23rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has he heard of the impending closure of Associated Leather Tanneries at Beechworth, Victoria? Does he realize that with the closing of this tannery almost 100 persons will lose their employment and thus add to the huge total of unemployment in Australia to-day? Will he give some consideration to making inquiries about this impending closure to see whether something can be done to save that industry for Beechworth? Does the Minister view with seriousness this state of affairs, or would he prefer to believe as true what Digby Wolfe said on “ Revue 61 “, that “ there is nothing at all in this talk of unemployment; it is only a malicious rumour put out by 113,000 people who cannot find work”?
– I have heard nothing about this matter. If the honorable senator puts his question on the noticepaper I shall see what information I can obtain for him. I sympathize with him in his endeavour to try to make a political issue out of this matter. He is finding it very difficult to do so.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Has he noted a statement by Mr. John Pullar the technical director of the paper processing firm of Sutherland International Limited, in which Mr. Pullar said that there was a real danger of world markets being flooded with low-priced paper from iron curtain countries, and that this could have serious consequences for Australian paper makers? If this importation eventuates will the existing tariff be sufficient to safeguard the Australian manufacturers, and what action can the Government take to safeguard the Australian market before any serious damage is done?
– Naturally, I have read the statement that appeared in the press yesterday. As Senator Lillico knows, in our neck of the woods in Tasmania, paper is a very important industry, and anything dealing with it we read with great avidity. I am not able to answer the question whether the present tariff is sufficient because we have no prices to compare at the present time with prices that will be charged in two or three years’ time, if the eventuality that Mr. Pullar mentions comes to pass. We can judge only on the prices available to us.
If a flood of imports occurs, as suggested, there are two major steps which the industry can take in Australia. First, it can immediately make application under the emergency tariff legislation which was passed by this Parliament a few months ago. It can appeal to a deputy chairman of the Tariff Board and he must make a decision within four weeks. That system is designed to deal with an emergency that arises because a flood of imports is damaging a particular industry. Then, of course, an appeal may be made to the Tariff Board, which takes a little longer. The Tariff Board has been conducting public hearings related to the paper industry as a whole. Those hearings have now been concluded. An emergency decision having been made, the paper industry as a whole has been under discussion. I want to make it clear that because goods are sold cheaply in Australia it does not necessarily mean that they have been dumped. If their normal value in the country concerned is the price at which they are being sold in Australia, then it cannot be said that the goods have been dumped. If they are sold here at a price below the normal price in the country of origin, the anti-dumping legislation administered by the Department of Customs and Excise comes into force. We are able to deal with such a matter by immediately examining the position, and if warranted taking cash securities and referring the matter to the Tariff Board.
– Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate consult the officer responsible for the production of the daily copy of “ Hansard “ of Tuesday, 10th instant, to see whether the debate which occurred in another place on that day has been correctly reported? Is the
Minister aware that at page 1877 of “ Hansard “ for that day it is shown that the honorable member for Darling Downs was effectively gagged, on a motion proposed by the Minister for Primary Industry, when he rose to speak at 11.4 p.m.? Is the Minister also aware that at page 12 of the Brisbane “ Courier-Mail “ of Wednesday, 11th October, there appears a report in column 8 of a speech about priorities on farms prepared by an officer of the Department of Trade and allegedly made by the honorable member for Darling Downs. Will the Minister check the report which appears in the Brisbane “ CourierMail “ with “ Hansard “ to see which is correct?
– I doubt the propriety of an honorable senator addressing to a Minister in the Senate a question about the proceedings of another place. I do not think it is competent for us to discuss such proceedings. If the honorable senator has a point of criticism he should make it publicly in the newspapers instead of very improperly, and knowing that he should not do so, attempting to obtain publicity, while the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast, by expressing an opinion about the proceedings of another place.
– I also address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the constitutional right of each House of the Parliament to conduct its business without opposition from or criticism by the other place, I ask the Minister to inform the Senate whether the House of Representatives has a Standing Order No. 72 which provides that -
No Member shall allude to any debate or proceedings of the current Session in the Senate, or to any measure pending therein.
Secondly, will the Minister state whether the Leader of the Opposition in another place has made statements there which not only alluded to proceedings in the Senate but also challenged our right to conduct our business in our own way? Thirdly, will the Minister make a statement concerning the action of the Leader of the Opposition in another place, if it occurred?
– As honorable senators apparently remember, a similar question was recently addressed to me by Senator McManus. I can only give to Senator McCallum the same kind of answer as that which I gave to Senator McManus. I read the report of proceedings in another place and I very strongly dissented from the views that were expressed by Mr. Calwell. I think that what we are doing in the Senate is well within our own constitutional rights and our rights under our own Standing Orders. My approach was that this was one of the occasions on which, in the interests of the Senate as a whole, it was better not to get into a disputation or argument with the Leader of the Opposition in another place, or an argument as between the two Houses of the Parliament. I think that the change has been proved in the last few days to be a good change. I believe that it has improved Senate proceedings and I hope that it becomes acceptable. There is a better chance of its becoming acceptable if one turns the other cheek instead of entering upon an argument - which, I confess, I would like to do - and if we keep the even tenor of our own ways.
– By way of preface to a question which I direct to the Minister for Civil Aviation, I refer to the recent report of the Department of Civil Aviation, which mentions a fear that there will be a shortage of pilots over the next four or five years. It is now sixteen years since the end of World War II., after which many pilots trained under the Empire Air Training Scheme became available to civil aviation, and these pilots now have reached a minimum age of from 35 years to 40 years. I ask the Minister: What plan has the Government under way for assuring a continuing supply of pilots to both the Department of Civil Aviation and the commercial airlines? Is any provision being made under airlines agreements for scholarships to be made available to cover a course in flying? Will any provision be made to prevent civil airlines from putting pressure on graduates of the Royal Australian Air Force by offering higher salaries to induce them to leave the Air Force and enter civil aviation?
– The question was recently considered by the Government in relation to ‘its scheme for subsidizing aero clubs. A large part of the pattern of assistance which will be extended to aero clubs as from the commencement of next year relates to the establishment of a Commonwealth scholarship scheme, for the training of air pilots. It is expected that as a result the flow of commercial pilots will be increased and there will be a greater availability of pilots for commercial airlines in the near future. Airline operators themselves have in the past supported the activities of aero clubs to varying extents, and the Commonwealth scholarship scheme, details of which have not yet been completed, envisages the participation of airlines in further financial assistance. Details of the arrangements are now being discussed with the aero clubs and all other interested parties. I hope that in the near future these discussions will be completed and I shall be able to make a full statement giving further details as to the plan.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade whether or not British Ministers have yet met in conference with representatives of the European Economic Community to open negotiations on the terms of Great Britain’s entry into the Community. I also ask the Minister whether or not any consultations have been had by Australian representatives with the British Cabinet on the terms that are to be proposed by Great Britain for its entry.
– The opening conference on this matter was held yesterday or is being held to-day. I am not sure which is right. I see so many cables that I get the cables mixed up with the newspaper reports on this matter. We have, of course, been in close consultation with the United Kingdom Government both on the departmental level and on the ministerial level. A strong delegation of Australian officials has been in London conducting extensive discussions with United Kingdom officials. We have had a number of consultations with representatives of Australian industries affected. Not only the Minister for Trade, who is primarily concerned with these negotiations, but also most of the Ministers who are members of the Cabinet committee on this matter are receiving daily cabled reports about the progress of the discussions that are occurring. I do not think it would be advisable to attempt to give any indication of the trend of the negotiations because at this stage this subject is very much in a state of flux, with views being exchanged and discussed.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health four questions. Did the Minister notice some time ago a press statement that the consumers’ council sponsored by the New Zealand Government had caused five topselling brands of aspirin to be analysed and that the five tablets were exactly the same in composition and weight, but the prices varied by more than 300 per cent.? Incidentally, the people were advised to buy the cheapest brand. I ask the Minister whether he read the following paragraph in the interim report of the DirectorGeneral of Health: -
An investigation of the high failure rate oi aspirin tablets because of excess of free salicylic acid resulted in a collaborative study in the industry.
Will the Minister inquire into and report on whether the same chicanery is practised in Australia as is practised in New Zealand? Will the Minister procure a full explanation of the paragraph dealing with the high failure rate of aspirin tablets, as reported by the Director-General of Health, because a false construction and relationship could easily be placed on the two items by the public?
– I read the report of the Director-General of Health, to which the honorable senator has referred. I did not see the newspaper report on the New Zealand investigations. As the matter raised by the honorable senator is of a technical nature, I should like the Minister for Health himself to reply to the questions, because in this field he is a much better technician than I am. I will obtain a reply for the honorable senator.
– In view of the honorable senator’s interest in this matter, as indicated last night during the debate on the Estimates, I expected this query. The Department of the Treasury has not yet been able to give me the particulars, but it is getting them together I shall let the honorable senator have them as soon as they come to hand.
– I address the following questions to the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Has he seen the article by the finance editor in this morning’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ castigating a true-blue Liberal Minister in the Senate for his mishandling of a reply to a question on unemployment? Is the Minister aware that the Liberal junta in his State has refused endorsement to a number of hard-working Liberal members of Parliament for apparently no reason at all? Because of these happenings in the middle of the Government’s economic squeeze, would it be correct to say that the state of thinking among those closely responsible for this Government-made depression is at least very disturbing, because it appears to be a form of self-consolation?
– Mr. President, the question refers to me; consequently I should like to answer it. Oddly enough, the article to which Senator O’Flaherty refers has been brought to my attention. I find it to be a little surprising, because the facts of the matter are that Senator Hendrickson asked me a question on this subject and the “ Hansard “ report shows that when replying I said I had the feeling that the question may have been motivated by the belief that next month the unemployment figures will be better than they were last month. The finance editor of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ seems to have taken this questioning of Senator Hendrickson’s motives as being a questioning of his. All I can say, Sir, is that, when the “ Hansard “ report clearly states what I said, an inaccuracy of this kind strengthens my belief that a similar inaccuracy occurs in the finance editor’s own efforts to propound his own figures on unemployment as opposed to the official ones.
As to the other parts of the question, 1 point out that, though a number of hardworking Liberal members in New South Wales did not receive endorsement for some reason unknown to Senator O’Flaherty. at least a large number of members of the Australian Labour Party in that State did not receive endorsement for reasons apparent to everybody.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General inform me of the circumstances which, according to a letter allegedly read at a meeting of the Numurkah Shire Council and following the reading of which the council censured the Postmaster-General, will involve restrictions of the reception of metropolitan telecasts in certain areas of Victoria as soon as country television services commence? Are these circumstances unavoidable?
– The PostmasterGeneral has made a statement on this matter. I undertake to supply Senator McManus with a copy of that statement, from which he will learn the final decision of the Postmaster-General in the matter. It would be quite outside my province to attempt to give an explanation of a technical problem of this kind.
– I address a question to the Minister for National Development. Has the attention of the Minister been directed to reports in to-day’s newspapers of a statement made by the New South Wales Minister for Conservation about the building of the proposed Chowilla dam, in which he is alleged to have said that the Commonwealth Government had agreed to pay 25 per cent, of the cost of that dam but had refused to assist the New South Wales Government in the building of the Blowering dam? Will the Minister say whether those remarks were correct? Will he tell me the considerations that would influence the Commonwealth Government to assist in the building of the Chowilla dam and to refuse to assist in the building of the Blowering dam?
– I read the statement attributed to Mr. Enticknap and reported in the newspapers this morning. Indeed, I brought a copy of the report into this chamber in the hope that I would be asked a question about it. I hold the view that that statement does no credit to either Mr. Enticknap or the government of which he is a member. The circumstances of the financing of the Chowilla dam and the circumstances of the financing of the Blowering dam are not comparable. The Chowilla dam will be a part of the largest water storage scheme in Australia. It will be situated on the river Murray. The pattern of works on the river Murray is that each of the governments which are parties to the River Murray Waters Agreement pays one-quarter of the cost. Recognizing the importance of the Chowilla dam and the benefits that will be derived from it, the Commonwealth said that it would do in that case what it had done in the case of other works on the river Murray. New South Wales will get great benefits from the Chowilla dam and from the action of the Commonwealth in paying one-quarter of the cost of the dam. The circumstances relating to the Blowering dam are entirely different. The Blowering dam comes under the Snowy Mountains agreement. Under that agreement each of the three governments assumed obligations and each obtained benefits. New South Wales obtained a share of the water and power and was relieved of the responsibility of spending tremendous sums of money on power-house construction in the State. New South Wales also received great benefits from the water. Victoria obtained similar benefits. The bargain was that the water and power would be distributed, that the Commonwealth would finance the scheme, and that New South Wales would build the Blowering dam.
It is a heartache to those associated with the Snowy scheme to find that New South Wales has defaulted on that obligation. Yet in those circumstances a State Minister says that the Commonwealth is showing favoritism to South Australia, or doing something on a political basis to help that State. My policy has been to push on with the Snowy Mountains scheme and to get it carried through to completion economically as quickly as possible so that we can obtain the benefits. It is a great disadvantage to the scheme that New South Wales has not built the Blowering dam, and it is a despicable thing for a New South Wales Minister, instead of admitting that the State has not fulfilled its obligation, to accuse the Commonwealth of acting in some way that is not right.
– I desire to ask the Minister for the Navy a question. In view of the answer he gave me last week that the construction of a naval base on the Western Australian coast would cost some millions of pounds, is the Minister aware that more than £2,400,000,000 has been voted for defence in the last twelve years? Can he inform the Senate what major construction works have been carried out under this defence programme in the States, particularly in Western Australia? In view of the wide concern of all responsible persons and organizations in Western Australia for adequate defence facilities, particularly with the object of keeping the Indian Ocean traffic moving, will the Minister once again give serious consideration to this matter?
– There are two major parts to this question. The first part is a request for a report on the major construction works which have been carried out by the defence departments in the various States. The amount of money expended over the last ten years on defence has been spent for the most part on maintenance, pay and new equipment for the defence forces themselves, and it should not be imagined that the sum mentioned was made available for works alone.
I cannot give a detailed reply about the number of works that have been carried out. I do know that a considerable sum of money, amounting to some millions of pounds - I speak subject to the concurrence of my colleague the Minister for Air - has been spent at Darwin. I know that “ Leeuwin “ in Western Australia has been re-activated at some considerable expense. A great deal of construction work has been carried out for the Navy at Garden Island in New South Wales and is still going on. Also, a considerable amount of re-housing has gone on. By re-housing I mean the building of accommodation in various naval and other stations. I mention “Cerberus” in Victoria as one example. I am sure that if I were to supply a list to the honorable senator she would see that a considerable amount of money has been spent on works during the period.
I am conscious - indeed the Western Australian senators from both sides of this chamber keep me conscious - of the desire of Western Australia for a naval base. As I said before, this desire has to be balanced against the defence vote. A naval base in Western Australia would cost quite a few million pounds to build, if it is to be at all effective, and at least £2,000,000 a year to run, if it is to be at all effective. That expenditure must be balanced against the defence needs of the whole of Australia.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. I ask him whether there has been more regular employment, and a sensational reduction of losses in working time in the Waterside Workers Federation, since the introduction recently of the Government’s legislation granting long service leave. Visavis Senator O’Flaherty’s question in regard to Liberal juntas, I ask the Minister, with reference to the pending election in the Waterside Workers Federation of a general secretary, whether it is a fact that the Australian Labour Party’s junta, following the line of appeasement, has allowed two of its members to nominate without comment in order to split the vote, and ensure the election of the Communist, Nelson? Is it a fact that many members of the Australian Labour Party in this Parliament have declined to contribute to the campaigns of either of the A.L.P. candidates? Will it be necessary for the Deputy Leader of the Australian Labour Party in the Senate, Senator Kennelly, to repeat his famous rallying call of last May when the late James Healy was in danger of defeat, namely, “ If I were a waterside worker I would vote for the Communist, Healy “, in order to ensure the success in the present election of the Communist, Nelson?.
– This is a very interesting question. The answer to the first part was given by me yesterday when I showed, by quoting figures, how great an improvement there has been on the waterfront since the introduction of this Government’s long-service leave legislation. In regard to the other parts of the question, I do not know that the Australian Labour
Party has allowed, or indeed is in a position to allow or disallow, members to nominate for this position, but it would be true to say that it has refused to endorse a candidate as an Australian Labour Party candidate, in other words, to designate a man for a position for which he is entitled to get the full support of the A.L.P.
The honorable senator asks me whether some members of the Australian Labour Party in this Parliament have refused to make contributions to anybody’s campaign. I would not have any knowledge of that matter, other than what appeared in the newspapers of the secret meetings in caucus. All one can say is that, in the past, reports of secret meetings in caucus appeared to have been well documented. In reply to the question of what Senator Kennelly will do in this case, I can say only that time will tell what part he will play in this election.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
– Pursuant to section 14 of the Commonwealth Grants Commission Act, I lay on the table the following paper: -
Twenty-eighth report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, 1961.
The recommendations contained in the report will be adopted by the Government and the necessary enabling legislation will be introduced shortly.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -
That Government business take precedence of general business after 8 p.m. this sitting.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Mr. President, the bill now before honorable senators proposes amendments of the schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1961. In the main, the tariff changes are based on recommendations arising out of some 33 Tariff Board reports which have already been tabled in this chamber. A comprehensive list of the changes involved is now being circulated to honorable senators. The bill comprises fourteen schedules, each schedule having a different date of commencement. Of these, the first and seventh schedules implement normal full scale Tariff Board reports, the eleventh and thirteenth schedules relate to both temporary and normal Tariff Board reports, while the remaining schedules are confined to the imposition of temporary duties.
As honorable senators will recall, the legislation under which temporary duties are imposed requires that the needs of the industries making such goods be referred to the Tariff Board for full inquiry and report. This has been done and the temporary duties will remain in force only until the Government has taken action on the final reports of the board but, in any case, not longer than three months after the receipt of the reports. The first and seventh schedules provide for alterations in the import duties on -
Canvas and duck,
Animal and vegetable fats and oils,
Hoop and strip of iron and steel,
Cycle parts and accessories,
Lawnmowers and air-cooled internal combustion engines,
Tetrasodium pyrophosphate and sodium tripolyphosphate, and
Tailors’ and dressmakers’ dummies.
On cotton sheeting and canvas and duck, protective rates of duty are in the main reduced, but the scope of the protected area is increased. The report of the Tariff Board on animal and vegetable fats and oils covers a wide range of oil seeds and nuts, oils and meals produced therefrom, and fatty acids. Broadly speaking, the board recommended -
On umbrellas tariff protection is increased on cheaper goods when of types carried on the person. Turning next to hand tools, the existing levels of tariff protection are largely unchanged but a considerable area of hand tools used in agriculture and forestry such as scythes, matchets, shears and secateurs are guaranteed free admission under the British Preferential Tariff.
The rates on barytes or barium sulphate remain unchanged. On the other hand protection is increased on certain xanthates produced in Australia when imported from most-favoured-nation countries. The duties on bulk importations of orange, lemon and grapefruit juices have been increased but the protective duty on lime juice is removed. Higher protective duties are imposed on some narrow fabrics. The change will mainly affect utility tapes, webbings and ribbons.
Iron and steel hoop and strip will now not be charged protective duties. The board has recommended this be done by by-law admission pending its having an opportunity to review the protective needs of the rest of the steel industry. Most of the parts and accessories for pedal cycles are now removed from the protected list and become free under the British Preferential Tariff. Increased tariffs are proposed for lawnmowers powered by small aircooled engines and for air-cooled engines not exceeding 10 brake horse-power.
Increased tariffs will apply on imports of tetrasodium pyrophosphate and sodium tripolyphosphate. The manufacture of these products is a relatively new development by the Australian chemical industry and tariffs have been non-protective. The board recommended duties in line with those on other products of the phosphate industry.
Protective duties on tailors’ and dressmakers’ dummies are being removed. The board has found that the protection required by the industry to enable it to compete with imported goods is too high to be warranted.
The eleventh and thirteenth schedules of the bill provide for alterations in duty on -
Refined petroleum products,
Vinyl and vinylidene products,
Styli of the type used with sound reproducers,
Man-made fibre furnishing fabrics,
Non-folding knives made from strip steel, and
Various writing and typewriting papers.
The protection against imports accorded to locally-refined petroleum products, other than lubricating oils, is being removed. Previously there has been a margin of1d. a gallon between the duties on Australian and imported gasoline and other similar petroleum spirit. The Government has chosen to remove this margin by reducing the import duty by id. a gallon and by increasing excise by id. a gallon. This will involve little variation in the revenue derived from the goods. There is also a margin of lid. a gallon between the duties on local and imported kerosene and this is being removed by reducing import duties by lid. a gallon. In addition, on most of the other petroleum products, the British preferential tariff duties are being removed and the most-favoured-nation rates are being reduced to the lowest level consistent with Australia’s international commitments.
The Government has adopted the Tariff Board’s recommendations on vinyl and vinylidene products. Increased duties are proposed for vinyl acetate monomer, moulding compounds for gramophone records and polyvinyl flexible film and sheet. An alternative fixed rate duty is introduced for polyvinyl chloride resin and the existing protective duties on polyvinylidene film and unsupported sheeting are being removed.
Protection is being removed from liquid meat extracts but duties on other types of meat products remain unchanged. Protective duties on gramophone needles are removed and rates proposed are free under the British preferential tariff and71/2 per cent. most favoured nation. Temporary amendments are proposed for man-made fibre furnishing fabrics, knives and writing and typewriting papers following inquiries and reports by deputy chairmen of the Tariff Board.
Further temporary duties are provided for in the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth, tenth and fourteenth schedules. These concern -
Woollen textile fabrics weighing over 41/2oz. a square yard,
Certain papers and paper boards,
Polyethylene resins and moulding compounds,
Electric clocks and movements,
Copper and brass sheet and strip of less than1/8-inch in thickness,
Ball point pens and pencils, and
Paper cones, of the types used in the spinning and weaving industries.
I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Ormonde) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henry) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The provisions in this bill are complementary to those in the Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1961 in relation to -
Parts for motorized cycles,
Brake and transmission linings,
Certain paper and paper boards, and Seat covers for vehicles.
I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Ormonde) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henry) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The provisions of this bill are complementary to those in the Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1961. This bill provides for several drafting changes in the schedule to the Customs Tariff (Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland Preference) 1960 following amendments of their counterparts in the customs tariff.
I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Ormonde) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The amendments proposed by this bill provide a variation in the rates of duty on woollen piece goods and liquid meat extracts of New Zealand origin. This action is complementary to that being taken in Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1961.
I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Ormonde) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
Senator HENTY(Tasmania - Minister
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill now before honorable senators provides for an increase of id. per gallon in the excise duty on gasoline and similar spirit. This action is complementary to the changes proposed in the Customs Tariff Bill (No 2) 1961 and provides for excise duty of113/4d. per gallon being payable on such goods. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Ormonde) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to insert in the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) 1933-1961 a new provision indicating the time at which a duty expressed to be a temporary duty will cease to operate. The time, as honorable senators will see, is three months after the date on which my colleague, the Minister for Trade, receives the final report of the Tariff Board on the goods. This action is necessary in view of the amendment proposed by the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Bill (No. 2) 1961 which provides for temporary duties on woollen piece-goods. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Ormonde) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henry) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Under the Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Act 1956-1961, bounty has been paid at the rate of lOd. per lb. on cellulose acetate flake produced in Australia and then sold for the manufacture in Australia of cellulose acetate rayon yarn. Bounty payments have been limited by the act to £142,000 in any one year. Imported cellulose acetate flake is dutiable at 7b per cent, under the British preferential tariff and 12i per cent, under the most-favoured-nation tariff.
The purpose of this bill is to amend the Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Act so as to extend the period for which bounty may be paid to cover sales of flake to 30th June, 1964. The bill also provides for a reduction in the rate of bounty and in the annual limitation of amount of bounty payable.
The original act authorizing payments of bounty on sales of flake expired on 30th June, 1961. In May, 1961, the act was amended to permit of the extension of the bounty by proclamation to a date not later than 31st December, 1961, and to allow the bounty to be ended before that date, should this be desired.
In a report on the industry, tabled earlier in this session, the Tariff Board has recommended that assistance to the industry by way of bounty should continue until 30th June, 1964, and the rate of bounty payable should be 7d. per lb. The Tariff Board has also recommended that the annual limitation of total bounty payable should be reduced from £142,000 to £90,000. The Government has decided to accept these recommendations. The Tariff Board’s report was not received in time to implement its recommendation that the reduced rate of bounty should apply as from 1st July, 1961.
C.S.R. Chemicals Proprietary Limited is the only applicant for bounty. This company produces flake at Rhodes in New South Wales. The flake is sold to Courtaulds (Australia) Limited for manufacture into rayon yarn at Tomago in New South Wales.
Bounty payments have been made to C.S.R. Chemicals Proprietary Limited in respect of flake sold during the year ended 30th June, 1956, of £99,489, 1957 of £113,258, 1958 of £100,981, 1959 of £124,286, 1960 of £120,033, and 1961 of £113,396.
The bounty will operate on sales of flake to 30th June, 1964. The Government accepts the Tariff Board’s recommendation that the industry be reviewed by the board prior to the expiration of the bounty period. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Ormonde) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 11th October (vide page 1054).
Department of Customs and Excise
Proposed expenditure, £5,227,000.
