23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry whether he has seen an article in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ headed “ Increased Dollar Earnings by Crayfish Exports “. The article states that exports of Australian crayfish earned about 8,500,000 dollars in 1959-60- an increase of more than 20 per cent. compared with the earnings of the previous year - and that of the total amount of crayfish exported, 70 per cent. came from Western Australia. In view of the importance of this industry, will the Minister say whether any surveys are being conducted to ascertain what quantity of crayfish exists in the waters off the north-west of Western Australia? I am informed that a new type of crayfish has come into the area and that it is very hard to catch. This type lives on weeds - it does not eat meat - and ordinary baits are not suitable for it. I should like to know whether the Minister will make money available out of the funds provided for the fishing industry from the sale of the Commonwealth whaling station to have a survey made with a view to finding a satisfactory way to catch these crayfish.
– I have not seen the article to which Senator Scott refers but 1 know that there is considerable export trade in crayfish tails. I am well aware that the waters off the coast of Western Australia contain a great quantity of crayfish. Scientific personnel at present engaged in oceanographic survey work in Navy vessels off the north-western coast of Western Australia have as one of their tasks the gathering of knowledge for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. That knowledge in turn will be transmitted to the fishing industry and is expected to be of great assistance in determining where crayfish abound, their life cycle, at what times they may be caught and on what they feed. In general, the result of this work will be of great assistance to the crayfishing industry.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Does a statement in to-day’s press, attributed to a C.S.I. R.O. spokesman, that in Sydney next month a conference of rabbit control authorities, research specialists and primary producer representatives will initiate new moves on rabbit control based on poisoning, indicate -
Could the Minister give fuller information on the reasons which justify the proposed new policy?
– Recently I have read that myxomatosis has been having a diminishing effect on the control of rabbits in Australia. I am not aware that that is the reason why a change to poisoning is now being advocated, as suggested by the honorable senator. Perhaps it would be better for him to put the question on the noticepaper so that the Minister in charge of the C.S.I.R.O. can answer the question fully. If the honorable senator will do that, I will undertake to obtain an answer as early as possible.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service whether his attention has been drawn to the statement of Mr. Monk, the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, in the Melbourne press of Friday last in which he is reported as saying -
It was also true that the Government had recognized that a union could subscribe to a political fund and if it got into difficulties could recoup the money by imposing a levy after the election was over. We do not say that we should not have any political levies and the Government has not pushed us to that stage.
If this statement was in fact made, does the Government agree with it? If the statement truly reflects the views of the
A.C.T.U., does it deprive the recent resolution by that body against political levies of any value it might have?
– Yes, my attention has been drawn to the alleged statement made by Mr. Monk of the A.C.T.U., as reported in the press. If the report is in fact a true report of the statement, the Government does not agree with it and it is contrary to Government policy. That policy was made quite clear to the A.C.T.U. at the beginning of these negotiations and in the statement made by the Minister for Labour and National Service in another place. Consequently, the Government believes that the A.C.T.U. fully understands what the policy of the Government is in this matter and, according to the information we have, nothing said by Mr. Monk indicates, as the report suggests, that he does not understand the Government’s policy or is likely to attempt to evade it.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question. I ask the Minister: In view of the importance attached to the Australian Council of Trade Unions’ resolution in the statement in another place by the Minister for Labour and National Service on the subject of compulsory political levies on 21st September, does he not think that it is incumbent on the Government to ascertain definitely whether that resolution represents the viewpoint of Mr. Monk, even at this fluid stage of what the Minister for the Navy was pleased to refer to a moment ago. as “ negotiations “? I ask the Minister whether he will take steps, before the bill which Senator Cole introduced last night is debated by the Senate, to ascertain definitely whether the statement referred to in Senator Hannan’s question does represent the view of Mr. Monk.
– I can only repeat what I said in reply to Senator Hannan’s question. The Government’s information is that nothing which has been said by the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions is inconsistent with an understanding of the Government’s policy and with the statement made by the A.C.T.U. in the resolution to which Senator Wright referred. I do not think I can add anything to what I have said.
– My question, is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of statements by the Premier of Tasmania and others on the possibility of the discovery of oil under the waters of Bass Strait, will the Minister request the French experts now in Australia to make a survey of that area?
– When the French report becomes a public document, as I hope it will in the near future, it will contain the views of these experts upon geological formations and the influence of those formations upon oil bearing possibilities in most parts of Australia.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise by referring to a statement attributed to the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Councillor Evans, which appeared in last night’s Melbourne “ Herald “. Councillor Evans predicted that a big influx of tourists is ready to hit Australia and he said we should be prepared for them. He went on to say that next year the trip from Darwin to Hong Kong would take five and a half hours but by the time a passenger from overseas had gone through the customs, collected his baggage and changed planes, the journey from Sydney to Melbourne would take nearly as long. Will the Minister indicate what steps the Department of Customs and Excise is taking to cope with an influx of tourists as predicted by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne? Would the Minister care to comment on the rather undue emphasis given in the statement to the time taken by a passenger to go through the Customs, collect baggage and proceed from Sydney to Melbourne?
– I did read the statement made by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne on his return from the Olympic Games in Rome. I think he rather overstated the case. The Department of Customs and Excise is geared to cope with any influx of tourists into Australia. We would clear an aircraft at Darwin if we found that Sydney was over-loaded. If a plane from overseas was going on to Melbourne we could clear the passengers at Melbourne. We have ample facilities in Darwin, Sydney and Melbourne to deal with any influx of visitors. The department has installed at Sydney one of the most uptodate systems for handling passengers. It is known as Operation Supermarket and the procedure is streamlined.
Often people make the mistake, into which, I think, the Lord Mayor has fallen, of regarding the time taken in clearing a passenger as being time taken wholly in the observance of Customs procedures. The immigration and health authorities have to be satisfied as well as the customs officials. Subject to a reservation as to the place from which an aircraft has come, I say that we can generally clear an 80-passenger plane at Mascot in 45 minutes. I do not think that period is unduly long. If a passenger was going through to Melbourne we could clear him at Darwin and make his baggage available so that he could catch another plane and proceed direct to Melbourne.
The other comment I should like to make on the Lord Mayor’s statement is that I thought he was referring more to the construction of a new airport at Melbourne. I think he showed some inclination towards a new airport at Melbourne at the expense of further safety aids at that airport. I travel frequently by air and land at Melbourne two or three times a week. I know the vagaries of the weather, and the difficult conditions which can be experienced at Essendon and I can only say that I am all for safety aids. If an aircraft in which I am travelling comes down in a fog, a dog kennel seems like a palace to me once I am down on the ground.
– By way of a supplementary question, I ask the Minister whether he can explain why passengers are taken to Sydney to be cleared by the customs authorities instead of being cleared at the first port of call, namely Darwin or Perth, as the case may be.
– We deal with passengers at Darwin and also at Perth, Sydney and Melbourne, depending on the final destination of the aircraft.
– We have the best service in the world.
– Thank you, Senator Hendrickson. I can only say, in answer to Senator Vincent’s question, that if an aircraft is going to Sydney and most of the passengers are going there, we find it much better and much easier to have the bulk of the clearance work done in Sydney. We find that much more expeditious. I think the honorable senator will realize that we do not want to keep a large staff at Darwin, which is a costly airport to maintain, or at Perth, if the majority of passengers are going to Sydney or Melbourne. In those circumstances, the passengers want to be cleared quickly by the customs officers and to have done with the procedure. If passengers for Western Australia arrive at Perth we clear them at Perth, and if passengers for the Northern Territory arrive at Darwin from other countries we clear them at Darwin. We adopt the procedure that will accelerate clearance. I think it is most important for passengers from overseas to be given the best reception that it is possible to give them wherever they arrive in Australia.
– I, too, direct a supplementary question to the Minister. Is it not a fact that in other countries airline passengers are cleared by the customs authorities at the first port of entry? Since most airline passengers from overseas who arrive at Darwin are compelled to stay there for some hours while the aircraft is refuelled, why can they not be cleared there by the customs officers? Admittedly, it is quite a long time since I arrived at that airport from overseas, but I know that when I did, the arrangements there cost me a connexion with a plane to Sydney. I am not saying that the officers at Darwin were not as quick and as diligent as they ought to have been, but the fact is that we are not following the procedure that has been adopted by other countries.
– The honorable senator mentioned this aspect to me about twelve months ago, I think, in the course of conversation, and I then had a look at it. We are quite prepared to clear at Darwin passengers who want to join a connecting aircraft. If they let us know, we are happy to do that. But if we were to have our main staff other than at places to which the majority of travellers were going, we would involve the department and the taxpayers of Australia in added expense which would not be justified. I think it will be found that most of the main airports overseas are at the capital cities, and of course customs clearances are in the main carried out at those places. I rest on the results of the investigations 1 have made. I feel that it is cheaper to do the bulk of the clearances at the main airports and to keep the majority of our staff at those airports, rather than to incur added cost by having it at outports, such as Darwin.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. 1 preface it by stating that this morning’s Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ contained a statement attributed to Sir William Ogilvie, who is described as a leading British surgeon, to the effect that the current propaganda linking animal fats with heart disease was nothing but a racket. I ask the Minister whether that opinion is in accord with the facts as they are known in Australia.
– I did read this morning an article attributed to Sir William Ogilvie, a leading British surgeon and a well-known writer and medical authority on this subject. I noticed that he said that publicity linking animal fats with heart disease was propaganda. I think there are two schools of thought on the subject. Some eminent doctors say that the consumption of animal fats leads to the building up of cholesterol in the arteries, but other doctors say that if a person takes the right amount of exercise he can get rid of it and, therefore, that the consumption of animal fats is not conducive to heart disease. There are conflicting views, and I do not think the question has been finally resolved. However, we must not forget that Sir William Ogilvie is a leading British surgeon and that his opinion should not be taken lightly.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has he seen the current edition of “ This Week in Canberra “ - which claims to be the guide to the best in Canberra - and noticed that under the heading “ Parliament “ there is no mention of the fact that the Senate is in session, although the hours of meeting of the House of Representatives are given? As this magazine publishes items of both cultural and entertainment interest concerning what is available in Canberra, can the Minister arrange for the publishers to be asked to publish details of the sittings of the Senate?
– I wish to raise a point of order, Mr. Deputy President. I am appalled by some of the questions that are asked in this chamber at question time. According to the Standing Orders, the only questions that may be asked without notice are those designed to elicit information from Ministers on matters of public importance. I feel, Sir, that we are drifting into the situation that questions are being asked which consume the time of the Senate but which do not comply with the provision of the Standing Orders which requires that questions without notice shall relate to matters of public importance.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Replying to the point of order, as the Deputy President I am not prepared at this stage to depart from the procedure that the President himself has adopted. He has allowed to honorable senators on both sides of the chamber a fair degree of latitude - perhaps more latitude than, strictly speaking, should be allowed under the Standing Orders - but if honorable senators insist that the Standing Orders be enforced to the letter, I remind them that they will not be the happiest people in the world. While I am acting in my present capacity, I shall approach this matter more or less along the line taken by the President, but I appeal to honorable senators not to make the position too difficult for me.
– Mr. Deputy President, the interlude has made it very difficult for me to answer the question, because I cannot remember precisely what was asked. I shall not request Senator Marriott to place the question on the notice-paper, but T assure him that I will see what T can do about the matter he raised, whatever it was.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that to-day marks a milestone in the history of the development of Canberra as the national capital, insofar as it marks the official end of the Canberra University College? As from to-morrow, the college will become a part of the Australian National University and henceforth will be known as the School of General Studies of the Australian National University. Is the Minister aware of the debt owed to the University of Melbourne for the part it has played in enabling the Canberra University College to function for the last 30 years? Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate convey to the University of Melbourne his appreciation of its past assistance to the Canberra University College and extend to the college our best wishes for its future development?
– I doubt whether it would be in accordance with parliamentary procedure for me to adopt Senator Tangney’s suggestion, but 1 say without reservation that honorable senators on both sides of the chamber agree with the sentiments that she has expressed. We regard this not as the end of the work of the present institution but as the beginning of a new and greater era for it. I know that all members of the Government and honorable senators generally are very appreciative of what the University of Melbourne has done in helping our college to become established.
– I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Health a question which arises out of a statement made by a leading Adelaide children’s specialist to the effect that the number of children admitted to children’s hospitals in Australia suffering from burns is increasing. He also pointed out that such cases were preventable. Will the Minister take steps, such as were taken in the United Kingdom, to compel manufacturers to label all children’s garments “ Inflammable “ or “ Non-inflammable “?
– I did not see the statement, but I realize that the question is one of importance. At this stage I do not know just what steps can be taken. Consideration can be given to this suggestion for the labelling of all garments, but I do not know whether that would be entirely effective unless the children had reached the age at which they could read. After all, if they were wearing garments that were inflammable, they would have to be taught not to go near a fire, or anywhere else where they could be burned.
A film entitled “ It need not have happened “, which has been prepared with the assistance of the Commonwealth Government, is to be released shortly in Tasmania. It shows the various accidents in homes which can happen to small children and the way in which they can be averted. Such propaganda as that would probably do a great deal towards eliminating many of these accidents, and I think that film can be of great assistance if it is widely distributed throughout Australia. However, I shall bring to the notice of the Minister for Health the suggestion made by Senator Buttfield, because anything that will help to prevent accidents to children is of great importance to the Commonwealth.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Will the Government, when considering the report of the decimal currency committee, consider the minting of, and names and designs for, the coins in the new currency? Will the Government consider conducting an Australia-wide competition to select the most suitable names and designs for the new coins, as this would tend to avoid errors in the early stages of changing over to the decimal system?
– I foresee that if the recommendations of the decimal currency committee are adopted by the Government, one of the most teasing problems will be that to which the honorable senator directs my attention, that is, the giving of appropriate names to the new coins adopted.
– We could call them “ Bobs “.
– That might lead to some political by-play; I do not know whether it would be a particularly good idea. The suggestion made by the honorable senator is an interesting one. If the Government has to consider this aspect, and if, from the resources available to it, it cannot find names that are suitable, a competition such as he has suggested may be of great assistance.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the
Minister for Air. I refer to a report from the Minister for Air to the effect that about £500,000 is to be spent on the building of a Royal Australian Air Force School of Technical Training at Wagga, in New South Wales. As this project involves the erection of living quarters, a science block and an amenities block and therefore is hardly a security project, and having regard to recent legislation relating to the Public Works Committee, will the Minister for Air have this project referred to the committee for investigation?
– I shall bring to the notice of the Minister for Air the matter raised by the honorable senator.
– I ask you, Mr. Deputy President, whether, in view of the fact that each week increasing numbers of school children are visiting Canberra, and particularly Parliament House, consideration can be given to the publication of a souvenir booklet which would explain to the children in simple terms the functions of the Parliament and give some indication of the importance of documents to be found in the building. Such a booklet would be of interest to them in their studies and would be a permanent reminder of their visit to the Parliament.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- I can appreciate the great value of such a booklet, but I do not think the honorable senator would expect me, as the Deputy President, to make a decision on the matter. I shall bring to the attention of the President, upon his return from overseas, the suggestion made by the honorable senator and point out to him the value which she, and doubtless the rest of us, believe such a booklet would have. It is very encouraging to see such large numbers of children coming to Canberra. It is educative for them to come to Parliament House and see the National Parliament at work. Such a booklet would enable, them to recall their visit and thereby, perhaps, to have a greater appreciation of it.
