22nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– 1 desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services the following questions: - ls it a fact that many of the migrants who arrive each year become a liability on the community within a short space of time? Are such migrants the responsibility of the Federal Government, which brought them here, or of a State government, or of neither of them? Has the attention of the Minister been directed to the case of a White Russian, named Rogalof, who was frost-bitten in Manchuria and who, shortly after his arrival in Australia some three months ago, had to suffer the amputation of both hands and several toes and is now completely destitute in Brisbane? As apparently this unfortunate migrant is not eligible to receive any social service payment, is the Director-General of Social Services empowered under the law to make an ex gratia payment or give him any other assistance?
– The honorable senator raises two questions. The first one is the migration programme, and the second one is the administration of social services. On the question of the migration programme generally, I think that there would be few Australians who did not hold the view that we have nationally achieved benefits from migration far exceeding any liabilities or disadvantages. The second point relates to the particular case of a migrant. I say to the honorable senator that it would be better for him to make representation to the Director-General of Social Services in relation to this specific case, lt is my recollection that the Director-General has some discretionary powers. It is also my recollection that whilst he is very jealous to ensure that those powers are used efficiently, he is likewise concerned to see that they are exercised sympathetically, and I think more would be gained by putting the migrant in touch personally with the department than by any other method.
– My question to the Minister for National Development relates to a statement that appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of Friday, 18th October, to the effect that United Uranium, through drilling operations at Coronation Hill, has already discovered the existence of more than 20,000 tons of payable ore, and that drilling is continuing. Will the Minister inform me whether Mr. Callinan, who discovered this important new deposit, has yet received his reward, and if he has, the amount that was paid to him?
– I have read the newspaper report, but I have not had a chance to talk with my officers about it or to grasp its full significance. 1 do not know whether this is the type of discovery which would qualify the discoverer for an award. I doubt it very much, on my recollection of the circumstances. I think that what has been discovered is an extension of a known lode. I read the report with very great interest, because allied with the proposed erection by United Uranium of its own treatment plant in that locality, this discovery is a very important step forward in uranium mining and in the development of the Northern Territory generally.
– In view of the Government’s decision to sell Newstan, Newcom and Foybrook collieries, will the Minister for National Development secure an assurance from whoever purchases these collieries that they will be kept in full production, so that unemployment on the coal-fields will not be increased?
– I see no need at all for any such assurance. The two underground mines, Newstan and Newcom, are good and efficient mines. I read recently a report of a silly sort of statement by the Premier of New South Wales that some one might buy the Newcom mine and close it. All I can say is that it would be a pretty expensive hobby for some one to go round New South Wales buying coal-mines and closing them down.
– Do not be so naive.
– It is not a question of being naive. There are hundreds of coalmines in New South Wales. There is no need for people to make statements that mines are to be purchased !f or the purpose of being .closed. The statement by .the Premier of New South Wales -was a completely foolish and reckless statement. The mines are being offered for sale publicly. That is the Commonwealth’s policy, but the Premier of New South Wales wants private negotiations with the State Electricity Commission. All I can say is that when statements -such as that which J have referred to are .made so .recklessly, the value of mines may be affected. That is all the more justification -for the Commonwealth’s policy of selling these mines -publicly.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development. By way of explanation, I should like to say that South Australians are widely interested in the ability of the catchment area in the Snowy Mountains to retain its soil sponginess and thereby release water gradually into the rivers, rather than to release it rapidly and add to flood danger. I direct the attention of the Minister to an article in this .morning’s “ Canberra Times “. (Has the Minister seen the report that Australian Labour party back-benchers in the New South Wales Parliament have obtained a promise from the State Cabinet to reconsider its decision to end snow leases of lands above 4,500 feet in the Snowy Mountains catchment area after next June? Does .this mean that these Labour party members are irresponsible enough to wish to sabotage .the hydro-electric scheme by continuing the already dangerous erosion taking place there, which is .contributed to by grazing in these high mountain areas? Since the State Labour member for Monaro insists on accusing the Snowy Mountains authority of having done irreparable damage to the catchment area, would the Minister answer that part of my question of yesterday in which I asked what the authority has done or is .doing to prevent erosion in the area?
– -J did see the .article in this morning’s paper, but I am afraid that I am not equipped to answer it .as effectively as I should. Grazing on the catchment area is a matter of substantial importance. I do not understand why ‘-there should be -a move against the cessation o’f grazing. I do not understand why Mr. Seiffert, the State member for that area, should attack the Snowy Mountains authority. That is beyond my comprehension, because the area concerned is the main part of his electorate. The Snowy Mountains authority has consistently avoided doing anything -which would cause erosion. It has consistently appropriated quite substantial funds in order to remedy damage, not that it ‘has done, but caused by those lands being made available for grazing.
– 1 preface .my question, which is directed “to the .Minister for Shipping and Transport, by saying that I understand tenders have closed for the sale of the Commonwealth’s heavy handling equipment. Can the Minister give the Senate any idea when a decision will be made as to the successful tenderer?
– -Some progress has :been made with the disposal of the assets of the Commonwealth Handling Equipment -Pool. ‘On Monday last, A released .a statement to the press regarding what had occurred. The tenders ‘that were submitted by the harbour boards at Cairns, Gladstone and Rockhampton, .and the marine boards at .’Launceston, ‘Burnie and King Island, have been accepted, and the assets of the pool held by those .agencies are now in the course of transfer to them. The ‘harbour boards at Townsville and Mackay did not submit tenders, and the authority at Devonport was interested in only some of the assets that were held at that port. Negotiations are .proceeding.
As to the remainder of the pool’s assets that are held by the big agencies at Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, and which constitute the bulk of the assets, no decision has yet been made in respect of the tenders submitted. Negotiations are continuing-
– With whom?
-^ With the top tenderers, including, I am sure the honorable senator will be interested to know, ‘the Commonwealth Handling Equipment Pool Co-operative
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, refers to allegations that pay/ments are being made by certain ‘Shipping interests to -certain maritime trade unions to permit ships to ‘be manned at less Nhan award rates, which allegations I raised in the Senate on 9th October. I ask -the Minister: First. does the Government consider that to-day’s press statement that the Australian Council of Trade Unions committee whic’h is investigating the allegations will not present its report to the A.C.T.U. executive till the last week in November accords with assurances the Government claimed to have received that the report would be available at an early date? I point out that under A.C.T.U. rules executive decisions must even then be referred to the State Trades and Labour Councils, involving further delay. Secondly, has the Government any information on press allegations, particularly those made in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ by Mr. Alan Reid, that, even while -the A.C.T.U. inquiry is in progress, maritime unions are negotiating for these payments in regard to another vessel?
– I think it would be fairer to .the Senate if I were to ask the honorable senator to place -his ‘question on the notice-paper. 1 read this .morning’s newspaper report with considerable surprise. I do not agree that the Government had any assurance from the Australian Council of Trade Unions. My recollection is that we had information that the A.C.T.U. committee would be submitting its report about a week after the time of the debate in the Senate. Therefore, 1 repeat that it was with a great deal of surprise that I read this morning’s newspaper report that the committee’s report would not toe available till the end of November. This is not a matter that comes under my immediate control. If the honorable senator places his question on the notice-paper, I shall get the Minister for Labour and National Service to furnish the correct answer.
– I ask .the Minister for National Development whether it is not a fact that the Newcom coal mine in the western district has a production capacity of 2,000 tons a day but that that production is .limited to 600 .or 700 tons a >day so that the trade may be shared with private enter prise. Is it not a fact .also that, if the Newcom mine is sold to the Electricity Commission of New South Wales, the commission will take practically the whole of the mine’s production and deprive private enterprise of its share?
– I cannot answer the hypothetical questions which the honorable senator raises. -I -do know that the Newcom mine has a large productive capacity, all of which is not being used. I know that the reason for this is that the Electricity Commission of New South Wales will not buy coal from that mine because it is too expensive. Therefore, the adoption of the honorable senator’s solution - that the Electricity Commission of New South Wales should buy the mine, and then pay for coal a materially higher price than is asked by other mines - is not likely to bring us closer to an era of cheaper power in that State.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether Mr. Ansett, on taking over Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, placed orders for additional aircraft. Can the Minister advise honorable senators of the type and number of planes ordered, the number of passengers that they will carry, their speed, and whether they will be used on the east-west route?
– Long before negotiations began for the purchase of A.N.A., Mr. Ansett publicly stated his intention of re-equipping his existing fleet with Convair 440 aircraft. I think he said that he would purchase eight of that type. There has since been a f urther announcement to the effect that he has ordered Lockheed Electra aircraft. I am not sure of the details which the honorable senator .seeks except that, from recollection, the Lockheed Electra carries 72 passengers and has a speed which ds in the vicinity of 400 miles an hour. I have no doubt that Mr. Ansett, when his re-equipment programme has been completed, will use his most recent purchases on the Western Australian run.
– Will the Minister for -Civil Aviation say whether the fares on many internal airlines are fixed by the Department of Civil Aviation? Is it a fact that the department does not permit travellers between Canberra and Melbourne to enjoy tourist seating on the new services arranged by the Ansett organization?
– I am not sure of the details of tourist services. I will obtain them from the department for the information of the honorable senator.
– I preface my question to the Minister for National Development by pointing out that in South Australia the view is held that surveys being currently made of the coastline south of Adelaide could lead to the establishment of an oil refinery in that State. Will the Minister, who is showing such a commendable interest in the development of oil refining in Australia, lend any aid he can to the establishment of a refinery in South Australia?
– I am sure that we would all be delighted to see South Australia enjoy the benefit of an oil refinery. If there is any way in which I can help South Australia attain that objective, I would be glad if the honorable senator would place me on the right track.
– I preface my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate by saying that it is a very wellknown fact that when political or economic sneezes are heard in the United States of America they become influenza in Australia. Has the Minister seen a report in to-day’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ to the effect that President Eisenhower is to conduct a campaign aimed at strengthening confidence in the domestic economy, and will ask the people to cast aside morbid pessimism about the ability of private enterprise to maintain high levels of employment, production and income? In view of the widespread recession in wholesale and retail business in Australia, and Tasmania in particular, and the difficulties being experienced in mining, timber, building and other industries, is the Minister able to give assurances that similar circumstances will not obtain in Australia?
– I have read the report referred to by the honorable senator.
I do not think it is necessary for either the Prime Minister or the Treasurer to make further statements. The economy of this country is very sound.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade take up with his colleague the desirability of issuing a statement in booklet form containing details of the structure and functions of the recently established Export Payments Insurance Corporation?
– I shall place the proposal before my colleague.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. What amount of money was owing to the Government by Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited at the time it was taken over by the Ansett organization? Has that money or any part of it been paid to the Government? Has the Government taken any steps to ensure the full repayment of money due to it by A.N.A.?
– The position at the time of the sale was that Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited owed money, not to the Government, but to the Commonwealth Bank and to another financial organization, and payment of this debt was guaranteed by the Government. The amount of the default at that time was in the vicinity of £500,000. As I have explained to the honorable senator, in answers to previous questions, there was at no time any likelihood of the Government’s taking a financial risk because the amount of the security held was adequate to cover the Government’s contingent commitment.
– In view of the fact that we are fast approaching the nuclear age, does the Leader of the Government in the Senate believe there is an acute shortage of scientists and technologists in Australia? If he does, is he prepared to approach the State Premiers with a view to ascertaining, the reason for the shortage, and then adopting measures that will rapidly overcome the difficulty?
– I should imagine that the question whether there is a shortage of technologists and scientists is a matter of relativity. I am quite sure there is a general feeling that we could do with many more of these highly trained men. Quite a number, as the honorable senator knows, are paid by and work with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and when my colleague, Mr. Casey, returns from abroad I shall take up with him the suggestion made by the honorable senator.
– Can the
Minister for National Development tell the Senate whether the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited includes a premium in the price of steel supplied to exporters under the Colombo plan? If it does, will he give details to the Senate?
– I know that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited does get a higher price for steel that is exported than it does for steel used locally. I shall find out whether there is any difference between what it does in ordinary commercial practice and what it does in transactions under the Colombo plan and let the honorable senator know.
– I preface a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Territories by saying that a report has just come to hand that ash from a volcanic disturbance on Manam Island, north-west of Madang, in the Territory of New Guinea, has destroyed some native villages. Are any special officers of the department who have a knowledge of the habits of volcanoes making any investigations there, bearing in mind the tragedy that happened in the Territory some twelve or fourteen years ago when many lives were lost through a volcanic eruption? I just want to be assured that some research is being carried out in relation to the habits of the volcano on Manam Island, so that if there is to be any likelihood of danger natives and the Europeans in the area will be given some prior notice.
– I cannot answer the honorable senator’s question offhand, but I shall obtain such information as I can from the Minister for Territories and let him know.
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 Treasurer, upon notice -
Senator- SPOONER: - The Treasurer has; supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
– Oh 1st October; Senator Robertson asked me. the following question1, without notice:: -
Is it’ a fact that, in 194S, the building of. the long-promised’ new premises for the Australian Broadcasting. Commission- in. Perth was, abandoned? Is it- also a fact that; the employees: of the Australian Broadcasting Commission there are working under intolerable conditions, which daily contravene: the Health- Act of Western- Australia? Is it’ also a fact that the Commonwealth Public Works Committee; after personal1 investigation, made the following recommendation: -
There, is an. urgent necessity for this building to relieve the present intolerable conditions, to. comply, with the agreement under, the Town. Hall. Act, and. to take, advantage of the present favorable, conditions for building. Special priority should be given to. this, urgent matter:
Will the Postmaster’General. review the whole situation’ connected, with this matter,, and do His utmost to see1 than this- long promised building! is placed high on> the- priority, list of public works?
The- Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following- information in reply to the honorable senator: -
The foundations had been, laid for the new building in Perth in 1945”, but construction of the building was postponed’ at the request of the Prime Minister, the late Mr.. Curtin, because of the shortage of houses and. building material in Western Australia at that time.
It is true that the development of the Australian Broadcasting- Commission’s- service in’, recent years has increased the congestion of the premises occupied’ in Perth and that the staff- are at present working under crowded- conditions, but the Aus tralian: Broadcasting Commission: is not. aware that it is contravening the Health Act of Western Aus-r tralia in any way.
The report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works’, made the’ recommendation referred: to hy, the honorable-senator: The- posts tion; at- the present, time is- as. the- PostmasterGeneral explained it in, his reply, to a question raised by the Honorable member for Perth in the House of Representatives on- 11th September; 1957.. No: funds- for* the: project- are required: in this financial year- because the preparation of the working . drawings and the calling of tenders will not. be completed before the end of the current financial’ year. The Department of- Works has given this matter the’ highest! priority and. it is going. ahead, with the- working- drawings as quickly as possible.. Having, regard, to the size and com?plexities of the undertaking, the progress which is being made with the work is considered- satisfactory. It is expected that construction will commence early in the next financial year provided that funds are made available. Although it is difficult to make a- Arm, commitment as. to the amount which) willi be,- made, available, for expenditure during any. future year,, it- is anticipated, that the construction of the new building will’ commence during- the- financial- year 1958-59.
– On 1st October, Senator O’Flaherty asked me, the following question:: -
Can. the Minister, do anything, to prevent the exorbitant increase from £9 15s. to £1.4 10s. of the charge per inch- for advertisements in the pink pages of the> South Australian telephone- directory; fori which blocks are supplied, by the advertisers?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply: -
The rates for advertisements in the South Australian telephone directory have remained’, unchanged since 1952. notwithstanding that- costs of printing have risen substantially, due. to - (1), The marked increase in. the circulation of the directory; (2) higher wages- and materials costs; and (3) the capital, cost of.’ the modern, and’ new machinery which has had- to be installed to cater for the increasing size and greater circulation of the. books; The existing charge of £9 1’5S. for a 1 inch advertisement averaged- ls. 4’d. per 1,000 copies when first’ applied in> 1952. Despite substantial’ increases in costs- and’ a; much larger circulation, the- charge of £-14 10s.. for a. similar advertisement,, which will apply commencing with the 1958 issue, will represent a rate’ of- only ls. 5d’. per 1,000 copies. Before adjustments tol directory, advertising rates are authorized by the Post Office the existing and likely future costs of. production, are carefully studied; The fact that the advertising contractors are obliged to meet increasing- operating- expenses is also borne in mind. Having regard to. all: aspects, including the- growing’ value of the: directory asian advertising medium, the rates for advertising space in the South Australian directory authorized for application as from 1958 are considered- reasonable:
Motion (by Senator O’sullivan) agreed to -
That Government business take precedence over general business after 8 p.m. this day.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to obtain Supply for a further month to carry on the necessary normal services of the Government, other than capital services. The Supply Act 1957-58 provided for the first four months of the financial year. The amount to be appropriated is £52,539,000 comprising -
These amounts, when aggregated with those already provided, represent five-twelfths of the respective sums contained in the Estimates 1957-58, and will enable salaries and essential administrative services to be continued at current rates of expenditure. No amounts have been included for new services.
I think the preamble to the bill is selfexplanatory. It is a precautionary measure to obtain for the Government Supply for an additional month, even though we know that later in the day the Appropriation Bill 1957-58 will come before the Senate. As I have said, the Supply Act 1957-58 provides Supply to the end of October. The measure now before the chamber will provide Supply for another month, to be available for use if need be.
– The Opposition has no objection to the bill, but we shall have something to say later on the Estimates generally. As it is necessary to approve the appropriation of this money so that the affairs of the Commonwealth may be carried on, the Opposition will do nothing to obstruct the speedy passage of the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill provides for a further appropriation of £14,164,000 to enable Commonwealth works to be continued during November. The Supply (Works and Services) Act 1957-58 provided for expenditure to the end of October. The amounts, when aggregated with those already provided, represent five-twelfths of the respective sums contained in the Capital Works and Services Estimates, 1957-58. Among the major items for which appropriation is sought are £4,025,000 for the Post Office, £1,646,000 for the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric project and £4,584,000 for expenditure on war service homes. What I had to say upon the previous bill applies with equal force to this one, which is merely a measure to provide funds for a period of one month. We shall have the pleasure of debating the matter in detail in the consideration of the Estimates later in the day.
– The Opposition raises no objection to the speedy passage of the bill. This money is necessary to carry on for the month of November a portion of the affairs of the Commonwealth.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 23rd October (vide page 748), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the following papers: -
Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure, and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, and Other Services involving Capital Expenditure, for the year ending 30th June, 1958;
The Budget 1957-58 - Papers presented by the Right Hon. Sir Arthur Fadden in connexion with the Budget of 1957-58; and
National Income and Expenditure 1956-57, be printed.
Upon which Senator Benn had moved by way of amendment -
Leave out all words after “ That “, insert “ the Estimates and Budget Papers 1957-58 tabled in the Senate should be rejected because they are an integral part of the Government’s implementation of policies detrimental in their effects on the defences and development of Australia, on the living standards and employment of the Australian people and wasteful of national revenues “.
– At this late stage of the debate, the main features of the Budget have been thoroughly discussed. They have been trenchantly criticized by the Opposition, and those criticisms have been dealt with very adequately from this side of the chamber. I should like to make some reference to remarks made by Senator Toohey. Government supporters take very strong exception to his reflections on the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and other members of the Cabinet in relation to their probity and honesty in the presentation of the Budget. He referred to leakages of the contents of the Budget, which, he said, were brought about by laxity on the part of the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) or other Ministers. He implied that information might have been given directly by members of the Cabinet to people outside before the presentation of the Budget. We say that those statements are untrue, and they do not redound to the credit of either Senator Toohey or other members of the Opposition.
I was rather surprised at the remarks made by Senator Toohey in relation to immigration. They seemed to be a contradiction of the policy of the party he represents, which introduced an immigration policy during its term of office. Although there has been a great difference of personal opinion among members of the Australian Labour party, I understand that they still adhere to the belief that it is necessary to bring in a certain number of immigrants. As the honorable senator said, the proposed intake for last year was 115,000, but this was increased, I believe, by about 6,000 because of untoward circumstances of which we already know, including the intake of Hungarian refugees. The honorable senator said that he was in favour of reducing this intake by 50,000, and I think one of his colleagues suggested a reduction of 60,000. There must be a great reversal of policy or thinking on the part of the Opposition, when statements to that effect are made. It has been the policy of this Government to continue immigration according to a settled plan which, as we know, is related to a 1 per cent. increase of population through immigration and a total increase of 2 per cent. when natural increase is taken into consideration.
The Government’s policy on immigration was stated very clearly recently by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Townley). I quote the following passage from his statement -
To begin with, most people in Australia, including our critics, are agreed that Australia must have immigration. The Government’s policy is to build the population as quickly as possible through immigration to increase Australia’s economic strength and security, consistent with the country’s absorptive capacity.
He further said -
To attain this objective, the Government has determined that the migrant intake shall comprise a balanced selection of the young, vigorous, skilled workers and their families - and a proportion of semi-skilled and unskilled for essential jobs - from all suitable sources.
So the contention that the Government’s immigration policy has not been solidly considered cannot be proved. The Government has decided on the figure of 115,000 as the maximum that the country can take having borne in mind the economics of the situation and the employment position.
Senator Toohey took strong exception also to the Japanese trade agreement. I am very much in favour of the agreement. I think it is an epic in ministerial negotiation, and I do not think it will have an adverse effect eventually on the Australian economy. It has been stated that there is unemployment in Australia already as a result of the agreement, and Senator Toohey sought to prove his contention by referring to the boot trade in Adelaide. The negotiation of the agreement could not possibly be the cause of that pocket of unemployment, because, as far as I know, no boots are being imported from Japan and there has not been one instance of boots having been imported under the new arrangement. So there must be some other reason for it.
The manufacturers themselves have contributed to the scare by advertising the fact that prices will be lower when Japanese goods are admitted. They have fired off a bit too early, and naturally retailers and consumers are saying, “ This is a situation to beware of, and we will not buy until it is clarified “. I do not believe that unemployment to the degree that was suggested by Senator Toohey does exist in Adelaide. He has not proved his contention.
One reason why I think the Japanese trade agreement will be of advantage to Australia is that we will be enabled to export our primary products to Japan. As we all know, the value of our overall exports of primary products to Japan last year was £139,000,000 and the value of our imports from Japan was only £13,000,000. It seems to be foolish of the Opposition to argue that we should not have a trade agreement with Japan but that we should conserve our trade and place it on a firm basis. That is exactly what has already been done by this Government. I do not think there will be the repercussions that have been anticipated in some quarters.
We all know that the Government is committed to a review of its import policy, and doubtless that will be done in due course. In fact, that review is being carried out slowly now. When import restrictions are lifted and our trade is open to world competition, we will have to beware of the situation. But that is no reason why we should not put our house in order now.
The manufacturers of Australia are fortunate in that they already have their factories erected, they have them in operation, they have their personnel, they have captured overseas trade, and they have got their goods on to the market. Their position has been very much consolidated during the last few years. I understand that eighteen years have passed since there has been any competition in Australian manufacturing industries. In that period, our manufacturers have probably become rather slack, and we have allowed the situation to drift to the point where we rely unduly on tariffs and on governments to promote trade. So I think that the competition that will be experienced after our import policy has been reconsidered and import restrictions have been lifted will be fairly severe. I think, too, that when the cold war has died down we will have a trade war. That is a situation of which the manufacturers should beware.
I believe that competition will not come from Japan but from Western Germany, Italy, Belgium and France. Western Germany has the know-how, and there is a great deal of unemployment in Italy. I believe that the manufacturers of Western Germany will exploit the situation.
– Did the honorable senator say that there was unemployment in Western Germany?
– No, in Italy. I think Western Germany will exploit that situation to her advantage and probably to our disadvantage. From my knowledge and from what I have been told, the prices of samples that have come from Western Germany, France and Belgium recently have been, in the main, from 25 per cent, to 50 per cent, lower than those of many samples that have been submitted from Japan and the quality has been, if anything, slightly better. As we all know, the quantity of goods that will be shipped to Australia from Japan will be more or less limited, but goods that come from Western Germany will not be limited. The Opposition is making a great mouthful of the repercussions of the import of Japanese goods, but we will not experience repercussions to anything like the degree that the Opposition anticipates. I repeat that any repercussions that we suffer will be the result of importations from the Western countries of Europe when those countries really get going.
