21st Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. A. Iff. McMullin took thu chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Acknowledgment by Hbs Majesty The Queen.
– I have received from His Excellency the Governor-General the following communication in connexion with the Address-in-Reply : -
I desire to acquaint you that the substance of the Address-in-Reply which you presented to me on the 14th September, 1S54, has been communicated to Her Majesty The Queen.
Tt is The Queen’s wish that I convey to you and Honourable Senators Her Majesty’s sincere thanks for the loyal message to which your address gives expression.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether the attention of the Government has been directed to statements which appear in to-day’s newspapers stating that the price of tea is to be increased by ls. 7d. per lb., making the price to consumers about 7s. 5d. per lb. ? Is the Government aware that this terrific increase in the already stupendous price will inflict great hardship on a very large proportion of
Australians whose economic position is already bad? As the increase will affect adversely hospitals, old peoples’ homes, orphanages, and charitable institutions, has the Minister any immediate statement to make on this subject? Will the Minister give an assurance that this nationally used beverage will be kept within the purchasing power of all the people of Australia?
– I have seen the notices to which Senator Critchley has referred. The honorable senator will appreciate that the price that is charged for tea is decided by the people from whom it is bought. I think that the Government is now paying a bigger subsidy in order to help keep the price of tea down than was paid by the last Labour Government.
– In view of the very generous treatment, that the Australian’ Government has extended under the Colombo plan to certain teaproducing countries, will the Minister who is acting for the Minister for Trade and Customs consult with those who are responsible for the distribution of the Colombo plan funds, with a view .to negotiating the purchase of tea - our national beverage - by Australia on conditions that will enable this commodity to be bought by Australian housewives at a reasonable price ?
– I cannot imagine that the proposal advanced by the honorable senator is practicable. As I understand the situation, tea is grown by individual growers, who offer theirproduct for sale at auction and receive the market price, in the same way that we in this country receive the market price for our products. I do not know that we could ask the government of another country to place an embargo on the trading activities of its nationals. This increase of the price of tea has been rapid and unexpected. The Government is continuing to subsidize the cost of tea in Australia to the amount of ls. 6d. per lb. The estimated cost - of that subsidy this year is £5,500,000. So, as the result of the Government’s subsidy, the Australian consumer is getting tea at ls. 6d. per lb. below the world parity price.
– In view of the inadequacy of the answers given by the Minister for Shipping and Transport, I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior whether he will request the Bureau of Census and Statistics to present to the Parliament a statement which will indicate the cost of the proposed increase of the price of tea to the’ consuming public, especially in view of the fact that cost-of-living adjustments have ceased. Will he obtain this information and present it to the Parliament so that not only the Parliament but also the community generally, including the wage-earning section, will have a true picture of what is involved- in the recent increases ?
– This is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for the Interior. I shall refer the matter to him, but I feel sure that he can reply only by saying that this Government has been most generous in its assistance by way of subsidy.
– I want information that will be of use to the people, not bald statements such as those made by the Minister.
– I said earlier that I would refer the matter to my colleague. Very largely, it is a matter for the Minister for Trade and Customs, and the Ministor for National Development is acting in that capacity. It is obvious that the Opposition is indulging in propaganda. When the facts are known the public will be satisfied with what we are doing.
– Will the Minister also have compiled an estimate of the saving to the consumer resulting from the. fact that the price of coffee has dropped by 5s. per lb. and is still falling!
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is “ Yes “.
– I invite the attention of the Minister for Shipping and Transport to the fact that the 27th annual convention of the Australian Automobile Association will be held in Adelaide to-morrow. A distinguished
American, Mr. G. Grant Mickle, Director of the Traffic Engineering Division of the Austomovi Automotive Safety Foundation in Washington will address the conference, which will include representatives of the State Traffic Committee and local government officers. Will the Minister arrange for his department to be represented at these important deliberations which should throw much light on the scientific approach to traffic matters?
– The Department of Shipping and Transport acts as a coordinator in relation to a number of traffic matters, although most of the powers in relation to traffic control reside with the States. Some time ago my department was advised that the distinguished authority to whom Senator Laught has referred was coming to Australia. The representatives of my department and representatives of the State Departments of Transport have taken every opportunity to encourage this distinguished authority to attend function-: and to offer criticism and advice on the manner in which we are handling some of our transport problems. I am not sure from memory, whether he will be attending the Adelaide conference. I imagine that will -depend, very largely, on his programme.
– He will be attending that conference.
– I am pleased to hear that, because the various authorities in Australia have taken advantage of his presence to ask for his assistance. In my own department, we have standing committees on road safety, which are endeavouring to introduce a uniform traffic code. The Senate will be pleased to hear that our distinguished friend was greatly impressed by the work that the Australian Par-, liament, the six State parliaments, and the departmental officers had already accomplished in that direction.
– Has the acting Leader of the Government read, or seen extracts from, a book recently written by General MacArthur’s Chief of Intelligence, General Charles A. Willoughby, in which the controversial question of “the Brisbane line “ was ably dealt with ? Does he know that General Willoughby stated that Australia’s Chiefs of Staff made up their minds, during World War II., to stage a last-ditch struggle along a line to the north of Brisbane? As the Minister and other supporters of the Government roundly condemned the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) for stating that a Brisbane line existed, will he now apologize for those un warranted attacks?
– I have seen a report of the matter mentioned by Senator Brown. I should like to remind him that the late Mr. John Curtin, who was Prime Minister at the time, dealt adequately with Mr. Ward.
– Will the Minister for Shipping and Transport say whether it is a fact that “the Brisbane line “ was drawn by the chiefs of staff when a government led by Mr. Menzies was in power? Is it a fact also that, under the plan about which Senator Brown spoke, Western Australia, as a State, was to be amputated? I should not have asked these questions but for the fact that the name of the late JohnCurtin was drawn into the matter. I do not think the Minister was a member of the Advisory War Council. Is he aware that Sir Winston Churchill, as Prime Minister of Great Britain, refused any assistance to Australia because of Great Britain’s own difficulties.? Is he aware also that it was the late John Curtin who persuaded the United States of America to send its troops here for the defence of this country? Is he aware, further, that it was the late John Curtin who brought back to this country the good Australians who defended it?
– I regret that these matters have been raised, because this is all past history. Nobody has any criticism to offer of the work that the late Mr. Curtin did during the dark days of the war. Nobody has any criticism to offer of the splendid achievements of Sir Winston Churchill. But, quite frankly, I do not think we can say the same about Eddie Ward. I think Mr. Curtin dealt with him properly.
– In view of the parlous condition of the tin-mining industry, and the fact that some of the workings are likely to cease operations, can the Minister who is acting for the Minister for Trade and Customs say when the report of the Tariff Board on this important industry will receive Cabinet consideration? As the matter is of the utmost importance, and in order to save the industry from collapse, will he endeavour to expedite consideration of the report?
– I have received the report of the Tariff Board in relation to the tin-mining industry. It will be dealt with expeditiously, and I shall lay it on the table of the Senate as soon as possible.
– Last week, I asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture a question about the investigation which the Government had caused to be commenced into costs of production in the poultry industry. I asked the Minister whether he could ascertain when the result of that investigation would be made known. Can the Minister now tell me when the inquiry is likely to be completed?
– The poultry industry survey is being undertaken by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. The co-operation of the State Departments of Agriculture and of the poultry industry itself has been sought. The field work, which will cover all mainland States, has been commenced, and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Subsequently, the information collected will have to be analysed and collated, and it is anticipated that the bureau will be in a position to provide preliminary results of the investigation in February or early March, 1955.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Defence Production inform me of the names of the two companies that are operating under cost plus contracts covering two aircraft production projects?
– I shall be pleased to obtain that information from the Minister for Defence Production.
– Earlier . in the present session, the Minister for Shipping and Transport informed me that the standardization of the railway gauge between Kalgoorlie and Perth would be discussed at a conference between the Western Australian Railways Commissioner and the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner. Can the Minister now say whether any conclusion was arrived at, and if so what it was ?
– Preliminary discussions were held between the railways commissioners, but sufficient headway was not made to enable a report to be forwarded to me. The various points of view and the obstacles raised are still matters for consideration by the commissioners and I do not hold out any hope that I shall be in a position to make a report on this proposal for some time.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say whether the Government has yet decided when it will make the final payment of Joint Organization profits ?
– I am not in the position to give an answer to that question. There are certain legal complications involved, and other matters over which we have no control. Every effort is being made to speed up payment. I shall be pleased to obtain the latest information from the Crown Law Office and let the honorable senator know the position.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs say what steps, if any, have been taken to permit the entry into Australia of children’s films under a special tariff? Is it a fact that, despite the favorable attitude of the Tariff Board on this matter, films are still being withheld by the Department of Trade and Customs? Does the Minister appreciate that, unless some relief is offered to those interested in children’s films, special screen shows for children will have to be curtailed, if not altogether abandoned, because of the high tariff at present payable on these films?
– This question of special films for children was referred to the Tariff Board. The board has made its report, and the report is now being considered by the Government. The honorable senator will appreciate that I cannot indicate the views of the Tariff Board until the report is tabled in the Parliament. It is not right for the honorable senator to speak of the favorable attitude of the Tariff Board, because the attitude of the board will not be known until the report becomes available. It is,- therefore, wrong to criticize, by implication, officers of the Department of Trade and Customs, because their job is to administer the law as it stands at the present time. They cannot anticipate the report of the Tariff Board. In truth, they do not know the nature of the board’s report.
– I understood that it had been published.
– No. The Tariff Board has made its report, but it has not yet been fully considered by the Government. I think that my reply makes unnecessary an answer to the 4last part of the honorable senator’s question, concerning special shows for children. I understand the position to be that no such films are imported into Australia.
– Yes, there are.
– On the 16th September, Senator Robertson asked the following questions: -
Can the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral say whether it is a fact that for years an excellent road mail service was available to outlying stations east of the Port of Derby in Western Australia? Can he also say whether this service has been discontinued? If it has been, will immediate steps be taken to re-introduce the service for the benefit of residents of this outback area?
The Minister acting for the PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following replies to the honorable senator’s questions : -
Two road mail services, Derby to Mount House unci Derby to Hall’s Creek, formerly operated with a once monthly frequency in the area to thu east of Derby. However, owing to the mail porter being unable to carry on and the inability of the department to obtain the services of a suitable person to perforin the facility, the Derby-Mount House service ras suspended on the 31st January. l!)4o. On the other hand, the Derby-Hall’s Creek-road service was discontinued on the :Mst May, 1.045, as the department had changed over to the aerial transport of all classes ot mail matter in the area.
Prior to the 30th April, l!>4.”>, because of unsatisfactory road conditions and the difficulty experienced in the operation of the relative surface mail services, especially during the wet season, the department found it impossible to arrange a reliable road mail service to provide facilities for the various station properties situated in the Kimberley area east of Derby. Therefore, in line willi departmental policy to continually expand and develop mail services in outback areas, arrangements wore made from that date to provide a regular once fortnightly airlift to stations throughout the area, including those not previously accessible by road. The aerial mail service now carries once fortnightly all classes of mail matter without surcharge from the port of Derby to many stations not hitherto provided with a mail service. The honorable senator may be assured that all advice received by the department since the inauguration of the all-up air mail service to the Kimberley area has expressed the satisfaction of the residents concerned.
– Will the Minister for National “Development inform the Senate whether it is a fact that the Department of National Development is to release for sale a book, in two volumes of 369 pages, describing at length the resources of the Murray valley? I believe that the charge for the two volumes will be £3 3s. If so, will the Minister make the same facilities available to the people of New South Wales to enable them to publicize the resources of the Murrumbidgee valley and the Riverina fis have been granted to the people of Victoria?
– It is true that the Department of National Development is issuing a book on the. resources of the
Murray valley. I am not certain whether the price that was mentioned by Senator Ashley is correct.
– It has been advertised.
– I would not dispute it. If the honorable senator reads the book, he will probably find that, as it is a book dealing with the resources of the Murray valley, it will include a description of the Murrumbidgee River and the Riverina as components of the Murray valley.
– Is the Minister for Shipping and Transport aware that there is an accumulation of 3,000,000 super, feet of timber at the port of Launceston awaiting shipment to Melbourne? Is he aware also that an additional 3,000,000 super, feet of timber is cut in the bush awaiting clearance from Launceston to Melbourne? What steps is the Minister faking to ensure that this urgently needed timber will be shipped to Melbourne?
– The matter to which the honorable senator has referred has been brought to my notice, and it has been referred also to the Australian Shipping Board and to shipowners who are responsible for the transport of timber from Tasmania to the mainland. Only certain types of ships can work the port of Launceston, and one of the D class ships that has rendered good service there and helped to relieve the pressure on available shipping, has to undergo survey. It will be out of commission for some time. I have directed the attention of Mr. Dewey to the matter, and he is ascertaining what can be done to divert a ship from elsewhere to the Tasmanian service as soon as possible. I hope to be informed of a firm arrangement before the end of the week.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon, notice -
In view of the severe shortage of petrol on King Island, which is holding up urgent cultivation by farmers and has even brought taxi services to the point of closing down, will the Minister examine the clauses of the Navigation Act relating to the carriage of dangerous cargo by ship to enable drums of petrol to be carried between deck as an emergency measure to overcome this desperate shortage?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
As ships employed in the Melbourne-King Island service have wooden hulls the technical officers of my department consider it would beunsafe to allow them to carry petrol under the deck. Although petrol is carried on deck it sometimes happens that the quantity so carried is limited by the requirements for space for other types of deck cargo. No authority exists to determine the priority of cargoes which is decided by the owners of the vessel concerned. Because of the dangers involved in underdeck stowage of .petrol in wooden ships it is not proposed to amend the Navigation (Dangerous Goods) Regulations to allow this to be done.
– In view of the grave apprehension that is felt by waterside workers and the Australian Council of -Trades Unions over the statement that the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board might go out of existence, will the Minister for Shipping and Transport confer with the Minister for Labour and National Service and representatives of the waterside workers and the Australian Council of Trades Unions, in the interests of industrial peace and the national economy, before anything drastic is done in connexion with the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board?
– I have had conferences with the Minister for Labour and National Service on this matter, which is very involved. It is regrettable that the industry, which is controlled by Communists, has put up a very bad performance during the last six months. The number of days lost through strikes now is considerably greater than previously, and that is causing difficulties. Nobody knows better than does Senator Aylett that when Communists are in control of an industry, it is not easy to satisfy them.
– On the 23rd September, Senator Ryan asked a question, without notice, concerning the provision of an all-weather road between Western Australia and South Australia. The following answers have been supplied: -
– I rise to order. The Minister, to my mind, made a reflection on a member in another place. I have looked at the red book, and I have found that Standing Order 418 states that any reflection on a member in another place shall be considered as highly disorderly. I take strong exception to a reflection being made on a man who is not here to answer what was said about him. I ask that the reflection that was cast on an honorable member in another place by the Minister for Shipping and Transport be withdrawn.
– My remarks were made in praise of the late Mr. Curtin and in support of his judgment and action. If such remarks were offensive to Senator Kennelly, I shall withdraw them.
– I think that the Minister for Shipping and Transportmade a comment concerning “ Eddie Ward “, to use his own words. The words that he used in making that comment were offensive to me. I again ask, under Standing Order 4.1S, that the reflection that wa3 cast on an honorable member in another place be withdrawn.
– Standing Order 424 states -
Every such objection must be taken at the time when such words are used, and will not lie afterwards entertained.
The honorable senator had an opportunity to rise to order as soon as the words of which he has complained were used by the Minister, if they were used. I suggest, Mr. President, that you rule his objection out of order.
– Senator Kennelly has stated that a reflection has been mi.de on a member in another place, but he has not stated specifically to which words of the Minister he has objected. Therefore, he has not ra raised any point of order.
– If I remember correctly, the Minister praised the late Mr. Curtin and then used the words which were offensive to me, and which were to the effect that the same could not be said of Eddie Ward.
– Mr. President, I invite your attention to Standing Order 423, which reads as follows : -
When any Senator objects to words used in Debate, and desires them to be taken down, the President shall direct them to be taken down by the Clerk accordingly.
– I suggest that Senator Kennelly’s recollection of the words used by the Minister for Shipping and Transport is inaccurate and that consequently, his point of order cannot be upheld. The Minister did not praise the work of Mr. Curtin and then say that the same could not be said of Eddie Ward. The words used by the Minister, to my recollection, were these: “I have no criti cism to offer of the late Mr. Curtin and nobody should have any criticism to offer of Sir Winston Churchill. The same cannot be said of Eddie Ward and in my opinion Mr. Curtin dealt with him properly.” To say, as the Minister said, that some people might have criticism to offer of Eddie Ward cannot be regarded as offensive.
– Senator Kennelly should have raised his point of order directly the words of which he complained were used. As the Minister referred to a matter of history it would be necessary to see the full text of the statement that has been under discussion this afternoon in order to decide whether the words used were offensive or not. So the point of order is not upheld.
– Would I be in order in raising my point of order again after I have refreshed my memory by reading the Hansard report of the Minister’s remarks?
– It is. too late to raise the point of order now. If an honorable senator wishes to have a statement withdrawn, he must rise to order when the words of which he complains are used.
– The remainder of the answers to Senator’3 Ryan’s questions are as follows: -
– Has the Minister representing the Treasurer read a statement in the current report of the Auditor-General to the effect that a certain company had evaded the payment of sales tax, over a period, to the extent of more than £393,000? Will the Minister say whether that company is the big shipping combine which owns a controlling share interest in Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited? If this is a fact, will the Government grant exemption, and make refunds, to all other airline operators who have paid sales tax since 1946?
– This matter has been ventilated in both the House of Representatives and this chamber. Immediately after question time, I shall introduce a bill in connexion with the matter. As the manner in which the honorable senator phrased his question was somewhat prejudicial, it is better that I refrain from answering it at present. In my second-reading speech on the measure that I shall introduce, I will outline to the Senate all relevant facts and circumstances in, I hope, a calm and impersonal way.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s questions : -
Apart from verbal advice and answers given to questions asked at personal interviews, the following publicity material is available to
British and foreign migrants before and after their arrival in Australia: -
For British Migrants -
Leaflet. -“ Australia Invites You “. Describes Australia’s migration schemes, indicating some of the attractions about life in Australia.
Booklet. - “ Australia in Brief “. Answers to one hundred of the most likely questions about Australia. Revised halfyearly.
Leaflet. - “ Wages and Taxation “. Provides up-to-date information on wage levels and taxation in Australia. Revised quarterly.
News Bulletin. - “ Australia and the Migrant “. Monthly publication, distributed widely in the United Kingdom.
Pamphlets (revised at regular intervals) on - (i) Facts About Social Services in Australia, (ii) Facts About Health and National Fitness in Australia, (iii) Facts About Housing in Australia. (iv) Facts About Employment and Working Conditions in Australia,(v) Facts About Quarantine in Australia, (vi) Facts About Customs Duty in Australia, (vii) Facts About Finance for the Emigrant, (viii) Facts About Sport in Australia, (ix) Facts About Your Voyage to Australia, (x) Facts About Education in Australia.
In course of production -
Book. - “ Australia - Portrait of a Nation “. Photographic coverage of Australia, its scenery, its industries, its way of life, &c.
Pamphlets. - (1) Facts About New South Wales, (2) Facts About Victoria, (3) Facts About Queensland, (4) Facts About South Australia, (5) Facts About Western Australia, (6) Facts About Tasmania, (7) Facts About the Professions in Australia, (8) Facts About Women’s Life in Australia. (The “Fact” pamphlets on the States will replace the separate booklets previously issued to migrants to give them detailed information about conditions, life, and public institutions and services in the State to which they are emigrating.)
Leaflet. - “ Bon Voyage “. Hints to migrants on how to cope with various matters on arrival in Australia.
For migrants in the Netherlands and Germany, appropriate publications selected from the list given above are published in the native language of the migrants. Similar material is now being prepared for distribution to Austrians, Danes, Swiss and others being recruited under Australia’s new General Migration Agreement. Films of Australian cities and the countryside and of primary and secondary industry, &c, are screened on migrant ships en route to Australia, and arrangements are now in hand for foreignlanguage sound tracks to be added to a number of such films for screening in Europe. In
Australia a monthly journal, The Good Neighbour., is available to migrants on arrival and is- supplied every month free of charge. This journal contains a section (in simple English) which is devoted to acquainting foreign migrants from time to time with information regarding Australian laws, health facilities and practices, traffic, bushfire prevention, protected nova and fauna, &c Furthermore, the Department of immigration lui* published two booklets (also in simple English), entitled Rules of the Road “ and “ Building a Home “. The education scheme for adult migrants provides not only for instruction in English but also on Australian customs and conditions generally, including road safety, transport, hygiene, “bushfires. At the present time there are in operation throughout Australia some 900 migrant classes attended bv 12,000 students, while another 12,000 take lessons by correspondence.
asked the Minister representing the Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
How many migrants entering Australia since June, 11150, have been found to be suffering from (a) tuberculosis, and (fi) mental illness?