– Is the Minister for Customs and Excise, aware that Australian film producers make extensive use of an
American high-speed colour film known as Ektachrome in the production of documentary and other films? Is he also aware that, whilst this film is purchased and exposed in Australia, there are at present no facilities within Australia to process it? The work at present has to be done in the United States of America, to which country the exposed film is forwarded. Is the Minister aware, too, that when this Aus.tralianproduced film is returned to this country after processing it is regarded by his department as being of foreign origin and accordingly attracts customs duty at the rate of 6d. a foot? Does he not agree that this is a serious anomaly which is inflicting hardship on a struggling Australian industry? If so, will he take his usual speedy action to have the matter rectified?
– It has recently been brought to my attention that this film cannot be processed in Australia, that it goes overseas to be processed, that it then returns and attracts duty. Without having a full knowledge of the facts, it does seem that an anomaly exists and that it is a hardship on a struggling Australian industry. But the Parliament has provided a protective duty to enable, industries to be established in Australia. If that duty would have the effect of causing this film to be processed in Australia at the earliest possible moment, the position may not be as bad as it appears at first blush. I am not fully informed on the matter at the moment. As I have said, this matter has only recently been referred to me and it is now being examined to see what steps can be taken.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Has his attention been directed to a statement in last night’s Melbourne “ Herald “ to the effect that the Department of External Affairs is seeking an agreement with, the Public Service Board for the provision of financial aid to enable young officers to learn the languages of South-East Asia? The article stated that, the spokesman of the Department of External Affairs claimed that the learning of Asian languages was time-consuming and that books used were expensive. I ask the Minister whether it is a fact that the department wishes diplomats who learn these languages to receive special financial aid. Is it a fact that the Public Service Board, as the article claims, so far has withheld financial aid? Does the Minister consider that foreign language lessons prepared by the department and put on tape would be of great assistance to diplomats abroad who need to learn Asian languages? Will the Minister consider whether any other up-to-date method of overcoming the problem can be evolved?
– Yes, I did notice the article in the Melbourne “ Herald “. The Department of External Affairs would like to be able to pay the costs incurred by such members of its staff as took up the study of Asian languages and made satisfactory progress. The department would like to reimburse those officers and also would like to give them the necessary time off for such study. The Public Service Board has so far withheld full financial aid except in respect of the Russian, Japanese, Arabic and Chinese languages. With regard to other languages the board gives some financial aid. It will reimburse officers up to 50 per cent, of the cost of learning a language with a maximum of £20. I do not know whether lessons prepared by the board and put on tape would be of assistance. I suppose that they might be, but I myself would not suggest that lessons should be standardized and published by a government department. I think the languages should be learned in the normal way in which most people learn them now. At the present moment a committee representing the Public Service Board, the Treasury and the Department of External Affairs is meeting to consider this matter. It appears that the department will be able to pay the costs incurred by its officers in learning Asian languages, but I add that it takes two or three years properly to learn an Asian language of any complexity and the granting of time off to officers of the department to enable them to pursue their studies will present some difficulties from a staffing point of view.
– I ask the
Minister for National Development: What stage has been reached in negotiations between the Commonwealth, the Premier of South Australia and other Premiers concerned on the building of a dam on the river Murray above Renmark to create a large storage of river Murray water in that region?
– My recollection is that at present the governments concerned have referred this matter to the River Murray Commission for investigation and inquiry on the technical level. The inquiry will also be concerned with the practicability of the project. The investigation is quite a large one because it covers aspects relating not only to the immediate position but also to the waters that may be available in future as further storages are built on the river Murray, or its tributaries, upstream from the dam site. My latest information on the matter was that the River Murray Commission was appointing the technical officers required for the investigation and was considering some preliminary reports at a meeting held quite recently. I asked for details of those preliminary reports. I do not know that anything of any great importance will have been established yet but I have sought information about the preliminary reports in order to keep abreast of events.
asked the Minister representing the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, upon notice -
– The Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has now furnished the following reply: -
New York, United States of America. He has already discussed the reasons tor his visit with several C.S.I.R.O. officers and it is understood that Dr. Mueller has also contacted a number of university and State departmental officers.
asked the Minister representing the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Acting Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The following answers have been supplied: -
This £6,200,000 represents part year effect of marginal increase which dated from 3rd December, 1959. The estimated effect of the marginal increase over a full year is £10,700,000. Therefore, a full year cost of the marginal increase and basic wage adjustment would be -
asked the Minister representing the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The following answer has been supplied: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answer is as follows: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
As it is now within two months of the commencement of what could well be one of the largest grain harvests of recent years in South Australia, will the Minister arrange for an early survey to be made of the grain position in South Australia with particular reference to the existence of adequate storage facilities for grain pending export?
– I have received the following reply from the Minister for Primary Industry -
The authorities responsible or the bulk handling of wheat, for bagged handling of wheat, and for barley have this matter in hand. South Australia is well placed. There is a very small carryover of old grain; and portion of the new crop can be held in bagged stocks if necessary. Bulk storage of wheat, which is increasing each season, has provided extra space. The Barley Board has indicated that it expects to handle a record barley crop, if present conditions continue, without undue worry
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
In view of the fact (a) that since the war 4,500,000 head of cattle have died as a result of drought conditions in various parts of Australia, and (b) that experiments carried out by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization have shown that a beast can survive on 2J lb. of wheat and a little limestone per week, will the Minister give consideration to developing a plan whereby part of the present huge wheat surpluses being stored at great cost in silos throughout Australia and part of the anticipated record harvest in the current season could be made available at minimum cost for stock feed in drought areas?
– The Minister for Primary Industry has supplied the following answer: -
It is a fact that, due to the incidence of drought in particular areas of Australia over the years, cattle losses have been heavy, although the exact figure is not known. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, in conjunction with the Faculty of Rural Science of the University of New England, has carried out a considerable amount of work in connection with drought feeding of stock. The preliminary results indicate that cattle can be kept alive on as little as 34 lb. wheat per day plus a little limestone. Ample supplies of wheat are available in Australia to-day to meet all contingencies, including stock-feed requirements for drought areas. Under complementary Commonwealth and State legislation, the Australian Wheat Board is the sole constituted authority for the sale of Australian wheat and is obliged to sell wheat on the domestic market at a fixed home consumption price. The board has no legal authority to sell wheat in Australia below this price, whatever might be the particular circumstances.
– I desire to inform the Senate that yesterday the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) announced that to-day he will be proceeding overseas to attend the United Nations General Assembly. During his absence the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) will act as Prime Minister and the Minister for the
Navy (Senator Gorton) will act as Minister for External Affairs. Until the return to Australia of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), the Minister for Trade will also administer his portfolio.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
Repatriation Bill 1960.
Social Services Bill 1960.
Debate resumed from 28th September (vide page 785), on motion by Senator Wade-
That consideration be given to the wool industry and particularly to the following matters: -
Whether the wool industry and the Australian economy generally are being endangered by the downward trend in wool prices;
Whether an expanded sales promotion campaign would have a steadying effect on the market;
Whether a more vigorous research programme into credit facilities and production problems would materially assist the industry; and
Whether a competent independent body should be set up to inquire into all the aspects of wool marketing
– Mr. Deputy President, when the Senate adjourned last night I was discussing various aspects of the wool industry including the selling system which has been adopted in Australia following World War I. and World War II. I pointed out the very great fluctuations that had occurred in the prices received under the present auction system, and that with a floor price or reserve price the market had not fluctuated as greatly.
I propose to resume my speech on this motion by dealing with the second point raised by Senator Wade, which asks whether an expanded sales promotion campaign would have a steadying effect on the market. As honorable senators know, at present Australian wool-growers are contributing about 5 s. a bale for wool use promotion. We have set up a wool board which is carrying out that function. I believe the board has increased the safes of wool in Australia and the international secretariat, which has now spent some £2,000,000, has also considerably increased sales of wool.
Unfortunately we are up against keen competition from the manufacturers of the synthetic fibres of the world who spend large sums of money in advertising their wares. I understand that something like £25,000,000 a year is spent on promoting sales of synthetic fibrescompared with £2,000,000 a year provided by the growers of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand for a sales promotion campaign for wool. We will have to intensify our campaign if we are to come anywhere near the amount that is spent by overseas companies on sales promotion campaigns to sell synthetic man-made fibres. The wool industry at present is contributing 5s. a bale towards sales promotion, but I think it would be a safe investment if the industry were to contribute another 5s. a bale, bringing the total to 10s. On 5,000,000 bales the total contribution would be about £2,500,000. This matter is of such vital importance to Australia - not only to the wool-grower, but also to the people, the economy and the country generally - that I think the Government should contribute on a £1 for £1 basis with the wool-growers towards sales promotion in Australia and overseas.
I should now like to say a few words on the third point raised by Senator Wade, namely, whether a more vigorous research programme into credit facilities and production problems would materially assist the industry. The Government is contributing in the vicinity of 4s. a bale and the growers 2s. a bale, making a total of 6s., for research into the industry generally. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has brought forward some wonderful ideas for increasing the sale of wool in Australia and overseas. As a result of its studies we have at the present time a drip-dry shirt made completely of wool. I believe the production of such an article will have a considerable affect on future sales of wool. The C.S.I.R.O. has also enabled si-ro-set woollen trousers to be produced which keep their crease. Other improvements that have been made as a result of studies by the organization will also help to increase the sale of wool throughout the world. The researches conducted by this body should be continued at the present rate, and possibly increased.
The fourth point raised by Senator Wade was whether a competent independent body should be set up to inquire into all aspects of wool marketing. I think that is the most important section of his very interesting motion. A suit of clothes contains approximately 5 lb. of greasy wool. If we assume that the price of the wool is Ss. per lb., the total cost of the greasy wool content of a suit amounts to 25s.
– The raw wool?
– That is the value of the raw greasy wool in a suit at the present time assuming the price of wool to be 5s. per lb. If the price of the wool was 6s. per lb., a suit that would cost about £40 would have 30s. worth of raw greasy wool in it. An increase in the price of wool by ls. would increase the price of a suit by only 5s., or,, expressed as percentage, by onehalf of I per cent, of the total cost of the suit. I cannot see, therefore, why buyers from overseas manufacturing countries want to form pies in order to knock the price of wool down to the very low level it has reached at the present time. The price has fallen below the cost of production and still the buyers are not satisfied. I cannot see why they should be endeavouring to buy this commodity at lower and yet lower prices. They are not satisfied with 5s. per lb., but have reduced the price to the vicinity of 46d. per lb.
– Is not that often done to offset the money that is invested in futures?
– That may be so. The whole idea of the setting up of the futures market was to try to stabilize the price of wool-. When the price of wool is going up woollen manufacturers buy their requirements six months ahead.
– For whom is the market stabilized?
– For the purchasers, and also for the growers. It has an effect both ways. Notwithstanding the setting up of the futures market the price has fallen considerably this year compared with last year. The price is now below the cost of production, but the people who come to buy our wool continue to work in pies and are still not satisfied. The growers evidently are completely happy to take what they can get.
As I said last night the Government did attempt to produce a plan. A referendum was taken of the growers and the plan was knocked out. 1 believe that the reason the plan was rejected was that the price of wool at the time was something over ls. above the cost of production. That should have been the very time for the growers to support a scheme. There was a big vote against it. The wise wool-growers of Western Australia voted for the scheme. If a referendum were held at the present time when the average price is only 46d. per lb. - and we know that a suit would npt be any cheaper because an increase in price would make a difference of only 4s. or 5s. - I think the wool-growers would be in favour of a stabilized marketing scheme. I was very sorry to hear in 1951 that the growers of Australia had rejected the proposal which had been worked out jointly by the wool-growers of Australia and the Governments of New Zealand and South Africa. If the proposal had been adopted by this country it would have had a considerable effect in stabilizing the wool market.- The scheme was adopted in New Zealand, and it is interesting to note that it has flourished there. It began with a fund of approximately £26,000,000 and With the interest that has accrued, it has now reached £30,000,000. I understand that, to the end of last year, there had been no contribution by the growers to the scheme. At certain sales in New Zealand, when the price of wool was low, about 50 per cent, of the wool offered was bid for by the organization operating on behalf of the wool-growers of that country.
If the proposal had been adopted by Australia and we now had a similar scheme operating, I think the New Zealand scheme would be even more successful. As it is, the major wool-producing country of the world is outside the scheme, while the two countries with the next greatest production - New Zealand and South Africa - are endeavouring to operate a reserve price scheme. Since they are having a certain degree of success, it must be agreed that if Australia also were to adopt such a scheme it would be very successful. I am not suggesting that a reserve price scheme should be based on the cost of production. As we know, wool has to compete with the synthetic fibres. I believe that it could do so with greater ease if there were a reserve price scheme. The price of wool would rise, but wool would still be able to compete successfully with man-made fibres. 1 like Senator Wade’s fourth matter for consideration, namely, whether an independent body should be set up to inquire into nil aspects of wool marketing. 1 commend the honorable senator for raising that matter, and, in fact, 1 commend him for bringing forward the motion now before the Set. ate. lt deals with a subject that is of great importance to the Australian economy. 1 am of the opinion that a committee to consist of two wool-growers, a person appointed by the Government, a representative of the wool-brokers, and one other person - perhaps a representative of the manufacturers - should be appointed to inquire into all aspects of wool marketing.
– Why would the honorable senator make the committee so big?
– I think it would be advisable to have a couple of representatives of the growers. After all, the industry has several sections. I should have a representative of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and ore of the Australian Wool-growers Council. Having decided to have two representatives of the growers and one Government appointee, a further representative of the industry should be appointed.
The committee would survey the whole of the methods of wool selling in Australia and also investigate the methods adopted by other countries, lt would need to acquaint itself with the New Zealand system and with the marketing methods of other countries such as, for instance, the support price scheme of America, the United Kingdom system, under which the Treasury is called on for support, and the currency or exchange manipulation scheme in South America by means of which the growers are assisted. The committee would be required to collate the information that was available to it and to recommend a scheme to help and protect not only the woolgrowers of Australia but also the Australian economy.
– Like other honorable senators, I commend Senator Wade for bringing this motion before the Senate in an endeavour to pro mote a frank discussion of what he has so rightly described as one of the most important factors in the economic life of this country. It is interesting, Mr. Acting Deputy President, that so many people should be directing attention to the wool industry, because traditionally it is an industry that has sailed along fairly well without outside help. The industry has enjoyed advantages in many respects. It has benefited from our climatic conditions and also from the foresight of those who first bred the merino strain in Australia. That strain has been developed and we produced a commodity that was wanted throughout the world. Those favorable circumstances have obtained until recently, when a new set of factors has begun to operate.
The Australian wool industry is now facing problems, both internally and externally, which demand serious appraisal. It is a well-established fact that declining wool prices are a threat both to the industry and to our economy. Wool-growers are being forced to leave the industry because it is now uneconomic for them to continue to engage in it. Large areas of northern New South Wales and Queensland are facing a combination of falling wool prices and one of the worst droughts in the history of the industry. Falling prices and drought could well have a calamitous effect on our economy. I think we have to examine the industry from start to finish, if we are to stabilize it and to do something for the growers, the men who do the hard work in areas isolated from urban populations and who forgo many of the pleasures of modern civilization. A complete survey is necessary if we are to make it worth while for those men to carry on the great battle that has traditionally been waged by them. Their first battle is against nature, which can be a very difficult opponent to overcome. Nature has an infinite variety of moods. According to her mood, the farmers experience drought and flood, insect pests, heat-waves to burn off the grass, and other adverse conditions. Those are natural difficulties with which the man on the land always has to contend.
The next battle that the man on the land has is in the actual handling of his stock. This is a continuing process, because the better the husbandry the better will be the quality of his wool. It seems that the sheep, although normally one of the hardiest of animals, is under certain circumstances a squib - by which 1 mean that it will lie down and die very easily.
– O/er 5,000 sheep were lost in South Australia during the last week-end.
– In a cold snap?