We must also take note of the possibility of Britain entering into a new trade agreement with six of the western European nations. If Britain enters into such an agreement - I do not see how, in her own interests, she can avoid doing so - Australia will be acutely affected, particularly if those European nations are successful in having primary products brought within the scope of the agreement. Therefore, it is important that we open up fresh markets for our primary products, and the best market offering to-day is Japan. In fact, she is really the only undeveloped market for primary products, and I think we would be foolish indeed if we did not exploit that market to the fullest degree. Japan is already jettisoning rice as a staple food and, as Australian representatives found out on their recent visit, is using more wheat. The Japanese people find that our soft wheat is very suitable for making the small articles of food which they sell in the streets. In the course of time, they will no doubt be able to use much greater quantities of other Australian primary products. For instance, Japan’s butter consumption has doubled over a very short period. The demand for milk products is three or four times as great as it was, and cheese consumption is thirteen times as high as it was during a specified earlier period. Japan’s total cheese consumption is considerable. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that we preserve that market for our primary products. It is the best offering, and the Government would be most unwise not to make all possible use of it.
As honorable senators are aware, 85 per cent, of all our exports are primary products, including butter, wheat, meat and minerals, and 78 per cent, of our imports are used either for capital purposes or for the manufacture or re-manufacture of goods for export. The Government’s policy has been most conducive to the fostering of trade. It has appointed trade commissioners to exploit markets throughout the world and tell us what is most needed in particular countries.
We believe that a great future awaits OU secondary industry. I hope that production will soon be increased substantially. This would not only help the overseas position considerably, but would also make available to primary producers equipment, the use of which would result in lower costs of production. Quite a number of persons hold that view.
Honorable senators opposite are very fond of referring to the employment position. I should like to quote from a speech on the subject, in Sydney, recently, by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). He said -
The number of factories have increased from 27,000 in 1939 to 41,000 in 1950, and about 53,000 in 1956.
Honorable senators will notice that the number of factories doubled in seventeen years. The Minister said, further -
Employment in factories has increased from 625,000 persons in 1939 to 1,019,000 in 1957.
The value of production added in factories has increased from £661,000,000 in the year when the Menzies Government came to power, 1950, to £1,500,000,000 in 1956. These are dramatic figures. These figures are central to the Australian scene, which has been described as a country bursting at the seams.
The Minister went on to say that in spite of the vast growth in what are called import replacement industries, and the immense increase in export earnings and total quantity of imports, producers’ materials and capital equipment now absorb 78 per cent, of all imports, as against 70 per cent, pre-war. He also emphasizes the two main aims of the Government - security of the country, and prosperity. The Government is achieving those two objectives. The Minister also mentioned the criticism from the Opposition concerning the Government’s supposed neglect of secondary industry. He pointed out that to-day primary industry and secondary industry are correlated. A separate policy cannot be devised for each, for they are inter-dependent. Without an export policy which can be maintained over the years, there would be no such thing as secondary industry. Manufacturers should remember, the Minister said, that 78 per cent, of all our current imports were essential to their purpose, and that these were purchased by the sale of our ‘ primary produce abroad. The Minister added -
We who govern are determined to expand fast - as fast as we can - but on a sound basis, not a chancy basis.
The Minister also mentioned something that I have touched on already. He reminded manufacturing industry that for eighteen years it had felt no really effective world competition. Secondary industry has only the Australian market to supply, but our overseas competitors supply a world market. We all know how large turnover effects economies and lowers costs. The more we can produce the lower will be our costs, and the greater will be our chances of competing overseas. There is also the important factor of greater production for Australian use.
The Japanese Trade Agreement has been discussed at length. However, the Opposition, despite the facts cited by the Government, has voiced many fears about its effects. I am sure that the mistakes which honorable senators opposite have made will become more apparent as the months go by. 1 propose now to quote from “ Canberra Comments “, a publication produced by the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia. I have before me the latest issue, that of 15th October, 1957, in which the following comment appears: -
The Commercial Agreement between Australia and Japan has been approved by the Parliament and its implementation is proceeding in an orderly manner - without the disastrous results predicted in some quarters.
Despite the somewhat violent criticisms - and an intensive campaign against these trade relations - the simple facts of the Agreement emerge as reasonable and inevitable as between Australia and her second best customer country, with whom she enjoyed more than a 10 to 1 favorable balance of trade.
A great deal of the criticism levelled has undoubtedly been based on anticipation of serious damage which, up to the present, has not been confirmed by factual evidence. That there may be adverse effects on sections of Australian industry cannot be denied but the extent of this must be established to the satisfaction of an impartial authority, uninfluenced by pressure tactics of any kind whatsoever. Indeed, such tactics and unsubstantiated complaints will inevitably rebound upon those with a genuine case to present.
– What statement is that?
– It is from an official publication of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia. I would say, therefore, that the policy of this Government has been, and continued to be, in the best interests of Australia. The Government has stated quite clearly that its objectives are the security and development of Australia and the establishment of markets for Australian products. If it continues with its policy, it will achieve the objectives at which it has aimed since it came into office. I support the -Budget.
– In this general debate I desire to discuss one subject only - the Australian iron industry and its future. In September of this year, I raised the subject of Australia’s iron ore reserves, in a question directed to the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner). It so happened that about that time the Premier of Western Australia wanted to export about 1,000,000 tons of high-grade iron ore, but this Government - quite properly I believe - refused to grant a licence. In giving reasons for refusing the application, the Government, quite rightly, stated that iron ore was in short supply in Australia. In reply to the question I asked on 3rd September, the Minister said -
Australia’s iron ore reserves are comparatively limited. Iron ore is the basis of the steel industry, and the steel industry is the basis of manufacturing industry. This, in turn, is the foundation of our defence effort and the means by which we hope to improve our export position in the future.
The Minister also said -
I should have to give the matter of a reward considerable thought before agreeing to it, because the finding of a big iron ore deposit would, of itself, produce such a substantial financial reward that I do not think that any additional encouragement would be necessary.
– Does the honorable senator think that new iron ore fields can be discovered in Western Australia?
– Yes, and very large ones. I have made reference to the Minister’s answer to my question because I desire to emphasize at this stage that Australia is actually desperately short of iron ore. It has reserves of high-grade iron ore for only 35 years.
– Is that for the whole of Australia?
– For the whole of Australia. That is a very short period in terms of this nation’s expectancy of life. I make no apology for inviting the attention of the Senate and of everybody else to the critical situation we have reached in relation to our iron ore reserves.
– Who made the estimate of 35 years?
– That is the estimate accepted by all mining authorities, including the experts in the Department of National Development itself.
– Is there an alternative to that?
– If Senator Benn will allow me to develop my theme, I will answer his question. At this stage I am merely making some preliminary remarks. Our steel industry is something of which we, as Australians, should be very proud. Australia manufactures the cheapest steel in the world, and that steel is of very good quality. At the moment, the steel industry employs some 36,000 bread-winners. It is continuing to expand and it caters substantially for the steel requirements of this growing nation.
The main reason why our steel industry is so prosperous and our steel is the cheapest in the world is that we have the cheapest iron ore in the world. That is a very important factor, to which I shall refer subsequently. There are, of course, other reasons why our steel is cheap, but the cheapness of our iron ore is the biggest factor in the low production costs of our steel industry. I do not think I need emphasize the importance of this industry to Australia. I think that each of us is deeply conscious of it. I do not think I need to emphasize that the fact that we have iron ore reserves for only 35 years should cause us the very gravest concern.
In about 1992 this nation will have three alternatives open to it. By about that time we will have used up our high-grade iron ore, and will have to decide whether we shall stop producing steel, or use our lowgrade iron ore reserves. There is a third alternative, which I shall mention later. I suggest it is much better than the two others I have mentioned.
Before I deal with that third alternative, I wish to make reference to our existing reserves of high-grade iron ore. Through the courtesy of the Department of National Development I have been supplied with a summary of all our known deposits of highgrade iron ore. The document is fairly long and contains a number of interesting statistics. I wish to save the time of the Senate, so with the concurrence of honorable senators I shall incorporate the document in “ Hansard “. It is as follows: -
It will be noted that there are actually only three large high-grade iron ore reserve deposits in existence in Australia at the present moment. One is in South Australia at Iron Knob. The other two are in Western Australia, one at a place called Yampi Sound, or Koolan Island, in the Kimberleys, and the other at a place called Koolyanobbing, which is just north of the town of Southern Cross. Those are the only three deposits that are officially recognized as being large and of high grade. There are a number of high-grade deposits of the order of 1,000,000 tons or less, but they are not industrially significant, because they are too small. There are a number in New South Wales, one or two in Queensland, and very many in Western Australia, but, actually, 1 place no great importance on those small deposits, because experiments have shown that they are too small to be mined satisfactorily.
We are, therefore, faced with the situation that we have only three large deposits, which will give to our steel industry a life of some 35 years. Here, perhaps, I should mention that our production and consumption of iron ore are growing. For example, in 1937, our iron ore production was 1,800,000 tons a year. By 1956, the output had grown to approximately 4,000,000 tons a year, and although it cannot be assessed accurately, it is reasonably certain that our production will increase to about 5,500,000 tons a year by 1961 to cater for the demands of this growing nation. As I have said already, this rate gives our steel industry a life of about 35 years.
I pause there to put my first question to the Senate: Do we, then, stop producing” steel? Do we, then, send home the 50,000 workers who will then be employed in our steel industry, and commence importing steel? That, of course, is an alternative, and I merely put it because we must face up to the facts of life, if I may use that expression, in respect of our iron ore. If we do not do something else, we shall stop producing steel in or about the year 1992.
– Steel is being imported at Newcastle at the moment.
– Only for special purposes, because it has a very large proportion of nickel. I dismiss the alternative I have mentioned as being just too terrible to contemplate. I do not think any of us will accept it as a possibility; but something else must be done.
There is the second alternative that I mentioned. We could turn to our large deposits of low-grade iron ore. We have in Australia, particularly in South Australia and Western Australia, the two States where iron ore is largely found, some very big deposits of -low-grade iron ore. So that honorable senators will not be confused, I point out that in mining circles high-grade iron ore has an iron content of more than 50 per cent, iron, while low-grade ore is that having an iron content of under 50 per cent.
Again through the courtesy of the Department of National Development I have obtained a comprehensive list of the known deposits of low-grade iron ore reserves. That list shows the locality, grade and estimated reserves, in tons, of those deposits. It is a long list, and, with the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate it in “ Hansard “ under the title “ Important Iron Ore deposits, with Ore containing less than 50 per cent. Iron (low-grade) “ -
– Does that table give the percentages of iron?
– Yes. The iron content varies from 15 per cent. to 45 per cent.
– Does it give the amount of ore with an iron content of 45 per cent.?
– Yes, but content varies. I shall mention one or two for the purposes of illustration. For example, in the Middleback Range in South Australia there is a very large known deposit of lowgrade iron ore. The estimated reserve there is over 5,000,000,000 tons, and it is estimated that the grade of this deposit varies from 15 per cent. to 35 per cent. iron. In the Johnston Range, 150 miles north-west of Kalgoorlie, there is a very large deposit of low-grade iron ore. The actual tonnage is not known, but the note I have from the geologists states that there are huge quan tities of medium and low-grade ore averaging 40 per cent. iron. Again, at Mount Magnet in Western Australia, there is a known deposit of many millions of tons which assays about 36 per cent. iron.
We must ask ourselves whether our steel industry can utilize these large deposits of low-grade iron ore. In order to answer that question, we must examine the economics’ of mining and of the steel industry. Perhaps we can do that best by studying what, is happening overseas in connexion with low-grade deposits. For example, America is consuming an enormous tonnage of iron ore, and has been forced to utilize lowgrade iron ore deposits. In the State of Minnesota, low-grade deposit known as taconite is being mined. That deposit is producing some 7,000,000 tons of iron a year. It is interesting to examine that project. The mining of low-grade iron ore in America presents some formidable difficulties. For every ton of high-grade iron ore mined, the Americans are finding that they have to mine 3 tons of taconite which costs exactly three times as much to produce. The extraction of pig iron from taconite is proving most complicated and expensive.
I give this illustration because America is one of the few countries that are actually mining low-grade iron ore. First of all, taconite has to be crushed and -then fineground. The third process is one of concentration. The fourth treatment process involves the separation of the iron magnetically. Then there is a fifth process under which the substance is baked and rolled into pellets of iron ore. In all, there are the five processes, and any one who knows anything about the relatively simple processing of high-grade iron ore will appreciate that the actual cost of producing iron from low-grade iron ore is formidable. It could result in the present cost of iron being multiplied five or ten times. The answer is simple. After having exhausted our 35 years’ reserve of highgrade iron ore, do we then turn to our lowgrade iron ores? Of course we do if we can afford it. ‘
– Has the honorable senator considered that science may introduce another metal in the next 35 years?
– Science has already introduced a metal which will supplant uranium, but no scientist has ever given thought to the substitution of a metal for iron, and nobody has discovered a substitute for gold, although people have been thinking of it for about 4,000 years.
– Iron is one of the four most common elements, is it not?
– Yes. Reverting to low-grade deposits, I do not think it is necessary for me to go into the economic consequences of forcing our iron and steel industry to turn to low-grade ores. It would revolutionize the whole of our internal economic structure. We would then be producing, not the cheapest steel in the world, but the dearest. The question is: Could we afford it? Of course, we may be forced to use our low-grade iron ores, but there is a third and much better alternative to the two possibilities I have mentioned. Those two are to go out of business alto gether or to mine our low-grade ores. The better alternative is to find some more highgrade iron deposits. In that connexion, I suggest in all seriousness that we must and could do something about it now.
– Has the honorable senator considered the possibility of importing iron ore?
– Practically every nation that is producing steel is trying to import iron ore. Actually, high-grade iron is not widely found in most countries. It is to be found mainly in Asia, and the Asian people who have iron are not happy about exporting it. I believe that Korean iron is not being exported.
Reverting to the search for new deposits of high-grade iron ore, I believe we should examine what has been done in other countries in that connexion, and I invite honorable senators to consider the Canadian production of high-grade iron ore. Thirty years ago, Canada was in much the same position as Australia is to-day in relation to its iron ore of high grade. The Canadians were going around with long faces and saying that they did not have much iron ore left. As recently as 1943, total Canadian production of iron ore was about 500,000 tons a year, or about one-eighth of Australian production at the time. In 1956, Canada produced 22,000,000 tons of high-grade iron ore. It had multiplied its 1943 production 44 times in thirteen years. That was made possible because the Canadians went out and found high-grade iron ore deposits. They had no reserves of iron ore 30 years ago. Now there are 4 billion tons of known reserves of high-grade iron ore in Canada, and it is exporting iron ore valued at 80,000,000 dollars a year to the United States of America.
The Canadian Minister for Mines announced recently that it was proposed to expend in the Province of Quebec alone 1 billion dollars in capital expenditure on new mining projects, mainly iron. Australia might be expending one-thousandth of that amount on exploratory work, and we have only 35 years’ reserves. The Canadians have 200 years of known reserves in the ground. They went out and looked for iron and found it. I suggest that we, too, should search for new deposits.
– Have we not found new iron deposits in Tasmania?
– That is a small deposit amounting to only 20,000,000 tons. On present consumption, it would keep Australia going for about five years.
– I am sorry, but that is not correct.
– The estimate was made by the Department of National Development. The Minister had better argue that point with the department.
– Obviously the honorable senator has not seen a recent statement on that discovery.
– It might be said that Canada has great iron reserves and we have not got them. My point is that we do not go looking for them but the Canadians did.
– We are looking for them now:
– We are doing nothing of the sort.
– Don’t talk rot!
– Order! Senator Vincent is doing very well without any assistance from other honorable senators.
– I say that we should look for iron ore. In 30 years, the Canadians have built up their reserves to 4 billion tons. We could do the same because the geological signs indicate that we have just as much chance of finding iron ore reserves as. did the Canadians. Our country, particularly in Western Australia and South Australia, is very similar geologically to that part of Canada where mineralization is high. To prove my point, I shall give the senate two illustrations of what happened recently in Western Australia when it was known that I was concerned about the lack of iron reserves and was interested in further exploration. I received a letter from Mr. T. J. Jones, of Wiluna, who stated -
Tn the “West Australian” of 4th September there is a report of you urging the Government to search for iron ore fields. Thirty miles from the town of Wiluna there is a deposit of high grade ore of millions of tons. Last year, I had two State geologists to inspect this iron ore, and they advised me it was the best deposit they had looked at.
I then asked them to estimate the amount of ore in the few chains they were looking at. Their estimate was about 37,000,000 tons. This outcrop extends for 2i to 3 miles and is about 100 feet high from ground level. Assay result of this ore is 73 . per cent, hematite with manganese also with a trace of gold. I have also smelted samples and recovered 60 per cent, metal.
The percentage of hematite is extraordinarily high.
– Is that discovery recorded by the Western Australian Chamber of Mines?
– The chamber has just learned about it. The deposit has not been explored. I have a much more interesting illustration, which 1 shall submit to the Senate. It concerns the activities of Jock Wall, a prospector of some substance who has had wide experience in Western Australia. He was imbued with a desire to find iron. He, with other mining men, realized the critical situation in which we are placed. He equipped an expedition and proceeded to a point 60 miles north of Southern Cross.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.30 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting, I endeavoured to establish the fact that because of our serious shortage of high-grade iron ore this nation is facing a crisis, and I suggested that the best solution of the problem would be a large-scale policy of exploration for new ore bodies. I endeavoured to illustrate my argument by relating a couple of incidents that have occurred in Western Australia within recent months, including the expedition of Mr. Jock Wall. I can cut the story about him short in this way. He discovered a high-grade iron ore deposit north of the town of Southern Cross, and he duly reported his find to the State Minister for Mines, the Honorable Lionel Kelly. The Minister, quite rightly, was somewhat dubious about the extent of the deposit and required some verification. Mr. Wall thereupon invited the chief geologist of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited to come to Western Australia and have a look at the deposit himself. In due course, the B.H.P. sent Mr. I. W. Reid, an experienced geologist, to Bungalbin, where the iron ore was located. He had a look at the discovery and subsequently wrote a letter to Mr. Wall, in which he mentioned one or two things about the find. I shall read certain sections of that very interesting letter. It contains the following remarks by B.H.P.-
From the brief examination made, the main deposit is about two miles long with a maximum estimated width of about 1,200 feet and the four samples taken averaged 59/7 per cent. Fe.
That, I may say, is a very high percentage of iron -
It is not possible to assess the reserves of the deposit without considerable work being carried out, but the reserves would amount to millions of tons.
I pause again because subsequently it was established, quite authoritatively, by several independent experts that the actual deposit probably contains about 80,000,000 tons of high-grade iron ore. That is a lot of iron ore! The letter finished with this very important observation, which I shall refer to again at a later stage - lt has been noted from your previous correspondence that it was not possible to obtain mining title to the area for iron. Nevertheless we do wish to thank you for bringing the matter to our notice and also for giving us the opportunity to make a brief inspection of these particular deposits.
I invite the attention of the Senate to the very significant remark in the letter, the sentence which states that it was not possible to obtain a mining title to the iron. Mr. Wall pegged the deposit, and he applied to the State Mines Department for a mineral claim, but it was refused. He then learned something which was not generally known, but which is a fact - an important and significant fact - that the Western Australian Government has frozen all iron ore deposits both known and those yet to be found. I shall again refer to that aspect of the problem at a later stage of my remarks.
– Is the honorable senator referring to the position in South Australia?
– I have mentioned this circumstance because South Australia, also, has adopted a similar policy in regard to iron ore reserves. The policy is having a most unfortunate effect upon further exploratory work. So much for the question whether we can, if we expend the effort, find additional reserves of iron ore. I think that any reputable geologist would agree with me if I said that in Western Australia and South Australia there are probably large deposits of high-grade iron ore yet to be discovered. Even if I am wrong in saying so, with our critical situation in relation to reserves - only 35 years’ life - would there be any harm in endeavouring to find some additional iron ore?
– Have a look-see?
– Of course! I want to summarize our present attitude in relation to this particular question. It is not applicable only to iron ore; it applies, with some exceptions, to base metals generally. I think it is correct to say that in the first place we are not seeking to augment our iron ore reserves in any significant way at all. It is true that some exploration is being carried out, and it is likewise true that the Department of National Development is conducting some geophysical surveys; it has, in fact, four aeroplanes operating at the moment.
– They have discovered some at Nowa Nowa in Victoria.
– Yes, but that is only the first stage in discovering ore bodies. I am also aware that companies like the Rio Tinto Company have established exploratory sections in this country to have a look at deposits. But my point is that this is only scratching the surface. Compared with Canada’s effort over the past fifteen years, it shrinks into insignificance. The provision of 1,000,000,000 dollars in the Province of Quebec alone for iron mining makes our endeavours look somewhat small.
We are not really seeking to augment our reserves. That is point No. 1. But even worse, we are not seeking to replenish the iron ore that we are consuming from year to year. We are now consuming about 4,000,000 tons of high-grade ore in a year, and we are not discovering the equivalent’ of that consumption. So on both counts I suggest that our attitude towards the matter of iron needs a good deal of looking into. The policy is an improvident one. It is a policy of mining which was out of date before the turn of the century. No modern mining enterprise these days extracts ore at a given rate per month or per year without endeavouring to replenish its reserves by an equivalent amount. This improvident policy will end in castrophe for this nation, unless we have a look at the question and do something about it.
I come to the next aspect of this problem. The Federal Government, quite properly says, in effect, to anybody who wishes to export iron ore, “ You cannot do it, because we are short of reserves “. I respect the attitude of the Federal Government, because we are so short, but surely every one will agree with me that an embargo upon the export of ore is one of the best ways to discourage exploration. Nobody will look for iron ore if he cannot exploit his discovery. Western Australia and South Australia have placed an embargo upon the mining of iron ore. That, also, is an excellent way of preventing people from searching for new ore bodies.
We have this rather serious dilemma. On the one hand, because we are short of ore, the Federal and State governments are, in effect, preventing exploration for ore, and, on the other hand, as each year succeeds another, we are living on our fat and not replenishing our larder, as it were. Nobody can deny that prospectors will not spend a lot of money in equipping an expedition and perhaps spend some years - because prospecting is beset with failures - in looking for iron ore that they can neither export nor mine, and likewise no company will spend money for that purpose. Consequently, no real exploration for iron ore is going on, compared with what happens in some countries. Because there is no exploration, we are living on our reserves. Because our reserves are so small, we are being denied an opportunity of establishing a second steel industry here.
One is often asked why a second steel industry has not been established here, or why the existing steel industry has not been expanded to enable us to export large quantities of steel, as Australia is able to produce steel very cheaply. The answer is that no private investor will consider setting up a second steel industry in this country when only 35 years’ reserves of iron ore are in existence.
– It is all monopolized by Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited.
– A very large proportion of it has been frozen by the Western Australian Government. No private investor would think of establishing a steel industry here, nor would the B.H.P. company consider a large-scale expansion of its industry, with only 35 years’ reserves of ore in sight.
– What do you suggest is the remedy?
– I am coming to that.
– It is a long way round.
– If the honorable senator is a little patient, he will learn. We have a dilemma. I am not endeavouring to criticize either the Federal Government or the State governments. They are faced with a difficult situation and they have adopted a policy of freezing, as it were, the asset that we have, because it is so small. But I suggest that there is a policy which can overcome this difficulty. First, there has to be a consciousness on the part of all concerned - both Federal and State governments - that this is a national problem. Every State uses steel and has a vested interest in this matter of iron ore reserves. Therefore, it is a national problem. Recognition of that fact is the first ingredient of any policy. The second ingredient is a proper consciousness on the part of both the Federal Government and the State governments, as well as all other interested parties, that our present policy must be changed because it is causing a serious situation in our steel industry. Thirdly, the Commonwealth and the States should endeavour to establish a target for iron ore reserves.
This was done in Canada, and it could be done here. Canada now has 4 billion tons of iron ore reserves. Canada built up its reserves. We can do the same, but we must establish a target. The reserves must be adequate for a period longer than 35 years. The period should be twice or three times that length. I suggest, taking a figure at random, that ore reserves for 100 years must be established in this country as soon as possible. We shall be too late, if we are not careful, but it can be done. Concurrently, some action must be taken to compensate for current consumption, so that reserves will not diminish as the years go by.
– What do you mean by that?
– As soon as we dig 1 ton of ore from the ground, we should find another ton. We should keep on replenishing our iron ore reserves. In addition, this Government and the State governments concerned must be prepared, after the target has been reached, to allow private enterprise to make the profits that are available. Canada has done it, and we can do it. I know that some people will laugh at the possibility of building up reserves for 100 years. People laughed in Canada too. However, we can at least try to do it.
– What grade of ore have you in mind?