– The Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question : -
While it is not possible from available records to furnish the information sought, the honorable senator may be assured that generally all the evidence suggests that the incidence of both tuberculosis and mental illness in the migrant population is lower than in the Australian community generally. It should be explained that the Department of Immigration is at present in touch with the State authorities concerned with a view to obtaining statistics of the impact of the post-war immigration programme upon such State services as tuberculosis sanatoria and mental hospitals. Difficulty is being experienced, however, in obtaining sufficiently detailed figures in this regard which, if available, would provide the information requested. In addition, the Commonwealth Department of Health has been endeavouring to organize the collection from the States of statistics in relation to tuberculosis sufferers on a uniform and comprehensive basis, but again no finality has yet been reached. Similarly, in relation to mental illness, those figures which have from time to time been released by the State authorities generally fail to distinguish between post-war migrants and those who arrived in Australia prior to the war. It will bc recalled that, in 1951, the then Victorian Minister for Health stated that new Australians had a smaller proportion of tuberculosis than old Victorians, and that a similar situation existed in regard to mental illness. More recently, in New South Wales, the authorities concerned have analysed die migrant component of admissions to mental hospitals in that State and have concluded that the incidence of mental illness amongst migrants is appreciably lower than that existing amongst the native-born population. Selection procedure of migrants overseas, both in regard to tuberculosis and mental illness, is most rigid. All migrants receiving Government assistance and aliens travelling at their own expense are required to have not only a careful clinical examination, but also a radiograph of the lungs. Similarly, the procedure provides for the rejection of any prospective migrant who shows any sign of mental instability during his interview, or wlm has had a history of mental disease. In the absence of any indications of this nature, however, it is, of course, impossible to forecast with any accuracy at the time of selection whether or not a person will become mentally ill at some future date. In regard to mental illness, it is important to note that that which docs occur amongst post-war migrants is to be found mainly amongst former displaced persons. This is not surprising when one recalls the conditions under which these people were compelled to live during the war years and in the 1 *.rio,d immediately following. In fact, the possibility that some of thom would require special attention in later years was foreseen when Australia agreed, largely on humanitarian grounds, to accept a considerable number for resettlement as our contribution towards the solution of what was in thos’1 days an international problem. However adequate the overseas screening procedure is, there can, of course, be no guarantee that migrants who are physically and mentally well at the time of arrival in this country will not subsequently require treatment for tuberculosis or mental distress.
asked the acting leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : - 1 and 2. The Government has not established tourist agencies in Canada and the United States of America. The News and Information Bureau of the Department of the Interior maintains branches in New York and San Francisco, but these offices are not concerned with tourist publicity. This work is carried out by the Australian National Publicity Association, an organization which is subsidized by the Commonwealth Government. The functions of the association are briefly - (1) To supply tourist literature to all overseas Commonwealth Government offices; (2) to distribute tourist literature to overseas shipping and airline companies and travel agencies; (3) to maintain active membership of such bodies as the Pacific Area Travel Association: (4) to advise the Commonwealth Government on tourist industry promotion; (5) to work towards the provision of better accommodation for tourists in Australia.
asked the. Minister acting for the ‘ Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, upon notice -
In view of the apparently undiminished spread of the mistletoe parasite on trees throughout large parts of Australia, will the Minister inform the Senate whether efforts to control the parasite have met with any success and, if so, what are the latest methods of control ?
– The Minister acting for the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question : -
The Division of Plant Industry of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has been working in collaboration with the Forestry and Timber Bureau since 1046 on the problem of mistletoe. Emphasis has been given to the method considered most useful in forestry practice, viz., injecting a measured dose of a selective poison into holes drilled in the trunk of the host tree. The injected .poison becomes taken up in the host tree and subsequently diffuses into the mistletoe. Over 30 poisons have been tried; best results have been obtained with a solution of 2,4-D weedkiller, although the response of the mistletoe may be slow (three to six months or even longer). The dose applied depends on the season and the diameter of the host trees. In tests in the Australian Capital Territory on narrow-leaved peppermint (Eucalyptus robertsoni) red box (B. polyanthemos) and yellow box (J3. melliodora), it has been possible to kill 75 per cent, or more of the mistletoes without more than slight injury to the host trees. The South Australian Woods and Forest Department advises that with this method they can kill 50 per cent, of the mistletoes on yellow gum [E. leucosylon and 70 per cent, on scented mallee (E. odorata). The Queensland Forest Service, using a simpler but less accurate means of injection, has killed 70 per cent, or more of the mistletoes on-, blackbutt [E. pilularis , but has had poor results with spotted gum (E. maculata). -lt is thus seen that the method gives promising results on some species in some areas, ‘ .but poor results on other species in different areas. The efficiency -of the treatment also seems to vary from year to year. Further experiments are in progress, with a view to improving the efficiency of the method.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill, in conjunction with the sales tax bills to be brought forward later, is designed to give effect to sales tax concessions involving a loss of revenue amounting to £12,822,000 in a full year, or £9,892,000 for the current financial year. It has been the special object of the Government to choose concessions which will either contribute to the reduction of costs in industry or will be of assistance to home builders and furnishers. In particular, the Government has borne in mind the effect of sales tax upon industrial costs, because the Government regards the minimizing of such costs as a matter of the greatest importance.
Manufacturers, of course, already enjoy exemption from sales tax in respect of machinery and equipment used by them in manufacturing operations. Plant used in the mining industry in mining operations and in treating the products of those operations is also exempt. However, in the past there has been no exemption of machinery and plant used in the repair of manufacturing or mining plant. In this bill, provision is made for exemption of the plant used by manufacturers and persons engaged in the mining industry in the repair or maintenance of their machinery. The bill also provides for other new exemptions designed to reduce costs.
Exemption is being granted in respect of machinery and equipment used for business purposes in the servicing or repair of motor vehicles and aircraft. Equipment used in business operations in the construction, repair or maintenance of buildings, roads, dams and other works will also be exempt. Machinery used in the repair of footwear and also in the retreading or recapping of tyres will be exempt. Exemption is being authorized in respect of protective equipment for use in industrial operations in the protection of workers, and also in respect of clock systems and time recording apparatus to bo used for business or industrial purposes, other than clocks and watches which remain subject to tax at the .rate of 36$ per cent. The new exemptions will cover hand tools of a kind used for industrial purposes, and this concession will not only assist in the reduction of costs in industry but, in addition, will help artisans and home purchasers df such tools
Manufacturers of carbonated beverages, whose problems of costs are evidently very pressing, have sought relief from tax on the containers in which their goods are sold. Exemption is now being allowed in respect of bottles and cases or crates for use in the marketing of their products. Merchants generally, but particularly retailers, will have their costs reduced by a new exemption of paper bags, wrapping paper and string used to wrap up and secure goods for delivery.
There have been many requests for exemption of furniture and household goods. These goods cover a very wide range indeed, and the cost of a complete exemption would be so heavy as to render this impracticable at the present time. It is proposed, however, to reduce from the general’ rate of 124 per cent, to a special rate of 10 per cent, a wide range of furniture and household goods as specified in the bill. This should appreciably reduce the costs of home furnishing. Aeroplanes for all purposes will be exempt from sales tax. “When the sales tax legislation commenced in 1930, the small range of exemptions then enacted did not include aeroplanes. In 1934, when further exemptions were granted, provision was made for exemption of aeroplanes. This exemption remained in force until November, 1940, when, because of tho exigencies of war, a number of exemptions was withdrawn, including that relating to aeroplanes. In 1953, the law was amended to authorize exemption of aircraft other than those used for commercial purposes. This was done mainly in response to requests for relief from tax on behalf of aero clubs, whose activities are of considerable value in the teaching of flying.
It has since become apparent that the imposition of sales tax on aeroplanes for commercial use would impose a heavy burden on commercial airline operators, resulting in the substantial inflation of their already heavy costs of new aircraft. This would be likely, in due course, to result in higher fares and freight charges. Tho problem of costs of airline operators has been accentuated by the necessity to expend large sun.i3 of money in the purchase of a considerable number of new aircraft at the present time, in order to replace old machines, so as to enable efficient, service to be maintained. In these circumstances, it has been decided to exempt aeroplanes for all purposes, as was the case before 1940. The exemption will apply not only to freight, and passenger airliners, but also to aircraft used for agricultural purposes in spraying or spreading fertilizer or seed. The exemption of aeroplanes is to be made effective on and from the 1st January, 1946. The reasons for this are -
First, exemption applied to TransAustralia Airlines until 3 952, when it was made subject to tax.
Secondly, exemption was granted to the British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines Limited and Quantas Airways Limited in 3946 and 1947, respectively.
Thirdly, the Government now believes that it would have been just and* proper to restore the exemption which existed for aeroplanes from 1934 to 1940 immediately the war ended and the development of air transport services in Australia was resumed.
The policy of this Government is that competition between government airlines and privately owned airlines shall be on equal terms and the provision for operation of the exemption of aeroplanes back to 1946 will remove some inconsistency of treatment as between the government airlines and several private operators. During the examination of this question, it was revealed that some aeroplanes had been imported and put into operation without payment of sales tax. This was brought about by an irregular but inadvertent use of registered taxpayers’ certificates, in the belief that the same freedom from sales tax as applied to the government airlines would apply also to other commercial transport organizations. The exemption which is now allowed will render it unnecessary to take retrospective action to collect arrears of tax unpaid in respect of aeroplanes. It will, at the same time, substantially restore equality of treatment to all competing lines.
The back-dating of the exemption may necessitate certain refunds, but these will be comparatively small, and they will bo payable mainly to small airline operators and aero clubs. The exemption of parts of aeroplanes commences on the 19th August, 1954, the date of commencement of the amending bill. Though it is realized that this will still leave the government airlines in a position of advantage as compared with private operators, as regards transactions relating to parts prior to November, 1952, the Government has not’ felt able to go so far as to remedy this anomaly. The Civil Aviation Agreement Act of 1952 ensures equality of treatment from the date of its enactment.
Ice-cream confectionery, musical instruments, toys and associated goods were subject to tax at the maximum rate of 16$ per cent, prior to the introduction of this amending legislation. Continuous representations have been made to the Government concerning the effect of increasing costs on the market for these commodities. Though they may be regarded in some quarters as less essential commodities, they occupy a very definite place in the economy. Considerable quantities of primary products are used in the manufacture of some of these goods. To prevent the tax becoming ton regressive in its effect, it has been decided to reduce the tax on these goods to the general rate of 12-J per cent.
The bill contains other new exemptions, and provisions revising existing exemp tions, with the object of eliminating anomalies and difficulties associated with their administration. For example, leather, solder, methylated spirits and iron and steel wire of gauges 15 to 18, are goods which have hitherto only been exempt when purchased for certain purposes. They will now be exempt unconditionally, and purchasers will no longer need to furnish certificates as to the intended use of the goods in order to obtain exemption. Assistance to the agricultural industry is given by a new exemption of livestock carriers of the kind attached to motor vehicles or wagons. Seed-cleaning machinery is being exempted, and the exemptions of goods for use in the destruction of animal pests have been revised to remove anomalies arising from previous limitations. Exemption is now authorized in respect of poisons and traps for the destruction of all classesof noxious animals. Materials other than fertilizers, for use in the improvement of crops, are also being brought within ihe scope of the exemptions.
Certain classes of goods which are used to overcome physical disabilities are being brought within the exemptions of surgical goods and exemption is being granted in respect of certain goods used in the cleaning of teeth and massaging of gums to minimize dental decay. For many years, the law has authorized exemption of surgical equipment of a kind purchased by hospitals or medical practitioners. Physiotherapists have not been entitled to this exemption. As their work is growing in importance, and is closely associated with the treatment of patients by medical practitioners, the law is being amended to allow registered physiotherapists the benefit of the exemption.
Action is being taken to remove an anomaly with regard to certain cleaning and polishing cloths, being articles specially manufactured for those purposes. These goods are sold in competition with articles that have been exempt as piece-goods, as they were subjected to no other process than cutting from the roll of material as manufactured. Cloths of this kind made from piece-goods will now be exempt, regardless of the degree of manufacture to which they have been subjected. A statement setting out full details of the amendments has been circulated for the information of honorable senators. In view of the benefits conferred by the bill, I have no doubt that it will meet with the approval of honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
SALES TAX BILLS (Nos. 1 to 9) 1954.
Bills received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) put -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the questions with regard to the several stages for the passage through the Senate of all or several of the Sales Tax Bills (Nos. 1 to 9) being put in one motion, at each stage, and the consideration of all or several of such bills together in committee of the iwhole.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin). - There being an absolute majority of the whole number of senators present, and no dissentient voice, I declare the question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bills (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bills be now read a second time.
These bills are merely machinery measures concerning the rates of sales tax. They are complementary to the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill which has just been explained to honorable senators. The Government’s proposals with regard to sales tax relief have been fully revealed in my speech on that bill. It is necessary to amend the rates acts in order to fix the special new rate of 10 per cent., which is to apply to furniture and household goods of the kind specified in the statement that has been circulated for the information of honorable senators. The general rate of tax remains unchanged at 12½ per cent. and the maximum rate of 16 per cent. also continues in force, although, as indicated previously, certain classes of goods are being trans ferred from the top rate to the general rate, and certain new exemptions are being allowed. Full details of the proposals have been set out in the circulated statement.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator McLeay) read a first time.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 14th October (vide page 787).
Proposed vote, £200,000,000.
– I direct attention to Division 186k - Defence Equipment and Supplies. Honorable senators will observe that the vote for 1953-54 was £12,000,000 and, according to the statement that is before the committee, exactly £12,000,000 was expended. It will be noticed that for the current year no sum is mentioned at all. So it might be that a person withan innocent and simple mind, such as myself and millions of other people in the community, would conclude from what he sees in this document that no money will be spent this year on defence equipment and supplies. But he would be rather surprised if he read paragraph 100 of the report of the Auditor-General, in which the Auditor-General, commenting on the Defence Equipment and Supplies Trust Account, stated -
The Appropriation Act (No. 2) 1953-54 provided an amount of £12,000,000 under Division 186k - Defence Equipment and Supplies - for payment to the credit of the Defence Equipment and Supplies Trust Account, the purposes of which have been defined as - “For expenditure in connexion with the following Defence requirements: -
Construction and procurement of Naval vessels and associated equipment and stores.
Construction and procurement of aircraft and associated equipment and stores.
Procurement of arms, armament, munitions, mechanical transport, machinery, equipment, plant, coal, petrol, oils, clothing and other stores and supplies.”
– I rise to order. I do not want to be provocative in any way, but I should like to be clear where we are going. Are we going to deal with each department in the order in which the departments are listed on page 66, or are we going to deal with all the departments together?
– I think it would be better to take them as a group.
– The Minister has not raised a point of order. He has raised a point of procedure. I believe that we have discussed the defence estimates in this way- :
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! Before Senator Benn proceeds, I should like to hear what the Minister has to say about the procedure to be adopted.
– I do not mind how we deal with these Estimates, but I should like to be clear about what we are doing. Are we going to take all the departments together, or are we going to deal with each of them in turn? If honorable senators want to go backwards and forwards from the Department of Defence Production to the Department of the Army, and from the Department of the Army to the Department of Air, we must have all the departmental officers and all the Ministers concerned present during the whole of the discussion.
– We cannot discuss one department without discussing the others.
– I do riot want to raise a point of order. I want to know where we are going.
– It might be better to deal with the departments one by one, because apparently that would be more convenient to the Ministers concerned and the departmental officers. I make that suggestion. However, before the question is decided, I should like to refer to the allocation of money-
– I should like you to settle this matter, Mr. Chairman, because I wish to continue my remarks.
– You will have an opportunity to do so shortly. I want to hear what Senator Critchley has to say.
– Is Senator Critchley taking a point of order, or is he making a speech on the Estimates?
– I sincerely hope that my colleague will not assume for one moment that I wish to interfere with any right that he has. I have suggested that, owing to the complexity of these Estimates, it might be better to deal with each department in turn. The only matter I want to raise at this stage is that the total of the Estimates for this year for all the departments listed on page 66 is £200,000,000. Last year, they were voted £213,66S,000, but expended only £189,725,000. Approximately £24,000,000 of the vote was not expended. I should like an assurance from the Government that it is expected that the £200,000,000 asked for this year will be spent entirely. 1 intend to suggest later that many developmental works that would be of value to the defence of this country could be undertaken and financed from general revenue.
Senator Scott interjecting,
– The constant rude interjections by Senator Scott are very disturbing. I wish you would call him to order, Mr. Chairman. I suggest it would be convenient for all concerned to take these departments one by one. I have nothing more to say, except that I trust the Government will, be able to give me the assurance for which I have asked.
– Perhaps it would be as well to make the position clear now. I appreciate the point raised by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), and I note the suggestion made by Senator Critchley. As the Minister has pointed out, it would be difficult to get all the officers here together. Therefore, it would be preferable to deal with these Estimates in sections. I shall be happy to allow that to be done, but I want to make my position quite clear to honorable senators. As all the departments with which we are concerned are listed in Section XX., I shall not prevent discussion of the departments as a whole, but if it suits the convenience of the
Minister to take one department at a time, we should do so. However, I repeat that as all the departments are listed in Section XX., I shall do nothing to prevent a discussion of the estimates for any department at any stage of the debate.
– I think you have summed the matter up very well, Mr. Chairman. All the departments concerned are grouped in Section XX. I want to deal with a number of questions that affect a number of departments. They are, so to speak, interlocking. If ive followed the procedure of discussing only one department at a time, I should be prevented from indulging in that kind of discussion. It seems as if the discussion is, shall I say, wide open?
– I am content.
– May I continue with my remarks?
– Will the honorable senator begin them again, so that I can follow them from the beginning?
– I do not think it is necessary for me to repeat my preliminary remarks - the frills and flounces relating to the introduction of the subject. I had read a part of paragraph 100 of the Auditor-General’s report, dealing with the Defence Equipment and Supplies Trust Account. The remainder of the paragraph is as follows : -
No expenditure has been made from the
Trust Account to 30th June, 1954, which had a balance at that date of £12,000,000. Tho method of appropriating moneys for subsequent expenditure for the purposes of the relevant Trust Account is established practice. It is noted, however, that the appropriation is less detailed than is customary and that expenditure will be permitted on services which are usually appropriated in some detail and provided under a number of Defence Services appropriations. In short, Parliament has been asked to appropriate moneys and has in fact done so with knowledge only in very general terms as to how the moneys will be spent.
I am a very innocent person and there are millions like me in the community. They are simpleminded, just as I am. On examining the Estimates, they see that, last year, the Parliament appropriated £12,000,000 for defence equipment and supplies and they find, also, that the Estimates indicate that that £12,000,000 was spent.Then, if they read the report of the
Auditor-General, they find that not a penny of that £12,000,000 was spent. The sum of £12,000,000 was paid into a trust account, and, because it was paid into a trust account, it has been shown in the Estimates as expenditure for the purpose of striking a balance. There is no proposed vote in respect of this item for this financial year. I presume that the sum of £12,000,000 which was appropriated last year is still in the trust account. That is so if the report of the Auditor-General is correct. I presume that expenditure on this item for this financial year will be met hy drawing on the amount that was set aside last year. Perhaps that is a good example of financial circumlocution. I consider that it is quite unnecessary. Taxation was levied last year at a rate which would enable a sum which included that amount to be raised, yet not a penny of it was spent. I should like the Minister for National Development to explain where this sum of £12,000,000 now is and what will be done with it. Will any expenditure be made from it in this financial year?
