22nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator McMANUS presented a petition from 5,152 citizens praying that the Parliament would grant an immediate increase in the rates of pensions.
Petition received and read.
– by leave - I have to inform the Senate that Senator O’Flaherty has been appointed Opposition Whip in place of Senator Critchley, who has resigned his office on account of ill health. I take the opportunity of expressing to Senator Critchley the great appreciation of all Opposition senators of the invaluable service that he has rendered to the Opposition over many years. Senator Critchley enjoys the deep affection of every honorable senator on the Opposition side of the chamber.
– And on the Government side also.
Government Supporters. - Hear, hear!
– I am pleased to hear honorable senators on the Government side join in the expression of these sentiments. I know that Senator Critchley has the respect of everybody in the Senate, and I do not feel that I am presuming when 1 say I speak with confidence in expressing the opinion that everybody in the Senate hopes that Senator Critchley will have -i speedy recovery and a quick return to duty among us.
– by leave - On behalf of the Government and my colleagues, I ask the Leader of the Opposition to communicate to Senator Critchley our expression of deep regard for him and our wish that he will soon be completely recovered. We express to him our great affection and esteem.
– Will the Minister for National Development, while awaiting a decision to bring finality to what has become known as the Spooner plan to help British permanent building societies to commence activities in Australia, which must be regarded as being a long-range plan, consider making available additional finance to the States, particularly New South Wales? The Housing Minister of that State claims to have available facilities to provide a further 3,000 houses yearly if finance is available, and Commonwealth action along those lines would enable early relief to be given to the thousands of hungry home-seekers in that State.
– The remedy that the honorable senator seeks is entirely in the hands of the New South Wales Government. The total loan moneys are made available by the Commonwealth to the State governments and each State government can apportion as much or as little as it thinks fit for housing.
– The Commonwealth, makes the money available.
– The State governments make the apportionment of housing moneys, and there is nothing, to prevent the New South Wales Government adding substantially to its housing allocation if it so desires.
– Where will it get the money?
– That is the State’s responsibility. The State government gets its overall allocation, and diverts to housing that proportion of the total which itthinks is equitable. If the New South Wales Government has not apportioned enough for housing, it alone is to blame.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. In the budget speech that was delivered last night, the announcement was made that duty amounting to ls. a gallon is to be imposed on imported and Australian automotive diesel fuel used in road vehicles. May I say that this morning I received a telegram from a spokesman for the fishing industry asking whether the duty will apply to diesel fuel used by fishing fleets. I ask the Minister whether it is intended that the duty shall apply to diesel fuel used by fishermen in their vessels or used by primary producers in their tractors and other farming plant.
– The proposed duty of ls. a gallon will apply only to diesel fuel used by road users and not to that used by farmers in tractors or by fishermen in their vessels.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate or to the Minister representing the Treasurer, whoever is the appropriate Minister. A recent press report on negotiations between Australian National .Airways Proprietary Limited and Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited stated that A.N.A. is £400,000 in arrears in its repayment to the Commonwealth of money that was made available to it. Is that report true? If it is, what steps have been taken or are contemplated by the Government to ensure the payment of all moneys that are due to the Commonwealth by A.N. A.?
– I shall answer the question. The whole matter of the proposed sale of the shareholding in A.N.A. to Ansett Airways is under discussion and is the subject of negotiations. Until those negotiations are completed, I do not propose to make any statement on the matter. The honorable senator may rest assured that the Commonwealth’s interest in the matter, especially in respect of moneys owed to it in relation to the purchase of aircraft by A.N.A., is being carefully watched. The money is not in jeopardy and is not likely to fall into jeopardy.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether, in view of the fact that in rare cases only are aerodrome runways, built for DC3 aircraft, to be strengthened to take heavier aircraft, he will consider in the near future the strengthening of the runway at Devonport, which is in this category, and is the only lighted aerodrome on the strategic north-west coast of Tasmania.
– I must say that I admire the persistence with which the honorable senator has pursued the cause of the Devonport aerodrome. I cannot at the moment give him the assurance that he seeks. The whole matter of airport policy will shortly come under close review, and the claims of the Devonport aerodrome will then receive due consideration.
– I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise whether it has come to his knowledge that a film of the Olympic Games, which was prepared by a national olympic committee in Europe, has been sent to the Australian olympic organizing committee, and that the department has refused to classify it as “ educational “. If this has not come to the Minister’s personal notice I ask him to look at the matter with a view to deciding whether the film can be so classified, and thereby be exempted from payment of duty.
– The film in question has come to my notice, and it is true that it has noi been classified for duty-free entry. The matter has already been raised by an honorable member in another place and is again under review. One or two suggestions for overcoming the present difficulty have been made. If the honorable senator will place the question on the notice-paper, I will give him a final answer in due course.
– Will the Minister for National Development make available to the South Australian Government a copy of the proposed agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the governments of New South Wales and Victoria regarding the Snowy Mountains hydro-electricity undertaking? Secondly, will South Australia’s rights under the Murray Waters Agreement be fully safeguarded by the Commonwealth Government in the proposed agreement, and any similar agreement drawn up in the future?
– I thought that I had made myself clear on this matter. I have neither refused nor agreed to make a copy of the agreement available to South Australia. I have said neither “Yes” nor “ No “. My job is to protect the interests of the Commonwealth, and I will make a decision as to what should be done when the time is appropriate. As for the second half of the question, I give the honorable senator an unqualified assurance that the rights of South Australia under the River Murray Waters Act are fully protected and safeguarded.
– Will the Minister for National Development indicate to the Senate details of the plan to meet a portion of drilling costs in the search for oil? Will he state from what date this plan will operate, on what basis payments will be made, and whether legislation will be necessary to give effect to the plan?
– I contemplate making a considered statement on this matter after consultation with my officers, particularly my professional officers. In anticipation of that statement, I would say that the Government’s professional advisers think it would be of great assistance in the search for oil throughout Australia if, in each one of the sedimentary basins where there are prospects of finding oil, a deep exploratory hole were drilled for the purpose of gaining geological information. It is not contemplated that by drilling such holes oil would be found, but the geologists and other scientists believe that by having a hole dug to 10,000 feet, 18,000 feet, or whatever might be the required depth in a particular locality, they would obtain information that would be of great assistance to all engaged in the search for oil. The programme envisages the digging of a series of deep holes in the sedimentary basins throughout Australia. Most of the areas concerned are under lease or licence to some one who is already searching. The plan is ‘ to pay one-half of the cost of digging a deep hole, and the information obtained from it will be available, not only to the company concerned, but to every one.
– The subsidy is onehalf of the cost?
– My question is directed to the Minister for Repatriation. I understand that during week-ends and public holidays no patients are admitted to the repatriation hospital at Concord for diagnosis and report, and that patients can be admitted only in normal hours on week days. In view of the difficulties caused by this admission method, particularly as they relate to ex-prisoners of war and other ex-servicemen whose nerves and general health were shattered during the war years, will the Minister carefully reexamine the whole question of admission outside normal hours to the repatriation general hospitals to see whether it .would be possible during holidays and week-ends, if an ex-serviceman collapsed and it was impossible to diagnose his condition outside a hospital, to admit him to a repatriation general hospital immediately?
– I can inform the honorable senator that the question of admission to repatriation general hospitals at week-ends has received a lot of consideration by the department. There are difficulties in regard to admissions during week-ends. In the first place, under the act the Repatriation Department accepts responsibility in relation to disabilities that have been caused, or aggravated, by war service. In the main, only ex-service personnel whose disabilities have been so accepted are admitted to repatriation hospitals. With some exceptions, ex-service personnel in receipt of the 100 per cent, general rate pension, as well as the special rate pensioners - that is, totally and permanently incapacitated ex-service personnel - are entitled to be admitted to repatriation hospitals for the treatment of nonwarcaused disabilities. War widows, also, can be admitted to repatriation hospitals for the treatment of certain disabilities.
It is difficult to ascertain during weekends whether a person’s disabilities have been accepted as attributable to war service. If a week-end duty doctor at a repatriation hospital were asked by telephone whether a particular person’s disabilities had been accepted as due to war service, he would have to say that he did not know, because the head office of the department is closed over week-ends and he could not gain access to the file. On week days, however, the relevant file could be readily obtained. Another category of ex-service personnel who can be admitted to repatriation hospitals embraces persons who have applied for a war pension, if the preliminary medical examination shows that the applicant needs treatment before his disability can be diagnosed. This category is termed the diagnosis and report category, and an exserviceman who comes within it may remain in a repatriation hospital for a few days, a week, or even a couple of months. If the department decides, on receipt of the report of diagnosis from the hospital, that the ex-serviceman’s disabilities were not war-caused, the patient has to be transferred to an ordinary civilian hospital. On the other hand, if his disabilities are accepted as attributable to war service, he can remain in the repatriation hospital. lt should be apparent to the honorable senator, from what I have said, that there are certain difficulties in the way of a repatriation hospital admitting an ex-serviceman during week-ends, even when a telephone call is received to the effect that the man has collapsed, However, I assure Senator Anderson that I shall again look into this matter to see whether the position can be improved in relation to ex-members of the forces who collapse during week-ends, or who suffer a dangerous condition of health during week-ends and desire to gain admittance to a repatriation hospital.
– The question that I shall address to the Minister for National Development is supplementary to the question that was asked by Senator Laught. Will the Minister inform me whether the Bureau of Mineral Resources has actively helped in the search for oil by drilling? If it has done so. how many holes have been drilled to a greater depth than 2,000 feet? In what paris of Australia were they drilled? As it is vitally urgent that further geological information be made available to the oil exploratory companies operating in Australia, does the Government intend to help the industry by arranging for further drilling to be carried out by the Bureau of Mineral Resources? If this is the Government’s intention, how many holes is it expected will be drilled in the forthcoming year?
– It is rather difficult to keep in mind information such as the honorable senator requests. According to my recollection, during the last twelve months the Bureau of Mineral Resources drilled three stratigraphic holes to a depth of between 1,500 and 2,500 feet in inland areas of Western Australia. They were exploratory holes, drilled, not in anticipation of locating oil, but in order to obtain geological information. The bureau has a programme for the continuance of that work. A further series of holes - I could not say how many - will be drilled. The estimated cost of that programme for the ensuing year is about £500,000. A further £500,000 will be set aside for drilling really deep holes. The holes about which I am speaking now will be stratigraphic holes, shallower than the deep holes, the sinking of which will be subsidized. It may gladden the heart of the honorable senator to know that my recollection is that most of this drilling will be done in Western Australia.
– Does the Minister representing the Minister for Supply recall that when a large area of central Australia was taken over for the testing of atomic weapons the Opposition expressed grave concern about the welfare of the natives who normally occupied that region? Does he recollect also that the Minister for Supply gave an assurance to the Parliament that the interests of the natives so affected would be well looked after by the Commonwealth and that every aspect of their welfare would be attended to? Is the Minister now aware that criticism has come from various bodies interested in native affairs, including the Minister for Native Affairs in Western Australia? This criticism suggests, in general terms, that the natives in that region have had a raw deal. So that capital may not be made from ignorance about the matter, will the Minister ask his colleague to arrange for a full report to be submitted to the Senate in relation to the welfare of the natives who were in that region and had to be evacuated, explaining what has happened to them and what action the Government actually took to protect their interests?
– I am, of course, aware that the subject referred to by the honorable senator has been very much under public attention, especially in recent months. It has been the subject of many reports, some of which are alleged to be highly inaccurate and highly imaginative. A feature of the reports is that there do not appear to be many, if any, points on which the various persons who compiled the reports can agree. I shall refer the question to my colleague and ask him to consider making a report of the nature desired by the honorable senator. I think it would not be a bad idea for the Minister to do so, because I feel confident that any assurance
Which he gave in connexion with the care of natives in central Australia has been honoured by the Commonwealth Government.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. 1 understand that substantial sums of money are being allotted for the Commonwealth naval shipbuilding programme. Will any department under the Minister’s control be called in aid to assist in that programme? If so, can the Minister give particulars? Will he give consideration to having naval craft built at Whyalla in South Australia and, if small ships are required, at the new shipyards at Port Adelaide?
– The Navy, traditionally, looks after its own naval building programme. The Department of Shipping and Transport is not concerned in any way with what the Navy does. Naturally, however, I have an interest in shipbuilding, and when any naval building programme undertaken by the Department of the Navy can affect commercial shipbuilding yards, I shall be both interested and pleased to discuss with the Minister for the Navy the possibility of placing appropriate orders with commercial shipbuilding yards.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Defence explain the purpose of the schools in civil defence now being conducted? Were certain recommendations made as the outcome of the schools held last year? Have those recommendations been implemented?
– 1 am quite sure that the honorable senator will appreciate that 1, personally, have no knowledge of those matters. If he places the question on the notice-paper, I will have an answer supplied to him.
– By way of preface to a question addressed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, I mention that last night the Senate learned, I think with great satisfaction, of the Government’s plans in relation to proposals for the standardization of the railway gauge between Wodonga and Melbourne. Can the Minister tell the Senate whether consideration will be given, in due course, to a similar series of negotiations between the Commonwealth Government and the Western Australian Government relating to the standardization of the railway gauge between Kalgoorlie and Perth?
– It is with some enthusiasm that I assure my Western Australian colleague that, in due course, the Government will give consideration to the important project to which he refers.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Primary Industry has supplied the following information in reply to the honorable senator’s questions: -
August. The report suggested that Japanese retailers were probably responsible for the misleading advertising as Australian beef was better known and it was therefore good business to brand New Zealand beef as Australian.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following replies to the honorable senator’s questions: -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has now furnished the following replies to the honorable senator’s questions: -
The Government’s medical benefits scheme provides benefits in respect of professional services rendered by registered medical practitioners. It does not provide any benefits for physiotherapy treatment as such. The physiotherapy benefits to which the honorable senator referred are those provided by the registered organizations participating in the national health schemes. These particular benefits are not subsidized by the Government. The question of extending the medical benefits scheme to cover physiotherapy benefits has been considered from time to time, but the Government does not propose to enlarge the scheme at this stage.
– On 27th August,
asked the following question: -
I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. In view of the recently expressed views of certain British public health authorities concerning the consequences of smoking in relation to lung cancer, is the Minister prepared to make a considered statement on this important question for the information of the public?
I have now been furnished with the following reply: -
The Minister for Health has received a number of recommendations on this matter from the National Health and Medical Research Council. This is a very complex problem. He is giving it careful thought and expects to be in a position to make a statement later.
– Ilay on the table the following paper: -
Audit Act - Finance - Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure and Other Accounts for year 1956-57.
– I lay on the table the report of the Tariff Board on the following subject -
Sulphuric acid produced from sinter gas.
Debate resumed from 3rd September (vide page 96), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This bill has been introduced for the purpose of establishing a National Capital Development Commission to do the developmental work associated with the expanding City of Canberra. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty), who introduced the measure, commented at length upon the history of the city and also furnished us with information concerning the need to establish such an organization.
The Opposition offers no objection to the appointment of a commission to undertake the works that will be embarked upon. Indeed, we think there is a great need for such a body, because, when one looks at the position that obtains in Canberra and which has obtained over a period of years, one notes that there has been a tremendous lot of duplication and triplication, and that sometimes as many as four departments have controlled a certain little project. That applies particularly to the building of houses in earlier times. The result has been a tremendous amount of waste, first, of man-power and, secondly, of money. In the past, it has been exceedingly difficult to get simple little jobs done. I can furnish illustrations of requisitions having been made for small repair jobs and of long delays in getting the work done. Goodness knows where the requisitions went, but eventually some one came along and half did the job and later somebody else finished it.
Such happenings emphasize the need for co-ordination. If the proposed commission provides the co-ordination, it will be doing a really good job. The control that has been exercised in the past, in conjunction with the policy of the Government or of some government department, has led to all sorts of complications in Canberra’s building programme. Let us consider some of the housing projects that have been completed. I do not know who has been responsible for the policy governing the undertaking of some of those projects or who has been responsible for building the houses, but I say quite definitely that they are slum dwellings. Moreover, some of the departments are housed in what is described as temporary accommodation, but some of it also is sub-standard. These facts, I repeat, illustrate the need for some co-ordinating authority to carry out the projects that will be embarked upon by the Government from time to time.
That leads us to a consideration of the policy that will be adopted by the Government in relation to the functions of the proposed commission. I think it is high time that the Government laid down a policy for co-ordination of the expansion and development of the National Capital. Although the bill provides for the establishment of a development commission, no provision is made for the policy that will be necessary for the development of Canberra. It seems that the commission will act only according to the work that is passed to it by the Government from time to time. The Government is now talking about a five-year plan. It was not very long ago that supporters of the Government said that the Australian Labour party was a planning party, that all it thought of was planning for something. I am glad to note that the Government has agreed that a longer-range plan than that which has been followed haphazardly for a number of years is necessary.
The Parliament, the Government, or whoever is responsible, ought to embark upon plans for the building of a permanent Parliament House. We are now using what has been described as a temporary building. The result is that accommodation is inadequate and members of both Houses are not suitably accommodated for the purpose of carrying out the duties that they are sent here to perform. The housing of the Ministry in the building has made the accommodation situation worse than it was before. I repeat that it is high time that the Government adopted a long-range plan for the erection of a new Parliament House, as was advocated by the President of the Senate during the last sessional period. The sooner the Government does so, the sooner it will be able to utilize the services of the proposed development commission to carry out the work.
Associated with the Parliament is a library. I say definitely that the accommodation that has been provided for the Library, in conjunction with the National Library, is an absolute disgrace. For the purpose of storing books and documents, a temporary building was erected beside the Molonglo River. I emphasize that it is a temporary structure. It is high time that plans were drawn up for adequate accommodation for the Parliamentary Library and the National Library. That can be done only when the Government adopts a firm policy for such work. The proposed commission will not be able to move an inch unless the Government decides that certain work must be done and places that work in the hands of the commission.
That brings us to the all-important question of finance. I understand that the Government has in mind, for the development of Canberra, a long-term plan similar to that for the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority, and that it proposes to allocate a certain amount of money each year. It is not enough merely to speak of this expenditure in general terms. Parliament should be told approximately the amount of money that is to be spent in the next five years. No doubt there will be annual appropriations, but at the moment we are in the dark, and though we have great hopes for the success of the commission we still expect to be told exactly what is proposed.
I should like to refer briefly to the matter of roads. Apparently the proposed commission is to have power to deal with roads - to remake and seal them and so on. The dangerous nature of many of the road intersections in Canberra should be brought under notice. A certain degree of improvement has been effected, but a very large number of dangerous intersections remain. Either the Department of Works or the Department of the Interior - I am not sure which department is responsible - apparently decided that there was not sufficient land in Canberra to permit the rounding of corners at intersections. The driver of a vehicle has to contend with some very sharp right-angle turns, which are especially dangerous in these days of increased traffic. Trees have been planted close to intersections, but no one has seen fit to take care of them. They have simply been planted on the edges of footpaths and, by growing right down to the ground, have created blind corners which could be avoided by the proper trimming of foliage. I hope that the proposed commission will take this into consideration in laying out new roads in areas as yet undeveloped. If it takes over existing roads 1 hope that it also will attend to their shortcomings.
