23rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I address a question without notice to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. As the Prime Minister has refused the request for a conference of Premiers to consider unemployment and as the Premier of Queensland considers that the amount of money allocated to that State is niggardly compared with its needs, will the Government grant £12,000,000 to Queensland to alleviate unemployment already existing and to assist in providing work for those who will become unemployed as seasonal industries finish this year? If the answer is “ No “, will the Minister say so simply and not indulge in pre-election propaganda?
– I am sure the Senate acquits Senator Dittmer of the charge of doing a little electioneering during a preelection Budget session. The honorable senator completely ignores the substantial additions that have already been made to Queensland’s financial resources this year as part of a programme to pick up the leeway in employment. Let me quote a few figures. The allocation for Queensland’s works programme was increased from £24,500,000 last year to £25,500,000 this year, for housing from £3,100,000 to £3,300,000, for semi-governmental activities from £21,800,000 to £22,800,000, and for the anti-tuberculosis campaign from £800,000 to £1,100,000. Tax reimbursements to Queensland have been increased from £39,900,000 to £42,700,000, and the roads grant has been increased from £8,400,000 to £9,000,000.
They are very substantial additions to Queensland’s resources from which that State will derive great benefit. We must add to them other forms of assistance. We are contributing to the Mount Isa railway, we are contemplating the construction of beef cattle roads in Queensland, and we are making more money available for housing through the banking system. There are also the sales tax reductions, and the other provisions which are in the Budget. We are watching the position very closely, and I am sure we are doing far more than the Opposition would do if it were in a position of responsibility instead of one of irresponsibility.
– I address to the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question which concerns a statement in today’s press to the effect that the United States Government will oppose the entry of Great Britain into the European Common Market if any conditions that are beneficial to the dominions are attached to such entry. Has the Minister seen that statement? Does he know whether that it the attitude of the United States Government? If that is the official attitude, will the Australian Government consider asking the United States Government to refrain from interfering in a matter which is not its concern and which it does not understand? The United States Government seems to be confusing the relationship between the South American States and the United States of America with the relationship that exists between Great Britain and the Commonwealth nations.
– I did see a report of such a statement in a newspaper this morning. I have no idea whether it was an official statement by the United States Government, but I hope sincerely that it was not. If we do not continue to obtain markets for our primary industries in the United Kingdom and within the Common Market itself, the effect upon Australia’s economy will be very serious. I think that the United States of America has a very lively interest in the continuance of a strong and reliable Australia, and that the United States Government would be hesitant to take any action that would be to the detriment of Australia.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Treasurer, but I am not sure whether it should be directed to htm. It may well be that the question should be directed to you, Mr. President. Perhaps you can guide me on the matter. I preface the question by saying that the South Australian Government has sought an interpretation, through the
High Court, of matters affecting a railway line from Broken Hill to Port Pirie. Provided that no reference was made to the merits or demerits of the case, would it be competent, during the Budget debate, to refer to the importance of work proceeding as early as possible on the section of the line in South Australia? If it is considered that some aspects of the matter are sub judice, will the Minister explain to what extent, and in what way, debate on the subject would be curtailed in this and in another place? In view of the imminence of a discussion of the Budget in this chamber, will the matter be given immediate consideration?
– I speak subject to your ruling in a matter of this nature, Sir, but I think that as the matter is now before a court it is sub judice and, therefore, is not a matter that could properly be debated in this chamber at this stage.
– -I cannot tell the honorable senator whether the committee has reported to the Government, but I am aware that the Prime Minister has had a discussion with the Chairman of the Public Service Board and has indicated - I am not quite sure where or how he did so - that he will make a statement on this matter in the very near future.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Is it a fact that the Greek community in South Australia some weeks ago formed a special committee to help to find work for unemployed Greek migrants? ls it a fact that scores of Greek workers have thus been found employment in a number of South Australian industries and that the number of Greek unemployed has considerably fallen? Will the Minister recommend the formation of such special committees to any national group that has not already endeavoured to help its own nationals, and will he congratulate the leaders of these valuable groups for the quiet, untiring and ceaseless work that they are doing to assist assimilation in every possible way?
– I did read an outline of the facts that Senator Buttfield has given to the Senate in relation to the work of this community in South Australia. Any community that does all it can to look after its own nationals is to be commended. The fact that the Greek community has done so well in South Australia is a tribute to it. When I read the newspaper article, I did not ‘know that so many unemployed Greek immigrants had obtained employment in this way in South Australia, but I understood that the work was of great value to those who were unemployed.
– I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade a question which I preface by saying that yesterday a résumé of a statement issued by the Minister for Trade or by his department appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. Will the Minister obtain a copy of the statement and make it available to honorable senators?
– I do not recall the statement to which the honorable senator refers. If it came from either the Minister for Trade or his department, without doubt copies are available to all honorable senators and I shall send a copy to Senator O’Flaherty.
– Is the
Minister representing the Minister for Health aware that an antidote drug named fibroma is on sale in some States, while in others, including Western Australia, its sale is prohibited? Is the Minister aware that fibroma, when injected into rabbits, gives them immunity against myxomatosis? If this is a fact, will the Minister, in view of the seriousness of the matter, consider placing fibroma on the prohibited drug list?
– Anything that made rabbits immune to myxomatosis would be of great concern to the pastoral industry of Australia. I do not know of this drug at all, but I shall certainly bring the question to the attention of the Minister for Health and ask him to inquire into the matter and let me know the result.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Has his attention been directed to a complaint that was circulated on 11th August, 1961, by Mr. Ern Wagner, federal president of the Photographic Retailers of Australia, in relation to the intense competition which the trade is experiencing from the fact that large quantities of photographic equipment are being brought into this country, duty and sales tax free, by returning travellers and crews of ships and aircraft from Hong Kong, Singapore and Aden? According to Mr. Wagner, almost one-half of the Australian purchases of quality photographic equipment are made at these three free ports. Mr. Minister, while I dissociate myself from the criticism of your department contained in this complaint, will you examine the position in relation to business travellers, crews of ships and aircraft, and any regular travellers other than bona fide tourists purchasing this equipment abroad for acquaintances or for dealers? I realize that some administrative difficulties may be involved, but will yo.u ascertain whether some restraint should be placed upon the freedom of entry of these goods, in the circumstances that I have mentioned?
– I would be very loath to interfere with the privileges of a tourist returning to Australia who has an opportunity - a very limited opportunity - of bringing a camera and other articles into the country. I would not like to interfere wilh the individual rights of a tourist coming back to Australia. Most countries of the world treat returning tourists, not quite as well as Australia does, but nearly as well.
– I excluded tourists.
– Yes, I realize that, and I wanted to make sure that you knew I did, too. Ships’ crews and air crews that come regularly to Australia are in a special category, and they are already subject to restrictions. 1 have not the actual facts at my finger-tips concerning what articles they can bring in and how often they can bring them in, but they are examined fairly strictly each time the ship or aircraft comes to Australia. We are most interested, of course, if anybody is bringing goods in for sale, or for dealers, as the honorable senator suggests, because the trade of the nation is affected. Of course, these items should attract duty - duty should be paid on them - if they are brought in by anybody for trade purposes. I feel that the position has been overstated and that this practice does not exist to the extent mentioned in the letter. However, I am having the case examined and as soon as I obtain full information on the subject I shall let the honorable senator have it.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General inform me whether it is the Government’s intention to proceed with the erection of a new post office, telephone exchange and Commonwealth centre at Launceston, Tasmania? If it is, will he say whether the proposals that were recommended by the Public Works Committee will be followed or whether the plans of the project will be substantially altered?
– This is a matter that I think only the Postmaster-General himself can deal with adequately. If the honorable senator will place his question on the noticepaper, I shall see that he gets a reply to it.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation inform me whether his latest information is to the effect that the new runway at Perth airport, designed to accommodate jet aircraft, will be completed in time for the Empire Games next year? If so, how many jet planes per week will be routed through Perth, and will this number be increased to cater for anxious visitors desirous of coming to Australia’s largest State to see world athletes performing in Australia’s sunshine city?
– I am happy to be able to assure the honorable senator that the runway will be completed in adequate time to cater for traffic for the Empire Games to be held in Perth late next year. The present intention is that two Qantas services a week will be routed through Perth. The provision of further frequencies will depend, of course, on the support that is forthcoming from Western Australia, which I hope will fee great.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, by pointing out that serious complaints have been made to me, first, that cubicles in which electors are required to cast their votes at a general election are usually not adequately lighted, especially for the needs of many elderly persons whose eyesight is less than normal, and, secondly, that the cubicle ledges on which ballot-papers are rested during marking have joins, gaps and dents in them making it practically impossible for electors to number the ballotpaper neatly and accurately. Will the Minister cause an immediate survey to be made of lighting arrangements in these cubicles? Will he, where necessary, make the required rectifications before next polling day? Can provision be made for at least one cubicle at each polling place to he specially lit for the use of persons with poor eyesight but who are otherwise fit and thus compelled to attend the polling booths in order to vote? Can smooth ledges be installed in the cubicles at each polling booth?
– Facilities at polling booths were discussed very fully during the last sessional period of the Parliament in the course of the debate on the Commonwealth Electoral Bill. The matters raised by Senator Laught were considered by my colleague, the Minister for the Interior, and instructions have been issued to all presiding officers that adequate lighting facilities and reasonable writing facilities must be provided. I remind the Senate that some 10,000 polling booths are scattered over a very wide area throughout Australia and it is quite impossible to provide ideal conditions at every centre. Senator Laught suggested that at each centre a specially lighted cubicle should be provided to assist persons with failing eyesight. I shall bring his suggestion to the notice of the Minister for the Interior, who I am sure will give it some consideration.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation: Have the numbers of war service pensionsgranted in 1960-61 shown a marked increase compared with previous years? If so, will the Minister state the reasons for the increase?
– The honorable senator indicated last week that he wasinterested in this subject and he asked me to obtain some information on it. I have obtained that information from my colleague, the Minister for Repatriation. With the concurrence of honorable senatorsI propose to give that information in the reply to the question. The number of service pensions granted in the various years is as follows: -
It is significant that in 1960-61 the increase in service pensions granted, as compared with the number granted in the previousyear, was almost 3,000. That increase was due to two factors. One factor was the Government’s introduction of the merged means test, which eased the means test for ex-servicemen and age pensioners. As a result many people who were formerly disqualified from receiving a pension on th& ground of income or property becameeligible. The second factor was the very generous medical benefits introduced in I960, which resulted in a number of age pensioners qualifying for a service pension and being transferred to that category of pensioners.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is it a fact that five trading banks are now making a charge for the unused portion of approved overdrafts to clients?
– Some weeks ago I saw a press statement to the effect that two banks were doing so and the indication was that other banks might well follow suit. I do not know what the present position is. I shall find out whether it is a tact, as suggested by the honorable senator, that five banks are now making the charge, and 1 will let him know.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. On what dates do the instalments on wheat recently sold to mainland China on credit become due?
– I am not in a position to give the specific dates. The terms of the sale of wheat to red China, referred to by the honorable senator, provide for a cash down payment of 10 per cent., a payment of 40 per cent, in six months, and a payment of 50 per cent, in twelve months from the date of shipment. Because of the specification of the date of shipment, it is difficult for me to give the specific dates for which the honorable senator has asked, as I am of the opinion that that shipment has not yet been completed.
– Could you find out the dates?
– I will take the matter up with the Minister for Primary Industry and give the honorable senator a more detailed reply.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister for National Development, by stating that recently he visited Western Australia and while there he called at Esperance. Can he advise me whether he received any representations regarding finance for the development of port facilities at Esperance? If he did, does he believe that the development of port facilities, particularly where large-scale development is being carried out at a rate unequalled in any other part of Australia, is entirely the prerogative of the State Government? Has the Minister received any representations from the Western Australian Government for financial assistance for the development of port facilities at Esperance?
– In company with the Treasurer, I went to Esperance. I was very surprised and impressed by the developments that were occurring in the area, the rate of progress of those developments and the future that seemingly lies ahead of the district. I was left with the very clear impression that additional port facilities were required. As Senator Scott suggested, the provision of those facilities is primarily a matter for the Western Australian Government. The Commonwealth Government has not received any representations in respect of Esperance. As Senator Scott knows, the Commonwealth is contemplating very substantial assistance for Western Australia, but in parts of the State other than Esperance.
– Can the Minister for Customs and Excise say whether it is a fact that articles which are certified as antiques may come into Australia duty free? Are such items also free of sales tax? If a person who sends antiques to Australia omits, through lack of knowledge, to obtain the necessary certificate, are there available in each State experts who are competent to declare that the articles in question are antiques?
– Antiques may be imported free of duty, but I am not aware of the position regarding sales tax. That is a matter for the Treasurer. If the honorable senator directs that question to the Minister representing the Treasurer, no doubt an answer will be provided for him. The Department of Customs and Excise has means of ascertaining whether articles are in fact antiques. If no certificate to that effect is attached to such articles, we can hold them in bond until a certificate arrives. We have means of obtaining the information that we require before we admit such articles duty free.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Has he seen the report of a Moscow broadcast, commenting on the arrival in West Berlin of 1,500 American troops, which is reputed to have contained a statement to the effect that the action of the West was reminiscent of the insane behaviour of some one lighting a bonfire near a powder keg? Can the Minister say whether Russian troops have been brought up to reinforce defence forces in East Germany and East Berlin? Have the East Berlin police been reinforced in a last-minute effort to stem the ever-swelling flood of East German refugees to the West?
– I have not seen the report of the broadcast referred to by the honorable senator. It would not be at all surprising if such a broadcast were made because it would follow the pattern of the past - of the Soviet Union, having first brought about a crisis by attempting to change the status quo, then seeking to show that anybody who wished to maintain the status quo and to keep agreements that had been made, would be following a dangerous course. That sort of argument is always produced in order to try to prevent the peoples of the free world from noticing that in fact any danger that arises is due to an attempt to change an existing and agreed situation. With regard to the question of troops, I can only say that, as the honorable senator will have read, troops and tanks of the East German puppet regime have been brought to Berlin, and that in the outskirts of Berlin and in other places the Russian garrisons which are there to keep the East German Government in power have been alerted. That has been done, of course, not to combat troops brought up by the West, but to crush any attempt by the East German people to express their desires.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has informed me that -
– My questions, of which I gave notice on 18th April, are directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. The . questions are as follows: -
– The Minister for Trade has supplied the following answers: -
I and 2. The broadcast referred to was a brief news item. I have since obtained the text of the statement and had its implications examined.
Australian manufacturers are not necessarily handicapping the promotion of our export trade by not complying with the standards of the International Standards Association.
I.S.A. standards are not accepted in all countries and by all buyers. For this reason, Australian manufacturers interested in export markets must be prepared to base their quotations on the standards customary in the particular country to which they are selling.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has supplied the following answers: -
The technical development of the process overseas has just reached a stage where commercial production is being undertaken and details are being obtained to determine the value of the process to Australia. In regard to the establishment of factories in specific areas, although the Commonwealth in conjunction with the State governments provides information and advice on the potentials of areas to firms contemplating the establishment of new industries, it is not the policy of the Commonwealth Government to approach industry with a view to encouraging the setting up of a factory in a particular area.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– -The Minister for Trade has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– With the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the following answers furnished by the Minister for Trade: -
Official statistics are not available on the amount of freight involved in the carriage of Australian exports.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has provided the following answer to the honorable senator’s questions: - .
The Commonwealth Statistician informed me that imports of reindeer steaks are not recorded separately and that information on the origin of any such imports is not at present available. In the absence of such information I am unable to provide an answer to the question of the origin of any imports of reindeer steaks and on Australia’s balance of trade position with any possible suppliers of these steaks.
– On 3rd May I gave notice of the following questions, which were addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade: -
– The Minister for Trade has informed me that in his recent statement, to which the honorable senator referred, he pointed out that Australia herself had not contributed to the over-supply position in the United Kingdom butter market and in fact the Australian Dairy Produce Board was carefully regulating its supplies in that market. Australia was and remains concerned about the butter price situation in the United Kingdom. The problem has really arisen from the excellent seasonal conditions in Europe with resultant high exports by several countries which have high price, supports for dairy products and which normally have only small exports.
It would not be correct to say that the countries of the European Economic Community as a group bear the responsibility. The community has not yet decided its internal target prices for dairy products.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
In view of the tendency on the part of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to overload the national news with a large number of sporting items which are of little or no interest to Australian listeners, such as a soccer match in London between two suburban teams, will the A.B.C. extend the national news from fifteen to, say, twenty minutes on one morning and one evening session each day so as to include items of great Australian interest from all the Australian States instead of concentrating on those items which seem to be of interest to people who live in Sydney, and which could well be included in the New South Wales State news section?
