22nd Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. lt. McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Customs Tariff Bill 195fi.
Excise Tariff Bill 1050.
Salaries Adjustment Bill 1950.
Sales Tax ‘(Exemptions and Classifications)
Sales Tax Bills (Nos. 1. to 9) 1956. Statistics (Arrangements with States) Bill
Superannuation Bill 1950.
Transferred Officers’ Allowances Bill 188(1.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. T understand that ‘the Narrows Bridge, with reclamations, is estimated .to cost in the vicinity of £2,00’0,0’00. Could the Minister advise me whether this project is to be financed out of petrol tax moneys received by Western Australia from the Commonwealth?
– I have a recollection of seeing a statement attributed to the Premier of Western Australia some months. ago to the effect that he proposed to use some of the petrol tax moneys on this project. I do not know what the cost of the bridge is to be, nor do I recall whether the Premier ‘0.f Western .Australia stated it was his intention to finance the bridge entirely from petrol tax moneys or whether he said to what extent he proposed to use such moneys. Under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act bridges are not specifically mentioned. For the purposes of the act, however, a bridge which forms part of a -road has always been regarded as a road. The only stipulation that I recall is that 40 per cent, of the proceeds should be spent on rural roads. In the circumstances, therefore,. I do not think there is anything in the act to prevent the Premier of Western Australia from using the money in the way he proposes.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation whether the airports at Casino, Coolangatta, Roma and Wondai have been acquired %y the Government from ‘the local authorities in which tilley are situated. If they have, will the Minister advise what payments were made to the bodies which constructed, them?
– I have no knowledge of the matters raised by Senator Benn but I will refer the question to my colleague and seek information from him.
– I preface my question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior by saying that one of the best ‘features of the ‘City of Canberra - as most honorable senators will agree - is the variety and splendid growth of trees. Many of these, however, are not indigenous to Australia, and consequently their names and country of origin are unknown, in order to help visitors to Canberra, will the Minister consider the idea ‘of having name plates affixed to certain of the trees in Suitable places, showing their ordinary and botanical names and their country of origin ?
– I will refer the very useful suggestion made ‘by the honorable senator to my colleague, the Minister for the Interior.
– My question, addressed “to the Minister representing the. Prime Minister., refers to the -brief announcement that was mad’e fey the Prime Minister over the air and subsequently in the press yesterday, concerning the increase in the price of sugar. In view of the widespread use of sugar in various foods, awd the effect which its cost has on’ the household budget, I ask the Minister when the inquiry was held concerning am increase in price? What was the extent of the inquiry made-? What interests gave evidence before Ais inquiry? Was any information obtained as to the quantity of sugar held by the refineries, wholesalers and others, before this increase was agreed to? The information contained in the Prime Minister’s announcements is very meagre, but the increase is causing a great deal of public agitation, and calls for an elaboration of those statements.
– Honorable . senators will probably recall that, in 1952, a very extensive and thorough inquiry was made into the whole economy of the sugar industry by a very representative committee. In consequence of the report which it made to the Government an increase of price was determined, I think in October, 1952. The inquiry preceding that increase lasted about six or eight months and evidence was sought in nearly all, if not all, of the States. One of the recommendations made by the committee was the basis upon which the future price of sugar should be determined, and it was upon that recommendation that the latest increase was made. If the honorable senator cares to peruse the report, which is a public document, he will see a thorough exposition of the various bases upon which the new price was arrived’ at. I understand that the application of the findings and recommendations of the committee determined the new price.
– My’ question’, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, is really an extension of two questions that I asked previously in the Senate. It will be remembered that, when Archbishop Makarios was deported from Cyprus, I asked whether the Australian Government had any prior knowledge of the intention of the British Government to deport him, and I received no answer to my question. Then, when Sir John Harding determined that he would- introduce reprisals, the method of the German Nazis, I asked whether the Australian Government had any notification of the intention to do that. Having had no answer to those questions, I now ask the following question: - Did the Australian Government have prior knowledge of the intention to hang two Cypriot youths recently? Does, this Government agree with that action, in view of the tremen dous world reaction that has taken place ? Will the Government guarantee to make a statement to the Parliament, at the earliest possible moment, concerning this very important matter?
– As I understand it, the hanging of the two men to which the honorable senator has referred followed upon normal hearings in court and an appeal to the Privy Council. The Privy Council disallowed the appeal, and the law took its course. That is the position as I understand it. If there is any more information-
– Does the Minister know that a motion of censure of the Government was moved in the House of Commons yesterday, in relation to this matter, and that many Conservative members voted for it?
– Order !
– I am not concerned with what certain people may have done in England. I am telling the honorable senator the facts, because I thought it was facts he was seeking. If there is any further information that my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, has that can be made available to the honorable senator, I shall obtain it for him.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. In view of the number of immigrant ships arriving at Fremantle with very defective life-saving equipment, on which thousands of persons have been dependent for their lives during the long voyage to Australia, will the Minister see that certain tests, comparable to Australian standards, are carried out ‘in respect of these vessels before they leave their home ports so that the lives of future settlers in this country will not be jeopardized ?
– If I remember rightly, a prosecution took place in regard to one of these vessels.
– That was after it arrived here.
– It is true that that action was taken after the vessel reached Australia, but I have no doubt that the result of the prosecution may well have some effect upon future operations. I shall make inquiries along the lines referred to by the honorable senator and see what information is available.
– Further to the decision of the Minister for Civil Aviation that he was unable to recommend that the aerodrome at Pat’s River, Flinders Island, be re-constructed and sealed, I point out to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation that the island has been without a major air service for nine days. In view of the fact that the island has -no alternative passenger service, will the Minister authorize additional expenditure for the purpose of carrying out drainage at the aerodrome in order to make it serviceable in all weathers?
– I have no knowledge of the matter myself, of course, but I shall bring it to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for Civil Aviation.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in connexion with the termination of the sugar agreement on the 31st August next. Will the Minister inform the Senate whether negotiations have been started between the Australian Government, the Queensland Government, and the Australian Sugar Board for the renewal of that agreement? If so, what arrangements have been made to give representatives of the fruit industry an opportunity of audience before the agreement is renewed?
– I am not aware of any negotiations that have taken place yet for a renewal of the sugar agreement. That matter is not now within the province of the department of which I am the ministerial head. It comes within the province of the Department of Primary Industry. I believe a caveat has already been put by the fruit industry, and its interests will receive full consideration before a final agreement is reached.
– I wish to direct to the Leader of the Government a question which is entirely non-controversial and non-party. I believe all Australians were thrilled recently by the great races that were run in the United States of America on two occasions by John Landy. We are always talking about advertising Australia. I have taken an interest in activities in the sporting world for many years, and I have never known another athlete who has shown such magnanimity and humility.
– This man has been a wonderful advertisement for Australia. I do not believe in honours, and I do not suggest a knighthood for John Landy, but will the Government consider giving a special award to him to show appreciation, not only of his prowess but also of his general conduct, and the wonderful example that he has set?
– I am sure that we all endorse the statements of Senator Grant cordially and heartily.
– The Minister agrees with me for once.
– This is a matter upon which we can all agree most heartily. The honorable senator would not expect me to say offhand, however, whether there is an appropriate form of recognition available.
– I preface a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation by stating that aeroplanes operated by Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited and Trans-Australia Airlines leave at the same time each day from Western Australia. That is not altogether convenient for Western Australian passengers. I believe that neither company is’ prepared to depart from its present schedule because the night service gives the best return.
W ill the Minister confer with Australian National. Airways- Proprietary Limited and Trans-Australia Airlines regarding the air services to Western Australia ia an endeavour to arrange a time-table that is more convenient to Western Australian travellers, and so that the aeroplanes of both companies are not flown at approximately the same time each day?
– I have some recollection of this matter being discussed a year or two ago. It was then held by both Australian National Airways and Trans-Australia Airlines that the service conducted from Western Australia to the eastern States was the only suitable one inasmuch as it provided connexions with eastern States’ services from Melbourne and Sydney, and that a service flown at any other time would not achieve that result. However, I shall refer the honorable senator’s question to my colleague and ascertain whether any more up-to-date information can be provided. I shall certainly ask him whether he will again take up the matter with the two companies with a. view to bringing about some improvement in the service supplied to Western Australia, and some improvement which might meet the convenience of Western Austral ians who use the service.
– I ask the Minister- representing the Minister for the Interior. t,o inform the Senate whether distributors of milk in the- Australian Capital Territory are required to see that the quality of milk sold in Canberra, is in conformity with prescribed minimum standards.
– I have no knowledge of the matter myself, but I shall refer the question to the Minister for the Interior and obtain an answer- for the honorable senator.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is the Minister aware “that in. Western Australia there has been a very heavy carry-over of wheat, from last season, and. that, this carry-over has taxed the facilities available for the storage of wheat in that State to the extent that grave fears are held a? to what will happen to next season’s incoming wheat? Is he aware that at the end of last season wheat was unable to be shifted from country silos; into direct bulk storage) and that many farmers had to hold their wheat pending silos being cleared for bulk storage ? Will the Minister give consideration to the fact that as this occurred last season the position will be more confused next season ? Will he discuss the- matter with Western Australian senators, or make a statement to the effect that he will have the position thoroughly investigated with the object of improving the position?
– All I. can do is ask the honorable senator to placet his. question on the notice-paper, and I shall ask the. Minister for Primary Industry to consider the question and the request made, and, if possible, to make a full statement in relation, to wheat storage inWestern Australia.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. I have a persistent interest in the interim report of the Committee of Inquiry into the stevedoring industry, to- which I referred last. week. I direct the Minister’s attention to the fact that the committee warned readers that it had no- time or opportunity to state either the evidence or the reasons upon and for which the report was made. I refer to paragraph 90 of the report. That paragraph has some reference to the handling of the log of claims for the waterside industry by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, and it attributes to. the court ‘a delay of some- six years in hearing, the matter. I ask the Minister whether the committee had before it any evidence from officers of the Arbitration Court as to the proceedings that had taken place in relation, to that log and if so, whether he will be good enough to indicate: on which of the 12.000 pages of the transcript of evidence before the committee that evidence appears. If that evidence were not before the Committee,. I ask the Minister whether he will ensure that this paragraphis brought to the attention of the responsible officer of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, and that the Senate; is supplied with any comment on that paragraph which that officer may make from the records of the court.
– I do not know whether any officers of the court gave evidence in relation to these matters. I think that the parties gave evidence before the committee in relation to them, and I shall endeavour to ascertain for the honorable senator where the relevant evidence is. I am not in a position to say whether the officers of the court could have added any comment to the evidence given by the parties, but I shall make inquiries and ascertain whether any useful comment can be obtained from the officers of the court.
– I am sure that all honorable senators will agree that it is to be regretted that certain questions arc asked which it is impossible for Ministers to answer other than to say, I shall refer the question to the Minister concerned”. The listening public is entitled to some consideration in this matter, and it is most uninteresting for people to hear questions asked when there is no chance of the Minister being able immediately to reply. I have had many complaints on that score. I suggest to honorable senators that they should place all such questions on the notice-paper, so that the Ministers in the Senate mayhave an opportunity of obtaining replies from the Ministers whom they represent.
– In connexion with the matter that you have just raised, Mr. President, will you consider requesting Ministers to give due consideration to answering questions that are put on the notice-paper? The notice-paper will become quite a large volume within a short time unless some of the questions that are put on it are answered. I personally have had questions on the noticepaper for weeks and I do not know why they have not been answered. I suggest that that matter should certainly be pointedout to theMinisters concerned.
Report or Select Committee
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice - 1… Has the Minister seen the recent press reports to the effect that Canada has unpegged the price of gold and now permits the sale of gold to private purchasers?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– I now answer the honorable senator’s questions in the following terms: -
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
United States Senate - Report on certain aspects of its functions and procedure by J. R. Odgers, Clerk-Assistant of the Australian Senate.
Last year, the Department of State awarded Mr. Odgers a United States Government grant for the purpose of enabling him to participate in the international educational exchange programme. This report is the result of the study made possible by that generous grant.
. - I have had the pleasure of reading, but not of studying, this excellent report, and I now move -
That the report be printed.
I should like to congratulate Mr. Odgers on the obvious care, industry and skill that he has displayed in the production of this most interesting booklet. I make this suggestion : I think that for those of us who care to read it and keep it by us as a very valuable book of reference, its usefulness would be considerably added to if it had an index. I suggest that, before the report is printed, this addition be made to it. I should like to con gratulate Mr. Odgers warmly on behalf of the Senate for the skill and industry that he has applied to the production of this booklet.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Motions (by Senator Mckenna) - by leave - agreed to -
That Senator Devlin be granted leave of absence for two months on account of ill health.
That Senator Aylett be granted leave of absence for two months on account of ill health.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cooper) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
In the course of my second-reading speech on the Television Bill in the Senate in 1953, I gave an undertaking on behalf of the Government that at a later stage a more comprehensive measure would be brought down setting out in detail the manner in which television services would be conducted in the Commonwealth. This bill is now being introduced in conformity with that undertaking. In the meantime, the Royal Commission on Television has made a thorough inquiry into the subject, and particularly into the administrative, economic, social, educational and cultural effects of television. The royal commission presented a very useful and complete report and, in so far as television is concerned, this bill is designed to give effect, to a very large extent, to the recommendations which the royal commission made. The bill also proposes a number of important amendments to the existing broadcasting legislation based on the experience of broadcasting administration over many years. The Government has deemed it desirable, to incorporate the legislation relating to both services in a single measure, and the bill accordingly repeals the Television Act 1953. The Government’s basic policy on television, which was set out in that act, continues unchanged in this bill; that is to say, we are to have a national television service provided by a public authority and a commercial television service provided by private stations operating under licences granted by thi? Postmaster-General. Consideration of the precise means by which that policy was to be implemented was deferred by the Government until the royal commission’s report was received, but by virtue of the provisions of the Television Act, we have been able to make considerable progress towards the establishment of both national and commercial services. Honorable senators will be interested if I briefly indicate what has been done.
In relation to the national television service, the position, so far as the Postal Department is concerned, is that sites for the transmitting stations to serve the Sydney and Melbourne areas have been acquired at Gore Hill and Mount Dandenong, respectively; satisfactory progress is being made with preparations for the transmitter buildings; all the requisite technical equipment has been ordered; deliveries will commence this month; and installation will then proceed at a rate which will enable a service on limited power to be commenced in both cities next November. The Department of Works will erect the television studios for the Australian Broadcasting Commission. In Sydney, they will be established at Gore Hill on land adjacent to the transmitter, and, in Melbourne, in the suburb of Ripponlea. The constructional programme will be spread over three stages and is expected to be completed in December, 1957. However, the central core of the buildings containing the engineering service, telecine and telerecording equipment, and a small presentation booth, is scheduled for completion in both Sydney and Melbourne by next August. The Postal Department and the commission are both taking appropriate steps to recruit and train personnel for their respective responsibilities in the national television service, and the commission is busily engaged in obtaining suitable programmes. The present intention is that the national service shall be commenced in both Sydney and Melbourne next November, with what might be regarded as an interim service of about fifteen hours a week, to be gradually expanded until 25 hours a week is reached about the middle of 1957. It is the commission’s aim to provide a service in Melbourne before the Olympio Games are commenced, and I am sure honorable senators will share my hopes that this objective will be realized.