In general, the Opposition raises no objection to this measure. Some honorable senators may want to make some comment on it, or ask one or two questions during the committee stage, but, generally speaking, we do not oppose it.
Senator MCCALLUM (New South Wales) [3.591. - I am very happy to give my wholehearted support to this .bill. I was glad to hear the very co-operative speech of the spokesman for the Opposition. The Senate may take a very special pride in the bill, for it has largely been drafted here. We sometimes think that we must always play second fiddle to another place, where most bills originate. This bill also has originated in another place, but it is based, to a much greater extent than I had hoped, upon the report of the Senate Select Committee on the Development of Canberra. If one compares both documents one finds clauses which are almost identically worded. The committee was not a party committee. Both sides were represented on it, and I think that it had the wholehearted support of every honorable senator. I know that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) gave the chairman of the committee the greatest co-operation and help. There was certainly no division of the committee along party lines. Such differences of opinion as did exist were held by individuals and had nothing to do with party groupings in this chamber. Indeed, there were very few grave differences of opinion and, in the end, we found that we could agree on the major recommendations. There were 76 of these, and no one wanted the Government to embody them all in one bill, or hoped that it would do so.
This measure deals with a number of very important aspects of the report, and it is no criticism of the Government to say that other matters have been omitted. Some of the criticism from outside this Parliament, and a little of the criticism in another place, is based on the wrong notion that certain recommendations in the report should have been given effect in this bill. To the contrary, I believe that the Government has adopted the wiser course of leaving these matters until later. After all, we made 76 recommendations. As honorable senators know, though there are only ten commandments, some people find it hard to keep them all. It would have been most unwise of the Government to attempt to put all of the 76 recommendations into force in one session.
I shall deal with the four principal matters covered by the bill. They are also the four paramount aims of the committee which drew up the report. First, there is the plan to transfer the administrative officers - the planning core - to this city. This transfer is to be carried out as quickly as possible. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has given a firm assurance - which was repeated by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall), who introduced the bill in another place, and by the Minister representing him here - that the defence departments will certainly be transferred to Canberra by the end of 1959. As honorable senators know, it has been rumoured - I do not know whether the rumour has been based on sound evidence - that the officers of these departments were most reluctant to quit Melbourne. At any rate, they are to quit Melbourne. We have the assurance of the whole of Cabinet that they are coming here, and I am sure that that is sufficient to convince us all that they will come here.
Secondly, the committee asked that a single authority be set up. Honorable senators will see that government administration is dealt with in recommendations (3.) to (7.). Recommendation (4.) reads -
That the Authority be constituted by a Commissioner, be a corporation sole with perpetual succession and an official seal, have power to acquire, hold and dispose of real and personal property, and be capable of suing and being sued in its corporate name. 1 do not know whether the learned secretary - who was largely responsible for the production of the report - or my friend, Senator Vincent, drew up that particular recommendation, but it is reproduced almost identically in the bill before us.
There was no matter into which we went more deeply than that of the government of the city, especially in the growing phase when it was becoming a capital. We had a most valuable witness in Sir John Butters, who was Federal Capital Commissioner between 1925 and 1929, when the first building operations and the transfer of the Parliament and a few officers from Melbourne took place. It is agreed, I think by everybody, that, as a result of the efforts of Sir John Butters, this building was made ready for occupation in an amazingly short time. I can assure honorable senators that although that took place 22 years ago, Sir John Butters is by no means now feeble, either in mind or body. He was able to apply his mind to these problems and give us most valuable advice. It is because of that I support most fully the proposal to have a commissioner who will constitute the commission. He is to have two associate commissioners, but if honorable senators read the bill they will find that those associate commissioners are to give him such advice and assistance as he requires. They are not to be enabled in any way to interfere with what he is determined to do. From the evidence that Sir John Butters gave to us, from private conversations I had with him and from my knowledge of how other commissions have worked - commissions of the Commonwealth and of State governments - I am sure that it is necessary, if there is a commission, to make the chief commissioner the general, the man in charge - not a man who can be outvoted by the other two, not a man who has to consider the opinions of the other two commissioners, except insofar as he considers them to be wise or right.
People in other States may know something about the commissions that govern their railways. I know something about them, too; I spent last year learning a good deal. I know a good deal about the commissions that at various stages have governed the railways of New South Wales. I know that the policy of having three commissioners with virtually co-ordinate authority has again and again proved fatal to efficiency. Mark you, Mr. President, we do not want a tyrant, a dictator or a man independent of all authority, but we do want a man who, once policy has been determined, will be able to carry it through without the harassing restrictions of finicky discussion. We do not want a debating society. I should be the last person in this august assembly to decry debating socities. “In a multitude of counsellors there is safety “ are the words written in the King’s Hall of the Victorian Parliament House. I believe that to be so. I believe that there should be all kinds of discussion and that all kinds of consideration should be given to plans while they are in the making. But a time comes when they have been made and should not be changed. If a person comes in too late and says, “ This is a terrible disaster; we must stop it “, we simply have to regard him as some one who, in the field of battle, is hanging on to our sword-arm. The time must come when we must do things.
I realize that the success of this legislation will depend on the type of man selected for this office. If we get a feeble man, an inefficient man, a man who does not know how to carry things out, it will fail. We are staking everything on the character and quality of that man, and I think it is necessary to do so. It succeeded in the case of Sir John Butters. It is succeeding now in the case of the Snowy Mountains Authority, where we have a great engineer, Sir William Hudson, who is personally responsible for the carrying out of that project. All of us who have been to see that great work know his efficiency. We saw evidence of it all around us. We did not need to ask what he was doing. The efficiency of arrangements for transport and every other matter, and the work that we saw being done, proved that there was a man of great efficiency, great character and great ability in charge.
I do not know what man will be appointed in this instance. I do not know whether the Government has any particular man in mind, but I have sufficient faith in the men of my country to believe that within Australia there is such a man as we require, and I believe that the Government will find him. I have already given two examples, but possibly the best example I can give to honorable senators of the type of man I should like to see appointed is the late Sir John Monash, who was a great general in war and a great engineer in civil life. J will not go farther than that. 1 will not give any hints to indicate any man I am thinking of or his qualifications. The commissioner may be an engineer; he may be a town planner. If he is a town planner, he must not be merely a town planner who dreams and thinks; he must be able to do things. He must be a man who can act. There is no other case in which Kipling’s famous words would be more applicable. We want a man who can dream and not make dreams his master, a man who can think and not make thoughts his aim, a man who, after all the dreams and all the thoughts, is prepared to act and see that others act. I am confident that we will get such a man.
Now J come to the very difficult question of finance. Honorable senators here and honorable members in the other House have said that it is no good making these plans unless adequate finance is available. 1 think that is a sound comment. Our committee went into the question of finance in great detail. We examined many witnesses, including some of the most capable officers of the Treasury. We thought out a few little plans of our own and we made suggestions. We suggested, for instance, that it would be possible to have a trust fund, so that, despite changes of governments, there would be adequate finance available each year until the five-year plan was completed. Finally, however, we came back to the view that it was not for us, a committee wanting to build Canberra, to suggest any way of financing the project, and we wrote, in rather general terms, our recommendation No. 8, which was -
That the authority be guaranteed, by an appropriate provision in the enabling Act, sufficient finance to permit it to carry out a long-term balanced programme; and that the Treasurer be enabled to make advances to the Authority for the purposes of the Act.
I am open to argument on this matter. When honorable senators are considering this clause in committee, I hope somebody will make suggestions, but T have examined the possibilities and T do not see how a democratic Parliament can avoid the annual voting of money. That is the safeguard for the people and the Parliament. I cannot see any way of committing the Government completely to definite expenditure, without the possibility of alteration. But I think the bill does commit us to a forward policy. Under it, the Minister, acting with the commissioner, enters into contracts, and those contracts will be, in themselves, a guarantee of adequate expenditure each year, because a government, even though legally it may have the right to abrogate a contract, certainly will not do so. Our public morality is such that, whatever government is in power, contracts will be honoured.
– And will be covered by an appropriation.
– Yes. We know that the building of the great harbour bridge in Sydney took many years to complete and that during that time there were quite a few changes of government in New South Wales, but I do not think that at any time the work was held up. The original contract was made with one of the great engineering firms and the work was finished. When we reach the committee stage, I think the Minister should listen carefully to any suggestions that honorable senators may make on this question, but I think we shall have to rely on annual budgeting. We must accept the assurance of the Government that it means to do this work and that the work will go forward. I am confident that ho other government would alter that policy. In this matter we have the goodwill of people on both sides of the Parliament, and once the hesitation of the past has been departed from, once the Government has clearly said that it is going forward, that policy will be continued until this great city has been built.
The powers of the commissioner are very great, but the Parliament and the people are fully protected against any arbitrary assumption of power. In certain things he must consult with the Minister. In the final analysis, if there is a disagreement the matter goes back to Cabinet, the Executive Council and the GovernorGeneral and the policy can be determined. But it is right and proper that he should have very great powers. His powers are, first, to co-ordinate the work of the two major departments connected with the building of Canberra, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Works. I am not criticizing the administration of the previous Minister for the Interior, Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes, who gave us great assistance in every way in obtaining our information, nor am I criticizing his predecessors or any particular Minister or official. As we said in our report, and as the Minister recognized in his speech, the machinery available for building the city was not the proper machinery. The Department of Works was centred in Melbourne, while the Department of the Interior was located here. This was found to be unsatisfactory when it was necessary for the officers of one department to confer with those of the other. Difficulty was experienced in reaching agreement. Under this bill the commissioner will be able to say, “ Give me the experts and the workmen that I need to build the city “. Further, if he fails to get what he wants, he can look elsewhere. He can employ at his own discretion, and the people he employs will be as fully protected as other public servants. That is a very sensible, a very flexible, and an efficient way of doing business, because we are not immediately setting up another huge organization. It is one of the great difficulties of public enterprise that when a bill is brought in for the setting up of another department, that department straightaway starts to become an empire of its own. This bill ought to prevent that because this commissioner will be able, I am sure, to get from the departments most of the people he needs for his planning and the execution of his works. He can let contracts. A good deal of the work will be done by private enterprise. If it is absolutely essential to employ other people, he can do so.
I come now to one of the most important clauses, clause 25, which deals with the National Capital Planning Committee. We recommended in our report that the existing committee be abolished and that a new committee that we called an artistic standards committee be set up. The Minister, I think, has taken a good deal from our report, but he has altered it, and his alteration, I am prepared to believe, may be for the better.
Before I refer to the new committee, may I express my great appreciation of the work that was done by the former committee, and of the work that it attempted to do. In the latter years its advice was often neglected. That was the defect that made us recommend that the committee be abolished and that a new type of committee be set up. I want to pay particular tribute to the chairman of that committee, Mr. Waterhouse, who is a very great artist, a great architect and a great gentleman. If he has any fault, I am afraid it is that he did not always realize that there are some people to whom the qualities of gentleness did not appeal, and in the building of this city there will be certain people who will at times have to be a little tough for certain things will not be done.
We recommended that this new committee consist of certain citizens - both ladies and gentlemen - whose good judgment should make their advice valuable. That is a good phrase. I do not know whether I conceived it, or whether it was thought up by the Acting Clerk Assistant, but it expresses well what was in the mind of the committee. I am glad that the Minister and Cabinet have accepted that advice. But they have made one addition. They have said that there should be two engineers on the committee. We did not think of engineers, because we did not think that the engineering aspect of the work would be neglected. I recall, among many things that I have learned about Canberra, and many of the amusing stories that I have heard, that one of the criticisms of the original plan of the late Burley Griffin is that although he was a great architect and a great landscape gardener he knew nothing about engineering. One engineer said to me, “ The trouble with Griffin was that he did not know there was any such thing as gravitation. He seemed to believe that water would flow naturally uphill “. I do not know whether we are likely to have any serious problems in engineering, but we should have these men on the council.
The new committee has been criticized inside and outside the Parliament on two grounds. The first is that it will not be completely independent of the commission. In our report, we did recommend complete independence. But I am prepared to accept this, and I shall give my reason. It is a great pity that we were not able to publish the evidence in addition to our report. It would have cost too much, and solely on the ground of cost, we decided not to publish it. But the evidence is available in the Library, and any honorable senator who likes to read it will find that it contains most valuable advice.
We found that the great trouble in the past with the good advice given to the National Capital Planning and Development Committee was that at times nobody took much notice of it, and that it was more or less remote from people who were carrying out the particular plan. So we got some of the great mistakes of Canberra. There was the terrible mistake at Narrabundah, where definitely inferior, badly sited cottages were cramped too close together. That is one of the great crimes that have taken place. The National Capital Planning and Development Committee was not responsible foc that; it only agreed that some experimental cottages should be put up - very few - and somebody or other - I do not know who it was, because we did not have time, although we sat for nine months, to pursue all these little troubles to their source - took that agreement as sufficient authority for him to go ahead and build a whole suburb. It is now, and it will remain for many years, I am afraid, a sub-standard suburb of this city. We want to avoid that in the future.
I believe that if we get the right man as commissioner, he will listen to and sift the advice of the experts. Some people are critical of the proposal; they think that there will be too many experts and that nothing will be done. But the right man of action can listen to advice and then go ahead and do what he wants. I do not mean that he should be a person who is not receptive of advice, or who will listen to advice but continue to adhere to his original plan. I do not think the right man will do that. We want a man who can make up his mind and go ahead and accept the final responsibility. I think this plan will mean that we can get artists, architects, and other people of the right calibre.
Another criticism is that this committee will not be representative of Canberra. I think that criticism is based on a false assumption. This is to be a representative committee. It is to be a committee of experts. I have in my mind at least one man living in Canberra who would be an excellent person on the committee. But naturally, since I am not making the appointment, I shall give no hint as to who he is. But he is of first-class calibre, and is recognized both here and in Europe. It is quite possible that included in this committee will be people who live in Canberra.
The committee will be a body of experts charged with the responsibility of keeping up; standards,, and we should not confuse it with a representative body.
There are quite a number of other matters that I want to refer to, although they are not in the bill, but I do not suggest that they should be. I believe that before we have built our capital city to our heart’s content, this Senate and the other place will consider many more plans. I think it is a good thing that we should get them piecemeal. This bill is quite enough for us to digest to-day and to-morrow. I have read many reports and asked many people for their opinions. If we get this proposal accepted, we will have laid the foundation. The Senate committee made one recommendation about Parliament. It was simply this: That the new Parliament House should be on top of Capital Hill and not on the site originally proposed by Burley Griffin. Our reasons were that this building, which was not contemplated in the Burley Griffin plan, would, to some extent, obscure and mar the view if it were put where Burley Griffin meant it to be. Secondly, Capital Hill is the highest and most commanding site there is, and we believe that Parliament House should be there. Consequently, we did recommend that the construction of a new Parliament House should be considered. We did not say “ immediately “, but I understand that since we made our report the Presiding Officers of the two Houses, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, have submitted to Cabinet a definite recommendation about a new Parliament House. 1 hope that the Minister will ask his colleague in another place to ensure that that report is considered.
A number of matters will have to be attended to, although this bill cannot provide for them. One is Duntroon. We were amazed to find that only the Army had authority over the type of buildings erected at Duntroon. I have the greatest respect for the past commandant, Major-General Campbell, with whom we had quite a number of conversations, and for the present commandant, Major-General Wilton, and I have no criticism to make of them or of their senior officers, but I believe that we cannot afford to leave the architecture of a place like the Royal Military College to such architects as the Army may employ.
I ask the Minister to ensure that his colleague will have consultations to find a way to make certain that any future architecture at Duntroon will be worthy of the city.
I have a further comment to make about architecture. In the report were some words that have been misunderstood. It has been assumed that the committee wished to dictate the adoption of some particular type of architecture in the future construction of the city. We did not do that. We are humble enough to realize that we cannot allow our own private fancies or tastes to determine what is great architecture. Nevertheless, we have a right to be consulted. After all, we are the consumers of architecture, and all of us should adopt the attitude that we have a right to criticize the works even of great architects.
– Whether or not we have the right, we do it.
– I like that interjection. We shall continue to do it. It must be remembered that highly competent and highly paid architects have been laughed at after their generation passed. Architecture is not good simply because it is old or new. There are certain standards of taste that have come down from the days of Athens, and they are not mere fads and fancies. I hope that not only the people who build public monuments and buildings, but also private builders and associations, including churches, will consider it their duty to erect only noble buildings, and that means, of course, the employment of men who are not only architects but also have great sensibility and artistic talent.
I support the bill with all the force and vigour of which I am capable. I hope that the Senate will give it full consideration, and that if it makes suggestions, they will be prompted only by a desire to make this a better city. I hope that on this matter, until the city is built, the Senate will continue to speak with one heart and one voice, and that we shall have what we have waited for for so long, a city worthy of this Commonwealth.
– The bill stems from work done by a select committee appointed by the Senate in 1954. The committee was required to consider the development of Canberra and, in the course of. its duty, it investigated the streets being constructed, roads in the vicinity, water supply, existing and proposed parks and gardens, recreation reserves, housing, hospitals, shopping areas, schools, public buildings, public hygiene, and car-parking facilities. Perhaps there were other matters which the committee considered, but those were the principal subjects to which it directed its attention.
The committee found that because of Canberra’s increasing population there wasa definite shortage of housing accommodation; that the shopping areas were quite insufficient; that at the time of the investigation, at any rate, the schools were adequate but, because of the expected increase of population, would be totally inadequate, particularly denominational secondary schools; and that public buildings, according to the forms of government then existing, were perhaps satisfactory, but that some other measures would have to be taken in the future. When it came to a subject which is giving a headache to nearly every city in the world at present, namely, car-parking facilities for the public, the committee found that almost no provision whatever was made in the town plan, or by the various bodies which had administered and developed Canberra, for such facilities. Might I mention at this stage that to the north-east there is a magnificent office block. It is comparatively new, but no carparking facilities have been provided for the officers who work there. At any hour of the day we find cars parked in a very untidy manner along the walls of the building and in the adjacent streets. I expect that the provision of car-parking facilities will be one of the problems to which this commission will attend first.
The committee examined many witnesses. Because the problem was huge, nearly all the witnesses were experts. They included engineers and architects. The chairman, of course, was the man who did the major portion of the work. The members of the committee had no objection whatever to that course; indeed, they were delighted that he was such a willing chairman. I know of my own knowledge that he spent as many as sixteen hours a day examining and sifting the evidence and preparing the report. I am sure that he feels gratified and satisfied that, as a result of his work and the work of the committee generally, the first step is being taken to implement the recommendation* embodied in the report.
The report consists of 150 pages. It has been referred to by some persons as a monumental report. It is monumental in more ways than one. It is a monument, first, to the capacity, diligence and love of work of the chairman, who directed the committee’s efforts. I can recall when this report was brought into this chamber for discussion. Politics, of course, have their ups and downs and twists and turns. I can remember Senator Henty coming in with his head down and his arms and legs flailing. He attacked the report for some reason or other. I just could not decide why. It appeared to me when listening to his remarks that he had been poorly briefed by some one on the subjects with which the report dealt. The Minister now says that the report was a very good one, indeed. Last night, he congratulated the committee upon the work that it had done in the compilation of the report.
– He had read the report after his critical speech.