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following information: -
It is not the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s practice to include a large number of sporting items in its news bulletins, but major sporting information is included from time to time, such as results of important events overseas. News broadcasts from the A.B.C. are, for many people, particularly those living in remote country areas, the only source of up-to-the-minute information. The soccer match mentioned in your question was the Football Association Cup Final, the traditional highlight of the season in England, and an event of very great interest to many people in this country with roots in the United Kingdom.
I may assure the honorable senator that the commission’s officers are fully seized, too, with their responsibility to impart a truly national flavour to the news broadcasts and every effort is made to secure a wide Australian cover, without
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
From which countries did Australia import - (a) the 2,500,000 square feet of plywood in January this year; (b) the 2,700,000 square feet of plywood in February this year; and (c) the 1,900,000 square feet of plywood between 1st March, and 14th April this year?
– The Minister for Trade has now informed me as follows: -
discrimination as to State boundaries. Naturally, the more populous States, such as New South Wales and Victoria, supply a substantial proportion of the news, but analyses made from time to time show that all parts of Australia are appropriately represented.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following information: - 1, 2 and 3. Following the placing of contracts for the supply of crossbar telephone exchange equipment for Kew (Victoria) and Haymarket (New South Wales), with Standard Telephones and Cables (Australia) Proprietary Limited and L. M. Ericsson (Sweden), respectively, quotations were invited from both these suppliers for installation of the exchanges being supplied. Before accepting the quotations the Post Office examined critically the estimated comparable costs of installation by its own staff. Formal acceptance of the company quotations in each case was given on 6th March, 1961. Installation of telecommunications plant by contract is not new to the Post Office nor is the employment of contractors. With the adoption of crossbar type switching equipment for the future Australian telephone system, relative costs and merits of its installation by contract and by the department have to be assessed and the Kew and Haymarket installations will assist in such an assessment.
– In accordance with the provisions of section 4z. of the Northern Territory (Administration) Act 1910-1959, I lay on the table the following papers: -
These are ordinances to which assent has been withheld by the Administrator of the Government of the Commonwealth. I also table a statement of the reasons for withholding assent in each case.
I ask for leave to make a statement on behalf of the Minister for Territories relating to the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory. (Leave granted.)
On 9th March last, I informed the Senate of the circumstances under which the Administrator of the Government of the Commonwealth was advised to withhold assent from two ordinances passed by the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory. One of these ordinances amended the Licensing Ordinance of the Territory to modify the penalties imposed on persons convicted for the first time of supplying liquor to wards. The other ordinance amended the Lottery and Gaming Ordinance of the Territory to provide for the establishment of licensed betting shops.
At a meeting later in March the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory again passed two ordinances which, except in minor drafting points, were identical with those which had been rejected. In the debate the non-official members of the council made it clear that they regarded the main issue as being the power of the Governor-General in Executive Council to overrule legislation passed by the Legislative Council on certain subjects. At the same meeting the Legislative Council adopted, on the motion of an elected member, a resolution requesting the Minister for Territories to introduce progressively further amendments to the Northern Territory (Administration) Act designed to divest the Federal Government of the existing power to recommend withholding of assent from or the disallowance of ordinances passed by the council on a number of specified subjects. These subjects were considered to relate only to the internal affairs of the Territory.
The Minister for Territories submitted the ordinances and the resolution to Cabinet, together with the reasons put forward in the Legislative Council in support of the council’s action. Cabinet gave full consideration to the council’s views. It appeared to Cabinet that, in respect of the two ordinances, there had been no change in circumstances and no change in the arguments produced by the Legislative Council during the brief period between the disallowance of the ordinances and their reintroduction and passage by the Legislative Council. Nothing had transpired to provide reasons why the advice previously given to His Excellency in respect of the subject-matter of those ordinances should be varied. Consequently the Administrator of the Government of the Commonwealth, on the advice of the Executive Council, again withheld assent to the two ordinances.
The action of the Legislative Council in passing the ordinances and in agreeing to a resolution requesting constitutional amendments appeared to make the sole, issue on this occasion the relationship between the Legislative Council and the Executive and between the Legislative Council and this Parliament.
The existing constitutional position is clear. This Parliament has given to the Executive both the power and the responsibility of disallowance or the withholding of assent to ordinances. In the exercise of that power the Executive is bound to take into consideration not only matters of local concern but those which come within its view as a national government. The Executive is answerable only to this Parliament.
I repeat what I said in the Senate on the first occasion of withholding assent. The powers of dissent and disallowance have never been used lightly or capriciously. Nearly 300 ordinances have been passed by the Legislative Council since 1951, and of that number, in over ten years, only two ordinances have been disallowed and only five failed to obtain assent by reason of the principles they contained.
The main question - whether there should be a constitutional change to distinguish between those matters on which the Executive can disallow or refuse assent to an ordinance and those matters of local concern in respect of which the Executive would have no powers - was considered by Cabinet in general and without reference to the two ordinances previously under notice. It reached the conclusion that such a constitutional change should not be made.
The Legislative Council was informed of the decision of Cabinet on its request for constitutional change and was also informed of the withholding of assent to the two ordinances. At a meeting in Darwin on 3rd August, the council again passed the two ordinances, postponed other business and agreed to a resolution calling on the Minister for Territories “ to arrange a conference, preferably in the Territory, between representatives of the Commonwealth Government and this Council in order to find a solution to the present impasse between the opinions and attitudes of the majority of this Council and those of the Commonwealth Government and its advisers “. The council then adjourned to a time and date after the holding of the conference referred to in the resolution.
As before, the actions and the opinions of the Legislative Council were placed before Cabinet, and fully considered. The Minister has been authorized by Cabinet to communicate with the Administrator of the Northern Territory, who is also President of the Legislative Council, indicating that if the council would wish to choose and send to Canberra three representatives to put views on particular constitutional issues, the Minister for Territories will receive them and hear their views and, having regard to the nature of the subject, will arrange for the Attorney-General to be present.
Debate resumed from 16th August (vide page 54), on motion by Senator Wade -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– We now continue the debate, on the Wool Tax Bill (No. 1), the Wool Tax Bill (No. 2), and the Wool Tax Assessment Bill. Opposition senators do not oppose these measures, but we exercise the right to make some remarks about the legislation. Although the Government has led the Senate to believe that the industry requires the making of a levy of the nature provided by the legislation, it should not be made necessarily in the manner which the Government has decided. It is common knowledge, not only to the Opposition but also to the Government and its supporters that while many wool-growers consider the levy to be necessary, they think that the wool industry requires much more urgent action which has not been taken by the Government.
The Wool Tax Assessment Bill proposes the continuance of the levy which was imposed previously, but at a much higher rate, for the purpose of maintaining the reconstituted International Wool Secretariat. Similar grower-financed schemes exist in New Zealand and South Africa. As the Minister told us, Australia pays 62 per cent, of the combined contribution of the three partners of the International Wool Secretariat. Sir William Gunn, chairman of the Australian Wool Bureau, was elected chairman of the new board of the International Wool Secretariat, and the board met in Australia for the first time in May this year.
The International Wool Secretariat envisages an increase, in expenditure from fStg.2,600,000 in 1951 to £Stg.5,600,000. I presume that this increased expenditure will be progressively attained, with the expansion of the Wool Bureau’s endeavour to promote the sale of wool. The Opposition believes, generally, that it is very necessary that some action be taken by Australia to combat the competition of synthetics and other artificial fibres, but we do not by any means think that these represent a really serious challenge to wool. The Opposition believes that the really serious challenge to wool in this country is inflation. Cost of production has risen to such an extent that the industry would be seriously threatened if the price received were to fall much lower. The woolgrowers have received big cheques. A lot of money has come to this country from the sale of our wool overseas. Economically, the wool industry has carried this country on its back. Nobody is more entitled to thanks for the economic benefits that Australia has enjoyed than the actual woolgrowers. I say quite candidly that, but for the success of the wool industry, the Government would not have been able to prostitute the prosperity of this country to the extent that it has done. The Government has taken certain measures to counteract the effects of the wild fluctuations of the wool market. Our income from wool exported during the 1957-58 season was down by £150,000,000 compared with the previous season. We did sell all our wool, but not at prices that would have enabled us to maintain the economic advantages that this country should enjoy from its production of wool. It must be realized that 95 per cent, of our annual wool clip is exported and the remaining 5 per cent, is utilized within Australia. In view of this, it is evident that the wool industry should be protected.
We of the Opposition say that the best way to protect the industry is the way in which it has been previously protected, that fs, by protecting the growers by paying attention to the marketing of wool, by ensuring that the grower gets a proper return for his product, and that the intrinsic value of the wool is paid for it, and by seeing that the growers do not exist as a disorganized section of the community which has a very valuable commodity to sell to a highly organized world buying market.
Overseas buyers and their agents deter.mme the prices that they will pay for wool at auction. These buyers constitute the entire membership of the buyers’ organization. A royal commission that was set up by the Labour Government of New South Wales, under Mr. Justice Cook, disclosed that the buyers and/ or their agents operated buyers’ pies for the purpose of depressing wool prices. Difficulties, as a result of the provisions of section 92 of the Constitution, prevented the New South Wales Government from taking deterrent action against this class of wool buying.
On several occasions, I have directed to the Minister in this chamber representing the Minister for Primary Industry questions concerning the marketing of wool. I have asked him whether the Government was prepared to consider bringing in a new plan for the marketing of wool under a reserve price system, or to do something, anyhow, to protect the wool market from exploitation by a highly organized body of international buyers. On each occasion, the Minister said that it was realized that this was a very important industry but that the -Government was not prepared to move in the matter until the inquiry then proceeding had submitted its findings to the Government. Yet the Government has had no hesitation in placing an additional impost on the growers to promote the sale of wool.
– That was at the growers’ request.
– That is a little doubtful. It has been said that things are done for the good of the people, that the people want them. It is a matter of who constitutes “ the people “ in that context. “The Minister has said that one organization, the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, has unanimously adopted the proposal. However, the ranks of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation were divided, and it qualified its ultimate acceptance of the increase by making a number of reservations. The Government has dealt with two executive bodies, neither of which has asked the growers themselves to express their opinion on the proposed increase. I say that the executive of one very important organization made a number of reservations; it did not think that the whole of the cost of the promotion of the sale of wool internationally should be borne by the wool-growers. I could pose to the Government hundreds of things that need correction.
Let us look at what the Government is prepared to do for this most important industry. It always hides behind the fact that an inquiry is proceeding. As I said, the Minister has stated that the Government is not prepared to move in the matter until the findings of the committee of inquiry have been submitted. The Government should go further and say that it will consult the growers in the matter. 1 should like the Minister to tell me whether the growers have been consulted in this matter. Have they been given an opportunity to show by ballot whether they support the introduction of the scheme that the Government has brought forward to promote the sale of wool?
When we analyse the matter, it appears that there is no valid reason for expecting only one section of this very big industry to carry the whole of the financial burden involved in the promotion of the sale of wool. Let us look at the yearly figures in relation to the carry-over of wool. The carry-over each Vear between 1945-46 and 1959-60 show that the carry-over annually has been inconsiderable. The figures were as follows: In 1945-46, 22,149 bales; in 1946-47, 72,557 bales; in 1947-48, 36,303 bales; in 1948-49, 109,309 bales-
– To what do the figures that the honorable senator is quoting refer?
– I am quoting the carry-over figures - the number of bales of wool unsold at the end of the respective seasons.
– Two million bales oi wool remained unsold at the end of the war.
– The government of the day had regard to the interests of the growers, which were well protected by Joint Organization and the fact that a reserve price operated. In 1949-50, there was a carry-over of 45,496 bales; in 1950- 51, 60,2*98 bales; in 1951-52, 40,386 bales; in 1952-53, 44,562 bales; in 1953-54, 45,107 bales; in 1954-55, 56,523 bales; in 1955-56, 56,712 bales and in 1956-57, 85,956 bales. Yet in that year our income from wool exported was down by £1 50,000,000. Admittedly, the position was influenced by inflation, but the growers were experiencing quite a lot of difficulty in marketing their wool. When our income from wool exports dropped by £150,000,000 the Government should have paid close attention to the interests of this very important industry. It neglected to do so, and it is now placing a further impost on the wool-growers to finance the promotion of the sale of wool. In 1957-58, the carry-over was 108,941 bales; in 1958- 59, 110,456 bales; and in 1959-60, 178,341 bales. When we have regard to the quantity of wool that is grown in this country, carry-overs of those proportions were not alarming. I stress that never has Australia been unable to sell her wool.
– At a price.
– At a price. This bill, important though it may be, is the price that the wool-grower and the Australian Country Party must pay for being appendages to the Liberal Government. The wool-growers are not receiving the return they should receive for their wool. Because of inflation and government imposts, the growing of wool to-day is nowhere near as profitable as it was when wool was properly marketed and when the interests of the growers were properly considered. The Opposition does not deny that something should be done to promote the sale of wool, but we say that the immediate and urgent problem with which the Government should grapple is the introduction of a proper marketing system under which the grower would not always be at a disadvantage compared with the buyer. There should be a reserve price on a commodity which h so valuable and in such great demand. Wool should be sold for the best price that the world’s markets will pay. It should be sold on a properly organized selling market - not a buying market. The buyers’ organization is excellent.
The Government has recognized the need to do something about the position. It has consulted the executives of certain growers’ organizations. One growers* organization has given its backing to the Government proposals, but the other growers’ organization is somewhat divided amongst its ranks on the merits of the increased levy proposed by the Government. The Minister has said that the bill is a temporary measure. It is no more permanent than any other of the Government’s actions taken to boost our export earnings. The hill fs a stop-and-go affair. It will operate for twelve months only, and then the position will be re-assessed. The Government has not been courageous in its handling of the situation.
– The industry asked that the bill operate for twelve months only.
– The industry would not trust you for longer than twelve months.
The industry has been receiving a price that is lower than that received for any other comparable commodity.
– Do you advocate that the legislation should operate for longer than twelve months?
– I advocate the Government arriving at some proper plan for the sale and promotion of wool. The Government should see that the cost of promoting the sale of wool does not always fall on the grower. We know that a prominent member of the Australian Country Party told the wool-growers of Western Australia that all they had to do was to sit back and wait for the fortune to grow on the sheep’s backs. He tried it himself for a while but found the attainment of wealth in that way not as easy as it seemed to be. When the price of wool was high and costs of production low, it was suggested that the wool-grower was getting too much and should have some of his profits taken from him. In other words, it was suggested that the growers should make compulsory loans to the Government. The Government should stop riding into the ground the man who is raising the sheep - the man who takes the risks of the seasons, does the culling and crutching, and generally has to contend with the inflation for which this Government is responsible. The Government must adopt a more realistic attitude towards the industry.
– I know that interjections are disorderly, but you did not answer my question.
– Am I obliged to doso? If the Deputy President is tolerant, ask your question and I shall answer it.
– You accused the Government of adopting a stop-and-gO’ policy. You said that its proposals would have effect for twelve months only. Doyou advocate a period longer than twelvemonths?
– I think that a reorganized system of marketing, with due regard to costs of production and factorssuch as exploitation, should operate for at least ten years. The whole burden of operating such a system should not rest: entirely on the grower.
The bill provides for increased expenditure on wool promotion. The Australian Country Party concedes that wool can be sold at a price. The Liberal Party is of the same opinion. But the Government has done nothing about a better price for wool in conjunction with a promotion scheme which will not affect price. A promotion scheme will not sell one more ounce of wool than is being sold at present, because we are now selling all the wool that we produce. The Government must abandon its laisser faire attitude to this problem. It must improve the marketing of wool so that the grower may have a reasonable chance of receiving a fair go. To judge by the evidence given before the Wool Marketing Committee of Inquiry it is obvious that a considerable amount of dissatisfaction exists in the industry over the marketing of wool. Costs of production are getting so close to the prices paid on the world’s markets that the wool-grower must soon ask himself whether he could engage in other avenues of primary production with less risk. There is plenty of room in Australia to raise sheep, but to-day the size of flocks is being kept down. It is a long time since we had a glut of lamb on the market as we have at present and the only reason for that is that the grower is restricting the size of his flocks. He is prepared to work under conditions that suit him economically. In view of the high costs of production it is not to his advantage to increase the size of his flocks. To do so would lead to loss of money.
The Government is under an obligation to promote the sale of wool at an equitable price and the grower is prepared to accept his responsibilities in regard to production. But the Government has not suggested that the makers of wool tops or other manufacturers using wool should bear their share of the cost of promotion. All the profit does not go to the grower. The Government is prepared to increase the levy and place the burden of it on the grower. In support of that it has the unanimous decision of the executive of one section of the growers, but opinion among the other section of growers is somewhat divided. For more than a year a committee appointed by the Government has been inquiring into the marketing of wool and the wool industry generally. There has been no pressure on the Government to bring down the recommendations of that committee ‘because they might be embarrassing. I dp not know whether the Government has made any inquiries about the matter of the increased levy apart from dealing with the executives of the two grower organizations, one of which is unanimous and the other divided.