– If there is a particularly bad wave of blowfly, sometimes you can see sheep walking about with only a little ring of wool around their necks, having been attacked by the flies for months, but sometimes in hot steamy weather when the blowflies have been bad for only two or three days, weaners will go away and lie down to die under a bush. The wool-grower has to contend also with foot rot, with various types of intestinal worms, and with eye diseases, such as pink eye, which cause blindness. He has to care for his flock. If he is a good man, he likes doing that.
– If he is a good man, those things do not present great difficulties.
– I am just sketching the picture. 1 have shown that the woolgrower has to contend with natural forces and with difficulties due to the nature of the industry.
Then we come to the human factor. All along the line the wool-grower is, so to speak, the target for to-night of predatory men. He has to pay through the nose for everything he needs, so his costs are high. In addition, he is preyed upon by people who realize that he is more or less anchored to his property, and has to rely upon others to dispose of his clip. These people force down the price of wool on the market. The wool-growers have been faced with high and rising costs during the past eleven years. If they thought about the matter, they would conclude that their greatest enemy during that period has been the policy of the present Government.
The wool-grower has to take a gamble in almost everything. If he is a breeder, he has to gamble on whether the seasons will be favorable when the lambs come along. If he puts in watering places, he has to gamble on whether the sites chosen will be good holding places. When he buys a ram, he has to gamble on whether it will introduce good or detrimental qualities to his flock. But he should not have to gamble on the way in which his wool will be sold. Later, 1 shall have something to say about the insecurity of this important industry under the auction system. At this stage, 1 should like to quote from a document entitled “ Further Report by The Honorable Mr. Justice Cook under section 8 of the Monopolies Act, 1923, concerning the Trade in Wool”. At page 10, Mr. Justice Cook stated -
I am clearly of the opinion that a pie is a combination for limiting or excluding competition in the trade in wool. Looking at the effect of pies, and bearing in mind their inherent purpose, they limit competition in that a pie member does not continue to bid against another pie member with a view to obtaining his requirements. Hence instead of the full and free competition of all desirous of acquiring wool the competition is limited by the withdrawal of the competition of pie members inter se. There is thus in fact a limitation - and pro tanto exclusion - of competition. Accordingly I find that within the meaning of paragraph (d) of the Terms of Reference, there are many combinations “for limiting or excluding competition in the trade in wool “.
I think it will be of advantage if I include in the record another statement in the report. At page 11, it states -
The fact which 1 consider to be of supreme importance is that this commodity, which plays such an important part in the well-being and prosperity of the community, has (except in times of war) been disposed of under the auction system. This can be said to be a long-standing, generally accepted, national policy. That being so then it is in my view, essential that such an auction system should be a free auction system, an inherent element in which is full, and unrestricted, competition on the part of all participating therein as purchasers. I have found that pie arrangements are a negation of the principle of a free auction system because they involve a restriction of free competition. This restriction of free competition benefits buyers with large limits. It benefits those with smaller limits. Clearly it can be said that pie arrangements benefit the purchasers under the existing conditions under which our wool is sold. But what of the benefit to the producers, bearing in mind that the benefit to the producers, by way of the proceeds of the wool clip, is lbc measure of the benefit to the public generally? Unless I am left with “ a comfortable satisfaction “ that as against the diminution in benefits to some growers there is an offsetting compensating benefit in some way to other growers, then I feel bound to come to the conclusion that the restrictive influences of pies on the operation of the free auction system constitute a detriment to the public. The evidence does not establish such an offsetting compensating benefit.
Though there have been general assertions as to its existence, the actual cases of pie transactions which were examined do not support these assertions.
I have therefore reached the conclusion that as pie arrangements involve a limitation and restriction of competition, inconsistent with the concept of a free aucton system and that as the disposal of our wool clip by auction is a longstanding policy, hitherto - and at present - accepted as being in the best interests of the community, any curtailment of the normal operation of that system by means of arrangements’ restricting competition is detrimental to the public. 1 therefore hold that pie arrangements, being combinations falling within paragraphs (b) and (d) of the Terms of Reference, are detrimental to the public.
There is no shadow of a doubt that the buyers realize how much the growers are at their mercy through the stupidity of the auction system. They have been able to put their heads together, as in every other field of business, and apply restrictive trade practices, such as bulk buying, discounts and rebates. All of these things are just common practice in business to-day. Does any one mean to say that in an industry involving such a tremendous amount of money, including nearly half of our total export earnings, it will be possible to bypass these boys who know so much about the industry? In the evidence taken in New South Wales, there was mention of the operators. As long as I have been going to wool sales, I have been intrigued at the technique they adopt. When a huge gallery of buyers is present you hear a babel of noise as though you are amongst a bunch of chimpanzees, and the buyers pick on a price, in accordance with an agreement. These fellows travel together. Their travel arrangements are made and their hotel accommodation is booked more or less from year to year. Does any one mean to say that with such close friendly contact they will not put their heads together and say: “ Old Bill Smith from Corona Downs will be in. His clip will be sold. His wool suits such-and-such a top maker. You and I will share it.”?
– You and I are very good friends, but we disagree violently.
– That is quite all right. I shall go on and you will find that I disagree with you even more. I do not think that in your contribution to the debate you put the case for the wool industry.
– Were these practices going on when 200d. per lb. was being paid?
– No, I believe that there was a world shortage. There was a war in Korea and there was tremendous competition by people who feared that there was going to be another war. That is the way to get high prices - have a war. There is more money in war than there is in peace. That is why there are so many warmongers about. There is big money in war. When there is general buying by countries, up go the prices. As soon as the fear of war passes, the parasites and barnacles come back and organize the market amongst themselves.
The point I make is that the brokers have not carried out their responsibilities to the farmer because they have not been educating the farmer in relation to what has been going on over the years. A man named McGregor is one of the key operators in the pie tie-up in the Australian wool industry. Mr. Justice Cooke stated that various people had interlocking pies for the purchase of certain varieties of wool. Behind it all we find McGregor who is, and has been over the years, working the pies and now is also working the futures on the wool market. Here we are talking about men being likely to walk off their places if wool prices continue to decline but the wool that they will produce two years hence is being sold now. Who will produce in two years’ time that wool which is being sold now? When we analyse the wool industry, we find that the position is fantastic.
I place a little of the blame on the grower. I believe that he has contributed to his present plight. I make the point that the inflationary policy of the Commonwealth Government, for which all Government supporters are equally responsible, has been a cause of costing ourselves out of the world’s markets. It is happening with every commodity, but particularly with primary commodities, because we have to subsidize them. We have to subsidize our wheat and our butter, and other commodities all along the line. We could not subsidize the berry industry in Tasmania because costs were so high. As a result, the farmers had to dig out their vines and canes, and the industry has declined to a fragment of what it was because it was costed out of its markets. The same thing can easily happen to our wool industry unless something is done. Monetary inflation has placed a tremendous burden upon the wool-grower and whether he can pass the costs on depends on the pot-luck of the auction system. In nearly every other stratum of our economic society, the buck can be passed till old John Citizen pays, but the wool-grower has to rely on those noises at auction sales to which I have referred and whether he gets back his share of the money depends on them.
I want to deal now with the matter of efficiency in the industry. In many aspects, the industry is pretty haphazard. That is partly the fault of the farmer himself, and partly the fault of the brokers for not supplying the farmer, in his isolation, with information about the latest developments and techniques. The old farmer, of course, is a stubborn fellow. He does not like a Johnny-come-lately to tell him much about things. In many instances he says, “ What Grandfather did is good enough for me “, but it is not good enough in these competitive days.
– They are not all Tasmanians.
– If they were Tasmanians, we could possibly teach them a thing or two. At least, in Tasmania we have been able to develop a type of fine wool that is still bringing top prices in Australia. I want to speak about average wool, 60-64 wool and the grower who provides the bulk of the Australian wool clip, the combing wool and the top-making wool. If we want to specialize, we can talk about Tasmanian wool. The fine merino wool of Tasmania will match any other wool in the world.
– What do they cut? Is it about 3 lb. per sheep?
– No, we get them up to about 6 lb. per sheep. It is 100 spinning quality, which in some cases is nearly as fine as silk. But we must not get off the subject to talk about Tasmanian wool. Let me refer to waste. I suppose nearly every sheep property has erected on it a shearing shed and quarters. Some of those sheds and quarters, of which I have heard, cost £12,000 to £14,000. The wool-grower quite rightly loves to have that independence. He is an independent character.
– lt is an Australian characteristic.
– That is right, but growers may have to pay too much for their independence. Man is a gregarious animal. He cannot live alone. He has to come back to other people. He is a bit like sheep that like to rush in together. When the dingoes are howling, the sheep run together for protection. There is great wastefulness in the industry. All this money is beir.g invested in shearing sheds and quarters and lying idle for eleven months or forty -nine weeks of the year and if it is borrowed the interest on it is lost. In any event, there is no return on the capital for nearly all the year and the buildings deteriorate for lack of use.
– Can the grower properly service his property without them?
– That is the point I want to make.
– Do you suggest community shearing sheds?
– I believe that is something which will have to be developed, with well-chosen teams of good, fast, contract shearers, shearing in a shed to which transports bring 300 to 400 sheep at a time.
– They have been doing that at Kellerberrin for years.
– No one has ever heard of Kellerberrin; it is like Yahoo. If they are wise enough to do that in Western Australia - I am sure they are - why is it not being done in backward Victoria or in Queensland? Senator Wade did not mention this as being one way in which the industry could be helped. We recall what was done in the old days. They had 100- sheep stands at Tinnenburra and Isis Downs. They were shearing 100,000 sheep on these properties, and their costs were necessarily reduced. Every shearing contractor who takes a team of shearers out to a property has to pay the cost of their transport. It takes them half a day to settle into the shed, and they have all sorts of personal problems which have to be solved. It is also necessary to have wool classers, rouseabouts, all types of shed hands, penners-up, and all the other boys who are about the place. They are all a part of this small unit which shears anything from 1,000 to 2,000 or 3,000 sheep. In a big shed, that would be only half a day’s shearing. There is the continuing process of selected shearers putting the sheep through. I believe great economies could be effected in that direction. If Senator Wade wants to know in what respects the industry could be assisted, let me tell him that that is one aspect of it which should be carefully considered.
I pass to another point. Has any one ever heard of anything more stupid than using 30 per cent, of our rail freight capacity to carry grease, dust and other small particles of matter from the back country of Queensland down to Sydney? Thirty per cent., or even more, of the weight of wool packs consists of grease and other foreign matter.
– You would lose the grease if it was taken out in the country.
– There is nothing to prevent a lanoline factory from being set up in the bush or to prevent lanoline from being carried down to the coast in drums, as is done with tallow. The grease could be sent down in barrels, not in expensive wool packs. The absence of a concerted national effort to have scours established in country areas has been very detrimental to the industry.
– They are shutting down the ones that they have.
– That is the tragedy. The scour at Barcaldine has been shut down. That was a traditional establishment in the back country of Queensland. Because the local people have not seen that 30 or 40 per cent, of the freight they pay will be for the carriage of grease, the Barcaldine scour, which was one of the few remaining country scours, has been closed down.
The classers we are now turning out at our schools are really only sorters. The old traditional classer out in the bush used to class into three categories - long, short, and not too good. Now there are a few more grades. The point I am making is that when wool goes to the place where it is to be used, an entirely different yardstick is used in classifying it. Each section of the fleece is put into its own category.
For example, shoulder wool is put into a special category and is used by a certain section of the manufacturing trade. Whole fleeces, and whole lines of fleeces, are put in together, and they eventually have to be reclassified. There is a loss to the industry there. The sorting that is done in the shed is not the final sorting. It is only an intermediate step and imposes an extra cost on to the industry. There should be bulk classing.
– At the centre of distribution. The wool should be classified by men who are trained as buyers, textile industrialists and wool-classers, and who know where particular types of wool will be used to the best advantage.
– New South Wales firms are doing that now.
– That bears out my argument. But Victoria does not do very much of it. I am just pointing out to the Victorians how far behind that State is. According to Senator Wade, what is being done in Western Australia is advantageous to the industry. And in my opinion, what is being done in New South Wales is advantageous. They are matters which should be investigated by a committee of men who are not afraid to hurt the feelings of the broker, the buyer and the cocky. The cocky needs to have his feelings hurt, but it must be done in a polite way, because he is a bit delicate to handle.
– Would you hurt his feelings as well as his pocket?
– He is being hurt in the hip pocket now. Once you hurt him there, that is the final hurt. His hip pocket nerve is twinging now.
– That is the most sensitive nerve in his body.
– As the honorable senator says, that is the most sensitive nerve in his body. He may say that sticks and stones will break his bones, but you cannot hurt him more than by hurting him in the hip pocket. When the nerve there starts to twinge, he is open to suggestion. That is the point I am trying to make to Senator Wade. I believe that the people who work in the grazing industry have been conditioned by the pressure of Government policy, by inflation, and by the building up of the synthetics industry - which is providing them with competition - into taking notice.
I have before me an article in “ Muster “ of 20th September, which is headed “ ‘ Lessons ‘ in Russian Sheepbreeding “. The article reads, in part -
Russia, in development of Merinos was achieving in a relatively few years, what it had taken Australia 100 years to do.
That statement was made by Mr. Basil Clapham. We must do in the next ten years what it will take Russia 100 years to do.
– We have heard those stories before. South Africa was going to do the same.
– We can do it in
Australia if we apply ourselves. The fact that there is a division of opinion between the Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, the graziers, and the meat and wool producers organization means that the top echelon is divided. I think it was Senator Drake-Brockman who spoke with great pride about the fact that these top organizations had come together on one issue. The instinct of these human beings brings them together when they are in trouble. But when the sky is blue, they all strut around like peacocks; they bathe in their own importance. But now they are coming together. We cannot afford to have a division of opinion in the top echelon - amongst the advisory and planning authorities - of this important industry.
Not only is the top echelon divided, but also the graziers are kept apart. The very nature of their industry separates them, and they have not the close contact that is enjoyed by those who are engaged in nearly every other industry. The wheat cocky has been in much the same position as they are in. The cost of his land is bumped up even before he goes onto it. After every bit of equipment the grower buys leaves the factory, 30 or 40 per cent, is marked up for the wholesaler, another 30 or 40 per cent, for the distributor, and then the good old Government puts on 20 or 30 per cent, for good luck in one way or another - perhaps in the form of sales tax. If the Government does not get it in one way. it gets it in another.
– There is no sales tax on farm equipment.
– Well, if the producer does not pay it in that way, he will pay it in income tax.
– If the honorable senator is interested in improved breeding, let him go to Prospect in New South Wales.
– I intended to develop that theme. Just let us think of the stud sheep that are produced at Bundemar, at Boonoke and on George Falkiner’s property at Haddon Rig. They are mighty studs; they are some of the best in the world. But what is happening with stud sheep? A farmer buys, say, a 10 guineas ram but spends the rest of his life chasing blowflies in the wrinkles. He has to buy jetting equipment, Aldrin, Dieldrin and D.D.T., and perform the Mules operation. In that way he spends valuable time that could otherwise be spent on culling and improving his flock. He has to do that because of blowflies in the wrinkles of the sheep that the stud masters have sent out to him and because he cannot afford to buy good, upstanding plain-bodied sheep.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was making a general survey of some of the factors in the wool industry which I believe tended to accentuate the difficulties with which the industry is now faced. I was speaking of wrinkles and I thought that some of my observations may have given a few wrinkles to members of the Australian Country Party which they could pass on to their country cousins. I had spoken of the wastefulness in the duplication of wool sheds on small properties. I referred to the economic cost of expensive plant, wool sheds and shearers’ equipment lying idle for anything up to ten or eleven months in the year. I also referred to the wastefulness of freighting the greasy wool over long distances by expensive means of transport, such as large motor lorries or trains, when scouring in the country areas would not only help an overall policy of decentralization but would also reduce the high cost of transport from the area of production to the major wool selling and distributing centres.