In connexion with the commercial television services, applications were called for licences for two stations in Sydney and in Melbourne, and a public inquiry was conducted by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, early in 1955, into the eight applications received for Sydney and the four received for Melbourne. After considering the board’? report, the Government authorized the grant of licences, in Sydney, to Amalgamated Television Services Proprietary Limited and Television Corporation Limited, and, in Melbourne, to General Television Corporation Proprietary Limited and Herald Sun TV Proprietary Limited. The conditions upon which these licences have been granted have been incorporated in the bill, and I shall make reference to the most important of them later. In the meantime, I may say that each of the four licensees is making satisfactory progress, with its preparations for a commencement of a television service, and, on present indications, it seems that programmes will be available from commercial television stations in Sydney and Melbourne before the end of the year. The Government will not unduly delay the extension of the services to other areas, but we have difficult problems to face in providing for our great areas and unevenly distributed population. In this respect, however, we will learn much from the experience we gain from the operation of the stations in Sydney and Melbourne. In restricting the services, at the outset, to those cities, the Government is proceeding along the lines recommended by the Royal Commission of Television, which expressed the opinion that if television is introduced on a gradual basis, and with programmes of a satisfactory standard, there is no reason to believe that the results will be harmful to the nation on either economic or social grounds. The Government endorses that view. Television can, undoubtedly, confer very great benefits on the people df we take prudent steps to avoid the misuse of this powerful medium of mass “communication. The Government has carefully studied the whole question in the light of the valuable report of the royal commission, and it now submits a measure for the consideration of the Senate which it believes will provide a “firm foundation on which television can be developed in the best interest of the nation.
The bill, as I have said, .contains provisions -relating to the establishment and conduct of a national television service and a commercial television service. With regard to the .former, I invite the attention of honorable senators to claused J,3 to -36, under which the scope of Part II. of the principal act is extended to cover the national television service as well as the national broadcasting service. The functions of the Australian Broadcasting Commission are enlarged, by clause 24, to embrace the provision of ia.dequa.te and comprehensive programmes for transmission -over national television stations which will ,be provided and operated by the Postal Department. The responsibilities of the commission will be greatly increased as a .result of this development and the Government has., therefore, carefully considered whether the present constitution of the commission is adequate to cope with the novel and difficult tasks that it will encounter in relation to television. We have como to the conclusion that, except in one respect, to which I shall refer, there is no need to .change the fundamental basis on which the commission has been established over the years. With an experienced staff in each State, the , Commission’s organization has proved effective in the field of sound broadcasting, and it should be competent to meet the new situation which has arisen since the commission has been required to provide programmes for .the national television service. I might say that in Great Britain and Canada, the organizations which had previously been .responsible for the conduct of the national broadcasting services in those countries before the introduction .of television, were likewise (entrusted with the additional task of providing the .national television services.
The Government has decided that the commission shall continue to consist of seven part-time -commissioners, but it i3 proposed, under clause 14 of the bill, to discontinue the practice of appointing an officer of the Treasury and an officer -of the Postmaster-General’s Department as members of the commission. This decision is not precisely in the terms recommended by the royal commission, which suggested that there should, in future, be nine commissioners, but it is consistent with the spirit -of the royal commission’s recommendation. In effect, two new commissioners will be .appointed to replace .the departmental nominees. The Government considers that the members -of the commission should be so chosen as to ensure that the people as a whole are .represented by a broad crosssection of the community ; if that principle is adhered to, there is little danger of the great power of the national broadcasting and television services being employed for sectional interests.
Under clause 16 of the bill, section 10 of the principal act, which fixes the rates of remuneration of ‘the members of the commission, is to be repealed, and a new section inserted providing that the commissioners -are to be paid remuneration at such .rates as the Governor-General determines. The Government considers it desirable that, ,as in the case of other statutory bodies, the rate of remuneration of commissioners, should be capable of (alteration without the necessity for an amendment of the .act. The Government proposes to increase the .remuneration at present :being paid to the members of the commission as follows.: - the chairman from £1,250 o £2,900 per annum, the vice-chairman from ,£5’.00 to £750 per annum, the other commissioners from £300 to JE500 per ann,um. The present rates were fixed., in the case of the chair- man .and the vice-chairman, in 1942, and, in the -case of the other commissioners, *m 1932. The contemplated increases are, therefore^ reasonable, having regard also to the additional responsibilities which are to be undertaken by the commission.
The method o£ financing the national television! service will, under the bill, be, for the present,, the same in principle as that which applies to the national broadcasting service. The fees which will be received for viewers’ licences will be paid im.to. Consolidated Revenue, and fundswill, be appropriated- by the Parliament. i.el: the purposes of both, the national, broadcasting service and the national television service. The Government has adopted this system, of financing the operations- of the na tional- television service as. an interim measure, pending further consideration when the service has become more widely available. Ideally,. the financial-, system should, as the. royal commission pointed, out, be designed so that those who receive the benefits of the service, should pay foi- it,, but it is obvious, as the commission also pointed out, that- this cannot be achieved immediately. The matter will be kept under review. At the present time the commission is not permitted- to incur expenditure in excess of £5,000 without ministerial approval, but it is proposed by clauses 26 and 27 of the bill to increase this amount to £20,000’.
The Postal Department is to have some responsibilities in relation to certain technical aspects of the national television service, and this is covered by clause 32 of the bill. It has been found desirable also to revise the provisions of the principal act concerning the work to be performed by the department for the national broadcasting service. Consequently, clause 32 proposes the insertion of two sections - 36 and 36a - dealing ‘ respectively with the technical equipment and operation of the national broadcasting service and the national television service. A very brief explanation of these two sections is that, whereas the department will continue to provide and operate all the technical equipment required for the purposes of the national broadcasting service, it will, in the case of the national television service, provide and operate only the transmitting stations and the links between a studio of the commission and’ the. Tocal transmitting station. The commission will have to recruit and train technical staff for the maintenance andoperation of the television studio’s and: other technical work for which it will now be- responsible.
Clauses 37 to 45 of the bill relate to the? conditions- which it is proposed should govern commercial television licences. TheGovernment has given much thought to this subject and, in general, it may be said that the conditions are based on the principle that the business interests of. licensees must, at all times, be subordinated, to the overriding consideration that the possession of a licence is what the royal commission described as a public trust for the benefit of. all members of our society. In these clauses,, therefore, the Government proposes conditions which, will ensure, on the one hand, that a company which is privileged to. hold a licence will properly discharge its obligations to the public and, on the other, that it will have reasonable prospects of operating as a successful business undertaking. These observations apply with equal force to commercial broadcasting stations* Accordingly, the licensing system contemplated in clause 3S of the bill will apply to’ both classes of stations.
As in the past, the Minister will have power to grant licences, but under the proposed section 46 he will in future be required, if he decides that a commercial broadcasting station or a commercial television station should be established in any particular locality, to invite applications for the grant of the licence by notice published in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. Applications which are received will be referred to the Broadcasting Control Board, and the board will hold a public inquiry, at which the applicants for the licence’ and any other interested parties will have an. opportunity to be heard. After considering the evidence, the board will make a recommendation to the Minister, who is required by the proposed section 69a, clause 43, to take into consideration any recommendation which may have been made by the board before exercising any of his powers in respect of the licensing of stations. This procedure*, which was followed very successfully in connexion with the applications for licences for commercial’ television stations fur Sydney and Melbourne, should meet with general approval. It will, in. particular, commend itself to critics who have maintained that the grant of licences has been considered behind closed doors in the past and that the general public had no knowledge of what was going on until a public statement was made that the licence had been granted.
New licences will be granted initially for a period of five years instead of a period “ not exceeding three years “, as in the past and they will be renewable annually thereafter. The Minister will still have the right to refuse to renew any licence, but the proposed new section 49 of the act will provide that, if the Minister thinks there may be grounds for refusing the renewal, he shall direct the board to hold an inquiry into the application and ‘must specify the grounds which he thinks exist for refusing the application. In this case, also, the Minister will be obliged, before reaching his decision on the renewal of the licence, to take into consideration the recommendations made by the board after holding an inquiry.
The Minister will still also have power, under the proposed section 50, to revoke a licence if the licensee has failed to comply with the provisions of the act or regulations, or a condition of the licence, or if he considers it desirable in the public interest, for a specified reason, to do so. However, before revoking a licence for any of those reasons, the Minister will be obliged to refer the matter to the board, which will hold an inquiry into the matter, and to consider the board’s report before reaching his decision. The provisions of the bill relating to the licensing of stations are in general accord with recommendations of the Royal Commission on Television which was of the opinion that, whilst the maximum practicable security of tenure should be assured for licensees, there should be provision for a regular review of the service being rendered by each licensee, so as to ensue that a satisfactory standard was being maintained. For the reasons given by the royal commission in its report, the Government does not consider that there should be any appeal from a decision of the Minister in relation to a licence.
Clause 40 of the bill imposes a limitation on the ownership and control of commercial television stations. In this connexion, I remind honorable senators that, since 1935, there has been a restriction on the ownership or control of commercial broadcasting stations, no person being permitted to own or control, directly or indirectly, more than eight such stations in the Commonwealth. The Government considers that the ownership of commercial television stations should be much more severely restricted, and accordingly, it is proposed in clause 40 that a new section - 53a - should be inserted in the act, the purpose of which will be to limit the ownership or control by any person of television stations to one such station in any capital city and two such stations in the Commonwealth. The Government is firmly of the opinion that the ownership of commercial television stations should be in as many hands as practicable and that it should not be possible for any one organization to obtain control of any substantial number of stations.
Clause 40 also provides for the insertion in the act of a new section - 53b - which is designed to give statutory effect to the decision of the Government that commercial television stations will be owned and controlled by the people of Australia. The proposed section will provide that not less than 80 per cent, of the issued capital of a company holding a licence shall be beneficially owned by Australian residents and that no overseas shareholder shall have more than 15 per cent, of ‘the issued capital. The Government has enforced this condition in relation to the four licences already granted for television stations, with the result that in some cases overseas interests have had to reduce their holdings very considerably. A study of the report of the board will show that.
Clause 40 of the bill extends to commercial television stations the existing provisions of Division 3 of Part III. of the principal act, relating to technical conditions to he observed by commercial broadcasting stations. Clause 40 also prescribes, in Division 4 of -Part III., the conditions to be observed by the licensees of commercial stations, both’ television and broadcasting, in relation to their programmes. I invite the attention of the Senate specially to the latter provisions because ever since there has been talk of the introduction of television into Australia, genuine fear has been expressed by large sections of the community that the introduction of television would have unfortunate effects on some sections of the population, particularly children. There i3, however, another side to the story. As the Royal Commission on Television said -
The right approach to television should rather emphasize the great advantages which may be derived .from it, if adequate provision is made, not only to avoid socially undesirable features, but also to secure the -maintenance of high standards of service so that the best and not the worst results may be obtained from the new medium.
Iii other words, the objective of all stations, from the outset, should be to provide programmes that will have the ultimate effect of raising standards of public taste.
Whilst the Government concedes that it is of the essence of commercial television that holders of licences should have a large measure of true freedom and scope for experiment and enterprise in the presentation of programmes, it is determined that essential safeguards should be provided against possible abuses of the new medium. Whilst we believe that in this field self-regulation on the part of the licensees is to be encouraged, we endorse the view of the royal commission that there should be a reserve of authority to ensure that commercial programmes ‘ will, in the broadest sense, serve the public interest. Accordingly, it is proposed by clause 40 - see proposed section 60 - that -
CiO. - (1) A licensee shall provide pro grammes and shall supervise the broadcasting or televising of programmes from his station in such manner as to ensure, as far as practicable, that the programmes are in accordance with standards ‘determined by the hoard.
That is, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board.
After conferring with the licensees of television stations in Sydney and Melbourne, the board has formulated television programme standards designed not only to avoid the intrusion of objectionable material into programmes, but also to secure and maintain the positive standards of value in television programmes to which the royal commission referred. I am sure that honorable senators will be interested in the standards which have been adopted by the board, and I have accordingly arranged for copies to be distributed. The board will be responsible for ensuring that licensees comply with the standards. The board will have the full support of the Government in this matter, and we will not tolerate any abuse of this new medium by licensees, advertisers or any one else. The standards, having been prepared in consultation with the licensees, we are confident that by strict adherence to them, they will avoid errors of taste and any other objectionable features. As au additional safeguard, however, the Government is retaining the following sections of the principal act, and extending their provisions to television : - Section 62, which provides for the censorship of programmes; section 91, which prohibits the broadcasting of anything which is blasphemous, indecent or obscene; and section 92, which provides for the suspension, in -certain circumstances, of persons responsible for the broadcasting of offensive matter.
In respect of section 62, I should explain that whereas the board at present has absolute power of censorship, the bill provides that it will in future be restricted to any case “ where the board has reason to believe that any matter . . which it is proposed to broadcast or televise is of an objectionable nature “. I should also mention that all programmes on film imported from overseas will be subject to censorship by the Chief Film Censor under the Customs (Cinematograph Films) Regulations.
There are some other important provision’s relating to programmes in the following proposed sections: -
Proposed section 64, will require the licensees of commercial broadcasting and television stations to transmit divine worship or other matter of a religious nature during such periods as the board determines and to do so, free of charge, if the board so directs. It will be noted in page .11 of the -television programme standards that licensees of television stations will be obliged to devote 1 per cent, of their operating time, with .a minimum of 30 minutes, to religious programmes, free of charge. Licensees of commercial broadcasting stations are already required to devote one hour each week to religious programmes, but, in fact, they devote, on an average, considerately more than one hour each week, free of charge, to such programmes. The broad basis for the distribution of the time between the various denominations is their numerical strength as disclosed by the latest census.
Proposed section SS provides that thu commission and the licensees of stations shall, as far as possible, use the services of Australians in the production and presentation of programmes. The Government has carefully considered .representations which have been .made to it in support of a quota system which would require the commission and licensees to devote a specified proportion of their periods of operation to Australian programmes. The Government, however, agrees with the view of the royal commission that -
It would not be practicable, at present; however, before any actual experience has been gained as to the amount of talent available or its capacity .to provide a .good standard of programme, for any authority to lay down quotas for the Australian content of television programmes, even if bie principle of encouraging the employment .of Australian artists by the imposition of quotas is valid.
Whilst, therefore, we .are not prescribing a quota in section 88,. T say, quite emphatically, that the Government expects stations to offer the maximum practicable amount of employment to Australians in the production and presentation of programmes and will .take appropriate steps to see that the requirements of the section are .observed.
Proposed section 88 also provides that the commission and licensees of commercial broadcasting stations should devote not less than 5 per cent, of the time occupied in the broadcasting of music to the broadcasting of works of composers who are Australians. The act at present provides a quota of 3^ pir .cunt.., and this provision, which was inserted in the act in 1942, on the recommendation of the Gibson committee, ha3 undoubtedly resulted in greater use being made of Australian compositions. During the year ended the 30th June, 1955, the commission devoted 4.7 per sent, of its music time to Australian ‘compositions and the licensees of the 106 commercial broadcasting stations, on an average, devoted 3.91 per cent, to such works.
Proposed section 88a relates to sporting programmes. It provides that a sporting event shall not be televised except in accordance with the terms of an agreement between the tele-riser and the promoter of the event. Clause 59 of the hill provides for the making of regulations for the settlement of disputes which may arise between, the commission or -a licensee of a television station and the promoter of a sporting event.