.- I direct the attention of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) to Division No. 281, sub-division 2, item 07 - Payment to Postmaster-General’s Department for services rendered; namely, the collection of duty on goods imported through the parcels post. I notice that the appropriation and expenditure last year and the appropriation this year are all £112,000. We know the cost of collecting the duty on goods imported through the parcels post, but I would be interested to know the revenue that is received.
I also refer to the reduction of about £743,000 in the appropriation under subdivision 3, item 01 - Duty - Remission under special circumstances. In looking through the Estimates I notice that this year his department has reduced its total expenditure by more than £500,000. I believe it is very refreshing to find such a reduction and I congratulate the Minister upon it.
– I will accept temporarily Senator Branson’s statement that the Minister for Customs and Excise has reduced the expenditure of his department by about £500,000. That being so, will the Minister kindly explain to me how he has effected that saving? Will he outline to me what the real savings were?
– I note that last year the appropriation for item 01, Duty - Remission under special circumstances, was £781,048 but that for this year it is proposed to appropriate only £38,000. I ask the Minister why there has been a substantial reduction.
– 1 address my comments to Division No. 281 - Administrative. 1 should like to bring two matters to the notice of the Minister. First, does he think it would
De possible to amend the customs regulations in respect of the kind of goods I am about to mention? I have in mind the case of a New Zealand young man who was staying in Australia and who received a watch from his mother, who was in New Zealand. It was only a relatively small article, but I understand that more than £2 duty was payable. But if the mother had brought the watch with her from New Zealand and had given it to the son, it would not have attracted duty. I am wondering whether it is possible for regulations to be framed to permit such a transaction to take place without the payment of duty. It seems to me that such small and relatively trivial transactions could be allowed to take place without the payment of revenue to the Commonwealth.
Secondly, can the Minister explain to the committee very briefly the procedure followed in the by-law admission of goods? I have in mind the position of a constituent who seeks to have an item of machinery or something of that kind for use in Australia admitted without duty being levied. It would be valuable for honorable senators to know the procedure that is followed by the Department of Customs and Excise in these cases, because there are occasions when members of the Parliament are called upon to advise constituents about the possibility of the by-law admission of certain goods. Let me say in passing that in regard to all cases that I have taken up with him, or of which I have some knowledge, the Minister himself has been very courteous. I have been wondering whether a procedure is laid down and whether certain forms are available for people to fill in. If that were so, the presentation of cases to the Minister would be regularized and possibly the whole procedure could be made more expeditious.
– I should like to reply first to the matters raised by
Senator Laught. There seems to be quite a deal of misunderstanding on the part of the community at large. It is believed that if a parcel sent from anywhere in the world to Australia has the words “ unsolicited gift “ marked on the outside, it becomes duty free. There is no provision in the legislation to that effect. If parcels so marked were admitted duty free, everybody would adopt that procedure.
The admission of gifts calls for the exercise of some judgment. The department deals with these cases as they arise. Sometimes there are cases of great hardship in which it would be impossible for the recipient of the gift to pay duty. As 1 remember the situation, this is the first occasion on which a matter of the nature mentioned by Senator Laught has been brought to my notice. The fact that the mother referred to by the honorable senator could have brought the watch in duty free doubtless arises because the regulations allow incoming passengers to bring with them gifts of a total value of £30. If the mother had more than £30 worth of goods, she would not be able to bring in the watch duty free.
The general position is that this is a protective duty. It is the same as that paid by traders in Australia when they import goods. The department has a duty to protect members of industry who have paid duty on imported goods. I repeat that we have the task of protecting importers; but, as I have said, a number of considerations arise in isolated cases, such as in cases of hardship.
Senator Laught referred also to the matter of the by-law admission of goods. Suitable forms are available on which application can be made. The forms prescribe that the application should be made to the department within one month of the order being placed. People often order goods, get them to Australia and then endeavour to obtain by-law admission. They use the very interesting argument that the goods are already in Australia, that an Australian manufacturer will not get the order in any case and therefore the payment of duty will not benefit that manufacturer or, alternatively, that the manufacturer will not suffer any detriment if the goods are admitted under the by-law provisions. In such cases the import of the goods is a fait accompli. Honorable senators will realize just how impossible it would be to deal with matters on that basis.
The act refers to suitable equivalent Australian goods being reasonably available. The judgment of the department is exercised on that basis. The department also has a responsibility to consult the British Board of Trade, because under our British preferential tariff the United Kingdom has a preference of 7± per cent. So we have to take two factors into consideration. First, we must decide whether suitable equivalent goods are reasonably available in Australia - that is, for the protection of the Australian manufacturer. If they are not, we must consult the British Board of Trade to see whether equivalent goods are reasonably available in the United Kingdom. The decks having been cleared in relation to these two matters, the application for the by-law admission of goods may be approved. I repeat that judgment must be exercised in these matters. In the final analysis, we must bear in mind that the tariff has been approved by the Parliament for the protection of Australian industry. If the benefit of the doubt has to be given to anybody, we should give it to the Australian manufacturer. In the same way, we give the benefit of the doubt to a United Kingdom manufacturer.
– Do you say that, under the by-law provisions, you have a discretion, in the circumstances that you have mentioned, to exempt from tariff duty any article that is covered by a tariff item?
– Let me make that clear. An exemption can be made only if suitably equivalent goods are not reasonably available in Australia. Before we would exempt goods from a country other than the United Kingdom, we would consult with the Board of Trade there. The question, as I understand it, is: If suitably equivalent goods are not reasonably available in Australia, is admission under by-law granted automatically?
– No. In your discretion or in your judgment, can you exempt from duty, in the two sets of circumstances that you have mentioned, any article that is covered by a tariff schedule?
– No. The goods must be for either manufacturing or essential purposes.
Senator O’FLAHERTY (South Australia; [12.21]. - The reply that the Minister has given prompts me to ask another question about the £30 worth of goods that a traveller returning to Australia from overseas is allowed to bring in without the payment of duty. If a traveller brought with him goods that were worth, say, £2 more than £30, would he have to pay duty on the extra £2 worth of goods or on the whole £32 worth? Then I should like to know whether the concession applies to each passenger. At one time there was a regulation to the effect that if a man and his wife occupied the same cabin on a ship they were allowed to bring in to Australia duty free only £25 worth of goods between them. The allowance at that time was only £25. Under the present system, is each passenger permitted to bring in, duty free, £30 worth of goods, or if the passenger and his wife occupy one cabin are they allowed to bring in only £30 worth of goods between them?
– The concession in respect of £30 worth of goods applies to each adult passenger. Under the act, an adult is a person over the age of eighteen years. If a passenger brought with him £32 worth of goods, he would have to pay duty only on the extra £2 worth, and the rate of duty would be only 25 per cent. The act provides that £30 worth of goods may be admitted duty free and that an additional £80 worth may be admitted on payment of 25 per cent. That applies to each adult passenger.
There are some questions that I did not deal with when I spoke previously. Senator Lillico referred to Division No. 281 - Other Services, item 01, Duty - Remission under special circumstances. He asked why the appropriation sought this year is so much lower than the expenditure last year. A new item, 370c, has been introduced into the tariff to provide for the free admission of goods owned by overseas governments when the goods are not for the purposes of trade. Previously the majority of such goods came in under this remission item. That is not so now, so there is a considerable reduction in the proposed vote for this item this year.
That has some bearing on a question asked by Senator Branson and also, I think, on a question asked by Senator Benn about the savings which have apparently permitted a reduction of departmental expenditure from £5,791,000 to £5,227,000. Other savings have been made in the department. Honorable senators will remember that members of the Opposition, particularly Senator Armstrong, asked a spate of questions about the re-organization of the petroleum section of the department. In that section alone we were able to make a saving of about £84,000 a year, abolishing 63 positions. If Senator Benn will look at the list that has been provided, he will see where other savings have been made.
– The savings are not of the order indicated by Senator Branson’s question, are they?
– Senator Branson looked at the expenditure for 1960-61, which was’ £5,791,919, and at the proposed appropriation for 1961-62, which is £5,227,000, and subtracted one sum from the other. There is a difference of about £500,000 between them. A large part of that reduction arises from the change of the procedure relating to the remission of duty under special circumstances.
– It is indicated by that item, is it not, that the saving there is about £750,000?
– I see the honorable senator’s point. Senator Branson, I think, asked also about postal revenue. I am sorry to say that I have not with me at the moment the figures showing the revenue from the parcels post. I shall obtain the information for the honorable senator and let him have it as soon as possible.
– Will the Minister be good enough to give me an explanation of Division No. 281 - Other Services, item 02, “Customs Co-operative Council - Contribution, £10,000”? The meaning of that item escapes me.
.- I am not wholly satisfied with the information that has been furnished by the Minister, but I know that he can satisfy me. I am looking at the section of Division No. 281 which relates to salaries and payments in the nature of salary. I see that the proposed appropriation in respect of salaries and allowances for this year is greater than that of last year. When I look at the item relating to temporary and casual employees, I see that the sum that it is proposed to appropriate this year is much the same as that which was appropriated last year, and I notice that last year the expenditure exceeded the appropriation.
Then 1 turn to item 03 of this section. It deals with extra duty pay, including payment for overtime. For this purpose, the Minister is asking for more money this year than was asked for last year. Taking the whole of that section together, I see that the proposed appropriation for this year is £4,530,100 and that last year the appropriation was £4,406,650. There will be an increase of expenditure under that section. Senator Branson talked about savings, but it seems that he was under a false impression. If I am wrong, the Minister will correct me later.
Now I turn to the section of Division No. 281 relating to administrative expenses. The appropriation in respect of travelling and subsistence payments for this year will be £192,400, compared with an expenditure last year of £190,703. The Minister is sailing pretty close to the wind there. The appropriation for this purpose last year was £186,400, or less than the actual expenditure. Item 02 of this section relates to office requisites and equipment, stationery and printing. The proposed appropriation this year is £96,000 and the appropriation last year was £86,000. Item 03 relates to postage, telegrams and telephone services. A sum of £103,700 is to be appropriated this year, but last year the department made do with less money - £103,400. I look next at item 04, dealing with office services, and I find that more money will be appropriated this year than was appropriated last year. For freight and cartage, including removal expenses, the amount sought for this year is £100 more than was appropriated last year. I come then to the item, “ Payment to Postmaster-General’s Department for services rendered (collection of duty on goods imported through the parcels post)”. The amount of £112,000 appropriated this year is the same as the amount appropriated last year and actually spent last year. The next item is “ Hire, maintenance and operation of launches and the supply of equipment”. This year £8,350 is to be appropriated whereas last year £9,400 was appropriated and £7,535 actually spent. The difference there would not be noticed by a man on a galloping horse. Another item is “ Laboratory apparatus and supplies “. This year the department is seeking more money. I do not want to labour the point. For the item “ Uniforms and protective clothing “, the amount to be appropriated is £14,200. Last year £13,000 was appropriated. The final item in this section is “ Incidental and other expenditure”. An amount of £31,350 is to be appropriated whereas last year £31,593 was spent.
Now let us compare the totals. The items to which I have just referred are administrative expenses which represent the cost of running the department. This year the department is seeking £648,900, whereas last year it sought £631,950 and spent £630,790. There is no saving at all. In fact, the department is asking for more money. i pass then to sub-division 3. dealing with “ Other Services “. Reference is made to duty. I take it that relates to customs duty that is paid. Item 01 is Duty - Remission under special circumstances. I am sure that even now not one honorable senator in this chamber understands what is meant by that. I know the Minister understands it because he lives with the chores of the Department of Customs and Excise throughout the year. I take it that the item refers to duty which has been collected and has to be refunded, but that may not be so. It may relate to some service rendered by the department for which the department has been able to effect a saving, but the matter is not clear to me. However, I am confident that the Minister will be able to give a satisfactory reply.
I wish to correct any wrong impression that Senator Branson may have that there has been great savings in the department. They are not reflected in the Estimates unless the Minister can release his magic in respect of item 01 in subdivision 3. - Duty - Remission under special circumstances. So far no explanation has been given about that item. Last year the department sought £781,048 and spent £780,977. It is clear to me that the departmental officers knew exactly what their costs would be last year, almost to the penny. This year, for some reason or other the duty remissions are to be much smaller. I ask the Minister why the remissions under special circumstances are estimated to be only £38,000 this year.
– It is a well-known fact that you can juggle figures to make them prove anything you want them to prove. If Senator Benn will look at the bottom line of page 53 of the Estimates he will see the item “Total Department of Customs and Excise “. The taxpayers of this country have in front of them what it cost to administer this department last year. The amount was £5,791,919.
– Does that not depend on whether or not the item “ Duty - Remission under special circumstances “ is properly considered as a cost?
– Yes, I grant that fact. But my point is that the cost of the department last year was £5,791,919 whereas this year the appropriation is £5,227,000. Surely by means of simple arithmetic it can be seen that this year the actual cost to the Government will be £500,000 less than last year.
– I should like to clear this matter up. The administrative expenses to which Senator Benn referred reflect the basic wage increase that was granted some time ago. Naturally, the department had to pay the increased basic wage. That was only right. However, the matter which Senator Benn has overlooked is that last year the revenue of the department was up by some millions of pounds. I pay a tribute to the department for handling that increased revenue. Not only did it handle that increased revenue but it dealt with the small part of import licensing that was left with seventeen fewer employees. It is not a bad performance by any business organization to handle such an amount of business with seventeen fewer staff. At the same time the administrative expenses increased by only the amount represented by a basic wage rise during the year.
I thought I made it quite clear what was meant by the remission of duty under special circumstances. Previously duty was charged to overseas governments on goods not used for trade. Now we have a special item in our tariff legislation under which these goods are admitted duty free. The large reduction is due entirely to that arrangement. The remission of duty this year is anticipated to be only £38,000. If we were operating under the old system whereby overseas governments would pay the duty on goods brought into the country and then have that duty remitted to them, the amount in this item would be just as large. As I have explained these goods are imported under a new system and this item covers purely administrative matters where special remissions are available under the normal operations of the tariff. Have I made myself clear?
.- I regret to intrude on the Minister’s time a little more, but I am not quite clear on this matter. When I interjected when Senator Branson was speaking, I understood the Minister to agree that the item - Duty - Remission under special circumstances, involving some £780,000, was not in reality a cost to the department, but was a refund of duty. The Minister has now 9aid that provision is being made by a different method. Would I be correct in understanding that it is not in any sense a true cost of the department? Notwithstanding that, I join in congratulating the department on the introduction over the last two or three years of measures designed to reduce in a proper way the administrative costs. The Minister referred to one of those measures to-day, namely, the system operating for the collection of customs, and I think excise, in relation to the oil industry.
I notice that the Auditor-General was very guarded in his reference to the acceptability of that system. Paragraph 70 of the Auditor-General’s report for 1960 reads -
As the new system has been in operation for only a few months an audit assessment of the efficacy of the new controls in the protection of the revenue is still in course.
I should like the Minister to state whether his experience confirms, or leaves any doubt about, the efficacy of the system that he presented to us when the bill was before the Parliament. I rose primarily to say that my question about the item relating to remission of duty under special circumstances detracts not a whit from the congratulations that are due because of the reduction that has been made in the administrative expenses of the department. Nevertheless, to suggest that the reduction is of the order of £500,000 gives a false impression. It is less than that. If the Minister will comment on the efficacy of the new system of oil tax collections I shall be obliged.
– I am of the opinion that the system of oil tax collections is just as efficacious as I thought it would be when I directed that it be instituted. The system was thoroughly examined over a long period before it was put into operation. I was convinced that it was sound and that it would stand any examination. I do not know to what the Auditor-General is referring. The only difficulty that has been experienced has been in connexion with the collection of diesel fuel tax. The system of issuing certificates to persons entitled to the remission of diesel fuel tax because they are not road users has caused some little difficulty in administration. That matter is being watched very closely and we are catching up with those - not a great many, but some - who have been using certificates to purchase diesel fuel for uses other than those for which the certificates were made available. That work takes time, particularly when there are not a great many inspectors on the staff. Nevertheless, the matter is being dealt with.
If that is what the Auditor-General had in mind, I can understand his reference. I still feel that the system generally is working very well and is far in advance, in affording protection to the revenue and in every other way, of the system that we had previously.
– I hope that the Minister has not forgotten my query about the Customs Co-operative Council.
– The Government recently decided to join that international body which was established in Brussels.
The amount to which the honorable senator has referred is the first expense in connexion with that decision. There was a conference a few months ago and one or two of our officers attended it. I think they went from London.
.- The Minister has been good enough to supply that information about the Customs Co-operative Council. Will he also say whether the body is a part of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade arrangements? How did it originate?
– I shall obtain the information for the honorable senator.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of Customs and Excise - Capital Works and Services
Proposed expenditure, £146,000.
Senator Sir WALTER COOPER (Queensland) [12.43].- I refer to Division No. 876, item 01 - Purchase of launches. Can the Minister say how many launches the proposed expenditure of £66,000 is designed to cover?
– There are two launches, one at Fremantle and one at Melbourne. The launch at Fremantle is larger than the normal type of launch, since it is required to go out into the Indian Ocean to intercept vessels, and so on.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
Proposed expenditure - Department of Customs and Excise - Bounties and Subsidies, £10,000- noted.
Department of Supply
Proposed expenditure, £21,519,000.
.- This department is true to its name. It gathers supplies at various times throughout the Commonwealth and from the rest of the world. It has contracts to let and most of its goods are obtained on contract.It is not left to the department to decide how those contracts shall be called or let, because Parliament decided years ago how contracts would be let. Standing here in the Senate, one would say that a department that has functioned for as many years as this department has functioned would not make an error in the year 1961 about the provisions that govern its operations. One would not think, either, that an experienced department would make an error of judgment in a matter of obtaining supplies for itself and the Defence Services. I propose to tell you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, how the Department of Supply is governed in the letting of contracts. Treasury Regulation No. 52 states - (1.) Subject to this regulation, tenders shall be publicly invited and contracts taken for all works, supplies and services which are to be executed, furnished or performed within the Commonwealth and the estimated cost of which exceeds two hundred pounds. (2.) The last preceding sub-regulation shall not apply in relation to works, supplies and services - the expenditure on which is authorized by the Governor-General - or in relation to any of the following works, supplies and services in respect of which the Secretary, Department of the Treasury, or an officer thereto authorized by him in writing, certifies that the inviting of tenders is impracticable or inexpedient . . .
The regulation then goes on to list exemptions. This is an old provision. As a matter of fact, it is a copy of what operated in the United Kingdom for a century or more, and it is well known.
Early in this financial year, the Department of Supply wanted drums for one of its customer departments. I can tell an interesting story about it. The department knew at that time that there was in Queensland a manufacturer of drums, because it had obtained supplies from that source previously. The department is required by regulation to advertise. It must invite tenders by advertising, and it did advertise. But where did it advertise? In the Melbourne press! Always, to the Department of Supply, Melbourne remains the Commonwealth. An undue preference is given to Melbourne manufacturers in obtaining all its supplies. If one ascertained the number of employees engaged in carrying out contracts for the Department of Supply throughout the Commonwealth, one would find a preponderance in Melbourne. The department advertised in the Melbourne press, knowing that there was a manufacturer of drums in Brisbane, because that manufacturer had supplied drums to the department previously. The department finished up by giving this order to an overseas manufacturer. To-day we are dealing with the proposed appropriation for this department. We should have here the secretary of the department to make a full explanation to the committee about this matter. It is more than an error of judgment; it is a neglect of duty. I do not know what explanation the Minister can make. The manufacturer has been fobbed off.
– What do you say is the neglect of duty?
– He should have advertised in a proper way.
– How much was involved?
– It did not run into thousands, but the honorable senator will understand that a manufacturer of drums seeks all the business that he can possibly get in order to keep going. I have a file relating to this matter, which I am quite prepared to lay on the table for any honorable senator to examine. The matter was raised first by the Chamber of Manufactures in Brisbane, because an injustice was done to this small company. It is too late now, of course, to do anything about it. I know that the Minister cannot give me an assurance that there will not be a similar occurrence in future. Here in Australia we are accustomed to seeing that people get a fair go in respect of everything. The words “ fair go “ are used throughout our lives, at school, on the playing fields, in business and in politics. We have a sense of fair play, a sense of justice, and we become incensed when we learn that somebody, whether in the manufacturing sphere or in commercial life, has not received a fair go. I have satisfied myself that this small company manufacturing drums in Brisbane has not received a fair go from the Department of Supply.
– I understand that the department now advertises the calling of tenders in the Commonwealth “ Gazette “ as well as in the press. Most business houses, of course, get the “ Gazette “ and it is available to factories throughout Australia.
– Was this contract advertised only in the Melbourne newspapers?
– I cannot get information on that matter. If Senator Benn says that it was, possibly it was. However, steps have been taken to see that all contracts are now advertised in the “ Gazette “. As the honorable senator said, the department has had a number of years’ experience in contracting and calling tenders. I have not, nor would I expect to have, the details of this one particular transaction. I think we should have a look at it. Bearing in mind the number of contracts which have been let by the department over the years, I am sure that there must have been some special circumstances in respect of this contract; but not having the details, I can go no further on the matter at the moment.
Senator Sir WALTER COOPER (Queensland) [2.26]. - Can the Minister give the committee any information about Division No. 566, sub-division 3 - “ Special Research Projects, £52,000 “, and Division No. 567 - Munitions factories working capital? The matters about which I wish to ask may not come under those divisions. Is the production of the FN rifle now completed? Have the services the number of rifles that they want? Are .303 rifles and .303 ammunition still being made?
– I refer to Division No. 562, item 02 - “ Maintenance of non-operating plant, £215,000”. Last year the expenditure under that item was £152,000, and the appropriation was £191,000. Can the Minister tell me what non-operating plants necessitate the expenditure of almost £250,000 in order to keep them in a nonoperating condition? I also refer to Division No. 567 - Munitions factories working capital. The appropriations under that division are for item 01, £30,000; item 02, £20,000; item 03, £30,000; and item 04, £40,000. In particular, I question item 02 - For payment to the credit of the Ordnance Factory, Bendigo, Trust Account. Last year the expenditure was £100,000. I understand that that filling factory was just about shut down and representations were made to try to keep it going. Can the Minister tell me why it is necessary to provide the amounts to which I have referred as working capital for the factories that are mentioned in those four items?
Senator Sir WALTER COOPER (Queensland) [2.29]. - I ask the Minister whether the general purpose machine gun M60 is being manufactured in Australia at the present time.
.- I refer to Division No. 563, sub-division 2. Last year there was an appropriation of £25,000 for what is described as “ Settlement of common law claims” and £20,148 was expended. No appropriation is made this year. Can the Minister give me an indication of the nature of those common law claims and tell me why no appropriation is made for this year? I assume that the proposed expenditure has been transferred to another division of the Estimates.
– Senator Sir Walter Cooper asked about the FN rifle. I am advised that the requirements of the Australian Military Forces have been met and that production to meet the requirements of the Citizen Military Forces is proceeding. The .303 rifle is not in production, but .303 ammunition is still required and is in production.
– How far short of the requirements of FN rifles are we?
– The department is up to the programmed schedule in supplying the requirements of the Citizen Military Forces. I have no details of the schedule.
asked questions about Division No. 567. Additions to the working capital of departmental munitions and aircraft factories are provided by appropriation to the relevant factory trust account. The working capital needs of each factory are assessed annually and action is taken as necessary to repay surplus funds to the Consolidated Revenue Fund or to seek parliamentary approval to increase working capital. I give the following comparison of this year’s estimate with last year’s vote and expenditure -
The original draft estimates provided £100,000 working capital for the ordnance factory, Bendigo. This amount was approved in June for payment against the Treasurer’s Advance 1960-61 It is expected that the build-up in stocks required for commercial production, and the hold-back of work in progress payments on this commercial work will require an additional £20,000 working capital in 1961-62. It is impossible to be firm on the final cash requirement at the Bendigo factory until it is known whether the factory has been successful with several large orders for capital equipment required by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority and by industry. The workload at the factory at St. Mary’s is expected to remain relatively stable for the next twelve months. The appropriation of £30,000 now sought will enable the fac-‘ tory to repay a temporary advance of this amount now held.
– I should like the Minister to give the committee a wider picture of the operations of the St. Mary’s filling factory. I think the capital invested in that factory is about £25,000,000 or £29,000,000. What is the turnover, and what are the chief components of the turnover? Can we be informed about how the export trade in munitions, to which a somewhat enthusiastic reference was made in a pamphlet distributed to us last year, is progressing?
The other matter which I wish to mention is that in paragraph 130 of his report the Auditor-General says that contracts let during the year numbered 12,300, with a total value of £30,000,000 and the amount realized from sales was £6,000,000. He gives somewhat comparable figures in respect of the previous year. Will the Minister give the committee some information, in the broad, on the main types of contracts that constitute that £30,000,000? Is there any significance in the fact that the Auditor-General has set out the value of contracts at £30,000,000 and realizations at about £6,000,000? If we are to understand that the accounting is on the basis of procurements and sales and there should be some relationships between the two, I would like to know what that relationship is. The Auditor-General also directs our attention to the fact that some contracts are made on a cost-plus basis or a costplusfixedfee basis. To what extent is that system operating in the Department of Supply?