– How many scouring centres are there in New South Wales?
– I am not sufficiently familiar with New South Wales to answer that. Perhaps the honorable senator will tell me how many there are.
– They are very few and far between.
– I mentioned one that I knew of in Queensland at Barcaldine, which had recently been closed down. That centre scoured wool for 40 or 50 years, lt was an important industry in the LongreachWinton district and sufficient wool was coming into the scour to keep it going. 1 do not know that any graziers in that district lost anything by keeping that scour going and by sending their wool to it, but evidently the system of marketing reached a stage where it was more economical to send the wool to Sydney in the greasy form and have it scoured there. If we are to pursue a policy of decentralization, actions such as the closing down’ of wool scours in country districts must be investigated by some authority not only from the point of view of the well-being of the wool-grower but also from the point of view of the national economy.
Another aspect in which the wool industry is showing inefficiency is fodder conservation. In the higher rainfall areas the new era has commenced - the era of pasture improvement and fodder conservation. The history of this country’s development has been that first the explorer goes out into the back-blocks. The prospector follows when he hears reports from the explorer. Then the grazier goes out and develops the land a little and runs cattle. He is followed by the sheepman and the small farmer. But now we have the new era, with all the aids that the scientists are able to provide - superphosphate, trace elements and other aids. The maximum carrying capacity of land in the high rainfall areas is constantly being improved. To-day two sheep run where one sheep ran before. Many men are doing valuable work experimenting with pastures, such as lucerne, clover and phalaris, which are so good for storage and fodder conservation. In certain areas there is an abundance of native grasses. After the rains more grass grows. It goes to seed and much of it is either trodden down, dries out and blows away, or is burnt.
The’ people in this country who are not yet using pasture improvement methods must take out their, mowers in the good season and make hay while the sun shines, as it were. After the rains they can get the natural grass hay which they can use, in conjunction with salt licks, limestone, bone flour and other things, to feed their stock and thus tide them over the bad times that are experienced in most of the low rainfall areas. Stock suffer badly when natural grasses are not available during certain times of the year. The country suffers in the lambing season if, through shortage of fodder, lambing figures amongst the merino flocks are low.
One of the glaring mistakes in the grazing industry is the traditional attitude of graziers that it will rain to-morrow - that Inigo Jones or Lennox Walker has said that it will rain and that therefore everything will be all right. If the rain does not come the graziers lose stock, particularly lambs. This problem of fodder conservation must be tackled. The graziers must be educated to appreciate the value of fodder conservation.
Another matter that must be dealt with is the provision of watering places, particularly in outback areas where such a large proportion of our medium quality - 60’s and 64’s - merino wool is grown. This wool represents the bulk of the Australian clip. It is the bread-and-butter class of wool that is grown in the merino woolgrowing areas. The position has improved somewhat because the good years of 1951-52 enabled many graziers to put down tanks and other catchment areas. The expenditure on those improvements to their property was a deduction for income tax purposes. The graziers had an incentive to do those things. But with the price of wool as low as it is to-day the graziers cannot afford to sink more dams because they are only just able to afford the basic requirements of their business.
Water is important. If stock must travel a long distance to water, particularly in summer when there is no surface water, they make pads out through the dry country to the feeding grounds. As a rule they feed around the watering places. They eat them out first and as the dry season continues the stock travel farther and farther in search of water. Their sharp hoofs cut info the soil and create dust beds. As the sheep walk along the pads the dust rises and settles on their backs. Much time is wasted making the sheep travel long distances to available pastures and water. In addition the dust in their wool reduces the price. When the sheep come in to be shorn you find that the dust creates a substantial tip on the wool. That is not so bad, but as soon as the wool goes into the press that dust is pressed right through the staple of the wool and when the bale is opened up the wool is a dull colour without lustre and the price received for it is not as high as that received for the more lustrous wools.
I believe the factors I have mentioned are being overlooked by many graziers. I do not blame many of them because of the economic considerations involved. Already in this debate Senator Wade and other honorable senators have shown that the return on capital in this industry is one of the smallest returns in any substantial industry in the Commonwealth. It has been said that some graziers are receiving a return of 5 per cent.; but there are many more who are receiving less than 2 per cent., and many of them are right on the borderline between profit and loss.
The next criticism I offer - this is a very important one - is on the matter of the percentage yield of lambs. In the article in “ Muster “ of 20th September, from which I quoted previously, Mr. Basil Clapham speaks of the lambs in Russian flocks. He said that there were 50 to 60 more lambs in Russian merino flocks than there were in Australian merino flocks. He also said that the body weight of Russian merinos was about 20 per cent, greater than that of Australian merinos. I will quote from the article -
The Russian merino’s lambing rate was about 50 to 60 per cent, above ours. He had been impressed with the extraordinarily thorough methods on large-scale State farms.
Whether or not we like the Russian philosophy, we have to keep abreast of the latest techniques in this industry because, as I pointed out before, the challenge .and the difficulties are closing in on this industry from both sides. On the one hand there are the rising costs caused by inflation, and on the other hand there is the competition from synthetic fibres. The future prosperity of the industry depends upon those two* factors. The methods of mating, the limited percentage of rams in flocks for mating, the restricted extent to which artificial insemination is being practised and the tremendously quick gains which are obtainable by using the very best strains of the breed must be considered. Experiments in the laboratories of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization have proved the importance of the natural law that like begets like. That law applies particularly ito merino sheep. If you go in for a particular breed of merino sheep you have your purpose in your mind’s eye, and if you want to breed a medium quality sheep with a rather heavy fleece and a three inch staple, by selecting your flock you can breed that type. The merino breed runs very true to type.
Twenty-seven years ago, when I was gaining experience on a stud property at Bundemar, in the west of New South Wales, I had many opportunities to see the breeding of the best sheep in Australia. I have never seen sheep like them out in the industry. Had the industry been really on the ball, the quality that was in the studs in those days would be general in the flocks to-day. Throughout the whole industry I see in the flocks to-day the same defects and the same disparity between the studs and the flocks in the open grazing lands as I saw 27 years ago. That fact presents a challenge to Australian wool-growers. Of course, they are not careful enough in their husbandry. They are afraid to cull deeply enough. After all, there is always a black sheep, so to speak, in a mob of sheep. It is the first one you should cull. A lot of people say, “ It will have a good lamb next year “, but the fact is that you are more likely to get a black strain through your flock by keeping that black sheep than by keeping the white sheep. We often see flocks with a black sheep in them when a good white sheep could run on the same land. That is an unprofitable proposition. There is also the old saying that it costs as much to feed a thoroughbred as it does to feed a mongrel. If you have a badly bred shep, a mongrel sheep, its place is through the mincer in the butcher shop. Even if you do not replace it with another sheep, you give the others an opportunity to eat the feed it would have eaten. Between 60 and 70 per cent, of the quality of the wool goes down the sheep’s neck through the feed it eats.
Overstocking is another problem in many cases, because the sheep are not allowed to do their best to produce the best quality fleece and attain their best weight. There are two causes of overstocking. One is that the soil is not fertile enough to continue carrying the numbers it is expected to carry. That is not the fault of the sheep; they have to live. The first law of nature is to survive and the sheep will eat whatever is available.
– Are you generalizing or picking out isolated cases?
– I am speaking of the industry generally.
– I think you are on the wrong industry.
– I am speaking of the wool industry, and from a practical point of view I am in a better position to speak about it than the honorable senator who interjects because I am very closely associated with all aspects of it. The information and observations I am giving are a more constructive contribution to the solution of the problems we are discussing than many of the other contributions that have been made in this debate.
– I do not think you are doing the wool industry justice.
– I am criticizing it.
– And very strongly, too.
– Yes, because the only way lessons can be learned is by strong criticism. The hanky-panky, kissinthering talk of honorable senators opposite will not make any impact at all.
I shall now touch on the subject of Bock improvement, which presents a challenge to the wool industry. I well remember the time when flock owners went into town to buy their groceries and if they put apricot or strawberry jam on the list, the bank manager would put a line through it and they would get plum jam, because they were in the red with the bank. Today there are many men in this industry who are also in the red with their banks, and that state of affairs will continue unless the industry wakes up and realizes that conditions to-day are not as favorable as they were in 1933 and in the other depression years. The synthetic fibres did not create a challenge in those years. In my home town of Launceston one of the finest knitting wool factories in the southern hemisphere and in the world is operated by Patons and Baldwins (Australia) Limited.
– It produces firstclass material.
– lt does, lt produces good quality products and has a high reputation. Despite what Senator Henty said . earlier, the Japanese trade treaty did not do that company much good. It is a somewhat adaptable organization. It has extended its activities by the expenditure of many tens of thousands of pounds, but not one wool-producing piece of machinery is going into the mills. The machinery is for the production of synthetics. If synthetics can intrude into this industry and undermine a company such as Patons and Baldwins, which is a Commonwealthwide organization, what are they going to do to the individual cocky out in the bush who has no economic defence? That is the message I am trying to proclaim in the strongest way in which I can. The industry has shown signs of sickness in many ways. Scientists and research experts have some of the cures for some of its ills. If these cures come in the form of a bitter pill they may cure the industry quicker, in the same way that bitter pills often cure our personal ills.
I have mentioned animal husbandry and flock improvement. Tremendous scope exists in these spheres. I have in mind particularly the improvement of the lambing percentage. I do not think that any grazier engaged in the production of wool and the breeding of merinos should be satisfied with anything less than the percentage being obtained in Russia, as was disclosed by Mr. Clapham. We should be getting 100 per cent, lambing. Any ewes that do not give that percentage are unprofitable. One hundred per cent, lambing should be the goal of the industry.
– Do you think they get 100 per cent, lambing in America?
– The figures I have seen from America do not apply to merinos. I do rot think producers have the real merino in America. Our merinos come from the Rambouillet, the Vermont and the Saxony into the Wanganella. They are the ones which are prone to lower lambing. With the introduction of the English breeds such as the Conriedale, the Border Leicester and the comebacks, there is a predisposition to higher lambings. In America growers are getting the influence of the English breeds whereas the Australian merino has only the influence of the Saxony, Rambouillet and Vermont breeds. There is a trend in the Australian merino that tends towards lower lambing, and that is the problem that must be solved. Our research men and our graziers must face the challenge and increase their lambing percentages.
– What is the main breed in Russia?
– If I may be permitted I will read from the New South Wales Graziers journal “ Muster “ an articles entitled, “ ‘ Lessons ‘ in Russian Sheep-breeding “. It was published on Tuesday, 20th September, 1960, approximately ten days ago. It reads -
Australia could learn some lessons from Russia in sheep breeding techniques, Mr. Basil Clapham said last week.
Russia, in development of Merinos was achieving in a relatively few years, what it had taken Australia 100 years to do, he said.
Mr. Clapham, one of Australia’s top Merino experts is general manager of F. S. Falkiner Proprietary Limited, and a vice-president of the New South Wales Sheepbreeders’ Association.
He returned to Australia on Wednesday after studying the sheep industry in Russia, Spain and other European countries.
Mr. Clapham made these points ;
Australia’s ban on the export of Merinos was achieving “ no purpose whatsoever “.
Russia will never be a threat to Australia’s international wool trade.
Russian Merinos were bigger and produced about the same quality wool as their Australian counterpart. Weight of greasy wool from one sheep was equal to the Australian Merino, but weight of scoured wool would be about15 per cent. less.
Mr. Clapham was one of a group of four Australian sheep experts who recently visited Russia.
The article went on to say -
Mr. Clapham told “ Muster “ there were some Russian techniques that Australia might adopt. These would be included in a report compiled by the whole group when all members had returned to Australia.
Mr. Clapham said he agreed with Dr. Roberts that Russia would never be a threat to Australia in the international wool trade. Main reasons for this belief were:
Russia’s own great demand for wool.
Climatic conditions under which the wool was produced.
Costly management methods.
Amongst other things Mr. Clapham said -
Russia sheepmen distributed their best rams and semen most effectively.
That statement is very important and should be borne in mind by the industry. Such a distribution is not being made here. Unproductive rams should be culled and made into dogs’ meat. When allowed to remain in the flocks they depreciate the standard and as a consequence lower yields of wool are obtained and the sheep do not thrive as well as they should. The progeny of these rams are eating grass that well-bred sheep could eat. When I speak of percentages and yields I am quoting what Basil Clapham said in his most recent report.
I wish to refer to two or three other matters beforeI get on to distribution, selling and promotion. One difficulty facing the man on the land to-day is high rentals. Some grazing land in Australia to-day is freehold but a big proportion is leasehold. Various State governments lease areas for grazing. Rental assessments were made after the war at a time when fictitious wool prices prevailed in the industry. I believe that provision should be made for regular appeals against rental assessment in the same way as employers and employees can appeal to an arbitration court.
– The South Australian Government intends to make provision for that.
– The Western Australian Government is doing something that is not being done by the New South Wales Government and now South Australia is doing something about the matter. We still cannot get Victoria to do anything. Previous speakers have mentioned that the return on capital does not allow a grazier a very big margin. Rent is a continuing factor and it imposes a heavy burden on many people occupying borderline land.
– Do you not think that some farmers are on the pig’s back too?
– They may be on the pig’s back but they are not on the sheep’s back. If they are mixed farmers they may be doing all right, particularly if they are breeding lambs. Rent is a very important factor in costs and charges because it has to be met regularly and you do not get any discount or rebate on rent payments.
Another burden that has to be borne by sheepmen is that of interest. This is particularly so in the case of those who have gone into the industry since the war. Many pre-war graziers either inherited their properties from their fathers or got in on the ground floor, but land values have become so inflated because of the high price for wool that obtained in years gone by that it is now necessary to pay an exorbitant price for land. Some people have paid at the rate of £10 a sheep and are finding it impossible to get a return on their investment. To be able to obtain a return on your investment it is necessary to buy land at no more than £5 per sheep per acre, and then you will just make it. With sheep at 50s. a head off shears and twosheeptotheacre country-
– Half a sheep to the acre.
– In respect of halfasheeptotheacre country the figure is £2 10s. I think honorable senators can appreciate the point. Unless you inherited land or got it cheaply, the interest on the amount that would have to be spent in buying land for anything above the price I have mentioned would be too great a burden.
One of the most important factors in the cost of wool is shire or municipal rates. The Commonwealth Government, along with its policy of inflation, which I condemn, has continued the very important immigration policy. With the influx of migrants from other parts of the world, municipalities, shires and city councils have had to provide additional amenities and facilities. The people in the bush are doing their best with the use of graders to keep their roads open, to plough fire-breaks, and to do work of that kind, but they do not enjoy the amenities and facilities that are available in the towns. The municipal councils have to try to cadge enough money to keep their services going, and they have to pay high rates of interest on the money they borrow. The high cost of that money is having an effect on the man on the land, who finds that his shire rates are soaring In many cases to-day the shire rates are as great as the rents that the farmers have to pay. A lot of people do not appreciate that fact, nor do they appreciate that it is having a tremendously important effect on the ultimate cost of wool.
Let me refer to the matter of land tax. The representatives of the State governments come to the meetings of the Australian Loan Council and to the Premiers’ Conferences, cap in hand. The State governments, too, are experiencing difficulties as a result of the immigration programme. The same problems caused by expansion confront them, and they are finding it difficult to balance their budgets. They have to grasp every opportunity that occurs to increase revenues. For that reason, land taxes are imposed on the graziers. As I have pointed out already, the graziers have not the opportunity to pass on imposts of that kind. They have to bow to the vagaries of the auction system.