Proposed section 89 relates to political broadcasts. At the present time, the Australian Broadcasting Commission has absolute discretion and complete responsibility in respect of the transmission, over national broadcasting stations, of political and controversial matter, subject only to the general requirements that there .shall be no dramatization of current political matter and no political broadcasts during the two days preceding a Federal -or State election. Under the bill, the commission will have the .same discretion and responsibility in relation to the televising of .such matter. The position with .respect to the broadcasting of political and controversial matter by commercial stations is that, at the present time, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is obliged to ensure that facilities are provided on an equitable basis for the broadcasting of political or controversial matter. In the absence of any direction of the board, licensees of commercial stations may, under the existing section 89 of the act, make such arrangements as they see ‘fit for the broadcasting of political or controversial matter, subject only to the silent period of two days before an election and no dramatization of any current political matter.
In this regard, the royal commission expressed the view that the obligations of licensees of television stations in respect of political matter., should be directly stated in the legislation, and not left to the exercise of the administrative discretion of a statutory body. The Government supports this view and accordingly, in the proposed section89, is set out what we intend should be the statutory obligations of the licensees of commercial broadcasting and television stations in regard to political matter. Briefly,what is proposed is this -
I have given the Senate an outline of the more important provisions of the bill insofar as they relate, first, to the establishment and operation of the television services, and, secondly, to alterations in the existing legislation concerning the broadcasting services, all of which matters are covered in clauses 13 to 45 of the bill. There are a few other matters which I wish to mention. The first is the television viewers’ licence, to which clauses 53 and 54 of the bill relate. Clause 53 provides for the grant of these licences under the same general condition as now applyto broadcast listeners’ licences. Under clause 54, the fee is fixed at £5 per annum which, in the case of a person who also owns a broadcast receiver, will be additional to the fee of £2 per annum paid for a listeners’ licence. In both cases, the fee covers all receivers in the possession of the licensee, or a member of his family, which are ordinarily kept at the address specified in the licence.
In the course of my remarks, I have made several references to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. I now invite the attention of honorable senators to clause8, which provides for a revision of section 6K of the principal act, which prescribes the functions of the board. The more important changes are the omission of some of the existing particular functions of the board in relation to programmes, notably the obligation to ensure that divine worship or other matter of a religious nature is broadcast for adequate periods and at appropriate times, and to ensure that facilities are provided on an equitable basis for the broadcasting of political or controversial matter. The Government believes that the responsibilities of licensees of commercialbroadcasting stations and commercial television stations in respect ofpolitical and religious broadcasts should he stated in the act, as proposed in clause 40 and clause 49, and not be left to the discretion of the board as at present.
Clause 9 of the bill provides the machinery for the conduct of the inquiries which I have indicated the board will be required to undertake in connexion with the system of licensing television and broadcasting stations. The proposed new section 6la will empower the board also to hold inquiries into any other matter within its jurisdiction.
The technical conditions to be applied to commercial broadcasting stations are substantially the same as at present, except for the fact that we are proposing to omit the existing sub-section 54 (2.), which prohibits the use of frequency modulation by commercial stations. Consideration is being given to the possibility of utilizing this system of broadcasting to facilitate the expansion of the services, and it is clearly desirable that the existing impediment to its use by commercial stations should be removed.
Underclause 46 of the bill it is proposed that the provisions of Part IV. of the principal act, relating to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Broadcasting, be repealed. This committee has not sat since 1948. The Government does not see the need for a standing committee of this nature, especially as a joint committee of the Parliament can beset up by resolution if the need arises, as was done in the case of the Gibson committee in 1941.
There has in recent years been a great increase in the volume of news services and commentaries transmitted by Australian broadcasting stations. In this connexion, the attention of the Government has been drawn to the fact that, following consideration of the matter in 194S by a Committee on the Law of Defamation, the English law on that subject was amended to provide that “ for the purposes of the law of libel and slander, the broadcasting of words by means of wireless telegraphy shall be treated as publications in permanent form “. Enactment of a similar law in Australia is considered to be in the public interest, and, accordingly, a like provision is included in clause 52 of this bill. The effect of the amendment is that, in any action which may be brought against a broadcasting or television station for the publication of defamatory matter, such matter will be treated as if it were libel and not slander. This means, amongst other things, that the plaintiff would not have to prove what is called “ special damage “ - that is, actual monetary loss. The English committee pointed out that the very large audiences to which the programmes of broadcasting and television stations are addressed mean that any defamatory statement made during a broadcast is a matter of the utmost seriousness to the person named, lt is proper, therefore, that he should be able to obtain some redress in the courts. I shall be glad at the committee stage of the bill to give further information on any provisions of the bill, which I now commend to the consideration of honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by -Senator Mckenna) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 9th May (vide page 621), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the hill be now read a second time.
– This is an income tax assessment bill, and is also, as it says, for other purposes. Actually the bill does two major things and also a slight thing which probably comes under the “ for other purposes “. In the first place it extends the period of exemption from income tax of those engaged in uranium production; and secondly, it extends the period in which to claim the special depreciation allowance of 20 per cent, at present allowed to primary producers.
In respect of uranium production, with the advance of science, uranium will probably be in fair demand for only a few years to come. As a fusion material uranium is being supplanted in some spheres by other agents. For example, the atom bomb has been superseded by the hydrogen bomb, and uranium is being supplanted by another material. As time goes on, the necessity to protect the producers of uranium will be unnecessary, but for a few more years that protection is absolutely essential and the bill can be justified because of that necessity. Consequently, the Opposition raises no objection to it. The only thing I would point out is that upon examination I have found that the major proportion of this exemption will be granted to big overseas companies at present engaged in uranium production in Australia. Australians will derive very little benefit at all. That is the only objection I have. Although’ the bill will benefit some Australians, the major benefit will be to those outside Australia.
The bill also extends the period for the depreciation allowance of 20 per cent, to primary producers,, and, at the same time, raises the amount that a primary producer can claim for building a house for one of his employees, a tenant or a sharefarmer. It raises the amount by £750 so that now a primary producer can claim depreciation on £2,750 instead of £2,000. The existing 20 per cent, is retained, but it is spread over a period of five years on the total amount that is expended after the first year in which the deduction is claimed. That means that if a man spends £2,750, he can reclaim the whole of that sum in five years at 20 per cent. each year. The Opposition has no quarrel with that. As a matter of fact some years back it stated that for the first year the allowance should be 40 per cent. The Government has seen fit to extend the allowance for a period of five years from the date of the initial expenditure. The result is that the bill is very much on a par with what, the Labour party desired.
This system of spreading depreciation over five years differs only slightly from the system in operation as far as the ordinary taxpayer is concerned. In the case of the ordinary taxpayer the value year by year is taken into consideration with the result that there is a diminishing capital value. That is one difference between the two systems. One other difference is that this amendment makes provision for a period of five years in which to repay the debt and also extends the period by three years so far as it applies to those at present concerned. Everybody will get the benefit of the five years and any one who commences to make a claim within the five-year period will he in exactly the same position. A general taxpayer decreases his capital value each year. For instance, the owner of a motor car finds that over a period of three or four years his car diminishes in value each year, and at the end of three or four years the value, for depreciation purposes, may be £400. If he sells the car for £500 he has to put the extra £100 in his next year’s income tax return before he can claim depreciation exemption on a new motor car which he might buy for probably £1,000.
There is only one other thing that 1 should like to mention in connexion with this depreciation. A hardship will be imposed upon primary producers who have their ions in partnership with them. Such people, according to the provisions of the measure before the Senate, will not be allowed depreciation if they build houses for their sons; even though the son is a partner and works on the farm, simply because the son is a member of the partnership. It docs not matter whether the son is an equal partner or merely a minor partner, the same principle applies.
I direct the Minister’s attention to this matter, because a number of cases have been brought to my attention in which farmers have entered into partnership with one or more of their sons. As time goes on, the sons get married and need a place in which to live. Then the farmer, or the partnership, puts up a house on the original farm, or buys more land and puts up a house on that land in which the son may live. In a case such as that, no depreciation is allowed to the partnership in respect of the dwelling, although the son who will occupy the home’ is working on the farm and is a member of that private partnership. I hope that the Minister will investigate this matter and ascertain whether something cannot be done for the persons whom I have mentioned. I do not see any reason why depreciation should not be allowed in those cases, whether one son, or two, three or four sons are involved. Moreover, I am of the opinion that to extend the benefits of the depreciation allowance in the way that I have mentioned would not cost very much to the Commonwealth revenue.
The Opposition is grievously disappointed because no provision has been made in this measure to increase the concessional deductions for dependants of taxpayers. At the present time, a concessional deduction of £130 is allowed in respect of a wife. Because of the increasing cost of living, and because of all that has happened in the economic field during the last four or five - or even seven or eight - years, the Government could very well increase that deduction to £200. After all, honorable senators will realize that even if the deduction in respect of a wife were £200, such a sum would not be sufficient to maintain her; and there is no reason why some increase of the allowance should not be made. A similar argument applies in respect of the children of the taxpayer. At present, a concessional deduction of £78 is allowed in respect of the first child, and a deduction of £52 in respect of each other child of a taxpayer. It would have been a welcome gesture by the Government if those allowances had been increased, because the more children in a family the more it costs the whole family to live. I am well aware that parents receive child endowment, but the amounts that they so receive are not sufficient to cover the cost of keeping the children. It i&quite apparent that the larger tha familyis, the greater is- the difficulty of making: ends meet, and. the more the parents: arepenalized’. The concessional, allowances of JETS for the first child and. £5-2: for each other child! should be increased, to- £13.0 in respect of each child. Of course/ the. figures, that I haw given are merely examples; and I am not tied hard and fast te £200 for the wife and £130 in respect of each child. What I do sayis that all. concessional allowances in respect of wife and children should be. increased.. The Opposition- is greatly disappointed’ with this measure because the Government has. not done something by way- of increasing concessional deductions to assist the family man, particularly the man with a large family.
The only other point that I. desire to> mention- is in connexion with the driedfruit growers of Australia., What I amt a:bout to: say applies, in some degree to, fruit-growers ‘ who. supply fruit forcanning purposes, but it applies mainly to dried fruit, growers. According to- the present method of assessing income tax, those people- are required to pay taxes on money that they have not received. Such a practice is a grievous wrong to those- taxpayers-. The Minister willremember that several questions have been asked in. the Senate by myself and other honorable, senators: in connexion with* the- payments being made to dried limit, growers through the British .Government and the Australian Government. The. growers have not’ yet received their money, because a start has only now been, made- to distribute it; but,, their previous year’s incomes have been- fiddled up and they are taxed on the incomethat they have not yet received. Of course, I realize that the returns to the growers have been more or less guaranteed,, and consequently, even though they may have to wait eighteen months or two years for their money, they willeventually get it. Nevertheless, they have to pay income tax on money they have not yet received, and, consequently, they have to find their tax from other sources.
On occasions, some growers; may get exemptions from income tax, or grants of extensions of time, but the method of assessing their taxes causes me. particular concern, because under it, they are being taxed on future incomes. If. necessary, I can bring forward factual’ evidence to show that, growers have> had to. obtain, money fr,om other people, in order topay income tax and carry on, to such, a degree that their debts have increased by 50 per cent, even before they have started, to pay their- tax. Much of their trouble- has- been caused through the method of. assessing tax on. incomes that they have not received.
T am not laying a complaint about this particular matter, because- I know that any action in this regard by the Government would be in the nature of an exception. Nevertheless, I suggest that there might be, some relaxation of the rules, even by an extension of the period of time allowed’ for- the payment of income tax, so that the growers might receive payment for last year’s, crop or the crop of the year before, before they are called upon to pay tax. If the Government should take action along those lines, the people about whom I have been speaking will’ be most grateful’. Having put those matters before the Government, the Opposition d’oes not oppose the bill.
– I’ rise to support the bill, and in doing so I compliment the Government on certain amendments proposed in the measure. It may be recalled that, in 1951, the question, of depreciation allowance was recognized, but. it had a retrospective application. Here, the Government has foreshadowed the law toa>ppl’y as from the 1st July next, and that is a consideration of note, because farmers and others who work on the land’ will know in advance their entitlement in relation to deductions for depreciation. I commend the Government for its foresight in doing that two or three months before the deadline. It is well recognized in Australia that the imaginative taxation of the Government with regard to depreciation allowances has paid great- dividend’s in national productivity. I read with great pride that the quantity of wool that is– being- produced in Australia at present is f ar greater- than- ever before, and’ that the quantities of other primary’ products have increased to the order of 15. per cent, or IS per cent: One does- not. have1 to seek very far in order to find the reason for that increase. One reason is that, by means of depreciation deductions, taxation relief has been given to those engaged in primary production.
I am glad to see that these deductions will be continued for three. years and. that,, in the. case, of the deduction for structural improvements,, the amount allowable in respect, of a. workman’s cottage has been raised considerably. But, of course, the Government will have to ensure that farms do not become over-capitalized’ as a result of the stimulus provided by these taxation- concessions. I think that, from time to time, the research officers who advise the Government in these matters, will have to watch that spending on new plant and new buildings is in accordance with economic prudence, so that the farms will not become over-capitalized. At the present time, 1 should say that, by and’ la.i:ge, this has not occurred, but if Australia’s income from primary production were to decline, the farms could well become over-capitalized if these deductions are. not watched.
I am. glad that the encouragement at present, given, to. the uranium-mining industry is to be extended for a further period - until 1964-65.. It was my privilege last year to- visit some of the back parts of the Northern Territory bordering on Arnhem Land, where prospecting for uranium was taking place in a most scientific manner. I was astounded to learn of. the amount of capital that is expended by mining, companies, and companies which hope to undertake treatment in the future, in the provisions of airfields and roads. Duc to the long, wet season in that part of Australia, a tremendous expenditure on these items is being incurred’. Therefore,. I think that it was wise of the Government to extend the period of freedom from the full impact of taxation because in such isolated parts of Australia development is notoriously slow, due to the inability of the Government to, persuade people, particularly those with families,, to live there.
I mentioned during a debate in this chamber last week that I thought that fishermen should be regarded as primary producers. I am sorry that the Government, despite its commendable interest, inthe fishing industry;, has not seen fit to amend, the definition of “primary production “ in section 6 of the Income ‘Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act to include fishermen. I Believe that fishermen should truly be regarded as being engaged in primary produce tion. What could’ be more- primary than harvesting fish from the sea?’ I consider that fishermen should be entitled to depreciation allowances, and- that the averaging system now applied to primary producers should be extended to them. I hope that the Minister for- National Development (Senator Spooner), who is- now at. the table, will make representations to the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) far the inclusion of fishing in the definition of “ primary production “, so that the concessions granted to those1 engaged in primary production: will be granted to fishermen.
I was disappointed that more consideration was not given, by the Government, to the comments of the committee on taxation in relation to depreciation. Although the. report that has been submitted by a colleague of many of us in another place. Ls a momentous document, I submit that it has received only scant consideration by the Treasurer. Congratulations to Mr. Hulme and his- distinguished committee appears to be the extent of practical consideration that has been extended’ in this matter. I suggest that some of the principles embodied in this important - report in connexion with depreciation allowances in industry generally should be adopted. I do not believe that their adoption would accelerate inflation or stimulate unduly the importation of machinery and other aids to industry.