– I should like to ask a question about Division 127 - Australian Regular Army. The proposed vote in respect of this Division is £21,100,000, whereas the vote last year was £22,197,000, and £22,189,277 was expended. It is proposed that approximately £1,000,000 less should be spent in this financial year than was spent on the Regular Army in the last financial year. Page 196 of the printed Estimates shows that the establishment of the Australian Regular Army last year was 28,000 persons and that provision has been made for a strength of 24,500 persons in the current financial year. I should like to ask the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) whether the establishment of the Australian Regular Army has been reduced or whether it is under establishment because of the lack of recruits. I consider that more money should be spent on the Australian Regular Army and that its size should be increased. At present the Australian Regular Army is not capable of filling the role for which it was organized. It is supposed to be a striking force -which would be available at very short notice. I do not think that it can be considered as a striking force, because I understand that two of its three battalions are overseas. They will probably return in the near future, but it seems to me that this striking force should be available in Australia. I should like to know whether there is any chance of making the Australian Regular Army a real striking force after our troops have returned from Korea.
In Division 130 the proposed vote for Item 12 - Recruiting Campaign - is £283,000. I consider that the policy of putting practically the same advertisements in the press day after day is a waste of money. The Government could get more .recruits by making service in- the Army more attractive. Army pay is good, but, if it is not high enough it will have to be increased. It will probably be necessary to provide better amenities and more attractive conditions of service for army personnel, such as opportunities to serve overseas ana opportunities for promotion to higher ranks. It may be necessary to send men overseas to staff colleges and schools of instruction, arid it may be necessary to grant higher pension rates or gratuities after a certain. period of service. If the Australian Regular Army is 3,500 persons under strength, and that number of recruits is obtained, the sum that has been provided for a recruiting campaign will have been spent at the rate of £80 per recruit. I think that that is a fantastic waste of money.
– I wish to direct my remarks to the sum of £200,000,000 which is the proposed vote for Defence Services under Divisions 102-107, 109-186, and 186k. It seems to me that the whole trend of policy in relation to defence expenditure is wrong. Despite the fact that £1,000,000 less has been provided for the Australian Regular Army than was provided last year, the proposed vote for the Department of the Army is approximately £8,000,000 more than was expended in 1953-54. The vote for the Department of the Army last year was £73,742,000 of which the department spent only £64,340,816. The proposed vote of £72,185,000 is very close to the estimated expenditure of last year. The proposed vote for the Department of the Navy is £3,205,000 more than the actual expenditure of the Department during the last financial year. I should like some information concerning the Department of Air and the Department of Supply. The Department of Supply controls important defence projects such as the rocket range, yet the proposed vote for the department is lower than the vote for 1953-54. The proposed vote for the Department of Defence Production is substantially less than the vote for that department in 1953-54. Whereas the expenditure of the Department of Defence Production in 1953-54 was £7,265,492, the proposed vote for this year is only £6,479,000. It seems to me that “modern developments, both in defence and offence, are moving towards what we might call the “ back room “ services such as munitions factories, the rocket range, and aircraft production factories. For that reason, I consider that the Government has allocated the proposed vote in respect of defence services to the various departments in the wrong proportions.
I should like to know the Government’s policy in relation to aircraft production. I believe that work is tapering off in the Commonwealth-owned aircraft factory at Fishermen’s Bend for lack of a firm project. On the other hand, I understand that the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation factories, which are not government owned, are producing to capacity, and that the man-power employed in them is substantial. Another great Australian aircraft manufacturer has been the De Havilland Aircraft Proprietary Limited, whose factory is situated at Bankstown, in New South Wales. In past years, that company has been an important supplier to the Australian defence forces, but a little while ago the company issued a statement that unless some support was given to it by the Government its future would be very grim. So I should like the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) to give the Senate a resume of the state of production in aircraft factories. Such industries constitute a basic form, of defence and offence. Australia cannot be a great aircraft producer in the immediate future, but it is tremendously important to keep our manpower skilled by enabling it to work on the latest developments in aircraft. I know that keeping such men employed can be uneconomic because of the small number of units that are produced.
The Minister for Defence Production should ensure that when plans for the manufacture of aircraft or. other equipment are brought from another country no alterations are made in design. “Whenever it has been decided to manufacture equipment in Australia according to blueprints that have been brought from overseas, there has been a tendency to make changes in the blueprints in order to adapt the equipment to local conditions. I defy any technical officer to make such alterations to a blueprint without increasing considerably the original estimated cost of the equipment. The Minister for Defence Production should wait until he can obtain blueprints for an aircraft which is suitable for the requirements of this country rather than accept the plans of an aircraft which is not suited to local conditions and have alterations made to those plans. Not only do such ‘alterations add amazingly to the cost but they delay substantially the delivery date of the aircraft. I should be glad if the Minister would also inform me which item of the schedule relates to expenditure on the long range weapons establishment.
– I strongly support Senator “Wordsworth’s contention that we should increase the strength of the Australian Regular Army, in order to enable that body to be used, if required, as a striking force. The recent defence manoeuvres in Europe showed how necessary it is to have available an adequate force of welltrained army personnel. In spite of what has been said about probable press- button warfare of the future, the manouvers to which I referred showed conclusively the value of highly-trained men in waging modern warfare. Despite the fact that atomic weapons were used, it was evident that efficient . troops are still needed.
.- I wish to refer to Divisions 173-185, for which the proposed vote is £6,479,000. I again call to my assistance the current report of the Auditor-General, of which paragraph 108, on page 65, reads -
Two major aircraft production projects continued during the year under arrangements between the Commonwealth and two contracting companies. Expenditure for 1953-54 was £5,310,575. One of the projects has operated for years without a signed agreement.
The companies are remunerated on a “ cost plus “ basis which means that remuneration is calculated on a percentage of a certain amount of costs incurred by them. In the circumstances it is important that Audit officers should have nil restricted access to the books and records of the companies relating to costs incurred and claimed in respect of the Commonwealth projects. That has not been the case and I have made representations to the Treasury with a view to its correction.
Unsatisfactory features relating to the departmental inspection of contractors’ accounts, control of stocks and materials, plant and equipment and the payment of claims, which were referred to in the first Annual Report for 1.052-53, have been the subject or correspondence with the Department. Some matters remained unresolved at the date of preparation of this report.
In common with millions of people in this country, I believed that the costplus system was abandoned after World War II. I was astonished to learn from the Auditor-General’s report that this system is still in operation, and that one of the aircraft companies, which is working under that system, had operated for years without a signed contract. This is particularly disquieting to persons who are called upon to pay taxes to keep these costly projects going, or rather, the costly systems that are sanctioned by the Government. The Auditor-General points out that the expenditure on aircraft production in the last financial year was £5,310,575. Presumably, that amount was paid to the two contracting companies which are operating on the cost-plus system. As we examine the Auditor-General’s report further, we find that some of the conditions of operation were, to say the least, questionable. For instance, the audit officers were not permitted free access to records of costs. Although everyone knows that audit inspectors are required to make inquiries for, and check expenditure on behalf of, the Australian Government, the report states quite definitely that the audit inspectors were prevented from carrying out their ordinary duties in relation to these two contracting companies. In the circumstances, I could be excused for believing that, as they did not wish to disclose their costs, they had something to hide. Let us consider how the cost-plus system works. The Australian Government says, in effect, to the two contracting companies, “ Go ahead with certain work for us. We will reimburse you for your costs and we will also pay you a percentage on that cost “. This system has been aptly described as the “ cannot lose “ system. It encourages inefficiency and unnecessary cost. As we know, the system operated reasonably well during the period of World War II., when certain work had to be executed hurriedly. During war-time, of course, economic considerations are secondary. It is disquieting to find that, so many years after the war, more than £5,000,000 was paid in the last financial year to two contracting companies operating under the costplus systems.
– It was apparently all right when the crooks in the previous Labour Government had the pull.
– Senator George Rankin will have an opportunity, after I haveconcluded my remarks, to compare what is happening to-day with what happened during the war period. I should like the Minister to inform me of the names of those companies, and their reason for refusing to make their books available to audit inspectors for examination. Would it not be possible for the Government to train its own technical officers to produce the articles that are being manufactured by those companies ?
– Could we carry out the work as economically?
– I place a high value on Senator Henty’s observations in these matters, because he is a businessman. However, I should need to be convinced on logical grounds that those companies are carrying out the work more economically than could the Government by em ploying its own skilled tradesmen. I do not think that Senator Henty really approves of the cost-plus system.
– Hear, hear!
– I am sure that the honorable senator would be the last member of this chamber to countenance contractors operating under the cost-plus system refusing audit inspectors access to their books of account and other records.
– I wish to refer to two matters under Division 127 - Australian Regular Army. The first relates to this statement by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis) -
The second major aspect relates to the area of strategic importance which is closest to us and which is vital to Australia.
That is, South-East Asia -
It will be the constant aim of the Army General Staff gradually to re-orientate its tactical thought, organization and equipment towards the possibility of having to operate in this area.
In view of the present rather serious position in South-East Asia, I should have thought that the Army would reorientate itself in the directions mentioned as quickly as possible, rather than gradually. I assume that the Minister did not intend us to accept his statement literally. It is imperative for us to reorientate our strategy in relation to South-East Asia. I should like the Minister to comment on this aspect of the Army’s role.
The other matter that I wish to mention relates to the use by the Army of the old . 303 short Lee-Enfield rifle. Recently, that fine old weapon was marched off the barrack square in Great Britain, and its place will be taken by the Belgian rifle which is now used by the American forces. Will the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) inform me whether the Army is to be issued with Belgian rifles, so that the British, American and Australian Forces will be equipped similarly?
– The proposed vote for Divisions 127 to 142 inclusive is £72,185,000. For the third time, I shall rely for the purpose of my submission to the committee on the Auditor-General’s current report. Paragraph 103 of the report, on page 63, reads -
Stores ash Stohr Accounting.
Reference was made in previous Reports to the unsatisfactory accounting and ineffective control over Unit Stores. The position is still far from satisfactory but it is expected that the remedial measures taken by the .Department during the year will result in ultimate improvement. The solution involves chiefly the training of additional personnel in the administration and handling of stores.
In one Command a stock-taking of ordnance stores has not kept pace with the departmental programme, and the departmental checks of stores accounting records and stocktaking are in arrear.
The lack of protection from the weather of certain stores and motor vehicles, referred to in the First Report for 11152-53, has been remedied to some extent, in one Command, however, tho position has deteriorated.
It will be seen that the Auditor-General used the word “ unsatisfactory “ in the first sentence of that paragraph, and he subsequently stated that the position was still far from satisfactory. It is the duty of this important officer of the Commonwealth to see that records in relation to stores and store accounting are kept up to date, and that the work is carried out efficiently. It is very disturbing to me, as I am sure it is to other honorable senators, to find that the Department of the Army, which has been functioning for many years, is still incapable of providing proper accounting for its stores. Surely the department has had time to establish an efficient accounting system and to recruit sufficient trained staff to carry out this necessary work. We should not have reports of this kind coming to us year after year. The taxpayers of the Commonwealth have an interest in this matter. They want to know what is happening to their money, and they would like an assurance that, in future, the Department of the Army will be able to attend to simple matters such as this. In another paragraph, the Auditor-General states -
In cue Command stocktaking of ordnance stores has not kept pace with the departmental programme
That is inexcusable. Perhaps the Minister will be able to explain why this has not kept pace with the departmental programme. Surely the heads of the services would know what the programme was and would have sufficient organizing ability to plan accordingly. They could engage staff to attend to stocktaking, ordnance stores, &c. The Auditor-General continues - and the departmental checks of _ stores accounting records and stocktaking are in arrear.
That does not sound very well. I should like to know from the Minister why those matters were in arrears at the 30th June, and whether there has been any improvement since. Surely there is no reason why those checks cannot be kept up to date. In the final paragraph the AuditorGeneral says-
The lack of protection from the weather of certain stores and motor vehicles, referred to in the first Annual Report for 1952-53, has been remedied to some extent.
It is pleasing to know that, but the report does not indicate whether the action has been effective. It indicates that further action could be taken by the Department of the Army to protect motor vehicles and other stores. The Auditor-General’s concluding sentence is -
In one command, however, the position has deteriorated.
These remarks indicate that, there is a state of general inefficiency in the Department of the Army - an inefficiency which is inexcusable at this stage. We on this side of the chamber are very tolerant. If the Department of the Army had been established only last year or the year before we should be inclined to take a lenient view’ and say, “ That is the position at present, but no doubt .it will becorrected as time goes on “. But the Department of the Army has been functioning for many years. Apparently the longer it exists the worse it gets. I ask the Minister not only for information, but also for an assurance that full corrective action will be taken.
.- T refer to the vote for the Department of Supply, and I wish to deal particularly with the administration of the aluminium project at Bell Bay, in Tasmania. I think it can be safely said that a great number of taxpayers are very dissatisfied with the administration and management of this project. After all, the Australian taxpayer has to provide the money for this undertaking. The position is, to say the least, very unsatisfactory. Undoubtedly, there is, or has been, a great deal of laxity in administration by the Aluminium Production Commission. It is admitted that the former chairman of the commission was associated with a company which was doing business with the commission. That was a most undesirable practice. I understand that the official concerned has since relinquished the chairmanship of the commission and is no longer associated with the project. For some time past ugly allegations have been made against the commission. Whether right or wrong, allegations have been published in relation to such matters as misappropriation, falsification, and maladministration. These charges havebeen made openly in the press of Tasmania. It is no secret that the administration of the commission has been very careless. I know that it has been ruthless. Relations between the commission and the staff have been severely strained. Many high technical officers have resigned because of those strained relations, and that is not in the best, interests of the -working of the projectThere is a case on record in which the commission threatened an adjoining landholder that unless the commission was able to take gravel from his property at less than one-half cf the price that, he could obtain for it from outside sources, his land would be compulsorily acquired. The land-holder did not want to lose his land, and he had to allow the commission to take the gravel. That amounted almost to blackmail.
Allegations about matters such as that have been made over a number of years. Largely due to representations by the former honorable member for Bass, Mr. Kekwick, the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) instituted an inquiry into the operations of the commission. As I have said, the allegations of maladministration and misappropriation have been made publicly, and I think that the report of the investigating committee should also be made public. The taxpayers are finding the money for the undertaking and the public is entitled to know the result of the investigation. I ask the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) whether he will see that the report on the investigation is tabled in the Senate. Only by a searching public inquiry into the alleged maladministration will it be possible to restore confidence in the commission.
– Under Division 129, the sum of £45,000 is provided for compensation for death, injury or .illness on duty, of members of the Citizen Military Forces and cadets. I rise principally to urge the Government to modernize and to liberalize the regulations under which trainees are entitled to compensation. Several times I have drawn the attention of the Government to the case of a young national service trainee who, with several companions, became ill at Woodside military camp, in South Australia. The trainees were transferred to thi Dawes Road Military Hospital while the national service traminer camp that he had been attending still had ten or twelve days to run and, with one exception, they were still in hospital when the Woodside camp ended. On the advice of medical officers the trainee to whom 1 have referred was kept in hospital for 88 days after the camp had ended. To this day, he has not been able to obtain compensation for that period of illness when he was unable to work. Although repeated applications have been made for consideration of his case, justice has been denied to him. I urge that a very material improvement could bc- made in the regulations which cover the payment of compensation to injured trainees or to the relatives of trainees who lose their lives in the cause of military service. 1 am certain that no taxpayer would deny common justice to these people.
I bring to the notice of the committee the case of another young man who was killed in a staghound transport on a. suburban road in South Australia. This happened as far back as March of this year. An inquest was held, but the coroner was unable to say who had given the orders. The evidence given was that the straps normally used to fasten spare petrol containers were missing from the outside of the vehicle and that an unidentified officer or non-commissioned officer had ordered a can of petrol to be carried inside the armoured car. An unidentified officer or non-commissioned officer gave the order to advance, an explosion occurred, and this young fellow was burnt to death. Obviously such happenings are not deliberate. They are accidents. But it seems to me that the Parliament has a responsibility to see that injured servicemen, or the dependants of ex-servicemen who lose their lives, are treated justly. Apparently the regulations covering compensation payments are outdated and throw an undue onus of proof upon the claimant. Incidents such as those to which I have referred are a bad advertisement for the Army. There is an obligation on the Parliament to ensure that young men who do the right thing by their country by undergoing military training shall be entitled to adequate compensation should injury or sickness occur during the period of training. I express disappointment that this matter has not been cleared up and that such a rigmarole must be gone through.
.- I imagine that the question which I propose to ask is related to Division 183 - Acquisition of Sites and Buildings. I wish to ask the Minister whether the Department of Defence provides, in the capital cities, residences for the chiefs of staff of the various services. I think I am correct in saying that the chiefs of staff of the services have to live in Melbourne. In some instances, those officers are not Victorians, and as a result of their appointment, have to move their personal effects to Melbourne. They run into great difficulty in such circumstances, and I think that that difficulty should be removed from their shoulders by the Department of Defence. Obviously, it would be greatly to the benefit of the services if residences were provided in the city to -which such officers have to go as a result of their appointment. I do not suggest that the provision of such residences necessarily should be free; possibly they could be made available on n rental basis. Such action would relieve them of the anxiety caused by having to move their families to a different city and to find accommodation in the present difficult circumstances. I should like the Minister to tell me whether the department will consider this proposal.
– Division 186 relates to the proposed vote of £90,000 for civil defence. I notice tha’t this is the first year in which such provision has been made, and I should like to have an idea of what is being done in this respect. It seems to me that £90,000 is a very small allocation from a total defence vote of £200,000,000, but of course it is a beginning. At least, we now intend to do something about civil defence. Perhaps the Minister would be good enough to say how this money is to be expended, and at the same time, explain the policy of the Government in this connexion. Will the money be expended on the appointment of a small staff to study this vital matter, and the purchase of office equipment? He might also inform me whether provision for civil defence is made in any other section of the Estimates.
The question of how much money should be expended on civil defence is debatable. By the use of ah atom bomb or a hydrogen bomb, a city could be wiped out with the greatest of ease, so that the question of expenditure on preparations to meet such an attack is important at the present time. I think that a certain amount of preparation should be made. For instance, money should be expended on the provision of a system of timely warnings and plans for the rapid evacuation of cities. That might necessitate the building of larger arterial roads and also by-passes. It might also be necessary to draw up plans for billeting women and children in the country, as was done in Great Britain during World War II., for the establishment of medical depots in the country, and for the teaching of first-aid to every one, so that not only those who are likely to be blown to pieces but also those in relatively remote areas will know something about first-aid measures. In my opinion, there is a great deal of work to be done in connexion with civil defence. On many occasions, honorable .senators have asked for an expression .of Government policy on this matter, but they have not been informed on the subject. I welcome this small vote, because I think that it represents a start, and I should like to know how it is to be expended.
– I refer to Division 154, which relates to the proposed vote of £1,400,000 for maintenance by the Department of Air. Once more, I refer the committee to the Auditor-General’s report, at page 64 of which, under the heading, “ Department of Air “, the following comment appears : -
Reference has been made in the relevant appendixes of previous Reports to losses due to theft. During 1953-54 further substantial losses at Air Force depots amounted to £18,884 “and were attributed mainly to inadequate safeguards within the department.
I think that the Auditor-General is doing a spendid service when he points to matters such as that. Honorable senators will notice that he refers to “ further substantial losses at Air Force depots “. We know that, last year, similar thefts occurred in the Department of Air. Apparently, these thefts of aircraft parts are being allowed to continue. In my opinion, the department could do something more to prevent them than it has clone during the past year.
I have no doubt that some honorable senators will say, “ Well, the sum involved is only about £18,000 out of a total of £200,000,000”. Nevertheless, that £18,000 has to be provided by the taxpayers of Australia. With it, six homes could be built for the homeless members of the community. Such a sum would mean a great deal to farmers who are obliged to buy fodder for their starving stock. I have no doubt that the Minister will be able to explain this matter and assure the committee that adequate safeguards will be provided in future. My observations lead me to believe that the Air Force is fairly well manned at the present time and that very few of its personnel are overworked. The heads of the Air Force should have no difficulty in introducing a system to safeguard public property.
– I take this opportunity to deal, to the best of my ability, with the inquiries that have been made by honorable senators. Before referring to them one by one, I wish to make two general points. Senator Benn referred to comment made by the Auditor-General in his annual report. From inquiries which I have made, I understand that when the Auditor-General reports in critical or condemnatory terms, the matter is taken up by the Treasury, which makes its requirements known to the departments concerned and, if necessary, consults with the Public Service Board concerning re-arrangements that may become necessary. In addition, from that stage forward, the Treasury takes a continuing interest in matters which have been the subject of criticism by the Auditor-General and does what it can to ensure that remedial measures are taken. One of the difficulties experienced in relation to the service departments is that, in the very nature of things, the officers and men of the services are moved from place to place. A responsible officer may be located for some time in a certain camp or capital city and then moved elsewhere. For that reason, the Treasury and the departments concerned have difficulty in pinpointing the actual causes of trouble which the Auditor-General may refer to in his report.