– Senator Sandford asked me a question about the settlement of common law claims. I am informed that an unfortunate accident at the Defence Standards Laboratories resulted in a payment in settlement of compensation amounting to ?20,148, and that no provision is required for this year.
Senator Sir Walter Cooper referred to the general purpose machine gun M60. A number of the first order of the general purpose machine gun M60 with which infantry units are to be equipped has been received. The bulk of the order is expected later this year. This will enable the Australian Regular Army to be fully equipped with the weapon and the Citizen Military Forces to receive an initial training scale. A quantity of linked belt ammunition for the machine gun has already been manufactured in Australia.
– Are the machine guns imported?
– Yes. Senator O’Flaherty asked a question about the Bendigo factory. The factory is carrying on at the same level as in 1960-61.
– That does not answer the question.
– If the honorable senator will tell me what part of his question I have not answered, I shall obtain the information for him. I shall deal with the contract position. I think the St.1 Mary’s factory for filling and assembly of ammunition, components and pyrotechnics was the one referred to by Senator Wright. The contracts organization of the Department of Supply arranged contracts for the Department of Defence group and other Commonwealth authorities amounting to ?30,000,000, including ?20,000,000 for fixed quantity contracts and ?10,000,000 for period contracts. The contracts placed covered a wide range of commodities. The principal purchases and their cost were as follows: - Foodstuffs, including fresh provisions, ?6,320,000; motor vehicles, spares and mobile machinery, ?5,940,000; petroleum products, ?2,300,000; machine tools and stationery machinery, ?1,990,000; aircraft parts, ?1,900,000; clothing and textiles, ?1,865,000; electrical goods and components, ?1,436,000; metals, ?1,240,000; and scientific and photographic equipment, ?930,000.
Major individual contracts included the following items: ; Furnace fuel oil, ?1,325,000; Land Rovers, ?447,000; coal under the Colombo Plan, ?380,000; tires and tubes, ?375,000; rail wagons under the Colombo Plan, ?341,000; flour under the Colombo Plan, ?333,000; blade forgings, ?325,000; lubricants and greases ?303,000; wheat under the Colombo Plan, ?286,000; and skimmed milk powder under the Colombo Plan, ?285,000. Most of the purchases were arranged as the result of public tenders, which are usually invited in States where supplies are available. Disposal sales of surplus and unserviceable stores realized ?5,542,000. The sum of ?3,341,000 was realized from auction sales, and ?2,201,000 was received largely as the result of public tenders.
The remaining question, asked by Senator Wright, related to cost-plus contracts. These are entered into mainly in the aircraft industry. On the recommendation of the advisory accountancy panel, this system is still operating.
– My query relates to the policy of the Department of Supply in the letting of contracts. I have in mind the supply of beer to the establishments at Maralinga and Woomera. I am informed that these establishments are in a hot climate and that large quantities of this beverage are consumed by the large numbers of personnel in those areas. I understand that the brewery in Adelaide has a monopoly for the supply of this beer.
I am given to understand that when another brewery suggested that it might help to alleviate the thirsts of the men in this hot climate it was informed that the freight differential to [Maralinga from Adelaide was the over-riding reason for the existence of this monopoly. When it was pointed out that that was not quite correct, that the freight differential was not such an important matter, and that in fact it was probably about the same as from Western Australia, a reply was received in which it was stated that in any case the personnel preferred to drink Adelaide beer. 1 point out that, as the great majority of the people in this area had never tasted Western Australian beer, it was somewhat difficult to understand the argument advanced by the Department of Supply. Actually, these people had never been asked whether they preferred South Australian beer. 1 do not wish to embark upon a discussion of the merits of respective beers, but I cannot imagine people other than South Australians insisting that they prefer the beverage that comes from Adelaide.
My real point is this: No tenders were called for the supply of this beer. Will the Minister explain why no contracts have been let in this case? lt is very desirable that tenders should be invited in the various States in relation to those matters. 1 repeat that I do not think people other than South Australians would insist on drinking the South Australian beverage.
– I refer to the provision for patent fees in Division No. 561. Are these fees paid to Australians for inventions and that sort of thing?
– The Minister has said, referring to the provision for the maintenance of nonoperating plant in Government ordnance factories, that the money is needed to keep the factories going in the same way as last year. I should like to know why it is necessary to spend such an enormous amount of money on the maintenance of plant that is not being used. If the plant is not being used, surely it should not be necessary to spend nearly a quarter of a million pounds on maintenance and repairs.
– I have some information now about the factory at St. Mary’s. It was established in 1957, on an area of 4,500 acres, and at a cost of f 28,483, 43 3. Last year 161 salaried people and 848 wage-earners were employed, a total of 1,009. This year 155 salaried people and 832 wage-earners are employed, a total of 987. The value of production in 1958-59 was £340,000, in 1959-60 it was £1,090,000 and in 1960-61 it was £1,390,000. The functions of the factory are the filling and assembling of service ammunition, including the filling of shells, bombs, warheads and pyrotechnic stores, together with assorted components - caps, detonators, fuzes and primers - the manufacture of initiators; the filling of caps for small arms ammunition; and the breaking-down of ammunition.
Senator Cooper inquired about the provision for special projects. This is required to cover the expenses of laboratories, government factories or industry on particular research and development projects outside the scope of the joint United Kingdom-Australian project. This year £52,000 is to be spent, and last year £34,000 was spent. The provision is required also to meet the cost of various explosives research projects to be carried out by munitions factories, and to make payments to universities for supersonic research and turbine engine research. The cost of the Australian-initiated Maralinga project, previously financed under Division No. 526, is this year being borne by this sub-division.
Senator O’Flaherty referred to the provision for the maintenance of nonoperating plant, under Division No. 562. The proposed appropriation is £250,000. Of this, about £20,000 is required for expenditure on factories that are closed. The balance is required for the maintenance of war reserve plant held in factories. This war reserve plant must be kept in a state of readiness.
asked a question about beer. As the Minister for Customs and Excise my main interest in this matter is the collection of a duty of 9s. Hd. a gallon on beer, whether it comes from Western Australia or South Australia. Senator Vincent raised the interesting question whether the South Australians had ever tasted Western Australian beer. I wonder if the reverse is true. I wonder whether the Western Australians have ever tasted South Australian beer, and whether, if they did, they would prefer it to Western Australian beer. That is only a matter for conjecture. All that I can say to the honorable senator at present is that we do not know the circumstances of the case that he raised. I shall find out what they are and let him know later.
– Can the Minister explain the procedure for the supply of victuals to Maralinga and Woomera? Are contracts let and are tenders called? I am not referring only to the supply of beer. There is an enormous undertaking in this area, and the people employed in it have to be fed. It is likely that some of the food required could well be supplied by States other than South Australia, but I suspect that at the moment everything comes from South Australia.
Senator HENTY Tasmania Minister for Customs and Excise) [2.51]. - The main authority for the supply of victuals to the establishments at Maralinga and elsewhere in the area is the Australian canteens organization. I do not know where the victuals come from that are not supplied by that organization, but I will find out and let the honorable senator know.
asked about the provision for patents. This is intended to cover the costs associated with the patenting of processes discovered during the course of research work and the cost of patents developed in laboratories of the Department of Supply.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of the Army.
Proposed expenditure, ?64,537,000.
.- I direct the attention of the Minister to Division No. 510, item 02 - ‘Maintenance and repair of Army vehicles and equipment other than in Army establishments. I notice that the proposed vote this year is ?983,000, compared with an appropriation last year of ?976,000, of which ?969,000 was spent.
I should like now to refer to the rifle range at Newnham, near Launceston, in Tasmania. The range was located first at Ravenswood, but when operations on the range became a hazard to the occupants of nearby buildings, it was shifted to a site behind the Newnham racecourse. This has been in use for a number of years. The site at Newnham is considered to be excellent for this purpose. It is situated in a hollow in the hills and is ideally suited to rifle practice. The range has been used mostly by the Army, but the facilities there have been made available also to various rifle clubs. As the Minister ‘knows, theseclubs are very valuable for the training of civilians who take up rifle shooting as a hobby. They have a long tradition. It was brought to my notice only to-day that thisrange had been more or less closed down. I hope that the Minister will try to help me in this matter because it affect i bis home town as well as my own. The Army has ceased to use the range almost completely, but there are targets and buildings there that could still be used by the rifle clubs. I have been informed that the caretaker of the range is under a week’s notice and will leave to-morrow. As the Minister knows, this rifle range is in close proximity to a new housing subdivision known as Mayfield. The number of children per family in that subdivision would be equal to the number in any other housing subdivision in Australia. The equipment on this rifle range will not be under supervision in an area where children will be playing - if they are allowed to play in this area.
I understand that a very good arrangement can be made by the Army if it acts quickly enough. The man who has been the caretaker has the grazing rights of this property when the Army is not shooting. He moves his stock away to suitable cover when rifle practice is taking place. Immediately he leaves the property the supervision that has been exercised over the years will go by the board. Each November the No. 3 District Rifle Club Union conducts its annual open prize meeting, and anything up to 180 to 200 shooters from rifle clubs in Tasmania take part. It is of great importance that this equipment be maintained. It would be a very poor advertisement for the Army and for the city if the equipment is to be left to deteriorate for the want of a caretaker. If the facilities of the Tange are not available to rifle clubs because of lack of maintenance and deterioration of equipment - and for that matter because of vandalism which would inevitably occur if there was no strict supervision - a severe blow would be dealt, not only to rifle clubs, but to the Launceston area in general.
I hope that the Minister will interest himself personally in this matter by making direct representations to the Minister ;for the Army with a view to preventing a considerable lapse of time before some arrangements are made. Perhaps it would be possible to retain the present caretaker who, in conjunction with his present grazing rights, would be prepared to maintain the range. If that is not possible some other arrangement should be made to protect valuable equipment - the targets, sheds and other buildings, such as the amenities block, which the Army uses during bivouacs.
– 1 refer to the item dealing with Citizen Military Forces and cadets in Division No. 501. I direct the attention of the Government to what to my mind is unfairness in the system whereby civil servants are paid their full salary as well as their military entitlement during their period of training in the Citizen Military Forces whereas employees of outside employers receive only their military pay. I know that it is true that the Government has asked employers, as far as possible, to follow the same practice as it follows. However, there are thousands of small employers who are unable to do so. Take the case of a garage proprietor who employs a mechanic and a pump attendant. It would be quite impossible for him to make up the pay of those men while they were away, if they were enthusiastic enough to join the Citizen Military Forces. It is very difficult for these employers to try to keep up the same standard as the Government which has plenty of money to throw away, so to speak.
If it is not possible to get employers to pay their employees while they are undergoing training, I think we should stop paying the civil servants who are keen enough to join and thus allow this money to remain in the coffers of the country. It is inequitable to pay the salaries of one section and not pay the salaries of the other section.
While I am. on my feet there is one other matter I wish to raise: I refer to Division No. 502 relating to civilian services. I notice that the amount estimated to remain unexpended is £1,258,120. Can the Minister tell me what that amount represents?
– I should like to know whether the last recruiting campaign for Army personnel was successful. I heard on the grapevine that it was not very successful and that a good deal of the advertising had brought no results. I do not know exactly under which item this matter comes, but I take it that expenditure on advertising does come1 within the jurisdiction of the Department of the Army. I should like to know the cost of the advertising campaign.
– I refer to Division No. 501, item 03 - Act of grace payments in special circumstances. The appropriation last year was £20,000 and this year it is only £640. Can the Minister explain the reason for the reduction?
I pass to Division No. 504, item 16 - Defence food research. I am very pleased to see that from an expenditure of £2,286 last year the appropriation is to be increased to £7,000 this year. Can the Minister tell me whether research is taking place into the irradiation of food by the use of radio isotopes for the preservation of meat and vegetables over a long term in order to save refrigeration?
– I wish to address my remarks to the subject of Army public relations. I should like the Minister to inform me how much money the Army spends on public relations, and I should like to say something about the subject. I have a great deal of time for the Army, just as I have a great deal of time for all the armed services, but I must say, in fairness to the Army, that its public relations do not impress me. I do not want to elaborate that proposition very much in this debate. The significance of the need for proper public relations by the armed services does not need elaboration. The lack of public relations was brought home to me most forcibly when I was watching a television programme recently. In the last twelve months the Australian public has been treated to some very good television programmes which have come from America and Great Britain, showing how those countries won the war. A great deal of assistance in connexion with the programmes was given by the Australian armed services, but apparently we have not yet thought of making a suitable documentary film for television purposes, or for any other purposes for that matter, showing what our armed services have done. I feel a little upset when I think of the American output in this field. The Australians were mentioned only incidentally in the American film on the New Guinea campaign, despite the fact that a lot of the material for the film was supplied by our own armed services.
This is a fantastic state of affairs. We are paying good money to the American film producers and actors to produce television programmes such as that, and we are even providing some of the material.
– Are you referring to the series, “ War in the Pacific “?
– Yes, and to the corresponding British production, which is a magnificent one. The British acknowledge the contributions made by the Australian armed services. We are not making any documentary films of that kind. Instead, we are paying the British and the Americans for the privilege of seeing them present their views on World War II. The armed services in this country are more or less voluntary ones. How can we possibly succeed in attracting the best men to join the services unless we utilize to the greatest extent the public relations that are so essential with voluntary services?
I do not want to elaborate this matter because it is so obvious that we are falling down badly in public relations work. Let me make an incidental reference to the Navy. This year the Royal Australian Navy will celebrate its jubilee. It has produced quite a good little booklet dealing with its history. I suppose that money is always the primary consideration in these matters. Why cannot the Army do something like that, too? Our Army has a magnificent tradition and a splendid history. It is second to none in the armed forces of the world. Why cannot the Army produce a little history for assimilation by the young people of our country? Many of them do not know what the Army has done in the last 50 years, and probably they never will know. It is up to the Army to help in the matter. The production of a well-documented and properly illustrated history of the Army is long overdue. Such a document should be made available at an extremely low cost. It should be provided to all school libraries and distributed widely. The Navy is on the right track with its booklet, though it is far too modest. There are many other ways in which the Army could improve its public relations. With great respect to the Army authorities. I say they are mere amateurs in this field.
– They do not believe in publicity.
– I was in the armed services long enough to know that there are some things which they do not like. Nevertheless, they must accept the facts of life in a country which normally has great difficulty in filling the ranks of its armed services with the best men. We should begin to sell our services because we have something worth while to sell. We could start with the younger generation and lel them see what our men in uniform had done in the last 50 years. It is a great pity that many young people are not aware of the achievements of our forces. We should start with television programmes, cinema programmes and a properly documented volume of history, with good photographs, not indifferent ones. This country produces some dreadful photographs, and our newspapers are the worst offenders. Let it be a publication with good-quality photographs.
– Did we not note expenditure of £50,000 for the publication of the War History?
– Yes. I thank the honorable senator for reminding me of that fact. The War History is a publication thai is read by university professors and students of strategy. I know that the Duntroon people welcome it, but below that level the War History is not a popular document. 1 wonder how many honorable senators have read any of the volumes that are now extant. I think that the aim of the War History is a good one. Such a publication should have some literary quality and be of a standard that is commensurate with the dignity of the services; but it should not be a public relations document, nor is it intended to be. I am speaking of public relations now and I am saying that we have not done sufficient in that field.
I do not expect the Minister to reply immediately, because this is a matter which calls for discussion, perhaps at Cabinet level. Certainly, the votes for public relations that are made available by the armed services, particularly the Army, are completely inadequate. I hope that before those of us who are still here discuss the Estimates at about this time next year we shall have seen the making of a first-class television programme about our armed services which are among the glories of our country.
– Senator Kendall referred to members of the Public Service who serve with the Citizen Military Forces, and he compared their position with that of employees of private enterprise whose pay is not made up. The Government is giving a lead in this matter. 1 point out that a number of private employers also pay the salaries of their employees who are in camp or undergoing military training. A number of them follow the lead of the Government. The fact that employees of small businesses do not have their pay made up does not seem to dampen their enthusiasm. They undertake military training just the same, knowing beforehand the conditions on which they will do so. Good luck to them. 1 admire them for their enthusiasm. I do not think that the suggestion made by the honorable senator would really help to solve the problem.
The man-power situation of the Citizen Military Forces is satisfactory. They are now at the highest volunteer strength since World War II. An encouraging factor is the number of men in the younger age groups who have enlisted since national service training ceased on 30th June, 1960. Provided that there is continued support from all sections of the community, it is confidently expected that the C.M.F. will reach and maintain its man-power objective. Even though it has almost reached the authorized strength, a major effort is needed to maintain it. In a voluntary force of this nature, annual wastage is necessarily high. Between 8,000 and 10,000 recruits will be needed annually to maintain the strength at 30,000.
asked about the recruiting campaign. The recruiting figures have shown a considerable improvement since January, 1961. However, because of the present deficiency in strength and expected wastage, about 2,700 general enlistments will be needed in the current financial year. I shall bring to the attention of the Minister for the Army the matters raised by Senator Vincent in regard to public relations. 1 think that there was a good deal in what he said, lt is so easy for a tradition to be lost to succeeding generations if they are not reminded of it. Anybody who saw the play “ The One Day of the Year “ must have been impressed by the fact that within two generations younger men and women had developed a completely different outlook on the tradition of Anzac Day. 1 think that is the sort of thing the honorable senator had in mind in directing attention to the fact that the Army could do a great deal more in the public relations field. I wonder whether, if we had spent sufficient money and time in an imaginative way to bring home to succeeding generations the real value of what the Anzacs did and the tradition that they established for Australia, those generations would have still been of the same frame of mind.
asked about act-of-grace payments in special circumstances. This item provides for ex-gratia payments to some members of the Army retired in special circumstances. Provision was made in the Defence Forces Special Retirement Benefits Act passed by the Parliament last year for special benefits for soldiers who were to be retrenched as a result of the re-organization of the Army. That act covered soldiers who were contributors to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund. When the fund was first introduced in 1948, some soldiers elected not to become contributors. A small number of these contributors were to be retrenched, and the special retrenchment benefits were extended to these members ex gratia. As there is only one member in this category to be retrenched in 1961-62, there is a reduced requirement under this item. The honorable senator also sought information about food research. At present I have not any information on that subject.
Senator O’Byrne said that at the Launceston rifle range there is equipment that should be maintained. I shall ask the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) to see whether anything can be done about reappointing the caretaker at the range. I have not any information on that detail at the moment.
Funds required under this division are to cover expenditure on the replacement and maintenance of existing arms, ammunition, mechanical transport, armoured fighting vehicles, weapons, equipment, clothing, general stores, supplies, engineer plant, machine tools and workshop appliances, for the Australian Regular Army, Citizen Military Forces and the Australian Cadet Corps.
– I direct attention to Division No. 501, in respect of which an appropriation of nearly £27,000,000 is sought, out of a total proposed appropriation for the Army of £64,537,000. The booklet that has been issued, apparently by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) shows distribution by rank of the Australian Regular Army. I have raised this matter two or three times since this Government has been in office. Officers - presumably commissioned officers - number 2,723 and warrant officers, staff sergeants and sergeants number 4,667. Whether commissioned or noncommissioned, they are all officers. Quite a number of them have attendants. For instance, generals, colonels and other officers have batmen and, in some instances, in addition they have another helper around their place of residence. The brochure shows a small fellow as representing the officers, a medium-sized fellow as representing warrant officers and sergeants, and a tremendous fellow as representing the rank and file, who number 14,461. Officers, including non-commissioned officers, number 7,390. If 2,730 batmen for commissioned officers are deducted from the 14,461 rank and file, the balance represents fewer than two men to every officer. We ought to know whether we are getting a defence army or a lot 0 brass-hats, whether we are just paying to keep officers in employment in a good job, with somebody to wait on them, without having an army in a position to defend Australia.
Last week an article on this subject appeared in the “Sunday Mirror”. The writer must have had access to the figures, which, of course, were tabled with the Budget papers. There has been criticism of methods used to establish the Army and high-ranking officers have stated that we cannot defend Australia with the Army that we have. The article includes a picture of one man who made such a statement. Probably the Minister has seen the article; if he has- not, some of his advisers have. One of our difficulties is that appropriations for the Navy, Army and Air Force, are separate and under the control of different Ministers, and we consider them at different times. Very seldom do we get an opportunity of talking about defence as a whole. The figures in the article are correct; I have checked them. The Army has twelve generals, twenty brigadiers, 43 colonels, 190 lieutenant-colonels, 2,458 majors, captains, lieutenants, and second-lieutenants, 1,911 warrant officers, 559 staff -sergeants, 2,197 sergeants, and 3,146 corporals, to command 21,851 other ranks. There are too many people in command of the other ranks. Of course, those figures take into consideration components of the Army apart from the Australian Regular Army, as is mentioned in the booklet that has been issued by the department for our perusal.
The article also contains some criticism of the Navy and the Air Force. It says -
More men are leaving the Navy than are joining it.
This article is by a high-ranking officer.
– Who is the critic?
– I will give you his name if you want it. In respect of the Army the article says -
Our present force is trained only for jungle warfare. It is not equipped or trained to defend the vast open spaces of our continent. The thing is just too silly for words.
That is the comment in the article and I agree with it. The position is that men are being trained in jungle warfare. Why? The Minister knows why, and so do I. The Government said that it would send our soldiers into the jungle of Malaya or somewhere else to protect somebody’s rights. There is no jungle as such in Australia. There is a little bit in Queensland, the State in which Senator Kendall, who is trying to interject, lives. If we have to defend Australia, we will have to defend it in Australia.
– What nonsense Rubbish!
– Of course we will. We should have learnt our lesson from the last war. Our Army was overseas and when the time came to defend Australia against the Japanese our soldiers had to be brought back to Australia.
– Did they not fight in the jungle?
– You made your speech and I did not say a word. 1 did not interject at all, although you left yourself open to interjections. I let you say what you wanted to say. I say that having the Australian Regular Army trained in jungle warfare is of no earthly use for defending Australia on Australian soil. Can the Minister tell me what the Army is doing in connexion with its defence of Australia on Australian soil?
– I should like to answer Senator O’Flaherty’s criticism whilst it is fresh in my mind. I hope that if ever we have to defend Australia on Australian soil Senator O’Flaherty has nothing to do with the strategy of that defence. I ask the honorable senator to consider our previous experience. Where did Australian soldiers fight in Australia? 1 would not have thought that Milne Bay was in Australia or that the great New Guinea campaign, which saved Australia, was fought in Australia. I thought that it was fought in the jungle to the north of Australia. I do not profess to be a military strategist. If Senator O’Flaherty does, I hope that somebody with a little more experience than he has will be looking after the defence of Australia if Australia has to be defended.
Criticism has been raised from time to time concerning the proportion of officers to other ranks. This (proportion must necessarily be higher in peace-time than in war-time because of the need to provide a nucleus capable of rapid expansion in war. Warrant and non-commissioned officers require more training than private soldiers, and officers require more training than warrant and non-commissioned officers. I think that answers the criticism about the number of officers which the honorable senator has raised. As to the rest of his criticism, I think we must just agree to disagree.
I have not answered one question that was raised by Senator Kendall about an amount of £1,258,120 under Division No. 502. Provision has been made for the total staff at full strength, but this amount will not be expended.
– I did not intend to say very much about the Army. I have a few thoughts on Senator O’Flaherty’s criticism of the number of officers, non-commissioned officers and other ranks. I should like to connect those thoughts with the remarks made by Senator Vincent on public relations. Various officers are needed to staff the Army. I hope that the public relations people will be able to encourage more men to go into the Army. As great as the traditions of the first and second Australian Imperial Forces are, it is true that the members of the present generation, although they are interested in those traditions, cannot be expected to have the same desire to study the exploits of those forces as the generations that proceeded them had. That is why I believe that whilst we should stress the exploits of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, we should put more emphasis on getting men into the Army because it is a vocation in which they can be trained as tradesmen. Gone are the old days of unskilled service in the Army. To-day ample opportunities are provided for young men. They can take advantage of the apprenticeship system, be well trained and well looked after, and when they have served their time in the Army go out into civilian life well equipped to undertake skilled work. If we stressed those matters, I believe we would encourage men to join the Army in these critical days so that when their period of service expires - whether it be seven, ten or twelve years - they will not be thrown onto the labour market as unskilled men.
I return now to the question of whether or not our soldiers should be trained as jungle fighters. I must join issue with Senator O’Flaherty when he says that we should defend Australia only inside Australia. Had he ever served in a country which was the scene of a conflict, I think we would agree that if we are forced to fight a war there is only one place to fight it and that is outside of our country. He mentioned that Australian troops had to be brought back to Australia during the last war. The Labour Party never wanted the volunteer. Has Senator O’Flaherty ever considered that had it not been for our Australian divisions fighting in Egypt and elsewhere we would not hold Australia to-day? Had Australians not fought against the Italians and later the Germans in Africa, India, Burma and all the other South-East Asian countries would have fallen and Japan would have come into the war much sooner than it did. Then we would have had what Senator O’Flaherty has mentioned - fighting inside Australia. How would we have fought the Japanese? We would have fought them under their own rules. We would not have had one trained man to defend this country. I should like Senator O’Flaherty to imagine for a moment that Adelaide had been overrun by an enemy and what would have happened to his wife, his family and his children, particularly if they had been babes in arms. It is not very nice to have your own county overrun. The honorable senator referred to jungle fighting and fighting in the broad open spaces. There is almost no difference between the two. If a person has any idea about how to defend himself in the jungle, he would know how to defend himself in open country.
