23rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1961.
Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) Bill (No. 2) 1961.
Customs Tariff (Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland Preference) Bill 1961.
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Bill (No. 2) 1961.
Excise Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1961.
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Bill (No. 3) 1961.
Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Bill (No. 2) 1961.
Appropriation Bill 1961-62.
Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill 1961-62.
Loan (Housing) Bill 1961.
Quarantine Bill 1961.
Beaches, Fishing Grounds and Sea Routes Protection Bill 1961.
Lighthouses Bill 1961.
Post and Telegraph Bill 1961.
Explosives Bill 1961.
Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Bill 1961.
Railway Agreement (Western Australia) Bill 1961.
Northern Territory (Administration) Bill 1961.
International Finance Corporation Bill 1961.
– I address a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Mr. Shand, the chairman of East-West Airlines Limited, has issued a statement in relation to a meeting. The statement includes Captain Smith’s report on 29th July, 1961, of what transpired at the meeting. Will the Minister give a carefully prepared answer to the contents of Captain Smith’s report? The report reads as follows: -
The result was -
A better understanding of our position in relation to the requirements of the Government, to know everything that East-West Airlines is planning if it wants its subsidy to continue.
Definite knowledge that the Minister would like to sec East-West Airlines join Ansett Transport Industries group. It is my opinion that he would be in favour of this without caring very much how it was accomplished.
The Minister and, to a degree, the Director-General, were infuriated by the company’s approach to the N.S:W.
Government, with its subsequent promise of support for East-West Airlines and bad publicity forAnsett.
The Director-General gave a resume of the assistance that the department had given to East-West Airlines, which, it would appear, was responsible for almost everything that East-West Airlines has achieved to date, and’ effectively punctuated his remarks with brief references to the difficulty that the Minister would experience in paying a subsidy to a company that did not place its destiny entirely in his hand’s, or words to that effect. Senator Paltridge-
This,I think, is very fair - was completely honest in his talks and does not bear any malice towards EastWest Airlines. Indeed, he was very friendly. Both of these men, however, would, for various reasons, be prepared to see East-West Airlines sacrificed on the altar of rationalization in order to make their two-airline policy work. We must never lose sight of this fact.
May I suggest that, as the HonorableDavid Drummond. respected Australian Country Party member of this Parliament, said that he was of the opinion that the Minister was standing over East-West Airlines, the Minister should provide honorable senators with the fullest information so that public suspicion will be allayed and so that the Country Party and Liberal Party may get together in an endeavour, as would be their desire, with the help of the Democratic Labour Party and Communist Party, to defeat the Australian Labour Party at the coming election?
– I have recently had cause in debate in this chamber to use the word “ incomprehensible “ on a number of occasions. I might well apply it to the alleged question submitted by Senator Dittmer. I take it that his purpose was to elicit information. If he wants informaton on this matter, and if he can understand it, I point out that every scrap of information that can be made available has been made available. The papers have been tabled. I have answered fully and completely the many questions that have been submitted to me. As the honorable senator probably is aware, there will be a further opportunity during the day to obtain information on this matter, if indeed there is any more information to be obtained. I did not quite catch the rather garbled reference to politics and to the combination of certain political parties to defeat the Australian Labour Party at the forthcoming general election. I am sure, Mr. President, that no special arrangements will need to be made by any one to defeat the Australian Labour Party at that election. What annoys Senator Dittmer and the other members of the Labour Party is that this matter on which his question was based has had the effect, not only of publicly producing all the information that could be desired, but also the further effect of exposing to the public the political machinations of the Federal Labour Party and of the Labour Government of New South Wales in this matter, much to their embarrassment.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I preface it by saying that the roads to be constructed in Queensland from the straight-out grant of £4,350,000, as a part of the £5,000,000 grant to Queensland, will not cost the Queensland Government any money, and that the main purpose of the building of such roads is for the transport of beef cattle. As the Queensland transport legislation, first, prevents the carriage of cattle by road beyond 250 miles, which would be a negation of the very purpose of the proposed roads; secondly, makes carriage by road an uneconomic factor because of the charge of 3d. per ton mile on the full load capacity of road trucks, irrespective of how lightly loaded the vehicles may be; and thirdly, does not allow of long haulage tapering rates in such road charges, will the Minister take steps to see that these detrimental aspects of the legislation do not operate in relation to the gift roads in Queensland? If they do, the very purpose for which the grant is being made, which is to facilitate the transport of beef cattle and to increase our export earnings, will be defeated.
– The subjectmatter of the honorable senator’s question raises a very interesting point of policy, more particularly in respect of legislation of the Queensland Parliament than of Commonwealth legislation. I think that the matter is important and I would like to have the opportunity to submit it to the Minister. That means that I shall not be able to supply an answer to the honorable senator before the Parliament rises, but I am sure that the Minister will advise him by letter as soon as he is able to do so.
– I should like to ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a few questions. I do not want to worry him too much as he is having a rather hot time. Is it not a fact that some weeks ago the Minister stated that as an offset to Trans-Australia Airlines being denied intra-state air routes, Ansett-A.N.A. was not permitted to use the Darwin route? Is it not a fact that now Ansett-A.N.A. has the same rights as T.A.A. in respect of the Darwin route? Will the Minister consider giving equality to T.A.A. in the matter of freight which at present is 60/40 in favour of Ansett-A.N.A.?
– I have dealt at length, from time to time, with this question of intra-state operations. The events of the last few days will surely have underlined what I have been saying about the payment of subsidies to certain operators. I think the honorable senator completely overlooks the purpose of subsidization. One of its affects of course, is that it helps the actual operator, but its purpose is to provide rural airline services for people who live in isolated country areas.
The honorable senator suggests that T.A.A. should be given intra-state rights. Let us assume that the airline is given intra-state rights in New South Wales. We have had the opportunity “to see the effect of the subsidy there, where both operators - to this moment operating within zones of their own and not in competition with one another - need to have their services subsidized. The effect of the honorable senator’s suggestion would be that there would be three services in New South Wales and the Government would have three services to subsidize. So the answer to the question is, “ No “. Freight is divided on a basis, at the moment, that permits T.A.A.’s allocation to be increased as that airline gets the business. Every three months the freight situation is analysed and reassessed. If there is a legitimate case for an increase in T.A.A. ‘9 allocation, then that increase is made. The same principle applies, as I have explained before, in favour of T.A.A.’s operation on some passenger services, including the Canberra passenger service.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Has an estimate been made of the effect on the Australian atmosphere of the recent explosion of the Soviet super-bomb in the Arctic? Is it intended to take tests of the atmosphere periodically in the future?
– I have no information about the effect of this explosion on the Australian atmosphere, but it has been reported from scientific sources that most of the effects are unlikely to be felt for some considerable time. A good deal of work is constantly being done on atmospheric tests here and in other places. Not only atmospheric tests but also other tests are being carried out to measure the level of radiation on the surface and in the air.
– In view of the great likelihood that the explosion by Russia of nuclear bombs of enormous power will result in a fall-out of strontium 90, and other highly poisonous gases that will poison much of the food grown in the northern hemisphere, will the Leader of the Government in the Senate ask the Minister for Trade to prohibit the importation of any animal and vegetable foodstuffs grown in Europe for the next two years?
– I am sure that if that precaution was necessary the Government already would have been advised to take it. I do not think it is necessary. Therefore, I do not propose to give any assurance. I will bring the matter to the notice of the appropriate department, i
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior read a circular letter signed by Mr. McLaren, Secretary to the Department of the Interior, in which senators and members are instructed to travel between Sydney and
Darwin by internal airlines or pay the extra cost of travel by Qantas Empire Airways Limited, and in which reference is made to Trans-Australia Airlines? As it is presumed that similar instructions have been issued to all people who travel on government vouchers, should not the circular have mentioned that Ansett-A.N.A. has similar services to those of T.A.A. on that route, in order to emphasize this Government’s policy of giving freedom of choice in air travel to people travelling on government vouchers? Will the omission that I hereby publicize be speedily corrected?
– A casual reference to the letter referred to by Senator Marriott could well leave the impression that the direction applied to Trans-Australia Airlines and did not include Ansett-A.N.A. The second paragraph of the letter, a copy of which I hold in my hand, uses the fares charged by T.A.A. in a comparison with those charged by Qantas Empire Airways Limited. The reference to T.A.A. was made for comparative purposes only. The third paragraph sets out quite clearly what the position is. It reads -
The Minister has directed that the department should only meet the cost of such travel up to the amount of the fare charged by the internal airlines.
That means exactly what it says. Government policy has always laid it down that members of the Parliament and departmental officers should have freedom of choice of the airline by which they wish to travel. That is the position to-day. The freedom to travel by either Ansett-A.N.A. or T.A.A. still remains. There is no suggestion that travel should be confined to T.A.A.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate noticed from figures just released by the Commonwealth Statistician that savings bank deposits throughout Australia rose by £15,700,000 during September and that deposits in savings banks have risen by £47,500,000 since July last? Has the rise in the last three months far exceeded the decline in savings bank deposits in the preceding nine months? In view of these spectacular figures, does he envisage that the savings banks could well have increased funds available for loans for housing to supplement the increased funds for housing already becoming available as a result of action taken by the Government?
– I do not keep these figures in my mind in the same way as Senator Laught does, but I have noticed that there has been a very encouraging and substantial increase in savings bank deposits. For some time after the Government’s economic measures were applied in November last there was a fall in savings bank deposits which was more than offset ‘by an increase in fixed deposits. Over recent months there has been a very healthy increase in both savings bank deposits and fixed deposits. As Senator Laught said, that increase puts the savings banks in a healthier and stronger position to make money available for housing. I hope that they will do so. If they do so, as I expect they will, they will be following Government policy in that, as honorable senators will remember, we took special action to ensure increased lending for housing by savings banks, with the special arrangement that they should make a substantial proportion available to building societies. In view of the substantial improvement in the position of the savings banks, I hope to see - and I believe I will see - an increase of their lending to building societies for housing purposes.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. By way of preface, I say that I addressed a question on similar lines to the Minister in May and that parts of that question have not yet been answered. In view of the large sums of Government money invested in aged persons’ homes subsidized under the Aged Persons Homes Act 1954, and having regard to the fact that many elderly persons have invested their life savings in such homes, has the Government provided any safeguards’ against the exploitation of those persons by companies newly incorporated for the building of aged persons’ homes? What rights of appeal do tenants have against eviction from such premises, for the occupation of which they have paid sums ranging from £200 to £2,000, as well as weekly payments? Upon eviction from a home for non-compliance with rules drawn up by the controlling body, is any part of the lump sum payment returned to the tenant, whose contribution has been subsidized by the Government on the basis of £2 for £1? Is it a fact that each incoming tenant is charged the same or an increased premium? Is that subsidized also? If so, where does the process end?
– I am sorry that Senator Tangney has not yet received a reply to a question that she asked in May.
– Parts of it were not answered.
– I regret that. The honorable senator has now asked a series of questions about the aged persons’ homes scheme, to which I can reply only in general terms. She has mentioned certain things that may happen, but I have heard no suggestion that those things are happening. When the Department of Social Services is considering whether an advance should be made by the Government in respect of an aged persons’ homes project, I am sure that it makes a full inquiry into the standing and character of the people who will conduct the homes. I do not think much is gained by making allegations about certain things when there is no suggestion that those things are happening. That is likely to disturb and upset aged people who want to go into these homes. It is likely to hinder rather than to help a social service activity which, I think, is of great value to many people in the community.
I say to Senator Tangney, with great respect, that if she feels that the sort of thing to which she has referred is going on, it would be better for her to make a specific complaint to the Minister for Social Services than to raise the matter in a nebulous kind of way which will do no good to the persons who may be affected.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. The relevant references to the matter will be found in volumes 61 and 62 of “ Hansard “. Is the Minister aware that the Commonwealth Bank Bill was initiated on 3 1st October, 1911, by the then Prime Minister and Treasurer, the Right Honorable Andrew Fisher, by resolution in the
House of Representatives, and that the House ordered Mr. Fisher and Mr. Hughes to prepare the bill, which was later piloted through the House by the Prime Minister?
– lt seems that Senator McCallum is putting Senator Poke in his place, because Senator Poke said yesterday that Mr. King O’Malley was responsible for the initiation of that bill. 1 say frankly that I do not know the history of the matter and that I defer to Senator McCallum, who is our acknowledged historian. He has done a great deal to help the Senate on historical matters.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether it is a fact that on Tuesday last he challenged the Premier of New South Wales to name the party who the Premier said was making a bid for EastWest Airlines Limited. Did the Minister repeat that challenge yesterday? Has the Premier yet accepted the Minister’s challenge and named the party who the Premier alleged is making the offer?
– The Premier of New South Wales, the Honorable R. J. Heffron, has not yet named the mystery bidder for East-West Airlines Limited, of whom he had such reliable information late last week. He has not yet accepted my challenge, issued on Tuesday and repeated yesterday, that he should name him. 1 repeat the challenge to-day. At this stage I suggest that it is completely indefensible that the Premier should not disclose this information. Failure to disclose it will be interpreted - correctly; I submit - as a deplorable departure from the standards of public conduct that most real Australians expect from men in public office.
– I ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General whether a temporary Commonwealth public servant, elected as a senator, is entitled to hold his position as a Commonwealth public servant from the date of his election until he takes his place in the Senate.
– The answer to the question involves an interpretation of constitutional law. The question deals with the disqualification provisions in the Constitution which are matters to be decided by a proper court. Any answer that could be given here would merely be in the nature of a legal opinion,’ and it is against the practice of the Senate to give such legal opinion.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, ls the honorable gentleman aware that Ansett-A.N.A. operates a service to Darwin? If he is, will he inquire from the Department of the Interior and inform me why the letter referred to by Senator Marriott mentioned only Trans-Australia Airlines as the alternative airline to Qantas? Does not the Minister agree that the letter implies that T.A.A. is the only alternative airline to Qantas on this route? Why was AnsettA.N.A. not mentioned?
– I am aware that Ansett-A.N.A. operates a service to Darwin. The Minister for the Interior is surely also aware of this fact. I emphasized in answer to a previous question that Trans-Australia Airlines was referred to in the second paragraph of the letter so that the fares charged by the internal airlines and the externa] airlines could be compared. The third paragraph of the letter reads -
The Minister has directed that the department should only meet the cost of such travel up to the amount of the fare charged by the internal airlines.
It is perfectly clear to anybody reading the letter with some understanding that the direction applies only as a qualified prohibition against the use of the service operated by Qantas. ‘ I have been informed only in the last few moments that the letter was actually drafted before Ansett-A.N.A. extended its services to Darwin.
– The letter is dated 20th.
– I realize that, and the honorable senator will realize that departmental procedure in the handling of correspondence is not always as speedy as that which we seek to achieve in carrying out our own business. A certain amount of processing must be done. Ansett-A.N.A. had not actually commenced its Darwin service when this matter was first mooted. I emphasize that there is no prohibition whatever on the use of the service to Darwin provided by Ansett-A.N.A. There is complete freedom of choice. It is interesting to find champions of both T.A.A. and AnsettA.N.A. on this side of the Senate.
– I ask the Minis ter for Civil Aviation: Is it not a fact that the Department of Civil Aviation is providing a passenger terminal at Essendon airport for joint use by internal airlines? Has the Minister read to-day’s advertisement by Trans-Australia Airlines from which readers would infer that T.A.A. has a new terminal and is providing all these modern facilities? Can he tell me whether Ansett-A.N.A. will have accommodation in this government-provided terminal, and, if so, when?
– The new terminal building at Essendon has been provided by the Government. Portions of it are let to domestic and international operators on a rental basis. I have not seen the advertisement by Trans-Australia Airlines to which the honorable senator refers. . I shall be interested to have a look at it. I do not quite know when Ansett-A.N.A. will move into the new building, but it will be within a few weeks at the most.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration received a reply to the question that I asked in this chamber on Tuesdaylast relating to the activities of the firm of Scott Brothers, of which I am a partner, and which is interested in the pearling industry at Broome? If he has received one, will he please make it available so it can be given the widest publicity to satisfy the inquiring mind of Senator O’Flaherty?
– I have an answer to Senator Scott’s question. I undertook to endeavour to obtain a reply from the Minister for Immigration and to place it before the Senate before the Parliament rose. I have received the following answer-
– Why does it not come through in the ordinary way?
– You. may have it now; you asked for it. I remind the Senate that Senator O’Flaherty asked the following questions: -
The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answers: -
– My question, which is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, follows one asked by Senator Dittmer in relation to which further consideration may be given by the Minister. It arises from a constitutional problem that has caused quite a disturbance in Tasmania and which affects quite a number of men who may eventually become members of the Senate. I ask the Minister: In view of the doubt that exists in relation to the section of the Constitution which precludes a candidate from being elected to or taking his seat in the Senate while holding an office of profit under the Crown, will the Minister take the initiative and ask the Crown Law Office to rule whether a public servant may continue to hold his position in the Public Service between the date of the election and taking a seat in the Senate on the following 1st July when his term officially commences? I point out that quite a few people are penalized by being members of the Public Service. They have no form of income whatever while the present doubt exists, whereas any other successful candidate may continue in his occupation until he officially takes his place in the Senate.
– I can only ask Senator O’Byrne to place the question on the notice-paper. I cannot canvass the pros and cons of the matter. I do not know how many people are or have been affected. This problem has been in existence since the Constitution was drafted about 60 years ago. I am certain the Crown Law Office will have had plenty of precedents on which to make up its mind.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are as follows: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers: -
In its decision of 15th June, 1961, the commission repeated the statement as a reason for not affording guidance to the parties in negotiatmg higher salaries for the grades of engineers senior to those covered in the decision.
S and 6. I understand that the Public Service Board is considering the procedures that might, if necessary, be adopted.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
Relative to the new consumer price index, which is of increasing importance in basic wage calculations, having regard to the indication given by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in its last basic wage assessment that it will regard that index as a prima facie scale of adjustment in future assessments, will the Minister advise - (a) Whether the index is the product solely of the Commonwealth Statistician’s office, based upon its professional knowledge of statistics and without any guidance from the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission or the Government, and (b) Whether the Commonwealth Statistician’s office, the Government, or the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has given any consideration to, or taken any action towards, the compilation of a productivity index for use in making basic wage adjustments?
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following information: -
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The following answers are now supplied: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has furnished the following replies: -
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
What was the cost of printing the report of activities, 1960-61, presented to the conference of collectors of customs?
– I now furnish the following answer to the honorable senator’s question: -
The Government Printing Office has advised that the cost of printing the report was £5381s. 9d.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The following answers are now provided: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers: -
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 Spooner) read a first time.
Senator SPOONER (New South Wales-
Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development) [11.54].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to seek the approval of the Parliament to an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of Queensland covering the provision of financial assistance to that State in the work of increasing and improving the facilities of the Collinsville-Townsville-Mount Isa railway. Mount lsa is just over 600 miles by rail from the coast at Townsville, and the total distance from the Collinsville coal mines to Mount Isa is more than 750 miles. For many years this railway line has been the main transport link serving the whole of north-western Queensland, and in more recent times it has acquired greatly increased importance because of the discovery and development of rich and extensive mineral deposits in the Mount Isa area.
The transport task here is primarily a railway operation, but the existing railway has become increasingly deficient in many respects and it could no longer provide the capacity to move the tonnages in prospect from the developments likely to occur in that region. Rehabilitation of the railway to the standard now required includes extensive reconstruction of the permanent way to achieve better grades and curves, replacement of one major and a host of minor bridges, considerable replacement of rails and sleepers, new marshalling yards and crossing loops, improved methods of control and administration, the provision of modern locomotives and rolling-stock, and so on. This vast project, which is already under way and scheduled for completion by December, 1964, has been estimated to cost £30,000,000. The provision of financial assistance to Queensland by the Commonwealth, as provided for in the agreement to which approval is now sought, will enable this work to be carried out.
At this point I must emphasize that the reconstructed line will retain the existing gauge of 3 ft. 6 in., so that the question of gauge standardization is not involved, lt could be argued, of course, that the rehabilitation of a section of a State railway system is purely a matter for the State concerned, and that there is no parallel with other cases where, in the interests of moving towards a uniform gauge link between the principal mainland railw ays, the Commonwealth has provided financial assistance to certain States. But in this instance, the very nature and magnitude of the project compels a different approach. It was obvious from the start the State of Queensland would need some outside help if the complete job were to be done properly and within a reasonable time. Furthermore, the increase in export earnings that will un doubtedly flow from the expansion of metal production at Mount Isa, made possible by an improved railway, gave the Commonwealth good reason for using its best endeavours to ensure that the rehabilitation project would be vigorously pursued. From the outset we expressed a keen interest in the project, and this interest, plus an amount of hard work, has now culminated in the present agreement.
Our approach to the form of the assistance to Queensland has, however, been conditioned at all times by the fact that this is not a standardization work, and so should not attract the same measure of direct support as has been accorded by the Commonwealth to standardization projects. I might add that this view was strengthened when it was demonstrated by the most expert investigations that the revitalized line should have no difficulty in paying its way, including the complete amortization of ils capital cost over a period of twenty years.
The first approach for Commonwealth assistance was made in 1956 by the then Queensland Premier, Mr. Gair, and arose from the declared intention of Mount Isa Mines Limited to increase greatly ils production of metals and concentrates, provided that the necessary increased railway capacity could be made available. Deposits of silver-lead-zinc ores were discovered at Mount Isa in 1923, and the present company commenced production in 1931, mainly of lead. Subsequently, a high-grade copper ore body was discovered right alongside the silver-lead-zinc ore zones, and for several years during World War II. the mine switched to copper production, later reverting to lead and zinc. Thereafter the wo: Id price of copper increased to an attractive level, and since 1953 the company has been producing, from the one mine, copper, silver-lead and zinc. It is by far our largest producer of copper, and second only to the Broken Hill area as a producer of lead and zinc.
Some six years ago the company discovered additional deposits of both silverleadzinc and copper ores of almost incredible magnitude. The extent to which the metal can be extracted economically depends to a large extent on the scale of production, which largely determines unit production cost and hence the grade of ore which it pays to treat. A low rate of production would require adoption of a relatively high “ cut off grade “, and hence the by-passing of the lower grade ores which in all probability would then be left in the ground for all time. As the production rate increases the “ cut off grade “ percentage decreases, so that, in addition to producing more metal in a given period, the adoption of more intensive production also increases the extent to which this tremendous source of underground wealth can be brought to the surface.
Very naturally, the directors of Mount Isa Mines Limited decided on an expansion programme, the latest version of which is to increase, within the next few years the rate of ore production to 14,400 tons a day, as against the 4,000 tons a day being treated in 1956. Such a programme involves the enlargement of facilities at all stages and a very large further capital investment. Some idea of what is involved can be gauged from the fact that the Mount Isa programme includes construction of a new access shaft 3,200 feet deep by 24 feet in diameter, a new power station, a new copper smelter, a new dam on the Leichhardt River to assure adequate water supply, extensions to ore mills, a copper refinery at Townsville, a coke plant at Bowen, and the thousand and one other things needed to cope with a more than threefold increase in the scale of production. I am happy to say that the company has in fact embarked on such a programme, and that its first target of 8,100 tons of ore a day was reported to have been reached, ahead of schedule, in October, 1959.
Expansion of production from 4,000 to 14,400 tons of ore a day requires an increase, in round numbers, from 320,000 to 950,000 tons in the annual rail transportation task. The planned mine expansion was just not possible unless accompanied by the necessary expansion of railway capacity. The company put the problem to the Queensland Government, which evolved a minimum rehabilitation plan estimated to cost £10,000,000 and, as I mentioned before, approached the Commonwealth for assistance.
We looked at the State’s proposals. We made a critical examination of the com pany’s expansion plans, and an assessment of the value of the overall project as an export earner. Weighing all the facts, we were forced to the conclusion that the limited work proposed by the State on the railway did not go far enough, and that the mining project was of such importance as to call for a first-class railway, properly equipped with modern rolling-stock, and capable of carrying in an economic and efficient manner not only the traffic needed for the announced increase in production but also such further traffic as would be offering were the huge Mount Isa deposits to be developed at a still faster rate. Beyond this, of course, were the prospective needs of the great north-western area of Queensland, with its rich grazing lands and its undoubted potential for other mineral developments.
Our views were made known to the Queensland Government, which arranged for a more ambitious plan to be drafted. The new proposals required an expenditure of upwards of £30,000,000, and the State made it clear that such an expenditure could be contemplated only if very substantial outside assistance were forthcoming. For our part, we indicated a keen interest in the project, and set about the task of finding the necessary finance.
From the outset we contemplated an overseas borrowing, and with this in mind suggested - and the State agreed - that independent experts should be engaged to look at the rehabilitation plan and report on its economic feasibility. This led to the appointment, by the State, of the eminent American firm of consulting engineers, Ford Bacon and Davis Incorporated, who made very thorough investigations and reporated initially in November, 1957, and finally in August, 1958, that the project was in fact economically feasible. Their calculations showed that the rehabilitated railway would be able to pay its way and, as I said before, completely amortize its capital cost from earnings over a period of twenty years.
I mention that Ford Bacon and Davis Incorporated have been retained by the State to supervise the project, and to undertake various other tasks associated with it and with the general operation of the Queensland Railways.
On the financing side, we had been able to interest the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and at the 1958 meeting of the Australian Loan Council we sought and obtained unanimous agreement for the Commonwealth to borrow moneys for the Mount Isa project. This opened the way for a formal request to the bank for a loan. Quite a lot has been said on this subject, and it is well known that the negotiations with the bank, which at the start gave great promise of success, finally broke down because the Mount Isa company was not prepared to provide guarantees of freight revenues from the railway of a kind required by the bank. This was disappointing to us because in nearly all respects the railway was a project admirably suited to finance by the International Bank. We in the Commonwealth had used our very best endeavours to ensure success, but in saying this I do not seek to criticize in any way the bank, the Mount Isa company, or the Queensland Government. It is understandable, of course, that the International Bank must abide by whatever rules it lays down governing the loans it makes and that, having regard to the numerous demands upon it from many countries, it cannot readily make exceptions in particular cases, no matter how credit-worthy it regards a particular project or a particular borrower. On the other hand, the Mount Isa company made its own business judgment as to how far it could go in guaranteeing the railway freight earnings.
When, however, the negotiations with the bank ended in mid-1959, one thing was perfectly clear. Money had to be found for the job. Neither the Commonwealth nor the Queensland Government was prepared to let the matter rest where it stood. We intended to try - and did try - to secure loan finance from oversea sources other than the International Bank. Meeting, however, with no immediate success in that direction and believing that the project was of the greatest urgency and importance, we decided to offer to guarantee the Queensland Government the money for it ourselves, even if our efforts to secure oversea finance should fail.
Towards the end of 1959, the Prime Minister wrote to Mr. Nicklin to tell him that the Commonwealth was prepared to underwrite the provision of the additional £20,000,000 required - that is, the amount over and above the £10,000,000 which the State has indicated it could finance itself - on virtually the same terms and conditions as would have applied had the loan from the International Bank been forthcoming - terms and conditions which, I might add, Queensland had always indicated it would be quite happy to accept. In effect, despite the burden that it would place on our resources, we undertook to put ourselves in the position that the International Bank would have occupied if it had provided a loan of £20,000,000.