If the growers are happy in those circumstances^ - and we think the Government is probably as honest about this as it was in its promise to put value back into the £1 - the Opposition is prepared to accept this measure and say, “ Go right ahead with it “. When this bill is passed the increased levy will operate for only twelve months anyhow. Senator Branson seems to find some solace in asking me whether I think it should ‘be continuous. I say that any interest in the wool industry should be continuous, but this scheme should be better conceived, it should be wider in its effect and it should have regard to the prices obtained for wool and the marketing of wool in order to give the grower a reasonable opportunity to sell his wool at a price which provides a worthwhile margin over his cost of production. The growers are expanding the wool industry in Australia. I also think that a plan should be formulated and submitted not to the executives of a few organizations but to a ballot of the growers. That plan should cover marketing, base price and, indeed, the whole gamut of the wool industry.
– It should be a secret ballot, too.
– There is no need for a referendum of the growers to be secret, because I think the vast majority of them will tell you that they are very concerned.
– There is a problem associated with it, namely, how you allocate the votes.
– That can be easily arranged in order to show the basic opinion of the industry. I do not think the Government is very worried about that because it has promised continually to do so, but it has never done it. That is not a difficulty at all. The difficulty we see is that the Government has put imposts on the growers continuously. When the wool industry was prosperous the Government said that the growers had money to spend that they were not capable of spending, and that it should stop the growers spending their money, and thereby halt inflation. In 1956-57 the market was in a state of imbalance and the growers were not happy because the export income earned by wool was reduced by £150,000,000.
The Government has now introduced this scheme. I say that the Government has convinced itself that this is one promise it Will carry out because the growers are paying this levy. The Government is passing the money on to a government instrumentality and saying to the growers: “ Here is another chance for us to spend money on your behalf. It will do you a lot of good and you will have a good say in how the funds will be expended.” In my opinion, this move by the Government is just a palliative. It is an action taken in desperation and at short notice because the Government does not want to embarrass a big section of people. That section is not the growers in the industry who have been responsible for the continuance of the expenditure of money on wool promotion. The Government is prepared to pick this matter out of the host of problems of the wool-growing industry and put this impost on each and every grower, without doing anything about the important things in which many of the growers want assistance, such as the stabilization of the price, the removal of some indirect taxation so as to reduce their costs of production and the reduction of transport costs which are the highest in the world. Nothing has been done about all those matters. This levy costs the Government nothing.
I have heard it said that the Country Party is an excrescence on the Liberal Party. Quite candidly, I do not think it is. In the light of the bit of trading in stock and horses that members of the Country Party do now and again, they hold pretty influential positions in the Ministry. But the Country Party is really only an appendage. I do not think it is a disease or an excrescence of any sort. The Government has profited very well from the association of the two parties. If the part of the body that is sick has to be examined, it is not the Liberal Party that has to be examined. The Country Party, if T may say so. is its food and meat. It is the Country Party that is sick in relation to this matter.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid).- Order! The honorable senator should not be discussing the Government parties; he should be discussing this bill.
– I am saying that the Country Party is sick because-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order! The honorable senator is outside the scope of the bill in discussing what is happening within the Government parties. I will not allow him to do so.
– Then I will put it this way: If this bill had been introduced In a manner satisfactory to the people whom the Country Party represents, it would have been more comprehensive and more just and equitable to the grower. It would also have carved a little bit out of the friends of the so-called partner of the Country Party at the present time so that they would contribute to the wool industry which has been Australia’s economic bulwark. The industry has been the stalking horse, as it were, of every Government economic move since it has been embarrassed in the economic sphere.
The Opposition cannot oppose this bill because we have the Government’s word - true or untrue - that the growers want it. We are not in a position to assess whether they do or not because we are not the Government. We say that there will be another analysis of the position of primary producers in this field and we will give them more extensive protection.
– After the next election?
– After the election we will be able to do it.
– You said that you wanted this scheme to continue for ten years.
– Not this scheme. This is an abortion of a scheme! I was talking about a comprehensive scheme to protect the growers in the marketing and promotion of the sale of wool and to remove some of the indirect taxation which is a heavy impost on primary producers. The Opposition will not vote against this bill, but we will severely criticize it. I am sure that it will be severely criticized by some of the primary producers that Government supporters profess to represent.
Members of the Opposition will go into this matter thoroughly. One of our first steps will be to put before the growers a proposition which will give them real protection and under which they will sell without having their prices reduced and the market being made bad for them as a result of the operation of “ buying pies “ and so on. This is not a matter for conjecture or guesswork. It has been the subject of royal commissions set up by governments under the chairmanship of respected judges of our courts. For instance, Mr. Justice Cook of New South Wales made a report to the Government of New South Wales, but that Government could take no action because of the provisions of section 92 of the Commonwealth Constitution. The Federal Government, however, should have taken plenty of notice, but it has taken no notice of the recommendations. This increased levy will operate for twelve months. In my opinion it is a very severe impost on the primary producer. Nevertheless, this is only one phase of the problem. The loss of income that has occurred over a long period of time, the costs of production, the “ buying pies “ and the well-organized international wool-buyers who operate against the disorganized selling conditions should be examined. If this is the best effort the Government can make on behalf of the wool industry at this stage, it is a very poor one.
– I did not think that Senator Cooke would be able to cover so many subjects in discussing the matter of wool promotion. However, I am pleased that the Australian Labour Party is supporting this legislation which proposes to increase the levy for wool promotion from the current rate of 5s. per bale to 10s. per bale. The increase will apply to all wool sold and exported for sale between 28th August. 1961, and 30th June, 1962, both dates inclusive.
At the present time, the various wool tax acts make provision for the financial contribution to wool research by growers to be collected with the wool promotion levy as one tax. However, the acts specify that separate procedures shall apply in the determination of the two levies. In the case of the wool promotion levy, the rates are prescribed by regulation after recommendations have been made to the Minister by the Australian Wool Bureau. It is on this aspect that I join issue with Senator Cooke. The membership of the Australian Wool Bureau comprises representatives of the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and also of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation.
– The honorable senator is speaking of the Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, is he?
– 1 am speaking of both the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. When an increase is sought for promotional purposes, the representatives of those two federal organizations must come to an agreement. Then, and then only, is the chairman of the Australian Wool Bureau in a position to approach the Minister for Primary Industry and ask for an increase in the wool levy.
If honorable senators cast their minds back they may recall that last May a meeting was convened of representatives of the Australian Wool Bureau and of the two federal growers’ organizations that I have mentioned. At that meeting it was decided to adopt a proposal that the promotion levy be increased from 5s. a bale to 10s. a bale for twelve months only, or for one wool-selling season. Furthermore, it was decided by the representatives of the two growers’ organizations that the matter of an increase in the levy should be referred back to the State organizations for their approval.
In July, a further meeting of representatives of the Wool Bureau and the two federal growers’ organizations was called to decide what should happen. At that meeting, the representatives of the two federal growers’ organizations said to the chairman of the bureau, “ We are in agreement that there should be an increase, for twelve months only, of 5s. in the promotional levy”. Prior to that meeting, Sir, the members of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation had met and had adopted this proposal only on the casting vote of their chairman, Western Australia and Victoria standing out against it. It will be seen, therefore, that there is a background to this matter. However, the Government had the authority of the two federal growers’ organizations to increase the wool promotion levy, and it has acted on their request. 1 wish to deal during my remarks particularly with the Western Australian approach to the matter. Western Australia has stood out because it believes that an increase in the wool promotion levy should not have been sought until such time as the result of the inquiry into the wool industry that had been instituted by the Government was made known. Honorable senators may remember that about twelve months ago the wool-growers, through their two federal organizations, approached the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and asked him whether he would set up a committee of inquiry into wool marketing. While they were speaking to the Minister, he said, “What about research and promotion? “ The answer he received from the representatives of the growers at that time was that those things could come later. They said, “We want an inquiry into wool marketing”. They asked that, if a committee were appointed, its chairman should be a member of the judiciary. The Minister said, “ Very well. I shall refer your request to the Cabinet.” He did so, and later it was announced that a committee of inquiry was to be set up. As I have said, the growers’ representatives asked that the chairman should be a member of the judiciary.
– The members of the judiciary do not necessarily know anything about wool.
– That is true, but that was the request made by the growers. Subsequently, the Government announced that a committee of inquiry had been appointed. It was further announced that the chairman of the committee would be Mr. Justice Philp, of Queensland.
The terms of reference of the committee provided for very wide scope indeed. Tt was to inquire into the present wool marketing system or any alternative marketing system, and also into promotion methods. After the appointment of the committee, the Australian Wool Bureau received a report from Personnel Administration Proprietary Limited concerning the world demand for wool and also the demand for synthetics. The bureau had asked that company to make certain recommendations after having made inquiries throughout the world. The inquiry cost the bureau £23,500. I have had a look at the report submitted by the company, and to be perfectly frank, I do not think it is worth the paper it is printed on. It tells us things that we in the industry have known about for many years. It tells us that wool is being out-promoted. It tells us that in America synthetics are gaining considerable ground. It tells us many other things that we already know, such as that woolgrowers will have to promote the sale of wool.
The Australian Wool Bureau adopted that report in principle and in principle only. However, the chairman of the bureau decided that he would take the report to the International Wool Secretariat. The secretariat was subsequently re-organized. As a part of the re-organization, it was proposed to increase expenditure by the secretariat from £2,600,000 in 1961 to £5,600,000 in 1966-67. To do that, it would be necessary to ask growers to make a contribution of 10s. a bale for this year, and increase the levy up to 18s. a bale in 1966-67.
I remind honorable senators that this proposal was adopted without the authorization of the growers. When the Australian representatives returned to this country an intensive campaign was conducted with a view to increasing the levy. That campaign was conducted in every State, and in many parts of some States. I understand that the cost of the campaign was £12,977. The cost must have been a great deal more than that really, because arranging the meetings must have cost the State organizations a considerable sum also. Anyhow, a considerable sum was spent on getting the growers to agree to the increase. Senator Cooke said that the growers did not have any warning that the increase was to be levied.
– They did not have an opportunity as individuals to cast a vote on the matter.
– They had an opportunity to attend these meetings.
– But there was no ballot.
Western Australia the meeting was called at the time of the holding of the Farmers Union wool conference, and delegates representing all branches throughout the State were present to listen to Sir William Gunn. However, the Western Australian growers turned the proposal down flat and said they would not have anything to do with it until such time as the result of the inquiry was made known.
On many occasions in the past I have risen in this chamber and have advocated a change of the present system of selling wool. I have advocated a system which I believe would promote stability within the industry. At no time have I risen in my place and said anything against wool promotion. I believe in wool promotion; we must have it. The growers have supported the promotion of wool since the setting up of the Australian Wool Board, as it was then known, in 1937. In the years following, they have levied themselves, for wool promotion, 5s. for every bale of wool they have sold. However, I believe that promotion is not the only means to rectify the troubles that exist within the wool industry. I believe we must do what the growers suggested when they approached the Minister for Primary Industry and asked for the appointment of a committee to inquire into the wool industry; we must give attention to marketing. Having obtained a suitable market, we must undertake research. Having given attention to those two factors, the growers. must contribute, and do so very liberally, to promoting the product they have to sell. Wool is one of the finest products we have to sell, and I believe that if we had a stabilized market we could increase the return by at least £100,000,000 per annum without any further production.
I return to the bill. As I indicated at the commencement of my speech, this measure was introduced for the purpose of raising the levy from 5s. to 10s. a bale, and it is intended to cover the period from 28th August, 1961, to 30th June, 1962. The Minister for Air (Senator Wade), in his second-reading speech, said there will be a further meeting of growers before the end of March, 1962, to discuss this matter and that, if at that meeting the growers decide that they do not want to retain the levy of 10s. but want to revert to a 5s. levy, the legislation will not need any amendment. I ask the Minister to explain later how this will happen. 1 have noted over the years that whenever it has been desired to increase the levy for wool promotion a bill has been introduced to give effect to that desire. So I should like the Minister, when he replies, to explain what he said.
– Will you tell me specifically what information you want?
Minister said in his second-reading speech -
Having regard to the interim nature of the increase, the amending clauses have been drafted in such a way as to enable the acts to revert to the current rates of levy at the end of June, 1962, without the necessity for further legislation to achieve this effect if growers should decide against a continuation of the higher rate of levy.
I would like him to explain that passage in his speech.
During the debate on this subject in another place the reference was made once again to the need to change the membership of the Australian Wool Bureau. Honorable members who recommended the change expressed the opinion that the six grower members of the bureau did not have the necessary know-how or an appreciation of the means to promote the use of wool. I point out that this is a growers organization; it is wholly controlled and financed by growers. They employ experts in the various technicalities that come within the activities of the bureau. Those experts should explain to the members of the bureau at their meeting all the technicalities that are involved in promoting wool. I believe that the men who have produced the wool, who have provided the money and who have listened to the explanations of the technicians should make the necessary decisions. It has been said that the membership of the Australian Wool Bureau should include representatives of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and other organizations. The executive of the C.S.I.R.O. includes representatives from the two great wool-growing organizations and also the chairman of the Australian Wool Bureau.
– Are the manufacturers represented?
– I will come to that in a minute. Surely when any matter affecting the wool industry comes before the executive of the C.S.I.R.O., those three representatives of the wool industry to whom I have referred could bring it to the notice of the Wool Bureau. Senator Ormonde has mentioned the manufacturers. Surely the representatives of the industry who are members of the Wool Bureau and who have close ties with the manufacturers can represent that particular section of the industry. If that section wants to be represented directly, let it contribute to the cost of the bureau. I believe that promotion has reached such a stage and has such an effect on the Australian economy that the manufacturing section of the industry should help in this activity. In Japan, on the Continent and in England the manufacturers contribute large sums each year to the International Wool Secretariat for the purposes of promotion. In Australia contributions have been made by the manufacturers on a much smaller scale. There should be an increase in manufacturers’ contributions. On the other hand, if the manufacturers want representation, they should make a direct contribution to the Wool Bureau.
Another point about the membership of the Australian Wool Bureau is that at present there are six growers’ representatives, drawn from the growers’ organizations. There is also a representative of the Commonwealth Government. Unanimity cannot be reached by the members of the bureau because certain factions among the growers are continually disagreeing. Instead of the growers’ representatives being drawn from the federal organizations represented in the bureau, perhaps it would be better if they were selected on a State basis. If there were, say, four growers’ organizations in a State, it would be up to them to conduct a ballot of wool-growers and elect a representative of that State on the Australian Wool Bureau.
If that were done, I believe that the growers’ representation would be on a sounder basis. I have in mind the Australian Wheat Board. There are representatives of the wheat-growers’ organizations on the board, but a ballot is held in each State to elect a State representative. The wheat producers themselves administer the Australian Wheat Board and I am sure that no one in this chamber would suggest that the board has not worked satisfactorily over the years. It calls in experts to give advice but the growers themselves make the decisions.
Those are some of my thoughts on wool promotion. I support the bills. I hope that when the March meeting of the woolgrowers is held, the report of the wool inquiry will have been made public The growers, having read it, would then be in a better position to put a firm proposition before the Government for a long-term wool promotion levy.
.- The bills now being debated propose an increase of the levy that is imposed on wool, the proceeds of which are used to promote the sale and usage of wool throughout the world. They are bills that the Opposition does not oppose in principle. They give effect to an agreement that was reached by the wool-growers to the effect that an improved promotion scheme was desirable. On other matters, of course, the woolgrowers have agreed to disagree. That seems to be one thing which you can be certain the wool-growers of Australia will do. They will always disagree. It is very difficult to get that group of people to agree on anything. That, of course, is because of the nature of their way of life. They are individualists. In the past they lived isolated lives, separated from their fellows, although in these days most of them have telephones and radios. However, the wool-grower inherently is an individualist and it is very difficult to get wool-growers to agree on any matter. Nevertheless, this legislation shows that they have reached some measure of agreement on what is an important scheme for the wool industry as a whole.
Senator Drake-Brockman put forward a case for more equal representation of the States on the Australian Wool Bureau. It is a great pity that that matter should obtrude itself. After all, the wool industry is a national industry. It is the industry which, as far as I can see, offers the greatest hope for Australia being able to maintain economic stability in the present muddled state of world affairs. It is an industry which helps us to pay our national debts, internally and externally. Therefore, the action of the wool-growers in deciding to submit to a wool promotion levy of 10s. a bale for one year is a step in the right direction. As I see the position, this will give wool promotion a trial. We shall be able to see whether, with more funds available, more can be done than has been done in the past.