I am sorry that I have had to enter into this discussion. But I believe it is our duty, irrespective of the party to which we belong, to try to encourage men to join the Army to guard our country. If we do that, we ought to give them good pay and conditions. Personally, I am sorry that the national service training scheme was abandoned. Probably I shall not meet with other people’s approval when I say that I believe that those who have the task of finding and training the correct type of men never wanted the scheme to be abandoned. In my view, this scheme was one of the best things we ever had in this country. We hear a lot of talk about civil defence. The national service training scheme was the best form of civil defence we have ever had. I repeat that I am exceedingly sorry that it has been abandoned. I should like to see it re-instated as quickly as possible.
To put the matter on the lowest level - I know I will be misquoted - we have in Australia a national slackness, with men changing from one occupation to another.
What better occupation could a young man have than to be a member of the Navy, the Army or the Air Force? I would not mind if we spent a few more million pounds in this direction. In the past we have turned out skilled tradesmen, men who could fight either in the jungle or in the wide open spaces and, best of all, men who were prepared to go overseas to fight in defence of Australia.
– Order! Before I call the next speaker, I point out that honorable senators have wandered wide of the mark. They have referred to strategy and the defence of Australia. I ask honorable senators to confine their remarks to the estimates before the Chair.
– I wish to relate my remarks to Division No. 501 and to make a short plea for volunteer parachute jumpers. I know quite a few of these boys who spend every week-end risking their lives by jumping out of aeroplanes. Apparently they pay their own expenses. I know from personal knowledge that they feel the strain of that expense. For the most part, they are the working sons of working fathers. They would be logical recruits for the Army, particularly when we bear in mind the fact that they devote their spare time to what is, in effect, Army training. I am informed that they do not receive any financial assistance from the Government, and I should be surprised to learn that they did. I should like to ask the Minister to examine this matter.
– Are they not members of the Citizen Military Forces?
– There are a couple of matters in relation to which I should like enlightenment from the Minister for Customs and Excise. I refer, first, to Division No. 504 and in particular to item 14, “ Training of personnel at other than Australian Army establishments, £357,000”. I should like to know where those establishments are and whether the training available there is obtainable in Australia.
I refer now to item 19, “ Incidental and other expenditure, £213,380 “. That seems to me to be rather a large sum for incidental and other expenditure. I have been wondering why this sum could not be split up and included in the provision for the various items in relation to which it will be incurred.
I turn now to Division No. 521 - Acquisition of sites and buildings. A very excellent Army camp is situated at Swanbourne, a high-class residential district in Western Australia. This district, which is within a few miles of the heart of the capital, and has an ocean frontage, is being rapidly opened up. The existence of this military camp is hindering the development of the area. The opening of the West Coast Highway by the Army during the war opened up this district for housing development. High-class houses are being built right up to the gates of the Campbell barracks. For some time there has been agitation on the part of the Nedlands council and other local bodies to have the military camp moved to another location so that this area could be fully developed for residential purposes. I should like to know whether this proposal has been considered, or whether any approach has been made by the local authorities to the Department of the Army.
Perhaps during my absence from the chamber reference was made to the matter I am about to mention. I believe that members of the community do not realize just what work Army personnel perform in a voluntary capacity. Recently in Western Australia we had floods and bush fires, and Army men worked around the clock to render assistance. The fact that well-trained Army personnel were able and willing to go to the scenes of these disasters helped considerably in reducing the loss and injury that could have followed in the wake of these disasters. I should like to pay a tribute to all those servicemen who took part. Usually I do not throw bouquets, so I am quite sincere when I say that those of us who live in Perth realize what a good job these young fellows in the Army - and the older ones, too - did at that time.
– Order! The honorable senator is getting away from the estimates under consideration.
– I relate my remarks to the proposed expenditure on pay and allowances in the nature of pay. Quite a lot of the services that are rendered by Army personnel cannot be paid for, because they do not come in the ordinary line of duty.
.- There are. three matters that 1 want to raise. First, I acknowledge the brochure that has been handed to us. It gives, in a readable form, certain particulars of the Army. I see from the brochure that at 30th June, 1961, the strength of the Australian Regular Army was 20,459, that the strength of the Citizen Military Forces was 26,958, that 5,234 civilians were employed and that there were 35,132 school cadets. I should like to be given the comparative figures for June, 1951, when emphasis was being laid on the Army because of the Korean menace and the Prime Minister’s announcement of a threat of war.
The second matter that I wish to raise is one that was referred to by Senator Kendall. He said that the Government had announced a policy under which members of the Commonwealth Public Service who join the Citizen Military Forces will receive leave on full pay during their periods of service. My understanding is that they qualify also, during those periods of service, for whatever payments are made to members of the C.M.F.
Last week the Regulations and Ordinances Committee brought this matter before the Senate, looking at it from a different viewpoint. That committee advised the Senate that although the Minister announced his policy in this regard on 29th March, 1960, legal authority for these payments was not provided until July, 1961, and the regulations were not tabled in the Senate until August, 1961. The point is that in the meantime payments approximating a total of £58,000 had been made to public servants serving in the C.M.F. and that those payments had been made merely upon the statement of a Minister.
If regulations are deferred in that way, that denies to the Senate an opportunity to decide whether to support the policy. The fact that Senator Kendall has questioned the equity of the policy shows that it was a proper subject for discussion. The protest of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee and its statement that the delay in gazetting and tabling the regulations was inexcusable brings to light, not merely a technicality, but a substantial matter affecting the legislative programme of the Parliament.
An official took the responsibility of disbursing £58,000 before the Parliament had approved the policy which was subsequently given effect to by the regulations. I have heard the Minister’s reply to questions on the policy aspect of the mattei. I should have thought that it was a little overgenerous to pay to these men their full public service salaries and also the entitlements that accrue from service in the Citizen Military Forces. I doubt whether a private employer, unless it is a very big company, is in a position to match that generosity. It should be borne in mind that private employers are, in effect, making both sets of payments to these public servants. Ordinary members of Parliament and Ministers are not in any position to be generous with public moneys. We are not dealing with our own moneys.
Then we come to the bone in the meat. It is an old bone and it is a dogged’ dog that is worrying it.
What is the number of the bone, Senator Wright?
– It is not to be found under any number. What now requires your attention, Sir, and the attention of the committee generally is not what the Estimates state but what they omit to state. Let me refer to paragraph 116 of the latest report by the Auditor-General. The heading is “ Losses or deficiencies of public money or property “. The Auditor-General states -
From 1942-43 annual reports have referred to the absence of comprehensive and effective legislation to provide for the recovery of losses of public moneys and stores from members, of the Service departments whose theft, neglect or misconduct is involved.
I sigh and make the appropriate pause so that the committee will be able to assimilate the true import of the next statement, which is -
The matter is still under consideration by the Service departments and the Treasury.
How long, O Lord, how long! This started in 1942.. If there has been no legislation covering a matter of this sort for a number of years, then I say, in this preliminary consideration of the estimates for the Department of the Army, that that will be a matter for a substantive vote when the estimates come properly before us. It. is completely inexcusable for the Service departments year after year to fail to bring their accounts and records of stores and equipment up to a proper standard of integrity and efficiency. I use the word “ integrity “ to refer to theft and misconduct, and I use the word “ efficiency “ to refer to neglect in these matters.
I shall abstain from further references to this matter now, when we are considering the estimates for the Army, but doubtless those members of the committee who are interested will have noticed that the AuditorGeneral has made pointed references to the actions of the Department of the Navy and of the Department of Air in this regard. 1 will not be content to allow this matter to be dealt with simply by writing off items that have not been recovered. So far as I am concerned, it will be a question of the officer responsible for making these payments last year footing the bill. He has had warnings in this chamber for at least three years. Unless there has been a proper accounting, acceptable to the Auditor-General, I should think that, if he is doing his job, the Auditor-General will already have surcharged the officer, without waiting for a vote of the Senate authorizing him to do so.
– I should like to refer briefly to a matter that I think one may bark about by referring to Division No. 511 - Arms, Armament, Mechanization and Equipment. The proposed vote for those purposes is £10,429,000. That matter is referred to at page 15 of the pamphlet that the Minister has issued, where the statement is made that it is planned to spend £10,429,000 during the current financial year on additional items of new weapons and equipment. At the top of page 16 of that pamphlet reference is made to what is called the 7.62 mm. self-loading rifle. I take that to be the rifle that we have referred to in the Parliament over many years as the FN. 30 rifle. The Minister will agree that this rifle has had an unfortunate history. It was mooted for our forces for some years prior to 1957. A decision was made and announced in April, 1957, that we would standardize our small arms equipment with America. Within a week America announced that it had rejected this particular rifle in favour of one it considered to be better, lighter and more efficient in various ways.
It took a long time for the Government to get production of the rifle, and now that the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow is producing this rifle one reads the following in the pamphlet issued by the Minister: -
The A.R.A. has been fully equipped with the 7.62 self-loading rifle-
That is satisfactory - and substantial numbers have been issued to the C.M.F. 1 invite the Minister to tell the committee how many of the C.M.F. have been equipped with this rifle. We have 26,957 members in the C.M.F. - practically 27,000.
– Would all of them be rifle carriers?
– I am referring to the figures. I should like to know how many members of the C.M.F. are equipped with this rifle. What does “ substantial numbers “ mean? Does it mean onequarter, one-third, one-half, three-quarters or what?
The next sentence reads -
In addition a familiarization scale has been approved for cadets.
That sentence conveys exactly nothing to me unless I have some idea of how many rifles are available for a given number of cadets. There were 35,132 school cadets. What does a familiarization scale mean? ls it one rifle for 100 cadets, one for 200 cadets? Just what is it? The next sentence reads -
Approval has been given for the manufacture of a sufficient number of these rifles to replace the .303 rifle throughout the Army.
What does that mean? Does that mean that a desirable result is to be achieved out of this allocation or that approval has been given for the manufacture of these rifles for an undefined period of years? I think the Minister should be specific on these points. 1 should like to hear, too, the Government’s justification for leaving our citizen forces, in particular, not completely equipped at a time when we are selling these rifles in tens of thousands to New Zealand, Malaya and Ghana. I should have thought that the equipping of our forces was regarded so seriously that the matter would be given the highest priority. Yet we find that there are substantial numbers only for the C.M.F. - how many we do not know - that there is a familiarization scale for cadets, and that approval has been given for the manufacture of the rifles. One needs to know why our forces are not equipped before we start exporting these rifles. I ask the Minister to explain how far the re-equipment programme has gone.
– I refer to Division No. 512 - Service dwellings - rentals. I notice that an amount of £245,000 is to be expended on the rentals of dwellings. Is there any record of the rentals to be repaid by service personnel to offset this expenditure, or is this amount paid out to service personnel as a rent allowance?
– I shall deal first with the points raised by Senator McKenna. I understand the authorization is for the manufacture of 100,000 FN. 30 rifles and that 40,000 have been delivered to our own armed services. The whole of the Australian Regular Army of 20,000 have been issued with the rifles and the other 20,000 have gone to the Citizen Military Forces. Certain orders have been approved by the Government to be delivered overseas. Out of the production of 100,000 rifles we would have had a considerable surplus. We are now continuing to produce for our own armed services and to fulfil orders overseas.
– Why not equip our own forces first?
– I am not in a position to answer that question, but I imagine there would be some very sound reason for the decision. No doubt if the honorable senator puts a question on the noticepaper to the Minister for the Army (Mr.
Cramer) he will receive a better answer than an off-the-cuff reply that I could give to him.
– Have you anything to say about the familiarization scale for cadets? Is it one rifle amongst 100 cadets?
– I understand that there are only two or three rifles to each unit at the moment.
– How many are in a unit, 100 or 200?
– Two hundred.
– That means there are two or three rifles to 200 cadets?
– Yes, for familiarization.
– The cadets will not be very familiar with the rifles at that rate.
– When I was training, we had only one Bren gun in the whole of northern Tasmania, but we familiarized ourselves with it by taking it to pieces every Saturday afternoon, and once a year in camp we fired it. You can get familiar with these things, and no doubt the school cadets handling them at this stage are pretty familiar with them even though they have only two or three to work on.
In reply to Senator Wright let me put on record that in 1951 there were 19,443 in the permanent forces and 20,981 in the Citizen Military Forces, making a total of 40,424. Senator Tangney asked about item 14 - Training at other than Australian army establishments. This item covers payments for the training of army personnel abroad, civil schooling in the engineering section, flying training and the attendance of army personnel at Royal Australian Air Force schools. The decrease is due mainly to a reduction in expenditure on flying training. Item 19 - Incidental and other expenditure - includes payment for recruiting, publicity and propaganda, public relations, educational facilities, miscellaneous expenditure on the Royal Australian Survey Corps, and other incidentals. In addition funds are required mainly for survey fees payable to the Department of the Interior on properties to be declared for disposal. In the schedule of salaries and allowances for the Department of the Army there appears, under the heading “ Australian Regular Army “, the item, “ Less amount to be withheld from members on account of rent, £645,000”. I think that that answers Senator Tangney’s query.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of Health
Proposed expenditure, £3,576,000.
.- I sigh but 1 shall not pause, as Senator Wright did. I note that an amount of £298,500 is to be made available for medical research, by way of payment to the credit of the Medical Research Endowment Fund. The Minister no doubt will say that certain medical research is being undertaken at the Australian National University and at certain other universities which are assisted from Commonwealth revenue. However, we must remember that it is proposed to spend more than £80,000,000 on curative medicine in this financial year. I am not including the £5,500,000 for the anti-tuberculosis campaign, because that is in no small measure preventive. I also note that £349,500 is to be provided by way of subsidy for cattle tick eradication and control in New South Wales. Does not the amount to be provided for medical research seem paltry? Does it not reveal the parsimonious attitude of the Government to research?
In fact, it has been left to private individuals to collect £2,500,000 for the establishment of the National Heart Foundation to undertake research, to investigate treatment methods and to provide post-graduate training. The Government was so miserably mean that it advanced only £10,000 to launch the campaign. From a total Budget of approximately £1,900,000,000, only £298,500 is to be devoted to medical research. Surely the Government could find more money for research if it really wanted to make a substantial contribution to the alleviation of suffering, to the probable reduction of mortality rates, and to increased longevity.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! To which part of the proposed expenditure is the honorable senator referring?
– I am referring to page xxi., Special Appropriations, and to accounting code Nos. 0571, 0572, 0574, 0575, 0576, 0578, 0579 and 0591, which are shown under national health services.
The amounts concerned are disbursed by the Minister for Health. Surely it is in order to discuss them.
– The items come within the special appropriations and have nothing to do with the estimates that we are now discussing.
– The Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) was not frightened to discuss them when the estimates for the Department of Health were being debated in another place.
– I do not know whether or not the Minister for Health was frightened to discuss them, but they do not come within the scope of the estimates that we are considering now and, therefore, the honorable senator may not proceed on those lines.
– Very well. We shall turn the pages over. I suggest there is complete and utter confusion in relation to the expenditure that we are dealing with. The Government has had administrative control for a period of years of the funds that I have attempted to mention, but no real review of the whole field, as was originally envisaged by Sir Earle Page, has been made. An attempt has been made on certain occasions to make a piecemeal review. The Government has liberalized pharmaceutical benefits to a degree, but it is behind the British Pharmacopoeia. Am I in order in discussing that matter?
– I am listening to what the honorable senator is saying.
– During the last twelve months, a number of drugs has been added to the British Pharmacopoeia. When the Government liberalized the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, the liberalization was supposed to be based on the British Pharmacopoeia, but nothing has been done about the additional drugs that have now been included.
– These matters come within the National Welfare Fund, and the Chairman has ruled that they may not be discussed while we are dealing with the estimates before the committee.
– I am dealing with the administrative side, not with the votes for pharmaceutical benefits.
– It is difficult enough to deal with the estimates as it is.
– Are you not in charge of these matters, administratively?
– Order! I shall stop the honorable senator when I think he has gone far enough. At present, he is sailing pretty close to the wind.
– As long as I sail with the wind it will be all right. May I refer to the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, Mr. Chairman?
– Yes, the honorable senator may deal with that matter.
– This Government’s handling of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, and its treatment of Dr Bazeley represent probably the blackest mark on an already black record. The Government has subjected Dr. Bazeley to permanent degradation. Only this morning we read that it had appointed a new director of the laboratories. In relation to the administration of the laboratories, the Government has appointed three men who have private interests. I am not trying to reflect on them, but it is natural that if they have private interests they are going to look after those interests.
Those people have been appointed, in line with the legislation passed by the Parliament last year, but the Government does not propose to do anything to con. tribute to the expansion of the laboratories. There is a proposal for the erection of a new laboratory block at a cost of, I think, £550,000. That building may be available in two and a half years’ time. It will be the first substantial addition to the buildings for more than twenty years. The Government has been in office for twelve years, during a period, it claims, of unlimited prosperity. Although the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories are performing functions that are vital to the health of the nation, the Government has not seen fit to expand their activities. The real work that has been done has been due to the enthusiasm of Dr. Bazeley and others, in extraordinarily difficult circumstances.
Only last year the Government permitted the laboratories to be handicapped by the admitted dumping in Australia of insulin and penicillin. The Government has curtailed the financial resources of the laboratories, and has not seen fit to expand their activities in the manufacture of drugs. It is not true to say that the laboratories cannot do this work, because they are manufacturing one particular item under licence.
Pharmaceutical benefits will cost nearly £30,000,000 this year, practically all of which will be paid out to private drug houses, without giving the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories a chance to be really competitive with them. The Government is paying extraordinarily high prices for drugs, which could be manufactured in its own laboratories with substantial savings. At no stage has the Government engaged in an assessment of the position. We hear cries about the amount that the Department of Health expends on pharmaceutical benefits, and about the increased expenditure every year. But at no stage has there been any attempt to assess the value of the drugs made available through the department, in terms of decreased mortality, saving of disability and suffering, and increased productivity of the nation. All of these factors are substantial from the point of view of the health and welfare of the people and the increased wealth of the nation.
I now refer to the proposed appropriation for the Acoustic Laboratories, which are doing an excellent job. However, we say that it is not a big enough job and thai their activities should be expanded. We know that children receive hearing aids which are made very cheaply. The laboratories are quite effective but they are hamstrung by lack of finance. Their activities should be expanded to the extent of making hearing aids available to all people in needy circumstances. These include many more people than those who are covered by the pensioner medical service and pharmaceutical benefit scheme. The Government has not altered the ceiling income limit since 1956; it remains at £104 and under this Government its purchasing power is rapidly depreciating. 1 do not know what the Minister’s answer will be to my suggestion that the Acoustic Laboratories should be expanded. He will ask: Where is the money to come from? It is merely a question of what percentage of revenue the Government is prepared to spend on the people’s welfare and the maintenance of their health.
The Government provides funds for the distribution of free milk to school children, as a measure towards building up health, but it does nothing to preserve the teeth of children. Two surveys were conducted recently. One showed an incidence of 82 per cent, of either caries or malformed teeth in Australian children, and the other an incidence of 93 per cent. The Labour Party regards this situation as tragic. It is avoidable, but the Government will do nothing to remedy the position. It will not consider the provision of free dental attention for children nor, as has been shown in replies to questions, will it consider a dental benefits scheme.
I refer now to the proposed appropriation, under Division No. 291, of £72,500 for the Commonwealth Council for National Fitness. The appropriation remains unaltered at that figure. Here is another means of eliminating disease and building better bodies and brighter minds. That expenditure is to be spread over Australia. Undertaking university courses in physical education are many sincere, enthusiastic people who take a real interest in physical fitness, yet the Government does not see fit to make increased provision under this heading. The Government is miserable and miserly in its approach. In the light of possible public reaction, it cannot afford to delete altogether the provision for this purpose. Therefore, it has decided that the best thing to do is to leave the annual appropriation unaltered at £72,500.
I have mentioned just a few defects. As other honorable senators speak, more defects may be found for the delectation of the Minister.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland) [4.21]. - I refer to the provision, under Division No. 291, for research by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. We have all been disturbed over the recent shortage of Salk vaccine. I am wondering whether the Minister can tell us anything concerning that matter and what may be expected in the future. I direct his attention to the fact that last year’s appropriation for research was £100,000, which was an accurate estimate, as expenditure equalled the appropriation, whereas the proposed appropriation this year is only £40,000. This seems to be a very great reduction. As I believe there is tremendous work for the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories to do in the field of research, I should like the Minister to explain the reduction and to say whether any particular work is not now being carried out and whether the programme has been changed.
. -I refer to Division No. 29 J - Other Services, item 03, “ Medical research (for payment to the credit of the Medical Research Endowment Fund) - £298,500 “. This provision was treated in a rather extraordinary way - as usual - by Senator Dittmer. His criticism was that not enough money was going out. We are getting this money from the public. Even he should have enough common sense to know that whatever money the Government pays out comes from the people. If vast sums of money are to be paid out of Consolidated Revenue in respect of such items, the money has to be raised over the whole field of taxation. But in a prosperous country, the people have confidence in the government and they support appeals for funds for medical research.
This Government should be congratulated, not criticized, for its activities in doing research, encouraging research and promoting the donation of money by the people towards greater research. Those persons without a biased outlook will acknowledge quite readily the wonderful research work that has been done in relation to cancer and a cure for it. The people of Australia are rightly proud of the fact that vast sums of money have been donated to the National Heart Campaign. Australia is also doing a mighty job in research into the prevention and cure of tuberculosis. I do not believe that any government or any nation should rest on its laurels. It should always be looking forward to doing better. Those of us who read the report that was circulated this week on research in Australia must be very pleased about the future welfare and health of the Australian people. I should like the department to consider whether it should not now turn its mind and activities to encouraging greater research into rheumatic diseases. I have no medical knowledge, but we all know that many thousands of Australians suffer greatly, and have done so for many years, from rheumatic diseases, many of which are now classified as incurable. However, certain drugs alleviate the suffering of those people. In this matter we must look not only at the suffering of the people, although the first and main reason why research is done is to avoid suffering and cure such people. Many of them are cripples who are unable to work and lead the useful lives that they would like to lead. I believe that anything that can be done by the Government to promote research into rheumatic diseases will be another great step forward in our grand history of improving the health and reducing the suffering of the Australian people.
Through the Department of Social Services, the Government has done much to rehabilitate people who suffer from illhealth and afflictions. A medical man, with some knowledge of this subject and an interest in public and community life, has suggested to me that the policy of the Government should tend towards seeing whether a change can be made in the rehabilitation of the people to whom I have referred. The matter should be taken out of the hands of the Department of Social Services because it is not a social service job; it is a medical job. I believe that the Government should consider asking the hospitals to take a lead in the rehabilitation of people who can be rehabilitated and put back into useful employment. I congratulate the Government on the job that it is doing in the field of national health.
– Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin referred to Division No. 291, sub-division 3, item 05. She asked about the reduction from £100,000 to £40,000 in this year’s appropriation for research at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. That appropriation is for only part of the year. It covers the period until the laboratories come under the control of the commission. Further funds will then be made available to the commission.
The honorable senator also asked about Salk vaccine. I have received a statement by the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) which states that a batch of 600,000 doses of Salk vaccine, which will be adequate for Australian requirements for some time, is now being prepared at the Commonwealth. Serum Laboratories,
Melbourne. This batch is expected to become available during December. There is no reason at present to believe that this material will not meet the rigid requirements laid down by the Commonwealth Department of Health. However, for some time the Government has been investigating the possibility of importing further supplies in case this batch should not meet expectations or in case a further shortage should develop. Difficulties have been and are being experienced with Salk vaccine production in Great Britain, the United States of America, Canada and Japan. For this reason supplies are not readily available overseas. However, the Government has placed an order for supplies of a similar type of vaccine so that overseas material can be distributed in this country without any avoidable delay, should Australian production not be sufficient to meet demands.
I noted the interesting point raised by Senator Marriott on further research into arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. I can only say that I will bring his suggestion to the notice of the Minister for Health.
In respect of the matters raised by Senator Dittmer, as I intimated a little earlier, he himself has answered most of his questions and they do not call for answers from me. I noted with interest that he said that the Government had done nothing to extend the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, but had just let them run on.
– No major buildings have been constructed.
– Then, in the next breath, he said that the Government intends to spend £550,000 on a new building. His remarks just do not tie up. They are in accord with the usual lack of logic that he displays. I point out to the honorable senator that in addition to the research done by the laboratories, research is done by the Australian National University, the Australian School of Health and Tropical Medicine, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and many other organizations.
– I pointed that out, too.
– Yes, you answered your own questions. The rest of the honorable senator’s speech was just a little flight of fancy into the Government’s election policy. He answered himself completely by saying that the taxpayers have to pay the bill. The taxpayers will have to pay for his flights of fancy if ever he gets a chance to indulge in them. I do not think he will.
.- I refer to Division No. 293, subdivision 2, item 08. - Payments to States for administration of hospital benefits. Last year the appropriation was £20,050. This year it is £9,300. I want to know the reason for that reduction.
