in the chamber - might save the day with their Australian Heritage company - if they are ‘fair dinkum’.

Admittedly Australian Heritage has idealistic motives, but what about making a more ‘realistic’ investment in NADC rather than the Simpson Desert.

If Americans were going to take up the shortfall - wouldn’t there ever be a clamour from the locals to keep it Australian.

Of course there would be. At the present time there are several million acres of land in northern Australia on the market, as well as on the American market and several other markets around the world. What is the situation in relation to the Australian Heritage concept? This was designed particularly to conserve. It is in the process of being formed to establish a park area, a sanctuary or a wilderness area. This is the concept. As the ‘Sun’ financial editor indicated, it had this basis of action. Large numbers of Australians - certainly more than 4,000 - have so far shown their interest in holding a bit of Australia. They are showing an earnest of the nation’s determination in bulk to hold its own assets. We come down to a practical problem in regard to this development. Do not let us forget that in this development we have an area ot land - I shall give the exact area so that the House will know exactly what is involved - in which it is planned to clear 300,00 acres. The Bureau of Agricultural Economics has estimated that in that region a fully developed small property should return about 6 per cent on invested capital. It was conceded by many specialists that although there were risks in the Willeroo promotion there were also potential rewards.

The point I make tonight is that here we have an organisation which was floated to develop, with Australian capital and enterprise, land and also some handling facilities. According to the report at the present time there is a prospect that, because of the shortfall of interest, the property may now go to overseas corporations and to overseas capital. This is surely an obvious example, together with other examples in the north, of an area in which the Commonwealth has a responsibility. Its responsibility is clear, too. It goes beyond one project and ohe particular example of development. Its responsibility is in fact to ensure that these enterprises are examined in the light of Australia’s interests.

If an enterprise was involved here which the Bureau of Agricultural Economics indicated had prospects for success and people were already involved in it but it seemed to have stalled, should there not be some Commonwealth and national initiative if it is determined to be desirable from a national point of view? That is the point I wish to make this evening. I should think that it would be the duty of the Government to examine this situation now,, otherwise there will be more selling overseas in the manner of Sir William Gunn of Australian land and Australian enterprise. Here we have a particular problem and a particular project. I do not see anything wrong with a little national enterprise in this field. I am saying that it should be in fact examined now by the Commonwealth

Government. It should call for reports as ti) what has happened. The Commonwealth Government should be in the position of asking what it is intended to do with the shortfall and whether there is any suggestion of going outside Australia to raise the balance of the capital. If it is established that this is a sound and viable proposition, even though there may be a degree of risk in it, there should be a national initiative to lake up that shortfall.

If the Commonwealth Government does not proceed in that way it will not inject the confidence into this kind of development which is needed at the present time. There is a great desire to proceed but what is in fact happening is that the nation is saying that it does not really matter. As a matter of fact, the Government has failed to show any initiative whatsoever in these matters. Any vacuum which is left is going to be filled. That is what has happened. It has happened in relation to the exploitation of every national resource that we have. A vacuum has been left and because nature abhors a vacuum it is filled by overseas interests. Then we wake up in the morning and say: ‘Is it not a terrible thing?’ It should be made clear that the responsibility is ours. It is no use complaining if 60 per cent of the Top End goes to the United States, if considerable other areas are developed by Japanese capital, if Hong Kong capital comes in and takes a further share in another area if in fact we turn our backs on the developed project and say: Let us just see what happens’.

That is a policy of doing nothing. It is a policy of bankruptcy because we are in fact just adjourning, if you like, our interests until we may come back at some time in the future and decide that we will take an interest in our own heritage. But it would be too late then. If the report of the Finance Editor of the Sydney ‘Sun’ of this afternoon is correct - and I have no reason to doubt that it is - we have a situation of which the Commonwealth should take note now and, as an earnest of its desire to hold some part of our natural resources and our assets, it should immediately call for a report on where the shortfall is likely to be offered in the present situation. It should be ready and prepared to enter into negotiations in this way for a piece of our own country. There is nothing wrong with that.