In his second-reading speech, the Minister for Air (Senator Wade) outlined the history of the Wool Tax Acts. In 1935, the Australian Woolgrowers Council asked the Commonwealth Government to implement legislation under which the woolgrowers would pay a tax on all wool marketed. The legislation was passed in 1936 and provided for a levy of 6d. a bale on all shorn wool produced in Australia. In 1945 there was a major revision of the original scheme. The Government increased the levy to 2s. a bale in order to expand wool promotion activities and assumed the responsiblity for wool research. Provision was made for a grant by the Government equivalent to the amount of the proceeds of the wool tax. I believe that the principle of the 1945 legislation, under which the Government contributed, in that case to wool research, an amount equal to that contributed by the woolgrowers, should be applied to the present scheme. The speeding up of wool promotion and the improvement of the techniques of promotion should be a national responsibility. The wool-growers, because of the parlous condition of the industry at present, do not want their costs of production to be increased. Therefore, 1 think that the Commonwealth should, as it were, come to the party with them. If the need for wool promotion still exists in 1966 - as I am certain it will - and if a sum of £6,000,000 is needed, then, if the growers are not prepared to pay an extra levy, the Commonwealth should bear the expense, not only of continuing the promotion plan, but also of extending it, if that is necessary.
As Senator Cooke stated, promotion of the sale of wool is not the main problem that confronts the industry. Ever since the winding up of the Joint Organization plan, successive wool clips have met a ready market, both internally and overseas, with the important qualification that the market has been available only at a price. We saw wool reach, in the early 1950’s, what was then considered to be a fabulous price. As a matter of fact, I think it was a very damaging price to the industry. People who grew any sort of wool were receiving from 15s. to £1 per lb. That was perhaps one of the worst things that could have happened to the Australian wool industry, because that period also marked the post-war development of the synthetic fibre industry. While wool became virtually a luxury, big chemical organizations, which at that time were engaging in takeovers, creating international combinations and becoming very powerful, were developing techniques leading to a reduction in the cost of manufacture of synthetic materials.
Then, of course, the day of reckoning came and the price of wool started to fall very rapidly. The Australian Government’s policy was to do away with price control and encourage profit without curb. As a result, week by week, month by month, and year by year, the cost structure grew to the stage where it equalled the world price of wool. That was a very serious situation for an industry upon which we depend so much. It this were only a minor industry, such as the crayfish-tails industry, we could afford looseness and laxity in production, promotion and sale, although even crayfish tails are important to those people who are engaged in producing and selling them. However, the wool industry is without doubt the industry upon which we rely to sustain ourselves as an economic trading nation.
In the debate upon the European Common Market we have heard of the threats that face our butter, wheat and dried fruits industries. We are quite big producers of these commodities, but they are not as important to us as wool. I maintain that merino wool, of the quality and quantity that we can produce, cannot be equalled in any other country in the Western world. Our merino wool and, for that matter, our comeback wool, which constitute the bulk of our clip, have an exclusiveness the equal of which others cannot produce. This is evident from the fact that we have very little difficulty in selling our annual production. However, some attention should be given to ascertaining how we can obtain a better price for it, how we can give a better return to the grower, and how we can reduce the cost of production. By giving attention to these matters, we can bring real benefit to the wool-grower. Although we may have an extensive and elaborate promotion scheme, with films, publications, television programmes, and all types of fashion shows, if these do not increase the return to the grower - there is no proof that they will - the money spent upon them is not going into the most effective channel.
Over the years, some of the funds from the wool levy have gone into scientific research and I pay tribute to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization for the excellent work that it has done in assisting the wool industry. Some of our stud-masters deserve great credit for the evolution of Australian merino types to their present standard. Apart from these men, a very select band of C.S.I.R.O. researchers should be given the most credit for assisting the wool industry. The development of the myxomatosis virus was perhaps the greatest thing that ever happened to the industry, because it enabled land which was infested with rabbits, containing feed that was fouled by their presence, to be converted to good grazing land on which more sheep could be grazed and more wool grown. The C.S.I.R.O. has assisted in many other fields, such as the development of techniques for killing blowflies and minimizing the opportunity for them to strike. This research has been pursued successfully down the years by the organization, which deserves great credit.
– Pasture improvement is another important field, but the people will not take any notice of the need for it.
– I agree with Senator Kendall that that is one direction in which the nation and the Government will have to direct more attention. A more sensitive approach must be made to the wool-grower to teach him the value of scientific developments on a wider scale. The matter of pasture improvement is one to which more attention should be paid by the wool-growing industry. After all, if two blades of grass can be grown where only one blade grew previously, collectively twice as much wool could be grown. If we are to keep up the quality and grow twice as much wool as formerly, the wool promotion scheme must find a market for the additional wool. I believe that the greatest advantage is not being taken by the wool-growers of the wonderful work that. the stud-masters are doing; I do not think, they are making the best use of our studs.
– It is too costly.
– I think that has a big bearing on the matter. The cost of good quality merino rams is very high. That is a matter to which the stud breedersthemselves could pay attention as part of a national scheme to increase the number of stud sheep without sacrificing quality. If we look closely enough, we see that throughout the wool industry many wool-growers, are very careless about the standard of flock rams that they use. The wool-growers are constantly trying to lift the actual cut per head, but there are a great number of wool-growers throughout the country who adopt the attitude that as long as they go through the cycle of lambing and shearing and sending the wool off to market - and trusting to their luck at the auction sale - that is good enough. It is not good enough for an industry on which we depend so much.
I believe that, in addition to the promotion of the sale of wool, a concerted effort should be made by the wool-growers themselves, in association with the Commonwealth Government, to tidy up a lot of the very sloppy ends that exist in the woolgrowing industry. Although I have made some remarks about the wool-growers I think that in the main they have a lot to put up with. They are certainly on the receiving end for most of the time because inflation has increased the cost of fencing, of superphosphate, and of implements all along the line. The cost of transporting the wool to the market is a very big burden. In my opinion, the sloppiest of all factors influencing the return to the wool-growers is the auction system. I suppose that in the jungle millions of years ago, the auction system was a good means of finding out how many people would buy breadfruit or coconuts.
– You are not vouching for it, are you?
– I say that it is the most primitive method and the greatest means of pulling the wool over the eyes of the wool-growers that has ever been sustained in any modern country.
– The auction system is used for selling houses, too!
– Quite true. Another thing about selling houses is that you can have a dummy bidder on the sidelines and the man who is buying does not know what is going on. He has not a clue whether the auctioneer is taking a false bid from some one on the side, or has an imaginary bidder, or has a reserve price on the property that he knows he can reach; if he reaches it, be will let the property go to one bidder, and if he does not reach the reserve price he can say to the vendor “ Will you sell at the lower price, Sir? “ and the vendor says, “ No “. When your property or commodity is sold by auction, you really do not know what is happening to it. The matter is in the hands of the auctioneer, the members of pies and the other boys who have been in the game for such a long time that they know every lurk. They would not be in the game if they did not know all about it. I say that as long as the auction system is retained, the grower will get the worst deal.
There is another aspect of the matter. The biggest quantities of our wool are grown in New South Wales and Queensland, mostly on the open plains, where the sheep have to walk long distances to water. In the majority of instances, the sheep are run on unimproved pastures, so you get dust and burr and other vegetable matter in the wool. It all reaches the auction floor and is sold in the grease. We are trying to find ways and means to sell wool fibre in competition with synthetic fibres, yet we permit burr, grass seed, grease and dust to be carted half-way around the world; it probably accounts for 20 per cent., 30 per cent, or 40 per cent, of the freight charges. The extra bulk taken up in the bales is a big item. You can press wool down tightly, but if there is up to 50 per cent, of grease or yolk or vegetable matter or burr in it, the cost is increased.
– What percentage did you say?
– Up to 50 per cent., with locks and stained pieces - or even 55 per cent.
– There is nothing to stop the grower in Australia improving the position.
– That is the important point I have in my mind. 1 believe that the industry is avoiding a very important part of its responsibility to this country by not having the proper facilities here for top making.
– This is a good lecture for the boys opposite.
– I do not know whether it is a good lecture, but we have to go into these matters. This important industry cannot be allowed to continue along such haphazard and loose lines. There is too much chance associated with the industry.
– You are being a little didactic, I think.
– No, I have been associated with this industry for a long time, and I am very interested in it.
– Did you speak about the wool being pulled over the woolgrowers’ eyes?
– You would be an expert in that matter because you have had the wool pulled over your eyes for so long. Traditionally, the wool industry has been centred in Yorkshire and the top makers have always been able to get their supplies readily from the Australian market. In turn, they have been able to build up in England what is called a futures market. It beats me how they can sell in 1962 and 1963 wool that has not yet been auctioned in Australia. I would like some Government supporter to explain how people can sell Australian wool on a clean scoured basis at Liverpool in 1963 when the sheep have not yet started to grow the wool. Honorable senators can see how the industry is organized from the top level down to the point where the wool leaves the hands of the poor cocky who does all the work. Once the wool leaves his hands there is big money in it.
– How much?
– One has only to look at the big firms that sell woollen products. They all are doing very well, but the average wool-grower in Australia to-day is barely able to keep out of the red.
– Are you talking about the Australian wool-broker?
– The Australian wool-broker has, by tradition, become a cog in the wheel. I do not think that he himself sells much wool. He is the middle man. The wool-broker has done a job that the Commonwealth Government eventually will have to do, namely, finance the woolgrower from year to year. With returns as they are to-day, the wool-grower is only just paying his last year’s debts. When he sells his wool clip he finds that his return is just enough to pay last year’s debts. At present the brokers are advancing to the growers sufficient to carry them until their next wool clip is sold. But that policy is becoming such a tremendous burden to the brokers that many of them are telling growers that they must make some other arrangements. That state of affairs should not exist in such an important industry.
– Who are the people with the money?
– The people who are making most of the money out of wool are those who handle it after it leaves Australia. The tops makers and manufacturers, wherever they may be, are getting the bulk of the profit from the wool industry.
– The ones with the woollen mills?
– Whoever handles wool down to the point where the consumer goes into a store and buys a pullover, a suit or some other item of wearing apparel.
– Yes, socks and ladies’ skirts and other articles in which wool is used. After the wool leaves Australia a great many people make large profits out of it. That is something that the Government should investigate if it wishes to obtain maximum results from the industry.
I do not know of any tops making organization in Australia. A few companies are doing a little scouring and I suppose there are others that are doing re-sorting for the tops makers. But those activities are not being undertaken on a large scale. Often an entire clip, after being bought in the auction room, is dumped in the same bales. The variation in the staple in those clips may be from 2i inches to 4 inches, and the yield may vary by from 20 per cent, to 40 per cent.
– In the same bate?
– No, in the same clip. It will be dumped as part of a lot. It then goes on to overseas ships - not Australian ships. The ships used to carry our wool are built by people in other parts of the world. Nothing like efficient organization exists whereby our wonderfully exclusive wool industry may take full advantage of its position. After the wool leaves the grower all the cream is skimmed off by somebody outside Australia. Those matters are just as important to the future of the wool industry as is sales promotion. I agree that in a competitive world you must sell your goods. The people who produce synthetics are finding markets for their products, but those markets are limited. Although we have always been able to sell our wool, the market for wool can be cultivated. Whether people are in the tropics or at the north or south pole they can wear woollen apparel. Wool is an amazing substance which has the capacity to keep a person cool as well as warm. Its powers of absorption are unequalled. Synthetics will never equal wool as a basic substance, and we must realize that the demand for wool will increase. People who are at the loin cloth stage are hoping that circumstances will permit them one day to own a suit. There are tens of millions of people in that position in the world to-day. A promotion campaign to put a suit on every man in India could give a wonderful fillip to the wool industry. Every grazier in Australia would be flat out from daylight to dark producing wool for India alone if we were able to put a pair of trousers on every man in India.
The potential market for wool is tremendous, lt is a market in which synthetics cannot compete, but price is an important factor. The graziers have realized the importance of sinking personal differences and getting together. They have lifted their horizons. Instead of acting as a selfcontained unit of the wool industry the grower must realize that his future is wrapped up with the future of the entire industry, and that the entire nation, of which he is a unit, depends so much on a high and rising demand for wool. He must, admit that the scientist can be his greatest friend and allow the scientist to come right, into his industry. The industry is still very- primitive and the scientist, if encouraged, could double, in a foreseeable period of time, the amount of wool produced in Australia.
The industry has responded well to the provision of new pastures following the wonderful results obtained by the use of myxomatosis to eradicate rabbits. It has responded to sub-division and the provision of boring plants, tank-sinking equipment and bulldozers, all of which have increased the carrying capacity of the land. That increase could be multiplied over and over if the scientist were able to go right into the industry.
This bill has given the Senate an opportunity to look at the working of this great basic industry. We have had an opportunity to review the work that has been done in the past by the Australian Wool Bureau and the benefits that flow from wool use promotion. We cannot say that its activities in the past have brought great credit upon it because the wool-growers are on the borderline of economic stability. Many of them are in debt. Many of them borrow to enable them to keep going in the ensuing twelve months. That is not good enough for this very important industry.
Intelligent men are applying themselves to this sector of the industry to ensure that when the commodity is produced there will be a market for it. That is good. We on this side of the Senate support such activity among the graziers and government instrumentalities. I hope that this legislation has started a trend which will spread through every sector of the industry. I hope the people in the industry will sink their differences and petty jealousies and speak with a common voice instead of bickering as between States and rival organizations. I hope they will get on with the job of making the best of the great gifts with which we in this country have been endowed by Providence. We have a suitable climate for wool-growing and we happened to drop on to a breed of sheep which can produce wool that will have a ready sale throughout the world and, by its wide, distribution, bring to mankind benefits of which previously he has not been able to take full advantage.
– I support the bill. I congratulate
Senator O’Byrne for finishing on such an excellent note. He said that he hoped the wool-growers’ organizations would get together, stay together and organize themselves so that they would come to the Government with a detailed scheme for further promotion of their industry. That is an excellent idea.
The purpose of this bill is to increase the wool promotion levy by 5s. a bale to 10s. a bale. The request for the legislation comes from the two organizations that represent the majority of wool-growers in Australia. The organizations concerned are the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. It is interesting to note that those two bodies represent the majority of Australian woolgrowers. Three representatives from each of those organizations, together with one representative from the Government, comprise the Australian Wool Bureau. Senator Drake-Brockman spoke of the Australian Wool Bureau and its constitution. He suggested, I think, that as the Australian wool-growers are the people who contribute all the money for wool promotion they should have the entire say in wool promotion inside and outside Australia.
I want to give the Senate my views on this subject. I believe that the Australian wool-growers know the background of woolgrowing better than any other organization in Australia knows it, but when it comes to wool promotion the Australian Wool Bureau should consist of representatives of organizations other than wool-growers’ organizations. That is the only difference of opinion that I have with my colleague from Western Australia, Senator DrakeBrockman. He made a very thoughtful speech on this subject. I was greatly interested in what he said. Last year the wool-growers of Australia contributed £593,583 for expenditure on wool promotion in Australia. They also contributed £1,665,000 to the International Wool Secretariat. The trade overseas contributed almost a like amount to the expenditure of the International Wool Secretariat.
I believe that the wool-growers should not be the only ones who promote the sale of wool in Australia. The levy that is collected on the sale of wool in Australia at the rate of 10s. a bale, as it will be when this legislation is passed, should be supplemented by contributions from other organizations that are interested in the Australian wool industry. When I say “ other organizations “ I mean the wool manufacturing companies, the wool-brokers and auctioneers and the members of the woollen goods trade. I believe that the largest contributor should be the Commonwealth Government. It has not yet got into the field of wool promotion, but it contributes to research into the wool industry on a £1 for £1 basis.
Wool is vital to Australia from the financial and economic standpoints. I am firmly convinced that the expenditure on wool promotion will have to be increased year by year until it is much more than £1 a bale. The Minister for Air (Senator Wade), in his second-reading speech, stated quite categorically what the original intention of the Australian Wool Bureau was, provided the wool-growers’ organizations in Australia agreed and subject to a recommendation by an organization known as Personnel Administration Proprietary Limited. That organization evidently reported to the Australian Wool Bureau on what should be done in the way of wool promotion throughout the world. Incidentally, that report is not available to the general public. It is available only to the Australian Wool Bureau and the wool-growers’ organizations. The organization gave its report to them to keep as a secret document. If a member of Parliament wishes to get a copy of it, it is not obtainable. Therefore, we cannot talk about the findings of that organization, but we can talk about the findings of the Australian Wool Bureau and its recommendations to the Government.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I stated that the Australian Wool Bureau had found, and had recommended to the Government, that the wool promotion levy should be increased from 5s. a bale to 18s. a bale. Because of recommendations by two grower organizations, particularly the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, it was decided that the maximum amount of levy should be increased to 10s. a bale and that it should apply for only one selling year, namely, from the beginning of the current selling season until 30th June next.