From time to time, the departmental officers who are assisting me have given me answers concerning points raised by honorable senators in connexion with the’ Auditor-General’s report. With respect, I do not propose to read those answers, because I think that honorable senators really require a general statement concerning procedure. It seems to me that honorable senators want to know the course of events after the AuditorGeneral’s report is made, and that they do not desire me to attempt to explain or amplify criticism made by him. I have in my hand a statement by one of my officers concerning the AuditorGeneral’s comments on the Department of the Army, but I think that a statement of the position in general terms would be more satisfactory to honorable senators.
Senator Armstrong and Senator Wordsworth expressed opinions concerning the nature and size of the defence forces, the method of recruiting, the use to which the forces should be put, the desirability of increasing certain arms of the forces, and matters of that kind. I gained the impression that Senator Armstrong inclined to the view that a greater amount of money should.be expended on scientific research work in connexion with modern implements of war. Again, I think that the best answer is a general one. I suggest to honorable senators who have raised such points, that those matters are covered by the statement which the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) made in the House of Representatives on the 28th September last. After all, that was the foundation for the figures which we are now examining. In that statement, the Minister set out the aims and objectives of the defence programme, and he referred to the actual levels at which it was hoped to build various aspects of the defence effort. First, he set out the strategic concept to which the armed forces might be expected to conform. He gave details of the naval programme, the ships that were to be provided, the staffs and the establishments. In connexion with the Army programme, the Minister stated -
The chief feature is the step now being taken to bring the provision for equipment more into balance with that for man-power.
He added that those were considerations that would actuate decisions on the strength of the permanent army. That is the foundation of the whole defence vote and it is based upon the Government’s policy which is determined on the advice of the Government’s professional advisors. The figures that are before the committee flow from the implementation of that policy. Senator Wordsworth referred to civil defence. The Minister stated in connexion with that matter -
As announced recently by the Minister for the Interior, discussions on civil defence have been held between Federal and State representatives.
I mention these matters as an answer to honorable senators who have sought information and have discussed the nature of the defence programme. That programme conforms to the announced policy of the Government and that, in turn, is the foundation of these Estimates. Senator Benn was fairly accurate in his references to the vote of £12,000,000 that was provided in the Additional Estimates last April for defence supplies. That amount of £12,000,000 was not expended in the last financial year, and it is available for expenditure this year. I remind the honorable senator that a specific reference to the matter is contained in the budget speech of the Treasurer (Sir Arthur .”Fadden). He stated -
In addition, there is the Defence Equipment and Supplies Trust Account of £12,000,000 which was set up during 1953-54 and which will be held available in the Treasury as a reserve from which to meet any additional commitments.
That is the purpose of the appropriations. It was taken from the defence vote, put into a trust account and it i3 available this year. We hope that it will be expended on the purchase of essential materials and equipment for the Army. It is no secret that there has been considerable difficulty in obtaining all the equipment and supplies that were required. Senator Vincent referred to the new Belgian rifle. I am informed that negotiations are proceeding with the Belgian authorities and an early conclusion of a satisfactory agreement is anticipated. An order has already been placed with the Department of Defence Production for preliminary tooling, up for the manufacture of the new rifle.
– Then the Australian Army is to throw away the old 303 rifle?
– Our old friend, the Lee-Enfield rifle, is on its way out. Senator Critchley referred to compensation for members of the defence forces who suffer injury. He has referred to this matter previously. Members of the peace-time defence forces, including the Citizen Military Forces and national service trainees, are covered for compensation purposes by the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act. I know from experience that Senator Critchley believes that those provisions are not sufficiently generous, but that is the situation, and the Secretary of the Department of the Treasury is ex officio one of the commissioners under that act. The honorable senator referred to a case that occurred at Woodside. The second case he mentioned appeared to be a new one: I have not heard of it before. I shall arrange with the Department of the Treasury to inquire into the circumstances, and I shall acquaint him with the facts when I receive the information from that department. Reference has been made to civil defence expenditure and the provision of £.90,000 for that purpose. Of that amount, £61,000 will be expended upon properties, alterations, furnishings and equipment, £3,000 will be devoted to maintenance, and £26,000 will be used for the payment of salaries. I believe I am correct in stating that the civil defence project envisages a small Commonwealth cadre for the purpose of co-ordination, but the Australian Government looks to the States as the only practical avenue for carrying out the functions that may be decided upon. Senator Gorton referred to accommodation for chiefsofstaff of the various services. The proposed votes do not include provision for the acquisition of housing for chiefsofsta if. They are required to make their own housing arrangements. Some married quarters are acquired, but only in isolated areas. I should like to make some further inquiries into that matter. “When the honorable senator referred to it, I thought that my ideas were clear, but I believe that I might be “confusing the senior officers, such as general officers commanding the various military commands with the reference by the honorable senator to chiefs-of -staff.
Tho TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator McCallum). - Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- I direct attention to Division 115 - General Expenses, H.M.A. Ships, Fleet Auxiliaries and Naval Establishments. From time to time, various ships and other vessels of the Royal Australia/a Navy visit Australian ports. I refer, in particular, to out ports. As soon as possible after arriving at such ports, the captain and officers visit local dignitaries who, in turn, call upon the officers on board ship. The ship’s officers then return the hospitality that they have received while on shore from the local authorities and residents. I am informed that the captain is called upon to pay for that entertainment out of his own pocket. The information came from a reliable source, and, in my opinion, officers of
Her Majesty’s Navy should not be out of pocket because they have to provide reciprocal hospitality. I readily admit that there would have to be some limit. Obviously, the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) is aware of the danger of providing unlimited entertainment expenses, but the salaries that are paid to the naval officers are not large when compared with the current rates of salaries in other occupations. As a matter of fact, I believe that naval officers are underpaid, and probably that is why the Department of the Navy is understaffed. Certainly they should not have to pay with their own money to return hospitality that they have accepted officially At least they should be recompensed for the money that they have spent, and I ask the Minister to give consideration to the matter.
– In hi3 reply, the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) so far has not made any reference to a matter that was raised by Senator “Wordsworth. I direct the attention of the Minister to Division 127 - Australian Regular Army, “ Pay and Allowances in the Nature of Pay,’ £18,450,000 “. Last year, the actual expenditure on this item was £19,466,613. The proposed vote is £1,016,613 less. The schedule at page 182 shows that the salaries and allowance to which I have referred are to be provided for 24,500 persons. Under Division 130 - General Services, there is an item “ Recruiting Campaign, £283,000 “. The actual expenditure on that item last year wa3 £175,363, so there is to be an increase of the proposed vote of £107,637. Indications are that pay and allowances for the Australian Regular Army are to be reduced by £1,016,613, but there is to be a marked increase in the provision for a recruiting campaign. Apparently the Government expects to have fewer men and women in the Army, but more money is to be spent on recruiting. There appears to be a discrepancy there. Does the Minister want officers for recruiting staff? The schedule shows that of the 24,500 members of the Australian Regular Army, 13,138 hold the rank of corporal or higher. If we consider a lance-corporal to be a private for the purposes of this debate, the figures indicate that there are more’ officers and non-commissioned officers in the Army than there are privates. The schedule shows also that a chief of the general staff, three lieutenant-generals, three major-generals, 22 brigadiers, 36 colonels and 205 lieutenant-colonels are required to control this small army of 24,500. If the Minister wants recruiting staff, I suggest that he look for it inside the Army and not outside it.
Sitting suspended from 547 to S p.m.
– I have asked the Minister to explain why it is proposed to spend an additional £108,000 for recruiting purposes when expenditure on the Army is to be reduced by £1,000,000. I should like the Minister to say whether the Australian Regular Army exists for the purpose of training officers, so that if another world war were to occur we should have enough officers for a larger army. It appears to be almost an army of officers. If the Minister will give me the information for which I have asked, I am sure we shall all be much more enlightened about the Regular Array. It may be that some of the additional £108,000 will be used to attract volunteers to the militia or the school cadets.
– Senator Armstrong referred to the overall estimate for the Department of Defence Production for this year and remarked that it .was ]c.s than the estimate for 1953-54. In the past,- full overhead was not charged to the services for work performed in government factories. Some of the overhead expense was met from appropriations made under Division 174b. It has been decided now to charge the services full overhead, so there will be reduction of the overall vote for the Department of Defence Production and a corresponding increase of the votes for the service departments which place orders with defence production factories. Senator Armstrong will see that the estimated expenditure for this year under Division 174b is £675,000, compared with an expenditure of £2,707,000, in 1953-54.
The honorable senator referred also to the Woomera range. Estimated expenditure on the range for this year is £6,733,000. It includes salaries, wages, general expenses, operating costs such as aircraft running costs, machinery, plant, equipment and miscellaneous payments to universities engaged in research. It will cover the cost of conducting the activities of the long range weapons organization at Salisbury and Woomera, but it will not cover the cost of buildings and works, the maintenance of buildings and services, or the acquisition of site3 and buildings covered by other divisions of the Estimates. The honorable senator dealt with the modification, in Australia, of equipment purchased overseas. By and large, overseas specifications are accepted, but they are subject to modification overseas. In addition, certain equipment must be modified to meet local conditions. The honorable senator suggested that the government aircraft factory at Fishermen’s Bend was not fully staffed and was not working to full capacity at the present time. I have been informed that the government aircraft factory and the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation are both in full production and are encountering great difficulties in securing all the skilled tradesmen they require. An aircraft mission left this country last Sunday to investigate the types of aircraft that are available overseas, their suitability for our purposes, and their prices. When the mission returns, consideration will be given to the aircraft which will be manufactured in this country on completion of the current projects by the aircraft production factories.
Senator Benn directed attention to paragraph 108 of the Auditor-General’s report, which deals with contracts entered into with various companies by the Commonwealth. He asked why the AuditorGeneral’s Department was not supplied with full details of the contracts. The contractors make their records available to departmental cost investigators. I understand one contractor denied a representative of the Auditor-General access to his records. That was not an attempt to hide details from the Commonwealth, because all the relevant information was given to the Commonwealth cost investigator. The honorable senator also referred to contracts being let on a costplus basis instead of at a contract price. In certain cases, it is impossible to arrange fixed price contracts. For instance, when a new aircraft is to be built, it is not possible to let contracts on a fixed-price basis because the price cannot be assessed. With regard to contractors operating without agreements, negotiations have been in progress for some time and agreement is in the final draft stage.
Senator Gorton referred to the acquisition of sites and buildings by the Department of Defence Production and inquired whether any of the £54,000 sought for that purpose this year will be made available for the building of quarters for the chiefs of staff in the capital cities to which the duties of their positions take them. I have been informed that none of this money will be used for that purpose. The £54,000 is required to meet expenditure on activities authorized in previous years. A sum of £41,000 is required to purchase the site for an explosives factory in Victoria.
asked for some information about the aluminium plant in Tasmania. No provision is made in the Estimates of the Department of Defence Production for the Bell Bay establishment of the Aluminium Production Commission. As the honorable .senator stated, an investigation has been made into the matters that he mentioned. A report has been forwarded to the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale), and I understand that he has it under consideration. I shall bring the honorable senator’s comments to his notice.
– Will the honorable senator ask the Minister to table the report?
– I shall bring that request to the Minister’s notice.
.- I refer to Division 129- Citizen Military Forces and Cadets - General Expenses - Item 4, “ Compensation for Death, Injury or Illness on Duty, £45,000”. Expenditure for this purpose last year was £33,678. In my view, the Minister was very vague in his replies to the remarks made by Senator Critchley about compensation for injuries suffered by national service trainees. I am interested in the case of a trainee who did his compulsory training at Woodside camp in
South Australia. During the course of his training, he became ill and was sent to. a repatriation hospital. His illness continued for 88 days after the termination of his period of compulsory military service, but he received no military pay in respect of that period. I should like to know why the military authorities can evade their obligation to pay compensation. Are they immune from the compensation legislation that is applicable to every other phase of social and industrial life in Australia? If an employee of a private firm suffers an injury in the course of his employment, under the law of the land his employer is compelled to pay him compensation during his period of invalidity. That is true also of members of the Public Service. But the military authorities, despite the fact that the Parliament makes an appropriation for expenditure on compensation, can avoid the payment of compensation to national service trainees. It appears to me to be anomalous that a private firm is bound to pay compensation to an employee who meets with an accident in the course of his employment, hut the military authorities can refuse to pay compensation to a trainee who becomes ill during his training period. This trainee was called up compulsorily. He reported for duty. He was under the control of the military authorities. Whilst performing his duties he became ill and went into a military hospital. The military authorities said that they were not responsible for the trainee after the expiration of 90 days’ service. Yet they permitted the trainee to receive medical attention in a repatriation hospital for a further period of 88 days. To my way of thinking, the military authorities thereby admitted their liability. In private enterprise the employer is liable to pay compensation to the employee who becomes ill in his service. Despite the fact that the employer may give an employee a week’s notice of dismissal during the period of his invalidity that action does not relieve the employer of his responsibility to pay compensation to the employee in respect of the full period of his invalidity. The same condition should apply to the military authorities.
The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) has failed to explain why the military authorities are immune from, the compensation laws which apply to every one else. This trainee should be entitled to receive compensation, as would any person who becomes ill in the course of his employment. In private industry the compensation laws function automatically. Why should not the military authorities have the same obligations as private employees? The Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis) should have this position rectified at the earliest opportunity.
– I should like to compliment the Government on its preparations for the defence of Australia. Australia, is now better prepared for war than it has ever been in its history. Few honorable senators are capable of criticizing defence preparations because the tempo of events has changed very much during the last few years. Some of us may have been experts on such matters a few years ago but our knowledge is now entirely out of date. So it is with a certain amount of diffidence that I approach this subject.
Honorable senators inter jecting,
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! Senator Wordsworth has the floor. Other honorable senators will have their turn in due course, I hope.
– I think that honorable senators should receive education on matters of defence. It would be a very good idea if the chiefs of staff of the Army, Navy and Air Force were to visit this chamber and give us a few informal talks on the subject of defence. Such talks would help to awaken ns to our dangers and responsibilities. Our defence services must be regarded in a new light. It is necessary to examine the constitution of our Citizen Military Forces. The Government recently received a certain amount of criticism for altering the terms of service of national service trainees by exempting certain categories of people from being called up. I wa3 inclined to criticize the Government myself on that occasion. But, on thinking over this matter, I consider that the Government was probably right. Do we want a large number of only partly trained men? I consider that the greater part of our Citizen Military Forces consists of men who are only partly trained. A large number of men in the Army received basic training but we have no units that are fit to take their place quickly in the order of battle as trained fighting units. That is what we need.
The basic training of the Citizen Military Forces could very well be undertaken in cadet corps. What is the basic training? It is only training in the elementary military movements in formations up to battalions. The men are taught how to shoot a rifle, how to use a light machine-gun and how to use a light trench mortar. Our military forces do not receive battalion training, brigade training or divisional training and they never have manoeuvres, which are most necessary for a modern field force. It is necessary for our staff of commanders to receive this training. We have not a striking force. Our Regular Army comprises three battalions, an armoured regiment and the odd necessary details. It is really one brigade group. I admit that what I suggest would cost a lot of money, but such an effort is nothing in comparison with what the United Kingdom is doing, even after taking the difference in populations into account. A vote of £200,000,000 for defence is not enough; 1 should like the defence vote to be £500,000,000. Are we really facing the crisis or not? Are we likely to be engaged on our northern frontiers or not in the next few years? If we are not, we could reduce our defence vote. But if we are likely to be engaged on those frontiers we should increase the defence vote. I consider that we must train field formations.
– Where will they be used when there is a war on?
– They may be required in South-East Asia. The present trend is not towards a world war. It is more likely that there will be another conflict such as those which occurred in Korea and Indo-Ohina. There may be an outbreak of hostilities in Burma. Certain nations may call upon Seato for help. But it is necessary to decide whether or not we should prepare for an engagement on our northern frontiers. If such an engagement is unlikely we could scrap our defence preparations. But if such an engagement is likely we should provide the extra money necessary to provide a concentrated striking force of, perhaps, one division. One brigade group would not be sufficient. The Citizen Military Forces as at present constituted would not be effective if Australia were attacked. We may have to take steps to rectify that position in the not distant future. It might be necessary to expand the Air Force and the Navy and reduce the strength of the Army. I am not prepared to argue that that is not so. It may be so. But, even if the defence of Australia were handed over to the Air Force completely, it would still be necessary to have ground forces. Our minimum military force should be one division which must be well trained. It is no use having 100,000 bodies which can turn right and left, slope arms and fire a rifle. They would not be of any use unless the war were to continue for one or two years. But the war which we all hope will never come may be fought and lost within the first two or three months. I do not think that Australia could put a brigade group into the field in less than six months, and probably not within a year. Of course, as I could be wrong - very few of us are able to decide these matters - I was diffident about offering any comment. I think that we should have a good look at our defence forces, and I am prepared to believe that the Government is doing so. The Senate should be given more information about the trend of thought in various quarters in relation to the probability of a future global war. If that, were done, we would be able to discuss the proposed financial provision for the defence forces in a more sensible and intelligent way, and so acquaint the people of Australia with what this country is confronted.
Senator AYLETT (Tasmania) [8.31J. - I shall not resort to sniping at the Government, as Senator Wordsworth did, but I hope that the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) will be able to inform me of the reason for the provision of an additional £108,000 in this financial year for the recruiting campaign. As a layman, I consider that we should expend considerably more money than is proposed on the purchase of up-to-date defence aircraft, but I shall leave to Senator Wordsworth and other experts the task of urging the Government to do so. The aspect of the matter to which I wish to direct attention is that modern defence aircraft, which cost a lot of money, are left unguarded at open aerodromes. It is not right that uptodate aircraft, immediately after being taken into commission, should be left unguarded where unauthorized persons may inspect them and even place time bombs in them if they so desired. Although some supporters of the Government may not know that aircraft have been left unguarded in this way, I assure the committee that it is so. If the present sittings of the Royal Commission on Espionage are justified, we cannot for a moment believe that this country is free of traitors. That being 30, is it fair to the pilots that our latest defence aircraft should be exposed to unauthorized interference at open aerodromes? In passing on this information to the Government, I hope that I shall not be accused of sniping. Our latest defence aircraft and other valuable defence equipment should not be left unguarded.
– Where did that happen?
– It happened at Western Junction, about four months ago Two of our latest defence aircraft were left unguarded, thus exposing the pilots to grave risk. I hope that the Government will take heed of what I have said, and ensure that aircraft and other valuable defence equipment will be guarded when not in use.
– Senator Wordsworth and Senator Aylett have referred to variations of expenditure in various branches of the armed services. As I have said pre: viously, a general picture of what has occurred can be gained from a perusal of a statement that was made by the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride), in another place, on the 28th September. Steps are being taken to effect a balance between equipment available and personnel strength of the Army. Senator Aylett referred to the proportion of officers to other ranks. I point out that the officers establishment covers not only the Australian Regular Army, but also the Citizen Military Forces, the National Service trainees, the Cadet Corps, and the Permanent establishment. Senator Aylett has referred to the proposed increase of £108,000 for recruiting. The proposed vote for the recruiting campaign makes provision for recruiting not only to the Army, but also to the Navy and the Air Force. The proposed increased allocation is necessary because an endeavour is being made to recruit skilled tradesmen, of which the various branches of the services are very short. By and large, the reason for the proposed additional expenditure is that a special effort is being made to recruit skilled tradesmen to the services. Senator Ryan referred to an incident at Woodside. The honorable senator is apparently under a misapprehension in that matter. The Army is not on a footing different from that of a private employer. There has been no attempt by the Army to evade the payment of compensation in the case to which he referred. The Army treats national service trainees in a manner similar to that in which public servants are treated. I have not the facts of the case before me. As Senator Critchley referred to the same case when speaking recently on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, I shall arrange for the Department of the Army to write to him and explain the reason why the payments that were made were not in accordance with bis understanding of the position. By and large, a trainee receives military pay up to the end of his period of training plus 30 days; thereafter he receives compensation in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act. Eligibility is established when a disability in respect of which a claim is made manifests itself during the training period. Senator Aylett referred also to defence aircraft being left unguarded at aerodromes. ‘I shall ensure that his remarks are brought to the notice of the Department of Air. In reply to
Senator Wordsworth’s interesting remarks, all I can say is that the government of the day is responsible for determining the size and order of the defence programme, in the light of advice received from its professional officers. The development and soundness of the national economy must also be taken into consideration.