– Yes. The report was compiled and submitted by men of wisdom and experience. Those men knew, after they had furnished their report and heard it condemned, that they had only to remain silent and they would find that sooner or later the Government would have to adopt one or more of its recommendations. They knew that was certain to happen. The twist that the Minister has taken amuses me. I suggest he would qualify as an excellent circus tumbler, his chief act being the somersault. He condemned the report at the time of its presentation and now, as a Cabinet Minister, he has introduced the bill under discussion. Of course, we know that he is only in what I might term the pig paddock section of the Cabinet, and that he does not frame policy-
– He is a messenger boy.
– He is a messenger boy who comes here and does as he is told. That must be galling indeed to him now. Perhaps there will be a vacancy in the Cabinet to-morrow. No doubt he is a man of strong character and for that reason may resign as a Cabinet Minister. I should not be surprised if he does so.
In making its inquiries, the committee saw very little evidence of civic pride in
Canberra and elsewhere. The residents of Canberra have no pride in this city and the farther one gets away from the city the more pronounced that absence of national pride becomes. Members of Parliament do make magpie visits to Canberra; that is, they fly in, flutter about for a day or two and then fly away again.
Before referring to certain points in the bill, I should like to mention one of the recommendations made by the Senate Select Committee on the Development of Canberra. It is perhaps the committee’s principal recommendation. The committee, realizing that some government body would have to do something tangible for the development of Canberra, made the following recommendation: -
That the present system of a divided departmental control of Canberra be replaced by a single Authority to be known as The Canberra Authority, and that to this end new provisions be inserted in the Seat of Government (Administration) Act providing for its establishment.
That the Authority be constituted by a Commissioner, be a corporation sole with perpetual succession and an official seal, have power to acquire, hold and dispose of real and personal property, and be capable of suing and being sued in its corporate name.
This bill sets up the very authority we recommended. It provides for the appointment of a commissioner whose function it will be to see that Canberra is smoothly and effectively developed in the future.
The Senate committee noted that the original plan proposed that lakes be formed in Canberra. Every one knows that this plan was first designed in the horseandbuggy days. Nowadays, people do not look much to the left or to the right when they are passing through the country. I have no doubt that if attractive lakes were provided on the road between here and Civic Centre, few tourists would stop to admire their beauty. Furthermore, we found that in the neighbourhood of Canberra - I refer to the Snowy River project - huge lakes will be formed in the near future. They will be a source of attraction to many tourists. We shall find later that the chief tourist attraction will be not the “ gold coast “ of Queensland, but the Snowy Mountains scheme. It is strange, but true, that people will travel great distances to admire water, particularly running water. I venture the opinion that there will be thousands of people passing through this city in the future, and as this is the seat of the National Parliament, it should be a city worthy of that Parliament.
Let me point now to the financial arrangements the Government proposes to make. The committee recommended -
That the Authority be guaranteed, by an appropriate provision in the enabling Act, sufficient finance to permit it to carry out a long-term balanced programme; and that the Treasurer be enabled to make advances to the Authority for the purposes of the Act.
When that recommendation was drawn up, the committee knew that there would have to be an annual appropriation. It also knew that a trust account could not be set up for the commissioner to operate on indefinitely. It had in mind the fact that governments change, as do economic conditions, and that sometimes there could be insufficient funds available. When all is said and done, the adequacy of funds is the whole crux of the question of the development of Canberra. We felt that sufficient funds should be made available to enable the commissioner to carry out his duties.
Another recommendation worthy of mention reads -
That the Government also take steps to bring to Canberra, and establish in the Federal Capital, the following institutions: -
The High Court of Australia.
The Federal Arbitration Court.
The Commonwealth Bank.
The Australian Broadcasting Commission.
I could add to that list. I should say that the head office of the Australian Wheat Board should be located in Canberra. Again, despite the advice given to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, I believe that the head office of the Commonwealth Railways should be in Canberra. This is the seat of government, and the chief administrative office of the Commonwealth Railways should be established here. This city should also have a national library worthy of it and its people.
The other buildings which have been suggested speak for themselves. Canberra is the National Capital, and the High Court of Australia should function here. The establishment in Canberra of the headquarters of the Federal Arbitration Court was mentioned by me in this Senate by way of a question some time ago. When I learned that the court which is now in exist ence was about to be set up, I asked why it was not to be established in Canberra. I was told that because the Industrial Registrar’s office was in Melbourne it had been decided to erect the new arbitration court building in that city.
It seemed to me that the attitude adopted then was that as the tail was in Melbourne, they might as well put the hide down there also. I mention these things to emphasize that Cabinet Ministers, if they are to be vested with authority to decide upon the location of buildings of a national character and buildings for housing officers who will be carrying out national work, will be inclined to decide that they be erected in their respective capital cities rather than in the National Capital. Another recommendation by the committee referred to the government of Canberra. The committee recommended -
That there be established as Canberra’s development and circumstances warrant -
A Canberra Municipality for the City of Canberra, and
A Shire Council for the balance of the A.C.T. both bodies when constituted to be responsible to the Minister through the Canberra Authority.
When that recommendation was made, it was not expected that a municipal body would operate here immediately or within the next few years. We included those recommendations knowing that perhaps there might not be another Senate select committee to investigate the development of Canberra for ten or twenty years. It is interesting to note that only recently the Government established a municipal council in Darwin. I was there about six weeks ago and had the pleasure of attending the first meeting of that council.
– Is not Canberra big enough for a municipal council?
– I say that it is. When all is said and done, a council is a safety valve for democracy, and there would be certain duties it could perform. It might be too soon to set up a council. I believe that, as a commission is to be set up by the Government, it is better to leave the matter to that commission so that it can operate for a number of years. Then, if considered necessary or advisable, a council can be appointed. I have pride in directing attention to another recommendation by the
Senate committee because I sponsored it. It is under the heading of “ Communal Amenities “ and states -
That the situation whereby Canberra has only one adequate public hall, the Albert Hall, be remedied by the provision of a community hall containing a dance hall and at least four conference chambers.
During the course of our inquiries, we found that the Albert Hall customarily is booked up six months in advance, and that persons who wish to hold a private function or a dance are prevented from doing so because there is no suitable hall. The “recommendation of -the committee also refers to the need for conference halls to form part of the ‘community hall. We must remember that Australia’s population is increasing, and there are many organizations which are national in character. They do not operate only in one State, and some have ramifications throughout the Commonwealth. If there is accommodation in Canberra for them to hold their conferences, they will come to this city. We found, on evidence, that some organizations are prevented from coming here for their conferences merely because there is no accommodation available for them to hold their meetings. That is one matter I believe the commission should start ‘to correct immediately. Knowing how slowly commissions have to act, I should not be surprised if Canberra did not have the type of community hall I have mentioned within a year or two.
I shall not deal with the construction of a new Parliament House. When the new Parliament House is built, it might not contain a Senate chamber and, therefore, its construction might be delayed for a number of years until the policy of the Australian Labour party in that regard is implemented.
At the present time we have tourists coming to Canberra from all parts of the Commonwealth. They might be impressed by the residential .portions of Canberra, but they are definitely not impressed by the whole of the city. The defects which are apparent to them cannot be corrected immediately. There is much to be done and rauch money will have to be spent before ,we have a city worthy of the name of the National Capital.
During the course of ;our investigations, we found that there was a maze of authori- ties dealing with the development of Canberra. The commission, of course, will have powers and functions which will enable it to steamroll the smaller authorities and implement its own decisions. At the same time, it will carry out Government policy on the development of Canberra.
I have nothing to add to what I have said about the bill. I approve of it and support it. I am all in favour of this bill because, as I pointed out, the key recommendation of the Senate committee was the appointment of a commission to deal with the development of Canberra. As this bill is giving effect to that recommendation I, with other members of the committee, who investigated this matter, am satisfied to sit quietly by and watch the development occur. I know that the development will proceed -on the very lines that we have recommended in the report.
.- I should like to take a few fleeting minutes to express my approbation of the aspirations expressed in this .bill, and my own satisfaction that a start has at last been made towards achieving those aspirations. It .must be of ,great advantage to the future development of this .city to have one authority responsible for the planning and development of a site from start to finish. One of the main troubles that the growth of this city has encountered has ‘been the fact that one department has been responsible for the sites which are cut up into building blocks, and another entirely different department has been responsible for putting houses on those sites. The department responsible for designing the houses does not know the sites upon which they are to be built. In consequence, we can see, wherever we look in the suburbs of Canberra, an anomalous situation in which beautiful views are completely ignored because the houses were not designed for the particular site.
There are one or two matters upon which 1 should like to touch in the hope that this commission, when established, will immediately consider them. The first is the question of building standards in Canberra. I understand that in some trades at present there are no building standards laid down beforehand which’ a builder or architect can consult to determine whether what he proposes .to do .is in line with the regulations. In some cases work is done, and only after it has been finished does somebody examine it and state whether or not it conforms with the standards which are not yet properly laid down. That must result in great expense and loss of time.
In other ways, too, there are anomalies in the building standards and in the requirements laid down which should be investigated as soon as possible by a competent board of building standard specialists. I !hope that the Government will also attack immediately the total lack of any provision, as I understand it, for park lands of any kind in Canberra. It must be a unique city in that, populous and growing as it is, no land is definitely alienated for parks, and at any moment all land can be cut up at the whim of a department charged with developing a new suburb. Already in some parts of Canberra that is leading to a situation where children have to walk perhaps 2 miles or more before they can find a place, other than the streets, in which to kick or hit a ball. For a city of this kind, developing as the National Capital, with the land that it has at its disposal and the views and beauties which can be exploited, “that is a most anomalous situation and one -which could be tackled immediately by the proposed commission.
They are the main two points that I wanted to make. The final one is to express my hope that, in the development of new -suburbs, there will be experiments in designing the suburb as a whole in line with the latest thinking on town planning, which takes into consideration the fact that a man -during his lifetime requires several different kinds of homes. When he is first married, he requires perhaps a flat or a very small house. When his family arrives and has to be educated, he needs a house with four, five or six rooms, or, at any rate, a much bigger house. Then, when his family has grown up and has gone out into the world, he requires a smaller, more economical, more easily kept house in which he and his wife may pass their days.
In conjunction with those needs is -another well-known need which I believe has been well expressed in various surveys. J refer to the fact that, though people have these varying requirements, they do not wish to leave the locality in which they have begun to live. Therefore, in any locality so developed there should be various types of houses. It would be economical for the building industry and the country as a whole if different types of houses were provided to allow a man to pass through those various stages of need in the one locality.
– And still live among his friends.
– That is so, and in the surroundings that he knows. With those three suggestions, which I hope will be in the forefront of the commission’s mind, and which I hope the Parliament will ensure are placed in the forefront of its mind if they are not already there, I commend the general principles of the bill to the Senate.
.- Mr. Acting Deputy President, I have always thought that, in relation to its responsibility, the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia has stood in that rather peculiar position where it speaks, as the Latins used to say and which term is still used in another connexion, urbi et orbi. The Commonwealth Government speaks to the city and to the world. As the National Government of Australia, it speaks to the world, and, as the Government which in one way or another, and certainly ultimately, controls and administers the National Capital, it speaks to the city. It was only to be expected that over the years a government of its dimension, speaking primarily to the world, might easily find that its attention was diverted from its perhaps minor responsibility of speaking to the city. Therefore, if over the years the position developed where the initial ideas and plans relating to a national capital had become confused and public interest had been dissipated, that was only to be expected.
For that reason, 1 think that the work of the Select Committee on Canberra which was appointed by the Senate to bring to everybody’s realization the aggravated needs of the National Capital in the matter of control and planning has been of outstanding significance and, of course, will be of historic importance. I convey to the members of that committee my own personal congratulations upon the task they undertook and the initiative they displayed, particularly Senator McCallum who inspired it. It is a tribute to the common sense and reasoned approach of the committee that a substantial part of its recommendations have been embodied in a proposed statute of this Parliament. The members of the committee will always be able to look back with a great deal of satisfaction and considerable pride to their work. Succeeding members of Parliament will look back to them with a great deal of gratitude for the work that they contributed towards the planning and development of the National Capital.
It is not often - we become blase about these things - that in the history of the world any nation deliberately sets out to plan a city, and it is possibly more seldom that a nation sets out to plan a national capital. Drawing upon my rather sketchy knowledge of Egyptology, I understand that the capital of Egypt was moved from Thebes to Memphis, or vice versa, and no doubt there have been other similar incidents in history. When the Commonwealth of Australia set out deliberately to select a new site, which was completely undeveloped, for the national capital of a young nation whose future would stretch into history, that was a tremendous conception. Tt is our duty and responsibility to ensure that we live up to, and adequately measure up to, the demands of the conception of those who originally planned the site and the nature of the National Capital of Australia.
We must recognize that in all things that are planned there must be a degree of artificiality which is inseparable from that type of creation. After all is said and done, things that grow up according to the demands and exigencies of the situation and time may not be as perfect in planning, but they have some sort of life, spirit and soul which no element of planning can infuse into something which is at first a blueprint. That is something which will always be evident in a planned city, and it will be particularly evident here. It is not a danger to which we can merely advert in passing; it is one which really is of tremendous national importance and of great national significance. I shall try to develop that theme in a few moments.
We know that cities of the character of London and Paris have in their buildings, streets and boulevards - in fact, in everything - long historical associations with men and events. Those buildings, streets and boulevards are part of history itself; they are part of the context and fabric of history. No new, and certainly no planned, city can quickly, if ever, quite capture the spirit of cities of that kind. The danger and the significance of the matter to which I direct attention lies in the fact that Canberra is the capital of a federation of States. Undoubtedly, with the new concepts of government, those persons who in the main constitute the population of this capital city are those who, in a way, perhaps more than any other collection of individuals will have an influence and an impact on national policy and thought. I think it is always desirable that people in that position, having that tremendous individual and collective influence, should, in a broad way, reflect the general feeling of opinion among the community which they serve.
One of the great dangers of this capital city is its geographical and social isolation. I do not know how that can be overcome. In a planned city where there are government departments and where in the main the population, apart from those who are employed in minor ancillary activities, consists of people who work in the sphere of public administration, the sphere of high public duty, and from which in time might also spring a heirarchy, an aristocracy, of public administration passing from father to son and to grandson, from generation to generation, there can easily be developed, with this tremendous influence on the national policy of Australia, an attitude that is almost completely alien to and completely out of harmony with the national context of the whole Commonwealth.
Having these thoughts in mind, I was particularly interested in the bill. It speaks of a commission which will have, within, the ambit of its authority and direction, the development of the National Capital; and of an advisory committee which, in the technical sense, will be available to supplement its work and advise it. I agree with Senator McCallum - to whose speech I listened with considerable interest - that thebill is perhaps the best that one could expect at this stage. It does not do everything; that we contemplate, or that we could wish, for, but as far as it goes we accept it with, approbation.
When I look at the word “ development “, I cannot help wondering whether we are using it in a context that is altogether too narrow and insignificant - whether we are speaking purely of the development of a city. I know that that is the intention and purpose of the bill - indeed, it is the only meaning to be given to it - but we cannot, in creating a capital city, develop it in terms of culture, aesthetics, buildings, conveniences, transport and shops alone. We must try to create in the National Capital, as it were, a microcosm of the whole nation, lt must, of course, be only a miniature. Canberra, compared with some of the great commercial cities which now have their roots deep in Australian life and history, will always be a small city, but we must see what we can do to create in it a microcosm of the whole nation. That is what I should like it to be; but the more we plan it, the more we say that building shall be stylized, the more we provide for a perfect system of public transport, the more we provide in the way of culture and aesthetics, the more we shall make it different. We must decide on which side we shall come down. Almost certainly, and inescapably, we must come down on the side envisaged in the bill, and try to incorporate in the other cities which have grown up almost without control, and with little or no planning, the cultural and aesthetic standards that have been introduced with such deliberation in the city of Canberra.
Therefore, at some other time, perhaps when the bill comes up for amendment, 1 hope to see an advisory committee comprising not merely men who are technically equipped - artistically, architecturally, or technologically - to advise on physical development, but also men who can give advice on the amplification of the city’s activities, on the diversification of commercial enterprise and so on. It might then be possible, in the way I have suggested, and for the reasons I have proposed, to make Canberra a microcosm - a reflection in miniature - of the whole Australian nation.
Those are my broad views, and against that background I support the bill. However, I should like to make one small suggestion that I have had in my mind for some time. How often do we find that scholars from universities all over Australia obtain travel grants to attend universi ties in other parts of the world and go away from this country without having had the opportunity of visiting the National Capital? I believe that, no matter where they live, such people should have an opportunity to come here and be able to speak of Canberra, their own capital, as a city with which they have a personal acquaintance. It should not be beyond the financial capacity or generosity of the Federal Government to make a small grant which will enable these travelling scholars - whether they be Rhodes scholars or scholars travelling on a foundation grant - to visit Canberra, to see how Parliament works and to take that knowledge to an overseas country from which, in turn, they hope to bring back ideas.
With those few observations I support the bill and commend it to honorable senators. I do congratulate those who have been associated with the select committee which brought down the report from which this bill has stemmed. This legislation represents a tremendous achievement both in fact and in time. I refer to the comparatively short space of time since the committee was set up, carried out its investigations, presented its report, had it considered at Government level and saw its recommendations emerge as a bill. Such an achievement reflects credit upon all concerned and reveals a genuine interest, on behalf of the Federal Government and the Parliament of the Commonwealth, in the speedy development of Canberra. I do think that if the Commonwealth speaks now with a loud voice to the city, as governments in this country have spoken for so long and so effectively to the world, we can look forward in the future to a national capital which will be a shrine of our history and our aspirations and which, at the artistic and architectural level, will represent, in terms of bricks and mortar, a city of which we may all be justly proud.
– After listening to the very excellent remarks of Senator Byrne, and his generous praise of the efforts of the Select Committee on the Development of Canberra, of which I was a humble member, my innate modesty makes it embarrassing to attempt adequately to express my thanks. Perhaps I ought to get away from this theme by saying that I am now on my feet, not because I was a member of the committee, but because I believe that we had the assistance of a Minister who was prepared to put our recommendations into legislative form. 1 offer him my congratulations upon displaying such initiative and imagination in producing this most important measure out of the many recommendations of the select committee - and that in reasonable time.
When 1 was first appointed to the Senate select committee I was disturbed at being told by friends that we would sit for weeks, deliberate at great length, give our excellent secretary a great headache and lots of work in preparing a lengthy report, tender that most voluminous document to the Senate and then see it put away to lie forgotten in the Minister’s library. Those who were then so pessimistic have since been proved quite wrong. Not only “has the Minister displayed great interest in the work of the committee, but also he has within reasonable time adopted one of its fundamental recommendations - that of giving at long last some measure of co-ordination and control to the development and construction of this city. I suggest that that, in a nutshell, is the purpose of the bill. If, at this stage of our nationhood, we cannot afford to commence really building Canberra properly as a national capital, we shall never be able to afford it. Too often we hear - and too often we heard as a committee - excuses made by representatives of the Treasury that money is a little scarce for construction of a new Parliament House, for the erection of a proper library, and so on. We can always say these things. If, during this prosperous era of our nation we cannot afford to commence building Canberra as a permanent capital, we shall never be able to afford it. As I have said, this bill does try to achieve some coordination and control of such matters as planning and construction. We, as a committee, found that there was far too little coordination in relation to those matters.