I understood, before I looked at the bill, that it was the intention of the Government to provide for an increase of the levy from 5s. a bale to a maximum of 18s. a bale in 1966-67, which would give the International Wool Secretariat the opportunity to increase its expenditure from £Stg.2,600,000 to £Stg.5,600,000 in 1966-67. Because of the resistance of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, it has now been decided to introduce legislation to increase the levy from 5s. to 10s. a bale, on the understanding that the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council will meet in March of next year and make a further determination on what they will request the Government to do following the expiry of the legislation that we are now discussing at the conclusion of the woolselling season on 30th June, 1962.
The Australian wool-growers are traditionally independent. They want an assurance from the Government - which they have - that unless an agreement is reached in the meantime, this legislation will expire at the end of the wool-selling season in 1962. It would not be to their advantage, or to that of Australia, that the wool promotion levy should cease, because once it did so, or was reduced from the amount that is now levied, there would be less wool promotion throughout the world. The Minister stated in his second-reading speech that because of the advent of synthetics and the competition which they introduced in the early 1950’s, it was necessary to increase the levy from 2s. a bale, as it was in 1947 or 1948, to 4s. a bale, and then, last year, still further to a maximum of 5s. a bale. When we look at the inroads that synthetic fibres are making on the wool industry, it is not difficult to accept that the manufacturers of synthetics are spending approximately 5 per cent, of their total income on the promotion of synthetics in the markets of the world, to enable them to compete not only against wool but also against cotton and other commodities that are used in the manufacture of clothing.
I say quite emphatically that if the price of wool is to be kept at a satisfactory level, far more money will have to be spent on wool promotion than is being spent at the , present time. Earlier, I stated that the wool-growers should not have to find all the money for wool promotion and that other organizations in the industry, and perhaps also governments, should assist.
– What other organizations?
– I mentioned them earlier, but I shall repeat them for the honorable senator’s benefit. I think that the three main groups are the wool-brokers, the woollen goods manufacturers, and the people who are selling woollen apparel. Senator Willesee comes from Western Australia, where large quantities of wool are produced and where, perhaps, fewer squeals from wool-growers are heard than in other States. He has travelled about the world. I am sure he will agree that it should not be only the wool-growers who have to find money for wool promotion. We in Australia ride on the sheep’s back, economically speaking. Since the economy of the nation is dependent on an adequate price for the wool that we produce, it surely is incumbent on all of us to participate in financing the publicity that is necessary to promote the sale of our wool throughout the world.
I should like now, Mr. President, to say something about the proposed inquiry into the wool industry. The wool-growers of Western Australia, particularly those who are members of the Farmers Union of Western Australia, are adamant in the view that promotion should come after the results of the inquiry. As Senator DrakeBrockman stated in his speech to-day, and as the members of the Farmers Union and I believe, a reserve price plan is absolutely essential if an adequate price for wool is to be determined, lt is apparent from what we hear and from what the royal commission appointed by the New South Wales Government found, that pies operate in Australia, to the disadvantage of the wool producer. Pies operate to the advantage of the buyer of wool and are therefore against the interests of the producer.
In the last couple of years the price of wool in Australia has fallen below the cost of production. That is bad for the Australian economy. I have noted repeatedly that when a reserve price has been operating under the auction system wool has always brought a little more than the cost of production. I do not want to go back to the years from 1918 to 1921 or even from 1921 onwards; but I shall go back to the beginning of the last war. I believe a study of developments from that point of time will be quite interesting. In 1939, before the war broke out, wool was selling for 10id. per lb. in Australian currency. When war broke out, the British Government bought the Australian wool clip at an average price of 10id. sterling per lb., which, from memory, was equal to 13.1416d. in Australian currency.
– That is right.
– Thank you. When one follows a speaker like the honorable senator and praises his speech, that praise always comes back. My friend says that the price was 13.1416d. in Australian currency. That price obtained for a couple of years. Then the price rose to more than 15d. per lb. When the war ended, the Joint Organization was set up to control and sell the accumulated stocks of wool held throughout the world, which amounted to approximately 12,000,000 bales. That organization was controlled by the British Government and the Governments of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. In the period from 1946 to 1951 the Joint Organization managed to sell that surplus of wool, with a reserve price in operation under the auction system, at a price that was always in excess of the cost of production. Honorable senators will recall the high prices that were received in 1950-51. On some occasions, particularly at the March sale, they rose to £1 per lb. Following the period for which those high prices obtained the Joint Organization ceased to exist and we went back to the ordinary auction system. Within twelve months the price of wool was halved. I know that before that wool was bringing far too high a price, but under the auction system which has obtained since then the price of wool has receded. The price received throughout Australia last year can generally be accepted as being less than the cost of production.
– You mentioned £1 per lb. That was not the average price.
– I did not say it was the average price. I did not want to create that impression. I said that wool brought up to £1 per lb. That certainly was not the average price, although the honorable senator will find that in Western Australia at the March sale in that particular year the prices received almost averaged that sum.
– It averaged £250 a bale.
– Yes. I repeat that I do not say for one moment that the average was £1 per lb., but it almost averaged that for the whole of the sale to which I referred. When I use the word “ almost “, I mean it was within 3s. or 4s. of £1. As I said just a while ago, last year the price of wool fell below the cost of production. There is no reserve price now.
If honorable senators cared to take the matter a stage further, they could look at the price received in New Zealand and South Africa under the reserve price plan. When wool does not bring the price which the organization set up by the Government concerned has put on it, it is bought in. In some instances in New Zealand 50 per cent, of the wool clip has been purchased by the appropriate organization and held until a better price could be obtained. I do not want to continue very much further on this subject, but I point out that I am in complete accord with Senator DrakeBrockman’s statement to the effect that he believes in a reserve price plan for wool and that he has spoken in support of such a plan in this place. I should like to inform the Senate that I also have spoken on that subject on every occasion on which I have had the opportunity to do so. I have always advocated a reserve price plan for wool, and I am prepared to rise anywhere to do so.
– Did you advocate it in 1950?
– Yes. Senator Cooke mentioned that in 1950-51 the Government of the day decided to take from the wool-growers about 20 per cent, of thentotal receipts for wool because of the high prices they received. I point out to Senator Willesee that I was one of those persons who went around Western Australia endeavouring to explain the Government’s action. I use the word “ endeavouring “ because I was not successful. I do not think any supporter of the Government was successful on that occasion in explaining the Government’s policy and its action in taking the 20 per cent, and holding it against the following year’s tax commitments.
The Government was severely criticized by the Australian Labour Party and the wool-growers. Some of our friends from Tasmania in particular rose and took the side of the wool-growers. Their action in doing that was quite consistent, because for the most part honorable senators opposite are against the wool-growers. But because the Government was in a spot on that occasion, honorable senators opposite decided to support the wool-growers. In a way, I do not blame them. However, I should like to point out to Senator Cooke that after twelve months the people who criticized the Government for taking 20 per cent, of their gross profits to meet the following year’s tax commitments were thankful for what the Government did, because they had to meet not only increased income tax payments but also increased provisional tax. They said that what the Government did was the greatest blessing they had known.
– This Government always does the right thing.
– As we are approaching an election, I am inclined to agree with you. I should like to return for a moment to the subject of wool promotion. I understand that the Australian Wool Bureau and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization will not make money available for wool promotion or wool research unless the garment in question is made entirely of wool. In other words, if the garment consists of a combination of wool and synthetic fibre, no money is made available. I understand also that no money is available for activities such as research on the Si-Ro-Set process unless the garment concerned has a 100 per cent, wool content. I believe that in America only a very small percentage - some 5 per cent, or 6 per cent. - of the total number of garments that are worn are made completely of wool. Therefore, I believe it would be of great advantage to the wool industry if the Australian Wool Bureau were to concentrate on promoting the use of wool together with synthetic fibres such as dacron, rayon and terylene. It has been proved that a suit made of a fifty-fifty mixture of wool and another fibre is far better, in a hot climate, than a suit made of pure wool.
– No, that is not so.
– That is what I understand. I have tried to wear woollen suits in the summer in the tropics, but I have not been able to wear them. I bought the thinnest woollen suit that can be brought in Australia, and I say that you just cannot wear it in a hot climate. Those are the facts of the situation.
We in Australia are anxious to promote the sale of wool. The Australian Wool Bureau, in the interests of the wool industry, should give consideration to publicizing the wearing qualities of garments made from a mixture of wool and other fibres. The bureau should do this because it is impossible to persuade buyers in other countries, particularly in the tropics, to buy all-wool garments - and 80 per cent, of the people in the world to-day live in tropical climates. If wool is to survive in competition with synthetics, it will be necessary to increase the sale of wool, and I believe that the Australian Wool Bureau should give authority, if it has the power to do so, to promote the use of wool in conjunction with other fibres in the manufacture of wearing apparel.
– Have you read the Japanese criticism of wool promotion?
– No, I have not. I wish to contradict emphatically one point made by Senator Cooke. He asked why we should worry about spending money on wool promotion when wool has always been sold. Of course wool has always been sold. Both speakers for the Labour Party to-day have said that wool will always be sold under the auction system. That is true. It will be sold even if the price gets down to Id. a lb. Our wool has always been sold, with the exception of the year 1921, when, because the bids did not reach the reserve price of 8d. a lb., the sales were cancelled.
– It is sold now without a reserve price.
– There is no reserve price now. In 1921 you almost had to give wool away if you wanted to dispose of it. The British and Australian Realization Association was set up in that year. It held a sale in March and put a reserve price of 8d. per lb. on wool. Because the reserve was not reached, the sale was cancelled. If there had not been a reserve price that year, the Australian wool clip would have been sold.
– It would have been sold, but not at an equitable price.
– What the honorable senator says is quite true. The wool that Australia produces will always be sold under the auction system, but you cannot always get a satisfactory price under that system. If you want the wool-growers to survive, you must have a different system. I approve of wool promotion, but I think that we must have a reserve or floor price plan.
Having corrected my friend from Western Australia, I have very much pleasure in supporting the bill. I hope that the two growers’ organizations will get together and will come up with a proposal to this Government to increase the levy for promotional purposes, having considered the findings of the committee of inquiry, which should be available to them before they have to make a decision.
– I want to speak for a minute or two on one aspect of this subject - the promotion aspect. What I do not know about wool would fill a book, but I do know something about promotion, having spent a great deal of my life dealing with sales promotion. The amount of money to be made available this year for promotion work under this scheme will be about £2,250,000, and the amount to be made available for research will be £1,840,000.
I was very interested to read just recently a report that was prepared just after the war by a Tasmanian, who, at the time of preparing the report, was associated with the war organization of industry. He was asked to make a report on the future of our textile industries, particularly in relation to wool. The report is now sixteen years old. It did not see the light of day because, apparently, it did not meet with the approval of the powers-that-be at the time it was made. I have read it with tremendous interest because much of what is in that report is being put into practice now, sixteen years after the report was prepared.
The first thing I noticed was that the writer said that in order to develop Australian woollen garments that would sell in the markets of the world it would be necessary that they should be married to Australian art. It is with a great deal of interest that I note that a small mill in Tasmania is producing knitted garments in what it calls Namatjira colours. If my memory serves me right, it has called one colour Nullabor blue. The mill has created a number of colours. It is meeting with tremendous success by marrying Australian woollen garments to Australian art, using the colours of Namatjira, the great Australian aboriginal painter. I have seen other materials with aboriginal motifs. They have a great appeal in other parts of the world because of their distinctive Australian characteristics. It says a great deal for the initiative of the Australian woollen manufacturer when he accepts this proposition and develops an Australian article which has world appeal because of its distinctive Australian flavour.
Promotional work is very different from straight-out selling. The argument that, because our wool has always been sold, we should not spend money on promotional work is tied up with the state of mind which has existed for so long and it has allowed synthetics to reach their present stage of development. We must do all that we can in the field of promotion to see that the synthetic fibres do not catch up with wool. It is because of the stereotyped, conservative attitude that we should not spend money on promotional work that the wool industry finds itself in the position it is in to-day. The wool industry is in that position because we have not been doing the research and promotional work that should have been done. Wool now feels the hot breath of its competitor on the back of its neck, and the industry is starting to do something but very late. The synthetics industry is an enormous one. If we let such an enormous industry catch up with us and, as it were, breathe on the back of our necks, I do not know what will happen.
– We know, but you do not.
– I agree with the honorable senator that I do not know, and, with great respect, I say to him, although he pretends to know everything, “ Nor do you, my friend “.
I wish to go further in the development of this aspect of my remarks. What I am about to say is the result, not of my own findings but of the findings in the report to which I have referred. A great deal of research must be done, not only into the use of woollen fabrics and the different ways in which those fabrics can be treated, but also to find ways of increasing the efficiency of the factories themselves. I believe that a certain amount of the money received from this wool levy should be spent in a pilot factory which would agree to having research done within its establishment, making it a test plant for improved efficiency in the treatment of woollen garments. In the long run, we in Australia must learn to make this precious fibre of ours, on which the whole of our welfare is built, at a price at which it can be bought by those people in other countries who want to use it.
– Do you think we could export woollen garments?
– I shall come to that in a minute. I want to treat the subject in my own way. I am afraid that money will not be expended in this way, because of the grower outlook, which does not appreciate that sales promotion and development work is completely divorced from wool-growing. Promotion men do not know the first thing about growing wool and, with respect, very few growers know much about promotional work. These two sections must learn to work together. They must learn to apply their brains to promotional work, beginning in the factory. No other country has the slightest interest in developing wool as a fibre. Factories in other countries are just as happy to use the fibre of the day that it suits them to buy. They have not the interest that we as a nation must have in the development of wool as a fibre because it is our life blood. Having adopted this outlook, we should go further. An enormous amount of money will be available for research. As we develop new treatments of wool fibre, we must do two things. We must be sure that an article is perfected before we put it on the market. One of the greatest mistakes we could make would be to put a product on the market before it was fully tested and established as really good. Having tested it, we must begin the real promotion. We must see that the money is not wasted by advertising products that are not ready for distribution. They must be in the retailers’ establishments, so that a person who is persuaded to buy as a result of the advertising build-up will find them available for purchase. How often have Australians gone into retailers’ shops, seeking to buy an Australian woollen drip-dry shirt, only to find that they could not buy it?
– You cannot buy it.
– I agree. That is bad for our product. We must have the goods distributed properly. I would go further. In any country where we wanted to promote the sale of wool as a fibre, I would use the knowledge and factory efficiency that we had obtained from research to make a deal with a small plant. I would show that country what could be made from woollen fibres as a result of the research we had undertaken. Having done that, we would find that competitors in that country would follow the lead. We would then create a demand for our woollen products, although not necessarily for garments, about which Senator Ormonde asked me, because in many instances we could not produce competitively under Australian conditions a manufactured article unless it was subsidized, and no one would suggest that.
– I think subsidies lead to inefficiency and all sorts of other bad things. I would even go so far as to make token shipments of manufactured articles - I would not mind that - in order to let the people of other countries see what could be done. Competitors would follow the lead and we would create and promote a desire for woollen materials and for wool. I agree with Senator Scott. I think it is short-sighted to say that there should not be research into the blending of other materials with wool in order to make materials that are more suitable to certain climates. Every extra yard of material sold, even if it contains only 30 per cent, of wool, represents so much more wool sold.
– Do you not think that in that way you would be promoting synthetics to the extent of 70 per cent.?
– I do not. When 1 was in the East not many years ago - Senator Willesee will remember when we were there - I bought material which was then newly coming onto the market. It consisted of 30 per cent, silk, 40 per cent, terylene and 30 per cent. wool. I was told that material containing wool had never been sold in that country before. That is the way that promotion works. In that manner we got into that country a material with a certain amount of wool in it, which would not be achieved otherwise without much more research work. I congratulate the wool-growers on making their money available. I hope that as a result of the tremendous amount of research that will be done we shall eventually produce a lightweight woollen material which will fulfil the requirements not of tropical areas but of near tropical areas. That is all part and parcel of good promotional work. 1 am confident in my own mind that no other fibre in the world is as good as wool or has all its characteristics.
– Does that apply to all wool?
– Wool as a fibre for manufacture. We get bad wools and good wools.
– Australian wools.
– Yes. I do not think that there is better wool. That does not mean that we can sit down and go to sleep. We may know the real value of this fibre but we are the only country with a real interest in letting the rest of the worldknow how good it is and what can be done with it. I desired to put those few remarks to the Senate, and I have much pleasure insupporting the bill.
– I rise to support the bill, and I shall give my reasons for doing so in a moment or two. However, two statements have been made during this debate which could give a wrong impression. Senator O’Byrne stated, probably only as a general observation in passing, that one of the things that could be done was to improve the breeds, of sheep and to improve the standards of our flocks. I agree entirely with those opinions. He went on to say that not enough attention was being given to thesematters. I think that quite a lot of attention has been given to them of latter years-
I know that in my own State the average wool-producer has been paying very high prices for sires for his flock. I think a lot more attention has been paid to the classing of the clip and the presentation of it - putting it up so that it looks attractive. I remember the days when the State was being developed and when perhaps the wool producers did not have the facilities for the handling of the clip and the classing of it, and I must admit, to my dismay, that I have seen a fleece taken from the board and bundled into a bale without skirting or anything else. That is bad because the wool does not then appear attractive on the floor. I think that the producers are very conscious of the need to raise the quality and the standard of their wool.