– High-grade ore, which in mining circles is regarded as ore containing at least 50 per cent, of iron.
– What is the iron content of the ore at Yampi Sound?
– It is about 59 per cent. There are various ways of carrying out the policy. We are not offering to private industry the incentives to grapple with this problem. No prospector can be expected to go out and find iron ore if it will be automatically frozen by the State authorities or cannot be exported because of a federal embargo. Whilst I agree that there is justification for the present policy, that is not the beginning and end of it. Some incentive must be offered.
There are two ways in which we can offer incentives to build up what I might call our national iron ore reserves. The first and obvious way is the very old-fashioned way which has always succeeded, particularly in this country - namely, to offer a reward for discoveries.
That is a simple, old-fashioned remedy. We realized the value of that 75 years ago, when we offered rewards for gold discoveries, both in Victoria and Western Australia. The late Patrick Hannan, the discoverer of the Kalgoorlie gold-field, was given a life pension, and he deserved it. Mr. Jock Wall, who this year discovered 80,000,000 tons of iron ore north of Southern Cross, was not only refused the right to mine it but was given by the State government nothing more than a letter of thanks, although the discovery was worth at least £80,000,000 to the nation.
– Is that the Hawke government?
– Yes. This country is not full of people who will go out gratuitously and build up iron ore reserve. They must be given a reasonable incentive. My point is that the only reasonable incentive that can be given to a man who is not allowed to mine his discovery is a reward. We have done it in the case of uranium and half a dozen other minerals over a period. I suggest, merely for the purposes of this discussion, a payment of, say, £1,000 for every 1,000,000 tons of iron ore that a person discovers over 25,000,000 tons.
– Who will pay for the improvements?
– The prospector will take the risk; he always does. He does not seek something for nothing; he is prepared to be paid on results. This is a national matter, and I am quite certain that, if this Government were prepared to offer some such reasonable incentive payment, within the space of this generation we would have discovered 100 years’ supply of high-grade iron ore deposits in this country. The prospector would find them, but he would not work for nothing. It would not cost this Government very much, because, if the prospector fails, no money is required. If a prospector like Jock Wall goes out and finds 50,000,000 tons of high-grade iron ore, surely he is entitled to some recompense.
– Where did he find it?
– At Bungalbin, north of Southern Cross.
– You are suggesting a recompense on the same principle that is applied to the discovery of uranium?
– Exactly. This problem must be looked at from a national viewpoint. I feel that each State is involved. I suggest that, therefore, the question of a reward becomes a national responsibility and is something that this Government should look at. A second very important element in my policy of offering incentive relates to taxation. It is of no use giving a man £10,000 for discovering, say, 30,000;000 tons of iron ore and then taxing him.
– Payments for the discovery of uranium are free of tax.
– Yes, and the same principle could also be applied to the mining companies. For 30 years, Canada has had what I describe as being a most rational and equitable system of taxing mining profits. We have not such a system here, and we are seriously at fault in that respect. We must permit the companies which mine base metals to obtain the benefit of a proper permanent depletion allowance so that they will know they have a chance, not only of getting their capital back, but also of getting a reasonable return for the hazardous and speculative nature of the investment.
We in this country have lost sight of the fact that mining is a speculative investment, that it is beset by a very high proportion of failures, and that no private investor will risk capital for a paltry return when he can get an assured return from buying brewery shares. The investors who have subscribed 1,000,000,000 dollars to the Quebec mining enterprise know that the Canadian taxation laws will permit them to get a reasonable return on their money. I suggest quite seriously to this Government that, until it examines the question of mining taxation, we will never reach a healthy stage in our long-term problems in relation to, not only iron ore, but also other base metals.
I conclude by saying that I would not have spoken as I have unless I was satisfied that the time was overripe for concerted action by both the Commonwealth and the State governments. I do feel that, if proper incentives were offered to explore for iron ore, we would build up our national reserves. I am quite certain that, if we do not offer proper incentives, we will continue to live on our fat until, in 35 years’ time, the Australian steel industry will have reached a very critical situation. I am quite certain that honorable senators who are listening do not wish that to happen.
– I should like to commence my speech on the Budget by congratulating the Government for having made provision to help the Australian oil industry. The relevant section in the Budget speech of the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) reads -
In order to accelerate the search for oil in Australia, the Government has decided to offer to meet portion of the cost of deep stratigraphic drilling. This assistance will be limited to not more than half the cost of each hole drilled at sites approved by the Government. These sites will be in areas not previously investigated at depth. The annual limit on the Government’s contribution will be £500,000. A sum of £300,000 for this purpose has been included in this year’s Estimates.
The oil industry is of such great significance to Australia that the Government has decided to assist the search for oil.
During the last three or four years, Western Australia Petrol and Oil Proprietary Limited has been formed in Western Australia. lt is owned by two companies - Ampol Exploration Limited, which has a 20 per cent, interest, and Caltex Oil (Australia) Proprietary Limited, a company that is registered overseas, which has an 80 per cent, interest. Seventy per cent, of the capital of Ampol Exploration Limited is owned by Ampol Petroleum Limited. The Australian interest in Western Australia Petrol and Oil Proprietary Limited has remained at 20 per cent, since the flotation of the company, but 1 have noticed that other companies that have been floated in Australia in conjunction with overseas organizations have had to relinquish a certain proportion of their interest to the overseas organizations because they have not been able to raise sufficient capital.
The search for oil in Australia has been a long one. In any country, millions of pounds are spent before oil is found in commercial quantities.
– Is Wapet still producing oil?
– No. As the honorable senator knows, Wapet struck oil at Rough Range in the first drill hole at a depth of about 3,650 feet. Oil flowed in commercial quantities, but not in sufficient quantity to warrant the establishment of a field. Having discovered oil, that company concentrated on the area by sinking an additional seven or eight holes, but they were dry. Although the company has been searching for oil for three years since then, it has not been able to find any. I believe that the company is employing some of the best geologists procurable in the world.
– Old Mother Hubbards’ cupboard was bare, but those holes are dry.
– Yes, but I think all right-thinking people in Australia hope that oil will be found some day. My reason for speaking about this subject to-day is, first, to congratulate the Government upon the steps it has taken to provide capital to help in the search for oil in Australia. Of course, there are other ways of helping the industry. I listened with interest to my colleague from Western Australia, Senator Vincent, speaking of the policies adopted in Canada in the search for oil and minerals. It is vital to the search for oil in Australia that the public should be given an incentive to subscribe the additional capital needed from time to time by the companies concerned. I have no doubt that the search for oil will continue, if necessary, for at least another five or ten years. If such incentives are not offered to the subscriber of capital, as the years go by the proportion of overseas capital invested in the industry will increase. I suggest that the Government consider re-instituting the scheme that was in operation ten or fifteen years ago, when one-third of the amount spent on application and allotment of shares and one-third of calls on shares in companies seeking oil were permitted as a deduction for income tax purposes. Such a concession would help Australian to maintain a balanced proportion of the Australian capital invested in the industry.
Wapet, which is operating in the northwest of Western Australia, has been allowed very large prospecting areas by the Western Australian Government. The company is one of standing and high repute. However, some people have suggested that oil has already been found, but no announcement has been made, because America does not want that to happen. I have inspected the holes that have been drilled and the work that is going on, and, knowing the promises that the company has given to the Western Australian Minister for Mines, I discount any suggestion of secrecy. As soon as oil is found in commercial quantities in any part of Australia, the company concerned will immediately develop the field and try to get it into production quickly. Large profits are to be made once an oil-field is established. Approximately £50,000,000 was spent before oil was found at Alberta, in Canada. About 200 miles of holes were drilled before any sign of oil appeared. The actual number ran into hundreds.
In the Sahara, 300 miles of holes were drilled before success was achieved. Honorable senators will appreciate, therefore, that oil exploration is a big job, requiring large amounts of capital, and the efforts of lionhearted men. I speak particularly of Western Australia, because 1 know most about that area. The men searching there are determined to do their best to find oil, and they will leave nothing undone that will help them towards that end. I am perturbed lest oil exploration should go on for a number of years and the interest of Australians wane while that of overseas investors remains constant or increases. It is the Government’s duty to produce an economic climate conducive to investment, and enable those who are prepared to provide risk capital for these ventures to obtain tax concessions.
The story of Wapet in Western Australia is most interesting. The company first struck oil at Rough Range and, for about 30 days, conducted a test to ascertain its extent. A further seven or eight holes were drilled all around the strike, but each was dry. The company then went to Cape Range, about 30 miles to the north, and drilled a hole 15,000 feet deep - a record for Australia. Gas was found at some levels, but the hole was quite dry. At present the company is working in the Learmonth and Cape Range areas, and is sinking a hole 7,500 feet deep in a further endeavour to find oil. I believe that this site is called Learmonth No. 1 and is situated about 7 or 8 miles from Rough Range. A suitable geological structure has been found there, and the company hopes to solve the mystery that has surrounded the first strike at Rough Range. Seismograph parties are out all along the northwest coast. The company has interested itself in the Kimberleys and has put down a hole between Broome and Derby at a place called Fraser River. This also has been unsuccessful. Drilling has taken place in the Fitzroy Basin at Grant Range, and further seismographic work is being carried out with a view to putting down two or three more holes when the wet season is over. Oil is important to Australia and I hope that when the Government next reviews the position in the industry it will grant concessions that will help the industry to thrive.
If oil was found in Australia to-morrow it would make an enormous difference to the stability of our economy. As soon as the oil-field could be put into production, and sales made, our import licensing problem would vanish overnight. Australia is spending in the vicinity of £100,000,000 a year on crude oil. If we were not importing the raw material and refining it in this country - as was the case under a Labour government, and. as we continued to do until two or three years ago - we should be spending about £200,000,000 a year on the importation of refined oil. Honorable senators can see the enormous difference that even having our own refineries makes. What a great help it would be in stabilizing our economy if we found oil in sufficient quantities even to meet our own needs. Ibelieve that, because of the Government’s Budget concessions, and the fine type of person searching for oil in Australia and the territories, oil will indeed be found. Once oil is found, Australia will be a much more prosperous nation and will be able to do away with import restrictions immediately.
Senator Vincent mentioned the importance of taxation concessions to the mining industry. He gave us a long talk on iron ore deposits in Australia and suggested that incentives be given to prospectors to encourage them to search for these deposits. He told us that Mr. Wall had found a deposit of about 80,000,000 tons of iron ore north of Southern Cross and, although that find is of great significance, Mr. Wall did not receive a reward. The Mines Department of Western Australia has thrown a blanket over iron ore deposits, and nobody can even peg a claim for an iron ore lease in Western Australia. That has been done because the Western Australian Government believes there are not sufficient iron ore deposits to supply us for more than another 30 years or so. Senator Vincent suggested that some incentive be given to prospectors to search for iron ore.
For some years now I have interested myself in the mining, industry of Australia. Since becoming a member of Parliament I have travelled in nearly all the States of the Commonwealth and have seen many of the large mines. I have talked to prospectors and mining people, who have consistently told me that the Government is not giving the right incentives to ensure maximum production by the mining industry. In Canada, terrific expansion has taken place in the mining industry during the last ten years. In 1945, mining production in
Canada was valued at 500,000,000 dollars. In 1955, ten years later, because of taxation concessions, the value of mining production increased to 1,500,000,000 dollars - three times as much as before. There are reasons for that.
– The supply of materials, for instance.
– There are reasons other than the supply of materials.
– You cannot get it if it is not there.
– You cannot do anything if you have not got the materials. If the honorable senator were to put a bore down and strike oil, he would be quite a successful miner. No one would say that the mineral wealth of Canada was greater than the mineral wealth of Australia.
– I do not think the honorable senator can say that.
– I do not believe that the mineral wealth, or the prospects of mineral wealth, in Canada are any greater than in Australia. Mining people and geologists put both countries in the same category; they think that Australia has the same possibilities as Canada. That is why at the present time large overseas companies are taking an interest in our mineral fields. We know that the Rio Tinto organization is taking a very active interest in the northwest coast of Tasmania. Large iron ore deposits have been located in that area. Those deposits found by the Bureau of Mineral Resources are of great significance. The Minister made an interesting statement on this subject on 17th October last. He said that Tasmania might have important iron ore deposits and went on to say -
Drilling tests, recommended by the Bureau of Mineral Resources following its aerial and ground magnetic surveys of the Savage River area, southwest of Waratah, Tasmania, may reveal large reserves of iron ore of commercial importance.
The Bureau carried out its aerial magnetometer survey last year at the request of the Tasmanian Department of Mines.
The follow-up ground survey, made by the Bureau this year, disclosed two large anomalies stronger in intensity than any previously found in Australia and similar to that obtained from the great magnetic deposits at Kirunavaara, Sweden. Indications were that each of these areas of highly magnetic material (magnetite) was several thousand feet long, up to 500 feet wide and many hundred feet deep.
The Bureau immediately recommended drill testing and this is now being done by Rio Tinto (Aust.) Pty. Ltd. for the Department of Mines.
I think that statement should convince honorable senators that Tasmania may have large deposits of iron ore. When Senator O’Flaherty interrupted me, I was talking about the way the Canadian Government had developed the Canadian mining industry by granting taxation concessions. The Canadian Government allows a tax-free period of three years, which gives sufficient time for a company to prove whether its venture will be a success. That concession is an incentive to companies to invest capital in small mines. They can develop those mines and earn some quick money before the tax-free period elapses. After the three-year period, the Canadian Government allows all expenses incurred in purchasing plant for development and in preproduction work to be claimed as a deduction. The whole of the cost of proving the ore body, buying the necessary equipment and placing it on the field is allowed as a deduction. In addition, the Canadian Government allows a depreciation allowance of 331 per cent. Those are three incentives given by the Canadian Government. Firstly, Canada allows freedom from taxation on income for three years. In addition, after that three years, companies are allowed to write off the total expense incurred in developing mines. Further, they are granted a depletion allowance of 33i per cent, on most minerals.
– But that cuts out after a period.
– No, it carries on for all time, except that in respect of gold production they are granted a depletion allowance of 40 per cent, or four dollars, whichever is more favorable to the producer.
On comparing the concessions granted to those engaged in mining for base metals in Canada with those granted in Australia, -we find that in Australia there is a complete write-off of the cost of installing the plant and developing the mine to the production stage. In Australia also a depletion allowance of 20 per cent, is granted on specified minerals, but those which are not specified are some of the minerals which produce the greatest wealth. Amongst them I name lead, silver and zinc. In Canada, all these metals attract a depletion allowance of 33i per cent. Both Australia and Canada, however, do grant a complete writing off of expenses incurred in installing machinery and developing mines to the production stage. The depletion allowance granted by Canada is 13i per cent, greater than that allowed in Australia. That is why the mining development that has taken place since those concessions were granted in Canada has been astronomical. It certainly has not been equalled in any other part of the world.
It may be argued that in Australia we have not got the deposits to increase our production. I have said that with the help of the Bureau of Mineral Resources, which has done a magnificent job for the mining industry and which is a great instrumentality, we have been able to locate large deposits of copper, lead and zinc. Further, huge bauxite deposits have been discovered by Consolidated Zinc Proprietary Limited, and there can be no doubt that the mineral wealth of Australia is very great indeed.
Travelling over the mineral fields of the north-west of Australia, Tasmania and Queensland, one cannot help but be struck by the number of opportunities that do exist but which, for some unknown reason, are not taken advantage of by mining companies. I am not saying for one moment that they are big enough to attract companies with large amounts of capital, but they certainly are big enough for development by syndicates and small companies. Senator Courtice knows that at Mount Isa and around Cloncurry there are large quantities of copper that could be mined by small companies if they wished to get going. I feel that if we granted our mining people the same concessions as are granted in Canada many of these deposits would be exploited because risk money would then be available to the smaller companies.
I think it was Senator Vincent who said that all mining is a risk, that people will not invest their money in mining and take the risk of losing it if the Government is not prepared to give them some incentive. They prefer to invest it in Commonwealth bonds or some other form of investment, such as breweries-
– Or hire purchase.
– Yes,. or hire purchase. They prefer to invest in Commonwealth bonds, breweries and hire purchase to taking the risk of developing mines. After all, there have been many mining failures in Australia. Some mines that looked good at the start did not turn out to be so good when they were developed, and they were closed down, lt is because of this experience that we must offer some incentive if we are to encourage people to invest their money in mining.
I fee], too, that the mines departments of the States, together with the Commonwealth Bureau of Mineral Resources, could help greatly in this way if they inspected some of the proposed mining ventures before the public was asked to subscribe. During the last four or five years, I have seen capital subscribed to companies for the development of certain mines that had no earthly chance of success. I believe that if we could evolve some system under which a report could be furnished by the Bureau of Mineral Resources or the Mines Department of the State concerned, it would help to avoid some of the terrific losses that have been incurred over the last few years by those who have speculated in certain mining companies of very little repute.
I should like to deal now with some questions that have been asked recently in the Senate in connexion with scientists and technologists. It was announced in the press on more than one occasion recently that there was a shortage of scientists and technologists in Australia. The reason given by the press for this shortage was that scientists and technologists in Australia are paid such a low wage that young people are encouraged to follow other professions and callings rather than become scientists.
– They cannot get a job here sometimes.
– That is not correct.
– It is. I can tell you of one case.
– The honorable senator may know of one case, but, by and large, what he says is not correct.
– I will give you an illustration.
– I can tell the honorable senator now that if an atomic reactor were built in Australia, twenty or more technologists would be required to run it through its trial period of operation, perhaps for the first twelve months, and they would not be obtainable in Australia.
– I will tell you of my case later.
– The honorable senator may make his speech afterwards. I propose to get on with mine now; but one case does not make the general rule. I shall hear his case afterwards. What I am saying now is what I believe to be correct.
– I agree with you.
– Write me a letter. I have been discussing this matter with some scientists and they have told me that the top scientists of Australia are paid about £3,000 a year. Recently, a newspaper reporter interviewed a scientist who said that, after spending several years at a university, he was paid between £1,400 and £1,500 a year.
– Was he a research scientist or a lecturer?
– The report simply stated that he was a scientist. This matter is very serious because we are approaching a new era - the nuclear era. We shall be developing atomic energy and other new sources of power, and it is important that we should encourage the study of science. When a young person enters a university, he must decide upon a career. He knows that he could study to be a doctor and earn up to £8,000 or £10,000 a year if he reached the top. He could become a lawyer and earn £7,000 or £8,000, or a chemist and receive an income of £5,000 or £6,000. If he decides to become a scientist, he knows that he might get £1,500 or £3,000 if he reaches the top, and so he decides against becoming a scientist.
Recently, a satellite has been launched successfully by Russia and is still encircling the world. Russia beat the gun. I believe there was an arrangement that a satellite would not be launched until the International Geophysical Year began next February.
– It began last July.
– I was informed by a scientist that it would not begin until February, but I cannot argue the point. The fact is that Russia was the first nation to launch a satellite successfully, and scientists in the United States of America are planning to release another satellite. The point is that Russia has given the education of scientists first priority over the past decade. In 1954, Russia had 72,000 scientists and technologists. The free nations of the world had 71,000 scientists among them. The reported explanation is that scientists are the aristocracy of Russia. They are paid about 25 times the Russian basic wage, or about the equivalent of £15,000 a year in Australian currency. As a result, many Russian children are looking to science and technology as a career. On a per capita basis, for every scientist we are training in Western Australia, half a dozen are being trained in Russia.
– The honorable senator would not be a “ red “, would he?
– I am opposed to the “ reds “. I am concerned about the importance of scientific training, not only for industries, but also for our protection. Recently, we have been debating defence. The training of an army might be completely useless in this modern age.
– The Government built the new St. Mary’s filling factory.
– The Government did so on the recommendation of the defence chiefs of Australia. Changes in science are constant in modern times. Inter-continental missiles can be launched from Russia and be directed accurately within 10 miles of their target. We must co-operate with the United States of America and the United Kingdom in providing scientists to meet the demands of the atomic age. We should take note of the fact that, at present, Australian scientists are paid only two and a half times the basic wage. In England, they get five or six times the equivalent of the basic wage, and they are paid a little more in the United States, but Russian scientists get 25 times the basic wage.
The development of nuclear energy will revolutionize world conditions. It will have an important effect upon the generation of power. Within the past few months, Calder Hall, an industrial atomic power station, has come into operation in England and power can be developed with nuclear reactors at a cost of .6d. or .7d. a kilowatt unit. The scientists say that we will be able to develop power with nuclear energy within the next ten years. England expects to be able to develop power at a cost of .4d. a unit within 22 years.
– Including the capital costs?
– Yes, including capital cost, depreciation and sinking fund. Think of the cost of .4d. a unit compared with the cost of production from the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme or any similar scheme now operating in Australia or likely to operate. We can expect tremendous strides in the development of atomic energy in the next ten or fifteen years. Some time ago, the authorities in the United States of America launched the submarine “ Nautilus “ which travelled around the world on atomic power. All the submarines that the United States intends to build in future will be driven by atomic energy. We are told that England is increasing the output of her power stations. The original intention was to provide 1,500,000 kilowatts of power by 1965. She stepped that up immediately to 6,000,000 kilowatts, which will be 25 per cent, of her power, and we are told that by 1975 she will derive 75 per cent, of her power .from nuclear reactors. Nations of the world are making terrific strides in atomic energy. When we look at the cost, I am sure that we in Australia will in the future - I hope the not-far-distant future - decide to establish an atomic reactor and try it out as a power plant.
– The Government needs something like that behind it.
– This would be the only government that would attempt it, of course. I refrained from mentioning it because I did not want to make a political speech. I merely wanted to emphasize that, as Australians, we shall have to take a greater interest in getting more scientists and technologists. We are told that some of these atomic power stations can be used for irrigation purposes - to extract salt from sea water and thus make more water available for irrigation. I come from Western Australia. For all practical purposes, a drought area exists between Carnarvon and the Kimberleys - a distance of 1,000 miles - but the soil is rich. It only requires water to make it highly productive. Atomic energy is a cheap form of power. I believe that within the next ten or fifteen years other countries of the world, if not Australia, will be using power developed cheaply by nuclear reactors to irrigate parched areas, in order to provide more food, which will be urgently required as the population of the world increases. I think we should immediately go into the question of encouraging more of our people to become scientists. In 1948, two scientists graduated at the University of Sydney to every doctor, but now two doctors are leaving the university to every scientist. We have a definite responsibility in this matter.
– That must be due to the effect of the Commonwealth health scheme.
– I do not know whether that is the reason, but it is open to anybody to check the veracity of my statement. If we are going to stand up to Russia in the future - bearing in mind that we have entered the nuclear age - an age of scientists and technologists - we must provide an incentive for people to adopt science as a career. We must make available sufficient money to establish an encouraging economic climate. I am quite sure that we will be able to play our part along with England and America and the other free nations of the world in providing skilled scientists to keep pace with Russia, both in the launching of satellites and the development of nuclear power.
– I was intensely interested in Senator Scott’s speech, particularly the last part of it, because he referred to a matter to which I intended to devote most of my remarks. Normally, when speaking on the motion for the printing of the Budget papers, I have always attempted to direct my remarks particularly to the financial situation that is disclosed in the Budget and the accompanying documents and to try in some way to review at least one aspect of the national economy. But when we consider that we are now discussing the national economy in almost the fifth month of the current financial year and that this debate has been proceeding, with an interruption, for probably five weeks, it seems almost to be a futility to attempt at this stage to discuss the whole national economic situation.
This is the more so because the factors which operated, particularly when the Budget was framed and the Budget papers were drawn and tabled, are already going through processes of change. For example, the disastrous drought which is laying its sinister hand over widening areas of Australia is going to have the effect of giving an air, almost of unreality, to the financial situation as disclosed in the Budget. Therefore, to attempt to discuss the Budget as if the position were the same in Australia to-day as when it was presented would be, to my mind, wasting the time of this chamber - merely addressing ourselves to what might be almost a fantasy.
Then, in addition, there are economic changes taking place in the world which may give the Government cause at this stage to review the financial situation and its financial views. I can almost imagine how the first few sentences of the Budget for next year, which even now might be in contemplation by the Government, could advert to the fact that after the Budget was presented on this occasion factors started to intervene which put the whole of the financial scene, as it was then viewed, out of plumb.
The other factor to which I want to refer occurred to me as a result of a news item that I happened to hear recently in an A.B.C. broadcast, a copy of which I procured through the good graces of the Conberra branch. This is what it says -
Financial experts whose views are published in two influential British newspapers are concerned about the present trend in world trade, which, they say, is leading to a world-wide trade slump.