These are basically sound people. They have some good prospects. They have a piece of Australian land that has been cleared for development. However, some risks are involved. We have a situation here where there is a need for national initiative. I would suggest with great respect that the thousands of people who want to demonstrate their concern from the point of view of the little man are not in a position to go into the pastoral business, the shipping business or the meat processing business. That is not their intention. But what they do say is that they are prepared in their own small way to make a contribution for no profit and no return but simply to demonstrate their desire that the Commonwealth Government - the national government - should take a positive interest in the development of the nation’s resources and prevent further alienation of them, particularly in instances like this where it is obviously not necessary.

Thursday, 11 November 1971

Northern Territory

– I would like to put the record straight concerning a few remarks which have been made by members of the Australian Labor Party who visited the Northern Territory recently. I refer particularly to the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman). I am glad to see that he is in the chamber. I refer to the question he asked the Minister for the Interior on Sth October concerning meningitis. The question implied that a drilling rig was available at Napperby Station but was not used because of a dispute between the management and the Government. He implied also in that question that the Government fire fighting tanker was used to cart salt water for the lawns but was not used to cart fresh water. The honourable member was wrong in both cases. On 7th October the same gentleman made a personal explanation on the same subject. He said:

May I add that since then I found out that the owner of Napperby Station, Mr Shepherd, is now the campaign director for the local Australian Country Party candidate.

The honourable member is wrong in what he says there also. On 4th November the honourable member for Prospect, continuing this maligning and misrepresentation

Mr Hurford:

– Did Shepherd authorise the campaign literature of Greatorex?


– Yes, but he was not the campaign manager. These simliar tactics having failed earlier to get his protege into the electorate for Stuart, the honourable member for Prospect went on to say on 4th November:

When I was there some 2 or 3 weeks ago for the election campaign for the Legislative Council present also were the Minister for the Interior, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair), the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) and any other Australian Country Party Minister who could not get a VIP plane. . . .

The honourable member is wrong again. Mr Anthony went in a VIP plane; the others went by ordinary airline flights. The honourable member went on to say in the same debate:

  1. . Ansett Airlines of Australia … is a Liberal Party organisation . . .

That is not the case in the Northern Territory because he may remember that the Australian Labor Party candidate for Elsey is the agent for Ansett Airlines.

Mr Armitage:

– Who owns Ansett?


– I am saying that the Australian Labor Party candidate for Elsey was the Ansett agent. So that belies what the honourable member said. He went on to say that Connair is a Country Party organisation. This is wrong. The managing director was described as being a member of the Country Party. This is wrong. The honourable member went on to say:

In am sure that Mr Connellan, apart from supplying free transport for Country Party candidates in all kinds of local elections in the Northern Territory . . .

This is wrong. I am just saying that what the honourable member said in this House is wrong. I admit that this is only a .ninor point, but referring to the member for Victoria River in the Legislative Council the honourable member for Prospect said that he defeated an independent candidate. He omitted to mention the fact that the member for Victoria River defeated a Labor Party candidate. No doubt the policy of the ALP man differed from the Labor Party policy of the honourable member for Prospect, so he probably ignored him.

During the debate on the estimates for the Department of the Environment, the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford), following the same line of embittered, misinformed-

Mr Hurford:

– I did not speak on tha Environment Estimates.


– Well, speaking recently on the Appropriation Bill the honourable member said at page 3097 of Hansard:

Similarly, who picked up the bill for the Minister for Primary Industry who, on the same day . . . travelled from Darwin to the Katherine races where he spent the afternoon in the company of 2 local Country Party candidates in the Legislative Council elections-

That is wrong - together with the honourable member for the Northern Territory. . . .

That is correct.

Mr Hurford:

Mr Macfarlane was there.


– Yes. But the honourable member for Adelaide said:

I have made attempts to find out this information elsewhere without success.

He obviously did not make any attempt at all, but it was a very wrong implication.

Mr Hurford:

– You are wrong.