.- I wish now to direct the attention of the committee to Division No. 127, which relates to the Australian Regular Army. The current report of the AuditorGeneral contains a reference to the theft of public moneys at Tokyo. The relevant portion of paragraph 112 .on page 69 reads -
In July, 1.953, an inspection by my officers disclosed a cash deficiency of fC3,549 a-t the Australian Depot Cash Office, Tokyo. The Paymaster was subsequently tried by Courtmartial, found guilty, sentenced to ten years imprisonment and cashiered. At the date of this Report no portion of the deficiency had been recovered.
The Paymaster commenced his peculations late in 1930 and covered his actions by not bringing to account advances and bank withdrawals in the cash book at the time when his accounts and cash were being checked. This was facilitated by lack of surprise in the methods adopted by the Army checking officers.
The system of internal control included a weekly check at Kure of the advances to and transactions of the Tokyo Cash Office, and provided for periodical check of cash in hand and at bank at Tokyo. Adequate techniques were not used by the Army checking staff in making these checks and the significance of the outstanding advances was not appreciated until the theft was disclosed by the Audit Office. The quality and effectiveness of remedial measures taken by the Department are now being examined.
I point out that £63,549 is a very large sum of money. An honorable senator opposite has referred to waste at Manus Island. In this instance, the loss of the huge sum of money was due to negligence by the Government itself. It is true that the paymaster was cashiered and imprisoned, but, as the AuditorGeneral points out, no portion of the money has been recovered. This highlights another matter. The report of the Auditor-General indicates that although the paymaster commenced his peculations late in 1950, it was not until 1953, two and a half years later, that an officer of the Auditor-General’s Department found the deficiencies. This appears to indicate some inadequacy or inefficiency on the part of the Auditor-General’s Department. Surely it is the duty of some authority in the Commonwealth to watch these things carefully so that the interests of the public are safeguarded. The Auditor-General makes the same explanation in this case as he did in relation to stores deficiencies. He said -
In this case adequate techniques were not used by the Army checking staff.
Surely, it is somebody’s function to see that adequate techniques are employed to safeguard the financial interests of the public. This deficiency of £63,549 hasto be met by the taxpayers of Australia. It is all very well for the Government to make declarations of defence policy and to make comparisons of what is being done now with what was done back in 1938. I remind the committee that in 193S there was not a Labour government in office, and expenditure on defence was nothing like £200,000,000 a year. The people of Australia want some assurance from the Government that the £200,000,000 that is to be spent on defence this year will he spent wisely, and that their interests will be adequately safeguarded.
– I listened carefully to Senator Wordsworth and, on the information at my disposal, I am inclined to agree that we probably have no defence at all. The honorable senator did say that Australia was better prepared to-day than it had ever been before, but then he admitted that our defences were in a bad way, and that it would take six months to put a division into action. I agree also with Senator Benn. We are being asked to vote large sums of money for the service departments, but we do not know what Australia is to get for that expenditure. Is some of the money to be used to buy chicken farms for certain individuals? We want to be told, not by generals, but by the departmental officials who are in the chamber to-night, what we are to get for this £200,000,000. Our first line of defence is a contented nation. If the people of a country believe that they have a stake in their homeland, they will very soon get into action in the event of a war. We should consider the individual needs of our potential soldiers before we start to provide them with weapons of destruction. Many men who fought in past wars in defence of this country are homeless to-day. Instead of spending huge sums of money on certain forms of defence which, upon the outbreak of a war, would be obsolete, funds should be placed at the disposal of the States to provide adequate housing, to build roads, and, last but not least, to standardize railway gauges. All those things can be regarded as defence projects, but very little is to be spent on them.
In both world Avars many hundreds of thousands of man-hours were lost in transporting goods and men over our railway systems. Much of the delay was caused by the lack of uniformity of railway gauges. I do not expect the Minister for National ‘Development to be able to provide us with very much information, because he is only the representative in this chamber of the Minister for the Army. He does not know just what we are getting in return for this vast expenditure, and he could not be expected to know it. Nevertheless, this committee should be able to obtain all the information that it requires from officials of the various defence departments. I do not say that the expenditure has been undertaken without due consideration, but I have no doubt that considerable sums are being expended on equipment which, should a war break out in the near future, would ba obsolete and would probably be dumped in the bay. I believe that in the event of another war we should have to look once again to our allies, the United States of America and Great Britain, to provide the man-power and modern equipment that would be required. During World War LT., the Labour Government of Australia undertook to feed the American forces in this theatre of war. That was our first line of defence. The Americans in turn provided the armies, armaments, ships and aircraft. I can remember the vital days at the outbreak of World War II. when pur airmen were stationed at Darwin and had to fly Wirraway kites against the Japanese Zeros. That can happen again if we do not do the right thing.
It is our duty to see that land settlement proceeds as rapidly as possible. That, too, is a line of defence. Any general will agree that if an army is well fed it will fight well. If it is starved it will meet the fate that has overtaken so many armies in the past. The Australian Government is the main taxing authority in the Commonwealth, and it has an obligation to provide money for land settlement, water conservation, and improved transport links, including the standardization of railway gauges. If the people of Australia knew where some of the money that is supposed to be spent on defence was going, there would be an uprising. It is the job of the heads of the service departments to make as much information as possible available to members of this chamber. . Earlier this session, I advocated the establishment of more all-party committees of the Parliament. If we had a parliamentary committee on defence expenditure which had access to defence information, members of the Parliament would be able to discuss the defence estimates intelligently. Under the present system, we are ignorant of the true nature of the Government’s defence proposals. The establishment of a parliamentary committee on defence expenditure, with power to make not only majority, but also minority reports, would improve our defences and tend to reduce expenditure. Again I ask the Government to make available more information about the manner in which the £200,000,000 that we are being asked to vote for defence this year is to be expended.
– I wish to refer first to aerodromes. I recall that when I first spoke in this chamber, not very long ago, I urged the Government to consider establishing an air force station at Cambridge aerodrome when the new civil airport at Llanherne, near Hobart, was opened. Again I urge consideration of that proposal. When Llanherne airport is opened, Cambridge will no longer be required for civil aviation. Recently, Tasmania had the honour of a visit by a leader of the Royal Air Force. He suggested that Tasmania was suited to the establishment of an air force station. The Premier of Tasmania, naturally, and to my mind quite rightly, came forward in support of the proposal.
However, whereas the Premier said that the air force station should be established at Llanherne, I am against that proposal, although I realize that at Canberra both the Royal Australian Air Force and the civil airline companies use Fairbairn airport. Civil aviation is growing so much in this country that it is desirable that Royal Australian Air Force stations should be separated from civil airports. It is expected that the new civil aerodrome at Llanherne will be completed by the end of the year. Cambridge aerodrome has given good service, and can take all aircraft flying in Australia with the exception of the DC6. I ask the Government to consider again the establishment of a Royal Australian Air Force station, at Cambridge.
I believe that no member of this Parliament should criticize the expenditure’ of £200,000,000 on defence. During the recent election campaign, all parties assured the public that defence expenditure would be maintained. Now, whilst praising the Government for making this money available, I find that I am treading on foreign paths. I am almost agreeing with Senator Hendrickson. Last year, nearly £12,000,000 of the defence vote remained unexpended. The defence authorities apparently decided that if the money could not be expended wisely, it should not be expended at all. That is a commendable attitude. There was not the undue waste that sometimes occurs when a department finds that it will have difficulty in spending all the money that has been allocated to it. However, I suggest that if in future, the Government finds that the amount of money voted by the Parliament for defence will not be fully expended, the surplus should be diverted to projects that will assist the civil population, help the progress of Australia, and still be of defence value. There are many such undertakings. They include the building of strategic roads, railways, ports and aerodromes. I should not like to see a recurrence of the wasteful expenditure that was incurred in Tasmania during the war years when a Labour government was in office. That administration, acting in haste, or perhaps in panic, spent a lot of money on undertakings that were unnecessary. Flying from Devonport to Hobart, the traveller to-day sees two or three airstrips now becoming overgrown. They were established during the war at the cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds, and they have been of no value to any one except perhaps motor cycle and light car clubs. If the Government had beeen wiser and more stable, that money would have been expended on the construction of aerodromes at places such as Smithton and St. Helens, where aerodromes were needed. I hope that if the Government finds, towards the end of the financial year, that there is money available in the defence vote, it will look round Australia to see where works of defence value, such as a railway, a port, or an aerodrome, could be carried out. Both sides of the Parliament agree that the money which is being voted for defence purposes should be so voted. Its expenditure creates employment and leads to progress. I am not a critic of the Government for its attitude to defence.
– I do not think that any honorable senator begrudges the expenditure of £200,000,000 on defence. Any quarrel they might have on this score is not about the amount that is to be spent, but about the manner in which it is to be spent. Most honorable senators would not complain if it were proposed to spend as much as £500,000,000 on defence, a3 long as that amount was to be expended wisely and well. “Western Australia, which covers a third of the area of the Commonwealth, has an obvious need of good air defence; yet, in the last twelve months, we have seen the withdrawal of the Neptune bomber squadron from Pearce aerodrome, although the staff facilities at that aerodrome are as good as those anywhere else in Australia. A great deal of adverse comment by the leaders and supporters of all political parties in Western Australia, and also by people interested in the defence of Australia, arose as a result of that withdrawal. The provision of adequate air defence has always been an important plank in the platform of the Australian Labour party. It is gratifying to the supporters of the Australian Labour party that the policy enunciated by the late Mr. Curtin, as far back as 1937, has been vindicated by the present Minister for Defence (Sir Philip
McBride), who apparently appreciates that Australia depends to a great degree on air defence. All honorable senators on the Government side of the chamber seem to think that the danger of attack is greatest from the South-East Asian area, which indicates that a great deal of the north-west coast of Western Australia is particularly vulnerable. I should like to see, in any defence plan that is drawn up within the next few years, definite arrangements for the- defence of the north-western shores of Western Australia.
Senator Marriott referred to the construction, in panic, of certain aerodromes in remote parts of Tasmania during World War II. We should thank God that those airstrips were not needed. It was also necessary to construct airstrips at very short notice in the northern part of Western Australia, and some of them were of considerable value. From them, sorties were made against enemy territory,” which was only a couple of hours’ flying time away, with striking effect. From the coast of Western Australia, the United States submarines were able to direct their attacks on enemy shipping in the waters between Singapore and Ceylon. The strategic importance .of Western Australia in the scheme of Australia’s defence cannot be over-estimated. I think that it is vitally necessary, in this proposed expenditure of £200,000,000, to have due regard to the development of the defence potential of that State. I should like to see some of the air-fields in the north-western portion of Western Australia reconstructed so that they could be used again in case of emergency. That area is also becoming increasingly valuable, from an industrial point of view, because of the oil drilling that is taking place there. For that reason, it is even more necessary that adequate protection should- be provided. In the event of war, the area would be exposed to attack from an enemy with bases nearby. I therefore ask the Department of Air to consider, in relation to its projects for the current financial year, the full claims of Western Australia concerning the development of air-fields and landing-grounds.
That brings me to the point that the harbours on the north-west coast of Western Australia were very important, during the last war. As the industrial importance of the north west becomes more, pronounced because of the development of oil discoveries in that area, we hope that further industrial progress will be made. The possibility of enemy attack should convince the Government of the necessity to develop the harbours of the north-western area. During the last war, there was no water laid on to the jetties at Onslow, so that vessels which called there for emergency refuelling and victualling had to be supplied with water which came from a great distance. Such a situation could mean the los of thousands of lives in time of emergency. I am sure that no Australian begrudges the expenditure of large sums of money if, by means of such expenditure, the country will be rendered less liable to enemy attack. The Army, the Navy and the Air Farce should be developed to their full capacities, and the construction of harbours, air-fields and other defence projects throughout Australia should be carried out on an overall plan. It should not be a case of a bit done here and a bit done there, in the hope that the lot will fall into place eventually, like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
A great deal has been spoken about the standardization of railway gauges. Honorable senators are aware that, during the last war, it sometimes took between fourteen and fifteen days for equipment to be transported from the eastern part of Australia to the west. Despite the fact that, at the time the Clapp report on the standardization of railway gauges was made, the cost of such work would not have been one-fifth of what it would cost to-day, interstate jealousies and other difficulties prevented anything from being done. These problems have to be looked at from a national point of view, and I think that the standardization of rail gauges could very well come within the ambit of defence. If matters such as that were considered as a part of the defence system, I do not think that any one would complain about the expenditure of money by an Australian government of whatever political colour. I a.m. not competent to speak about the internal arrangements of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. I leave those matters to the chiefs of staff. If we have no confidence in those officers, we should sack them and appoint others in whom we have confidence. I believe, however, that we have confidence in our chiefs of staff and that we may be assured that they will do their utmost to develop the services under their command. Nevertheless, I think that the Government could do more in respect of defence, particularly in view of the fact that in matters of defence it receives full support and encouragement from every honorable senator in this chamber.
– I direct the attention of the committee to Division 135, which refers to arms, armament, ammunition, mechanization and equipment. The vote for this purpose last year was £8,795,000, whereas expenditure was £7,859,424. The vote this year is £18,402,000. The overall defence vote is approximately the same as it was last year. If honorable senators look at the various divisions and items they will notice that in no other item has there been any substantial alteration. The proposed expenditure in connexion with the Australian Regular Army is approximately the same this year as was expenditure last year, arid that is so of practically the whole of the Army estimates. There is, of course, a substantial alteration in Division 133 - Forces in Japan and Korea, Maintenance, for very obvious reasons. There is a uniformity, however, in the votes which provide for the maintenance of personnel under the headings, “ Australian Regular Army “, “ Civilian Services “, “ Citizen Military Forces and Cadets “, and “ General Services “. But when we come to arms and equipment, we find that the vote this year is approximately twice that of last year. Senator Hendrickson said that we were entitled to know in some detail the purposes for which this £200,000,000 is to be spent. When we come to this particular vote, I think that the Minister should try, as far as the circumstances permit, and as far as such matters can be disclosed, to inform the Senate just what is taking place in regard to the provision of arms, armaments, ammunition, mechanization and equipment which would warrant the doubling of the vote. Apparently, there is to be no change in the numbers of men in the various arms of the services.
I think it can be presumed that there is to be an intensification of mechanization, and that a great deal of money will be expended in bringing equipment up to the most modern levels.. Nevertheless, I think that- such an item should receive particular attention from the Minister, and that he should give the committee information about it. We all know that the tendency throughout modern armies is for increased mechanization and the provision of the latest weapons and equipment. If my interpretation of the increased vote is correct, I think that we can congratulate the Government for embarking on a programme of modernization of the Australian Army. That appears to be the only part of the Army vote which give encouragement to the committee that anything worth while is being done in connexion with our Army. That vote has been increased by approximately £11,000,000, in a total vote of £200,000,000. The £18,402,000 represents more than 25 per cent, of the total vote for the Department of the Army, which stands at £72,185,000, and is 11 per cent, or 12 per cent, of the total Defence Services vote of £200,000,000, together with the amount of £12,000,000, which has been put into the Defence Equipment and Supplies Trust Account.
I think that the Minister might give to the Senate an idea not only of what is being done to re-equip and modernize the Army, but also whether any pattern of improvement and modernization is being followed. He might also say whether this is merely replacement of existing equipment by more modern equipment, such as replacing Mark IV. guns by Mark V guns, or whether it indicates a completely new approach, and represents the provision of new weapons and the mechanization of units which have not previously been mechanized.
– Some days ago, I asked a question in the Senate in relation to the recruiting of men. for the Citizen Air Force and also for the Air Force reserve. As far as I was concerned, the question was not answered satisfactorily. Since then, because of the publicity which has been given to the matter, I have received several communications from men who have sought entry into the Citizen Air
Force or into the Air Force reserve. I have been informed - and I do not disbelieve these . men - that they have been discouraged ‘ from entering those sections of the armed forces. I ask the Minister to investigate this matter closely. Last year, a large sum was expended on recruiting, and the Government proposes to allocate about £108,000 more this year for the same purpose. If, in the face of such activity, men are to be discouraged from joining the forces, there is a grave misuse of public money. Probably many recruiting officers have good jobs and .are persuasive in getting young men to offer their services to the country, but what is the use of it if the recruits are to be discouraged when they want to join the forces ? It is useless for the Minister to fob off honorable senators with his answers to pertinent questions relating to this matter. Ministers have become very adept at giving answers to honorable senators and telling them very little. It has become an art with them. I have asked questions on this matter many times, and have had unsatisfactory answers. I believe that the men who have written to me and have spoken to me about this matter have told the truth, and the Minister should give me a proper explanation.
– In speaking to the Estimates for the Defence Services, I am in total agreement with honorable senators on both sides that we must spend as much as we can afford on the defence of Australia. Having regard to the present inflationary period, the amount of £200,000,000 is not inordinately large, provided it is spent wisely. I agree with honorable senators who have suggested that this committee should be told how and where the large amounts that honorable senators are discussing are being expended. I direct the attention of the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) to the report of the Auditor-General for the year ended June, 1954. The report states at page 65, paragraph 108 -
Two major aircraft production projects continued during the year under arrangements between the Commonwealth and two contracting companies. Expenditure for 1953-54 was f 5.731 0,575. One of the projects has operated for years without a signed agreement.
This is the disturbing part of the Auditor-General’s comment on this mat- ter -
The companies are remunerated on a “ costplus “ basis which means that remuneration is calculated on a percentage of a certain amount of costs incurred by them. In the circumstances it is important that audit officers should have unrestricted access to the hooks and records of the companies relating to costs incurred and claimed in respect of the Commonwealth projects. This has not been the case, and I have made representations to the Treasury with a view to its correction.
Unsatisfactory features relating to the departmental inspection of contractors’ accounts, control of stocks of materials, plant and equipment and the payment of claims, which were referred to in the first Annual Report for 1952-53. have been the subject of correspondence with the Department. Some matters remained unsolved at the date of preparation of this report.
Having regard to the magnitude of the task involved in the defence of Australia, I believe that there should be the closest scrutiny of contracts that are let out, particularly those on a cost-plus basis, and I should like some detailed information about the arrangement to which I have referred. Obviously, if two major aircraft production companies are involved in the expenditure of £5,500,000, similar contracts are being let on a costplus basis to private contractors in connexion with other branches of the defence forces. Apparently, they are not submitted to any more scrutiny than that mentioned in the Auditor-General’s report, and I ask the Minister for some information on the matter.
– I was Minister for Aircraft Production from 1941 to 1945, and I discovered that the cost-plus system was deliberately loaded against the Government. “With the assistance of a Treasury officer, Mr. Harris, who was a member of the Aircraft Production Committee, and others, we recovered at least £1,000,000 that had been debited against the Government.
– They were robbing the Government?
– Yes, and in war-time. Under the National Security Act, we had access to the books of those concerned, and we found that costs had been deliberately loaded. We recovered £l’,000j000, and if we had had two or three more costing experts, I believe that we would have recovered much more. Practically everything in production depends upon management. If private contractors are permitted to carry on as they did before World War II., and have done since the repeal of the National Security Act, in my opinion, honorable senators can be assured that the amount of £200,000,000 that is to be allocated for defence expenditure will not be spent to the best advantage. When I was Minister for Aircraft Production, I found that there was considerable working at cross purposes, particularly by major contractors. I suggested that a conference should be called to discuss the matter. I was told that I could not direct the representatives of the major contractors, the monopolists, to do that. I gave directions, and said that if a conference was not held, I would tell all I knew in this chamber. The conference was held. As a result of it, the Aircraft Production Committee was formed, and Mr. Essington Lewis was the chairman. We had representatives of the major contractors, the Treasury, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and the trade unions on that committee, and we began to get results. Team-work was achieved and production of aircraft improved considerably and rapidly.