Writing in the London “ Times “ and the “ Manchester Guardian “, the experts point out that over-production of commodities such as metals, rubber, wool and cocoa, with a resultant heavy fall in prices, will reduce the purchasing powers of countries largely dependent upon them. These countries include Australia, Indonesia, Malaya and Ceylon.
The financial experts say the primary-producing countries will have to cut down their purchases from Britain, because their own incomes will fall, and this will start another spiral of deflation.
Pointing to a recent decline in both farm and factory production in the United States, the writers suggest that the only way of reversing the worldwide trend would be for the American Government to cancel its defence cutbacks, and the American Federal Reserve Board to raise the price of gold.
They stress, however, that even if these measures were adopted it would take a considerable time for over-production of. commodities such as copper, lead and zinc to be balanced by a greater demand.
In view of the tragic drought situation which is developing, and which may require us to import primary commodities that formerly we grew and exported, I feel that an analysis of the Budget so long after its presentation would be made in an atmosphere of increasing unreality. For that reason, I shall depart on this occasion from what I have attempted in the past and from what should be the correct procedure on the motion for the printing of the Budget papers, that is, to advert particularly to the financial and economic situation of the nation. On this occasion, I look to issues which are perhaps even more fundamental than those disclosed in the national accounting in any year.
First of all, I point out that in a peculiar way the Australian economy is always poised on a certain razor edge of insecurity. We are an exporter of primary products. We depend on the returns from the sale of our exports to finance the importation of goods for use in secondary manufacturing. A high level of imports is necessary following a high level of exports. We are attempting all the time to build up our secondary industries and to increase the export of the products of our secondary industries.
One of the things which undoubtedly is making this difficult and jeopardizing the whole national position is something which is, at the same time, one of the glories of national achievement in Australia. It is the high standard of living of the Australian worker, owing to the high standard of wages which he enjoys. That is one of the glories of Australian achievement, yet in the peculiar and particular circumstances applying always to the Australian economy, if is one of our grave dangers.
What should we do, in those circumstances? It appears to me that what we have to do is to strive always for the maximum level of national efficiency. In other words, there must be a complete mobilization at any time, to the best possible effect, of all the resources of this country. As these financial debates go on, honorable senators, one after another, advert to some aspect of the mobilization of some body of resources in the national economy. In another place to-night, the question of the mobilization, in effect, of the credit resources of the nation will be discussed as the subject of legislation. At another time we will discuss the capital market and the mobilization of the capital resources of the country. At other times, honorable senators will make contributions on the mobilization and conservation of our water resources, the conservation of our land, the prevention of erosion, and afforestation, and all, very intelligently, will point to some part of the national resources which must be mobilized to the best advantage and with the greatest efficiency.
But what I shall deal with particularly to-day is the national failure to mobilize to the greatest extent the pool of national ability and talent. This matter was referred to in passing, and at the end of his remarks, by Senator Scott. If this nation is to maintain a high standard of living in the peculiar economic set-up which it must always endure, there must be maximum national efficiency, which can follow only from the mobilization to the greatest extent of the available national talent. What I propose to discuss in the time at my command, therefore, is the wastage of talent in Australia and how that wastage can be avoided. There is a national demand for a plan to avoid such wastage, purely from the point of view of national survival and national security. As Senator Scott said, a new challenge is posed to Australia, in common with every other free country in the Western world. It is the challenge of the obviously efficient, highly disciplined and rigid technocracy which has developed in Russia and which has just produced the Russian satellite - apparently a great achievement in the field of rocket projection and in the application of science to outer space.
I remember that, during the early days of the- dictators in Italy and Germany, when those countries had an obvious efficiency and ability to do things quickly, which must always be lacking in democracies, there was among individuals, even in this country, a feeling that perhaps dictatorships were- more efficient and, to that extent, were preferable to the ordinary system of economic and political democracy. There is a danger that, in a world in which efficiency has been raised to the masthead; efficiency will become, as it were, a drug to which people will succumb, forgetting things which are of even greater importance. As the Russians on- this occasion have achieved this tremendous advance in science, they do pose a challenge to our own way of life, but, neither because we must apply science to the maximum extent: for development nor because in the race for equality with Russia or any other country we must train scientists, do I want to see this country emerge as a technocracy, with the whole mind, interest, and attention of the people diverted to the production of scientists.
In order to achieve what I call national efficiency, I do not think that that would be necessary. It is still as important as ever it was - perhaps more important than ever to train lawyers - those people who are so often the subject of laughter and derision. It is still important to have a .professional class of independent advocates to stand up for the rights of individuals against one another and, more particularly, against the State. Just as Senator Wright - who is listening to me here - has stood always for the independence of Parliament, as the aggregation of citizens in a composite and corporate form, against the intrusion of the executive government, so I to-day make a plea for the protection of the individual rights of the citizen, whether against his fellow citizens or the all-powerful State. For that purpose it is just as necessary to-day as it ever was that we train lawyers or men of religion. It is quite as important that we train them as that we train scientists. It is still not necessary that we shall have a whole diversion of national interest and education to the training of technologists in order to achieve the degree and standard of efficiency that we require in this nation, which I think can be achieved in other ways.
I have done some minor research in this field, and I propose to give the Senate the benefit of the results of my investigations. Surveys have been made in many countries, particularly in the United States of America, on the question of what is called the wastage of talent. Surveys have, no doubt, been made in other parts of Australia, but a most interesting and significant survey has recently been made in Queensland by the Research and Guidance Branch of the Department of Public Instruction on the subject of reducing wastage among the gifted. A report was published by the branch in February of this year. The investigation set out to select what were called gifted students in a certain year, to trace their careers for five years and to draw the conclusions to which those individual case studies might lead. In
Queensland we have what we call the State Scholarship Examination, which is a graduating examination from the field of primary studies to the field of secondary studies. It is taken by boys and girls, most of whom are in the thirteen-fourteen years age group, in the subjects of English, mathematics and social studies - which includes history, geography and some civics. Those persons who made the investigation say in this report that they are satisfied that the results of that examination are a much more significant and accurate record of the intelligence of children at that age than are the psychological I.Q. tests which are generally applied, and they advance their reasons for that contention. Starting in that age group, they said, “ We will take all the students, who obtained 85 per cent, or over in that examination “. They found that there were 813 such students. Then, in 1956, they sent questionnaires to all of those students, asking them a series of questions which followed the American pattern of investigation. They received, in all, 679 replies, which gave them a fair sampling opportunity and from which the conclusions are drawn. The conclusions are extremely interesting and I know that they will be of interest to Senator Arnold who also, in the course of his speech on the Budget, adverted to this question and to the necessity to train more scientists or, at least, to mobilize the available Australian talent.
The investigations established first, that ability seems to occur very evenly and equally over all sections of the community - that it is not exclusive to the sons or daughters of those of the professional or intellectual classes, the business community, the rural community, or those in humbler positions further down the ladder. Apparently there is a wide distribution of natural ability, and this becomes evident at the examination stage to which I have referred. When the educational progress of these children for some years was followed, the results that emerged were illuminating and, to some extent, alarming. Of 200 boys and girls who sat for the scholarship examination, only 48 ultimately came through to the university standard or its equivalent. That shows there was a severe loss on the way.
– That does not mean that those 48 entered the university?
– Of 200 children who sat for the scholarship examination, 182 sat for the junior public examination, 101 for the senior public examination - a loss of 50 per cent, as at that stage - and 48 ultimately went to the university. Those figures illustrate a very severe retrogression all along the line.
– You referred to 200 who sat for the scholarship examination. Do you mean that 200 passed?
– Yes. When we look at the relation between the educational level of the gifted and their present occupation, we note that 63 out of 679 dropped out at the scholarship level, having obtained an 85 per cent. pass. They were children who would be more than richly endowed with native ability and who, if given the opportunity, obviously could have gone to the university standard. Of the remainder, 270 dropped out after sitting for the junior examination, which is the equivalent of the New South Wales intermediate examination. Of those then remaining, 181 dropped out after sitting for the senior public examination. Of the total number of 679, only 165 finally emerged to go to the university. One of the significant features was the wastage amongst those who went to the junior examination level.
The comments of the investigators are as follows: -
Tabic III supports the view that the greatest single source of wastage may be the entry of the gifted into clerical positions after the Junior Public examination. Some of the largest industrial organizations in the nation are now recruiting graduates to bc trained for executive positions and those with Junior qualifications only may find themselves debarred from promotion by lack of qualifications . . .
The male clerks are more ambitious. All with a Senior pass are studying for a university degree or an accountancy diploma. Thirty-seven of those with only a Scholarship or Junior pass are studying in their spare time. Accountancy is the principal course of study . . .
Only six of the fifty-seven boys who entered a trade have undertaken studies other than those of their apprenticeship course. One boy is studying for the technical college diploma in mechanical and electrical engineering . . .
In all, 155 of the gifted are undertaking parttime courses, some of which are non-vocational in character. Forty-two per cent, of those with Senior passes are continuing their studies, thirty per cent, of those with Junior passes, and only three per cent, of those with Scholarship only. It is apparent that part-time study is not compensating for the wastage from full-time courses.
That would apply to those children who, for one reason or another, dropped out, but who still had sufficient interest and ambition to go further. But, obviously, their parttime study does not compensate in the ultimate for the wastage that would not have occurred if they had been full-time students.
The investigators, in estimating wastage, did not regard a student as having been wasted if he fell within one of the following categories: Had completed his senior course, had undertaken a teacher training course, had entered a military service training school, or had undertaken a technical college agricultural, nursing, commercial or comparable certificate or diploma course. Of those who followed a clerical occupation, 145 were considered as being wasted to higher education. The relevant figure for those who were following trades was 47. Altogether, 239 of the total of 679 were considered as being wasted. The report of the investigators states -
The total of 239 represents more than one-third of the whole group and clearly constitutes a very considerable waste of talent.
Honorable senators, particularly those who have become increasingly solicitous of the national situation in relation to the training of technologists and scientists, must have cause for concern when they note that this position has obviously been going on for years without a serious attempt having been made to investigate or handle it at the national level. 1 shall deal with the Commonwealth scholarship scheme later in my remarks.
– Does the report give any figures showing the difference per capita between the various countries?
– No. The only reference to any other country is a reference to salaries that are available to graduates and non-graduates in the United States of America as against salaries that are payable here. Another table in the report deals with the occupations of fathers as related to the children who came under this case classification and investigation.
– Before the honorable senator leaves the other point, is any reason for the wastage set out?
– I shall come to that later. It is dealt with later in the report after various aspects of the matter have been canvassed. I refer now to the relation ‘between the educational level of the gifted children and the fathers’ occupations. None of the children of professional and semi-professional parents dropped out at the scholarship level. In that group, nineteen dropped out at the junior public examination level, fifteen at the senior public examination level, and 44 went to the university. Of children whose fathers were business owners or managers, five dropped out at the scholarship level, 49 at the junior examination level, 32 at the senior examination level, and 37 went on to the university.
Of children whose fathers were skilled tradesmen, seventeen dropped out immediately after the scholarship examination, 49 immediately after the junior examination, 30 immediately after the senior examination, and only eighteen went to the university. Of children whose fathers were in the semi-skilled, unskilled, or even poorer, group, twelve dropped out immediately after the scholarship examination, 36 after the junior examination, 24 after the senior examination, and only seven went to the university. A total of 63 dropped out at the scholarship level, 270 at the junior examination level, 181 at the senior examination level, and only 165 went on to the university.
It is obvious, therefore, that in some way the progress of a child to higher education is related to the occupation of the father. Later we will have to draw a conclusion as to whether the nexus is an economic and financial cause or is something which arises indirectly from what one might call the cultural and psychological attitude of the parents of a bright son or daughter who might want to proceed. The conclusion reached was -
Thus, although these analyses reveal a slight tendency for some sons to follow in their fathers’ occupational footsteps instead of using their ability to seek professional status and also for children of unskilled and semi-skilled workers to leave school at a relatively early age, there is also clear evidence that children from all types of homes are using the educational opportunities open to them to improve their occupational status.
In other words, the occupational status of the father, while affecting the educational progress of the child, is not a complete deterrent, and children overcome it by one means or another - by financial assistance, by bursaries given privately, or because of sacrifices made in the home.
Now we come to what is a significant part of the report, the progress of these children in relation to their parents’ income. The gifted children were asked to indicate their parents’ income for the income tax year 1953-54. This year was chosen for two reasons. The principal one was that it was the year in which the decision was to be made as to whether the gifted child should remain at school after completing the junior examination. The other reason was that this was a relatively stable year, unmarked by boom, depression or drought. The parents’ income was shown in one of four categories: Over £2,000 a year, between £1,000 and £1,999, between £500 and £999, and under £500. The groups could be classified roughly as, over £2,000, between £1,000 and £2,000, between £500 and £1,000 and under £500.
Of the talented children who came from a home where the parent received more than £2,000 a year, only one dropped out at the scholarship level, fifteen at the junior level, and eight at the senior level. Thirtysix went on to the university, making a total of 60. In the £1,000 to £2,000 group, nine dropped out at the scholarship level, 74 at the junior level, 47 at the senior, and 62 went on to the university, a total of 192. In the £500 to £1,000 bracket- a very large group - 45 dropped out at scholarship level, 133 at junior level, 96 at senior level and 52 went on to the university. That was a very high figure but, of course, there were many more parents in that income bracket. Almost half of the children whose fathers had incomes in the highest bracket went on to the university. Only one-third of those whose parents’ income was in the next lower bracket went to the university, and for the £500 to £1,000 bracket the proportion was one-sixth. All these children were all of equal talent, and had gained more than 85 per cent, in this qualifying examination, on which the investigation was based. The Research and Guidance Branch says that it does not draw firm conclusions, but that the table shows -
A slight but definite relation between parents’ income and the educational level reached. Only one-quarter of the whole group entered the university; but over one-half of those whose fathers earned more than £2,000 did so. Similarly, relatively few children of those in the highest income brackets did not complete the junior examination.
From Table XII. it is evident that the income group suffering the greatest disability is that lying between £500-£999. More of these children did not reach the junior and a smaller proportion entered the university than from any other group. This group almost certainly includes virtually all the parents in unskilled and semi-skilled occupations. It is probable that a finer analysis would show the burden to be greatest for those on or just above the basic wage.
This nation is becoming increasingly conscious of its need for technologists, and is anxious to mobilize its brains to the best advantage. Therefore, these are rather alarming conclusions. The investigation also took the form of asking the students why they left school before they reached the senior level. The replies were as follows: -
The investigators think that the last figure should be added to that against “Lack of finance “ because the desire to earn quick money may have been related to immediate financial necessity. That would make the figure 158 - out of a total of 366. Other reasons given were -
Family reasons, no nearby facilities for further education, desire for independence, illness, disappointing results.
It does appear that children whose parents are in the lower income groups are being denied higher education partly because of the inability of the parents to provide it, and partly because of their own response to necessitous circumstances. Some are not prepared to impose on their parents the responsibility of sending them further at tremendous personal and domestic sacrifice. The report reaches certain conclusions which the Government, if it so wished, could act upon at once. Of the students who claimed financial need, 29 came in the £2,000 bracket, 116 in the £1,000 to £2,000 bracket, and 273 in the lower brackets - a total of 418.
Two reasons are advanced for children not proceeding to higher education. The first is the financial means of the parents, and the other is what is described as the psychological attitude of the family. A brilliant student may appear to his teacher to be like a glint of sunlight showing through black cloud, but he may be born into an otherwise humble family which has never produced people of great talent. Through no fault of their own, they have a completely unsympathetic attitude towards higher education and are not conscious of their precious possession, or the opportunity that awaits him. The problem would have to betackled in two ways. First, immediate financial assistance would have to be given by specific allocation at the point where it was considered necessary. Secondly, money should be made available to permit an educational campaign to be carried out, not among the children but among the parents. Only in that way can some people be made to understand the improved financial status that will come to their child, given the chance for higher education. An attempt must be made to stimulate the interest of such parents or at least break down their resistance.
– But surely educationists have an obligation in that direction?
– That is quite true. I do not want it to be thought that educationists are not doing their job. Indeed, the report refers to the personal investigations that have taken place in Queensland. There have been interviews by the thousand with parents. The educationist is doing what he can. Unfortunately, there is a limit to what can be done on attenuated budgets. I have before me the estimates of expenditure for the Commonwealth Office of Education this year. Last year’s vote for the Commonwealth scholarship scheme was £1,224,000. This included an amount provided in Additional Estimates. Actual expenditure was only £1,189,727. Virtually the same sum is provided this year. The analysis to which I have referred proves conclusively that the major point of wastage is not so much at the senior level but at what in New South Wales would be called the intermediate level and at what we would call the junior public level. Far too many boys and girls do not proceed beyond that point to take the leaving certificate examination. In Queensland, the State scholarship takes a child up to the junior public examination stage, with virtually free education and an allowance, to which a means test applies. When the child reaches the junior public examination stage, the allowance possibly becomes inadequate. The child is bigger, and more money is required to clothe and feed him. His education necessarily becomes more expensive, with expenditure on sporting gear, and, in the case of a girl, on music, which she begins to take at that age. If those two years can be bridged, then, at the senior level, the Commonwealth steps in with its Commonwealth scholarship scheme. But at that stage, the damage has been done and a considerable proportion of the wastage has occurred. Therefore, as this report recommends, something will have to be done by the Commonwealth Government, either by direct and individual grants to students at the junior public examination or intermediate certificate level, or, in a general sense, by making moneys available to the States for them to allocate to individual students. Something like that will have to be done to halt the tragic wastage which is occurring among our most talented young people.
When Senator Scott, or any other senator, says that we must train scientists for this or that, I say that what we have to do, and do quickly, is to mobilize to the best advantage the tremendous quantity of talent available in Australia, not only in the field of science, but in all the other fields where contributions can be made to human progress and national development. Those fields include agriculture, economics, law and religion - the threads which go into the warp and woof of our national life and make up the complex and brilliant tapestry of a free nation in a world in which free nations are gradually being subjected to tremendous national discipline.
I think, therefore, that an obligation rests on the Commonwealth Government to do something for these students at this point in their lives. If the investigations made to date do not satisfy the Government, I suggest it should conduct its own investigation through the Commonwealth Office of Education and then set about solving the problem. Recommendations were made by a committee to the Research and Guidance Branch. First of all, the committee interviewed some of the students. The report states -
The gifted were asked to list suggestions on how more of the ablest students could be enabled to qualify for university or higher technical education. Most of the suggestions were thoughtful: many were fervent. In all, more than 900 suggestions were made; but the great majority of these related to the provision of additional financial assistance or of additional guidance and information.
Over one-half of all the suggestions dealt with financial assistance. Two hundred and twenty-five of these were general suggestions that more financial assistance should be provided; 144 suggested that additional scholarships, cadetships and fellowships should be made available or that the value of those already offered should be increased; 43 argued for living allowances - some suggested that these should be available after the Junior examination; 39 suggested that books and educational supplies should be made available free or at reduced cost; and 31 argued that education (principally at the university level) should be free or that the fees should be reduced.
That is what the students themselves had in mind. On the result of its investigation, and on the suggestions of the students, the committee made its recommendations.
At the last State election in Queensland, the Leader of the Queensland Labour party, Mr. Gair, in the course of his policy speech, adverted to the shortage of scientists and technologists in Australia. He pointed out that national talent was being wasted and he put his finger on the problem at the very spot at which it existed. He offered, I think, 300 scholarships for males and 150 for females at the intermediate level, according to their examination results, to give students an income of £2 a week for those two years. I do not know whether any scheme of that nature is in existence in any other part of Australia, but Mr. Gair proposed that that expenditure be made a charge on the Queensland budget. Mr. Gair, of course, was not re-elected as Premier of Queensland, nor was his party returned to office. 1 do not know what the new Queensland Government has in mind, but obviously a problem exists. It has been carefully, accurately and conclusively disclosed in this and similar investigations. I think investigations in America have led to conclusions of a similar character.
The solving of the problem does not present great mechanical difficulties. The students can be ascertained and identified quite easily. Avenues of distribution of -finance are available. All that is required is the will and the attention to find a solution. The Commonwealth Government has the money. The fact that nothing has been done previously is in itself a reflection on the Commonwealth Government, but it is not too late to do something now. In view of the national need for efficiency at the highest level, and in view of the race that is going ,on between the free nations and the disciplined nations for technical efficiency, perhaps for national survival, this now becomes an urgent national problem which demands the immediate attention of the National Government.
I wish to deal with only one other aspect of this subject. It is not sufficient to identify our talented students and to see that they are trained, lt is still important to see that their services and their talents are utilized. That responsibility, of course, rests upon private enterprise. Very few surveys have been made to find the extent to which private enterprise in this or other countries has taken up the challenge and is using either the new ideas or the developed talent of the nation to its own advantage and the national advantage. I was interested in a magazine called “ The New Scientist “ which was recently sent to me and, no doubt, also to other honorable senators. I was sent a specimen copy of Volume 2, No. 28. In that magazine was an article by Dr. A. C. Menzies under the heading, “ Why Are Some Firms Technically Backward? “ Dr. Menzies points out that few surveys have been made, at least in England, to find out the extent of the application of the latest scientific methods by industry. He said that no government survey had been undertaken for this purpose and went on to say -
In fact, the study of how science is applied in industry has been singularly unscientific. The amount of knowledge about the way in which industry employs scientists, how much it depends on them, and how far the presence or absence of scientists in a firm contributes to its financial success, is very small.
One or two small surveys have been undertaken in the past by the Federation of British Industries and other interested groups.
He said that the Manchester Joint Research Council, which also made a survey, published the results of its work in 1954, In 1952, the British Association at its Belfast meeting decided to undertake a much wider investigation of the problem. He then said -
A committee was set up under the chairmanship of Professor C. F. Carter, of Queen’s University, Belfast. The results of the investigation are published to-day.
Then there is a short reference to the published report. It is not very comprehensive and I think it would be worthwhile if I brought one or two comments to the notice of honorable senators. The article continues -
But even though these particular cases did not reveal any culpable failure to take up funda mental discoveries, there is obviously quite a Jot in the general contention that industry is not as progressive as it might be.
Dr. Menzies discusses particular cases investigated and goes on to say -
This is, of course, a very small number compared with the total industrial population, and is subject to the usual errors of sampling. There was, for example, a continuing tendency for stupid and unprogressive management to be underrepresented - simply because it was very difficult to obtain a usable case study from them.
Then a few minor conclusions emerge. The writer comments -
The first is the obvious one that technical progress in industry depends on a very large number of factors. It is not simply a question of employing scientists, but of having people in all branches of the firm (sales, production and general management) who are prepared to accept innovations and who will welcome a new approach.
He continues -
This brings up the consideration of the strength of our scientific man-power, and one of the main conclusions of the report is that the shortage of scientists is real, and that designers and draughtsmen are particularly scarce. It is suggested that some improvement might be got by improved use of our meagre resources, so that wastage is reduced.
Apparently even British industries are not conscious of the means by which they can discharge their responsibilities and accept the problem to the extent they can in order to solve it. I wonder whether industries in Australia are any more conscious of the problem or whether they have been asked to face up to it in any way. So I come back to what I said earlier. When we make a survey of the national Budget, of national revenue and expenditure, perhaps on this occasion we can make a survey of what one might call the pool of revenue of national talent, and of its expenditure to see that what is there is collected justly and fairly and that it is expended wisely and to the best advantage.
I do think small nations such as ours, in an economic situation such as ours, faced with great technical challenges from great nations, can maintain their positions only if, like the Swiss, they reach a tremendously high degree of technical efficiency. That will require the mobilization of all available talent in the scientific field and then, to preserve the nature of our way of life, the utilization of all available talent in all fields to the best advantage. Therefore, I urge the Commonwealth Government to look at this position and to make available a direct financial grant at the juniorintermediate level for the purposes I have described, and so avoid wastage at that point, just as it does, although perhaps not in sufficient amount, at the senior level, to avoid any wastage between that and progress to academic status at the university.
.- The Budget we are discussing is in line with the type of Budgets we have been accustomed to receive from Sir Arthur Fadden ever since he took over the important task of Commonwealth Treasurer. Each year shows better results than the previous year, and we have gone from strength to strength. The revenues for the financial year which terminated on 30th June last amounted to £1,234,443,238. That is, without doubt, a vast sum of money. A substantial surplus was shown, and good use has been made of the whole of those revenues.