Within a few days, the Premier of Queensland replied, accepting the offer and expressing satisfaction at what was, for both State and Commonwealth, a very notable event. With one exception which I shall mention presently, the terms and conditions which were offered and accepted by Queensland were the terms and conditions which have now been embodied in the agreement which this bill seeks to approve.
As we intended, this offer assuring ihe State of the finance enabled proper planning of the work to proceed immediately, and the work went forward, without having to await the results of any further efforts we made to borrow overseas for the project. The Queensland Government wasted no time, and the actual work commenced some time ago. I am pleased to say that, on the information I have, it is proceeding very satisfactorily. Queensland has been able to meet expenditure so far from its own agreed contribution to the project. However, the time is now approaching when the Commonwealth will have to start making its contribution, and it is. of course, necessary for this agreement to be approved before that can be done.
I have mentioned that, in one respect, the proposed terms of the Commonwealth’s assistance differ from what was offered and agreed at the end of 1959. This’ is in regard to the matter of the interest rate on the Commonwealth’s advances. As I have said, our intention was to put ourselves in the position that we had hoped the International Bank would occupy, and offer Queensland the same terms as would have applied to a loan1 made by the bank. So far as the interest rate was concerned, we offered to charge Queensland whatever happened to be the ruling rate for International Bank loans of about the same duration at the time we provided the money, subject to a reduction in that rate if we were successful in borrowing more cheaply elsewhere overseas.
At the time we were negotiating with the bank, the ruling International Bank rate was inthe vicinity of 6 per cent. per annum. Although the State accepted this arrangement initially we, following receipt of a later suggestion by the Premier, reconsidered it. In an attempt to settle a firm rate once and for all and avoid unnecessary complications and arithmetic later, we subsequently suggested instead that we charge Queensland the average rate of two particular overseas loans then being raised, the full proceeds of which would, with Loan Council approval, be allocated to the Commonwealth instead of being apportioned between the Commonwealth and the various States in the normal way. The Premier agreed to this, and the necessary Loan Council approval was secured. The average rate of interest on these two loans was 51/2 per cent. per annum, and this is the interest rate that the agreement provides will be charged to Queensland on advances made by the Commonwealth under the agreement.
There were subsequent discussions with the Queensland Government about other aspects of the financial arrangements, but I feel that I do not need to go into details of these matters here, and I do not propose to do so. It is sufficient to say that full agreement was eventually reached on the basis I have outlined, and when this bill is passed these arrangements can be put into operation.
Apart from the interest rate, the other main terms on which the Commonwealth is proposing to provide financial assistance are as follows: -
This, then, is the story of how the agreement which the legislation embodies has come about. I am convinced that it will prove to be one of the most successful and rewarding examples of co-operation ever undertaken between the Commonwealth and a State, for not only will it assist the effective development of vast resources already known, but it will almost certainly help to unlock potentialities for growth exceeding anything we can now envisage. It is much more than a State or regional undertaking; it is a national project in the truest sense of that term.
I have great pleasure in commending the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by SenatorDittmer) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 25th October (vide page 1485), on motion by Senator McKenna -
That the following paper: -
Correspondence in relation to negotiations between the Commonwealth and East-West Airlines, be printed.
– Yesterday evening, after a fortnight of high controversy, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) tabled certain correspondence between himself, East-West Airlines
Limited, the Government and the Department of Civil Aviation. In addition, he made a statement in which he explained and dealt with the situation that had arisen. The statement and the documents covered a great deal of ground and they dealt with matters that the Minister considered to be relevant to the issues that had been raised. They range over the capital structure of East-West Airlines, the rationalization of the activities of that company and those of Airlines of N.S.W. Proprietary Limited, and many incidental matters. It was quite proper for the Minister to give us that background, but, in my view, it is essential to bear in mind that there is other background material. I refer to the high political disputation that raged in the Senate, and is still current in the Parliament, in respect of two bills dealing with the relations between Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. on the trunk routes Those bills were introduced early in October, and it was only recently that they left the Senate. They are still the subject of debate in another place. In the course of the debate on the bills in this chamber - a debate that I entered - the Opposition alleged that undue preference had been given to Ansett-A.N.A. and that there had been unfair discrimination against T.A.A., in both cases at the instance of the Government. 1 do not propose now to review the whole of the argument that was presented then. I shall refer broadly to the points that I made. Taking Mr. Ansett’s letter of 7:h July, which had been sent to every member of the Parliament and had been published in the press, 1 pointed out that he had made requests or demands on eight or nine points, and I directed attention to the remarkable fact Nhat every one of his requests or demands was met by the bills that were then before us.
– Have you ever addressed your mind to the proposition that they might be just requirements?
– Indeed I have. I addressed my mind and my arguments to it. I documented the proposition that the discrimination against T.A.A. was unfair and that undue preference had been given to the other airline. 1 am not trying now to traverse all the issues that were raised then. I am merely reminding the Senate of what transpired. In the view that I take, it is proper to state that that is an essential part of the background to what has happened during the past fortnight.
I said that the Opposition was suspicious of the airlines bills, and I gave as a reason for that suspicion the fact that statements had been made in this place by the Leader of the Government (Senator Spooner) to the effect that the Government ought to vacate the field of any business undertaking so soon as private interests were ready to take it over. I said that the fear that animated the Opposition - we have expressed it over the years - was that T.A.A. would be sold eventually to AnsettA.N.A. We are definitely suspicious on that count. At that time no member of the Opposition, including myself, had the slightest knowledge of the events that have been disclosed in the past fortnight. We approach this discussion against that background.
Allegations have been made by three officers of East-West Airlines, which operates in New South Wales. They are the managing director or the chairman of directors, Mr. Shand; a former acting chairman and still a director, Mr. Pringle; and a former general manager, Mr. Smith, who has entered the lists in to-day’s press. The only other person outside the Government who has made a contribution to the matter, as far as I know, is Mr. Drummond, a member of the Government parties, in another place. Until he spoke the allegations against the Minister were in fact confined to newspaper statements. I and all other members of the Opposition received and read them with a great deal of caution.
– Are you referring to Senate Opposition members?
– 1 am speaking of the Senate Opposition. We received those newspaper statements with a great deal of caution because it is so easy for statements made by persons to be distorted. It is so easy for them to be only partially reported. We felt that m the circumstances, with the Minister making statements, we should more or less stay on the sidelines. Only two or three questions were asked of the Minister during that period. They were quite objective questions. Then we reached the stage where last night the Minister tabled these documents. At last we have something in writing - the various letters that the Minister has seen fit to table. In addition, one other document has now emerged. It is a document dated 29th July, 1960, and is published in to-day’s press. It purports to be a report-
– It is dated, 29th July, 1961, is it not?
– Is it? I must confess that I have had a limited time in which to address my mind to this matter, because we adjourned at 12.30 a.m. this morning and I certainly spent quite a few hours studying the position before I turned in to sleep. Frankly, I would have liked further time to consider exactly how I would address myself to this very delicate and important subject.
– You will concede that the date is very important.
– I glanced at the newspaper hurriedly. Looking at it again now, I think that the honorable senator is incorrect. I admit that I looked at the newspaper hastily in the first place but I did not think that my impression was wrong. I am looking at to-day’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ and under the heading “ Bears No Malice “ this statement appears -
The record issued by Mr. Shand was of the meeting held on July, 7 1960 . . .
– But read two paragraphs further on where this statement appears -
Mr. Shand said last night that on July 29, 19 :1, Captain Smith submitted the following record of the meeting . . .
It is necessary to clarify this matter.
– It is. I am obliged to the honorable senator. May I return to the first statement. I took it automatically that Mr. Shand was referring then to the meeting that had taken place in July, lt surprises me to read that the record prepared by Captain Smith is received-
– It surprises me that anybody would rely on such - record twelve months old.
– That may well be, in the light of what now comes to my attention. The record is entitled to whatever credence is due to it by reason of the fact that it is so far after the event.
– It is surprising that the press published it.
– It surprises me that it should be presented to the board so long after the event. I would not be surprised if the dale quoted in the newspaper is wrong and if it is intended to relate to an earlier meeting. 1 frankly do not know and there appears to be a conflict in the way the story is presented in the newspaper.
As to the allegations made by the various individuals, it is not my purpose at this stage to document them, to elaborate them Or to draw conclusions from them. That is not my intention at all. Nor is it my intention to traverse the Minister’s answers to the questions that have been raised. 1 would hesitate to do that because it would not be possible for me to elaborate every point that the Minister has made in this place and in a press statement made outside. In making a statement I may emphasize makers that the Minister thinks are not important and I may omit to deal with matters that he thinks are of the utmost importance. Therefore, 1 have come down in favour of merely stating in very broad terms what I understand the allegations to be. The first allegation arises at the instance of Mr. Pringle, a former acting chairman of the company, in relation to an interview that is said to have taken place in Orange between him and the Minister, with others present, on 7th July, 1960.
– When was the allegation made? Would you add that?
– Quite frankly I was not aware of it until recently.
– It was not made until two weeks ago, was it?
– Not to my knowledge.
– That is rather relevant, is it not?
– It is relevant. All I can say to the honorable senator is that it is not my purpose to canvass the validity of the charges or of the Minister’s replies. I would prefer that the honorable senator did no; induce me to enter into the field of comment at this stage. The allegations are that Mr. Pringle and the Minister, with others present, had a conversation. Mr. Pringle alleges that he was sent for by the Minister. The Minister emphatically denies that. The next two incidents relate to Mr. Shand, the chairman of the company. He referred to two recent events. I think I am correct in saying that he referred to an interview with the Minister at Orange in June of this year and to a later interview with the Minister at Canberra in July of this year. Those are the three incidents to which references appeared in the press. The only other matter of consequence, for the purpose of my comments, is what Mr. Drummond said in another place. Again I have had the briefest opportunity to do no more than scan what Mr. Drummond did say. Mr. Drummond indicated that he was present at an interview with the Minister and his officers back in 1960. He has indicated that there was an element of coercion; that it was his impression and the impressions of company officials who were present that the Minister had delivered an ultimatum, whatever that means. Mr. Drummond did not explain or particularize his statement.
– That meeting was in July, 1960, was it not?
– Yes. Mr. Drummond also said that the veracity of Mr. Pringle had been challenged. Mr. Drummond went out of his way to uphold Mr. Pringle’s veracity and his faith in it. That is the cold record as I see it. The basic allegation is that the Minister for Civil Aviation at those conferences urged EastWest Airlines either to sell out to or to amalgamate with Ansett Transport Industries Limited. That is the broad trend of the allegations.
– You are not suggesting that Mr. Drummond made that allegation, are you?
– No. That is why I went to some pains to direct attention to what Mr. Drummond said. I wanted to distinguish his remarks from the broad terms of the allegations made by the other three persons.
I propose very briefly to refer to the correspondence in this matter. We get a little nearer to the minds of people when we read what they write. I should like to refer to what the Minister has referred to as appendix “ I “ - a letter from Mr. Shand to the Director-General of Civil Aviation on 16th August, 1961. In the first paragraph Mr. Shand stated -
Since seeing you last time in Melbourne, I paid f to the Minister for Civil Aviation, Senator Partridge at Canberra. Senator Paltridge has not changed his ideas, and urged that we re-op <i negotiations with Ansett.
That is a very specific statement. In the third paragraph this passage appears -
I believe what the Department of Civil Aviation has done for us in the past has been a magnificent contribution to decentralized aviation and to make a decision to sell out or accept satellite status at this juncture would be contrary to the principles we have fought for and would not be in the best long term interests of rural air transport.
That letter was replied to by the DirectorGeneral on 23rd August. In the second last paragraph - let me identify it as being the penultimate paragraph, because it is so referred to later - the Director-General said -
Finally, it is my clear understanding that the Minister has at all times emphasized to you, as he has in fact to all other parties interested in airline takeover bids, that the judgment of whether they should be accepted or rejected is solely a commercial one which is the responsibility of the Board of the airline company concerned and not that of the Government. I cannot understand how a statement of this sort, when applied to your particular circumstances, can be taken by you to mean that he, in effect, advised you to sell out to Ansett-A.N.A.
According to the letters we have before us, there was no reply to that letter until quite recently - on 3rd October last. Then Mr. Shand, in the course of a quite lengthy letter which he addressed to the DirectorGeneral of Civil Aviation, traversed various points relating to the operation of Eastwest Airlines which had been raised by the Director-General. At the end of the letter, which is appendix “ L “, he said -
In regard to your penultimate paragraph-
The one in the Director-General’s letter which I have just quoted -
I am, of course, unaware as to the source of the information from which your understanding of the Minister’s advice arises, but my clear understanding of his advice, namely that East-West Airlines should sell out to Ansett, is derived from certain unmistakeably clear conversations with him in Canberra and in Orange and also from his actions and conversations with others-
He does not name the others - prior to the latter occasions. The nature of such conversations’ and the preciseness of their terms was too striking to leave room for your suggestion that the Minister’s meaning was intended to be conveyed in the tern.’.: set out in your abovementioned paragraph. Members of this Company and in addition, others not directly connected with this Company have for some time been in no doubt as to the attitude of the Minister to the desire of Ansett to take over East-West Airlines, rt necessary the precise terms of the Minister’s conversations, including those in Canberra and in Orange as abovementioned, could be set forth. However, there appears no necessity to do so at this stage.
We have also been supplied with a copy of a letter of 3rd October written by Mr. Shand to the Prime Minister, which enclosed a copy of the correspondence that had taken place. I assume - I think correctly - that the correspondence which he forwarded to the Prime Minister included the particular letter from which I have just quoted. The Prime Minister replied to that on 23rd October, in the midst of this controversy, and I record the fact that he made no reference to that allegation by Shand in his letter of 3rd October.
– Not in the last paragraph?
– The only statement that can be regarded as being a comment on that is this -
Finally, I note that the Minister has b»en at some pains to emphasize that any negotiations by your Company with a view to sale are entirely a matter for the judgment of your Board. I certainly endorse this advice.
I merely indicate that the earlier paragraph was not traversed.
The Minister lu’ Civil Aviation, in his explanatory notes, made a brief reference to the matter when he said -
Then various points are made which, as 7 recollect them, do not traverse in particular the allegation in the second last paragraph of Shand’s letter of 3rd October.
– It had been specifically averted to by the Minister in his letter of 25th October to Shand.
– Oh, yes. I read that. 1 just wanted to place on record the fact I have just mentioned.
There are the allegations. At least it is satisfactory to see something in print over the signatures of the persons who are making the allegations. One can tie them to those things. The Minister has flatly denied the allegations that have been made. He concedes that at one meeting - the meeting in 1960- he did say that East-West Airlines and Airlines of New South Wales, the Ansett-owned subsidiary, should get together. He has explained that that related to their route arrangements, servicing arrangements and things of that kind - the practical administration of the two airlines.
There the matter stands at the moment. I refrain entirely from the temptation that besets a lawyer to analyse the pros and cons and to seek to reach some conclusion. I think it is quite wrong to draw a conclusion at this stage. If on the one hand I accept the Minister’s version, I immediately discard those who have made allegations against him; I condemn his accusers. On the other hand, if I accept the word of the accusers, I condemn the Minister. It is a quite serious move, whichever way I go. I am not prepared to express a judgment. It may be that there are misunderstandings. It may be there are deliberate untruths. It may be there are both.
The point to which I am leading and which I have had in mind from the time I began to speak is that only a properly constituted judicial tribunal can resolve the matter. Those who make allegations against the Minister should be placed in the witness box, sworn and subjected to crossexamination at the instance of the Government, the Minister or anybody else. They must have their evidence tested. The Minister also may give evidence if he wished and also be subjected to crossexamination. That is the only way in which the element of doubt, the aura of suspicion that has been created by this matter, can be resolved.
I think it is correct to say that the Minister, at the three interviews, was not alone. I also think it is correct to say that he has indicated to us that on each occasion he had officers with him. There was one officer at Orange and at the other two interviews officers were present. He was not without witnesses. So I would say that no fair-minded person could at this stage form a well-balanced judgment.
– May I interrupt you to say that I did not have an officer with me at Canberra, nor have I said that I had.
– Thank you. You are referring to the second interview, in July this year?
– Yes, that is right.
– I accept the correction. My impression is that you had on every occasion.
– At least in relation to the other two occasions the remark stands. The Minister had somebody with him when Mr. Pringle, with others, came to see him, and he had an officer with him when he spoke to Shand at Orange.
– Thank you for that. In the situation that has emerged, I think it is fundamental to the proper administration of public affairs that the truth be established. That is the view that the Opposition takes.
I suggest very seriously to the Senate that it is in the interests of the Minister himself that that be done. It is also in the interests of the Government and of the public that the whole matter should be determined. I say quite frankly that I have no impression of the accusers, nor any judgment to make of them. I have heard no allegations that they are persons of ill repute. I have never seen them, nor have I spoken to them. I do not know them. I have no personal impression of the people concerned, or of any of their officers. I do not know anything about them. Therefore, I cannot in my own mind form a conclusion as to their veracity, their dependability and the rest. I can only take what I have read in the newspapers and in the correspondence.
One must face up to the fact that allegations of a serious nature have been made. I think it is quite wrong from every viewpoint of propriety to leave the matter at that stage. That should not be done, par ticularly when the matter arises against a background of enormous concessions to one of the interests dealt with in this situation - Ansett-A.N.A. - in accordance with government policy, and when there is at stake in this issue a prize for one or other of those competing on the main trunk routes. I understand from the Minister’s statements in the matter that none of the intrastate activities is paying its way without subsidy. I take it they are not paying propositions; but they are of tremendous significance to the trunk route operators if any one of them is allied with one of the trunk operators, because it feeds that particular operator on the main routes. Therefore, it is a matter of great importance. The acquiring of one route or another could make a very significant difference to the earnings of one or other of the operators. One must see the matter against that background. I repeat that I think it is intolerable that there should be an aura. of doubt and that one should be left with a suspended judgment. It is intolerable that doubt should be left hanging over the heads of the Minister, the Government and the people who are making the allegations.
If the statements that have been made by the three persons I have mentioned are untrue, it is a most wicked conspiracy against the Minister. Above all else, it ought to be exposed. I think it is quite unfair to the Minister to let the matter rest in the position where those allegations have been made and have been repeated after he has answered them. The one question I have asked about the matter - I think it was earlier this week - was whether the Government had considered the conflict between the statements of those men and the statements of the Minister, and whether it would take steps to have that conflict resolved by a proper judicial body. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) said no, the Government had not considered doing so and that it was unlikely that it would. He left the matter there. I hope that with the passage of time a better outlook has been adopted and that the issues that are involved are now appreciated. They are important and, I repeat, go to the root of administration.
– You have made no mention of the position of the Premier of New South Wales.
-All that I know about the Premier of New South Wales is what I have read in the press, so I have no comment to make.
– That is all you know about Shand and Smith.
– Quite frankly, I am not aware that the Premier has made allegations against the Minister. If he has, all I can say to the Leader of the Government in the Senate is that he is one more person who has done so.
– You have not consulted him?
– I have not consulted the Premier in any degree. I indicate to the honorable senator at this stage that the first I heard of this matter was a fortnight ago, from airline operators not connected with the parties in the matter. I was approached in the airport at Melbourne. That was the first intimation I had of anything of this nature.
– No, it was not Trans-Australia Airlines. Let me make that perfectly clear. I was in the T.A.A. airport lounge. I was spoken to by operators of another airline who, I repeat, are not connected with any of the parties involved in this issue. They are not connected with Ansett-A.N.A. or with EastWest Airlines Limited, and they are certainly not connected with T.A.A.
Sitting suspended from 12.48 to 2.15 p.m.
– I think it is fair to say that everybody in this chamber agrees that there are two things of which we can be firmly confident. The first is that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) is a man of outstanding business ability and the second that he is a man of unquestioned integrity. Both factors are material to the judgment of any member of the Parliament in examining what have been called allegations in this case. Those allegations need to be tested, first, by commercial considerations, and, secondly, by considerations of honesty. I am glad, indeed, that the Minister saw fit to table the relevant papers in this matter. That was a gesture which 1 think enhanced the satisfaction that the Parliament feels with regard to the transaction. I feel a sense of satisfaction also because the Government has facilitated this debate by allowing it to take precedence of other business on the noticepaper. It is to me also a source of great satisfaction that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) this morning couched his submissions in language which made no allegation against the Minister for Civil Aviation. He deserted the disreputable defamation that stemmed from the Leader of the Opposition in another place. This laudable abstention from repeating that defamation destroys the accusations made by the Leader of the Opposition in another place.
Senator McKenna left himself with a shred of argument, pointing the vacillating finger that is indicative of a questioning mind, and saying, in effect, “ On that basis it is proper to institute a judicial inquiry or a royal commission “.What a tattered remnant of a suggestion - it is not an argument - that is! We wouldengage in inquiries just on a whisper from the Labour caucus, from a statement made in Macquarie-street in Sydney, or from a whisper inspired by an obvious agreement or arrangement between some of the rabble that come from the Australian Labour Party in Sydney and the Hefferon Labour Party.
Let me attempt to analyse this matter. As I understand the position, the two material dates are July,1960, and July, 1961. In July, 1960, each of the two competing intra-state airlines in New South Wales was enjoying a subsidy from this Government which imposed upon the Commonwealth Minister for Civil Aviation in this Government the responsibility to see that the subsidy was employed for the purpose for which it was voted, namely, to maintain rural airline services in New South Wales upon a proper economic basis. What was the position? East-West Airlines Limited had that year engaged in, I would think, a very questionable commercial reconstruction of the company’s capital. By writing up the capital revaluation reserve on the basis of two assets, one goodwill and the other a government licence, the company enhanced the figure capital by an increased bonus issue of 50,000 shares. I concede that it is probable that the directors of the company engaged in such a manoeuvre to make anybody making a take-over bid open his mouth more widely, and also as a basis for recalculating the subsidy. It is regrettable that having decided upon such a capital reconstruction the company did not see fit to advise the Minister for Civil Aviation who had the responsibility of deciding whether the subsidy should be continued that year and renewed in the next year.
In those circumstances, it is a tribute, I would think to the forthcomingness of Senator Paltridge that upon request he gave an interview to the representatives of EastWest Airlines in July, 1960. A certain suggestion has been made. It is such a rubbishy suggestion that it could not be considered to be an allegation. The suggestion is that in the presence of his DirectorGeneral of Civil Aviation and the Assistant Director-General of Policy of his department, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) and three officers of the company itself, the Minister exerted pressure upon the company representatives designed to procure an agreement, or a take-over by Ansett-A.N.A. of East-West Airlines. Just let us contemplate the position. It is suggested that the Minister exerted pressure upon, not one member of the company’s executive, but upon three, and in the presence of a Parliamentary representative! One has only to examine that proposition to consider the probabilities of it.
Then, Mr. President, it is wise, as Senator McKenna said this morning, to go to a contemporary record. There are two records that were made about that time. The first and more cogent - because it has been authenticated completely - is the letter from Mr. Pringle to Senator Paltridge of 8th August, 1960, about 30 days after the interview. The fact is that Mr. Pringle refers to the Minister and says -
Firstly, I would like to convey to you our appreciation for the friendly and frank talk we had in your office in Canberra on the occasion that Archie and I visited you.
The purpose of my writing you this personal letter is to inform you that I am taking my Directors for a short holiday to Brampton Island on Sunday, 2 1st August, 1960, where we will be remaining for a period of seven days. It has occurred to me that this could provide the ideal opportunity for a friendly talk with Mr. Ansett along the lines mentioned in Canberra.
It shocks the understanding of a robust business judgment to think that the man who wrote that letter within 30 days after being pressurized could write in such friendly and cordial terms if he was smarting under alleged coercion and abuse of authority by the Minister.
In to-day’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ there is published what is called “ a company record “. In another place it is referred to as “ a report “. It is stated to be a report of the meeting that these company executives had with the Minister on 7th July, 1960, at Canberra, in the presence of Mr. Drummond. This particular newspaper report that Senator McKenna and I were using this morning also said -
Mr. Shand said last night that on July 29, 1961, Captain Smith submitted the following record-
– Will the honorable senator let me interrupt him for a minute? I have before me the same-
– As the honorable senator will know from my introduction, I was about to say - and I need no suggestion from any one to say it - that I, too, after the reference this morning, have checked other newspaper reports. I find that they attribute to this report given to the company by Captain Smith the date 29th July, 1960, 22 days after the interview in Canberra. Therefore, it is not open to the objection that was so obvious this morning on the material that both Senator McKenna and I were using. I, for my part, had seen no other newspaper report. The record is not open to the objection that it was produced twelve or thirteen months after the event. Apparently it was produced 22 days after the event.
What is the record? It does not attribute to the Minister at the interview on 7th July any specific statement. Who gives evidentiary value to a statement in this form?
The result was: -
It is my opinion-
Says the author - that he would be in favour of this without caring very much how it was accomplished.
The result was knowledge. The author does not say that the Minister made a statement to that effect. He contents himself with recording his opinion. Everybody knows that matter such as that would not be accepted for one minute by the court of inquiry or judicial body suggested by Senator McKenna. Unless the author is prepared to say, “ The Minister for Civil Aviation said this in substance “, his statement is not worth consideration. It is highly significant that within 22 days after the interview the record comes into existence and at that stage does not ascribe to the Minister any statement to that effect - just knowledge and opinion.
Then we have the contribution from Mr. David Drummond, the honorable member for New England. This needs to be examined with care. The kind of mind possessed by a person who can write the venomous drivel that has been published in some of the newspapers would seize upon a phrase here and a phrase there to support the slender, suspicious conclusion that it formed. When this contribution is examined, so far from confirming the company’s case, destroys completely the company’s allegation. Mr. Drummond said -
I can say definitely that the Minister said to the representatives of the company that they would have to get together with Ansett.
The Minister has already told us that subsidiary matters, such as routes and other day-to-day operational matters, fell for discussion. What is the significance of the Minister saying: “You two fellows are in this business in competition. Get together on it? “ I am not unfair in putting that interpretation on that statement because Mr. Drummond immediately added this sentence -
That statement is open to a certain construction.
Having brought that construction to his mind, this was the next statement that he made -
I did not hear the Minister say that this agree ment was to be either in the form of a sell-out or an amalgamation’, lt could have been said, but it was not said to my knowledge or within my hearing.
He made two statements, namely, “ It was not said to my knowledge “ and “ It was not said within my hearing’”. Mr. Drummond is known to have some defect of hearing. He will not mind my making a personal reference- to that matter. It is essential for me to do so in order that I should be balanced and fair Mr. Drummond having heard the words “ get together “, if the Minister on that day said anything to the effect that there should be a take-over or an amalgamation, it is not possible that that would escape the understanding, hearing and knowledge of Mr. Drummond. He has said that that statement was not made to his knowledge and that that statement was not made in his hearing. Examining the matter in the context of July, 1960, does it really do credit to an objective judgment to suggest that that is proper material on which to appoint a royal commission?