There is one other matter on which 1 should like to put the record straight. Senator Scott referred to the amount of money that is contributed for research. The amount that is contributed by the Commonwealth Government is £2 for £1, or 4s. per bale from the Commonwealth and 2s. per bale from the grower, not £1 for £1, as Senator Scott inadvertently said.
One of the reasons that I am supporting this measure is that the two grower organizations have shown a spirit of co-operation in respect of the increase of the levy by Ss. a hale. I admit that one of the organizations arrived at that conclusion by a very narrow majority, but nevertheless it is a healthy sign because the wool-growing industry has been notorious for the fact that growers have never before been able to agree on anything. It has never before been really united. I think that that has been one of its major problems.
– The organizations have not agreed.
– I know that quite well, but this is a healthy sign. At least the two organizations in this instance have asked the Government to introduce this legislation, which the Senate is asked to pass to-night.
– They have asked for the legislation to apply only for one year.
– Yes, as Senator Robertson reminds me, the proposal that this bill implements will apply only for one year.
– It cost £25,000 to organize the vote.
– This Government was elected on a policy of non-interference in the affairs of the wool-growers. The growers have asked for this legislation, and the Government has placed it before the Parliament. I agree with the measure. If you are to sell a product, you must promote it. I do not know a business in the world to-day that produces an article for sale and then hopes that people will come and buy it. You must promote the article if you want to sell it to the best advantage. I think we have to go a bit beyond the stage when we thought, as we tended to do in the past, that just because the commodity was wool people would buy it.
– You get no promotion this side of the ocean!
– That is very true. I think the day has passed when the commodity can be sold just because it is wool. I think you have to go further, to the end product of wool - see the apparel that the people are asked to buy. Senator Scott raised a very important point in relation to wool promotion, which was in line with what I have just said. He said, in effect, that you do sell wool not just because it is wool, but because of the articles that can be produced from wool. Senator Scott was quite right when he said that the Australian Wool Bureau and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization had stated that they could promote the sale only of wool and articles that were 100 per cent. wool. I disagree with that statement. I believe that we should promote the sale of the article that we want the people to buy, that is, the article that has a wool content - not necessarily an article that is 100 per cent. wool. Senator Scott said - and Senator Willesee agreed with his contention by way of interjection - that if one attempted to wear 100 per cent, woollen garments in the tropics he would die. I made the mistake of doing that, and I very nearly died. It was a frightful experience. I admit that the humidity was 96 per cent, and the temperature was 96 degrees. I quickly had to buy myself some of the local products. When I went to the tropics I was wearing the lightest weight woollen suit that I could buy in Australia - it was a beautiful suit - and also the lightest weight woollen shirt - the kind that Senator Henty mentioned - but that apparel was unsuitable for the intense humidity of the tropics.
It has been said that 80 per cent, of the people live in tropical areas and that those areas represent a fantastic market for a product containing even 20 per cent, or 30 per cent, of wool. It is true that wool plays its part with the other items that Senator Henty mentioned, but you cannot get a market in the East for it. You will not get people to wear garments of 100 per cent, wool in the tropical heat.
– What about the shearers at Camooweal?
– Yes. They wear woollen flannels, and so do the miners on the goldfields in the west. How they do it, I do not know. I could not wear them.
Sir, at the present time there are many articles whose production does benefit the wool-growing countries that have a wool content. I could quote many examples of them. However, the present policy in relation to research and promotion applies only to fabrics which contain 100 per cent, wool. I think that that is a mistaken policy because Fletcher Jones Limited, Victoria, one of the biggest manufacturers of trousers in Australia, has found that the wearing properties of this garment are extended considerably if the fabric contains 85 per cent, wool and 15 per cent, of nylon or terylene.
– What about the pressing qualities? Have you tried to press a pair of pants?
– Yes, I have.
– Woollen pants?
– Yes, and also synthetic pants. However, I do not want to be diverted from what I was saying. 1 think Senator Ormonde will agree with the contention that a garment made from fabric containing 1 5 per cent, synthetic is far more satisfactory than one made entirely of wool. But because of the policy to which I have referred, such fabrics are excluded from any promotional scheme. A representative of the firm of Fletcher Jones went to America and came back with a glowing report concerning the garments he had taken there. I think that could be said of every country of the world having a temperate climate in which the Australian Wool
Bureau has undertaken promotion. Surely it is better to be able to sell in those countries articles containing 85 per cent, wool than to restrict promotion to articles containing 100 per cent, wool, which could not be sold there. I suppose there are not too many members of this chamber who have not at some stage “ fallen “ for suits made of synthetic material; they are frightful things. If one is wearing such a suit which gets wet before he enters an aircraft, when he alights he looks as though he has been through a wringer; the suit is in a hopeless state. On the other hand, if you carefully hang up a woollen garment that has been wet, it will resume its original shape. When this bill was being debated in another place, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) mentioned that when he was in England he went to an exhibition of synthetics at the Albert Hall. He said that he was most impressed. The exhibition was arranged by the nylon spinners and no expense was spared. The display was not arranged by the manufacturers or by the retailers. It was arranged by the producer of the synthetics. Mr. Kelly was told that the synthetics producer paid the advertising of the manufacturer, which is what this legislation is asking the wool-grower to do. I have shown what the wool industry is faced with. In the nylon industry the spinners pay for the advertising of the people who sell the goods. The retailer does not pay for it. That is why, said Mr. Kelly, this increase in the levy for promotion is necessary. Mr. Kelly said that no doubt exists as to the quality of the work being done by the Australian Wool Bureau, but that obviously a need exists to increase the promotion that is being engaged in.
I think the Senate knows that the Farmers Union of Western Australia (Incorporated) bitterly opposed this increase of 5s. in the levy. It has opposed it all along the line. It contacted me and a number of other honorable senators from Western Australia. In fairness to that organization I should place on record some of its views. The organization said -
In the first instance Western Australia was one of the two States which, through the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, disagreed with what was the Federation’s decision concurring with the proposal from the compromise meeting of the Australian Wool Bureau, the Australian Wool-Growers and Graziers Council and the Federation. The Federation agreed to an increase purely as a temporary measure and agreed that the increase should operate for one year only. From our point of view, we regard the proposed legislation as being essentially a temporary measure and we do not intend that this should be taken in any way as a precedent for future action with regard to increased wool promotion . . . we are not by any means agreeable to any future increase in promotion levies. . .
In other words, the organization says that it is not prepared to go ahead with Sir William Gunn’s suggestion that by 1965-66 the levy should be up to 18s. I am myself a wool-grower and I think that the money we spend is best spent on promotion.
In brief, the purpose of this letter is to advise you that even though at this stage we are not desirous of opposing the legislation to be brought down in connection with the 5s. increase, we are not in any way committing ourselves as to what future action might be taken after the termination of the one year of operation of the levy or until such time as the findings of the Wool Enquiry Committee are known.
In all fairness I think that if the inquiry into wool marketing recommends the imposition of an additional levy, the Farmers Union of Western Australia will be prepared to have another look at the matter, but up to the present it has agreed to the levy very reluctantly. When Senator Ormonde interjected I said that in my opinion the money that we spent was best spent on promotion. I think that the increase of 5s. a bale represents about onefifth of a penny on each pound of wool. That is not a large amount. I think that the average wool-grower produces between 30 and 40 bales a year. We know that there are big producers, but the largest number of growers would fall in the category of producers of 30 to 40 bales a year. On those figures the greater percentage of growers will be faced with an increase in their levies of between £7 10s. and £10 a year.
– Did the honorable senator say between 30 and 40 bales?
– That would represent an increase of between £15 and £20.
– No, I am basing my remarks on the increase of 5s. a bale.
– I thought you were talking about the 10s. levy.
– No. I am talking about the increase of 5s. An extra £7 10s. or £10 a year is infinitesimal compared with the advertising and promotion costs of manufacturers in other industries.
I have no doubt that increased promotion throughout the world will increase the demand for wool. Some growers may have the mistaken impression that wool use promotion consists entirely of newspaper advertising and perhaps very necessary parades of models wearing woollen garments. But promotion does not stop at newspaper and fashion magazine advertising. Some of the most valuable aspects of promotion have been concerned with the evolving of processes such as Si-ro-set. That process was in existence for a long time before manufacturers could be persuaded to use it. The Australian Wool Bureau appointed technical advisers to explain to manufacturers the Si-ro-set process and the added value it gave to garments. Of course, the process caught on. To my mind that is what promotion means. Promotion is not simply advertising. It is promoting the use of wool and persuading people to buy wool because of its wonderful inherent qualities. Senator O’Byrne touched on some of those qualities this afternoon. They are far too numerous to keep in one’s mind. One quality which appeals to mothers of Australia is the fact that wool is virtually fireproof - something that cannot be said for synthetic articles. Synthetics are highly inflammable. Anybody who has worn a synthetic shirt for a couple of days and has smoked cigarettes during that time will agree that synthetics are highly inflammable. Wool does not. burn freely. If it does catch alight and chars, the wearer is well aware of the fact because of the odour given off. That is an important quality. Wool lets you know if it is on fire.
There is not much more that I can say on this subject. It has been covered fairly widely. I agree with some, but not all, of the things that Senator Cooke said this afternoon. The fact is that the growers have come to the Government on this occasion in some state of unity and have said, “ Will you amend this legislation because we want to promote the sales of our product “?
– A gun marriage.
– I do not think it is a gun marriage.
– It was arranged by Sir William Gunn.
– Let us accept the fact that Sir William Gunn did an amazing job. He went out and faced many hostile audiences and in many cases he came away having convinced them that he was right. I admire a man who does things like that.
– He had a gun with him.
– Yes. I think the growers of Australia ultimately will thank Sir William Gunn for having so forcibly pointed out to them that if wool was to be sold it had to be advertised.
– Is he a grazier?
– I am not prepared to comment on that question because I do not know the answer. I know that he is a’ very able man and he knows wool. In respect of the re-organization of the Australian Wool Bureau, I find myself in agreement with Senator Scott. If this bureau is to be successful it needs the contributions that can be made to it by way of advice and help from the people who are interested in the wool industry and derive a living from it. The manufacturers, the retailers and certainly the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization should be represented on the bureau. I do not suggest for one moment that the majority the growers have on their own bureau should be taken away; but I am quite convinced that it would function more efficiently if it included representation from the other wings of the industry. Probably that is a question which the growers ultimately will decide.
I know that this bill will be passed because the Opposition is not opposing it. Of course, it would not make any difference if the Opposition did oppose it because the Government still has the numbers. In my opinion, once the growers have seen what this increased promotion will do, and after the report of the committee of inquiry on wool marketing has been published, they will probably ask for this promotion levy to be continued. I support the bill.
– in reply - I welcome the debate on this most important subject. Wool is
Australia’s number one export income earner. It has been said many times, but it loses nothing in repetition, that the wool industry is vital to the Australian economy. It affects the welfare of every man, woman and child, whether he or she lives in city, town or country. For that reason, any time that we spend debating the problems of this industry is time well spent. I also welcome the reception that the Senate has accorded this measure. Both sides of the Senate have indicated their support of it and honorable senators on both sides have taken the opportunity to offer, in the main, some constructive criticism. I wish I had the time to refer to all the points of interest that have been raised. Because I have not the time to do so I must refer only to those points that I think require some clarification.
Senator Cooke claimed that the incidence of this tax is heavy. I think I am using his words. I remind him that this tax, as he called it, is not a tax in the accepted sense of the word. It is not a tax levied to raise money to flow into the Consolidated Revenue Fund. It is levied at the direct request of an industry and is to be spent solely in the interests of that industry For that reason, this measure is not in the same category as taxing legislation. I suggest that that is the basis on which we should discuss this legislation. I repeat that this is a levy that will be spent entirely in the interests of the industry that asked for the imposition of the levy.
The Australian Wool Bureau, which is composed of three members of the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and three members of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, has realized for quite some time that it has been fighting a losing battle against synthetics. The bureau is the body that has been set up by the growers in this country, through the medium of the Government, to promote the sale throughout the world of the product of our greatest industry. I am sure that any thinking person would charge the bureau with negligence and apathy if it did not face up to the challenge of synthetics and make a worth-while effort to meet that challenge.
It set about solving its problems of raising additional finance by approaching the growers. As Senator Scott quite rightly said, the wool industry traditionally has been independent. It has always set its face against government support or interference. It has always maintained that come fair weather or come foul weather it has been in a position to manage its own affairs. History proves that to be right. But to-day the industry faces a threat that it has never faced before. It has indicated through the Australian Wool Bureau’s activities that it is prepared to face the challenge. I repeat that the industry has always been independent and that attitude accords with the attitude of the Government.
This Government has always claimed - quite rightly, I believe - that the product of the grower remains the property of the grower and the grower should have the deciding voice in the disposal of his product. For that reason, the bureau naturally approached the growers, not the Government, for additional finance. It is true that the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council supported the proposal almost unanimously. It realized that this was a challenge and it had an obligation to meet that challenge. In saying that I cast no reflection whatever on the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation which Has some reservations on the wisdom of increasing the levy at this stage.
– What was the vote at Horsham?
– Let me make it quite clear to the honorable senator who has interjected that the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation has always supported promotion. It has never declared itself to be opposed to additional promotion. It believes that promotion is not the solution to its major problems. It believes that the marketing of wool should take precedence over promotion. That is a plank upon which it has based its argument that promotion should come after and not before the adoption of an attitude towards the selling of the product.
I do not suggest that the attitude of the federation is open to criticism. The simple truth is that it listened to the bureau’s proposals; it met in conference with its partner in the industry; and finally it came to a decision to support an increased levy for twelve months. I suppose there is justification for saying that its thinking was: “Let us put the suggestions made by the Wool Bureau to the test. Let ussee what results can be achieved by spending these additional sums of money on promotion in the next twelve months.” I think some of us are inclined to overemphasize the fact that there was some division of opinion on this major problem’ that faces the industry. I believe that the industry, when it finally made its decision, showed a spirit of compromise that augurswell for its future.
I quote the following from a report of the comments of the chairmen of the two» bodies: -
After the meeting, the president of the GraziersCouncil, Mr. T. M. Scott, said he was pleased the agreement had been reached on the increase.
This was his reservation -
Nevertheless his council re-affirmed its support for the Wool Bureau proposal that the promotionlevy be £1 per bale.
Mr. Scott indicated quite plainly that his organization favoured an increase in the promotion levy to £1 a bale. The report continues -
The Federation’s President, Mr. L. Heaslip, saidhis organization had not altered its views regarding committing its affiliated organizations to a set schedule of levies over a period of years until’ the Committee of Enquiry into the wool industry had completed its investigations and delivered itsreport.
The one year levy would assist in advancing the preliminary steps of the re-construction of the International Wool Secretariat, and also helpmaintain the present reserves of the Wool Bureau.
I should like honorable senators to listen to his final comment -
The federation’s decision could be taken as a contribution to the unity of the wool industry, which was so vital to the economy of Australia.
So, Mr. President, I suggest that when we weigh all these facts the only conclusion we can come to is that the efforts of the Australian Wool Bureau to promote the sale of our wool have had the direct result of bringing together leaders of the industry, and that can do a great deal for it.
I want to make one further reference to Senator Cooke’s speech. I think I am correct in saying that the honorable senator stated that a ten-year policy should be adopted for the wool industry.
– In relation to marketing, when approved by the growers.
– I take it that promotion was also in the honorable senator’s mind when he referred to a ten-year policy, but that is not of real concern at the moment. I should like to know whether he advocates a policy formulated by the Government or one formulated by the growers. Does be mean that the Government should say to the growers: “ This is your programme for the next ten years. You shall market your wool as directed. This is how we will promote your product. These are our decisions and you will accept them”? If that is what he means, for my part I would not have a bar of it. On the other hand, if he is advocating a ten-year programme sponsored by the industry, and it is acceptable because of its soundly based ideas and is approved by the Government, then I think there might be some merit in his proposal; but I should like him to know that my knowledge of the wool inidustry leads me to believe that it would stoutly resist the proposal of any government to implement a plan on behalf of wool-growers unless they had a major say in it.
– If the Minister reads my speech he will find that he has nothing to worry about in that regard.
– I am relieved to hear that. I was looking some distance ahead.
asked for certain information regarding the rate of levy. So that I might be able to give him all the information that it is possible to give, I have produced a precis of the bill, bearing in mind the questions that he asked. The honorable senator sought information regarding the temporary operation of the new rates. I think his concern may have been due to the fact that it is generally accepted that once new levies are imposed they rarely come off again. The legislation is quite specific. The Wool Tax Bill (No. 1) 1961 refers to wool received by brokers and dealers. It proposes to insert in the present legislation a self-contained provision for the imposition of a 10s. rate of levy on wool received and sold prior to 1st July, 1962. A special schedule of rates is also to be inserted. It will operate only until 30th June, 1962. The Wool Tax Bill (No. 2) 1961, which refers to wool exported for sale overseas, seeks to impose a lower rate of levy on wool so exported prior to 1st July, 1962.