– You obviously did not make any attempt at all. Finally, I refer to the remarks of the honourable member for Prospect on 3rd November in the debate on the Estimates for the Department of the Interior. He said:

What I am saying is a criticism of the neglect of the Northern Territory over many years.

His remarks are typical of the efforts of the Labor Party 6 years ago.

Mr Scholes:

– I rise to order. Is it in order to refer to a debate which is still before the House? The honourable member is dealing with remarks made during the debate on the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1971-72.


– Order! There is no substance in a point of order.


– To refute what was called neglect in the Northern Territory I will run through proposals that have been referred to the Public Works Committee in the past 16 months. These include: Engineering services to subdivisions of Racecourse West, Morris Soak and Bradshaw Drive at a cost of $5. 25m; augmentation of the electrical supply system to the central city area, Darwin, at a cost of $3.05m; augmentation of the town water supply at Alice Springs at a cost of $2. 4m; engineering services in the district of Dripstone at a cost of $10.76m; and a primary school at Wagaman at a cost of $875,000. This is what is being called a neglected part of Australia. Further works include: The development of the port of Darwin at a cost of $ 19.03m; an electricity supply power station at Alice Springs at a cost of $2. 5m; a community college at Darwin at a cost of $4m; redevelopment of the hospital at Alice Springs at a cost of approximately $13m; the Yirara residential college for Aboriginal students at a cost of $2. 9m; and development roads for the Northern Territory at a cost of $5.4m. Mind you, this is a neglected area! Why these people who criticise do not go and have a look around I do not know. They are just a mob of parrots.

There is also a 3-year improvement and master project for the Stuart and Barkly highways at a cost of $15m, and primary and pre-schools at Bradshaw in Alice Springs and Nakara in Darwin at a cost of $2.475m. Referred to the Committee for report are projects which include the Stokes Hill Power Station Stage 5 extension, the central zone sewerage scheme in Darwin at a proposed cost of $3. 2m, the Sanderson subdivision in Darwin, and the Katherine sewerage scheme at a proposed cost of $1.3m. These people that the Labor Party sends to the Northern Territory get publicity in the Press but come down south and make these remarks and, as I have proved tonight, almost everything they say is wrong. I warn the people of the Northern Territory, the people of the rest of Australia, and the members of this Parliament against these people who go to the Northern Territory and then make these utterly wrong and mischievous statements.

Mr Les Johnson:

– I am sorry to keep the House at this late hour. I want to make a sort statement about the Government’s consideration of a second airport for Sydney because the sites at present being considered include the Royal National Park, which happens to be in my electorate but more significantly is a sacred ground to the people of Sydney. I was surprised to receive, I think today, a Press release issued jointly by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) and the Minister for Local Government and Highways in New South Wales, Mr Morton, MLA. The effect of it is that a special interdepartmental committee made up of representatives of the Treasury, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Works has decided to narrow down to a very short list 4 possible sites for Sydney’s second airport. The sites are Richmond, Somersby, Duffs’ Forest and Wattamolla. Wattamolla happens to be part of the Royal National Park.

Mr Martin:

– A beautiful spot.

Mr Les Johnson:

– It is a beautiful spot.

Mr Armitage:

– We do not want it at Richmond.

Mr Les Johnson:

– If anyone is concerned with any of the other proposed sites he can speak for himself. It is my prerogative to speak for my constituents and their interests. This is not the first time 1 have done so. An earlier proposal was to locate Sydney’s international airport at Towra Point which at that time was in my electorate. I caused there to be a very resounding indication of public feeling on this matter to the extent that the then Prime Minister, on the eve of his departure for overseas gathered together all of the local Liberal candidates in the region and made a declaration to the effect that Towra Point would not be considered as the site for Sydney’s international airport. That was a very great achievement. Many thousands of people gathered together in what was the biggest meeting ever held in the SutherlandSt George region.