In addition, the Budget reflects the current level of high prosperity in this country. Looking back over the years - and I think what 1 say will be agreed to by all who are present - we see that we have been, and are, passing through the high noonday of prosperity. None of us has ever seen anything equal to it in all his experience. The odd voice comes up here and there, of course, on the question of unemployment, but the quantum of unemployment in this country to-day, against the great work force profitably engaged in primary and secondary industries, is infinitesimal. Further, it varies from quarter to quarter in accordance with conditions of seasonal employment and all the rest of it, in the various States. This is a great period in our history. Every one of us has seen Australia progressing by leaps and bounds during the past few years, and that progress is reflected in this stable Budget which the Treasurer of the Commonwealth has submitted to us.
One of the great features is that we have been able to relax somewhat the import restrictions, while adding £200,000,000 to our overseas reserves. That is very important for the security and safety of Australia’s relations with the rest of the world. To-day, all industry in this country is at a high pitch of activity. These are things to be thankful for, but, no matter how good things look, a nigger is always cropping up in the woodpile. The economy of the country is menaced to some extent by the drought conditions which prevail in perhaps the greater part of the Australian mainland. I never believe, however, in shaking hands with the devil until I am really face to face with him, and I am not saying that we shall have any disastrously bad results because of this drought in the current financial year. That is in the lap of the gods - something we have to meet from day to day. But if great rains do occur over most of Australia within the next few weeks, they will certainly have a tremendous influence in improving the finances of the country, assisting in the stability of our business undertakings and maintaining employment on the present high scale. So, I do not propose to be gloomy about the immediate prospects on account of drought, but I do think the Government should do all it can to relieve the position of those who are caught up in the effects of the drought in many parts of Australia to-day.
I think that our farmers, those of Queensland in particular, need some help. Dairy-farmers, and small farm operators are really having a very bad time there. Mr. Nicklin, the Premier of Queensland, has applied to the Commonwealth Government for some financial assistance for farmers who find themselves in this unhappy plight. In many districts, a number of which usually are high rainfall areas, thousands of beef and dairy cattle have died, and losses will continue while this drought period remains. So it is right and proper that out of the bounty of the prosperity which we are enjoying to-day substantial help should be given to the dairyfarmers, the struggling small crops farmers and some wheat-farmers who are battling hard to-day. Indeed, many of our graziers, people who have been receiving high incomes but who have to meet heavy outgoings also, are feeling the strain at the present time. They are paying high prices for maize to feed their sheep, and for bran, wheaten chaff, crushed oats and other fodder to maintain their flocks, herds and working horses. But if -we have really good rains many of those worries will be blotted out rapidly.
Over the past few years, we have heard much about inflation. We are hearing a good deal about it to-day. Without doubt, inflation has been the greatest bugbear of these highly prosperous years, and is still a bugbear in many respects in the big manufacturing cities of Sydney, Melbourne, to some extent Brisbane and, I suppose, Adelaide. But in many parts of Australia to-day it is not inflation that we have to worry about; it is the actual existence of deflated conditions which is causing the people who produce the wealth of th country to feel the strain. So I want to hammer home for the thoughtful consideration of honorable senators the point that there is a very thin line indeed between what we call inflation and what is known as deflation. We have been struggling to put up obstacles against the rapid rise of inflationary pressures over the past few years, and undoubtedly the Government has slowed down the upward movement of inflation, but we must not forget that it is not easy to stop the downward trend of deflation once it begins.
In arranging the finances of Australia for the current financial year, it is as well that we should look at our credit controls and all the factors that will help to give relief to those who are really suffering from the effects of deflation and who will find difficulty unless they are helped to meet their banking and trading commitments. I shall not go further than that at this point, but I hope that the Treasurer and the Government will keep that matter in mind.
Wool, which has been the predominant factor in our prosperity in recent years, has shown a distinct weakness. That is said to be due to the currency changes in France and the rise in the bank interest rate in Great Britain. I am not able to determine the truth of that supposition to my own satisfaction but, whatever the causes, the market for wool has shown a weakening tendency. In the past week there has been a rise in prices of 2i per cent., but we must remember that the increase was on a level of values much lower than the level at the opening of the wool season.
We must be on our guard, therefore, to ensure that costs do not destroy those elements in the community which, by their industry, have been providing the large sums of money that have given us the accumulated reserves to which the Treasurer has referred in the Budget. Those reserves have helped the economy substantially.
I wish to refer now to the valuable work that has been done by the honorable mem ber for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) as chairman of the committee which was appointed jointly by the Liberal party and the Australian Country party to inquire into standard railway gauges for Australia. The committee set out to ascertain whether it would be possible, economically, to link all the capital cities of the mainland of Australia with a railway gauge of 4 feet &i inches, which is the world standard. I was privileged to be a member of the committee and we visited all the capital cities on the mainland, and Broken Hill, Townsville and Mount Isa. Evidence was taken and many persons were interviewed. The committee made recommendations in favour of linking the capital cities with a standard gauge railway. This could mean much to Australia in reducing transport costs and assisting the free passage of men and materials in time of war.
The first work in this great scheme has been approved by the Commonwealth Government. It concerns the line between Wodonga and Melbourne. I am pleased with this decision. When the work is completed, it will be possible to transport goods from Melbourne through Sydney to South Brisbane on one railway gauge. That will eliminate the huge intermediate costs of marshalling yards and transhipment of goods and other factors which have increased costs to consumers. I hope that, before long, work will be started on standardizing the railway gauge on the vital link between Broken Hill near the border of New South Wales and South Australia, and Port Pirie. We shall then have a uniform gauge from South Brisbane through Sydney and Broken Hill to Port Pirie and on to Kalgoorlie. We should then proceed to take the uniform gauge on to Perth and Fremantle, and I hope that arrangements will be made between the Commonwealth Government and the Premier of South Australia to connect the lines with Adelaide.
These are big projects, and every good Australian will be pleased to know that the work has been undertaken. It must be done by degrees. Nobody knows how necessary the uniform railway gauge might become in the unsettled international conditions of modern times.
I direct my attention now to the pearl shell fishing industry. Thursday Island is the home of the pearl shell industry in
Queensland waters. It has been a lovelyold island, colourful and richly productive. The mother-of-pearl industry was very important before World War II. Thursday Island was then a relatively busy and prosperous place but the war intervened. Many of the Japanese who were responsible for training the Torres Strait islanders and who were excellent divers themselves, left the island. Since the war ended, the Thursday Island pearl shell industry has been in the doldrums. Trade and commerce on the island declined gradually until many of the pearl shell operators were prepared to abandon Thursday Island unless they could getcompetent Asian divers to bring up the rich mother-of-pearl shell from the deeper beds.
The Torres Strait islander is a- good fellow, but the natives have been ill-trained since the war and they are not prepared to go down to depths much greater than 10 or 12 fathoms. Some will go down to 16 fathoms or 17 fathoms, and I heard of one who would go to 25 fathoms, but he is the exception rather than the rule. All around Thursday Island, there is great wealth to be won from the deep level beds of motherofpearl running from 25 to 45 fathoms. The Asian diver has always been prepared to go down to those levels in search of valuable shell. It simply means that the pearl-shell operators and all on Thursday Island who are dependent upon them, have been suffering frustrations because the trade of the island was declining and the men who were competent to get the rich shell off the beds - dollar-earning shell - were not allowed in. The Queensland Government that was led by Mr. Gair - and previous Labour governments, too, refused to grant permission for the admission of these Asian divers. Of course, they said these beds of shell should be reserved for the Torres Strait islanders. But what is the sense of saying that, when the Torres Strait islander is not prepared to go down to the level where the rich beds of shell exist?
I had the privilege of introducing several deputations from ‘ Thursday Island to Mr. Gair, when he was Premier of Queensland, and also to the Commonwealth Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) and the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), in an effort to try to get some arrangement between the Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government whereby we could overcome this problem, but all efforts faded out. We reached a point where the main operators up there intended to pull out, to abandon the industry altogether and sell their luggers because they could not make their activities pay. If they had done so, it would have been a disastrous blow to the economy of Thursday Island. However, providentially, there was a change of government in Queensland. I subsequently had the privilege to lead another deputation of shell operators to Mr. Nicklin, the new Premier, and Dr. Noble, the Minister for Home Affairs in the Queensland Government, to whom the pearl-shellers stated their case. They received a very sympathetic hearing from Mr. Nicklin, who put their case before his government and it agreed finally to the admission of 200 shell divers. Mr. Nicklin then applied to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) for landing permits to allow 200 Asians to come in to Thursday Island for this specific purpose. So it has come to pass that the Commonwealth Government has complied with Mr. Nicklin’s request, and approval has now been given for the admission of 200 Ryukuans from the island of Okinawa.
– Are they Japanese?
– Okinawa Island was under Japanese domination in pre-war days, but it is now under American direction, and the Okinawan, I would say, is a native of the island. Perhaps there was some inter-marriage with the Japanese who had a suzerainty over the island for years. There is a Fisheries Board at Okinawa, and there are competent and efficient shell divers there, who are available.
– Does Senator Scott know that?
– I should think he is well-informed on that point. However, the position is that these 200 Ryukuans will now be allowed to enter Thursday Island to help this industry which, as I have said, is in need of help very badly indeed. I should like to express my gratitude to the Commonwealth Government for the help it has given in agreeing to the admission of the Ryukuans for this specific purpose. A great deal of satisfaction exists amongst all the residents of Thursday Island because of these joint government decisions, and the people up there who have been struggling to maintain themselves in a buoyant trading position ever since the war now look forward with high hopes to better days and something approaching the old-time prosperity of Thursday Island.
I should like now to say a few words on a matter of interest to me personally and, I am sure, to all other honorable senators. I have been in touch with the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall) about the desirability of erecting in this national capital a memorial to Captain Cook. I should like to have the interest of my good friend and colleague, Senator McCallum, who was the chairman of the Senate Select Committee which dealt with the problems of the rapidly growing city of Canberra some time back, and also of his colleagues on that committee on a matter of this kind. I think the Senate will agree with me that the time has now arrived when we should give very serious consideration to the erection in Canberra of a monument to the memory of the great British navigator who discovered the east coast of Australia and planted the British flag here. It should be a worthy memorial to that great man who, in a frail vessel, sailed right round the world and took possession of this great island continent on behalf of the British people. There is, I think, a very fine monument to Captain Cook in Sydney, and there could be memorials in other States of which I am not aware. It might surprise many honorable senators to know that a very lovely memorial was erected to the memory of Captain Cook in the far north Queensland township of Cooktown, right on the banks of the Endeavour River, 300 or 400 yards away from where he moored the little vessel “ Endeavour “ for repairs. This monument is really a lovely thing. I have a snapshot of it which I would like any honorable senators who are interested to see afterwards. This monument at Cooktown is 60 feet high. It is constructed of cement and granite, and it bears the following inscription: -
Captain Cook who landed here June 17th 1770 Post Cineres Gloria Venit
Foundation stone laid by James Savage September 1st 1887
Erected by Hobbs & Carter, Builders, South Brisbane
– B M 13
I do not know the significance of the last letters; I have merely quoted the inscription in full. The snapshot of the memorial to
Captain Cook at Cooktown will enable honorable senators who have a look at it to have some appreciation of the public spirit which animated the citizens of Cooktown 70 years ago. The foundation stone was laid, as the inscription shows, by Mr. James Savage who, I believe, was the mayor of Cooktown at the time. A relatively small community erected this splendid monument way back in the ‘eighties of last century in recognition of Captain Cook’s great voyages of discovery which were to assume added importance as time went on. If the people of Cooktown could do this way back in the ‘eighties, how much more can the Commonwealth Parliament do to commemorate the work of this great navigator? We should erect in Canberra a memorial worthy of the whole of the Australian nation.
It is just a little over 187 years since Captain Cook beached his little vessel on the bank of the river where the fine memorial stands to-day at Cooktown. In the intervening years, a new and great nation of the southern seas has risen up which some day we all hope will have a greater population and be a power for good in the world at least equal to the country from which Captain Cook commenced his voyage.
In 1887, the people of Cooktown saw fit to inscribe on the monument to Captain Cook the Latin phrase “ post cineres gloria venit “ which I think - my Latin is not the best - means “ after death comes glory “. In other words, the inscription means that great and valorous deeds are seldom recognized until after death. That is a very fine inscription, and it is a high tribute to the people who erected this splendid monument in 1887. At this time of high prosperityin our own country, I think it is appropriate to suggest to the Parliament that money be provided for the erection at Canberra of a really beautiful monument to the memory of Captain Cook.
Captain Cook, was born at Marton, Yorkshire, in 1728. Later, his parents moved to Great Ayton, and lived in a house which was taken down, stone by stone, and transported to Australia. It stands to-day, as everybody knows, in the Public Gardens in Melbourne and is one of our most cherished relics. As I have already indicated,
Captain Cook sailed up the eastern coast of Australia from Botany Bay to the tip of Cape York Peninsula in 1770. After beaching his frail vessel “ Endeavour “ for repairs near where Cooktown now is, he went further up the coast until he reached a group of islands which he named York Isles. These islands are near the northern tip of Cape York Peninsula and one of them is known to-day as Possession Island. On this island he formally took possession of the eastern part of Australia, and I quote for the benefit of honorable senators his own words in recording this tremendously important event, and upon quitting the land that he called “ New Holland “ but is Australia to-day -
Having satisfied myself of tHe great probability of a passage, through which I intend going with the ship, and therefore may land no more upon this eastern coast of New Holland, and on the western side I can make no new discovery, the honour of which belongs to the Dutch navigators, but the eastern coast, from the latitude of 38” S., down to this place (Endeavour Straits), I am confident was never seen or visited by any European before us;, and notwithstanding I had, in the name of His Majesty, taken possession of several places upon this coast, I now once more hoisted English colours, and in the name of His Majesty King George the Third, took possession of the whole eastern coast, from the above latitude down to this place, by the name of New South Wales, together with all the bays, harbours, rivers and islands situate upon the said coast, upon which we fired three volleys of small arms, which were answered by the like number from the ship.
That is an extract from Captain Cook’s journal, which is in the records of the Admiralty at Whitehall.
– I take it that you will connect this with the Budget.
– The honorable gentleman is just a little too smart, because the debate on the Estimates and Budget papers is wide open, and anything which calls for the expenditure of public funds is relevant to a consideration of the Budget. I ask for the expenditure of public funds for this splendid purpose, with the good grace of the Commonwealth Government.
– You know that you cannot increase the expenditure provided for by the Budget.
– I do not intend to propose any resolution to that effect. I propose to suggest that this action be taken, if not now, at least at the right time.
I have this to say also on the Budget That was how it happened that Captain Cook took possession of Australia in the name of the ruling monarch of England, King George III., on 23rd August, 1770. Captain Cook began his historic voyages in 1768 and was killed at the age of 51 in an affray with natives of the Sandwich Islands in 1779. There is a very fine portrait in oils of the death of Captain Cook in the Sandwich Islands, which is hung in the basement of Parliament House. I have often studied it and reflected upon the stupidity of the circumstances which terminated the life of such a distinguished man. In support of my case, I say that, by right of supreme achievement, Captain James Cook must rank as the greatest navigator in the world’s history. Indeed, he does rank as one of the greatest of Englishmen. He was a resolute man whose strong character and high courage ensured the success of his three great voyages through unknown seas and gave the British race this priceless’ heritage of Australia.
There is one little anti-climax that I want to introduce before I conclude. As all the world knows, Captain Arthur Phillip landed on 18th January, 1788, at Botany Bay and sailed into Sydney Cove on 26th January, 1788. On 7th February of that year, the flag was hoisted with ceremony, and D. Collins, the Judge-Advocate, read the royal commission constituting Captain Arthur Phillip as Captain General and Governor-in-Chief in and over the territory of New South Wales. Because of this historical event, 26th January is now officially recognized as Australia Day, but I hold that that day should be more appropriately celebrated as a special day of honour for the State of New South Wales. Australia’s national day, in my judgment, should be the anniversary of the day when Captain Cook and his officers and men, a very brave company indeed, stood on that little islet, which is now called Possession Island, near the tip of Cape York Peninsula, where Cook made his proclamation of possession on 23rd August, 1770. That ceremony was the real commencement of British history in Australia and, in my judgment, should have priority of honour in the chronicles of Australia’s historical events, over and above the appointment of Captain Arthur Phillip as Captain General and Governor-in-Chief of New South Wales. If Cook had not discovered and taken possession of the east coast of Australia, the ceremonies at Sydney Cove on 26th January, 1788, would never have eventuated, and the whole course of history might havebeen supremely different. For me, Mr. President, Australia Day is Cook’s day, 23rd August in each year, the anniversary of his historic proclamation in 1770.
The question of the erection in Canberra of a worthy monument to perpetuate the deeds and memory of Captain James Cook is one which I have discussed with the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who is not only sympathetic to the suggestion but extremely keen. He referred me to the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall), who, like the Prime Minister, is very strongly in favour of this project. Mr. Fairhall wrote to me as follows: -
Thank you very much for your proposal to commemorate Captain Cook’s exploration of our coast. I think it is an excellent idea.
I am currently considering the question of works of art for Canberra and ‘hope that much can be done to celebrate events of national importance. We can by such means increase our awareness of being part of the Australian nation and develop a greater pride in its achievements.
I will give careful thought to the best method of carrying out your proposal.
I raise the matter in the Senate to solicit the support and goodwill of every honorable senator, the people of Canberra, and the people of Australia generally.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Benn’s amendment) be left out.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 5.15 to 8 p.m.
Bill received from the House of ‘Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Declaration of Urgency.
– I declare that the Appropriation Bill 1957-58 is an urgent bill.
Question put -
Thatthe bill be considered an urgent bill.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Allotment of Time.
– I move -
That the time allotted for the consideration of the bill be as follows: -
That, in Committee of the Whole, unless otherwise ordered, the votes be considered in accordance with the following schedule: - Parliament, £986,000 (page 6).
Prime Minister’s Department, £2,837,000 (page 9) Miscellaneous Services - Prime Minister’s Department, £3,274,000 (page 98). - Until 1 p.m., Friday, 25th October. Department of External Affairs, £2,221,000 (page (14).
Miscellaneous Services -
Department of External Affairs, £1,347,000 (page 100).
International Development and Relief, £5,850,000 (page 100).
Defence Services -
Other Services - Economic Assistance to support defence programme of South-East Asia Treaty Organization member countries, £1,000,000 (page 95).
Department of Defence, £960,000 (page 80). Attorney-General’s Department, £1,845,000 (page 27).
Miscellaneous Services - Attorney-General’s Department, £31,000 (page 101).
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, £5,474,000 (page 76).
Miscellaneous Services - C.S.I.R.O., £120,000 (page 105). - Until 6 p.m., Friday, 25th October. Department of Civil Aviation, £9,862,000 (page 40).
Department of Shipping and Transport, £1,168,000 (page 62).
Miscellaneous Services - Department of Shipping and Transport, £2,388,000 (page 103). Reconditioning of Marine Salvage Vessels, £2,000 (page 96).
Construction of Jetty for handling of Explosives, £500,000 (page 96). - Until 10.30 p.m., Friday, 25th October. Department of Primary Industry, £1,584,000 (page 57).
Miscellaneous Services - Department of Primary Industry, £676,000 (page 103).
Bounties and Subsidies, £13,500,000 (page 106).
Department of Air, £58,021,000 (page 88).
Department of Supply, £15,318,000 (page 90).
Department of Defence Production, £12,372,000 (page 93).
Commonwealth Railways, £4,207,000 (page 116). - Until 11 p.m., Tuesday, 29th October.
War and Repatriation Services, £76,937,000 (page 108).
Department of Health, £1,639,000 (page 45).
Miscellaneous Services - Department of Health, £1,162,000 (page 102).
Payments to or for the States, £2,550,000 (page 146).
Postmaster-General’s Department, £94,180,000 (page 118).
Broadcasting and Television Services, £7,376,000 (page 133).
Department of Territories, £273,000 (page 64).
Northern Territory, £4,625,000 (page 137).
Norfolk Island, £33,000 (page 142).
Papua and New Guinea, £11,258,000 (page 142).
Cocos (Keeling) Islands, £29,000 (page 143). - Until 6 p.m., Wednesday, 30th October.
Department of National Development, £1,348,000 (page 73).
Miscellaneous Services - Department of National Development, £518,000 (page 105).
Department of the Treasury, £9,807,000 (page 24).
Miscellaneous Services - Department of the Treasury, £450,000 (page 100). - Until 11 p.m., Wednesday, 30th October.
Refunds of Revenue, £22,000,000 (page 105).
Advance to the Treasurer, £16,000,000 (page 105).
Department of Works. £3,393,000 (page 37).
Department of Trade, £1,733,000 (page 48).
Miscellaneous Services - Department of Trade, £423,000 (page 102).
Department of Social Services, £3,014,000 (page 60).
Miscellaneous Services - Department of Social Services, £1,940,000 (page 103).
Department of Labour and National Service, £2,147,000 (page 71).
Administration of National Service Act, £198,000 (page 95).
Australian Atomic Energy Commission, £1,411,000 (page 78).
Department of the Army, £57,389,000 (page 85). Recruiting Campaign, £330,000 (page 95). - Until 6 p.m., Thursday, 31st October.
Department of Customs and Excise, £4,060,000 (page 43).
Miscellaneous Services - Department of Customs and Excise, £50,000 (page 102).
Department of the Interior, £4,553,000 (page 32).
Miscellaneous Services - Department of the Interior, £89,000 (page 101).
Civil Defence, £119,000 (page 95).
Australian Capital Territory, £3,025,000 (page 139). - Until 1 1 p.m., Thursday, 3 1st October.
Department of Immigration, £1,958,000 (page 66).
Miscellaneous Services - Department of Immigration, £9,111,000 (page 104).
Department of the Navy, £43,791,000 (page 82). - Until 11.55 a.m., Friday, 1st November.
The programme takes us up to 12.15 p.m. next Friday, and the sitting days will be to-day, to-morrow, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of next week. At that stage the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill 1957-58 will still not have been dealt with.
I hope that honorable senators will have before them a copy of the schedule, which attempts to set out in a good deal of detail the time allocated to the discussion of the various departments. The schedule also gives the page in the bill which relates to each department. I hope that it will prove a ready reference and enable honorable -senators to find the appropriate place in the bill easily. I ask honorable senators to work on the copy of the bill that has been distributed to-night, and not the Estimates. From about page 100 of the Estimates the paging in relation to departments and activities is different from that in the bill. It will make for easier reading if honorable -senators work on the bill and transfer any notes that they may have on the Estimates to their copy of the bill.
I should like to make a few supplementary remarks. The motion for the application of the “ guillotine “ is, in many ways, in the nature of an experiment in dealing with an appropriation bill. I do not think I will betray any confidence if I say-
– This is a nice bill on which to experiment.
– If the honorable senator will wait until I have finished what I was about to say, he may have cause to modify his view. I betray no secrets when I say that the Government has contemplated adopting this procedure in the Senate for some years past, but has not -done so. The Senate previously has commenced debating the Estimates without the “ guillotine “ being in operation, but I think it is true to say that on no occasion for many years past has it completed its examination of the Estimates without the “ guillotine “ being introduced at some stage of the proceedings.
The first point I want to make is that honorable senators will be doing the Government an injustice if they say that the procedure that is proposed is intended to stifle debate, avoid criticism, or provide insufficient time for a proper analysis of the
Estimates. The aim is to provide an opportunity for a more orderly debate, in such an atmosphere and in such circumstances as will enable the Senate to do its work better than it has done it in the past. This procedure is not aimed at reducing the length of the debate. The aim is to provide better circumstances in which to do better work.
– It will have the effect of reducing the time.
– It will not have that effect.
– Of course it will.
– The time allotted under the proposal now before the Senate is 37-J- hours. If you take from that half an hour each day for questions, you obtain a net total of 354- hours in which to consider the Estimates. Last year the Senate took 33£ hours to deal with the Estimates, and the year before, 28 hours. I am sure that honorable senators opposite will not be able to say that, by proposing this procedure, the Government is treating the Senate discourteously, because this procedure will provide the Senate with more time for discussion of the Estimates than it has had in each of the last three years. I understand that last year the “ guillotine “ was in operation during the last two days of the debate, for about one-half of the votes. I speak subject to correction, but I doubt whether the Estimates have gone through the Senate for many years without the “ guillotine “ icing applied at some stage. That being so, the Government believes that to put the “ guillotine “ into operation right from the commencement will give an opportunity for a better debate and will make for a more methodical and orderly approach than is the case when the Senate devotes a comparatively long time to, perhaps, the proposed votes for a few departments, and then discusses the remainder of the items in a manner that lacks method.