Another important factor in the cost of wool is the expense of contract shearing and the wastefulness of little, individual shearings. Economies could be effected by keeping a good team of shearers together and getting the team to work right from the bell in the morning, each member putting out his maximum effort, with a wellorganized system of penning up, of passing the sheep through the shed and of getting them away again in their respective flocks. With a good team, the flock of the average farmer could be shorn in, say, half a day or a day, and many of the disadvantages of shearing on a small scale on individual farms would be overcome.
As honorable senators probably know, the problem of cartage in country areas is a vexed one. The railways of the States are carrying a high overhead, but nevertheless they must try to pay their way. They are doing their best in the circumtsances, but freight rates are relatively high. If wool is consigned from, say, the Riverina to Melbourne for sale, there is the disability of the break of gauge. Road transport is competing with the railways in this respect. Road transport vehicles can take wool from the ramp at a shearing shed right to the broker’s showroom. Instead of having to lift the wool on to a lorry, then on to a truck at the railway, off again at the Sydney or Brisbane goods yards, and then on to another vehicle to take it to the broker’s showroom, motor vehicles can transport the wool in one operation. Of course, the railways have been effecting economies in order to preserve as much business as possible. It will be seen that the cost of transporting the wool clip from the sheds to the cities where it is sold is an important factor in the industry.
I come now to a matter in respect of which 1 criticize the members of the Australian Country Party, in particular, with all the vehemence at my command. I refer to the cost of petrol. When the price falls in other countries and we ask the responsible Minister in the Senate why it has not been reduced in Australia, he is apt to say: “ Well, give them a bit of time. They have to sell their old stocks.” When it is decided to increase the price, however, the people at the petrol stations knock their hips getting to the petrol gauges to alter the prices. They are very tardy when the price is reduced. The price goes up like a Venetian blind, but it is very slow in coming down. The country people should be hammering those on the Government benches to do something about the cost of fuel. The days of the horse are passing. I do not know whether it is a good or a bad thing that the usefulness of the horse in farming is diminishing. I still think that the most efficient way to handle stock is on horseback. As you know, Sir, if you put a jackeroo in a jeep there is trouble ahead. On the other hand, a man on a horse goes about his job quietly and steadily. I think that the use of horses in handling stock is better husbandry. These days, stockmen fill the tank of a jeep with petrol, spilling plenty of it in the process, and out they race, over the flats and up the gullies, four wheel drive the whole way. Everything is done quickly to-day, whereas the good old stockman poked quietly around his flock, kept it together and got it along. In this age of mechanization, the tendency is to rush stock about, which is not good for them. Stock that are hustled and bustled depreciate in value, particularly if they are ewes before or during lambing.
The cost of fuel adds to the cost of wool. For that reason, any reduction in the price of fuel should be passed on immediately to the farmers, who are already having difficulty in meeting the high and rising costs of production.
– What about the cost of shearing?
– That is a very important matter. As I pointed out before, 1 think that individual shearings are placing an added burden on the industry. I have already mentioned classing in the sheds. With due respect to the contract classer, 1 say that sometimes he does not know enough about the industry to be able to prevent duplication of classing. If the wool were sorted into its proper categories-
– That is called reclassing, and it is done on a very large scale
– The honorable senator says that is called re-classing, but I call it classing because I suggest that the wool had not been previously classed, but only sorted. That is wasteful. The farmer has to pay the full wages of the classer. As we know, many shearing sheds lack proper facilities, such as good lighting. We all know of the old bag shed, with a corrugated iron roof in which there are little holes, so that light shines on part of the wool while other parts are in darkness. In many cases, the conditions under which classing has to be carried out are not as good as they should be. The manufacturing side of the industry wants to get it good, although it too has difficulties to which I shall refer in a moment.
– What about the expense of shearing with the long blow?
– That is an important matter, too, but perhaps we are treading on rather dangerous ground in that respect. A technique has been developed whereby a sheep is placed in a machine, and any inexperienced person can take the wool off it. But I like to hear the whirr of the hand-piece and to see the rush and bustle of the shed. That is something that I would not like to see go.
– Click go the shears!
– Yes. I am old fashioned enough to want to retain that.
I come now to the matter of plant. All items of equipment that the graziers are using on their properties to-day are overpriced. In order to put this industry on its feet, a way should be found to prevent some of the middlemen from getting a cut. If the industry is to continue to be the vital pivot of our economy, everything possible should be done to hold costs at the present level. The Government refuses to do anything to reduce costs. I go as far as to say that if an average price of 60d. per lb. could be obtained for medium quality wool, and proportionately higher prices for better quality wool-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– When 1 decided to enter this debate, I hoped that it would be conducted on a non-party basis. I congratulate Senator O’Byrne for dealing with the subject on that basis, with the exception of three small lapses. It was unfortunate that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly) did not take the same line as Senator O’Byrne. I found myself in agreement with quite a lot that Senator O’Byrne said. Chiding Senator Wade, Senator Kennelly said -
I believe that the Government should legislate immediately to introduce a floor price scheme and should submit it without delay to the woolgrowers for ratification.
Senator Wade subscribes to a policy that was enunciated some eleven years ago. I shall quote from the speech that the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) delivered on 10th November, 1949. That date should be familiar to honorable senators opposite. The right honorable gentleman said -
We stand for the stabilization of rural industries, wherever practicable, on the basis of guaranteed minimum prices. Schemes to this end will not be set up unless the growers by vote approve.
I think that Senator Wade did the right thing when he directed the attention of the nation and of the Senate to the fact that the wool industry is going through a period of recession. A few months ago, Mr. Adermann, the Minister for Primary Industry, said that in recent months there had been moves within the industry for changes in the marketing system, including a reserve price. He went on to say that the Commonwealth Government would consider changes in the system only if a majority of those engaged in the industry were agreed on an acceptable plan.
– We claim that you cannot find an acceptable plan.
– Wait a moment. On 15th September, Mr. Adermann said that he had met a joint deputation from the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation to discuss a proposal for a high level independent inquiry into wool marketing, which the two organizations had previously developed in conference.
– We say that the Government has all the information it needs.
– We went to the people in 1949, and have won successive elections since then, on the policy that if a majority of the growers decided at a properly conducted referendum that they wanted a marketing scheme, the Government would implement it.
At this stage, I wish to answer some of the charges that were made by Senator Kennelly. He said that this Government had done very little to assist the primary producers, including the wool-growers. I shall remind him of some of the things this Government has done. One of the earliest steps taken by this Government to give farmers an incentive to develop their properties was to introduce a special depreciation allowance of 20 per cent, on plant. Expenditure on housing provided for employees, tenants and share farmers, on soil reclamation, on water conservation and on fences for pest control is deductible for income tax purposes. Most of the items essential to farm production are exempt from sales tax. A reduced rate of sales tax applies to other items if used for farm purposes. It has also been the Government’s policy to admit duty free or at reduced rates of duty goods essential for rural production and not available in sufficient quantities in Australia. I remind Senator Kennelly that the federal land tax was abolished after 1951-52, in which year it yielded more than £6,000,000.
– And the States reimposed it.
– Some States reimposed it.
– You will not have a case in a moment.
– I have a good case. Taxation zone allowances - these are fairly important in Western Australia because a lot of the wool produced in that State is produced in the north - are made when assessing the incomes of residents of remote areas, many of whom are primary producers.
In the 1958 Budget, these allowances were raised by 50 per cent. So I say to Senator Kennelly that this Government has clone a lot for the producers of wool.
Many facets of this subject have been covered, Sir. I would like to deal principally with what might be called the end product of wool. 1 think that one of the features of our selling of wool and our promotion of wool is that we have tended to sell wool as a fibre, just because it is wool. I think we must go further than that and promote the idea of the end product of wool. We must show why wool is so good to wear and why it lasts so well. The sheep population of Australia has increased over the last ten years from 112,000,000 to 155,000,000- an increase of 43,000,000. This represents no mean effort on the part of the producers themselves. The increases in the production of the end products of wool last year are worth recording. Worsteds - that is machine knits - were up by 36 per cent, in 1959-60, compared with the previous year. Hand knitting yarns were up by 56 per cent., men’s and boy’s fibres by 14 per cent, and women’s and girls’ fibres by 1 1 per cent. Total worsteds were up by 30 per cent, on the previous twelve months, and the total of the end products was up by 24 per cent.
Some of the new developments that have taken place in the end products of wool, such as moth-proofing, shrink-proofing, and si-ro-setting, are now being widely applied by the wool manufacturing industry. Sironized, the new wash and minimum iron development, is gaining ground and should be widely available to the community within another twelve or eighteen months. Sironized men’s shirts are already available. I notice that a number of senators are wearing them. I have one on. They are delightful garments to wear, and they do not soil readily. They have all the attributes of wool and none of the disadvantages of the synthetic fibre.
– Your sponsor will now say a few words.
– Yes. I cannot mention the trade name, but it is a particularly delightful shirt to wear.
This is a land which, climatically, is nearly perfect for sheep and, as a result, Australia dominates the world’s wool horizon, being the major wool producing and exporting country. We have only to look at three points to understand how important sheep are to Australia. We have the world’s largest sheep population - 155,500,000 sheep; we have the world’s largest annual wool production, with 1,689,000,000 lb.; and we are the world’s major producer of fine merino wools. We produce 37 per cent, of the world’s apparel wool and 56 per cent, of all merino wool. The demand for wool overseas since the end of the Second World War has been so tremendous that in 1 959-60 Australia’s wool cheque was estimated at more than £409,000,000. It is of interest to1 note that if we suffer a fall in price of Id. per lb. as Senator Scott mentioned, it represents a loss of £7,000,000 to the Australian economy.
In a country that has, by and large, a fairly warm climate, Australians use a terrific quantity of wool per head. In western Europe the amount used per head per annum is 3.5 lb.; in eastern Europe and Russia, 1.8 lb.; in North America 2.9 lb.; in South America, 0.9 lb.; in Japan, 1.8 lb., in Asia, 0.09 lb. We in Australia consume 7.7 lb. This is the highest rate of consumption and the next highest is in New Zeland which consumes 5.7 lb. These figures show that Australia consumes as much wool per head per annum as do Asia, Japan, South America, North America, eastern Europe and Russia, and western Europe combined. The world’s average consumption is 1.1 lb. per head per annum.
I quote these figures only in order to point out that there is a terrific potential for increased sales of our wool to the rest of the world. Our exports of wheat, meat, metals and dairy products have an important bearing on the country’s prosperity, but wool is by far the most significant of all our exports. It is a fact that, as was said earlier, Australia does at this point of time ride on the sheep’s back, for wool accounts for almost half of the value of our total exports and is our major mo;-.ey-earner overseas. Few of us realize that for every man, woman and child in Australia to-day, fifteen sheep are working quietly to produce’ an average of 10 lb. of greasy wool every year.
Broadly speaking, there are two main reasons why wool means so much to us. The first is its importance to the economy. If wool prices are good, all of us, whether or not we run sheep, benefit. Even with the drastic increase in secondary industries that has taken place in the last few years, Australia, as I have said, still depends on wool for approximately 50 per cent, of her export earnings. If there is a fall in price, we all suffer in one way or another, either through a drop in our personal incomes or through a tightening-up in the national economy.
The second reason why wool is important to us - perhaps all of .us think more about this reason than of the first - is that in its final form, it is pleasant to wear. In Australia, as time passes, people are becoming far more wool-conscious. The Australian Wool Bureau has embarked on an ambitious programme to make the people of the Commonwealth more aware of the wonderful properties of wool and the campaign has met with rather spectacular success. For instance, in the first quarter of this calendar year the Australian mill consumption of virgin wool rose by 20 per cent. That was a big increase on the consumption in the corresponding period of 1949. It is the highest first-quarter figure since 1950 and is a significant pointer to the rising demand for wool on the local market, despite the efforts of manufacturers of man-made fibres to promote their products on a large scale. The Chairman of the Australian Wool Bureau, Mr. W. A. Gunn, recently made this comment, after examining the figures for the first part of the calendar year -
These figures show clearly that wool is not only holding but is improving its position in the textile field despite the efforts of man-made fibre manufacturers.
Because we use wool so much and so automatically, we tend to overlook its remarkable qualities. These special qualities make it the best fibre in the world for clothes and for many other things. As every honorable senator knows, wool has been subjected to strong competition from man-made fibres in recent years but it is still away out in front for apparel. The reason for this is to be found in its natural, inherent qualities and the wonderful things that science has been able to do with it in the last five or six years. First, it has that unique property of insulation, which makes it warm to wear in winter although it is cool in summer. I believe that the secret of that is quite simple. Wool traps a wall of air between the body and the outer air, which keeps the body at an even temperature. The Arabs and the Mexicans, who are inhabitants of countries of great extremes of temperature, shrewdly appreciate this particular quality of wool. In spite of the strong persuasive efforts of American manufacturers of synthetics, they still prefer to use wool for their traditional flowing clothes.
Another thing that wool has on its own is its resistance to fire, which is something that is vitally important to every one of us. Wool will char, but it refuses to burn steadily. The Australian Wool Testing Authority carried out some very interesting tests on this aspect at its laboratory in Melbourne, when pieces of wool, cotton and rayon of equal length and weight were set alight. At the end of 30 seconds, the rayon was reduced to a cinder, the cotton was just a strand of ash, but the wool was only charred. It would not burn like the other two materials unless it was held constantly against the flame. We know of the number of accidents that have happened because of little children standing against radiators and playing near fires, while wearing apparel that burned easily. Wool does not burn readily; it will only char.
Wool is also wrinkle-resistant, because its fibres have a natural springiness and snap back into shape after being twisted or stretched. We all notice that if a suit that is worn during the day is hung up overnight or for 24 hours the wrinkles wilt disappear. If we add to these qualities that I have mentioned wool’s capacity to absorb approximately 30 per cent, of its own weight in moisture without feeling damp, its colour permanence, and its resistance tofading, we get some idea of why, for long, hard and comfortable wear, wool just cannot be beaten by any other fibre.
It is of interest to see what science has been doing to the end-product of wool, and what effect this has had upon the clothing that we are wearing to-day. Possibly the first major recent advance that came from the laboratories was moth-proofing.
This eliminated the bugbear of woollen garments. Then there was shrinkproofing. The consumer will soon be able to go along to almost any retail store and buy wool garments that can be washed without fear of shrinking. Shirts such as the one I am wearing do not shrink. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has come up with a wonderful process called Si-ro-set, which was mentioned earlier, and which makes creases and pleats stay in place. This process set off virtually a revolution in the market for men’s sports trousers. Permanently creased woollen slacks are at present being sold in more than a dozen countries overseas. Recently Mr. Fletcher Jones returned from America after establishing the sale of these trousers there. In Australia alone, more than 1,000,000 pairs were sold last year. The crease will stay in these trousers, even if they are soaked in water. The Navy, the Army and the Air Force have accepted Si-ro-set as providing the answer to their requirements. The seven folds in the pants that sailors wear in their walking-out rig will remain permanently because they are to be put in by the Si-ro-set process.
Another scientific development has resulted in the wet-proof blanket. Any honorable senator who has watched television must have seen these demonstrated by the Australian Wool Bureau. Also, there is now on sale a rather wonderful wool upholstery which repels both water and stains. The scientific process which gives wool its time-saving and worry-saving value was developed by the industry after months of very severe tests. To test the strength of treated wool fabric, research workers put it, together with other kinds of fabric, on what they called a bumping machine. After a quarter of a million bumps, which I am told is the equivalent of an eleven-stone man getting on and off a chair a quarter of a million times, the woollen fabric was scarcely worn, but the other materials were worn out. That process has opened up another aspect for using wool in furniture covers.