Another matter to which 1 wish to refer is publicity. The amount of money that was expended last year was £6,790. The appropriation last year was £13,000 and this year it is £8,000. I take it that included in that publicity was the pamphlet “ Eat Better For Less “. That very interesting publication met with rather bitter criticism from certain interests in Australia. It appears that whether or not you are trying to improve the health of people, if you tread on the corns of the vested interests they will squeal. In this matter of health, when we speak about diets we have to be careful. Those of us who come from Queensland have to be careful about what we say about sugar.
– You had better be careful about what you say about rum.
– On that subject, 1 could tell you a story about the late Senator Joe Collings, but the chairman would not allow me to do so. I have to be careful. On one occasion I was in the north of Queensland with a party including the Premier and Deputy Premier of that State. When I was asked whether I wanted any sugar in my tea, I said, “No”. I was looked at askance. But my wife was equal to the situation. She said, “ I do not take sugar in my tea either “, but she dipped her spoon into the bowl and threw the sugar over her left shoulder. The people present applauded her and that saved the situation.
On another occasion, when Darby Riordan was speaking in the House of Representatives about sugar, somebody said that he did not take it in his tea. He replied: “That is true, I do not. Some people take sugar in their tea; some people take it in their lollies; but being a bighearted Australian, I take it in my beer.” So that saved that situation. One has to be very careful. That is equally true in this matter of health and diets. I have a very close personal friend who is a dietitian of 30 years’ standing. He has been driven out of business by this Government. If one treads on the corns of vested interests in the medical world there is trouble. i say right here and now that I have ihe greatest admiration for many of our general practitioners, surgeons and others who are seeking to improve the health of the people. But to-day there is a growing understanding of the virtues of a balanced diet of food. Some of the greatest authorities in the world are now realizing that many of the ills to which the flesh is heir are due directly to an unbalanced diet and to foods which are denatured. If only we could understand how the human body gets its sustenance from food and what is the proper food to give to human beings, we would eliminate many of the diseases from which people suffer. Rheumatism, for example, cannot be cured in its advanced stages; but it can be cured in the early stages if the sufferer has a properly balanced diet of good food.
To-day we see television advertisements for all kinds of food, including biscuits. A few moments ago I picked up a paper in which a doctor stated that biscuits were the worst food one could possibly eat. He said that thousands of our youngsters have bad teeth because they eat biscuits and white sugar. But I must be careful! Two years ago Senator Branson delivered a startling speech about the condition of the teeth of Australians. Australians have the worst teeth in the world, because we eat foods which are deleterious to the human body. A lot of antagonism has been displayed by health specialists to the use of fluoride in water. Doctor Duhig of Brisbane said in a press statement only a few weeks ago that fluoridation of water was useless. I was looking at some notes in my office earlier to-day in which another doctor stated that people are fond of vitamins and that if we referred to fluoride as vitamin X or vitamin Z they would accept it. Because this chemical is called “ fluoride “, they will not accept it.
This doctor said that if people only knew the value of fluoride in water, they would accept it.
There is a difference of opinion amongst intelligent men on the subject of health. Intelligent dietitians say that if people would eat a balanced diet we would not need to use fluoride. I was speaking to my daughter to-day and I said to her, “After all, fluoride is a chemical and food is chemical. Why should it not be possible to discover a chemical which, when taken into the body, would have a beneficial effect on teeth?” Personally, I lean to the eating of proper food, taken into the body in a balanced way. If we did that, we would not have the teeth trouble we have to-day. My friend, Mr. Fred Thomson, of Brisbane, who has been forced out of business, has told me of a number of people who have suffered the effects of an unbalanced diet. I know one person who went to a doctor and who was told by that doctor that she must have all her teeth extracted. I am still bitter about the fact that twenty years ago my wife, who had the finest set of teeth a woman has ever had, had hers extracted. The doctor ordered her to go to the dentist, but the dentist refused to draw the teeth. The doctor telephoned the dentist and insisted that the teeth be drawn. The result was that she lost a full top and bottom set of the finest teeth one could have. Such a thing would not be done to-day.
The person I referred to a little earlier was cured by Mr. Fred Thomson, the dietitian. He treated her, and after a month there was such a difference that the doctor could not believe his eyes. I am not running down doctors, but I do say that the doctors and the Departments of Health in this country have not a monopoly of understanding of the human body. I should like to see not so much the Department of Health as the British Medical Association - it should be called the Australian Medical Association - deal with the spinal column as do the chiropractors. I think the doctors should study this art, because there have been many charlatans here and in America who have taken up chiropractics and who have caused injury to their patients.
Let me recount a personal experience. One day I forgot my age and was very active with a crowbar trying to uproot a small tree. I injured my back and suffered intense pain. For three weeks I had a doctor with me. I could not rest during the day or the night unless I sat in a Parker Knoll chair. When I did that, I got some relief from the pain in my spine. 1 had a physiotherapist manipulating *ny back too. I was walking about the yard one day with my stick when a friend from across the road asked, “ What is wrong with you? “ I told him what had happened. He said, “ Good gracious, I got fixed -up in less than a quarter of an hour “. He had been in a motor accident some months before and for thirteen weeks was unable to lie on his back. A friend of his had said to him, “ I went to a chiropractor and he fixed me up in no time “.. So this man went to the chiropractor .and was fixed up in one or two visits. He told me to go. I did, and I was fixed up in a quarter of an hour. I am not boosting the chiropractors, but I do say that in our search for health and an understanding of the human body such matters should be inquired into. The British Medical Association, instead of decrying these people, should adopt this method of bringing relief to many people. A former member of the House of Representatives, underwent operation after operation for nearly twenty years until it was found that the trouble emanated from his back. 1 should like to see such cases scientifically investigated by a competent government authority.
I refer now to the interim report of the Director-General of Health for 1960-61 in which this passage appears -
The bi-monthly publication “Food and Nutrition Notes and Reviews “ has been produced continuously.
I have not seen it. 1 should like to see a copy. The paragraph continues -
Preparation and printing of a booklet entitled “ Eat Better for Less “ has .been completed and wide distribution effected to public health authorities in each State.
I am not a doctor or a dietitian, but I point out that my friend, Mr. Fred Thomson, has criticized that booklet to a degree. He said there was a lot of good in it but that there was no coherent plan for a balanced diet. He said it contained no direction whatever on the all-important matter of acid-alkali balance. He said that apparently cereals and bread quotas were left to the appetite, which has proved to be a very unsafe guide. Referring to the use of powdered milk, he said that it has lost a valuable digestant - lactic acid - which determines the vital health condition of the milk and the subsequent building of health in the consumer’s blood. The booklet admits that powdered milk lacks the fat and fat soluble ingredients which are essential for a balanced diet. My friend said that the menus suggested in the booklet were open to very serious objection from the health building point of view. My friend says that the suggestion regarding the use of tea, milk and coffee with protein and starchy foods is a very harmful suggestion. I do not know whether he would tell us not to drink tea, although I know he advocates the drinking of pure milk. To have a balanced diet, it is necessary not to take certain foods together. I know myself that if yon have eaten a lot of potatoes, you should not eat a rice pudding afterwards, because that would make for an unbalanced diet and would affect the :stomach adversely.
My friend deals also with the effect of sugar in ice cream and says that no note is made in the book of the harmful effects of the introduction of white sugar into the diet of children. The calcium-hungry white sugar destroys what otherwise would be a calcium-rich food. White sugar has a chemical affinity with the essential calcium and will amalgamate with it whenever it can, thus destroying the food value.
I am not a doctor or a scientist, but I believe there should be a better understanding of food. If we understood it more then, instead of taking pills and potions and becoming a nation of hypochondriacs, we would be on the right track. My friend says that meat is essential for a balanced diet, but particular attention should be given to the quantity. He says of cheese and other meat substitutes that they are rich in protein and are acid producers, and asks what guidance is given in the book about these combinations.
Then he deals with the very interesting subject of spinach. He refers, not to silver beet, but to spinach. I see that the Minister is laughing. He knows all about Popeye the Sailor, with the big muscles, whom we see day after day in moronic television programmes. My friend says that the American Medical Association has now decided that spinach is not a good food for the children of America because it contains over-much oxalic acid. That is bad for the human, body.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– It is unfortunate that Senator Marriott is not: here at present, because I should like to compliment him, not on his speech, but on his suggestion that there should be a campaign* for research into rheumatic diseases. He surrounded bis suggestion, I thought, with some extraordinary statements. He said that the Government should not be criticized. I think it is only a week ago that, he referred to* me as an annoying and troublesome, egotist. Apparently he, does not grasp the: meaning of words or the significance of phrases.. If he thinks that the Government cannot be criticized, that is an outstanding example of egotism. The honorable; senator suggested also the transfer of rehabilitation from the field of social, services to the hospitals. That is now a world trend, and I commend that idea of Senator Marriott’s to the Minister for further investigation.
Referring to> the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories the Minister stated that I had said that the Government had done nothing to extend them. Apparently he misunderstood me, intentionally or otherwise. I said that for over 20 years there had been no expansion. The position is that a building will be erected as promised in, say, two and a half years, but there will be no extension of the activities of the laboratories.
Let me refer now to the question of dental health in children and adults. Senator Brown referred to the importance of diet, and every one knows the value of a good diet in the preservation of children’s teeth. In view of commercial activities, it will be very difficult to persuade children to refrain from eating sweets in the form of biscuits or lollies, but there is fluoridation of water supplies in 56 countries of the world. I think the Government should make its attitude to this question known to the people. The British Medical Association, the Dental Association of Great
Britain, the American Dental Association, the American Medical Association and most of the outstanding medical and dental men in Australia - I admit there are some of them who differ from this view - are definitely wedded to the principle of the fluoridation of municipal water supplies. Therefore, I think there is a responsibility on the Government to come out into the open in this matter and to make a definite statement of its attitude.
Only recently, at a poll taken in Albury, a proposal by the local council to add fluoride to the municipal water supply was defeated. Fluoride occurs naturally in some quantities in the municipal water supply at Barcaldine in Queensland, and although the children there have much the same diet as the children in other Queensland country towns, the incidence of caries there among, children is 60 per cent, less than elsewhere. I. think there is a responsibility on the Minister for Health to start the Government’s position in this matter. Otherwise, we shall have, dentists and medical practitioners, supporting a campaign for the fluoridation of municipal water supplies and at the same time we shall have a number of people, with no scientific background, travelling around the country and putting fear and terror into the minds of the people by claiming that water will be poisoned by the addition of fluoride,, although it is a chemical not dissimilar from others that are accepted on our tables every day.
I suggest to the Minister that he further consider Senator Marriott’s suggestion about research into rheumatic diseases.. I have a great affection for Senator Marriott, although I have not a great regard for his intellect or for bis assessment of me, which is so often incorrect.
-. - Don’t sound so hollow in your references to Senator Marriott. They are most unworthy, I think.
– I said that a worthy idea had emanated from him. What more could I say?
– You said you had little regard for his intellect. I think his intellect is as. good as yours.
– You are entitled to your opinion, but other people may disagree with you. You did not come to my aid when Senator Marriott was speaking last Wednesday, did you? I leave two ideas with the Minister. They are that he support Senator Marriott’s suggestions regarding research into rheumatic diseases and the transfer of rehabilitation from the field of social services to the hospitals, and that he consider what I have said about the fluoridation of water supplies.
There is one other matter that I want to raise. It refers to the payments to the States for the administration of hospital benefits. I refer to the non-payment of pensions to pensioners admitted to hospitals for the treatment of mental illness. The Government ceases to pay pensions to these people; but in Queensland recently a new system has been adopted. These patients have been admitted to annexes attached to general hospitals and I understand that they receive not only a pension payment of 35s. a week but also Commonwealth benefit of 8s. a day. If they are in an appropriate hospital benefits scheme they receive the 12s. supplementary hospital allowance. In other States pensioners are deprived of such payments.
I wish to emphasize this distinction between Queensland and the other States. In Queensland, when people suffering from mental disease are in general hospitals, 35s. of their pension is paid to them. In addition they receive the Commonwealth benefit of 8s. a day and also a supplementary allowance if they are members of an approved hospital benefit fund.
– I wish to refer to Division No. 291, sub-division 3, item 03 - Medical research (for payment to the credit of the Medical Research Endowment Fund). I am very pleased that the amount has been increased from £261,000, which was expended last year, to £298,500 for the current year. This fund has been in existence now for about 24 years, and it is interesting to note the attention that this Government has paid to the appropriation of money for the use of this fund over the years. When the fund was first commenced the Parliament appropriated £30,000 to be credited to it. Taking ten-year periods, I find that in 1947-48 an amount of £60,000 was appropriated; in 1956-57 it was £210,000; and, as is obvious to honor able senators, the present appropriation is approximately £300,000.
I am very interested in the report that the Minister was good enough to forward to honorable senators setting out the work done under the Medical Research Endowment Act during the year 1960. I desire to mention particularly the research that has been carried out in the Department of Bacteriology. A lady doctor, Phyllis Rountree appears to be in charge of it. I wish to refer to the work done on antibiotic resistant staphylococci in hospital patients and staff and also the cross-infection of surgical wounds.
I was interested to read what the report has to say about blankets used in hospitals. A great deal of controversy has taken place in South Australia during the last two years about whether it was wise to use woollen blankets or blankets of another material in hospitals. The argument put up by advocates for materials other than wool was that non-woollen blankets were better in every way, especially from the point of view of combating cross-infection. Results of studies carried out by Dr. Rountree are as follows -
A short study was made of the effect of cotton blankets compared with woollen ones on the nasal colonization rates and on the load of bacteria in the ward air during bedmaking There was no statistically significant difference between the rates of acquisition of nasal staphylococci by the two groups of patients. The numbers of bacteria in the wards during bedmaking were higher in the wards when cotton blankets were in use. From the aesthetic point of view, the cotton blankets could be washed more frequently and were acceptable to the patients and nursing staff but they had the disadvantage that they released more fluff than the woollen ones.
Very interesting and significant research has been carried out. I think that the results of this research should be publicized because all over the world there has been serious criticism of the use of woollen blankets in hospitals. Now we have the report of a person who has carried out research into this problem. She says that the numbers of bacteria in the wards during bedmaking were higher in the wards when cotton blankets were in use. Apart from being pure research, the research that has been carried out by Dr. Rountree has a very practical application.
Senator TOOHEY (South Australia [5.2]. - I wish to refer to Division No. 291, Item 01 and then to page 193 of the Estimates - National health service. My attention has been directed to a matter on which I should like the views of the Minister. It has to do with the position of pensioners eligible for pensioner medical service benefits. The case I have in mind is that of a pensioner who required eye treatment. He had to go to a specialist and was charged a fee of three guineas. The specialist prescribed an eye ointment for which the pensioner had to pay. At the end of six months the prescription expired and the unfortunate pensioner patient had to visit the specialist again and pay another three guineas in order to get continuation of the treatment. 1 have no reason to believe those details are not correct because I know that the existing pensioner medical scheme covers only general practitioner and chemist services, lt does not cover hospital or specialist services to any marked degree.
I submit that there is a weakness in the health services of this country that needs to be corrected if a case such as I have outlined can occur. I think the Minister will agree that a pensioner should not have to pay a fee in order to obtain a prescription for the continuance of treatment, and that the present situation should not be tolerated but should be corrected as soon as possible. It would immeasurably assist a large number of people if the Commonwealth Government were to eliminate this anomaly in the national health scheme. It would relieve the aged section of our community of a burden that has been imposed upon it.
.- I refer to Division No. 291 -Other Services, item 02, “Cattle tick eradication and control in New South Wales- Subsidy, £349,500”. I note that last year the amount appropriated and actually spent was £541,388. Will the Minister state the reason for the reduction this year? I hope that it is because it is thought that the amount to be provided will be sufficient for the work to be done, but I also trust that it does not mean that there will be a diminution in the eradication campaign.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland) [5.6]. - I wish to congratulate the Government on the assistance it gives to the Australian Red Cross Society in connexion with the blood transfusion service. This matter is referred to in item 03 - Other Services - under Division No. 293. I note that this year the proposed expenditure is greater than that of last year. I think we all are aware of the great work that is being done by the Red Cross in this field. It supplies life-giving blood which, in many cases, means the restoration to health of people who might not otherwise survive. That is a tremendously important service and 1 am glad that additional assistance is to be given.
I should also like to pay a tribute to our aerial medical services. I note that the Government proposes to provide a subsidy for that work also. In a State such as mine, where great distances have to be covered, the provision of aerial medical services is greatly appreciated. I would like information concerning the item, “ Potassium iodide tablets - free issue “. Last year, the amount voted for this purpose was £1,690, and £1,194 was spent. This year, there is to be no appropriation. I have always understood that the provision of such tablets is a necessary preventive measure, particularly in relation to child health in certain areas. I should like to know why there is to be no appropriation this year.
– I point om to Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin that in the Australian Capital Territory, which is in the goitre belt, iodine salt is now being used in the bread that is sold to residents. The cost of that service is met from the National Welfare Fund, and that is why no amount is shown in the estimates for the Department of Health.
The reduction in the proposed expenditure on cattle tick eradication and control results from a change in the nature of the control programme. The changed programme resulted from recommendations of an independent committee of inquiry appointed by the New South Wales Government at the instigation of the Commonwealth. Those recommendations, as modified by the Cattle Tick Commission, an advisory body comprised of representatives, from the Commonwealth, New South
Wales and Queensland, included control of cattle tick by strategic dipping and maintaining the external boundary of the whole area and the Richmond Range boundary within the area. The emphasis has now been placed on control to prevent the spread of cattle tick infestation rather than complete eradication. The Commonwealth proposes to assist financially the programme of strategic dipping in the area west of the Richmond Range, that being regarded as a safety measure against the spread of the tick beyond the quarantine area. However, the cost of the strategic dipping in the area east of the Richmond Range will be borne wholly by the New South Wales Government. At the same time, a programme of research has been commenced with the object of providing information to form the basis of future eradication programmes.
asked about payments to the States for the administration of hospital benefits. He wanted to know why the expenditure had been reduced. The decrease is due to the fact that no payment will be made to the Victorian Government in 1961-62, as that function has been taken over by the Commonwealth at the request of the State.
– That was not the question I asked.
– Well, another honorable senator asked the question, and that is the explanation. Senator Dittmer said that nothing had been spent on new works for the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories.
– I did not say that nothing had been spent.
– I suggest that the honorable senator listen to the information on such expenditure that I am about to give the committee. In 1954-55, £233,470 was spent on the programme for new works; in 1955-56, £48,910; in 1956-57, £220,750; in 1957-58, £391,800; in 1958-59, £302,060; in 1959-60, £156,750; and in 1960-61, £343,528, making a total of £1,697,268 in five years. Yet, the honorable senator says that no money has been spent!
– I refer to Division No. 292 - Quarantine. Recently the Premier of South Australia announced that a large power station would be constructed on Torrens Island, where the quarantine station is at present situated. I am wondering whether it will be necessary to find a new site for the quarantine station. I do not know whether it would be possible to have a large power station and a quarantine station in close proximity to one another. I know that the site is an ideal one for a quarantine station, and I am sure that my South Australian colleagues will agree with me. TorrensIsland is a low-lying island in the Port River, surrounded by mangroves. It is not a very attractive site, but it is well suited for quarantine purposes. I had the pleasure of visiting the station a good many years ago, and I was impressed by the suitability of the area for quarantine purposes. If the proposal to build a power station there means that another site will have to be found for the quarantine station, that will involve the expenditure of a considerable sum of money.
– The Minister has referred to amounts expended in relation to the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. I am wondering whether those sums were expended on buildings. If they were, then I am sorry I said that no major work has been done. Perhaps I was misled by a report of the Public Works Committee. Last year, the committee tendered a report- Senator O’Byrne has confirmed my impression in thisrespect - in which it said that there had been no major building work in connexion with the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories for twenty years. I should like to be clear on the matter.
I wish to refer to the provision of salaries for the officers who administer the national health service. From memory, approximately £11,000,000 will be spent on medical benefits this year. I was wondering whether any advice had been tendered by those officers to the Minister in favour of an alteration of the system so that it would provide a more substantial benefit to contributors. Originally, when the scheme was established, it was visualized that not more than 90 per cent. - Sir Earle Page visualized 90 per cent. - of the cost of medical attention would be met. In many instances, the percentage is little more than 50 per cent. The Government tried to assist in some measure last year by raising the Commonwealth subsidy of the cost of some major operations, but in no circumstances do medical benefits and the Commonwealth subsidy meet anything like 90 per cent of the cost. I should like the Minister to say whether officers are making any investigation to determine whether more substantial assistance could be given to contributors to medical benefit schemes, who are under a tremendous handicap. The ordinary worker with a family cannot possibly carry on. This is making a farce of the scheme, and the Government appears to be not interested in the disabilities that the people are suffering.
.- I relate my remarks to the schedule showing salaries and allowances in relation to the national health service. I solicit from the Minister some information relating to the standing committee on prices appointed by the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron), which deals with the Federated Pharmaceutical Service Guild of Australia. Pharmacists are not completely satisfied with the set-up of the committee. They have had deputations to members of Parliament, seeking that the constitution of the committee be altered by the addition of an impartial chairman or adviser to the Government. At present the Government and the guild are equally represented. The contention is that the independent member could sift the evidence presented by both sides and then advise the Government. The chemists are of vital importance to the success of the scheme. Recently there have been rulings by the Department of Health, with which they do not completely agree, in relation to the pricing of large and standard packs and the determination of professional fees.
The guild directs attention to the need for a reconstituted committee to examine the guild’s submissions and objections to Government proposals, which have been overruled by the Minister for Health on the advice of his departmental officials. The chemists do not seek to interfere with the Minister’s power of determination under the act, but they would like an opportunity to present their case to a more impartial referee before a .ministerial decision is made.
– Order! The honorable senator is making what is, in effect, a secondreading speech. 1 ask him to relate his remarks to the estimates before the committee.
– Under the heading “ National Health Service “ an appropriation of £237,285 is proposed for salaries of various officers of the department. 1 ask the Minister whether provision can be made for reconstituting the committee in the manner I suggest for the purpose of considering these very important matters in relation to which the guild has made representation to members of Parliament. This is the only occasion on which these matters can be raised.
– You can raise them any night on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate.
– There is no better occasion than when the proposed vote for the department is being discussed. Although the forms of the Senate are available for use in the manner suggested by the Minister, honorable senators who have applied themselves diligently to their work during the day are ready to go home at the usual hour of adjournment.
The chemists feel aggrieved with the Minister’s standing committee, believing that it should be reconstituted to provide an independent chairman or member to present their case to the Minister more strongly. They have given up a number of their rights as professional men to help the Government to give a necessary health service to the public. They want it known that in future they intend to protect themselves from any injustices that arise while they are providing this .service as partners of the Government. I hope that very serious consideration will be given to the matters raised by the chemists and that the committee will be reconstituted so that it .may carry out the spirit of the National Health Act, which envisages a liaison between the medical and pharmaceutical professions acting in concert with the Government to give the public an efficient, smoothly-running national health service.
– Senator Hannaford referred to the quarantine
Station on Torrens Island in the Port River. I have no information in relation to that matter. When we know whether a power station is to be built-
– lt will be built all right.
– When we know the area of land that the power station will occupy, the position will be examined. I point out that we have a number of quarantine stations, including one at North Head, Manly, close to the city of Sydney. I do not think that the proposal would make any difference to the quarantine station, provided that the whole area was not required for the power station, in which case the removal of the quarantine station to some other site would be a matter for negotiations.
Senator Dittmer raised the matter of a review of the rates of Commonwealth medical benefit. All aspects of that benefit are under the control of the Department of Health and are kept under constant review. Senator O’Byrne suggested the appointment of an independent chairman of the Standing Committee on Pharmaceutical Prices. The present representation of equal numbers of Commonwealth and guild members has not in practice resulted in any real difficulties. Where there has been a division of opinion on major issues, the practice has been to provide the Minister with full details of both sides of the question. So, the Minister has been able to make his decision in the light of the full facts. The function of the committee is to advise the Minister. The present practice ensures that the Minister is provided with full information, should the guild and departmental views differ.
In respect of the amendment of section 99 of the National Health Act to provide more definite machinery in regard to consultations between the Minister and the guild, it cannot be said that the Minister’s consultations with the guild have been perfunctory. In fact, he has devoted considerable periods of time to discussions with the guild and has always been available to discuss questions with representatives of the guild’s federal body. This is in line with the general concept of the national health service as a partnership. The guild can be assured that its views have always been given thorough consideration by the Minister. Deputations of chemists and chemists individually have raised a number of other relatively minor matters, including the procedure or machinery adopted in the formulation of departmental views on claims submitted by chemists and the adjustment of those claims. A number of these matters were considered at a recent meeting of the Standing Committee on Pharmaceutical Prices and are currently the subject of the attention of the department. The Minister has not been approached directly by the guild’s federal body on these points, but he would be pleased to give proper consideration to representations made by that body.
– I wish to ask the Minister a question. I do not know under which Division this matter comes, but I would be grateful to receive the Minister’s help on it. As the names of the members of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission have been made public, will the Minister tell me who are the members of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee and whether the Estimates contain any provision for remuneration for their services?
– I have no information about their names.