I desire now to comment on certain aspects of the conference of the Taxpayers Association that we held in Hobart last week. Mr. Groom, the president of that organization, referred to the Income Tax Assessment Act as the wastepaper basket’ into which was thrown all netty items of legislation. He deplored the practice of using the income tax legislation for the purpose of subsidizing industries. This is an aspect of the matter that the Government would be well advised to consider. The Minister stated in his second-reading speech -
This bill contains important provisions designed to encourage increased primary production and to stimulate the mining for and treatment of uranium-bearing ore.
Therefore, the bill now before us is not a taxation measure, but one designed to encourage certain industries. I confess that during the course of this debate, following his example, I have advocated the extension of taxation concessions to the fishing industry. Although that approach is in line with Government policy, when Mr. Groom raised the subject in Hobart it was evident that he viewed it with disfavour. I think there is much to be said for Mr. Groom’s argument because, if we adopt this form of- subsidizing farming, it is possible that the subsidy will go to those people who are least entitled to it. Similarly, if we are to look with favour upon the sending of children to private schools, it is possible that the present concession to parents who send children to private schools will be of far greater benefit to the wealthier taxpayers than to those who can barely afford to give their children private school education. In other words, to the man who is paying 10s. in the fi in income tax, the £75 deduction is worth £37 10s., whereas it is worth much less to the man who is paying only 3s. in the £1. For that reason, I feel that the intrusion into the income tax law of concessions purely and simply for the purpose of promoting this or that enterprise’ is bad, and the Government would do well to give consideration to what Mr. Groom and others said about that principle at the conference to which I have referred. Another example of the inequity of tax concessions is to be seen in respect of interest on loans. At present, a rebate of 2s. in the £1 is allowed. This means that the well-to-do man who pays a fairly substantial rate of tax can in effect enjoy a return of 5 per cent, interest on the money he invests in loans because ho enjoys the benefit of the 2s. rebate whereas a widow or some other poor person who pays no income tax receives only the 4-J per’ cent, interest payable on the loan. As I see it, there is a growing tendency to introduce into our income tax laws encouragement to invest in government loans, or to engage in fishing, farming or some other form of primary production. This tendency requires very careful examination.
I am more than ever convinced that the time has arrived for a full-scale inquiry into our income tax laws by a royal commission. The last such inquiry was held during the ‘thirties. As a result of its findings, the Income Tax Assessment Act of 1936 was introduced. Incidentally, that act was a mere pygmy of only eight pages, compared with subsequent amending legislation, so that the act consists of about 250 pages. To my way of thinking, that is an impossible legal situation and I repeat that the time has arrived for a complete review of our income tax laws. The body appointed to make the review should be completely non-party. I suggest that it should be made by a royal commissioner assisted by the greatest financial, accounting and business brains in the community. Our own Commissioner of Taxation, Mr. P. S. McGovern, a gentleman who, I am sure, is held in the highest esteem by this Parliament, has had occasion to comment upon our income tax legislation. His remarks, which are based on an address that he gave to the 1955 Convention on Accounting conducted by the Australian Society of Accountants in Canberra, are published in the Taxpayers’ Bulletin of January, 1956, and although I cannot altogether agree with the bold and courageous point of view he submitted, at the same time it is stimulating to find that our own commissioner is so worried about the present laws. Refer.ring to boards of review, he said -
To change what has now become almost traditional in the practices of the Boards of Review, it would probably be necessary specifically to authorize, or even charge them with the duty of giving decisions based upon the intention of the legislature, not necessarily as strictly to be interpreted from the wording of the section, but from all the evidence which is within their own knowledge or is adduced to them by either party to the dispute.
So we find our commissioner submitting to that learned society the point of view that the boards of review, the final arbiters, as it were, in income tax disputes. should not necessarily base their decisions upon a strict interpretation of the wording of the act. I submit that he clearly must be of the opinion that the wording of the sections does not convey what he or the Government thinks should be the law. Those remarks are a challenge to the Government to have a review of our income tax laws. No doubt, in saying what he did, the commissioner was giving his own views, not necessarily those, of the Government; nevertheless, we should pay heed to what he says. He continued -
The new procedure-
That is, the one he has just outlined - would have many advantages over the existing procedure. In the first place, the long delays now occurring in obtaining decisions in disputes between taxpayers and the Commissioner, which are largely caused by the necessity for both parties to proceed in strict legal form, could be eliminated and both taxpayer and administration would be assured of greater certainty and accelerated decisions.
I differ with him there because I do not think any taxpayer could be assured of greater certainty if this rule of natural justice, this change from the normal rules of interpretation, were to be applied. He went on to say - l.’n the second place, it is believed that much nf the avoidance now practised because of the knowledge that strict legal interpretation will prevail would not be attempted if the scheme had first to meet the test of the “spirit” rather than the “ letter “ of the law.
T cannot subscribe to that, but I invite the attention of the Senate to the fact that the commissioner himself has advocated to this learned society the introduction of a completely different method of interpreting our taxation laws. Although I hold the view that we should not change the method of interpretation, I do suggest that this comment by the commissioner is a challenge to the Government to examine the present law and put it right. It is the responsibility of the Parliament to put the law right so that it may bc interpreted in any court anywhere in Australia according to the accepted rules of legal interpretation. I repeat that this is a challenge to the Government to appoint a royal commission on taxation, particularly income taxation. If the law is not clearly stated, if people are able to drive a coach and eight through it, we have a responsibility to put it right and not to mediate or compromise on questions of interpretation.
At this stage, I invite the consideration of the Senate of a reform which I submit is long overdue and which I regret to find is not covered by the proposed new legislation. ‘ I refer to the difficulties experienced by professional men, selfemployed persons and others in the community .in making adequate provision for their retirement. Under the existing income tax laws, it is almost impossible for them to make any such provision. I know a number of professional men in a fairly big way who are able to take up land, improve it, become primary producers thereby, and reap all the benefits which the primary producer can claim by way of depreciation allowance, and the grand scale of benefits available to those who clear and improve land and then gain the advantage of averaging their income year by year. Their professional income and their primary production income or loss are added together and averaged on that of previous years. That is their way of making provision for retirement, but for those who cannot get that far because they, possibly, pay more attention to their professions and businesses, the future is very black.
This matter has not escaped the attention of the United Kingdom, because I have with me a report of the Committee on the Taxation Treatment of Provisions for Retirement, which was presented by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the British Parliament at “Westminster, in February, 1954. I do not propose to comment on that report Other than to say that it is a most interesting document, and it really refers to the circumstances of the professional man. As an example, I mention a dentist who commences practice at a comparatively late age because he has had an extensive period of education. Usually he takes some time to become established, and in the early years of his practice he cannot put aside anything for his years of retirement. As his income gradually increases,- he is able to put away something for insurance, but the law places a limit of £200 on the amount which he can claim as a reduction each year for that purpose. The law provides, also, that if he belongs to a medical or hospital benefit society, his contributions to that organization are included in the £200 deduction allowable. Such a person has less chance of getting a good insurance cover, because he can invest in insurance no more than £180 a year if he would claim a taxation deduction on the investment. Consequently, self-employed persons cannot belong to any superannuation- scheme such as that run by the Government or big business firms. In the latter case, the employer could well contribute threefifths and the employee two-fifths of the amount paid into the fund, and in the case of the Government scheme, the public servant contributes approximately twosevenths, and the Government fivesevenths. Nothing like that is available to the self-employed person. If he makes more than he needs for subsistence all he can do is to claim as a deduction the £200 which he has contributed himself for a retirement fund, and at a time, possibly, when his life is not a first-class risk.
Honorable senators will appreciate the difficulties confronting a self-employed person in making provision for his retirement. It has been suggested to me that if a professional man - that is, a person such as a dentist, or an artisan, or a person conducting a little business - were permitted to contribute a fixed percentage of his annual professional or- business income to a fund set up and administered by his professional body, it would go a long way towards solving the problem which I have outlined to the Senate.
I hope that very soon a royal commission will be appointed to inquire into taxation, and that it will consider not only the question of straightening out the taxation laws, but also important social questions such as I have discussed. It should be remembered that the last royal commission on taxation conducted its inquiries during the depths of the depression when Australia was a struggling country. Its export industries were predominantly primary, because it was then a rural community. There was not much manufacture. Attempts are now being made, however, to use the old framework of taxation law as it then - existed to assess present-day taxation. Then, the entire Commonwealth budget was £80,000,000; now it is £1,100,000,000. How can a government expect the taxation law to be adequate if it is built on such an -outmoded framework? For years, uniform taxation has been in operation, but it was never thought of at the time ‘of the previous royal commission. Neither was pay-as-you-earn taxation. The Minister (Senator Spooner) in his second-reading speech pointed out that the Government was flat out aiding farmers and encouraging primary production, giving assistance in the treatment of uranium, and helping in many similar ways. Our taxation laws now include a whole division dealing with friendly societies; another contains treaties with the United States of America and the United Kingdom. These things were never dreamed of in the 1930’s when the last royal commission on taxation made its investigations. Since then, a vast expansion in corporations has taken place, and taxation on private and public companies has increased enormously. [ suggest to the Minister that a royal coinmission on taxation, which I and many others have requested, is long overdue. I heartily support the bill.
Senator WARDLAW (Tasmania; [5.4]. - I wholeheartedly support the measure, which is in accordance with the policy of the Government as laid down when it took office in 1949, and continued ever since. The fact that that policy has been accepted and endorsed by the people is shown by the Government’s re-election on two occasions. One result of the policy has been the sound economic and financial position of Australia. Senator O’Flaherty objected to the large overseas companies obtaining the advantage of an allowance granted to assist in the mining and treatment of uranium. I fail to see how Australians can expect to get that allowance if they have no money invested in the uranium projects. If these overseas companies have sufficient enterprise to bring their money to Australia and invest it in these projects, they should receive the benefit of the provisions of this bill. . .
I support the 20 per cent, depreciation allowance to primary producers, which is to be continued for a further three years. I agree that the Government should make an early announcement on this matter, so that primary producers will be .under no misapprehension concerning the future policy of the Government. We all know the position of our markets overseas. The markets for most of our primary products are disappearing, while costs at home are. rising. That situation is likely to place primary producers in an awkward position. The policy of this Government, all along, has been to increase our primary production and to subsidize when prices fall. As the Senate has been told previously, Australia’s primary production has increased by 20 per cent, since the end of World War II. This increase has been due to the industry of primary producers and to the .fact that the Government has encouraged them, all along the line, to increase production. Had this increase of production not been achieved, wo should have been £100,000,000 worse off last year. It should not be forgotten, also, that the primary producers are to a great degree responsible for the exports which enable our secondary or manufacturing industries to expand. . believe that the manufacturing and secondary industries should play a greater part in our export programme than they have played in the past. Figures that have been compiled show that 62 per cent, of our imports’ is for purposes of manufacturing and reprocessing, whilst 25 per cent, consists of items such as oil and tea, which we cannot do without. That being so, only 12-J- per cent, or 13 per cent, of our present imports are represented by the retail side, in respect of items such as crockery, wearing apparel, and things of that kind. We have reached a point at which it is impossible for us to decrease the volume of imports; the only way out of the difficulty is to increase our exports. That is what this Government has been doing and will continue t.o do. Honorable senators will be aware that the Government has made certain appointments overseas in relation to trade, and I think that those appointments will have a very beneficial effect on the placing of our primary exports in the markets of the “world. Successful market ing consists mot only of proper presentation but also of seeking tout the most suitable markets for our products.
I have noticed with regret that the most recent figures that have been issued in connexion with rural employment indicate that, although there were 670,000 employed in primary industry in 1933, that number had declined to 550,000 in 1955, a decrease of 120,000. It is a grea t feather in the caps of primary producers that they are able to increase production by 20 pei- cent, with 120,000 fewer employees than they had previously. It is significant that, in relation to secondary industry, the number has increased from 550,000 in .1.933 to 1,080,000 in 1955, or an increase of almost 100 per cent. Therefore, the development of manufacturing and secondary industries in Australia will continue to impose a heavy burden on the primary industries unless the secondary industries play a larger part in our export trade. Of the 62 per cent, of our imports *hat are intended for manufacturing and reprocessing, to which I referred earlier, the latest available figures show that we are exporting to overseas countries only S or 10 per cent. Unless that percentage can be” increased to 25 per cent, or 30 per cent., no appreciable difference will be made to out export trade.
Despite the fact that Australia’s overseas markets are falling, the value of our exports at the present time is £760,000,000, of which 50 per cent, is represented by wool and sheepskins, which means that approximately 85 per cent, of our exports are of primary products. The market for our meat in the United Kingdom has depreciated a little recently, and ‘the market price is now 5d. per lb. below the price that we were receiving a few months ago. In respect of wheat, the new agreement provides for a price which is -5d. a bushel less than we were receiving under the previous agreement. The new agreement, which i3 for a period of three years, is in respect of only 30,000,000 bushels instead of 45,000,000 bushels, as it was previously. I think Senator O’flaherty stated that the stocks of wheat that will be available this year will be approximately 300,000,000 bushels, so that Australian primary producers will have the additional difficulty of selling the difference between the quantity specified in the old agreement and that specified in the new.
In relation to wool, the price has fallen from an average of 72d. per lb. last year to 60d. per lb. this year. That fall will be compensated pretty well this year by the increased volume of exports. In that respect, the wool-growers are doing their bit in increasing exports and in developing a sound economy. For the reasons that I have stated, I support the measure, particularly in relation to the 20 per cent, depreciation allowance and the increase of the allowance to farmers in respect of structural improvements and the erection of homes for tenants, sharefarmers and employees. Those measures have been of great help to the farming community, as also has been the sympathetic treatment given to primary producers by this Government since it took office.
– in reply - In replying to the debate, I propose to answer the matters that have been raised in relation to the provisions of the bill. As a matter of fact, the debate departed from the actual . provisions of the bill and dealt generally with certain matters relating to income tax. T have a good deal of hesitation in replying to each of these general matters, because all of them involve questions of policy, and to express views or questions of policy without collaboration with my colleagues is not altogether correct procedure to adopt.
Senator O’flaherty, whilst supporting the bill, made two’ points of mild criticism of it, the first being that the income tax concession in respect of uranium mining would go to companies with large shareholding interests outside Australia. I remind the honorable senator that the two large companies which will benefit from this provision also have large Australian shareholdings.
– -Are there only two ?
– Only two large companies will be eligible for it at the present time. Those two companies have a very substantial proportion of Australian shareholdings; I think it is 50 per cent, in each case. Indeed, it was the continuance of this provision thai attracted overseas capital. As the honorable senator probably knows, it is largescale investment.
– They do not hold 50 per cent.; the figure is lower than that.
– I stand corrected, but the proportion is very substantial. An honorable senator also remarked upon the fact that the concession in connexion with housing did not apply to the son or an employee of a primary producer who was admitted to partnership. The explanation is, of course, that when a son becomes a partner, he changes his status from that of an employee to a proprietor. I do not see how the principle inherent in income tax law could be changed to make a differentiation in those particular circumstances. If it is laid down that, when a son becomes a partner, he is entitled to the benefits he had when he was an employee, it will be very difficult to differentiate between the son who becomes a partner in a large property and the man next door who is the sole proprietor of a small property. To give the taxation benefit to one and deny it to the other would create even greater anomalies than those that now exist.
– 1 realize that, but I believe that the difficulty could be overcome.
– I suggest that one way to overcome it would be to have the cottage finished before entering into the partnership.
– That is professional advice.