What happened after that interview? The company received its subsidy. The company expressed itself as very appreciative of the information and help that had been given by the department and the Minister. In March 1961, after there had been some reference to re-arranging the routes internally in New South Wales, the DirectorGeneral of Civil Aviation properly brought to the notice of the company the fact that any re-routing of its services would, of course, require consideration in relation to eligibility for subsidy by this Government. That was in March 1961. As there had been obvious bargaining between the New South Wales Government and the company about the re-routing of services, it was very proper that the company should be told quite specifically that any re-routing would give rise to a reconsideration of the subsidy. In March, 1961, the director-general advised the company, not only that the Minister had decided to terminate, as from 30th June, 1961, the subsidy contracts of both of the New South Wales intra-state airlines, but also that that had been done with a view to re-negotiating the contracts in the light of changed circumstances.
Then, on 13th June, 1961, the shadow of the political hand of Mr. Heffron fell on the file. He addressed a letter to the Prime Minister in which he referred in somewhat excusing terms to the company’s increase of its bonus capital. I ask his Labour colleagues here to remember that. He made the definite statement that the company’s revenues were sufficient to cover costs only if supplemented by a subsidy, and he expressed the hope that a subsidy would be granted.
As I have said, that letter was addressed to the Prime Minister. Any one who has the slightest knowledge of the administration of this Government knows that the Minister for Civil Aviation, one of the senior members of the Cabinet, has the close confidence of the Prime Minister. Therefore, it is fair to infer that that letter, addressed to the Prime Minister, was made known to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Yet we are asked to listen to a suggestion that in July of 1961, within two or three weeks, the Minister was again putting pressure on this company for the purpose of procuring a take-over.
In August the Prime Minister wrote to Mr. Heffron and made it quite clear that the question of the continuance of the subsidy would be dealt with within the terms of the policy that the Government had announced in the Parliament. He made it quite clear that the Federal Government was anxious to assist rural airlines in New South Wales, but he made it clear also that a subsidy would be paid only in respect of economical and efficient services. He concluded by saying -
In view of the importance which both our Governments place on maintaining efficient and economical air services within New South Wales, I am quite sure you will agree that we should seek to maintain the close co-operation which new exists between our Department of Civil Aviation and your Transport Authority in these matters.
But, Mr. President, we do not need that letter to confound the suggestion that there was any wrong-doing on the part of the Minister at the interview on 12th July, 1961. Within a few days of the interview, Mr. Shand wrote a personal letter to the Minister, addressing him as “ Dear Shane “ and saying -
I have given a lot of thought to the talk we had in Orange.
He went on to say, in effect, that he had been endeavouring to see the Minister. Then he added -
Your Department, especially yourself and Donald-
He was referring to the Director-General - have done much to help us to develop. I do thank you for all your kindness in the past and hope you can spare some of your time to see me in the near future.
He said, Mr. President, that the Minister especially had done very much to help
East-West Airlines to develop. That letter was written by Mr. Shand to a man who, we are asked to believe, at a meeting a few days before that, improperly brought pressure to bear on the company to accept a take-over bid. These things lose their strength when we remind ourselves that the take-over offer had been made and rejected some fifteen months previously. Ansett had publicly made clear at this time that he had not renewed the offer. It is somewhat surprising to me that Mr. Shand, having written the letter that I have just read in July, addressed himself, not to the Minister but to the director-general, on 16th August and, for the first time, said -
Senator Paltridge has not changed his ideas, and urged that we re-open negotiations with Ansett.
On 23rd August the director-general made it quite clear that he could not accept that suggestion. He wrote -
Finally, it is my clear understanding that the Minister has at all times emphasized to you, as he has in fact to all other parlies interested in airline takeover bids, that the judgment of whether they should be accepted or rejected is solely a commercial one which is the responsibility of the Board of the airline company concerned and not that of ihe Government.
Is the veracity of Mr. Anderson in question? Is his reliability questioned? He said also in this letter -
I cannot understand how a statement of this sort, when applied to your particular circumstances, can be taken by you to mean that he, in effect, advised you to sell out to Ansett-A.N.A.
He said that he was sending a copy of the letter to the Minister. Two days later the Minister wrote a letter in which he removed from Mr. Shand’s mind for ever any impression, mistaken or otherwise, that Mr. Shand might have had that the Minister was procuring a take-over. The Minister wrote -
The Director-General has brought to my notice his correspondence with you dated 23rd August, 1961. 1 find your statement that I urged you to re-open negotiations with Mr. Ansett incomprehensible. I said in the course of our meeting - and I repeat now - a decision to re-negotiate with Ansett is entirely a matter for the commercial judgment of you and your Board.
Senator McKenna omitted to read that letter this morning.
– I do not think I did.
– I referred to it by way of an interjection when Senator McKenna was speaking, lt is quite right to say that he omitted to refer to it.
– There was no reply by Mr. Shand to that letter, apparently. The.n there was an interval. The next relevant date in the correspondence is 3rd October. Mr. Shand is writing to the Director-General after the Minister has emphatically stated that he is not interested whether these companies amalgamate. At this stage the Minister has indicated that whether they amalgamate is a matter for the commercial judgment of their directors. Surely no business mind is thereafter under the impression that the Minister will exercise any influence to bring about an amalgamation. What then is the motive behind Mr. Shand’s construction of his letter, which I suggest has been settled very carefully by some skilled assistant? In the tail end of his serpentine epistle he attempts to bolster the now futile assertion that the Minister did advocate amalgamation. What relevance has that on 3rd October to the commercial future of Mr. Shand and his company? He is obviously writing letters with the threat that they will be used as a spring-board by Labour politicians in concert in a political campaign on the eve of the elections.
– The Country Party started all this.
– What a contribution to the debate! We will see what evidence Senator Ormonde produces to support that contention. The suggestion is completely fatuous and Senator Ormonde should not hold out any hopes that it will divide us from our colleagues. On 3rd October when this letter of Mr. Shand’s was so artfully constructed methinks he had the idea of sending all the correspondence on the matter to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). In his letter of 23rd October, 1961, to Mr. Shand, the Prime Minister takes care to re-emphasize what the Minister for Civil Aviation said on 25th August. In his letter the Prime Minister said -
Finally, I note that the Minister has been at some pains to emphasise that any negotiations by your Company with a view to sale are entirely a matter for the judgment of your Board. I certainly endorse this advice.
Surely it is transparently plain that the promotion of that proposition by Mr. Shand at any time after 25th August is solely for political purposes. It is clear that Mr. Shand was in alliance with and in the confidence of the Government of New South Wales. The debates in another place have shown the close understanding that some Labour members have of the step-by-step progress of this campaign. Surely it is clear that this company had no commercial reason whatever after 25th August to entertain the slightest idea that Senator Paltridge was even interested in bringing pressure to bear to procure an amalgamation, much less being minded to do so. The company must be raising this matter purely for political purposes. I believe that the Labour Government of New South Wales has offered the company assistance in order to promote its political vendetta against the private enterprise operator - Ansett. The New South Wales Government has taken East-West Airlines under its wing but it has abused its custody and its charge by using its protege for this miserable transparently political campaign, which I would think it was an insult to anybody’s judgment to suggest was worthy of inquiry by a royal commission.
– It is not my intention to speak at any length on this matter. I take the ordinary layman’s view of the subject under discussion. One reads only one side of the argument in newspaper statements. We have seen to-day how in respect of a rather important letter two sections of the press cannot agree as to the date on which it was written. One section claims that the letter was written in 1960 and .the other claims that it was written in 1961. In the case advanced for the Opposition, Senator McKenna made no accusations. All that we want is for the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) to have the opportunity of placing certain of his accusers in the position where they will have to substantiate their allegations. I feel that too many people are prone always to believe anything that is said against a person in the position of a Minister of the Crown. I would have expected the Minister to be pleased and to welcome an opportunity to prove beyond all doubt that he is the injured party in this controversy.
– Admit that on the eve of an election he had a case to answer.
– I regret that the Leader of the Government (Senator Spooner) has seen fit to raise that aspect of the matter. There would have been ample time between now and 9th December to clear up this matter, at least to the satisfaction of the Minister concerned. There was plenty of time to satisfy the general public as to the Minister’s integrity.
– The only people who would bc satisfied would be members of the Labour Party, with elections close at hand in the Commonwealth and in New South Wales.
– I regret that Senator Spooner is dragging this debate down to a very low level. 1 know that some people are ever ready to accuse honorable senators and members of another place of doi ig things that they should not do or of failing to do things that they should do. 1 speak with some little knowledge in that regard. In my own case I welcomed ! aving light thrown on the Albert Park affair. To be candid, the whole business was the greatest nuisance to me. But, having gone through it, I am satisfied that those few people who were throwing a!! the stones without any evidence to support their allegations will get the right answer.
I am not taking sides. I have never indicated in this chamber that I am prone to accept all that the newspapers say. But one WOUld expect that where a person has a clear case, as the Minister has suggested in his statement, in his answers to various questions in this place and by the production of letters that person v.ould welcome an inquiry. I say with great respect that the only way in which the Minister can be satisfied and in which the people can be satisfied about th» integrity of the Parliament is to put the Minister’s accusers in a position where they will have to answer. Is anything wrong with that? If that is not done the matter will not end here. There will continue to be innuendoes to the effect that something was done which should not have been done.
I regret having suggested in a question some time ago that the Minister did not allow Trans-Australia Airlines to operate intra-state in New South Wales. He refused to be confronted with alleged statements. I can see nothing wrong with the proposition submitted by the Leader of the Opposition. It is wrong to say that Senator McKenna has advanced it for political reasons. The appointment of a commission of inquiry could well redound to the credit of the Minister when the judgment was given. I do not intend to go into what Mr. Drummond has said. It is true as Senator Wright said that Mr. Drummond said he did not hear the most important statement that Mr. Pringle alleged the Minister made. I fail to see why the Minister for Civil Aviation does not agree to the Opposition’s proposition satisfied as he apparently is according to the statements he has made, and fortified as he is by the letters he has produced. What is wrong with nailing this accusation?
– It has been nailed.
– No. With great respect to Senator Henty, unfortunately it will not be nailed without an inquiry. Mean people are always prone to say, “ What is in it? “ I support the views of the Leader of the Opposition and say that the course he has advocated is the only one that will give complete satisfaction.
– My first thought on rising to take part in this debate is to make a brief comment upon the contributions that have been made by Senators McKenna and Kennelly. Those contributions were thoughtful and moderate. More than that, I suggest that in effect the honorable senators were saying that they completely absolved the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) from any imputation of impropriety and that they agreed entirely with statements made on this side of the chamber to the effect that he was speaking the whole truth. I can find no other implication in the attitude that the Opposition is adopting in this chamber - not in the other place. The most the Opposition is prepared to do is to say: “ Just in case there is something in the story of the accusers, let us have a royal commission “. I shall deal with that proposition as I proceed. In substance, I think that is a fair summary of the attitude of the esteemed Leader of the Opposition and Deputy Leader of the Opposition so far.
Following upon Senator Wright’s very able contribution to the debate, I propose very briefly to give a summary of the chronological order of events in this matter. 1 do not intend to deal with the matter as extensively as did Senator Wright. I want to try to narrow down his argument, which 1 think was sound and effective, to a few basic issues. I want to start with the month of April, 1960, when the Ansett organization offered to take over East-West Airlines Limited. I shall quote from the letter which was written by the Ansett company to the board of directors of EastWest Airlines on 19th April, 1960. It refers to the proposed terms, and then states -
We- meaning Ansett Transport Industries Limited - arc prepared that this offer remain open until the 27th day of May, 1960, and is made subject to acceptance of 90 per cent, of your ordinary shareholders or such lower percentage as may be agreed upon by the A.T.l. Ltd. Directors.
I quote from that letter because I do not think it has been referred to specifically in this debate, or at any time. But that is where we start. The offer remained open only until 27th May, 1960.
If anybody had made an allegation that prior to that date the Minister had put pressure on East-West Airlines Limited to accept that offer, there would be some substance in a suggestion that there should be a commission to investigate the propriety of the Minister’s conduct. But where do we stand after that date? If I may bring the matter down to a rather common level of discussion, it is a little like accusing a bookmaker of trying to bribe a jockey to pull a horse after he has run the race.
– Eighteen months afterwards.
– Yes. The debate is becoming rather unreal when we look at the matter in that light. In effect, honorable senators opposite are talking about trying to bribe a jockey after the race has been run. I shall give the reason for it. It is a rather nasty one, but we must face up to it. It does not suit the Leader of the Opposition, either. This debate is quite unreal unless there is some reason for it. I shall come to that reason before I conclude my remarks. We come to the decision by East-West Airlines. The board of the company met and refused Ansett’s offer. At that time, if its existence was threatened, it made no mention of the fact in any minute in its records, which would have been proper and essential and, I suggest, even required under legislation. But it did not do so.
We come to the next event, the allimportant meeting with Mr. Pringle, the general manager, Mr. Drummond and the Minister in July, 1960, when obviously a lot of things were discussed. It is alleged, about eighteen months afterwards, that at that conversation the Minister proceeded to pressurize Mr. Pringle and the general manager. There were present at the discussion Mr. Pringle and the general manager of the company, Mr, Drummond and Mr. Anderson, the Director-General of Civil Aviation. We are asked to give some credence to the allegation, made a year and a half later, that the Minister was guilty of what would amount to a high degree of corruption on his part, in the presence of four witnesses, including the permanent head of his department. That, of course, involves Mr. Anderson. He too must be tarred with this brush. If mud is to be thrown some of it must stick to Mr. Anderson. We are asked to believe that Mr. Anderson and Senator Paltridge are guilty of a high degree of corruption, of an offence which could in certain circumstances be punishable as a criminal offence, and that they committed the offence openly, in front of four people. That is the gist of the allegation; that is the real tenor of it. We are asked to believe that there is some truth in that, eighteen months afterwards. Why? I shall answer that question when I conclude what I am now saying. First, let us proceed with this remarkable chain of events.
Within a short time after that discussion in the Minister’s office Mr. Pringle wrote a most amazing letter dated 8th August, which the Senate has in its keeping as appendix A to the documents that have been tabled. In that letter he thanked the Minister and expressed his appreciation “for the friendly and frank talk that was had “. Later in the letter he stated that he proposed to get in touch with Mr. Ansett along the lines mentioned in Canberra. What did that mean? Did it mean that Senator Paltridge, having been bribed by Mr. Ansett to bring pressure to bear on East-West Airlines, the manager of EastWest Airlines was then entering into discussions with Ansett along those lines? Of course it does not. It means what the Minister says it means. They were discussing anything but a take-over. They were discussing the actual future of EastWest Airlines and the problems that would arise, such as the ironing out of difficulties vis-a-vis Ansett, and they were going to Brampton Island to do so. That is the next item we have in the chronology of events.
In August, 1960, at the invitation of East-West Airlines, not of the Minister, a representative of Ansett turned up at Brampton Island, that paradise in the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean somewhere off the coast of Queensland, I presume, and the representatives of the two companies discussed matters. Did they discuss what would have been an urgent problem in the minds of the directors of East-West Airlines if what they are now saying is the truth was in fact true? Did they discuss a take-over by Ansett? Certainly not! It is on record that they did not. They discussed anything but a take-over. At the express invitation of East-West Airlines they went along and had a talk about everything but that. They talked of the future of East-West Airlines as a separate company, and of how they could compete in open competition on reasonable terms. That is what they went to Brampton Island to discuss.
If there had been pressure, if the game was really on and a take-over was actually threatening, would those people from EastWest Airlines have gone to Brampton Island and not discussed that matter? Would they not have written to the Minister as well and said: “ We object, on the grOunds of everything that is fair and reasonable, to your criminal suggestion that we be taken over and merged. We object to that and we place our objection on record.” Would not Mr. Drummond have done the same thing? Would he not have been the first man to do so if it had happened at that conversation with Mr. Pringle? Of course he would have been.
We go on with the story. Nothing happened between the Brampton Island incident and March, 1961. On 1st March, 1961, Mr. Heffron came on the scene, and so did Mr. Shand. Mr. Heffron and Mr. Shand had a discussion. They were concerned about certain things. I propose to read from a report published in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. Whether it is true or not, I do not know, but I shall read it for what it is wor’.h. Nobody else was present, of course, except Mr. Heffron and Mr. Shand. It is rather interesting that this discussion should have taken place without any other interested party being present. This is what the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ report stated -
East-West Airlines is the only independent airline operating only intra-state services in New South Wales. Its chairman of directors, Mr. Don Shand, has talked wilh the Minister for Transport. Mr. J. M. A. McMahon, and on Monday night with the Premier, Mr. Heffron. When the Ansett-A.N.A. offer was defeated last May the State Government helped East-West Airlines by publicly stating it would support East-West in the future allocation of N.S.W. air routes.
This is becoming interesting, because Mr. Heffron is now showing where he stands vis-a-vis East-West Airlines and Ansett. Mr. Heffron is coming out into the open. The article continued -
Soon after the Government granted East-West the right to operate a service between Orange and Sydney - a right which Airlines of New South Wales had also sought. The Slate Government has authority to allocate air routes within the State under the State Transport Co-ordination Act, governing competition with rail services. After yesterday’s Cabinet meeting-
It had got to Cabinet level, so that all the boys in the New South Wales Cabinet are in on it -
Mr. Heffron said the Government regarded as a matter of serious concern reported moves by Ansett-A.N.A. to monopolise N.S.W. intra-state air services by gaining control of East-West Airlines Limited.
Who made the allegation to Mr. Heffron? What was said to him, and by whom was it said? Nothing had been said by anybody on behalf of East-West Airlines, to our Minister or publicly, about any pressure at that stage; but they had gone along to Mr. Heffron, presumably to make that statement. Mr. Heffron came out in the open and said: “ We will show the Ansett people where they get off. We have got to do something about it. “ So, something is going to be done.
At that point of time, of course, Ansett again denied that he wanted to take-over East-West Airlines. That might be true or false, but at that stage there was not a word from Shand or Pringle to our Minister. It had not reached him, but it was with Mr. Heffron.
The next important event occurred in June 1961. The Minister met Mr. Shand at Orange and they had a talk. That is not denied. If the talk had been as is now alleged you would have expected to find that something would have been set down by Mr. Shand in writing. After all, if a Minister of the Crown -is acting improperly in an attempt to take away your livelihood, to take away your asset, to destroy your company, the first thing would be to put something on the record in writing. Senator Paltridge is alleged to have put pressure on Mr. Shand at Orange in June. Does Mr. Shand do anything about it? Not a thing. He writes what I think is the key letter in all his correspondence. After all, the documents speak for themselves. I refer to the letter of 12th July which is appendix “ H “. It begins, “ Dear Shane “.
– It is the only time I have not liked the date.
– A lot of peculiar things have happened on that date. The letter continues -
I have given a lot of thought to the talk we hi. 1 in Orange.
I called at your office when in Canberra last week and found you had departed for South Africa. I hope your trip was as interesting as the one I had there recently.
I have been to see Donald Anderson and I had a ‘ ‘ng talk with him. t
He did not even say anything to Donald Anderson about it - not a word. The letter continues -
Could you kindly wire mc at your convenience, on your return as I would like to hui, e a talk with you.
I now realize some of the tremendous difficulties that you have to cope with, and hasten to assure you that small as our organization is we want to help the progressive development of this country and not hinder it.
Your Department, especially yourself and donald have done much to help us develop-
Is it not getting really Gilbertian when a man, after his company has been threatened with destruction, writes a letter within a matter of a few days to the person who has attempted to destroy the company and says -
The Opposition now has the extraordinary temerity to suggest that there should be a royal commission. Of course there should be a royal commission if there is a prima facie case of corruption. Every one will agree with that. Senator Wright will agree with that proposition. Is there any tittle of evidence that this allegation by Shand and Pringle is true? Is there anything to suggest that there is anything in it at all? I suggest that a good rule for every Parliament to accept in regard to a decision about whether there should be a royal commission is: Is there at least some substance in the allegation, or some responsibility behind the allegation? I suggest with great respect that there is not even a prima facie case against the Minister or against Mr. Anderson that would warrant a royal commission. Two years ago this matter would have been laughed out of this chamber, but not now, not two months before the election.
We come then to the final event in the chronology. On 16th August Shand started his campaign, for the first time, against the Minister. During all these months there was not one brief sentence to support allegations that have been made. He now writes a long letter, not to the Minister, but to the Director-General. In it he makes this extraordinary allegation that we are expected to believe. It is only on. 16th August, 1961 that he comes out into the open, and, of course, he is wide out in the open now. The Minister was prompt to deny the allegation in his letter of 25th August, but Shand does not reply to that. He replies through the press; that is his modus operandi. I think that established the chronology of this event.
I want to take the argument further now, and I shall be as brief as I can. If I thought at any stage that there was any reliable prima facie case against a Minister of the Crown I would stand up and say: “ Yes, let us have an investigation. This has to be looked into.” However, I do not think there is a tittle of evidence against the Minister. On the contrary, the whole case shrieks - shrieks - of some pretty terrible thinking and action by Mr. Shand and Mr. Pringle, and our mutual friend, Mr. Heffron.
Let me put these questions to the Opposition and to everybody who has considered this question objectively. Is it not fantastic that the Minister should have put pressure on this company in July, 1960, when no protest was made to the Minister in writing either by Pringle, by Mr. Shand or by the company? Is it not fantastic that Pringle should have written that letter of thanks immediately following the alleged threat to the existence of his company? That letter is in fact exhibit “ A “ before the Senate. Is it not fantastic that at the discussion on Brampton Island not one word was said about the take-over by Ansett-A.N.A. of East-West Airlines Limited? If this company was being threatened by the Minister, he would not have been making it up, he would have been acting as the bribed accessory and agent of Ansett? That matter would have been discussed at Brampton Island, but it was not. Is it not fantastic to assume that these men are speaking the truth eighteen months afterwards when at Brampton Island everything was discussed about the company’s future, but nothing about its destruction. Is it not fantastic that after the meeting at Orange, Mr. Shand should write the letter of 12th July? Is it not even more fantastic that he does not complain to anybody of his company’s threatened destruction by the Minister? What is even more fantastic is that all the pressure in the world by Senator Paltridge at that time would not have affected the company’s position one scrap. That is because the company had already altered its articles of association. Although it is alleged that pressure was put on the company by the Minister, it was entirely a matter for the directors. They could say, “ Yes “, or “ No “. How could the Minister have put pressure on this company? He had no means of doing so.
It is a fantastic proposition that a Commonwealth Minister could put pressure on a company when the only decision that could be made rested with the directors of the company. They were the people to make the decision and the company could not be taken over by Ansett without their say-so. I think it is even more fantastic that Ansett has never, by word, action or by implication ever suggested that the offer to take over should be re-opened. It closed in May. In effect the race was run in May and any discussion about pressure after that becomes completely silly.
– In May, 1960?
– In May, 1960, that is right. Of course, there are other indirect elements that become equally silly when one looks at them. In the last three years the Minister for Civil Aviation has been trying, to build up this company. In the Cabinet he has fought for and won for this company the- right to obtain subsidies in order to maintain its existence. Yet we are expected to believe that contemporaneously with that he is undermining it in order to destroy it, if Shand and his co-directors are telling the truth.
As I have said before, it means this: If these allegations are true, Senator Paltridge obviously is being bribed by Ansett either directly or indirectly, and likewise that Mr. Anderson is guilty of a. criminal offence. That is what is really being suggested by these people in their false accusations. Let us be quite clear about this. Ministers of the Crown do not go around destroying companies for the fun of it. That innuendo is there; that allegation is there. It is a rotten one. It is a dreadful one to make on this evidence. If ever a Judas was present in this country he is present now.
Why is this business being started after the race has been run? Why is there all this trouble after the horse has bolted and it is too late for the stable door to be closed? The answer is pretty plain. The New South Wales Government has decided to take some air routes from the Ansett group. It has already taken , one route from that group. I read an article in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ which makes it very clear that the New South Wales Government is going to take more air routes from the Ansett group in that State. I am not criticizing that. That is its job and its business. It can do that if it wants to, but it cannot do it out of the air. It cannot do that to a respectable company without some excuse. After all, an election will be held in New South Wales next year. It cannot take a great slice of business from one company and hand that business over to the other company without preparing the electors for it. That would not be Mr. Heffron’s idea of how to win votes and win an election. Certainly not.
There is a very good reason for all this business. If there was not a reason it would be just too unreal and too fantastic. The reason for it is as plain as a pikestaff. It is a bit of political mud-slinging of a pretty rotten nature. Mr. Heffron wants to grab some of the Ansett business and hand it over to East-West Airlines Limited. The only way that he can do that is by maligning the people from whom he is taking the business. That is an old trick that Hitler and every other dictator has used in the past. They make false accusations; they attack the person who is going to be robbed; and then they do the little trick of robbery in the name of justice and fair play. It is a pretty old trick. That is what is happening in New South Wales at present. There has to be an excuse for pinching some of the Ansett business. It is going to be called rationalization.
Otherwise, I do not think there would be any reason for trotting out this dead horse eighteen months after its decease. It is the best bogy to use against the Ansett group which has a pretty good record of taking over companies. I am aware of that. What better accusation could be cooked up against the Ansett group now than that it is about to take over East-West Airlines Limited? Because of that the New South Wales Government is going to play Ansett’s little game and give some of his business in New South Wales to EastWest Airlines Limited. That is all that is happening. When one looks at the facts, it is obvious that that is the purpose of the exercise.
Mr. Heffron, being a good member of the Australian Labour Party, is bringing the Minister for Civil Aviation into the matter to lend credence to his idea. He is making a little bit of political capital out of it and slinging a great deal of political mud. I do not think that that mud is going to stick. I believe that the record for capacity and integrity of my colleague, Senator Paltridge, stands second to none. I happen to know him personally. I have been very proud to be associated with him. 1 am rather astonished that any one - not in this place, admittedly - should attack him. I give the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) full marks because he has not attacked Senator Paltridge or suggested that he has been guilty of the pretty terrible things that have been implied against him in the other place. I give Senator Kennelly full marks for that, too. They have not descended to that in this chamber.
I regret to say that it is as plain as a pikestaff that this is a political argument which, of necessity, has involved the Minister for Civil Aviation. I regret that it has occurred. It is a political racket of a pretty low order. There is no prima facie evidence to warrant any investigation. That disposes of the Opposition’s argument. I have always had the greatest confidence in our able Minister for Civil Aviation, as I think everybody in the Senate has, if the truth has been told to-day.
– Like a number of other honorable senators, I should imagine, I burned the midnight oil last night reading this correspondence and the statement made by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), in order to be quite certain that I had it all in its proper chronological order and that I had all the facts and figures in my possession. It had been my intention to speak along those lines in to-day’s debate; but my colleagues, Senator Wright and Senator Vincent, have covered that ground so ably that I am now here without the speech which I contemplated making. I do not think it would be appropriate for me to repeat what has been said already.
So, instead of doing what I contemplated, I want to address my thoughts and remarks to the views expressed by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly) on this matter. May I start by pointing out that the Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate are in a very different position from the position in which their counterparts in another place were placed. In this debate in the Senate, the two honorable senators concerned had before them the facts as revealed by the Minister’s statement and the correspondence; whereas that information was not available in the other place. When this matter was under consideration in that other place, the demand by the Australian Labour Party was for the immediate resignation or expulsion of the Minister and the appointment of a committee of inquiry or a judicial inquiry. Indeed, wild and extravagant statements were made, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) promptly and most effectively dealt with them in a manner typical of the way in which he deals with such unsubstantiated and reckless approaches to matters.