.- I wish to trouble the Minister by referring to the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories and the Bazeley case. I have never been satisfied as to exactly what took place prior to the public discussion of that case. In recent weeks I have voiced my concern about this matter because of the time at which this House of the Parliament had to deal with it in the last sessional period. I ask the Minister whether he can give the committee information on whether or not the advice of Dr. Bazeley was sought by the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) on the reconstitution of the laboratories before the submission of the measure that Dr. Bazeley publicly criticized.
I believe that a very material factor in one’s assessment of the justice of that case is knowing whether there were confidential consultations between the Minister and Dr. Bazeley before a decision was reached by the Government on the form that thai measure took. Naturally, in the ordinary course I would expect that the proposals would be under consideration and the subject of confidential advice by the Director of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories for a substantial period of time before the Government’s decision was made known; but in regard to this legislation there were elements of precipitation that caused me some anxiety as to whether or not the confidence of the director was availed of fully in that respect.
The other aspect of this case to which I wish to refer, and on which I have commented, is a view that I still hold that the decision of the Public Service Board on the degree of penalty - namely, demotion - seemed to me to be excessive.
Order! This matter is on the notice-paper. 1 think the honorable senator is trespassing on that debate.
– Are you referring to the notice-paper of the Senate, Mr. Temporary Chairman?
Yes. On the Senate notice-paper, Order of the Day No. 4 reads -
Doctor P. L. Bazeley ; Report of Board of Inquiry ; Paper. Adjourned debate (from 5th September) on the motion by Senator McKenna, viz. - That the Paper be printed.
The honorable senator will be allowed to discuss the report in that debate. Therefore 1 think he is anticipating that debate.
– I ask the mover of that motion to ask for leave to move a motion now to expunge it from the noticepaper so that we may get rid of that technical difficulty, because this is the time to discuss this matter. I forbear to make further reference to the report of the board of inquiry-
Order! Perhaps the honorable senator should ask for leave of the committee to refer to this matter.
– I ask for leave to make further references to this matter. (Leave granted.)
I do not wish to refer to the report of the board of inquiry. In view of my concern about the justice of the decision, I ask the Minister whether he can give the committee any information about similar cases over the last, say, twenty years, so that with the assistance of precedents we can see whether or not any unusual consideration has entered inadvertently or deliberately into the Public Service Board’s decision on this matter.
I am concerned because one of the things of which we in this modern world have to beware is the authoritarian suppression of opinions expressed in the public interest. As I have said before, I do not deny that the director of a government instrumentality owes an undivided duty to the Minister whom he is serving, but when he commits a breach of that duty publicly, by making a statement for all the world to see, the gravity of the offence does not seem to me to be comparable with cases which involve an element of want of integrity, disloyalty of a secretive nature, or the pursuit of a policy that is consistently opposed to the Government of which he is a servant. I trust that the Minister will think me not unreasonable in asking him to give the committee information on other cases which the Public Service Board has borne in mind, as a guide to the justice of the decision in this case.
– If it is necessary, I also ask for leave to refer very briefly to this matter. (Leave granted.)
I am grateful to the committee because 1 suspect strongly that the Senate will not be given an opportunity to debate my motion that the report of the board of inquiry be printed. I do not propose now to open up the matter to any extent beyond, first of all, a comment upon the fact that Dr. Bazeley was found guilty after pleading guilty to the offence with which he was charged. So, one does not need to canvass, in particular, the merits of that matter.
I am particularly concerned about the measure of the penalty for which the Government must accept responsibility. The Public Service Board recommended to the Government that Dr. Bazeley be demoted and appointed to a junior position. Apart from the humiliation involved in that there was also a terrific financial penalty in that he suffered - I speak from memory - a reduction of salary amounting to approximately ?875 a year. If, in relation to any offence, one heard that an individual was fined £875 in a lump sum, one would have regarded it as being a very heavy penalty. The point I make is that it is not merely a single penalty; it is a recurring penalty. It will go on year after year. The ultimate financial penalty spread over the service life of the doctor in question could run into many thousands of pounds.
The Government received a recommendation from the Public Service Board. That was accepted and adopted by the Government which, as the Executive, then made a recommendation to the GovernorGeneral. The Governor-General accepted that recommendation as a matter of course. It is quite within the power of the Executive to revoke that heavy financial penalty. Having regard to all the circumstances of the case - the wonderful service Dr. Bazeley has rendered to humanity in the cause of science, the very excellent work he did in the institution of which he was the director, the fact that all the hue and cry has died down, and the fact that within the last two days a new director and the members of the new commission have been appointed pursuant to ‘the legislation which we dealt with in the early hours of 18th May - I suggest that the Government might well consider the undue severity of the recurring penalty that has been imposed on the doctor. It is quite wrong that the penalty should be a recurring one.
I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise whether he will take up with the Minister for Health the matter of revising the penalty. The various positions on the board have been filled and a new director has been appointed. Surely a consideration of all the facts should lead to the conclusion that it would have been a sufficient penalty to depose the doctor from the directorship and to move him to a relatively subsidiary position in an institution of which he was the chief executive officer. On any assessment of the situation, surely the humiliation he experienced before his fellows was sufficient without having imposed upon him a penalty which amounts to nearly £1,000 per annum. As Senator O’Byrne suggested, it might go on for ten years. That should not be lost sight of. I think every honorable senator will agree with me that the ultimate of humiliation in the penalty was his deposition from office and his relegation to a junior position. Having regard to the world eminence he had attained, that in itself was an exceedingly severe penalty to impose upon him.
The Government should temper justice with a little mercy. Without overstressing the matter, I personally regard the financial penalty involved as being a really cruel one. I should like the Minister for Customs and Excise to give an assurance that he will take up the matter with the Government and ask for a review of it.
– I have listened very closely to this discussion. 1 do not know whether Senator Wright has taken the step of discussing this matter with the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron).
– No, I have not.
– I should have thought that that would be the proper step to take. If the honorable senator had any doubts or worries, one would have thought that he, as a supporter of the Government, would go to the Minister for Health and clear his doubts. I do not think it is normal practice to bring up such a matter in this place when the estimates under discussion are in the hands of a person who is not the Minister for Health without first clearing one’s mind of its doubts and obtaining full information from the responsible Minister.
– Do you suggest that we have an opportunity to raise personally with Ministers all the matters that the debate on the Estimates enables us to raise?
– No. This is nothing new. The honorable senator has raised this issue before. I am merely expressing an opinion. In my opinion, the normal approach to this matter would have been for the honorable senator to discuss it with the Minister concerned and to inform himself on all the relevant points. Having expressed that opinion, there the matter stands.
Senator McKenna commenced his comments by saying that Dr. Bazeley admitted the offence. There is no question about the offence having been committed. The matter was considered by the Public Service Board in the normal manner. It is not quite fair to say that the penalty will extend over a period of years. It does not necessarily follow that the position which Dr. Bazeley holds at the present time will be occupied by him permanently. I mention that for the consideration of honorable senators. I give no undertaking to do other than ask the Minister for Health whether he will be kind enough to read the comments of both Senator Wright and Senator McKenna.
.- If my reference to this subject has created any difficulty because the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) is deputizing for the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron), I regret that fact. I rise now, Mr. Temporary Chairman, to state quite firmly that while I remain a member of the Parliament I shall not qualify or modify my right to raise in this public place any matter relating to the government of this country. I certainly will not submit to a course which prescribes for me private consultation with Ministers preparatory to debate. If, having regard to other duties and the time available, 1 had had an opportunity, or if it had occurred to me, I would have sought to take advantage of that opportunity if I thought it would have been a matter of convenience. But this matter comes up for discussion during the debate on the estimates, and I regard it as not merely my unqualified right but also my unfortunate duty, if I am anxious about a decision of the Government, to ask the representative of the Government publicly in the Parliament to justify it.
– Was it a government decision or a judicial decision?
– The Leader of the Government in this place has asked whether it was a government decision or a judicial decision. As the query emanates from the Leader of the Government in the Senate. 1 pause to give a very studied reply.
– I just have not got the facts in my mind. Did the board of inquiry inflict the penalty?
– The board of inquiry simply reported the facts to the
Public Service Board. The board of inquiry was presided over by Mr. Justice Eggleston. He had the assistance of two other persons. They reported the facts to the board. As Senator McKenna said, the facts were admitted eventually by Dr. Bazeley. The decision as to the penalty was the decision of the Public Service Board, and the Government approved that decision. Because that was not a judicial decision, but was an administrative decision, I believe that a special duty is imposed upon the Parliament, if there is any anxiety or disquiet about the decision, to debate it objectively. There is a duty to see that an administrative decision does not miscarry.
– Far be it from any one in this chamber to try to take away any of the rights of an honorable senator. I have a right to express a view on any subject coming before us. The view that I expressed on this subject was that the normal procedure would be to seek information in the place where it could be obtained, and that it was not appropriate to seek to obtain the information from a Minister deputizing in this place for the Minister concerned. That is all that I said. I maintain that anybody who felt any anxiety about the decision that was made should have sought information at the source. Senator Wright asked a Minister who acts in this chamber for the Minister for Health to supply information. In doing that, the honorable senator was acting within his rights, but I suggest that the normal procedure would be to seek the information from the Minister who had all the details of the case at his disposal. Then, if anxiety or disquiet still persisted, the forms of the Senate could be utilized to raise the matter again. If I had wanted to learn the facts of this case, I know that I would have gone to the Minister concerned. The honorable senator has said that he did not do that.
– I suggest, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that we defer a decision on this subject until the sitting is resumed after dinner. I was not present when the discussion began, but I understand there has been some criticism of the Government’s action. There have been, I believe, references to the appointment of a board of inquiry, to the findings of the board of inquiry, to the decision of the Public Service Board and to the ratification of that decision by the Government. I do not pretend to have all the facts in my mind, but I do know that the Government made certain that this matter would be handled impartially so that no suggestion could properly be made that the scales were weighted on one side or the other. I ask for an opportunity to find out what has happened in this debate and to consider whether I should make a further reference to it when we meet again.
Sitting suspended from 5.50 to 8 p.m.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Proposed expenditure - Department of Health - Capital Works and Services, £639,000; Payments to or for the States - Department of Health, £400,000 - noted.
Department of Immigration
Proposed expenditure, £11,633,000.
– I refer to the item dealing with contributions to the maintenance of migrant families. The appropriation this year is to be £1,300,000. Last year the appropriation was £1,050,000, and the expenditure was £1,050,000. The Auditor-General had something to say about the contribution to the maintenance of migrant families, and he disclosed that a contribution of £1,115,000 was made to Commonwealth Hostels Limited in 1960-61. There appears to be a discrepancy in the figures. Can the Minister tell me to whom the amount of £1,300,000 is to be paid? If it is to be paid to a company can he tell me the name of the company? Can he also give the Senate any details of interest in connexion with this payment?
The next matter to which I wish to refer is item 09 - Hostels and Migrant Centres - Caretaker and maintenance expenses of vacant establishments. Apparently the Department of Immigration is still responsible for some of the centres. I wish to know whether the vacant premises referred to are controlled by Commonwealth Hostels
Limited or whether they are under the control of the Department of Immigration. If they are under the control of Commonwealth Hostels Limited what is the necessity for this appropriation of £10,000? I notice that last year the expenditure on this item was £12,993.
Senator Sir WALTER COOPER (Queensland) [8.5]. - I desire to raise a couple of queries about the item dealing with British migration. The amount to be appropriated is £4,500,000. I should like the Minister to inform me to what extent a British migrant is assisted when he comes to this country, and why the appropriation appears to be so large.
I refer also to Greek migration for which the appropriation this year is £67,300. I notice that last year £102,776 was spent on this item. I should like to know the reason for the lesser amount this year. I turn now to Division No. 396 - Migration Offices - Other Overseas Posts. The amount appropriated for salaries last year was £45,600, but this year the amount for salaries of Australian-based staff is estimated at only £12,900. The appropriation for the salaries of locally engaged personnel amounted to £16,502 last year, but I notice that this year the appropriation is only £3,300. I should like some information about that.
.- I wish to speak on the administration of the Department of Immigration. During recent months great hardship has been caused to some people who have been brought to Australia as migrants after having gone through a trade test in their own country. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) extended to me recently the courtesy of permitting me to meet him and an officer of his department in Melbourne in an attempt to reach finality on this question. It seems that a number of migrants coming into this country are given trade tests in their own country, and then on reaching Australia are given another trade test. As a result of the second trade test they are debarred from following their trade in Australia.
I do not wish any person to engage in a trade unless he is capable, but surely some arrangement could be made by the Department of Labour and National Service and the Department of Immigration to ensure that a proper standard of trade tests is laid down for persons desiring to make application to come to Australia. A test of the same standard as a migrant has undergone in his own country should be given to him when he reaches Australia. Many immigrants who have undergone a test in their own country find on arriving in Australia that the various trade associations, whether they be unions or employers, will not permit them to work. It is not my wish to require people to engage in trades unless they are capable of doing so, but I think it should be an easy matter for the two departments I have mentioned to agree on a suitable arrangement with the trade committee for the particular union concerned. No doubt, some migrants have already passed trade tests in the countries from which they came. lt is possible that if they had not been able to pass the tests they would have stayed where they were and not come to this country. As we know, migrants are apt to blame the country of their adoption rather than themselves. How can migrants be satisfied that they are not being told one thing in the countries from which they come and another in Australia? I had hoped that we would hear something of this matter long before this, but since we have not, I now ask whether any common-sense proposal in this respect has been considered.
– I refer to Division No. 383 - Immigration services - Assisted migration, item 07, “Italian migration, £134,600”. I understand that we receive far more migrants from Italy than we do from the Netherlands or Germany. However, the proposed expenditure on assisted passages for Italian migrants is much less than that for migrants from either of those two countries. The figure for German migration is £358,500, and for Dutch migration, £369,700. Can the Minister explain why Italian migration costs so much less? I also refer to other immigration services, item 06, “ Education of non-British migrants in the English language, £425,000”. Can the Minister say how that money is to be expended, apart from the expenditure that is incurred on language broadcasts by the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
.- The problem mentioned by Senator Kennelly varies in the different States of the Com monwealth. I support his suggestion. I have held the opinion for a very long period that a trades committee should be appointed to deal specially with incoming migrants, or, preferably, to deal, in the countries from which the migrants are being recruited, with the employment situation in the various trades. After migrants arrive here the unions are very generous and helpful. They assist migrants who have not attained the standard of workmanship that the Australian tradesman is able to acquire under the advanced apprenticeship scheme.
Migrants who are described as electrical workers come to this country from the United Kingdom. They give their occupation as that of electrical worker. I do not know the position in the other States, but in Queensland an electrical worker must hold a certificate of competency. That is a statutory requirement. If a man does not hold such a certificate he is prohibited by the act from doing electrical work. 1 understand that the position is altogether different in the United Kingdom and that shop assistants may, if they wish, connect up electrical wiring on such appliances as motor mowers, washing machines, television sets and wireless sets. In this country, that may not be done. The Queensland provision was enacted, I should say, in about 1929 or 1930.
– No, it was before that. The Labour Government introduced it.
– I have personal knowledge of the act, because for a number of years it was one of the acts I administered. I adopted the policy that if a person who was not the bolder of a certificate of competency was found to be doing electrical work he was prosecuted. I saw that that was done, as far as I possibly could. Since the immigration scheme was inaugurated, migrants have been coming to this country and finding, after their arrival, that they must hold certificates of competency. The Fire Underwriters Association sponsored the scheme whereby electrical workers were required to be the holders of such certificates.
Migrants who come here expecting to find electrical work are dismayed and saddened when they are informed that it is impossible to admit them to the trade unless they pass the prescribed examination. T should say that in 90 per cent, of cases it would be impossible for them to pass the examination, even if, in some instances, they were to -concentrate on the course for “twelve months or as long as three years. It is probably late in the day to raise the matter, because I fear that the immigration policy of the ‘Commonwealth has been ‘dampened down .considerably. It is my belief that the intake of migrants will be much less than it has been in previous years. It may taper off considerably in the future. The Minister may be able to (enlighten mc on this matter and to say whether it is possible to save migrants from being discouraged immediately they arrive in Australia.
– The matter refer-red to by Senator Kennelly and Senator Benn is primarily one for the Department of Labour and National Service. That department co-operates with the local trade committees with a view to facilitating the .acceptance of migrants who are skilled. It is unusual, unless there are exceptional circumstances, for persons who are selected overseas as tradesmen not to be acceptable.
– That is not the position.
– I suggest that, if the honorable senator wants further information, he should raise the matter when we are discussing the proposed expenditure for the Department of Labour and National Service.
Senator Sir Walter Cooper referred to the provision of £4,500,000 for British migration. This amount is designed to cover the cost of assisted passages for British immigrants travelling to Australia under the United Kingdom-Australian assisted passage scheme. Adult migrants, that is persons nineteen years of age and over, travelling under this scheme make a contribution of £10 sterling towards the cost of their passages, whilst persons under this age travel free. With the exception of an overall contribution of £150,000 sterling by the United Kingdom Government towards the cost of assisted passages and transportation costs to the port of embarkation in the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth bears all remaining costs. Where necessary, the Commonwealth maintains migrants *in Australia, ‘pending movement to -final destination. A figure of 34,500 has been ‘set under -this scheme in 1961-62. The estimated cost to “.the Commonwealth of sailings is expected to be £4,500,000. Most o’f ‘this expenditure will be required for assisted passages, but it also includes passages and salaries for welfare and information officers and official chaplains, and for X-ray examination of ‘migrants.
– Does the wife pay £10 as well as the husband?
– Yes, and children under the age o’f nineteen travel free.
asked why we were spending less on Italian migration than on, say, Dutch migration, when more Italians were coming out to Australia. Italian migrants, assisted and unassisted, are numerically greater than Dutch migrants. However, the number of Italians assisted under the Commonwealth scheme is smaller than the number of Dutch assisted, hence the smaller amount provided.
– Is the position the same in respect of Germans?
– Yes. Senator O’Flaherty raised the matter ‘Of estimated expenditure of £1,300,000 as contribution to hostels, being an increase of £250,000 over last year’s expenditure of £1,050,000. This item is provided for the cost of applying concessional tariffs for dependants living in hostels, against whom the full adult rate cannot be charged. The projected increase of £250,000 is attributable to the following factors: - Higher occupancy resulting in a greater number being accommodated at concessional tariffs; the need to provide for 53 trading weeks in 1961-62 as against 52 in 1960-61; increased operating costs, mainly due to higher costs of food, electricity and water, and additional expenditure involved in repairs, maintenance and equipment replacement. Repair and maintenance costs have increased, due to the higher population. There has been a 12 per cent, increase in the cost of materials and in tradesmen’s awards. It is necessary to attend to works costing £16,000 for which funds were not available in 1960-61. Equipment replacement costs have also risen with the higher population, due to the necessity to replace room heaters at a cost of £37,000. Increased costs have been offset to the extent of £15,000 by a saving in administrative costs.
asked about the provision of £425,000 for the education of nonBritish migrants. Migrants who are unable to speak and understand English are severely handicapped in their personal affairs, as well as in dealings with fellow workers or employers. Consequently, their integration into the Australian community is retarded. Therefore, a free education programme has been arranged for nonEnglishspeaking migrants above school age. The adult migrant education scheme provides for class instruction in English on ships, and in migrant centres and factories in metropolitan and rural areas throughout Australia where migrants have congregated. Persons unable to attend classes can enrol for correspondence lessons. In addition, lessons are broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission in co-operation with the Commonwealth Office of Education.
Senator Sir Walter Cooper referred to the provision for travelling and subsistence and administrative expenses of migration officers overseas. These items cover travelling allowances and expenses and the provision of all stationery, office requisites, &c, for the department’s overseas officers in countries for which there is no specific vote. He referred also to caretaker and maintenance expenses. Due to the reduction in the migration programme brought into effect in 1952 and the reduction in the average time spent by migrants in Commonwealthprovided accommodation, the total volume of such accommodation in migrant centres and Commonwealth hostels was found to be greater than actual needs. It was decided, therefore, to dispose of some of the facilities and to hold some in reserve against possible future needs. The reserve accommodation is held on a caretaker basis in a condition that would enable resumption of normal use at short notice. Caretaker costs, including wages of caretakers and watchmen, attention to fire equipment, cost of electricity, water and sewerage rates and minor repairs and maintenance, were £12,993 in 1960-61. A decrease is expected in view of the proposed re-opening of Wallgrove No. 1 and No. 2 hostels.
– I refer to the proposed appropriation for the Inter-governmental Committee for European Migration as a contribution for administrative and operational expenses. The appropriation last year was £390,111. A similar amount was expended. The proposed appropriation this year is £426,400. Will the Minister give some details of the functions of this committee?
– I refer to Division No. 383, which contains provision for assisted migration. The maximum proposed appropriation is £4,500,000 for British migration. Various other amounts are provided, ranging down to £44,800 for Spanish migration. An amount of £134,600 is proposed to be appropriated for refugees. How are these refugees designated? From what country do they come? Is this amount to be spent to organize a flow of refugees to Australia or to assist them in the payment of fares, &c. Does the term mean people from behind the iron curtain, and is that why they are designated differently from others? Do refugees have to face the same type of security examination as migrants?
– I refer to Division No. 383, subdivision 2, item 02 - “ Migration publicity, £195,000 “. I notice that reference is also made to that amount of money in the report of the Auditor-General. I again direct the attention of the Minister and the committee to the miserly way in which the Auditor-General has treated the Senate and the Parliament in general in the information which he has furnished on pages 68 and 69 of his report. The Department of Immigration is dealt with in fewer than 200 words and a few tables with little or no explanation associated with them. This year’s appropriation for this department is approximately £11,500,000.
– Most of the information is just a transcript from the Estimates.
– That is right. I believe that we should keep pin-pointing these matters. I am interested in migration publicity. If the amount of £195,000 were divided amongst only the seven major Australian immigration offices throughout the world, only about £28,000 would be allocated to each of them. But we know that there are many other places throughout the world, which are not specified in the Estimates, where Australian immigration offices are situated. I would be interested to know the average amount that is required for publicity. 1 particularly want to know in what way this publicity is undertaken. Is it in the form of posters? Is it in the form of advertisements in the newspapers of the countries concerned? Is it done by officers travelling from, say, the centre in Rome throughout Italy and, by word of mouth, endeavouring to get people to come to Australia? Is radio or television publicity used in most countries? No indication is given to us from which we may form conclusions and so, perhaps, be able to submit some bright ideas on migration publicity. I should like to see in the Parliament from time to time photostats or copies of some of the publicity matter that is disseminated in these countries.
– Do you know whether information of that kind is in the report of the Department of Immigration?
– I have not noticed it in that report. It is something that usually is not contained in a report, and more is the pity. When we are considering the expenditure of large sums of money we should understand clearly in what way the money is expended. In order to do that we have to have the necessary information. I believe that these matters are important. I hope that the Minister can give me a break-up of the publicity expenditure. I hope that the point I have made about the report of the Auditor-General will not be overlooked.
I also wish to raise a matter associated with the overall immigration programme, namely, the imbalance which is known to exist in Australia at present between the number of young unmarried male migrants who come to Australia and the number of single female migrants who are attracted to this country. Perhaps the imbalance is not as bad now as it was. Everybody knows that the preponderance of young unmarried male migrants presents a social problem and places the male migrants in an impossible social position. 1 know that the attention of the Department of Immigration has been directed towards solving this problem. I should like to know what progress has been made This is very important.
I should also like the Minister to give me his views on the curtailment of the immigration programme as the result of the economic situation. The Budget indicates that some curtailment will be made. 1 have been led to believe that greater emphasis will be placed on seeking skilled or semi-skilled tradesmen, or at least men with some degree of skill. Is any extra publicity needed to locate people in those categories and induce them to come to Australia? I believe that these questions are exercising not only my mind but also the mind of every other honorable senator. Finally, I repeat that I am extremely disappointed at the lack of information contained on pages 68 and 69 of the report of the Auditor-General.
– I wish to reply to the questions raised by Senator Toohey on the appropriation of £195,000 for migration publicity. The publicity section’s estimated expenditure for 1961-62 is £195,000, of which £37,000 is allocated for publicity within Australia. The remainder is intended for factual information services in the migrant-source countries.
Expenditure within Australia is largely for publicity designed to encourage the integration of migrants. This includes, first, the publication of the department’s monthly journal, “ The Good Neighbour “, and all departmental publications; secondly, advertising and the preparation of booklets, &c, to promote interest in naturalization and in learning English; and thirdly, advertising and displays to inform the Australian public of the results of immigration and the need for its steady continuance. A major part of the expenditure within Australia is for films, photographs, articles, posters and other publicity material obtained locally for use in the migrant-source countries, where it is important at all times to keep Australia’s name well and favorably known.
The overseas allocation is for advertising - direct and indirect - by press, radio and television, the printing of a wide range of regularly revised “ Fact “ pamphlets in the languages of the migrant-source countries; film shows and information evenings; displays and posters; exhibitions and pictorial booklets. These activities are designed to keep Australia’s name before potential migrants and to inform them as fully as possible of conditions in Australia. The general publicity is part of a long-term programme to ensure a general awareness of Australia as an immigration country. The specific, detailed information is mainly for people applying to migrate. The largest part of the overseas allocation is for expenditure in the United Kingdom, from which about half the migrants to Australia are drawn. Expenditure in 1960-61 was ?192,984. The increase in the appropriation in 1961-62 is required to meet higher printing and advertising costs.