– Tfes, for which I make no charge. I should like to tilt a lance with Senator Laught upon his interesting dissertation on the activities of the Royal Commission on Taxation. I believe that the honorable senator has overlooked two very important points. The first is that, almost immediately following the election of this Government to office, we appointed that commission, of which my late brother was the chairman. It carried out a comprehensive review of the Income Tax Act and dealt with quite a number of specific problems that were currently causing considerable trouble.
– Very few of the findings of the commission were ever made public.
– I doubt that. I believe that a substantial portion of all the commission’s reports were tabled in the Parliament. Only a very small number were not tabled. Another matter that adds to the perplexity of the situation is the doubt about the continuance of uniform taxation. Will uniform taxation be continued or will taxing rights be handed back to the States ? All honorable senators will admit that that has been a matter of debate, discussion and argument in recent years. While it is in the political scene, it would be rather difficult to appoint a royal commission on taxation even if one subscribed to the view that such a course were necessary. The natural impulse would be to allow the matter to stand until that issue had been defined.
– The royal commission could inquire into uniform taxation at the same time.
– I think that that proposition goes deeper than the law of taxation. It goes to the root of the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States. As to the other points put forward which I do not propose to answer, I express an apology. I can see that in each case I should be, in effect, expressing a view either for or against the proposition and, as a Minister. I do not think that I am entitled to do that.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Rill read a second time.
– I have listened with interest to the speech made by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) and to the propositions put forward by
Senator Laught. I noted with interest, in particular, the honorable senator’s suggestion that the fishing industry should be classed as a primary industry for income tax purposes. The Minister was good enough to say that he would consider that proposal. I should like to suggest that he consider a similar classification for the timber industry. The fact is that the situation has changed, and the timber industry has become, virtually, a timber-farming proposition. Re-afforestation has become so important a feature of the timber industry that leases are no longer worked out and left denuded of good timber. A big company moves into a timber stand, and it might operate there for 50 or 100 years. That is entirely different from the practice of the past when a company would take a lease, cut the timber and leave the’ rubbish on the ground.
– The timber companies get primary producer classification for afforestation activity.
– Only for reafforestation. If they build a railway to get timber out, they are entitled to a depreciation allowance, but if they build a road to get timber, they are not entitled to depreciation.
– My own opinion it1 that if they build a road, they are entitled to write it off over the period they are working the stand.
– They are not entitled to do so with a road. They can write off tractor haulage under the normal procedure of depreciation, and they can also obtain that concession with a railway, but not with a road.
– The honorable senator should go to a good firm of accountants.
– That is only one method of depreciation. The timber industry should be regarded as timberfarming because to-day, timber companies are growing the timber that they will cut in years to come. If the timber industry were given all the concessions that are available to primary industry, 1 believe that greater production would result and we could reduce imports from. Malaya and. Borneo with, a consequent saving of overseas exchange.
Senator Laught Iras referred to the need’ for an allowance to self-employed” persons. I should like to ad’d a suggestion that, a new provision should be made to- cover insurance they might take out for their own protection. In these days loans are difficult to fill. I wonder that the Government has not’ given consideration to increasing; vastly the amount of life assurance premiums allowable as a deduction. After all, the big assurance companies are a traditional source, of loan income and, at a time when loan funds are urgently needed, consideration should be given to increasing even to £1,000 the deduction allowable for life assurance premiums-. This would encourage saving and, at the same time, amplify the source from which great life assurance companies subscribe to- government loans. I do not expect that, the Minister will commit himself on that point, but X thought this opportunity to raise this matter was- too good to- miss.
.: - I desire to support some remarks that have been made in relation to the timber industry. At the moment, we have the rather serious situation that Australia is importing far too much foreign timber. The quantity of Oregon coming into this country is reaching astronomical proportions, and that timber is winning in the competition with local timbers. One way iii. which the- Government can handle the matter; and at the same time have regard to the importance of saving foreign- exchange, particularly dollars, is to grant a depreciation, allowance in respect of many operations in the timber industry. With great respect, I do not believe the Government is yet fully seized with the way in which the timber industry operates. Senator Henty referred to the fact that the industry is now a timber-farming industry. That is not, perhaps,, the way I would, express my opinion of it. It is a- moving- industry in that it moves its capital equipment frequently; As soon as a stand of timber is cut, a properly planned: and co-or dinated organization ensures that the whole of the capital- works are moved to another stand. In Western Australia that. occasions tremendous capital expenditure. A company has to build houses for its employees, provide roads-, and sometimes, railways, erect all sorts of constructional works and provide services for its employees on the new sites. These matters have not been given proper consideration so- fair as depreciation is concerned.
I submit sincerely- to the- Government that something mus# be done in that respect in relation- to- the timber- industry. The Hulme committee^ which sat earlier this year in Western Australia, heard a lot of evidence and did’ a splendid job. It made some very fine recommendations in regard1 to this matter. I can do no more than say that I heartily endorse that committee’s recommendations in respect of the- timber- industry, and I sincerely hope that the Government will do something to implement them in the coming budget. It has almost committed itself in that direction. Nevertheless I emphasize that something should be done. Competition from the American timber industry is increasing, and the consequences are likely to be. serious.
Bill agreed to;
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted-
Bill read a third time’.
Sitting, suspended from 5.S1 to 8 p.m.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner)read a first time. .
1,8.1],.: - I move -
That the bill 1m now road a. second’, time.
The bill which I have- pleasure- in introducing, covers two matters relating to retirement benefits payable to members of the permanent defenceforces. As honorable senators are aware, the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act provides for a contributory scheme whereby pensions or, alternatively, benefits by way of a lump sum, become payable to members on completion of service in the permanent forces. The scheme is analogous to that provided for public servants under the Superannuation Act. “
The first matter covered by this bill has application to existing contributors under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act 1948-1955, and will increase the unit entitlement and basis of contributions payable by certain officer ranks whose rate3 of pay were recently increased. Consequent upon this entitlement to contribute at a higher rate, pensions payable to these officers on retirement will be increased by a proportion which is commensurate with the increased unit entitlement. As an example of the increased unit and pension entitlement, I would cite the case of a commander, lieutenant-colonel or a wing commander, who were eachcontributing for 24 units prior to the pay increases ; they will now contribute for25 units, and the existing pension of £760 per annum will be increased by one twenty-fourth to £792 per annum.
The bill providesthat the increased unit andpension entitlement will have effect from the 22nd February, 1956, the date uponwhich approval was given to the increased rates of pay. This principle is in conformity with that applicable to Commonwealth public servants whose increased unit entitlement under the Superannuation Act became effective from the date on which judgment was delivered by the Full Bench of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration on the 16th December, 1955.
The second matter covered by this hill provides that a naval rating who had previously elected not to contribute under the act,shallhavea further right of election to become a contributor in the event ofhis being appointed to commissioned rank after the 10th December, 1954, and prior tothe date upon which this legislationbecomeseffective. Ratings appointed in future tocommissioned rank willbe required to become contributors from the date of such commissioning. The purpose of this particular amendment is to permit or require naval ratings to become entitled to pension or benefiton retirement, following attainment of officer status andthe improved career prospects in the service which such promotion gives them. I commend the bill tohonorable senators.
De’bate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by SenatorCooper) read a first time.
– I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
This measure is complementary to the Broadcasting and Television Bill 1956. That bill, as I recently explained to the Senate, prescribes the conditions under which licences for commercial broadcasting stations and for commercial television stations may be granted and renewed, and this measure prescribes the fees to be paid in respect of the grant and renewal of. these licences. Following the procedure that was adopted in 1942 in relation to a similar hill, this measure is being introduced independently of the Broadcasting and Television Bill in order to avoid any possibility of the validity of that measure being challenged because of the inclusion of any provisions which might beregarded as imposing taxation. The basis on which the fee for a licence for a commercialbroadcasting station has been computed, since 1942, is being changed by thebill as follows : -
Existing basis : £25 per annum, plus one-half of1 per cent, of the gross earnings of a station from all sources, the percentage of earnings being payable only by stations which in the preceding year have madea profit.
Proposed basis: £25 per annum, plus 1 per cent, of gross earnings from the broadcasting of advertisements. In this case, any payments by an advertiser for a programme associated with his advertisement and any other income of the licensee are excluded from the figure on which the fee is based but the percentage of earnings is payable by all licensees.
The effect of the change may be illustrated if we take the case of a station with gross earnings amounting to, say, £3 0,000. At present, the licensee of such a station would pay a fee of £175, this is, £25 plus one-half of 1 per cent, of £30,000, and he would be required to pay £325 under the bill except for the fact that “ gross earnings “ will in future be deemed for this purpose to relate only to income from what is known in the industry as the sale of station time. It is difficult to assess the effect of this change, but it is estimated that the total fee payable in the case I have quoted by way of illustration would not exceed £300. The Government considers that some increase is justified by the fact that since the fee was fixed at the present level in 1942, the gross annual earnings of commercial broadcasting stations have increased from £1,330,000 to £6,687,000 and their profits have risen from £81,812 to £1,449,000. In the circumstances, it is reasonable to ask them to make a greater annual contribution than the £35,000 they are paying at present to the cost of administering the broadcasting services, which has, of course, risen very substantially since 1942. During the last financial year, only four of the owners of the 106 stations then in service suffered a loss on their broadcasting operations.
The same method of computing fees will be applied to licences for commerical television stations, but the annual flat rate fee for these licences will be £100. From time to time, some objections have been raised to the general principle of assessing licence-fees on earnings. The Royal Commission on Television gave serious consideration to this question, and it came to the conclusion that, having regard to all the factors which have to be taken into account, it could not pro pose any better method. The Government accepts this view. I commend the bill to the consideration of honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
Report of Select Committee
Debate resumed from the 21st March (vide page 333), on motion by Senator McCallum -
That thereport of the Select Committee on the Development of Canberra, presented to the Senate on the 29th September, 1955, be considered.
– I thank the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) for arranging an opportunity for this debate to be concluded this evening. I am grateful for a number of reasons, one being that now that the debate will be concluded, the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge), who represents the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall), will have an opportunity to answer a question which I directed to him to-day, and which he adroitly avoided answering. I regard most seriously the aspects of this matter to which I addressed myself on the 21st March. Honorable senators will recollect that, on that occasion, I endeavoured to answer some of the criticism that has been levelled at the report of the Select Committee on the Development of Canberra. I concluded with remarks that were intended to be my opening remarks on this subject this evening, and referred to the fact that no more fitting means of expressing national unity existed than the National Capital itself. Therefore, I submit that the building of the National Capital - the construction of Canberra - which is basic to the whole of the committee’s report, is a project of great magnitude and significance. Tonight, I shall confine my remarks to some of the broad aspects of that particular question.
I pose these questions to the Senate: What is the aim of those who are responsible for the construction of Canberra? What sort of a city is it intended shall be built here? So far, very little has been written - either authoritatively, or otherwise - as to what is the real aim of the builders of Canberra. What is it intended that the completed city shall look like? What is its purpose as far as our national life is concerned? Is it to be merely the centre of government, an administrative centre, or is it to be in addition a national cultural and educational centre? Is it to be also, perhaps, a commercial centre and the regional capital of the south-eastern portion of Australia ? Or is it to be something even more than that - perhaps an industrial city as well? I pose these several alternatives because no one has done any thinking about this very vital question ; that is, where Canberra as a city is going. What is to be the ultimate destiny of this capital city, apart from the fact that Commonwealth Parliament House is located here, and a large number of public servants live here?
Questions relating to the basic problems of Canberra have never been answered by anybody up to date. For some 30 years or longer, this national capital has been growing something like Topsy, without anybody giving any particular thought to the kind of city we should like to have established here in 100 years time. I submit with respect that if the questions I have asked are answered, and those answers are embodied in some form of planning for Canberra, in 100 years’ time there will be a city here something like many of the other cities of Australia - something that the people of that day can be proud of, instead of only pretending to be proud, as we do to-day. The select committee gave considerable thought to this particular question. I shall not traverse the explanations that were given. I merely recall the matter to the .minds of honorable senators, because I consider it to be a fundamental factor. In this connexion, I ask honorable senators to read pages 85 and 86 of the report of the select committee. It is not my function to endeavour to justify or defend the recommendations contained in that report. I think they are almost self-evident. They are axiomatic. I commend them to all honorable senators.
The second matter that comes to my mind in discussing broadly the report of the select committee relates to the future government of Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory. At the moment, we have a rather remarkable spectacle in this city - that is, of the whole of the Australian Capital Territory being administered by a few top-line public servants. That seems to be the modern approach. The Australian Capital Territory is being administered by a few public servants who have no responsibility for its administration, it has not been laid down anywhere by statute that these particular individuals are responsible; in fact, they are not responsible. I give them great credit for endeavouring to prevent this place from becoming a complete shambles, but I emphasize this fact: Nowhere in the records of this Parliament is there a proper parliamentary act placing responsibility on any particular person or group of persons in relation to the government of Canberra. No thought has yet been given to this very vital question, but it is time some thought was given to it. Of course, that has been due to the fact that no one Minister is responsible for the administration, planning and development of Canberra. We have one Minister looking after the destinies of such places as the Northern Territory, Papua and certain islands belonging to Australia, but no one has ever thought of making the Australian Capital Territory the responsibility of a particular Minister. In fact, and as a matter of law, every Minister of the Crown can claim to have some responsibility for the growth, development and administration of Canberra. That is a ludicrous position. There is no one Minister responsible for those things, and the report of the select committee, on page 104, deals with thatalarming state of affairs. The committee is seised of the importance of making one Minister responsible for this important matter, because it believes that the spiritual, cultural and political centre of Australia, indeed’ the- heart of the nation,, is worthy of having oneMinister made responsible for its planning, growth and development. The committee, lias made a recommendation to that effect. In order to clear up some misunderstandings that have arisen in connexion with the report, I emphasize that the committee does not suggest that this particular function should be made the sole responsibility of a. Minister. I suggest it could quite adequately be added to the responsibilities of either the- Minister for the- Interior or the Minister for Territories, or some other appropriate Minister; but, in any event, let us be businesslike enough to say that the growth of our National Capital should be the responsibility of a particular Minister.
I apply the same proposition to tin; government of the people of this- area. At the moment we have an extraordinary state of affairs in that some 30,Q00-odd. people in the Australian Capital Territory have absolutely no- say in any matter relating to civil or criminal law or even to- local govern-in ent ma tters. The people of this, city have not one. chance in 10O of effectively passing on- to- anybody the-ii’ views in relation to. these matters. For instance, they have no opportunity of saying whether there should be a divorce law in Canberra, or wharf; the penal code should bc, what the laws relating to property should be or even, what should be the law relating, to dogs. Not one of these or 100 other things is within the province or right of the citizens of Canberra. Here,, I might say that we give even to the. primitive savages of New- Guinea some democratic, rights. Why,, we even give citizen rights to our. aborigines. We believe in these things!, yet we deny to the. people of our capital city the most elementary democratic rights of having a say in- the administrat.ion of justice and the law at either State or local government levels.
I know that the excuse is often given that, after all, there are only about 40,000 people in Canberra- and that il would be a rather complicated matter to set up- some form of legislative council’, even if’ it were only advisory, and that it would also be- a complicated: matter to set up some form of local government. Of course, it would be complicated; democratic government is complicated. The administration of anycity in any State is complicated. IW instance,, the administration of the City of Rockhampton in Queensland is com- plicated. Rockhampton has a city council. It probably also has a shire council for the hinterland. It also is subject to a State government and a State Parliament. In all. they are complicated processes, but no one complains that the people of Rockhampton have a complicated! system of government.. We- merely say that- those worthy, citizens are merely getting, no more and no less than their democratic rights, but when it comes to applying that principle to Canberra, we say it is far too complicated. That is no answer at all.