In the Senate there has been a different atmosphere altogether. Here the facts have spoken for themselves. If I interpreted their speeches correctly, neither Senator McKenna nor Senator Kennelly uttered one word of criticism of the Minister. They had an opportunity to learn the facts, and the facts spoke for themselves. The wild excitement that was aroused in the other place has disappeared and now there is almost commendation of the Minister by the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. I do not expect them to accept that description of what they have said. However, I am an interested and a keen observer. I am a bad judge of character if, in fact, their hearts were in whatever words of criticism they uttered.
I put to the Senate that the only reason why the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition persist with the idea of an independent inquiry is that they are bound by party discipline. I do not care what is said in this debate; it would be hard to convince me that Senator McKenna and Senator Kennelly believe that such an inquiry would be justified. One cannot live for a period of years with people, even if you live with them as political enemies, without being able to assess what they think and what they feel. I suppose that before 1 finish I shall, as usual, say something critical of Senator McKenna and Senator Kennelly, but I must say now that I got intense satisfaction from their demeanour and from the fact that, as
I believe, they admit in their hearts thatthis attack on Senator Paltridge is really too bad.
– No one has challenged his integrity.
– No one has done that. We are all in politics and we know that we are on the eve of an election. We know also that the suggestion that an independent inquiry be held will find powerful friends both inside and outside politics. However, 1 have infinite confidence in the capacity of the Australian public to decide what is fair dinkum and what is not. I do not think that the suggestion that an independent inquiry be held will be regarded by the Australian public as a fair dinkum approach to this matter.
I am satisfied that every one believes that Senator Paltridge has gone through his Gethsemane. He had done what every decent chap should do in similar circumstances. He has put all his cards on the table and he has said to his opponents: “ There is the deck of cards. You can look over my shoulder and tell me whether I have done anything of which I should be ashamed.” Senator Paltridge has come out triumphant. I do not think that the Labour Party will come out triumphant, because there is no air of reality surrounding the suggestion that this matter warrants further inquiry. 1 do not think I want to say much more than that. I deny that there is the slightest reason why the Minister should be kept in a state of suspense or humiliation while further inquiries are being made. Any further inquiries that are needed are not inquiries concerning the Minister’s actions in this matter. It is not our Minister who is at fault. It is not our Minister who should be chastened. To me. this affair bears the imprint of an unholy alliance between Shand and the New South Wales Government. The members of the New South Wales Government are trying to manoeuvre events to suit their purpose. They know that they are facing an election and they know that they will lose country seats. They are trying to create a diversion by bringing a Commonwealth Minister under suspicion, hoping that, in some way or other, their action will attract support for themselves in country areas.
You must be careful in dealing with the Australian public. The Australian people are very good judges of character in all sets of circumstances. They know who is acting in a bona fide, genuine manner in this affair and who is not. We notice that it was in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly that the first call for a committe of inquiry was made. It emanated from the New South Wales Treasurer. We notice that the Premier of New South Wales is now trying to throw up a smokescreen by making a hate attack on Ansett-A.N.A., in defence of Trans-Australia Airlines. I say to the members of the Opposition: “ Be careful. Pick your associates carefully. There is more in this in New South Wales than meets the eye. You have spoken decently about our colleague. Be careful that you do not get into the wrong company and do things for which you will be sorry in future.”
– I should like to say a few words on th;s subject, lt seems to me that the whole thing is a storm in a teacup. 1 have been asked by certain people what 1 think about it, and 1 have told them at once that we of the Australian Democratic Labour Party 1 think it is just a newspaper gimmick. A controversy starts, the newspapers have space available and they try to make a big story out of it. That happens frequently, and 1 am afraid that that is what has happened on this occasion. It is what the newspapers call good journalism. I think that that is all that this affair amounts to.
We of the Democratic Labour Party have not been greatly interested in the controversy. We believe that if there is one person in this place who has the capacity and the integrity to be a Minister, it is Senator Paltridge. We have not been the least bit interested in this matter. There have been cries that this is a good election stunt, but we do not go along with that idea. I know that the directors of the company concerned may be attempting to save their company from losing subsidies or business. 1 know that they may be trying to develop their airline. They may be fighting for their company and they may believe that the tactics they adopt are in the interests of the people they represent. But I abhor the way this controversy has developed. My party accepts the Minister’s statements and the information that he has so willingly brought forward to this Parliament. We believe that what he has said in this place is the truth. We support him wholeheartedly.
.- I rise to speak in this debate because I believe it is right that those people who feel that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) has been wrongly accused in the press and elsewhere should say so. It is right that we should let him know those who stand with him and who are prepared to accept the truth of his statements. Senator Paltridge is a Minister for whom 1 have always had the greatest regard. I had the same regard for him when he was a back-bencher. As a Minister he has run his department most capably. As Senator Cole said, he has shown outstanding ability in administering his department. He has brought realism and common sense to the administration of a portfolio the ramifications of which are continually changing and becoming more complex. The manner in which he has discharged his duties as Minister convince me that the Department of Civil Aviation is in very capable hands.
It is most unfortunate and serious that these charges should have been brought forward. 1 agree with Senator Cole that if you look at the matter calmly you will see that this is a storm in a teacup. The way in which the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), whom we all respect for his decency, and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly) presented the Opposition’s case indicated clearly that deep down in their hearts they have the highest respect for the Minister. There was no spleen in the expression of their views and no real charge was levelled at the Minister. After hearing honorable senators opposite I am satisfied that there is no need to get steamed up in defending the Minister, because no real charge has been levelled at him.
This matter has no doubt been developing for some time. Not so long ago the Ansett organization attempted to take over a small country airline. Naturally, the people associated with that small airline had a feeling of pride in it. The Labour Government of New South Wales took umbrage at this attempt. We know its attitude towards private enterprise in the airline business. It looks upon the Ansett concern as an octopus endeavouring to gain control of airline operations. Anybody who knows Mr. Ansett will agree with me that he is a humble businessman - as humble as anybody in this chamber. He has risen from small beginnings to become one of the greatest executives in this country. He is a man whom we should be proud to call an Australian. He has shown outstanding business initiative and industry. Instead of deriding him, Labour party supporters should be proud of his achievements because, after all, he is a fellow Australian. Let us be big enough to appreciate his achievements. Ansett made an offer to East-West Airlines. That offer was turned down. There the matter died. But suddenly it was resurrected. Why? It was revived because the Government had introduced bills designed to ensure that private enterprise airlines would be able to compete with the Government airline. After the bills had been passed in this chamber, and before they were dealt with in another place, we had this storm in a teacup designed no doubt to create antagonism towards the Ansett organization. But the Minister was caught up in the controversy. He is a man for whom everybody has the highest regard. The bills have been passed by tfe? Parliament and we find that the tempo of the campaign against the Ansett organization has been increased, and attempts are made to cast reflections on the Government on the eve of the election. Despite what may be said by Mr. Shand and Mr. Pringle, I am convinced that they have been used as stooges in an attempt to stimulate criticism of the Commonwealth Government.
What has been the outcome of the situation? The pay-off for East-West Airlines has been the promise by the New South Wales Government to change routes in New South Wales and to ensure that
East-West Airlines will in future have1 a greater share of the internal air traffic in that State compared with the share it previously had in competition with Airlines of New South Wales.
– The company does not have sufficient aircraft to increase operations.
– That is right. The situation has become ridiculous.
– Trans-Australia Airlines has sold another aircraft to the company.
– Yes, T.A.A. has come to the company’s rescue. According to a statement in to-day’s press the Australian Air Pilots Association has stated that its pilots will not change routes. What a ridiculous situation has developed because the State Labour Government has decided to play politics on the eve of the election!
When we think of this matter calmly what does it amount to? We have a capable Minister charged with attempting to force East-West Airlines to become submerged in the Ansett organization. Let us look at this matter in a businesslike way without becoming heated. Suppose Mr. Shand, Mr. Pringle or somebody else on behalf of East-West Airlines had approached the Minister and asked his view on Ansetts’ take-over bid. Suppose the Minister had said: “I think it would be a good idea for you to accept the offer and to become merged in the Ansett organization “. Would there be anything wrong with that? Of course not. That would be the sort of advice that any business might seek and it probably would have been good advice, if it had been given, because we know that operating costs of a small airline are proportionately much higher than those of a large airline. But the Minister has denied that he made any such suggestion. There would have been nothing wrong in his making the suggestion, but he has denied making it, and as evidence of the freedom with which he has answered questions on this matter he has laid on the table of the Senate all the correspondence and information at his disposal. I do not propose to go through that correspondence. It has been traversed fully. I am sure honorable senators wifi agree with me that the correspondence reveals that the Minister’s hands are clean in relation to this matter. I am proud to say that 1 stand squarely behind him.
– For obvious reasons, I rise to speak very briefly on this subject. May I emphasize at the commencement of my speech that the policy of the party which I represent is the giving of support to country-controlled industries, whether they bc air transport undertakings or any other kind of industry. We are very pleased indeed to see East-West Airlines Limited being supported, and our only hope is that it will continue to be supported. As one who has travelled very extensively in New South Wales on aircraft belonging to Airlines of New South Wales Proprietary Limited, and to a lesser degree on aircraft operated by East-West Airlines, I have had an opportunity to see the services offered by these respective airlines. Both are quite good, but I feel that East-West Airlines has been hampered in the service it has sought to give to the public, mainly because of lack of capital and a consequent insufficiency of modern aircraft. I hesitate to hazard a guess about whether that state of affairs will continue.
We have been told over and over again that an offer was made to East-West Airlines on behalf of Ansett Transport Industries Limited. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) has shown very conclusively in the papers he has tabled that on each occasion in question he stated that the acceptance or refusal of the offer was entirely a matter for the two airlines concerned. I congratulate the Minister upon his tabling of the papers. By doing so he has shown the people of Australia that he had nothing to hide and that his actions had been prompted by one motive only - the interests of civil aviation in Australia and the service rendered to the people of this nation. The tabling of the papers has shown also that right from the start the Minister has been telling the truth.
I feel, Mr. President, that mistakes must have arisen somewhere along the line. I postulate this idea, which may or may not hold water: A reasonable explanation’ of the matter may be that the opinion held by Mr. Shand, Mr. Pringle and Mr. Drummond that the Minister was trying to put pressure on East-West Airlines to accept the offer arose from a misinterpretation of remarks made by the Minister during the discussion on maintenance matters. Mr. Drummond has said definitely that he did not hear the Minister suggest a takeover. As the person who introduced the deputation, no doubt Mr. Drummond felt himself under an obligation to relate what he heard on that occasion. The holding of that erroneous idea - if it was held - could have affected the subsequent thinking of these people. Even if that was so, it still does not explain the long delay before there was any expression of dissatisfaction by Mr. Shand and Mr. Pringle.
It is very difficult for me, and I think for most other honorable senators, to believe that there was not some very close co-operation between Mr. Shand and/or Mr. Pringle and the New South Wales Government. That would be the natural thing to expect of the New South Wales Government, which has never lost an opportunity to hammer this Government. This afternoon Senator Wright, in one of the best speeches I have heard him deliver in this chamber - he has delivered plenty - and Senator Vincent dealt most effectively and convincingly with the position as proved by the papers that have been tabled. Those honorable senators have shown also that the suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly) for an investigation is too ridiculous for words.
I welcome this opportunity to inform Opposition senators that their efforts to drive a wedge between the Government parties once again are doomed to failure.
– I would not miss this opportunity to join with my colleagues in dealing with the situation that has arisen as a result of the accusations of two of the directors of East-West Airlines Limited and their imputations against the integrity of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge). I do not intend to cover the statement which has been made and the correspondence which has been tabled by Senator Paltridge. Those documents have been more than ably dealt with by my colleagues, Senators Wright and Vincent. If ever a case has been destroyed, one was destroyed by those two honorable senators when they dealt with the papers that were tabled by the Minister for Civil Aviation.
Senator Spooner said that last night some of us burnt the midnight oil while reading this correspondence. He was quite right. But I think that not only did some of us on this side of the chamber burn the midnight oil. I think it was burnt by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly), too. I am convinced that, having read the correspondence and having assessed the position for themselves, they decided that there was not anything for which they could fight but that they would merely rest upon the request - I think it was forced upon them - for a public hearing.
– It was not forced on them at all. It was designed to preserve the prestige and reputation of the Minister for Civil Aviation.
– Have you come back?
– Let me deal with this proposal.
– Wait till-
- Mr. President, until a few moments ago I thought this discussion had been conducted in a very exemplary manner. I regret very much that one who does not seem to know how to conduct himself decently has intruded.
– Why don’t you-
– He would serve the Senate best if he were to remain quiet and keep his mouth shut, particularly in regard to a matter such as this, which has been dealt with in an exemplary manner by other honorable senators opposite.
– The Government is frightened to-
– Order! Senator Dittmer, the Minister has asked to be heard without interruption.
– I am sorry, Sir. The Minister was looking at you.
– I wish to deal with the proposal that there should be a royal commission or a public hearing. There should be a royal commission about what? If ever there was a prostitution of the pur pose for which judicial inquiries are held, the appointment of such an inquiry on this occasion would be an example. Are we to suggest that, because two men have made unsubstantiated accusations which have been completely and methodically destroyed, there should be a judicial inquiry? If we were to appoint a judicial inquiry to investigate statements which have been refuted by the Minister and have been clearly demonstrated to be completely unwarranted and untrue, we would be appointing a commission to inquire into unsubstantiated statements by a couple of irresponsible men who are trying to save their airline.
– What about Mr. Drummond?
– The honorable senator who cannot remain quiet asks, “ What about Mr. Drummond? “ Probably the honorable senator was one of those who did not burn the midnight oil last night. I do not think he would be interested in doing so. He likes to make snide little interjections without doing any of the real work which would result in his mind being informed on this matter. If the honorable senator reads what Mr. Drummond said he will find that Mr. Drummond was the first to admit that he had never heard from the Minister any suggestion of a take-over or any suggestion of amalgamation.
What was the Minister trying to do? He is charged with the responsibility of providing subsidies for these airlines, from money contributed by the taxpayers. He had found that East-West Airlines was in such a financial position that it had practically no return and no significant reserves from which to replace its aircraft. In other words, it did not have much longer to go. I say that anybody who offered 56s. for the shares of that company ought to have his bumps read.
– And so should anybody who refused it.
– I agree. That goes for both companies. I think that the Minister showed complete propriety and integrity in defending the taxpayers’ money by saying, in effect, “ If there are economies which you people can make in your operations in New South Wales, not in opposition to one another, but side by side on the different air routes; if you can share your workshops and any of those things and thus reduce costs so that the taxpayers will not have to find this subsidy for you, then get alongside one another and see what you can do to effect those economies “. That is the kind of advice which any businessman would give to the two organizations. They certainly needed business advice, when one offered 56s. for the shares and the other refused it. 1 join my colleagues in saying that 1 have full confidence in the integrity of the Minister for Civil Aviation. I know what he was trying to do. 1 know that he was trying to safeguard the taxpayers’ money and to see that proper, economic arrangements were made for the conduct of the two airlines. A low party political approach has been made to the matter. The Government of New South Wales will not come out of the affair with an enhanced reputation. Make no mistake, that Government will not have much left of its reputation when the matter is finally settled in the minds of the people. The New South Wales Government has not dealt with any monopoly in the State. The two airlines arc still operating, even under its rationalization scheme. They will opera:e side by side on different routes, but the State has taken away the profitable routes of one airline and given them to another. It has the audacity to say that the Commonwealth Government should find subsidies for the airline whose profitability it has taken away, and that the Commonwealth should also find more subsidies for the other airline to provide aircraft to operate on the routes which it proposes to service.
I have not the slightest worry about this matter. I have full confidence in what the Minister for Civil Aviation was doing. To my way of thinking, his statements and the case he has put are those of a man who is 100 per cent, in the clear, and 1 have great pleasure in saying so.
– I cannot allow this opportunity to pass without associating myself with my colleagues on this side of the chamber and expressing my thoughts on the honesty and integrity of our Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge). This debate is the cul mination of a fortnight of events. As we know, the papers were tabled in the Senate last night, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) sect;. _J the adjournment of the debate, and the discussions continued to-day. Never at any time during the currency of this matter has any supporter of the Government thought that the Minister for Civil Aviation was in the wrong. We have never questioned his integrity or doubted his honesty.
I was rather amazed by the approach of the Leader of the Opposition, and of Senator Kennelly, the deputy leader. I thought that, as we were approaching a general election, which is only about six weeks off, they would have come out with all guns blazing and tried to shoot the Minister down. But they had nothing to shoot at. I wish to congratulate both Senator McKenna and Senator Kennelly on the attitude they have adopted. I would have been greatly disappointed if any honorable senator had come forward with something derogatory to say about the Minister for Civil Aviation, because I sincerely believe, Sir, that every person in the Senate is fully conscious of the value of the work that the Minister has done.
The Premier of New South Wales announced last week that a party or parties were interested in a take-over bid for EastWest Airlines Limited. That statement was referred to in the press. On Tuesday last, the Minister for Civil Aviation was asked whether he had received advice as to the identity of the party or parties concerned. He said that he had not, and he challenged Mr. Heffron to state the name or names of those concerned. On Wednesday, that challenge was again made to the Premier, but it was not taken up. Earlier to-day, I asked the Minister whether he had received such advice from the Premier, and he again replied that he had not. I suggest therefore, that the whole thing is a bogus issue. It is a political stunt brought about no doubt by the politicians of New South Wales and in places in Canberra other than in the Senate. I have no desire to carry this debate on any longer. I congratulate the Minister on his approach to this subject. 1 congratulate every member in the Senate, including those of the Opposition, who have spoken in this debate. I am amazed, in view of the fact that the
Premier of New South Wales has adopted the line that he has, that not one honorable senator from New South Wales has entered into this debate.
– What about Senator Spooner?
– You mean a senator from the Labour Party?
– I am sorry that I omitted the word “ Labour “. I repeat that I am amazed that not one honorable senator from New South Wales belonging to Her Majesty’s Opposition has made a speech in this debate.
I should like to conclude by stating that I am convinced that every member of the Senate, and of the National Parliament of Australia has had, and continues to have, the utmost faith in the Minister for Civil Aviation.
– I wish to say one thing and one thing only. 1 want to be recorded as expressing that same complete confidence in the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) which senator after senator in this chamber have already expressed. I know that when I say so, I speak for all the Victorian senators on this side of the chamber. All of us would on all occasions unreservedly accept the word of Senator Paltridge, although in this matter we do not need to accept his word since the printed record clearly indicates exactly what took place. I just wish to express that view on behalf of honorable senators on this side of the chamber who come from Victoria.
– in reply - Closing the debate, I remind the Senate that when I spoke earlier, 1 indicated that I expressed no opinion about where the truth lay between the accusers of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) and the Minister. I pointed out that if I accepted the Minister’s version I condemned his accusers, and that if 1 accepted the accusers’ version then I condemned the Minister. I was not prepared to take either course and, therefore, the only proper thing for me to do in the circumstances was to suggest the holding of a judicial inquiry at which the truth could emerge.
The debate that has occurred in the interim has ranged from the expressions from Senator Wood and Senator Cole, the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labour Party that the whole thing is a storm in a teacup, to the speeches of two lawyers on the Government side, Senators Wright and Vincent, who treated the matter very seriously. Both of them canvassed the merits of the case against the Minister. They put arguments on his behalf and they reached conclusions in his favour. They are entitled to do that if they feel so disposed. But they must face up to the fact that in reaching that conclusion they are finding against the accusers who have not been heard. 1 think that the best argument for the proposition I put that there should be a judicial inquiry came from Senator Vincent, who is a lawyer, when he said words to this effect, “ Make no mistake about it, these allegations involve bribery and corruption “. Those words came from a Government senator - a lawyer who was analysing the matter. I never said anything like that when I addressed the Senate. It is really because that kind of thing can be suggested - and in this case it has emanated from a Government senator - that a judicial board of inquiry ought to be appointed.
I repeat that I make no finding against the Minister, nor, at this stage, do I make any finding against his accusers, but I have been provided in this debate with additional reasons for asking for a board of inquiry. Senator McKellar, I think Senator Wright, certainly Senator Scott, the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) and, I think, the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) have made allegations that the Labour Party was involved - certainly in New South Wales - in a combination with Shand, Pringle and Smith in putting out a story to the detriment of the Minister for Civil Aviation. As I said this morning, if the story that these men tell is untrue it is a most dastardly conspiracy of the worst possible kind, and surely there is a duty to have that conspiracy exposed. Why leave the matter at large? Why leave every sniper in the country open to raise this matter indefinitely? If there is even the faintest suspicion - Senator Vincent has put it in stronger terms than I had even thought of - the matter ought to be resolved.
I feel that the Government is making a grave mistake, and 1 say quite frankly, is doing a grave injustice - though not wittingly - to Senator Paltridge in not holding this inquiry in view of things that have been said in this chamber involving, not only the Labour Party in New South Wales, but also members of this Parliament. We are entitled to a hearing, too, as we have been named as being associated with the men who made these charges. 1 say on behalf of the Labour Party in this place that if there is a board of inquiry I will offer myself - and I am sure my colleagues will follow suit - as the first witness, claiming no parliamentary privilege and not seeking the privilege that a defendant might expect to receive.
The Minister for National Development referred to the unholy alliance between the accusers of the Minister and the Labour Party. Ali 1 say is that I resent being associated with a suggestion that people are lying and that between them they have worked out a conspiracy to denigrate the Minister and attack the Government for political reasons. It is one of the worst things that can be done in life, and for members of the Labour Party I say that, as accusations of that type have been made, we are entitled to a hearing, too. So are the men who have made the charges.
It had been said - and I say this without any heat at all - that these charges arose in respect of matters that occurred eighteen months ago. That is true of one of the charges. But these men have made allegations that similar events took place in more recent times, in June and July. I believe that it would be a very good idea for the body politic not to leave any tag ends about this matter, for the sake of the Minister, the Government or the men from East-West Airlines Limited who have put themselves in the position of accusers not once but many times in the last few days. I believe that it is in everybody’s interest, including the public interest, that there should be an inquiry.
We on this side of the Senate have not traversed the evidence. I do not intend to be tempted into doing that now, although of course one could say many things on examining what is before us at present. It would be quite improper for mc to do that, and I do not desire to do it. I put it to the Government, and particularly to the Minister, that after what I have said and after the Australian Labour Party in both the State and Federal spheres has been involved and bracketed with men who, if they are lying, are scoundrels of the worst order, those men are entitled to be found out if that is true, and they are entitled to be exculpated if it is not true. Exactly the same remarks apply to the Minister. 1 regret very much that from the broad public viewpoint the Government has not seen fit, up to date, to hold some inquiry.
The motion that I moved was a formal one to enable this debate to proceed. I now ask for leave to withdraw it.
Motion - by leave - withdrawn.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIIin). - I wish to inform the Senate that in view of the opinions which have been expressed from time to time by a number of honorable senators that certain of the standing orders of the Senate need to be amended, I recently called a meeting of the Standing Orders Committee to consider the suggestions at which it was decided that there should be a general review of the Standing Orders including those to which reference has been made.
The committee accordingly directed the Clerk of the Senate to undertake this review and submit a report to the committee as soon as possible after its appointment early in 1962.
During the recess, honorable senators are invited to forward to the Clerk of the Senate any suggestions for amendment which they desire to make or the numbers of the standing orders which they consider should be reviewed.
The Standing Orders Committee will then consider the clerk’s report and, if necessary, make appropriate recommendations to the Senate for the amendment of the Standing Orders.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by SenatorSpooner) read a first time.
SenatorSPOONER (New South WalesVicePresident of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development) [4.29].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill seeks the approval of the Parliament to an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia relating to the provision of Commonwealth financial assistance for the acquisition by the State of a number of diesel-electric locomotives and ore wagons to be used on the railway between Port Pirie and Broken Hill. The locomotives and wagons will be constructed to 3 ft. 6 in. gauge, but in design and construction will be such that they can be readily converted later to standard gauge of 4 ft.8½ in.
The conversion to standard gauge of the Port Pirie to Broken Hill railway is one of the works referred to in the Railway Standardization Agreement of 1949 between the Commonwealth and South Australia. Towards the end of 1960 the Premier of South Australia suggested that, as an interim measure, pending standardization of the railway, the cost of certain new 3-ft. 6 in. gauge rolling-stock which the State desired to provide for the carriage of concentrates from Broken Hill to Port Pirie might be financed under the provisions of the standardization agreement. The rollingstock suggested by the Premier comprised 12 diesel-electric locomotives, each of approximately 900 horse-power, and 100 ore wagons, each of about 55 tons capacity, as standard gauge vehicles estimated to cost £1,325,000. The ore wagons will have a somewhat lower capacity while operated on the narrow gauge line. The provision of this rolling-stock would enable the State to obtain immediately the benefits of the substantial savings in operating costs through the introduction by the State Railways of diesel traction on the line. The railway is at present carrying approximately 800,000 tons of concentrates per annum, in addition to general traffic, and an estimate supplied by the Premier indicated that operational savings of about £483,000 a year could be achieved with the use of the new modern rolling-stock. The Premier’s proposal was made on the basis that the new locomotives and wagons would be constructed in such a way as to be readily convertible to standard gauge later, and that the State would itself meet the full cost of such conversion.
The Commonwealth’s position, having regard to the requirements of broad economic policy, was that it was unwilling at that time to undertake the major expenditures involved in standardizing the Port Pirie to Broken Hill line. The Commonwealth regarded the interim proposal as part of the larger project, and did not think it should then look at the diesel equipment programme in detachment from the major standardization proposal. Nevertheless, the Commonwealth was impressed by the economies which could be achieved by the provision of more modern rolling-stock. It was also evident that the provision of new locomotives and wagons would reduce the cost of standard gauge rolling-stock that would have to be provided on conversion of the line to standard gauge.
We therefore decided, after discussion with the State, to offer to provide financial assistance as a special matter, outside the provisions of the standardization agreement and without prejudice to the eventual outcome of the action before the High Court on the standardization agreement, argument in which has now been completed and in which judgment has been reserved. This offer has been accepted by the South Australian Government.
Under the agreement to be approved by this bill, the assistance to be provided to the State by the Commonwealth is for the express purpose of acquisition by the State of twelve diesel-electric locomotives and 100 ore wagons. The amount of the assistance is limited to the cost of the locomotives and wagons or the amount of £1,325,000, whichever is the less. As originally proposed by South Australia, the State undertakes in the agreement now before the Senate to bear the cost of subsequently converting the locomotives and wagons to standard gauge.
The Commonwealth will provide, initially, all of the finance, up to the limit of £1,325,000, for the acquisition of the locomotives and wagons. Of the amount provided by the Commonwealth in a financial year, the State will repay three-tenths by equal annual instalments over a period of 50 years, together with interest on the outstanding balances of the State’s three-tenths share. Such interest will be calculated from the end of the financial year in which the money is provided by the Commonwealth at the long-term bond rate ruling at that time. Under these arrangements the Commonwealth will meet 70 per cent. of the cost of the locomotives and wagons, and the State 30 per cent.