Our committee at times had great difficulty in finding where responsibility really lay, and in discovering who had made a mistake and why. There were many assistant cooks, if I might use the expression, but no head cook or chef. The committee felt it was high time there was proper control and uniform direction by one authority. Therefore, the recommendation was made that the development and construction of Canberra should henceforward be vested in one man, who would have a number of advisers. I emphasize that point in regard to this aspect of the construction of Canberra.
This bill has been criticized by some people who, I suggest, have not been fully seised of the true facts. Some criticism has been made of the proposed advisory committee, and it has stemmed from the fact that the critics ‘believe that that committee has some sort of executive power. It has nothing of the sort; it is an advisory body purely and simply. We hope it will be comprised of experts in their respective spheres - artists, architects, engineers and townplanners - but it is solely an advisory committee. The commissioner can go right outside the committee if he wishes; he is not required to accept its advice. It is to be hoped that in due course the very best ‘body of advisers will be available, so that the commissioner will have the best possible advice. I emphasize the fact that this committee is not an executive body and that the executive powers lie entirely in the hands of the commissioner, who is responsible immediately to the Minister, who, of course, is responsible to the Parliament. There is, therefore, a complete chain of responsibility from the person who is to be responsible for the future planning and construction of this city to the Parliament.
Having said that, I pass from the actual measure itself to matters which are relevant to it, although not directly associated with it. The committee made many recommendations, only one of which is embodied in the present bill. I am well aware that the present measure could not include more than the present proposed law. It is an organizational measure entirely. As I have said, the committee made recommendations on a variety of subjects. I wish to make some reference to them and suggest to the Minister - I am quite certain he is interested in these proposals - that as soon as possible he give serious consideration to some of the other important recommendations.
The first important recommendation to which I wish to refer relates to the setting up of a legislative council in Canberra. The committee felt that the citizens of Canberra should have the democratic rights that every city gives to its citizens. We found - of course, it was well known - that the 30,000 people in this city had absolutely no say in the making of the laws they were obliged to obey. We of the committee felt rather strongly about that. We were conscious that this Government had given more rights to the natives of the Northern Territory - who are now citizens of Australia, with the right to elect, in part, their own legislature - than to the citizens of Canberra.
I am not going to deal in detail with the legislatures which exist in Darwin and New Guinea, but the fact is that both the Northern Territory and New Guinea have legislatures, whereas this city has not. I suggest that first priority, after this measure has been passed, be given by the Minister to the creation of a legislature on similar lines to those operating in Darwin or New Guinea, so that the people of this city can have a true measure of democracy. I think that is the very least the Government can do in regard to the Australian Capital Territory.
The other recommendation to which consideration must be given by the Government relates to local government. The committee, of course, was quickly made aware that there was no measure of local government here. In a city of 35,000 people, that is a deplorable state of affairs. I do not think there is any other town in any part of the civilized world that has not some degree of responsibility in relation to its own existence. I am well aware that there are arguments in favour of the proposition that there should be no local authority in Canberra. Those arguments are well canvassed in our report, but, quite frankly, I do not think they are worth the paper on which they are written. If the Minister and the Government are prepared to accept the proposition that Canberra must have some sort of local authority, something should be done about it quickly.
– The citizens of Canberra would have to maintain the authority by paying rates.
– I want to make one observation in that regard. Canberra has been proceeding in its growth for some time, but many of its citizens have never lived in a town under the control of a local authority. There is growing in this city a remarkable state of affairs because the citizens have no rights as citizens or ratepayers and are not aware of the obligations that should be accepted under local government. We find everywhere a growing feeling - one cannot blame the Canberra residents - that “ the Government should provide this and that”. In most towns the citizens would get together and do things, not wait for the Government to provide a hall or something else. I am astonished to find this state of mind in Canberra, but one can expect it because Canberra has no municipality or local government authority. The citizens have no civic rights and, therefore, cannot be expected to develop a proper civic responsibility. Until the city of Canberra obtains such a corporation, this rather serious lack of responsibility will continue.
There are one or two other matters to which I wish to refer that are not directly concerned with the bill. I find that I am still a member of a joint committee on the Australian Capital Territory. That committee is not to be confused with the select committee that made the report about which we have all been talking. There is at the moment this joint committee which the Minister set up, and concerning which I wish to say a few words.
The joint committee, if I remember aright, has met only once; it met for the sole purpose of electing a chairman. It has not met since. I say that there is something wrong if a joint committee has not got something to discuss in twelve months. But it is a regrettable fact that it has not met except for the purpose of appointing its chairman. The reason why it has not met is that it has not had anything to talk about. The reason why it has not had anything to talk about is that it is not allowed to talk about anything. This committee may discuss only things that are referred to it by the Minister for discussion. I think that is altogether wrong.
This committee could be of great value to the Minister. The Minister could get a lot of work out of the members of this committee, all of whom are enthusiasts, and all of whom sat on the select committee and so had a fairly considerable knowledge of many aspects of the planning, the growth, and the development of the city. I suggest to the Minister for his consideration that he should give the committee something to talk about, or we should delete the franchise so that we can meet and discuss things ad hoc - things we wish to discuss. In that way the committee could justify its existence.
I now come to one other aspect of the future of the National Capital and of the authority that is to be set up. As I mentioned before, the select committee made many recommendations. I shall not canvass any of them, but I shall make one or two observations about what I suggest are essential considerations for the new commission. I have a note here of five of them; there are many others, but these are the most important ones.
The first matter I suggest for the consideration of the commissioner elect is this: I think that, in his planning, it is essential to preserve what I shall call, for want of a better expression, the pastoral atmosphere of Canberra - in short, the wide-open spaces. We heard some evidence from some eminent architects from Sydney, who violently disagreed with this pastoral atmosphere. I suppose any one who lives in a city like Sydney for long becomes accustomed to a little overcrowding, but I was astonished when these eminent architects objected violently to this desirable element - the pastoral atmosphere - in our planning. I think the members of the committee were unanimous, and I think this Senate also is unanimous, that at all costs this lovely pastoral atmosphere must be preserved in the future planning of this city. By all means, let our buildings be a bit closer together, but please let us site all our big public buildings in their own parks, their own ground. Do not crowd them together, as has been done in other places. We have plenty of land here. Let us use it. This pastoral atmosphere is of the very essence of Australian culture and the Australian way of life.
The second question I wish to mention for the consideration of the commission concerns the matter of temporary structures. I took a friend around Canberra this morning, and every time I pointed out to her a handsome building, she asked, “ What is that queer wooden structure on the right?”
– To whom is the honorable senator referring?
– I am not referring to a member of the Opposition. That happened two or three times, and it happened always in relation to temporary structures.
Canberra is full of temporary structures. I know that my friends of the Opposition are a bit sensitive about the word “ temporary “, and I realize that it is a touchy subject with them, but I am talking about buildings - not politicians. If we cannot now make a rigid rule that there will be no more temporary structures, the position will get out of hand. This country can afford to build a national capital comprised of permanent buildings. If we cannot afford it now, we shall never be able to afford it. Therefore, point No. 2 for a commissioner to consider should be: No more temporary structures and, may I add, no more dreary potential slum dwellings in the character of Narrabundah. We all know what Narrabundah looks like; it is a dreadful looking little suburb. I hope that the commissioner will not stand for any more of that nonsense here.
I come now to a further aspect of the question, which is really important. It concerns the future of this place as a city. A lot more thought must be given to this question than has been given to it heretofore. What is the future of this city to be? What is its destiny, apart from being the National Capital? Is it to be merely a collection of civil servants and their families, or is the city to be planned, for example, as a regional centre - more or less a part of New South Wales, with a regional market and a cultural centre. Or is it to be an industrial city? I think that such matters must be considered now, decided now, and planned for now because we are to introduce into this city an additional 10,000 persons - civil servants with their families - within the next five or ten years, and employment must be available for their children. This problem must be faced very shortly, and in facing it I suggest that this question of the final form of Canberra must be answered. Is it to be merely a capital city populated by civil servants, or is it to be a marketing centre, or perhaps an industrial city? I shall not elaborate this question because I could discuss it for a long time, but I suggest to the planning authority that this is an important question - and a difficult one! I do hope it is faced, and I do hope that the Government will make an announcement in connexion with it, because many civil servants in this city are anxious to know what their children are going to do in the future.
There is one further matter for the consideration of the commission’. As I think it is important, I have left it until last. Other departments- must conform to the plans of the commission. No- departments must become laws untO’ themselves by going off at a tangent and constructing buildings which are outside the ambit of the plan. Constantly we see evidence of this having been done. Right opposite the hotel where I live, all of a sudden one day along came the Postmaster-General’s Department and erected, a temporary monstrosity. It was impossible for the select committee to find out who authorized’ the construction of the building or whether it was in accordance with the plan. Nothing was known of itbeyond the fact that the PostmasterGeneral’s. Department had put it there. That sort of thing must stop-. When the commission is operating, every department must conform to the approved plan and there must be no activity outside it. I have not quite finished my remarks, but I understand that another measure is to beintroduced, so I ask for leave- to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave, granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
BUI Con motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
.- I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
No new aspect of policy is raised in this amending bill. Its purpose is to put beyond doubt the- intention which, the Government had sought to express in its national service legislation this year, in relation to the conditions under which the period of national service training of an apprentice is to count as part of his apprenticeship period. It now appears, that the provision inserted at that time has effects which were certainly not intended. The purpose of this bill is simply to correct the position.
It may be useful if I quickly sketch the background. Prior to the 1957 National
Service Act, unless the Minister otherwise directed, the- time which an apprentice spent, on national service training did not count towards the period, of apprenticeship. Where, however, a national service trainee had been employed in the services at his trade, such time was allowed towards the apprenticeship period; in all other cases the time- had to be made up. As a result of this arrangement, apprentices suffered some disadvantage when they could not be employed, by the services at their trade. The matter was discussed at a conference between State officials concerned with apprenticeship and the Department of Labour and National Service. As. a result of these talks, it was decided the rule should be that time spent on national service training would count towards the apprenticeship period if, at the normal time of completion of apprenticeship, the apprenticeship authorities, were satisfied that the young man could, demonstrate his competence, as a tradesman. At the time the National Service Bill 1957 was introduced, two States were working on. this basis; in the other States the change-over had not been made.
With the move from universal to selective call’-up and the shorter period of initial training for future national service, the Government felt that the emphasis in the existing, legislation should be altered. It decided that, unless the Minister otherwise directs-, the period of national service training will be treated as part of the contract period for the purpose- of determining when the period of apprenticeship expires. At a recent meeting of the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council, it was pointed out that various interpretations were being placed on the meaning of the present provision made by section 19 of the 1957 act. Amendment of the act was sought to make clear the original intention. There were later more detailed discussions between representatives of the employers” organizations and the Australian Council! of Trades Unions. The provisions- made in the bill now before the Senate are the outcome.
The purpose of the present amendment is, therefore, to make clear the original intention, and, at the same. time,, to deal more precisely with the transition from the former basis to that which we had intended. The effect of the bill now before the Senate is, therefore, shortly this. For the purpose of determining the date on which a contract of apprenticeship is completed, all time spent on national service by a person who was an apprentice on 12th June, or is thereafter, will be regarded as part of his apprenticeship period. The 12th June date is, of course, the date from which the 1957 provisions operated. These provisions will replace those and operate back to 12th June.
With the transition arrangements, the bill aims to avoid’ any anomalies. Thus, those apprentices who would have completed their apprenticeship before 12th June, but for the fact that: under the original law their apprenticeship period was extended by time spent on national service, will be regarded as tradesmen on 12th June. In the case of those who would not have completed their apprenticeship by 12th June even if a national service training period had not come into the picture, their apprenticeship will be completed at the normal time.
I commend the- bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kennelly) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.44 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed (vide page 140).
– In speaking to this measure I should like to discuss town planning as it affects not only Canberra but the general position through.out Australia. I do so because I have been very closely associated with the work of town planning for many years. I had the privilege of introducing into my own city of Mackay the first town plan to be introduced by any municipality in the Commonwealth. That was approximately 25 years ago, and in the years since then I have given the matter a great deal of close study. I have been associated with three amended town plans in that city. Having had that experience, 1 have formulated certain ideas upon town planning. Other honorable senators might differ from me when I state my views, but I should say that although others present to-night might have some experience of local government they possibly would not have had any association with town planning.
I understand that town planning introduced in other parts of Australia since that time has been based upon the provisions of the act relating to the original town plan adopted by the Mackay city council. That original plan was not drawn up in conformity with the scheme of town planning as we know it to-day. Town planning, like many other things, has developed and progressed over many years. There has also been progressive development of amenities and social requirements of the people. Because this progress does take place, it is essential that a town plan be not framed upon a fixed basis but that provision be made for some elasticity. Provision should be made to revise or amend the plan as the necessity to do so arises. By far the best method is to adopt the kind of plan that, as defects become apparent or changes become necessary because of social development and other reasons, may be amended and improved to meet that development:
To illustrate my point I emphasize that to-day it is vital: that: adequate provision be’ made for roads in any town planning scheme. If any city is to have- an even distribution of its traffic instead’ of bottlenecks at certain points, community centres must be given every, consideration. At the time- when Mackay introduced’ its original town plan, the practice was to provide1 for a green belt. The more modern trend isto plan- for green fingers spreading out as the city or town expands. A green belt has its limitations. Once it is established, it may be years before another can be set out. It is essential to plan so that the people of the community may have sufficient playing areas and recreation fields. The best way to ensure that they have these amenities is to plan for the spread of green fingers as the town or city grows.
Having this experience of how town planning has developed over the years, I thought when I first came to Canberra that some revision of the town plan for this city was essential. I know many people tend to cling tenaciously to what they can see at the moment. They do not want to lose what they have. But I point out that unless we have sufficient vision, unless our minds are elastic, we shall often find that the very things we want to preserve are lost to us in the long run if we do not plan ahead for changing circumstances.
As an illustration, I mention the beautiful tree-lined drives at Canberra. The bitumen roadways are very narrow and cannot be expected to cope with the traffic which this city will have ultimately. If we do not make provision now, if we keep to the lovely trees we see now, it may well be that in the long run we shall lose them because, in neglecting to plan for wider roadways, we shall be faced with the need to remove those trees. It is far better to plan now for the widening of the avenues and the planting of new trees so that when these changes have to be made we shall have something to take the place of the present beautiful trees.
All this emphasizes that in town planning it is essential that we be modern in our ideas, that we be ever mindful of the importance of elasticity in our schemes and that we have vision for the future. Judged by modern standards, the present town planning for Canberra is out of date. Why, even with the present small population of 36,000 defects are developing! The system of circular roads makes conditions difficult and hazardous, not only for vehicular traffic but also for pedestrians. All these problems must be tackled and it is my firm belief that if the Government had approached this problem correctly it would have gone about its town planning for Canberra in a much more businesslike manner than it has done to date. I am sure that what has been done by the Government here would not be done by any small municipality in the Commonwealth. I am confident that a municipality would make a much more effective approach than this Government has done.
To-day we have been discussing the report submitted by the Senate Select Committee on the Development of Canberra, of which Senator McCallum was such an excellent and enthusiastic chairman. I pay great tribute to all members on the committee with whom I served. I do so because I know how enthusiastic they were and because I know also that their recommendations were based on their honest beliefs of what was best for this city.
It will be remembered that I submitted
A minority dissenting report. In it I summarized in a few pages what I thought :should be the guiding factors in formulating any town plan for the development sst Canberra. As I have not much time at my disposal tonight, let me deal very quickly with a subject, which does offer considerable scope for discussion.
In my dissenting report, I recommended that instead of having a commission of town planners there should be one town planner. That is my firm conviction. 1 say emphatically that a commission of several planners will take much longer than one planner to formulate a satisfactory town plan. With the one person doing the planning, we have individual thinking; we have complete unity of thought.
Let me give the Senate a brief outline of the procedure of town planning in local government activities. The planner submits the plan to the council in the first instance. The council then considers it and either approves it or suggests some amendment, if any of its members have qualifications in that direction. After that, the procedure in Queensland is to put the plan before the people for six weeks or three months to give them an opportunity to accept or object to it. It is displayed in a prominent public place and those people who are interested enough lodge with the council their approval or objection. If the plan is approved, it is gazetted. It then becomes law, and is very simple to implement. A properly drawn up scheme is an excellent guide for future development. Its implementation does not require any great number of staff, nor is a great deal of ability necessary. Actually, it is a quite simple matter. If, at some later date the local authority wishes to amend the town plan all that is necessary in Queensland is for the local authority concerned to pass a resolution, ask the State Government for permission to amend the plan and go through the same process as was followed originally.
What do we find this Government doing? When it brought Professor Holford out from England some months ago I was very pleased because I thought the Government had adopted my suggestion that there should be one town planner, that a single unit of thought be employed on the work. Instead of that, to my amazement, I find that Professor Holford is not drawing up a new plan; he is merely reporting upon the present plan. To support my suggestion that it is far better to employ one man than to have several engaged on the work, I remind the Senate that each great piece of literature or music or work of art is usually the work of one person. It is rarely that these things are done by two people. Generally the work is done by one great artist or writer.
– What about Rogers and Hammerstein?
– I am speaking of the great people of the world. In most cases, a great work is the achievement of one person. I know that sometimes one person writes the lyrics and another writes the music of a song, but, generally speaking, a great work is the product of one individual.
There has been a great clamour amongst some people in Australia for a commission of town planners. Even in Brisbane there is a clamour for a town planning commission to plan Brisbane. One man who wrote to the Brisbane “ Courier-Mail “ supporting a commission for Brisbane is a professor of architecture at the university, but he has never made a town plan. In my opinion, commissions are the slowest and most costly way of doing anything.
Professor Holford was brought from England to inspect Canberra and, to my surprise, I have found that he has been asked only for a report. That is the wrong way of doing things, and it is expensive. If Professor Holford makes a report, what will the Government do? I believe that the Government has in mind the possibility that Professor Holford will be brought back to Canberra. In that case, he would have to prepare a plan. Does this bill mean that the new commissioner will suggest the planning of Canberra to the Commonwealth Government? Who will do that work?
I believe that, in Australia, we have planners who could have done the job as well as, or better than, Professor Holford because they know the climatic conditions and the wind and other features of life in Canberra. One of those Australian planners might have been able to do more than some one from England. This man came to Canberra and spent a few days here. If the Government wants an amended town plan, it will have to bring him back to Canberra or the commission will have to do the town planning.
I am amazed at the manner in which this Commonwealth Parliament has the desire to lavish expenditure. We could probably take a leaf from the book of local government and do the work much more directly and more quickly. It is twelve months since the Senate committee brought in its report on Canberra. Even now, Professor Holford’s report has not arrived, and when it arrives we will be no farther ahead. Apparently, the Minister had in mind that by engaging Professor Holford we would ensure that houses were not put in the wrong places, but more than that is involved, and the sooner the task is tackled the better it will be and the less expensive.
I am amazed at the superstructure that the Government proposes to build on to the public service life of this community to run what is now a small city. There will be a commissioner and two associate commissioners. What for? What will they do? In any ordinary city, there is a town clerk and, in addition to many other duties, he supervises the town plan. Honorable senators would not find associate commissioners employed by city councils in cities bigger than Canberra.