It is. high time that the National Parliament gave, serious thought to this question of giving the people of Canberra their elementary democratic rights, because it is our responsibility, and it is our fault that nothing has been done. The report makes further reference to this important, matter on, page 105 andi suggests the very obvious organization, necessary to carry the recommendation into effect. It suggests an advisory legislative council similar to that charged with the administration of the NorthernTerritory or the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. It- also suggests that in due- course, in accordance with the recommendation of Senator Henty’s friend, aproper local government organization should be set up to administer the law on a local government level. I do not propose to read the report; I simply refer to it because this is a fundamental aspect; of the report to which honorable senators should give close attention.
The fourth aspect of the report to which T make brief reference is that this Parliament, the ‘Senate in particular, should take a much more alert interest in the planning and development of this city. The committee has: recommended that a permanent Senate committee bp set up for the purpose of keeping itself an fait with the development of Canberra. 1 do not think 1 need elaborate that recommendation. Its advantages are selfevident and I simply mention in passing that the real responsibility for these matters rests with the Senate. If the Senate does not accept them, then it is high time that it did.
– Does the honorable senator envisage a position in which the National Planning, and Development Committee shall report to the Senate Standing- Committee?
– No. The Senate committee will merely keep a political eye on all aspects of the city and make curtain that nothing happens without, Parliament’s, being made aware of it.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that it be the responsibility of the Minister for Territories?
– The Minister should be responsible to this Parliament in accordance with the ordinary democratic principles of government, but he need not necessarily be the Minister for Territories. He could be the Minister for the Interior.. But one Minister should be responsible, for the planning, growth and development of Canberra. At the moment, every Minister has some responsibility in that respect. There is only one other aspect to which I wish to refer. T commend the report to honorable senate rs. Although the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall) was somewhat taken aback by the number of recommendations - there are 73 - not very many of them are important. About a dozen really deserve lengthy consideration. The’ others are relatively trifling and unimportant, but I commend the dozen or more important ones to the Senate and to the Minister for the Interior. It is time that they were considered by him, because he has the responsibility of making a decision in regard to this matter. I do not intend to let it rest with these remarks. I shall pursue the report to its logical conclusion - to. the stage that, it. is either rejected or accepted by the Government.
Although several recommendations have been made, I as a member of the committee do not suggest that they will- all be. agreed to by everybody in the Senate. According to the motion, the Senate this evening is being asked to agree that .the report be considered. Senators are not. being asked to state, whether they agree with one or all of the committee’s recommendations; they are merely being asked to resolve that the report be considered. The- implementation of these particular recommendations or of similar ones will not of itself make Canberra a capital city.. There is something lacking in regard to Canberra. I refer to something less tangible, something incorporeal - the lack of desire of Ministers and members of Parliament to make Canberra a thing of beauty and a joy for ever.
.: - The Senate has listened to some excellent contributions to the debate by members of the Select Committee on the Development of Canberra, and we are being called upon to consider one of the most cogent matters that have been presented to this. Parliament for many years. Previous speakers have dealt with many aspects of the investigations by the select committee - a non-party body chosen unanimously by the Senate. It represented no party interests and undertook, its work of considering the development of Canberra in a non-partisan spirit. Members of the- committee who have already spoken in this debate rendered outstanding service in considering all the facets of the question they were privileged to investigate-. I deemed it a great honour to be associated with my colleagues in this inquiry, and to interview many experts in their respective spheres - town planners, architects, ministers of religion and representatives of all sections of the Australian community. They were, asked for, and frankly gave, their opinions as representative and interested sections of the community.
The work of the committee of investigation occupied nine months’ strenuous and careful investigation and the evidence disclosed that the original design by Walter Burley Griffin for this capital city had been little departed from over the years. Its main features have been’ closely adhered to. The only complaints received related to the lack of coordination on the part of some responsible authority to dictate and determine the development of Canberra, but that was no indictment of the various responsible bodies which were set up from time to time to administer different functions. Indeed, in their respective fields they had rendered yeoman service. The committee found, however, that there was a lack of drive and cohesive effort. There was no planned development of Canberra, and as it probed this matter further, the committee discovered that the authority to direct that development was none other than the Commonwealth Parliament. The Constitution itself lays down that the duty to build a national capital is imposed on Parliament and that matter is clearly dealt with in the report of the select committee. The Seat of Government (Administration) Act provides also that Parliament has an obligation to concentrate upon the development of Canberra. I refer any honorable senators who have not yet read the committee’s report to the following passage on page 8 : -
It is clear that when the Seat of Government (Administration) Act was passed in 1930 Canberra had an accepted, gazetted, legally binding plan, and legal machinery to safeguard it. The guardian of the plan was not the public servant charged with a particular duty in Canberra, not the department oi authority administering Canberra, not a Minister responsible for Canberra, not even the Cabinet but Parliament itself. It is clear also that either House of Parliament acting alone could prevent any deviation from the plan.
I was somewhat perturbed to-day to hear a reply given by the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior to a question submitted some days ago by Senator Vincent concerning certain aspects of the select committee’s report. From that reply it was obvious that the Minister had not given practical consideration .to the purport of the questions submitted. This is conclusive proof in Senator Vincent’s statement that Ministers and parliamentarians need a change of heart. They must acquire the will and the drive to develop Canberra and make it a worthy, representative, spiritual and cultural capital of Australia. That is the moral responsibility of the Parliament. As I have said, the subsidiary bodies have rendered yeoman ser- vice, but of course they functioned within limited confines. They had no great power to exercise, and their efforts to develop Canberra were hamstrung. They did their best in the circumstances.
I come now to the pertinent matter, of finance for the development of the National Capital. The committee was of the opinion that assured finance must be. provided, in all circumstances, for continuing development. After all, the development of Canberra cannot be compared with that of any other city in Australia. Canberra is a city unto itself. It represents not one section of the community, but every section. Canberra represents a united and virile community, and that being so, it should symbolize the national life, our community interests and our nation. The drive to develop the city properly should be the concern of all, particularly that of this Parliament.
The select committee was of the opinion that the planners of Canberra should be provided with ample finance to support a long-range programme and to bring development to a more realistic ba.sis. On thi3 question, the following passage appears at page 18 of the committee’s report, under the heading, “ Need for assured long-range finance “ : -
Witness after witness stressed that the first essential of any proposed development must be a guaranteed works programme with an assured allocation of funds over a period of years. Project budgeting, as it has been called, was advanced as the only satisfactory method of construction finance.
Then, in paragraph 102, on the same page, the committee stated -
The committee is satisfied that neither contractors nor workmen will be induced to come to Canberra unless it is represented to them that there is a definite continuing programme with an assured allocation of funds.
Time and again, contractors representing all phases of the building industry informed the committee that, because the allocation of funds for works had declined, employees could not remain in Canberra but were obliged to leave and seek employment where it was available. Although those contractors had been induced to come to Canberra for the specific purpose of assisting the material progress of the city, their work was stultified, whilst unemployment was the lot of their employees.
The effect was to retard the progress of the national capital. On page 19 of the report, the committee stated -
The committee believes, moreover, thai the necessary finance should be assured irrespective of the changes in economic conditions. This is doubtless what the Chairman of the Public Service Board had in mind when giving evidence, as follows: -
Without wishing to enter into any discussion on the reasons for fluctuations in thu building construction output, it does, nevertheless, appear to the Board that the key to the position is for the authorities responsible for construction to have a clear authority for a high level of expenditure on a programme based over a period of years rather than have to rely on the II actuations and uncertainties of annual budgets.
The committee is convinced that the reassertion of a vigorous programme of development is a mutter of immediate necessity, and it also believes that in the event of an economic depression the construction involved should be pursued even more vigorously. This is in accord with modern economic theory that in a depression it is legitimate to expand credit to employ unused resources.
It is crucial to provide the financial fluid for the national arteries, as it were, in the development of Canberra in the days ahead.
I pose the question to honorable senators: Why was Canberra selected originally as the site of the national capital? If we have no desire to foster the development of the city, then why was it decided to have a national capital in the first place? Was the national capital intended to be merely the meeting place of the National Parliament, for the purpose of enacting legislation, and that that should be the sole function of the capital? Why did this Parliament unanimously appoint a committee to investigate the development of Canberra? Surely we must continue to develop Canberra in an organized, controlled and positive way. The conclusions of the committee have been enumerated by other honorable senators, but the committee was of the opinion that Canberra had failed to develop as the administrative centre of the Commonwealth. I have already explained to the Senate the reasons for that failure. The committee stated that the present form of administration was unsatisfactory for the tasks required of it and that the blame for that state of affairs did not lie with the officers of the various departments but with the type of organization and lack of power. The committee went on to recommend : -
That the development of Canberra to permit oi the full transfer of administrative departments should be given over to a centralized authority with powers similar to those of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority.
Senator Vincent very ably dealt with that facet of the committee’s report. It continued -
That the authority should be controlled by a single commissioner with full executive powers under a Minister of State holding a separate portfolio for Canberra Development.
There again, I shall leave that aspect to the contribution that was made by Senator Vincent. The committee also recommended that -
Those branches of the Department of the Interior and the Department of Works which deal solely with Canberra’s activities should be taken from their respective departments, and unified in this authority.
That is absolutely essential if there is to be a positive drive for the future development of Canberra. Honorable senators can imagine the situation if two or three leaders continue to direct operations, instead of one authority. The committee also - recommended that continuous finance should be available.
I have summarized the various phases of the committee’s work. The committee also investigated the physical accomplishments in the development of Canberra. There again, we have to give credit for the extensive development that has taken place. We have no quarrel with the major building operations. There have been some weaknesses. The siting of some houses is not as good as it should have been, and we were not satisfied with the toning of some houses. The committee paid particular attention to roads. Burley Griffin had long-range vision when he planned the main road arteries of Canberra. Although he prepared the plan more than 40 years ago, he had future developments in mind. All the avenues he planned, such as Northbourneavenue and Canberra-avenue, were to be 200 feet wide. In the main, those who have performed the work have conformed to his standards. There are several exceptions. The committee has recommended that Adelaide-avenue should be completed .as .soon .as possible to conform with the original plan. This avenue serves the rapidly developing .area of Yarralumla, but at present it is .a narrowhighway. The committee has recommended that it should he 200 feet wide, as stipulated in the Burley Griffin plan.
I hope that honorable senators will End time to peruse the report of the committee, so that they will understand the work that it set out to do. The recommendations contained in the report were made only after the closest investigation, and after the committee had heard the evidence of expert witnesses. The committee made numerous inspections of various sites. Members of the committee found that a short-range policy had been adopted in some of the extensions to the shopping area at Civic Centre. I believe that this can be attributed to the lack of an administrative officer solely .responsible for directing major building activities in the area. Obviously, the population of Canberra will grow .rapidly in the next ten to twenty years! It is evident that a bottle-neck will develop at the corner of Mort-street and Londoncircuit. Somebody was directly responsible for that fault in the building arrangements.
Generally, the committee believes that the Burley Griffin plan was basically good. Plenty of open space has been provided. When the lakes are made, and the recommendations of the Public Works Committee for the erection of modern bridges are put into effect, Canberra will be progressing towards the fulfilment of Burley Griffin’s concept.
The members of the committee are specialists in their fields, and they showed a preference for various features of the inquiry. I was particularly interested in parks, gardens and reserves. I have seen a lot of Canberra, ‘because I spend considerable time here during the parliamentary’ sessions -and have had an opportunity *to visit many parts of the city. I have found that the recreation grounds -are too far distant. The nearest, picnic ground is at the Cotter River, about 12 miles from Canberra. The committee found that there is a good potential picnic area -closer to the city,- at Westbourne Woods. Transport could easily be provided to take people to that reserve, and it could be developed into a national park. Other members of the committee will speak during the debate and will no doubt inform the Senate of the particular matters in which they are interested. I endorse the view expressed by Senator Vincent that this Parliament should not only accept the report but also put it into operation and thus act as guardians of the future development of Canberra.
Senator HANNAFORD (South Australia) [9.1j. - l am very grateful for the opportunity to say a few words on this very important matter. Some of the speeches that have been made on the development of Canberra have been very interesting, indeed. In the first place I pay tribute to the chairman of the committee, Senator McCallum, who, in that capacity did a very fine job. He was tireless in his endeavours to get the committee functioning properly, %o caM witnesses and to do all the things associated! with the duties -of a select committee of this kind. Senator McCallum is to be congratulated on his fine chairmanship and, as has been mentioned by other speakers, on the way in which he carried the committee through on a completely non-party basis. The findings that have been set out should surely be of interest to the people of -Australia. At the same time, I add my personal appreciation - I am sure other members of the committee join with me in doing so - of the secretary, Mr. Bullock, the Usher of the Black Rod. IHe was completely tireless in his work. As we all know, the job of secretary was no sinecure, and he did fine work indeed.
One ‘could speak at great length on the lengthy report that has been presented to the Senate. I do not -propose to do that. I wish to comment on some of the salient points. Before doing so, I -should like to say that I am one who very strongly deplores the general -apathy towards the development of Canberra. I sheet !that apathy home to members of this Parliament, the people who should be most responsible in this regard. It is something of -an achievement that the Senate set up this select committee. In tine future, we Shall look back with pride upon the fact that we, at least, showed sufficient, interest to appoint a select, committee to inquire into the development of the national capital. I resent the attitude of certain members of Parliament who, when Canberra is discussed, speak of it in a way that is nothing, short of cynical. Canberra is the centre of the Commonwealth and should be the pride of. all of us. I do not adopt that attitude of cynicism myself and I do not think the members of the Senate, generally speaking, adopt it; but I am afraid that not only certain members of this Parliament but also some members of the State parliaments adopt that cynical approach to the national capital It cannot be justified in the least.
If one- looks back through the history of Australia and considers the endeavours that were made over the years to achieve our nationhood, we ought to be extremely pleased that we have a city such as Canberra as our national capital. After all is; said and done, what is the symbol of nationhood? It is a national capital. That is what we have in Canberra, even though it is still comparatively undeveloped. We envisage that in time,, in common with other great countries of the world such as. the United States of America, India, Prance and England, Australia will have, in Canberra, a national capital worthy of a great nation. I have no hesitation in saying that Australia will one day be a great nation. It has all the makings of a great nation, and it is for us to make it such; but we. must have a centre around -which to work. National spirit can be symbolized largely in a national capital such as we have at the present time.
Let us cast our minds back to 1927, when we brought royalty to Australia to open the first Parliament to sit in the national capital. I refer to the- Duke and Duchess of York, later to become our King and Queen. We had thoughts then that eventually the administration of Commonwealth affairs would be carried out from this centre. What has been the result? We have drifted, and although 30 or 40 years have passed, some of the great departments of this Commonwealth still have their head- quarters in other capital cities. In fact, the head-quarters of departments in Canberra are few and far between. The plan we had’ in our minds then that there should be a gradual transference of departments to the national capital has not materialised. One of the functions of the Senate select committee was to look into that particular matter and. direct die attention of the nation to it by makingrecommendations whereby that plan could he brought to fruition. Many and varied reasons- exist why that has not taken place, but the fact remains that we have made very little progress in centralizing the great Commonwealth departments in our capital city.