I am not prepared to stand idly by as another threat looms up which will affect the lives of the people in my constituency as well as the people in the electorate of the honourable member for Cook (Mr Dobie). In addition, this proposal could very adversely affect the public interest at large if, in fact, there is to be an intrusion into the Royal National Park. The inclusion of Wattamolla in the short list of possible sites for Sydney’s second airport will provoke widespread hostility. The Wattamolla area in the Royal National Park is a popular bushland and seaside picnic area used as a retreat by thousands of Sydney residents each week-end. Any attempt to alienate this or any other part of the Royal National Park for development would be widely regarded as governmental vandalism. The Minister for Civil Aviation and the New South Wales Minister for Local Government who jointly made the announcement that Wattamolla was under consideration by the Commonwealth interdepartmental Committee, should issue a ‘hands off’ instruction immediately. Both the Minister and the Committee are out of touch with public opinion by even considering the rape of the Royal National Park. Development of an airport complex would mean the destruction of hundreds of acres of natural bushland and drive wildlife from the area. When all is said and done, Sydney is growing at such a pace that it takes on a city the size of Canberra every 2 years. The noise of aircraft and motor vehicles would combine to desecrate the entire environment of one or the State’s great tourist attractions.

Sydney is already desperately deficient in natural bush areas and its requirements will increase with foreshadowed population growth. The Sutherland shire which is in close proximity to the Royal National Park and which now has a population of 150,000 is expected to increase to a population of 250,000 in the foreseeable future. I am sorry that I cannot tell the Minister for Civil Aviation personally, because he is in another place, that the Sutherland Shire Council and the Council of the City of Greater Wollongong are certain to vigorously oppose any alienation of the Royal National Park. As federal member for the area in which the Park is located,

I can assure the Minister for Civil Aviation that public opinion will be successfully organised to prevent any such scheme proceeding in the Park area. Let me give him this warning: It is very doubtful, even if the Wattamolla site were approved, that workers would be prepared to contribute to the destruction of their environment by making labour available for this project. I have little doubt that if the Wattamolla site is recommended by the Government the Trades and Labour Council of New South Wales will encourage the placement of a job embargo on this project.

The Queen has lent her patronage to the Park. If necessary she will be petitioned to intervene. I understand that His Royal Highness. Prince Phillip, has become the President of the Australian Conservation Foundation. I intend, if necessary, to enlist his aid in this matter and to communicate personally with him to test his sincerity in taking on this important role which gives him the prerogative of protecting Australia’s environment. If he fails on this matter-

Mr Grassby:

– He should resign.

Mr Les Johnson:

– He should resign. If he fails to fulfil the apparent obligations in regard to these matters, 1 believe that the Australian Conservation Foundation will require him to tender his resignation. Only a ministerial statement excluding Wattamolla from the list of possible airport sites will placate the rising public anxiety on this matter. I hope that I will not have to speak on it again. I hope that my raising the matter in the House tonight will cause a Government spokesman to make an announcement tomorrow indicating that the Government is not intent on the destruction of the Royal National Park by the development of Sydney’s second airport there.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 12.17 a.m. (Thursday)

Canberra: Parking at New Hotel (Question No. 4429)

Mr Enderby:

asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:

  1. Have surveys been carried out to estimate the number of vehicles that will be parked on and around me site of the new hole) being erected in London Circuit, Canberra, as a result of the hotel being located there.
  2. If so, what do the surveys reveal.
  3. What ratio exists between the parking area set aside on the site and the maximum number of vehicles that can be expected to be attracted to the hotel.
  4. How does his ratio compare with ratios recommended by responsible town planning bodies.
  5. Is it a fact that the hotel will generate traffic and cause traffic congestion.
  6. If not, is it considered that no traffic congestion and shortage of parking space is likely to occur because of the location of the hotel on this site.
Mr Hunt:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Studies on this matter have been carried out.
  2. The studies indicate that up to 380 cars may need to bc accommodated in public areas, in addition to the 132 cars for which parking provision is made on the hotel site.
  3. The ratio is approximately 1:4.
  4. It would compare favourably with ratios used by other town planning bodies for city centre sites.
  5. The hotel will generate traffic but not necessarily traffic congestion.
  6. To meet short term demand by the hotel, a temporary parking area with a capacity of 260 cars is to be constructed in Section 6, City, to the north of the hotel site. The remainder of the demand will bc met in the existing parking area inside London Circuit.