It is rather difficult to determine what leads to a fashion being set for clothing. All we know is that a fashion starts, becomes popular, and then gradually disappears. I believe it was only the fact that people had very drab woollen gar ments during the war which gave rise to the tremendous fashion appeal of man-made fibres at the end of the war. We have only to cast our minds back to the time when nylon stockings were first introduced, when dacron shirts appeared and when terylene skirts became the rage because of their fashion appeal. Wool suffered as a result, but I believe that the wheel of fashion is again turning in favour of wool.
There have been very big changes in fashions. I have already spoken about the effect of the shrinkproofing and Si-ro-set processes. I now wish to mention an aspect of the wool trade that assumed tremendous importance with the advent of television. The Australian Wool Bureau realized the great potential that was being created by thousands of women who watched television programmes at night, and they gained the co-operation of the manufacturers in producing thicker knitting wools and in designing special patterns that were both easy to follow and attractive to the eye. The wools were shrinkproofed and mothproofed, and they came in a variety of colours. Because these bright boys woke up to the fact that there was such a potential, last year the demand for spinners yarn rose by 120 per cent.
– For making Sloppy Joes?
– Yes. They are making them in thousands. A recent significant development is the new lightweight washable wool which is used in the kind of shirt that I have already mentioned. Now, for the first time, you can buy pure wool fabrics which you can wash without fear of their shrinking.
– What was the cost of that shirt?
– It cost 79s. lid., which compares favorably with the price of other well-known shirts made of synthetic material.
– You have not shares in the company which makes them, have you?
-No. Moreover, I have not mentioned the name of the company. The beauty of this 100 per cent, wool fabric is that you get the insulation qualities that I spoke about earlier. Moreover, it is fire resistant.
I believe that the promotion of wool could be improved by our concentrating on the end use of wool in apparel rather than upon extolling its virtues as a fibre. Producers of synthetics in America - Senator Scott referred to this subject without mentioning any figures - last year spent £22,000,000 on promoting the sale of their products, but we spent only £2,000,000 out of an income of £409,000,000 on promoting the sale of wool. 1 do not think we are spending enough. 1 believe that the Australian Wool Bureau could well be reconstituted. I think the bureau would be benefited and that it would serve a better purpose if other sections of the wool trade were represented in its membership. I know a lot of people will not agree with me when 1 say this, but if one wants to go out and sell our products I do not think the qualification should necessarily be the fact that he is a producer. I believe that a representative of the C.S.I.R.O. would be invaluable. That organization has made a tremendous contribution to the wool industry. 1 believe that if the members of the bureau had the power to appoint, say, three members who had a knowledge of the wool trade, it would be of untold value to the industry. To do that would not be creating a precedent. A similar position obtains in regard to the Australian Wheat Board, which includes a representative of the millers; in regard to the Meat Board, which includes a representative of the meat exporters and processors; and in regard to the Dairy Board, which includes a manufacturers’ representative. It is my belief that if that proposal was adopted, all members, whether nominated or elected, should have equal status.
I propose to deal only very briefly with the subject of marketing, because it has been very well covered by previous speakers. The industry itself has very diverse opinions on this subject. It is high time that the representatives of the various growers organizations got together and made up their minds about what they want. 1 hope that the approach that has been made to the Minister will prove to be a step in the right direction. Those organizations cannot possibly ask this Government to act until they have reached some agreement on what they want. I referred earlier to the reason for that. Over the last eleven years the Government has been to the growers and has told them its policy in regard to marketing. They have been told that if they want a scheme and the majority of the growers can agree upon one, they should bring their proposals to the Government. That was done in 1951. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in his 1949 policy speech said that when the Joint Organization scheme was finalized, the Government would examine a marketing scheme. A scheme was suggested, and the result was that in 1951 64,000 growers rejected the proposals put forward and 16,000 voted in favour of them. I agree with most of the other honorable senators who have spoken in saying that if such a proposal were put forward to-day, those figures would be reversed.
I speak only as a wool producer and not as a senator when 1 say that 1 would wholeheartedly agree to the adoption of a marketing scheme. But as a member of the Parliament, I would not be a party to forcing on an industry a marketing scheme only because such a scheme was politically wise. This is a case in which the growers must make up their own minds. I have already said that the Government has stated on a number of occasions what its policy is with regard to marketing. I would be opposed to forcing on the growers a scheme that they did not want.
I believe that the grower organizations should conduct an education campaign, if I may so describe it, to explain to producers just how the futures market works. I am quite sure that very few growers know how it works or how to use it. Such a market has been established here recently, and it could well prove to be an insurance policy for the growers. I am just as perturbed as is any one else in the industry about the uncertainty of markets, but I am very hopeful that the representations that have been made to the Minister will prove to be fruitful. I repeat that it is my opinion that the industry should come to some agreement on marketing and that a referendum should be conducted. I believe that the majority of the growers would vote in favour of a marketing scheme.
I mention the matter that I am about to mention only because Senator O’Byrne said that the industry was not doing enough to raise its standards. Mr. G. B. S. Falkiner, whose name is well known, who has made a great contribution to the Australian wool industry, and who is the president of the New South Wales Sheepbreeders Association, had this to say on 8th March last -
As has already been announced, this year’s Sydney sheep show is to be known as the Merino Sesquicentennial Show. This name has been chosen because this year marks the 150th anniversary of an event which, it is felt, all Australians should remember - namely, the beginning of the commercial production of Merino wool in this country.
It was in 1810 that John Macarthur moved his flock of merinos to Camden. Macarthur saw the great possibilities of merinos and laid the foundations for the immense industry that we know to-day. He can therefore be fairly described as Australia’s first stud breeder. About the same time, the Reverend Samuel Marsden was experimenting with merino sheep and his pioneering efforts should also be remembered.
Senator O’Byrne said that the industry was not doing enough to improve the quality of sheep. Mr. Falkiner states -
Registered merino flocks in Australia number 1,705 of which approximately 660 are in New South Wales. The success of the stud breeders is reflected not only in the vast increase in merino flocks but also in the quantity and quality of wool produced. Australian wool production per sheep is approximately double that of the world average.
I am sorry that Senator O’Byrne is not present in the chamber to hear this.
– He is in the chair.
– I beg your pardon, Mr. Acting Deputy President. Mr. Falkiner’s statement continues -
The remarkable progress still being made is shown by the fact that the average fleece weight of approximately81/2 lb. in 1946-47 has been lifted to almost 10 lb. a head to-day-
That is a big increase.
– Does that refer to all flocks?
– All merino flocks.
The statement continues -
Senator O’Byrne said that the wool growers were not doing enough to improve their industry. Mr. Falkiner is fair and says
Climatic conditions are partly responsible for these figures but the main factor responsible for Australia’s predominant position in wool production has been the highly efficient network of large and small studs which maintain the quality of sires available to Australian wool-growers.
Obviously the wool-growers have taken advantage of those studs. It was interesting to note the very high prices that Mr. Falkiner obtained for the three rams that he sold this year.
I think the debate has been a fruitful one. I am sure that it has done a lot of good. If it does no more than alert the Senate and let the people of Australia, particularly the wool-producers, know that we are perturbed at the uncertainties of this industry, it will fulfil a useful purpose. Senator Wade is to be congratulated, as are all honorable senators who have taken part in the debate in an objective way. Only good can come from this debate.
.- In entering this debateI wish to refer not so much to the importance of the wool industry to wool-growers as to its importance to Australia generally. 1 do not think that the wool-growers are in the desperate plight that some honorable senators would have us believe. The only figures that we have in relation to the wool industry are those that have been presented by the Australian Country Party. The first part of Senator Wade’s motion asks that consideration be given to whether the wool industry and the Australian economy generally are being endangered by the downward trend in wool prices. If the price of wool continues to fall undoubtedly Australia’s economy will be seriously endangered because this country depends so much on its exports of wool to pay for its imports. If the price that is being obtained for wool is economic, we must increase our production of wool. But if the price that is being obtained for wool is not economic, I have yet to hear anybody suggest how the world price can be raised. To raise the price in Australia will not overcome the difficulty because the bulk of our wool is exported and we depend on world prices - not Australian prices. I concede, however, that Australian prices may have a slight bearing on the problem.
Senator Wade also asks that consideration be given to whether an expanded sales promotion campaign would have a steadying effect on the market. I think that it would be difficult to expand our already vigorous sales campaign. At present campaigns are being conducted on our behalf all over the world. It is not that we cannot market our wool, because we market all that we produce. Our sales campaigns have been very effective in getting rid of our wool.
Senator Wade’s next question is vital. He asks that consideration be given to whether a more vigorous research programme into credit facilities and production problems would materially assist the industry. This is a vital matter and is, I think, the only aspect of the motion that is worth discussing. Before we can get anywhere with a vigorous research programme we must get the wool-growers together. We must get them thinking along similar lines. Judging from the tenor of the speeches that I have heard in this debate I think the woolgrowers are pulling in different directions. Senator Branson referred to the promises made by Mr. Menzies eleven years ago, when he said that there was nothing wrong with the Government assisting orderly marketing provided the producers want it. So, first, you must get the producers to agree. If they will not agree to assist themselves by coming together, how can you expect any parliament to assist them? I know that Senator Scott has a different view. He referred to producers in other woolgrowing countries and said that they received support from their governments, but he added that he sincerely hoped that such a thing would never happen in Australia. What is the purpose of this motion if it is not to bring these difficulties to the notice of the Government in order to show that some support is needed? Is it not a plea to the Government to take the lead in trying to save this industry that is so important to our economy? But Senator Scott said that he hoped he would never see the day when the Government attempted to save the industry.
– I support a prices plan.
– Senator Scott’s words are recorded in “ Hansard ‘”. It is useless for him to say one thing on one occasion and another thing later. He completely contradicted his leader who, eleven years ago, pledged that the Government would assist in orderly marketing provided the wool-growers could get together. Senator Scott does not want to see government assistance given to the industry, but what if prices fall, as Senator Scott has seen them fall, to 4d. or 5d. per lb.? I have seen wool selling for 3d. per lb. in this country.
– When was that?
– After the First World War. I have some figures relating to the industry and I refuse to take it for granted that the wool-growers are as badly off as some honorable senators have endeavoured to make us believe. We could all cite hypothetical cases such as the one cited by Senator Mattner.
– He made it clear that it was not a hypothetical case.
– Let us have a look at it and see how clear he made it. It was as clear as mud. He instanced a farm of 500 acres carrying only 1,000 sheep.
– That is two sheep to one acre.
– That is right. This area of 500 acres was so good that it could carry only two sheep to the acre! He said that the purchase and spread ng of superphosphate cost £685 a year. That 500-acre farm had £685 worth of fertilizer put into it each year and it did not have any patches that were good enough to grow sufficient grass to produce a few lambs to replace the stock that were lost over the years. Those 500 acres, carrying 1,000 sheep, did not contain enough good land to rear about 100 or 200 lambs a year to replace losses. Can we regard a bit of rock like that, which would not grow enough grass for a few lambs to eat, as an average grazier’s holding? The grazier could not grow anything on it, he could only run wethers on it. The wethers, which had to be bought for £2 10s. a head because he could not raise them on his land, were sold for 25s. a head. I do not know what they would be sold for at that price, except probably as dogs’ meat. The land was so bad that it would not grow vegetables or grass to feed lambs to replace the wethers which were lost.
Surely you cannot base an argument as to the Australian average on a piece of land as poor as that, which would not even grow a bit of grass to feed lambs. So, the case presented by Senator Mattner can be discounted altogether. If we are to base an argument on such a case as indicating an average, we might as well base it on some of the stations out in south-western Queensland which have not had any rain for the last five years and where flocks have been reduced from 10,000 to about 1,000 sheep.
No one would claim that they are average sheep stations any more than one would claim that the property referred to by Senator Mattner is an average property.
Let me go back to the remarks of Senator Wade who presented a case based on common sense and not on the hypothetical nonsense that was indulged in by some speakers. An analysis of Senator Wade’s figures will show what would have happened if the wool-growers had been in harmony and the Government had carried out the pledge that it would institute an orderly marketing scheme if the growers so desired If the growers had asked for this assistance I do not think the Government would have hesitated in acceding to their request. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was, I believe, sincere in his offer to provide an orderly marketing scheme because he had seen how such schemes, introduced by a previous Labour government, had assisted the wool-growers and the dairying industry in the past. He had the benefit of that experience to guide him, and I can quite understand his readiness to offer to assist the industry in that way. However, it is first necessary to get unanimity among the wool-growers in a matter of this kind, just as it is necessary to have members of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party thinking along similar lines in this Parliament instead of cutting one another’s throats over a matter such as we are now discussing.
On Senator Wade’s own figures the woolgrowers are not as down and out as Senator Mattner would have us believe. Senator Wade said that 57d. per lb. would be a payable price, and I took the trouble to ask him whether in quoting that price he included crutchings and superfine wool. He said that he had done so. We know that there is a very limited quantity of superfine wool and that there are not huge quantities of crutchings. So, we can take 57d. per lb. as a reasonable average. Seator Wade said that over the last ten years the average price of wool was 70.5d. per lb. I will not take the ten year period because in the first year of that period wool sold at 144d. per lb., which was a fictitious price. I shall confine my calculations to the average for the last nine years. Over the last nine years the average price was 68d. per lb. According to Senator Wade, 57d. per lb. is a payable price. Each penny per lb. in the price of wool represents £7,000,000. So, on the figures that have been, placed before us, over the last nine years, the wool-growers, who are said by some honorable senators to be very much up against it to-day, have received a net amount of £77,000,000 a year in excess of the amount they would have received on the basis of the payable price quoted by Senator Wade. For the nine year period that would represent a total of £693,000,000. With a little orderly marketing, such as the Prime Minister promised to institute, and with a little unity among themselves, the wool-growers could have had a nice little reserve to-day to tide them over one bad year - should it be only one year - or over difficult period of drought, flood or other disaster. However, it is impossible to get unanimity amongst the wool-growers, because too many of them think only of themselves and not of the national economy.
The wool-growers can not be as badly off as some honorable senators have tried to make us believe when, over the last nine years when no fictitious prices prevailed, according to the figures presented by the representative of the growers who proposed this motion, they have had £693,000,000 to spare. That disposes of the myth that they have been in difficulties during that period.
I come now to the present year which is not yet ended. This year the price is down to about 45d. per lb. Had there been orderly marketing of wool in the preceding years the wool-growers would have had millions of pounds in the kitty to tide them over their difficulties. If wool prices continue to fall, the Australian economy will naturally be affected, and the shortsighted wool-growers will also be affected if they have spent the excess money they earned in earlier years. If they have done so, they will have to tide themselves over their difficulties as best they can, as many others have had to do in the past and are still doing.
Let me deal now with another point that was conveniently overlooked by Senator Mattner and Senator Scott. The majority of those engaged in sheep farming do not depend on wool alone. They also receive income from the production of fat lambs.
Not one honorable senator has said anything about the production of lambs. That is another sideline - and a mighty good one at times - because, in spite of the fact that we kill millions’ of lambs and sheep every year for meat, and in spite of the fact that we lose a great number through floods and droughts, our flocks on the whole are increasing. That proves that millions of lambs are produced each year. The people who are producing these lambs are also the poor wool-growers who are battling along with 1,000 sheep on 500 acres of land. They are probably able to obtain 100 per cent, or at least 50 per cent, lambing. If they obtain only 50 per cent., the return is not a bad addition to their incomes on the figures that have been quoted in the Senate to-day. I am pointing this out to show that the poor wool-grower is not as badly off as some honorable senators are trying to make out.