The agreement includes the usual provisions for the submission of estimates, reports and financial statements to the Commonwealth, and for the audit of the accounts and records of the State by the State Auditor-General. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Drury) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 25th October (vide page 1489), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This bill, as stated by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty), in his second-reading speech, is only a temporary measure. It is agreed that when the new Parliament assembles these customs tariff proposals will all have to be put before it for debate. As the Opposition has no objection to the bill, I think we could proceed to the committee stage immediately.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 25th October (vide page 1489), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition welcomes this bill. We have had a department of National Development for some time, but only now is it beginning to do its job of development. I say that somewhat facetiously. The problem of developing our ports is only one of the problems that face the coal industry. If we want to establish and maintain an export trade in coal, many of the problems facing the industry must be solved. The State governments already have more than enough to do with the money that comes to them from the Commonwealth. Therefore, I believe that the Department of National Development will have to play a far greater part than it has done so far in fostering the development that is needed so much in this country.
The maintenance and expansion of our export trade in coal will involve not only the provision of coal-loading facilities in the ports and the deepening of harbours to allow bigger ships to come in, but also the planning of the coal industry on a basis that will enable the industry to retain enough miners and other skilled men to produce the coal needed for export. There is also the problem of moving coal from the coal-fields to the ports. At present our railways, particularly those serving the northern coal-fields of New South Wales, could be overtaxed if much coal was wanted at the ports to be loaded on ships bound for, say, Japan. Then there is the problem arising from the fact that different types of coal come out of the pits. Coking coal for export might be needed at a time when the railway wagons were cluttered up with steaming coal or other types of coal. It is necessary to be able to get the right type of coal to the right spot at the right time. That could be done if we had coal storage bins, but the provision of those bins would involve a great deal of planning and expenditure. So far, they have not been provided.
When the Joint Coal Board was established, we hoped that it would be able to solve many of the problems that existed. We hoped that it would be able to reorganize and develop the industry right from the point at which the coal is won. We hoped that the board would be able to secure enough orders for coal to ensure continuity of progress for the industry. If large quantities of coal had to be moved from the northern coal-fields to the ports, a conveyer belt could be used, but the board has made no move in that direction and very little planning has been done.
We were faced suddenly with the position that Japan needed large quantities of Australian coal. We have been able to supply the coal so far, but now we are short of many of the things that would enable us to retain and expand that export trade. This problem requires a great deal of consideration, and I believe that that is really the job of the Department of National Development because, as I have already said, the States do not have enough money available for more developmental work. Their main source of revenue is the Commonwealth, and it seems that the revenue that they receive from the Commonwealth is sufficient only to meet their present commitments. We must look to an authority such as the Commonwealth to develop our ports and to do all the planning that is necessary.
The problem that arises from Australian ports being used by bigger ships is one that we expected to arise. Wharfage is a very large item in the cost of operating a ship. It is not unusual for shipowners to pay about £1,000 a day in wharfage charges for a ship. Therefore, we cannot afford to allow ships to lay alongside the wharfs for four or five days without being loaded. We are faced with the problem of developing our ports so that ships of 20,000 or 30,000 tons can use them and be loaded quickly enough to enable profitable voyages to be made.
With the help of the Commonwealth, coal-loading facilities are to be established at Port Kembla, Balmain and Newcastle. It is hoped that the equipment at Port Kembla will be able to load about 2,000 tons of coal an hour and that the equipment at Newcastle will be able to load not less than 1,500 tons an hour. We shall soon be able to tell the people overseas who want our coal that if they send their ships here we will load them and send them to sea again in a very short time. That will help to preserve the coal export trade that has been established.
I believe that this measure is a step in the right direction, and I congratulate the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) for assisting New South Wales in this way. I hope that this is only the first of other similar measures. The Opposition welcomes the bill, as I said at the beginning of my speech.
.- I intervene in this debate for several reasons. The first may appear to be a somewhat peculiar reason. I take pride, as the representative of a small State which will not be a beneficiary under this bill, in expressing the view that the bill should be supported. I do that in order to scotch once and for all the idea that we are here only to push claims for larger appropriations for the benefit of the particular States that we represent. For my part, I affirm that Tasmania’s interests are very much involved in the expansion of coal exports. The facilitation of exports of coal from the ports of New South Wales is a national effort in which we should all participate.
Secondly, having an indefinite capacity for criticism when I think it is due, I want to give myself the pleasure of complimenting the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) upon the revolution that has occurred in the coal-mining industry during the last ten years. I remind the Senate that Mr. Chifley, on one very serious occasion, said that the coal industry represented a problem that either would be solved or would destroy a government. In the period from 1945 till 1950 the coal industry was the very backbone of Australian industry generally. It is gratifying to know that enough courage and endeavour has been contributed to the coal industry to mechanize the mines and to expand production during the last ten years by, I would think, 60 per cent, to 65 per cent. In answer to a question in the Senate this week the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) told us that in 1947-48 export of coal amounted to 53,000 tons a year. In 1957-58 the amount had increased to 768,000 tons a year and by 1965 it is confidently expected that we will be exporting 3,000,000 tons of coal a year. That is most gratifying when we bear in mind the reserves of coal that we have in this country and the potential that they represent for export earnings.
I wish to say one or two things further about this bill and my remarks in this regard will apply also to the Railway Agreement (Queensland) Bill and the Railway Equipment Agreement (South Australia) Bill. If honorable senators look at the Schedule to the bill now under discussion they find that the agreement between the State and the Commonwealth calls for an expenditure of £10,660,000 on the construction of various harbour works. I am somewhat uneasy at not having the benefit of a scrutiny of those projects by our Public Works Committee. This is a principle that I have supported over a period of years. It should be compulsory for this Government to submit projects involving not less than £250,000 to the scrutiny of the Public Works Committee. The critical examination of such projects by that committee is a most important safeguard. In adopting this method of providing financial assistance to the States under section 96 of the Constitution I plead with the Government to provide in relation to any future project some means whereby the Parliament may be satisfied as to the soundness of the project by an inquiry by one of its committees. For instance, at Newcastle the provision of new coal-loading plant and ancillary works, including wharfage, rail, road and storage facilities will cost £3,000,000. If that project were within our constitutional jurisdiction it would come before us either by way of an act of Parliament, when we would have the opportunity of screening it, or in an ordinary appropriation. We would then have the satisfaction of knowing that it would be screened by the Public Works Committee.
I remind the Government that when the loan market failed in 1952 and the States were unable to finance their works projects from loan moneys, the Government adopted a policy of making supplementary grants from revenue to the States for capital requirements. We have been reminded recently that since 1952 the Government has provided under that policy no less than £865,100,000 out of a total State capital expenditure from Commonwealth revenue of £2^279,200,000. The spirit behind that policy was one of laudable cooperation. The Commonwealth wanted to maintain the States’ capital works programmes, which involved the building of schools and hospitals and the provision of other services that are necessary in an expanding economy such as ours. But what did that policy engender? It engendered a rather resentful acrimonious constant claim from the States that the Commonwealth’s supplementary grants were insufficient and that any limitation of the capital works programmes of the States from year to year was due to the parsimony of the Commonwealth Government. If you provide supplementary grants year by year as a matter of political decision and if you say that a developmental project in Queensland will be supported because it is assisting export earnings, and that another project in New South Wales will be supported for the same reason, you open the way for the criticism that projects are selected and finance is provided for reasons of political expediency. That is why the Commonwealth Grants Commission was set up years ago as a result of the vision and foresight of our former Prime Minister from Tasmania - the late Mr. Lyons. I mention this matter because we have had a sad experience of supplementing State loan programmes. We need some authority which will in a detached and non-political way decide which projects need support. The Government needs that recommendation in order to be able to deny that the dominant motive behind its support of particular projects is political expediency.
Please let it be understood that I am not suggesting that there is an element of political expediency in any of the current proposals. T am satisfied that although these matters are being dealt with in a political programme, nevertheless they are being dealt with because they are matters that are long overdue for recognition and are obviously in need of financial assistance because of their export income-earning potential. I do not think anybody will suggest that the money being provided under this bill will be spent uneconomically or for purposes of political expediency. I hope that these projects that are now to receive assistance are not isolated projects but represent the beginning of a programme of expansion of export industries. But I trust that in the future projects of this kind will be the subject of a reasoned review. I hope that I shall not frighten off any co-operation that may be forthcoming from the Premiers when I say that that idea has some consonance with an idea that our Prime Minister sought to develop some six or seven years ago in relation to works done within the States. I refer to the suggested appointment of a specialized co-ordinating authority.
Let me say with what pleasure I note that the Government which I support is giving practical assistance to such an important industry to enable it to increase its export earnings.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) proposed -
That the Committee approves the Statement for the year 1960-61 of Heads of Expenditure and the Amounts charged thereto pursuant to Section 36a of the Audit Act 1901-1960.
– Debate on the whole statement will be in order.
– Are we to consider the statement as a whole or in parts?
What is the wish of the committee?
– I should like to raise one or two points.
– That can be done even though we consider the statement as a whole.
– I refer to the expenditure of £2,037 on broadcasting and television services, to which reference is made at page 44 of the statement. I wish to relate my remarks to a recent announcement by the Government that it intended to extend the provision of television services to country areas in New South Wales, Victoria and the other States. I have in mind particularly three areas in Western Australia in which it is proposed to erect national television stations which will need to be manned and serviced by quite a considerable staff. Whilst I am in accord with this proposal, if the Government’s policy is pursued to its natural conclusion many people in outback areas will be without a television service for ever.
Some people I know of have taken a very keen interest in television services. Typed information which I have before me reveals that the three new stations that are to be erected in Western Australia will not be able to provide a service for Kalgoorlie and Geraldton. People who are living in our outback areas should receive a television service if possible. The cost of erecting a television station which has to be manned and serviced would be much more than £100,000; it may even be £250,000. I cannot say off the cuff exactly what the cost would be. Technical advances that have been made in Canada and the United States of America have made it possible for a television station to transmit programmes over a distance of 2,000 miles from one end of the country to the other. The cost of each translator or repeater, which does not require any manning or servicing, is only approximately £8,000. I see no reason at all why such equipment cannot be used in Australia.
Under the existing arrangements Kalgoorlie, which has a population of approximately 22,000 persons, will not receive a service. But if a translator were erected at Mount Bakewell and possibly another two were erected between Mount Bakewell and Kalgoorlie, at a total cost of £24,000, the people in Kalgoorlie and some thousands in adjacent areas would be able to view television programmes transmitted from Perth by the national station. Another translator would provide a similar service for Geraldton. So we would find that for a cost of less than £100,000 satisfactory television services could be extended to all the populated areas of Western Australia with the exception of the area from Carnarvon north. That would not be beyond the realms of possibility. I am informed thai the service provided by the translators is just as efficient as that of television stations in the city areas.
I believe that the Government is approaching the extension of television to country areas without adequate knowledge of what it is doing. I would like to be corrected if I am wrong in thinking that the translators 1 have mentioned are to be found in Canada and the United States of America, and that they transmit satisfactorily from one side of the country to the other. 1 can therefore see no reason why the Government should not save expenditure by using them, instead of erecting new television stations at considerably greater cost. In addition, new television stations need to be maintained, and the cost of their maintenance is a continuing one. As I understand the position, the initial cost of £8,000 is the last cost of the system I have mentioned. No further expenditure is required for many years except that incurred for electric power. I ask the Government and the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) particularly to have another look at this system which operates satisfactorily in other countries before the final step is taken to install television stations in country areas.
– I do not wish to stifle debate, Mr. Temporary Chairman, but I want to make a suggestion regarding the discussion of the motion that is now before the committee. We are dealing with heads of expenditure under the Advance to the Treasurer, and the amounts with which we are concerned were expended from that advance during the year 1960-61. I suggest that the motion affords an opportunity for discussion of expenditure made during the year 1960-61, of the wisdom of such expenditure and the need for it. Because it might appear that the debate could develop into a broad discussion of policy and the proposed expenditure of money prospectively, I make the point that we are in fact dealing with expenditure that has already occurred. I suggest, Sir, that the debate be conducted with that fact in mind.
– My advice is on the same lines as those indicated by Senator Paltridge, and the debate will proceed accordingly.
– I had no doubt about the matter. I was clearly of the opinion that the motion was concerned with last year’s expenditure. The document that we have before us is a record showing how money was spent in excess of the appropriations approved by the Parliament last year. At page 29, honorable senators will notice that there is a record of amounts paid from the Treasurer’s Advance to the Department of Labour and National Service. The total amount spent was £7,447. My understanding of the matter is that that sum was spent in excess of the appropriation provided last year. There appears to have been an increase in staff, which would account for some of the additional expenditure. Knowing something of the industries of the Commonwealth, I can well understand why the Department of Labour and National Service was obliged to incur greater expenditure by way of salaries.
Because of the volume of unemployment in the Commonwealth, no doubt the department found it necessary to engage additional staff.
– Why not allow the Minister to make the explanation?
– He will have something to explain before I sit down, because I am leading up to a certain matter. On various occasions we have heard it stated that the information furnished to the Parliament in respect of the number of unemployed per1 sons in the Commonwealth is incorrect. The information is correct so far as the machinery used by the department is concerned, but that does not mean to say that it is entirely correct. The machinery available to the department does not take into account all the unemployed in the Commonwealth. I think it was the Minister who stated on one occasion that in order to ascertain correctly the number of unemployed persons in the Commonwealth it would be necessary to conduct a census.
Additional money has been spent from the Treasurer’s Advance. I am wondering whether the services could be extended and whether State officers, such as police officers, could be co-opted to help with the work. Some years ago, the police departments in the States did all this work. They handled matters relating to employment and unemployment. The sergeant of police in a district or township was also the employment officer. He furnished returns to head office showing the number of persons who were seeking financial assistance and also those who were looking for work. Therefore, the number of people who were out of work in a State was known accurately. Although additional staff has been engaged, information regarding the number of unemployed in the Commonwealth is still not ascertainable by the organizational methods used by the department. According to my reading of the document, temporary and casual employees accounted for £3,525 of the amount shown, and extra duty pay for £1,373.
It appears to me that it was the increase in the number of unemployed in the Commonwealth which caused additional staff to be engaged and additional money to be spent. It seems, also, that the sums I have mentioned were spent by the department in the registration of unemployed persons. We know that registration is a pre-requisite to entitlement to unemployment benefit. There is nothing here about that, unfortunately. I should like to probe the whole of the accounts of Commonwealth Hostels Limited. It is an undertaking that is administered by the Department of Labour and National Service, but there is nothing in the document in regard to it. On the face of this, Mr. Temporary Chairman, it does appear that the poorer we become as a result of unemployment, the more funds we must find for the work that is done by that department.
.- As far as I can understand we are following a new procedure. I would be indebted to the Minister if he would explain just what innovations have been introduced in connexion with the consideration of this document. Let me explain myself by reference to one detail, because that is my simple method. I refer to Division No. 212 - Reporting branch -
What does that mean? Does it mean that we are providing the sum of £6,140 for one officer? Is it for salary or by way of fees? I shall restrain myself until I know the facts.
– In reply to Senator Wright, the document refers to the printed estimates for the year 1960-61 and gives an explanation of the amount that was necessarily expended in the Treasurer’s Advance.
Seantor Wright. - Does it refer to one officer, and does it refer to his salary or to fees?
– I understand it refers to salary.
– For one officer? Is the Chief Reporter the same person as the Reporter-in-charge, or are they two different persons?
– I ask the honorable senator to have another look at the figures. The alteration occurs in the amount only and not in the number of persons - the Chief Reporter and the Reporterincharge. They remain as two persons. The alteration occurs in the amount where we read “ £6,140 in lieu of £5,960 “. It was a payment not provided for in the printed Estimates which presumably occurred because of a variation in salaries.
Seator DITTMER (Queensland) [5.19].- I think the Minister is getting a little sensitive when he says that he does not want to stifle debate. We know he does not, and we know our responsibility in this debate. If I may use an Australian expression, I suspect that he is getting a little toey, like all the other members of the Cabinet.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! What is the number of the division to which the honorable senator is referring.
– Division No. 101, Inter-Parliamentary Union Conferences. I realize that there must have been authority for the expenditure of the extra money. I would like to know why the extra amount was provided for the Inter-Parliamentary Union. I am not asking this in the spirit of carping criticism. My approach to the problem is far from that. I merely seek information. I was trying to console the Minister. He has had a difficult day, as you realize, Mr. Temporary Chairman.
– I shall explain how the extra amount of £8,189 was made up. Under sub-division 3, Other Services, Inter-Parliamentary Conferences Representation, additional funds were sought to cover -
That makes a total of £12,349, less the amount provided in the Appropriation Act (No. 2) 1960-61 of £4,160, leaving an expenditure of £8,189.
. -I refer to Division No. 114- Parliamentary Printing. I notice that the amount for the printing of “ Hansard “, including cost of distribution is £9,140. Could the Minister give me any idea of what is involved in that amount? I am not querying the expense, I know that there is authority for the expenditure. I am just seeking information.
– While the Minister is finding the information, I should like to ask whether we are commencing to consider the Estimates again. Can we ask questions about anything contained in this document?
-I understand that questions can be asked on any items in this document, but only in relation to the expenditure on those items. An illustration of what can be done is provided by the question that Senator Dittmer has asked and the reply that has been given by the Minister.
– Senator Dittmer asked about Division No. 114 for which the appropriation was £9,140. The expenditure incurred under this item has been found to be largely related to the number of Parliamentary sitting days. As no significant variation from 1959-60 in the number of sitting days or in printing costs, was expected, a provision comparable with actual expenditure in 1959-60 - £89,485 - was made in the Estimates for 1960-61. In the event, the number of sitting days did not vary in respect of the House of Representatives, but the Senate sat for an additional week beyond the sittings of 1959-60. In addition, to meet wage rate and materials cost increases the Government Printer raised hourly rates and administrative on-cost charges. The increase in rates was known at the time of preparation of Additional Estimates. A further appropriation was not then sought, however, as a reduction in the number of sitting days was then expected.
– During Senator Scott’s speech he referred to division No. 733, sub-division 2. His contribution was so far removed from the realm of reality that in order to answer his question I would have to refer to policy matters. You have ruled against that, Mr. Temporary Chairman. In courtesy to Senator Scott, I merely advise him that I shall answer him in writing so that he may see the light.
– 1 am sorry to be so troublesome, Mr. Temporary Chairman, but I am asking questions only about items that involve substantial amounts. That is the reason why I am posing these questions to the Minister. I refer to Division No. 121, sub-division 2, item 04, “ Commonwealth ‘ Gazettes ‘ - Printing and Distribution (including postage), £5,904”. Would that expenditure be caused by higher wages, a greater number of gazettes being printed and distributed, or the high cost of postage? We realize that the cost of postage has increased because of the extraordinarily heavy increases made by the Government a year or two ago. What other factors are involved?
– I take this opportunity to answer the questions raised by Senator Benn. He referred to the expenditure of the Department of Labour and National Service and asked questions about the replacement of temporary employees that was provided for but which did not eventuate. The provision was reduced from £50,700 to £36,700. The provisions for additional temporary staff engaged to cover work load following the credit squeeze was £11,675. The provision for wages of part-time cleaners not replaced by contract cleaners provided for was £11,400. The provision for junior marginal increases was £300. The provision for furlough in lieu and pro rata leave in excess of that provided for, because of deaths and resignations, was £200. The total of those figures is £60,276. The following amounts were offset against that: £800 for savings due to vacancies in Commonwealth Employment Service agencies; £2,000 for vacancies, leave without pay, changes in occupancy and variations in establishments; and £300 for savings on the provision for supernumerary staff. The total offset is £3,100. That reduces the amount to £57,125. The amount included in additional estimates was £53,600. That leaves the figure of £3,525 to be provided from the Advance to the Treasurer.
The question asked by Senator Dittmer referred to the item “Commonwealth “ Gazettes ‘ - Printing and Distribution (including postage), £5,904”. An amount of £48,000 was provided in 1960-61 for the Commonwealth “ Gazette “. The Prime Minister’s Department is responsible for the form and publication of the Commonwealth “ Gazette “, but is not necessarily in control of its content. Departments submit copy for the “ Gazette “ in accordance with different legislation requirements, and this content has been increasing in volume annually. The Government Printer’s accounts for publication and distribution of the “ Gazette “ have been reflecting the higher cost of wages and materials.
– I refer to Division No. 125 - National Library - sub-division 2 - General Expenses, item 01, “ Books, maps, plates and documents, £5,160 “. We can understand an extra expenditure being involved in this item, but I ask the Minister for a general explanation of the extra expenditure. What documents are involved? Are there any associated with Australian history? Will he give me some detail of the documents involved and how that extra expenditure was incurred?
– Operations under this item are scattered through a number of countries overseas in every continent. Exact control of expenditure is complicated by a number of factors apart from distance. The most difficult of those factors arise from differing circumstances within the book trade in a number of the countries concerned. These circumstances include delays in expected publication dates as well as the varying efficiency of the new and secondhand book markets. The National Library has been permitted to over-commit up to 40 per cent, of the appropriation for this item. Without the ability to do that, having regard to the nature of the book acquisition programme in which the library is necessarily involved, it would not be possible to spend a considerable part of its appropriation in any given year.
The item was kept under continual review throughout the year and overseas suppliers were- asked to report regarding the fulfilment of orders. At the end of May it appeared that the appropriation would be slightly underspent. Despite these efforts, June vouchers brought to account in over.sees countries an amount of £19,000, as against an expected sum of £13,000.
– This is my last question. I must express to the Minister my gratitude and appreciation for the courtesy he has shown in answering the questions I have asked.
– Why did you not ask them when the Estimates were being considered?
– Now I have to put up with rude interruptions, such as I have been exposed to in the past. I thought that we were divorced from that on this occasion.
– To what page is the honorable senator referring?
– Well, it is page 6. If you had spoken more clearly I would have answered you courteously in the first place. I am referring to Division No. 126 on page 6.
– You do not know the meaning of the word “ courtesy “.
– May I take a point of order on that interjection, Mr. Temporary Chairman. I object to it. I find it offensive, completely objectionable and completely divorced from my character.
Order! No point of order is involved.
– Just quietly, that is a peculiar ruling, too. I am sorry, Sir. I refer to Division No. 126, subdivision 1, item 02, “ Temporary and casual employees, £19,075”. That is a fairly large amount and I would appreciate it if the Minister would give me a fairly full explanation of that item, with the same courtesy and consideration that he has extended to me on all occasions in this debate. I am certain that he will have an explanation in his possession because this is a comparatively large amount. I know that he will use his best endeavours and extraordinary talents to give me a full explanation of that item. The Minister is becoming impatient now; he is rearing to go. He is up to the barrier; he is toey; he just wants to get started. I should like a full explanation of how that money was spent.
– The final expenditure for temporary employees was £313,075. This sum was provided as follows: -
That is the explanation I have been given of the need to appropriate money from the Treasurer’s Advance.
May I take this opportunity to point out that every item in the document that we are now examining, the Advance to the Treasurer, enjoys the close scrutiny of one of our very active parliamentary committees, the Public Accounts Committee, before it comes to us. The relevant report of that committee is distributed to honorable senators with this document. Without wishing to stifle debate, I suggest that if we proceed to examine individual amounts, as we do during our consideration of the Estimates, we shall be here for a long time. I submit, with respect, that that is not necessary in this case. The Public Accounts Committee has already made such an examination and has submitted a report on the Advance to the Treasurer.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed (vide page 1525).
– On this occasion-
– No partisanship now.
– And no parochialism. Let us have a sense of national responsibility regarding a major project. The Senate has before it now a particularly important bill. It is a bill for an act relating to an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of Queensland with respect to the CollinsvilleTownsvilleMount Isa railway. Senator Wright said earlier that he believed that moneys expended under this agreement, if it comes into operation, should be scrutinized by a committee of the Commonwealth Parliament. T do not believe that any Queensland Government, irrespective of political colour, would object to a close scrutiny of any expenditure on this railway project. In my view, Senator Wright was correct in saying what he did. Any expenditure, particularly expenditure of a major character, should be scrutinized closely, because money can get under your guard, so to speak, and get away. I do not think that we in the north would have objected if this Government had seen fit to provide for a close scrutiny by a selected body of expenditure incurred on this project.
Tt is rather interesting, I. suppose, that members of the Government parties believe that the people of Queensland should now have a feeling of exhilaration, that they should bc jumping with joy and throwing their hats in the air because this measure has been brought forward in the last two days of the life of this Parliament. Let us hope and pray that these arc the dying days of the Menzies regime. This project has been under discussion for years - in fact, since 1955. May I. with duc deference, repeat something that I have said before. Of all the Menzies Cabinets - T do not intend any disrespect to the Prime Minister; that happens to bc a term that is used and I would not think of referring to him as “ Menzies “ in any other circumstances - the present one is the laziest, the most incompetent, the most irresponsible and the most incorrigible. The delay in this case is another example of the dilatory approach of Menzies Cabinets to important problems. In this instance, Queensland has been left in the air for years. 1 know that the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), if he deigns to reply, will refer to a letter that was written by the Premier of Queensland in October, 1959, expressing gratitude and a measure of appreciation for what the Commonwealth proposed to do. What gave rise to that letter was a sense of imagined gratitude, because the remarks made subsequently by the Premier revealed anything but grateful appreciation. Any medical man knows what went on in the Premier’s mind. He had been under financial duress. He had been worried about this project. He knew the magnitude of the task involved, but he was determined that it should go on. It was not gratitude that directed his hand when he penned that letter or wrote his signature to it. ft was a sense of the financial relief after a period of intense frustration at the hands of his political associates. Despite the look on the face of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, I shall quote in the process of making my speech statements made by the Premier of Queensland, criticizing the attitude of the Commonwealth Government to this major project.
The Mount Isa organization, after investigation, realized that it had one of the really great commercial mineral deposits in the world. The extent of the deposit is not yet known. Associated with it is a mineralized band of tremendous length and breadth, but it is not yet known whether it is of commercial value. We do know, however, that the Minister for National Development - he has taken some pride in this and he is entitled to do so - has said that the hinterland of Cairns offers really good prospects for further tin production. As every one knows, a large proportion of the tin produced in Australia comes from north Queensland. Old mines are now being re-opened in the Irvinebank district and in the area generally at the back of Cairns.
I was about to say that we must consider this project in (he light of the potentialities of the area, but I realize that the people in north Australia - that includes not only north Queensland but the Northern Territory and the north of Western Australia - arc heartily sick of parliamentarians in general and of members of the Government in particular talking about the potentialities of north Australia. They want to see something real. They want to see known assets being developed fully. The Minister told us that the deposit at Mount Isa was discovered by a man named Campbell in, I think, late 1923. The mine began to produce in 1931. After facing a series of financial, metallurgical and mining hazards, the company paid its first dividend in 1947, haying earned its first profit in 1935 or 1936. It was not until 1954 that the Mount Isa organization realized just how large were the commercial deposits of ‘ore in the area that it controlled. Mr. George Fisher - a man of extraordinary brilliance, completely Australian in his outlook and national in his sense of responsibility - realized that, in view of fluctuating mineral prices, particularly those for copper, lead and zinc, the future welfare of Mount Isa lay in the development of a tremendous mine. At that stage production was approximately 4,400 tons of ore a day. Now it exceeds 8,100 tons a day - that is, when the mine is not closed. A production rate in excess of 14,000 tons a day is visualized. The mine was faced with a developmental programme involving the expenditure of enormous sums of money. It has spent more than £26,000,000 in recent years. It visualizes spending another £30,000,000 in the next few years before a production of 14,400 tons of ore a day is reached. The new shaft that is being sunk - it will be the biggest and deepest in the southern hemisphere, a 24-ft. circular shaft - will cost £4,500,000.