It is rather interesting to look back at the history of Canberra. I do not want . to go into that history at great length, but I can remember, when I was still practically only a boy, the then member for Wakefield, Mr. R. W. Foster, discussed the establishment of the national capital in Canberra. I clearly remember his enthusiasm for the site that had been chosen. We know the differences of opinion that existed at that time about the site, but I think, in the the main, it can be said that despite the severity of the Canberra winter it has proved to be a very fine site indeed. We should have no regrets because we have established this national capital in the place where it now exists. The city has progressed in various stages, and perhaps the most active period in its development was. when Sir John Butters had control of the building- of the main portion of the city after the adoption of the Burley Griffin plan. There was a considerable amount of development at that stage of the city’s history, and work continued briskly until approximately 1929 or 1930-. During that period, Parliament House was built, and the ground work previously done by Burley Griffin was consolidated and extended. Certain important buildings - some of a temporary nature, of course - were erected, and generally the progress- made during that period was quite satisfactory.
Then came the onslaught of the economic depression, and for eight, nine or ten years there was very little development in this capital city. There followed
World War II., a further period when practically nothing was done. About 1948, a certain rather nebulous plan was put into operation. The main objective of that plan was the transfer of the big Commonwealth departments to Canberra. I do not know when the big, new administration building to the east of Parliament House was started, but I do know that work on it was actively proceeding when I came here in 1949. A good deal of underground work was being done in the early stages of the building, and due to certain inefficiency and perhaps some carelessness the original foundations of that building had to be taken out and the work done all over again. The building itself is still in course of construction, and I believe that its final cost will be about £4,000,000. However, it is a building of a monumental character being, as I understand, the biggest in Australia, and it will accommodate something like 3,000 public servants when various departments are eventually moved into it. Therefore, the building is at least something tangible that we have brought into existence, and it is now almost ready for complete occupation.
The plan for the transfer of public servants has been carried on at varying rates of speed up to the present time. Its implementation has been somewhat haphazard, but at least it has always been considered as part of the overall plan for the building of Canberra. The Senate committee had to investigate that matter, and we came to the conclusion that thousands of public servants could not be transferred from Melbourne and Sydney unless the necessary living accommodation was available in this city. There has been a tremendous lag in housing over the past years, and until we provide adequate living accommodation it is futile to bring public servants here, even if we have office space for them.
The committee carefully investigated that matter, and discovered all sorts of bottlenecks in connexion with the provision of houses. There was a shortage of labour, a shortage of materials, a lack of continuity of funds, and so on. All those bottlenecks have to be widened out and all those difficulties overcome if we are successfully to effect the large-scale transfer of public servants.
The committee came to the conclusion that we cannot go on having divided control in Canberra. As Senator Vincent quite correctly stated, Canberra has been administered mainly by a few top-level public servants. We have a Department of the Interior, which has extensive functions besides the administration of Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory, and it is important that that department should be relieved of its obligation to develop Canberra. For that reason, the committee recommended that we should revert to the old administrative system that operated in the time of Sir John Butters, and appoint a single authority. We should have an authority which would have under it competent officials, who would be responsible to a Minister, to carry out the uniform and satisfactory development of this city.
I believe that such a system can be set up, and I do not think that what we have recommended is in any way a topheavy arrangement. I agree entirely with Senator Vincent’s suggestion that our recommendations in that regard should be implemented. In the first place, we should appoint a Minister whose responsibility would be the work that I have outlined; that is, the development of the city, the transfer of public servants and other functions. It should be a Canberra authority something along the lines of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. Under the Minister there would be six permanent directors to carry out the development of the city. We should have a town planner, a surveyor, a building architect, a landscape architect, a building engineer and a roads and services engineer. For the further development of the city we suggest that the . people of Canberra be given an opportunity to take part in the administration of the city.
Now I desire to comment on some of the remarks made by Senator Wood. The honorable senator was a valued member of our committee, and he is one who has had a good deal of experience in town planning. He has never hesitated to tell us of that fact, and I have no hesitation myself in declaring that Senator Wood is a competent authority on the subject of town planning. As honorable senators know, he presented a dissenting report which, to my way of thinking, did not give a true picture of the activities of the committee. In the first place, I think that he over-simplified the problem. It is not a simple matter to develop a national capital. In my opinion, his recommendations did not reflect correctly the evidence that was presented to the committee. No fewer than 82 witnesses gave evidence before the committee, which, as .Senator Ryan has said, sat for eight or nine months. Some of the witnesses - both men and women - were highly intelligent people who enjoy high reputations in the fields of architecture, art, town planning, house building, engineering and other activities associated with the development of a city. It was gratifying to the committee that so many highly intelligent members of the community voluntarily appeared before it and offered thenadvice. They answered readily the many questions directed to them by the individual members of the committee.
I do not think that a simple report, such as was presented by Senator Wood, could deal with the problem adequately. The honorable senator stated that Canberra was altogether too spread out, that its development had been attempted on too vast a scale. He compared the development of Canberra with the development of New Delhi and Washington, and he even saw fit to bring Mackay into the picture. The honorable senator ignored the fact that Canberra is an infant city and we an infant nation. Although the plan that was drawn by Walter Burley Griffin envisaged a city on a. grand scale, I am sure that future generations will be glad that he left plenty of spaces to be filled in, if necessary, in the future. To-day, the residents of Canberra suffer certain disabilities because of the widely dispersed nature of the city, but in the long run the open spaces will prove of advantage to our national city.
Senator Wood said that the government triangle was altogether too large. It is, of course, a rather loose term, but in view of the honorable senator’s remarks I wonder whether he knows what actually comprises the government triangle. I should not like to do him an injustice, but I think I am correct in saying that he mentioned factors that had no relation to the government triangle. My understanding of the government triangle is that two sides of it run from the focal point at the apex of Capital Hill, one along Commonwealthavenue and the other along King’savenue. The base of the triangle is Constitutionavenue.
– Is the honorable senator comparing it to an isosceles triangle ?
– The area is not unlike an isosceles triangle. Looking out from the front of Parliament House, which, of course, is near the apex of the triangle, one can see the American War Memorial towards the north-east. We know that there are other important buildings elsewhere. They are not included in the main government triangle where Walter Burley Griffin suggested should be erected monumental buildings, of which considerable mention was made in his report. I am not concerned about other vacant spaces, such as those opposite the Hotel Kurrajong. Needless to say, those open spaces will not always remain vacant. There is nothing in the committee’s report to say that those areas will remain permanently unoccupied. While I concede readily that, under the present arrangement, inconvenience is caused to the public by the transport arrangements, I am sure that in the long run these areas will be of great advantage to the city.
I hope that I have not been too hard on Senator Wood. I am sure that he realizes that the committee was greatly interested in his suggestions and respected his advice. I am equally sure that he did not submit a dissenting report without good reason. As his assessment of the position differed from that of the remainder of the committee he was impelled to submit it. My chief ground of complaint is that Senator Wood suggested that the Griffin plan of Canberra should be re-cast as it did not satisfy the needs of a modern city. The honorable senator said that he would place the matter in the hands of a single town planner and completely re-cast it. I point out that, in the evidence that was presented to the committee, that course was not advocated to any great extent, and I am pleased to be able to say that the committee rejected the proposal.
I come now to the remarks that were made by Senator Henty, and I am sorry that he has left the ‘chamber. I am pleased that he saw fit to speak on this matter although he was not a member of the committee. He took enough interest in it to read the report, and, although T do not think he read it as carefully as he might have done, at least he read certain parts of it and gave his opinion as to what should be done. .Senator Henty had a .good deal to say about the lakes system, but, even after reading Hansard, I am a little confused as to what he actually meant. At one sta.ge during his address, I took the liberty of saying that, in 1953, a ribbon of water had been substituted on the plan for West LakeSenator Henty seemed to be under the impression that both West Lake and the ribbon of water were to stay on the map, whereas the ribbon of water completely displaced West Lake. I want to make it clear that my understanding of the position was that, in 1953, West Lake was eliminated from the plan and a ribbon of water substituted. Senator Henty criticized the committee’s decision on this matter at great length, but in a friendly manner. We do not disagree with him about West Lake. We were well aware of the fact that the ribbon of water had been substituted for West Lake on the plan, and that is certainly a considerable alteration; but we recommended that further consideration be given to the matter.
After hearing evidence concerning flood levels of the lake, we were not satisfied that a ribbon of water extending from Lennox Grossing, near the Canberra Community Hospital, to a weir at Yarralumla, would cope with floods. We had an open mind about the matter, and for that reason decided that further investigation ‘should be made into it. Tie Public Works Committee, of which Senator Henty is now chairman, had heard a certain amount of evidence from a Mr. Hugh Wilson, who, I understand, is an engineer of the Department of Public Works. Apparently, he had convinced the members of the committee that it was a mistake to eliminate West Lake. We do not suggest that this is wrong, hut, at the same time, we have no proof that it is right. Consequently, the Senate committee recommended that the matter fee given further consideration. The committee realized that this was an important feature of the plan, and, for that reason, very close investigation must be made into the engineering and other problems associated with the provision of a lake or .a ribbon of water.
Senator Henty also ‘referred tq the Public Works Committee’s recommendation that a road be constructed through what was shown on the original plan as a recreation area. I refer to King’savenue leading to the American war memorial. At that time, consideration was being given to the construction of a bridge over the Molonglo River from King’s-avenue. The Public Works Committee had recommended that the road be diverted in a northerly direction from the new bridge in order to enable traffic to skirt the lake area and proceed to Civic Centre. So far w I can see, this road would have cut through what “was set down on the original plan as a recreation area extending to Commonwealthavenue. According to the plan I have in front of me, and which was drawn up by Mr. Griffin himself, that area was to have certain buildings on it.
– There were to be no buildings on the edge of the lake.
– Buildings were envisaged on the plan I have before me. The main point is that there was to be a recreation area extending from King’s-avenue to Commonwealth-avenue bridge; and, if I remember correctly, the area immediately adjacent to Commonwealthavenue bridge was to be called Central Park.
– It would not matter if there were a road through it.
– A road would cut through what is intended to be a recreation area, and no great .advantage would accrue from its construction in ‘.t bat direction. A perusal .of the plan will disclose that :by taking it through the recreation area not much more than la quarter of a mile would be saved in the journey to Civic Centre. For that reason the committee felt that there should he no road through it, that it should “bc purely and simply a recreation area.
There has been gr-eat development in Ais city.. A tremendous amount .of work has been undertaken since I have .been here, and I am familiar with plans of proposed further -work. Although the proposed plan may not be quite as effective as the ,grid-iron planning from an economic point .of view, at least it will make for <a far more picturesque city. I* conforms excellently to the surrounding country. Most of the city areas are laid ou t in concentric lines. The area in whic!h Parliament House is situated is bounded by National Circuit which is pierced by the apex of the .government triangle. It is, really, the centre of the city. Directly to the north of it is the Commonwealthavenue bridge which leads to Londoncircuit. At the present time that highway encircles a vacant lull, but the area has tremendous landscape and architectural possibilities. One of the main shopping centres on the northern side, “known as the Civic Centre, is on that circuit. To the south, other areas have been developed as shopping .centres, such as Kingston and Manuka.
The city itself is very picturesquely laid out. Its avenues are mainly broad and adequate to cope with a much denser volume of traffic than they now carry, ft is true that there are one or two bottlenecks owing to the lack .of “bridges. However, taking a broad point of view, I regard the city as being capable of satisfactory development for posterity. I realize that something must be done about the internal development of the city. Tt cannot be allowed to go on in a haphazard way; some authority must take the matter in hand. ‘The only way of carrying out the recommendation of the committee is to place sole responsibility in the hands of a Minister. ‘The salient points of the report clearly indicate that somebody must have full responsibility for the development of the city. To develop it effectively an authority must be set nip on the Hanes of the authority which .is at present doing maintenance ‘work .’and discharging similar responsibilities.
The committee suggested the appointment of a legislative council, and if the matter is carefully considered, it will .be seen that such a ;body -would not be top heavy. Most of :its members would be persons already carrying out specific functions in this city in various departments. ‘They would ‘be -on the government pay-roll, and would continue with their work after ‘they became members of the legislative council. They would include persons such as the technical advisers <to whom I referred earlier - town planners, surveyors, and so on. There would ‘be certain elected members also, so that this body would be democratic in character, and would be able ito speak on behalf <of the people on proposals affecting the development -of the National Capital.
Looking further ahead, it might “be found ‘desirable eventually -to .set up a municipal authority. I have always ‘been a strong advocate of local government, and I believe that it could function satisfactorily in Canberra. It must <be recognized, however., *hat in Washington local . government, according to the evidence, did not prove a success because of the peculiar conditions obtaining in the national capital, and the same problems could arise in Canberra. It is different from any ‘Other city, and the very fact that its -working population includes many persons directly concerned in ‘the administration of the Commonwealth might easily mean that ‘a municipal body might not function as effectively here «s in after cities. However, the committee considered that aspect, and recommended that at some future date a municipal body should be set up to control the civic administration of this city. The area bounded by London Circuit was envisaged by Griffin as the municipal centre. Although no buildings have been erected in that area so far., it could ib developed for municipal purposes later.
The committee considered that the city must ‘have an industrial area, which is an essential for every city. Certainly, Canberra is not associated with any heavy industries, and ‘because it is located so far from the seaboard it is unlikely that any will be established here, but the fact cannot be ignored that there must be ancillary industries - light industries - and the committee recommended that these should be established at points which would not impinge on other parts of the city and spoil them. An example of this is found in Lonsdale-street, Braddon. The committee inspected the area, and concluded that it was undesirable that further industrial concentrations of this kind should be extended throughout Canberra. The buildings are of a haphazard type, and have no architectural beauty, although they are performing a useful function. However, they have been set in a part of Canberra which should be free from industrial activity, and the committee recommends that separate areas should be set aside for small industries. The other part of Canberra that has been given over to industrial activity, an area known as the Causeway, not far removed from the railway station, has developed over the years and is in a most undesirable state. Those activities could well be moved to an area where proper facilities could be provided for the industries concerned.
The committee was of the opinion that suitable shopping facilities should be provided throughout the city. In the past, shops have been grouped in one or two areas, which led to a great deal of inconvenience to the residents of Canberra. I am glad to say, however, that shopping facilities, within reasonable distances of the homes of the people, are now being provided. I believe that the report of the committee, in relation to the provision of amenities, is extremely important. Senator Ryan referred to the desirability of setting aside, in perpetuity, areas for recreation for the people who live here. The Griffin plan provides for the setting aside of certain areas, but there is always the great danger that such areas will be used for other purposes, and there is also the danger that recommendations for variations of the plan might come before the Parliament, be tabled and given effect without anybody being aware that that had been done. In that way, areas set aside for recreation could be lost to the people. The committee has made a very strong recommendation that recreation areas should be set aside throughout the city.
The committee was of the opinion that the lakes scheme should be brought within the bounds of possibility in the comparatively near future. These lakes constituted one of the central features of the Griffin plan. As honorable senators may be aware, the plan provided originally for an east lake as well as a west lake, but I do not think there will be any quarrel with the elimination of the east lake. That body of water would have covered a large expanse of land which honorable senators may see on the way from the airport, which is now a fertile lucernegrowing area and which, I have no doubt, supplies a great deal of the dairy products that the city needs. To my way of thinking, it would be a tragedy to cover that area with water. I believe, however, that the lakes scheme is a salient and. indeed, vital feature of the Griffin plan, and I should deplore any suggestion that the scheme should not be proceeded with. As I stated earlier, the west lake proposal requires further consideration, but the three central basins must be incorporated in the plan, and I should like to see a start made with them in the near future.