I should like to explain how the Government proposes that the “ guillotine “ shall work. It is contemplated, if the Senate does not use all the time allotted for a certain section of the Estimates, that we will carry forward the spare time. If, for instance, taking the first page of the schedule as an example, we agree to the motion for the second reading of the bill before 11.15 p.m., and go on to another part of the Estimates, we will still keep our target date intact. If honorable senators look at the second page of the schedule, they will see that it is proposed that we shall reach a certain stage at 11 p.m. on Tuesday, 29th October. If we reach that stage by 5 p.m., that additional time can be used to discuss the next group of items. It is not proposed, if we beat the schedule, to reduce the overall time allotted for the debate. The time saved will be carried forward. If we go faster than is anticipated on some items, we will have more time to devote to subsequent items. [Extension of time granted.] I thank the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for enabling me to continue. The point I am endeavouring to make is that if, for example, we finish our consideration of the items which must be disposed of by 10.30 p.m. to-morrow night by, say, 5 p.m., the Senate at that stage can decide whether it wants to do additional work or will forgo the privilege of sitting to-morrow night. That would be a matter for the Senate to decide.
There are various facts that I should like the Opposition to think about before it overheartily criticizes this proposal.
– I rise to order. The Minister has not been given leave to make a statement. I understand that the subject we are dealing with is the Appropriation Bill, and I submit that the Minister is out of order in making comments that have no relation to it.
– Order ! The point of order is correct. The Minister has used up the time allowed to him.
.- On behalf of the Opposition, I oppose the motion submitted by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner). If there ever were a time in the history of the Senate when there was no need for the “ guillotine “, it is the present. This morning, we passed a supply bill which gives the- Government supply until the end of November. Honorable senators know that the Budget debate was kept going only to fill in time while the Senate awaited the pleasure of those in another place. If there ever were a time when parliamentary procedure became a farce, it was during recent days.
As the supply bill went through to-day, why is the Minister now moving this “ guillotine “ motion? Is the Government frightened that some of its members* - more than the one who had the courage of his convictions to-night - will vote against some items in the Estimates? 1 remember that not long ago a number of honorable senators opposite walked over to this side of the chamber and voted with the Opposition, but knowing full well that the bill they were voting against would go through. What courageous men they were! I can see them now on the back benches. There is no need for a resolution to impose a time limit to the debate. We have plenty of time, and the Government has all the money it requires to carry on the affairs of the Commonwealth. The Opposition did not hinder the passage of the Supply Bill (No. 2) 1957-58 submitted earlier to-day to give the Government Supply in order to enable it to carry on the affairs of government till the end of November. Why, I venture to say that if we counted the words uttered by the Opposition spokesman on- the Supply Bill, we would find that they did not number more than 20 or 30.
The Minister says that his suggestion is submitted with a view to making for more orderly debate. Is there any need to apply the “ guillotine “ to a bill if the desire is to have more orderly debate, especially when we have oceans of time? Actually, it does not matter if this bill is not passed until the end of November. To my mind, this action by the Government is just another example of a brutal majority imposing its will upon a minority. I am amazed that the Government has descended to such tactics.
Let me say in all seriousness that by its action to-night the Government is making this place a laughing, stock. It is holding the Senate up to ridicule. No doubt the galleries of another place will be crowded to-night because of the announcement that very important bills are to be introduced. I wish that those people were over here to see how the Government wants the business of the country to be carried on.
Let us now consider the hours it is proposed to allow us for discussion. The Minister has stated that last year we took 33i hours to discuss the Estimates. Why, he has admitted that but for the application of the “ guillotine “ the Estimates would not have been put through in that time; and even so, quite a number of items were not discussed at all. Now he seeks to bribe, the Opposition. Here I emphasize that I do not use the word “ bribe “ in the sense that he is offering us money; he seeks to bribe us in the sense that he suggests that if we are good boys, if we do not seek to discuss certain items, the time saved thereby will bc added to the time allotted for the discussion of other items. He suggests, further, that if we are extra good between now and 4 or 6 o’clock to-morrow afternoon, we can go home. Would any one have dreamt that we would ever see the day when a responsible Minister would attempt to persuade the Senate to agree to the introduction of the “ guillotine “ by saying, “ We know you would like to go home, and as long as you agree to a certain part of the bill by 4 o’clock, you may go home “? Why, we extended the suspension of the sitting by a quarter of an hour early this afternoon! I thought that earlier in the session we had agreed to the adoption of sessional orders governing the- time of our sitting, but we extended the suspension of the sitting by a quarter of an hour, and. then, by 5.15 o’clock we had nothing to do.
When all is said and done, Ministers in this Senate have a responsibility for the proper conduct of the chamber. They should have sufficient influence with the Government to be able to ensure that the Senate is kept at work so that at least it may be made to look respectable in the eyes of the people. The Government is doing a grave injustice to the Senate. I do not believe that it is necessary to impose the “ guillotine “ at all. Honorable senators on both sides know the items they wish to discuss, and I believe that if it was left to the common sense and discretion of honorable senators the Government would have this bill passed by the time it wishes that to be done. But the Government cannot push us around. I do not like that, and I speak on behalf of my colleagues. The Opposition does not want the “ guillotine “, and I ask those valiant people who a few weeks ago objected to an extension of Executive action and to the Senate acting as. a rubber stamp, when they knew they were safe, to support us on this occasion and make Parliament work as it ought to do.
– We object to this proposal from our natural repugnance to the “ guillotine “. If the “ guillotine “ were to be applied towards the end of the consideration of the Estimates, as has been done in former years, I should say the proposal would be quite sensible. I should like to ask, too, whether the adoption of this proposal will give us Melbourne Cup week off.
– That is the aim.
– If that is so, then we are strongly opposed to it. Instead of wanting to see the Melbourne Cup, Ministers of the Crown should be here in the Parliament doing their job.
– What has the Melbourne Cup got to do with this important matter?
– I do not know. Its purpose might be to give honorable senators on the Government side time off to see the Melbourne Cup. I think there is a good deal in what Senator Kennelly has said. We do not want to be prevented from speaking on various items in the Estimates. Certain of us will want to discuss particular votes very fully indeed, and the time allotted under the proposed schedule will not allow us to speak as we should like to do on our pet subjects. As I have stated, we have a natural repugnance to the application of the “ guillotine “. We therefore hope that the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) will not persist with his proposal, unless he cares to assure us that the “ guillotine “ will be applied only towards the end of the consideration of the Estimates, for that would be the sensible way of doing it.
– That is what has happened every year for years past.
– I- do not see that there is any necessity for the “ guillotine “ if, as has been rumoured, we are to have a week off! I do not see why we cannot be here if it is not suggested now that the object of this proposal is to hasten the end of this session of the Parliament. If that were so, there might be something, in it. But we are to come- back after a. week off in order’ to complete the. business- of the Parliament’ for this session. I do not see any reason why we should have that week off. We should be here discussing the matters contained in the Estimates. If we did that, we should not be upsetting anybody else.
In any event, I do not think that the discussion of the Appropriation Bill will last very long. After having seen the voting a few moments ago, I am afraid the Opposition is rather weak in numbers, and in those circumstances I rise merely to voice our disagreement with the Minister’s action in seeking the acceptance of the “ guillotone “.
– I rise to express my regret at what I consider to be an act of irresponsibility. I refer to the decision of the Government to impose, by a majority vote, the “ guillotine “ on consideration of the Appropriation Bill by the Senate. We should remember that the Senate will go into committee on this bill at an early stage. It has been the long vaunted hope of many people on this side of the chamber that the Senate would show its best endeavours in its committee work. Nothing is more appropriate to committee consideration than the contemplated expenditure of £1,300,000,000 of the people’s money, and the matters upon which it is to be expended.
If we had been limited by law to complete consideration of the bill by 1st October, and there had been obstruction by a Labour majority in the Senate to the granting of temporary supply, I would have thought that a motion for the allotment of time would have been appropriate, but I noticed this morning that temporary supply was willingly conceded without debate. I should have thought that, to any responsible person in this chamber, and especially to responsible Ministers, that would have been nothing less than an impelling justification for abandoning the idea of the application of the “ guillotine “. Herbert Morrison has said of the “ guillotine “ -
Personally, I thoroughly dislike the “ guillotine “. It is justified in conditions of real obstruction and national emergency, but unless there is genuine co-operation and conference in its application, the “ guillotine “ can make a mockery of the legislative processes.
Sir Anthony Eden had something to say on this subject when he was referring to political purposes not unlike those for which we spend our time here. He was vigorously opposing the Steel Industry Nationalization Bill. The “ guillotine “ was applied allowing no fewer than 35 sittings for the committee stage of that bill.
– Not hours?
– No, 35 sittings. Sit Anthony Eden moved the House in terms which express my purpose in rising to-night. He said -
This House declines to consent to the arbitrary curtailment of debate upon a measure vitally important to the economic life of the nation.
It is interesting to observe that, in speaking to that measure, Sir Anthony adverted to the experience of the Mother of Parliaments in relation to two bills that were very contentious. They were the Town and Country Planning Bill and the Transport Bill. A “ guillotine “ had been applied to both of them, but it was not nearly so arbitrary as that which has been suggested to-night. However, although the “ guillotine “ was applied in the House of Commons on the Transport Bill, in the House of Lords the Government moved 139 amendments of its own and - I hope that Ministers will note this - the House also accepted 91 amendments of the Opposition. In the House of Lords on the Town and Country Planning Bill, the Government moved 289 amendments and accepted 47 from the Opposition.
Much as we all deplore the low level to which even the British Parliament has come, due to the weakness of the House of Lords, constituted as it is on an insupportable basis of heredity, there is no need for this Senate, soundly based on a full adult suffrage, to desert its proper functions of review and muzzle itself at the outset for reasons which ceased to exist when temporary Supply was granted this morning. I quote from a journal which is not regarded as without credit on either side of this chamber, and especially on this side of the House. I refer to the publication known as “ The Harbour “. This article appeared in the issue of 1st October, 1957, in a comment on this Parliament -
The debate on the federal Budget was about as inspiring as the Budget itself about which the forecast last month was pretty accurate. It is impossible to have a debate without Opposition debaters and there are seemingly none left in federal caucus who are capable of debating a Budget. If there are, they are too busy fighting to get a seat which Dr. Evatt can occupy safely to waste time attending to the affairs which they are paid princely salaries to look after. So soon as the Prime Minister had spoken, which was late in the dreary discussion, it was difficult to find enough members to keep the House’ of Representatives sitting. One night in the third week in the month, Parliament House hummed with activity - members having tea on the verandahs, members at dinner parties, members showing lady friends the sights, members reading papers in their rooms. In the chamber itself were a few listless wights half asleep on the benches while colleagues (who wished they were at the dinner parties) got off the set speeches which they had to make full of electioneering propaganda to which they hoped their electors were listening. The bells had to be rung to keep enough present for the House to sit.
That is a painful description of the tempo of this Parliament, and there is not one honorable senator who would frankly reproduce the attitudes of this chamber in the country. It is only because the people have not yet learned about the conditions in this House or this Parliament that they have not rustled up the spirit to make a determined vote for more energetic consideration of our business. I think it is a great pity that a body which is to have an opportunity for a budgetary consideration of the nation’s money vote should be subjected to the “ guillotine “.
– As Senator Kennelly has said, the Opposition objects strongly to the application of the “ guillotine “ to this measure. It seems that, although there has been no public pronouncement, the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) has been placed in charge of the House. That development followed when the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) put the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) in charge of the lower House. The change in leadership seems to have been applied in this chamber without official notification to the Senate.
– I am simply introducing a bill on behalf of the Treasurer. There is no question of leading the House.
– I am not referring to this bill. I am surveying what has happened in the past ten to twelve months in this chamber. You have endeavoured to take charge of the business of the Senate from that side of the chamber. The Minister has put it to tho Senate tonight that, in the nature of an experiment, he would bring in the “ guillotine “. But we have had plenty of evidence of this in the past; it is not an experiment. We all know how the “ guillotine “ operates. I suppose the Minister thought he was being gracious when he said that we shall have a more orderly debate. I regarded his remark as supercilious, and I resent his telling us in what order we shall debate the business of the Senate. The least the Government can do is to permit honorable senators to discuss the items in their own way. Surely, if honorable senators want to devote more time to a consideration of a certain section of the Estimates than to others, it is their right to do so. If they want to spend half an hour less on one section and longer on another section, that should be allowed.
The Senate has always been regarded as a House of review and, as Senator Wright has said, the opportunity for us to review is provided on the occasion of the consideration of the Estimates. The fault in this connexion lies not only with the present Government; it lies also with previous governments. The fact that the Appropriation Bill is always introduced late into the Senate precludes any excitement in our consideration of the schedule. Nevertheless, it is our job to consider it in as orderly a manner, and with as much application as possible. We cannot do that if a time limit is imposed on the consideration of the various items. I could not agree more strongly with Senator Wright about the speedy passage of the Supply Bill that was introduced into this chamber this morning. Normally, a Supply measure invites debate, as Government senators will acknowledge, but when the bill I have mentioned was brought in this morning the Opposition, because of problems with which the Government might or might not be faced, supported the measure and gave it a speedy passage. Now, to-night, the Government brings in the “ guillotine “. I am not arguing about the number of hours that will be allowed for a consideration of the schedule. I do not think the fact that more or fewer hours are to be allowed than were allowed last year matters at all. If, in the opinion of the Government, the Opposition is deliberately stone-walling at any stage of the consideration, the Government can always introduce the “ guillotine “. Of course, in the past, we have objected to that practice. But I think it is very bad indeed for the Government to announce its intention to apply the “ guillotine “ right from the start, as it has done io-night.
It is opportune for me to ask, as so many others have asked, why the Government cannot introduce the Budget earlier. It is practically a joke in the eyes of the public that almost a third of the financial year to “which the Appropriation Bill applies has elapsed before that measure even reaches this chamber. What private business could run its affairs in this manner? Indeed, what other countries do it? The procedure in the parliaments of most European countries is to complete consideration of the Estimates prior to the beginning of the financial year to which they relate. In other words, proposed expenditure is considered in advance, not in retrospect as we do to a degree. Although it is more or less futile for this chamber to undertake a consideration of the appropriation schedule so long after the commencement of the financial year, at least we should apply ourselves intelligently to the task without restriction as to time.
The Opposition opposes very bitterly the application of the “ guillotine “ to this measure. If this is the Minister’s idea of an experiment, I am sure we all hope he will not make any more experiments.
– Judging from the criticism that has been made by the Opposition in relation to the application of the “ guillotine “ to the bill before the chamber, one would think that in the past there has always been a full and intelligent discussion of all sections of the schedule. But that has never been my experience. What has happened is that, during the initial stages of the debate, items have been discussed at considerable length, many of the speeches being, in fact, second-reading speeches and irrelevant, too. Then the “ guillotine “ has been applied. The application of the “ guillotine “ has invariably led to a violent and acrimonious discussion, and from that .point onwards very little consideration has been given to any items in the schedule. I do not think that the proposal of the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) is ideal, as I myself would be .prepared to spend double the time proposed in consideration of the Estimates. Nevertheless, I think it is a reasonable experiment. When it was suggested, I decided to support it, having in mind that, if at the end of the discussion it was found to be a failure, in that there had not been intelligent discussion, next year we could try another experiment. In the speeches that we have heard so far, no better approach to this matter has been suggested than that proposed by the Minister, which means getting this brawl over at the beginning and then devoting ourselves to a consideration of the items of the schedule.
I am particularly eager to discuss two or three items towards the end of the schedule, but I realize that if past procedure is any guide I will not have the opportunity to do so.
– Vote against the “ guillotine “. a
– Of course, 1 could not defeat the “ guillotine “ on my own. As I have said, if the procedure that has applied in every year since I have been in the Senate were applied on this occasion, I would have no opportunity to direct the attention of honorable senators to the matters that I want to raise. For the reasons I have mentioned, and in the realization that the proposal is not by any means perfect and that possibly we will ultimately devise something better, I support the experiment, in the hope that we can have a reasonable debate on the items on the schedule.
– I regret that the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) is making what he terms an experiment on this occasion by using the “ guillotine “. For some years we in this Senate chamber have felt that the forms of the Parliament are being slowly stifled and are disappearing from democratic government. Senator McCallum stated that he would like to discuss certain items but he fears that, towards the end of the consideration, debate will be gagged and he will be unable to do so. This morning, we passed a Supply Bill designed to remove the element of urgency from the discussion on which we are about to embark.
I put it to the Senate that, when we ate considering the expenditure of £1,300,000,000, there should be no stifling of questioning for the. purpose of obtaining information and no stifling of the. probing of departments. I emphasize that, on an occasion such as this when there is no urgency to conclude the debate, this should not occur. Why should we adjourn at the end of next week? Why should we adjourn at 11 o’clock at night if it is necessary for honorable senators to discuss these particular matters? We have had put to us to-night, first in the form of a bribe, and secondly, in the form of an implied threat, that if honorable senators curb their discussion and do not probe too deeply into- the Estimates, as a reward they can go home early, but that if they do not play the game in that way, their discussion will be stifled and gagged completely.
– The Minister did not say that. You are misrepresenting him.
– I am- not misrepresenting him at all. I am putting to the Senate what was said by the Minister. My friend is mumbling away over there. He is entitled to say what he wants to say. But I say we have been offered the bribe that if we conduct our debate properly and get it over quickly we can go home; but if we do not do that, we will not be allowed more than a certain time to discuss the items. That is not misrepresenting what the Minister said. I say that the Government has no right to decide which of the departments the Senate will have the right to probe and which it may not probe.
– Have not Government senators any say in what will be debated?
– Government senators have quite a lot of say. As my acting leader says, the Government has the numbers. We also have a duty. If we should want to probe the defence departments - and there are honorable senators who want to ask questions about those departments - we should not be prevented from doing so because the Minister feels that two or three hours are sufficient for the Senate to discuss that group of items.
– It is not enough for St. Mary’s alone.
– My friend may want to discuss St. Mary’s, and other honorable senators- may want to discuss other points. Why should the. Government arbitrarily take to itself the right to say, “ You shall discuss this department’s vote only for a certain number of hours and . then, whether you like it or not, whether or not. you have the information you want, we shall see that you do not question us any further “.
– “ We shall put a muzzle on you “, says the Government.
– That is right. As. soon as the Minister feels that he has allowed the Senate sufficient time to try to obtain information about a particular department, the muzzle is put on and nobody is allowed to ask further questions.
– What nonsense! You have hours set aside, for days ahead.
Senator- ARNOLD. - The Minister says, “ What nonsense! “ His colleague, Senator McCallum, has said that he knows that, at a late stage in the time, allotted for discussion of a- group of items, he will not get a chance to ask questions.
– Under the old system, you never had:
– Is it not wrong that, when- there is no urgency at all, the Minister can come along and say, “We shall gag this debate in a certain- number of days. We shall allow you a few hours for a discussion of each department, and irrespective of what the discussion might be, what you want to find out, or what questions you want to ask, we say, arbitrarily, that you will have three hours and that at the end of that time the discussion will end “? As the Minister quite rightly says, the Government has the numbers on its side. Government supporters have some rights, and their rights are exercised by seeing that the “ guillotine “ is applied.
I say to you, Mr. President, and through you to the Minister, that this is a regrettable procedure that has gradually grown into our parliamentary practice. Year after year it intrudes further and further. Tonight the Minister tells us, quite frankly, that, after surveying the system for a number of years and applying the gag time after time, he feels that the right thing to do is to apply the gag from the word “ go “, and everybody will know that the debate will end on the night of to-morrow week.
If there were any urgency, there might be some reason for this procedure, but we have given the Government Supply for the next six or seven weeks. There are numerous questions that ought to be probed in these Estimates. The Auditor-General has pointed to quite a number of matters that ought to be discussed in this open Parliament.
– You are not suggesting, surely, that you will not have sufficient time. You will have more time than you have had for years.
– If the Minister is not listening intently enough to understand that I am saying that we will not have enough time, I have wasted the few minutes during which I have stood on my feet. I have tried to convey that the Minister has arbitrarily determined for me and the rest of the Senate that we shall have two, three, or four hours’ discussion of each department; whether we like it or not, that is the time which he thinks is sufficient, and there is nothing we can do about it.
– It is the time that you took last year and the last eight years.
– The Minister can take last year, the year before, and every year that we have been gagged. The Government has not helped to preserve the parliamentary form of government by taking that action. To-night the Government has gone a stage further in killing that form of government by saying to us, “ You will have till the night of to-morrow week to discuss the Estimates and on that night the debate will finish. If you have not the information you want by then, it will be too bad. If you do not like it, we have the numbers. If you like to be good boys, we shall let you go home early “. The Government is introducing bad procedure. It is inimical to our democratic form of government. Tt will not permit us to give proper consideration to the Estimates. The Government is using its weight of numbers to stifle debate in this Parliament.
– I shall not take up the time of the Senate for very long in discussing this matter. My own opinion is that some credit ought to be given to the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) for making an honest attempt to have some orderly procedure adopted at this stage, as we are about to consider the Estimates. Every year, since I have been here - and that is not a great number of years, we have had to adopt some means of curtailing or stopping the debate on the Estimates. I much prefer to have, at the beginning, some orderly procedure adopted instead of having, as my colleague Senator McCallum has pointed out, to resort to the gag at the end, so that little or no debate is possible on some of the important items which remain for discussion. I do not think that any honorable senator can deny that an attempt is being made to establish some orderly system to begin with.
Officers of departments attend here to assist Ministers during the consideration of the Estimates. If the Opposition had its way, those officers would be here for probably a week or two. None of the departmental officers knows when he will be called to assist the Ministers. Under the procedure that is proposed, the officers will know the times during which their departments are being considered and when their services will be required to help Ministers and honorable senators. That has something to commend it. I believe that it is advisable, in any event, to have a programme. I give credit to Senator Spooner at this stage for setting out the time that he thinks the debate will probably take. He has indicated that that time is equal to, if not more than, the time taken for the debate in recent years. As Senator Henty points out, it is in fact longer than the time that the debate has taken in other years.
Let us have a bit of order about these proceedings. The Opposition is waging a mock battle at this stage. Honorable senators opposite must realize - I am sure that they do - that the time allotted is more than the time that the consideration of the Estimates has occupied in past years. That being the case, why not have some order fixed at the beginning of the consideration rather than let the debate run its course and then, at the end of the time available, find ourselves forced to use the gag, which I dislike. The only other point I want to make is that this Government has no monopoly of the gag.
– It has at the moment.
– I venture to suggest that if we were sitting to-night in Opposition and this matter were proceeded with, we would not have the advantage of the guillotine procedure. We would wait until the gag was applied, accompanied by all the unfortunate circumstances with which we are all familiar. We should approach this matter in’ a reasonable fashion and adopt some order in the debate. As the Minister himself said earlier, if the Senate proceeds with the discussion of the votes for some departments and finishes the discussion before the end of the time allotted, the time saved will be added to the time for the discussion of subsequent votes. I have given my opinion on this matter. I give credit where it belongs, that is, to the Minister for trying to get some order into this debate.
.- Mr. President-
– I rise to a point of order. I direct your attention, Mr. President, to Standing Order 411, which reads -
A reply shall be allowed to a Senator who has made a substantive Motion to the Senate . . .
I ask you, Sir, to rule that I am now entitled to the call before the expiry of the hour allotted for this debate, or, alternatively, that I am entitled to reply at the end of the hour.
– 1 wish to speak to the point of order. Irrespective of whether or not the point submitted by the Minister for National Development is correct, the fact is that you, Mr. President, gave the call to another senator. It was quite competent for the Minister to rise in his place and attempt to catch your eye so that he may get the call. In view of the fact that the Minister had ample opportunity to get the call if he had so desired, I submit that his point of order is not valid. He knew that the debate had to finish at six minutes past nine.
– The Minister’s reply closes the debate.
– The Minister has a greater chance of getting a call than has any private senator.
– I tried to get the call, but it was given to Senator O’Byrne.
– I say, with all due respect, that you did not. All you have done has been, when you were not prepared to try to get the call, to try to stifle discussion by attempting to get a ruling in your favour.
– I wish to speak to the point of order, too. I feel that the Minister for National Development is attempting to take advantage of Standing Order 41 1 in complete defiance of Standing Order 405, which reads -
When two or more Senators rise together to speak, the President shall call upon the Senator who, in his opinion, first rose in his place.