A special schedule of rates that will operate only until 30th June, 1962, is to be inserted in the present legislation. In both bills there is a definite termination date when the rates set out in the special schedules must cease to operate. Moreover, the bills do not repeat the existing schedules. If no further arrangements are made, the rates of levy for wool promotion will revert to those fixed by regulations within the limits produced by the existing schedules, which include a maximum limit of 5s. per bale for promotion. I suggest that those provisions are adequate safeguards on the points about which Senator Drake-Brockman was concerned.
The honorable senator also criticized the expenditure of £23,500 by the Australian Wool Bureau in engaging Personnel Administration Proprietary Limited to investigate and report on the adequacy and efficiency of wool promotion throughout the world. For my part, Sir, I do not know whether the survey was either warranted or justified, but it was essentially a commercial transaction which was sponsored entirely by the Australian Wool Bureau. The bureau took the initiative, and the Government bore no cost whatever of the inquiry, except in relation to the provision of certain facilities at trade commissioner offices where inquiries were held.
Senator O’Byrne criticized the types of promotion, as did other honorable senators. I say that that is fair comment. If the time ever comes when Australians are completely satisfied with the results that are achieved in any field of endeavour, whether it is wool promotion, wool production or anything else, that will indeed be a sad day for this country. Such criticism is one of the avenues along which the thinking of the people may be conveyed. By that means we can, in effect, say to organizations that are entrusted with certain responsibilities: “We are watching what you are doing. We are interested in your activities. We would like you to know that we have a vital concern in the way you face up to your responsibilities.”
I come now to another interesting point that was raised during the debate. It has been argued many times, in many places, that Australia should not permit her wool to be exported in its greasy condition. Taken at face value, that is a most attractive proposition. Incidently, we have a wool textile industry in Australia that is finding a very limited overseas market for processed and semi-processed wool products. I suppose the natural question to ask of me is: “Why is the market so limited? Have not we the equipment, the workmen and the facilities to produce garments, the same as countries overseas? “ Of course we have, but unfortunately, Australia is not the final arbiter in this matter. Countries overseas which import our greasy wool have exactly the same line of thinking as we have when we import unrefined oil.
We in this country are setting up oil refineries of which we are very proud. We are doing that for several reasons. Perhaps the major reason is to have foreign exchange. The same reasoning applies with equal force to countries that import our wool. They have to save foreign exchange. We are establishing oil refineries to store oil for use in time of emergency and to create employment. It could well be that the countries that are importing our wool have the same idea.
The Government has examined all the proposals that have been discussed in this chamber to-day and in days gone by. Its decisions have always been made in the light of the known facts and in the best interests of Australia, and I suggest that that policy will be followed for a long time to come. I am the first to concede that greater promotion is not the solution of all the problems that face the wool industry, but I am equally sure that promotion has a significant role to play in the developing markets overseas. We must face up to that task as part of a scheme to put this industry and our economy on a permanent and sound basis. I can assure the Senate and the industry that this Government will do all that is possible to achieve that objective.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 16th August (vide page 51), on motion by Senator Wade-
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from 16th August (vide page 51), on motion by Senator Wade- That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 17th August (vide page 65), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– Mr. Deputy President, I must say that there is little in this bill to provoke one to contention. For that reason, I compliment the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron), who introduced the measure in another place. However, I must say in passing that it is merely another example of the procrastinatory approach of this Government to the problems with which it is confronted. It is so characteristic of the Government’s approach to all activities. Years ago there was in existence a policy known as laisser-faire. But over the last twelve years the Government has not adopted a policy of laisser-faire; it has adopted a let-slide policy. It has let value slide out of the £1 and it has allowed the European Economic Community to develop and the United Kingdom to apply for membership of that organization without acquainting the Australian people of the possible evil effect on their standard of living.
I do not think it would be inappropriate if, in the light of the seriousness of foot and mouth disease and the possible effect on the Australian economy if it were allowed to be introduced to this country, I were to give a brief description of it. There would not be many honorable senators who have seen the disease or who have any idea of its effect upon animals, lt is a highly contagious disease which effects cattle, sheep and pigs, all of which make a large contribution to the economic welfare of this nation. It is characterized by what are called vesicles or, to put it in plain language, blisters. The disease is fairly widespread. Fortunately it has not occurred in Australia since 1872. That, I am sure, is due in some measure to good fortune and in no small measure to the extraordinary care exercised by the officials who have been responsible over the years for quarantine and other measures that should be adopted. Foot and mouth disease has occurred in almost every continent. The only continents free of it at the present time are North America and Australia. It is common in South America, Asia, Europe and Africa.
There is not a high mortality rate; it is, speaking from memory, only 5 per cent. However the disease causes a tremendous loss of condition and there is no known specific treatment for it. It is known to be caused by a virus, but unfortunately there are several strains of virus with the result that we cannot embark on a campaign of uniform immunization. That makes the disease rather difficult to handle.
When one considers the large number of animals that would have to be immunized, one realizes the tremendous expense that would be involved. During one outbreak in Mexico 1,000,000 animals had to be destroyed. There is no alternative to destruction. The animals can be disposed of preferably by burning or, where they cannot be burnt, by burying them in deep trenches.
One has only to recall that in Queensland alone there are nearly 7,000.000 cattle and that in Australia there are 150,000,000 to 1 60,000,000 sheep to realize the importance of keeping the disease out of the country. I do not know how many pigs we have in Australia; they are not the kind of animal with which I associate. But all those animals could be affected if the disease were introduced to Australia. When we remember that our standard of living depends upon primary production and in no small measure is associated with the production and sale of animals and animal products, we realize how very important it is to Australia to keep this disease away from our shores. In some of the countries in which it is rampant immunization is practised; there is simply no alternative. It is absolutely essential that there be no relaxation of our quarantine procedures. I noticed that the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty), in his secondreading speech, referred to wilful breaching of quarantine. I do not think that is as likely as accidental breaching. The latter is something about which we must be particularly careful. It should be remembered that this disease could be brought into Australia in canned and prepared meat. The actual incubation period is not really known. One case was proved to have occurred after a period of 345 days. That, of course, was extraordinarily unusual, but there need be only one unusual case to cause an outbreak of the disease. When we consider how highly contagious the disease is it is important, for the sake of our material and our economic welfare, that we observe rigidly all quarantine measures.
As you know, Mr. Deputy President, most of the States passed measures similar to this bill as far back as 1958. The present Government has not seen fit to introduce this bill until near the end of 1961! It is accepted in the field of veterinary science that foot and mouth disease is well known, but nowhere in the bill is there any mention of what is meant by foot and mouth disease. It may not be necessary, but an explanation of this omission could have been given.
There is provision for compensation, and specific exclusion is made in respect of the rights of mortgagees or any one who may have liens of any type over the animals. I cannot see any economic justification for this. An animal may be worth anything from £10 to £50. The value of a property with 2,000 animals on it could be £10,000. Although some one may have advanced up to £30.000 or £40,000 he would have no protection at all under this bill. The provision in the bill seems to be divorced from reality, in accordance with the usual practice of the present Government. I do not know whether the omission was intentional or accidental, but it does seem to me that injustice may be done to a man who may have assisted in the development of a property. Under this bill he has no protection at all. 1 should like to point out another omission that could be serious if an outbreak of the. disease were to occur. I am not anxious to impose burdens on primary producers. I think they have borne enough burdens as a result of actions of the present Government over the last twelve years. As every one knows, I am the last one to suggest that additional burdens be imposed on primary producers, lt is in their interests that this bill is being introduced, and if an outbreak of the disease did occur I think there should be provision in the measure for an insurance scheme to be established. There is provision for payments by the States and by the Commonwealth, but millions of animals would have to be destroyed if an outbreak of this disease did occur. On whom would the burden fall? It would fall on the ordinary people of this country. The workers and others would have to bear the burden both directly and indirectly. I am not suggesting that the owners of the cattle should not be compensated, but some persons have a vested interest in this bill.
I do not suggest that the Government should collect in advance enormous sums from which to provide compensation but I do think that authority should be vested in the Minister - if an outbreak does occur - to promulgate regulations empowering him to introduce an insurance scheme for those people whose cattle, sheep and pigs are likely to be affected. I do not know whether the Minister gave any consideration to that aspect of the matter. It may be that he did not do so, because this bill bears all the evidence of hastily-drafted legislation that was introduced as the result of pressure from the States. There is a suggestion that pressure was applied to the Commonwealth by the States.
I know that the States have been concerned about the importation of meat. They realize that their economic welfare can be affected. Because the interests of their people could be adversely affected they have been urging the Government, for a considerable period, to bring in a bill such as this. I would not know whether the bill has been hastily drawn up and I am certain that the Government will not deign to tell me.
I think I have mentioned the important features associated with this legislation. 7 commend the Government for its action, no matter how dilatory its approach has been. The people of Australia and particularly we on this side of the chamber, have come to recognize the procrastinatory habits of this Government. Certainly I feel that some measure of appreciation should be accorded those who have the economic interests of the people at heart; however 1 think that authority should be vested in the Minister to bring in regulations for the introduction of an insurance scheme if an outbreak of the disease occurs. Contributions could then be made by owners of cattle, sheep and pigs in accordance with the number of animals they possess.
– I should like to congratulate the Government on bringing down this bill. I support the action it has taken. It is a very wise precaution indeed. We in Australia are fortunate in that since 1872 we have been free from foot and mouth disease. 1 understand that in that year an outbreak of short duration did occur, the disease being brought into Australia by a bull from the United Kingdom. However, eradication was successful and, as I have already said, we have been free from the disease ever since. When one stops to consider for a few minutes what risks we have run, in spite of all the quarantine measures that may have been taken, we should congratulate ourselves that we have been so free from this disease.
Senator Dittmer has mentioned very briefly the symptoms of the disease and has pointed out how serious it could be for our cattle, sheep and pigs. In cattle and sheep alone more than £800,000,000 would be involved. I am not able to estimate the value of our pigs, but the sum would be a large one. Only a few months ago we had an illustration of the dislocation that could occur. I refer to the outbreak of swine fever in the Newcastle area of New South Wales. That was only a minor matter compared with what could happen in the case of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease. Any precautions that can be taken are certainly well worth while. I understand that in the United Kingdom some time ago 40,000 animals had to be slaughtered on account of foot and mouth disease. Large slaughterings have also taken place in Asia and Canada, where the disease has affected animals for some fifteen to twenty years. Senator Dittmer stated that 1,000,000 animals had been lost from the disease in Mexico.
– One million were destroyed.
– Thank you. He also stressed the difficulty of giving animals preventive treatment by vaccines. I understand that vaccines are used in Mexico. My impression is that New Zealand is free of the disease. This scourge may be introduced in many ways. Although horses are not affected by it, the germ may be carried in their hoofs. Consequently, horses are not brought here by air. The hoofs of those that are brought by sea are picked out and washed in antiseptic. Their bedding and litter, which is sought from a diseasefree area, together with any fodder that is brought with them, is destroyed by fire. One of the difficulties in preventing the disease is that it remains viable for quite a considerable time. I am told that the germ may remain in frozen meat for at least 100 days, in wool fourteen days, cowhair four weeks, leather boots . eleven days, rubber boots fourteen days and hay fifteen days. That gives some idea of the risks that are run. Another precaution that has been adopted in Australia is the refusal of permission for migrants from rural areas to be flown here. The reason is, of course, that they may be carrying some of the germs in their ordinary clothing, their work clothes or their footwear. If they come by sea, there is a longer period of what is virtually quarantine and, in addition, upon arrival their footwear and working clothes are disinfected.
Another danger that we run is that amongst imports from Africa may be rawhide shields and raw-hide rattles, which are brought in as souvenirs. There is also a danger in the importation of smoked ham. We must ensure that we do not introduce the germ of this disease in these commodities. Canned meats are very dangerous. Many migrants like to bring canned foods with them. Unless there is very close scrutiny, there is a risk of introducing the disease in that way. Honorable senators may be interested in some of the precautions taken regarding canned meats. Under our quarantine legislation, the only country from which uncanned meat may be imported is New Zealand, where the health status of livestock is very much the same as in Australia. Cooked meats and cooked edible parts of animals contained in hermetically sealed cans or tins may be imported, subject to strict quarantine regulations. Under the provisions of animal quarantine regulations, the importation of canned meat is strictly controlled and subject to the production of certain certificates before a permit to land is issued. A certificate signed by a government veterinary surgeon is required to the effect that the goods were derived from animals slaughtered for human consumption which were free from disease on ante-mortem and post-mortem inspection, also that the goods were not exposed to infection prior to export.
In addition, a declaration from the manufacturer that every portion of the contents had been heated to a temperature of 100 degrees centigrade, showing the temperature and time of heating, is required. This declaration must be endorsed by a government veterinary surgeon or other responsible government officer in the country of origin to the effect that he is familiar with the process of manufacture and has no reason to doubt the truth of the manufacturer’s declaration. If these documents are not produced, permission for importation is refused. These conditions are specially designed to prevent the possibility of introduction into Australia of swine fever, as well as foot and mouth disease.
Another possible source of the spread of infection is in garbage from aircraft or ships. This is under strict customs control. I understand that it is carefully placed to one side, thoroughly disinfected and then destroyed. There is evidence that very effective measures are being taken. When we look back over the years and realize that we have not had a case of foot and mouth disease since 1872, we must agree either that our quarantine measures are very effective or that we have been very lucky indeed.
I am not quite sure of the procedure followed in relation to aircraft from overseas scheduled to land at Darwin but for some reason or other unable to do so. I imagine that this does happen occasionally. Such an aircraft might have to put down at an adjacent airport, for instance, at Tennant Creek. I should like the Minister, in reply, to give us some idea of the precautions that are taken when an aircraft from overseas lands at an alternative airport. I have not any doubt that precautions are taken, but it does seem to me to be possible that the precautions in such a case might not be quite as effective as those taken when aircraft land, as scheduled, at Darwin. There has been a charge of procrastination. I leave the reply to that to the Minister. If there has been procrastination, evidently action is being taken in time. We may feel thankful on that score.
Although the bill refers only to foot and mouth disease, there is another scourge, blue-tongue in sheep, about which we must be very careful. This disease could wipe out our sheep population to the same degree as myxomatosis wiped out the rabbit population. We have heard some grumbling from primary producers about the prohibition of imports of animals from those countries where blue-tongue is prevalent. One finds it hard to realize that people can be so short-sighted, as the importation of only one animal might lead to decimation of flocks. We could lose not thousands but millions of sheep. Over and over again in this chamber in the last few hours we have beard that they are the main economic factor keeping our country going. Therefore, we must be equally careful in the measures taken to prevent the introduction of blue-tongue. There is another disease, known, I understand, as Newcastle disease, which attacks poultry. Let us consider for a moment the ways in which these diseases can come in. Blue-tongue, for instance, is spread by an insect very similar to the one we know as the sand fly. The wonder of it is that we have been fortunate enough to escape contamination from these pests here for as long as we have done.
I sincerely hope that the provisions of this measure will never have to be availed of, but it is indeed a very wise precaution to have them ready to set in train. If we do have an outbreak, swift action can be taken to confine it to the smallest possible area and to eradicate it quickly. For these reasons, Mr. Deputy President, I congratulate the Government on introducing the measure.
Senator HANNAFORD (South Australia) that I might say a few words on this bill and consequently, although 1 am familiar with foot and mouth disease, which I know is prevalent in other countries, I consulted the Oxford dictionary in order to get some details of the disease, lt is defined in that dictionary as “ a febrile affection of horned cattle, &c, communicable also to man “.
– Very rarely.
– I looked up the word “ febrile “, which means “ of or pertaining to fever “. From this definition, Sir, I gained the knowledge that this is a disease accompanied by a high fever and certain other symptoms that are quite unmistakable, as far as I can gather.
– That is not true. There are two other similar diseases, so it is not easy to make a diagnosis.
– Speaking in my ignorance, I am questioned by the learned doctor.
– There are two similar diseases, if you are going into the question of diagnosis.
– If Senator Dittmer will allow me to make my own speech, I would like to continue. This is a disease which we know has afflicted the world for a very long time and has caused great losses in the animal world. By so doing, of course, it has caused great financial loss to the countries concerned. As a former stock-owner myself - I was interested in the breeding and rearing of cattle - I feel that I have some interest in this matter from a personal angle. This is a subject that we should know a good deal about. Certain animal diseases - in my own experience, at any rate - have always struck fear into men engaged on the land who were responsible for the care of live stock and who depended on live stock production for their living.