The City of Townsville in north Queensland comes to my mind. It has almost the same population as Canberra. If the Townsville City Council were asked to appoint a staff such as that proposed in this bill, it would consider that the ratepayers were being loaded with too much expense, but that is how we do things in this Commonwealth Parliament. It is time we took a different line and practised economy wherever we could instead of spending money. It is time that we decided not to set up another body of public servants to administer this city.
The proposal to appoint a commissioner and two associate commissioners rather staggers me. I am not speaking disparagingly of the Public Service when I suggest that we should avoid’ increasing the number of public servants who run Canberra. We should examine this bill much more closely, not only to ascertain the possible effectiveness of the plan for Canberra, but also to review the economics of Canberra administration. I am sure that honorable senators who are conversant with civic administration will realize that this measure will be responsible for very expensive overhead for a small city.
Let us consider the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme, which is a work of some magnitude. The budget provides that about £18,300,000 will be spent on the Snowy Mountains scheme, which is under the direction of a commissioner and two associate commissioners. The expenditure on Canberra will be not quite £6,000,000. The set-up in each case is almost identical but the expenditure on one will be only one-third of the expenditure on the other. That indicates the ratio of costs that will be loaded on to the people of Australia by the proposed cumbersome set-up for Canberra. That is one of the points that I stressed in my independent report as a member of the Senate select committee.
In addition to the commissioners, there will be a National Capital Planning Committee of nine members. They will include the commissioner as chairman, two architects from four suggested by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, two engineers from four suggested by the Institution of Engineers of Australia, two town planners from four suggested by the Town Planning Institute of Australia, and two other persons with special knowledge and experience in artistic and cultural matters.
– They are to be consultants and not permanent employees.
– That is so, but there again we have a cumbersome structure. Supposing any honorable senator was a prominent engineer or architect of high qualifications and attainments in his profession, would he need another engineer or architect to approve what he was doing? Of course not. Surely this proposal could be streamlined so that one representative of each profession could be appointed to the proposed committee. The more members there are on a committee, the more difficult it is to carry out any work. My experience in public and civic life has been that a small, effective committee will do much more a lot quicker than would a large cumbersome committee. That principle could be applied here.
I also object to the proposal to ask the various organizations of architects and townplanners to select the consultants. Would a local government authority write to one of these institutes with such a request? Local government authorities would use their own common sense and call for applications, or by some means they would discover who was prepared to work on the committee. They would use their gump tion to obtain the best committee possible. The example of local government authority could well be copied by the Minister and the Government in this matter.
If an amended plan for Canberra had been drawn up and presented to the Government, the situation would have been dealt with much more effectively. That would have been a more practical way of handling the problem. We, as members of the Parliament would have known just what we were about to do. As I have suggested in my minority report, I believe that we would get more effective administration in Canberra by streamlining our committees and the commission and reducing them to the barest essentials. In the long run, we would prevent the creation of more and more jobs for public servants to run this city. Let us take a leaf out of the book of the local government authorities. Many persons have grandiose schemes for Canberra, but the money for those schemes must come from people in the cities and the towns and the rural areas of Australia who have no such grandiose ideas for themselves. We should ask ourselves what ordinary communities do in these matters and relate that to the development and the future of this city.
There is no doubt about the fact that the people of Canberra are better off in many ways than are the great majority of the people of Australia. They are given a much better deal in the provision of amenities than are people elsewhere. I am not opposed to the development of Canberra - far from it - but I believe that its development should be tempered by satisfying the requirements of other places. I can go to cities and towns in Australia where people are waiting for adequate water schemes and other essential services. I am not at all overawed by the business people of this city clamouring for the transfer of people at a greater rate. There are people elsewhere who want homes, and lots of people who will be transferred here have homes in the centres they will be leaving. Very many fine Australians are deserving of just as much consideration as are the people of Canberra.
I believe that, if we take time to develop the National Capital at a reasonable pace, eventually we will probably have, in the main, a much greater and much better Canberra than if we press forward with its development at great speed at the expense of the rest of Australia.
Mr. President and honorable senators, as my time has almost gone, that is all I can say on the matter. In conclusion, I plead with you to consider the bill before you vote on it, because I feel that, if agreed to, it is likely to create a top-heavy structure and that the development of Canberra will cost the people more than it should. I plead with you also to consider the streamlining of the administration for the most effective development of this city. 1 cannot reconcile my own thoughts and conscience with the provisions of the bill, and therefore I shall oppose it when the motion for the second reading is put. I stand for as much efficiency as is possible in government administration, without the bolstering up of the civil service. We as a government said that we would take steps to place the Public Service on the most efficient, effective and economical basis, and I believe that, in the main, we have still to fulfil that promise.
– in reply - During this debate, most interesting contributions have been made and most interesting views have been expressed. I have made a note of some of the points which I thought needed clarification and some of the questions that have been raised. Senator O’Flaherty was worried about the possibility that the National Capital Development Commission would not have power to do the work required of it. Clause 1 1 provides that the proposed commission shall have full power to authorize the carrying out of any work, provided the expenditure incurred is within the limit appropriated by the Parliament each year. I have no fear about that matter. Once the commission has decided upon certain work, it will have the staff and the authority to carry out that work.
Senator Benn referred to the lakes scheme, which has been a matter of great contention in Canberra for a number of years. Speaking personally, I do not think that Canberra would be the city it was intended to be if the lakes were not included. I hope that when the report of the town planner who investigated the plan for Canberra is presented, it will include a recommendation for the retention of the lakes scheme. The provision of lakes would not be only for the benefit of tourists. Senator Benn said that the present-day tourist would drive past them without looking at them. I do not look at the lakes scheme in that perspective. 1 see the lakes as being provided for the enjoyment of the citizens of Canberra. There would be a lot of boating and other activities on the lakes which could be enjoyed by the local people. We must not: forget that from the proposed new Parliament House the vista would extend acrossthe water to the great Australian and’ American war memorials. That vista is. one of the basic aspects of the Canberra! plan, and we must not allow it to be removed. Senator Benn also reminded me that I had criticized the report of the Senate Select Committee on Canberra.
– The Minister did.
– Of course I did. I quite freely admit it. One reason why I did so was- that only the members of the select committee had’ been rising to discuss it and say what a good report it was, and I thought it was time that somebody else chucked something else into the ring in order to get a bit of real discussion on the matter. But I was done over properly. I do not boggle at that one. I learned’ a great lesson that night. I learned that one needs to know what he is talking about In this chamber. I freely admit that some of the views which I put forward at that stage were discounted by members of the committee who knew more about the matters in question than I did. However, those things belong to the past; we have had our debate on that matter. The consensus of opinion is against the views- that were put forward by Senator Wood and me, and it has been written into this bill. I represent in this chamber the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall). I am responsible for the measure in this chamber, and I support it.
I was most interested in the contribution that was made by Senator Byrne. He raised the question of the future of Canberra as a city. He asked, “ What is the future of this city? “ I thoroughly agree with his statement that a planned city is a city without a soul. Of course it is! Cities normally grow around communities. They develop; they are not a forced growth such as this city is. I repeat that I think a planned city is a city without a soul. I want to see commercial undertakings established in Canberra so that the younger generation will have avenues of employment other than the Public Service. 1 think that is necessary. A friend of mine who has been in Canberra for some time told me that he had sent all his children out of Canberra to work. He said that they could come back to Canberra if they so desired, but that he wanted them to know how the rest of the world lived before they did so. 1 thought that was a very wise attitude to adopt. The view expressed by Senator Byrne was of great interest.
Of course, we must plan for playing centres and similar amenities in the different subdivisions as they are developed, but to say that people can shop only in one area, that they can do something else only in another area, and still something else in a different area, to my mind, is the most stupid thing that can be introduced into town plans. We can make footpaths around circular areas of land on which buildings might be constructed, but the great common sense of the people leads them to say, “ The footpath might go round there, but we want to go over here “, and they make their own footpath across the circular lawn. That is the way a city normally grows. It grows because the people want certain things done in certain ways. If they want to slip down to a corner shop, there should be a shop there for them to go to. The idea of telling the housewife that she must go only to one centre to do her shopping is just too silly. If a person lives in a hostel in this city, it costs him about ls. 4d. to purchase a razor blade, because he has to go to a certain shopping area. It costs him 8d. for his fare there and 8d. for his return fare, and it takes him about three-quarters of an hour to get the article. I agree with those who say that cities develop around the people who live in them.
– Why not educate the people?
– I do not want a government that educates the people. I want the people to educate the city around them, as it were, because they are the people who live in it. We have far too many ideas to-day about educating people to do this and to do that. Let us have a little personal freedom in these things. That is my idea of that aspect of town planning and I stick to it. 1 should like a local council to be formed in Canberra, and I think it will come before long. I have advocated it in this chamber for years. As Senator Vincent has said, it is time that Canberra had a local council. This is a city of 36,000 people, which has many problems additional to that of building a national capital. Surely the time of the proposed commissioner and this very qualified advisory body ought not to be occupied in considering where sewer and water pipes are to run, where gutters are to be placed, and so on. Surely that is more properly the work of a local council.
– Surely the placing of the services dictates the way in which a city will grow?
– Are we to ask the advisory body to decide when and where these things shall be done, or should we leave it to a local government body comprising ratepayers who are willing to accept their responsibilities? I am a firm believer in local government, and the sooner it operates in Canberra the better I shall be pleased. However, such matters are extraneous to the bill, and I shall conclude by saying, in reply to the matters raised by Senator Wood, that I cannot agree that local government would differ from the Minister in consulting architects and asking them to submit a panel. After all they are the people who are qualified. They know the qualifications of their members and are in a position to submit a list of names. The Minister need not accept their recommendation, but surely any one would turn to such qualified bodies for advice. During the years when I took part in local government we always asked the professional associations to make a recommendation whenever an important job had to be done. That is exactly what the proposed commissioner will do. Indeed, to me it seems the normal course to adopt.
I think that I have answered all the queries that have been raised by honorable senators during this most interesting debate. I should like to remind Senator Benn that though I criticized the report of the select committee at an earlier stage I concluded by paying tribute to its work, and that my attitude has been consistent throughout. Senator McCallum has displayed great enthusiasm and has done a magnificent job. Moreover, he had a band of enthusiasts working with him. I only hope that the committee will be kept alive and be given useful work to do, and that various aspects of Canberra’s development will be referred to it from time to time. I believe that the committee has a great part to play in the development of the National Capital.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Debate resumed from 27th August (vide page 19), on motion by Senator O’Flaherty -
That the following paper be printed: -
Agreement on Commerce between the Commonwealth of Australia and Japan.
– The question now before the Senate relates to the motion that the paper be printed. The paper referred to is the Agreement on Commerce between the Commonwealth of Australia and Japan. I move -
That the following words be added to the motion: - “ and the Senate expresses its disapproval of the Agreement on Commerce between the Commonwealth of Australia and Japan “.
It is important to note that this agreement was entered into by our Minister for Trade (Mr, McEwen) with the Japanese Minister in Tokyo on 6th July of this year. It was subject to ratification by the Government, but not by the Parliament. Once again, by agreement between the Ministers, it was brought provisionally into effect pending ratification by the Government. My first substantive observation is that the treaty is in force in Australia to-day by act of the Executive Government - not by act of this Parliament. The Parliament is neither given an opportunity to ratify it, nor is it asked to do so. That is a very serious matter that might have the most serious impact upon the industries of this country, and the lives and future of many thousands of its inhabitants.
The next aspect to which I wish to turn is the fact that the matter is before the Senate as a result of a motion by the Opposition. This important agreement has not even been made the subject of a motion by the Government. This Senate has been treated most contemptuously. A Government spokesman has merely made a statement and then tabled the treaty, leaving it to the Opposition to put the matter in issue. 1 have never, in my experience in this Parliament, witnessed a more undignified gesture on the part of a government. The matter comes before the Senate in a completely wrong and unfair way. Not only has the agreement many clauses, and each clause many sentences, but the subsidiary documents also contain many provisions. Neither I nor any other honorable senator could give competent attention to all those aspects in a speech on this single motion that the paper be printed. No Minister can be cross-examined as to the effect of particular provisions, and honorable senators must encounter the gravest difficulty in trying to do justice to the subject-matter, both from the viewpoint of detail and of the particular considerations involved. Therefore, the Government’s action has been completely unfair and contemptuous of the Senate, and quite improper in the eyes of the people of Australia.
The agreement is presented in an extraordinary form. There is, first, the agreement itself, with seven substantive clauses, and then a whole series of letters concerning matters incidental to the agreement, but not referred to in it. One of the subsidiary documents contains minutes of discussions between the representatives of Australia and Japan, and is exceedingly lengthy. Generally speaking, the documents demand detailed consideration of a kind that is just not possible in a debate of this nature.
We have been at peace with Japan since 8th September, 1951, when the Treaty of Peace was signed in San Francisco. The Opposition most earnestly desires that peace with Japan should continue. Moreover, Japan is a natural market for this country. It is in our orbit - it is in the Pacific area. We appreciate that good trading relations conduce to the preservation of peace, and I want to make it quite plain at the outset that we agree that there should be trade with Japan. I would go further and say that it would be immoral if we declined to trade with that country. I do not want the outlook of the Opposition to be misunderstood or misrepresented.
We believe in trade with Japan, but consider that it should be as balanced .as is practicable.
– But we cannot buy from Japan?
– We have no objection to trade with Japan but, for reasons that presently I shall make plain, we do object to this particular agreement. The Opposition considers that the agreement is full, not only of defects, but also of the gravest dangers.
At the outset I should like to advert to the broad economic factors of the situation. Looking at the Japanese position first, we find, crowded into tight little islands, some 90,000,000 people, who must import foodstuffs to live since they cannot grow or produce enough for their own needs. They must have industries to employ their vast population; they must import raw materials for these industries; and above all they must export to pay for their imports of both raw materials and the foodstuffs necessary for the livelihood of their people. I merely comment at this stage that for their exports they are dependent almost exclusively on manufactured articles.
Looking at the statistics that are readily available in the International Labour Organization, one finds very interesting and remarkable features in the economy of Japan. First of all, Japan is a low-wage nation. The average wage is somewhere between £4 and £5 a week, expressing the payment in terms Qf Australian money. Then the Japanese have long working hours. The average, according to the figures, is 481 hours a week. In some industries it goes as high as 60 hours a week, and in the textile industry, which is likely to be violently competitive with Australia, the employees work 200 hours a month, or approximately 50 hours a week. That means, of course, that for every period of four weeks worked in Australia, the Japanese work for five weeks.
Then there is the proportion of low-paid female labour to male labour. We find one female employed for every two males in Japan, as against one for every three in Australia. Again there is a disparity in the rates paid. In the Japanese textile industry, only 20 per cent, of the employees are male, the other 80 per cent, being fema’le employees on low rates, in comparison with Australia, where the sexes are employed in almost equal numbers. The actual percentages .are 47.5 per .cent, males and 52.5 per cent, females.
When we look at the broad factors in the economy of Japan, some startling facts are revealed. We find that its primary industry, including people who are self-employed, engages about .19,000,000 people. The amazing fact is that of those 19,000,000 people, 12,000,000 are unpaid family workers. Far more than one-half are unpaid family workers. If we turn to the manufacturing industries, we find that the unpaid family workers in the factories represent one in every five workers. The number of unpaid family workers is equal to the total number of people employed in factories in Australia - approximately 1,000,000. A number of people equivalent to the whole work force of Australia is employed in an unpaid family capacity in Japan. That is a startling fact in a situation in which competition becomes a dominant consideration.
When we turn to Australia, we find that we have a small population of 9,500,000 people and a vast area. We, too, are dependent upon exports in order to import raw materials, in particular, as well as plant, equipment and the numerous other things we ‘need. We must manufacture to employ our people, to absorb our immigrants, to build our defence potential and to ensure the -development of Australia. We subscribe to all those ‘things, to which the Minister referred. Our imports, too, include raw materials. We acknowledge that what the Minister has claimed to be necessary is necessary - a high level of export income. We must have that in order to meet our needs for vital imports. But the big difference between Australia and Japan is that our exports are mainly primary products, not manufactured goods. Our exports of manufactured goods fail into a relatively small capacity. Relatively few people are engaged in agriculture in this country. Whilst our exports of raw materials do not compete with Japan’s production either of foodstuffs or raw materials for factory use - because the Japanese cannot produce enough for themselves - when Japan’s manufactured goods come to this country they are in the most violent conflict, not only with our own production, but also with our imports from other countries. So the pattern is entirely different as between our exports to Japan and Japanese exports to us.
The last broad phase of the situation upon which I want to ‘comment relates to the figures dealing with the balance of trade and the balance of payments. The Minister put certain figures before the Senate. He said that in the past five years we had exported to Japan £425,000,000 worth of goods and had imported only £65,000,000 worth, a ratio of six to one in our favour over that period. He pointed out, quite accurately, that that position worsened last year, when we exported goods to the value of £139,000,000 and imported only £12,000,000 worth, a ratio in Our favour of eleven to one. But what surprises me is that, knowing that that would represent only a very small corner of Japan’s total, trade, the Minister did not carry the matter further and tell us the overall position of Japan in relation to the balance of trade and, above all, the balance of payments.
When we come to look at that, we find an entirely different picture from that created by stating the Australian figures and imagining that that is the only situation to be looked at. It is obvious the Government has concentrated on that aspect and has missed the wider and larger aspect. It must have overlooked it because neither the Minister here nor the Minister in another place made the slightest reference to the overall position. The balance of trade - I am not now dealing with the balance of payments - expressed in dollars is that Japan in 1956 exported 2,495,000,000 dollars’ worth of goods and imported 3,230,000,000 dollars’ worth of goods. There was a deficit of 735,000,00_0 dollars. The breakdown of that shows that the deficiency in dollars was 776,000,000; in the sterling area, expressing the figure in dollars, there was a deficiency of 133,000,000 dollars, and in other areas there was a surplus of 174,000,000 dollars.
When we turn to intangibles such as transportation, insurance and things of that nature, as one must do, we find very heavy items in favour of Japan. I regret that the figures I have are expressed in billions of yen and I have not had time to translate them into our own currency. There was a balance of 113 billion yen in favour of Japan in the intangibles such as transportation and insurance. That is a net figure. There was another 181 billion yen in Japan’s favour in respect of payments by the United Nations’ forces. That, I concede, is a factor that will lessen as the years pass and the Americans withdraw their troops. But the overall sterling position - that is what we are concerned with in our trade with Japan - shows a deficiency of only £A30,000,000 last year. That is a very minor matter on the overall position, but it is a factor that counts in a consideration of this matter. The year before there was a surplus in the sterling area of £43,200,000, and the figures, as far as Japan are concerned, with sterling are not alarming despite what I admit is the grave disproportion in our trade with them at the minute and down the past five years. 1 repeat that that is not the only factor affecting the position that was adverse to them. Their gold and currency balances at May, 1957, which the Commonwealth Treasury Was good enough tb Supply to me, show that they are holding 1,261,000,000 dollars in currencies of gold, dollars, and sterling, including 785,000,000 dollars. So the position is not desperate. I think that is a factor that the Senate must keep in mind in a consideration of this matter.
– Can the honorable senator tell us why they are postponing the importation of iron ore. ls it to conserve their funds?