So far as I am able to judge, that teamwork does not exist now in peace-time. There was no team-work before World War II., and, for all practical purposes, there was chaos in the Department of Aircraft Production and in other departments as well. Unless the Government provides for a more efficient form of management, where all who are responsible are represented on a committee or some such body and work together, I cannot believe that the proposed vote on defence will be expended to the best advantage. The Government stands for private enterprise. Private enterprise works at cross purposes. Profit making is its dominant motive, and enormous profits were made in the two world wars. Under the National Security Act, representatives of the Treasury had access to the books of organizations when there was reason to believe that accounts were not being kept properly. Mr. Harris, who is a wellknown Treasury officer, introduced a form of uniform bookkeeping so that we could see, at a glance, the extent to which costs were being loaded against the Government. This Government will not succeed in its proclaimed objectives unless it has a more efficient system of management, particularly in relation to the trade unions. When the Labour Government was in office, I selected the late Mr. Mat Roberts to assist in that direction during the war. He was a first-class tradesman and the organizer at that time for the Amalgamated Engineers Union. He was in a position to go to the workshops and see at a glance-
– I rise to a point of order. The remarks of the honorable senator about events in 1941 are very interesting, hut I submit that they are not relevant to the Estimates for the current financial year.
– Order! I have given Senator Cameron a good deal of latitude. We are discussing the Estimates for this financial year, and I ask the honorable senator to direct his remarks to the proposed vote that is before the committee.
– Experience is a hard school, but it is the only one that fools will learn in. That applies to the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat after rising to a point of order. I was pointing out that unless we have a more efficient system of management, we can be sure that the £200,000,000 that is to be provided for defence expenditure will not be spent to the best advantage. If that is to be achieved, those who are directly responsible must have some say in the management. It is not a question of a Minister ordering somebody to do this or that. It is a question of giving a senior officer a voice in saying how the money is to be expended. Senator Sandford has referred to the fact that the AuditorGeneral is complaining now - not in the past, but now - that proper supervision is not being exercised over the expenditure of money. What does the Government propose to do about that complaint ? Is the report of the Auditor-General to be ignored? If proper provision is not made now to supervise expenditure, we shall all find ourselves,- if another war occurs, in the same sort of muddle that we found ourselves during the last war.
The note I strike is that everything depends on management. Our objective is to make the defence forces as efficient as it is physically and financially possible to make them, but that objective will not be attained unless something more is done to secure efficient management now and in the future than has been done so far. I say that in the light of the criticism by the Auditor-General. All that we can do in this chamber is to draw attention to these matters. It is the responsibility of the appropriate Ministers and senior officers to see that the work required to be done is done under the best possible system of management. In Australia we have public servants, tradesmen and all sorts of men who are qualified by experience and examination to do the joh that has to be done. But unless they are given both an opportunity to do the job and a right to express their opinion about how it should be done, the job will not be done. I trust that my remarks will have some effect on the Government. If the Government carries on as it has done so far, we shall find ourselves in a state of chaos again.
– I wish to refer to Division 129 - Citizen Military Forces and Cadets, and to Division 132 - Rifle Clubs and Associations. Dealing with Division 129, I want to raise a matter that I raised in correspondence with the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis) a considerable time ago. Apparently when national .service trainees go into camp they are entitled to use the telephone and telegraph services at a concessional rate. I think it is a half of the usual rate. I have been approached by an organization in Queensland on ,behalf of school cadets. Apparently a similar concession is not given to school cadets when they go into camp. It seems to me that it would be only reasonable to extend the concession to them. The national service trainees, generally speaking, are young men who were earning money in civil life and can be presumed to have put a little money by before they went into camp. In addition, they receive pay from Army sources. The school cadets are only schoolboys.
They receive no pay from Army sources, but their parents give them a few pounds to treat their mates and buy the things they need during the seven or ten days they are in camp. If they want to get in touch with their homes for any purpose, I do not see why they should have to pay the full rate for telephone or telegraph services, while national service trainees are entitled to a concession rate. When I raised this matter with the Minister for the Army, I received an extraordinary reply. The Minister said that the national service trainee was in camp compulsorily whilst the school cadet was there voluntarily. I pointed out that I could not accept that as a fair basis for discrimination. The correspondence finished at that point. I hoped that something would be done to extend the concession to school cadets, but apparently nothing was done. I raise the matter again, and suggest that the Minister for the Army get in touch with the Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony) to see whether some system can be worked out, if it has not been worked out already, under which school cadets will be allowed to use telephones and telegraph services at the same rate as national service trainees.
The reason why an item in respect of rifle clubs and associations appears in the defence Estimates is that these clubs and associations are, in a sense, adjuncts to the defence forces. The very nature of the sport, hobby, relaxation, or whatever we like to call it is such that it gives men who engage in it an aptitude that is valuable to them in time of war as members of the armed forces. I was approached recently by a member of the Amateur Radio Operators Association. As honorable senators know, thousands of young men operate private radio stations, through which they get in touch with other enthusiasts in all parts of the world. Those young men spend a great deal of money on expensive equipment. They train themselves in the art of radio mechanics and electronics. The young man who approached me told me that many of them have already given themselves some basic training in television and other techniques of that nature. With the modernization of our armed forces and with the increasing intrusion of scientific techniques into modern armies, it is becoming increasingly important that we should be in a position to mobilize, when required, as many radio and electrical technicians as possible for service in the various arms of the forces, especially the Air Force. Rifle clubs and associations receive subsidies from the Government, and members of the clubs and associations are entitled to purchase their ammunition at reduced rates. The point that this member of the Amateur. Radio Operators Association put to me was that no similar concessions were extended to radio operators in connexion with the purchase of equipment. Condensers, valves and transformers are very expensive. As the men concerned are young men who have not very much money, it is difficult for them to equip their radio stations properly, or to reequip them in conformity with modern standards. I suggested to him that the Government should be approached on the matter, not only by me but also by the whole federation of amateur radio operators. I understand there is such a federation in Australia. I asked him to let me have information about the number of radio operators in Australia, their international contacts, how many of them served in the forces in the last war, the cost of their equipment, how often they have to replace it, the total cost of a small and efficient station, and matters like that. I said that if he and other representatives of the federation came to Canberra, I should be pleased to submit their case to the Minister for the Army, the Treasurer or the appropriate authority and see whether some concession could be given to them by the elimination or the reduction of sales tax so far as it applied to tho equipment that they used, or whether they could be put in the same position as members of rifle clubs and associations and regarded, perhaps remotely, as an ancillary arm of the defence forces, and encouraged to train themselves and be ready if they were wanted. I believe that if such a concession were given, many young men would be encouraged to join these societies. I am sure that Senator O’Byrne and Senator Gorton could toll the Senate how important it is for skilled radio technicians to be immediately available for a modern air force if war is declared. The Government has an opportunity to encourage young men to train themselves in a time of peace, in a civilian occupation that would be of great value in a time of war. Possibly, because of the stimulation of their interest in this work, they would become more highly skilled by practising their hobby than they could become, except after many months of training in the armed forces at the expense of the Government. I have tried to show honorable senators that there is a need for solicitude of this kind to be shown by the Government to these radio operators. I expect confidently that my representations will be received sympathetically by the Government. If they are not, I look for the co-operation of honorable senators to persuade the Government that a concession to radio operators would serve just as useful a purpose as a concession to members of rifle clubs and associations, which is the subject of a special item in the Estimates that we are considering now.
. - I support the suggestion by Senator “Wordsworth that the Chiefs-of-Staff be invited to talk to members of the Parliament occasionally about matters connected with the various services. I do not suggest that the Chiefs-of-Staff themselves should do so, because they are busy men, but I do suggest that they could quite easily send deputies to talk to us occasionally from, say, 7 to 8 p.m., and put us into possession of some of the facts about what the defence forces are doing. At present, the majority of us really do not know what the forces are doing. When we ask questions about them, we have no background of knowledge. Those of us who served in the forces during the last war have been out of uniform for a long time, and are not up to date on service matters. The trip that some honorable senators made recently to the Snowy Mountains put them in possession of information on which they could base sane and sensible questions about the Snowy Mountains scheme. In the same way, a trip to New Guinea., even if it were only a brief trip, would give honorable senators some knowledge of conditions there. Recently, we saw a film in the Senate club room about the voyage of
Kista Dan to Heard Island and Macquarie Island. If we had seen the film before the Antarctic legislation was introduced, it would have given honorable senators some sort of background for their comments on that legislation.
So with the defence forces. Those of us who had- a knowledge of one service are now, so to speak, out of date. We should appreciate a talk by a deputy of the Chief-of-Staff of that service. I am worried about a couple of things in the defence estimates, but probably that is because I do not know what is going on. I see, for .example, that the estimate for the Citizen Military Forces is £8,500,000, whereas the estimate for the Australian Naval Reserve is only £631,000. I know that the Minister fox the Navy, replying to a question asked in another place the other day, said that, in 1952, there were only nine appointments of officers to the Australian Naval Reserve, only six in 1953, and only fourteen in this year. In three years, only 29 officers have been added to the Australian Naval Reserve. The Minister also stated that the total strength of the Active Naval Reserve was 1,657. That is far too small for the requirements of the Royal Australian Navy in the event of a war.
During peace-time, ships operate with 5 per cent, to 20 per cent, below their war-time complement. Submarines are the only type of craft which run with their full complement in peacetime. In war-time, in addition to placing more men on existing ships, extra ships would have to be manned. We shall then be in a position similar to that of 1914 and 1939. For the first two years of the last war the Royal Australian Navy, as well as the Royal Navy, was short of every type of officer and rating. Although I believe that the Air Force will play the predominant part in the next war, I say that it -is necessary that the other two services should complement the air arm. I suggest to the Minister for Repatriation (.Senator Cooper) that if there is no ready explanation of the very small naval reserves, perhaps the deputies of .the Chiefs-of-Staff could address the Senate and perhaps we should then know the position. The only information that we have at present is that which we get from the newspapers, which are very frequently wrong. I ask the Minister whether he will take the matter up with Cabinet so that honorable senators such as myself will not. make a lot of stupid statements because of their lack of knowledge. I do not know whether my statements regarding the reserve have been stupid or not. I know only what the Minister for the Navy has said in reply to questions and what I have read in the newspapers and heard in various port3.
– I notice that the proposed vote for civil defence is £6,000. No money was voted for this purpose last year. I think that every other aspect of defence pales into insignificance before the need for civil defence in a modern war. The dropping of an atomic bomb on Townsville, for instance, would have a tremendous psychological influence upon the people of the cities of Australia. On the occasion of a dinner that was being given to a very important person from overseas I. asked Mr. Spender, then Minister for the. Army, w-ha<t would happen if an atomic bomb were dropped on Townsville. The then Minister replied,. “ God only knows “. A terrible panic took place during the last war when Japanese aeroplanes raided Darwin. In view of that fact, I ask honorable senators to imagine what would happen if only one bomb were dropped on one Australian city. There would be a panic in the cities of Australia such as we can only imagine at present. When bombs were dropped in Australia during the last war it was possible to buy for £200 houses on the coast south of Brisbane which are now selling for £8,000. The workers had to. remain in the cities and carry on their occupations, but those who could afford to do so sent their wives and children to the hills. Only £6,000 has been provided for civil defence. What is the Government doing to meet the terrible situation that could come upon us within the next few years ?
– Not much can be done against atomic warfare.
– That may be so. But is it not a fact that millions of dollars have been spent on civil defence in the United States of America?
– The Americans have just changed their view on that subject, according to the press.
– I should be glad to learn the present position from Senator Kendall. I am anxious to learn the position in relation to this subject, because I consider that the matters that have been discussed in this debate pale into insignificance in comparison with the horror that may approach us within the next few years. If there is no defence against atomic weapons, let us admit it. But if there is a means of defence, let us spend a little more than £6,000 for thi3 purpose. What comment have the Australian military authorities to make on the fact that the United States of America is preparing to safeguard the people of New York, San Francisco and other cities against atomic attack and is teaching them what must be done in the event of atomic attack?, I ask the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) to tell the Senate- to what purposes the sum of £6,000 will be devoted and why such a paltry amount has been provided for civil defence. What civil defence measures have been taken to protect the population from the great danger that threatens it and what can be done in this respect? If nothing can be done to protect our cities from atomic warfare let us admit it, and let us tell the people nf Australia that that is. so. When war breaks out all the training we have given service personnel will be of no avail if, as the result of the explosion of an atomic bomb in Australia, the people are prepared to accept defeat.
.- Earlier in this debate I asked the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) a question concerning residences for the chiefs of staff of the three services. The Minister agreed that the residences were not now made available, but he was unable to continue his remarks because of the passage of time. When the Minister speaks again will he answer the second part of my question in which I asked whether the Minister would take up with the responsible Minister or with Cabinet the desirability of making residences available for rental by the chiefs of staff?
– I refer to Division 108 - Department of Defence Production. The annual report of the Auditor-General for the year ended the 30th June, 1954, states -
Two major aircraft production projects continued during the year under arrangements between the Commonwealth and two contracting companies.’ Expenditure for 1953-54 was £5,310,575. One of the projects has operated for years without a signed agreement.
In other words, the Government has signed a blank cheque for the company to which the” Auditor-General has referred. This Government pretends to be a business government. Yet it has allowed this company to write its own cheque for any amount. The Auditor-General continued -
The companies are remunerated on a “ cost plus” basis which means that remuneration is calculated on a percentage of a certain amount of costs incurred by them. In the circumstances, it is important that audit officers should have unrestricted access to the books and records of the company relating to costs incurred and claimed in respect of the Commonwealth project. This has not been the case and I have made representations to the Treasury with a view to its correction. “When a Labour government was in power a representative of the Treasury had access to the books of such companies, and prosecutions were undertaken, in cases in which the books had been falsified. But since this Government has come to power the audit officers have not had access to such books. According to the AuditorGeneral’s report, these companies write their own cheques. The Government has claimed that it acts on business lines. Yet it has signed away the taxpayers money to these companies. The report continued -
Unsatisfactory features relating to the departmental inspection of contractors accounts, control of stocks of material, plant mid equipment and the payment of claims, which were referred to in the first annual report for 1952-53, have been the -subject of correspondence with the Department. Some matters remain unresolved at the date, of preparation of this report.
Although the Auditor-General has directed attention - quite rightly - to the unsatisfactory manner in which certain activities have been carried on, the Government has done nothing to correct the position. Yet honorable senators opposite continue, in effect, to support practices which are fraudulent in purpose.
– Order! The honorable senator should confine his remarks to the proposed vote, and not to fraudulent practices.
– With respect, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I do not consider that the use of the word “ fraudulent “ is unparliamentary. According to the Auditor-General, in the last financial year, a total amount of £5,310,575 was paid to those two contracting companies. As the Auditor-General pointed out that the Government ‘had been remiss in its supervision of expenditure, I consider that my action in directing the attention of the committee to his remarks was justified. The Government has no right to say to a contractor, in effect, “ Write your own ticket”. No government worthy of the name should tolerate a state of affairs such as that revealed by the Auditor-General’s report. As far as I know, the Minister has not challenged its accuracy. Will the Minister inform me what the Government intends to do in connexion with these matters? Surely the state of affairs revealed by the Auditor-General’s report will not be allowed to continue ad infinitum. Does the Government intend to allow the position that developed prior to World War II. in relation to aircraft to recur? It should take notice of the report of this most responsible officer, and institute remedial measures.
– From the comments that have been made by the Auditor-General in his report for the year ended the 30th June, 1954, in relation to various defence activities, it is evident that a careless spirit is permeating the various defence departments. Previous speakers have drawn attention to the portions of the AuditorGeneral’s report which support this contention. For instance, in paragraph 102, which refers to store accounting by the Department of the Navy, the AuditorGeneral stated -
The accounting for victualling, naval and naval air stores at the Royal Australian Naval Air Station, Nowra, was unsatisfactory. Stocktaking disclosed substantial discrepancies which departmental invesigations have determined as mainly due … to laxity in supervisory control.
I do not like criticizing the various departments, but it is necessary for me to do so, in view of the Auditor-General’s comments. Coming to the stores and store accounting procedure of the Department of the Army, the Auditor-General stated, in paragraph 103 -
In one Command stocktaking of ordnance stores has not kept pace with the departmental programme, and the departmental checks of stores accounting records and stocktaking are in arrear.
With reference to the store accounting system of the Department of- Air, the Auditor-General reported, in paragraph 104, as follows: -
Investigations by a departmental committee into past unsatisfactory storekeeping found that at most units the large discrepancies which were disclosed in stock items were mainly through unsatisfactory store administration due to inadequate supervision and instruction at appropriate levels.
Under the heading, “ Theft of Stores “, the Auditor-General reported -
During 1953-54 further substantial losses at Air Force depots . . . were attributable mainly to inadequate safeguards within the Department.
In paragraph 106, which refers to the activities of the Board of Management for Research and Development, the AuditorGeneral reported as follows in respect of the Long Range Weapons Establishments : -
Some action was taken by the Department of Supply in 1953-54 to improve its storekeeping and store accounting methods, but at the date of the preparation of this report standards essential for the proper control of public stores had not been achieved.
Dealing with the Department of Defence Production, the Auditor-General stated, in paragraph 108 -
Two major aircraft production projects continued during the year under arrangements between the Commonwealth and two contracting companies. . . . One of the projects had operated for years without a signed agreement.
The urgent need for the Parliament to take action in connexion with the various matters to which the Auditor-General has directed attention is obvious. During war-time, officers of the various departments were inspired to give of their best in order to contribute as much as possible to Australia’s war effort. There is no such incentive in peace-time. There is, perhaps, no need for me to remind the committee that the activities of the Public Works Committee have resulted in a considerable saving of expenditure. That committee has power to take evidence from departmental officers and other persons in relation to proposed works. I consider that there should be appointed a defence preparedness committee, comprising members of both sides of this Parliament, vested with power to shake-up the various defence departments. Due to the enormous size of departments, the departmental heads must, of necessity, entrust the supervision of various activities to relatively junior officers. I consider that it is necessary to induce the thought in the minds of the senior officers of the various departments, “We must put up a good report to the committee “. That would provide the desirable degree of incentive in those big organizations. It is physically impossible for Ministers to carry out personal checks in relation to every item of expenditure in a £200,000,000 a year defence programme. Such a committee, if given power to make checks in relation to storekeeping systems, &c, at any time, could perform a very valuable service, because officers of the various defence departments would be able to speak freely to the committee without fear of being accused of indifference to the defence needs of the country.
– Would members of the Australian Labour party join such a. committee?
– I should say that they would most certainly do so. It was necessary for a committee such as the one that I advocate to operate during wartime. I consider that it is imperative to impress the section heads of the various defence departments with the necessity to ensure the utmost efficiency in connexion with the expenditure of huge sums of public money. Having been a member of the Royal Australian Air Force. I realize how careless departmental officers might become if they are not immediately answerable to superior authority. Their apathy could infect even the most humble rankers. If the heads and chiefs of the various sections of the defence departments knew that a parliamentary committee might decide at any time to impose snap checks, they would be impelled to tighten their control and, in turn, greater efficiency would develop right’ down the line. Although the heads and chiefs of the defence departments are doing good work, I consider that the appointment of a committee of this Parliament to keep an eye on the activities of the various sections would result in a higher degree of efficiency throughout. As the representatives of the taxpayers, we should set up such a committee. Its first job should be to ensure that the loopholes disclosed by the Auditor-General’s report have been closed. I hope that the Minister will consider my remarks in the spirit in which I have made them. It is high time that there was a shake-up so that there may be less criticism of governmental activities in future reports of the Auditor-General.
Proposed vote agreed to.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The object of this bill is to effect several small amendments to the Papua and New Guinea Act, which was passed by the Parliament in 1949 to provide for the administration of the Territory of Papua and the Territory of New Guinea in an administrative union. In two cases only do the proposed amendments involve decisions on any matter of substance. The first of these is a proposal to vest the exercise of the prerogative of mercy on the Governor-General. Section 73 of the act, as it stands at present, confers on the Administrator of the Territory power to grant to any offender convicted by a court exercising criminal jurisdiction in the Territory a pardon, either free or conditional, or a remission or commutation of sentence, or a respite, for such period as he thinks fit, of the execution of sentence. The Government considers, and I am sure honorable senators will agree, that in regard to a sentence of death only at the highest level should such authority be exercised. Some time ago an instruction was given to the Administrator by the Government to that effect. The proposed amendment of section 73 is designed to give statutory force to that instruction by excluding death sentences from the Administrator’s powers under that section, and by inserting a new sub-section to provide for the powers of commutation, &c, in regard to death sentences to be exercised by the Governor-General. If any death sentence is imposed in Papua and New Guinea, the procedure will be to refer it to Canberra, where the Governor-General acting in Executive Council, will decide whether or not it is to be carried out.