You, Sir, in the proper discharge of your duty, gave the call to Senator O’Byrne. I submit that the only proper point of order that could have been raised in order to interrupt Senator O’Byrne would have been one relating to the need to have words taken down, or words withdrawn or relating to that section of the Standing Orders which deals with the relevancy of debate. I suggest that the Minister’s action in taking this point of order has been mischievous and, I might say in fairness, out of character with the man. We have heard a lot to-night about disorderly debate. With all due deference to you, Mr. President, I have never known you to allow a disorderly debate. I think that the whole of the Government’s attack to-night has been a direct reflection on you. 1 feel that the Minister is deliberately trying to contribute to disorderly debate by interrupting Senator O’Byrne. I direct your attention, Sir, to Standing Order 65, which reads -
Any motion connected with the conduct of the Business of the Senate may be moved by a Minister of the Crown at any time without Notice.
The Minister has not taken refuge behind that standing order, and I do not think that, even with his effrontery, he would try to hide behind it. The point is that the Minister has introduced a bill to-night, and he is now trying to interrupt the true course of the cut-and-thrust of debate. I suggest, Mr. President, that this point of order should be resolved forthwith, because, if you allow the debate on it to continue, you will be denying the right that has been given to Senator O’Byrne under the Standing Orders to proceed with his contribution to the debate that was initiated by the Minister.
– I, too, wish to speak to the point of order. I submit that the standing order under which the Minister for National Development has claimed a right of reply does not confer any such right upon him. Under Standing Order 411, he has no right to make a reply at a time selected by him. The standing order merely gives him the right to make a reply. If you, Sir, examine the standing order closely, you will note that it does not state when he is entitled to reply. He could reply subsequent to the closure of the debate; there is nothing to prevent him from doing so.
– The Minister’s reply closes the debate.
– If the Minister’s claim is correct, he may reply, we will say, after the debate has been in progress for a period of not longer than half an hour or twenty minutes.
– And close the debate?
– He could even rise and claim the right to reply while another senator was delivering his speech. There is a further point, which has been overlooked. The Standing Orders distinguish between Ministers and senators. In Standing Order 411 the word “ Senator “ is used, but there is no mention of the word “.Minister “. Therefore, I submit that the Minister has no right to make a reply at this stage, that is, within the time that is allowed by the Standing Orders for the debate.
I base my submission on two grounds: First, that the standing order does not fix a time for the Minister to make his reply; and, secondly - this is the more substantial ground of the two - the Standing Orders distinguish between Ministers and senators. The word “ Senator “ is used in Standing Order 411; the standing order does not apply to ‘Ministers.
– I submit that the interpretation that has been claimed by the Minister for National Development is entirely untenable. Standing Order 407 sets out the number of times that senators are allowed to speak. Standing Orders 407a and 407b were introduced as overriding provisions, and the thread of the point is continued in Standing Orders 408, 409, 410 and 41.1. 1 submit that the Minister’s point of order is completely preposterous, and that to suggest that Standing Order 411 entitles one to contravene the overriding provision of Standing Order 407-b defiles all legal interpretation. Standing Order 407b expressly provides -
Upon such further motion or motions with regard to the allotment of time being moved, no -debate thereon shall be allowed for more than one hour. . . .
Unless the Minister has claimed a reply and can conclude within that time, I submit that Standing Order 411 cannot, on the slightest pretext, be held to override ;the specific provision on the question of time.
– Order! I rule that the Minister has no right of reply when a debate is not concluded within the time allowed by Standing Order 407b, namely one hour.
– Before I was rudely interrupted by the Minister for National Development, I had intended to say that Senator Pearson had paid credit to the Minister for having brought some order into the debate. I should say that, if ever a motion was likely to cause disorder and to bring the Senate into disrepute, it is the motion that we are now debating. Senator Pearson said that it would not mean a curtailment of debate, and he advanced that. as a reason why we should adopt the “ guillotine “ procedure. In the history of democratic parliaments many arguments have been put forward in opposition to the curtailment of debate. We 60 senators, representing the States of Australia, are paid approximately £180,000 a year to represent the electors in this Parliament, yet we are being denied our right to express our views. These matters would not be raised if our rights were not infringed. They are very unpleasant, and doubtless very unpalatable, but they are factual. It is only by the grace and goodwill of all honorable senators that the conduct of business in this democratic Parliament can continue. When the Government attempts to thrust down our throats something that we dislike intensely it must expect the retaliation which I am sure will be forthcoming from this side of the chamber.
A great deal of lip-service is paid to democratic freedom, liberty and British tradition. ‘Senator Wright has already quoted opinions on the use of the “ guillotine “ delivered in the Mother of Parliaments. If the people of Australia were present to witness this scene they would willingly subscribe to something in which I believe substantially - that the Senate is a rubber stamp, that it is unnecessary, and that the Australian Labour party is quite right in advocating its abolition. If ever proof of that were needed we have it here to-night. What a farce! Honorable senators have travelled here at great expense from all over the Commonwealth to review legislation authorizing the spending of more that £1,000,000,000 of the people’s money and now they are to be gagged. Earlier to-day, a request for Supply ran its normal course. Most honorable senators exercised their right, as representatives of a section of the Australian community, to express their point of view. Democratic procedure prevailed and a time came when Government supporters had difficulty in keeping the business of the House going. Occasionally, one or two of them spoke a little sense, but mostly they were only filling in time.
The legislation before us deals with matters of paramount importance to Tasmania and the other Australian States, which are so badly in need of money for health, roads, the development of mining - to which Senator Scott and Senator Vincent have referred - and housing, all of which affect the happiness and well-being of the Australian people. Yet we are not to be allowed to discuss these matters in detail. This travesty merely bears out an opinion which I have long held, that the Senate is becoming a farce. The realization of the Australian Labour party’s wish that it should be abolished is only being hastened by the motion before us.
– Order! The time allowed for the discussion of the motion has expired.
Question put -
That the motion (vide page 788) be agreed to. The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) proposed -
That thebill be now read a first time.
– I move -
Leave out all words after “That”, insert “the bill be returned to the House of Representatives with a request that it be withdrawn and redrafted to provide that -
The sums allocated for the various States shall be adequate to meet the needs of the people with respect to housing, hospitals, education and public works;
The sum appropriated for immigration purposes shall have regard to the fact that there is unemployment, particularly amongst unskilled workers, and the introduction of further numbers of unskilled workers during the time for which this appropriation is made will cause hardship to Australians and new Australians;
The sums for social services and for repatriation purposes shall be sufficient to enable those people entitled to receive these benefits to maintain the standard of living which they once had and to which they are entitled; and
The sum appropriated for defence will be spent in such a manner as will provide a worth-while defence of Australia.”
The moving of that amendment will give the Senate an opportunity to tell the Government that the ways in which it proposes to spend certain sums of money under the headings I have mentioned are not in the best interests of the people of this nation. Let us consider the position of the States.
I may even have some support from Senator Gorton when I speak about Victoria.
– That depends on what the honorable senator says.
– Under this bill, the total amount given to the States will be £266,000,000, in round figures, apart from £200,000,000 in loan money. I want to be quite candid and say that I believe in uniform taxation. I think it is the only method by which the people of Australia can be taxed at uniform rates and according to their capacity to pay. The States are not opposed to the principle of uniform taxation. Their objection is that they are not receiving enough money from the Commonwealth to enable them to carry out the functions which are their responsibility.
A few months ago, the Victorian Government was involved in a case before the High Court in regard to uniform taxation. lt is not my desire, or the desire of anyone in Victoria, that individual citizens of that State shall be taxed at a higher rate than the citizens of New South Wales, but the fact is that the Commonwealth Government is impeding the progress and development of the States, which have the responsibility, in the main, for carrying out most of the developmental work required to be done in Australia. All honorable senators know that this nation must be developed. We are proud of the development that has taken place during the post-war era.
– Since 1949.
– I thought the honorable senator would come in. I am not in a harsh mood at the moment, and 1 would hate to use that threadbare quotation about stepping in where angels fear to tread.
– Where is the angelic circle?
– I listened to Senator Maher talking about Captain Cook. I think he should turn his attention to a man by the name of Kelly next time and tell us something about him. We must realize that if this country is to progress, more money must be given to the States. Apart from the Snowy Mountains scheme, we are doing very little productive work.
– Who is doing very little?
– The Commonwealth is doing very little developmental work.
– What about the £466,000,000 that the honorable senator mentioned?
– We will discuss that £466,000,000 in its proper context. All I am saying is that we must give more money to the various States. I do not think that even Senator Gorton will support what this Government is doing. The Commonwealth takes money from the people by way of taxation. It uses a portion of that money for its own works without paying interest, and leaves the States to finance their public works with loan funds, on which they pay interest.
I believe that the bill should be withdrawn and re-drafted, so that we can retain uniform taxation, but give more money to the States. What are the principal purposes for which the States need money? The first is housing. It is the States’ responsibility to provide houses for the people of Australia, other than the few who are resident in the Australian Capital Territory. There is an admitted housing shortage. Figures supplied by the Department of National Development show that, exclusive of condemned dwellings, there is a shortage of 1 15,300 houses in Australia. The annual additional number of houses needed to cater for the expanding population now is 54,000, but that number will increase, particularly between now and 1960, because of a greater number of marriages.
Only a week ago, the State Saving Bank of Victoria announced that £2,000,000 was to be released for housing loans, at, I think, 5 per cent, or 6 per cent, interest. The bank was rushed by people wanting to borrow money to build houses. I am delighted that the bank did that, and I hope it will be able to provide more money for housing, but, unfortunately, its means of obtaining money have been circumscribed, because the private trading banks have entered the savings bank field. Everyone knows that a proportion of the money deposited with the new savings banks is being devoted to hire-purchase transactions. It is not being lent to home builders at 5 per cent, or 6 per cent, interest, but is being used to finance hire-purchase companies which charge interest rates of 12 per cent, and 15 per cent. Let us examine the home-building figures for the respective years. In 1951-52, 78,000 houses were erected. The same number were built in 1952-53. In 1953-54, the figure dropped to 75,500. In 1954-55, the number had increased to 79,600, but last year there was a drop in the number of homes built - this at a time when houses were urgently needed, lt must not be imagined for a moment that the people do not want houses. They do want them but, because this Government has neglected to make sufficient money available for the purpose, fewer homes were built in 1956-57 than in any year up to 1951-52. A meagre increase has been allocated by the Government, but it has not been nearly enough to help in this problem. The proposed total allocation to the States for housing is £33,000,000. The Government also proposes to increase the allocation for war service homes by £5,000,000 to a total of £35,000,000, but the real fact is that the increase proposed for this year represents only 10.3 per cent, more than was granted last year while the cost of building materials has increased by 12 per cent, since last year. In those circumstances, it will be appreciated that despite the increase in the proposed allocation for this year no more houses will be erected this year than were built last year. Actually, the position is getting worse instead of improving.
I come now to a consideration of the position in connexion with hospitals. This year, the Victorian Government is budgeting for an expenditure of £11,500,000 on hospitals, but as against that the hospitals of Melbourne are in debt to the extent of £3,500,000 or £4,000,000. In 1948, it was estimated that the cost of upkeep of a hospital bed was £9 2s. a week. The Commonwealth’s contribution to that upkeep at that time was 8s. a day for each bed. The estimated weekly cost of upkeep of a hospital bed to-day is £30 yet this Government’s contribution towards that cost is still only 8s. a day. When does this Government propose to do something real for people who are in urgent need of help? When does it propose to do something tangible for those who are ill?
There is certainly an urgent need for further help from the Commonwealth, especially when it is realized that £2,500,000 of the £11.500,000 which the
Victorian Government proposes to expend on hospitals this year is to be derived from the running of a sweep. It is wrong that the States should have to raise money by such methods as that and I suggest that the people of Australia as a whole should be taxed to ensure that those who are sick will be given adequate hospital accommodation and proper care so that they may be able to resume their places as productive units of society as quickly as possible. That is another reason why I suggest that the amendment that I have moved should be supported by the Senate.
Let us now consider education. During the last month or so we have heard much about the dearth of scientists in Australia. I admit that in recent years the Government appointed a committee to inquire into what university facilities should be provided throughout Australia. I hope that as a result of that committee’s investigation adequate provision will be made for giving our people higher education.
Here, it is interesting to compare the yearly output of technologists from the universities of America, Russia and Australia. In the United States, the yearly output of scientists is 281 to every 1,000,000 of the population, in Russia it is 336 to every 1,000,000 of the population, while in Australia it is only 175 to every 1,000,000 of the population.
– Is that the total number of scientists?
– That is the proportion of graduates to each 1,000,000 of the population in each year. It is of no use our worrying about what the future has in store for this or any other country unless we are prepared to spend money to ensure that the proportion of scientists trained by us is equal to that of other nations. I have no objection to the Government’s collecting all the money by way of the uniform taxation system, but I do have strong objection to its failure to hand back to the States sufficient money to enable them to carry out one of their principal responsibilities, that of providing for the education of the people. In Victoria, the State Government proposes to spend this year about £39,000,000 on education. If I had time I would tell honorable senators the whole story. I could tell them about the number of classrooms that are needed, the. teachers that are required in Victoria now and the number that will be. needed, in. the peak period about 1960.
It is fantastic that- we can sit in this place in- the lap of1 luxury and without any worries about Commonwealth works when the States need so much-. «We have taken money from the people and spent it for Commonwealth purposes, but when we give meagre amounts to the States, we charge them interest. If we paid interest for the money, any one would expect us to get at least the interest back, but that is not the position. I wonder how much would be spent on. Commonwealth works if we treated ourselves as we treat the. States.
I could devote considerable time to the condition of the roads in the States. 1 know that the Government has handed more money back to the States in recent years from the petrol tax, but the States are not receiving enough money for the work they have to do. Trade and commerce to-day depend largely on the roads. Honorable senators know that the States have had difficulty over taxes imposed on interstate hauliers. So far, Victoria has been fortunate enough to have its road tax upheld in the High Court of Australia. The credit is largely due to the State Solicitor-General, but I understand that the matter is likely to be the subject of an appeal to the Privy Council. The Commonwealth Government cannot claim any great credit for increasing the percentage, of the petrol tax that has been returned to the States because, since World War II., the volume of road transport has reached the dimensions of an avalanche. I am not arguing about the petrol tax formula at this moment. I am suggesting that the Commonwealth Government should hand back to the States all revenue derived from the petrol tax. In addition, it should accept some responsibility for interstate highways. If it cannot do so because of constitutional difficulties, it will have to do with the roads what it is planning to do in respect of the standardization of railway gauges. The work that is to be started on the section of railway between Melbourne and Wodonga is an example. It is fantastic that the Government should keep the finances of the States in the position they are intoday when the development of the States must be an- important part of national development.
It is-. all very, well to entice immigrantsto Australia; but over the years, the Commonwealth Government has wiped its hands of its responsibilities . to the immigrants. If the Government expects the immigrants to settle in- the States, it should assist the State governments to provide amenities and services for tha immigrants. Honorable, senators cannot deny that, in the three major States which have not applied for special grants, there is marked hostility to Canberra and the federal administration. The. Government dare not try to solve its constitutional problems by means of a referendum because of that’ hostility.
The second part of the amendment before the Senate refers to the amount that is to be appropriated for immigration. It does not imply any opposition to the principles involved.
– Not much! The honorable senator wants two bob each way.
– That is not so. I am not like Senator Anderson, thank God. I do not- have to go two ways-. Everybody knows which way I am going. I wish to direct attention to the plight of many immigrants. My remarks are pertinent because it is said that Melbourne has. received 45 per cent, of the immigrants whohave been brought to Australia in recentyears. Nobody can deny that there is suffering and hardship among the unskilled workers who have been brought to Australia by this Government. I am not quibbling, about the few hundreds who are waiting in holding camps. I am referring- to the unskilled workers who are walking about the City of Melbourne, Nothing like it has been seen since 1938 when 8 per cent; of the people were unemployed, and that was regarded as the, normal figure.
– That is the Government’s policy.
– If there is work for skilled immigrants, we should use every effort to concentrate on quality instead of numbers in our immigration programme. If the Government adopts that policy in expending £11,000,000 on immigration, it will not be causing hardship among unskilled immigrants who cannot find work. Every Victorian senator can truthfully say that it is wrong in principle to bring out additional unskilled men. Unfortunately, we are experiencing what may be called a partial drought: It might be said that, in the main, a farm worker is not highly skilled. I know, of course, that some farm work does call for a high degree of skill.
– I am glad that you acknowledge that.
– I always try to be fair, and that is why I say that it is wrong to bring out more unskilled workers. I am not saying that unskilled workers should not be brought out from any particular country. At some other time, I hope that we will be permitted to debate fully the matters under the control of this department - not in quarter-of-an-hour spasms - because certain incorrect information has been supplied both in this chamber and in another place concerning. British migration. I know that it is a pretty hard thing to say that false information has been given in answer to questions, but that is the fact. What I want to do is to save people from coming to this country and having to face unemployment. Some common sense should be applied in this matter. If we are prepared to spend more on housing and bring out fewer people, we will be able to get skilled workers capable of developing this nation in the way we want it developed. We can keep skilled migrants here - in fact, all migrants - as long as we can house them. I am hurrying through my speech, because I know that other honorable senators on this side wish to speak before the gag is applied.
Let us look at the subject of social services. The papers before us show that the expenditure on social services will be increased this year by £15,900,000 to £226,000,000. But the Government has completely forgotten the family. Both in this chamber and in another place supporters of the Government have stated that family life may be described as the backbone of this country. Yet this Government has not concerned itself with child endowment other than to provide endowment of 5s. a week for the first child in each family. It has not increased the maternity allowance. Of course, I give credit to the Government for what it has done in relation to age, invalid, and widows’ pensions and the pensions of totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen. The Government has subsidized by a couple of million pounds the provision of homes for the aged. This- kind of thing looks nice and dresses up- the political window. But in a budget of £1,300,000,000 the Government has added only £-15,900,000 to its social service expenditure. It has sidestepped the most essential things which would cost more money.
I’ think the Government should redraft its social service provisions in order to restore to the benefits their former value. It is the old story that money is worth only what it will buy. You cannot eat it. During this Government’s term , of office the real value of child endowment payments has fallen by 15 per cent. Let us consider why this bill, should be sent back to the House of Representatives. If ever a government has committed a. crime in the history of this nation, this Government has done so in relation to defence.
– Oh, come off: iti
– The facts speak for themselves. What has the Government to show for its expenditure of £1,300,000,000 on defence? When- Sir Frederick Snedden appeared before the Public. Accounts Committee-
– Would -he be responsible?
– I am not- saying whether he was responsible or not, but at least he should know the position.
– But was he responsible?
– If he was not responsible it’ was the Government’s- duty to sack him, as Senator Mattner would sack a shearer if he did not do his job properly. But the Government did not sack him. At the time Sir Frederick Shedden appeared before the Public Accounts Committee, he was the Secretary of the Department of Defence. The honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) said to him, in effect, “ You said that the Prime Minister stated at the outset in connexion with this programming that the proposal was that we were to be ready for mobilization by 1953? Would we have been?” Sir Frederick Shedden answered “ No, sir “. In reply to Mr. Leslie’s further question, “Would we be now?” Sir Frederick Shedden again answered, “ No, sir “.
Look at all the statements we have had on defence. If ever there was a government which has acted like a bee, hopping from flower to flower, it is this Government in the matter of statements on defence. Let us look at this defence expenditure. The Government stated that it wanted a particular rifle, which would be manufactured at Lithgow, in New South Wales. At that time, a Government spokesman said that tooling-up was in progress. But before the tooling-up was finished, the rifle was out of date. Let us look at aircraft production, about which I asked a question only the other day. The aircraft production factory at Port Melbourne, I think, is doing everything but make aircraft. It is making bits and pieces for this and that, but nothing to do with aircraft.
Let us take the Navy. There is a classical example of what I have been saying in to-night’s Melbourne “ Herald “. Do not ever accuse me of quoting the “ Herald’s “ opinion - this is a definite statement made by the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride). Of course, in addition to him, there is a Minister for the Army, a Minister for the Navy, and a Minister for Air- - Heavens! How many more do you want? Does the Government need so many Ministers to spend £190,000,000 a year on defence? Why, only a little while ago a defence allocation of £9,500,000 had not been spent, so some one said, “ Spend it on the Army. What does it matter? “
Before I conclude my remarks, I should like to quote another classic on defence. I have a press report which is headed “ £1,000,000 spent. Warship laid up “. It reveals that in an answer to a question in another place the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) said that the Government has spent about £1,300,000 on renovating the warship “ Hobart “ before it was decided to discontinue the work. I am as anxious as any other honorable senator about the defence of this country. Is it not time that the best brains of this country were called together to consider the allocation, year after year, of about £200,000,000 for defence? I want this country to be defended. I am not one of those who take the view that we should not have defence, even though one Asian country has large aggressive forces. This is my country, and I want it to be defended. If this Government stands condemned for anything, it is for the little it has got for the £1,300,000,000 it has spent on defence. I am concerned about the proposed expenditure this year of £190,000,000. Cannot this Government appoint a committee of people to tell us what we ought to do, in view of the modern implements of war, including atomic and hydrogen bombs, that are in use?
– Whom do you suggest?
– I am not an expert. I give the honorable senator great credit for his part in the defence of this country. He may know more about defence than I know, but I am just as anxious for the defence of this country as he or any one else. Even the honorable senator cannot approve of the meagre defences that we have provided for 9,500,000 to 10,000,000 people from the expenditure that we have incurred. I do not want to go through what the Government did in regard to national service training. Government supporters used to tell us at one time that if all the boys were put into camp we would be all right, and there would be no fear for the security of this country. The Government has scrapped that scheme, and now it has a ballot system for the selection of trainees.
– They have to be in the raffle to get in.
– As my friend says, one has to be in the raffle to get in. All I am asking is that the Government review its policy before anything more is spent on defence.
– Make a suggestion.
– I am suggesting that the best brains in this nation be called in aid, including the scientists and defence chiefs. Let them sit down calmly and then let an inquisitive layman say, “ You have spent £1,300,000,000 in seven or eight years. Let us see what you have for it “. Are we doing all that we ought to do? In the press to-night we read that £1,300.000 was spent on “ Hobart “, which has been laid up. I have a lot of sympathy for the Navy, but I do not think that anybody in this Senate or outside can say that we are getting value for our money. That is all we want. We want defence just as much as does any one else in this chamber, but I do not believe the country is getting value for its money. Having some Scottish associations, I do not like spending money unless I know what 1 am getting for it.
– You are not suggesting that the Government has not expert advisers?
– If it has, it ought to find some new ones. In a few weeks’ time, we shall hear in this chamber about the people who advised the Government on St. Mary’s. I regret that the taxes that I pay, however little, are going into that £190,000,000, but I would not mind if we were getting value for our money. Let us see that we do get value. I hope that the Senate will adopt the amendment.
– I rise to second the amendment moved by Senator Kennelly. He put his case in a gentle, forthright manner that we expect from him, and I do not think that any one who listened to him could fail to be convinced of the validity of his arguments. I should like the vote to be taken while honorable senators opposite are still in that frame of mind, so I shall not speak for long, but this is an opportunity to discuss this amendment in the light of those things that worry us and that governments can alter, if they have the will to do so.
I should like first to say a few words on the housing problem. It is a tremendously important problem. No one who is comfortably housed can really appreciate the plight of those people who cannot get reasonable housing. In a young country like ours, it is a fundamental obligation of governments to take every step possible to permit those people who want houses to get them. 1 refer particularly to young married couples, because they face a situation which is completely different from that which confronted members of the Senate who are of my age or older. Before the war, a young couple could marry on a very small amount of money indeed because, having married, there was available to them cheap and reasonable rented accommodation. They lived in this accommodation for a year or two while they saved, and then, at an appropriate time of their own choosing, they tried to build or buy themselves a house. To-day a young couple about to be married must have a substantial amount of money in the bank to pay even a deposit on a house. To rent a house is almost an impossibility these days. To find a flat to rent is just as difficult as finding a house to rent. What a terrific problem it is for young couples to build or buy themselves a small cottage! It cannot possibly be done under £3,000 A bank will lend, on a fibro cottage, £2,000; on a weatherboard cottage, £2,250; and on a brick cottage, I think, £2,750. So young couples have to pay a substantial deposit but on current wages it is most difficult for them to save. Governments must make it easier for our young people to get houses. Housing, I think is fundamental to the happiness that is the foundation of the proper and orderly growth of a family in a land of freedom such as ours.