Senator Toohey also asked, about the reduction in the migrant intake for this year. He covered the reason for that. We are seeking skilled tradesmen and family units this year in preference to the normal run of unskilled migrants. The honorable senator referred to the report of the Auditor-General. I am afraid that I am miles behind the honorable senator because I do not understand his point. Had there been anything in the administration of the Department of Immigration that the Auditor:General wished to question, surely he would have said so. As one reads through the report of the Auditor-General, one sees that where he has found something to criticize he has not hesitated to criticize it. I am pleased to say that I cannot see any criticism of this department by the AuditorGeneral on pages 68 and 69 of his report. I have not read the report very thoroughly, but if there was something to question I think he would have questioned it.
Senator Sir Walter Cooper referred to Austrian migration and asked whether the appropriation covers the cost to the Commonwealth Government arising from the movement of assisted migrants from Austria to Australia. The Commonwealth contributes the equivalent of 100 dollars towards the passage cost of such approved migrants, including dependants irrespective of age. The balance of passage costs is shared by the Inter-governmental Committee for European Migration, the Australian Government and the migrant. It is expected that 1,500 persons will travel to Australia under the arrangement during this financial year at a cost to the Commonwealth of ?67,300.
Senator Ormonde referred to the proposed expenditure of ?134,600 on refugees. This provision is to cover the cost of the Commonwealth’s contribution to the assisted migration to Australia of Hungarian and Yugoslav refugees. These migrants will be moved under arrangements with the Inter-governmental Committee for European Migration. The Commonwealth’s contribution to the cost of passages of all approved refugee migrants is the equivalent of 100 dollars per person, irrespective of age. It is expected that 3,000 migrants will travel under this arrangement during 1961-62 at a cost of ?134,600.
– Are they screened in the same way as other migrants?
– As far as practicable, they are subjected to the same screening.
– Their word is taken? The point I am making is that they are from behind the iron curtain.
– As far as practicable, they go through the same test as would anybody else. The contribution to the Inter-governmental Committee for European Migration is ?426,400. This committee, which is representative of 30 member governments, including the Australian Government, has operated since 1952 to facilitate by financial aid the provision of technical services, such as shipping, for the orderly movement of European migrants to countries offering opportunities for permanent re-settlement. Membership of the committee is open to any nation which subscribes to the principle of free movement of peoples and which is prepared to contribute, on an agreed percentage basis, to its administrative budget. Australia’s contribution to the committee’s administrative budget for this financial year is estimated to be ?68,137.
In addition, during the financial year the Commonwealth will be required to meet the second half of the 1961 special operational contribution of 800,000 dollars and for the first half of the 1962 special operational contribution of up to 800,000 dollars. Summarized, the provision of £426,400 is arrived at as follows: - From 1st July, 1961, to 31st December, 1961, one-half of the 1961 Special Fund contribution, £179,107; from 1st January, 1962, to 30th June, 1962, one-half of the 1962 Special Fund contribution, £179,107; administrative contribution for the year, £68,137; and round-off, £49. In 1960-61 expenditure amounted to £390,109. The increase is due to the higher rate of contributions to the Special Fund payable by member governments.
– I refer to Division No. 383 - immigration Services. I note with great pleasure that it is proposed to spend £4,500,000 on British migration and that it is proposed to spend some very large sums upon the migration of people from Malta, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Austria, Greece, Spain and Belgium, and upon refugees from various other countries. One country is conspicuous by the absence of its name from the migration programme. I refer to France. I do not see why we should not have a lot of French migrants. I believe Senator McCallum will be with me all the way here. France is one of the most cultured countries, if not the most cultured country, in the world. It is rather a pity that this young nation of ours is not having the advantage of a large number of French migrants of the right sort. Can the Minister tell me whether we are unable to persuade French people to migrate to Australia?
– We cannot even get French postcards out here!
– You speak for yourself in relation to that. I should like to know whether, as a matter o£ Government policy, we are not interested in French migrants. Personally, I should like to see a lot of them come here. Quite obviously, there is not much disagreement on the part of the Opposition, so I shall move on to the next matter I wish to raise.
I refer now to item 08 - Assimilation activities - under the heading “ Other Immigration Services “. It is proposed to appropriate a sum of £12,000 for this purpose. To me that does not seem to be a lot of money for assimilation activities, especially when we are receiving between 70,000 and 90;000 migrants a year. If that sum of £12,000 is divided by 70,000 or 80,000, is does not indicate a very large expenditure per migrant on assimilation activities. Can the Minister indicate what type of assimilation is envisaged in this item? Quite obviously, it does not refer to the broad problems of assimilation. Nor do I expect that the Government would spend only that little sum of money on the assimilation of so many migrants.
Finally, I refer to item 09 - ‘Hostels and Migrant Centres - Caretaker and maintenance expenses of vacant establishments. I note that it is proposed to spend £10,000- on the maintenance of vacant establishments. Will the Minister tell me how many hostels are vacant, where they are, how long they have been vacant, and how long the Government expects them to remain vacant. Sometimes one hears criticism of the Government’s policy in relation to the prolonged maintenance of establishments which apparently will not be used for some time. 1 should like the Minister to furnish me with that information.
– I refer to the proposed expenditure of £150,000 on the movement of assisted migrants upon disembarkation. There was no appropriation for this purpose last year. I am wondering whether last year migrants had to walk from their ships to their camps or places of employment upon disembarkation. I note that it is proposed to expend £618,000 on the maintenance of migrants. Provision is made in the Estimates also for medical and hospital treatment for migrants in the initial period of settlement. Am I to understand that the sum of £70,500 which is to be spent for this purpose covers the period for which migrants are in hostels prior to their commencing work and settling down? I should also like to know whether migrants become eligible for sickness and hospital benefits as soon as they arrive. Are any cross-payments made between the Department of Social Services and the Department of Immigration in respect of migrants who are ill, or are any payments made from hospital benefit funds or organizations of that kind?
Then I turn to item 03, again in subdivision 2 of Division No. 383, relating to a contribution to the maintenance of migrant families. The proposed vote for that item is £1,300,000. Item 15 of subdivision 1 of the division is, “ Reception, training and accommodation centres - Maintenance of migrants, £618,000 “. The other item to which I have just referred relates, as I have said, to the maintenance of migrant families. What is the difference between the two items? Do they both relate to the same subject?
In sub-division 2 of Division No. 383, item 05 is, “ Repatriation and deportation, £25,000 “. What is the difference between the repatriation and the deportation of migrants? Am I right in thinking that a migrant is deported if he has committed a crime in this country and is repatriated if he just wants to go home? Are there any records showing the numbers of migrants repatriated or deported? I ask that question because certain sections of the overseas press gives a great deal of publicity to cases of dissatisfied migrants returning to their home countries, but say nothing about the hundreds of thousands of satisfied migrants who remain in Australia. I should like to know whether the department has any figures showing, not only how many migrants return to their home countries, but also how many come back to Australia after having returned to their homelands and found that conditions there were not as rosy as they believed them to be. I am pleased that the appropriation for repatriation and deportation is no larger than £25,000.
The last item to which I want to refer relates to a damages claim in respect of what is described as the “New Australia/ France Stove collision “. That was a collision between ships. Would not that claim be covered by insurance? Would not the shipping line from which “ New Australia “ was chartered carry insurance? The appropriation for 1960-61 was £90,270, but apparently it is not expected that there will be any collisions this year because no appropriation is sought.
Finally, I should like to ask whether the expenses of the annual Australian Citizenship Convention are covered in these estimates. What was the cost of the last Citizenship Convention held in Canberra, including the payment of the fares and the cost of maintenance of the delegates who attended?
– I think the short answer to the question why there is so little French migration to Australia is that France is a country which accepts migrants and does not send its people to other countries. However, there may be some scope for French migration to Australia now because of the troubles in Algeria and the possible form of the new constitution for Algeria that will come into force when those troubles have been settled. It is possible that same of the French settlers in North Africa would be very willing to come here.
I should like the Minister to tell me exactly what steps are being taken to secure French migrants. I know that there is an immigration office at our Embassy in Paris. I have seen it at work. However, it is a very small office and does not seem to operate on anything like the same scale as our immigration offices in other countries.
– Senator Vincent raised the question of French migration to Australia, a subject in which I know that he is interested. French migrants would be welcomed to this country, of course, but in the past they have been going to Morocco, Algeria and other French territories. France has not been keen to enter into an agreement with us. We have an immigration office in France, but, as I say, French people have not so far been very interested in migrating to Australia. However, it may well be, as Senator McCallum has said, that there will be a change of attitude in view of the developments in Algeria and Morocco.
asked about the item dealing with the contribution to the maintenance pf migrant families. Senator O’Flaherty asked a question about that earlier, and I supplied him with an answer. If Senator Tangney will read the answer that I gave to him, that will save my giving it again.
– How does the contribution to the maintenance of migrant families differ from the payment in respect of the maintenance of migrants in reception, training and accommodation centres, dealt with in item 15 of sub-division 2 of Division No. 383?
– The provision made under item 03 of sub-division 2 of this division is in respect of the maintenance of migrant families in hostels operated by Commonwealth Hostels Limited and in other migrant hostels. The provision under item 15 refers, so I am advised, to the maintenance of migrants in immigration reception centres.
– The first twelve items in sub-division 1 of Division No. 383 concern the intake of migrants. In every instance, with the exception of the items dealing with Maltese migration and Belgian migration, the proposed vote for this year is smaller than the vote for last year. That appears to be in line with the statement that there will be a smaller intake of migrants during this year. We find, however, that items 13, 14 and 15 in this sub-division provide for increased expenditure. Two of those items relate to the movement of assisted migrants and the maintenance of migrants in reception centres. It would appear that, although there will be a smaller intake of migrants, there will be a greater expenditure on the maintenance of migrants. Has this anything to do with the difficulty that migrants are having in obtaining employment?
.- I intervene to ask the Minister whether he will be good enough to tell us the present attitude of the United Kingdom Government to encouraging British migrants to come to Australia. This is a very important problem. I should like to know whether, at Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ conferences or in ministerial communications, representations are made to the United Kingdom Government urging it to promote a policy of migration to this country.
I should think that the short-sightedness of a policy of isolation is now being brought home to the United Kingdom Government in the negotiations for the entry of the United Kingdom into the European Common Market. Surely it is very important to the English-speaking race that the United Kingdom should realize that in this part of the southern seas she has an opportunity, if only she will look 50 years ahead, to help to build a commonwealth of English-speaking peoples that will be of vital importance as a link between the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Why is it that there is no cooperative scheme between the Government of Australia and the Government of the United Kingdom under which Australia would provide money for the project, and the United Kingdom would provide money as well as migrants?
I should like some information about the proportion of migrants who settle in Australia north of the tropic of Capricorn. That area is sadly in need of development. I should like to know the proportion - not precisely, but in broad terms - of those migrants who, having come to Australia under a scheme which the Auditor-General tells us has cost £84,000,000 up to date, have gone to the sparsely settled area north of the tropic of Capricorn.
I should also like to know the trend of immigration numbers over the last three, four or five years, whichever period is convenient for the Minister’s officers. I should like too to know the target set by the Government this year, and also the number of migrants who have returned to their home countries during the present calendar year.
– T wish to refer again to the AuditorGeneral’s report on the Department of Immigration. The Minister might have misunderstood the point I was raising. I shall give him some idea of the type of information’ that I think honorable senators should have. On page 69 of the AuditorGeneral’s report is a table which, in addition to showing an expenditure of £7,347,852, also shows the expenditure on associated activity. The report goes on to specify certain things that are not specified in the items we are discussing at the moment. The Auditor-General whets our appetite for information and then studiously refrains from giving us any information on the matters he raises. Let me mention some of these things so that the Minister will understand what I mean.
There is an amount of £36,349 for 1960- 61 for grants to approved organizations. Would it have hurt the Auditor-General to specify what those organizations are? Then there is an item “ Commonwealth Hostels Limited - Contribution to”. The amount shown for 1960-61 is £1,115,000. Again, would it have hurt the AuditorGeneral to amplify that a little bit? Then we come to “ Education of non-British migrants in the English language “. The amount shown for 1960-61 is £424,892. Would it have been a great deal of trouble for the Auditor-General to say how many people were affected, and what sort of return was being obtained?
Further down the list is capital works - acquisition of sites and buildings. For 1959- 60 £12 is shown and nothing for 1960- 61. That sounds a fantastic figure for the acquisition of sites and buildings. Probably there is some good reason for it, but no reason is stated. Then there is “ Migrant workers’ hostels “. An amount of £11,673 is shown for 1959-60 and nothing for 1960-61. Few, if any, of these items are contained in the section with which we are dealing. We find them only in the Auditor-General’s report, and the finding of them leaves us with the feeling that our attention has been directed to something, but we are only faintly aware of what it is. If these things are worth mentioning in the Auditor-General’s report I think they are worth amplifying so that as we deal with the Estimates we can use the AuditorGeneral’s report as I think we should, and receive from it enough information to enable us to have a more intelligent appreciation of the items contained in the Estimates.
The other matter I wish to raise has to do with the item referring to research into short-term factors affecting migration. An amount of £6,000 was spent last year but no allocation is made this year. Does that indicate that research into short-term factors affecting migration is not to be continued? I should like some information on that. I hope the Minister understands what I am now putting forward with regard to the Auditor-General’s report. As I said, he whets our appetite, and then studiously refrains from giving us any information.
– Senator Vincent raised the question about assimilation activities for which the appropriation is £12,000. The Commonwealth realizes that the successful assimilation of our migrants depends not on official action alone, but to a large extent on the under standing and co-operation of the Australian people themselves. The successful integration of over 1,650,000 migrants in the postwar period has called for special efforts both from migrants and from the Australian community. The co-operation and goodwill of Australians from all walks of life must therefore be sought, gained and held.
It is proposed to continue with the policy of consultation with community leaders at citizenship conventions when some 250 delegates come together for this purpose. The cost of accommodation and transport for delegates will account for the major portion of the amount set aside under this item.
asked about the movement of assisted migrants upon disembarkation. The appropriation this year .is £150,000. This item is provided to cover the Commonwealth’s liability in respect of baggage removal, fares to employment, hostels and/ or centres and private accommodation and other costs related to the movement of assisted migrants. Previously such costs were included in the estimates for the various schemes.
– Then they do not have to walk!
– They do not have to walk or ride a bike. Those items are now being grouped together.
I am sorry I cannot answer the criticisms made by Senator Toohey of the AuditorGeneral’s report. I still think that upon reflection Senator Toohey will see my point of view, namely, that the Auditor-General’s function is to criticize if he believes that moneys are wrongly spent or wrongly accounted for outside the appropriation. Obviously, since he listed these items without comment it must be assumed that the department is a clean-skin in this matter, and has not gone outside its appropriation. I do not think it is the Auditor-General’s job to provide honorable senators with information. If Senator Toohey wants to investigate the immigration set-up, he has had all these papers to hand for at least four weeks and could have obtained information from them. It is not the AuditorGeneral’s job to give him a synopsis so that he can see all the information at a glance.
– Do not get nasty.
– I am not getting nasty at all, I am just stating facts. I do not think it is right to criticize the AuditorGeneral because it is not his function to supply information.
– Item 05, under sub-division 2 of Division No. 383, refers to repatriation and deportation, and the proposed expenditure is £25,000. I understand that the Department of Immigration handles vises and permits to land in this country. I believe that is so, because recently I have read that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) is at loggerheads with many people over his refusal to allow a certain person to enter Australia. There appears to be a gross dereliction of duty in relation to this procedure. As honorable senators know, some time ago arrangements were made for indentured labour to be used in various occupations in the northern parts of Australia. The pearling industry comes to mind.
I understand that arrangements are made for vises to be issued in such cases. People are brought to Australia for the purpose of exploiting our resources, particularly in the northern areas, on condition that when the particular work on which they are engaged has been completed they will be returned to the country from which they came. Perhaps because a ship sinks, or for some other reason, some of those indentured workers remain on Australian soil for periods up to nine years. Then, all of a sudden, we find the Department of Immigration wanting to deport them. Surely two or three questions arise and call for answers in this respect. First, in what circumstances do such people obtain permits to land in Australia and, subsequently, permission to undertake work other than that for which they were originally indentured? Secondly, why are they given permits to land? If permits are refused, why are they not picked up there and then and returned to their home countries at the expense of the employer who brought them here? Thirdly, and this is where I think the dereliction of duty arises, who is responsible for the deportation procedure, after some one has suddenly become aware that certain persons have no right to be in Australia?
– I wish to refer to the general immigration policy covered by the total of the proposed expenditure, and I am prompted to do so by Senator Wright’s query about the number of migrants who are encouraged to go to the northern areas of Australia. 1 ask the Minister whether consideration has been given to attracting migrants to the Northern Territory and northern Australia generally for developmental purposes. Is there any liaison between the Department of Territories, which administers the Northern Territory, and the Department of Immigration, with a view to obtaining migrants with capital who are desirous of investing in developmental projects, such as the cattle and mining industries? It seems to me that a large percentage of the migrants who come to Australia are being established in the capital cities. I should think it would be the desire of the Department of Immigration and of the Government to encourage migrants with capital to go to the northern areas of Australia, to assist in the development of those areas and to help to increase the population.
.- I refer to Division No. 383 - Other immigration services, item 01, “Medical and hospital treatment for migrants in initial period of settlement, £70,500”. Included in the many migrants who come to Australia are people from the Scandanavian countries, such as Norway and Denmark, and from Holland, Belgium and Malta. Among them are men who assisted their countries in various ways during the war and suffered disabilities which were either war-caused of aggravated by their war service. Those migrants forgo the citizenship rights they had in the countries from which they came, and have no compensating rights in this country.
Has the Government considered the making of reciprocal agreements with such countries along the lines of the agreement that exists between Australia and the United Kingdom whereby immigrants from Great Britain are able to obtain in Australia war service pensions and medical and hospital services similar to those they enjoyed before they came here? This is a matter that should be considered, if no consideration has yet been given to it. Will the Minister also state the period during which medical and hospital, treatment is available in the initial period of settlement of migrants? Is it considered that the initial period of settlement means up to live years after their arrival?
– I am prompted to say a few words by the rather sneering way in which Senator O’Flaherty referred to the policy under which people are brought to this country for employment of a particular kind and then are asked to leave when conditions of that employment are not complied with, lt seems to me to be an amazing thing that a member of the Parliament; who- has been- a member for a good many- years- obviously does not understand the policy of the Government. The policy is not difficult to follow;
– I am not the only one.
– It is quite easy to, find out what the policy is. It is astounding that members of parliament do not understand the policy, but as that is the case it is no wonder that the general public and the press do not understand the policy and that we are constantly being told that we have a white Australian policy. lt disturbs me that there is so much ignorance about what is a very good and generous policy. We allow at least fourteen categories of Asian people to come into this country, some under certain conditions and some under other conditions. It is a generous policy and it needs to be understood by the people of Australia, and by people outside Australia. I have a list of the categories. It is not. difficult to find what they are. I see no reason’ why, year after year, honorable senators should be asking who is allowed to come in and why., We know exactly who. is- allowed; to come in.
I ask fee Minister to give some consideration to the printing of a small pamphletlisting’ the various categories of Asian migrants, and the conditions under which they are allowed to come’ in, so that it may be: distributed to members of parliament and church, organizations, which frequently do not understand what the policy is and talk about allowing, a quota-, when we. have better, than a> quota system. We should let all. of these, people, who. talk from’ complete ignorance,, know what, the policy is. In addition, the information should be given out to people who apply for passports to travel abroad. They should be given a pamphlet so that they can read the policy, answer criticisms, and give the right information when they- are overseas.
Not long ago I listened to a lecture by a. university student who had been in India. During the course of his lecture he mentioned that he had been to universities in. India where he had been asked to address students and he had said that he did not agree with the policy and had given his reasons for not agreeing. At the end of hislecture, I asked whether he would be good enough to tell us what the policy was, and he did not know it. He had a completely wrong idea. This is what is happening. This was a student who had gone away in a delegation and been allowed to address universities in India and other countries, and had given completely wrong information. All people leaving Australia should, when obtaining passports, be given a list of categories of people allowed to come here. They could then study it and be able to give the right information. This would be a very valuable contribution to what is already a very good policy. I ask the Minister to give consideration to that matter.
.- In relation to Division No. 383, I should like to say something that is associated with what Senator O’Flaherty said about Asians being expelled from Australia. This Government has had two Asian people in the Northern Territory for nine or twelve years to suit its own purposes. Now it is attempting to expel them. I wish to refer to approximately 50 Asian people, indentured workers in the pearling industry, in the north-west of Western Australia. The Minister frankly admitted, in answer to a question asked by me, that they are living in sub-standard conditions,, and that the people who brought them to this country and were responsible for their employment, housing, behaviour and repatriation-, are now, by administrative act, relieved of that responsibility.
I ask the- Minister whether the people who brought them- here- are- also relieved of liability, under the bonds into which they entered, te- return these Asians to> their country at the end of their indentures.
The Minister referred to eligibility to join trade unions. I tell the Minister quite frankly that these Asians are not eligible to join the predominant trade union in the area. I happen to know that. As a result, because of preference clauses in awards, they are unable to get employment. 1 want to know what the Government intends to do about these Asian people, having relieved the pearling masters of their responsibilities. What is to be done about lifting them out of their sub-standard conditions?
– How many are there?
– I do not know, but the Minister, in answer to a question, admitted that there were SO. I happen to know that under an administrative act these people will be allowed, subject to good behaviour, to remain in Australia for a further five years. The people who brought them here are relieved of responsibility for them. At the end of five years the Australian people will be put to the expense of repatriating these Asians, if the Government desires to repatriate them. If it does not desire to repatriate them, their permits will be extended for another five years. Eventually, they will be put into the same position as the two persons whom the Government is seeking to expel from Darwin. I ask what the Government intends to do with them at the present time, when they are unable to get employment and are living in sub-standard conditions. Will the Government take any action to lift them out of this position?
.- The Department of Immigration, under the leadership of Sir Tasman Heyes, has done a splendid job over the years in bringing migrants here. I rise to inquire how far its duty extends in relation to keeping them here. I read in an English newspaper the other day that during a certain period 40,000 migrants had gone to Australia and 40,000 migrants had come back. We have heard a lot of talk about bringing migrants here. The Minister said we would welcome them from Algeria, Timbuctoo and everywhere else. But how far does the department go in its efforts to keep migrants here? Is there any section to deal with disgruntled migrants? After all, once we have them here, we should endeav our to keep them here. Admittedly, the Government has been remiss in its policy, which has rebounded adversely against the retention of migrants. If a family, which has come to this country of its own free will, is disgruntled and wants to go back to its native country, and that comes to the knowledge of the department, are any officers detailed by the department to interview the members of that family to try, if possible, to keep them in Australia? Are any statistics available on the number of migrants who return to the countries from which they came? I would be interested to know those statistics.
I wish to mention the case of a Greek man who wanted to migrate to Australia. I mention this case because I believe there is something radically wrong with the immigration scheme when a university-trained man who is a nephew of a prominent citizen of Brisbane cannot come to Australia. A few months ago I was interviewed by that prominent citizen. He is well endowed with worldly goods. His family is small and he was desirous of bringing his nephew to this country. His nephew was well educated, his passage would have been paid for and he would not have been a burden on the community. I wrote to the Department of Immigration in Brisbane and in Canberra, but I was told that his relationship with the man who wanted to sponsor him was not close enough. Had he been a brother he would have been able to come here; but being a nephew he could not come here. Do we want these people? Why should it not be possible for a welleducated man of means to come to this country? God knows we want millions of people in view of the position in which we find ourselves in relation to the breeding millions to our north. We should not miss an opportunity to bring people to this country. I understand that because of the economic conditions brought about by Government policy we cannot absorb the great number of migrants that we should have coming to Australia. But a man who is economically free and independent and is well educated should be able to come to this country.
– I refer to Division No. 383, subdivision 2, item 05, “ Repatriation and deportation, £25,000”. The Government’s attitudes in relation to deportations are irreconcilable. A man named Brenner has been refused admission to Australia after being appointed to the staff of the University of Adelaide.
– This is a prelude
– It had better be short.
– It will not be too long. By the look in your eyes and the frown on your brow, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I know that it cannot be too long. In Victoria some time ago a migrant was convicted of utilizing the services of adolescent girls for the purpose of obtaining immoral earnings. He was sentenced and ordered to be deported. In the process of time, because of Government policy it was decided that he would not be deported, irrespective of the fact that Brenner, after being appointed to the University of Adelaide and with no charges levelled against him, was not admitted to Australia. I am not pleading the case-
Order! The honorable senator is out of order in referring to Brenner. To what division is the honorable senator referring?
– I went to the trouble of stating in detail that I was referring to Division No. 383, sub-division 2, item 05 - Repatriation and deportation.
– The Brenner case has nothing to do with deportation.
– That case has something to do with deportation.
Order! The Brenner case has nothing to do with that item. I ask the honorable senator not to refer to it.
– Brenner’s case has nothing to do with deportation because he is not even here.
– The man in Victoria, whose case I am discussing, was ordered to be deported.
– You are discussing Brenner.