But it was not much use thinking in terms of major developmental works and greater production of the magnitude visualized by Mr. Fisher and Mr. Foots unless transportation facilities were available. So in 1955 an approach was made to the Queensland Labour Government. The Labour Government, realizing what it meant to Queensland in particular and Australia in general, was sympathetic to the company’s desires and anxious to meet its needs. Railway engineers were sent out to have a look at the facilities available. The most difficult section of the line was between Richmond and Duchess - a distance of more than 400 miles. The rails were 42-lb. rails - far too light. Haulage was difficult. Only light locomotives could bc employed and much loading and reloading was necessary. The economic demands of Mount Isa’s expanded programme could not be met. The rest of the line was composed of 70-lb. rails, which were heavy enough to meet the needs of Mount Isa.
We must pay due regard to these particular features because this is one reason why subsequently, when an appeal was made to the Commonwealth Government, it was suggested that the weight of the rails over the whole length of the line between Mount Isa, Townsville and Collinsville should be increased. It was conceded that 82-lb. rails should be provided. The Queensland Government felt that it could not itself finance the project. Engineers reported that the line between Richmond and Duchess could be built for £8,000,000 or £10,000,000. Queensland sought Commonwealth assistance. I will admit that the Commonwealth Government appeared to be interested. Not all of the minerals being produced at Mount Isa could be refined in Australia. Some of them had to be refined overseas. Last year Mount Isa’s production of lead bullion amounted to 50,000 tons. That bullion included 4,200,000 ounces of silver. Zinc production amounted to 30,000 tons. Copper production last year, in the form of blister copper, amounted to 45,000 tons. Copper concentrates produced at Mount Isa amounted to more than 95,000 tons. The copper content of those concentrates was 26,000 tons. Concentrates must be shipped overseas for refining. The 45,000 tons of blister copper was refined at Townsville.
An approach was made to the Commonwealth Government in 1956. The Commonwealth authorities investigated the project and, in a discussion with the mines authorities and with representatives of the Queensland Government, the question of an expanded programme arose. Queensland realized that industries other than the mining industry at Mount Isa would benefit by the provision of a new railway. Some of the best beef-cattle country in Australia is served by this railway. Investigation has shown that it is not unlikely that with improved pastures and improved transport facilities the cattle population of the area may be almost trebled. There is a distinct possibility of other great mineral deposits being discovered. Those, too, would be served by the proposed railway.
On close investigation it was estimated that the cost of the railway would be close to £28,000,000 or £30,000,000 That was as far back as 1956. We then come to 26th October, 1961, when the agreement is now in the process of becoming the subject of legislative enactment. Do Government supporters wonder why I say that the Cabinet is dilatory, lazy, incompetent, irresponsible and incorrigible? There would not be a greater example of callous and complete neglect of responsibility than the example now before the Senate. Following a statement made by Premier Nicklin to the Australian Loan Council, in which, I admit, he was supported by the Commonwealth, a loan of £20,000-
– Not £20,000, but £20,000,000.
– That is right - £20,000,000. Senator Maher will be given a measure of real credit in the process of time.
– That will be the kiss of death.
– You will go down as a national figure when the story of Mount lsa is told. The loan to Queensland was approved by the Loan Council but in the meantime Queensland was forced into the position of saying that it would go it alone and accept responsibility for strengthening the line between Richmond and Duchess at a cost of between £8,000,000 and £10,000,000. Wisely or unwisely, the Premier of Queensland said that his Government would find the money from its own financial strength. I do not know whether it was the wily Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) who said that if Queensland can find £10,000,000. that is one amount that the Commonwealth will not have to find.
Next, consideration was given to securing a loan of £20,000,000, which is the amount under discussion in this bill. Work on the railway had started. Arrangements had been made to call tenders for this particular section of the line before the Commonwealth Government showed any real interest in raising the £20,000,000. The first suggestion was that an approach should be made to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Mr. Fisher and Mr. Hiley spent some time overseas. Their efforts were ineffective. The Prime Minister exhibited a measure of interest in the project and he said that he would take up the matter with the International Bank. So anxious was he to obtain this money by way of an overseas loan and so effective were his representations that Mr. Eugene Black, the chairman of the bank, was prepared to spend only one hour with the Prime Minister in discussing this project which is of tremendous importance to Queensland and Australia.
In the early stages it was suggested that £20,000,000 would be involved by way of loan and £30,000,000 in total. It was pointed out that Mount Isa Mines Limited, which I think was very fair in its approach to this problem, will use 49 per cent, of the freight facilities provided by the railway.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was referring to the contribution proposed to be made by Mount lsa Mines Limited. That contribution was not unfair. Subsequently a more generous offer was made. Originally, as 1 mentioned, the mine was to provide 49 per cent, of the freight carried, but in relation to special loads for which mechanical provision had to be made it was to be held responsible for 58 per cent, of the cost. The Mount Isa company originally offered to meet, apart from the ordinary charges, 60 per cent, of the amortization charges of the proposed re-conditioning of the line from Collinsville to Townsville and Mount Isa, which was estimated to cost £30,000,000. The Queensland Government was to find £10,000,000, and now the Commonwealth proposes to find £20,000,000 in the form of loan money.
Subsequently, during a three-day discussion between Mr. Hiley, the present Liberal Treasurer in Queensland, Mr. George Fisher, the chairman of directors of the Mount Isa company, and representatives of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the company agreed to meet 70 per cent, of the amortization charges. The company sought relief in certain circumstances such as the mine being closed down by order of a government, a strike beyond its control, when the price of metals was not economic or where there was a major geological collapse. The proposal was that the company should make a contribution of the 70 per cent, to a sinking fund until the fund was built up to £5,000,000. This proposal was not satisfactory to the representatives of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which demanded that the company meet 85 per cent, of the amortization charges. Subsequently it was suggested that that figure might be reduced to 80 per cent, or less. The company was not prepared to do this, and subsequently it withdrew all forms of guarantee.
It is interesting to note that up to this the last night on which this Parliament will sit no statement has been made about whether the Mount Isa company will provide a guarantee. No statement has been forthcoming from the Premier of Queensland and 1 take it that, when the Prime Minister said that this Government was not concerned about any relationship between the mine and the Queensland Government, the Commonwealth Government divorced itself from any responsibility in this connexion.
This matter suddenly became an issue in 1959 following the general election of 1958. The story which is circulating in Queensland is that certain members of the Government parties were uncertain and are still uncertain about retaining their seats and that that is why there is extraordinary haste now to have the bill passed before the Parliament rises. But members of the Parliament were not the only parties who put on the pressure. The press and representatives of business were seriously concerned about the callous indifference that had been displayed over a number of years by successive anti-Labour governments. Those governments have been extraordinarily successful because of a series of mechanisms with which we are all quite familiar, which are still being employed in the other place and which will continue to be us<:d ad nauseam between now and 9th December. So successful were the methods employed that ultimately the Government gained fifteen of the eighteen Queensland seats in the House of Representatives. We cannot say that either of two retiring Government senators are in jeopardy. A third may be in jeopardy, so he would be vitally interested. However, representations were made to the Government and eventually it announced - in August, I think - that it would provide a loan of £20,000,000.
Discriminatory treatment has been meted out to Queensland, irrespective of the fact that the electors of that State have expressed themselves to be in favour of successive Menzies governments. We cannot get from the Minister for Supply (Mr. Hulme) a statement showing how the money which has been expended by his department has been apportioned to the various States. Last year, of an expenditure of £51,000,000 by the Department of Supply, only approximately £750,000 was spent in Queensland. The same thing has happened in other departments. When we think of the roads agreement that was negotiated not so many years ago and compare it with that negotiated when Edward Hanlon was Premier of Queensland, we note that Queensland has lost or will lose £1,500,000. That is another form of gross discrimination.
No one needs to talk about the tremendous amount of money that has been appropriated for the Snowy Mountains hydroelectric scheme. The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) is entitled to claim credit for having pursued a Chifley Government concept. I pay full tribute to him for doing that. But he has said that the money expended on the Snowy Mountains scheme will ultimately be repaid. Is he prepared to say when it will be repaid, what will be the amortization charges after the scheme is completed, and how much each State that will benefit from the scheme will contribute? Up to the present £180,000,000 has been spent on the scheme. This year more than £20,000,000 is to be spent, and it is estimated that in the following five years £115,000,000 will be expended. I am not quarrelling about that. I do not wish to deny the southern States their right to development. But the northern half of Australia should not be neglected and there should not be the grossly discriminatory approach that has been adopted for the last twelve years. It is only now, in a pre-election gesture, that we find a few millions of pounds allegedly being voted to assist the production of beef. This bill is to implement the lending of £20,000,000, at an extraordinarily high rate of interest, incidentally. In fact, it is the highest that 1 know of in relation to railway construction.
No matter how much the Minister mouths about the standardization of railway gauges and the justification for lending money for standardization purposes, it does not get away from the simple fact that Queensland is being penalized. 1 do not know of any engineering difficulty that would prevent the standardization of the Mount IsaCollinsvilleTownsville railway. I do not know that it could not provide its own rolling-stock and keep it moving. If the Minister is so eager to provide for standardization, there is a stretch of more than 700 miles of railway in the northern part of Australia that could be standardized. Irrespective of that, Sir, under section 96 of the Constitution, the Commonwealth may do what it likes in connexion with the money that it grants to the States. It may determine the conditions under which the money is lent. The Commonwealth Government is determining the conditions under which the £5,000,000 is being made available for beef roads. The whole of the authority is vested in the Treasurer. The State Government has no real authority in the matter.
This project took six years to bc brought to fruition. It is interesting to recall the circumstances surrounding the loan of £41.200,000 for a much greater project, the Kalgoorlie-Kwinana rail standardization proposal. That project was mooted only last year, but there has been almost unseemly and indecent haste associated with it. I am not quarrelling with the proposal. I think that Western Australia is entitled- to every justifiable developmental work that is possible. Every Australian appreciates the importance of the project and similar projects to Western-Australia, but, nevertheless, it seems that there has been rather unseemly haste associated:- with it. Also associated with the project is one of the greatest enterprises in Australia. I sometimes wonder, and I occasionally ponder, whether it was the interest of the Commonwealth Government in the welfare of Western Australia-
– Or Collins-street?
– I will deal wilh it in my own way.
– You are not taking interjections?
– Not from you or any one else. 1 am interested in this matter. As I have said, I sometimes wonder whether it was a case of fellow feeling between the Commonwealth^ Government and its political kith and kin in Western Australia, or whether it was” just incidental that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, the biggest enterprise in Australia, was associated with it. I am not denying the right of Western Australia to have a steelworks or to accept the standardization proposal. 1 accept that the Commonwealth Government has a responsibility to finance the project. However, I am interested in the speed with which the proposal was accomplished. The Government even had a bill passed by the Parliament before the bill dealing with the Mount Isa railway, which took six years to accomplish, was passed.
– We have a very good State Government. That is one reason.
– I do not know whether or not the State Government was as effective as the business enterprise that was associated with it. I am not denying the efficiency of the State Government. [ never dispute the right of any one to claim competency, but 1 say that there is a peculiar difference between the dilatory approach of the Commonwealth Government to Queensland’s rights and its approach to the Western Australian project. Of the £41,200,000 for the Kalgoorlie-Kwinana standardization work, the Commonwealth f . Government is prepared to find £14.400.000 by way of gift. Of the remaining indebted- ‘ness no small part of it will be found by way of percentage grants. No one has yet stated how much Western Australia will have to pay of its own accord.
Let us have a look at some of the statements that have been made about the Mount Isa project. The Brisbane “ CourierMail “ has referred to “ Absurd statement by Holt “. 1 would have said “ Mr. Holt “. The newspaper stated -
I refer to the statement by the Commonwealth Treasurer, as quoted by Mr. H. C. Bandidt, M.P.-
He is the honorable member for Wide Bay - that an overseas loan for the Mount Isa railway would avoid a further call on Australia’s own resources. There is nothing wrong with the Commonwealth Government borrowing overseas if it can do so. Indeed, in some instances it is essential. In the Moimi Isa rail. matter, however, the Commonwealth Government has been negotiating for an overseas loan for three year* without success.
That is not quite correct. It was not as long as that, and the Commonwealth Government was not as enthusiastic as that -
I am opposed to the use of Central Bank credit unless the works project concerned is completely and demonstably reproductive. The Mount Isa-Townsville rail reconstruction job answers this requirement perfectly and provides the perfect example where Central Bank funds can be wisely drawn upon.
Mr. Holt says that Australian currency can be issued against an overseas loan. Why cannot the same amount of currency be issued to pay wages and the cost of materials for a job like Mount Isa without an overseas loan, and against the security of the enormous wealth which exists at Mount Isa?
There is more money derivable from the mineral wealth of Mount Isa than the world bank has ever commanded or lent out. This mine is the richest known copper mine on this earth. The wealth there overshadows every other consideration. It may run to the order of thousands of millions of pounds.
It is quite probable that it could be billions of pounds -
The exportable value of Mount Isa Mines metal last year was £21,000,000, and the directors say this amount can bc doubled when the railroad is geared to take the increased output. This is really something - £40m. a year export wealth from one unit of Queensland industry alone, at a period when our London funds are in urgent need of augmentation to pay for the everincreasing volume of imports.
This great mine is a terrific asset to Australia. The reconditioning of this railroad should have top financial priority at the Commonwealth Treasury. It is absurd for Mr. Holt to say that the provision of £4Jm. per annum by way of loan for five years totalling £22m. of currency against an estimated Budget expenditure of £l,600m. for the current year could “involve risks to the internal stability of the economy “. Neglect of the sources of real wealth could, however, deal a deadly blow to our economy.
That is why I have paid such an extraordinary tribute to Senator Maher, a man who has a sense of national responsibility and who was prepared to battle for a project that he knew was worth while, not only for Queensland but for the nation of which Queensland is a part.
The “ Courier-Mail “ also referred to the matter under the headline “Dumped Again! “ I do not propose to read all the comments that have been made, although they are very interesting. I remind honorable senators opposite that they have to face the electors just as we do, and it is as well to recall these matters because they may be on the platform with some of the people concerned. The “ Courier-Mail “ also referred to the matter under the heading “ Line ‘ Attitude is Niggardly ‘ “. It went on to say -
The Premier, Mr. Nicklin, said in State Parliament to-day that the Commonwealth Government’s attitude towards financing the £30 million Mount Isa railway rehabilitation scheme had been niggardly.
– When was this?
– On 30th August last. The article continued -
He told the Opposition Leader, Mr. Duggan, he felt Queensland should have received much more favorable treatment from the Commonwealth in the provision of finance for. the Mount Isa railway. He replied to a six-point question by Mr. Duggan on general financial assistance by the Commonwealth Government to Western Australia and South Australia in comparison with Queensland. He agreed South Australia was getting more favorable treatment than Queensland.
In the light of subsequent developments, I suppose he now says that Western Australia also is receiving more favorable treatment. The article continued -
The South Australian Government had been offered financial aid of £1,325,000 for the diesel equipment of the Port Pirie-Broken Hill railway to be repaid over 50 years at only 30 per cent, of the expenditure with interest at the long-term bond rate. Queensland had to repay the Mount Isa rail loan of £20 million in twenty years at a higher interest rate.
Here is another newspaper article headed “ Mount lsa Rail story “. I do not need to read the contents to honorable senators as they are familiar with them. This mine is valuable; it is worth £100,000,000 on any market. I cannot understand how Ministers tolerate these powerful companies which put it into office. We have a most distinguished Prime Minister, but one newspaper dismisses him as “ Menzies “ in its heading, “ Menzies rejects loan for mine “. Do Government supporters not think that those newspaper headline articles tell a story? I have here another newspaper article which bears this heading: “‘Go-it-alone’ Isa Rail Work Likely to Start Early in New Year”. I find also an article under the caption, “ Skimped Work on Mine Starts Controversy “. This is the statement of none other than Hornibrook’s representative. M. R. Hornibrook (Proprietary) Limited happens to be a fairly big contractor who is building bridges over the lake to be created in the interests of beautification of Canberra. I do not deny the right of Canberra to be developed as the national capital city, but I think there should be a sense of proportion shown in these things.
In 1956 it was estimated that the work on the Mount Isa railway would cost £30,000,000. Irrespective of the fact that is now suggested that allowance was made for the possibility of increasing costs, it is doubtful whether that amount will be sufficent The value of money has depreciated so greatly under successive Menzies governments during the last twelve years. The purchasing power of the £1 has fallen to such an extent that you can hardly credit that an estimate of £30,000,000 made in .1956 will cover the cost of a project which will not be completed until the end of 1964. Is the answer to increasing costs to be found in skimping? The story is that only half of the sleepers are to be renewed. Representatives of Ford, Bacon and Davis Incorporated, have given advice to that effect. This is the firm of consulting engineers which is beloved of the Commonwealth Government. Th; firm has an agreement with the Queensland Government and possibly with the Commonwealth but such an agreement has never been advertised or publicized. This firm tells us that the present sleepers will last for another four years. This is 1961, so another four years will bring us to 1965. It is not proposed to carry the extra loads over this line until 1965, as the extension to the mine and the railway will not be ready until then. What is going to happen to the sleepers which are said to be serviceable for only the next four years? Hornibrook (Proprietary) Limited says that they should be taken out now. Ford, Bacon and Davis say they will last for another four years.
These are things that arouse real suspicion and cause worry: They give rise to a need for an intense investigation. These are not our stories that I am telling; all these things are on record. If the Government skimps a job involving £30,000,000 it will involve a State of 674,000 square miles, with a population of 1,500,000 people with a limited outlook financially under the present set-up, in a lot of trouble. I cast no suspicion on the decency and honesty of the present Premier of Queensland, but he is the most incompetent
Premier that Queensland has ever had in its history. I include in that statement a very decent chap, A. E. Moore who was the Premier for three years during the depression. I think Mr. Moore would leave the present Premier for dead in solving State problems. The burden of this railway is to be loaded on to this State.
– The line cannot be effective while there is a strike at Mount lsa mines. At present there is no production and there has not been any for weeks.
– I told you the whole story of that.
– 1 am sorry, I might not have been here.
– You were here. Either you were not listening, or if you were listening you have not got sufficient intelligence to understand what I said.
– Do try to be decent, ft was a reasonable interjection.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator O’Byrne). - Order! Interjections are disorderly.
– I appreciate your assistance, Sir. What was your interjection, Senator?
– I might get thrown out if
I were to repeat it.
– I do not intend to get thrown out because this is one debate I wish to sit in on. Queensland has been treated shabbily. The Government parties have fifteen Queensland members out of eighteen in the House of Representatives and yet they cannot ensure that the Government deals decently with a State that is worth while. Here is another headline, “ Seeking Showdown - Nicklin flying to meet P.M.”. The article states -
The Premier (Mr. Nicklin) wilt fly to Canberra to-day to tell the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) of the State Government’s fears that Queensland is being left behind by the Commonwealth in national development aid.
Mr. Nicklin expects to confer wilh Mr. Menzies, the Treasurer (Mr. Holt), and other Ministers.
He said that the Government was acting in a niggardly fashion towards Queensland.
– You read that before.
– I did not. This is another statement from another newspaper. Here is yet another with a heading “ Conspiracy Against Queensland “. The honorable senator should be ashamed of himself. He is a representative of a State which has gone begging to the Prime Minister for money in order to get justice for bis own State. I have a statement in which the Prime Minister tried to extricate himself.
– What are you going to do about the strike up at Mount Isa?
– That is a matter for the industrial court. It was probably precipitated by your political colleagues in Queensland. T am not prepared to argue the justice of that matter. I wish to deal with the hill. Tn the process of time the strike will be dealt with by the necessary authorities.
The Prime Minister announced that the Government would make this money available. He did so under pressure from his own political colleagues who feared for their own political hides. These Tory members of Queensland brought pressure to bear on the Prime Minister, who finally announced that Australia would find the loan of £20,000.000. First he obtained an assurance from the anti-Labour Premier of Queensland that that State would find an amount of £10.000,000 out of its own resources. Queensland could find itself in difficulties irrespective of the enormous value of the Mount Isa mine. Under the present incompetent government the State could quite easily face economic bankruptcy.
The present Queensland Government was elected in 1957 and has been in power for four years. During those years the State has had increasing deficits. There must be a limit to how long this trend in finance can continue. During eighteen years of continuous Labour rule there were only two deficits, but every year since an anti-Labour government has been in office there has been an increasing deficit. The question then arises: What will happen to Queensland if it cannot meet its commitments? The Government has imposed the highest rate of interest it could on the loan money for the Mount Isa railway. It is the greatest Shylock that Australia has seen. It has imposed an interest rate of 5i per cent. No other Commonwealth-State loan bears such a high interest rate. The Commonwealth is lending Queensland £20,000,000 for this project, but Queensland has more than £21,000,000 invested in Commonwealth bonds. The Commonwealth is paying Queensland interest at the rate of only £4 0s. 6d. per cent, on that investment but is going to charge Queensland £5 10s. per cent, on this loan.
– Who is doing this?
– The Commonwealth Government.
– Who has lent the Commonwealth the money?
– The Queensland Government has £21.000,000 invested in Commonwealth bonds, on which it is receiving interest at the rate of £4 0s. 6d. per cent. The Commonwealth is lending Queensland this £20.000,000 at the rate of £5 10s. per cent.
– What was the International Bank’s interest rate?
– It varied from 5) to 6 per cent. It went as high as 6 per cent.
– No. it did not.
– There are other countries paying 6 per cent. I suggest that the honorable senator read the books on the subject. I hope he will let me finish this speech without interruption because I feel so intensely about this matter. This Government’s callous indifference to the Queensland Government is completely beyond my comprehension. It surpasses the comprehension of all Queenslanders. The Government is so callous that I cannot understand the Minister for National Development, who aspires to have his name enshrined in the Australian history book-
– It would be a better name than Dittmer.
– It might not be so good if I were given the chance of being Minister for National Development.
– Are you going to vote against this measure?
– Of course he is not.
– I dare not vote against the measure. I am pleased that that matter has been raised because I intended to deal with it. I will deal with it now. I dare not vote against the measure. I cannot even amend it. The agreement contains three clauses that I would readily vote against. I would readily espouse amendments if I had the authority to do so without vitiating the agreement made between Queensland and the Commonwealth. The only way to handle this measure is to accept it or reject it. Let me, in passing, state the three objections which I have to the proposal. I am not quarrelling about the competency of Ford Bacon and Davis Incorporated as supervising engineers, but I do object to the imposition of that firm at the behest of the Commonwealth Government. It will determine everything. Yet there is no indication of what its fee is; whether it is an agreed fee, or a percentage of the cost. We do not know what the basis of the fee is. As I mentioned earlier, no public statement has been made about the agreement between that firm and the Queensland Government or between that firm and the Commonwealth Government.
Ford Bacon and Davis Incorporated was not called in to supervise the Western Australian railway project. As I said, I am not quarrelling about the firm’s competency as railway engineers; but if these people are so good that they should supervise a £30,000,000 project for which the Commonwealth is providing £20,000,000 by way of loan, surely they should be competent enough to supervise a £41,200,000 railway project for which the Commonwealth is providing £14,400,000. We do not know how much additional money the Commonwealth will provide by way of grants for that project.
Another objection is in relation to the amount of the loan involved, £20,000,000. If I had the capacity to amend the agreement without vitiating it, I would do so; but having got the Liberal donkeys up to the barrier we dare not scratch them. It was difficult enough to get them to the barrier on this occasion. You dare not scratch them because you may not get them to the barrier again. So, I would not reject the agreement.
My third objection relates to the interest charge. Those are the three pro visions in the agreement that I would reject if I had the authority to do so; but this happens to be an agreement between two governments. I must accept the bill or reject it; I have no alternative. However, there is nothing that prevents me from criticizing it. I say that those three provisions are vicious, completely unfair and nationally irresponsible. I object to them despite all the specious arguments and all the delightfully vague statements that were made about them by the Minister for National Development in his secondreading speech. His speech was capable of being shot right through.
– You have not shot through it.
– I am speaking only to the intelligent people.
– You will probably shoot through next week.
– I will be shooting through next week. But let me get on with my speech. I have not much time remaining to me and it appears that I will not be granted an extension of time.
– You spoke for long enough in the adjournment debate the other night.
– You do not want me to tell you the story, do you? Let us look at the position in this way: This is a project of national importance, but one of really vital importance to my State of Queensland. The deliberations on it were protracted. When the Queensland Labour Government initiated them, Mount Isa Mines Limited was prepared to respond liberally by increasing its output. Now it has withdrawn all its guarantees. I believe that the company was more than liberal, irrespective of what may be said to the contrary. In all fairness I say that I know of no more competent management group than the management of Mount Isa Mines Limited, and I know of no more enthusiastic and capable group of workmen than those associated with the mines. Living in the north-west of Queensland, they put up with extraordinarily arduous conditions and battle to produce wealth in the form of metals, to be used not only in Australia but also to earn export income. Investors are prepared to spend £56,000,000 on an expansion programme at Mount Isa. The mcn arc prepared to work there; their families arc prepared to slay there; the Queensland Government is prepared to face up to liabilities in order to enable this expansion to take place; but the National Government is not prepared to take part in it as a national responsibility. It imposes every financial levy that it can possibly think of on the State, and then it charges an extraordinarily high, Shylock-like rate of interest.
– But a rate not as high as that of the International Bank.
– But this is not a project sponsored by the International B:nk. This is a project financed by a loan by the Australian Government to the Queensland Government, ft is a loan at a higher rate of interest than that charged by the Commonwealth to any other government in this country.
– Do not be silly!
– That is true. The rale of interest is higher than that paid by the Commonwealth on the loans it raises. The Commonwealth is now imposing a rate approaching that imposed in respect of municipal loans. Tn addition, much of this money, possibly, will be collected by way of taxes, on which the Commonwealth Government will pay no interest at all. So indifferent is this Government that it has the temerity, the extraordinary hide, the colossal impudence to charge Queensland 51- per cent, on a loan for a national project, the earnings from which it will probably appreciate in the years to come. 1 know that it (s too laic now to do anything in relation to this bill. It will be passed. Queensland has to accept it. But surely-
– Surely you will vote against it.
– I would not darc, because I know we could not get the Liberal donkeys up to the barrier again. lt has been hard enough to get them up to the barrier this time.
The Mount Isa mine produces about 71.000 tons of copper a year, about 50,000 tons of lead a year, about 4,200.000 ounces of silver a year and about 30,000 tons of zinc a year. That production can be increased. There is no limit to the mineral production of that area. As the Minister knows, the minerals go right across from that area of Queensland to the coast. The area has an enormous potentiality from the point of view of the expansion of the pastoral industry. We say that Queensland must have this money, but that we could not imagine a greater Shylock than this Government has shown itself to be in its handling of Queensland affairs. t t.