Senator Kennelly quoted figures which showed that up to 1954-55 an average of 78,000 houses were built each year, but that for the last financial year there had been a reduction of that number. I am not sure whether that has been accidental or deliberate, but running through the reports of the Department of National Development on the housing situation is a note of satisfaction with the results obtained, and a suggestion that the problem has been overcome and what little remains to be done will be done relatively quickly. Of course, that is not so. That a lot of houses have been built does not alter the fact that a lot more must be built.
It is interesting to note that, although we have constructed an average of 70,000-odd houses a year, the number of new permanent homes completed in Britain within the first five months of this year was 127,000, as against 116,000 for the same period of last year. The total number of new permanent houses completed in Britain under its post-war housing programme is 2,668,000. I should say that Britain’s internal problems were more serious than ours. After all is said and done, after World War II we did not have to turn our attention to the reconstruction of a devastated country, we had not still to place the same emphasis on war production, and we had not nearly the number of men in the forces that Britain had. Interestingly enough, we, unlike Britain, are not increasing each year the number of houses that are built.
We have reached the stage where the Government might be charged with complacency, and of thinking that the housing problem has been overcome and that the number of persons waiting for houses is declining. That leads me to remind the Senate that it is suggested that, from memory, 60,000 persons in New South Wales are waiting for houses. Fancy the Government conceding that 60,000 persons in one State alone are waiting for houses and then suggesting that the worst is over and it will not take very long to accommodate that number of persons at a lower rate of building!
I am reasonable in these things. I try not to blame the Government for everything, but it is difficult on this occasion to resist doing so. One of the difficulties that confront us is the cost of construction. I am looking at a graph which shows an index of 100 as representing housing costs in 1947, and that as at June, 1956, the figure had risen almost to 300.
– What graph is the honorable senator looking at?
– I was just about to indicate that. It is taken from the Rural Bank’s “ theoretical “ index for New South Wales. The same graph shows that the index for wholesale prices rose from 100 to less than 250 in the same period. The rise in retail prices as shown on the same graph is less than that for wholesale prices. The index rises from 100 to approximately 220. It should not be difficult to find the reasons for this rise. Builders are charging higher prices than they should because the Government, perhaps, is still regarding houses as a hard-to-get commodity. I feel that that is a fair construction to place on the situation.
The Government has gone to a lot of trouble to produce statistics, because obviously no one can ignore the importance of the problem. The Government has worked out future housing requirements, which it seems to have placed under the heading of new houses. It is difficult to say whether the figures it has published include the needs of migrants, but I think they must. The Government has certainly produced a very low figure; it is one that I am unable to accept. A report of the Department of National Development on the housing situation which I have before me states -
The principal conclusions are -
Annual housing need for Australia, excluding the A.C.T. and Northern Territory, taking into account estimated immigration and marriages, is estimated at a total of 54,050 for 1956. Estimates for subsequent years show that the annual increase in housing will need to fall to about 52,000 for 1957 and will thereafter rise by 1960 to a figure between 55,000 and 56,350 (depending on the rate of immigration). These figures may be compared with the number of houses and flats built in the States in 1955-56-77,629.
So the Government has published the results of a survey which suggest that our housing needs from now until 1960 will not be as great as they have been for the last five years. When one sees the backlag and the number of people who are waiting for houses, particularly in New South Wales and Victoria, one cannot believe that statement.
Members of the Parliament who sit in their offices and meet people sometimes have to judge these problems not on statistics but according to their personal experience. Within the last six weeks, a large number of people have .seen me about their housing difficulties. Their problem is not so much one of getting a house - they feel that that is impossible - but of getting emergency housing accommodation. Such persons in New South Wales have no chance of getting emergency accommodation unless they are evicted from the premises in which they are residing.
We members of the Parliament ring the Housing Commission, which is very helpful and does its best. We say, “ An eviction order has been executed against these people; they are to appear before the court”. We are told, “ Tell us how they get on before the court “. When, eventually, we communicate with the commission and say that the court has ordered their eviction, we are asked, “What time were they given in which to leave the premises? “ We might say, “ Three weeks “, whereupon the commission suggests another approach to the court to see whether these people can get an extension. The Commission delays the granting of these applications, not because it wants to, but because it has thousands of them. I believe that the number of applications for emergency housing in New South Wales is about 7,000. So the position is one of the utmost desperation.
There has been an increase of the availability of credit, not only in New South Wales, but throughout Australia. That has made it a little easier in New South Wales to get houses, but it is only one step in the right direction. The urgency of the matter is not merely national but is also personal. The fact that young men and women are without houses is a standing condemnation of the administration of whatever government allows that kind of thing to happen without making the best possible efforts to overcome the problem.
The next matter about which I should like to speak has been developed by a number of speakers within the last few weeks. It was mentioned in the Senate by Senator Byrne as recently as to-day. I refer to the great task of developing our force of scientists and technologists - who are sometimes called these days “ technocrats “. There is a great need for trained men in this country. We all have done what we could to provide such men. When the Chifley government established the rocket range I had the honour to be Minister for Supply. I set about the task of searching the universities for , physics students with outstanding ability. One of the drawbacks to-day is that wages are low and the work of the scientist is not recognized. We had no trouble in getting the best lads, because we made a point of offering them reasonable remuneration and providing the added attraction that, very soon after appointment, they would .go to Great Britain to pursue a course of study for some years. I do not know what the present position is, but in 1947 or 1948 there -were 26 Australian lads at Farnborough alone, studying the early development of rockets. At one stage the Department of Supply had more than 100 lads in various parts of Great Britain acquiring greater technical and physical knowledge so that they could return here and play their part in building for tomorrow. I think we must accept the fact that the average man does not understand what is likely to happen to-morrow. Our great task is to see that our boys and girls understand it. It is too late for us to do more than wonder when we see “ Sputnik “ speeding across the skies on an orbit that brings it back nine times in a day at a time which can be predicted almost to the second. To untrained men such as we are that seems almost incredible.
– The honorable senator should speak for himself.
– When one feels some doubt about one’s capacity it is always comforting to believe that one has company. The miracles foreseen in the novels of Jules Verne have become reality. Even the most imaginative of us could hardly foresee what was likely to happen in the extraordinary field of physics. Technical training is of the greatest importance in a small country such as ours, for we must make up in quality what we lack in numbers. In view of what Senator Byrne said this afternoon, it is interesting to read what the New South Wales Minister for Education, Mr. Heffron, has had to say on the subject of physics students. He said that in 1956 about 31,000 pupils sat for the intermediate certificate examination. Of these, 12,600 sat for the combined physics and chemistry subject. A further 3,600 sat for chemistry, and 3,000 for physics, as separate papers. The Minister added that, usually, .pupils who sit for physics sit also for chemistry. Therefore, at least 15,500 students sat for one of these subjects. This represented about half of all the candidates. Therefore, in New South Wales a substantial .number of children had a knowledge of the fundamentals of science and could, if they wished, enter the field of technology, with which we are so greatly concerned to-day.
At the 1956 leaving certificate examination, 4,500 candidates matriculated. Of these, 1,623 presented papers in mathematics I. and II. and 1,464 presented physics papers. The number sitting for the chemistry examination was 1,891, and 48 students took combined physics and chemistry. I might add that these figures are for both departmental and nondepartmental schools. More than 90 per cent, of these pupils passed in their subjects. The numbers presenting mathematics I. and II. papers, taken with those sitting for one of the sciences, make up a little more than 50 per cent, of matriculating boys, and slightly 10 per cent, of all matriculating girls. Therefore, 1,500 students had some qualification for proceeding to study mathematics, physics or chemistry at a tertiary institution. The University of Sydney, at its 1956 annual, and 1957 deferred, examinations passed 812 students in physics I. Of this number 448 were thereafter to give up the study of physics as a university course. They included 331 medical students, 38 dental students, and 79 students in agriculture and veterinary science. This left 364 young people to continue the study of physics. Of these, 148 were taking engineering and were to give up the subject after a further year. The remainder consisted of 206 students in science, and ten in arts. The great bulk of these students took the subject for first year study only, the by-laws of science exerting some compulsion in this regard.
A principal cause of failure to continue the study was lack of interest. In short, of 812 whom the schools had prepared for the further study of physics, at least 90 per cent, did not show any intention of graduating in that subject. This is stated as a fact, and not with any intention of decrying the position. Graduates are needed in the applied sciences as well as in pure science. One cannot help being impressed, however, with the prepondence of students in medicine. It is unlikely, on the face of the matter, that for each student specially gifted for the study of pure science there are three with special aptitudes for the study of medicine, and one can only surmise that economic factors have intruded. It is idle to call upon the schools to play a greater part in the training of physicists while such a factor exists. That sums up the problem. This afternoon Senator Byrne proved conclusively that finance was keeping our young men out of the universities and, as a result, from the study of advanced physics.
The whole matter has been highlighted by the triumphal Soviet achievement of sending a projectile into outer space and keeping it relatively under control. The Soviet Union has shown the world what can be done in outer space. If a physicist explained it all to us, most of us would not understand. Yet this is only the first step into the future which, for me, is completely clouded. The only hope that Australia has of taking a part in that future is to see that more young men are trained in physics. The United Kingdom has been lagging behind
Soviet Russia. Four or five years ago it was obvious that the Soviet was placing, great emphasis upon technical training, and that eventually this would be reflected in technical superiority over the West.
Within the last two or three months Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd, Minister of Education for the United Kingdom, opened a new technical college as part of Britain’s £125,000,000 programme for the development of technical education. The arrival of “ Sputnik “ in the skies brought from our scientists a slashing condemnation of the fact that we had so few young scientists coming up who could match the work being done elsewhere in the world. I will not quote what they said. Every honorable senator has, no doubt, read it. I will, however, read the names of the men whom the “ Sun “ newspaper called on for comment. First of all, there was Professor Oliphant, who said -
Our universities have been caught with their pants down.
Professor Messel had quite a lot to say, but the main thing he said, dealing with the economic aspect, was -
Practically every scientist in Australia would give his right arm to get as much as a shearer’s cook.
That is how Professor Messel summed up the economic problem. He compared the salaries of scientists with the money earned by relatively untrained men in a particular occupation. He also said that in Russia a top scientist could buy two cars out of his monthly salary, whereas he himself cannot buy one. Sir Ian Clunes Ross and Professor David Myers were also questioned and said much the same thing - namely, that the financial prospects of young scientists were not attractive enough, in view of their value to the nation.
We have reached a stage in our social development when we can do things which, 20 or 30 years ago, were regarded as impracticable. In those days, the problem of putting children through a high school or a university was a problem solely for the mothers and fathers concerned. If parents were not well-off, it was a miracle if their child obtained a higher education. It was not so long ago that governments first offered bursaries to help parents to give their children a good education. I can remember a farewell dinner that was given to me in 1943. The Premier of New South Wales at that time, Sir William McKell, speaking to the press, said, “ For the first time we have given bursaries to an extraordinary extent “. The bursaries did seem extraordinary at that time. I think the bursary to which he was referring amounted to only £150, but at that time it was a new thing. It was all a part of our social education. He commented on the fact that the papers had not mentioned the matter and did not realize the importance the world that we want.
We must do more and more to help mothers and fathers to educate their families. As Senator Byrne said this afternoon, many children reach the Intermediate Certificate or Junior Public Examination standard, as it is in Queensland, but then have to leave school because of economic difficulties. That is the point at which help must be given, and it must be help of a substantial nature. We must learn the lessons of modern sociology and be prepared to put money aside so that young men, who, because of economic factors, cannot be provided with a higher education, will have an opportunity for such an education.
It is a tragedy, and a waste of something that is rare in any community, if a young man with more than his share of brains cannot go on to receive a higher education. It is a tragedy if young men of talent are prevented, through lack of a proper education, from playing their parts in making Australia great. A nation can be only as great as the men in it, and the men in it will be only as great as the opportunities offered to them to develop their intellectual capacity. I put it to the Government that more than passing attention should be given to this problem. I think the problem has reached the stage where a subcommittee of the Cabinet should be asked to consider what should be done to develop and improve our standards of education.
– Why not a select committee of the Senate?
– We have experienced a little difficulty in the appointment of select committees. Knowing how difficult it is to have a select committee appointed, I want to suggest a little, gentle sub-committee of the Cabinet. There are many of them, and one more would not be noticed. If such a sub-committee dealt with some of the problems I have mentioned, we might be able to solve them.
When young men have graduated from universities they should be able to get jobs that will repay them for their years of study, with salaries commensurate with the importance of the jobs. They should not be considered only as clerks who should be paid a few pounds more than an ordinary clerk. They should be looked upon as the architects of the world of to-morrow. Without them, we will not be able to build the world that we want.
– lt is significant that to-night, after a somewhat spirited protest from the Opposition about the procedure suggested by the Government for the debate on the Estimates, Senator Kennelly has moved an amendment dealing with subjects which are the responsibility of the States. Nobody should know that better than Senator Kennelly, who has been a member of a State government. He should know what are the responsibilities of a sovereign State. One part of the amendment dealt with social services, although a bill dealing with that subject was recently discussed fully by the Senate.
It is extraordinary that the first paragraphs of the amendment moved by the Opposition deal with problems that affect the States, namely, housing, hospitals, education and public works. In the very short time available to me, I shall consider quickly the responsibility of the States in these matters. Let me deal with the expenditure of funds by the State of New South Wales. It would be interesting, if I had time, to tell the Senate the whole of the sorry history of the handling of public works funds by that State. I can tell the story of the Sandy Hollow railway, which has been going on for fifteen or twenty years. The State of New South Wales has spent millions of pounds of the taxpayers’ money on that scheme. At the present time, the rabbits are eating out the line, but no train has yet travelled along the railway. Then there is the Keepit dam - the unchallenged record-holder for long-term construction. The money expended was provided by the Commonwealth, from the taxpayers’ money, but it has been dissipated by the State Government. Let me give honorable senators a few facts about this dam. It was authorized by the State Parliament in December, 1937 - a mere twenty years ago - and’ has been under construction for the whole of the present State Government’s’ sixteen years in office. The present estimates reveal that, it is still only two-thirds complete. So far, £7,626,000 has been spent on it, and a further £3,400,000 is required to complete it. When honorable senators opposite start talking about State responsibilities, it is necessary to tell them how badly some of the States are handling their funds;
Some reference has been made by Senator Kennelly to immigration. Here to*night, for probably the first time, we have heard a responsible member of the Labour party attack the present immigration policy. Let me read to the Senate a statement by Mr. Maloney, a former Minister for Labour and Industry in the New South Wales Government, about immigration. I shall read only a part of the statement, because obviously I cannot read the whole of it. It is contained in a press report, which said that Mr. Maloney stated -
No country in the world has shown the development that Australia has in a short period of time.
He. was speaking of the magnificent development that has taken place in Australia. His remarks are rather interesting, in view of what has been said during the last few days. The report stated that Mr. Maloney went on to say that Australia had sufficient resources to hold a big population and that he criticized people who wanted the immigration programme to be cut. I am wondering whether he will be excommunicated from the Labour party, in view of his obvious conflict with Senator Kennelly in regard to immigration. Every Australian knows that this young country, with a population of 9,600,000, needs more people. Every Australian knows that we must populate or perish. Even a State Labour Minister has admitted that the success achieved in this country has been contributed to, in large measure, but the magnificent efforts put into our developmental projects by the immigrants. Most of us have inspected the Snowy Mountains scheme and seen the magnificent work being done there by private contractors with labour forces comprised mainly of migrants. Many of us have seen the wonderful achievement of the migrant labour force employed on the Warragamba Dam- project. When I was in Western
Australia, the manager of a big. oil refining, project told me that migrants made up 60’ per cent, of his labour force.
It is rather significant that to-night, for the first time, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly) attacked our immigration programme. He shied off the subject a little, having two shillings each way, as it were, but at the same time he very subtly attacked it. I say that was not worthy of him. He should stand on his two feet and let us know exactly what his attitude is. Is he opposed to immigration, or is he not? Is he saying we should not have immigrants? Is he saying that we should continue the situation under which 10,000,000 people try to hold this country, or is he prepared to invite migrants to come over here and help to make Australia great?
In the few minutes left to me, I wish to refer to housing and in particular to the speech made by Senator Armstrong. Significantly again, I happen to have a copy of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ containing the views of a staff correspondent on the housing position. The article was published a few days ago, and I think it appropriate that I should read it. The article says -
The level of activity in the home-building industry is better than last year, and is showing signs of improving.
Incidentally, reference was made to-night to the proposed increase of £5,000,000 in the amount to be allocated for war service homes. A perusal of the Estimates will disclose that under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement the amount allocated to the States for housing is to be increased. I have just quoted a considered statement by a staff correspondent who says, after making a proper study of the subject, that there has been a decided improvement, and I prefer to accept his opinion to that of the Rural Bank.
Senator- Armstrong’s reference to the Rural Bank was most unfortunate. After all, the Rural Bank, which was the State bank of New South Wales, could have made a substantial contribution to housing with the £4,000,000 it granted as an overdraft to the Metropolitan Cement Distributors Proprietary Limited. I think that the £4,000,000 represented something like 25 per cent, of that bank’s overdraft outlay.
Let me finish with the following quotation from the same article published in the- “ Sydney Morning Herald’s “ financial supplement: -
The result of the larger allocations of cash (perhaps influenced by a Central Bank “suggestion “ to the trading banks to lend more to home building) has been that the number of homes begun in the last quarter of 19S6-S7 rose to 18,737, suggesting an annual rate of about 77,000 - the Government’s “ target “ figure.
– That is contrary to the Minister’s own figures.
– I am quoting a statement which suggests that the housing position has improved substantially. If Senator Kennelly has a contrary view on the subject, no doubt he will have more opportunities than I shall to deny the statement.
– I want you to quote the Minister’s own figures.
– There is no doubt that Senator Kennelly, by including in his amendment reference to matters which are clearly within the province of the States under our system of federation, knew he was building up a false argument, one without any substance. To-day, we heard the suggestion that the Minister should relent on the principles enunciated in connexion with the purchase of two State coal mines. Let me say that the New South Wales Government wants to spend £X on the purchase of two State coal mines and the expenditure of the money will not lead to the production of one extra ton of coal. That money, of course, will be allocated to the purchase at the expense of housing, hospital, education and other programmes about which honorable senators opposite have had so much to say. As to the first part of the amendment, I suggest that honorable senators opposite would do better to go back to their State Labour governments and tell them to manage their affairs much better than they do. If those governments did so, the amendment might have some substance. Money is allocated to the States under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, and the States have the responsibility of expending the funds. For reasons which will be appreciated at the moment, I must close on that point now.
against the use of the “ guillotine “ is now apparent; I have only about three minutes in which to make a first-reading speech. In the circumstances, the only matter with which I can deal is the amendment moved by Senator Kennelly. I cannot agree to two parts of the amendment. The first paragraph is quite all right but, if I had the opportunity, I should move that the second paragraph be deleted because I believe it is nothing more than a snide way of seeking to destroy our immigration programme. It will be appreciated, therefore, that if I had the opportunity I would speak at greater length on that part of the amendment.
The third paragraph reads: -
The sums for social services and for repatriation purposes shall be sufficient to enable those people entitled to receive these benefits to maintain the standard of living which they once had and to which they are entitled.
I could agree to the paragraph if the words, “ living which they once had “, were omitted. If any one is satisfied with the pensions and pension schemes as they have existed since their inception, I can only say he is easily satisfied. If I had the opportunity, I would ask that those words be deleted. This paragraph would then read -
The sums for social services and for repatriation purposes shall be sufficient to enable those people entitled to receive these benefits to maintain the standards to which they are entitled.
The inclusion of the words “ living which they once had “ is foolish because I have yet to be convinced that the pensioners have received justice in living standards over the years. If the parts to which I have objected were deleted from Senator Kennelly’s proposal, I should be quite prepared to accept it.
Senator Armstrong made a very good speech about housing. I suggest that the only way in which we can solve the housing problem is to make available through housing co-operatives a greater proportion of the sums allocated to the States for housing. The housing co-operatives are doing a marvellous job. If they had the money that is sometimes wasted by the States in heavy administrative costs I believe that the housing problem of Australia would he resolved within a few years.
– Order! The time allotted for the first reading of the bill has expired.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Kennelly’s amendment) be left out.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirma tive.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The main purpose of this measure is to appropriate from revenue amounts which are required to meet expenditure on the ordinary services of departments. The bill provides for the appropriation of £297,711,000 for the services of the year 1957-58. In addition, there are the amounts of £184,212,000 and £52,539,000, respectively granted under the Supply Act No. 19 of 1957, and sought in the Supply Bill (No. 2) 1957-58, representing a total estimated expenditure of £534,462,000 from annual appropriations for ordinary services for the year 1957-58. The amounts for the several departments are shown in the second schedule to the bill.
In addition, it is intended, as stated in the Budget speech of the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) to appropriate an amount of £119,363,000 to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve. Clause 5 of the bill gives effect to that proposal.
The expenditure proposals of the Government have already been outlined in the Budget speech and it is not intended to deal now with the various items in detail. Any explanations that may be sought by honorable senators will be provided at the committee stage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till to-morrow at 10 a.m.
Statements by Senator Aylett.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– In this chamber yesterday, Mr. President, some very fine speeches were made. However, on looking through to-day’s newspapers I found no reference whatever to the many interesting and informative matters that were mentioned in the debate. The only reference I could find to the proceedings was a report on what Senator Aylett had said against me. Knowing Senator Aylett’s reputation, although the statement was a palpable lie, I did not take exception to it when it was made. I did not object to it at the time because it was so silly that I did not think any objection was needed. However, the newspaper reporters saw fit to report, word for word, what Senator Aylett said in relation to me, and I therefore claim the right now to condemn his statement for what it was. As I said before, it was a palpable lie. In order to remind honorable senators of what Senator Aylett has done in the past in relation to this subject, I shall quote what he has said in this chamber. On 6th September, 1956, Senator Aylett said -
When it is getting to the stage when a man who is known as an underworld gunman can walk into an hotel and threaten to shoot up people if they do nol bow to his wishes, the position is getting serious. That is what is taking place. . . When we reach the position where those chaps will make a statement in front of a most prominent witness - and when I say a prominent witness T refer to one of the leading barristers of one of the capital cities of Australia - that they are carrying out the direct instructions of the Attorney-General of a State, it makes one stop and think just what is going on in that State.
That is the type of thing that Senator Aylett has been saying in this Senate. Of course, nobody has taken a great deal of notice of him. I shall quote another instance to show that what he says has no foundation and cannot be believed. On 15th May, 1957, Senator Aylett said -
T could cite an instance in which a senior officer in a police force engaged in work to which no member of this Senate would stoop.
I am surprised at him there -
He engaged in corruption and bribery in order to obtain convictions against innocent people. That is a bold statement to make, but if honorable senators want me to name the officer I can do so. I am not making charges that I cannot prove. In that instance, when complaints were made to the Tasmanian Attorney-General, who had power similar to that which this bill seeks to give to the Commonwealth Attorney-General, he called in the officer concerned and asked him to investigate complaints against himself.
I have given two examples of statements that have been made by Senator Aylett in this chamber. Then, yesterday, he made this statement - and Senator Cole threatened what he would do if I did not advocate that Labour voters should vote according to the ticket.
I threatened him -
He went further-
This is the part that would worry me, I think - and threatened to bash up age pensioners-
– You bully!
– I thought it was so very, very funny yesterday, but as the newspapers reported it under big headlines, I do not think it is so very, very funny now. As I said before, this is a deliberate lie. I hope the newspapers will print what I am saying in order to repair the harm that they have done. Senator Aylett may have been speaking in the heat of the moment - there were a lot of interjections - but honorable senators can see from the examples of his previous statements that I have given that he has a certain complex. I think he has a mental aberration, and the sooner he sees a psychiatrist the better it will be for this Parliament.
Mr. President, I just wanted to make that very, very clear to the people who could not find anything of news value in our proceedings yesterday other than what Senator Aylett said about me. I do not think I am the type of person who would go around bashing up age pensioners. I might do it to somebody a little bit stronger, but I would not take advantage of age pensioners. I do not think I have reached that stage yet.
– Not yet!
– I would not mind trying myself out on chaps like you in the corner, but then again, I am afraid I would not be speedy enough to catch you.
– Do not forget Senator O’Byrne’s war record.
– You sHould not start that one. That completes the correction that I wanted to make.
– At this stage, I have no intention of retracting anything that I have said, and I shall leave it to the electors of Tasmania to decide between Senator Cole and me.
– Are you not going to apologize?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.9 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 October 1957, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1957/19571024_senate_22_s11/>.