This high level of demand will occur mainly in the evening. During the day, the new parking area will be used to meet the expected increase in office parking demand from the western sector of City. Ultimately the excess hotel demand will be met by a proposed parking structure inside London Circuit serving not only the hotel but the City in general.

Income Tax: Share Trading (Question No. 4451)

Can he supply figures showing the net result to the Taxation Commissioner of section 26a of the Income Tax Assessment Act as it relates to share trading, including separate figures for income becoming taxable and for deductions due to losses, etc., for each year from 1962-63 to date.

No statistics are available of the income tax resulting from income assessable under section 26 (a) of the Income Tax Assessment Act, or of the loss of revenue resulting from deductions allowed under section 52 of the Act, in respect of profits relating to share trading.

Social Services (Question No. 4457)

What is the estimated additional annual cost of paying age, invalid and widows’ pensions and sickness benefits to persons who have qualified for them in Australia but who go to live in foreign countries.

The information necessary to enable a reliable estimate to bc prepared is not readily available.

Social Services (Question No. 4463)

  1. How many (a) age pensioners, (b) invalid pensioners and (c) persons in receipt of sickness benefits lost their entitlements during each of the last 10 years on admission to a psychiatric hospital (Question No. 4167, Hansard, 29th September 1971, page 1716).
  2. What was the saving to his Department in each of those years, by treating psychiatric hospitals and the patients differently to other hospitals, in (a) non-payment to patients and (b) non-payment to hospitals.
  3. When was the Social Services Act 1947-71 amended to discriminate against psychiatric hospitals and their patients.
  4. When will his Department change its terminology from ‘inmates of mental hospitals’ lo “psychiatric patients’.
  1. Under the provisions of the Social Services Act an age or invalid pension is suspended when a pensioner becomes a ‘mental hospital patient’. Sickness Benefit is also not payable to a person while he is a ‘mental hospital patient’.

Information is not available as to ‘.he number of sickness beneficiaries who became mental hospital patients over the past 10 years. The information requested in respect of age and invalid pensions is as follows:

  1. Where a pensioner or sickness beneficiary ceases to be a mental hospital patient he becomes entitled for up to 12 weeks arrears in respect of the period he was in hospital. Prior to 1966 the arrears payment was up to 4 weeks. Information is not readily available concerning the duration of stay in mental hospitals of persons who were pensioners or sickness beneficiaries, at the time of admission. However, any reduction in expenditure through the suspension of benefits of persons becoming mental hospital patients would be offset by the grant of widow’s pension to wive3 of mental hospital patients.
  2. The Social Services Act has never been amended in the manner described.
  3. The Social Services Act refers to ‘mental hospitals’ and ‘mental hospital patients’. Accordingly, such terms are used in the administration of this Act.

Commonwealth Scholarships: Committees to Administer (Question No. 4465)

  1. What are the names of the members of the committees established under Commonwealth legislation for the administration of the schemes relating to (a) Commonwealth secondary and technical scholarships, (b) Commonwealth scholarships for universities and colleges of advanced education and (c) Commonwealth library and science facilities grants.
  2. What are the functions of these committees.
  1. and (2) (a) The Commonwealth Secondary Scholarship Scheme and the Commonwealth Technical Scholarship Scheme are not administered by any Board or Committee.

    1. The Commonwealth Postgraduate Award Schemes, the Commonwealth University Scholarship Scheme and the Commonwealth Advanced Education Scholarship Scheme are administered by the Commonwealth Scholarships Board. The members of the Board are: Mr D. M. Morrison,

Department of Education and Science, Canberra (Chairman). Professor Enid Campbell, Professor of Law and Dean of the Faculty of Law of Monash University. Dr Alexander Fraser, Principal, Queensland Institute of Technology. Mr J, Harold Kaye, M.B.E., Director of Personnel, Standard Telephones and Cables Pty Ltd, Sydney. The functions of the Commonwealth Scholarships Board, as set out in Section 14 of the Education Act, are as follows:

  1. To arrange, as prescribed, for the training in universities or similar institutions, for the purpose of facilitating their reestablishment, of persons who are discharged members of the Forces within the meaning of the Re-establishment and Employment Act 1945;
  2. In prescribing cases, or classes of cases, to assist other persons to obtain training in universities or similiar institutions;
  3. To provide, as prescribed, financial assistance to students at universities and approved institutions; and
  4. To advise the Minister with respect to such matters as are referred by the Minister to the Board for advice.