So far as the building programme in Canberra is concerned, we are lagging very badly. The national capital is entitled to contain the head-quarters of the great government departments. The committee has recommended that certain important activities should be centred in Canberra. For instance, it has recommended that the High Court of Australia and the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration should have their head-quarters here. What reason could any one advance for the Commonwealth Arbitration Court not having its headquarters here? I see no reason why the Commonwealth Bank, the central reserve bank, should not be centred here, nor the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Recommendations to that effect are embodied in the report, and I do not think that ‘ any sensible argument can be advanced to suggest that those organizations are being more effectively operated from the various capital cities in the States. Until central authority of that kind operates from Canberra, there will be no transfer of the thousands of people who, rightly, should he living here. For instance, I believe that the officers of the Department of Defence and the Department of Labour and National Service should come to Canberra. This is the head-quarters of the nation, and there can be no valid objection to their living in Canberra. I know that there has been the objection - a somewhat silent one, admittedly, hut nevertheless a very effective one - that these people have their homes in the various capital cities. However, they occupy positions as federal public servants, and the selection of Canberra as the Federal Capital was tantamount to saying to them, “ Canberra is the national capital. Eventually you must expect to be transferred there.” I agree entirely with the committee that the functions of government and administration should be centred in the national capital.
In Canberra, ‘we have the makings of a very fine city. If we can only transmit to the people of Australia the advantages that exist in Canberra, and the benefits to be derived from the removal of waste and inefficiency that must occur when there are widely separated public departments, we shall convince them of the necessity to make Canberra a worthy capital city. As I have said, we are in our infancy as a nation. We have a great future before , U8. The appointment of the Senate committee had the effect of forcussing attention on the development of Canberra and of inspiring the people of Australia with the national-mindedness that is so necessary to the successful development of the capital. For that reason, I appreciate the honour of being a member of the committee. I got to know much more of Canberra’s problems. I met many of its residents and former residents. Some of the witnesses who appeared before the committee have had a long association with Canberra. They truly love the city and want it to advance. We can be sure of their support. The last word lies with us. We have a responsibility towards the national capital, and it is for us as a Parliament to do all we can to develop it.
Senator O’BYRNE (Tasmania) [10.1J. - I wish to congratulate the select committee which inquired into and reported upon the development of Canberra upon the comprehensive report that it has presented to the Parliament. It has made the Parliament and the people aware of the numerous problems that must be faced in the development of the national capital. I wish to refer to particular recommendations of the committee. They are the construction of bridges over the Molonglo River and the proposed lakes scheme. As a member of the Public Works Committee, I have had the good fortune to take part in deliberations upon those proposals. I have heard evidence from the best authorities available to us in Australia. On the two aspects of the report to which I have referred, I am at variance with the select committee on the development of Canberra. In 1916, the Public Works Committee recommended that -
A strip of land at least 100 feet wide round the ornamental water system be reserved from lease or occupation when the lakes are provided.
That report was accepted by the Senate, and the recommendation was made “ in the best interests of the inhabitants of the future city “. I believe that she Select Committee on the Development of Canberra should have followed that recommendation about a lakeside drive around the ornamental basin. It is clear that Walter Burley Griffin provided in his plan for a strip around the ornamental basin to be reserved for a path and a roadway. The Public Works Committee, which recently presented its report, had that concept in mind when it recommended a connexion between the proposed King’s-avenue bridge and Constitutionavenue to avoid a bottleneck.
The select committee failed to support strongly enough the recommendation of the Public Works Committee on the absolute necessity for more bridges to be built across the Molonglo River. This city has a population approaching 40,000, and is visited by 250,000 tourists eachyear, but there is only one high-level bridge across the Molonglo River, and it has reached the limit of its useful life.
A few repairs have been, made to it, but at any time the Commonwealth-avenue bridge could be washed away. There would then be no means of commuting between one section of Canberra and the other in time of flood.
– The select committee recommended that the report of n.he Public Works Committee be put into effect.
– The select committee did not state that the report of the Public Works Committee should be adopted. It only referred to the connecting road. It did not place sufficient emphasis upon such an important aspect of the development of’ Canberra. I hope that we, as a Parliament, will be shamed into providing an alternative bridge over the Molonglo River as soon as- practicable, and that a start will then be made with the replacement of the Commonwealthavenue bridge, so that’ there will be two good bridges to meet the needs of Canberra.
I turn now to the proposed lakes. At page 108 of its report, the select committee recommended - that the examination of the question of the1 lakes be proceeded with immediately; and that the final decision lie implemented as soon as- possible; but that the provision of the three central! basins be regarded as obligatory.
The Public Works Committee examined the lakes proposal fully a few months before the report of the select committee was presented’. Senator Vincent .addressed his remarks: to this matter when it first came before the Senate, and his statements caused a considerable amount of confusion about the lakes scheme. I want to emphasize, also, that the alteration of the Bu<rley Griffin plan has been a matter- of ordinances and regulations - they are called “ instruments “. The Department of the Interior has brought these- instruments before the Parliament in the dying hours of the sessions, and they have been- passed without any debate. That is- a disgraceful way of altering the- great concept of the- Canberra plan-. By means of such an instrument, which was not discussed by the Parliament, the West Lake was eliminated from the Burley Griffin plan. That wa>s done in an undemocratic way. I hope wc shall, have an opportunity in the Parliament to revive a discussion on that matter which was brought to lightrecently by the Leader, of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McKenna). The people of Australia will then know how these alterations, are brought about, and they will learn the whole story of the lakes scheme. ,
It is quite true that the select committee has not made any specific recommendations about the West Lake scheme; but it was entirely wrong when it said that the provision of the three central basins was an. important part of the Burley Griffin plan. It is not possible to have three central basins without a big dam at Lennox Crossing-. I am certain that information on this matter could have been obtained by the select committee from the Department of Works. The foundations at LennoxCrossing were tested by the Department of Works-, and’ they were found to be unsuitable for the construction of a concrete dam. That means to say that the ornamental basins could not stand’ alone without West Lake and the Walter Burley Griffin plan for the central treatment of the lakes scheme must be eliminated, because they would necessitate the provision of a- dam at Lennox Crossing: The alternative to the West Lake is what, is known as the ribbon of water. That was the subject of the- ordinance which- was never dis.cussed by the Parliament, but which; eliminated West Lake1. The ribbon of water scheme is impossible.. too, becauseof the- fact that there are no- foundations for a substantial dam at Lennox Crossing.. The cost of the ribbon of water scheme would be much greater than the West Lake scheme. That, was presented iki the- form of evidence, which can bc substantiated to the full.
The alternative of providing a dam at Yarralumla, which would back the water to- Commonwealth-avenue bridge, was put up but was not approved. The Owen and Peake report in 1929’ suggested’ further small weirs to provide- a continuous ribbon of water through the city, but that proposal1 was- not taken further. Then, in 1953, the- West Lake was legally removed from the Griffin plan and thelatest ribbon of water scheme substituted for it. This scheme involves the construction of the ribbon of water stretching from Yarralumla Weir to Lennox Crossing, where the large dam for the three central basins would hold back the water to form that portion of the lakes scheme. That is the scheme that this committee has recommended. Actually, three schemes for a ribbon >of water have been proposed, and the latest of them would ‘certainly not be economical, .as stated in the evidence of Mr. McLaren, and quoted by Senator Vin-cont. Kenis it even a practical scheme.
Doubts have been cast, by previous speakers, upon the authenticity and value of the Wilson report. Senator Hannaford had something to say about it. Recently, the Public Works Committee heard evidence from the Department of the Interior. The Director of Works, referring to the Director of Engineering and two other leading hydraulic engineers, quoted the Wilson report, and the figures given by the particular engineer, Mr. Hugh Wilson. Therefore, the Wilson report had been accepted by the Department of Works and the Director of Public Works; and quite a little skulduggery went on to make certain that the Wilson report did not get before the advisory committee in order to make sure that the scheme for eliminating West Lake could be proceeded with. That matter needs investigation, and I am sorry that the Senate committee was not able to investigate further along those lines. Consequently, the Wilson report and the whole of the lakes scheme have been more or less overlooked by the committee in its recommendations. The Public Works Committee strongly recommended that West Lake should be restored to the Canberra plan, and we hoped that the select committee would consider our recommendations not only because of the economy and the practicability of the whole scheme, but also because there had been a snide departure from the Walter Burley Griffin plan. The Public Works Committee believed that the West Lake scheme should be restored to the Canberra plan.
– The ribbon of water scheme was approved by the National Capital Planning and Development Committee.
– Yes, but the wording of the minutes of the meeting indicated that the members of that committee did not know, by the time they had been mesmerized by words, whether they were Horace or Doris. They -did not have the Wilson report before them. They were supposed to have it presented to them but, between the time it was called for and the time it was supplied, the machinery had been put in motion and the West Lake scheme had been eliminated. That was something £he select committee could have gone into and , could have exposed even more conclusively than did the Public Works Committee. There is no dou’bt, as the select committee has recommended, tha’t the lakes scheme needs much more investigation. The lakes scheme, including West Lake and the ‘Central basin, can be implemented. It is practicable from an engineering point of view, but it cannot be done independently of the West Lake scheme. The West Lake scheme involves the provision of a dam at Yarralumla to back up the water to form West Lake -and, in turn, the central basin. A dam cannot be constructed .at Lennox crossing because of the unsuitability of the foundation.
– Is the honorable senator basing that on the Wilson report ?
– Yes, and also on the report of the Department of Works .as well as on the testings of the rock foundations just below the Lennox crossing at the bend of the golf course Comprehensive tests proved that that site was quite unsuitable for the erection of a dam.
I do not wish to delay the Senate further on this matter except to con.gatulate the committee on having presented a report dealing with so many different aspects of the matter. I hope that every part of the report will be examined and criticized by people who, perhaps, know more than I do about the particular points that have been raised. On the two matters on which I have had the opportunity to hear evidence and to study, I have founded the criticism which I believe to be justified. The committee has done a good job in combining in .one set of recommendations so many different aspects of the development of Canberra, the responsibility for which rests fairly and squarely upon the members of this Parliament. We want to make certain that we should not be judged by future generations to have failed in our duty. I hope that the recommendations, most of which are excellent, will be put into effect at the earliest possible moment.
– In rising to support the motion I feel it is not out of place to remind the Senate that it reads -
That the report of the select committee on the development of Canberra, presented to the Senate on the 29th September, 1955, be considered.
In my comparatively short time in the Senate I do not think that any one subject has been more fully considered than has this subject which we are now being asked to consider. It has surprised me, having regard to the lengthy period this motion has been before the Senate, that the speeches which linger in my memory have been those made by members of either the select committee or the Public Works Committee. The latter committee, in its own right and carrying out its normal duties, has had much to do with Canberra and its growth or lack of growth. It is surprising that honorable senators on either side of the chamber who are not members of those committees have taken very little part in this debate. No one wants to traverse the ground that has already been covered so often and so painstakingly. I do not want to go from paddock to paddock, from river to lake, from building to building, from circuit to street and from department to department as has been done so well, first by the committee through the report of its chairman, and secondly by those who have spoken to the motion. I desire to speak as a Tasmanian senator in this States’ House, and as a layman in knowledge of what has been done in Canberra and what will require to be done in the future. In doing so, and being the only speaker besides those that I have referred to to take such a course, I am afraid that it is a case of fools stepping in where angels fear to tread. Nevertheless, I desire to make my voice heard, and to consider this matter from the national aspect and in relation to the economy, the general government of the nation, and the rights of the people as a community.
I say first, as any Liberal senator would, that I believe that in any community, such as that of Canberra, the adult population should have the right to elect representatives to some form of municipal or city council. I believe that that is a fundamental right that the people of Canberra should be given as soon as possible, particularly as there is in office in this Parliament a Liberal government, which surely must believe in the establishment of such rights. I agree with Senator Vincent that the ministerial administration of Canberra should be removed from the portfolio of Minister for the Interior. The holder of that office has a great many other duties to carry out throughout Australia and I believe that the duty of administering Canberra should be given to some other Minister. The Minister for Territories would be the most satisfactory choice.
In order to effect this change, it would not be necessary to pass legislation. All that would be required would be for the Cabinet to spend five minutes in reviewing ministerial responsibilities. I suggest that that is one action that should be taken as early as possible. I say that, of course, with no intention of reflecting in any way upon the present or any other Minister for the Interior. I merely say that the Minister for the Interior is far too busy carrying out nation-wide duties to be able to give sufficient time to the detailed administration of Canberra.
Why does not the elected representative for the Australian Capital Territory in another place have the same voting rights as are accorded to other elected representatives of the people? I do not know how many electors the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory represents, but I do know that it is a rapidly increasing number, and that if the detailed recommendations of this report are approved, that number will grow more rapidly in th*» near future. Some electorates of 25.000 or 30,000 electors return members with all the rights and privileges of the members returned by electorates of 40,000 or 50,000 voters. I suggest - although some of my colleagues may not agree with me - that another way in which the Government could help to develop Canberra would be to give its representative in this Parliament the rights of other representatives, and thus give the people of Canberra their ordinary democratic rights. It may be argued that no government would be prepared to dothat because it would mean that the Public Service vote in Canberra would become a power in politics, and governments might be tempted to try to sway public servants towards their way of thinking. I dismiss that unhealthy thought as not being worthy of any further consideration. What we or the Opposition may think about how the electorate may vote is not relevant. All I say is that if the Australian Capital Territory electors are citizens of Australia and are in sufficient numbers, they should be given the same rights as 7,000,000 or 8,000,000 other citizens of the Commonwealth.
Another feature of the report is worthy of consideration: There may be a feeling abroad that a Liberal government will not desire to develop Canberra as it should be developed and as those who live in the city want it to be developed. That feeling may arise from the fact that Liberals do not wish to encourage the centralization of government in the same way as our Labour opponents do. But I do not think that that argument carries much weight, because the development of Canberra will not centralize government. Government in Australia must remain decentralized while we have local government in the shires and municipalities of the States, and while we have the State Houses of Parliament and elected representatives of the people coming to this Parliament from the four corners of the continent. Therefore, to those who may belie”ve that a
Liberal government, because of its expressed and rightful opposition to centralization of government, may oppose the proper development of Canberra, I say, “ Take it out of your thoughts, because it is not based on sound premises “. However, I do say to the Government that, in considering the report, it must not be carried away in the Cabinet room or departmental offices by the importance of Canberra or the beautiful wording and the sincerity of the report that we are considering. It must consider the growth of Canberra together with the growth and development of Australia as a whole. If we had inexhaustible loan funds and as much revenue to spend as we desire, I would say spend a lot of money on Canberra. But while our- funds are limited, let Canberra have a fair deal in comparison with the claims of the rest of Australia. I draw the Senate’s attention to the fact that 9 acres of land have been set aside in Melbourne for buildings which will ultimately house public servants in that city.
– Commonwealth public servants?
– Yes. The first big project of the whole major system of works is at present being started. We also know of the huge project in Sydney.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 May 1956, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1956/19560515_senate_22_s7/>.