– I propose, at a later stage of my remarks, to indicate what I think is in the minds of the Japanese. If I forget to do so, I ask the honorable senator to remind me. I want to proceed at this stage to a consideration of the agreement itself on a broad basis. I propose to comment on the important Articles I, II and V.
I shall paraphrase the effect of Article I by saying that each country agrees to concede to the other whatever concession in customs duties and related matters it grants to any third country. They are to be put on an exactly even base. The exception to that, I want to make clear, is that Japan is not to be entitled to benefits granted by Australia to three classes of people, namely, a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, our own external territories, and the Republic of Ireland. Apart from countries in those categories, Japan is to be put upon an equal basis with every other country in the world in respect of customs duty and matters incidental thereto.
This takes Japan out of the general tariff rate that is applicable to her almost solely and applies the most-favoured-nation rates that are substantially lower. It puts Japan on the same footing as the United States of America and the European countries; in fact, one might say with all the countries of the world except the United Kingdom. That gives an advantage to Japan because of the low costs, low wages, long hours, the percentage of female labour employed and above all its closer proximity to Australia. That puts Japan in an infinitely better position than our best customer, the United Kingdom, and it is quite clear that Japan is in a position under that Article to oust all foreign countries from the Australian market.
– That is not true.
– I shall develop that statement. I take it that the Minister will have an opportunity to state his view in due course. It is clear, in view of what I have put to the Senate, that Japan is in a position not only to oust all foreign goods from the Australian market, but to oust Australian industries from their own home markets as well. There can be very serious damage to Australian industry arising suddenly, and great disruption to the pattern of our imports, upon which all our trade is based. So I say that this is a very dangerous article. I am interested to find that the Government agrees with me, because it sought certain safeguards. Paragraph 1 of Part C of the Minutes, at page 8 of the document before the Senate, says this -
During the course of the discussions in connexion with Article V, the Australian Delegation pointed out that the basis of Article V was the mutual expectation that as a result of the Agreement there would be increased opportunity for expansion of Japanese exports to Australia without serious damage to Australian industry or sudden and serious disruption of the pattern of Australia’s imports. This expectation was based on the premise that exports from Japan in particular lines, especially in the products of Australian industries historically or potentially par.ticularly liable to disruption in the event of an undue increase in the volume of imports from Japan, would not be allowed to reach such volume, or to be shipped under such conditions as would cause or threaten serious damage of this kind.
Here is the passage, in particular, to which I ask the Senate to address its mind -
Since, in its view-
And this is the view of the Australian! representatives - the accord of most-favoured-nation treatment toJapanese goods could result in such a situation
I ask the Senate to note those words - and. the situation is serious damage to Australian industry, disruption of the pattern’, of our imports from other countries - it would welcome the co-operation of theJapanese authorities in dealing with these situations and considered that early and effectivearrangements, if undertaken in Japan, could makea substantial contribution to their solution.
There the Government admits the dangersthat it can see in this agreement, and it asks, the Japanese to give assurances. Will the Senate please now turn to paragraph 2, which reads -
The Japanese Delegation pointed out in reply that under Japanese legislation export was free in principle and that the Japanese Government could take only limited measures to deal with these problems. However, the Japanese Delegation indicated that the Japanese Government would use its best endeavours within its constitutional authority to see that exports from Japan to Australia were conducted in such a way as to avoid or remedy the damage or prospect of damage to which the Australian Delegation had referred.
I want to analyse that paragraph for the benefit of honorable senators. I propose to defer for just a minute until I refer in particular to article 11. The Government acknowledges the danger in respect of the first clause. The second is the undertaking that Japan will come in on the same customs tariff as all countries except those that I have mentioned. We come to Article II., which provides that neither country is to apply import prohibitions or restrictions to the other or restrictions in the allocation of foreign trade unless such are applied to all the other countries. Here there is no exception in favour of the United Kingdom or the European countries or anybody else. In contrast with Article T., each country, however, reserves the right to act to protect its external financial position and balance of payments. That right is reserved to both contracting parties. The immediate effect of this is to allow the sterling quotas of our exporters to be expended wholly in Japan, whereas to date the percentage of their quotas that might be so expended has been severely limited. This has led to a flood of Japanese low-cost,’ high-quality manufactured goods to the detriment of our own industries and to the detriment of those who export to us traditionally. I say that that too is dangerous.
I want to go back to Article V. to which I have referred. Four conditions have to be fulfilled before Australia can take action to protect itself. Article V. of the agreement, to which I have not yet made reference, is ancillary to the pattern that f read a while ago. I think I had better read it, in justice to the Senate, if honorable senators will bear with me. This is in the agreement - not in the minutes. It is a substantive provision in the main agreement. Article V. reads - lt is the expectation of both Governments that mutual trade will be increased as a result of this Agreement. It is further expected that this expansion of trade will be achieved without serious injury being caused or threatened to domestic producers in Australia or Japan. If, nevertheless, as a result of unforeseen developments, the Government of either country finds that any product is being imported from the other country under such conditions as to cause or threaten serious injury to producers in the country of importation of like or directly competitive products, that Government may, in respect of such product, suspend obligations under this Agreement to the extent and for such time as may be necessary to prevent or remedy such injury.
Paragraph 2 reads -
Before either Government takes action pursuant to the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Article, it shall give written notice to the other Government as far in advance as may be practicable and shall afford the other Government an opportunity to consult with it as fully as circumstances permit in respect of the proposed action.
Before Australia can suspend the operation of the agreement, four conditions must be fulfilled. First, serious injury must be caused or threatened to Australian producers; secondly, serious injury must arise as a result of unforeseen developments; thirdly, Australia must give written notice in advance of the suspension, and fourthly, Australia must give Japan an opportunity for consultation. Let me spend a little time looking at these requirements. The word “ serious “ in the expression “ serious injury “ is the most important word in the whole agreement. I want the Senate to understand that Australian industry is not protected against injury. Tt is not protected against substantial injury. The Government may suspend only in a case of threatened or actual serious injury. I can imagine the argument that raged between the Australian and the Japanese delegations as to that word, and it is very clear that
Australia lost the argument. We can move only in the event of serious injury. There is no attempt to define what the term means.
– Or threat of serious injury.
– I have mentioned “ threat “ in every case - the threat to Australian industry and the threat to the pattern of our imports. There is no attempt anywhere in this agreement to define what constitutes serious injury, and that is one of its fundamental defects. If an argument develops between Australia and Japan in the matter, the two countries will finish up in the courts, Japan arguing that the threat or the actual damage is not serious and Australia arguing that it is. Months and months will go by while that is being settled. If the parties differ and Australia decides to go ahead alone, Japan will be free to enter our courts and ask for an injunction against the suspension of the agreement by the Government. There will be more months of delay and argument. I want the Senate to appreciate that this may happen.
– From where do you get the idea that this agreement would be justiciable in the Australian courts?
– I put it to the honorable senator that it would be most extraordinary if it were not. We have example after example of that type of action in this country against governments. The agreement, I realize, was signed in Tokyo, but it is to be performed in both countries. It is unquestionably justiciable. Let me revert to the word “ serious “. In the course of the Minister’s speech, he referred again and again to “ injury “, and he was very careful to follow the terms of the agreement. On six occasions he referred to “ injury “ and on each occasion he prefaced it by the word “ serious “. He was very careful to do that, but on one occasion, in the last paragraph of his speech, he said -
Safeguards are provided for Australian industry against a damaging influx of imports.
That is not the case. Only against a seriously damaging influx of imports is any safeguard even contemplated under the agreement.
– Or the threat of it.
Senator McKENNA. Or the threat of it. 1 acknowledge that. I keep- repeating the words “ threat “ and “ actual damage “. On behalf of many nervous industries in Australia, I ask the Minister and Government supporters: When does injury, suffered or threatened become serious? Does it depend upon a percentage fall in the production of the industry? If so, what percentage? Does it depend’ on the number of manufacturing establishments that are obliged’ to close? If so, what number? Does it depend1 on the number of employees who are thrown out of employment?’ If so, what number?
Here is an example of how shameful it is that this matter cannot be discussed in committee, where we could probe the Minister. Instead of his merely throwing in an odd propaganda interjection, he would have to stand up to crossexamination and could be pressed on the matter. I say to him now that I am not merely asking for answers on behalf of the Opposition. On behalf of the industries of Australia which are oppressed with fear of this agreement, I am demanding an answer. This much is completely clear: Prior to the signing of this agreement, Australia could instantly remedy any injury - slight, substantial, serious or otherwise. The moment this, agreement was signed, Australia could, protect itself only against serious injury or the threat of serious injury. Thus the position has worsened. I ask the Minister to say, if he comes into this debate again, what the Minister for Trade meant, when, trying to justify the agreement on 16th July, he said -
The Australia-Japan. Trade Pact included safeguards to ensure that no Japanese imports would wipe out any worthwhile Australian industry.
Will the Minister say what industry the Government considers might not be worthwhile? Are not the industries of Australia entitled to know what the Government is thinking? What was in the mind of the Minister when he said that? Would it not be fairer, if some of them have to stand the full blast of Japanese competition, to give them some notice, to let them unload their stocks and prepare for their liquidation, instead of merely saying that no worthwhile industry will be wiped out? We want to know what industries the Government thinks will not be worth while.
Now I come to the second point - serious injury as a result of unforeseen developments. That is another condition precedent to Australia’s ability to take action to suspend. 1. have already indicated that serious injury to our industries and to our pattern of imports is foreseen in the agreement. It was set out in the minutes at the instance of. the Australian delegation. So it will be no answer for this Government to say that this was not foreseen. The Japanese may say,. “ It was foreseen that your industries might be injured. It was foreseen that your pattern of imports might be disturbed “. Again I can foresee the argument that will rage between the two countries about that.
The third and fourth conditions relate to the need for notice and the need for consultation. The giving of notice and engaging in consultation both will take time, while serious injury threatens or continues. Definite action may be taken solely in relation to a specific case, not in relation to the whole agreement. In fairness, I have to concede that there is a reference, not in the agreement but in the minutes, which implies rather- than expresses that Australia may take action without notice and- without consultation. It appears in clause 5 on page 8 of the minutes,, and’ it has application to Australia alone. It reads -
Such action would not be taken lightly; and would be taken only where the consultation process failed’ to provide a mutually acceptable alternative solution to the problem. In cases where urgency might require action to be taken before the consultation process was completed, consultation would be continued in an endeavour to find a. mutually acceptable solution.
Imagine an undertaking of that importance - that Australia could move in a case of urgency very quickly - figuring in minutes and not appearing in the substantive agreement! I hope to show, when I analyse the minutes presently, that, apart- from this provision, they are nothing more than a series of statements of intentions and expectations by Japan, in relation to which binding covenants are most carefully avoided. So we have to get over those four hurdles. What action could the Government take, if it is entitled to take action, under the agreement? It can, as the Minister told us, have recourse to the Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Act. Imagine a flood of imports, and imagine the Government taking action under this act! What can it do? The first point I make is that it cannot stop the continued flow of Japanese goods, and it cannot put a prohibitive duty on them. This Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Act, passed last year in anticipation of the agreement, provides that the Minister may impose a rate of duty, on top of the landed cost of the goods, which will make the goods reasonably competitive in the Australian market. The goods will still come in, and they have got to be on a reasonably competitive basis. So honorable senators can understand- the fears of industry in relation to a safeguard of that type.
Now I want to refer to one other aspect of this Article V. I have read it, and it shows to the Senate that it is a right in Australia to suspend only if the Australian producer is threatened with or suffers serious injury. The point I make is that there is not one word of protection for our traditional exporters. If the whole pattern of our trade with other countries is disturbed, there is no right in Australia to suspend the agreement, no right to prevent serious injury to our traditional exporters. That is a serious thing in particular for our best customer. I wonder what Great Britain, our best customer, thinks of a position where our only right to suspend this agreement is in the event of damage to our own industries. There is no right to suspend if damage is done to the United) Kingdom or to any of our traditional exporters. I should be very interested to know just what the attitude of the United Kingdom is to that. What would be the attitude of the European countries with which we do a great amount of trade? I say in advance to the Minister that it is no answer to the argument I put to tell me that Australia has reserved the right to preserve its balance of payments position because that cannot be taken in isolation from what is happening in a country. That action can be taken only on the overall position. So I am affirming the proposition that there is no protection to the exporters with whom wc have been dealing down the decades. They, in common with the Australian manufacturers, are thrown to the wolves by this agreement, in. the view I put to the Senate.
– The agreement is anti-British.
– It certainly could operate that way, and Great Britain would bc in real trouble in competing with
Japanese manufacturers. I give, as an instance of that, trade with Ireland in piece goods and textiles. Japan has captured 41 per cent, of the market against local manufacturers. What does Great Britain sell to Ireland, just across the channel? Japanese goods can come across the world and capture 41 per cent, of the market while Great Britain’s sales of textiles in Ireland amount to exactly nil. It is an indication of the power of the Japanese to move in, capture a market and drive out other people who had been occupying it. And that is the pattern of things that I see happening here!
Now I wish to refer to the minutes, which commence on page 7 of the agreement. They are preceded by an exchange of letters which refer to understandings entered into for the implementation of the agreement, and each country acknowledges that these minutes contain undertakings or understandings. The use of those words sounds like a firm contract, but when we come to look at it this is what we find: It was the intention of the Government, and one of its main reasons for entering into the agreement, to obtain assurances and guarantees in relation to the admission of our exports to Japan. Assurances and guarantees, we are told! The Minister has claimed that Australia now has a contractual right - I am quoting what he said in his speech - of reasonable access to Japanese markets for some of our main products. At the beginning of his speech the Minister said that the agreed minutes, which are also annexed to the agreement, set out specific terms which have been agreed upon for major Australian exports to Japan.
Let us examine the agreement. When we turn to the minutes that refer to understandings mentioned in the letter, we find that clause 2, the operative portion of the minutes, says, “ Accordingly, the Japanese delegation stated that it was the intention of the Japanese Government to accord to Australian wool the opportunity of competing; to admit Australian wheat and barley on a competitive and non-discriminatory basis; to accord Australian sugar an opportunity of competing; to include Australia as a permitted source of supply for beef tallow and cattle hides; to admit Australian dried skim milk on a competitive and nondiscriminatory basis; and to make reasonable provision for the import of Australian dried vine fruits.” I ask the Senate, where is the assurance, where is the undertaking, where is the guarantee? “ It is the intention of the Japanese Government”, say the Japanese most carefully in this document. To do what? Not to buy £1 worth of Australian produce! If anybody thinks that what the Minister said means that there is a contract with Japan to take £1 worth of our goods, he is grievously mistaken. The most that is given is an opportunity to Australia to go into part of the market with our major products, and compete there. An assurance was given to compete with 90 per cent, of the world market in wool and 40 per cent, of the world market with sugar. That is exactly what we have now! This agreement does not advance Australia’s position one bit! Australia has no guarantee. It is a mere statement of intention.
– Cannot the honorable senator read? I ask him just to look at it. There is another very important point. I ask the Minister to tell this chamber what the position will be if the Japanese fail to carry out every one of these intentions. If they should fail to carry out the lot or a substantial part of them, what is the remedy of Australia? What can we do about this agreement? Would anybody tell me where there is a provision whereby we can suspend this agreement if the Japanese fail to carry out all these intentions?
– Read it and you will see it.
– I hope that when the Attorney-General stands up to speak in this debate he will show me where there is any right in the Australian Government to suspend this agreement if Japan fails to honour the whole lot of these things, or any one of them. He can look and he will not find it. That is a grievous blot upon this agreement. First of all, they are intentions which mean nothing, and, secondly, there is no remedy in Australia if those intentions are completely and utterly dishonoured. How completely Australia was out-smarted in this agreement! It amazes me to find what I do find in it.
We do come to the position where there is no binding agreement on the Japanese. They can ignore that statement of intentions. There is no remedy for us if they do, and there is not even the right in Australia to cancel the agreement if they throw the whole lot overboard and do not carry out any one of .their intentions. In effect, what Japan has said is, “Take this statement into the minutes. These things would look silly in an agreement which is supposed to contain binding covenants. Put it away from the agreement “. In effect, the Japanese say, “ We will not enter into an agreement with you to take £1 worth of your goods or to guarantee that you will sell £1 worth of your goods “.
– Do you seriously suggest the agreement would remain binding on us in those circumstances?
– I shall be very happy if the honorable senator will tell me his thoughts on the proposition that a statement of intention is capable of enforcement and, secondly, if he will show me in the agreement where one single right arises if these assurances are not carried out.
– All this reference to legal enforcement is just petty-fogging political propaganda.
– It is a dreadful blot upon this agreement that Japan can ignore all these statements of intention and there is no remedy in Australia’s hands under this agreement. I think the Government should be ashamed of bringing a document of this type before us and asking us even to consider it.
I have dealt with two of the safeguards upon which the Government relies. One is Article V. which entitles the Government to suspend trade - and I have shown the hurdles there - and provide protection against serious injury to our industries. I have referred to the delays that could take place. The other safeguard is the restraint the Japanese are supposed to exercise.
The Minister has said that the Japanese Government and the Japanese traders have agreed to use restraint in their exports to prevent serious injury to Australian producers and other customers of Australia. What restraint can be asked of Japanese exporters competing with each other and dealing with different Australian importers? What machinery is set up under this agreement to ensure that the Japanese do co-operate among themselves and in their activities to prevent injury to Australia. The Minister can look for such machinery in vain. He will not find it in the agreement. There is no machinery to ensure that co-operation. There will be disjointed trade between exporters and! importers.
The Japanese Government has washed its hands of all responsibility in the matter. It has said that it has no constitutional power to act in that fashion. I invite the leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator O’sullivan) to tell the Senate what is the constitutional difficulty in Japan. Is it a difficulty in Japan’s constitution, or is it merely a difficulty in Japanese legislation capable of being cured by the Government of Japan? The Leader of the Government should explain the difficulty to the Senate.
– What is the difficulty?
– I am referring to the difficulty set out in paragraph 2 of Part C of the agreement to which I have already made reference.
– It does not make sense to me.
– Then I cannot help the honorable senator, but that is no fault of mine. The Government has not been silly enough to ask for restraint against Japanese goods on the part of anybody in Australia - neither our importers, our retailers nor our public. It is not only against basic economic law, but it is also against human nature to expect the exercise of restraint in such cases.
Let us suppose an importer can obtain four articles for the money he formerly spent on one. Will he be able to resist an opportunity to pick up high-quality, low-cost articles which will give him a much greater profit? That applies also to retailers. I pay a tribute to the Japanese for the quality of the goods they can produce. They are competing with the world in workmanship and quality of goods - from ships to shirts. The quality of their goods will be all right. How can anybody expect the ordinary Australian buyer going into a shop to bypass a low cost, high quality article to buy Australian goods which cost more?
– Nobody expects him to do so.
– Nobody will do it. We had an example in Melbourne today of what will happen. Certain piece goods were sold in Melbourne to-day at Foy’s in Bourke-street. They were offered at low prices, and all were sold by 11 o’clock. They were rushed. That is the pattern of what will happen in Australia, and this agreement provides no safeguards against it.
– That could have happened without the agreement.