The other substantial decision to which effect will be given by this bill is to change the title of Chief Judge of the Supreme Court of the Territory to Chief Justice. This is in keeping with the usage in the Supreme Courts of the States of Australia. The change in title is accompanied by a provision to appoint the present Chief Judge, Mr. Justice Phillips, as Chief Justice, with continuity of office. As it was necessary to introduce an amending bill to make the changes mentioned above, advantage has been taken of the opportunity to make other minor changes the need for which has become apparent in the working of the act. It is proposed that all references to native village councils in the act be replaced by the words “native local government councils “, because, in practice, the majority of councils established have not been- set up in relation to individual villages, but have been formed to represent several groups of villages. This does not involve any change in respect of the nature and functions of these councils.
The amendment proposed by clause 10 is to enable an official member of the Legislative Council to resign his seat. As the act stands at present, if an official member wished to resign for any reason whatsoever, there is no legal provision by which he could do so. The resignation will not, however, become effective unless and until accepted by the GovernorGeneral, by whom the appointment of official members is made, and subject to whose pleasure such appointments are held. The amendment will also make it dear that resignation by a non-official member becomes effective when it is received by the Administrator. These proposed amendments are similar to amendments made during 1953 to the Northern Territory (Administration) Act. Under section 52 of the act certain ordinances made by the legislative Council for Papua and New Guinea are required to be reserved for the GovernorGeneral’s pleasure, but the GovernorGeneral has power only to assent or withhold assent to any such ordinance in its entirety. Instances have occurred where it would have been of advantage for the Governor-General to have been able to withhold assent to part only of an ordinance. In the absence of such power, it has been necessary for assent to the whole of an ordinance to be withheld when part only of it was not acceptable. Clause 11 of the bill proposes an amendment which will enable the GovernorGeneral to assent either to the whole or part of an ordinance reserved for his pleasure. The new section, departs from the existing section by providing that the Governor-General’s declaration as to assent or otherwise, and not the Gazette notification, must take place within one year and also that, if the GovernorGeneral’s assent is not to be given, he shall expressly declare that he withholds assent. The first departure is intended to avoid the difficulties that could arise as to publication within twelve months if assent were not given until near the end of the expiration of that period. The second departure is to enable the Governor-General to declare forthwith that he withholds assent to an ordinance and thus avoid the uncertainty as to his intention that would otherwise exist until the period of one year has elapsed.
Consequent on the inauguration of the Legislative Council for Papua and New Guinea, it is now possible to repeal the whole of division 3 of Part V. of the act relating to the interim legislative powers of the Governor-General. As laws are now made by the Legislative Council, the need for these provisions no longer exists. Appropriate provision is contained in the bill to ensure the continuance in force of all ordinances made by the Governor-General during such interim period which still remain in force, as well as to give enabling power to the Legislative Council to amend or repeal such ordinances as the necessity may arise from time to time.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed (vide page 835).
Proposed vote, £22,199,000.
– Under the vote for the Department of Health, the sum of £30,000 is provided for child health centres for payment to the credit of the National Health Campaign trust account. I understand that figure to relate to what is popularly known as the Lady Gowrie child centres, one of which was established by the Commonwealth in each of the capital cities of Australia under special conditions. Those centres were established a number of years ago at the instance of Lady Gowrie, who took a very particular interest in the education of the preschool child. They were pilot centres in that education field. The entire maintenance cost was provided by the Commonwealth, and the day-to-day administration was under the aegis of the Department of Health. The centres had two main purposes. The first was to provide demonstration centres in. the States and to stir the State governments into activity in that important field. The second was to provide research units into the problems of the very young. Physical health, mental health, social instincts, and so on were all the subject of research and consideration. I know that, quite some time ago, it was believed that both those funtions had been fulfilled. The idea had been put into effect, the efficacy of the method adopted had been established, and the State governments had been inspired to move into the field of pre-school child education. That figure of £30,000 has stood now for five or six years. In the interim, of course, maintenance costs have mounted, and each of the institutions to-day is finding difficulty in maintaining proper standards, and keeping in active use the whole of the facilities available.
I might mention that, some years ago, the Department of Health handed the administration of the centres over to the Australian Association for Pre-school Development. That organization now takes the whole of the grant and the Department of Health no longer manages the centres. The association, working in conjunction with the staffs of the centres, and with the population in the surrounding areas, uses the £30,000, and raises more money locally. Every honorable senator will agree that, with the dose of inflation that has afflicted the country, £30,000 is quite inadequate to-day to serve the purpose that it served five years ago. I should like the Government, now that it is committed to these projects and the State governments have declined to take them over, to consider increasing its grant to ensure that the centres shall be maintained at the very highest standard as model centres. I have inspected the working of them on a number of occasions. In fact, I made a visit quite recently, and I gave an undertaking to the people concerned and to the association that when the opportunity arose 1 would direct the attention of the Government to their need. I feel that the Commonwealth, having handed complete management over to this association, cannot absolve itself entirely of all responsibility and say, “You made a bargain some years ago that you would undertake to find the extra money that would be required to maintain these institutions at a proper standard “. The position has been altered completely by the inflation that has taken place.
It would be a tragedy if these centres were not kept functioning at their full level of efficiency. There is still room for great research through these undertakings in relation to the . development of the pre-school child. Anybody who has had any experience of what is done for the pre-school child,’ preparing him for association with his fellows and soaking him in learning instead of pushing knowledge into him, will realize that these centres are providing a wonderful social service. I do not want to develop the theme at any length, but I invite the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper), as the representative in this chamber of the Minister for Health, to examine the problem of these bodies. Their request is that the grant he increased to £50,000. There is a report available to the Commonwealth on this subject. I understand that Dr. Clements, of the Commonwealth Department of Health, was chairman of a committee which made a report and suggested that the grant should be increased to £55,000. So, it is not a matter of the centres or the association making their own estimates .. This committee, on which the department was represented, fully investigated the finances of the centres, and recommended a grant of £55,000. I should like an assurance from the Minister that the Government will have another look at the amount that is provided this year. Even something short of £55,000 would enable these very important and very fine institutions to function at a far better level than they are able to function to-day. Not only salaries, but also operating costs have risen considerably. I have only to state the proposition that the annual grant of £30,000 was established five or six years ago to demonstrate the need for some further help to-day.
– I support the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) about the Lady Gowrie centres. Over the years, those institutions have rendered a remarkable service to the juvenile community of the Commonwealth, but the grant has remained exactly as it was when it was first made. I plead with the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) to enlarge the grant so that these valuable centres may continue the fine work they have been doing. Most honorable senators are no doubt familiar with that work. Reports from the centres make very interesting reading. As the Leader of the Opposition has said they are performing a very valuable social service. Without labouring the point, I plead with the Minister to consider increasing this vote of £30,000.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Chairman, do now leave the Chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the negative.
.- I refer to Division 199o - Expendable Equipment, Department of Immigration. As the Minister is no doubt aware, the Mowbray hostel in Tasmania has been leased to the Tasmanian Government and is being used partly by the Housing Commission in that State and partly by the Electricity Commission. At that hostel, there is a considerable amount of equipment which was originally used for the purposes of the Immigration Department. I should like to know the intention of the department regarding that equipment, and whether it is proposed to place it on the market for disposal. It has been there for almost four years. .From reports that I have received, it is worth a considerable sum of money. I understand that it is of no 11Se to the present lessees of the hostel. Does the Government propose to dispose of it, or does it intend to use it somewhere else?
– In Division 187, which relates to the Miscellaneous Services of the Prime Minister’s Department, reference is made to a grant to the Boy Scouts Association. The grant in each of the years 1951-52, 1952-53 and 1953-54 was £5,000, and it was made available for the development of the scout movement throughout Australia. The amount allocated to Tasmania for that purpose was approximately £1,425 and was of particular value in helping to consolidate the position of the movement in that State. An allocation has not been made this year, and I should like an explanation of the reason for the discontinuance. I was rather concerned to read, in l Tasmanian newspaper of last Saturday’s date, that the Tasmanian Boy Scouts
Association was in financial difficulties, and for that reason, was unable to attract the leaders necessary to carry on this important organization in the best manner. On the 15th September last, I asked a question in the Senate regarding this matter, and the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) agreed to refer the matter to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). I have not heard anything further about it, and I should be glad if the Minister would ascertain the position and advise the Senate.
.- When studying the proposed votes for Miscellaneous Services, I frequently find myself confused, and I think that most other honorable senators who try to go through those votes experience similar difficulty. I do not always know, and I cannot always follow, why certain items are placed in particular sections, and I should be pleased if the Minister would explain one or two things to me. Item 11 of Division 190, Department of External Affairs, refers to assistance to destitute Australians abroad, including funeral expenses, and the proposed vote is £1,300. If honorable senators turn to Division 199, which relates to the proposed votes of the Department of Immigration, they will see that Item 2 of section H refers to relief and repatriation of distressed Australians abroad, the proposed vote for which is £1,000. I should be pleased if the Minister would explain what those two items are. Does he not think that it would be possible for them to appear under the one heading?
Item 50, Division 196, Department of Commerce and Agriculture, refers to overseas trade publicity, for which there is a proposed vote of £20,000. It appears to me that that should more properly fall into the section “ Commercial Intelligence Service Abroad “ in the votes of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture proper. I should appreciate an explanation of why it is not there. I am not raising these matters merely because I want to be troublesome, but because it appears to me that frequently confusion is created by placing these items in the Miscellaneous Services votes.
Also in Division 196, there is an item of £200 in respect of a contribution to the International Whaling Commission. Why should not that be a charge against the accounts of the Australian Whaling Commission ?
– Like Senator Paltridge, I am at a loss where to put my finger on certain expenditure incurred by the government, because I notice that similar items appear in the estimates of several departments. I have been trying to ascertain the amount of money which the ‘Commonwealth expends on veterinary science. I direct the attention of the committee to item 8 of Division 195 - Department of Health - which is “International Veterinary Bureau - Subscription, £700”. I do not know whether the Australian Government engages in any activities with respect to veterinary science. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization undertakes quite a lot of research work, but I have been unable to find any indication in the Estimates that it operates in this sphere. The Government should encourage the development of veterinary science. In some, but not all, of the universities, students may obtain a degree in veterinary science. In country districts, it is difficult to obtain the services of properlyqualified veterinary surgeons. Quite a number of persons can prescribe what one might term a quack medicine, to draw an analogy between the fully-qualified medical practitioner and a person who knows all about grandma’s remedies. Is the Australian Government assisting in any wa.y in the sphere of veterinary science? If so, how much is it proposed to allocate for this purpose for the current financial year?
. - I refer to the item, “ Australian National University - Running expenses - supplementary grant, £423,000 “ under Division 187. A footnote appears to the effect that this proposed vote is in addition to the sum of £325,000 which is provided under special appropriations. The amount proposed to be voted for this purpose this year is nearly £100,000 more than the sum that was actually expended under this heading last year. I should like to be informed of the reason for the proposed increase. Is the Australian National University establishing additional faculties or engaging in special additional fields?
Under the Estimates for the Department of External Affairs, there appears the item “Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition, £215,000”. I pay a tribute to the bravery and skill of the members of that expedition. Last week, I was privileged to view a film prepared by the Bureau of Information which dealt with the establishment of the settlement at Mawson. The value of that expedition’s work is obvious. I should like to know whether the expedition intends to engage in whaling in the Antarctic or to undertake scientific activities in relation to whaling. A few days ago, a large expedition of whaling ships set out for that area, and Sir Douglas Mawson, who is, possibly, Australia’s greatest authority on Antarctica, said that it was a pity that no Australian vessel was included in it. According to the annual report of the Whaling Commission, which was tabled in the Senate last ‘week, the commission is carrying out its activities in an efficient manner and is particularly assidious in the work of recovering by-products. I understand that the Australian whaling industry recovers a greater proportion of such by-products than does any other country that is interested in whaling.
Under the Estimates for the Department of Health appears the item, “ Cattle tick eradication and control in New South Wales - Subsidy, £250,000 “. Actual expenditure under this heading last year amounted to £52,235. What is the reason for that increase? I also refer to the item, under the Estimates for the Department of Social Services, “ Building of homes for the aged - Assistance to approved organizations, £1,500,000”. When may the Senate expect to have presented to it a measure or regulations to provide for the distribution of that money? I should be pleased if the Minister could indicate the Government’s policy at this juncture, because I have been asked a number of questions as to how this money is to be distributed. Will the distribution be on the basis of buildings now in the course of construction or will it be made available only in respect of buildings that are commenced after the relevant measure, or regulations, have been dealt with? A number of charitable organizations are eagerly waiting to learn the Government’s decision in this matter, and I urge it to announce its decision as soon as possible. The Government’s policy in respect of this matter has aroused considerable interest among persons in the community who are directly concerned with the provision of homes for the aged.
– I refer to the item “ Cattle tick eradication in New South Wales- Subsidy £250,000” under the Estimates for the Department of Health. To-day’s Sydney press publishes a report under the heading, “ Tick serum’s value doubted “. According to that report, a veterinary surgeon suggests that although a shot of this particular serum will cost £5, he doubts its value in the treatment of tick paralysis in dogs. In the same article Mr. Hugh Gordon, lecturer in parasitology at the University of Sydney, stated that he considered the serum was df value under certain conditions. That is very qualified approval, and I should like to be reassured -that the money will be spent wisely.
I direct attention now to Division 395 - Department of Health and the item, “World health organization, £76,520 “. I should like some information about the background of the proposed vote. When I spoke recently about the Estimates for the Department of Health, I suggested that something should be done for subnormal children. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McKenna) made a good case for preschool education, and I do not wish to detract from it. I believe that pre-school education is of great value, but if there is a case for that branch of education, there is also a good case for the children who are not blessed with God’s gifts of normal faculties. I have in my hand an extract from a Canadian newspaper published at Montreal on the 21st August last. It reported that the Government of Canada had set aside 3,000,000 dollars to be expended in this financial year for mentally retarded children. Assuming that the exchange rate is similar to that of the American dollar, that vote would be equivalent to nearly £1,500,000 in Australian currency. Clearly, that is recognition of the problem that is provided by mentally retarded children. The Canadian Minister for Health stated in connexion with that vote -
Experiments in the treatment of mentally retarded children and in their education indicate that what is being done to-day is not adequate.
That would be a marked under-statement so far as Australia is concerned. Without pressing the matter further, I emphasize that, unquestionably, there is a case for assistance to pre-school children, and for an increase of the grant that is made for that purpose. There is also an overwhelming case for the children who will always be children because of mental deficiency.
I turn my attention now to Division 203 - International Development and Relief and the item, “ Colombo Plan - technical assistance and economic development, £4,500,000”. I should like some brief explanation about the proposed payment and the basis on which it will be spent. I should like also an explanation of the increase of the proposed vote, as the actual expenditure on this item last year was £2,662,079. I am not criticizing the proposed vote, because I believe that our future ability to live at peace with the backward nations that are close to Australia in the north is linked closely with our success in implementing the Colombo plan. However, I should like some explanation of the pattern of the proposed assistance.
– I direct attention to Division 187 - Prime Minister’s Department, and the items “ Surf Life-saving Association - grant, £5,000”, “Royal Life-saving Society - grant, £4,000” and “Australian Life-saving Society - grant, £1,000 “. I pay a tribute to the wonderful work that has been done by those organizations throughout Australia, and I regret that the proposed grants are not larger. Many young men and women devote their leisure time, in a spirit of self-sacrifice, to serve the community through those organizations,, and they have achieved marvellous results. Many thousands of lives have been saved along the Australian coastline because of the self-sacrifice and discipline of the various life-saving bodies. ‘ In these days, when the value of money is low, the grant of £5,000 to the Surf Life Saving Association, and also the grants to the other societies, could reasonably be increased. With a grant’ of £1,000 to the Australian Life Saving Society, the total that is to be distributed among the three organizations is only £10,000. That is a very small price to pay for the lives that ar<? saved each year on our beaches, and the great national work that is being done by the surf life-saving clubs and other organizations. Everybody would support a higher grant to those organizations so that they might maintain their equipment at a proper standard, instead of having to conduct appeals and social functions to obtain funds to carry on their work.
I direct the attention of the committee now to Division No. 190 - Department of External Affairs, and the item under that heading, “Australian Association for the United Nations- grant £4,000”. What specific section of the United Nations organization is to receive this grant? .1 should like to know under what section the grants arc made to the various States to carry on their work in connexion with the United Nations, particularly in the Save the Children Fund. In Western Australia, I have heard criticism of this fund, and the fact that no audited balancesheets are issued. The criticism may te unwarranted. I do not know. I am merely seeking information. I should also like some information about the items, “ Assistance to Australian Red Cross - Blood Transfusion Service - grants to States, £50,000”, “World Health Organization - -Reimbursement of expenditure to Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, £6,120 “ and “ Commonwealth Serum Laboratories - research blood fractionation, grant to Red Cross Society, £5,000 “ under Division 195 - Department of Health. There again, in the case of the Australian Red Cross Society, we are getting wonderful service cheaply. For years I have advocated greater assistance to the society for its blood transfusion service. It is an integral part of the health service of any community and an important part of medical science. It is just as important as the distribution of life-saving drugs. It cannot be continued unless the society sacrifices some other of its activities so that it can finance this service to the utmost limits. Blood transfusion is such an integral part of the health services that I should like the Australian Red Cross Society to be relieved of the financial responsibility so that it can continue the administration of the blood transfusion service without pecuniary worries. Last year, the grant to the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories for research in blood fractionation was £25,000. Apparently it was not spent, and this year the proposed grant is £5,000. Those who have seen the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories in action know the wonderful work that is being performed by scientists there. I think scientists are the most inadequately paid members of our community. They work unobtrusively, and sometimes sacrifice their lives in the pursuit of pure science in order to add to the welfare of humanity. This is true of research workers in the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories at Melbourne, and I pay a tribute to them for the work that they do. I should like to know why the work I have mentioned was not carried out last year although funds were made available for it. Perhaps it was done by some other body.
Finally, I refer to the provision in Di vision 197 for the grant of £14,000 to the housekeeper service. The same amount, was provided last year, and even then I thought the sum was inadequate. The service is of great assistance, for example, to mothers who are unable to carry on with their domestic duties because of illness. The work that it has done in Western Australia is amazing. I am not sure, but I believe that the service originated in that State. At any rate, it has been in existence there for a very long time, and those of us who are aware of its activities have been trying for many years to obtain suitable Commonwealth recognition of its activities. Its work is performed by volunteers, whose numbers are legion. Unfortunately, we are inclined to take their work for granted because it is always done without fanfare. I wish the Government would make a larger grant for the service, because £14,000 divided between six States will not go very far. The inadequacy of Commonwealth aid means that voluntary organizations in the various States are put on their mettle to obtain funds for the service. The total of £14,000 for the whole of Australia would scarcely pay for administrative costs, such as office rent and stationery. Surely, in a budget that exceeds £1,000,000,000 we can afford to make better provision for this service! I should like to know whether there is any prospect of the proposed vote of £14,000 being increased this year. I do not know why last year’s grant was not fully expended. I am sure ‘ that the need existed. The fact that it was not completely used indicates that there is something wrong.
– I wish to make a few comments about the Australian National University, to which .Senator Laught referred. Increased expenditure on running costs is only what one would expect from the expansion that was contemplated in the original plan for the university. If honorable senators dissect the proposed expenditure, they will find that costs have not increased in all branches of the university’s activities. For example, the estimated cost of council and committee meetings this year is £9S less than last year.
– What are the figures ?
– The amount last year was £898. The proposed expenditure for this purpose in the current year is £800.
– How many meetings did the expenditure in 1953-54 involve?
– I can account only for council meetings. I do not know anything about committee meetings. Only about five or six council meetings are held each year. Committee meetings are fairly numerous. The John Curtin School of Medical Research which is one of the instrumentalities from which we may expect an immediate result that will meet with general applause, contemplates an increase of expenditure by £16,000 to approximately £203,000 this year. I point out that a new system of audit has been introduced at the university and that the .council, at all itsmeetings, checks all items of expenditure that come before it.
The Australian National University naturally is an institution from which we cannot reasonably expect” any great immediate return. It was started in a period of shortages, and in its early days there was, as in the case of all other governmental expenditure, a great deal of apparently wasteful expense. However, the university has entered upon a new era, and I assure the Senate that the council does not lightly pass over any item of expenditure. The council includes, of course, not only members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, but also Treasury representatives and other public officials who are keenly conscious of the need to obtain value for the money expended. Honorable senators may be assured that there is no extravagant expenditure by the university today.
– Does the AuditorGeneral report on its finances?