The live stock industry of Australia, as is well known, is one of our key industries. In fact, I would say that it is the greatest industry of Australia. We depend to a very large degree for our prosperity on efficient live stock production. We know that grass is the most important single crop in the world to-day. We depend on grass for the feeding of the animals which supply the protein needs of the human race. Without proteins, it would be impossible for human life to be sustained. Here again, I speak subject to correction by my worthy friend, Dr. Dittmer, but I have always understood that protein foods are absolutely essential for the maintenance of health. The animal industry provides proteins in the largest quantity and in the most efficient way that they can be produced for the benefit of mankind. Therefore, we must produce animals in an economic way, to enable the production of the proteins which are so vital to health and, indeed, which are required for the maintenance of human life on this planet.
However, we know that the animal industry has been beset from time to time by many difficulties. Australia is one of the more fortunate countries of the world but, from time to time, we have been faced with difficulties in the way of live-stock diseases. Without question, most of them were introduced here. I do not know whether our indigenous live-stock suffered from animal diseases to any great extent, but probably they did. However, the animals on which we depend so materially are afflicted occasionally by diseases which, in the main, have been introduced to this country. In many ways, Australia’s isolation has been a great advantage. It has some drawbacks but, generally speaking, from the point of view of live-stock production, it has been a very great protection.
We should be proud of the fact that we are blessed with a country that is able to produce grasses in sufficient quantity to feed vast numbers of live-stock. These grasses are to be found throughout the length and breadth of Australia, not excluding some of the drier areas, which are not associated with a high level of cattle production. We must see to it that our advantages are not jeopardized in any way. For that reason, in common with other countries, we have had to set up an elaborate quarantine system. Our system, I think, compares quite favorably with any quarantine system in the world. Not only do we protect our animal life; we also protect our plant life by quarantine. The precautions that are taken regarding the introduction of plant life to Australia are very important indeed. Recently, I saw on television a film on this subject. The elaborate precautions that were depicted showed quite clearly to me that nothing is left to chance concerning the introduction of diseases which may affect our plant life. This also applies, more importantly, to human beings. We know the afflictions which could beset Australia if we did not apply very strict quarantine measures to prevent the introduction of some of the. diseases of humans which have decimated populations in other parts of the world. The quarantine system that has operated in this country down the years has been quite remarkable. I refer, Sir, to the way in which it has been administered and applied. However, I think the system needs to be scrutinized, in view of the changed circumstances that have been brought about through the, introduction of air travel. Air transport has altered the situation very considerably. The Government is alive to that fact. Consequently, quarantine methods have been changed to some extent so as to enable adequate protection to be afforded against the introduction of diseases affecting plant, animal or human life. I have referred to some diseases that affect the human race. We know that the unwitting introduction into this country of diseases affecting plant or animal life could have serious repercussions on our economy. It is essential that we remain constantly vigilant ito see that such diseases do not enter this country.
Foot and mouth disease is probably the worst type of disease that can afflict animals. We hear from time to time of other cattle ailments and the success that has been achieved here and overseas in controlling them, but foot and mouth disease seems to cause the greatest amount of destruction in countries that have been afflicted by its incidence. This measure is designed to give some protection against the disease to the animal industry in Australia.
The bill is somewhat limited in its scope. It provides for something that may not occur. We sincerely hope that foot and mouth disease will never break out in “Australia. Through the efforts of the Government, in consultation with the States in the Australian Agricultural Council, this matter has received a good deal of consideration. The measure -now under discussion is the result of those consultations. It is wise to provide for something that may occur, however much we hope that Australia will never be afflicted with this disease.
I have perused a book written by a Mr. V. G. Cole, in which foot and mouth disease is described. I do not know whether Senator Dittmer in his speech gave any details of the disease, but I do not think it would be out of place if I quoted briefly from this book. The author states -
Foot ‘and mouth disease is a highly contagious disease of cattle caused by a virus. It occurs in England, Europe and a number of countries to the north of Australia but, very fortunately, does not occur in Australia or in the United States of America though it was accidentally introduced into Canada in 1951.
It affects cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and wild rats. Human beings, cats, dogs and rabbits are resistant but may become infected occasionally. Human patients show somewhat similar symptoms to cattle, commencing with initial fever, watery vesicles and later ulcers in the mouth and throat and lesions on the fingers and between the toes.
When an outbreak occurs among cattle it is spread not only by affected animals but also by hides, meat, hay, straw, implements, clothing, vehicles and so on. The main causes of outbreaks in England have been from introduction of infected animals, importation of chilled or frozen meat, from which infection spreads to pigs fed on meat scraps, and infection carried by migratory birds.
Dealing with symptoms of the disease, the author states -
The main symptoms are profuse slobbering accompanied by lameness. This explains how the disease received its name. Vesicles form in the mouth, on the skin of the muzzle, between the claws and on the teats and udder.
It is not highly fatal, causing approximately 2 per cent, of deaths among adult cattle and up to 20 per cent, among calves.
That is a fairly concise description of the symptoms of the disease. I was surprised to know that it is a disease that is not to any great extent immediately fatal to animals but has a debilitating effect on them. They take a long time to recover. Of course, the disease could have a most serious effect on the cattle industry of a country such as Australia. I did not know until to-night that Australia had had an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 1872.
– One case only.
– Well, that means there was an outbreak. I was quite unaware of that fact until I read about it. Fortunately, on that occasion the authorities were able to deal with the “outbreak and stamp out the disease. The necessity for controlling a disease such as foot and mouth disease and for introducing measures such as those outlined in the bill to some extent justify Senator Dittmer’s remarks, although I do not always agree with what he says. The bill provides for the Treasurer to allocate a certain amount of money to the fund from Consolidated Revenue. I take it that the States will do likewise. The point raised by Senator Dittmer is interesting, because from my own experience I know the type of fund that I think he has in mind. In the control of swine fever, for instance, a fund has been established and operates in various States - certainly in South Australia. There, when an animal is sold, a very small percentage of the sum realized is set aside and applied to a fund. In short, the fund is something like an insurance fund. It is handled by a competent authority and guards against losses that may be incurred following an outbreak of swine fever, which we all know happens occasionally. The fund compensates the owner of pigs for any losses that he may sustain. This bill provides in a somewhat arbitrary fashion for the Treasurer to set aside a certain amount of money to be paid to this particular fund. The bill does not contain any details of the amount to be collected or the method of collection. Money is simply to be taken from the Consolidated Revenue Fund and lie in a fund.
– There is no provision for collection at all.
– That is exactly what I am saying. I am willing to concede that Senator Dittmer has a point there. In other words, the whole community will be asked to contribute to the protection of people whose animals may be afflicted with foot and mouth disease or any other disease. Of course, this bill refers to foot and mouth disease. I am not familiar with the methods that the States will adopt for collecting money and applying it to this fund. I take it that they will take money from their Consolidated Revenue Funds in exactly the same way.
– They would have a similar approach.
– I would say that would be the position. In a case such as this there would be some justification for setting up a permanent fund which could meet the situation in the event of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease or any other disease which could have a serious effect on the animal industries.
I do not criticize the Government on the methods it has adopted. I believe this bill is a step in the right direction. I know that from time to time the States have set up similar funds, but they have been on the basis of deductions from the sale price of healthy animals. For example, when each pig was sold a small deduction was made and applied to a fund. In the course of time the fund was built up sufficiently to safeguard people whose animals were afflicted with diseases such as swine fever. The same position could apply in respect of foot and mouth disease. I do not know whether it is contemplated that foot and mouth disease would be more serious and of a much greater magnitude which could not be met by such a fund. I believe that the establishment of a fund in the way I have mentioned would be more satisfactory than the method envisaged in the bill. It is nothing more or less than an insurance against a disease such as the one about -which we are talking, which could do immeasurable harm to the animal industries. I believe that the people who raise these animals are the ones who should really loot the bill, although I know that the -disease could affect the economy as a whole.
It may not ever be necessary to apply this measure. Fortunately, foot and mouth disease is something with which this country has not been afflicted. I hope that it never will be. We know how severe the outbreaks of some of these diseases have been in other countries. I think all of us have heard of the dread disease, rinderpest, and what a scourge it is in South Africa and Africa generally, where it has wiped out thousands of animals, particularly wild life. I do not think it is confined to wild life. From time to time young animals in Africa have been decimated by the scourge of rinderpest. Pleuro-pneumonia is another disease that has been introduced into Australia. I have good reason to think that I am correct in saying that pleuropneumonia was introduced to the north of Australia by buffaloes which originally were brought into Australia from countries that lie adjacent to our north. That may not be correct, but pleuro-pneumonia is an introduced disease and it has caused enormous losses in the Australian cattle industry.
One could mention other diseases that have been prevalent from time to time.
Senator McKellar mentioned blue tongue. I heartily subscribe to everything he said in regard to that disease. In. recent years an embargo has been imposed on the importation of certain animals which could have the effect of introducing the dread disease, blue tongue, into Australia. We could go through a list of many animal diseases which could cause incalculable losses to our animal industries. As I said earlier, it is prudent for us to be vigilant against the introduction of any of these diseases. That is why the precautions outlined in the measure are so vital.
Senator Dittmer said that the Government had procrastinated in this matter. The fact that we have been able to avoid the consequences of the introduction of so many of these diseases indicates to me that such a charge cannot be substantiated.
– If the Government is not worried about the quarantine system, why introduce this measure now?
– I am not worried about the quarantine system because I believe that an effective quarantine scheme is operating throughout Australia.
– Only by good luck.
– I agree that we have had a certain amount of good luck. We have also been helped by the fact that to some extent we are isolated from the main centres of the world. I freely acknowledge that such things have been to our advantage.
– You have been lucky in the elections, too.
– If I talk about elections, Mr. Deputy President, I ami afraid that you will rule me out of order. I had better confine my remarks to the. subject under discussion. In the measure provision has been made for the setting up of a fund which will enable owners who suffer loss as a result of the introduction of foot and mouth disease to this country to be compensated. That is a wise precaution. We hope that the provision will never be used, but it safeguards the animal industries to some extent and provides a precaution against the introduction of any disease such as foot and mouth disease. Therefore, we should all support this measure. We should realize that if we do not protect Australia’s great animal industries we will be lacking in our duty. 1 believe this measure is designed to assist in the control of a disease which could cause immeasurable harm.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– Clause 9 provides that an owner shall not be entitled to compensation under the. act unless certain conditions are fulfilled. I should like the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) to assure me that that is a reasonable provision. Is it customary, and will it be sufficient to satisfy every legitimate claim? I know nothing about this particular bill, but I think that in every bill we should at least try to protect the interests of people who may be entitled to compensation.
– I wish to raise a question that is concerned with the definition of “ owner “. I am prompted to do so by a statement made by Senator Dittmer in the course of his speech earlier to-night. The committee will observe that the bill defines “ owner “ as a person who, or partnership which, had an interest in the animal at the time of its destruction or death, but does not include the holder of a mortgage, lien or charge over the animal who was not in possession at that time.
I ask first: What is the policy that dictates the exclusion, as a beneficiary of such compensation, of a person who has a mortgage, interest or charge over the animal? One of the great features of Australian agriculture and the pastoral industry is the difficulty of getting credit. Anything that makes precarious the credit-worthiness of pastoralists damages their well-being. Why, then, if compensation is payable because of the destruction of an animal which is diseased, should the compensation not be payable to a person who has advanced money on the security of the animal, such as under a bill of sale or a stock mortgage?
The second matter I wish to raise concerns the possible confusion that may occur in the application of the legislation. With great respect, it indicates to me that insufficient consideration has been given to this definition. The ordinary method of taking security over animals of this kind is by means of a bill of sale; that is, a mortgage over stock. Due to the peculiar conditions in Australia, and to facilitate credit being given when animals are sold, stock mortgages have been provided for in most of the relevant State legislation. I think that the Tasmanian legislation is typical of all the rest. It specifically provides for stock mortgages.
One of the provisions of the Tasmanian act, in referring to stock mortgages, states that every such mortgage duly made and registered shall entitle the mortgagee to all property in the goods - that is, the animals - and that during the continuance of such mortgage the possession of the subjectmatter by the mortgagor shall be deemed to be possession by the mortgagee. That is typical of the State legislation on the subject. In this Commonwealth legislation that we are discussing, it is provided that “ owner “ shall include every owner or partnership with an interest in the property but shall not include the holder of a mortgage over the animal who was not in possession at the time. That seems to me to be leading to unnecessary confusion. As at present advised, I should think a toss of the coin could decide the real application of the definition to which I am addressing my attention.
I do not know whether the Minister has had an opportunity to consider the matter. I speak only in the hope that he may consider it with a view to removing ambiguities, such as that to which I have referred, if he is advised that ambiguity in fact exists, before the legislation is implemented.
– I can give Senator McCallum the assurance which he seeks. Adequate protection is afforded to the loser of the stock under clause 9. It will be necessary for an application for compensation to be made within two months. Indeed, if the period ran beyond that time it would be impossible to verify all the facts in connexion with the claim. For that reason, a period of two months is considered to be both adequate and reasonable and, at the same time, to provide sufficient protection for the person suffering the loss.
In regard to Senator Wright’s question about the definition of “ owner “ and the exclusion of a mortgagee or the holder of a lien over stock, I am informed that it is not intended that the holder of such a lien should be excluded from recovery in the case of loss of stock. The bill is designed to provide for the payment of compensation to the actual owner of the stock; to the man who would suffer, in most cases, the major loss. A person who held a lien, a mortgage or some other charge over the stock, would have his rights against the owner in the terms of the particular instrument- which was used for the making of a loan to the owner of the stock by the lender.
I am further informed that where State legislation exists in respect of foot and mouth disease, such State legislation is drawn in terms similar to those of the bill before us. I appreciate the point, made by Senator Wright, that the stock acts of the various States may not be drawn in these terms and do in fact provide, as he pointed out, for the mortgagee to have a prior claim, or at any rate, a claim, but I suggest that the proposed measure does not in any way inhibit the holder of a mortgage or a lien from taking action to recover under that mortgage or lien.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I rise to discuss a matter on the motion for the adjournment because I do not want to wait until I am afforded an opportunity to do so during the Budget debate, since it is an urgent one. I think that honorable senators from all States are aware of the bodgie or hooligan element in our society. So far as I know, none of the States has escaped it. We in Queensland, and particularly in Brisbane, are cursed with two or three gangs somewhat after the style of the Chicago gangs of other days.
I was amazed and shocked, therefore, to see on page 37 of the “ Australian Post “ of 17th August last, the following advertisement, which was accompanied by a photograph of a small revolver: -
This Pistol Looks and Acts Like the Real Thing From one of Germany’s finest factories comes this authentic starting pistol. A neat and compact firearm’ for firing .22 short blank cartridges, is a MUST for anyone seeking a pistol for protection. Magazine capacity 6 shots automatic. Price £3/8/9. Blanks 13/6 per 100. POST FREE.
Not for sale to minors under 16.
I bring this matter forward in the hope that the Government and particularly the Department of Customs and Excise will examine it with a view to ascertaining whether such articles are coming into the country unbeknown to our customs officials. I very much doubt whether they could come in without their knowledge.
I bring the matter to the notice of the Government in all seriousness in the hope that it will stop the importation of such weapons because, as far as I can see, a pistol that could fire .22 blank cartridges could quite easily be altered to fire .22 cartridges containing shot and be used by hooligans. I note, Mr. President, that the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) is not in the chamber at the moment, so I leave it to one of the Ministers who are present to refer the matter to the appropriate quarter.
– In the unavoidable absence of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) I desire to make the following statement on his behalf: -
I am not aware of the particular advertisement to which the honorable senator refers. However, customs legislation prohibits the importation of pistols as such and also goods which are of a dangerous character and are a menace to the community.
I can assure the honorable senator that any so-called starting pistols are subjected to close scrutiny by customs officers on importation to ensure that they are not in fact pistols or goods which are inherently of a dangerous character. I should mention that in administering the prohibition in respect of pistols the term “ pistol “ is interpreted to include any lethal weapon which is capable of being concealed on the person and from which any shot, bullet or missile can be discharged. The police authorities are invariably consulted where the importation of pistols is concerned.
As regards starting pistols, I understand that State legislation does not impose any embargo on the use of these goods for legitimate purposes. Should State governments prohibit absolutely the use of all types of starting pistols, the Commonwealth could no doubt consider imposing an embargo on their importation. In the absence of State legislation an embargo on importation would achieve little as Australian-produced goods could come into use.
The position then is that my department, acting in co-operation with the police authorities in all States, controls the importation of pistols and also any weapon capable of being used as a pistol. The only starting type pistols which have been allowed importation into Australia are those which cannot discharge any shot, bullet or missile and the use of which is not prohibited by State legislation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.34 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 August 1961, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1961/19610822_senate_23_s20/>.