– I am trying to draw a comparison, if you will be patient and listen to me. I am getting a bit fed up with these interruptions all the time. I do not know whether this man who was to be deported represented a security risk, but he did represent a moral risk to the young people, particularly the adolescent girls, of Victoria. I say frankly that any one who represents a menace to the integrity of this country, whether from a defence or moral point of view, should be handled toughly. If the man whom I mentioned by name was a menace to this country, I think the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) acted correctly; but in the Victorian case where the Government intervened and the man was not deported, I think the Government acted incorrectly. I should like to have from the Minister an explanation of why he was not deported.
– In regard to the screening of migrants overseas, I should like to know exactly how far the background of migrants is investigated in respect of mental illness. I have in mind the very unfortunate case of a mentally deranged migrant in Sydney who ran amuck and killed-
Order! To what division is the honorable senator referring?
– I am referring to the general expenditure on immigration services. How much is spent on medical services? It is all right to have medical services for migrants in their initial period of settlement here, but what steps are taken to ensure that the people who come to this country are not either physically or mentally ill before they come here, so that we will not be involved in this huge expenditure not only of money but also of life? I ask the Minister whether the migrant in Sydney to whom I have referred was examined before he came to Australia. I understand that he ran amuck in Sydney and killed a man and maimed his wife for life. That woman has had a case against the Commonwealth for compensation. Her appeal was rejected. I do not want to hear of such things happening again. I should like to know what steps are taken for the medical examination of migrants before they come to this country.
– All migrants are medically examined before they come to Australia. Division No. 383, sub-division 2, item 05 - Repatriation and deportation - covers expenditure in connexion with the repatriation in approved circumstances of migrants and the cost of deportation of prohibited immigrants, including sustenance while held in custody pending shipping accommodation. Provision has also been made to cover the cost of operation of detention centres at Fremantle and Sydney set up to house noncriminal deportees pending deportation.
– The Minister has treated the question that I asked in a cavalier fashion. In passing, may I tell the Minister and Senator Buttfield that I did not mention Asians at all when I asked my questions, which were in connexion with indentured labour and the contracts for which those employees applied. Why is it that, in the first place, the permits or vises were issued for those people who came to Australia as indentured labourers? Why were they not deported under the contracts that were issued by the employer immediately after they landed in Australia and the employer failed to provide employment? My other question was this: Who was the responsible person who did not discover that .those people had not been deported or repatriated to the place from which they were engaged? Surely a person is entitled to get answers to simple questions like those. My question has no relation at all to the policy relating to the migration of Asians, about which the honorable senator said I had no knowledge. Apparently she did not know herself.
– You mentioned the pearling industry.
– I do not wish to avoid answering the question. I remind the honorable senator that we are considering the Estimates. We would need to have here representatives of every section of the Department of Immigration if we were to answer general questions on -immigration policy. We have not present a representative of the section which could furnish me with an answer that I could give to the honorable senator. .However, I shall obtain a reply ;and have it forwarded to Senator O’Flaherty.
– Why did you not say that at first?
– I did not say anything.
– I also asked a question of the Minister, but I think he forgot about it. I asked why the proposed appropriations for the intake of migrants from Britain, for the general assisted passage scheme, and for the intake of migrants from Germany, Holland, Italy, Austria, Greece and Spain are lower than those for last year. I note, however, that the amount to be appropriated for reception, training and accommodation centres for the maintenance of migrants is greater than that appropriated last year. I ask why the proposed appropriation in respect of the intake of migrants is lower, indicating a smaller intake, while the proposed appropriation for maintenance is greater.
– The Minister failed to answer the questions that I addressed to him. Probably he does not know the answers. I ask whether migrants who come to Australia have to pass a language test before they are admitted. If that is so, why are indentured labourers given a permit to remain in Australia? Is it to relieve the employers of that labour of their responsibilities? Why have not indentured persons to pass a language test?
Some time ago I asked how many indentured persons had been permitted to remain in Australia. The Minister could not tell me but said that it was estimated that there were fewer than 50 such persons. 1 now ask the Minister whether the officers of the Department of Immigration are so lax that they do not know the names or the number of persons to whom they issue permits to remain in Australia after they have been released from their indenture.
– I am sorry that I overlooked replying to Senator Ridley. I understand that some snipping charges have been reduced and that in some cases ‘there will be a reduced intake of migrants. The departmental officers cannot give me a detailed statement because they have not the facts and figures with them.
– When you have not got the facts and figures you do not answer the question?
– It is always wise to do that. I would not like to mislead any honorable senator. In some cases there will be a larger intake. For example, the proposed appropriation for Maltese migration is greater than the appropriation for last year.
– But that does not counter-balance the other amount to which I referred.
– That is the only answer I can give the honorable senator at the moment.
Senator SCOTT (Western Australia; [9.45]. - I wish to refer to the employment of indentured labour in the pearling industry, in relation to which two or three honorable senators opposite have addressed questions to the Minister. Those questions have been framed to arouse suspicion of the master pearlers who have engaged this labour. As ohe who is engaged in pearling and who knows a little about the subject, I wish to make it quite clear to Opposition senators that indentured labour from South-East Asia is engaged by the master pearlers through the Department of Immigration. The labour is engaged for a period of three years. The master pearler pays the whole of the expenses, including fares, of bringing the labour to Australia and enters into a bond that the persons so indentured shall be of good behaviour for the period they are in Australia.
He also enters into a bond of £100 with the Department of Immigration which has to be guaranteed by an insurance company or a banker. If he cannot afford to repatriate the men, that company or banker has to meet his bond. In other words, the Department of Immigration can claim on the guarantor. The master pearler also has to look after the health of the indentured persons while they are in Australia. Notwithstanding the fact that these indentured persons have to pay income tax and social service contributions, they are not entitled to hospital or health benefits.
When the pearling industry crashed, more than half of the people employed in the industry had to be repatriated to the countries from which they came. As far as 1 know, in every instance the master pearlers paid for their fares and returned to their home country the labourers whom they had engaged. I am saying this because honorable senators opposite have tried to cast a reflection on those who have engaged labour for the pearling industry in northern Australia. There are now in Darwin a couple of employees who have to be deported because the employer concerned no longer wishes to, or no longer can, employ them. That employer is honouring his obligation. Those two labourers were engaged by a Mr. Gonzales, who has entered into a bond with the Department of Immigration. He has arranged for the payment of the fares of these men so they can be repatriated under the terms of their contract. But they do not want to leave; they are in hiding. The law of this land provides that they must be deported. If we were to break the immigration law, we would be casting a reflection on the administration of our laws. I believe that the employer is anxious to have these men deported. They should be deported, and the sooner they get out of Australia the better it will be for all concerned.
– I rise merely to remind the Minister that two questions that I have asked remain unanswered. The first relates to the vexing problem of the imbalance of male and female migrants, which has caused a considerable amount of concern and to which the attention of church institutions had been directed. I believe that the Department of Immigration has considered the problem. I should like to be told what progress, if any, has been made in the finding Of a solution.
My other question referred to the item relating to research into short-term factors affecting migration. A sum of £6,000 was allocated for that research work last year and £6,000 was spent, but no allocation is sought for this year. I should like to be told the field in which that research was undertaken and why no provision is made for it this year.
– We are endeavouring the cure the imbalance to which the honorable senator has referred by increasing the number of female migrants. The allocation of £6,000 that he has mentioned was for a research grant to the Australian National University. That has now expired.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Proposed expenditure - Department of Immigration - Capital Works and Services, £502,000- noted.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
Proposed expenditure, £8,600,000.
– First of all, I should be pleased if the Minister would tell me what amounts have been contributed from outside sources for the investigations listed in section 3 of Division No. 421. If they are shown somewhere in the Estimates, I should be pleased if he would tell me where they are to be found.
Now I refer to item 14 in that section, “ Tribophysics, £127,700”. How many officers are engaged in that work, what work are they doing and what purpose is it proposed to serve?
Let me deal now with the general set-up of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, previously known as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The organization has been established for well over 30 years, but in the last eleven years the number of research staff has increased from 750 to only 880. In the annual report for 1960-61, the executive of the organization states that it believes that - this increase has not been nearly great enough in terms of the needs of a developing country like Australia. The proportion of its national income which a country can afford to invest in research is a matter for debate, but evidence is available that the amount spent in Australia-
I add “ under successive Menzies governments “ - both by governments and private sources - is, in proportion, considerably below that spent by a number of other western countries.
If we turn to page 19 of the report, we find that the organization recognizes that there is some value in having a changing staff and an interchanging staff, but it says that it loses about 45 research officers and 60 experimental officers each year. Then there is a reference to what is called supporting staff - that is, the laboratory assistants and so on. The report states -
For some years the Executive has been concerned at the lack of balance which has arisen in the Organization between professional staff and supporting staff. To establish research programs, it has been necessary to recruit highly qualified professional staff first, and this policy has been carefully followed. With increasing salary costs, however, it has not been possible to provide adequate funds for the appointment of supporting staff.
That is a reflection on the Government, which is not prepared to meet the increasing costs. The report continues -
There is now an urgent need for all kinds of supporting staff, particularly workshop staff, laboratory assistants, and field assistants. To re-establish what is regarded as an ideal balance between staff categories throughout C.S.I.R.O. will require the addition of several hundred supporting staff over the next few years.
What does the Minister propose to do in relation to that query posed by the organization?
One of the major difficulties has been the provision of adequate buildings. It will be useless for the Minister to refer to the next page of the report, which deals with £1,000,000 that is to be spent on buildings, because that money will be spent on two projects only. I do not propose to go into detail about them.
I believe that the Animal Research Laboratories have done excellent work within the limits of the assistance provided by the Government. The staff is a group of devoted people. I know many of them and I have seen them at work in the field. I knew the interest they take in their work and their devotion to it. However, they feel that, in no small measure, they are being frustrated.
– What have they achieved in the last two years?
– If the honorable senator went to the research station outside Rockhampton, he would see that they have shown us how, by increasing protein measures, we could fatten cattle within a comparatively short period. In conjunction with the agrostologists they have done an excellent job in pasture improvement.
– In a backward State.
– Queensland is not a backward State. Its development has been limited only because of the inaction of the Commonwealth Government in recent years. The animal husbandry research station outside Rockhampton has done excellent work. In the hinterland, as distinct from what has been recognized as very good beef cattle country, there is an enormous area which could carry great numbers of cattle. I have not a suspicious mind, but several months ago the Government announced that it proposed to establish an animal husbandry station outside Townsville which incidentally, accidentally and coincidentally happens to be in the Herbert electorate. The Government fears it will lose this electorate, and I believe it will certainly lose it. There is no suggestion of establishing an animal husbandry research station in the dry areas of western Queensland, where by far the greatest percentage of beef cattle in the State are to be found. Experts in the industry tell me that the maximum area available in the so-called coastal fattening areas would be only 200,000 acres, even if you were to dislocate the timber industry in north Queensland. I understand that the Queensland Government is not prepared to dislocate the timber industry, and that an expert committee appointed by the Minister for Lands, Mr. Fletcher, has recommended that timber lands should not be dislocated. The best carrying capacity that could be hoped for on these coastal lands would be a beast to the acre, or probably one beast to an acre and a half.
It must be realized that in north-western Queensland there are 5,300,000 beef cattle. Some assistance could be given to this area by the Commonwealth Government. The Government has been dilatory but now on the eve of an election it has intimated that it will assist in a beef road scheme. Experts say that if more assistance were given the cattle population in this area could be trebled.
What is the position in the Northern Territory? The Northern Territory Administration works in conjunction with the C.S.I.R.O. A research station has been established outside Katherine, and outside Alice Springs there is a very small station. Although this latter station has not much money it has turned off a tremendous number of cattle. Mr. Smith, who previously was divisional engineer for the Commonwealth, has been extraordinarily successful. He considers that given an opportunity the cattle population could be trebled.
No animal husbandry research station is to be found in the northern half of Western Australia. In view of the enormous amount the Government has collected in taxation over the years, the amount of £8,600,000 devoted to the C.S.I.R.O., including contributions from outside, is very small. Let me remind the Minister of the questions I pose to him. How many personnel are engaged in the tribophysics section? What work is this section doing, and what is the purpose of the work? What does the Minister propose to do about staff shortages? What does he intend to do about the suggestion included in the 1960-61 report of the organization in which the executives - extremely devoted men - say that they must have more staff and more money? Is the Government prepared to face up to its responsibilities and national obligations?
– I desire to ask the Minister a question about investigations into food preservation and transport. Some two years ago the Australian Atomic Energy Commission arranged for an irradiation conference in Sydney to which delegates came from all over the world. One of the subjects dealt with at the conference was the preservation of food by the use of radio isotopes. Representatives of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization were present at that conference. If I remember rightly one of those representatives gave a lecture on plants. I desire to ask the Minister whether, under this appropriation, any research is to be1 undertaken into food preservation by the use of radio isotopes.
Provision is also made for radio research. I should like to know whether any research has been done on television.
– 1 should like to know what happens when the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization produces an invention.
– To what division is the honorable senator referring?
– I can relate my remarks to Division No. 421, wool research. I visited the wool research laboratory at Ryde a couple of years ago about the time when successful experiments were carried out to produce non-crushable wool. I know that as a result of that invention firms in Sydney made very much higher profits because of larger sales of uncrushable material. Do firms that benefit from the operations of the C.S.I.R.O. make any repayment to the organization? I know of another instance where an invention was used in a privately-owned factory with a result that the cost of production of the factory was cut by nearly 33 per cent. As these inventions might help to reduce costs of production, I am interested to know whether the firms make any contribution to the organization that has done so much for them.
– 1 should like to deal first with the matters raised by Senator Dittmer. In the tribophysics section the professional staff is 27 and other staff about 35. The section comprises a group of physicists, chemists, metallurgists, mathematicians and engineers formed to study problems in the fields of physics and chemistry of solids and surfaces of solids. Among the wide practical applications of this work have been the development of bearing design, piston ring lubrication, the performance of lubricating oils, the combustion of fuels, and the fabrication, polishing and surface finish of metals. The work on the drawing, pressing and casting of metals has led to an extension of the basic work to a study of the mechanisms of the deformation and heat treatment of metals and of the energy changes involved. This has very wide implications in the whole metal industry.
The honorable senator referred to lack of staff. The estimates this year make provision for a number of new professional and ancillary positions. At the present rate of increase it will take several years before a proper balance can be achieved. I think all honorable senators will agree that we could develop the C.S.I.R.O. ad lib. There would be no stopping us if we had the money. But a proper balance has to be maintained in these matters.
asked about research into television. I am informed that no work is being done on television. In relation to food preservation, work is being done in conjunction with the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, in a series of experiments on the preservation of food by ionizing radiation. I inform Senator Ormonde that the C.S.I.R.O. receives some support from textile firms and, of course, a great .deal of support from the woolgrowing industry in wool research.
, I ask the Minister whether .he is able to answer the questions I put earlier about supporting staff for scientists and the alleged shortage of buildings. In view of the fact that it may be several years before adequate staff is available, will the Government consider instituting a liberal system of scholarships, choosing candidates on matriculation results? I realize that many of the people who obtained such scholarships would not fit into the field of research, but their talents would not be wasted even if they were not suitable for the work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. They could enter other fields of science and technology. There are many students who, given adequate assistance, would be prepared to undertake to serve in the C.S.I.R.O. after graduation or on completion of an honours course. I wonder whether the Minister would consider the inauguration of such a scheme. Will he also answer the other questions that I asked?
– I am advised that there is a wide Commonwealth scholarships scheme and that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has its own scholarships at. a rather higher level, than those suggested, by the honorable senator. I think that I covered’ his questions about the shortage of buildings and’ supporting staff in the answers that 1 gave previously. I stated that there was room for additional staff and that it would take some time to restore balance to the staffing position.
.- I direct the Minister’s attention to. Division No. 421 - Investigations - item 3.5, “ Less amounts recoverable by way of sales of produce and grants from outside sources and in connexion with investigations and other appropriate receipts, £2,361,800”. I should like to have a broad indication of the major sources from which recoveries are made so. that I may gauge the extent to which private industry is making a contribution to the work of this organization. I should also like to be informed of the opinion of the organization regarding the efficacy of myxomatosis. What is its assessment of the threat to agriculture posed by rabbits?’ Has any progress been made in devising an alternative to myxomatosis?
– The item relating to recoveries, referred to by Senator Wright; includes £90,000 which it is expected to receive by way of revenue from investigations financed from Treasury funds. Sales of publications in 1961-62 are estimated to amount to £9,500. In 1960-61, receipts amounted to £11,069. Sales of equipment, and expenditure of former years, is estimated to amount to £16,000, compared with receipts of £15,178 last year. Sales of produce, such as wool, fruit, poultry, hides, and so on, are expected to amount to £37,000; royalties from patents, to £3,500; testing fees, to £18,500; sales of animals, to £3,500; and sales of miscellaneous items such as scrap and waste- paper, and receipts from rentals, to £2,000, making a total of £90,000. Receipts from the sale of publications during 1960-61 included a non-recurring amount of approximately £2,000i representing, arrears due in respect of publications sold in previous years.
– I would! be content to have an indication of the three main items-
– The bulk of the amount comes from the Wool ResearchTrust Fund Account, which is split up between the Divisions of Animal Genetics, Animal Health, Animal Physiology, Plant Industry and Soils. The amount of £1,300,000 comes from that trust fund.
– ls that from the wool research levy?
– That is right.
In reply to Senator Wright’s question, ‘ I. point out that myxomatosis is declining in potency but should be an effective weapon for some years to come. Research is in progress into other methods of control, but no specific alternative has been found as yet.
Proposed expenditure noted
Proposed expenditure - Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization - Capital Works and. Services, £1,029,000- noted.
Department of the Navy..
Proposed expenditure, £48,019,000.
– I propose to refer to-Division No. 471 - Australian Naval Forces, and to Division No. 476 - Equipment and Stores - Her Majesty’s Australian ships, fleetauxiliaries and naval establishments. Over a period of years, we have spent approximately £2,000,000,000 on defence, a proportion of which has been spent on the Royal Australian Navy. A considerable sum has been expended in keeping the Navy supposedly in order and ready, to fight, but. we find that it is not as good as- we havebeen told it is. In addition to the seagoing ships of the Navy there are also shore establishments. The Navy should be aforce for the. protection of Australia in time.of danger, but at the present juncture it is. a long way from being an efficient force. This afternoon I said that the Army was: not efficient, for the purpose of protecting Australia-. Senator Henty said that I- did not know what I was- talking about. Somebody else said I was talking nonsense, and Senator Mattner said- that Australia should be protected not on Australian- soil but elsewhere. It is necessary to have a navy in order to shift troops, but there is no provision in our Navy for the shifting of troops. As a matter of fact, we cannot shift any troops by a merchant navy that is registered in Australia. The Navy is not in a position to protect troops that we might send away on ships hired from overseas. Our own shipping line is not suitable for the moving of troops.
The Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) was good enough to circulate a nice little statement about the Navy. I wish to refer again to an article that appeared in the “ Sunday Mirror “, which uses the same figures as he uses but is more enlightening.
– What was the date of publication?
– It was 8th October, 1961. As a matter of fact, that was last Sunday, and the newspaper was delivered to me at 9 a.m.! The Navy has nine admirals, three commodores, 57 captains, 150 commanders, 947 other officers, 150 midshipmen, and 15 chaplains, to command 16 ships and a mere 10,713 seamen. I understand that the seamen include all ranks, including those who man guns and so on. I do not know whether or not that is right. The statement circulated by the Minister contains exactly the same figures, the only difference being that I have read them straight from the article instead of having to dive into various pages of the Minister’s document to find them.
On the equipment side, the Navy has one aircraft carrier, which is obsolete, three destroyers, two Battle class destroyers, five anti-submarine frigates, three frigates, one sloop, one hydrographic survey ship, and one submarine boom ship. Australia has two submarines on loan from the United Kingdom. If hostilities occurred on the other side of the world, the United Kingdom would want those two submarines over there, so we cannot count them as part of the Navy. They are only on loan and would return to the United Kingdom if war broke out. The Navy has no missile ships, although two are on order from the United States of America. If hostilities occurred, we would not get them. We have paid only a deposit on them and in any event we shall not get them for some years. The newspaper states that the aircraft carrier “ Sydney “ is being converted to a troop carrier. It, too, is obsolete. Actually, the Navy has nothing in the way of a fighting force. It could hardly strike a decent blow if an enemy invaded this country.
That brings me back to the point I raised this afternoon. After enormous expenditure for defence purposes, we have not an efficient navy to defend Australia. We have not an efficient army to defend Australia on our own territory. We could not defend Australia outside our territory, because the Navy is not in a position to take the Army wherever it might be considered necessary to stop an aggressor from coming here. We certainly could not transport troops by sea in any ships that the Navy has. We are only now talking about converting “ Sydney “ for transport purposes. There is no hope in the wide world of obtaining suitable merchant vessels in Australia; they are just not here. The few ships that the Commonwealth itself owns are not suitable for the transport of troops. I ask the Minister whether any further arrangements are in hand to provide an up-to-date navy within a short period, to oppose any aggressor who might have an idea of having a go at Australia.
– I always like to make a practice of answering contributions to the debate as they are made. At this late hour, I should like to answer the contribution just made, without taking too much time over it. The point raised by Senator O’Flaherty was whether it is the role of the Navy to shift troops. That proposition is completely untrue. It is not the function of the Navy to transport troops.
– Order! In conformity with, the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Temporary Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the negative.
– If Senator O’Flaherty examines the records of the last war he will see that the “ Queen Mary w and the “ Queen Elizabeth “, for instance, as modem ships, transported Americans across the Atlantic Ocean and that Australia engaged merchant ships to shift its own troops. I travelled on a converted merchant ship, as did all troops who left Australia. From that he will see that in general it is not the practice for navies to embark and move troops, except in most exceptional circumstances. Troops are embarked on naval vessels for short trips.
On the other hand, it is true that the Australian Navy is providing in H.M.A.S. “ Sydney “ a means of moving a fighting group, with its vehicles, ammunition and arms, at a faster rate than any merchant ship could move them. In -egard to the question of the obsolescence of that aircraft carrier, I point out that it is of exactly the same age and type as aircraft carriers being used now in the Royal Navy, which, for instance, took marines into Kuwait in the recent operation that was necessary there.
I have little more to say on the contribution made by Senator O’Flaherty. He read from the “ Sunday Mirror “ some figures which he said were the same as mine, but he did not draw any conclusions from them. Consequently, no answer need be made to them. It is completely wrong to say that there is no effective fleet in Australia at the moment. It is an effective fleet commensurate with the vote given to the Navy by this Parliament.It cannot be compared with the fleet of the United States of America, the United Kingdom or any other large country. H.M.A.S. “ Melbourne “ is not obsolete; indeed, she is not even obsolescent. She is the same class of aircraft carrier as those that the Royal Navy is using. Whilst she is not of the class that will carry the new fixed-wing aircraft which require much larger aircraft carriers, she has ten, twelve or more years of life as a helicopter carrier before she reaches anything like her retiring age.
In the three comparatively modern Daring class destroyers, the last of which was finished about two and a half years ago, and two type 12 frigates, both of which have been delivered within the last year, we have five good, modern and, for all naval purposes, brand new ships. In addition, we have the three Q class anti-sub marine frigates which were converted not long enough ago to prevent them from still being very effective anti-submarine vessels. I forget how long ago they were converted. If we add to those ships the two battleclass destroyers, we have ten good antisubmarine vessels in addition to the aircraft carrier H.M.A.S. “ Melbourne “ and the troop-carrier H.M.A.S. “Sydney”. On the vote that is provided to the Navy by this Parliament that is a reasonable fleet. I can assure Senator O’Flaherty that the officers and men who man it make it as effective a fleet, unit for unit, as the fleet of any other navy in the world.
– I lay on the table of the Senate a report by a deputy chairman of the Tariff Board on the following subject: -
Automotive electrical equipment.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Mr. President, I desire to refer to a question asked in the Senate this morning by Senator Hannan. He recalled a portion of a speech that I made in the Senate on 17th May last at a time when there were many interjections by Government supporters. It is true that on that occasion I said -
My use of the word “ to-morrow “ pinpointed my remarks to the circumstances that existed on the waterfront at the time I spoke.
At that time an election for the federal secretaryship of the Waterside Workers Federation was being held. There were two candidates, namely, Mr. G. Alford and the late Mr. J. Healy, neither of whom was a member of the Australian Labour Party. I did not say that I would vote for Healy because he was a Communist.
My only purpose in making the statement I made was to indicate that I could readily understand why a waterside worker would vote for Healy, despite his membership of the Communist Party, because of his ability as an industrial advocate. During the many years in which I have been connected with politics, I have had occasion to meet tooth ofthe candidates many times. WhenI spoke on 17th May I considered, and 1 do now consider, that the late Mr. J. Healy, because of his greater ability and his many years of advocacy of the claims of members of the Waterside Workers Federation, would have served his members better than his opponent would have served them. I believe that every one in the Senate understood that I spoke against that background and in the sense that I have just explained.
Senator Hannan now attempts to make cheap political capital out of that portion of my speech by suggesting that I advocated a vote for the late Mr. J. Healy just because he was a member of the Communist Party. To put it bluntly, that is not true. At no time have I advocated a vote for a Communist for any position in a union or at any other election just because he happened to be a member of the Communist Party.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.39 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 October 1961, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1961/19611012_senate_23_s20/>.