– Of course, there has been a very severe limit upon the amount of sterling ‘quotas that importers could exercise to buy from Japan, but that limit is to be lifted completely. The whole quota is to be available, and I am prepared to say that the whole quota will go to Japan. We will see a flood of imports competing against goods that Australian industries offer. One does not need the gift of prophecy in these economic circumstances to see that we will have a flood of Japanese imports.
If we want confirmation of that, let us look at the course of events. It has already happened in Canada. Canada had an agreement of this type in 1954. Imports of Japanese goods rose from 14,000,000 dollars in 1953 to 65,000,000 dollars two years after the agreement had been signed. The imports of Japanese goods into Canada are expected to rise to between 100,000,000 and 120,000,000 dollars in the financial year that has just ended. I should like to incorporate in “ Hansard “ an article that appeared in the “ Quebec Chronicle “ dealing with Japanese penetration of Canadian markets. It began quietly, but quickly became a flood so fast that it could not be overtaken in time.
The Canadians had a clause exactly similar to ours providing the right to suspend trade and impose prohibitive duties if “ serious injury “ - the same words as ours - were threatened or caused to Canadian industry. What has happened? There has been a complete flooding of the piece goods field and the ousting of manufacturers all over Canada. The circumstances are recounted in this article and with the consent of the Senate I shall incorporate several paragraphs of it in “ Hansard “.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Anderson). - Is leave granted?
– Then I shall take the time to read it. The “ Quebec Chronicle “ is a journal with a national outlook although it is a provincial newspaper. It has surveyed brilliantly what happened after the Japanese pact was signed with Canada. This is what it stated -
Using wheat as a lever, the Japanese have been able to place Canada in the position where manufacturing development again is being pawned to finance the sale of raw materials. As noted, this is the inevitable outcome of reducing protective tariffs against a highly industrialized, lowcost producer. During the preliminary negotiations towards this objective, however, the Japanese continued to act with disarming propriety which still commends them to many Canadians who are not yet directly in competition with them for domestic markets.
As late as December, 1955, Ambassador Koto Mat-su-daira was telling Canadians the Japanese “ seek elimination by self-restraint of any items which are competitive and which might disturb the Canadian market “. Japanese manufacturers were apparently unaware of their ambassador’s commitments, or perhaps they did not regard them as important. Even while he was speaking, Japanese T-shirts were flooding the Canadian market and driving the Canadian producer virtually out of some parts of this business.
This was a repetition of an earlier United States experience with the Japanese “ dollar blouse “. In 1952, the Japanese shipped a trial order of 38 dozen blouses to retail in the United States at a dollar each. By 1954, sates of the blouse had reached four million dozen and American garment makers were backed against the wall. When the Japanese judged they had gone as far as they might safely go without retaliation, they imposed an annual quota of 2.5 million dozen blouses. This is about twice as much as the American market can absorb and still maintain the domestic blouse industry at the level it was before the Japanese invasion.
This is the sort of self-restraint which threatens every Canadian market, from cameras to chinaware, which the Japanese have entered. What they did to the American blouse industry and are now doing to the Canadian T-shirt industry they can repeat wherever it is profitable to do so. With their high productivity and low costs, the Japanese can enter at will any foreign market which is opened to them. Once on that market, the government-controlled trading apparatus directs volume and kind of trade to their best advantage.
When maximum penetration of a market is reached, the Japanese retreat to a self-imposed quota which gives them satisfactory annual sales and at the same time can be offered as an example of “ self-restraint “.
Now I come to what I regard as a very important paragraph. It reads -
In fairness to the Canadian negotiators of the Japanese-Canadian trade agreement in 1954, they did not anticipate these tactics and provided for increases in the tariff against Japanese goods if offered “ in such increased quantities and under such conditions as to cause or threaten serious injury to the domestic producers “. Regrettably, they did not anticipate the speed with which the Japanese can flood a market -
And I invite the Senate to note this - before retreating to the prepared position of “ self-restraint “. The damage is done before protection can be invoked.
That is the point; the damage will be done and the stupid, inadequate, safeguards set up under the agreement will be of no avail to the Australian industries that will be trying to protect themselves against that flood of low cost, high quality, Japanese products.
My lime has almost expired, and I shall not be able to refer to the experience of the United States of America. I shall not be able to point out how the Japanese have ousted Great Britain from the markets of all its colonies, including Sierra Leone and Nigeria. I shall not be able to deal with the third safeguard that the Minister put up, that is, that the right of recourse to the Tariff Board is available. Not only is that procedure too slow, but Australian industries like the wool and worsted industry, the chlorine industry and the cotton industry, know that, even after years have elapsed, they will get an inquiry and a recommendation will be made, but that the government of the day will throw it out of court. That procedure is of no use; it takes too long.
I shall not be able to develop the reference to the setting of the stage by the Japanese for the conclusion of this agreement. Japan bought £139,000,000 worth of wool this year to set the stage for the agreement. She severely cut down her exports to us this year to £12,000,000 for the same purpose, and for the same reason she bought soft wheat in quantity for the first time in years, just as she bought sugar. It is quite clear that Australia is being subjected to what is usually the last phase of the technique of the boa constrictor before it swallows - the setting of the stage for the agreement while it is being debated by this Parliament. The Governments of other countries have not been as stupid as this Government has been. All the European countries have set quantitative restrictions. The United Kingdom allows in no woollens, and allows in cotton and : ““yon in the grey, that is, unfinished, only lo the tune of £3,000,000 a year, but they must be manufactured in the United Kingdom and exported. They are not allowed on the London market.
I repeat that every European country of consequence has placed quantitative limits upon imports from Japan. Why has this Government been so stupid as not to stay in line with that opinion and have regard to the experience of Canada, Ireland and the United States, where industry is in the most dire straits through Japanese penetration of the markets? One cannot doubt the quality and efficacy of Japanese commodities. I am afraid that the Government has entered into an agreement which has already destroyed business confidence in this country.
– People are being dismissed because orders are not being placed in anticipation of a flood of Japanese goods. Senator Courtice may be right when he says that it may well destroy the Government. Apropos of that, I point out that the Canadian government which entered into a similar agreement was destroyed after the people had two years’ experience of it, and there may be a lesson in that for this Government. I should not be sorry to see the Government defeated, but I would be sorry to see fine Australian industries seriously affected.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Anderson). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Motion (by Senator O’sullivan) agreed to -
That the document quoted from by Senator McKenna, during his speech, be laid on the table of the Senate.
– I lay on the table the following paper: - “ Canadian-Japanese Trade: Who is Losing? “ - From the Three Rivers, Quebec, “ Chronicle “, of 14th February, 1957.
– The Japanese trade agreement is an accomplished fact, and whether or not we agree with it in the circumstances outlined by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) is beside the point. There is nothing we can do about it.
– Why are we here? Why should we not shut the place up?
– We should shut the honorable senator up for a little while. Our task is to make the best use of the agreement and urge the Government to ensure that the influx of Japanese goods does not lead to unemployment in our industries. This treaty has been concluded at a rather unfortunate time, because we all know that a cool breeze of unemployment is blowing across the land. The statistics that have been furnished by the Department of Labour and National Service reveal that quite a number of people are unemployed. We also know that there are many immigrants in Australia for whom we must find jobs.
Notwithstanding all those facts, reciprocity in trade with Japan had to come. Japan is one of our best customers, and it is unfair for us not to recognize the fact that, if she is to buy goods from us, she should be allowed to sell certain goods to us. We have no moral right to refrain from buying Japanese goods right up to the limits of our economy. But no country can be asked, on moral grounds, to lower its economic standards to buy such goods.
Let us examine the matter from the Japanese viewpoint. Japan exports in order to live. If she does not export, she has no food. The Japanese population is concentrated within a few small and not very fertile islands. We know that the cause of her entry into the last war was her desire for more living room and more places with which to trade in order to obtain raw materials. How can Japan be expected to buy from us if we do not buy certain goods from her? As I said earlier, she must live, and the only way in which she can contain her population within the boundaries of those small islands is to establish her own industry. That industry must find outlets. If Japan buys from us huge quantities of raw material, there is no reason why we cannot reciprocate to a certain extent. Later, I shall show just how we could do so. We must realize that four-fifths of the wool which Japan takes from Australia is used in the manufacture of goods for home consumption - only one-fifth being used for export purposes. If she has unemployment in her factories there will be no Japanese buyers for our wool. What will happen then? Our economic standards will surely fall. I still believe that Australia lives off the sheep’s back. Indeed, the present budget is founded to a very great extent upon the money earned overseas from the sale of our wool. Our economy must necessarily be ruined if that of Japan, our second largest customer, is ruined because she cannot export the industrial goods which she makes. The withdrawal of Japanese wool-buyers would cause a tremendous slump in our overseas earnings. If Japan cannot export, her own economy must slump and, in turn, her buying of Australian wool must decline.
Another important aspect of the trade treaty is that it ensures the stability of our economy for at least three years. At present the economy needs a great stimulus, and it will come from the sale of wool to Japan.
I have discussed the matter from the Japanese point of view. I should like now to discuss it from the point of view of Australia’s self-preservation, which has not been touched on by previous speakers. At present Japan is an anti-Communist country. Her teeming millions include a great many industrial workers. If they cannot maintain even their low standard of living, Japan will be sucked into the Communist orbit. We must prevent that from happening if we possibly can. We learnt in the last war how strong Japan really is. Where would Australia stand if Japan fell into the hands of the Communists and, with her great industrial potential, joined forces with the teeming hordes of red China? We must remember that Japan still holds to the co-prosperity theory that she put forward during the last war. Honorable senators may recall that Australia was to be one of the principal countries to be brought within that sphere. If what I have visualized does happen it will be a matter, not of exporting wool to Japan, but of growing wool for our Japanese and our Chinese masters.
If we do not trade with Japan, can we morally contain her within her own islands? It would not be beyond the bounds of possibility for the United Nations Organization to hand over to the Japanese as living room that portion of New Guinea which we now control. That would deprive us of our northern defence line. Chaos of the kind that I have described could occur very rapidly if Japan did not get the trade that she seeks. The Evatt party point of view-
– It is the Australian. Labour party, not the Evatt party. If you are going to call us the Evatt party, we shall call you the clerical party. Why not. be decent?
– If what happened, to-day is any indication, it definitely is the Evatt party. The arguments that members of the Evatt party put forward this evening were dishonest. They are stumping the countryside in an endeavour to foster trade with red China, a country that has no adverse trade balance with Australia.
– The red Chinese did not do to the Australians what the Japanese did!
– They operate under forced labour conditions. The honorable senator’s colleagues will soon be asking for a trade treaty with red China.
– Who told you that?
– That is your attitude, because you are under “ commo “ masters. I do not say that the members of the party of the honorable senator who is interjecting are “ Corns “; they are not, but the “ Corns “ have them tied.
I have also heard certain remarks about Canada. It has been said that what happened in Canada was to the detriment of that country. I should like to read an extract to the Senate from the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. It reads as follows: -
The Premier of British Columbia, the Province nearest to the Orient, recently urged his people to buy more Japanese goods. The Premier . . . said: “ We should stimulate trade with the Orient. The future of the Province is dependent to a large degree on trade with Japan “.
The Federal Government in Ottawa is in complete accord with this attitude. It believes some secondary industries must be sacrificed for the general good.
While secondary industries stumble, the Japanese trade agreement is causing Canadian primary industries to prosper. Last year Japan imported 125 million dollars worth of Canadian products but sent only 60 million dollars worth of exports in return.
The Japanese imports were almost entirely primary products, mostly wheat, of which Canada has a large surplus. And Canadian trade officials see an even greater Japanese market for wheat in the near future. They gleefully quote figures indicating that Canadian wheat is taking the place of rice as the staple diet of the Japanese; that Japanese wheat consumption has risen 300 per cent, since the war. “This is the important point -
Newspapers and Canadians generally agree with the Government attitude. They know that Japan -cannot buy more Canadian wheat unless she reduces her trade deficit. And nobody in this highly competitive country cares much if a few secondary industries suffer or die in the process
– That is lovely!
– I have quoted that to show what the Canadian people think of their agreement. We desire world peace, but, throughout history, until the intervention of the Communist menace, wars have been fought over trade. The same thing could happen again with us as far as Japan is concerned. We could have the opium wars in reverse. The best way to win peace is by reciprocity in trade. We should treat this agreement with a statesmanlike detachment. It is not a subject for political catchcries. National interest and ultimate survival might well be linked with a realistic approach to our international responsibilities.
With these thoughts in mind, I wish to make several constructive suggestions. Certain safeguarding clauses recognize the dangers apparent in this agreement. Every honorable senator will acknowledge that there are apparent dangers. The statistics of the Department of Labour and National Service show that an emergency exists at the present time, as anybody can see. I am speaking now of unemployment. I believe that import licences should be granted only for those articles not produced in sufficient quantity for home consumption. Import licences are issued in Australia and the orders have to go out from this country. There is a market in Australia to the value of about £50,000,000 for Japanese goods that would not interfere with our own manufacturing industries.
– What are those goods?
– One of the most important things which Japan could provide for Australia would be ships.
– What about our own shipbuilders?
– Australia is placing orders for ships overseas at the present time.
– What about our own shipyards?
– Our own shipyards are fully employed. Then there are certain non-competitive cotton textiles, bicycle parts, paper and stationery, miscellaneous light engineering products, electrical gear, china and glassware, toys and photographic equipment. In those articles there is a market of over £50,000,000. Imports of that kind would not interfere with employment in Australia. By allowing that type of import into Australia, and at the same time keeping out competitive products, we would be living up to the agreement.
I wish to move an amendment to the amendment which has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). 1 move -
Leave out all words after “ Senate “, insert: - “ requests the Government, under the terms of the Agreement, immediately to restrict Japanese imports to goods the entry of which will not cause unemployment in Australian industries “.
The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition would have the effect of destroying the trade agreement. I think we should have an agreement. There should be reciprocity of trade and a firm agreement with Japan. This further amendment will safeguard the products that are brought into this country, and ensure that their importation does not cause any unemployment in Australian factories. I do not want to see Japanese goods, particularly cotton textiles, imported in large quantities, because the textile industry is one that could be hurl very rapidly.
– The Japanese goods will have to walk backwards, because they are coming in now.
– They are not coming in under this agreement.
– Then what is the necessity for the agreement?
– The agreement is needed to provide reciprocity between the two countries. I have suggested the classes of goods that could be brought in without causing harm to our home industries. I urge the Government to ensure that unemployment does not occur in our own textile factories. It is for that reason that this amendment has been moved, and I hope the Government will support it.
Reference has been made to depressed trades, low wages and poor working conditions in industries in Japan, and mainly in the textile industry. Much has been said to-night about shirts and blouses. The Australian people should realise that we have our own depressed areas in Australia in respect of the manufacture of shirts and blouses. Sweated labour is being employed. Certain individuals are engaged cutting out these garments and sending them into the homes. The people are being fleeced, because they are paying shop prices for these garments. I commend the amendment to both the Government and the Labour Opposition. I think that it will gain the support of even an unthinking person like Senator Hendrickson.
– Is the amendment seconded?’
– I desire to second the amendment, and I reserve my right to speak later.
– I was somewhat surprised to hear the opening remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). As a former Attorney-General, he should know at least that this type of agreement does not require parliamentary approval^ it is essentially an executive act..
– Then why has the agreement come before us?
– We are giving you. the opportunity to display what I am afraid is rather- deplorable ignorance. I think it was rather unfair of the Leader of the Opposition to say that he had to take the step of initiating this debate. That was very ungracious of him because he knows that this agreement need not have been debated here at all. It was the Government that placed the item on the businesspaper. In the circumstances, it was very unfair of Senator McKenna to imply, by way of a sneer., that we did not want this matter debated. The Government has been co-operative in. the- matter.
We are not ashamed of this trade treaty. In fact, we are very proud of it, and we think that it will redound to the overall economic advantage of this country. It was very ungracious of the Leader of the Opposition to suggest that the Government tried, to stifle the debate. He knows that that is completely untrue. I think it is most important that this treaty be debated. We, as a Government, are not unmindful of the dangers that are inherent in it. It is quitetrue that £1 spent in the United Kingdom, or here in Australia, will not go as far as £1 spent on Japanese goods. We realize that.
– Why is that?
– Later, I shall quote portions of the comment that was made by my colleague, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) when he introduced this paper. We have given earnest consideration to this agreement. We are not unmindful of what has happened in the United States of America, and in Canada, where low-level imports attained ultimately rather, serious proportions. At the same time, however, we are not unmindful of what, happened here in the ‘30’s when we engaged in a trade diversion policy. We were the sufferers, not Japan. We lost very heavily through that policy, and it was Australia that had to try to re-negotiate commercial relationships.
– Tell us how that was brought about.
– I shall do so later. From the remarks that have been made by Senator Cole and the Leader of the Opposition it would appear that we are giving Japan concessions.
– So you are!
– That is not true. This is one of the difficulties we are up against. We are not giving Japan any concession at all.
– Of course you are!
– If Senator Hendrickson would talk less and listen more, he might learn something. We are removing restrictions on Japan. We are not giving any concession at all. Senator McKenna said that we are putting, Japan in a more favoured position. That, is completely untrue. Britain still enjoys its traditional preference with us. The Ottawa Agreement, as re-arranged recently by the Minister for Trade, still stands. Britain enjoys .a preferential market in .this country. That is undeniable. In earlier days, when Japanese currency was freely convertible into dollars, we had what we called a hard currency or hard import area arrangement regarding Japan. The currency we paid to Japan for what we imported from that country, although it was only a relatively very small amount - in the last year of my occupancy of the Trade and Customs portfolio it amounted to £3,000,000 or £4,000,000- was convertible into dollars. We were short of dollars. That was the only reason we had for introducing the hard currency arrangement, as far as discrimination against Japan was concerned. We are not favouring Japan by this agreement; we are removing a discrimination and letting her come into what we hope will continue to be a free world.
– Are you going to do the same with red China?
– It is not the same with red China. I ask the responsible members of the Opposition to bear this in mind: We believe that Japan is important, if not vital, to the welfare of the free world. If Japan, with her industrial potential, know-how, population, energy, and vigour, threw her weight behind the Communist world, the scales would be so over-weighted against us that it would be just too bad for the free world. If we want the free world to have the benefit of Japan’s assistance, we must make Japan viable within the free world. Therefore, we must trade with her. If no exceptional weight is put on any particular industry, and if each is prepared to take its share of responsibility, a growing community such as we are can trade with Japan, buying more from her, and making her feel that she has friends and is welcome in the free world. If we did not want her and drove her into the Communist sector, it would be very dangerous from our point of view.
Honorable senators opposite must bear in mind that when we introduced import restrictions in 1952, we did so not because we did not want to trade with other countries but because our currency was running down. We did not have the wherewithal with which to pay for the goods we wanted. We were not exporting enough to pay for what we wanted to import.
– You told the people in 1949 that you would find it.
– We are not doing badly at the moment. At that time we were not exporting enough to pay for what we required, and so we had to cut down imports. Nobody liked it. Honorable senators opposite who have taken the trouble to lead will know that Japan’s currency holdings, both in dollars and sterling, are running down. Unless she exports more, she may, in the foreseeable future, be faced with the position with which we were faced when we had to impose import restrictions. Japan is our second-best customer. If she imposes import restrictions, the whole economy of this country will be hurt, lt is very important, therefore, that we, in our own small way, make a gesture and say, “ We will buy more from you “, knowing full well that Japan will continue to buy from us. At present the trade odds in our favour are about ten to one. It is very important that we do not allow our second-best customer to run out of the currency with which she buys our goods.