The big wool-grower is all right; we need not worry about him. The person I am concerned about is the intermediate or small grower, but even he is not so badly off when we take into consideration what he obtains, from lamb sales and mixed farming. Do not let us shed any tears at this juncture at the terrible plight of the wool-growers because over the last nine years they have been pretty well off indeed. If they meet disaster this year or next, naturally this Parliament will have to take cognizance of that fact, but I do not think that any committee could find out anything more about their circumstances” than is already known.
I blame the Country Party for lying dormant. All the information necessary on marketing is at its disposal. Members of the party have access to libraries and can obtain information about marketing from any part of the world. They should be able to formulate some wool marketing plan. There is no need to obtain a report from an independent committee. Three members of the Country Party could get together, spend a week in research and work out some plan which they think is worthwhile. The plan could be submitted to the wool-growers if the present downward trend in prices should continue. That is what members of the Country Party should do instead of shouting across this chamber about what the Labour Party has not done or what the Liberal Party has intended to do.
I say to members of the Country Party - not in a hostile way, but in a friendly way that they are letting the Liberals pull the wool over their eyes all the time. It is time that they pulled the wool from their eyes and exerted the pressure that they would wield in this Parliament. They could stand the Liberal Party up and make it do something for the wool-growers and for other sections of primary producers. The Country Party has its opportunity at the present time. If the downward trend in wool prices continues members of the Country Party should get together and formulate a definite plan. They should submit it to the Government and ask the Government to submit it to the growers. The Government made a promise to do something for wool-growers eleven years ago but it has done nothing to implement that promise. The wool-growers, of course, did not want anything done for them because they were going along quite all right.
Let me now consider some of the problems that confront Australia at present. If the price of wool rights itself this year or next year - and probably it will because it has been up and down over the last nine years - we can go on all right because we will have a stable price. However, Senator Wade’s argument is that the industry needs another £250,000,000 to enable imports to be continued at the present rate. We do not want to increase the price of wool unnecessarily and thus cause further inflation. The wool-growers have been getting a fair margin of profit during the last nine years. The solution to the difficulty is to increase production and improve the quality of fleeces in Australia. Not only must we increase our production capacity but we must increase the quality of our wool as well. If we can find ways and means of doing so we will bridge the gap caused by the fall in prices over the last nine years. That is the only way that I can see to bridge the gap.
Nobody can tell me that Australia has reached its capacity in respect of carrying sheep and cattle. Very little has been done by the present Government to increase production and so build up our overseas balances. It is in this matter that the Country Party can do something if it so desires. I do not doubt for one moment that there are sufficient brains and intelligence in the Country Party to devise a plan for the improvement of the quantity and quality of wool, but I repeat that the members of the Country Party have been sitting back allowing the Liberal Party to pull the wool over their eyes. They can wield the whip if they want to in this industry and in other matters affecting primary producers.
I agree with Senator Branson that there has been an improvement in our studs which has resulted in an improvement in the quality of our wool. Many of us live close to some of these stud farms and we know what has been done. The fact that there has been some improvement does not mean that the limit has been reached. The small wool-grower and the mixed farmer who grow quite a lot of wool, and rear a number of lambs, are not able to pay the fabulous prices that are asked for stud rams. Most of these smaller growers cannot compete with the big buyers for high quality stud rams. Sooner than drop their prices a lot of stud growers will fix their rams up and turn them out as wethers.
– What rot!
– They consider that it is better to get £1,000 for a few stud rams than £30 or £40, or even £50 or £100, for a number of rams. I repeat that the Country Party should evolve a plan to enable stud rams, and if necessary stud ewes, to be supplied to the smaller growers of wool. It may be necessary for the Government to subsidize the small and intermediate growers who cannot afford to pay hundreds and even thousands of pounds for stud stock.
– Do you not know that hundreds of stud rams have been given to soldier settlers free of cost?
– Soldier settlers produce only a very small proportion of the wool produced in Australia. If the soldier settlers could have bought their blocks on the same terms that the Zinc Corporation Limited is to be given in respect of the purchase of the Bell Bay aluminium plant they would probably have expanded their holdings and would be producing a major portion of Australia’s wool. That is something that honorable senators opposite need to keep in mind. I do not doubt for one moment that everything possible is being done to assist soldier settlers, but what a small part they play in producing the huge quantity of wool that is produced in this country. What about the person engaged in the industry who is a cripple and who also has to battle on a sheep farm? Is he not entitled to be given a stud ram, just as the soldier settler is? Those are the men whose interests we need to watch. After all, the Australian community and the Australian wool industry are made up of many sections.
The problems of the wool industry will not be solved by sending the price of wool sky-high, thereby leading to wholesale inflation. What is necessary is to stabilize the price of wool at such a level that it will allow the growers to make a reasonable rate of profit. It is useless to discuss hypothetical or extreme cases, such as those referred to by Senator Mattner. We must consider average conditions. If we could increase production on farms of an average size, under ordinary conditions, that would help to overcome our difficulties. We all know that if the price of wool continues to fall, this Government, and Australia too, will be in real trouble. I say, “ Let us get to work to find ways and means to increase production in the wool industry and the fat lamb industry “. If production can be increased, there is no doubt that that will have an important effect on the economy. I conclude by saying that if I were sitting opposite as a member of the Australian Country Party and had the opportunity to wheel the Government into line and make it do its job, as the Country Party has to-day, I would not let the opportunity pass for one second.
.- The subject-matter of Senator Wade’s motion is of great national importance. I had hoped that it would receive the earnest attention, not merely of a token representation of the Ministry, but of as many Ministers as could possibly afford the time to listen to the debate. We have heard speeches, in the course of the discussion, that have contributed facts and information that are well worthy of consideration. I hope that the debate will not conclude without the Senate being given the benefit of the considered views of those who have particular responsibility with regard to this matter. I refer to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry and the Minister representing the Minister for Trade.
I appreciate the obvious ability with which Senator Wade introduced the motion. He displayed a maturity of judgment which surely entitles his remarks to serious consideration. As one’s interest in the subject of the motion develops, I must say, Mr. Acting Deputy President, that one becomes conscious of the appropriateness of the timing of the motion. I believe that a critical analysis of the wool industry at this juncture will show that it is certainly the right time for the most intensive and earnest consideration that responsible members of this Parliament can give to it. I enter the debate with the misgiving that I have not the practical experience of the industry with which some honorable senators are gifted, but I enter it, nevertheless, because I believe that one has to approach matters of this kind and try to make a contribution to the solution of the problems if one can. I have been heard to say before in similar debates that Australia must always recognize that it has a dependent economy. It is not self-sufficient. The Australian economy is simply a unit in the economic activity of the world. The fact that wool is the greatest single contributor to our overseas export income intensifies the importance that we should attach to this debate. Therefore, Sir, it seems to me that we should first look at the problem from the point of view of the external considerations governing the industry.
Australia is not the only producer of wool in the world, although one is delighted to hear the record of production and efficiency that the industry can claim. When we consider the situation, as it was reviewed for us by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics in July last, we find that world production of greasy wool in 1959- 60 was estimated at the record level of 5,593,000,000 lb., or 4.6 per cent, above the 1958-59 level. We find that in the forthcoming year it is expected that world production will be even greater, and that, despite an expected decline of 5 per cent, in Australia, production will increase in New Zealand, the United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the Argentine and Uruguay.
Those figures are in line with the gradual progression of wool production in the wool-producing countries that has been evident in the last decade.
The number of sheep in Australia has increased, and so too has the volume of exports by the wool industry, but at the same time, the production of wool has been increasing elsewhere in the world. That is a cardinal factor that I think we have to keep steadily in mind when the Parliament is considering ways and means to maintain and expand the wool industry. The next factor that seems to me to be relevant is that, despite the fact that there has been an increase in the supply stocks of wool, that increase, as I assess it - and I am open to criticism in this respect by subsequent speakers - has not been of such dimensions as to threaten the continuance of the market.
– That is so.
– I am pleased to have the confirmation of Senator McKellar who says, from his experience, that that is so. It has to be remembered that the increase in external production was of the degree that I have mentioned, and that to that extent the clip has been unconsumed and unsold. In those circumstances, I see no prospect of immunity from competition for the Australian wool producer. If we look at the Australian industry in the light of the world environment, we see some potential advantages. Can we expand our markets? One would think, in view of the rate of wool production in the European countries, that the populations of those countries could be induced to increase their use of wool and, therefore, that the sales promotion efforts of the Wool Bureau in those countries should be quite fruitful. Some countries, we are told, are reaching out for independence. Given their independence, we can expect them to generate greater economic activity, especially with increasing assistance from the more economically developed countries of the world. One would hope that there could be an expansion of our wool markets in those countries. I should be dismayed if North America was not a worthwhile target for attention in this connexion, and I hope that a subsequent speaker will devote three or four minutes of his time to giving me some information on this subject. Of course, North America’s commercial attitude is fortified by terrific financial strength. We were told yesterday that the Americans give their producers a subsidy and beset our producers with a tariff. Nevertheless, the consumption of wool in North America is not nearly equal to the financial capacity of the people there to buy wool. As I see the motor industry growing in Australia, at the expense of the value of the Australian £1 and at the expense, I believe, of the balance of the economy, I wonder whether it is to our advantage to turn our faces away from American motor car exports. It should be possible for us to sell our wool products on the North American market.
I have mentioned those matters because I am seeking information. I believe that Senator Wade’s motion has afforded the Senate an opportunity to make a contribution on a subject of critical national importance - equal in importance to any subject to which we have directed our attention. I have risen, not for the purpose of taking a leading part in the discussion, but to indicate the matters in respect of which I would like to be informed, so that consideration can be given to them. I have referred to North America so that I can be told why we are not concentrating on that potential market. I believe that if the necessary arrangements could be made, we would gain a terrific opportunity to increase our sales of wool.
I wish now to deal with a subject that Senator Kennelly mentioned last night. I thought it was a great pity that the honorable senator made this debate the occasion for a partisan, political attack. He made a petty political approach to the subject. Ht tried to belittle the members of the Australian Country Party in this chamber and, in that way, to detract from the advantages to be gained by discussing Senator Wade’s motion. I thought that his remarks were beneath the dignity of a real parliamentarian. The honorable senator made a completely baseless attack upon the minority party of the Government. He should consider impartially the contribution that Mr. McEwen has made to the expansion of the wool industry in Australia. Mr. McEwen’s personal contribution transcends those of one hundred lesser men. I need mention only one of Mr. McEwen’s achievements, due to his acumen and energy, in order to answer completely all of Senator Kennelly’s criticisms. When Mr. McEwen was making preparations to start the negotiations for the Japanese trade treaty, he introduced into the Parliament a bill designed to make our customs mechanism equal to the occasion if, inadvertently, Japanese imports flooded Australia. We supported the measure, so that the Minister would have power to restrict imports of any products of a particular country if they became detrimental to our economy. But the Labour Party, whose Deputy Leader in this Chamber has made this debate a political occasion, opposed the measure. Then Mr. McEwen set about negotiating the Japanese trade treaty. In one clause of the treaty the Japanese Government undertook to accord to Australian wool the opportunity to compete, in the global quota for wool, for not less than 90 per cent, of the foreign exchange allocated for wool each year. In consequence, our sales of wool to Japan have improved to a considerable degree. In the year before the agreement, when the price of wool was 79d. per lb., we exported 233,000,000 lb. of wool to Japan, but in 1959-60 we exported to that country approximately 100,000,000 lb. more, the figure being 335,000,000 lb. The price of wool fell from 79d. per lb. in 1956-57 to 57d. per lb. last year, but we were able to maintain a fairly constant return for the wool-growers because of our access to the Japanese market. Japan even attained the position of No. 1 buyer last year, beating Great Britain by a small margin.
– That was for greasy wool.
– Please do not ask me to go into the technicalities of greasy wool, clean wool and fell-mongered wool. I have given plain figures, and I ask for enlightenment by means of a synthetized set of figures later on. That treaty alone has been responsible for increasing the volume of our exports of wool to Japan in 1959-60 by 43 per cent, compared with the figure for 1956-57. If Senator Kennelly were present this afternoon he would feel bound to concede that his criticism of the Country Party’s efforts for wool in that one respect alone was completely petty and ill founded. I need not mention the other ways in which the Government has assisted primary industry. Senator Branson has referred to them fairly completely and quite soundly. So I deplore the idea that this is a type of debate in which one should engagein petty party politics.
I have referred to the markets abroad. I believe that the Government took prompt steps soon after the war to try to make the best possible overseas marketing arrangements. It will be remembered that in 1950, after consultations with the Government, a delegation consisting of, I think, four representatives of the wool industry, went to London for discussions with representatives of the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand, for the purpose of laying down a basis for a reserve price plan. It is true that the plan was introduced in South Africa and New Zealand. It was due to no dereliction of the Government that the plan was not introduced in Australia. The records show quite clearly that in September, 1951 - the date is significant - a referendum was held to obtain the views of the Australian wool-growers. The referendum was strongly supported by the Government. The growers were asked to accept a reserve price plan.
The Government did make one matter clear. The Government set the condition that in guaranteeing the plan, it would finally decide, amongst other things, the reserve price. Although, as Senator DrakeBrockman stated yesterday, it was contemplated that an organization would be set up similar to the wool commission in New Zealand that would, in effect, fix the reserve price, I believe the Government did rather frighten off the wool-grower at the time by making it clear that after the plan was introduced with a Government guarantee, the Government must reserve the right to fix the reserve price. But the overwhelming consideration that induced the independent Australian wool-grower to reject the plan at that time was the fact that the industry had enjoyed a boom price within the previous twelve months. Although some reduction of price was then evident, it was not so critical that the woolgrower foresaw that a floor price was really a necessary part of this industry’s set-up. Therefore, the wool-grower rejected the plan. But we have established the Australian Wool Bureau and then the Australian Wool Realization Commission, which takes part in the International Wool Council. We have also conducted research programmes within this industry. So I think that the Government can say that its record in looking after this industry is creditable.
But an unhappy situation is revealed by figures which show, I believe, that this industry needs immediate and urgent consideration. I am relying particularly upon an article in the quarterly review of the Bureau of Agriculture and Economics of October, 1959. In that article a review is made of the industry under three headings. The industry is divided into three phases, according to the different types of agricultural districts where sheep are grown. With the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the following table -
Just let me refer to the pointers that this tables gives. Our sheep numbers have increased since 1952-53 from 117,000,000 to 152,000,000. In the same period there has been an increase in wool produced from 1,168,000,000 lb. to 1,534,000,000 lb., but there has been a price decrease per lb. of greasy wool from 81d. to an estimated 63d. for 1959-60. I think that the optimism in this article in relation to the last-mentioned figure will be falsified by the year’s experience.
Having set out these critical points, the article takes the three segments of Australia, the high rainfall zone, the wheat and sheep zone, and the pastoral zone, under separate headings. My information is that those three zones provide respectively about 30 per cent., 40 per cent. and 30 per cent. of Australia’s wool production, so none of them is to be neglected. Let us take, first, the high rainfall zone. If we take as a base period the years from 1953 to 1957 and compare the subsequent years, alarming conclusions are reached. I shall not refer to all the figures. I have selected a few lines of each which, with the concurrence of honorable senators I shall incorporate in “ Hansard “. They are -
The fact is that in this high rainfall zone the rate of return on capital has decreased from 6.4 per cent. in the base period, 1953 to 1957, to 0.5 per cent. in 1958-59. That return of 0.5 per cent. relates to 30 per cent. of the industry.
What is our responsibility to the industry in respect of its increased costs? The state of the economy itself has some influence on them. I make a plea to the Government now to consider this aspect in special rela tion to this industry. Costs expressed as a percentage of returns in the base period were 55.2 per cent., but in 1958-59 they were 81.5 per cent., clearly demonstrating that what is threatening this industry with destruction is the increase of internal costs in Australia.