– Yes. As the Senate is aware, the Auditor-General previously refused to certify the university’s accounts unless a new system of audit was introduced. A new system has been introduced, and it is most careful, detailed and meticulous. Incidentally, it is fair to point out that some of the increased expenditure is due ‘ to the installation of that system. It is not possible to establish an elaborate system of checks without spending money. I assure the Senate that there is no loose expenditure by the university to-day. The council includes, in addition to representatives of this Parliament and of the Treasury, two capable and prominent Canberra businessmen and Sir Prank Richardson, of Melbourne, who has saved the Commonwealth an enormous amount of expense in various ways through inquiries that he has conducted. The presence of such members on the council guarantees that expenditure is closely watched and that there is no extravagance.
[11.5]. - I take this opportunity to reply to a question asked by Senator Paltridge about overseas trade publicity under Division No. 198. The proposed vote of £1S,000 will cover publicity and advertising campaigns, publications, films and so forth on behalf of Australian products, as well as the salaries of a publicity staff located in London. Overseas trade publicity is correlated with trade exhibitions and the trade commissioner service. Reference has been made to the proposed contribution to the International Whaling Commission. The commission is a body representative of all countries engaged in whaling, which fixes the whaling boundaries for each member country each whaling season.
– I support the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and Senator Robertson on behalf of child health centres, for which provision is made in Division 195. Representations have been made to the Prime Minister himself on behalf of these organizations. It is true, as Senator McKenna has said, that the proposed vote of £30,000 will be inadequate. An amount of £50,000 would be the smallest grant necessary to allow them to carry out the programme that was originally envisaged. Consternation has been created in the minds of all people interested in preschool education by the answer that was given to me on behalf of the Minister for Health when I asked in this chamber a few weeks ago if he would consider increasing the grant to £50,000. He replied that the Government proposed to allot £30,000 a year for child health centres for the next two years but that the matter was one primarily of State interest. Those who are interested in the work of child health centres consider that it is a remarkable state of affairs that the Commonwealth should establish the centres and then refuse to carry them on or to give them sufficient money to allow them to bo carried on. The centres have performed a magnificent community service, hut, unfortunately, the shortage of funds is forcing them to confine themselves to a severely restricted programme.
I add to the remarks of other honorable senators my urgent plea to the Government to reconsider this matter with a view to increasing the grant for child health centres.
I agree with Senator Tangney’s comments in praise of the ‘ housekeeper service. I, too, consider that £14,000 is inadequate for this organization. As I have said in this chamber previously, the housekeeper service would be an excellent medium for the provision of proper care and attention for aged people if it were suitably expanded, and I do not think that it would be unreasonable to ask the Government to make a grant of £100,000 instead of £14,000. The money could be handed to municipalities which, in their turn, would be able to save this Government and the State governments considerable expenditure, because the service could bring to aged people in their own homes the care and attention that they need.
.- Senator O’Byrne raised a query about the disposal of some of the equipment of a holding centre, I think it was, in Tasmania. I am afraid I cannot give him any information on that matter because the officer who knows the facts is not available. However, I shall bring the honorable senator’s remarks to the attention of the Minister and ask that the information be provided for him..
Senator Paltridge directed attention to two items about which he felt there might be some confusion. One was an item in Division 190, “Department of External Affairs, Assistance to destitute Australians ‘abroad, including funeral expenses, £1,300 “, and the other was an item in Division 199, “ Department of Immigration, Distressed Australians abroad - Relief and repatriation, £1,000”. The object of the appropriation for the Department of External Affairs is to assist Australians who are living abroad, I imagine for an indefinite time, and who run into unhappy days and are in need of assistance. The appropriation sought for the Department of Immigration is designed to assist Australians abroad who are in difficult circumstances and desire to return home.
The wording used is “ Distressed Australians abroad - Belief and repatriation”. That is obviously a problem for the Department of Immigration.
asked a question about the Australian Antarctic Research Expedition. That expedition, as the name indicates, is concerned primarily with research. I imagine that its activities are not directly concerned with whaling expeditions. The money will be used to defray expenditure incurred at headquarters, Heard Island, Macquarie Island and Mawson. It provides for a ship charter and certain aircraft operations. The station at Heard Island will be closed with the withdrawal of the present party. The ship charter is for the relief of the Heard Island station and Mawson. The aircraft operations are for aerial reconnaissance from the ship in pack ice. The research is into matters concerning oceanography. That embraces, amongst other things, whaling. It might be of interest if I directed Senator Laught’s attention to the fact that under item 12 in Division 190 provision is made for a contribution to the National Institute of Oceanography in the United Kingdom. I understand that the kind of research done by the Australian Antarctic Research Expedition is being undertaken, to some extent, in conjunction with that institute, for which a contribution of £6,300 is proposed.
asked for some details in relation to the Colombo plan. He directed attention to the fact that the expenditure proposed on the plan this year was greater than the expenditure last year. The increase is due to the Government’s decision to increase its rate of spending under the Colombo plan, in fulfilment of our pledge given at the outset of the scheme to devote £31,250,000 to this project. That sum was to be spread over a number of years. We have found it possible and desirable this year to increase the rate of spending. It is expected that much of the money will be spent on existing commitments assumed in respect of aid to India and Pakistan, and on the expansion of our aid to Indonesia. The principal items as far as India is concerned involve communications and construction equipment for two multi-purpose projects at Rama- gundam and Tungabhadra, and diesel rail cars. In Pakistan, we have on foot considerable projects for the supply of telecommunications equipment, pumping and tubewell equipment and diesel locomotives. Provision will be made also for assistance to Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia.
Our technical assistance programme involves further expenditure on the reception of trainees in Australia, about 200’ of whom are in this country at the present time, and on sending qualified men and women to serve as helpers to particular undertakings abroad. Provision is made also for studying equipment to be used to develop particular training arrangements or to furnish pilot projects of a demonstrative or experimental nature. Our assistance under this head is distributed over all the member countries of the scheme - Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Burma, Singapore, Malaya, North Borneo, Brunei, Sarawak, Nepal, Cambodia, Laos, Viet Nam, the Philippines and Thailand.
asked a question about the contribution to the United Nations ‘ Association. That is an association which aims at publicizing and furthering in Australia the aims of the United Nations. It is proposed that the contribution be made to the Australian association. The honorable senator made a comment about the United Nations Appeal for Children Fund. I have been informed that audited accounts in relation to those appeals are forwarded each year to the United Nations Appeal for Children Fund
– I desire to draw the attention of the committee to Division 198, “ Department of Shipping and Transport, Tasmanian Shipping Service - Subsidy, £150,000”. I say that that item is wrongly worded. I understand that it refers to the vessel Taroona, which runs between Melbourne and Tasmanian ports. So that Tasmanians will not have to bear the odium of a suggestion that this service is being subsidized for their benefit, the subsidy should be referred to as the Bass Strait ferry subsidy. I suggest there are more mainlanders who travel to Tasmania and back across Bass Strait than there are Tasmanians who travel from Tasmania to the mainland and back again. I suggest that more mainland cars, more mainland produce and merchandise and more mainland second-class mail are carried on that ship than Tasmanian cars, produce and mail. Therefore, the subsidy is of great advantage to people in Victoria and other States who use the service. I hope that next financial vear we shall use the term “Bass Strait Ferry subsidy “. I criticize the present loose method of financing this essential shipping service. It seems to be based on the pernicious cost-plus system about which we heard this afternoon, and the result is that the more the company loses the more the Government pays. We, as custodians of public money, should ascertain whether we cannot find some way oi reducing expenses. Taroona was placed on the service across Bass Strait in 1934. It was specially constructed with a shallow draught to enable it to proceed up the Tamar and Yarra rivers. I am told by shipping experts that such x vessel, after sixteen years of regular service, becomes uneconomic to operate. I am told, also, that after twenty to 22 years of regular service it is likely to become mechanically unsafe and to be subject to the danger of a serious breakdown of the engines while at sea. Two main considerations arise. First, Taroona is uneconomic to operate. Consequently, the Government has to pay n lot of money, because the company loses a great deal. Secondly, the vessel may be unable to maintain a regular schedule. No suitable vessel seems to be available on the Australian coast to replace Taroona if that ship breaks down. Therefore, the Government has a grave responsibility to act quickly to provide a replacement that will be more economic and will enable it to reduce the huge subsidy that is now paid for the benefit of the mainland and Tasmania.
One should not merely make a suggestion, and leave it at that. One should advance constructive proposals, and I consider that I have a sensible proposition to put to the Government for the replacement of Taroona. I. understand that Australia’s ship-building yards are fully booked for work for the next two years. The Government will have to get its experts and representatives of the shipping company that operates the service across Bass Strait in consultation to plan a type of ship suited to the transport of passengers and small cargo from the mainland to Tasmania. I suggest that the Administration get busy in the near future and make its plans, so that, immediately a shipping yard is free to accept an order, construction of the vessel can begin. Probably it would be three or four years before the new ship could be placed on the service. If the Government is lucky, Taroona may be able to carry on for that period.
It is for the experts to decide the type of vessel that should be constructed, but three points must be borne in mind. First, the service no longer traverses the Tamar and Yarra rivers. It begins at Port Melbourne and ends at a deepwater port on the Tasmanian north coast. A fast ship capable of making the crossing between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m. should be built. With such a vessel, refreshment rooms would be needed at each terminal port to provide meals for passengers, but dining-room accommodation and staff would not be necessary on the vessel, and more lounge and cabin accommodation could be provided. I do not agree with the Tasmanian Chief Secretary, who has suggested that the crossing of the strait should be made only in daylight hours and that few, if any, cabins would be needed. That proposal would be impracticable. Any one who has crossed Bass Strait by sea knows that on many days of the year it is a very rough stretch of water. Many passengers take to their bunks before the ship leaves port and remain there until it ties up at the Tasmanian end of the trip. I trust that the Government Wl not heed the behests of those persons who advance the view that cabin accommodation is not necessary. Unless it heeds the suggestions that I have made, it or its successors in office will be confronted with urgent problems.
The proposed replacement for Taroonamust be capable of taking on board quickly a large number of cars. Many tourists who travel to Tasmania want to take their cars with them. Taroona is not suited to the carriage of motor vehicles. More space than is available on that vessel is needed for the purpose. In addition to normal cargo space, refrigeration must be provided for the transport of small fruits and vegetables, because, unfortunately, at some seasons of the year Tasmania has to import large quantities of those foodstuffs from the mainland. Taroona is not suited to the transport of those goods. I do not want to enlarge on the matter at greater length. I sincerely urge that preparations be made for the construction of a ship to replace Taroona. It will be of no use to wait until that vessel becomes quite worn out and useless. The Government must act immediately.
– Senator McKenna and Senator Robertson sought an increase of the vote for child health centres, which is shown in item 2 under the heading Division 195 - Department of Health, at page 86 of the bill, in the Estimates for “ Miscellaneous Services “. I agree with their observations about the remarkable amount of good work that the Lady Gowrie Health Centres have done. In the first place, they were built and equipped as model centres in the State capital cities. It was not suggested that this Government should construct more of them. The Commonwealth trained staff to run the centres, and responsibility for any further centres of that type was expected to be accepted by the States. The vote for these centres for the current financial year is £30,000. The Government has considered the suggestion that it be increased, but it takes the view that any additional provision for those centres is primarily the function of the State concerned. The States have available means of providing additional funds for child health centres. It is not true that the Australian Government’s vote has never been increased. Prior to the financial year 1953-54, it was £25,000, and last financial year it was increased to £30,000.
Senator Sheehan referred to item 8 in the same division, International Veterinary Bureau - Subscription, and asked for particulars about the dissemination of veterinary information throughout Australia. That activity is covered under item 8 - International Veterinary
Bureau. This bureau was formed in 1927 and periodical bulletins and statistics dealing with world-wide important epizootics are published and circulated. The cost of subscription to the bureau is £700 per annum. Veterinary matters in general are covered under Division82 - Quarantine, at page 45 of the bill, in the Estimates of the Department of Health.
Senator Anderson and Senator Laught referred to item 5 in Division 195, Cattle tick eradication and control in New South Wales - Subsidy. The increase from last year’s vote of £53,325 to a proposed vote of £250,000 is due to an accelerated campaign by the New South Wales Government to eradicate cattle tick in that State. The current year’s estimate of £250,000 represents the Commonwealth’s maximum contribution to the New South Wales Government on the basis of 50 per cent. of the cost of eradication in the areas of Kyogle and West Richmond, together with 50 per cent. of the cost of control measures generally. This expenditure relates to a long-term scheme which will replace the previous one, under which New South Wales received £53,325 per annum.
asked a question concerning the World Health Organization. This organization was founded in 1948 as a specialized agency of the United Nations. For practical purposes, it is an independent body. The organs of the World Health Organization are the World Health Assembly and regional committees which meet annually; the executive board, which meets twice a year ; and the secretariat or staff of permanent officials, which is headed by the DirectorGeneral of the organization. The administrative control is decentralized through the various regional offices, of which there are six. Australia has been assigned to the Western Pacific Region, the headquarters of which has been established at Manila. The functions of the organization are as follows : -
The information that is distributed by the World Health Organization is received by the Department “of Health and the Department of External Affairs. A close liaison exists between these two departments. The information so received is correlated and forwarded to interested bodies in Australia. Appropriate action on behalf of the Commonwealth is taken by the two departments in consultation one with the other.
There is no doubt that, as Senator Tangney stated, the Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service is performing remarkably good work. The proposed vote of £50,000 will provide for assistance to the Australian Red Cross Society in order that its blood transfusion service may operate at the level at which it operated during the previous year. Under this arrangement, it is proposed that the certified operating expenses of the service shall be met in the following manner: - Commonwealth, 30 per cent.; States, 60 per cent. ; Red Cross Society, 10 per cent. This is a new method of assisting the Australian Red Cross Society under which the Commonwealth, the States and the Red Cross Society will each share the cost of the operating the Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service. I understand that the Red Cross Society is quite satisfied with the proposal which is better than the system that operated previously.
The proposed vote in relation to Division 195 Item 14 - Commonwealth Serum Laboratories - Research is £5,000. There was no expenditure on this item in 1953-54. The proposed vote is for expenditure by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories on research. These laboratories carry out work of a very comprehensive nature which covers the production of a wide range of biological products, all of which are associated either with the public health or with the maintenance of the health of live-stock. Research forms an essential part of laboratories of this type.
– I wish to speak on Division 203 - International Development and Relief - Item 1 - Colombo Plan. I praise the Colombo plan and believe that it is a magnificent work. Apart from propaganda activities, it does a lot of good; but I wish to speak on the subject of propaganda. One may say that the objects of the Colombo plan are to raise the standards of living of the people in South-East Asia and show those people that democracy is better than communism. In order to do that we must make use of good propaganda. I understand that we provide equipment under the Colombo plan without specifying how, when or where it is to be used. We are exporting tractors and farm implements to and building hydro-electric works in countries which benefit from the plan. What are we doing about publicity?
– How can we lift living standards with propaganda?
– If the honorable senator listens he will find out. I have lived in the east for over 30 years and I think I know more about the subject than Senator Aylett, who has just come back from visiting the Mau Mau.
– They would not even adopt him.
– Or eat him. Australia spends quite a lot of money on a hydro-electric scheme for an eastern nation, and then merely places a plaque on it to the effect that it is a gift from the people of Australia. We send tractors to the East, and merely stencil a. map of Australia in red paint on the sides of the machines. That conveys absolutely nothing to the average man in the East, because 90 per cent, of them do not even know where Australia is. As for an iron plaque on a pylon, I suppose not 1 per cent, of the people ever see it. When we help the people of the East we should make sure that they know we are helping them. I suppose about 10 per cent, of the Australian people know anything about the Colombo plan, but I dare say that not 1 per cent, of the people in Delhi know what it is all about. Therefore, we have to inform them about our willingness and ability to assist them, and one of the best ways of doing so is by training eastern students in Australia. We are training some of them here at present, but that scheme could be greatly expanded.
– The Government should provide adequate housing for the students before it brings them here.
– That is a matter that could be considered, but I suggest that the provision of adequate housing would not be an insuperable obstacle. We should also send doctors to the East, and when they arrived there they should openly tell the people that they have come from Australia and that they have been sent by the people of Australia to help the eastern peoples. We should send food, and officers with it to ensure that it is distributed properly, and that the people who receive it know that it comes from Australia. In India at the present time, Mr. Pandit Nehru distributes our foodstuffs in the Indian bazaars and the people who receive it say, “ What a good fellow Mr. Pandit. Nehru is “. They do not even know that the food is a gift to them from the people of Australia.
I suggest that Australia does not know the first thing about propaganda. Australia and the rest of the British Commonwealth are sending considerable sums of money to eastern nations, but the people who benefit from those gifts do not realize that they come from us. If the
Russians were doing the same thing, everybody would know about their actions, and I suggest that we need only a little imagination to realize that our friendly actions towards Asians should receive the appropriate publicity.
– I should like some information from the Minister about Division 199, Department of Immigration, section a, item 2, British Immigration (other than child) on page 88 of the Estimates. The estimate is £2,981,000, which is more than £1,201,000 in excess of expenditure for 1953-54. In section c, I notice an item, “ Establishment reception depots for British migrants - contributions of States towards establishment, £5,000 “, against an expenditure of more than £46,000 last year. In view of the facts that British immigrants have been dissatisfied with conditions in reception centres, and that we are trying to attract many more such immigrants to this country, I should like the Minister to explain why the estimate for this item is so small.
– I support the request made by Senator Laught for information about item 6, Division 197, Building of Homes for the Aged, in .Division 86 of the Estimates. I did not hear a reply given to the questions asked by the honorable senator, and I am much interested in the matter. During the last general election campaign the Government made a promise about this matter, and 1 have been asked certain questions about it. Of course, it may not be possible for the Minister to give me exact information about it, but perhaps he could tell me when information will be made public, because I am anxious that that information shall be available to the inquirers. Another item that I desire information about is on page 87 of the Estimates. It is item IS of Division 196, Food Production - Grant for . the expansion of Agricultural Advisory Services- - £200,000. That estimate is less than the amount made available last year, bur. a promise was made during the general election campaign that £300,000 would be made available this year, and that eventually the sum. would be increased to £500,000. I should be pleased to know why the estimate is less than the promised amount, because it is a matter of great importance, and I believe that the estimated amount should be the amount that was promised. A further matter is item 26, Division 187, “Exhibition of Australian paintings abroad - £700”, which appears at page 87 of the Estimates. Last year the Government spent £168 on this item, and now we expect to spend £700.Icannot imagine that we shall be doing much about our paintings if the cost willbe only £700, because I remember an exhibition of French paintings in Australia a few months ago upon which the expenditure must have been much more than £700. I hope that the Minister willbe: able to give me some information about the matters that I have raised.
– I agree with the Government’s actions under the Colombo plan, butI fail to see how we can assist eastern people by spending money on propaganda. I have just returned from a visit to some parts of the East, and during a week’s stay in Ceylon I discovered that the newspapers of that country published big head-lines about Australian assistance to the extent of 2,500,000 rupees. Moreover, Ceylon is far in advance of us in some spheres of activity, for example, in agriculture. Yet, the standard of living of the people is much lower than that of our own people. No doubt Australia will be able to assist the students that are being brought out from, say, Calcutta, under the Colombo plan, but honorable senators should realize that the educated people of the Eastern nations arenot making much attempt to lift the standards of living of their own people. Perhaps Senator Wordsworth would get a rude shock if he visited the East now, because I believe that there is no middle’ class there at all. I do not know whether that is a recent development, but I do know that there are only two sections of the population, one a very wealthy section and the other completely poverty stricken.. I entirely disagree with Senator Wordsworth’s suggestion that we can raise the standards of living of Asian people by means of propaganda, because 90 per cent. of those people can neither read nor write. What kind of propaganda does the honorable senator envisage? Does he consider that we should send representatives to those countries to disseminate propaganda? I consider that the Government should do something of a constructive kind to assist to uplift the standard of living of the people of those countries.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Dairy Produce Export Control Act - Twentyninth Annual Report of the Australian Dairy Produce Board, for year 1953-54.
Defence Transition (Residual Provisions) Act - National Security (Industrial Property ) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and Designs (11).
Lands Acquisition Act - Land,&c, acquired for-
Defence purposes - Essendon, Victoria.
Department of Civil Aviation purposes - Eagle Farm (Brisbane Airport), Queensland.
Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Repatriation - C. A. Grant.
Supply - H. L. Cohen.
Works- G. R. J. Shaw.
Senate adjourned at . 11.51 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 October 1954, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1954/19541019_senate_21_s4/>.