Senator Sir WALTER COOPER (Queensland) [8.39]. - I rise to congratulate the Government on deciding to help to bring to fruition one of the largest projects that has ever been undertaken in Queensland. In my speech I shall endeavour to speak exclusively to the subject matter of the bill. It relates to an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of Queensland with respect to the CollinsvilleTownsvilleMount lsa railway. 1 congratulate Mr. Nicklin, the Premier of Queensland, and his colleagues in the Queensland Government on having made a start on the work. The money being used is a part of the £10,000.000 that Queensland will put into the project. The total cost will be £30,000,000. The bill will authorize the granting of a loan - not a gift - of £20,000,000 to Queensland for the building of the new railway.
It is true that the interest charged on the loan will be at the rate of Si per cent, per annum. No one has tried to hide that fact. The Minister stated it in his secondreading speech. He said also that 54 per cent, was the interest rate offered on Commonwealth loans raised recently. If the State cannot raise all the money required for this railway and if the Commonwealth raises a loan for the purpose, it is quite fair for the Commonwealth to ask the State to pay interest on the money at the same rate as the Commonwealth has to pay interest. I cannot see that there is any reason to chastize the Government in that regard. The money is to bc expended on renewing over 700 miles of railway between Mount lsa and Collinsville.
As Senator Dittmer said, the Mount Isa mine is a very wealthy mine - one of the most wealthy in the world. It has under its control an area which tests have shown to contain minerals to the value of millions or billions of pounds. In those circumstances, surely this new railway will be a success financially, because minerals can be transported from the mine to the coast only by railway. The railway is assured of a revenue which will be considerably in excess of the expenditure on operations, maintenance and amortization. The investment in the railway will be a profitable investment for the Queensland Government. In addition to being used to carry minerals from Mount Isa, the railway will be used to carry uranium oxide from the Mary Kathleen mine. There is also a good chance that it will be used for the transport of cattle, because beef cattle roads already exist from Mount Isa through to the Barkly Tablelands and to central and northern Australia.
– From Mount Isa to Tennant Creek.
– And from there up to Darwin and down to Alice Springs. Those are good roads, with sealed surfaces, and already road trains are operating on them. The road trains will bring cattle to Mount Isa, and the cattle will be moved from there by rail to the meatworks at Townsville, Cairns or Rockhampton. The railway will run through some of the best sheep country in Queensland, and there will be a substantial revenue from the carriage of sheep. It will be seen, therefore, that the railway not only will benefit the Mount Isa mine, but will be of great benefit to the pastoral industry in Queensland as well.
There has been an enormous expansion of the Mount Isa mine during the last few years, and further expansion and greater production are planned. In 1956, the mine was producing 4,000 tons of ore a day, and the aim is to produce 14,000 tons a day within a few years. At present, when the mine is working, the average production is between 8,000 and 9,000 tons of ore a day. As I have said, plans have been made for an increase of production to 14,000 tons a day. The higher the production of the mine, the more freight will be carried by the railway. Apart from a continuation of the present unfortunate strike, there is no likelihood that the railway will carry lesser quantities of ore than those that were being produced before the strike occurred. As the expansion of the mine progresses, more machinery will have to be installed. There will be more employees of the mine, so more houses will have to be built in the town and further water conservation work will have to be done. All that will add to the progress and prosperity of the town and the surrounding district.
There is a copper refinery in Townsville, and another one is planned. Therefore, more people will be employed in Townsville, more homes will be wanted there and more work will be available. Eventually the northern part of Queensland will have one of the most important mines in Australia, with all that goes with such a mine. One must realize that the Mount Isa mine is growing up. It has not fully grown up yet. Looking to the future, it will be a tremendously valuable asset to north Queensland. As more ore and minerals are mined, there will be more work for refineries and for all undertakings serving the mine and the mineworkers.
I do not propose to speak at any length on this bill. I am quite sure that the people of north Queensland realize that the Government has given them a wonderful chance to make a start on this railway. The work is going on now. This is not something that we are promising to do in a few years time. The railway is being built at present. I assure Senator Dittmer, who is not present now, that the people in the north, especially those who have anything to do with the Mount Isa mine, become pretty touchy if you talk about the Commonwealth not having given them any money. The fact is that the money is there and that work on the railway is in progress. I am sure that this Government and the State Government will get a lot of kudos for doing something for that part of Queensland which has been for so many years neglected. In former years Queensland did not have a Country-Liberal Party government. The present Nicklin-Morris Government has done a lot for the north of Queensland. The people of that area realize that the Commonwealth Government and the State Government are providing a great deal of finance for the development of the area and that they are giving the people a good spin. Those Governments are doing their best to provide the northern part of Queensland with some good heavy industries, which will go a long way towards encouraging an increase in population in the area.
I have great pleasure in supporting the bill. I visualize that great prosperity will flow to Queensland from the building of this railway.
– I support the bill, but I regret that provision is not made for an easy change-over to standard gauge. I realize that at the moment it is probably better to have a narrow-gauge railway, but the change from narrow gauge to standard gauge has always been difficult and costly. It involves not merely shifting rails but also altering the whole structure of the railway. 1 suggest that in the construction of this railway - I do not think it is too late - embankments, bridges, culverts, ballasts, sleepers and rails be made that will carry a standard-gauge train. That would cost a little more, but it would save a great deal in the long run. The change from broad gauge to standard gauge has always been easy. The London and North-western Railway changed from broad gauge to a standard gauge in six hours. That took place some 80 years ago. Thousands of workmen, all carefully organized, were assembled. The last broad gauge train ran on the line at 12 midnight. The rails were shifted and the rails clamped into place and by 6 o’clock in the morning the entire railway had been converted to standard gauge.
I want to see a bold piece of construction where the narrow-gauge railway is so built that it can be easily converted to standard gauge. All that is required is that embankments’, ballasts and other things be constructed with conversion to standard gauge in mind. The weight of rails and the length and strength of sleepers should bc calculated with that same idea in mind. We all know that nobody adopted the narrow-gauge railway because they thought it was good. It was adopted because it was cheap. Last century, when Queensland and some other States had difficulty raising money for a railway, they adopted the narrow gauge. New South Wales and Victoria did not. South Australia started with the broad gauge and then, in order to save money, ventured on to the narrow gauge. People may defend perpetuating the narrow gauge, saying that after all it moves the goods. Well, a 2-ft. gauge would move the goods. A 1-ft. 6-in. gauge would move the goods. But a narrow gauge does not move goods as efficiently as a standard gauge. Narrow gauges are becoming increasingly unpopular for passenger traffic.
Passenger traffic on the railways has a great future. People who have adopted air travel as their sole means of transport query whether many people travel by rail to-day. Well, between Sydney and Newcastle 1 always travel by the railway. It is quicker and easier than air travel and is much safer than road travel. Every time I have travelled by road between Sydney and Newcastle I have escaped death narrowly. The railways are safe.
The railways of Europe - certainly those of France - are becoming increasingly efficient. Trains are very speedy. Some of the speeds attained are incredible. A speed of 80 miles per hour is not out of the ordinary. Rail travel is pleasant and comfortable, lt is leisurely. You can look at the countryside, which you cannot do so well if you travel by air or on the crowded roads. There is no future for the railways of Queensland if we adopt the defeatist attitude that the narrow gauge is there forever. The narrow gauge is as obsolete as the Martini-Henry rifle. The narrow gauge was adopted in the nineteenth century solely for reasons of cheapness. While it may be convenient to build a narrowgauge railway at present, every provision should be made to ensure that the foundations will carry a standard-gauge railway in later years. I hope that the Commonwealth Government or the State Government or both will take heed of my suggestion and will adopt it.
– I rise to support this measure because the railway that will be built as a result of this bill being passed will be one of the greatest engineering feats that has taken place in Queensland since the beginning of the century. After hearing Senator Dittmer complain from start to finish of his speech that the Commonwealth Government has not played the game with Queensland, I felt, notwithstanding the fact that honorable senators are anxious to finish the sitting as early as possible, that I could not allow the occasion to pass without voicing my disapproval of Senator Dittmer’s comments. I do not mind any honorable senator opposite criticizing the Government’s actions. That is the Opposition’s duty, but when Senator Dittmer was asked how he would vote on the bill he said that he would vote for it. Surely, if a person is sincere and speaks for one hour opposing by devious method’s all the actions adopted by the Government in relation to this proposal, he should at least have the courage of his convictions and vote in accordance with the views that he espouses. But not Senator Dittmer. He said that he is forced to vote for the bill.
Let us examine the bill. The proposal involves the expenditure in the next four years of £30,000,000. Of that amount £20,000,000 will bc lent by the Commonwealth Government to the Queensland Government for reconstruction of about 600 miles of railway line from Mount Isa to Townsville. Expenditure will be at the rate of about £7,500,000 a year. I am glad to see that Senator Dittmer has arrived-
– I arrived long ago. 1 have just come back.
Senator SCOTT By the time this bill is passed through the Senate and has received royal assent it will be November of 1961. So in actual fact the rate of expenditure on the railway will be £8,000,000 or £9,000,000 a year. The honorable senator criticizes the Government for what he describes as its lackadaisical approach to this problem. From the very beginning, this Government has been eager to find the money. In its desire to help the Queensland Government, the Commonwealth approached the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for a loan at a rate of interest of 6 per cent. It did so with the permission of the Queensland Government. Yet you come here, Senator Dittmer, and howl and cry about the action of this Government in providing to the Queensland Government a sum of £20,000,000 at a rate of interest of 5i per cent.
– It is the highest rate of interest that any State is paying.
– That is the rate that is to be charged on this loan. It must be remembered that no industry, no enterprise, in Australia can borrow money at such a low rate of interest. If farmers want to get money from the Commonwealth Development Bank at this very moment, they must pay one-half per cent, more than this Government is charging the Queensland Government.
I now wish to say a word or two about this great mine at Mount Isa, which I have visited on several occasions, and the mining industry of Queensland. While we are debating this subject, the mine at Mount Isa is closed.
– Why is it closed?
– Because of an industrial dispute.
– It is closed because of an industrial dispute. The men at Mount Isa who are receiving a lead bonus of £816-
– It is £416, or £8 a week.
– I meant to say it was £8 a week. The bonus having been increased from £5 to £8 a week, the men now want a greater sum.
– Why not say that at one time it was £17 a week?
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order!
– We must remember that if this state of affairs continues, this great railway line will not be warranted, because the Mount Isa mine will not be able to make a profit.
– What profit did the mine make last year?
– Order! Senator Scott never interjects. I ask you, Senator Dittmer, not to interject either.
– When that rude interjection was made by Senator Dittmer, I was about to say that if the Mount Isa mine, which is one of the wealthiest in the world, doss not get a fair go industrially it will have to mine a higher grade of ore in order to obtain a profit. As a result, it will deplete its ore reserves much earlier than expected. If this industrial bother at Mount Isa is resolved in favour of the people who work there, the reconstruction of this railway may not be warranted. We must look at the matter from another angle, too. We must remember that in Queensland there are many other ore bodies which are reported to be very rich but which cannot bc exploited because of the present rate of bonus. However, that is beside the point.
When we compare the Queensland project with other projects in Australia, including the proposed railway project in Western Australia, it will be noted that this Government has made available to the States an unprecedented amount of finance to enable them to develop their railway systems. This Government has a proud record in relation to the construction of railways. Senator Dittmer cannot name any other government which has spent or which proposes to spend anything like the sums that arc being provided by this Government. I protest emphatically against the iniquitous speech that was delivered by the honorable senator from Queensland in which he criticized this Government, which is making available to the Queensland Government a sum of £20,000,000 at a reasonable rate of interest to enable that State to develop the railway line from Townsville to Mount Isa.
– Senator Dittmer has forced me to make this statement-
– I have not forced you to make any statement.
– You have. The irresponsible speech you delivered in this chamber on Tuesday last during the debate on the motion for the adjournment has been completely debunked.
– I rise to a point of order. I am becoming sick and tired of the insults that are being thrown at me by some- senators on the Government side. Most Government senators are seised of a sense of real responsibility and make an excellent and intelligent contribution to debate. I regard Senator Branson’s comment as offensive. I do not care whether he withdraws it or not.
– Order! The point of order is not upheld.
– I-assure you, Mr. President, that 1 can link up what I am about to say with the bill we arc debating. Just let us see how irresponsible the honorable senator can get. During the adjournment debate, on Tuesday last, he is reported in “ Hansard “ as having said -
I believe thai this week we will have a repetition of what occurred in the last sessional period when we were jammed and slammed into silence because of the Government’s wish to rush the Parliament into recess.
Can the honorable senator rise now and say that that has happened? I am quite sure he cannot.
– You were trying to get away at 5 o’clock to-day, but 1 would not let you.
– You know quite well my thoughts about you, but I do not like to see the Leader of the Government in this place being accused of something that he has not done. In the dying hours of this session I have risen to say that you were quite wrong in what you said on Tuesday last - as wrong as you were when von were speaking to this bill to-night.
– Order! The honorable senator’s comments do not seem to have any known relationship to the bill.
- Sir, 1 shall link up my remarks with the bill by saying that Senator Dittmer’s approach to it was just as irresponsible as was the statement he made on Tuesday about the closure of the Parliament. If you rule in that way, Mr. President, I shall of course abide by your decision, but I think T can link up my remarks to the bill. I say that Senator Dittmer’s comments were completely irresponsible. It will be remembered that he said that he would not have an opportunity to speak on this legislation. He said that he was going to be jammed and slammed and would not have an opportunity to speak because our respected leader would gag him.
– No. 1 said I would be Ned Kelly-ed.
– Very well. The honorable senator went on to say -
What will happen this week? It is clear that there will be a repetition of what happened m the last’ week of the last sessional period. The Goverment expects the Senate to rise at 5 o’clock on Thursday afternoon-
How wrong can you be? According to Senator Dittmer, the Senate should have risen at 5 o’clock - irrespective of the important bills affecting Queensland and Western Australia, such as the Queensland Grant (Beef Cattle Roads) Bill, the Western Australian Grant (Beef Cattle Roads) Bill, and the Railway Agreement (Queensland) Bill which related to the Mr Isa Railway and for which the Government’s case is not very good.
I venture to say that his case was not very good, cither. He said that this week we would have a repetition of the procedure he. had referred to, and he stated that he intended to speak on the Queensland Grant (Beef Cattle Roads) Bill. He has had an opportunity to do that and my respected leader has not gagged him as he hoped he would on the eve of an election, because then he could have gone and supported a Labour Senate candidate in Queensland who has been mentioned in another place as a doubtful character. If ever an honorable senator has been proved wrong, Senator Dittmer has. I support the bill.
– in reply - I think that history will show that this is one of the many great public works evolved and carried out for the development and betterment of Australia during the regime of the Menzies Government. Recently, I read a paper prepared by Dr. Walker, of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, in which he expressed the view that the possibilities were that within the next few years the Mount Isa Mine might well be returning more export income to Australia than the Australian wheat crop. That indicates the importance of this matter with which we are dealing. I can only say that I greatly regret that in this debate Queensland was not represented on the Opposition side by an honorable senator with a greater national spirit than that shown by Senator Dittmer. All that he did was to take the benefit of the legislation and try to find some method of belittling it. That was an ignoble approach.
– It was a realistic approach.
– You distorted the story and took things out of context. You tried to take all the advantages of a great developmental work like this and at the same time to misconstrue what was being done. That was not worthy of any representative of Queensland in this chamber.
– What did I say that was wrong?
– We have reached the stage in the Senate where we try to make our speeches without reference to Senator Dittmer and his stream of interjections. One of the fascinating aspects of the debates in this chamber is that honorable senators proceed with their speeches and ignore Senator Dittmer’s constant interjections.
– I do not interject-
– In view of the Minister’s statement, Senator Dittmer will be silent.
– Yes. Provided that he sticks to the facts.
– What are the facts? We are discussing one of the great projects of Australia. It is being developed and carried through to completion on the basis that the whole of the cost will be repaid or amortized over a period of twenty years, with the interest that is payable on it. The scheme has been designed by a leading firm of engineers who were retained by the Queensland Government. These engineers have prepared the plans and specifications. They have carried out technical investigations and have reported that on the rail haulage and on the freight that the line will carry, it will repay the total cost involved, plus the interest, over a twenty-year period, so that on a financial basis the proposal stands on its own feet.
As a developmental work and as an export income earner for Australia this is perhaps the greatest single project that has yet been evolved. It is little wonder, in those circumstances, that this proposal is regarded by the Queensland Government as being completely satisfactory. It is also regarded in that light by the Commonwealth Government, the Mount Isa mining company and the people of. Australia, particularly those of Queensland.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
asked the Minister representing the Minister in Charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, upon notice -
– The Minister in Charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has furnished the following reply: -
I understand that although there has been no direct contact between the Tasmanian Forestry Commission and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization concerning the threat of sirex wasps to Tasmanian and mainland pine plantations, the matter has been discussed between C.S.I.R.O., the Division of Plant Quarantine of the Department of Health, the Commonwealth Forestry and Timber Bureau, and the Tasmanian Department of Agriculture. These discussions showed that the most important need was to obtain an understanding of the factors which make some pine trees susceptible to heavy infestation by sirex.
The Commonwealth Forestry and Timber bureau is carrying out a general investigation of the problem with this end in view. To date, the bureau has carried out a survey to establish the northern limit of sirex in Tasmania and is shortly to commence further experimental work. In addition, C.S.I.R.O. with the assistance of the British Commonwealth Institute of Biological Control is examining the possibility of obtaining from oversea countries additional natural enemies of sirex which might bc used in the control of this pest.
Action is, of course, being taken to guard against the possible introduction of the wasp to the mainland.
asked the Minister representing the Minister in Charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, upon notice -
Has the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization been asked to endeavour to find means of ridding the oyster beds in New South Wales of the disease now threatening the existence of the valuable oyster industry in that State, if not, would the resources of the organization be made available, if requested?
– The Minister in Charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has furnished the following reply: -
I am not aware of the particular report referred to by the honorable senator. However, I understand that losses in oyster beds may occur from time to time from a variety of causes, the most important of which is a disease known as winter mortality. This disease varies in intensity from year to year, but it is doubtful if it could be held to constitute a threat to the oyster industry. Both the C.S.I.R.O. and the State Fisheries Department of New South Wales have worked on this problem at various times since the 1920’s but the cause of the disease has not been established. However, I understand that there are practical measures which may be adopted by oyster farmers to reduce losses from winter mortality. C.S.I.R.O. is not investigating the disease at present and has had no requests to do so. The investigation of problems relating to oyster production in New South Wales is primarily a matter for the State Fisheries Department; however, I can assure the honorable senator that the C.S.I.R.O. would provide appropriate assistance should it be requested by the State department.
What was the number and value of loans granted by the Commonwealth Development Bank during the first quarter of this financial year for (a) the rural industry, and (b) industrial undertakings, showing the specific purpose for which each loan was granted and the State or Territory in which each project is situated?
– The Commonwealth Banking Corporation has provided the following information: -
The number and value of loans approved by the Commonwealth Development Bank during the period from lat July to 20th September, 1961, (the latest period for which such figures are available) are -
It. would not be appropriate nor practicable to Mate the specific purpose for which each individual loan was granted. However, the loans referred to above come within categories as follows: -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will the Treasurer make available a breakdown foreach State of the Commonwealth of the total expenditure of all Commonwealth departments for the last financial year?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer: -
Parliamentary appropriations are not restricted, generally, to expenditure in any particular State. The Commonwealth’s expenditure is recorded in respect of each vote from details of individual payments which are brought to account through the Sub-Treasury in each State and in each Commonwealth Territory. An attempt to allocate the expenditure between States would be a major undertaking and, moreover, the analysis would be of very doubtful value. Expenditure broughtto account by a particular Sub-Treasury may include, for example, payments to interstate and overseas suppliers. Furthermore, expenditure in one Slate is often for equipment and supplies for projects in another State. In short, the payments recorded in any Sub-Treasury do not purport to indicate the expenditure which may be attributable to Commonwealth activities or services in that State or Territory.
– On 7th September, Senator Hannan asked a question without notice relating to expenditure overseas on imported television films and programmes. I promised to see what precise information on this subjectI could obtain for the honorable senator and, accordingly, I now furnish the following reply: -
Expenditure of overseas exchange by all television stations over the last three financial years has been as follows: -
The figure of £2,750,000 quoted by the PostmasterGeneral and reported in “Hansard” of 21st October, 1959, to which the honorable senator referred, related to aggregate approved expenditure on imported television films by Sydney andMelbourne commercial television stations from the inception of television at the end of 1956 to 30th September, 1959.
There is no suitable basis at this stage on which to estimate the likely costs in overseas exchange w hen television is extended to the country areas.
– On 6th September, Senator Laught asked that a list be prepared showing Commonwealth capital expenditure relative to all Commonwealth departments, commissions, instrumentalities and agencies within South Australia for the ten annual periods since 1st July, 1950.
In reply, I would point out that Parliamentary appropriations are not restricted, generally, to expenditure in any particular State. The Commonwealth’s expenditure is recorded in respect of each vote from details of individual payments which ?.re brought to account throughthe SubTreasury in each State and in each Commonwealth Territory. An attempt to allocate the expenditure between States would be a major undertaking and, moreover, the analysis would be of very doubtful value. Expenditure brought to account by a particular Sub-Treasury may include, for example, payments to interstate and overseas suppliers. Furthermore, expenditure in one State is often for equipment and supplies for projects in ano:her State. In short, the payments recorded in any Sub-Treasury do not purport to indicate the expenditure which may be attributable to Commonwealth activities or services in that State or Territory.
Debate resumed (vide page 1551).
.- Since the Senate met last Tuesday we have discussed many subjects relating to many parts of Australia, and perhaps it is appropriate that South Australia, which is the best of all the States, is the subject of the last bill that will be debated in this chamber this session. The bill seeks the approval of the Parliament to an agreement between the Commonwealth and South Australia relating to the provision of Commonwealth financial assistance for the acquisition by the State of a number of diesel-electric locomotives and ore wagons to be used on the railway between Port Pirie and Broken Hill. The locomotives and wagons will be constructed to the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, but in design and construction will be such that they can be readily converted to the standard gauge, 4 ft. 8i in.
The assistance to be provided by the Commonwealth to the State is for the express purpose of the acquisition by the State of twelve diesel-electric locomotives and 100 ore wagons. The amount of the assistance is limited to the cost of the locomotives and the wagons or the amount of £1,325,000, whichever is the less. The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) informed us in his secondreading speech that the Commonwealth will provide initially all the money up to the limit of £1,325,000 for the acquisition of the locomotives and wagons. Of the amount provided by the Commonwealth in a financial year, South Australia will repay three-tenths by equal annual instalments over a period of 50 years together with interest on the outstanding balances of its three-tenths share.
I should like to know whether the twelve diesel-electric locomotives are to be built in the South Australian railway workshops at Islington. I am sure that those workshops are capable of undertaking the work. During the past few months we have heard a good deal about the unemployment situation, and I feel that an order placed for the locomotives in the South Australian workshops would give a stimulus to employment in the State. Even if the order for the locomotives is given to another State, the wagons themselves should be constructed in South Australia. I should like to be informed of any reason why the order for locomotives and wagons cannot be given to this State.
I note a passage in the Minister’s secondreading speech to the effect that the Commonwealth was impressed by the economies which could be achieved by the provision of more modern rolling-stock. The Minister said it was also evident that the provision of the new locomotives and wagons would reduce the cost of standard gauge rolling-stock that would have to be provided when the line was converted to the standard gauge. In my opinion, the provision of the more modern rollingstock may not produce the economies that the Minister has forecast. Indeed, I have been informed that the locomotives will be of the 900 horse-power type, and it has been said that any locomotive in excess of 900 horse-power would seriously damage the existing track. The suggestion has been made that the 900 horse-power locomotives will not have sufficient traction when used on the standard gauge line.
– Could not two of the locomotives be used, thus giving the equivalent of 1,800 horse-power?
– That is possible but whether it would be economical to use two locomotives in that manner is open to doubt. Another point that has been raised is that locomotives up to 2,000 horse-power may be required. I hope that the Government has taken this matter into consideration.
The Opposition does not oppose the bill.
I am gratified that South Australia is to be given some assistance in this matter, and 1 hope that plans for the standardization of this line will not be lost in the mists of time. Some people have said that because South Australia is likely to receive an allocation tor the construction of the Chowilla dam, the works referred to in the Railway Standardization Agreement of 1949 between the Commonwealth and South Australia would be postponed. I hope that is not so; the postponement of standardization would be an injustice to the State. If I may digress for a moment, Mr. President, I should like to point out that the water position in South Australia is now acute. By 1970 the situation may be catastrophic. The construction of an urgently needed dam should not affect the railway standardization proposals. I am sure that all representatives of South Australia in the Senate will keep these matters before the Government at all times to ensure that the standardization project will be brought to completion and that the State will not have to operate the narrow-gauge system for an indefinite period.
– I understand that the Railway Equipment Agreement (South Australia) Bill 1961 is the last bill to come before the Senate this session but it is by no means the least important of the bills that we have considered. The proposals embodied in the measure have always aroused a good deal of interest in South Australia, and while they do not deal specifically with the standardization of a railway gauge they are related to that matter. Standardization in my State is very important indeed. As one of the original members of the Government Members Rail Standardization Committee I take a great personal interest in this matter.
Most Australian are firmly convinced of the necessity for the standardization of the main trunk lines. We remember very clearly the recommendations that were made by the Government Members Rail Standardization Committee and the Labour Party Members Rail Standardization Committee. Those committees were making their investigations at about the same time and they presented similar reports. As I have said, the subject now under discus sion is not directly a standardization proposal but is closely related to standardization. We in South Australia have watched developments over the years very keenly indeed. Sir Thomas Playford has very definite views on these matters and has not always seen eye to eye with the Commonwealth Government on them. Some months ago, in I960, he proposed to the Commonwealth Government that it assist South Australia in the provision of equipment for the dieselization of the line between Port Pirie and Broken Hill. That is an extremely important line. Most people do not realize what an important section of the Australian railway system that line is. About 800,000 tons of concentrates are transported over it from one of the premier mining cities of Australia to Port Pirie, where there is one of the largest smelters of zinc and lead concentrates in the world. About 800,000 tons is no small amount in anybody’s judgment. That tonnage of concentrates has to be transported by rail from Broken Hill to Port Pirie, where it is either smelted and converted into base metals or shipped in the form of concentrates. That has presented a very big job for the railway system.
The line is part of the main trunk system of Australia, but it is interposed between the 4-ft. 8i-in. system of New South Wales and the 4-ft. 8i-in. system of the Commonwealth railways. I cannot recall the exact distance of that line, but it would be between 100 and 200 miles, but nearer to 200 miles. A considerable section of line has to be traversed. The South Australian railway system has transported the ore from Broken Hill to the important port of Port Pirie regularly for a great number of years. Most of us on the Government members rail standardization committee realized in our investigation of this matter that that railway line itself was completely out of date, as also was the equipment. The existence of the section of 3-ft. 6-in. gauge line from Broken Hill to Port Pirie has been a grave shortcoming of our transport system. That line has separated the standard gauge line in New South Wales, which terminates at Broken Hill, from the standard gauge line running from Port Pirie to Western Australia. I am sure everybody in this chamber desires this line to be brought up to date and eventually standardized. To do that would be a great step forward.