– What about the closing down of our Australian industries?
– I shall come to that. It is quite true that £1 spent here, in the United Kingdom, France, or Italy, would not buy as great a quantity of goods as it would buy in Japan. Here I utter a word of caution. Nothing is more calculated to cause unemployment than the continued cry that this country will soon be flooded with cheap Japanese goods. What will every housewife in the country do? If the cry continues, “ Do not buy the product of your own Australian workmates, but wait a while till the country is flooded with cheap Japanese goods “, what will every shrewd housewife do? She will cease buying. Unfortunately, quite a number of manufacturers are creating difficulties for themselves.
Honorable senators opposite would be quite fair to point out that we have a ceiling limit, not in quantity but in value, on goods to be imported, irrespective of whether the money is spent in England, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Poland, Holland, Germany, or Japan. This country cannot be flooded with imports, because under our import control policy we have set a limit, and no more than X million pounds may be expended by importers, no matter where the goods are bought. We are not conferring any favour upon Japan; we are merely removing a disability from her. We are saying to our second-best customer, “ We shall no longer discriminate against you and forbid our people to buy from you. We are lifting the load from your shoulders. Apart from the preference which we give to the United Kingdom, you may take your place equally among the customers of Australia “. Great Britain enjoys preference in her trading relations with us. She always has done so, and I hope that she always will do so. Japan now takes her place with the rest of the world. We have removed the discrimination that we have exercised against her since the war, and I think it is high time that we did so.
– So that she may undercut Australian industries?
– There is such a thing as exchange, which is 25 per cent, in our favour. We have the Tariff Board, which protects our industries. We have had ample evidence that, under enlightened leadership, Australian technicians, artisans and tradesmen are second to none in the world. That is important to the consuming public. Apart from employers and employees, labour and management, there are such persons as consumers. There is the little lady who eventually pays across the counter and who carries the whole of the burden. In her interests, it is important that we should have injected into our economy a little competition, just to show how good we are, and how we compare with world standards, to ensure that the purchaser across the counter is not being taken unduly for a ride. Manufacturers contribute to this country over £3,000,000,000 worth of production, which is a mighty effort in a young country. To suggest that, in cold blood, we are prepared to sell those people down the drain is arrant nonsense. They are the backbone of our people. To say that because we lift restrictions on trade with Japan we are selling out our secondary industries seems quite nonsensical to me. Although most of our secondary industries are very efficient and manufacturers have a sense of social obligation, some uneconomic, industries have become established under our system of import control. Every industry is not necessarily economic. One honorable senator opposite asked, “ What is an uneconomic industry? Are there such things? “ Of course there are. It would be completely uneconomic to grow sugar cane or pineapples in a hot house at the South Pole.
– It would be difficult.
– It would be difficult, but it could be done. There are uneconomic industries, as I know from my long experience. For six years I was Minister for Trade and Customs, and I had a long association with Australian industry. There are quite a few industries which I think would be uneconomic in the sense that the material, capital and man-power that would be involved in conducting them could be much better employed in the interests of the overall economy of the country concerned.
– The Attorney-General would be able to prove his case if he were specific and mentioned particular industries.
– I leave it to the honorable senator’s imagination. He can, perhaps, think of quite a few of them.
I do not want to go in detail through the speech made by my colleague the Minister for Trade, but, for the benefit of not only those who are in the Senate but also those people who may be listening in, I mention that it was my privilege to be with John McEwen in England and Geneva. I was very proud indeed of the way he explained, expounded and fought for the claims of Australia’s secondary industries in England and Geneva. We had with us representatives of the Federated Chambers of Commerce of Australia, the Associated Chambers of Manufactures and primary industries, and I should say, not because he happens to be my colleague, but as an Australian, that we were intensely proud of the case that John McEwen put up for Australia’s secondary industries. It made a tremendous impression upon, not only the various people with whom we conferred in England, but also the General Assembly of Gatt in Geneva. I do not know of any Australian who is more alive to the importance to this country of its secondary industries, nor do I know of a better champion of Australia’s secondary industries than John McEwen. To suggest that he is, in cold blood, prepared to sell Australia’s industries down the drain is just nonsensical.
– Why does the Government not allow cheap bananas and sugar 4o come into the country? It is the same principle.
– On that particular point, although it is somewhat irrelevant, I point out that the honorable senator can get sugar delivered to him in any capital city at the price at which he can import it, free of duty, from any part of the world. 1 do not propose to go through the whole of this excellent address by my colleague Mr. McEwen, but I seriously urge honorable senators to read it. It is to be found in the “ Hansard “ report of the proceedings of the House of Representatives for 27th August. I urge all honorable senators to give it serious thought.
Tt is quite true that there are dangers inherent in this agreement. There is no doubt about that. We are quite conscious of them, but I do think that my colleague, in his negotiations for the agreement, has taken every precaution.
– On paper.
– Immediate remedy may be taken, with consultation if we wish, and without consultation if we must, but there is no risk that any worthwhile Australian industry will suffer heavily by this. We are a growing country, a growing community. As our population grows, so will our demand, and out of that increased demand I hope - I suppose the Japanese hope it, too - they will take a share, but if each of the industries affected takes a little bit on its own shoulders, the result will be to the overall advantage of the economy of the country.
I am sorry to have to repeat that it is the height of fantasy to suggest that a government with a splendid record such as ours for its interest in the fostering, development and furthering of secondary industries in this country would go out in cold blood and destroy the child which we have nurtured so well and brought up so well.
– We have just listened to a most remarkable speech. I am surprised at the effort that has been made by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator O’sullivan) in answer to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna).
– He gave me nothing to answer.
– The Leader of the Opposition carefully examined and dealt with the major chapters of the Japanese Trade Agreement. The Leader of the Government gave no answer whatsoever to the case pat up by Senator McKenna. If we are to have an answer, it will come from a later speaker.
All I can say about the amendment moved by the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labour party (Senator Cole) is that he cannot have read Article II. of the agreement. If he had done so, he would not have moved the amendment. In the circumstances, I need spend no time on his speech. I leave that to a former colleague. Having known him for many years, I realize that he must have felt extremely uncomfortable.
I propose to deal with this matter from what I hope is the viewpoint of the person in the street. The first question I ask is: “ Why was this agreement made? “ The Government must have known of the outcry that would come from owners of industries and their employees. I refer in particular to the outcry from those engaged in the textile industry. I believe the Government must have had knowledge of it, yet it persisted in being a party to this agreement. Was it the outcome of an after-dinner speech in Japan in recent months? It could have been. Was it the product of the obedience that this Government shows on quite a number of occasions to some of our overseas friends? Was it a part of the politics of the cold war? I believe that the present Government has the welfare of this country as much at heart as any one else, and I marvel to think that it could have entered into this agreement. To my mind, the agreement is the outcome of one of the three things I have mentioned.
Let us examine the Japanese trade position. Prior to World War II., 42 per cent, of Japan’s total exports went to China. By 1956, the figure had dropped to less than 5 per cent. What was the reason for that? After World War II., the United States said that she must democratize Japan. She has laid down the policy that Japan cannot trade to any extent with China, which is the natural market for Japanese goods and took 42 per cent, of them before World War II.
Everybody knows that Japan needs trade. She must export or perish. Of the entire area of 142,000 square miles of Japanese territory, only 16 per cent, could be classed as arable land. Japan’s population is 90,000,000, and the normal increase is about 1,000,000 a year. Therefore, Japan has to trade. I have never objected to Australia trading with any country, whatever its politics, provided that such trade does not affect the welfare of Australia. That is the only condition that I would impose. If Japan has to trade, I should have no objection to a trade treaty with her so long as it did not threaten Australian industries.
That leads me to another thought: We must consider our own kith and kin first. I cannot understand the Government negotiating a trade agreement such as that which is before us. I am sure it will not be understood by those who are already affected by this agreement. Certainly it will not be understood by the manufacturers who find their home markets curtailed, even to the extent of the sale that took place at Foy’s in Bourke-street, Melbourne, to-day.
What was the driving force behind this agreement if it was not one of the three I have mentioned? Under this agreement, Japan will sell to Australia goods that, generally speaking, will be the same as those that are manufactured here. The principal exports of Japan in 1956 were ships, cotton goods, iron and steel, staple fibres, fabric, clothing, fish, rayon fabrics, metal products, toys, chemical fertilizers, crockery and glassware. With few exceptions, those goods, which came from a country with a low cost structure, must have an effect on Australian industries.
I was surprised to hear one honorable senator who, even now, masquerades under the party name of Democratic Labour, say that we should build our ships in Japan. If we followed that procedure, how could this country prosper? How could it absorb the 100,000 immigrants we propose to bring in this year? What will be the effect of this agreement on the natural increase in our work force of 50,000 to 60,000 a year? I hope that argument will not find support even from the honorable senator’s colleagues, or from his wellwishers on the Government side. It is true that our exports to Great Britain are falling. There are two reasons for that decline. One is the way in which this Government allowed the
Australian cost structure to rise to unprecedented heights. Supporters of the Government said, “ We do not want controls “. They wanted an open go. They know now. as well as I do, that the cost structure is affecting the exports of Australian secondary industries and some primary industries.
– Some of them.
– Yes, so far, some of them. Possibly more will be affected in the immediate future. I am glad that I have the support of no less a person than Senator Wright.
– Take a bow!
– One at a time. I will take you on at any time just as I have done for many years.
– You have not been game to take me on for twelve months.
– That is all right. It is true that markets are declining in Great Britain. I have cited one cause. The other is the fact that Britain lost £12,000,000,000 of her overseas investments when she stood alone during World War II. This agreement shows how the Australian Government is treating Great Britain after that great effort. How valiant is this Government! How pleased it must be!
Let us examine what Great Britain and the United States of America have done in connexion with Japanese trade. It is true, as the Leader of the Opposition has said, that some quotas have been set in Great Britain. If my memory serves me correctly, they go as low as £25,000 for pottery imports. What has been done in the United States of America? The Americans are great friends of ours. I am not unmindful of what they did in our darkest years, but I am not unmindful either of the fact that certain people in the United States of America put money into Japan after World War II. just as some British persons did after World War I. They know that weakened governments are prepared to sacrifice their own people so that profits can be made. The Americans keep nineteen-twentieths of the market for home production. They say to Japan, “ You can come into this country and compete for one-twentieth of the market “. Let us compare that approach with the airy phrases that were used by the Minister for
National Development (Senator Spooner) about the safeguards contained in this agreement. He said that the Japanese Government will use its best endeavours to see that exports from Japan to Australia are conducted in such a way as to avoid serious damage to Australian industry. If any one says that they are not airy words when they are used about commerce, profits, and rapacious importers wanting to bring cheap goods into this country, I do not know what they are. Can any one place any reliance on such words?
Has not the Government before it the experience of the textile industry in 1929? Every one knows that, but for the Scullin tariff of 1930, this country would not; have had a textile industry. Let us remember that the textile industry grinds for profit the same as does every other industry, but it played a most important part in the dark years of World War II. If we say that we have not had experience of what will happen, I do not know what further experience we need.
Reference has been made to equal treatment. The Leader of the Government in the Senate said that we were giving Japan no advantage. It is true that Britain and the Commonwealth countries still have preferential treatment, but Japan is placed on the same basis as every other country. To do that is unfair, because, when it is judged by our standards, Japanese labour is slave labour. A Japanese male worker in the cotton textile industry is paid1s. 8½d. an hour, whereas his Australian counterpart is paid 7s.10d an hour. In Japan, females receive the princely sum of11½d. an hour, whereas women employed in the Australian industry receive 5s.8¼d. an hour. Figures showing the proportion of males and females employed were cited by my leader, but so that the public may understand what this Government has done I shall cite them again. Twenty per cent, of the employees of the Japanese cotton textile industry are males and 80 per cent, are females. In Australia, 47.5 per cent, of the employees are males and 52.5 per cent, are females. If we combine the two sets of figures I have given, we note that the average wage in Japan is1s. l½d.. an hour, and that in Australia it is 6s. 6½. an hour. That means that wages in Australia are six times as great as those in Japan.
We boast about our high living standards. I have never heard a supporter of the
Government say that our living standards are too high. But the Government, by concluding this agreement, is encouraging the importation of goods that are manufactured by slave labour. It is not of much use boasting about our conditions if we set out to undermine them.
Let. us examine what we are supposed togain from the agreement. There is to be no import duty on wool in Japan for three years. Who said that there would be any import duty on wool? Has the Government submitted any concrete proof that the Japanese intended to impose such a duty? I shall prove, later, that Japan could not have imposed an import duty on wool, because such an act would have affected her economic structure, particularly in relation to the textile industry. To suggest that Japan intended to impose such a duty is so much eyewash. Having heard the word “ untruth “ applied to the case that was submitted by my leader, unless more concrete proof of Japan’s intention to impose an import duty on wool’ is advanced, I shall almost be compelled to apply that word to the Government’s suggestion about the imposition of such a duty.
The Government has stated that we shall be able to sell 200,000 tons of wheat a year. That may be so. What will it mean to us? It will mean, in round figures, an income of about £5,000,000 a year. But, there is no obligation upon Japan to takeour wheat. If the. quality of our soft wheat is as good as that produced by any other country, and if the price of it is as good as, or less than, that in any other country, I believe that we will sell it; but theJapanese do not act as philanthropiststowards Australia any more than has the Government towards Australian textileworkers in signing this agreement.
I said earlier that I would prove why Japan could not impose a duty on wool. It would have added to the production cost not only of goods consumed in Japan but of those exported also. Nations do not hurt themselves if they can avoid it. Japan must at least import wool, for she uses her low cost of production to undercut other countries in every market which she can enter. The Japanese textile industry, mainly because of deficits resulting from sagging markets, is now facing a crisis. Therefore, to say that if we did not sign this treaty a duty would be imposed on our wool is nonsense. My contention is supported by the Monthly Economic Review of the Bank of Japan, in which the following appears -
Beginning about March, the weaker textile businesses and weavers have been going under, beginning with woolen fabrics, from the strain of tight credits on top of the sagging market. More recently, this trend has not only extended to the other textile lines as cotton, silk, rayon and hemp but also spread geographically. A reason for these textile business failures is undoubtedly the considerably weakened financial conditions of textile dealers as compared with prewar…..
Despite this, Government supporters tell us that the Japanese would impose a duty on our wool. I ask them at least to tell the people the truth.
I now pass to the other advantages that are said to result from the treaty. I have agreed that £5,000,000 may be earned from the sale of soft wheat - on certain conditions. We have been told about the possibility of selling 30 per cent, of our barley crop. We do that already. Japan does not buy barley from us merely because she likes us. A great many Australian wives and mothers certainly do not think so. We are told that 40 per cent, of our sugar will go to Japan, but if this is to be the case we must compete successfully with the West Indies and Fiji. If we can do so we shall be lucky, because our production conditions do not compare with those of the West Indies and Fiji.
– Japan has already bought £6,000,000 worth of our sugar.
– Yes, but I know what will happen. Within a very short time the sugar agreement will be amended and the people of this country will be putting their hands in their pockets and paying an extra halfpenny or penny a pound for sugar. Government supporters know that as well as I do. We are told that Australia will have reasonable access to Japan for the sale of beef, tallow, cattle hides and skimmed milk. We have it now - if we can produce these products and sell competitively in that market. None of this is new. If we already have the opportunity to sell these commodities which, as I have said, we can produce, there is no need for any such provision to be inserted in the treaty. As we have not hitherto been able to get a footing in the Japanese market, I believe that this part of the agreement is airy ^nonsense.
As I have said, if Japan is to produce for export she must buy wool. She must be able to buy food, for only 16 per cent, of her land is suited to agriculture. What other country can supply Japan with wool of such fine quality as Australian wool, and in such quantity? Do Government supporters think that Japan buys our wool because she likes us? She buys on the open market.
– In the past Japan has bought from the Argentine.
– I do not know where Japan bought wool during the years when we would not sell it to her. I have as much trust in the Japanese as Senator O’sullivan has in certain people whom I need not name - he will know whom I mean. It is nonsense to say that Japan buys our goods in order to help us. She does so because she is forced to do so. I think that I have refuted every suggestion to the contrary. Therefore, apart from the additional revenue, amounting to £5,000,000, which we may derive from the sale of soft wheat - if we can compete with other countries both as to quantity and price - Australia will get nothing from this treaty. For a possible gain of £5,000,000 the Government is prepared to affect adversely the textile industry in particular, to a lesser degree the toy industry - which is not as big - and the glassware and crockery industries, and is prepared to say to Britain, our best customer, “ We prefer to deal with Japan “.
– Is not Senator Kennelly worried about the glass monopoly?
– Honorable senators will learn from “ Hansard “ that Senator Hannan is a connoisseur of women’s hats, and I am just as anxious that they should not come here from Japan either. As for the glass industry, I am concerned mainly about the people who work in it. I will leave Mr. W. J. Smith to the Government. He will look after its members and others of their ilk at the right time. For the sake of £5,000,000 the Government is prepared to jeopardize these important Australian industries. It is impracticable for them, with our higher standard of living, to compete with Japan. If Government supporters were honest they would get up in this Senate and say, “We prefer dealing with Japan at slave-labour rates to employing our own people at current wage rates “. The treaty must have that effect. There are about 164 wool and textile mills in Australia. They employ 25,000 people and their annual production is worth £70,000,000.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister 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.
.- I should like to raise a matter in connexion with the import of meat to the Australian Capital Territory in the hope that the Regulations and Ordinances Committee of the Senate will consider giving some attention to it. Ordinance No. 6 of 1953 lays it down in section 7a that -
A person shall not, except as authorized under the regulations, bring meat into the Territory, or cause meat to be brought or sent into the Territory, for the purposes of sale or of a business carried on by him or by another person.
That prohibits the import of any meat to this Territory from New South Wales for consumption by the inhabitants here, except under regulations laid down by the Department of Health.
Regulation No. 5 of 1953, signed by Sir Earle Page, lays down the conditions under which meat can be brought into this Territory. They are very reasonable. The meat must be branded in a certain way, it must be brought in in a vehicle approved by the Director-General of Health and a number of right and proper health rules must be complied with. However, the objection that I have to this ordinance is that even though all those health rules are complied with, there is still a discretion in the DirectorGeneral to refuse to give a permit for the importation of meat. Section 20a lays it down that -
The Director-General may grant to a person a permit in writing authorizing him to bring meat into the Territory. . . .
I suggest to the Regulations and Ordinances Committee that it look into the matter to see whether the regulation should provide that, if all the conditions prescribed are complied with, the Director-General “ shall “ grant a permit, so that anybody complying with the health regulations will have the right to import meat into the Territory and compete with those who are at present selling meat to the inhabitants.
.- I should like to say that I appreciate Senator Gorton’s suggestion that this matter be referred to the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. It shows his regard for the committee. I assure him that this is an ordinance of which I have no knowledge at the moment, but I will be very happy to bring the matter before the committee. I suggest that he put the ordinance in the hands of the secretary of the committee and at our next meeting we will consider it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 September 1957, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1957/19570904_senate_22_s11/>.