Let me turn now to the wheat-sheep zone of the industry. With the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the following table: -
I remind honorable senators that those figures relate to 40 per cent. of the industry.
Again with the concurrence of honor able senators, I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the following figures, relating to the pastoral zone: -
It will be seen that costs are eating out the industry’s profit. In my opinion, it is of no use believing that the solution of the problem lies in the promotion of sales overseas or the expansion of production, although those things are good and will take care of the natural progress in the industry that will accompany any degree of prosperity.
The Australian wool-grower, assisted by the scientists, has made a tremendous contribution to the expansion of production. The Government has called for increased production, and the Australian producer, inspired by a decent prospective profit for himself, has responded to that call in a remarkable way. But if his rate of return to capital is to be eroded from 16.6 per cent, down to 1 per cent., we are hitting the bottom and real danger exists. Therefore, we are compelled to ensure that costs do not threaten this industry, as a specific example of Australian industry generally, with destruction. It is very important that we should take that action in regard to the wool industry, because wool is an export of the greatest importance. I make the point that we should heed the danger signal now, and that we should examine the cost structure of the Australian economy to ascertain whether remedies other than those already applied are imperative.
I beg the pardon of the Senate for referring again to the subject I am about to mention. Yesterday there was laid on the table of the Senate the report of the president of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I read his reference to criticism, and I concede to the commission the right to have directed against it only responsible criticism. But I refute any claim that the tribunal is immune from criticism. The real danger to the national economy lies in the approach of the commission to the matters that call for its determination, because it exercises an influence on the economy which is greater in potential than that exercised by this Parliament. We would be recreant to our trust if we did not insist upon constantly directing the attention of the members of that tribunal to the way in which the economy is being endangered.
I listened with great respect to the apologia for the commission offered recently by my learned friend, Senator Vincent. He advanced the view that, given decent advocacy and a proper presentation of evidence, mistakes would not occur. I never thought that I would hear an honorable senator, particularly a man of Senator Vincent’s eminence in the courts, offer a word of criticism about the advocacy of Mr. Aird, Q.C., or his learned junior. Any one who has had the pleasure of witnessing the impressive ability of Mr. Aird, Q.C., in presenting his arguments would know that, if they have been unavailing, it certainly has not been because of any deficiency on his part but because, in some cases, of an invincible philosophy that has been adopted by members of the tribunal and which has been discordant with a sound development of the Australian economy. In other cases, it has been because of a failure to appreciate the comprehensive considerations placed before the tribunal in relation to the need for a balanced development of an economy which is dependent upon overseas markets.
No matter how tedious it is for honorable senators to hear me repeat these arguments, I shall never rest content until they are properly considered. I believe that the need to consider them is all the more urgent because an analysis of the figures to which I have referred shows how perilously close to the non-profit making position is the Australian wool industry in each of the three zones that have been examined. If it is a fact that the determinations of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission constitute the chief - not the sole - factor contributing to the inflation of costs, it is time that an urgent examination of the constitution of the commission was undertaken and that a more responsible organization was set up. I am not advocating the abolition of it. It is necessary to have as members of the commission people who have greater experience in various sections of industry and more people with practical business judgment so that wages, having regard to the capacity of industry to pay, will be adjusted only to the extent that they do not endanger such industries as the wool industry. If the present state of affairs continues for two more years without a significant increase in market prices, the wool industry should show that it is slowly moving towards the brink of depression. We all shudder when we hear the word “ depression “ but we should not be afraid to face up to our responsibilities. In the pastoral zone costs rose from 44 per cent, of returns in 1953 to 87 per cent, in 1959. The arbitration tribunals assisted in this trend, as did the imposition of high tariffs that were necessary to enable our secondary industries to become established. The adverse effects of the inflationary trend have been felt most severely by primary producers, who cannot in any way control the markets from which they derive their prices.
Despite the lateness of the hour on this Thursday afternoon I make no apology for referring to the threats presented to this industry by the present movements in our economy. Senator Wade’s choice of term was completely appropriate. The industry is in danger. Several remedies have been suggested that could assist the industry. I have already referred to the reserve price plan. I was pleased to have the guidance last night of Senator DrakeBrockman, who said that he favoured such a plan. I refer to the honorable senator, of course, as a man with special experience in the industry.
After listening to honorable senators who have taken part in the debate, even Senator Kennelly, I think it is of paramount importance for the wool-growers of Australia to be given another opportunity to consider whether they wish to accept this plan. From what I can understand similar arrangements in New Zealand have assisted the industry in that country. The prices obtained by New Zealand, having regard to the quality of her wool, compare more than favorably with those obtained by Australia. In my view they are very good indeed.
In New Zealand the wool commission has had to buy in at the floor price only very rarely. I think New Zealand’s experience has shown that Australian woolgrowers have no reason to fear that a floor price plan will automatically bring the auction price down to the floor price. I believe, having regard to the special circumstances that caused the plan to be rejected in 1951, and experience since then, that there is a strong probability that a majority of wool-growers in Australia would now accept the plan. Even if nothing else comes out of this debate I hope that the discussion will accelerate consideration of that proposal by the Govern ment and accelerate the submission of the question by referendum to the growers. I agree with those honorable senators who have said that in their opinion Senator Wade’s motion has been one of the factors that has expedited the submission of the joint request by the two wool-growing organizations to the Government for an inquiry into wool. I agree that no time should be lost in conducting such an inquiry, and I hope that the outcome of it will be that a floor price plan will be submitted to growers.
I wish to refer to two other matters that have been discussed here. One is Senator O’Byrne’s reference to improper practices, if not corrupt practices, in the auction system, and the other is subsidies. I have not had the opportunity to make more than a brief study of Mr. Justice Cook’s report, but I am disposed to agree wholeheartedly with his finding that small pockets of buyers arrange to buy on each other’s accounts, which must sterilize to some extent the spirit of bidding in the auction room. But let us not be too hasty over a matter such as this, because we have no control over it except to ensure propriety in the market and also that improper arrangements are not made to defraud sellers. We cannot compel Belgium, Britain or Russia to send any particular group of representatives here as buyers. If six merchants in England say that they will send one buyer out to represent them, how can we stop them? The Commonwealth Government will do well to inquire whether auction legislation in the States is up to date to ensure that practices in the auction market are quite proper.
I see that some honorable senators are becoming fidgety as the clock moves on. I will be only 60 seconds longer. I would hate to think that we had reached a stage where it was necessary to subsidize the wool industry. But it is not the magnitude of the operation that must deter us. If we are prepared to bolster the Commonwealth Public Service and to subsidize the copper industry the time may come when some form of government assistance will have to be given to the wool industry. I know of one company engaged in copper production in Tasmania that is drawing a big subsidy.
– A profit limitation is imposed on that company.
– That is a good industry. Do not interfere with it.
– I agree that the copper industry is important, but so, too, is the wool industry. If we artificially inflate internal costs we must be prepared to support artificially the returns to industries such as the wool industry. I conclude my remarks by expressing my indebtedness to Senator Wade, who proposed this motion. He has rendered a great service to the nation.
– Mr. Deputy President, in view of the lateness of the hour I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Message received from the House of Representatives requesting the concurrence of the Senate in a resolution relating to the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory.
[4.45]. - I move -
Mr. Deputy President, I might say for the information of honorable senators that I am informed that about 400,000 persons a year now visit Canberra and it is expected that this number will increase as the city develops. In addition, many persons pass through Canberra on their way to and from the Snowy Mountains area. There is no recent study available of the various factors bearing on the tourist industry in the Australian Capital Territory, and the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory has therefore been asked to inquire generally into this subject. In order to conduct its investigations satisfactorily, the committee may require to take portion of its evidence in the Snowy Mountains area and possibly elsewhere. This motion is designed to obtain the approval of Parliament for the committee to move from place to place.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– First of all, I apologize to the Senate for detaining it at this late hour, but I believe that to-day is such a significant day in the history of Canberra, the National Capital, and Australia generally, that it should not be allowed to pass without reference being made to the matter which I raised in a question this morning. From midnight to-night the Canberra University College will cease to exist as a university college in its own right and will become a part of the Australian National University. Looking back over the history of the University College during the past 30 years, I think we are in a position to praise what it has done, not only for Canberra but also for the people of Australia, particularly the young people.
When the National Capital was established at Canberra in 1927 many people came here from Melbourne and elsewhere, and either they or their children were studying university courses. It was felt that a hardship was being inflicted upon them in that there were no university educational facilities available in Canberra. A committee was set up to investigate the problem and at the end of December, 1929, a regulation was introduced in the Parliament to establish the Canberra University College to institute courses of study in conjunction with one or other of the Australian universities. The Sydney and Melbourne universities were very sympathetic with the idea, but as the University of Sydney had a regulation stating that attendance at lectures was compulsory and that was impossible for students living in Canberra, it was decided to set up those schools of study which could be affiliated with the University of Melbourne, in respect of which there was no such requirement.
On 31st March, 1930, 32 students attended the first lectures in the Canberra University College and from that date until to-day the number of students attending the college has increased to just on 900. The University College has passed through many vicissitudes. It was founded on the eve of the depression, which is apparent from the number of students who were enrolled during the early years. Although the college opened with 32 part-time students, by the end of 1930 the number had increased to 34. By 1933 the number had increased to only 44 and the University College was regarded as a night school for public servants. It did not have very much of the status of a university. During the depression years the college did not grow very much, but as the depression receded the enrolment figures improved until in 1937 there was an enrolment of 134.
With the intervention of the war, however, there was a decline in the number of students. During the war years the enrolment reached the all-time low of only 56
Students, because many people of war service age were on war service. After the war, with the return to civilian life of many ex-servicemen and the opportunities offered by the Commonwealth Government under its rehabilitation scheme for exservicemen, by 1948 the number of enrolments had increased to 332. That increase in the number of students necessitated the university being put on a better footing. In 1948 the first professors were appointed. Professor Burton took up office as principal and lecturer in economic history at the college in that year. I should like to pay a tribute to those who have served this college since its inception. First and foremost, we owe a great debt to the late Sir Robert Garran, who from 1930 to 1953 was the chairman of the council of the University College. Before 1930 he was the moving spirit among university graduates in Canberra who worked for the establishment of a university here. I am pleased to say that his name is perpetuated in several ways at the college. The present chairman of the council is Dr. Dickson, who has held the position since 1953 and who was honoured in the recent Queen’s Birthday Honours by having the honour of Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George conferred upon him for his outstanding public service.
One member of the council, by his length of service in that capacity, has a record which I think is probably unequalled by any other person in a similar position in Australia. He is Mr. C. S. Daley, who was a member of the council from 1930 to 1958. He was not just a nominal member. He worked very hard during all those years for the improvement of university educational facilities in the Australian Capital Territory. I come next to Mr. Owen, who has been registrar of the college since 1939. He also has been very active in his stewardship of the affairs of the Canberra University College. The first two full-time lecturers were Dr. Allen and Professor Haydon. In the early years of the college many university graduates in the Territory gave their services as part-time instructors in order to help the new concept of the university to become established. As far back as 1934 the college council of that day suggested that the time was ripe for a national university to be established at Canberra. I would like the use of the word “ national “ in that context to be noted and appreciated because as from midnight to-night we will see the University College which has struggled manfully for 30 years being incorporated in the much larger concept of the National University which 25 years ago its own council suggested as the ultimate goal for university education in the Territory.
Because of the establishment of the Australian National University, for which the first legislation was passed in 1946, the Canberra University College became a kind of Cinderella. It was more or less a fosterchild of the Government. It did not have the same standing as the National University; it certainly did not have the same funds; and it was not housed in very worthy conditions. It passed through all kinds of vicissitudes, even being destroyed by fire. Like parliamentary committees which go from place to place, the Canberra University College had to go from place to place as accommodation became available for it.
Over the past ten years the student membership of the college has increased to such an extent that it is now 900, more than the membership of my own University of Western Australia when I came here in 1943. More important is the fact that at the Canberra University College studies are available which are not available in other universities of the Commonwealth. I refer particularly to the School of Oriental Studies. Not only does the university teach languages but it conducts courses dealing with the culture, civilization and art of those countries which are so near to us and with which we are so concerned. Now that the Canberra University College is to become an integral part of the Australian National University, the full impact of what this will mean to the commercial and diplomatic life of Australia should be thoroughly understood by all members of this Senate.
During the last two years the university has entered the field of adult education and is offering courses to people living in the south-west of New South Wales as well as to those living in the Australian Capital Territory. I have not the time to explain in detail the type of courses that have been made available to residents of this district, but in many cases they are superior to those offered to full-time students of larger universities in our capital cities. It had always been envisaged that one day there would be a national university in Canberra, but it was difficult to justify having two worthwhile universities in a city with a population of 50,000. It was decided, last year, after consultation with both the Canberra University College Council and the Australian National University Council, on which I happen to be one of the Senate’s representatives, that the union of the two universities should take place. The union becomes operative from to-morrow.
On the eve of weddings there is always a lot of joy and a little bit of sadness. The mother of the bride generally sheds a few tears even though she is quite happy about the event. I think that on the eve of this union we can remember with pride that the Canberra University College has produced students of great distinction. It has not had the finance or the amenities comparable with the work that it has done. I should like to pay attribute to all who have been associated with the Canberra University College over the years. Already 275 students have become graduates of the University of Melbourne. Until the end of this year the students who have enrolled at the Canberra University College will all be regarded for degree and examination purposes as students of the University of Melbourne. That university has been most helpful to the Canberra University College.
From next year the degrees conferred will be those of the Australian National University. They will be degrees well worth having, but the thanks of the community should go to the Melbourne University which, although it has passed through a particularly difficult time has maintained a very high standard in its degree courses. Over the years that university has enabled 275 students enrolled at the Canberra University College to graduate. We should extend our thanks to all those who have been concerned in this matter. Another 100 students have attended either the Sydney University or the University of Melbourne because until last year it was not possible to take a science course at the Canberra University College. That difficulty has now been rectified and a full science course is now available at the college. A new physics school is in the course of erection.
Some men and women who have attended the Canberra University College have become prominent in public affairs. Quite recently I was pleased to note that Mr. Garnsey, who was an eminent scholar, I think in 1954, has been announced as the Rhodes scholar for New South Wales. If there had been a full university in Canberra I feel that Mr. Garnsey might have been the Rhodes scholar for the Australian Capital Territory. On the eve of this union, or this incorporation of the Canberra University College as the School of General Studies within the Australian National University, I should like to compliment all those who have over the years made sacrifices and worked so hard to bring the Canberra University College up to the high standard which it has achieved, particularly during the last ten or twelve years. I wish the students and staff the very best for the future when they become members of the Australian National University. I feel that the Australian National University will have no reason to regret the incorporation of the Canberra University College as an integral part of its own corporate university life.
– As the other senator who is a member of the Council of the Australian National University I rise to commend Senator Tangney for the speech she has just made. She has left very little for me to say other than that I, as one of the Senate’s representatives, was busily occupied earlier this year in formulating the scheme to integrate the two universities. After to-morrow they will constitute the Australian National University. I might mention that I was very pleased to read in this morning’s press that His Excellency, on the advice of Cabinet, has appointed to the new council of the Australian National University some distinguished men who served on the council of the Canberra University College. Two names that come to my mind readily are Mr. John Ewens, the Parliamentary Draftsman and Mr. A. T. Shakespeare of the “ Canberra Times “.
I wish to pay a tribute to the old council of the Canberra University College, and as one of the continuing members on the new council I pay a tribute to what these members of the council have done in the past. I look forward to what they will do in the future as members of the Council of the Australian National University. I join with Senator Tangney in wishing them well and in congratulating the Canberra University College on what it has performed during the past 30 years.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 5.3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 September 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1960/19600929_senate_23_s18/>.