To improve the system that is in operation at present, Sir Thomas Playford suggested that diesellization could be implemented if the Commonwealth Government would assist the State in the purchase of equipment such as diesel locomotives and trucks for the transport of ore, and that would greatly reduce the transport cost. There was some hesitancy on the part of the Commonwealth Government in this regard. Most of us felt that it would have been a very good improvement. As members of the South Australian community, we believe that it was a reasonable proposition. But the certain amount of hesitancy on the part of the Commonwealth Government was understandable. Having regard to the economic circumstances of that time, the Commonwealth Government just did not feel disposed to provide the necessary finance for the dieselization project. The South Australian Government itself certainly was not in a financial position to undertake the work. Consequently, there has been some delay in the provision of this more modern equipment which will have a very important effect on the transport facilities on that line. However, this matter has .been borne in mind by the Commonwealth Government since Sir Thomas Playford first advanced the proposition, because of the considerable savings that competent people who analysed the costs, and so on, have clearly demonstrated will accrue. It is estimated that there will be a saving of about £500,000 a year in transport costs alone if this line and the equipment are standardized.
I propose to refer to the line itself. There has been a good deal of reconditioning of this 3-ft. 6-in. gauge line. The rails are light, and although they are below the standard regarded as adequate for heavy transport, particularly the transport of ore, the line has been brought into good condition over the years. The 40 lb. to 50 lb. lines have been put into pretty good condition and the line is operating fairly satisfactorily. When one travels along the line and looks at the type of equipment that is being used one is struck by the fact that small trains are being hauled by steam engines and that there is no diesel equipment used on the lini. In one or two places the old steam engines have pretty severe grades to climb. Consequently, the cost of transporting the ore is very much higher than it would be if we had powerful diesel locomotives and proper trucks for carrying the ore. In fact, the drawbar capacity of the railway system is far below what it should be. Big trains cannot be hauled because the draw-bar capacity is far too low.
The South Australian Government suggested that assistance be given to the State to bring the equipment for this line up to date. I am happy to see that the Commonwealth Government, bearing in mind the recommendations made by the South Australian Government, has seen fit to make this money available. We hope that in a very short time it will enable us completely to revolutionize transport on this line, although not to the extent of standardization, as we would like. The original estimate was that this project would result in a saving of £10,000 a week. That works out at roughly £500,000 a year. It will assist very considerably in reducing the cost of transporting ore from Broken Hill to Port Pirie. It will also assist very considerably by reducing’ the cost of transporting ordinary merchandise and stock. Many people depend on the line to transport goods and stock to the market.
I endorse what Senator Drury has said. I am very glad to note his attitude to this bill. I am pleased that the Government has seen fit to make this grant to South Australia. There was some hesitancy on the part of the State Government in regard to this matter. That is now a matter of history. When Sir Thomas Playford received a letter from the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), saying that this money would be made available to the South Australian Government on certain conditions, he viewed the proposal with caution and submitted it to the State Government’s solicitors for an opinion. I do not believe that the report he received from the solicitors was altogether favorable. However, upon investigation he found that the money would be made available on favorable terms. The reason why he had some doubt about accepting the Commonwealth’s offer was that there was before the High Court an action, instituted by the State Government, relating to the terms of tha 1949 railway standardization agreement made between South Australia and the Commonwealth. That, by the way, was the only railway standardization agreement that had been made. South Australia was the only State to conclude with the Commonwealth a firm agreement which had as its purpose the standardization of the gauge of the railway system of a State. None of the other States was in agreement with the standardization proposition, but South Australia was. Consequently, in 1949 a very favorable agreement, so far as South Australia is concerned, was negotiated with the Commonwealth.
When Sir Thomas Playford received the letter from the Prime Minister, he viewed it with a good deal of caution. 1 would not say that he has a suspicious nature. He referred the Commonwealth’s offer to his solicitors, and the report that he obtained from them did not completely satisfy him. He was advised that acceptance of the Commonwealth’s offer possibly would prejudice the proceedings that he had instituted in the High Court regarding the railway standardization agreement. I do not want to touch on that case now. Wo know that judgment has been reserved and that in due course we will learn the decision of the court. He was also afraid that acceptance of the offer, as he understood it and as it was interpreted to him, would cut across the 1949 standardization agreement, and he did not want that to happen. Consequently, there was some de.’ay while those matters were being cleared up. Negotiations were undertaken between the Premier and the Prime Minister and it was made perfect!) clear to the Premier that acceptance of the Commonwealth’s offer would not prejudice South Australia in the case that was before the High Court and would not cut across the 1949 agreement.
Wilh those assurances, the Government of South Australia accepted the Commonwealth’s offer, and did so with gratitude, ] think. The new rolling-stock will be of tremendous assistance on this section of the railway, which is one of the best paying sections of railway in South Australia, carrying, as it does, ore from Broken Hill to Port Pirie in addition to other merchandise and stock.
The Commonwealth’s offer is not related very closely to the 1949 standardization agreement, but we cannot deny that it has some relation. The Commonwealth offered financial assistance to the State for the express purpose of purchasing new equipment which would help to cut transport costs on this section of line. I believe that the time will come when the line from Broken Hill to Port Pirie will be converted to the 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge, and I think it very desirable that that work be undertaken reasonably soon. The people of South Australia are not jealous because, acting upon the recommendation of the Wentworth committee and, perhaps, of a Labour Party committee also, the Government has seen fit to convert to standard gauge the railway line between Albury and Melbourne. I believe that there was some justification for saying that that line was entitled to greater priority than was the line between Broken Hill and Port Pirie. However, that is a moot point and I do not propose to deal with it now. We all know how great a bugbear is the break of gauge at Albury. The line connecting the two main capital cities of Australia undoubtedly required attention, and we in South Australia do not begrudge the benefit that Victoria and New South Wales will receive when the standardization, work on that line is completed some time next year. A standard-gauge line connecting Sydney and Melbourne will be a great boon to New South Wales and Victoria. It will result in tremendous savings. I do not recollect the exact figure, but I believe the saving will amount to millions of pounds a year.
We are delighted that a new standard gauge line is to be built in Western Australia. It will give an enormous boost to that State. We in South Australia say without any hesitation that it was a very fine gesture by the Commonwealth to enter into an agreement with Western Australia under which money will be made available for the conversion to standard gauge of the railway between Kalgoorlie and the State’s western seaboard. We do not hesitate to say that we hope that in due course the line between Broken Hill and Port Pirie also will be converted to the standard gauge. I will go so far as to say that I hope the standard gauge line will be extended to Adelaide, because I think it will be absolutely essential to link Adelaide with other capital cities by a standard gauge line.
In view of those considerations, it is necessary for the new equipment that is to be used in South Australia to be built in such a way that it can be converted for use on a 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge line. The chassis of the waggons and the locomotives will be constructed for use on a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge line, but it will be a simple matter to make the ‘ necessary alterations if and when the Broken Hill-Port Pirie line is converted to standard gauge. The State Government has undertaken to carry out that work at its own expense if and when that becomes necessary. I suggest that the proposal for the financing of this scheme is generous, reasonable and fair. It is, in effect, based on the 1949 standardization agreement. If my memory serves me correctly the cost of standardization under the 1949 agreement was shared between the Commonwealth and South Australia on a 70/30 basis. The cost of the present scheme will be shared in a similar way. As Senator Drury has said, the cost will be spread over a long term and South Australia should have no difficulty in discharging the debt that will be incurred.
The proposition outlined in the bill is a splendid one. We in South Australia appreciate the consideration that has been shown to us in this regard. Although the proposal is not specifically a standardization proposal, it is related closely to standardization and will represent a material advance towards the ultimate aim of having all of our main trunk lines of standard gauge. I congratulate the Government for bringing down this bill. I know that it meets with the approval of honorable senators on both sides of the chamber. 1 have much pleasure in supporting the bill, knowing full well that it will lead to an improvement in rail facilities and that it is a distinct step towards the ultimate aim of standardization.
– I, too, support the bill, which has been canvassed thoroughly by preceding speakers. I should like to comment on the excellent spirit with which the Senate has received this measure. During the week other bills dealing with roads in Queensland and Western Australia and with a major railway project in Western Australia were received in a similar spirit. It is well for this Senate to adopt that broad national outlook.
Senator Drury’s reference to the building of locomotives and wagons was interesting. Perhaps that is a matter for the South Australian Government, because the money is made available under this bill. I believe that there are workshops in South Australia capable of doing the work to which Senator Drury referred, particularly the building of wagons. If the locomotives cannot be built in South Australia, at least they can be assembled there. As to the remarks about the 900 horsepower diesel-electric locomotives, I think the solution to the problem raised is to link two locomotives and so obtain almost 1,800 horsepower. It is a good idea to have the small locomotives, because the 3 ft. 6 in. track is not robust. In addition, some of the trains using the line will be small trains, such as passenger trains, and it would be uneconomic to have engines of greater power than that prescribed.
I suggest that when conversion takes place it could well be done at the yards of the Commonwealth Railways at Port Augusta. I have been to the yards a number of times. I know that they can undertake the work of conversion from one gauge to another. I know also that the present Commonwealth Railways Commissioner, Mr. Smith, has distinguished himself with regard to the provision of rolling stock on the north-south line. The proposal contained in the bill will result in a saving of £500,000 a year on operating costs. The dieselelectric locomotives will be faster than the old steam locomotives. No problem will arise because of scarcity of water for the servicing of steam locomotives. The operating crews will work in much greater comfort than they have experienced hitherto. I believe that in every way great benefit will come to South Australia as a result of this generous provision of funds.
I invite the attention of the Senate to the attack made this week on the scheme by Sir Arthur Warner, Minister for Transport in the Victorian Government. He did a very stupid thing in attacking the Commonwealth Government on this bill. In doing so he brought no credit on himself or his government. Victoria is receiving about £11,000,000 of Commonwealth moneys in order to put down a 4 ft. 8 in. track alongside the already excellent track running from Albury to Melbourne. Sir Arthur Warner had no cause to complain at the provision of £1,300,000 for South Australia. I hope that we hear no more complaints of this nature from him. I commend the Government on bringing down the bill. It represents an imaginative step initiated between the Prime Minister and Sir Thomas Playford.I wish the bill a speedy passage.
– in reply - I thank the Senate for its reception of the bill. There is no need for me to reply to the matters raised by Senator Drury. They were answered by Senator Laught along the lines of the notes that I had prepared in order to answer them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answers: -
– I present the third report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence be granted to every member of the Senate from the termination of the sitting this day to the day on which the Senate next meets.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till a day and hour to be fixed by the President, which time of meeting shall be notified to each senator by telegram or letter.
.- I move-
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I should like to have the luxury of speaking to this motion. The first thing I should like to say is that I am surprised that twelve months should have elapsed since the Senate last adjourned for a Christmas period. We are about to embark upon an election campaign, but I sincerely hope that the election holds no surprises for the Government.
We have almost run into a constitutional crisis to-night in that the Senate has finished its work before the House of Representatives has completed its business. We conferred amongst ourselves about what we should do in these extraordinary circumstances. We came to the conclusion that the only risk we would run in formally adjourning the Senate would be that the House of Representatives may later amend a bill. But, having regard to the mathematical position in the other place, we believe that is a risk we may safely take.
I should like to complete the year’s work by extending to you, Mr. President, the thanks and appreciation of honorable senators for having presided over the Senate during the past year and for having shown your customary impartiality towards all honorable senators. It gives us a good deal of satisfaction to see you so worthily holding that high office. I say “Thank you “ to Senator Reid, the Chairman of Committees. I do not say it as happily as
I did twelve months ago, because this is the last Christmas he faces as a member of the Senate. He has decided not to contest the next election. 1 have said before - it bears repeating - that I have always regarded Senator Reid as being one of the most experienced parliamentarians in the Senate. He has done magnificently for us all during his tenure of office as Chairman of Committees. 1 express my thanks to all honorable senators who sit behind me, particularly to Senator Paltridge, the Deputy Leader of the Government in this chamber, and to Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin, the Government Whip. I am reminded of this statement in the good Book: “ My father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions “. I think the Whip has an everready supply of scorpions. Without doubt, w» on the Government side have been a very happy family during the year. 1 again say “ Thank you “ to all Government senators for helping to achieve that result.
I wish the Opposition, particularly the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), a merry Christmas. I do not know exactly what one should say when an election campaign will be conducted between the expression of such wishes and Christmas itself.
– You could say, “ Happy landings “.
– I do not know that I can go quite as far as the Leader of the Opposition has suggested, because every happy landing on the Opposition side means that some one on the Government side is shot down in flames. Although we hope that Opposition senators will have all the bad luck possible in the coming election, there is between us, despite the difference in our political views, a feeling of friendship that holds us together and which upholds the status of the Senate. 1 offer on this occasion with more feeling than on earlier occasions a special word of thanks to the Clerk and his officers. One always takes for granted the help that one gets from the Clerk and his assistants. This year I sailed in very troubled waters indeed. We embarked upon new procedures. We would never have been prepared to venture on those troubled waters if 1 had not had the constant support, advice and help of Mr. Loaf. So I say to Mr. Loof and those who assist him, “ Thank you very much “, and wish them a happy Christmas.
Now I come to the “ Hansard “ staff. If any one deserves sympathy and good wishes, surely it is the “ Hansard “ staff. I like the story about the person who was congratulated upon being appointed to a certain office, the congratulations being tempered by the comment, “ I am surprised at you taking a position like that, especially when it means making speeches all day and every day The person so addressed replied, “ ft is a jolly sight better than having to listen to them “. That remark can be applied to the members of the “ Hansard “ staff. They not only have to listen to our speeches but also have to pretend to enjoy them.
– They have to transcribe them, too.
– They not only have to transcribe them but also have to present them to us in a form in which we ourselves can understand them. To do that is no mean feat. To the members of the “ Hansard “ staff I say, “ Thank you. I wish you a merry Christmas.” 1 extend my good wishes also to the Senate attendants, members of the Joint House staff, and others who make the wheels go round. We are fortunate indeed in having received from them efficient and cheerful service I see only two attendants in the eis chamber I say to them “ Thank you and .» those who work with you Then I hi ve on my list the Parliamentary Draftsman and his assistants. For them the Ministers have a deep sense of gratitude. The only tiling wrong about the Parliamentary Draftsman assisting a Minister is that awful tradition which requires him to be made available to assist honorable senators who want to criticize that Minister. That is more than usual British fair play and justice. It is cruelty to the Ministers. Finally, I say “ Thank you “ to the press. I have heard it said that gratitude is a lively appreciation of favours to come. When we say “ Thank you “ to the press this year we hope that next year it will give more space to the proceedings of the Senate than it has in the year that is now ending. With that potpourri of sentiments, Mr. President, I conclude, again saying, “ Happy Christmas to everybody here “.
– I am sure that Senator Hannaford will not mind if I borrow the first words of his speech some minutes ago and say that this is the last bill of the session. I shall not carry the analogy any further than that at the moment. While Senator Spooner addressed himself to the approach of the season of goodwill on earth and peace to all men, we are merely adjourning the contest from the boxing ring here to the gladiatorial arena where, very soon, we shall all be in conflict. It will take us a little while to recover our breath, I should imagine, before we really imbibe the Christmas spirit.
I was delighted to hear the Minister address himself to the subjects of his remarks. I hope, Mr. President, that you will take note of a request I made to you some little time ago. When we are back here again and Senator Spooner and I, unless we join the one party, are still sitting on opposite sides of the chamber, if the occasion should arise for him to say, “ I am going to speak without heat and feeling,” I hope an attendant will bring me an asbestos suit, because those words are always the signal for an explosion. I need some protection from the fall-out. That request might seem a somewhat strange one to come from a person with my Christian name. Perhaps I ought to be used to such treatment. Nevertheless, Mr. President, I hope you will keep the matter in mind.
I entirely support the sentiments expressed by Senator Spooner in relation to yourself, Mr. President. The honorable senator referred to your impartiality, and I echo his remarks. I should like to refer to the two qualities you have blended so beautifully down all the years - firmness and tolerance. Such a combination is not easily achieved a«d not very often witnessed. We admire your performance in the Presidential Chair. We feel that you grace the Senate and that under your presidency there is a great deal of very good behaviour in this place, thus preserving the tone of the Senate.
To the Leader of the Government, to his deputy, and to all the Ministers I say, “ We wish you well “. We offer the same wish to their staffs, from whom my own staff and I receive many courtesies during the year. The only qualification I make is that the Government has my good wishes in everything except matters political. My good wishes extend to their health, their longevity and the rest.
– Would you like our numbers?
– I would not mind the numbers. Life would be so much easier. Despite the contests that must be waged because of our different viewpoints, there is an enormous amount of good feeling between us as individuals. There is an election pending and I shall miss any face that is absent when we meet again. It pleases me to think that we will all be back at least until 30th June next, so there is no prospect of anybody having much at risk during the next brief period. I regret that Senator Davidson has been with us in the Senate for such a short period. I had looked forward to his participation in the debates. I have no doubt that, if not immediately, then in the very near future, he will bc back. With his youth and ability he should make a name for himself in this place as others of us move on. It has been very pleasant to see him here.
To the Chairman of Committees, Senator Reid, I defer any valedictory message until I have to give it, and that will be some time towards the end of June next. In the meantime, I thank him for his chairmanship. He is as quick and as sharp as ever. I do not know why he wants to retire. I refuse to believe that he is getting tired or lazy. I am certain that he must have some dynamic activity awaiting him when, in due course, he retires. To our friends on the cross-benches I extend good wishes. They vote for us sometimes, and sometimes they do not. I wish they were more discriminatory as to when they do vote for us. I leave that thought in their minds, as the Christmas season approaches.
To my own team who sit behind me, I express my deep personal gratitude for the way in which they have supported me, for the way they tolerate me and for the excellent work they do. I certainly feel that I have been fortunate throughout this sessional period. On occasions I have had great difficulty in finding my way into the debate on a bill. My colleagues have dealt with bill after bill. In fact, I think that almost every honorable senator on my side has dealt wilh one or other of the 40 bills that have passed through the Senate in recent weeks. I appreciate that as a very welcome change, because apart from my activities in this sphere 1 have a good deal to do with the administration and other work of our party. There are always duties which, 1 find, can keep me fully occupied. 1 join with the Leader of the Government in thanking the Clerk and his officers most sincerely for their wonderful help and their invariable courtesy. We find them completely indispensible. Every member of the staff is so pleasant and so efficient. That is true, too, of our attendants and of all the others to whom Senator Spooner has referred. Again, 1 must say a word about “ Hansard “. 1 inflict a great many speeches on the “ Hansard “ staff in the course of a session. I am sorry for that, but I leave my speeches with them. I never look at them. Not in years have I seen a typescript report, and I hope I never shall. I repeat, I could not bear to read them, and I do not know how “ Hansard “ docs. The members of the “ Hansard “ staff warn mc from time to time that I will rue the day’ that I gave up looking at the reports of my speeches and that a gross error might one day occur. Like Trans-Australia Airlines, about which we passed a bill recently, 1 carry my own insurance in that matter. J have never been let down yet. Knowing the quality of “ Hansard “, I am confident that I never shall be. 1 thank the technical staff, the refreshment rooms staff, the Library staff and all the other people who are concerned with the functioning of the Parliament. Everybody in Parliament House co-operates to make life liveable and tolerable in the conditions that prevail from time to time. The Leader of the Government has referred to the press. While he was speaking, I was thinking of an appropriate and kindly thing to say. 1 decided to settle on the sentence that, while 1 rarely look at the reporters in the press gallery because my head is bowed low over the table for most of the time, from my casual glances at them
I have noticed that they are getting younger every day and more beautiful. I shall leave it at that. lt is always a happy occasion when 1 am called upon to say these few words. On such occasions “there is a feeling of genuine friendship throughout the place. We shall be exchanging punches before long, no doubt, and that will be no new experience. We rarely leave any bruises. If the Opposition does inflict any bruises we will always provide the embrocation if you ask us nicely. Mr. President, I am glad to have the opportunity to say those few words.
[10.21 J. - My colleagues of the Australian Country Party would have me associate the party with the expressions of goodwill that have been proffered in the Senate tonight. I support all that has been said about the officers who are associated w:,*Jb this Parliament. We of the Australian ‘:e:…-I. Party have a tinge of sadness to-night as this will bc the last occasion prior to a Christmas break-up that we will have with us our esteemed friend, Senator Albert Reid. He has been an ornament to this institution, and to his party, and I should like him to know that we have valued, not only his friendship but also his advice and help down the years.
As the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has said, we do present our case to this Parliament on behalf of the people wc represent with vigour and sometimes wilh heat, but, Sir, our democracy demands that we live together. One of the most valuable aspects of a democracy is that we do live together, and in the main divorced from personalities. That is one of the greatest possessions wc have in this country to-day. Although wc will go on to the hustings and state our policies and our platforms between now and 9th December, T am sure that all of us who do so will have one objective in view, namely, to put our case before the people so that we can preserve democracy for this country and for those who follow us.
– At the outset, 1 should like to thank Senator Dittmer for allowing this Parliament to end at a reasonable hour. I thank you, Mr. President, and the Chairman of Committees for the courtesy you have shown us during the year. I also thank the Clerk and officers of the Senate who have been very courteous and helpful. At one stage during this session my party did think of introducing a bill into the Senate, and the help of the Clerk and his officers was invaluable to us.
I express our appreciation to the attendants, who are always Willing to help us and look after our needs, and to the members of the “Hansard’* staff who have about the worst job of the lot in having to listen to us day after day. To the Joint House Department staff I offer our good wishes.
I wish both sides of the chamber a happy civic Christmas, but not a happy political one. I hope that both sides have a very bad political Christmas and that most of the votes will come to our party.
– As long as they come back our way.
– After listening to the last few words of Senator McKenna to-night I am beginning to doubt whether they will.
We do sincerely thank all honorable senators on both sides of the chamber for their courtesy and help, and for the opportunity at times to throw a few bricks in the Senate. When we return after Christmas there will be no faces missing in this chamber, but I do hope that some of our candidates will be filling places in the other House. So, Mr. President, I should like to say to everybody: A happy Christmas, at least in your homes, but not in the political field.
– This has been an all-male performance to date. I should like to remind the Senate that this is the last Christmas greeting that we will be able to give from this place to Senator Agnes Robertson, who is to retire. Senator Robertson came into this Parliament twelve years ago. She has rendered magnificent service, and I feel that, at this time, it is fitting that we should express our Christmas greetings to her.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin). - I thank very sincerely the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner), the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), the Minister for Air (Senator Wade) and the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labour Party (Senator Cole) for their kind remarks about me. I try to do my job as I think it should be done, and I do hope that I meet the requirements that the Parliament should expect of a presiding officer.
I wish to thank honorable senators very much for their friendliness and support during the year, for making it possible for the Senate to function smoothly in a year of great activity. Sometimes relations have been a little strained, but we emerge from our deliberations with the cordial goodwill that exists between us to-night. 1 join with you, Mr. Leader of the Senate and others, in your references to the staff. The staff has done a tremendous job this year. You have been generous enough to refer to quite a number of them, but there are some that I in turn should like to mention. There are the unknown people around this building who at a late hour make it possible for the House still to run. We do not see very much of them. Perhaps I see more of them than others do, but I do not know them as well as I should, or as well as I would like. To the gardeners, the people down in the boiler room and in other places, I say on behalf of honorable senators how much we appreciate what they have done.
The staff of the Senate has done an excellent job. Not only has it performed the work of the Senate but Mr. Loof and Mr. Odgers have played a very important part in the splendid work of the Interparliamentary Union, which is becoming more important as the years go by. This work that they have performed is additional honorary work. It takes up a lot of their time, but they do not neglect their Senate duties while they are so engaged.
I should like honorable senators to turn their attention a little more to the Library during the coming year. As you know there has been a division of the Library. We have the National Library and the Parliamentary Library. I am looking forward during the coming year to produce some big advances in the reference section of our library. Quite apart from the work of the Library Committee, I ask honorable senators to take an active interest in what we are doing and what we propose to do in advancing the work of the Library. I am sure honorable senators will join with me when 1 pay a compliment to those people in the Library who so readily produce the books and references we require, and do so in a very good spirit.
In the last sessional period 1 have been away on what may be termed the work of the Parliament. I wish to express my thanks and appreciation to honorable senators, to you, Mr. Leader, and to the Leader of the Opposition for having made it possible for me to attend the conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. 1 believe that we may be at the crossroads in Commonwealth matters. I hope that the work that we did in London, which was not easy, may help to improve the position a little. 1 am not pessimistic about this matter, but I believe that it is only right that a note of warning should be sounded about some of the problems that will confront the Commonwealth in the years to come. 1 pay just tribute to the leader of the Australian delegation and the members of that delegation for the way they performed in London. I do not wish to make invidious distinctions, but I want to refer particularly to one member who is an esteemed friend of all of us, Senator Sheehan. He put up a grand performance in the old Palace of Westminster when, without hesitation, he stood up for .what he thought were the rights of Australia and the right approach of the Australian people. He spoke most convincingly.
Having been abroad, I say that we in Australia have every reason to be proud of our standing abroad. That stems very largely from the work of our Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the respect in which he is held in overseas countries. We Australians are treated with respect when we go abroad. He has been accepted by people overseas as a flag-bearer of fair play and justice and he is respected throughout the Commonwealth countries. 1 say to honorable senators, “ Thank you very much “ for having made it possible for me to go on that important mission. I appreciated that very much. My appreciation goes particularly to Senator Reid who, in my absence, acted as Deputy President. Had it not been for his readiness and willingness to co-operate, I would not have found it possible to go. So, 1 say to you, Senator Reid, “ Thank you very much indeed “ for your readiness to co-operate and your assistance during the time that I was away, and more particularly during the years that we have worked together.
I thank you all very much, honorable senators. I wish you all a merry Christmas. I look forward to another pleasant year together. I have no doubt that as the years go by the Senate will not be the poorer because of our having been associated with it.
– May I be permitted to say a few words, Mr. President. I know that I shall have another opportunity next year to say, “ Au revoir “ to the members of the Senate, but this being the last opportunity I shall have to speak in the Senate at the end of a session and just before the festive season, I want to thank you, Sir, for your good wishes and thanks to me for acting as Deputy President during your absence. I was able to carry out my duties only with the full assistance of the staff and the full co-operation of honorable senators on both sides of the chamber.
In regard to the words of appreciation spoken by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), all I say is that I came into the Senate with the idea of trying to do my duty, and if I have done that in my position of Chairman of Committees I am quite satisfied. I thank everybody for the assistance given to me. I take this opportunity not to say “ Au revoir “ but to wish you all a very, very happy festive season, as this will be the last- opportunity I will have to express that wish to one and all in the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.35 p.m. (ill a day and hour to be fixed by the President.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 October 1961, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1961/19611026_senate_23_s20/>.