    1. Commonwealth library grants are administered by The Commonwealth Secondary Schools Libraries Committee. The members of the Committee are: Dr T. R. McKenzie, O.B.E., Miss D. M. Goodman, Sir Brian Hone, O.B.E., Mr C. A. Housden, Mr P. W. Hughes, Mr E. M. McConchie, Mr L. H. McGrath, Rev. Father E. J. Mulvihill, Mrs M. Trask, Rev. Brother J. E. Vance. The function of the Committee is to advise me on desirable standards for library facilities in non-government secondary schools in the 6 States. As part of this function, individual Committee members visit non-government secondary schools and report to me through my Department on the entitlement of those schools for assistance under the Commonwealth Secondary Schools Libraries Programme. Commonwealth science facilities grants are administered by The Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Standards for Science Facilities in Independent Secondary Schools. The Members of the Committee are: Mr E. D. Gardiner, C.M.G., C.B.E., Dr J. R. de Laeter, Rev. Brother P. F. Denny, Mr T. W. Field, Mr E. M. McConchie, Mr R. Selby Smith, Mr R. T. Smith, Dr Alice Whitley, M.B.E. The function of the Committee is to advise me on desirable standards for science facilities in nongovernment secondary schools in the 6 States. Members of this Committee also visit individual non-government secondary schools and report to me through my Department on the entitlement of those schools for assistance under the Commonwealth Science Facilities Programme.

Canberra Original Old Age and Invalid Pensioners Association (Question No. 4477)

  1. Does the Canberra Original Old Age and Invalid Pensioners Association occupy premises in the Griffin Centre in Canberra.
  2. If so, (8) when did this tenancy commence and (b) what amount of space is involved.
  3. How many changes have been made to the area occupied by the association since the occupancy commenced.
  4. What were the reasons for the changes.
  5. Was the association recently moved to an upstairs part of the Griffin Centre which causes difficulty for the members because of their age and infirmity.
  6. If space on the ground floor becomes available in the future, will the association be given first choice of that space.
  1. to (6) The Griffin Centre is leased to the A.C.T. Council of Cultural Societies Incorporated, which manages the Centre and handles the letting of individual rooms.

The Department is aware that the Canberra Original Old Age and Invalid Pensioners Association is one of the bodies to which space is let by the Council, but has no knowledge of details of the arrangements.

China’s National Day Receptions (Question No. 4495)

  1. Who was the most senior Minister or official who accepted an invitation to China’s National Day reception at the Chinese Embassy in Canberra in each year from 1965 to 1971 inclusive.
  2. Who proposed the toast on behalf of the Australian Government in each of those years.
  1. and (2) The identity of the most senior Minister or official who accepted an invitation to the National Day receptions and of those who proposed the toasts, in the years 1965-70, is not on record in the Department. The most senior Minister who accepted an invitation to the 1971 National Day reception was the Minister for Defence, who proposed the toast.

Colleges of Advanced Education (Question No. 4501)

  1. Has a national accreditation authority for colleges of advanced education been established; if so, when.
  2. What is the (a) name and (b) background of each member.
  3. Has the authority been accepted by all States.
  1. Ministers for Education, State and Commonwealth, have agreed to the establishment of a body which is to be known as the Australian Council for Awards in Advanced Education. Advice of agreement by the States was spread over a number of months, the last being received in September 1971.
  2. Membership has not yet been settled.
  3. Yes.

Child Welfare (Question No. 4520)

Did the State Ministers concerned with child welfare proceed at their second annual conference in Hobart in March 1971 with action on the joint approach to the Commonwealth on matters discussed at the first annual conference in March 1970 (Hansard, 13th October 1970, page 2082, 9th March 1971, page 750, 17th August 1971, page 168, 29th September 1971, page 1698 and 14th October 1971, page 2466.)

See my answer to Question No. 2971 of 17th August 1971, Hansard, page 168. .

Pension Increases (Question No. 4540)

  1. On what dates in 1971 were pension increases announced.
  2. How many pensioners have been directed to surrender their pensioner medical service entitlement since each date.
  3. On what grounds has bis Department demanded the surrender of these entitlements.
  1. There have been 2 pension increases this calendar year. These were announced on 15th March 1971 and 17th August 1971 respectively. The new rates commenced to be paid for the first increase on 8th April for age and invalid pensions, and 13lh April for widow’s pension. For the second increase the commencing dates were 7lh October and 12th October respectively.
  2. Statistics of the number of pensioners ceasing to be eligible for the pensioner medical service are not maintained. Periodical statistics are maintained, however, of the number of age pensioners enrolled in the scheme and the number ineligible for enrolment. The following table shows figures for 29th March and 30th June 1971, the latest dates for which the information is available.
  3. Eligibility for the pensioner medical service is prescribed by Part IV of the National Health Act 1953-1971. would cost more than twice as much as the dam itself. I might add that the Burdekin Dam mentioned above is now subject to review as part of the general reappraisal of the development of tha Burdekin Basin.

Telephones: Trunk Call Charges (Question No. 3501)

  1. With a view to providing relief to country telephone subscribers of the present heavy burden of trunk call charges and placing all trunk line users over 400 miles in the same situation, will he cost the following suggested scheme.

Dartmouth and Burdekin Dams (Question No. 4262)

What are the estimates of (a) the total cost (b) the cost per acre foot of storage yield of the projected (i) Dartmouth and (ii) Burdekin Dams.

The latest estimated cost of the Dartmouth Dam is S64m. The increased annual supply in the River Murray when the Dartmouth Reservoir becomes effective will depend to some extent on the patterns of demand, and the operating rules applying at the time, but it is expected, to be between 1 million and 1.2 million acre feet per year. On this basis the capital cost per acre foot of additional supply would be about $60. In the case of the Burdekin Dam, the most recent published information available is contained in a report issued by the Burdekin River Authority in December 1951, bence I am not able to give an up to date figure for the cost of this Dam. Furthermore, the report referred to does not provide a figure for the normal annual yield from the storage, but refers rather to the area that could be irrigated, and the flow that could be provided during a drought. It is quite likely however that if appropriate allowance is made for cost escalation, and a figure for annual yield derived from the information in the report, it would appear that the capital cost per acre foot of yield is even lower than the figure quoted above for the Dartmouth project. It must be remembered however that in the case of Dartmouth most of the works required to make effective use of the water are already in operation, whereas in the case ‘ of the Burdekin, the 1951 report indicates that the works required to make use of the water for irrigation

  1. Will he also consider a costing based on a modest raising of the unit call fee to spread the burden of cost.
  1. Based on existing traffic patterns and tha telephone call charges operative from 1st October 1971, the adoption of the trunk charging scale suggested would mean a reduction in annual revenue of more that $106m. As the honorable member knows, the Government recently examined the question of trunk call charges and found it necessary to increase them as part of overall Budget measures. Consideration was in fact given to varying the structure of the trunk scale but the Government concluded that, in the present circumstances, it was preferable not to alter the current structure.
  2. To recoup the $106m referred to in answer to Question (1), a first order estimate suggests that the local call fee would need to be about 8.5 cents, without allowing for the major variation in traffic pattern which would result and tha significantly higher investment in the trunk network to cope with such a changed pattern. These factors could be expected to have a significant bearing on the local call fee which would need to be applied. Since local calls and trunk calls are in a ratio of between 12 and 13 to 1, such an arrangement would be unfair to the majority of subscribers whose calls arc mainly locaL

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 November 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.